MOURNFUL bleating from the paddock tears at my heart strings today. This morning John took the lambs to market and their loss has provoked a chorus of bleats and baas all day long from the bereaved sheep.

Protocol at the market is very different these days. Social distancing is the norm and once the trailer is backed into the loading bay, market staff take over and we hear about the outcome of the sale by email later in the day.

To escape the guilt of taking the lambs away from the group, I took the dogs for a long walk. The hay meadow we usually walk around has just been cut and the lack of cover now for hares, rabbits, game birds and probably smaller prey too, is attracting birds of prey. Specifically today, red kites. In total I spotted five of them circling overhead.

As they lazily circled I wondered what would happen if Millie, our little Jack Russell, put a bird up. Or if the kites saw Millie herself as a potentially tasty morsel.

The kites will certainly present a future threat to the pen full of partridges we are rearing at home for the shoot. The birds are nearly ready to leave now for the wood where John has a release pen. I should imagine while the birds stay under cover they will be safe, and it will be when they venture out into the fields that hungry eyes will spot them from the skies.

At home I am making ready for roofers to come and replace the pantiles on our plus 300 year old house. The tiles must have been replaced a few times since first building the farm house, and even we have extended in recent years. Several years ago we also knocked through some of the attic space and created an extra bedroom and office for John. The wooden beams of the kitchen celling show where a trapdoor once was to allow farmworkers to climb up into a roof space to sleep. It is in fact our bedroom now, although we have added stairs, an en-suite and a dressing room. I was not keen on a chamber pot under the bed as I presume was the practice then.

There is still an outside toilet building, although this is now where the dogs go if we are out for the day. A run is attached and there are three comfy dog beds, water bowls and dog biscuits provided. Canine en-suite luxury. But one of the stipulations for the builders coming to the house, is the provision of toilet facilities. Covid-19 restrictions mean the builders can’t use any of the house loos. So Moss, Fizz and Millie are to be summarily evicted and the builders will take over their thunder box.