Saturday, 20 October 2018

Ploughing in the rain

A PLOUGHING match went ahead despite heavy rain.

A PLOUGHING match went ahead despite heavy rain.

More than 40 ploughmen and women took part in Sunday’s event at Bishopsland in Dunsden, which was organised by the Henley and District Agricultural Association.

About 200 people attended the match, compared with more than 2,000 people last year when the weather was better.

A log-chopping display was cancelled due to the conditions, as was a heavy horse display because the horses were cold and had to be taken home.

The day began with the traditional blessing of the plough ceremony performed by the Rev Stephen Cousins, chaplain of Shiplake College.

Competitors were awarded points for the level, depth, uniformity and straightness of their furrows but found the contest difficult due to the sticky soil conditions.

Charlie Belcher, from Waltham St Lawrence, who finished second in the competition for reversible ploughs not more than five furrows, said: “The weather has been against all the ploughmen and made the job miserable.”

But Ernie Jones, from Blounts Farm in Sonning Common, said: “The rain makes it sticky on top but otherwise it was all right. I come here every year and always enjoy it.”

Visitors were able to take trailer rides around the site and watch terrier and ferret races.

There were also trade and craft stands, with many located inside a marquee, static and mobile machinery displays, including a steam engine, and a Unimog truck and wood chipper. Tree surgeon Lawrence Williams, 22, from Caversham Heights, who owns the truck and chipper, gave demonstrations.

Association chairman Mike Cannon said the event was enjoyable despite the downpours and most of the traders who had booked stalls turned up.

He said: “It was a shame about the rain but that did not appear to dampen the enthusiasm of the ploughmen.

“Unfortunately, the weather forced the cancellation or curtailment of some of the extra events, which was a shame because a lot of work had gone into the preparation of those. As ever, our volunteers made the day.

“I think everyone is pleased that we are returning to our traditional Sunday next year and let’s hope the weather will be kind to us.”

Farm manager Simon Beddows thanked Lord and Lady Phillimore for providing the venue.

Next year’s ploughing match will be held on October 5 and will include a poultry auction, which was cancelled before this year’s event.

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