I THINK we may have broken the rule on mixing guests this weekend. Three extra to stay with us. Bringing four different households together. The reason I was not too worried, though, is that our guests were of the four-legged variety.

Blue, my eldest daughter’s Labrador, had been dropped off for us to look after while she went to Oxford to visit my granddaughter with all the stuff she had forgotten to take with her last week. Jess has just started her first term at university. A strange year to begin student life.

Next drop off at the farm gate was Lottie. Another Labrador. Her owner/friend Paddy, needed to be away overnight and could not take her with him. Lottie has been before and knows all about the joys of chasing hens and ducks.

Finally Poppy arrived with our youngest daughter and her family. Poppy, a French Bulldog, who just loves racing around with our three dogs, Moss, Fizz and Millie, and now, there was the added excitement of Blue and Lottie to create mayhem with. These are times when I am glad that we don’t have any close neighbours.

Sophie, our seven-year-old granddaughter, is very blasé about the whole Covid experience. After being at home over the entirety of summer, the social aspect of meeting friends at school is very welcome. Lessons can take second place she assures us.

So we decided to take the dogs for a walk to try and run off some of their canine exuberance from all this socialising. After tying ourselves in knots with six leads and six dogs with six different ideas of which way they wanted to go, we set off. Within yards of the gate we had achieved a set of perfect lead plaits, nearly tripping over said leads and dogs, so a different going on was required. Return back to the yard, reassess and just take half of them for one walk and then the other half later.

Meanwhile, I am hoping the barking, scent and presence of six dogs in the yard and field will stop the seventh member of the canindae family from visiting. Last week I mourned the loss of my lovely Barnevelder hen and her chicks to Mr Fox. He has been visiting us again and has taken several ducks in daytime raids. As a result, the hens have almost stopped laying. John has had no luck with stake outs at all times of the night and morning. But six dogs could put Mr Reynard off I hope.