The Black Sheep – October

October 24, 2005

On top of the world

TR: Good work on the British Farming promotional front MT. I met a Yorkshire farmer a few years back who climbed Everest for charity – and when he got to the top, had his picture taken with a pro-British farming flag! Now that’s what you call commitment to the cause! 

October 21, 2005


bale art combineMT: A loyal member of the flock has sent in a snap of some bootiful rural art glimpse by A9 near Tain, Easter Ross. Apparently, this lad has had his work cut out finishing off the combining in time for the Easter Ross Ploughing Match to be held at Culnaha, Nigg on Nov 12th.

Another excellent job by the local bale art “fairies” advertising their annual event.  No wonder it’s such a success.

October 20, 2005

big pumpkin

Eyebrows were raised
over the pumpkin’s whiter-
than-white reputation

Return of the Pump-Kings


MT: Wowzers! The pumpkins are back from the farm and, my gosh, mine’s a monster.

Miss Deputy News’s parents have done us proud.

The size of it – I could carve most of the Elgin Marbles on its lovely orange surface. However, rather than go classical I’ve decided to carve a neo-gothic representation of a pseudo post-apocalyptic London (with stripes).

I simply can lose.

Urban display

PS: Bad luck with the footie result MT, I’m sure thnigs will go better next time! Still, it’s good to see you spreading the ‘Backing British Farmer’ slogan. I was amazed to see a similar poster when travelling through the urban sprawl that is inner London the other day.

October 18, 2005

The Black Sheep’s Hip-Hop connection

MT: Talking of dead on your feet, yours truly was recently bullied into playing football for FW’s esteemed sister publication, Hip-Hop Connection. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired as when the final whistle of the final match blew. Still, although we didn’t win (very nearly ‘though), I did manage to spread the good word of British food to the hip hop massive, as the tournament was featured in HHC’s September issue.

For those of you that missed it in you copies, here it is again:

hip-hop connection imageThe People’s champs 

“That ranks up there with Rocky III for underdogs almost making it,” says Michael ‘Arable’ Targett, slumped over a table languishing in the glow of near success.

Having lost in the final on penalties after extra time, Team HHC (or ‘Hip-Hop’ as they became known) nevertheless became the fan’s favourites of the Wyndham Heron five-a-side tournament, receiving a standing ovation as they retired to the club house after their final exhaustions against some team from Highbury Publishing.

Battling through the tournament with a lean squad of just five crack commandos, the no subs approach paid dividends with the crowd’s hearts, especially when forced twice to endure three 12-minute games on the trot. (That and the fact that HHC looked like penniless tramps – kit attire included a comedy Simpsons as Sopranos print, the Batman logo and the hard-hitting polemics of the ‘Backing British Farmer’ slogan.) However, with sharp-shooters Matt Eley and Barrie B (the B now appearing to sort of stand for Jesus Beard) regularly bulging the net upfront, Targett ad Mlynar running the middle of the park and Andrew Emery tending goal at the BBQ End, HHC breezed through the group stage (four wins, two draws, tons of goals for) before setting the standard with a 3-0 semi-final victory.

More importantly, playing in a style best described as being in the canon of Liverpool’s ‘let the ball do the work’ matra of the ‘80s also left time and space for HHC’s on pitch banter to come over as both sharp (Ref: “Calm down, it was an accident.” Targett: “That’s why you’re given a free kick then?”) and bizarre (Mlynar [standing at the halfway line]: “It’s only 3-1, I’ll defend when it’s 3-2.” Emery [tending goal at the BBQ End]: “No, Phillip, it’s 2-1.”)

So while the 0-0 stalemate of the final and subsequent loss on penalties was harsh and unjust, the true victor’s spoils revealed themselves in the sweet sound of crowd applause and admiration. It’s why they call it the people’s game.

Thanks to Phillip Mlynar and HHC.

October 17, 2005

Dead on our feet

TR: The Farmlife department is rather sedentary today. Mrs Farm Women’s Club invited me on a FWC Walking trip to the Isle of Wight this weekend. Now I know I’m unfit, but 25 miles in two days has left me in absolute agony today. Still, I bet none of the other male members of the Black Sheep flock have ever had a weekend away with nearly 50 women!

