I have a pervert, sex offender duck. I thought humans were the only species capable of such behavior.

We keep chickens on our small farm, and also have two ducks. The chickens and ducks each have separate coop areas in the barn where they’re closed up at night, but during the day they all free range in a small fenced pasture that the coop area opens into. Our oldest hen, who is named Bard (she’s a Plymouth Barred Rock), doesn’t come out of the chicken coop much anymore, though. Most of her generation of chickens, our first ones, are gone now, and she’s pretty slow moving and often just looks tired.

This afternoon I was in our garden—a fenced area next to the bird’s pasture—washing a head of lettuce I’d just harvested, when I heard a horrible, prolonged distressed squawking coming from the coop area of the barn. I rushed in and saw that the sound was coming from our rooster, Goldie, who was outside of the chicken coop looking in, acting very distressed and absolutely screaming about something inside. I stepped in and saw it. We keep a foot-high board across the open doorway of the chicken coop during the day to keep the ducks out, but the male duck had gotten over it somehow, and was on Bard’s back, pinning her to the ground and raping her, holding the feathers on the back of her head tightly in his beak so she couldn’t move.

It was disturbing and upsetting, almost like coming upon someone’s grandmother being raped.

I grabbed him around the neck—none too gently—dragged him off, carried him outside flapping and gasping for air, and flung him out into the pasture.

Sigrid, our Border Collie, loves the chickens. She likes to follow them around and watch them, and sometimes will just lay down among them while they scratch and forage around her. She knows she’s forbidden to do anything that might hurt them, and shows no inclination to (she does have a game she invented that we call Rooster Tag, where she pokes the rooster in the butt or chest with her nose, then quickly jumps or spins out of reach when he tries to attack her. It’s all in fun—on her part, at least). But when she saw me throw the duck, she realized something unusual must be going on, and promptly ran over and tackled him, which sent him running squawking away down the pasture.

Poor old Bard came out of the coop and all of the other hens and the rooster gathered around her, almost as if they were trying to comfort her. She stayed outside with them for a long time—very unusual for her—and they all stayed close around her.

Eventually the male duck made his way back to the barn, where his mate, looking worried, joined him. What did the damn thing do? He charged into the chickens, scattering them, and jumped on Bard again. Apparently for him she is some kind of very enticing object of sexual desire which he can no longer resist. Both Sigrid and I rushed in and he ran away. For the rest of the afternoon, Sigrid kept the ducks under close guard, safely away from the barn and the hens, until we shut them up in their pen for the night.

20150425_170638The female duck stopped laying eggs over a year ago, and the two of them eat a lot of food, are noisy and messy, and in general give nothing back for the amount of trouble and work they require. My wife, Jeanette, and I have been planning, at some as yet undetermined point in the future, to relocate them from the barn to the freezer. It was very tempting today, while I had his neck in my hand, to go ahead and do the deed. But plucking and cleaning a duck is a time-consuming and tedious process, and it’s best prepared for in advance. However, I can see a duck-pluck party coming very soon. Sentence has been adjudged, and is awaiting execution—as is the duck.

Ancient Archery Skills

Halfdan, the protagonist of The Strongbow Saga, is an archer. In many late Medieval societies, which tended to have more rigid social class structures than did Scandinavian society during the Viking era, the bow–while still an essential element in warfare for providing missile fire against an enemy–was not considered a “noble” weapon, and archers were typically commoners, and considered of lower status than the knights who formed the elite fighting element of most medieval armies.

Viking society was far more egalitarian and pragmatic. While there was certainly a small class of nobility in Scandinavian society, membership in the noble class was not strictly determined by birth–any free man could, by virtue of achieving wealth and success through his own skill and efforts, become a chieftain, a leader of men with his own retinue of followers. And the Vikings greatly admired and valued exceptional skill with all weapons, including the bow.

