Today I ploughed a field.
To be honest, that is really the climax of the story, so I probably shouldn’t have come in with that quite so soon, but I was excited. I wanted to tell you.
And it wasn’t a whole field, more like eight furrows. But you know what I mean.
I was invited by Yeo Valley to the annual Mendip Ploughing Match and so this morning, the promise of lunch blinding me to the ominous black clouds gathering above me, I made my way to a muddy field in the middle of nowhere.
Fortunately, in the middle of said field, I found the Yeo Valley tent:
How did I know it was the Yeo Valley tent you ask? Well, this giant yogurt pot outside rather gave it away:
Inside, we sheltered from the rain and huddled round the open wood fire, munching on homemade vanilla shortbread and warming our hands around cups of coffee whilst salivating over the lunch menu:
Looks good doesn’t it? It looked just as good in the flesh too:
Feeling just a little on the full side, we thought we should brave the drizzle and have a look at some actual ploughing. It was pretty impressive, with tractors, people and horses all pushing and pulling ploughs, trying to create the perfectly ploughed patch. I did my best to cast a professional looking eye over the ploughed areas, but what exactly constitutes a well-ploughed field? Is it neatness? Speed? Who knows. This one I thought looked very good:
This one a little more ‘rustic’:
The most incredible bit though was watching one farmer ploughing with two large horses, one of whom I deduced to be called Robert.
Now I know that you can train horses, and do things with reins and whatnot to make them go in the right direction, but I had no idea that you could just talk to them in the same way you might talk to your farm hand. This man was standing about four or five meters behind his horses, having just turned them around at the end of a furrow, lining them up for the next. He tipped his head to one side, casting a critical eye on his horses.
“Move in a bit there Robert,” and said casually, and we turned to see one of the horses take a single dainty side step in towards his partner.
Then though, I got to have a go all by myself. Not with Robert – I don’t think he’d be quite so obedient for me – but in a Real Life Tractor. This tractor in fact:
The eight furrows closest to the tractor were ploughed by yours truly. I’m sure you’ll agree they are quite wonderful:
I have always loved Yeo Valley for their honey flavoured greek style yogurt, but now I also love them for teaching me how to plough.