Last year we inherited a cockerel and two hens from a local school. Bird flu was having as devastating an impact on poultry as coronavirus was having on the human population. Confronted with a lockdown for schools, the three faced an uncertain future. But, after a phone call from my friend who is a teaching assistant at the school, to see if we could offer the refugees a home, the trio took up residence in our goose hut.

Then spring and freedom . And for the cockerel, access to our hens. Innocents everyone. No knowledge of the male of the species at all. Unlike Mr Cockerel, who had spent the winter months in close confines with two mature lady hens.

Teaching him the gentle, and from observing his technique on a daily basis out in the field, not so gentle, art of seduction.

And today we discovered that his technique was not only irresistible to all our hens, but that it had been productive as well. Proudly ushering her chicks across the field from a secret nesting site that I still haven't discovered, a fiercely protective bantam brought her babies to the grain hopper in the hen run. Ten bundles of yellow fluff. Now safely tucked up with Mum in a secure run and tucking into a bowl of chick pellets.

Meanwhile among the progeny of all this damp debauchery, we have our very own special needs duckling.

An obliging hen had actually managed to incubate and successfully hatch off a clutch of six ducklings. But one of her babies was not waddling after her in the pen or joining its siblings to guzzle chick crumbs.

On picking the recluse up I noticed it had a shrivelled foot and so shuffled along on its breast and one leg if it needed to get to the crumbs or back under Mum. I have isolated it under a heat lamp in the shed. And once more the toy unicorn has come to the rescue as a foster Mum.

The toy had provided shelter and succour to the sole surviving duckling of a murderous broody hen.

That is no longer a duckling but a feisty little duck who has been accepted as a friend by the goslings and taken up residence in their hut. After a quick whizz in the washing machine, a now pristine unicorn has resumed its role. John has told me to be realistic about the ducklings survival. But I live in hope.