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Write a Stellar 200-Word Essay and You Could Win a North Carolina Farm

It doesn’t take years of savings and perfect credit to buy a farm—all you need are some excellent writing skills. As WLOS reports, former architect/current farmer Norma Burns is giving away her organic farm to the winner of a 200-word essay contest.

After running the Bennett, North Carolina farm for 18 years, Burns is now looking for a committed couple to take it off her hands. The contest website reads:

“You and your partner (of any description) are aspiring farmers. You believe that there's no better calling in life than raising organic food. You've gotten experience and training. You're willing and able to put in the long days and hard work that farming requires.

The only thing you don't have is … a farm!

Bluebird Hill Farm believes in making it possible for new farmers to get started.”

The 12.88-acre property includes a farmhouse, a lavender field, a greenhouse, a distiller, a chicken coop, and a barn (which comes with its own barn cat, named Barney). At least one member of the couple must be between 25 and 50 years old and a permanent U.S. resident or citizen to enter. Contestants are also required to pay a $300 submission fee. If the contest raises enough money, the winner will receive $50,000 in transition costs on top of the $450,000 value of the farm deed.

Aspiring farmers have until June 1 to submit. If you miss out on this opportunity, don’t fret—contests that award property based on writing chops are more common than you may think. Short essays have helped people win everything from a bed and breakfast to a movie theater.

[h/t WLOS]

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Scandal! 12 Camels Were Disqualified from a Saudi Arabia Beauty Contest Over Botox Allegations
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s central Riyadh Region has been roiled by an animal show scandal straight from a Christopher Guest film. As NPR reports, around a dozen camels were disqualified from a beauty contest at the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival because their handlers illegally plumped their features with Botox injections.

The month-long Camel Festival in Al Dhana, Saudi Arabia, runs through February 1, 2018, and features around 30,000 camels. The animals participate in races, an obedience competition, and a beauty contest. Nearly $57 million in prize money rides on these high-stakes events, and owners preen their prized steeds accordingly with massages, hairspray, and—as it turns out—banned cosmetic surgery procedures, according to The Telegraph.

Camels in the ungulate pageant are judged on whether they have long necks, enlarged lips and noses, a big head, and defined humps. The criteria evidently drove some owners to desperate measures: Shortly before the Camel Festival kicked off, officials discovered that a vet had been injecting some participating camels with botulism.

The vet is receiving heat, but he’s by no means the only competitor to use illegal tactics, according to United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National. In addition to Botox injections and collagen fillers, some sneaky handlers darken their animals’ coats with oil, rely on hormone injections for enhanced muscularity, and stretch the camels' lips by hand to elongate their appearance. And while large facial features are considered desirable, large lobes aren’t, so the guilty vet’s humped charges also received ear reductions.

Officials can ban enhanced camels from entering future beauty competitions, and owners can face possible legal recourse for violating animal welfare laws. Some breeders have called for cheaters to face stronger punishments, like a fine, which is already applied to drug-enhanced racing camels. As for now, the 12 camels who went under the needle are now under the microscope.

[h/t NPR]

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LEGO Wants to Turn Your Space-Themed Design Into a New Set
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LEGO wants to turn your out-of-this-world brick design into a reality as part of a new contest calling for space exploration-themed concepts. The winning entry in the LEGO Moments in Space competition will be transformed into a real-life LEGO set that the company will give away as a promotional "gift with purchase" product.

As part of the contest, LEGO is inviting designers ages 13 and up to create what the company describes as “the ultimate space model." The design can be realistic or based on science fiction, as long as it follows a few important guidelines. The final assembled product must be made from around 300 basic pieces, and it can't be too big. It has to be able to fit on a 16-stud-by-16-stud LEGO baseplate inside one of the smaller LEGO boxes. The designs can feature stickers, but they have to be decals from old LEGO sets.

Participants can submit entries for the “LEGO Moments in Space” contest either in the form of digital renderings or photos of real-life projects through February 9, 2018. Fans can vote for the top 25 builds on the LEGO Ideas site, and then a special panel will select the grand-prize winner and 10 runner-ups. The results will be revealed to the public on March 2, 2018.

The winner will not only have the opportunity to see their design made into a real product in 2019, but will also receive a $250 online LEGO shopping spree and a curated collection of LEGO's previous "gift with purchase" sets. Get more information about entering the contest on the LEGO Ideas website.

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