Having harvested the last runner bean from a tired and straggly plant, the final bounty from the vegetable garden, I tore into the soil and piled up a huge mound of foliage on the compost heap.

During those several hours thrashing around the garden (have you noticed how you start gardening in spring with all the tenderness of a new marriage and finish divorcing yourself from the whole mess the place has grown into?), I became aware that, like poor old Toad in The Wind In The Willows, my property had become home to huge numbers of undesirables.

Toad had weasels, but I’ve got squirrels, rats that have made their way in from the harvested fields, magpies, white-eyed jackdaws wheeling their way around the chimneys, and a visiting fox, which, despite seeing me, still gave the empty chicken run a onceover.

The place is a den of iniquity, and a better balance between the killers and the songbirds will have be sorted out. I don’t believe in feeding birds during the summer (does anyone still have their milk-bottle lids taken off by blue tits or have they lost the knack?), although I do try and help out in the colder months but first the vermin will have to be tackled.