Thursday, 23 May 2013

Publication of Darkest Before the Dawn

Darkest Before the Dawn is the fifth in a series of 5 novels beginning with Dreams of Home when a young soldier returns from the war and struggles to get a start in farming. Each book follows the progress of the Caraford family. Darkest Before the Dawn brings the series up to present day with the third generation of Carafords. Two of the characters are preparing for university with problems belonging to their generation so it could almost be a young adult novel, although I did not set out to make it that way. However it also brings farming up to date with robots for milking cows, arguments between the generations about changes, as well as an unexpected, and rather satisfying love affair for two of the mature characters.

Blurb - Joe Lennox becomes bitter and deranged and blames Billy Caraford when his son is killed in a car accident, but Billy has lost his best friend and is badly injured himself. Despite the misgivings of his parents he is still determined to be a farmer. He summons his courage to go to university but he knows he can never be the active and admired young sportsman he was. There are days when he is constantly reminded of his injury and he doubts if any woman will love him, even less want to marry him.

When her father dies Kimberley Wilshaw becomes an orphan and she and her aunt move to Scotland. She is nervous about changing schools until Billy helps her find new friends. Both Kim and her aunt become involved in the affairs of the Caraford family and as Kim grows into a lovely young woman she develops the strength of character to confront problems and fight for the life and the love she craves.

 In my novels the events and characters are entirely fiction and readers would be bored if I used time and space to explain how things work, but I like to think my farming facts are accurate. For anyone who is interested the photos show how cows are housed and fed and how they can go in and out of the milk robot themselves.

Cows eating silage in winter
cubicles where cows sleep

All the cows have an electronic tag to identify them. This determines how much cake to allocate when they enter the robot to be milked and it records the yield and other information.

Cow in robot being milked while eating cake   
       Cow leaving robot after milking

  Some farms have electronic gates which allow the cows to go out to the fields to graze and come back in when they are ready for milking - contented cows at grass

Friday, 10 May 2013


I often wish I had a talent for painting pictures but I have to make do with words and photographs. It may only be my opinion but modern publishers do not seem to like fiction writers spending too much time, or space, on descriptions. Many of today's reader also prefer to get on with the story rather than sidetracked with detailed settings.

  Even photographs do not always capture the magnificent splendour, or the emotion the sight might arouse. This was a truly magfiicent winter dawn but I did not manage to capture all the colours.

 The woodpecker keeps himself very smart in his black and white with his red spot while a blue tit waits patiently for breakfast.

Piggy contentment wallowing in mud

 I was surprised to see this owl perched on my garden seat during the day. S-i-l thinks it is a young sparrow hawk.
Spring at last