Like wild birds, chickens are highly attuned to light. Wrap a wing around her face and in a couple of seconds she will be fast asleep, such is her sight’s sensitivity. Which is why she is so much more efficient than my children at putting herself to bed at night. The only problem is that whilst she is snoozing on her perch, Mr Fox is out and about looking for his dinner. So we chicken keepers have to shut her in, safe. Even worse, we have to get up as close to dawn as we can bear in order to let her out again.

Until now.

This photo shows my clever friend Stephen’s new invention – his entirely home-made, low-cost labour-saving device….an automatic pop-hole. No more blurry-eyed trips to the allotment to let the chickens out – their door simply slides open and closed on its very own solar-powered, light-sensitive winch system.

It’s a strange thing, only having to visit once to a day to check water and food, and nick their eggs. I feel that somehow I should be putting in more effort.