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.

Tracks in the snow

February 7th, 2004

HOT SPOTS in the snow seemed a little out of place. I was walking the dogs alongside a snow-covered field that had snow-free patches of grass dotted about.

It was only as we turned the corner and saw the small herd of sheep that it dawned on me that the green patches were where the sheep had lain overnight. They would have needed their long wool to protect them from the falling snow and freezing temperatures.

It's been a busy week for wildlife around the house. Four roe deer crossed the bit of stubble behind the kitchen as they headed for the oil seed rape across the burn, which would be a tempting fresh crop to feed on. The little family is one up on last year, so I imagine the extra one is a calf born last season.

The snow shows up the tracks of everything that crosses it. Over the past year the odd hare has casually louped off in front of us, so I wasn't surprised to see their tracks.

There were also rabbit tracks, which is the first evidence I've had for months that they may have returned to the local woods. All the burrows have looked unused, with their entrances blocked with leaves. A fox had also made its way through the wood before it crossed the road into the  Big Hoose' policies.

The distinct tracks of a cock pheasant with the mark of its long tail trailing behind stopped abruptly in the middle of the lawn. Marks on each side of the tracks showed where it had taken flight and disturbed the snow with the first beats of its wings.

As you would expect the bird table has been very popular. One morning we had a red squirrel at each of the two peanut feeders – which is another first. They are quite happy to share the nuts with the songbirds while they are feeding. The woodpecker on the other hand soon chases them off whenever he calls.

A neighbour gave us half a dozen fresh eggs from hens that scratch around their paddock. The Doyenne fried a couple each as part of Sunday brunch. There is no doubt that eggs so fresh do taste different. As soon as they go into the oil in the frying pan the white sets immediately and forms a neat presentation for the plate.

My good friend William Wedderspoon phoned with information about the potato collection I mentioned a fortnight ago, which had been established at Crieff. It was taken over by the Scottish Agricultural Scientific Agency, based at East Craigs, Edinburgh, which is part of the Scottish Executive.

It is good to know that seed for local old favourites like Edzell Blues can still be obtained. They are a floury potato and make a delicious addition to a plate of broth.

Written on Saturday, February 7th, 2004 at 2:24 pm for Weekly.