include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm


Copyright © Lynne Garner 2018


Published by Mad Moment Media

www.madmomentmedia.com


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording in audio or video form, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author and Mad Moment Media. This permission must be granted beforehand. This includes any and all reproductions intended for non-commercial and/or non-profit use.


Mad Moment Media is a trading name of Nyrex Limited


Flourish on front cover by Nenikime – freepik.com

Cover illustration and design by Debbie Knight



Dedication


Thank you, Trudi, for ‘that’ conversation

and thank you, Jon, for your unwavering support of my love for my prickly friends.

Finally thank you, Helen, friend and vet extraordinaire.

Contents


Introduction

Hedgehog’s Three Wits

Hedgehog and Snake

Hedgehog, Fox and the Flies

Hedgehog versus Hare

Hedgehog Helps Mother Nature

Hedgehog and Stag

Hedgehog and the Billy Goat

Clever Hedgehog

Hedgehog and the Ants

Hedgehog and the Young Swallow

Bonus content

About the author




INTRODUCTION


I never intended to write another collection of short stories (this is my fourth), it just sort of happened. Many years ago, a close friend, Trudi, and I were enjoying a light-hearted conversation about hedgehogs and the various and often strange uses they have been put to down the centuries. During that conversation, an idea for a hedgehog-based non-fiction book began to germinate. Every so often this work in progress has been resurrected and a little more research carried out. On my last attempt to get this non-fiction title to first draft, I realised I had enough material for a new story collection. So, I got to work writing a retelling of the traditional stories I’d collected and the result is this book.

The ten stories that follow originate in many different parts of the world. However, I decided to set my stories in the English countryside. So our hedgehog enjoys wandering the lanes and woods of the countryside and the fields of a small family-run farm called Moon Meadow Farm. Our Hedgehog supports his friends when he can, but when given the chance he will also use his wits to show them just how clever a hedgehog can be.

I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I’ve enjoyed researching and writing them.



Please note: to keep the authentic feel of the English countryside we have kept to English (UK) spelling and terms throughout this book.


Here’s a good rule of thumb: too clever is dumb.”


Ogden Nash (1902-1971)



HEDGEHOG’S THREE WITS


It was early spring, a time of year Hedgehog loved. It meant the autumn leaves were still covering the ground and he’d find something nice to eat hidden under them. As he rummaged there was a wonderful rustling, quickly followed by a sound of contented munching whilst he feasted on centipedes, millipedes and bugs of all sorts.

As Hedgehog foraged in the dim light of the setting sun he didn’t notice Fox sitting, half hidden, in a bush on the side of the meadow.

“Evening,” said Fox as Hedgehog got near to where he was sitting.

Hedgehog jumped and quickly pulled himself into a tight ball, his spines now an impenetrable shield.

Fox laughed, then said, “Hedgehog, it’s only me. No need to worry.”

Hedgehog uncurled and sniffed the air. Recognising the scent of his friend, he quickly uncurled some more and smiled.

“What are you up to?” asked Hedgehog, knowing his friend wouldn’t simply be sitting quietly taking in the cool evening air. Fox was always up to something.

“Planning,” replied Fox, with a sly smile.

“Planning what?” asked Hedgehog.

Fox nodded towards the old chicken coop on the other side of the meadow. “I’ve been watching the humans rebuild the chicken coop,” he said. “They’ve made it to keep the chickens in, but not to keep me out. They’ve forgotten how crafty I can be.”

Hedgehog looked at the coop and licked his lips. “I’ve seen what they throw down for the chickens and some of it looks very tasty,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind getting in there myself.”

Fox chuckled. “Out of a hundred, how many wits would you give yourself, my dear friend?”

“On a scale of one hundred, I’d give myself three,” replied Hedgehog. “I know what I need to know and nothing more.”

“Then you’ll need my help,” replied Fox. “On a scale of one hundred, I’d give myself at least seventy-seven, if not higher.”

“Then it’s my lucky night,” replied Hedgehog.

“Yes, it is,” said Fox.

