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.

The hunted and the hunter

June 5th, 2004

SPRING TURNING to summer shows up in many ways. The hawthorn trees are in full bloom and their blossom this year seems as abundant and profuse as I can ever remember. Driving round the country roads I've seen cascades of the creamy ivory flowers smothering the branches and weighing them down.

A hen pheasant clattered across the farm steading hoping to divert my attention from her clutch of chicks scampering for the safety of a hedge. They must have been recently hatched because they were scarcely bigger than day-old hen chicks, but with browny stripes on their heads and upper body. Just fluffy bundles of feathers on skinny wee legs.

All but one reached safety, and the last one froze amongst the stones hoping its camouflage would hide it from sight. I stood quite still and watched. Wee cheeps were coming from the hedge bottom as the other chicks kept in contact with their mother.

My man started to lose his nerve and began cheeping too so as not to become isolated from the rest of his family. Suddenly he could stand it no longer and raced towards the cover, scrambling over chuckie stones that were probably the size of boulders to him.

For a split second I locked eyes with a graceful young roebuck standing scarcely twenty yards away, looking nervously at the house. He had small immature horns, and it seemed to me it would be several more months until he was fully grown.

He wasn't for passing the time of day, and took straight off down a tattie dreel to the far end of the field. The field has been planted by noted Brechin potato merchant Logan Milne, and I had been quite surprised at the amount of preparation necessary before planting.

First the field was ploughed, and then cultivated or given a  guid grub' as it was explained to me. Next step was to  deep-ridge', which meant ploughing again to produce high ridges and bury large stones beneath the growing level of the crop. Then a stone separator is used to remove more stones which leaves a fine tilth in which to grow the perfect potato for our tables.

I watched a buzzard being mobbed by rooks. It kept coming back and back and being chased away each time. I imagine there were young rooks close by and the parents saw no good reason why their offspring should be served up as supper to young buzzards.

Another buzzard was circling miles high above the house, looking about the size of a starling. A tiny single-seater microlight aeroplane, open to the elements and with just a flimsy fabric wing and what sounds like a motor mower engine, went sailing past at what looked to be much the same height. I wonder who was more surprised – the pilot or the buzzard?