Sitting peacefully in the barnyard, chickens scratching and pecking, equines dozing, dogs on casual guard duty, soaking up the early spring sun.

A curious Welsummer hen walking along the tops of a row of metal garbage cans steps on a loose lid, up it tips and down she goes into the depths of the oyster shell bin, the lid clattering down like a trick trap door.

I jump up, lift the lid and out she flies, protesting loudly. Her panic triggers a general alarm. Everyone dives for cover, all the roosters screaming “Warning!Danger!”.

Dogs stand at alert, scanning the area. Silkie rooster, his hens and chicks safely in their coop, stations his brave little self just outside the coop door, ready for battle with the unseen enemy.

The barnyard is empty now, even the baby grow out pen birds, at 3 weeks old fully understanding the seriousness of the situation, hiding inside their coop.

As the minutes tick by and the enemy fails to show, the warnings slow, then stop, and silence ensues, for a minute.

Then the roosters start crowing. Claiming the barnyard for themselves again, warning the enemy off. First to sound off is David Cassidy the Swede, then Mr Wyandotte, then Mr Marans, and so on down the seniority line, finishing up with Mr. Barred Rock, the youngest adult male.

And ten or so minutes after Welsummer’s pratfall, the barnyard is back to normal. Everyone is relieved, except disappointed dogs who found no one to chase.