October 13, 2005

Bring it on

TR: Size isn’t everything, but big certainly seems to be beautiful in the pumpkin world. A FW reader contacted Farmlife recently to tell us about his giants – the biggest one of which tipped the scales at a stonking 15st. Beat that!

 October 12, 2005


MT: Pumpkins are the topic filling everyone’s brains at FW Towers today.

With the pumpkin calendar event – the Pumpkin Carving Challenge – looming on the the horizon, sourcing the right squash can mean the difference between the crown or the compost.

Entries are judged on three separate criteria: Artistic interpretation/originality of ideas; composition; and technical ability. The prize is a much sought after hamper of homemade pumpkin related food items.

Having placed my order with a secret supplier (Miss Deputy News’s family farm) I’ve been assured that there’s a beast of a pumpkin with my name written all over it. Apparently, it’s spent the year being fed on Tenants Super and listening to the death metal band Slipknot to aid it’s growth into a big, angry pumpkin full of angst and fury.

Now I know size isn’t everything, but first impressions do last and I’m hoping that my orange Godzilla-gonad of a squash will leave a lasting first impression on the judges.

October 11, 2005

The as-yet-unbitten-by-the-bug

TR: The Sudoko craze hasn’t reached this end of the office yet. A quick straw poll revealed Mr Features, Mrs Farm Women’s Club and Mr Art weren’t interested. I tried one once but it made my brain hurt. Can’t blame Mr Land and Farms for not DNF’ing either (assuming this stands for Did Not Finish). He was about to head off on holiday to Sweden so was probably more preoccupied with that…

October 6, 2005

The quick and the dead

MT: The FWi Sudo-Cow Invitational Challenge Cup took place this afternoon. Some whopping times had been laid down in qualifying, and the event was greeted with a monstrous amount of anticipation.

Here we’re the results:

1st place – Mr Foodchain, 7 mins
2nd place – Mr FWi, 10 mins
3rd place – Mr Allen-Stevens (representing the users), 12 mins

DNF – Mr Land and Farms

Hmmm … have to say that I’m a tad disappointed not to be today’s Sudo-Cow King. There have been some whisperings of questionable tactics (eg. playing on through the cake break), but I’m sure they’re just rumours … eh Sam?

I can already see that this is set to become a regular feature of the daily grind in FW Towers. Please feel free to send in your times, but be warned, if they’re implausibly quick I just won’t believe you! (my ball, my rules!)

October 5, 2005

Office runners

TR: Even if the assistant was updating the events calendar, I reckon working on a website is still a sexy job compared to some of the mind-numbingly boring jobs a lot of us have been lumbered with as a student and as a new graduate. Days in grain driers, supermarket shelf stacker, van driver and estate vermin control (co-ordinator, nonetheless!) were among my early career low points!

Surely other people had their share of dire temporary jobs after they graduated? Or was it just me, unable to secure any more meaningful form of employment?

Sudo-Cow fever

MT: The growing popularity of our Sudo-cow game is evident both inside and outside the office. On the outside we have traffic figures for the

sudocow small

Images of the Virgin Mary
suddenly seemed
less miraculous

game going through the roof. However, I remain unconvinced as to the validity of the stats for average time spent visiting that page. According to my data it’s 4m33secs, which means either farmers are natural-born sudoku champions, or most of you guys are giving up within 5 mins!

Anyway, inside the walls of FW Towers, the competition to be crowned Sudo-Cow King is hotting up. Yours truly laid down the gauntlet with some inspired number work this afternoon, conquering the beast in record time, but Mr Land & Farms and Mr Foodchain both fancy themselves as the young pretenders with faster fingers.

The net result is a head-to-head Sudo-Cow play off tomorrow. The pressure is most definately on.

Cometh the hour …

October 4, 2005

Monkey see, monkey do

MT: We were lucky enough to have a young graduate helping out on the site over the last few days.

Our huge backlog of tasks requires the frequent presence of whatever dregs of temporary employment we can scrape up for the peanuts offered up by Mr Farmers Weekly.

So … being the benign and gentle leader that I am I put this particular offering to work updating our events calendar. A more thrilling and rewarding way to spend two days (which surely must have flown by) I stuggle to imaging.

Anyhow young Tom has done a stirling job (feel free to browse the full listings of the SAC agricultural calendar – i’m sure you will) as our temporary web monkey and really has laid down the gauntlet for future web monkeys. I’m thinking of setting up a league system.

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