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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Off to the Amish.

Last evening while feeding the goats I made a pleasant discovery. I finally hit the bottom of the feed barrel! Now this seems like something odd to be excited over but the last drop of goat feed signifies a  day trip to Amish country. Its not terribly far and the vast country side allows plenty of room for my mind to wander. I love the trips to the Amish country.

This morning I loaded up my two favorite boys in the truck. I had my right hand man by my side and my trusted side kick buckled safely in the back.

 We headed toward the feed mill.

The winding road lead us through valleys of grazing cows and hillsides painted with beautiful trees. We passed a farm with hogs wallowing in the mud and horses running the fields... Yep, this is my kind of place.

The thick lines and narrow ruts in the asphalt from the passing buggies announce that I have hit Amish country. I passed several signs and the end of long drive ways; Produce, Candle Makers, Wood Workers, Jam houses, Saw Mill, Feed Mill. I couldn't help but to imagine such places in my world where people just dropping in wasn't an oddity.

I traveled on, passing large plain white houses, large gardens with bird house gourds strung across the length, I passed empty carriages parked in wooded lots and horses tied to post. There were chickens pecking the ground at every home... Yep, this is definitely a place that I can relate.

We passed a cluster of young Amish girls wearing dresses of teal and dark blue. Headed to school with their lunch pails in hand. Up the way a bit, a young boy was walking through the fields, with his father leading a team of horses behind him. There was a a woman hanging laundry on the line as I turned into the Mills long drive.

This is my third year of doing business with the Amish. We buy our laundry soap and kitchen equipment at the Amish store, our lumber from the water operated Saw Mill, and our feed from the Amish Feed Mill. Slowly but surely the walls that once separated us is  slowly falling down.

The Amish do business with the English but tend to be very reserved in their presence. I understand their reservations as a lot of English do not respect or understand the Amish. When you walk into one mans territory its ALWAYS important to tread lightly.

Today I pulled into the empty Feed Mill lot. Mr. Mazlo was nowhere in site. I took the opportunity to pull my hair back into a bun before stepping out of the truck. I knew that he would be present in just a moment.

Then I saw him walking up the long gravel drive from his house headed in my direction. As I waited patiently I took the opportunity to embrace the senses that surrounded me... The heavy stench of manure laid heavy in the air, the birds and cows in the distance crying out to one another, the dogs barking, and the sun shinning.

A young man with dark black hair, a thick black beard and olive colored skin, greeted me with a warm smile. "I'm glad I caught you", I said as I smiled back. I always try to be as warm and friendly as I can. ( When you are accepted by the Amish... the knowledge you gain about their world is insurmountable.)

"Hiya, What can I get cha for", a strong German accent rang out.

"I'm needing 200lbs of livestock feed... its for my dairy goats", I cheerfully said.

"Alrighty", he said.

I walked to the back of the truck and popped the hatch. I held out my arm and reminded Sam to stay. Mr. Mazlo loaded my feed, and told me my bill. As I was writing my check, Mr Mazlo made small talk. I was slightly shocked but welcomed the conversation (I like to talk!).

 " Let mi ask ya sumthin'", he said. "Whys there a sudden interest in Daireey goots", he asked.

 I replied " I think its because of people like myself lacking the land for a dairy cow"

"Aya, makes sense, goats dont need much of  nuthin' ",

"I think Im going to get some dairy goot feed mixed, Theres a loot of people who order feed fa goots" he stated.

I told him that my goats did so well on the livestock feed that I probably would just stick with it... "why mess with what works", I said.

He nodded in agreement.

I told him "Thank You",  as I made my way back to the truck.

I had been less than a quarter of  the mile down the road when a woman driving a van came flying around the curve almost hitting us. "SLOW DOWN", I screamed

I was annoyed. Besides almost hitting us, she could have hit the Amish kids walking to school or collided with a horse and buggy at the bottom of the hill. I thought "no wonder the Amish are so stand offish with the English"!

So here I made a list of Considerations while traveling into Amish territory.... just in case you are a newbie or perhaps you just haven't figured out why you get the weird stares.

