Crieff tractor fan, Jimmy Hutchison, was only five-years-old when he tagged along with his big sister to work at the potato picking on a local farm – but he’s never missed a single tattle harvest since!
This Saturday (August 4) at Perth Show, Jimmy (75) will be presented with a specially engraved rare 60 years’ service medal from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, marking a lifetime in the career he loves.
“As a wee lad I was just a pest and they used to throw me in the back of the trailer with the tatties,” he recalled. “It wasn’t until I was 15-years-old that I could go to work full-time – for a starting wage of £4 a week.”
Jimmy, who grew up in a cottage sitting between the two now long-gone railway lines that led from Crieff to Perth and Auchterarder, secured work with Tainsh contractor farmers – originally at The Holdings with the late Jimmy Tainsh snr. Throughout his service, he’s worked alongside four generations of the Tainsh family, now based at Drummond Earnoch, near Comrie.
“I was offered a job at the local grocery store where I worked as a message boy after school,” said Jimmy, “but I wanted to be on the farm. I’ve always loved tractors and I’ve always loved the outdoors. Farm tractor man was my ideal job.
“It was tough in those days – long hours, hard physical labour and cold and wet when the weather turned bad,” he recalled. But we were fit from lifting, carrying and shifting heavy loads all the time. 
“In the winter, we wrapped up in scarves and balaclavas and just got on with it. I remember wrapping hessian sacks round my knees to keep them warm when driving the tractor,” he recalled.
Jimmy did everything from hoeing and thinning turnips to sitting on the seeder to ensure the flow of grain before he secured his permanent place as tractor man. “I went through my driving test on an old Fordson Major and it was raining. The examiner gave me an emergency stop as we were going up a hill – it couldn’t do anything but stop!
“My first new tractor was a £600 Super Major and I thought it was the best thing ever because it had a cab and a windscreen wiper. Nowadays, a tractor will do a huge field in a day and they’re luxurious machines to drive – it’s very different times.”
A series of increasingly modern tractors saw Jimmy have the first one on the farm with a radio in the 1970s and he couldn’t believe his later new 165 Fergie had a cigarette lighter.
“They were still working horses on the farm when I started. There will never be the changes in the next 60 years on the farms that I have witnessed in my lifetime, but there’s nothing like it,” said Jimmy. 
And although his working life was fairly solitary, he recalled with affection the many mates he made working with Tainsh. “We had so many laughs in the old days,” he explained. “Great camaraderie and many great chums - mostly gone now sadly.”
Jimmy married his wife, Maureen, 53 years ago and they have a daughter. “Maureen deserves this medal just as much as me. She had to deal with me working all hours and then coming home covered in grass and muck,” he added. 
Gardening is Jimmy’s other great love and friends and neighbours enjoy a steady stream of prize vegetables every year. “I always thought I would be happy to retire and enjoy my garden but when the time came, I just wasn’t ready,” he said. “The Tainsh family still call on me to do work and when they stop making those calls, I’ll know the time has come to step off the tractor for good.”
But that will only be in a working capacity as Jimmy has bought and restored a little red 1970 Massey Ferguson 135 which he takes for drives out and about in Crieff.
On Saturday, he will enjoy centre stage as he collects his 60 years’ service medal at Perth Show. “I feel so very proud to receive this medal,” he said. “It represents a lifetime in a medal and it’s a lifetime I wouldn’t swap for anything.”