Ploughing comp heads south
He grew up ploughing, and will be the oldest competitor at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships next month.
And, Tom Fowler, 83, says he has no plans of slowing down when it comes to competitive ploughing.
‘‘I’ll keep going as long as I can I think.’’
Fowler grew up in a farming family after his ancestors moved to New Zealand from Scotland in 1857. His dad’s uncle, John Fowler, set up his foundry – Fowlers Agricultural and Implement Works – in 1862 to make farming equipment.
For the past 10 years, Fowler has been the first of his family to be a competitive ploughman, and does so with a vintage Fowler plough built by his ancestors in Mosgiel. The year of the machine is unknown.
It is a horse plough that will be drawn by a tractor during the championships, and Fowler will be behind the plough to operate it.
Competing was a big challenge, but he got on well with other competitors who often ‘‘gave a bit of cheek’’, he said.
‘‘It’s a real art form ... it’s a sort of sport, a history really.’’
Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club president Fraser Pearce said Fowler set an example for younger ploughmen who looked up to him.
‘‘When the younger people come through, Tom’s generation are quite happy to tutor and it’s great to see.’’ This year the club is hosting the New Zealand Ploughing Championships on April 14 and 15. ‘‘It’s a big responsibility taking on a New Zealand final,’’ Pearce said.
This year is the 63rd year of the competition, but will also be the 60th year since the first New Zealand final was ploughed in Southland and the first time ever in the small town of Thornbury.
So far more than 30 people have entered into the four classes – conventional plough, reversible, vintage and horse.
Competitors will come from all over the country, but predominantly from Southland, Otago and Canterbury.
Ploughmen have competed at qualifying events throughout New Zealand to qualify for this event, Pearce said.
A lot went into judging, including the neatness and straightness of the plough. ‘‘It’s a long road and a lot of commitment.’’
The winners of the conventional and reversible classes will compete at the World Ploughing event in the United States in 2019.
Ploughing committee chairman Bob Anderson with Fraser Pearce, Tom Fowler and the vintage plough.