I'm all too aware that you haven't heard from me for a while. The sad thing is, it's because I don't have a lot to say.
I've been trailing around my gritting stations. (Large piles of peat/turves with a tray of grit on top. The grouse take grit to help them break down the food in their crop. A medicated coating on the grit we provide kills the parasites in their gut.)To me, it's one of the most important jobs I do. Unfortunately it's one of the most laborious, monotonous ones too.
So I've not been setting the world on fire. (That's on hold until the heather burning season. Eeek! Did I really joke about that!)But at least I've had the time to get on with the task.
Ever since the neighbouring estate put up a fence along my march, my chance of early stags has diminished to...hmmm, let me see...nil! So, instead of taking stalking guests out, I've been doing a really thorough job with the grit piles.
This has meant building up any that I didn't deem big or prominent enough. Which is tough spade work. I've also been replacing every grain of the existing medicated grit.
The manufacturers have been blowing a fanfare and declaring that the new medicated coating on their grit lasts longer than ever. That it wont melt off in the heat of summer and that the active ingredient wont be neutralised by frosts.They claim it will still be good after a year on the hill.
But these claims have never been verified by an impartial body. So, in the meantime, while I know that we are in the middle of a serious grouse crash, I'm putting fresh grit onto every pile on the hill.
Today I got the use of the argocat for the first time (my colleagues have been taking their turns with it.) and it certainly makes things easier. Even better, I was on a area of hill where all the grit piles were dug with a mini-digger. So no problems with diminuitive piles here, then.
But, by the time I'd rattled round the hill for 7 hours, and dived in and out of the argo 70 times, I was knackered.
And I still am. I'd planned to go out lamping for foxes tonight. But it can wait for another night.