More curious than particularly interested, one Sunday afternoon I found myself with Dad visiting the New Zealand Ploughing Championships – after all, it was only fifteen minutes’ drive from home.
It turned out to be a very warm autumn afternoon and good fun wandering around with Dad as he tried to explain some of the complexities of ploughing. With my slight interest in old tractors, previously documented, the best part of the afternoon was looking at many fine examples of old machinery as Dad regaled me of tales along the lines of: “so-and-so used to have one of those” or “I drove one of those in [insert far-flung place I never knew Dad worked in]” or “the only time I ploughed was driving one of those”.
Other highlights were the steamed-up traction engines powering a thresher while some guys bagged whatever it was processing, and (for the comedy value) a group of war equipment enthusiasts tearing around a field/paddock in an APC and old military Jeeps and Land Rovers while their colleagues fired very loud blanks from a field gun and various machine guns.
We didn’t actually watch a lot of tractor ploughing (it’s not much of a spectator sport), but the horse ploughing was fascinating. The control that the drivers had over their teams of horses (numbering from one horse to six horses) while following twenty metres behind was quite impressive – as was the ability of a large team of horses to turn on a dime to head back in the opposite direction.
A worthwhile Sunday afternoon out which we quite enjoyed.