The arrival of a 32hp Massey Ferguson compact tractor at Bedfordshire's Mead Open Farm has helped make "little red tractor and trailer" rides one of the most popular attractions at a thriving farm park which hosted more than 180,000 visitors in 2008.
Following a circular route of around 600 metres, the MF 1533 tractor pulls two trailers and their spellbound occupants around the perimeter of a series of paddocks, giving visitors a clear view of the farm's pigs, goats, sheep, alpacas and cattle feeding, resting and at play.
Located at Billington, near Leighton Buzzard, Mead Open Farm is celebrating its 15th year as one of the area's top destinations for local schools and for young children accompanied by parents, guardians and friends. Holding a birthday party at Mead Open Farm is regarded as a special treat with a host of exciting events and activities on offer at a venue which is open every day of the year apart from 25 and 26 December and New Year's Day.
Popular hands-on activities for children include rabbit and guinea pig cuddling, pony grooming and bottle feeding of young lambs and goats. There's also the opportunity to hand milk a cow, race pedal go-karts and mini tractors, play crazy golf, run wild in the indoor play barn and cheer on your favourites in the daily ferret and sheep races, all fully supervised, very noisy and great fun for all ages. For the less energetic, Mead Open Farm offers shady picnic areas, a tearoom and a shop.
Supplied by local Massey Ferguson dealer, Lodgeway Tractors, the MF 1533 compact tractor ferrying visitors around the farm replaced a 135hp agricultural tractor that had been used previously for the job, as Mead Open Farm co-owner, Matt Heast, explained:
"Although my wife, Sue, and myself are still actively farming around 85 hectares, we decided last year to put all of the arable work out to contract, eliminating the need for one big tractor," he said. "While that tractor did help earn its keep taking visitors around the paddocks, it was not always available and was in reality far too big for the job, highlighted by the ruts created when the ground was wet."
When the opportunity arose to sell that tractor, Matt and Sue Heast decided to replace it with a much smaller compact tractor that would be far quieter, lighter and easier for Mead Open Farm's staff to drive.
"Lodgeway Tractors came up trumps with the MF 1533," commented Matt. "We had a demonstration of the tractor and that was it, decision made. Since then, our little red tractor has proved a great success with staff and visitors alike. Mind you, it packs a real punch for its size and, thanks to four-wheel drive, has no problems hauling two fully-laden trailers, even when the ground is slippery."