Having grown up on her family farm on the island of Islay, Mary McGregor is a women who's talents have no boundaries – from writing childrens' books to baking and even working as a whisky connoisseur.

However, her passion will always remain in the world of crofting. She spoke to Kathryn Dick about her varied working life:

What is your background in agriculture?

I was born on Islay and raised on Gartacharra – our family farm – situated behind the village of Bruichladdich on the island of Islay, in Argyll. My family have farmed the same farm for four generations and it has always been 'the way of life'.

I found written records that our family have been farming at Gartacharra as far back as 1830. The farm is still in my family and my brother, Donald, runs it. When I was a child, it was a dairy farm, then we moved on to cattle and sheep and now it is just beef cattle.

Can you tell us a bit about your day job and what it entails?

I have worked at Bruichladdich Distillery since 2003. It’s just a mile away from the farm. We make Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore Single Malt whiskies and also started making the wonderful Botanist Gin in 2010.

Also many of our local farmers are growing barley for the distillery and we employ around 100 people.

My role has developed within the distillery from working in the shop and visitor centre as shop manager and senior tour guide to my current role of private client manager. This role entails meeting, greeting and looking after our guests from all over the world and taking some of them to visit their own casks in the warehouse.

This is always a very special moment as for them, it is like visiting a family member and can be quite emotional. I like to keep in touch with all my private clients and proudly call them my friends and look forward to sharing a dram with them when they come to visit us.

What aspects of crofting do you love most?

I have a great love and interest of nature and of all creatures great and small. Living, working and growing up on a farm, you get used to being the 'gate' whenever animal movement is the job of the day.

“Stand there! Don’t move! Don’t let them get past! Chase them back!” I’m sure everyone growing up on a farm is used to hearing these commands shouted at them at some point!

My favourite aspects are caring for all the young animals and looking after the smaller ones, the farm dogs and cats. It can be heart-breaking at times but also very rewarding.

I also enjoy helping Donald work the land, getting it ready for the silage. I love nothing more than driving the tractor round and round harrowing the fields or carting the bales up to the farm.

I also like preparing a copan (gaelic for a cup of tea) and a piece (what we call a sandwich) to have as a picnic out in the fields. The craic is always good.

What encouraged you to write childrens' books?

I’ve always been interested in reading and writing. I’ve been writing poetry for many years and I’d always wanted to write a book as the old ways of farming are dying out and wanted to share the stories I have collected over the years.

I wrote my first book 'Baba King of the Castle and Jacket Potato' a few years ago now and I’ve just started writing my next one now.

What has been the best and worst advice you have received?

The best advice is being honest and work hard – traits I’ve carried with me in everything I do. A couple of stories to me that sums up integrity and honesty, I remember from many years ago came from my dad.

In those days, we sold our lambs to Willie Low (Willie’s son Duncan still comes to Islay to buy our beasts at the mart at Bridgend). We would gather them in and dad would separate them in to their grades and let Willie know how many of each. Willie would then give us the appropriate price for each grade.

We did all this with Willie back home in Aberdeen without seeing the lambs, but knowing dad would split them fairly.

Another story, again with Willie – which happened many years ago – on this occasion, he called up to the farm to see the bullocks and said to dad he would like to buy three of his best and offered him £60 each. Dad said no, he wouldn’t sell them for that price.

Willie really wanted them, so he upped his offer to £65. “No,” replied Dad. Willie determined to get the bullocks then offered dad £70, his final offer. Again dad declined. He then told dad he really wanted them and what price was he looking for. Dad replied that he would sell them to Willie for £50 each – and so he did.

Worst advice – “Stand there, in front of that bull and stop him jumping over the fence to the cows!”

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Life is all about the people you meet and the places you visit in your life. I get to do that all on my own door step working at the distillery.

What's been your biggest achievement to date?

I’d probably say writing my book. Also I write about Lucy in my next book. Lucy was the Highland pony dad gave me for my fifth birthday who went on to be a prize winner at the local show. This was probably my proudest moment.

What are the main problems in agriculture at the moment?

I would say the weather is our main problem on the farm. The high rainfall we get all summer long now means we have a very small window to get all the summer work done and completed. It is very difficult and seems to get worse each year.

What is the way forward for Scottish agriculture?

To maintain high quality, with hard work and determination.

Outwith farming, are you involved in any other organisations?

I am an elder in my local St Kiarans Church and I lead services on a Sunday. We do not have a minister on the island at the moment.

St Kiarans joined with two other island churches, Kilmeny and Portnahaven a few years ago, so I lead services in all three churches. I jokingly say I have a good, strong loud voice for the pulpit from shouting after all the cows and sheep over the years!

Any hobbies?

I love cooking and baking, so much so I have recently been on television participating as a contestant on a programme called Flour Power, making my scones. I made a batch of scones for the local agricultural show a couple of years ago and whilst my scones were in the oven, I whipped up an apple tart.

I was convinced my scones were going to win a prize! Alas I got the wooden spoon for them but my apple tart won! I was so excited but as there was nothing to be won for that competition at the time, I have since donated a trophy to the baking section of the show!

I also like knitting. I knit for the fish and chips charity and I enjoy watching and studying the night sky. I also like making things for the house and farm with whatever comes to hand.

I’ve just finished building a new summer seat, it’s great what you can make using baler twine! I come from a very musical family and like nothing more than listening to Donald on the bagpipes.

Favourite alcoholic beverage?

A nice wee dram of Bruichladdich. I own a cask at the distillery and hope to get it bottled when I retire so I will have a good party when that happens! I also like a Botanist and tonic, or B and T as we call it on Islay.

I’m also partial to a good wine. As we use a lot of different wine casks to mature our whisky, I have learnt a lot about each of the wines and find it really interesting.

Favourite agricultural show to attend?

I am proud to say it is our local agricultural show on Islay. It is always held on the second Thursday of August in Bridgend and is one of the oldest, biggest events on the island. A place to meet up with other farmers, with old school chums, with people who come over to the island for the show every year.

It’s a place where you can see all the hard work and dedication of all our farmers and animal owners who produce the best top quality stock you can find anywhere in the land.

And now everyone can compete for the new trophy in the baking section too!