Mothering Sunday has evolved over time from a religous observance to what we know now as a day to treat and appreciate the mothers in our lives. Also, known as Mother's Day, whatever you may call it I think we can all agree that mums' deserve this special day to relax and let us show them how much we care. The following gift guide offers several gift ideas to help your shopping....
Fur Feather & Fin Blog
In 9 months Bruce has turned from a 5kg fluff ball to a 30kg lump of bouncy adolescent dog, and is looking as though he'll weigh a good 40kg by the time he's finished growing (which is at around 18 months for most dogs). So how is he doing?... Well so far I'm very pleased with him, but he is by no means perfect! At 4 months he was probably better than he is now, as he is currently still in his "teenage years" and testing every boundary possible at every available opportunity. The thing that prompted this article was a particularly trying outing with him, which was compounded by the fact I was a guest on a farm my friend Bill manages. The task was to track down some of the numerous Roe Bucks that were on the property as there were simply too many and some of the poorer specimens (very elderly, injured, or deformed) had to be removed. Bruce has primarily been trained as a deer-dog, hence I got him from Scotland where they tend to breed them to be a lot bigger. He's been out on quite a few outings with me and has performed well in terms of being quiet, staying where I leave him, and finding downed animals in long grass or thick wood. He's also performed very well in tracking deer that have been injured by cars or dog-walkers losing control of their dogs. I arrived at the farm at 7.30pm yesterday, grabbed the rifle and dog out of the boot, and went to find Bill. "Bringing the dog?" he asked me. "Yes if that's ok? - he's coming along very nicely". With that we all jumped onto his Kawasaki Mule to drive over to the meadow where most of the deer were. "We need to tag a calf en route mate" Bill said - so a little detour into a wood to pin down a day old calf under the disapproving glare of its mother. Mission accomplished (whilst I safely hid in the Mule) we set out onto the meadow. Bruce promptly leapt from the Mule and proceeded to start playing "chicken" with it! "Do you want to put him back in?"... "Yes I replied" ("Bruce you little g*t" I thought). 5 Minutes later Bruce was out again, "get in!" I shouted (no response)... so I jumped out of the Mule too and glared at Bruce whilst tapping my thigh and saying "on me" (still no response!). Bruce was clearly in one of those moods where no amount of scolding or praise was going to make any difference. The look on his face was tantamount to a "middle finger" from an unruly teenager! After profusely apologising to Bill I decided to tie the dog in as I mistakenly thought he'd understand he can't go anywhere when he's on a lead... 5 minutes later he nearly hung himself off the back of the Mule! I decided to just let him run alongside the vehicle and discouraged him from playing chicken by shouting "get on" at him - hardly conducive to deer stalking! More apologies and followed by me ending up with a 30kg Labrador on my lap! We saw an injured buck limping across one end of the meadow and as I had the dog Bill took the shot using the mule roll-bars as a rest - the shot went high and missed completely (due to a fidgeting Bruce), there would have been another shot had Bruce not leaped out of the seat and taken off towards the deer which fled into the neighbours woods. "Sorry Bill"... a scowl from Bill in response. "BRUCE! ON ME!"... no response, in fact the little sod took up his search for the phantom deer with increased gusto. I was seeing red by this point and began to wonder what Bruce's head would look like above my fire place. He eventually wondered back to me looking rather pleased with himself and it was all I could do not to throttle him. Against all odds we caught up with the injured buck just before last light. I took the shot and it went down instantly about 120yrds away in long grass. Bruce waited as he usually does then took off to find the animal when I gave him the command. He waited with the buck until I arrived, then promptly took off into the nearby hedgerow and ignored all commands to return for the next 5 minutes! He eventually returned and posed for a photo, we then gralloched the deer ready for the chiller. I'm forever reminding myself of a very experienced friends advice "tak yer teem, und bee c'nsustent" (take your time, and be consistent - he's from Aberdeenshire!). On reflection of the whole ordeal it isn't really surprising that Bruce behaved as he did - he's never been on a Mule before, the farm is full of smells of birthing cattle, there are numerous deer trails and the smell of new fawns - so a 9 month old inexperienced puppy running around like a headless chicken is to be expected. What then compounded this was me becoming aggravated - my whole tone and body posture will have changed; so I may as well have been speaking another language to Bruce! On the whole Bruce does as he's told, however he is very excitable around guns & game and is easily distracted by other dogs and exciting smells. Whilst he may look like a fully grown Labrador I have to remember he's still only 9 months old and still has a lot to learn. It's important I maintain steady boundaries and discipline, but the worst thing I could do at this stage would be to crush his enthusiasm by being too harsh. At 18 months I will know the standard of dog he will become, and at 6 years old he'll be at his peak - until then it's a case of taking my time and remaining consistent!
