In autumn, the weather had been just too wet for quite some time, and then winter set in so suddenly, that only now conditions have improved enough for a task like ploughing.
The field had been grazed the last few years. Judging by what was growing on it, the soil was badly drained, fairly low in fertility and needed improving. Two years ago, we attempted to improve drainage in this field as well as the field next to it, and were able to improve things a bit. But it soon became clear that, although the surface looked much drier, underneath a matt of grass roots, a couple of places in the field are still pretty soft and wet and further drainage work needs to be done at some point to improve these spots. But this didn't stop us carrying on with the plough in the drier part of the field.
We started using the light German plough we had used for ploughing the oat stubble last October, but the ground was just too uneven for the settings to work well. So we switched to the Norwegian walking plough, which has a small shoe which keeps the depth of the plough steady. This plough worked much better, although the shoe tended to sink into the ground in the softer bits of the field, which resulted in rather shallow ploughing in parts. But once we had worked our way out of the softer spots, the plough turned out ideal for the field.
Both Henry and Winnie were a bit out of practice, and we took it easy in the beginning, only working them a couple of hours at the time - it was pretty hard work for us, too! But after a couple of days, it finally looked like we were making progress, working away from the wet area onto better ground. Henry worked out his way of staying in the trench pretty quickly, and the results for a first attempt to turn the sod with a team of horses this year were not too bad at all.
Now we hope that there will be enough time for the turned sod to rot and a few nights of harsh frost to break up the clods of earth a bit, before we will return in March to prepare the ground for putting the potatoes in.