PUTTING up, and then taking down Christmas decorations, reveals a whole new world in our farmhouse. I must admit to real shame discovering the ropes of webs criss-crossing the beams or hanging from light fittings.

It is not as though I see many spiders. Occasionally if I come down for a drink in the night I will find one scuttling down the stairs, frozen in horror at my clumping approach.

But the trauma that the spiders might suffer when I rip their webs down is nothing when I note the mental state of the latest addition to my flock of chickens.

My daughter Bryony keeps three chickens. They came to her as ready to lay birds from our flock. Because they are fed on correct proprietary brands of layers meal instead of the corn heap in the grain store, household vegetable peelings and anything else I consider would be profitably fed to my hens rather than be chucked in the dustbin, her three hens have always been prolific layers.

Bryony regularly moves their hen hut and its enclosure to a fresh area of the orchard. Their water and feed hoppers are hung six or seven inches above the ground so that rats do not help themselves.

They even have a solar powered door shutter system so that their hut is secure at night. And they are never left to fester in their hut all day because their feckless owner has forgotten to open it up. Like I do to ours occasionally. These are lucky hens.

But not immune to foxy fox tricks it appears. At the weekend a fox contrived to lever the lid to the laying boxes open, and snatched two of the hens out of the hut. After talking (sobbing) to me on the phone about the incident, Bryony asked if we would take the remaining hen back to our house and give it shelter until they could be sure that no more foxes could get into their garden.

So on Christmas Day one traumatised hen arrived. As the guinea fowl’s hut has a netted enclosure attached to it, that seemed the best place to rehome the hen to. Where else could we house a bird with post traumatic stress disorder. So far, several days post Christmas, she has not left the hut. Nor laid an egg.

She has, however, retreated to one of the nest boxes in the hut and refused to leave it. Much to the disgust of a little white bantam that regularly lays in that self same box. “PTSD” you can hear her cluck scornfully. “Get a life and more to the point, get out of my nest box.”