By a combination of chance and design, I’ve met a few Working for Grouse readers over the past few days. This has been great fun, although it’s always slightly bizarre to slip into instant familiarity with total strangers… Of all the many pleasures this blog brings me, the greatest is meeting and connecting with people all over the country, particularly when it takes place face-to-face. However, a few people have demonstrated their long-term Working for Grouse credentials by asking how things are going on the Chayne, since I no longer seem to write about the place.
I realise now that this blog has changed substantially over the last seven years and many of these changes have not been adequately explained. I wanted to straighten out a few things, and the result has been this blog post, which I daresay will only be useful to hard-core Working for Grouse fans…
When I started this project in 2009, the Chayne was my entire focus. This is the family farm; home to curlews, black grouse and a wealth of moorland wildlife. In time, my wife and I moved to rent the property next door and I was on the hill every day for almost five years. This has dwindled in recent times, but I am still up there at least once or twice a week, and much more in the springtime. Things tick over, but posts about my original project are now stirred in amongst many others.
When I write about the Chayne nowadays, I usually refer to it as “the moor”, and I satisfy myself that this differentiates it from other Working for Grouse backdrops. Perhaps this is not as clear as it has felt, so here are another three locations which provide food for bloggery.
- In 2012, we started to rent 2,000 acres of fantastic heather moorland where we work on red grouse and do the bulk of our roe stalking. I usually refer to this as “the hill”.
- And then I became interested in cattle and started to keep my galloways on some rough hill grazing a few miles away from my home. When I write about anything to do with livestock, this is where I mean.
- Less than a year ago, my wife and I moved a little closer to the coast and bought a new house between two large areas of moorland and farmland. This is what I call “the farm”, and it backs onto “the moss”. Here’s the land of partridge, curlew and (soon) turnips…
Now I see it written down, I really grasp the confusion. It’s not easy to define this disparate scattering of land, and perhaps that’s why I’ve avoided doing so.
In my defence, you can stand on any one of these places and see the other three – they are divided by a few miles and they all run together as one in my head. Galloway is renowned for its completion and entirety – we have everything in one place; high mountains and wide seascapes; moorland, forest and river in just a small area. I am not writing about a single contiguous piece of land, but the diversity I’m working with is plausible and representative of many other local holdings.
Not sure if this helps, but it has been an interesting exercise to lay out a “key” which will perhaps make Working for Grouse a little clearer. Given that I don’t really see these all as separate places, the distinction might feel a little less important.