Every evening the hens trundle sedately into their hen house while Precious, our only guinea fowl, ascends to the very top of an apple tree and yells loud African slogans into the night sky. This can go on for hours – it’s an echoing, repetitive call which we’re all rather fond of, though it’s just as well we don’t have any near neighbours. Meanwhile last year’s hen chicks have just come into lay and are feeling hormonal and demanding. Last night I went to shut up the hens, found the hen house half empty and finally located the bright young things swaying in the branches of Precious’ apple tree, nearly (but not quite) as high up as she was. They were gazing down at me with a mixture of defiance and alarm and obviously had no intention of coming to bed with everyone else. I can’t leave them out – Precious is entirely street wise but if the pullets fluttered down in the night a fox would probably have them. Also the Frizzles aren’t really weatherproof. So I had to climb up the apple tree, retrieve them (while they shrieked at the top of their voices that I was, like, totally unfair and minging) and put them back in the hen house. And I also had to clip their wings to prevent it becoming a habit, and I don’t think that any of them will ever talk to me again. Like, ever.