The Farm That Time Forgot: UK Farmer uses five one-tonne shire horses to plough 100 acres

The Farm That Time Forgot: UK Farmer uses five one-tonne shire horses to plough 100 acres

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The times are definitely not a-changing on an idyllic Devon farm where Shire horses are still used to plough the fields.

Jonathan Waterer, 57, has shunned modern machinery in favour of using five one-tonne Shire horses to work his 100 acres of land. 

The five horses are a throwback to a bygone era of farming, before the invention of the internal combustion engine.

The trusty steeds weigh nearly a ton each and stand at well over 18 hands tall. They are much cheaper to run than gas-guzzling tractors, requiring only oats grown by Mr Waterer and grass to fuel themselves.

The work horses take the lead with the 57-year-old farmer directing operations with tack equipment and traditional agricultural machinery bought from the Amish people of Ohio, US.

Mr Waterer, who has owned Higher Biddacott Farm in Barnstaple for 21 years, breaks in 30 to 40 heavy horses a year for other owners.

The horses' remarkable stamina also mean they can work well into their 20s and can mow an average of 10 acres of grass in one day on the arable farm.

In a stark contrast between old and new, the next door farmer uses four tractors and the same number of workers to do the same job.

As well as low running costs, the environmental benefits of using the traditional methods of farming are obvious. 

His horses may appear familiar to film and period drama fans as they have made appearances in Pride and Prejudice, Vanity Fair, Lark Rise to Candleford, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Poldark.

He said: 'I've worked with horses all my life, ever since I was a boy.

'I break in 30 to 40 horses a year and this is the best way to get them going. I can put a young horse between two of my Shires to get it to work as a team.

'There are only a few of us still ploughing with Shire horses. I saw my next door farmer using four John Deere tractors and we asked each other 'I wonder which one of us has got it right!'

'The traditional method may be more time-consuming than using tractors but it is our identity and I believe we reap the benefits.'

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Credit: DailyMail