It might not be PC, but as fairmers, we all have our favourites, whether it be that scabby auld yowe nursed back to health after days couped on her back, or a rebellious calf you eventually got the better of at the end of the halter.

However, I don’t think – unless you know better? – anyone has been so attached to an individual that they’ve surrounded them with warning lights to ward off evil predators?

Spring was an extremely anxious time for Dite Simpson, head shepherd for Sir Michael and Lady Sally Nairn’s Balnabroich Blackface sheep flock, at Blairgowrie.

Outwith their 600 Scotch Mules and 500 pure Blackfaces, he also had to attend to the flock’s new purchase, a highly prized ewe bought from Dean Aitken at Lanark, in February. Such was the excitement about the ewe’s forthcoming lambing, he sat up for nights eagerly awaiting the birth, to such an extent that when she did lamb – two very healthy potential show lambs – he had to go to his bed earlier than ever. But, not before switching on his ‘outdoor security lights’ on the flock’s new prized possessions.

His long awaited shut eye was soon disturbed by a knock at the door from the local polis wanting to know why his vehicle’s hazard lights were switched on and were flashing brightly in the corner of a field. Now, we’re not sure if they were looking into a potential red light district, or the onset of an outdoor teenage drinking session, but they were duly concerned when there was no-one on site.

It appears Dite was so proud of his new purchase and her lambs that he left the hazard lights on as protection from the evils of the local badger, fox, sea eagle and raven populations. It might have been an expensive option, but it worked a treat, as not only was the ewe able to rear two fit and healthy lambs, she went on to win the coveted breed championship at busy Alyth Show, last Saturday.

Team Aberdeen’s marathon journey

There was no doubt, Highland Sheep was always going to be one of the best National Sheep Association events, staged as it was at the Sutherland family’s exemplary Sibmister Farm, overlooking the Pentland Firth.

Therefore, it would come as no real surprise that there were some pretty hair-raising attempts by flockmasters desperate to attend – including one by four Aberdeenshire lads.

Picture the scene, the bold Stuart Forman, James Low, David Moir, Stuart Ross, all geared up for their maiden voyage from Aberdeen to John O Groats International Airport for the one-day event, when the were not allowed to board – allegedly due to their lateness after an enforced comfort break, but more likely after ‘one too many refreshments’. This was despite their loud pleadings with the airport staff as they watched the other north-bound passengers board the Flybe plane.

Undeterred, they phoned David’s mum, Gillian, to collect them from Dyce and get them onto a train bound for Inverness. There, in true fairmer style, they negotiated a taxi driver down from his initial quote of £200 for the 110-mile journey to Thurso to a reasonable £150 fare.

After a cracking day out, albeit lighter in the pocket, they rolled into Thurso approaching midnight for the trip home and still managed a pint in Top Joes before bed! The only thing is, The Raider is still not sure whether they got home the next day, or were left thumbing a lift all the way down to Ingliston for the Royal Highland Show?

From shepherdess to world champ

Scotland has a new world champion this week – Hannah Rankin, from Edentaggart, on Loch Lomond-side, made history by becoming Scotland’s first female boxing world champion.

The farmer’s daughter secured a unanimous points victory in the IBO super-welterweight world title fight against American Sarah Curran, at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, in Paisley, last weekend. The multi-talented Hannah – she is also a classically trained bassoonist –grew in strength and confidence as the fight went on to score enough points in a close win against a tough opponent.

In an earlier interview with The SF, Hannah paid tribute to her upbringing on the farm: “It taught me the value of hard work, responsibility, discipline, respect and the desire to always be out exploring new ideas and learning new things. All of which have been invaluable in both my careers as a musician and boxer.”

Definitely a girl not to mess with!

Rounding up cats ... and dogs

Gathering up sheepdog trial results for the pages of The SF may seem like child’s play to anyone who hasn’t tried it – but it’s a bit like rounding up cats!

Excuses for missing competition results vary from: “They’re in the Land Rover and I can’t go out in my PJs,” to “I could tell you, but they might not be right.”

One farmer said the results were burnt. “You burnt them, in case I might ask for them?” demanded our correspondent, Sine. “I didn’t burn them, I just laid them in the fire . . . but I see someone has lit the fire, so I take it they’ve been burnt!”

Mobile phones signals are unreliable and some stock workers and farmers are reluctant to admit they are at home to answer the land line. One recent judge explained why he was in the house when called at 10 am, “There’s a reason I’m in now,” he explained. “My wife is coming out to drive a vehicle for me, but her hair isn’t done yet, so I’m waiting for her to fix it.”

Fortunately, the process of his wife’s readying her hairstyle, to stand up to the scrutiny of the Northumbrian countryside, allowed the judge time to give a vivid account of his stint in the hot seat and our pages are now full of info fresh from the horse’s mouth!