Have you ever eaten olives off your fingers?
The inspiration for the topic of Kathy Coatney's newest children's book in her Farmer Guy/Farmer Gal series was right outside her door.
Coatney and her husband, Nick Coatney, are Corning olive farmers and their orchard surrounds their home.
"I knew when I started the series of children's books that I would be writing about olives," said the 52-year-old Coatney. "I also knew one of my main characters for that book would be my husband."
Titled "Pizza, Tacos and the Olive Fingered Kid," the first sentence is the book asks, "Have you ever eaten olives off of your fingers?"
With the help of Farmer Nick and Farmer Charlie, Coatney takes the reader on an educational adventure into the agricultural world of olives - how they grow, the different types of olives, and the work involved in growing olives.
As in her previous Farmer Guy/Farmer Gal books, Four Quarts Makes a Gallon and Beekeeper Pat and the Amazing Dancing Bees, Coatney uses her book to enhance children's math, science, spelling and reading skills.
"I have underlined words in my books that are second-grade vocabulary words," Coatney explains.
As for math, she writes about Farmer Nick and Farmer Charlie being neighbors and the distance between their farms being less than a mile.
"Did you know a mile is 5,280 feet?" she asks in her book.
Farmer Charlie is the Coatney's neighbor, Charlie Simmons.
Coatney said writing about olives was second nature for her.
"As a teenager I worked in olive orchards and so did my husband. When we bought 30 acres we planted 3,000 olive trees, so we started our olive orchards from the ground up" she stated.
Referring to herself as a "dairy farmer's daughter," Coatney also describes herself as a photojournalist who writes for agriculture-based publications.
A Corning native, Coatney started writing and publishing her children's book series due to her love of agriculture.
"My family is fourth generation dairy farmers and I was raised on a dairy," Coatney said. "Agriculture and the outdoors have always been a big part of my life."
As a photojournalist traveling the state and conducting hundreds of interviews, Coatney became concerned about the lack of understanding and knowledge children have about the relationship between their food and where it originates.
"Ask most kids today where milk comes from and they will say the grocery store," Coatney said. "Most children have never seen a cow milked or even been to a dairy. They really have no idea where milk really comes from."
Add to that list where honey or olives come from, and Coatney knew she was going to take on the task of teaching children about the magical world of nature and how we use it to grow and produce our food.
"I write real-life stories to educate children, using real-life people and farms," she said.
Her books are for children of all ages and can be educational and enjoyable for adults as well.
Coatney said her next book in the series will be about "spuds," and should be available in January. After that she is considering peaches, pomegranates and definitely a follow-up on her first book about Farmer John's dairy cow in Orland having quadruplets.
"I found out the cow just had twins, so that means she has had six calves in one year," she stated. "Now that's something to write about."