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.

A funny old world

March 15th, 2008

YOU SEE some funny things in the country. Not funny ha-ha, or even funny peculiar, just funny unexpected.

Driving home my eye caught the movement of a bird near the top of an electricity pole by the roadside. It was a woodpecker and what was unusual was that the pole was a clear hundred yards from the nearest trees. I can't think that I've seen a woodpecker quite so out in the open and so far from the protective safety of woodlands.

It couldn't have been food it was after for these poles are stripped of all the bark which hides the insect life the woodpeckers feed on, and they are then dipped in preservative. We hear their drumming displays most mornings in the trees round the house when we are out with the dogs. That's where I expect to see them and I can only imagine that this one was a bit disorientated with the exuberance of spring and its expectations of attracting a mate.

Past Tigerton, where the road branches left to Edzell and right towards Little Brechin, you cross a burn called the Buttery Burn, as I have just found out from looking at the map. In the corner of the field beside the bridge over the stream I watched a heron and a buzzard for a few moments. Nothing especially odd about two such birds being in the same field, except there was only about twenty feet between them and I hadn't seen that before.

The buzzard was mantling its wings, flapping them as if it would fly at the heron and attack it. Perhaps the heron had caught a small trout or an eel in the burn and the buzzard hoped it could unsettle it enough to make it disgorge its meal, which the buzzard would gobble up.

I'll never know, for the heron lost its nerve and flew off. The buzzard gave me a dirty look for interfering in its dinner arrangements and flew off too, in a huff.

I called in to see Stephen Samson at Milldens Mill who has compiled a history of the mill and the district. I was delivering a copy of a letter I'd received from a lady who grew up on his farm eighty years ago. On the other side of the Lunan Water, opposite the mill, is an old cottage and croft. Stephen was visited a while back by a man who was born in the cottage, and who told him that his father had ploughed his small fields with a single furrow, one-way plough yoked to an old shire horse and a bullock.

Unusual perhaps, but not unprecedented I'm sure. It couldn't compare with Stephen's story of holidaying in the Pyrenees forty years ago. He watched a farmer working his land, and the plough was drawn by a bullock and a young woman!