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Agricultural shows go online

15

AGNES AITKEN knows exactly what she is after. “I’m looking for a pleasant head, with a kind eye when she looks at you,” she explains. “A nice personality, a long slender neck, a nice shoulder and an extensive chest.” Mrs Aitken, in short, is searching for a goat. And not just any old specimen with a wispy beard and a gammy leg; one fit to be declared the finest in most of Scotland. Fortunately, at the least some of the animals she has been inspecting seem to fit her exacting brief. “The quality has been good,” she goes on. “There’s also some at the tail end, but we’ll maybe not dwell on them.”

Scotland’s summer calendar is usually filled with agricultural shows. Nancy Nicolson, farming editor of the Courier, a Dundee newspaper, would go to one every weekend in between May and September, getting her wellies “no matter the forecast”. Covid-19 offers put a stop to that. It is simple for a caber tosser in order to persuade others to keep some sort of social distance; harder to generate animals (and their handlers) stay two metres a part or to prevent crowds developing for a celebratory whisky. Despite having lockdown loosening, the Scottish social calendar is bereft of such festivities.

But Ms Nicolson couldn’t confront a summer without a individual show. Her newspaper’s solution—Scotland’s first online agricultural show—will be held on Come july 1st 3rd and 4th. Mrs Aitken, who has kept goats for 27 years, the of ten judges. She’s going to assess home-made video clips of goat to determine a winner. This can be a daunting task. “When you’re judging an animal, it’s on the job,” she says. “The experience of it is important, the texture. Anyone move around, you duck in addition to dive.” None of that is achievable watching a YouTube snap. Still, “it’s the same for just anybody, no one has an advantage.”

The format has empowered farmers from much further afield to enter. Scottish goats will face competition via well-groomed rivals from Cornwall and Northern Ireland. Cash payouts for dogs, cakes in addition to farm machinery will be dependant on a public vote. In late the weekend, the most exclusive prize—champion of champions—will become handed out. “An enormous Charolais bull goes up against some sort of pygmy goat and sometimes some sort of duck,” says Master of science Nicolson.

Such a competition is a little absurd, but shows are also a serious business. Cash payouts help breeders fetch bigger prices for their livestock. Plus the events bring farmers via across the country together, a encouraged respite from work that can be socially isolating as well as physically demanding. Only a few of that will be possible online, of course. “You can’t duplicate the drams in the indicate marquee,” concedes Master of science Nicolson. “But farmers undoubtedly are a competitive bunch and it’s the only show in town.”

This article seemed in the Britain section of printed edition under the headline “MooTube”

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