With night falling earlier, The British Deer Society is asking motorists to drive with extra care through areas where deer are known to roam - especially now the rut is underway. The highest risk of deer on the road is from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise, as they move down to lower lying ground for forage and shelter. The British Deer Society's chairman Mark Nicolson commented: 'Autumn is the time of year when vehicle and deer collisions peak - so for the next couple of months with shorter day length and often poor visibility, motorists need to be especially alert and cut their speed particularly in countryside areas where woodlands adjoin the highway. Remember - deer are wild animals and don't follow the Highway Code!' The Scottish Natural Heritage have the following driving tips: " Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse. " Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following or oncoming traffic. Try to come to a stop as far away from the animals as possible to allow them to leave the roadside without panic, and use your hazard warning lights. " Be aware that more deer may cross after the one or two you first see, as deer often travel in groups. " After dark, use full-beams when there is no oncoming traffic, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and give you more time to react. But dim your headlights when you see a deer or other animal on the road so you don't startle it. " Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside. Do not approach an injured deer yourself as it may be dangerous
So whether it's wrapping in some luxuriously warm fur or simply making walking the dog look a tad more fashionable be sure to purchase some key country pieces to keep up with the trends (and the dog) this winter.
There has been a great rise in the popularity of game meat over the past few years and for a good reason; Game meat has a high level of nutritious value and, due to their wild nature, this often means that the meat is of better quality, higher in protein and lower in fat. That’s not to mention that the meat can taste sensational when correctly prepared! For some, the thought of cooking game meat might seem a little scary, especially if you’re not sure where to start. Our beginner’s guide is here to help you to get to grips with the different types of meat, and to share a few of our favourite recipes too!
If bathing the dog conjures images of wet-dog-wrestling and a smell of quenched canine that resembles cheesy feet and kitchen waste then perhaps our guide to bathing your dog may be of use! At this time of year (summer) dogs are usually well into their summer coats, however the unusually cold spring has meant that many dogs are still shedding. My dog Bruce still has a thick coat and is malting like mad - a good wash and scrub with a high quality dog shampoo helps to loosen much of this excess fur, and brushing your dog directly after a wash is much more comfortable for them as the hair is looser than it usually would be. "Make love not war!"... http://youtu.be/XmhipGuEkRs When you approach your dog for bathing try to avoid feeling anxious or assuming your dog will hate it; most dogs love water but are taught to hate bath time from an early age due to the stereotype that they'll hate it, as well as incorrect introduction to bathing. I was always advised by mentors to "make a game of it", so as a puppy Bruce was gently placed in a few inches of luke warm water and praised profusely whilst being encouraged to splash around and enjoy being stroked with the shower head. As Bruce got older and larger this progressed to chasing a jet of water from the hose around the garden so he got used to getting wet and saw the hose as a positive/fun object rather than a punishment. http://youtu.be/aLHoA0fggCM Admittedly Bruce isn't a huge fan of sitting still whilst I wash him, but he does sit still as he is washed and really enjoys the rinse-off part of it where he is tousled with a towel and praised highly. I then allow him to charge around the garden for 10-15 minutes to dry off a little before I give him a brush through to remove any remaining fur. Ticks... Whilst I administer various medications to try and stop Bruce being covered in ticks or attracting other parasites, I have personally found that he still picks up the odd tick unless I wash him regularly with a shampoo designed to deter ticks and other biting beasties. By washing your dog on a regular basis you can remove and kill any ticks he has (which would otherwise drop off after a few days and live in your garden until they are hungry again), and also enjoy the benefit of a clean smelling dog that is not a tick magnet! Considerations... Many tick and flea shampoo's (and all drops) are highly toxic to aquatic life, so ensure your dog does not enter natural water sources for at least 4 days after using these treatments. As Bruce is working most days I use our Lavender Dog Shampoo which is much kinder on the environment as it does not use harsh chemicals. In addition to repelling ticks and fleas, it has natural antibacterial properties which help with cuts and scrapes he picks up during work... and it smells nice too!
