Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Last April (see blog of 2.4.10) saw me whinging about creating 'gritting stations' by hand.

What we are trying to achieve is a network of large mounds all over the hill. These are focal points for grouse (they like a room with a view) and at these sites we provide grit coated in medication to rid them of parasitic worms. (They pick grit because it helps break down the food in their gizzards.)

Anyway to create these mounds by hand means digging lots of divots with a spade and piling them up. It's back-breaking, monotonous work.

So we have hired a couple of mini-diggers.

7am saw me atop a hill, digging one of these blessed machines out of the bog I got it stuck in yesterday evening. Fortunately it didn't take long.

Thereafter it was 2 hours of bone-shaking torment as it made its inexorable way out the hill road to our final destination.

The final destination was the most remote end of my ground. It's an open, rolling moor. With lots of peat hags.

For the rest of the day, I nervously picked my way through all the bogs and hags, digging piles every couple of hundred metres or so.

Every time the machine lurched into a heather-hidden hollow my heart missed a beat. Every time I needed to use the arm to pull me through a soft bit, my stomach tightened lest it be the final resting place for the ponderous beast.

At 5pm my luck eventually ran out. It looked like a perfectly innocuous bit of hill. (Especially considering some of the places I'd been in the course of the day.)Anyway, the thing went down quicker than the Spirit of Free Enterprise. What was worse was that it was left at an extremely dicy angle.

I tried to use the arm to get myself out of this mess but every time I touched one of the controls, it listed another couple of degrees.

Oh how you would have laughed to see me climbing out the window as it sloooooowly sank over onto its side. Rats!

I started the long walk back to the landrover in a mood to match my appearance- filthy. But it was a nice evening and I found myself so glad to be away from the noisy, jolting, uncomfortable bastard of a thing.

My innards felt like they had been vibrated to jelly, I had a headache (from the noise, or the concentration, or the stress) and I was surprised to find myself aching in places I didn't know I had.

And tomorrow I'll be right back out there to get the thing unstuck. If I do, all that will be in store for me is more of the same. Except it will be raining.

I would give my left nut to give this job a body-swerve. Do I have a bidder?!

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