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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Research Taken to Extremes

I've done some strange research for my books in the past. For instance, when I wrote WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, I had to Google "locations of nuclear plants in California." For weeks I waited to see if the FBI was going to show up on my doorstep...

But this weekend I got a little more, um, hands on, with my research than usual. In the manuscript I'm working on right now, the protagonist--who knows nothing about farm animals--has to milk a goat. I had a pretty good idea of how it was done from looking at youtube videos and talking to a friend who used to have goats, but I wanted to make sure I got it right. (If you get info wrong in a book, I assure you, people will tell you about it later. Repeatedly.)

Luckily, one of the artists at The Artisans' Guild shop I run happens to be a nun who is in charge of the animals at the Holy Myrrbearers Monastery where she lives in nearby Otego, so she invited me to come milk one of her goats. My friend Ellen went along to watch, take pictures, and no doubt laugh quietly to herself.

It's not as easy as it looks.
 I had a great time, even if initially I got as much milk on my pants as I did in the bucket.

The goat was very patient with me.

Mother Katherine with another one of her charges

Where the milk ended up!
 There were three adorable little kittens in the barn that had been abandoned across the street not long before. (People do that in the country all the time, alas.) They were happy to clear away the milk I got out of poor Claire. The rest went to her kids, who took it directly from the source.

Lots of goats!

Ellen with her new friend Caliban
 Mother Katherine also tends to many sheep (whose wool is made into the yarn, scarves, and felted insoles she sells at the shop), chickens, and the working dogs who live there.

So tell me, what did you do with your Saturday? And if you're a writer, what is the strangest research you've ever done?