Every year, over 25,000 cattle are taken to slaughter to be disposed of as a result of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). Previous Bovine TB control methods have cost the UK Taxpayer B#500 Million per year, which is estimated to rise to over B#1 Billion per year if nothing changes. There has been a huge outcry and fight against the cull by animal rights organisations such as the RSPCA and Save the Badger, who argue that evidence for Badger's spreading the disease is inconclusive and that Badgers are not common enough to have a significant impact on the spread of the disease. Farmers Associations and Government Bodies have won the argument for a cull in light of solid evidence, as it has now been proven in a pilot cull scheme organised by the government that the reduction of Badgers in an area significantly reduces the incidences of Bovine TB in farm animals such as badgers, camelids (llamas and alpacas), goats, pigs, deer, dogs and cats. Having glanced through the government literature, and researched badgers, it would seem the cull is aimed at areas of the country (particularly the West and South West) where badger populations are disproportionately high and are known to be carriers of Bovine TB. Being a great lover of Badger's I personally am torn - the evidence in favour of the cull is pretty concrete, and as a keen shooter & hunter I understand the need for controlling animals in a heavily populated country where pressure on farmers is very high; however I would also like to know what research has been carried out on other animals and their impact on the spread of TB - if Badgers are to be subject to a mass cull then do deer and foxes not also need to be investigated to the same degree? What is your view on the Badger cull? Please let us know your comments via our facebook page or in the comments section below. Useful links:
Having wild birds in your garden has many benefits. As well as being enjoyable to watch and listen to, they also keep pests such as earwigs, slugs and snails at a manageable level. Rural and urban gardens appear twice as beautiful when there are regular visits from wild birds - though I live in the middle of Chichester I have regular visits from house sparrows, blackbirds, robins, blue tits, woodpigeons, green finches, nuthatches, thrushes, starlings, and have even had a sparrow hawk atop my garden shed (eating a sparrow!). To benefit from regular visits from wild birds all you need do is provide food and shelter... You can use a purpose built table, buy feeders to hang off trees, or even make your own out of a plastic bottle! Birds will eventually find and use any feeding stations you provide, however you will have the best success if they meet certain criteria:
- Height - about 5ft is the best height as it's not so close to the ground that they are at danger from cats, and not so high up that they are exposed to birds of prey. Put a bell on your cat if it spends a lot of time in the garden
- Safety - feeders placed in or near trees and hedges are always preferable as it gives the birds a chance to scope out the station before they land, and a safe retreat if they are startled. Avoid putting it too close to the house as they will be startled by noise and movement through windows - get some good quality binoculars if you want to see them up close!
- Consistency - there must always be food at your feeding station for them. Birds burn a lot of energy flying, so if they waste energy flying to a feeding station that is empty they are not as likely to return on a regular basis. Birds will also follow other birds of different species to see where they are feeding, so remain patient even if you only get sparrows to start with
Good quality seed and fat balls are ideal, however this can be expensive so I often simply leave food scraps such as bread-ends and left over vegetables for them. Avoid making fat balls and feeding biscuits as these are bad for birds' health. I also have a bird bath, and I leave a tennis ball floating in it in the winter to stop it freezing. If you want birds to nest in your garden avoid the temptation to buy the pretty hanging wicker ones - they won't be used! Birds will nest in either hedgerows or a correctly placed box. A box should ideally be:
- South Facing - this means it will get the most of the sun and remain warmer for longer. Less energy spent keeping warm means an easier time for the parents
- Of Suitable Size & Build - you won't get a blue tit in a big drafty box with a huge entrance hole as they will be too exposed to predators and weather. Choose your bird house according to the species you want to attract
- Safe and Quiet - Try to put your bird house at least 8 feet above the ground and away from human and animal traffic. Also ensure the only way it can be reached is by something with wings as rats and grey squirrels will eat eggs and young chicks. If you want to attract small birds the perch should be too small for magpies to land on
As the human population grows the natural environment for many of our native birds diminishes. So by making a few small changes we can provide a suitable alternative habitat for songbirds and their natural predators in our gardens and borders. Fur Feather & Fin - Country Sporting Gifts
For those who are new to the sport of shooting, it is important to learn the etiquette of the sport to ensure that you keep yourself and those around you safe. It may seem as if there are thousands of rules in the shooting world, and rightly so, as guns can be incredibly dangerous when not handled correctly. Learning to conduct yourself in a safe and appropriate manner is of the utmost importance whatever your age, and it may take a little bit of time to get to grips with all the traditions of shooting. However, the sport can be incredibly enjoyable once you’ve learnt the ropes. The rules of clay pigeon shooting are much more relaxed, so if you’ve just begun to learn and practice, you won’t need to adhere to all of the things we’ve mentioned. Our beginners guide is here to help you to get the best out of the experience of your first proper shoot:
With Christmas just a few weeks away it’s time to make sure you’ve got gifts for all the special people in your life. If that special someone is a woman and you’re not sure what to buy, we’re here to help. As a special favour for all you dads, brothers and husbands out there who are clueless when it comes to buying gifts we’ve compiled a list of ten of our best Christmas presents for women.
