It’s often said that characters in books resemble their authors. But in my case, I seem to be following in my heroine’s footsteps. Sabbie Dare has been keeping hens from the beginning of the Shaman Mystery Series. In the first book, In the Moors, we meet the hens in Chapter One, when something rather awful happens to some of them. Sabbie goes out early to collect the eggs…At the henhouse door I dropped my empty basket and cried out in raw distress. Slaughter lay at my feet. Saffron, the biggest of my hens, was gone, and Pettitgrain, my favourite, lay dead from a clean bite to the neck…
We started out with four hens, but it wasn’t long before their numbers swelled. In the spring our Jersey Black, Ceredwin, went utterly broody. We tried explaining to her that her eggs weren’t going to hatch as she’d never as much as been sniffed at by a cockerel, but she wasn’t listening to us. She growled and pecked every time we tried to move her out of the nesting box. Then our friend Jane, who has got almost one hundred hens of various breeds, all free range, brought us a clutch of six eggs from her chickens, who are lucky enough (!) to be getting chicken-nooky from Jane's not inconsiderable number of cocks.
Ceredwin (of the golden cape) didn't seem to mind in the least that these were not her own eggs. She sat on them for more than 23 hours a day, coming off only when I made her, taking a quick drink of water, a peck at some corn, and a quick poo (she kept the nest spick and span at all times), before rushing back to her babies.
Our lack of experience showed with egg number six. I saw Ceredwin pecking hopefully at it, but left her to it; I should have actually helped her get the chick out of the egg. Five out of six is apparently a good ratio though, and although we couldn't possibly be as proud as Ceredwin is, we think they are the most gorgeous things in the world right now.
Nina Milton lives in west Wales with her husband and their hens, but sets her Shaman Series, out from Midnight Ink, in the mystical county of Somerset in the UK. The First in the series, In the Moors is available now and the second book in the series, Unraveled Visions is due for release soon.I also write for children; Sweet’n’Sour, (HarperCollins) and Tough Luck, (Thornberry Publishing), and love writing short stories which regularly appear in British anthologies. Visit Nina’s page on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Milton/e/B00E748CT6 or join her on her vibrant blogsite, http://www.kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com