Sunday, 4 May 2014

We Plough the Fields

Today I went to see an attempt to break the world record for the greatest number of heavy horses ploughing in one field. I'm not sure if the world record was broken, but I was certainly impressed.

 Impressed is actually the wrong word - for some reason I can't explain, I found myself strangely moved. There was something beautiful about the sight of these huge gentle horses moving across the landscape with heavily wrapped up - the event was held on the coldest day in ages, on top of a windswept hill near Yass - people in tow. I think it was partly the element of time travel, the sense that one was looking back into a quieter past, where man and beast worked together, rather than man and truck or man and motorbike.
The other thing that made the whole thing so touching was the size of the crowd. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there, mostly country people, that tribe that is part of the legend we tell ourselves about being Australian but which few of us actually belong to. I don't think many of them would ever utter the word 'pamper' or give a great deal of thought to their appearance -  maybe they see the pointlessness of competing with the beauty of the natural world around them or, more likely, they don't have the time or the money.

The uniform of choice seemed to be a drizabone in this weather, but it had to be a thoroughly battered and muddied model. The faces were weatherbeaten, the conversation ran to sheep prices, rainfall and upcoming cattle sales.

This evening some amongst this morning's ploughing enthusiasts may be settling down to entertainment from an intriguing sub-section of the moving picture industry, a genre unknown to me until today:

Stall selling "Farming DVDs"

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