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PICTURES: Why have these amazing straw bale artworks appeared along the A9?

Strathearn JAC Bale Art
Strathearn JAC Bale Art

Eye-catching straw bale artworks delighting people on the busiest road through Perthshire in recent weeks have been named among the best in the country.

Two local young farming groups, Strathearn and Bankfoot Junior Agricultural Clubs (JACs), have seen off competition from more than 50 Scottish entries to be named among the six finalists in a national competition to find the most creative agricultural creations in Scotland.

The Bankfoot JAC straw bale Bear Band

Strathearn’s effort, a bride made of straw next to her kilted groom and the words “farmer wants wife” has been amusing locals off of the A9 Inverness to Perth road at Drumlochy Farm, Blackford.

Further north Bankfoot’s “Bear Band” artwork is also located along the A9 at Newmill Farm, near Stanley. It is made up of three giant teddies made of bales – one of which is drumming and another playing guitar.

Together the two works form an unofficial route of four straw bale works along the busy road, with a further two said to be in place in the Highland end towards Inverness.

The Young Farmers’ Bale Art Competition was organised to encourage people to purchase Scottish meat, namely Scotch Lamb. This is the first year participants across the whole of Scotland have been able to take part.

Chairman of the Bankfoot JAC Ewan Smith, 24, said the Bear Band was put together during a big operation on Sunday, October 1 which involved about 12 young farmers using tractors and loaders.

The full-time farmer added: “Four of us worked together at the harvest and came up with the idea for it. We just waited for a rainy day. Ten to 12 people from the club turned up to help, it was great.

The straw bale effort by Vale of Alford JAC

“We are really lucky that one of our members lives right beside the A9. We couldn’t get a better space for it. Tens of thousands of people drive past that every day. We are really chuffed with it.

“We have never had something which gives the club that much visibility.

“They got blown down when we had the strong winds, thankfully we got them sorted. We knew we’d done a good one but we didn’t think we’d make it this far.”

Michael Rattray, chairman of the Strathearn JAC, said the straw bride and groom were inspired by the number of people who have met their future partners at young farming groups.

The 24-year-old farmer added: “It was actually our secretary who came up with the idea. We put out a competition to submit drawings. We had about five ideas to pick from.

Bill and Ben by Thornhill Young Farmers

“It was quite straight forward to get up. The farm we put it in is right next to the A9, the best place for folk to see it. We’ve had quite a lot of good feedback.

“Thankfully we have a lot of creative members in the club.

“The groom is actually wearing my brother’s old kilt. He was throwing it out. It is all about spreading the word of the Young Farmers. It is really good to be in the top six.”

Other finalists include the Vale of Alford JAC, Thornhill Young Farmers, West Renfrewshire Young Farmers and Crossroads Young Farmers.

The entry by Crossroads Young Farmers
A dog made by West Renfrewshire YFC

People were encouraged to donate to the STV Children’s Appeal through the project, with Scots TV presenter Lorraine Kelly the judge selected to pick a winner.

Scottish Association of Young Farmers (SAYFC) Clubs chairwoman Suzie Dunn, said all entrants had put in a “a fantastic effort” this year.

The Bankfoot JAC will hold a new members evening on Sunday, October 15 with an introduction to curling event. For more information visit their Facebook page.

Strathearn JAC will hold its first winter meeting this Thursday (October 12) at 7.30pm in Muthill Village Hall.

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