Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Spring activity

April 12th, 2003

MY WEEK started about ten past six with the sound of geese passing overhead. They had probably been feeding overnight on fields in The Mearns, in Kincardineshire, and were on their way back to Montrose Basin to roost, and for a wash and brush-up.

From the noise I reckon they were pink-footed geese which are much more conversational than our other common winter visitors, the greylag geese. Many will have already left for their summer nesting grounds in Greenland and Iceland, and these late leavers will soon be on their way north.

The field beside the house is filling up with ewes and lambs. The lambs are a pleasure to watch as they wobble around on spindly legs exploring the world they have been thrust into. Much of their time is spent resting and gaining strength, but they test their agility with short runs and leaps, and mock fights with one another.

When it's time to suckle, their satisfaction is self-evident from the frantic wagging tails. I saw one make a grab for an inviting teat only to be firmly pushed off by the ewe which obviously wasn't its mother.

As I take the dogs up the drive for their walks there is usually at least one aggressive ewe taking up guard just to make sure we stay on our side of the fence. When we go out last thing, the outside light disturbs them, and there is a chorus of enquiring bleats which is answered by the deeper response of the ewes.

There are single lambs, quite a lot of twins and a set of triplets. Some are white overall, others have black markings on their faces and black socks on their feet. A few, which are surely true Scottish Blackface stock, have black heads and black leggings up to their oxters and thighs. There's always a couple of crows pacing round the field – no doubt on the lookout for any signs of weakness or sickness that they can exploit.

I was visiting friends in Glen Esk and round every corner new-born rabbits scampered onto the verge of the road to escape the car. Just now they're about as big as the palm of your hand, but they very quickly grow to full size.

Gardens are starting to need some moisture. However I was talking to a farmer friend who is happy for things to stay as they are until he gets his potatoes planted. Too much rain would make it difficult for heavy machinery to operate in the wet fields.

Son Robert and his family gave me a CD of Elvis Presley hits for my recent birthday. Macbeth endorses the sentiment in “Love me tender, love me sweet”. But “You ain't nothin' but a hound dog” stirs Sheba to open one eye for a moment. She understands completely. It's good to know The King still has universal appeal!

Written on Saturday, April 12th, 2003 at 7:56 am for Weekly.