READ no further if you are a vegetarian. My flock of guinea fowl has reached ideal table weight.

I shall miss the cacophony of calls from their run. Two notes, sounding similar to buck-wheat, buck-wheat, apparently identify a female and one note a male.

But as they all made them together I never found out which was which. And as they had not started laying eggs either, and also the fact that when they do they generally lay all in one nest, that method of identification was denied to me as well.

This was one of the first times I had not hatched guinea fowl eggs from our own flock under a broody hen or in the incubator. Last year, as we were away on holiday for several weeks at a time, and as guinea fowl are prone to wander all over the village, John culled the flock in the autumn. So these birds have been raised from day old keets.

In fact, they were not even native guinea fowl. They came from France. So perhaps it wasn’t buck- wheat, buck-wheat, they were calling, but blé dur blé dur.

I shall not be buying any more keets this year, though, as the guinea fowl were already sharing their hut and run with a bantie hen and her 12 chicks. Well, no longer chicks, more like pullets now.

My brother-in-law Geoff brought me this family of hen and chicks when he found the newly-hatched clutch and very smug mum in a corner of one of his sheds.

He has just contacted me to say that if I want there is another clutch available too. I shall need to consult with my better half before I agree. After all it is him who does most of the dirty work around here and we had planned to open up the run to let Mrs Bantie and co the freedom of the house paddock.

That will mean no longer feeding the flock in the run though. Sheep are notorious trespassers and the three ewes who graze by the house would be in the run scoffing everything in sight if they got half the chance.

I recently had a count up of the ducklings roaming round the paddock. At least two dozen of them, plus two goslings and then another seven ducks from last year who are responsible for all the ducklings. Not counting another eight duck eggs under a broody bantie, our wild goose and a dozen rare breed eggs, Light Sussex and Wyandotte, in the incubator.

Add in the fact that our newly-resident cockerel Bob is getting very frisky and strutting his stuff with all our hens and I could soon be very easily overwhelmed by poultry of one genus or another. Comparisons with the Aardman film Chicken Run loom large. Just hope they are not all plotting an escape.