It’s not big secret that my 7 year old son takes life at his own pace. He’s often risk averse and no matter how much encouragement he’s given, he isn’t great at trying new things. It’s often left me feeling a little sad for him, especially when he’s missed out on some wonderful opportunities to make memories which would last him a lifetime. I’m sure other boys his age would often jump at the chance to sit in a racing car or stand on the footplate of a steam train as it stood at the platform. But, sadly not my son. On Sunday though we witnessed a really lovely event as we watched Monkey conquering fears on Open Farm Sunday.
Monkey has been obsessed with tractors and combine harvesters for as long as I can remember. Over the years he’s had the opportunity to sit in these and many other types of agricultural and construction vehicles. But every single time, he’s refused point-blank. In many instants we’ve not even been able to persuade him to have a picture taken next to them. The vehicles he loves so much were to be admired from a distance it seemed.
Little did I realise that all that was about to change last weekend as he spent an afternoon conquering fears on Open Farm Sunday. The annual farming event is something we’ve never managed to get involved with before. We’ve always had a full diary and it just hasn’t happened. But as luck would have it, we had a totally free weekend last weekend, so I pencilled the event in my diary and looked for farms close by that would be participating in the event. There were a few to choose from within easy reach, but the Newbottle Estate jumped out at me as there was mention of a combine harvester being on display.
Everything was well signposted and the event was clearly popular judging by the cars that were parked up. Monkey was really keen to see the cows, and was insistent that they were our first stop. The estate raises Aberdeen Angus and a small herd of Longhorn cattle, as well as Cotswold Sheep.
The children could complete a Farmers Passport by looking for clues around the farm. Monkey loved looking at all the machinery and learning more about what each piece of equipment was used for.
Tractor trailer rides have become a big hit with Monkey over the last few years. He conquered that particular fear when staying at Coombe Mill a couple of years ago and as soon as he spotted two different John Deere Tractors offers trailer rides, he was there like a shot.
The Newbottle Estate is run by John Townsend and his daughter Alice. Daddy P was lucky enough to end up sitting next to Mr Townsend, and it was really interesting listening to them talk about farming over the years and the love he felt for the estate.
Alice was our guide as we toured the estate and she talked at a level that was perfect for both children and adults. We all enjoyed listening to her explaining about the different livestock and arable crops that they farm. Monkey was very impressed to hear that their crops are used by the likes of Warburtons and Weetabix.
The tour was fascinating, we got to learn about their environmental schemes with areas of the fields planted to attract birds and insects, they even have bee hives. The farm is most certainly set in beautiful countryside. We really are blessed to live in this part of the world. Stunning.
We got to enjoy to enjoy BBQ food provided by the butchers using estate grown produce. The burgers were just amazing.
As we’d entered the estate we’d spotted a variety of tractors on display, along with a combine harvester. The machines are owned cooperatively, with a couple of other local farms and Monkey was eager to have a look. The New Holland T9 tractor is a beast, it’s really rather huge. Monkey headed over to have a look and we told him that he could actually climb up to get inside if he wanted to. There weren’t big crowds around the machines as he’d been used to at other large events we’d been to, so this was the perfect opportunity to try conquering fears on Open Farm Sunday.
He decided, that yes he’d like to go inside if his Daddy went too. There was a little wobble half way up – it’s a long way up for a timid 7 year old after all. But he made it and he loved sitting in the cab. He started with his Daddy sitting in the main seat, but it wasn’t long before he decided that he wanted to ‘drive’.
All was going well until it was time to climb down. Daddy P had come down first, but monkey suddenly realised he was high up and he couldn’t quite understand that he needed to come down backwards. The tears flowed and Daddy P had to rescue him. We had lots of cuddles when he reached terra firma and I told him how proud I was of him. He’d been in a tractor, not just any tractor, he’d been in a massive T9. If he could do that, he could do anything. I bet he could even climb into a combine harvester. Look at that ladder, that’s so easy to climb compared to the T9 Monkey. Part of me thought we’d blown it, and that our chance to see him conquering fears on Open Farm Sunday was over. But, my son is clearly getting more resilient and his self belief is growing. We dried away his tears and before I knew what was happening he was asking Daddy P to help him climb the combine.
The smile on his face could have powered the electricity to the surrounding area I think. He was over the moon. He was sitting in a combine harvester. He’s spent time conquering fears on Open Farm Sunday, and it was just so wonderful to watch him making memories. Having the confidence to get in and out of vehicles that he loves so much. Honestly, this means more to me than you can imagine. A little boy enjoying something that he loves so much, with a huge smile on his face. Magical, just magical.
That was it then. Mummy I’m going in the John Deere!
He was off and it was just wonderful. A fear truly conquered.
No help needed.
Farmer Monkey at your service.
He was having so much fun and you could see the difference in him.
We lost count of the times he climbed from one vehicle to the next and then I mentioned that he’d done something I’d never done. Monkey, I’ve never sat in a tractor or a combine. Come on Mummy, come with me!
What a great way to spend an afternoon, I’m so glad our diary was free for Free Farm Sunday, and I’ll be making sure I save the date for next year. It’s well worth find out which farms in your area are running events. For a small donation for a charity of the farm’s choice you can have a great time exploring, learning and maybe conquering fears too.
Looks like I have a farm worker in the making now.