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 lambs

April 16th, 2005

WEDNESDAY MORNING – the sun is starting to burn off the frost that has blanked out the car windscreen overnight.

When I took Macbeth out for his final walk about half past ten on Tuesday evening there was no hint that the temperature would fall so far. It must be winter's postscript, just to let us know that it hasn't given up on us yet. I came in from the morning walk with the tips of my ears nippy with the cold.

There's a tremendous amount of activity as spring gets itself up to pace. Thrushes are back in the garden as regular visitors. I still haven't worked out where they've gone these past winters, because our first winter here they were strutting around as if they owned the place.

A goldfinch has appeared at the bird table. What happens to them in the winter? We keep the feeders well stocked so it's not as though they need to forage elsewhere. The main thing is that they do return each spring and make the garden a more colourful and interesting place.

I mention pheasants so regularly because they are so numerous round here. A cock and his harem of five hens come into the garden every morning and spend much of the day clearing up underneath the bird table.

It surprises me that the pheasants must rely on the small birds to feed them  crumbs from the rich man's table'. Not one has worked out that all they would need to do to release plenty more food, is flutter up and rattle the seed feeder several times with its beak.

One of the hen pheasants has a sair foot, and it hirples up and down the garden. However I don't imagine that will prevent it producing a good clutch of eggs.

At nearly four years old Macbeth seems to have accepted that he cannot outrun a pheasant, nor can he fly. The birds are now so dismissive of him that when they meet in the garden the pheasants merely run ten yards or so, and then they glower at each other which seems to be enough to satisfy both sides' sense of dignity.

As usual at this time of year the field beside the house has got ewes and their lambs in it. They congregate by the gate, waiting for the shepherd who calls round each morning and feeds them animal cake to supplement their protein intake.

As Macbeth passes there's always at least one protective ewe standing by the fence, snorting at him in warning and stamping the ground with her forefeet. It's hard for a small white dog to get so little respect!

Sometimes I think the birds' evening chorus is even more tuneful than their dawn greeting. It's certainly a sweet accompaniment to the evening walk at the end of the day's work.