Author, storyteller, advocate for an endangered language (Norn) all these titles could be applied to Elspeth Grace Hall, but increasingly they are not the ones she identifies with.

Starting back in 2014 with a contract to write a children’s early reader trilogy for independent publisher, Lioness Publishing, Elspeth had no idea of the turns her life would take.

In a bid to research the subject of her next book more – farm life as seen through the eyes of the animals – in November, 2015, she moved her young family up to Caithness to experience farming first hand. A decision that would change her life.

“I have enjoyed the experience of farming so much that my one year deadline for the book very much fell by the wayside. I lost out on a contract with Floris Books' publishing house, in Edinburgh, because their submission deadline and the arrival of our piglets clashed," she told us.

“They had expressed interest in my manuscript (originally written as a series of short stories Beatrix Potter-style) and asked me to reformat it as a novel – which meant, among other things, I had to extend the word count.

"I was just 1000 words short at the time but the animals needed me. It’s taken three years of farming by day, and writing by night, (sometimes leaving me with just three hours sleep) but ‘Cluck Chook Farm’ will finally be published this year through Blurb.”

Taking on a small six-acre plot of less favourable land made of a mix of wetland, rough grazing and scrub, neighbours and relatives thought at first that Elspeth had bitten off more than she could chew.

“I’d never farmed before. The only practical experience I had to go on was a veg plot and a couple of chickens we had kept at the bottom of the garden.

“It’s been a long haul and I couldn’t have done it without the advice of local farmers and the support of my husband, who took a year off work to help me break the ground.

“We don’t have a tractor, the ground is too wet most of the year to take the weight, so we spent months tackling the heather and gorse with axes, bill hooks, strimmers and scythes.”

Aiming to strike the best balance between nature and farming she chose some less than conventional livestock.

“All around us are sheep and cattle farms. So it is a source of amusement for our neighbours that our main livestock is geese.”

Breeding and rearing rare breed geese for Christmas and fattening pigs over the summer.

Not to mention her flocks of chickens – both commercial broiler strains and rare breed heritage egg layers, as well as hay fields and vegetables both for the family and the livestock it’s a wonder Elspeth has time to write at all.

“My animals are my life. As much as I enjoy writing there are plenty of authors out there. As my neighbours say: 'You can’t eat a book.'

"I have a few more titles in various stages of publication, once they are done that’s it. Farming is hard work, it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s long hours, it stinks there’s muck and mud but it is also beautiful and fulfilling in a way writing can never be. A book is a static thing but a farm is a never ending circle of life. I think I have found my true vocation in farming.”

‘Cluck Chook Farm’ is a gritty realism novel for eight to 12-year-olds that looks at farm life through the eyes of the farm animals.

Tackling big issues such as predation, drought, flood and slaughter. ‘Cluck Chook Farm’ also looks at the smaller things; vermin control, going to market, what happens to working dogs that can’t/won’t work, bio-security and what happens when the farmer falls ill.

Combining humour with the facts of life on a farm ‘Cluck Chook Farm’ helps children to connect with where their food comes from.

The book was recently published and is available online as a paperback through most major book retailers.

You can buy the book from for £8.49. ISBN: 978-1518468414