What could be less controversial than showing you a picture of how well our night-scented stock is doing, now that the sun has finally come out? Only a week or two ago, it was about 2 inches high and drowning - now the scent drifts through the window at night - as it says on the wrapper - and they drink about 4 pints of water a day.
That little trough is what constitutes a garden here in our compact but adorable city apartment. Just as well really, because I don't think the plants would have reached this height if we kept chickens. We have plenty of free-range pigeons though, which is why I have planted spikes in amongst the foliage - now well hidden.
The reason I have the time to write at this time of day is because I am being forced to wait in (during this fine weather!) for a delivery of materials by ParcelForce, and they refuse to specify morning or afternoon. I vowed never to use them again, after they took 3 months to send a parcel to Australia - by way of Canada - and broke it in the process, refusing to give me a penny in compensation. Sadly, my suppliers have made no such vow.
All this recent talk of chickens lead to a comment by me about Cro's ingenious but simply method of protecting his flock by leaving the barn door open, and I said that there are precious few traditional barns left unconverted these days. That wasn't as snide a comment as it may have sounded.
I don't think it was that long ago when the sound of burbling and clucking chickens permeated almost every farmyard in Britain, but now you only hear that sound everywhere outside of the UK.
Slowly, farms have been forced to become more industrially commercial, and their yards are usually made up of easy-to-clean pads of concrete, covered over with outbuildings made of steel joists and corrugated roofs, when the owner has found him/herself able to afford to do so.
The old barns - some of which dated back to the 17th century or earlier - have suffered from too much care, rather than the traditional neglect which turned them into dusty, cob-webbed treasure-troves, with rusting, vintage cars, often being used to house chickens on the inside.
A dishevelled, old, dusty or muddy (depending on the season) farmyard with a permanently gaping double door leading to big old beams and haylofts was a haven for feral chickens and dogs, but is now almost a thing of the past.
The dirty old dog would take care of the chickens during the day, and they would flap up to the beams at night, so a rogue fox would have to be wily indeed to pick one off.
Farmyards are so sanitised these days, and I miss the old-style ones, messy though they were.
With the yards, gardens and barns tarted up to keep DEFRA and the bank manager happy, there is no room for a scratchy chicken, and I miss them too, despite having been almost gored to death by a big old cockerel on such a farm a few years ago. I still have the scars - honest!