Just make sure you’ve ordered by December 21 if you’re relying on standard delivery and December 22 if you plan on leaving it so late you need to pay for special delivery. 1 Wool beanie with Racoon pompom This fun yet luxurious hat is a stunning addition to any wardrobe. Not only is it soft and comfortable to wear, but it will also keep your loved one warm in the chilly winter weather. The beanie is made with enough elastane for a good stretch which means it will fit all, while the Raccoon pompom brings a fancy finish to the party! The hat is available in navy, white, purple or brown. 2 Fine merino wool long scarf If a hat alone doesn’t quite do the job of keeping your wife, mother, daughter or girlfriend warm then why not team it with this equally luxurious scarf, made by Johnstons of Elgin? The soft merino wool makes it exceptionally comfortable around the neck, and it’s available in pink and grey or beige and blue. At six foot long it’s also more than able to wrap around a neck a fair few times, meaning it’s a guaranteed winter warmer. 3 Enys diffuser Women are natural homemakers, so anything that helps make a house a home is a great present. We sell a diffuser which spreads the scent of Enys, a fusion of grapefruit and bergamot with musky floral tones topped by a fresh green edge, all around the home. The fragrant liquid evokes thoughts of summer walks through country lanes and is contained in a bone china jug decorated with the Game Trio - the English Hare, Pheasant and Grouse. The scent will last around four to five months, but even after that we’re sure there’ll be plenty of uses for the elegant jug. 4 Chelsea leather handbag Our top of the range, stunning luxury leather handbag is certain to turn heads and is a fantastic gift. It’s made of the highest quality dark brown pebble grain leather, has bags of style and exudes quality. The smart brass front fastening and adjustable side straps allow for you to fit all your essentials inside, plus a few luxury items. 5 Colourful hare hip flask When in doubt, give something everyone likes – alcohol! But of course, in itself a bottle of gin isn’t n especially thoughtful present is it? So why not couple your loved ones’ tipple of choice with this elegant 7oz hip flask made by Mary Rogers? 6 Cashmere beanie Another practical present at number six on our list – these deliciously warm cashmere beanie hats. They’ve been made in Scotland by the same company since 1897, and are the softest, warmest way of keeping your head cosy and toasty warm. 7 Luxurious fur gilet This luxurious gilet is made from the softest and silkiest fur, making it the ideal item for a busy woman to throw on while dashing around. It’s made by the most skilled and gives a flattering silhouette. With rabbit and racoon trim it’s the ideal thing to wear out and about, for a glamorous evening, for shopping or a visit to your local pub. 8 Tango handbag This handbag truly is a bag for all seasons. Strikingly fashionable and made of best quality soft leather calf, the bag has two shoulder straps, two separate internal sections with top zip closures, plus an internal phone pocket. Get it in black, berry or tan. 9 Rabbit fur headband Another item to keep heads and ears warm, this natural rabbit fur headband will fit snugly over your loved ones’ ears to keep them really warm. Perfect for a trip to the slopes or just for spending time out and about here in the UK. 10 Ladies cashmere socks Socks are a Christmas staple, but you can inject some luxury into this often dull gift by giving these incredibly warm 85% cashmere 15% nylon socks. Made in Scotland since 1897 they use cashmere as it is the softest and warmest wool, keeping feet cosy and toasty.