When my Madman was fifteen he came to work for a farmer called Armstrong in Warwick when homesteads looked much like this. It was workers like my Madman who did all the hard work of clearing and fencing, earning only enough to keep them in food, tobacco and booze to ease their aching muscles.
Young boys of nine were put to work alongside the grown men, sleeping in the barns beside the animals.
When I was doing the research for this book I was astounded by how many men were in prison for sexual offenses against animals. It was easy to imagine the fate that befell the boys who fell in their paths. Boys that kept their secrets and took them to the grave.