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.

Sea journey and rogue barley

July 31st, 2004

IT'S INTERESTING to see the countryside in a way you don't do normally, so I jumped at the chance to take a boat trip down the coast from Fishtown of Usan south to Buckieden. This is where the cliffs and rocky coast end and the sands of Lunan Bay begin.

Several weeks ago I wrote about my train journey to Glasgow and mentioned the Elephant Rock which you can't see from the train, but which is very visible from the sea.

It is a natural arch which I presume has been created by millenniums of erosion by wind and water. The top of the rocky outcrop is somewhat domed like the front of an elephant's head, and the outer support stretches into the sea just like an elephant's trunk might do.

When I was a youngster a man called Nick Dobie did boat trips from Montrose to the Elephant Rock in the summertime. I remember being very excited when my mother took me and my sister on one of Nick's outings during school holidays.

The harvest has started and farmers will be hoping the recent good weather holds up. In the past I've seen what looked like first class corn crops – wheat, barley, oats – devastated by wind or rain, or sometimes both at critical moments. The corn has been  laid' by summer storms which flatten great areas of the near-ripe crop just as the farmers are getting ready to harvest it.

When  binders' were used to cut the crops a  laid' field caused lots of headaches for farmers, not least because the cutter blade on the binder was set quite high and went over the top of the crop leaving it uncut.

Sometimes the grains are knocked out of the head of the plants by the wind and fall to the ground. The only beneficiaries then are the pigeons and duck and other grateful wildlife.

When combine harvesters became commonplace the old-fashioned binders were consigned to history and left forlornly in forgotten corners of farm steadings, never to be used again. I know of one still sitting in a shed and representing a bygone era.

Macbeth and I were taking our usual afternoon wander. In the gateway of a barley field there was one of the enormous white bulk bags normally used to supply fertiliser, but in this case filled with wild oats which is nothing but a weed.

The farmer had been 'rogueing' the field to remove the rogue plants which would adulterate his barley crop. If not dealt with now the wild oats will reseed themselves and multiply tremendously next year and be an even bigger problem.

With all this care the barley is probably destined to be next year's seed which obviously must be a pure strain and completely unadulterated in order to be fit for sale as seed.