Very Old MacDonald Won’t Quit the Farm

Alistair MacDonald:

n the canteen of a livestock auction near Stirling, Bobby Maclarty jokingly asked a group of men in their mid-80s whether they were the “old boys’ club.” They invited him to sit and join them for breakfast.

“I’m not old enough,” said the 81-year-old, who was there to sell rams with his 57-year-old son, Iain Maclarty.

Inside, around 20 men had gathered to bid on sheep, which were being walked around a sawdust ring by workers in white overalls.

Older farmers at the auction, surrounded by rock-dappled hills, said they were fit enough, even if they can’t do as much of the physical work they once did.

“You work out by working—no need for Jane Fonda here,” said 73-year-old sheep farmer Hamish MacDonald, referring to Ms. Fonda’s popular exercise videos from the 1980s, while eating a bacon roll.

Hobbling on a walking stick, John Paul, 61, of the region of Fife, said he recently had a hip operation.

“Then people tell you you’re not the only one, that, ‘Aye, he’s had one, and he’s had one,’ ” he said.

Technology has made it easier for Drew Pringle, 73, to get around. Thirty years ago, he walked everywhere. He now drives around his farm in Kinross on an all-terrain vehicle, with heating, music and power steering.