Walk behind the ploughshare

Published November 8, 2012

I’ve wanted to go to a ploughing match for ages - ever since I heard the antics from one on The Archers. I like country and farming stuff, but I couldn’t quite imagine how a ploughing match would work. My parents have been keeping an eye on when and where ploughing matches have been taking place, and finally all the stars were aligned (read: I got myself organised) so that we could go to one together.

It was a nice sunny day, if a little chilly, and we immediately got down to viewing some ploughing. It was a nice walk along the enormous field to see all the ploughpeople “opening out” with just a row or two done. We viewed their handiwork, then went to see the other stalls, stands and the main ring, then returned to see how they’d got on.

Ploughing match

Ploughing match

My dad knows a bit about ploughing, so he was explaining things to us, but even in my uneducated state I could see which ones were good and which were bad. It was also good to see the ones that had finished in double quick time, and those that were struggling. You get penalty points if you go over the allotted time, something like ten points a minute, and there were some people who were going to get hit pretty badly!

The match we went to had a good selection of other things to look at, a craft tent and some local foods to ogle. It made a nice break from the ploughing and split up the day well. We watched some of the action in the main ring - a procession of the ploughs, plus some sheepdogs rounding up ducks and hens. There was also some sheep racing.

I had thought it sounded fun if a little cruel, but the sheep looked enormously happy, they were frolicking around even when the dog wasn’t herding them along the course. We each picked a sheep to cheer on. They ran three times and both my mum and my dad’s sheep won a race. Mine did not. Typical.

So the ploughing match day was a success. It’s not something you’d want to do all the time, but it was a nice day out. There were lots of families there and it was something like £8 for an adult to get in, so not massively expensive either. I’m not sure what it would be like in less good conditions. We had sunshine after a very wet week - so wet that we had to keep an eye on the website to make sure it was still going ahead, and not too muddy to travel all that way and not be able to park - or worse, get stuck! Thankfully, the British weather behaved itself for a change.

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