THE NORTHAM PLOUGHING MATCH.
At this season of the year, and in the coun- try districts, the weather and the state of the crops," together with the agricultural and-pas- toral interests and prospects, form, for the most part, the stock-subjects of communication, as well as of conversation. There are, on this oc- casion however, two or three other topics, which are connected with one and the same event, and are therefore perhaps rather of local, than of general interest and importance, namely, the annual ploughing match, the dinner after it, and the ball after that. The weather for some 4 or 5 days, to wit, from about Friday, the 3rd, to Tuesday the 7th inst., was marked by very great variableness, and an unusual degrees of susceptibility, the sun, every now and then, shining forth with considerable warmth and with dazzling splendour and brilliancy, to be succeeded, however, in the course of a very few minutes by a heavy blustering gust from the N. N. W. accompanied by a driving, and, at times, a heavy shower of rain. This was more particularly the case on Tuesday, when the weather was very wet and boisterous, with driving rain, and yet with transient glimpses of the sun. Wednesday morning, however, brought a very desirable and welcome change with it, for, although a rather dense fog hung over and covered the valley of the Avon, and ushered in the dawn of day, it was quickly dispelled at the sun increased in power and warmth, and by 8 o'clock, nearly every vestige of the mist had disappeared, and the rest of the day was beautifully fine, cheeringly warm, and gratefully calm. Finer weather, in fact, could not have happened, nor could a finer day have been de- sired ; and so, no doubt, thought all of those who had made up their minds for ' an outing,' and to give themselves and their children a holiday on the occasions of the annual
which was, of course, under the auspices of the Northam Farmers' Club, and which passed off with very great eclat and. with unequivocal suc- cess. At an early hour many were already on the move, and Northam began to shew indica- tions of a bustling, festive, and busy day among the inhabitants. Soon after 8 o'clock, teams, with ploughs ' a board,' began to arrive on the trysting ground, a field of about 16 or l8 acres, adjoining the York road, and belonging to Mr. William Chidlow, who had, with his usual kind- ness and urbanity, placed it at the service and disposal of the committee ; and, by 9 o'clock, there were about 12 or 14 ploughs, ready to try conclusions on the testing and convincing arena. The, field-stewards, or committee of manage- ment, Messrs. Morrell, Hasleby, French and Wilkerson, were nearly the earliest on the ground, the two first engaged in making the preliminary and other necessary arrangements, while Messrs. French and Wilkerson were, for a short time, very indefatigable with the spades, and made themselves very useful in tilling up hoodies' holes, and levelling the surface whére ever it was very much broken or uneven. The
programme, put forward by the committee, j
Contained 4 classes of competitors, namely, Ko. I for one wheel, No. 2 for two wfceel, and No. S for swing ploughs, in each of which the driver was not to be above 30 years of age, and No. 4 for young men of 20 years and under. There were not however any swine ploughs on the ground, and the numbers of cusses was therefore reduced to 3, for which there were, in àlL II entries, namely 4 in the 1st, 3 in the 2nd, and 4 in the 4th. There were 1 or 2 other ploughs on the ground, but they were not allowed to compete, in consequence of the drivers being above the stipulated age of 30. Comments were rather freely made upon the exclusiveness of the regulation, and by many it was condemned for its apparent inexpediency, unfairness, and impolicy. But the young colonials acquitted themselves so creditably, and achieved their work so successfully and satisfactorily, that it is very problematical, whether the older and more experienced hands, if they had been allowed to enter the lists, would, in a generous straggle for superiority, have been able to hold their own by achieving the ' pride of place', and being the ' first in the throng' among their more juvenile competitors. The quantity of rain that had fallen during the 4 or 5 days immediately preceding the day fixed for the match, had made the ground, in many places, very boggy, rotten, and treacher- ous, and this was more particularly the case with that portion of it, which had been marked out as the site of rivalry for the double wheel ploughs. The ground for the competition in class 1, as well as for those in class 4, although not so swampy and rotten, was nevertheless not quite so suitable for the occasion as it might have been. At a very few minutes after 10 o'clock, the Honorary Secretary of the Club (Mr. Hasleby) called the competitors together, and read over to them the conditions of the match, the most important of which were that no furrows were to be open, and that they Were to be 6 inches deep and 9 wide, and in 2 lands of equal size. Leeder opened the batt, com* mencing his work at 10 minutes past 10, but> after ploughing some 5 or 6 furrows, he found the ground so swampy and treacherous in places, that he should either be obliged to abandon the competion, or to have a fresh plot marked out for him. This had ultimately to be done, and Leeder commenced de novo at »very few minutes after 11. Taylor and Richardson, the drivers of the other two double wheel ploughs, were also ^obliged to relinquish the ground at first allotted to them, and fresh plots
