“The Mart”, a six-part BBC Scotland series aired early 2016, is a behind-the-scenes documentary about life in Thainstone Mart, one of Scotland’s biggest livestock marts.
The series features Thainstone auctioneers, and the farmers who rely on them to help sell their livestock.
We caught up with Finlay McIntyre, one of The Mart’s auctioneers, who graduated from SRUC Aberdeen in 2006 with an Honours Degree in Agriculture.
It’s been great watching you on BBC Scotland’s The Mart. How was the experience?
It was an interesting thing to be part of the filming, and to see the work those guys put into making it. It was thoroughly enjoyable to be part of it, and it’s been a good advert for the industry.
Do your friends consider you a celebrity now?
No, I don’t think they think I’m a celebrity – they still think I’m a bletherer. I couldn’t even spell “celebrity”!
Your passion for livestock farming really came through in the show. Are you from a farming family?
I was born and raised in Kinloch Rannoch. I was lucky enough my father was shepherding when I was young. He came away from farming, but always gave people a hand. My grandfather had sheep, and my aunty and uncle were also in sheep farming.
I was always going to be involved in farming one way or another – I didn’t know how – but knew that’s what I wanted.
I’ve never really been interested in arable farming. To me, a tractor is a great work of engineering, but a good Blackie or a good Hills – is a great feat of genetics. That’s why I prefer the livestock side of farming.
What are you up to now?
I’ve left auctioneering because I got the chance to become a farm manager for an estate in Perthshire, right along from Kinloch Rannoch, where I was born. I feel very fortunate. I’m very much back into the community now and managing a place called Dunalastair Estate. I still keep my own sheep as well, so back to your more practical farming. I can’t see myself moving again from here.
You initially enrolled in HND Agriculture with SRUC in Aberdeen (then SAC), but stayed on to graduate with an Honours degree. What motivated you to continue your studies?
Aye, I enrolled in HND to begin with, and I always thought, “I’ll get a job, perhaps even after I get my HNC, I’ll just get a job and not go back to College”. But then, August/September-time every year, I thought, “I better get back there”.
Some of the best years of my life were at College, I met some very dear and long term friends. I met my wife Gillian there too - she was at SAC in Edinburgh – so I owe a great deal to it. I’m glad I kept going back.
What did you particularly enjoy about your studies in Aberdeen?
There was a very dedicated team of lecturers, and you got the impression they really cared what they were speaking about. The practical side of things that we did on Craibstone farms was enjoyable too.
Then of course there was the social life. Well, I made full use of the social life while I was there. I think that’s what it’s all about!
Has what you learned at SRUC put you in good stead?
It was not just what I learned in the classroom, but what I learned from the lecturers just speaking to them casually, that was really valuable.
It’s amazing what you learn from your peers, I think that was one of the most important things from College. I was going to SAC with guys from Ullapool, Caithness, Shetland, Orkneys right down to the Borders – the whole of Scotland went there and it was so interesting to see how different folk had different ideas about how they did different things.
So what you learned from your peers was so important, but what we learned from our lecturers was invaluable. Now that I’m back to practical farming again, I’m using it a lot more.
Do you still keep in touch with your Agriculture classmates?
Some of them, but not as many as I’d like. I still have my core group of guys, we don’t catch up as often as we should, but we’ll meet and do stuff every now and then, it’s great. There was a reunion two years ago, I never made it unfortunately – we have probably got another one due soon.
Do you have any wise words for today’s SRUC students?
What I can say is to enjoy your time at SRUC and make the most of it. Stay for as long as you possibly can – don’t think you’ll not need your degree, because you’re just going to go home and sit on the tractor, and that you’ll be happy enough with your HND. Stay. You’ve got all the rest of your life to work and sit on a tractor. Even if you never use any of what you learn, it’s the experience that you’ll miss out on, and if you don’t go you’ll never get that experience. So that would be my advice, just to go and enjoy it and stick with it.