This extract is part of George Orwell’s handwritten domestic diary for 1939–40. At this time, Orwell and his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy lived in Wallington, a small village in Hertfordshire where they kept farm animals. In his journal, Orwell methodically recorded information about the weather and his farming and gardening activities, including the number of eggs laid by his hens. He also collected newspaper cuttings with food recipes and cultivation tips. Orwell made use of his extensive knowledge of barnyard animals when creating the characters of his fable Animal Farm. The ‘M.’ to whom he refers in this passage stands for Muriel, one of the goats they kept in Wallington. Muriel is also the name of the white goat in Animal Farm.