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  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Employment, industry and industrial relations


  • Documentary


  • 1980s

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Overall rating:


Reference number: 5886

Date: 1980c

Director: d. Erica Keiller, Paul Mellon

Production company: [ Edinburgh Film Productions?]

Sound: mute

Original format: 16mm

Colour: col

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 8.50 mins

Description: Mary Howie, a hill farmer and shepherd, talks about her life looking after sheep and Galloway cattle in the Lothians. [The 'Silver Buttons' of the title refers to her tongue in cheek description of her standard of living "with silver buttons on her jacket, champagne once a day and perhaps several holidays'!]

Credits: a film by Erica Keiller, Paul Mellon
assisted by Andrea Calderwood, Kay Sheridan, Simon Starling, Alan Young.
We are extremely grateful to Edinburgh Film Productions for their help and advice, and most of all to Mary Howie for her co-operation in the ma

Shotlist: title (0.04) Mary Howie - Hill Farmer long shot, ext. farm building and surrounding landscape (0.16) ints grain store, shovelling grain / feed for animals; Mary, the farmer, wears mask over mouth (0.50) black and white cat yawns and stretches curled up on grain sacks (0.55) loading up truck with sacks, sheepdog accompanies (1.08) exts farm outbuildings (1.14) tractor leaves the farm (1.19) driving tractor into hills, sheep gather around and Mary pours feed into troughs (1.58) wide shot over landscape and fields, some sheep are visible (2.05) gvs lambs and their mother, Mary feeds one using a tube, measuring the milk into a syringe and administering it to the lamb (3.00) talking head Mary - she speaks about how she enjoys seeing the fruits of her labour, how she couldn't go back to doing potatoes , barley, how she loves being on the hills (3.29) ints barn with Galloway cattle, feeding them hay bales and pouring feed into their troughs (4.49) walkers come along farm road (5.04) Mary on hill, leading a Galloway on lead, she brushes its head, and discusses the buyers of her cattle, how they fetch high prices at market and the interest in them from Germany (5.54) gvs hills, driving tractor along road (6.03) gvs sheep and cattle on hill (6.12) gvs driving sheep. Mary talks about how she wants to continue farming as long as she enjoys it and as long as she has her health (6.55) talking head Mary 'I haven't a ha'penny in the bank ' (7.02) c/u cow, ints sheep in barn, gvs feeding (7.25) washing wellies under a tap in barn (7.38) Mary moves outside and whistles for her sheepdog who is then locked in for the night (8.10) talking head, she discusses retirement, self employment and the future (8.17) driving sheep through the fields (8.34) ecs (8.50)