Just then the farm door opened and the light pushed back the darkness which covered the meadow. The air was suddenly filled with the excited barking of the sheepdog as she came bounding out of the door and across the meadow.

“I’ll see you here tomorrow evening,” said Fox. “I’ll get us into that coop.” He then slipped into the leaves of the bush and was soon out of sight.

Hedgehog looked across the meadow to see the sheepdog running towards him, her tongue and ears flapping. Knowing he’d never outrun her, Hedgehog pulled his head under and got ready. Feeling her warm breath on his back, Hedgehog hissed and, using his front legs, he jerked his head up. The sheepdog yelped as Hedgehog’s spines pierced her tender nose. Hedgehog hissed and jerked his head a second time. The sheepdog yelped again, turned around and ran back to the safety of the farmhouse.

Hedgehog waited for a while, then slowly uncurled and returned to rummaging and rustling among the leaves.


The next evening Hedgehog returned to the same spot and as he waited for Fox he rummaged among the leaves for a tasty morsel or two. Hedgehog had just found a long, succulent centipede when Fox’s face peered out of the bush.

“Evening,” said Fox, making Hedgehog jump.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” said Hedgehog, almost choking on the centipede he’d not quite swallowed.

Fox chuckled and asked, “Are you ready to break into that chicken coop?”

Hedgehog thought about all those lovely things the farmer’s wife threw down for the chickens and licked his lips. “I am,” he said. “Have you worked out how to break into the coop?”

“I have an idea or two,” replied Fox. “We did agree I had more wits than you do.”

“Yes, you did, didn’t you?” said Hedgehog.

“Then let’s go,” said Fox. “I’m hungry.”

As the friends crept across the meadow they chatted about this and that, that and this.

“We’d better keep an eye out for that sheepdog,” said Hedgehog. “I managed to fend her off last night, but I’m not sure my one trick will work again.”

“There’s – noooooo …” howled Fox, as he disappeared into a large, deep hole.

“Fox, what …?” said Hedgehog as he tumbled head over tail into the hole. Landing with a bump, Hedgehog thought, Thank goodness for my spines.

“Hedgehog, Hedgehog are you there?” whimpered Fox.

Hedgehog quickly uncurled. “Yes, just a little dazed,” he replied. “Are you all right?”

“I think so,” Fox replied. “Where did this hole come from? It wasn’t here last night.”

“I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about how we’re going to get out,” said Hedgehog.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure to come up with an idea,” said Fox confidently.

Fox fell silent for a while and paced around and around the hole looking for an escape route.

“It’s too narrow for me to run and jump,” said Fox. “And the sides are too steep for me to climb.”

“How are we going to get out?” asked Hedgehog. “I thought you had more wits than I have.”

“I do,” snapped Fox, frustrated he couldn’t come up with an idea.

Hedgehog began to pace up and down. “Oh, I’m beginning to feel unwell,” he said. “It must be that fall.”

“I’ll come up with something,” said Fox. “Just give me a little time.”

“I’m beginning to feel very unwell,” said Hedgehog. “I think I’m going to be …”

“Don’t you dare!” said Fox.

“I’m sorry,” said Hedgehog, who was very unwell in the corner of the hole.

“That’s all we need,” said Fox.

“I’m sorry,” said Hedgehog. “I think I’m going to …”

“No, you don’t!” Fox shouted, as he scooped Hedgehog up into his paws and threw him into the air and over the edge of the hole.

Hedgehog landed with a gentle thump on the soft meadow grass. He uncurled and smiled to himself. He looked over the edge of the hole and said, “Fox, you are clever. Thank you.”

“How am I going to get out?” asked Fox, frustrated.

“Why ask me?” asked Hedgehog. “I only have three wits, remember? You have seventy-seven.”

Fox sat at the bottom of the hole and shook his head. “I’m done for,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” said Hedgehog. “I wish I could help.”

Hedgehog went to leave, stopped and slowly turned around. “Fox,” he said, as he peered over the edge of the hole. “Although I only have three wits, I have an idea.”

“I’ll try anything,” Fox replied.

“Lie very still next to where I was unwell,” said Hedgehog. “Keep your eyes open and stick your tongue out.”