had to be marked out for them also. But the change was not much for the better, and, after ploughing a few furrows on his new location, Taylor was obliged to abandon all further com» petition. Leeder and Richardson however kept on, and ultimately finished their two lands, although the latter repeatedly thought that he should also be obliged to strike his colours, even when he had not more than 3 or 4 furrows to do. If ever there was ploughing under difficulties, it was the case on this occasion and, no mistake, for in some places the horses sank in up to their haunches, and were almost ou their buttocks. Leeders off-horse was a power» ful heavy mare, and rather a valuable animal, and, had he not been able to change her and to substitute in her place a horse of a much lighter stamp, he must either have given up, or else have run the risk of injuring, or perhaps of ruining, his mare. Those in the 1st and 4th
classes had not however such difficulties to
contend with, and they pursued the even tenor of their way, and, without interruption or drawback of any kind, were enabled to com» plete their allotted tasks, which was accom- plished by Dennis Bresnehan, who was the last to finish, at 5 minutes to 3 o'clock. Shortly afterwards the Judges went over the ground and inspected the work. The gentlemen who had been nominated in the first instance to discharge this (generally-speaking) un« enviable duty were C. E. Dempster Esq., J. P. of Buckland, and Messrs. Charles Taylor of Grass Valley, and John Lott of York. As Mr. Taylor's son, however, was a competitor in the class for the double wheel ploughs, he naturally declined to act as one of the judges, and, as Mr. Lott did not put in an appearance, Messrs. James Butterly and William Chidlow were requested to take the duties and act in the place of Messrs. Taylor and Lott, and they did so. Mr. F. Morrell Senior, the Chairman, and Mr. Haslebey, the Hon. Sec., of the Club, accompanied the judges in their round of in- spection. As the ploughing progressed during the match, the competitors were visited and their work watched by a good many people, and, as a matter of course, there were some differences of opinion on the matter and on the quality of the work, one of the old school fancying one piece was the best, as being better adapted for receiving the seed, while another was of opinion that another piece was the best, as regarded the facility for reaping. Long, however, before the ploughing was finished, nine out of ten of the visitors could spot the winners with some degree of certainty and con- fidence, but they could not so adroitly, or yet so readily and so successfully, allot tile 'pride of place. ' In this respect even the judges them- selves met with more than they had looked for, and, in making their award, they experienced a much greater amount of difficulty than they could have anticipated, the merits of Bresnehan and French in class 1, and of Bresnehan and Johnson in class 4, being so evenly balanced,
_and the quality-_n£-£he work so. very-equable,, _ that it was not until after some considerable time and very great consideration, that they could make up their minds as to the propriety of their award. The competitors themselves, however, as well as the generality of those on the ground, had the greatest confidence in the impartiality and conscientiousness of the judges, and therefore their decision was cheerfully accepted and readily and willingly acquiesced in, which is not generally the case, when the competition has been keen and close, and the merits and quality of the work so very equal. The quantity of ground set out for each com- petitor was not quite, though it was very nearly half an acre, and the following will show the list of the awards, together with other
details of the match.
CLASS 1.-(One wheel ploughs.)
1st prize, 60s., Bresnehan, not quite half an acre;4h. 30min. ; 2nd prize, 30s., John French, not quite half an acre, 3h. 50 min. ; Henry Blake, not quite half an acre, 4h. ; C. Wilker- son, not quite half an hour, 2h. 25 min. The extraordinary quick time in which Wilkerson Sot through his work, was in eonsequence of his
orses being such very fast walkers.
CLASS 2.-(TWO whel ploughs.)
