Research Trip – Occupations

When I started writing my new series, I decided I needed to know the basic premise of each book before I started. The books are linked by four friends, in fact the tagline of the series is:

Four childhood friends, one coastal town, and a whole lot of trouble.

So I needed to come up with occupations for my four heroines as well as for my heroes. I knew I wanted Kit to be a farmer, but I wasn’t sure what type of farmer.

Wheat farming was out because of the location, and though there are lots of wineries in the area, I didn’t want to go down that avenue. So while I was on my research trip, I decided to check out what else she could be.

I visited an alpaca farm, but discovered there’s not enough alpacas in Australia for there to be a wool industry. Kit could have bred them, but that didn’t sit well with her personality.
I also checked out a berry farm, but plants aren’t quite as exciting as animals. Finally I chatted to a couple of dairy farmers and that was quite fascinating.

First I spoke to someone who had an organic dairy and only a few cows. She gave me a fabulous insight on how much work was involved, including the kinds of licences you need and explained a little about the process.

Then I went and checked out an automatic dairy where cows basically milk themselves. It was like going from one end of the spectrum to the other. These new automatic milking machines are calibrated to each cow and upload all sorts of data to a central computer. It was so very interesting. So by the end of my trip I’d decided that Kit is going to be a dairy farmer with possibly a herd of about 200 animals. I’m not sure with that many animals that she can be fully organic, but she won’t be fully automatic either. I’ll need to do a lot more research on dairy farms before I write her book, but she’s the last in the series, so I have a bit of time. I’m quite looking forward to learning more.