I have personal familiarity with the use of a bow. Growing up, I spent many hours shooting a recurve bow, both at targets and roaming through woods near my home hunting the same kind of small game that Halfdan did. I now own a yew-wood longbow, handcrafted in the same design as Medieval English and Viking bows, which I acquired to better understand how such a bow shoots differently from modern bows, and to better describe how Halfdan shoots. And I search the old  sagas for stories of Viking archers and the shots they made, to try to ensure that Halfdan’s skill, and the shots he makes, are realistic.

Although I have never found any accounts of such feats by Viking archers, I have read accounts of skill with a bow by Medieval Mongol and Saracen archers involving such incredible accuracy and speed of fire that they seemed almost impossible to believe. But recently Jeff Hays, the very talented voice actor who narrated the audio editions of the Strongbow saga books, sent me a link to the video below. A modern archer named Lars Andersen–ironically enough, a Dane, like Halfdan–has taught himself some of the forgotten techniques and skills of those ancient archers. What he is capable of with a bow will astonish you. Watch, and be amazed.

Book 4 Now in Audio

LongHuntCover AudioThe Long Hunt, book 4 of The Strongbow Saga, is now available in an audio book edition. As with the first three books, there are a limited number of free download codes for it available. If you’d like one, send me an email at strongbowsaga @

It will, of course, be a longer wait until book 5, the final book of The Strongbow Saga, will be available in an audio edition, because I have not written it yet. 😉

May you all have a holiday season filled with happiness and peace.

Best wishes,

Judson and Jeanette

Special Barnes & Noble Offer

Northman Books Inc., is the small publishing company that my wife and I set up to sell the Strongbow Saga books. Among the channels we sell the books through is Barnes & Noble. That company has provided us, as affiliated booksellers, a special discount to offer to our readers this Christmas season: 25% off any single item. The offer is good only through this Sunday, December 14th. Here’s the special coupon code and link to use:

Barnes & Noble

These additional special offers on shipping for orders from B& are also available:

Free Standard Shipping on orders of $25 or More. Valid now – 12/16/14.

Free Express Shipping on orders of $25 or More. Valid 12/17 – 12/19/14.

One Day Only! Free Expedited Shipping on Orders of $50 or More. Offer valid 12/20/14 only!

And our best wishes to all for a happy, safe holiday season.



Strongbow has invaded Germany! The German language edition of Viking Warrior, book 1 of the Strongbow Saga, is now on sale as a Kindle e-book on Amazon-DE, and in the coming weeks it will be rolled out on other e-book outlets and in a print edition.

Ruth Nestvold

Ruth Nestvold

Making Viking Warrior available in a German translation is the result of a partnership with Ruth Nestvold, an American-born award-winning author who now lives and works in Germany. Ruth is the author of a number of fantasy and science fiction works, and the historical fiction series “The Pendragon Chronicles,” which is set in Britain and Ireland during the period after the Roman legions abandoned Britain, when the historical warrior Arthur–known to legend as King Arthur–led the fight against invading Saxon hordes.

Book 1 of the series, Yseult, is a retelling of the classic tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde, setting it accurately within its correct historical period and context.

Book 2 of the series, Shadow of Stone, continues Yseult’s tale against a backdrop of chaos and war as Arthur continues his doomed struggle to save Britain.

You can learn more about Ruth at her English language website and blog, and see her announcement of the release of the German edition of Viking Warrior on her German language blog.

In other news, book 3 of the Strongbow Saga, The Road to Vengeance, is now available in an audio book edition. A limited number of free download codes are available while they last–to get one, write me at strongbowsaga @

Book 2 Now in Audio

Dragons Audio 4

Dragons from the Sea, book 2 of The Strongbow Saga, is now available in an audio edition, and the audio version of book 3 is in its final stages of production. Jeff Hays, the very talented voice actor who performed the audio version of Viking Warrior is continuing as the voice of Halfdan (and everyone else in the books).

We’ve created a new cover for the audio edition of book 2, using a photograph from the Danish Viking Ship Museum of three of their full-size Viking ship replicas. In coming weeks, the new cover will be added to other versions of the book as well.