1st. prize, 60s., Henry Leeder, time 3h. 5 min. 2nd prize, Richordson, time 3h. 20 min. Tay» lor (did not complete his work, being obliged to leave off.)
CLASS 3.-(Swing ploughs.)
Not any on the ground, and therefore them ' was no competition in this class.
CLASS 4.-(For 20 years of age and under.)
1st prize, 50s., Patrick Bresneham, time4h. ; 2nd prize, 30s., Johnson, time 4h. 30 min. ; 3 3rd prize, 10s., Yates, time 4h. 35 min. ; Beard
timeáh. 15 min.
The general character of the ploughing wa» exceedingly creditable, but the work did not show to do much advantage, as it would per* haps have done, if the ground had not been, rendered so swampy and so treacherous by ^ the
recent rains. The valable and somewhat brittle nature of the toil, moreover, prevented the work from having quite 'so pretty a skin' an would be desired, while for the very sam« reason, the furrows were not, to use an exprès*
sion common among farmers, quite 'aslevel as gun-barrels.' The work was however, on the whole, very creditable indeed, and mora particularly to that done by the boys. Double furrow ploughs were not invited, and the match was not therefore, by any means, an agricultu turaliat's affair, but was simply a trial of 'indi* vidual skill, and therefore does not posse« 'or present much interest for .those^ who, mt ha agricultural point of view, may desire to .ascer- tain the principal secret in farming, namery. how good crops caá be' grown «iii «id secured at the cheapest rates. In speaking of domble furrow ploughs not having, besn^-atyi«á¿;¿hV
should be remembered" perhaps' that Northam, And in fact the colony itself, is but in¡ its swadling clothes at present, but" the time may A come, when there may not only be a class open ' for donble-furrow ploughs, but when prizes may '.-be-also offered for the best crown, the best
finish, and the best ins and outs. With regfud h to the competitors, French was the only one is amongst them who was also a prize-taker at
the match last year. There were also other sports and amusements on the ground, consist- ing of jumping and foot races among the boys and youths, and even some of the older and more aristocratic did not disdain to doff their coats, and, at ' sprint' distances, try conclusions ' on the question of fleetness of foot.
At the termination of the ploughing match, and after the inspection of the work, the annual ' general meeting of theNoftham Farmer's dub was held at Kirk's Hotel, at which there were present the Chairman of the Club (Mr. Morrell), who presided, and Messrs. Chidlow, Delmage, C. E. Dempster, J. P., French, H. Lceder, James and J. R. Morrell, Throssell, Wilding, and Wilkerson. The following is the annual report, which was read by the Hon. Sec. (Mr. Hasleby).
"In presenting the annual - report of the Northam Farmer's Club, we have the pleasure to inform you, that, during the past year, 11 new members have joined, making a total on the roll of 41. -The Club also, during the same period, have passed several resolutions, bene- ficial, not only to the town, but also to the district generally. After paying all expenses, there will be, when all the subscriptions are paid in, a balance of £9 17s. 8d. to credit. We also wish to note an increase in the number of ploughs this year, thus shewing the interest taken in our annual gathering. We cannot close this, our report, without again thanking Mr. Chidlow for kindly allowing the Club the nse of his field for the match. Knowing that reports of this kind are not looked for to be of any great length, we trust that the above will
be deemed satisfactory."
FREDK. MORRELL, (Chairman.) JAMES HASLEBY, (Hon. Sec.) Northam, Sth Sept.
