February 15th. This marks the day that the hind season finishes. It's also the day that the last snow disappeared from our garden- two months after it arrived. It's been a long winter, and it ain't over yet.
On the Scottish news this morning there was a feature on the plight of our wild deer. Old news. We've been hearing through the grapevine for a while now how some estates have already lost hundreds of deer. And many estates stopped culling weeks ago.
We reckon we've had it easy (..err..) in this area; there has been a lot more snow to the North and West of us.
But the fact that the deer population on this estate has increased by many, many hundreds (thanks, in part, to a neighbouring estate fencing 'their' deer out) has meant that we've had to keep culling. And this has meant that we've caught up with a lot of deer that were stuggling and would almost certainly have succumbed to the winter anyway.
Is it the right thing to be doing? Well maybe it's partly because we've worked hard in the past to keep our population in check that our deer are generally in better condition and so are faring better than some this winter. Also if we don't keep on top of numbers, the problem will worsen exponentially. Then the next hard winter wouldn't bear thinking about.
I'm feeling desperately sorry for the deer but we have a licence to extend our season and so I'll continue to cull until the end of this week.
It's been a hard winter for us all.