FOR the past few days we have been clearing a pile of building materials, scrap metal and general junk from three old dog kennels. They were substantial homes for the dogs. Brick built with clay pan tile roofs.

Unfortunately their back retaining wall accidentally met with the trailer one day when John was reversing with a load of corn.

The idea is to clear the brick rubble around the old kennels and make a lean to greenhouse. No dogs had actually slept in those kennels for years. Gradually they wheedled their way into the house.

After the brick-built kennels they had runs and wooden kennels under the big grain shed. And finally two of them, our current sheepdog and Jack Russell, have made it to virtually under the same roof as us.

But in a few months we may have to rethink our whole dog housing requirements. We are hoping to welcome a new dog into the family. A not yet born, in fact not yet even conceived, Springer Spaniel.

John has identified a couple of bitches that he hopes will soon be in pup, and once one of them has a litter, he can make his choice.

I do not think, however, that we will be renovating the old kennels for the new pup. The last two dogs that we used to house in them made it very clear that they did not consider these buildings their preferred sleeping destination.

Now although Fizz and Millie sleep in the porch, the plan is that they are given an old stable where all the dogs can have individual sleeping quarters, but share a run outside the stable door.

They will still, of course, be able to come into the house during the day, and even, like tonight, lounge on their bean bags in front of the fire.

While clearing out the old kennels, though, I found that someone else was quite satisfied with the sleeping arrangements they provided.

Out of the top of a large pile of loose earth in the corner of one of the kennels, peeped a couple of eggs. Digging down into the pile I unearthed 14 more. Clearly a rat had made this old kennel their home.

I surmised a rogue hen must have decided that the disused kennel was a good place for a nest, and a rat had then just buried any eggs she had laid. Rats are generalists, not too fussy what they eat, and a rotten egg would be delicious fare.

Hopefully, that rat will go hungry tonight.