People often ask me where I get the inspiration for my stories. The truth is, I never know! Sometimes, it comes from anarticle in a magazine. Other times, it may be an interesting photo, a visit to a museum, or a treasure scooped up at a garage sale. I once got the idea for a historical romance while touring an abandoned silver mine in Calico, California! But one thing I can say for certain—the best ideas have always come from personal experience. That includes the inspiration for my latest mystery, Dairy Disaster, part of the Mysteries of Lancaster County series from Guideposts Publications.
I was very fortunate to have knowledgeable friends I could reach out to when researching this story. My childhood was spent in a very rural corner of Michigan, a fertile land ripe with fruit orchards and dairy farms. Though many of the circumstances were very different from those in my book, the staff at Country Dairy in Shelby, Michigan, were a huge help in getting some of the facts straight regarding the processing of milk and I am very thankful for their willingness to share information. For example, did you know that a cow’s diet can affect what the milk on your table tastes like? Or thatall females are called heifers until their first pregnancy? After birth they become “cows” and must be bred every year to continue producing milk.
Country Dairy is a family owned business whose history stretches as far back as the 1880’s. Today, the business employs about 125 people in the production of cheese, milk, ice cream and other dairy related products. In 2004, they opened their first retail store on the farm—an interesting tidbit that I incorporated into the writing of my story. Country Dairy’s Farm Store and Moo School have become field trip destinations for school children and a tourist stop for guests from around the world. If you’d like to learn more, please visit https://www.countrydairy.com/ and schedule a tour. Tell them I sent you.
Elizabeth Ludwig is a USA Today bestselling author and speaker. Besides writing, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and curling up with a good book. Recently, she was honored to be named a double finalist in the 2020 Selah Awards, one for Garage Sale Secrets, part of the of Lancaster County series from Guideposts and the second for her contribution to The Coffee Club Mysteries collection from Barbour Publishing. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.