As with Viking Warrior, there are a limited number of free downloads of the new audio book available. If you would like one, please send me an email at strongbowsaga @

The Voice of Halfdan

In my last post, I mentioned that my wife and I have been working to make the Strongbow Saga available in new markets, and reach new audiences. One of those new markets was the Apple iTunes Store. Since May, all of the Strongbow Saga books have been available in e-book editions in the iTunes store, and links to their pages there are now on the “Books” page of this site.

We have also been working closely over the summer with a very talented voice actor named Jeff Hays to create audio book editions of the Strongbow Saga. The first of these is complete: Viking Warrior, book 1 of The Strongbow Saga, is now available in an audio book edition from Amazon and in the iTunes Store, and is also available as a selection on

Jeff’s skill as a voice actor is remarkable. He truly brings Halfdan and the other characters in the story to life, and carries the listener away into 9th century Denmark. We’re excited to have him as the voice of Halfdan. His performance of Dragons from the Sea, book 2 of the Strongbow Saga, is now in its final phases of production, and should become available sometime in September.

In conjunction with the release of the audio edition of Viking Warrior, we’ve created a new cover for book 1 of the series. Over the coming weeks, the new cover will be added to the e-book and print editions, as well.


To celebrate the release of the audio edition of Viking Warrior, we’re giving away ten copies of the audio book. To request a free copy, send me an email at strongbowsaga @, and I’ll provide you with a code for a free download from, with instructions on how to use it. The free copies will go to the first ten email requests received.

08/26/2014 Update: There are still four free copies of the audio edition of Viking Warrior available. And here’s a little surprise that Jeff Hays, the voice actor who produced the audio edition, sent me yesterday:

In case you’re wondering, I did not pour a bucket of ice water on my head. I’m old enough, and have done and seen and been through enough in my life, that I don’t feel a need to answer every dare. But I did donate $100 to the ALS Foundation (and will only do that once–don’t anyone else bother sending another challenge!).

Are you warm yet, Jeff?

09/05/2014 Update: Jeff Hays, who performed the audio book version of Viking Warrior (narrated sounds too dry for the job he did), just donated ten free download codes for me to add to the giveaway, so there are still free copies available. And Jeff is currently giving a live “Ask Me Anything” chat on how he produces audio books, if anyone would like to learn more about how they’re made. It’s at



Living on the land–particularly in an area that’s on the border of wilderness–is very different from living in a city. Life is much more in tune with, and to some extent controlled by, the cycles of nature, and the cycles of life and death are much more vivid and closer here.

My wife and I are now well into our third year of our new life on our small farm, which is on the edge of the Cascade Mountain range in Oregon. We are learning about the cycles of life and nature here, and are getting better each year at living in harmony with them.

We want to produce as much of our own food as we can, and each year we move farther along that path. Spring here is a time of anticipation and preparation: planning the summer garden, and starting seedlings to be planted in the garden when the weather warms. Spring also brings new lambs to our small herd. This year our two ewes gave us three lambs. We always hope for females because they are much more useful for growing the herd than males are. Last year’s two new lambs were both males–we’d hopefully named them Dierdru and Fionna, then had to change their names to Danny Boy and Finn. This year we initially held off on naming the first lamb that was born, but at about two weeks of age I happened to see it urinating–the point of origin is a sure indicator of the sex–and the first words out of my mouth–“Dammit!”–became his name. Our second ewe had twins, though, and one, at least,  was a female–she now bears the name Dierdru. But our herd has grown too ram-heavy–we now have three females and five males–so we’ve taken to calling Finn “Lamb Chop” in anticipation of his future destiny. Here’s a photo of the lambs and mothers, taken in April a few weeks after they born:

SAMSUNGSummer is the busiest season. The garden requires much work: planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving the harvest. The pastures, too, require our attention. The sheep help maintain them, but there is hay to be cut and stored for use in the winter. Summer, I now know, is not the season for writing. Winter will be the writing season, now that I am learning to live in harmony with the cycles here.

