The local Blackface sheep breeders group hold an annual Blackface Sheep Stock Judging Competition. Each year it is hosted by a different Blackface Sheep breeder, and this year it was at Knock Farm. We woke up to the worst day of autumn so far, with high winds and torrents of rain.
The new hens we bought at Dingwall the day before (more news about them in a future blogpost) were in their temporary homes and the animals were all fed and watered, so Farmer and I headed out in our full waterproofs to Knock. The view from the top of the Burg looking down to Ulva and Loch Tuath was nonexistent, the cloud was low and it was raining so hard! The road ran with rivulets of water, and the Highland cattle we saw round towards Torloisk looked miserable.
Thankfully the Stock Judging was taking place indoors in the lovely stone farm buildings at Knock. The first Class was underway when we arrived, and crowds of participants sat or stood round the ring. Your task is to judge the animals in the ring – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
Each year someone from the wider farming community is invited to come and judge the stock – this year he was from near Dalmally. To win you have to select the same animals as he does, and your paper is marked accordingly. There is a wonderful air of silence and concentration as everyone looks over the animals, and the Judge took a long time to select his order. We did extremely poorly! But it was good fun, and a great way to spend a wet and wild Sunday! Sharee and Caroline from Loch na Keal Meals barbecued dozen of delicious Mull burgers when we stopped for a lunch break, and there was a licensed Bar.
There were lots of non-farming folk there too, and with a separate children’s competition, it makes a good family day out too.