The farmers have been out spraying. Whatever the weather is or was, this is the moment that countrymen acknowledge as the real start of spring. The experts have proclaimed it. Taking their lead, I have been sowing grass in the orchard, which had become poached by the chickens over the long winter.

The hens are sharing the garden with the terriers and, after one near fatality, stare at each other through an electric fence. Remarkably, the victim, who is still missing a dog-shaped mouthful of backside, is laying again. The four girls produced 26 eggs last week, which, for second-year chickens, is pretty impressive, and certainly a lot of omelettes.

I have also grown rather fond of a pair of partridges that became an item soon after Christmas and now parade lovingly along the field’s edge. I’m amused, too, by an indefatigable cock pheasant that attacks every vehicle that drives past his patch under the hawthorn trees down the lane. He comes charging out of the hedge, flapping and yelling as soon as you come into view, but, despite all his machismo, he doesn’t yet seem to have found a mate. Perhaps it’s frustration. I do hope his luck changes before he gets run over.

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