Mr. Wilkerson then moved and Mr. Chidlow seconded the adoption of the report, and the motion was ageeed to unanimously. Many of the annual subscriptions were then handed in by some of the members present, and a few other matters of routine were likewise trans- acted, among which was the unanimous «lection of 3 new members, namely, Mr. S. Viveash, proposed by Mr. Wilkerson, and seconded by Mr. Delmage, Mr. H. J. Cooke, proposed by Mr. Wilkerson, and seconded by Mr. H. Leeder, and Mr. James Batterly, pro- posed by Mr. H. Leeder, and seconded by Mr. Wilkerson. Mr. Morrell then vacated the «hair, and Mr. Dempster took it, and distribu- ted the prizes to the successful competitors, and was exceedingly complimentary to the winners of the 1st. prize in each class for the ?qualitv of their work, while to the winners of the 2nd prize he addressed words of encourage- ment, that, next year, they might be the re- cipients of the 1st. prize. Mr. Dempster also remarked upon the very gi eat difficulty the judges had met with in awarding the ' piide of place' between Bresnehan and French in the 1st. and Bresnehan and Johnson in the 4th. class, but he hoped that tho award which they had made, would give satisfaction to all parties. Mr. Dempster further said that, as an instance of the very great difficulty he and his co-judges had experienced in the matter, he would mention that, in viewing and inspecting the v orfr from one end, one seemed to be the best, ¿and that, upon üfoinpf round to the other end, then the other appeared to be the best. In Landing the prizes to the winners in the 2nd. .elaes (Messis. Leeder and lîichaidson) Mr. Dempster ohsevred that the judges did not, on 1'i° whole, coiifidev the woik as very satisfac- tory but that they thought it was exceedingly c.editable, considering: the state and nature of the ground, a'id the difficulties that had to be .contended agídnst. Davina: got so far through ti e duties oi the day, the metnbeis and visitors aepaircd at 6 o'clock to the Mechanics' Hall where
was to take place, and to which nearly 40 persons sakdov n, under the Chairmanship of W. J. Clifton Esq., E.M. and the lion. Sec. of the Toodyay, Northam, and Victoria Hains Agricultural Society. The report ot the -ploughing match has extended to such a length, that ii; is necessary to eui tail that with regard to the dinner, but there would he nothing of any very great importance to re- port about it, nothing more in fact than the ordinary acknowledgements of thanks for the complaint of the toast. Suffice it therefore to say that the dinner reflected the very highest credit upon Mr. and Mrs. Kirk, that there was a prolusion of e\eiy thing that could possibly tempt the most delicate and fastidious appetite-that the niek nacks especially, such as custards, jellies, blancmanges, &c. &c, would have dune credit to a professed cook or confectioner, and that, consequently, the dinner gave the utmost satisfaction to every body. After dinner the following toasts were »riven, all of thtra being heartily received, and duly responded to. "The Queen and Ro^al Family. ' " The Governor." " The members of the Legislative Council. " These were given frorai the Chair, and, with the last, the uame was coupled of the late member for Toodyay (Mr. C. E. Dempster,) who, in return- ing thanks, apologised for the absence of the present member (Mr. Edward Hammersley,) and explained that his not being present was .quite unavoidable. "The successful competi- tors" by Mr. Dempster, and acknowledge by Mr. H. Leeder, who, not having forgotten the difficulties that he had had to contend with during the day, observed that, when the annual match to take place next year, he should be residing in Northam, and should be able to offer to the Club a much better and more suitable piece of ground tor the match to take place on. " The Northam Farmers' Club," by Mr. Campbell Taylor, and courteously and ably acknowledged by Mr. Morrell (the Chairman.) "The Agricultural Interest" by Mr. Dempster, tiie Chairman (Mr. Clifton) returning thanks, as tbe Hon. Sec of the T. N. and N. P. Agri- cultural Society. "The Chairman" by Mr. Chidlow, acknowledged by Mr. Clifton. " The Judges" by MrJ Morrell, and acknowledge by Mr. Dempster. "The Visitors" by Mr. Throssell, Mr. Campbell Taylor, acknowledging the compliment. "The ladies" by Mr. Campbell Taylor, responded to by Mr. Chidlow in hi3 usual humorous and facetious manner, and .* The Host and Hostess responded to by Mr. Throssell on behalf of Mr. Kirk.
The day's proceedings and festivities were wound up by 2 | balj3, one at the Mechanics, Hüll, and the otter at the Avon Bridge Hotel. About 10 or 12 couple attended the former, but the latter, being under the auBpicesof the Club Committee, was! naturally the centre of attrac- tion, and was attended by about 40 of the "Terpsichorean devotees ot the light fantastic toe. Botii however pasBed off extremely well, and there was quite as much enjoyment at the one, -as at the other, j
There is another change in th e weather. The wind is again blowing hard, quite as equinoctial gale, from the Iii N. W., accompanied by occa- sional driving sh lowers of rain.