APART from the occasional mournful quack from the interned ducks in their muddy enclosure, the paddock has been an eerily quiet place during lockdown for poultry. I began to wonder if I had been imagining the whole scenario as there has been zero items on the news or communication from authorities. But chasing up information on the internet confirmed that all domestic and commercial fowl had to be isolated, confined and securely housed, apart from all wild birds.

And they are not very happy about their imprisonment. The hen houses are really only meant as secure places for the hens to sleep and sufficiently dark and inviting enough for them to think they have laid their eggs in a secluded nest box.

So today John is directed to open up some windows in the sides of the hen huts and “let there be light”. We can’t house them in the hut attached to the secure run as our ducks and goose are wallowing around in there. The ducks have cleverly converted the whole area into a quagmire where they waddle and quack blissfully. The hens would just sink gracefully into the swamp.

I say goose as, unhappily, John has had to dispatch our other goose. It had gradually gone downhill over the past few weeks after going blind in one eye from we know not what. Plus, it just flailed through the mud and water in the paddock, stopped feeding at the grain dispenser and generally “gone light”.

With the lifting of restrictions on game shooting, John has hardly to be seen at home during daylight hours recently. It seems like every day a pack up is requested and game waiting to be plucked and dressed is hanging in the shed.

I have only been out with him once this week to beat on a shoot and was impressed by safety rules issued prior to the shoot on social distancing and hygiene. When it was time for refreshments, no sharing of pies, bacon butties and cakes. Sloe gin dispensed from rubber gloved hands in disposable cups. Bring your own thermos if you wanted a cuppa.

Getting round the shoot was equally disciplined. Minimum number in shoot wagons, social distancing once again and compulsory masks. The array of face coverings worn may not have always blended with the traditional green and brown hues of shooting apparel. But here I have triumphed. Masks made of camouflage material. I could just melt into undergrowth.