BARELY into my teens, I often helped my first boss, Willie McIntosh, of Greenhill Farm, in Houston, Renfrewshire, (I was his milk delivery boy) to show his Clydesdale horses and Friesian and Ayrshire cattle.
One year in the mid-1960s and flushed with a modicum of success in the dairy rings at Houston Show, we set off for Largs the next week. 
I was full of optimism, but my old mentor soon brought me back down to earth: “These Rothesay kye are almost impossible to beat,” he said. And so it proved!
Fast forward a quarter of a century to 1982. Both Robert Macintyre, Dunallan, and James McAlister, Bruchag, lodged with me prior to Strathaven Exposition where Robert was to adjudicate in the Friesian ring.
While walking through the show that day, James and I came across two legendary dairy breeders, Bertie Drummond, of Bargower Ayrshires and Willie Armour, of Annandale Friesians. James had not met Willie before, so I introduced them.
Willie’s first words were: “Meikle Kilmory Rosary was a tremendous cow” – Meikle Kilmory being the McAlister family prefix before the move to Bruchag in 1944.
Rosary was, indeed, a remarkable beast, winning Ayr and the Highland shows in the same year in the late 1920s. She would win a further two Highland Show championships, the last being at the ripe old age of 11 years and two months. 
Then, in the 1930s, a member of the Moss Rose family won Ayr Show four years in succession. 
This week, Bruchag Talent Evelyn kept the herd flag flying by taking the championship at Ayr in the hands of the Lawrie family. She already won Superheifer and breed title credits from her two visits to AgriScot.
In the Friesian ring that day at Strathaven, after awarding a red ticket to a young exhibitor in a yeld stock class, Robert informed the handler that he should wear a breed tie the next time he came in to the ring.
Forward another 25 years and these two most renowned of Bute’s dairy herds were dispersed on successive days last week.
First up at Carlisle, last Wednesday, was James McAlister’s Bruchag herd dispersal which peaked at 6200gns. The Evelyn and Moss Rose families were among the catalogued and most sought after entries.
And, in a delicious touch of irony, the top priced calf, at 2200gns, was bought by Adam Montgomerie for his famous Lessnessock herd, at Ochiltree. It is a little known fact that the Montgomerie family were once tenants of Bruchag before moving to Lessnessock, via Hall of Caldwell, at Uplawmoor.
The next day, the Dunallan herd was dispersed on farm on Bute. Legendary auctioneer, Robbie Wilson, opened proceedings. “Since Dunallan is one of the oldest prefixes in the herd book, Robert Macintyre thought it would be fitting if one of the oldest auctioneers opened the sale.”
Just prior to that, however, a special presentation was made to Brian Liddle, who had spent his entire working life of 50 years with the Macintyre family.
And, in another extraordinary touch, the top priced animal, at 2600gns, turned into a bidding duel between two men who had served alongside Robert as SMMB/Scottish Milk/First Milk directors. They were Sandy Pirie, from Campbeltown, and Tom Campbell, from West Kilbride, with the latter making the successful final bid.
As for that ‘improperly dressed’ young man from 1982, Stewart Braid, from Moffat, spent three days on the island last week washing and clipping his old friend’s cattle before the on-farm sale.
When James McAlister finally finishes milking in August, that will leave only nine dairy herds on an island which once sported more than 50 dairy units. 
These nine must be given every encouragement to keep Bute’s fine dairy tradition going.
I’ll finish with another little known fact – Robert Macintyre’s great, great uncle, also Robert Macintyre, was the advertising manager at this publication’s launch in 1893!