The Cheshire Ploughing and Hedgecutting Society was formed over 100 years ago and this year put on its 93rd Match. The match was held at Ashley Hall, Near Altrincham on Wednesday 28th September.
The Society was originally formed by a group of Cheshire farmers to settle an argument about who had the best ploughmen and hedgelayers, this was in the days when large numbers of people were employed on the land and all the ploughing was done using horses.
It now tours the county and has a different venue every year. Last year the match was held at Warburton Farms, Frodsham on fields around the High School. Unfortunately I was too young to compete on home ground. As the minimum age is 13.
My preparation for the competition this year began weeks before the actual match. My dad and I built a complete Ransom Robin Plough together from 3 other damaged ploughs. We then tested this out and set the skimmers and discs to plough at the right depth. This took a lot of thought and skill. We made some parts ourselves and we had to do lots of measuring to ensure the plough was set correctly to meet the society rules and regulations.
I entered into Class 9 of the competition with my 1967 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor. This is class is an open class for all Classic tractors 1960-1976 with any make of plough. This meant that I was ploughing against some of the county/countries finest ploughmen. I was a little nervous prior to the match.
On the day we got up early at 6am to ensure that our kit was sound and we left home at 7am to be certain we got there in plenty of time.
I was allocated plot 87. This is a plot of ground is approximately 100 yards x 100 yards. I had to plough to the Society of Ploughman Rules – a minimum depth of 7 inches and a maximum furrow width of 12 inches. I had to reset the plough to ensure that I could do this.
Ploughing began at exactly 10am. I had to cut open the ground, between markers, as straight as possible. This I did perfectly scoring good marks from the judges.
I then had to make a crown by ploughing around this opening 3 times. This was then judged again.
I then had to complete my area or ground, ploughing up to competitor 88 and finish before 2pm. It may sound like a long time but this is precision ploughing and I had to constantly measure depth and width. I had to adjust here and there to ensure that I could finish off evenly.
The judges kept coming around and marking our work throughout the day.
At 4pm there was a presentation and results were announced. I scored 92points from the 8 areas that we were judged on. The average score was 104 so I didn’t do too badly for my first attempt.
I was presented with a trophy and £25 for being the youngest competitor. I am really looking forward to next year and plan to practice to improve on my score.