12-acre ploughing challenge using Weald & Downland Living Museum’s Percheron horses

A Weald & Downland Living Museum worker is taking on a tough challenge to plough a 12-acre field in just 12 days using traditional farming techniques and methods.

Andy Robinson, who is the working animal supervisor at the museum, is ploughing for around seven hours a day, five days a week, to achieve the target of covering 12 acres by Tuesday (January 18).

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.

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He said: “Since taking on the challenge I have developed a deeper appreciation for just how tough rural farm work was for our ancestors.

Andy Robinson, working animal supervisor at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, is taking on a ploughing challenge using traditional farming techniques and methods. Photo by Diana Zeuner

“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.”

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Before tractors were introduced farmers would have relied heavily on horses and horse-drawn implements 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.

Andy Robinson, working animal supervisor at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, is taking on a ploughing challenge using traditional farming techniques and methods

This working breed of horse thrives on physical work such as traditional farming activities to keep them fit, strong and healthy.

Andy said: “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.”

Home to The Repair Shop, the museum invites visitors to experience a unique glimpse into our rural history, with the chance to explore historic buildings and gardens, discover traditional farm animals as well as interactive demonstrations and displays.

The award-winning museum aims to follow a traditional farming calendar as much as possible and uses traditional farming methods and techniques to bring to life how rural communities used to work and live.

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.

Find out more about Weald & Downland Living Museum go to www.wealddown.co.uk