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.

Sons of the soil

October 14th, 2006

FLAGS FLUTTERING and banners blowing in the wind – it looked like it might be a film set for a jousting tournament. But monstrous tractors swarming over the fields suggested other things.

I wondered if a major, international even, ploughing match was taking place – its name suggested such a possibility. When new experiences come your way it's as well to stick your nose in and see what's happening. And that's just what I did.

It was, in fact,  Tillage', a working demonstration of cultivation and sowing equipment which was taking place in several large fields on the outskirts of Edzell. It's the UK showcase for manufacturers and importers of farm machinery specifically for  tilling' the land – ploughing, in other words. The familiar childhood hymn might just as readily have started –  We till the fields and scatter'.

 Tillage' is the generic term for moving soil and, as you might expect in the highly mechanised agricultural industry, there seems no end to manufacturers' ingenuity in inventing machinery and systems that work more efficiently, with attendant savings in cost and labour. The demonstrations ranged from traditional ploughing to  mintill', which involves cultivating the ground, producing a seed bed and drilling (sowing) the seed all in one sweep. I wrote about much the same thing just a month ago.

For the uninitiated, cabs of modern tractors have a staggering array of techie equipment. It's a bit like rocket science if you're not acquainted with it all. Anything that can be power-assisted – is. There's loads of electronics and they are highly computerised. Air conditioning, air suspension, stereo music – they even have a form of satellite navigation. All they need is a wee shower, a plug for the kettle and curtains and you could set up home in one.

I asked how much money was tied up in the equipment on show. £8million to £9million was the estimate. Add in the cost of all the transporter lorries and expensive 4×4 vehicles, and for a day Edzell was hosting the most expensive field in Britain.

I wondered about the power of the tractors. 300 horse power I was told. How did that equate to the average family car? 100 horse power, they said. So, could the family car do a third of the work of one of the tractors? Not a chance, they said.

Someone mentioned that the really high-powered motorcycles have 500hp engines, but can you imagine a Yamaha pulling a great big, modern plough? Maybe motorcycles have different horses.

As I left, a cock pheasant, disturbed by the car in front of me, flew out from the other side of the road. I was certain it was going to fly straight in the open window of my car. It managed to just scrape over the top, giving a despairing squawk as it went. It wasn't the only one!

Written on Saturday, October 14th, 2006 at 5:42 pm for Weekly.