I’ve been working hard with the shovel recently.

Encouraged by having discovered a pair of black grouse in the bog by the farmhouse, I have entered into a frenzy of tree planting.

From what I can gather, the best time to plant trees is in the spring and with summer fast approaching, I have been up against the clock.

Having spent my entire life being only dimly aware of trees, necessity now forces me to take a crash course in tree identification and installation.

I have been amazed to discover that these vast vegetables are actually very interesting things, and learning to use them to my advantage could make a real difference to the sporting potential of the farm.

Silver birches are ideal for black grouse, and those spindly trees have been my first port of call.

I have put in over 60 this week, as well as a handful of rowans and hawthorns to provide berries during the autumn.

In Europe, red grouse are known as “willow grouse” because of their natural inclination to spend time in and around willow scrub, and this is something that I am keen to exploit on the farm.

There are one or two wet holes on the hillside which have been fenced off from livestock because sheep habitually drowned themselves in them, so these should be ideal for water-loving willow.

The holes are dotted across the grouse moor, and although red grouse don’t particularly like cover, filling them with willow scrub would provide shelter in the snow and potentially some food in the spring.

One thing that made me laugh this week was watching my black grouse attacking two cock pheasants who intruded on his lekking ground.

He dismissed them both in a cloud of feathers, then strutted proudly around the field, charging at lambs and crooning with self satisfaction.

The views expressed on Patrick Laurie’s blog are the author’s and not the views of Shooting Gazette, ShootingUK, IPC Media or its employees.

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