“Why would I do that?” asked Fox.

“When the farmer comes, he’ll think you’re dead and will throw you on the compost heap,” Hedgehog told Fox. “When he’s not looking, you can creep away.”

Fox smiled. “You may only have three wits, Hedgehog, but it’s a good three.”

Just then the farmhouse door opened and the barking of the sheepdog could be heard.

“I’ll see you soon, my friend,” said Hedgehog, who scurried across the meadow and disappeared into the hawthorn hedge.

• • •



It is not safe to join interests with strangers upon

such terms as to lay ourselves at their mercy.”


Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)



HEDGEHOG AND SNAKE


As the seasons changed the leaves began to turn from their many shades of green to the golden yellows and oranges of autumn. The nights became colder, the first light frost had painted the grass white and Hedgehog had begun to think about winter.

It’s time for me to start building my winter nest, he thought. I’d better start looking for just the right place.

So, between snacking on worms, slugs and snails, he looked for a safe place to build his winter nest. He looked around the edges of the flower meadow, in the small woods at the bottom of the valley and in the farmer’s garden. As the first few rays of the morning sun began to come over the horizon, Hedgehog found just what he was looking for: a sheltered nesting place hidden between the tatty wooden fence and the tumbled-down shed.

“This should do,” he said to himself. He yawned, rubbed his eyes and added, “I need some sleep. I’ll start work tomorrow.”

As soon as the sun was replaced by the moon, Hedgehog poked his small black nose out of his nest and smelt for danger. No one was around and all was quiet.

He crept out from his warm nest and shivered. “No time to lose. Winter with her thick frosts and snow will soon be here.”

That night Hedgehog searched for dry leaves and grasses to line his new nest. He gathered leaves from under the oak tree at the edge of the woods, grasses from the flower meadow and even a few large, strange-looking leaves from the farmer’s garden. Between gathering the leaves and grasses, Hedgehog stopped to snack on the odd slug, snail and spider. Finally, as he wove the last leaf into place, he sighed and said, “That’s a relief. I’d hate to be sleeping in my old nest when winter hits.”

For the first few nights all was well and Hedgehog’s new winter nest was warm and comfortable. However, that changed when the first winter storm ripped the trees from their roots and the stream broke its banks. As the other animals took shelter, Hedgehog watched the howling wind demolish the tumbled-down shed and take his nest away a leaf and blade of grass at a time.

By the time the storm had passed Hedgehog was soaked through to the skin, cold and homeless. Miserable, he returned to his old nest, which had managed to survive the storm, but was wet and cold. He climbed into it, tried to get comfortable and dozed the day away.

As it was getting dark Hedgehog crept out of his nest and shook the damp leaves off his spines. Cold and unhappy, he sighed and muttered to himself, “I suppose I’d better find another nesting place.”

So he skirted around the edges of the flower meadow, looked among the roots of the gnarled oak trees in the woods, and checked the farmer’s garden again.

“I’m never going to find a good spot at this rate,” he said, shaking his head. Just then the clouds parted. The full moon shone down and covered the land in a pale yellow light. Hedgehog noticed part of the dry stone wall by the gate had collapsed. “Perhaps there would be a good place.”

Hedgehog wandered over to the dry stone wall and looked between the large stones. “This will do nicely,” he said to himself.

Then Hedgehog heard a voice. “This’ll be just right.”

Hedgehog froze for a moment and quietly asked, “Who’s that?”

Everything was silent; not even the wind moved.

Slowly a small greenish head poked around the corner of a large rock. Hedgehog breathed a sigh of relief when he recognised the yellow and black markings and the small round black and yellow eyes.

“Hello, Snake,” he said. “What are you up to?”

“I’m looking for a place to hibernate,” she replied. “My normal place is full of my family and friends. It’s far too crowded, so I was looking for a new place and I think I’ve found it here.”

“I lost my winter nest last night,” Hedgehog told Snake. “Perhaps we could share.”

Snake looked in the hole in the rocks, thought for a while, then said, “It’ll be a bit of a squeeze.”


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-11 show above.)