Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Heavy Horses at Breamore

Looking back to a bright, warm Sunday afternoon in mid October. We drove up the Avon Valley road to farmland just north of Braemore village, where the Southern Counties Heavy Horse Association was holding the 39th Great All England Ploughing Championships and Show of Heavy Horses.

The event was held in a vast field with flat stubble land by the road and a gentle slope of stubble rising towards the west. A field that once would have been many smaller fields, separated by hedges. On the slopes, vintage tractors were ploughing. Down towards the road were the furrows of the morning`s ploughing with Heavy Horses, and a few teams still pulled their ploughs in the last few hours of the afternoon.

We made our way down through horse transporter lorries and trailers. Horses in their show finery stood , tied to the lorry sides and munching their haynets.

Ploughs, trailers, carts and vintage farm machinery were parked all around.

A farmer checking the harness of his beautiful dapple grey .

Resting Percherons....

Suffolk Punches.....

....and two Shire horses at the end of their ploughing, still in harness to the plough.

The fine brewers dray of Fullers Brewery from Chiswick, London, competed in the Trade Turnout class in the Show........

.....drawn by a pair of magnificent Shire horses.

Competing in the Leisure and Pleasure Turnout Class.

The Fullers Brewery Horses again.

A pair of Percherons in harness.


A horse and his man.......

....share quiet moments.

At the end of the afternoon came the Grand Parade. All competitors paraded in their finery around the ring. A truly magnificent sight. Here were the old breeds of working horses that previous generations depended on for working the land and for transport. There were Shires and grey Percherons, the now rare Suffolk Punches and Clydesdales, French Comtois horses and the Ardennes and Brabant Drafthorses originally from Belgium.

Farmers, still using these horses on their land, had travelled from all over Britain, from Scotland in the north and from Cornwall in the far South West. Their love of their horses was evident and the atmosphere of friendship and support had made this a happy day for all.

One of our local farmers was there with the Clydesdale x Cob horses who are used to plough his land . They also pull wagons of tourists on New Forest rides through the village lanes.

The stunning greys of the Percheron herd from Harbridge Farm were there. They would have only a few miles to travel home along the river valley.

Shining chestnut Suffolk Punches...

....and the Percherons again.

At rest......
Suffolks again......
......and a first prize rosette for them both.

At the end of the day, waiting to go home......

Some of the vintage tractors finishing their work......

Awaiting their journey home.....

....and beyond, the straight furrowed land that the horses had ploughed all day. A job well done.

At the end of the Grand Parade, we listened to the Heavy Horses` Prayer as the fine, beautiful animals stood patiently together, their coats shining in the evening sunshine. There were few dry eyes on the field as the words, so well deserved, rang across the company of horses.

A Tribute to the Horse

Where in this world can man find nobility without pride, friendship
without envy or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and
strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility; he has fought
without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing
less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more
England`s past has been borne on his back.
All our histories are his industry,
We are his heirs, he our inheritance.
"The Horse"

Monday, 4 October 2010

After October Showers

This week brought days of heavy rain, dull clouds and a few bright hours of sunshine in between the showers. Saturday afternoon, after rain, I gathered some of the last garden fruit before it could be bruised and battered any more. Michaelmas daises were dotted with water drops as bees and hover flies buzzed from flower to flower.

Pears from a tree by a sheltered wall. Some need time to ripen in a warm window.Others are ready now.

With them are late runner beans; a few are still tender enough to eat.

Maybe the last handful of soft fruit for this year?

The wasps have enjoyed this ripened pear, so it can stay on the tree to feed them.......

....while others need a week or two more before I harvest them.

Rotting and spotted with mould, this pear attracted flies, wasps and a red admiral butterfly to taste its sweet juices.

Scarlet dahlias shine in the afternoon sun.

Climbing French Beans have fed us well this year, so the ripe pods stay on the vine to dry and give next summer`s seeds.

Stringy runner beans hide among lush leaves, waiting to give up their seeds. If they are not too tough, they will still make Garden Soup.

We share our veggie garden with friends, who are growing kohl rabbi on their patch. The Cabbage White Butterflies have been........

Rich, glossy leaved and beautiful Red Chard. Worth growing for its colour alone.

The last round courgette, where mice have been feasting for a week or two.

Someone has seen me picking runner beans........

........"Any chance of a bean for me, I`m starving......I`m always starving!"


An old horse shoe dug out of the earth.

Endive leaves have given us fresh salad greens for weeks, but they are toughening now.

Good compost for mulching a raised bed before winter.

Round in the little orchard, which doubles as a wild garden , there are sweet apples to pick........

....and Bramleys to gather and store.

There is a helping paw with the weeding.......

....and Old Dog pulls at grass with his mouth or paddles and digs alongside his gardening Dad.

The mole is back.......

Another bowl of apples is gathered from the trees..........

....while rosehips hang like lanterns in the shrubbery........

.......and the last Crab Apples lie on the grass; a feast for passing birds and foxes and rich with the scent of ripe, fermenting fruit.