6.43pm. Dusk, time to shut the hens in. Grey fleecy clouds puff about overhead. There is a gentle 'plip' or two as leaves fall from the sycamores in the dingle and my feet scuffle through those already fallen. Do I need a torch? I have one anyway.
In essence the evening is still, but what is that racket? Over in the dark conifers of Badnage Wood it sounds like a birdie riot has broken out. The panicky cries of a thousand pheasants going to roost and the metallic 'caws' and 'gronks' of rook and raven split the air. In the nano-seconds between screech, caw and gronk there's the merest 'whoo' of owl too. I listen carefully - this time to the sounds from the garden. The whistle of a wren in the logpile and unidentified tweets from titmice in the trees are delicate grace notes in this crazy bird symphony.
I listen up for the mew of a buzzard - but that's the sound of daytime and here we are at dusk. On some nights like this a vixen yelps too; an eerie, eerie sound that makes me shiver at the thought of the wildness out there.
We, who are so clever, think we have this world tamed, but even in this small corner the night is still a terrifying place for the denizens of field and forest; the prospect of sharp tooth and claw ever present.
I shut my hens in most carefully.