The black grouse blog has a new ally.

Although they have very little to do with black grouse, my new ferrets look set to make a real impact on the moor.

A tremendous amount of conflicting information is available on the subject of keeping and working ferrets, and within a few days of buying the little critters I was being bombarded with contradictory advice and information from a variety of well-meaning sources.

Some passionately believed that rearing ferrets on a diet of milk and bread would prevent them from developing a blood lust which would ultimately result in them killing rabbits and “lying up” asleep underground for several hours afterwards.

Others poured scorn on that idea, explaining that when the little blighters grew up, they would need to be able to recognise rabbits as an exciting prey species and have some incentive to fight and bolt them from their warrens.

As with so many things on this project, I was restricted by budget.

Not wanting to forgo bread and milk from my table, I decided that rabbit is much cheaper and easier to come by, particularly since I have access to more than a thousand acres of prime lowland farmland and a steady trickle of .410 cartridges.

Over the past three months, the ferrets have filled out incredibly well on a diet of fresh game, and when the time came to introduce them to their first warren last week, they appeared to know precisely what was expected of them.

Harnessed and restricted by a four foot piece of string, they busily set about the holes with tremendous enthusiasm. Their tails bushed and they began to grunt and chatter with excitement.

They may only be four months old, but it looks like they are already keen to become a real spanner in the works for the rabbits of Dumfries and Galloway.

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. www.gallowayfarm.wordpress.com