Working Animal Supervisor, Andy Robinson has embarked on the tough challenge to plough the Museums 12-acre field in just 12 days using traditional farming techniques and methods which would have been used by the historic rural communities represented at the Museum.
Andy will plough for around seven hours a day over five days a week to achieve the target of covering 12-acres by the 18th of January.
Andy hopes the challenge will provide an opportunity to bring this kind of traditional agricultural work to life and create a unique visual experience for visitors.
Andy comments: “Since taking on the challenge I have developed a deeper appreciation for just how tough rural farm work was for our ancestors. Not only was the work physically intense, but farmers also had to work in all weather conditions without modern clothing to protect them from the harsh winter elements and keep them warm and dry.”
Before tractors were introduced farmers would have relied heavily on horses and horse-drawn mechanisms to plough fields and help with essential farming tasks. Andy will be working with the Museum’s three Percheron horses, Ollie, Leon and Kash who will all be ploughing together to share the load and accomplish the challenge quicker. This working breed of horse thrives on physical work such as traditional farming activities to keep them fit, strong and healthy.
Andy adds: “One of my favourite parts of my role at the Museum is looking after the heavy horses and we are very much in this together and their wellbeing is paramount. I start my day around 6am with feeding and grooming the horses before setting up the harness and heading to the fields for a long day of ploughing which is followed by tending to the horses again in the evening before going home.”
The arduous challenge also marks “Plough Monday” which generally falls on the first Monday after Epiphany and signifies the traditional start of the agricultural year after the Christmas period. References to Plough Monday date back to the late 15th century and the day would have been marked by special customs and traditions which varied by region.
If you would like to keep up to date with Andy and his ploughing challenge, make sure you visit the Museum and check out our social media channels by searching for @wealddownmuseum.