Our day on the hill was a washout. The rain started just after we got lined out for the first drive. By the time we arrived at the butts, everyone was soaked.
We called it a day after the second drive and squelched our way home. So that's what they mean by driving rain.
I couldn't wait to get home and hear news of Ed. It turns out he's still vomiting and still got diarrhoea. On the plus side, there's significantly less blood in his poo.
The vet is now talking about him needing to stay under their care until the end of the week. For the first time, I wondered about how much this is going to cost. Probably more than it would cost to put him up in Gleneagles for a week.
I've spoken with the vet this evening. Ed's been up on his feet and taken some food. The other good news was that he hadn't been sick for about 8 hours. The bad news was he still had violent diarrhoea and was still passing blood. On the whole, the vet feels he's making progress.
I've kept myself really busy today- including disinfecting the landrover,kennels,runs,bowls, cages...in fact everything that didn't move. I've cut grass, strimmed, tidied, sorted and mended. Talk about nervous energy.
And tomorrow is the start of a full-on week, driving grouse. There will be 20 beaters, 2 or 3 pickers-up, 8 loaders, 6 flankers,
8 shooting guests and a lunch man. Everything has to be choreographed to perfection or the whole house of cards can come down.
The only thing I wont have to worry about is where my spaniels are, and what they're up to. For the first time in my career I'll be heading to a grouse day without a dog. I can't risk the chance that they'll still be infectious.
It's going to feel strange. But not as strange as the house feels right now. Every time I look round I see a terrier-sized hole.
It's the start of our shooting season. So I've been fishing.
It's certainly no hardship. Although I love my stalking, I'm also extremely enthusiastic about my fishing. I think 'fanatical' is the description my wife favours.
It's been great fun to take some fishing 'virgins' out. Unfortunately the salmon weren't playing (fish)ball but they did manage to keep the hooks out of their ears. Better still, they did succeed in catching some trout- and a couple of nice ones too.
However, I did warn them that the fish weren't the only ones who might end up hooked. Who knows, with a bit of perseverance they too might one day reach 'fanatic' status.
It's a week I really enjoy and it's the gentlest introduction I can imagine into what is our 'harvest time'. For the next 3 months our lodge will be full of guests and we'll be doing our level best for them; be it grouse driving, fishing, stag or roebuck stalking, clay pigeon shooting or whatever.
I'd love to bring you a good report of our first two days of grouse driving but the weather has been atrocious. We've managed 3.5 drives- just- working under a low ceiling of thick cloud. And as I write this, rain is lashing against the windows.
Something tells me this season is going to be a bit of a challenge.
For the first time in a long time I was waiting with the horse, a long way out on the West of the estate. On a different beat from my own.
I was there to give our new apprentice a helping hand. He's going to be ponyman on this beat for the season. Despite being at about 2000ft, I was giving him the lowdown. I droned on about how to saddle up the horse, what pitfalls to watch out for, where the ponypaths were etc etc etc.
I was in full flow when he blurted out "blimey!" (or similar) and launched himself out of the rover. I thought he'd maybe reached the end of his tether with the advice. In reality he had noticed that the horse had pulled the end of ITS tether and was about to get the hell outta Dodge.
Without missing a beat, I continued "....yeah, and that's another thing you have to watch out for....."
My colleague who was stalking eventually came to the poor lads rescue and had us move onto the next hill. We had been watching him crawl in on a small group of deer and he was lying within shot of them, but couldn't see much for a nasty roll to the ground.
As it turns out, the deer moved off without presenting the stalkers with a shot. There was no time for another stalk so we made our way back to the rover. Before we left I took a couple of photos of Callum and Prince.
I downloaded them onto my laptop a few minutes ago and stopped in amazement. They reminded me so much of a photo that I used to keep on my wall over a decade ago. That photo was of me and a horse called Fraser. It was taken on my first day as a ponyman, only a few hundred yards away from the same spot.
That picture took me back to 1987 quicker than Dr Who's tardis. Where did the years go?
I've been a gamekeeper on this estate for 20 years. I love this place and I love doing what I do.
A while back, my family and I were given the chance to spend 3 months on a Kalahari Game reserve as part of a 'cultural exchange'. It was a fantastic experience and I sent home blogs to share it with family and friends. Somehow they persuaded me to continue blogging on our return. And here I am !
I reckon I've got the best job in the world and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my world.
I ask only one thing:- love it or hate it, please leave a comment.
PS It seems if you DO want to leave a comment, you'll have to do it under the 'anonymous' tag. Technology, dontcha love it...