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.

Evoking Monet

July 2nd, 2005

AMONGST MY fund of  utterly useless information' I have a note that the first patent for barbed wire was taken out in Ohio on 25th June 1867. This set me thinking about how necessary barbed wire really is. Its modern development is called razor wire – for good reason, because it is absolutely lethal stuff. I've certainly never seen it used in an agricultural situation.

I phoned one of the wise farmers I know, and got the answer. There's still a very real need for barbed wire to control livestock. You'll see that the top strand, and occasionally the second one too, of most field fences are of barbed wire. Cattle will rub themselves against plain wire and slacken it, and fencing posts can get broken with the beasts' weight. Barbed wire discourages them and reduces maintenance. You won't see barbed wire on the lower strands, especially if there are sheep in the field. The wire would catch at the fleece, and that's a cash crop that needs to be safeguarded.The summer solstice is well past now and we're at the height of the growing cycle. A field of barley that Macbeth and I pass regularly has just got the first hint of ripening yellow amongst the green. With all the recent rain you might think that the harvest is bound to be late, but nature has a great capacity to catch up with herself.I've been out with my strimmer tidying up beneath the hedges. I leave this job till about now because there are so many newly-fledged birds hopping about the grass, thrushes and blackbirds in particular, which still rely on the parent birds to feed them. The tall grasses provide cover and are also an insect bank for extra food.

I've started buying birdseed for the table in 25-kilogram bags which cost me £11 a pop. It's a tremendous saving and the bag lasts me about six weeks. You need to store it in a rodent-proof bin, but they are very inexpensive and last for ever.

Macbeth has been for his regular summer strim. He goes there looking, as the Doyenne rather unkindly remarks, like a demented ball of string. The fragrant figure that emerges should be photographed for a chocolate box lid, if only we could keep him clean long enough.

There's a field of oil seed rape just over the bridge crossing the River South Esk at Finavon Hotel. What made it special were the poppies scattered throughout. In the sunshine the yellow, green and scarlet could have been the inspiration for a Monet painting.

I'd intended going back by the coast road, but I drove back to Brechin by the A90 for the sheer pleasure of being able to enjoy the beauty of it all again. You have to make the most of nature's transient treats.



Written on Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 at 9:46 pm for Weekly.