But although I am not currently actively writing, that does not mean I am not working on my books. The past few months my wife and I have focused considerable effort to make the Strongbow Saga books available in several new markets. There will be news about that coming later. And we leave in a few days for a research trip to Ireland. The Beast of Dublin, my partially finished novel which is set in Ireland in the year 840, and which tells some of Hastein’s story before the Strongbow Saga and which also will set up some characters and relationships that will figure into the final book of the Saga, is the next book I plan to complete–I hope to release it in the spring of 2015. On our research trip, we will be visiting numerous locations that figure into that story, and well as the location where the final chapters of book 5 of the Strongbow Saga will take place. That book–the final book in the Strongbow Saga–I hope to complete and publish in 2016. There is much more that goes into writing these books than just sitting down at the computer and typing.

This year, two large red-tailed hawks have nested just across the river from our farm. They frequently hunt over our farm, although a flock of crows we have befriended–we feed them regularly, and in exchange they watch over our chickens–usually drives them off when they do. I think of crows as true warrior-spirit birds. It is amazing to watch them attack much larger raptors. They are much faster and more agile than the big birds, and swirl around them, diving at their wings, until usually the hawks give up and move off to hunt somewhere that is not guarded. Once we even saw a single crow attack and harass a bald eagle that was circling over our property. The eagle did not take it kindly–at one point it rolled onto its back in flight and tried to grab the crow with its talons as it swooped by–but eventually even it gave up and flew away.

A few weeks ago, for an entire day the crows disappeared. One of our hens, a beautiful Golden Wyandotte we called Tiger, wandered away from the shelter of the barn and was caught out in the open by the two red-tailed hawks. We heard the sound and I ran up to the barn to see what  had happened, but although my appearance on the scene caused the hawks to flee, I was too late. They had torn Tiger’s throat out–their preferred way to kill–although they had not yet begun to eat her.

Tiger was a big bird–our biggest hen–with a lot of meat on her. We felt it would honor and show respect for her life and death to save it, so I skinned and cut off her legs and breast. We’ll eat them, stewed as coq au vin, as our Thanksgiving dinner this year and remember her fondly when we do. The rest of her body we put out in the pasture, so nothing about her would be wasted. The turkey vultures found her, and her death gave them food. When they’d finished, nothing–not even a stray feather–was left.

Tiger’s last day:

SAMSUNGTiger 2DSCN0766The cycles of life and death are much more vivid and closer here.


New Look

It has been too long since I have last posted here, but things are happening behind the scenes. I’ll post again in a week or so and bring you up to date on all of the Strongbow Saga news, but for now I wanted to talk about the changes to this website. We’ve made a lot of updates that were long overdue.

The most obvious new addition is the quote slider. The idea was actually inspired by Amazon–on the product page for Viking Warrior, there is a section where readers have shared some of their favorite quotes from the book. I thought that was a great idea. If any of you have favorite lines from any of the books, please post them as replies here, and I’ll try to rotate them through on the slider.

Other changes include a Books page, which shows in one location all of the books currently out in the series, with links to reviews and to where they can be purchased. The Discussions page has been made more user friendly by putting the “Enter a Post” form at the top of the column, where it can be seen without having to scroll down, and we’ve paginated this section so that just ten posts (with any replies) now appear per page.

We’ve also closed down the separate website, which used to contain articles I’d written sharing some of my research,  and brought those articles to this site, where they can be found under the “Viking History” tab. Hopefully their presence here will even encourage me to put more of my research into print where it can be shared.

More to come soon….

Northman Books


The long overdue web store for Northman Books, the small publishing company created by my wife Jeanette and me to publish the Strongbow Saga books, went live this week at Autographed copies of the Strongbow Saga books, with personalized inscriptions if desired, can be purchased from the store. Also available are Strongbow Saga t-shirts and pewter Viking Dragon emblems and Thor’s hammers, for use as key rings, or which can be used to make reproduction Viking era jewelry.

Through the web store, we are also offering thirty percent discounted pricing on purchases of three or more copies of the same title by book clubs or church groups, and thirty percent discounts on any book purchases by schools or libraries. Booksellers may purchase books for book store sales at forty percent off retail.