1. SLOW DOWN. Slow down  about 10 miles outside of the community... Buggies are coming and going all day long and it would be catastrophe to be flying around the curve and hit one. My motto is if the speed limit says 30 I drop it down to 20.... and like I said I drop it down when I'm with in 10 miles of the community.

2. Turn down/ off the radio. A loud blazing radio is rude no matter who you are visiting.

3. NO PICTURES. I love scenery of the Amish country. Its a place that I would love nothing more than to share with each and every one of you. The beauty and simplicity reminds me of stories from a simpler past... But ultimately the Amish don't like to have their pictures taken. They don't like to have pictures of their property or pics of their livestock taken either. I respect that and so no matter how trigger happy my finger gets... I put the camera is put in my console and it doesn't come back out until I exit the community.
And... don't take cheap shots of their back sides either. I would be pretty annoyed if  someone took my picture with out me knowing. Its an invasion of privacy.

4. DON'T HONK!- The Amish community around us sells a lot of goods. They don't have phones so its to be expected for people to just drop in.  BUT don't sit in your car and honk for someone to come outside or show up. That is so rude. Proper etiquette says to go to the front door and knock... then politely state your name and purpose.

5. Patiently wait- The Amish don't just sit around all day and tend the mill or produce stand. They are out feeding animals, hauling water, shoeing horses, etc. So when you arrive on ones property and no one is present, wait a moment. Usually someone will peak their heads out of the barn or show walking up the drive. Don't jump in your car to wait. Stand their patiently.

6. Dress conservatively- There are certain places a dress code is found appropriate. When  I visit the Amish I wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, and I pull my hair back. Its respectful. I don't walk into church nor into my daughters school in shorts and a tank top. Those places have a dress code (spoken or unspoken), as do the Amish.  The Amish are very conservative. While visiting the Amish community its important to follow the "laws of the land". Now I am not saying that you have to put on a teal green dress and a bonnet, but at the same time you don't have to stand for something of total disapproval.... and let me tell ya, the more conservative you dress, the more at ease everyone will feel.

So there ya have it... hope you enjoyed. :)

12 comments:

  1. I would love to be able to visit the Amish Community someday. You're so fortunate to have one nearby, thats awesome.

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  2. Hi Leigh, I enjoyed the virtual trip to visit the Amish with you! I agree with you about respecting other people and their customs. Rudeness and insensitivity is never appropriate.

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  3. Your description of the countryside is very beautiful. In fact, I think pictures might ruin the images you've constructed. There's magic in the things you can't see, the things you need to look inside to find. I grew up near the Amish when I lived in the midwest, but out here in the PNW we don't have the fortune of their company.

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  4. Hey Leigh,
    Wonder how the Amish would be with us Welsh? after all we have a history with the English ;-). Nice post (as always)
    John

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  5. tberry,
    I feel fortunate that I am able to visit with such a unique group of people.

    Terria,
    I find it amazing that so many people are threatened by the things they dont understand... while I find that is a common feeling, I find that so often people dont cope with their feeling of threat through trying to obtain knowledge but they lash out, with rudeness and hostility.
    Happy you enjoyed the trip.

    Taylorgirl6,
    I think you are right... the imagination paints a beautiful picture and sometimes we have to look a little deeper to find it.

    Rural,
    Glad you enjoyed it!

    John,
    LOL Well if all the Welsh are like you I am sure they will welcome you in with open arms! ;)

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  6. Thank you for this. I've heard so much about the Amish and feel they do add so much to all of our cultures, even myself living in Canada. We are all one and we are all connected.
    Yes I sooo enjoyed and if you go again another blog would be worth reading.

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  7. My wife and I go up to Berlin, Ohio 2-4 times a year and really enjoy it. It's not that we idolize the Amish, for I'm learning that they have about the same proportion of sinners and saints as any group of conservative Christians. It's more that they live a life much like that which my wife and I lived in our youth, and the way we would all be better off to live yet.

    I think it's a shame that modern folks are so out of touch with common decency that you felt compelled to list some suggestions for being more considerate to them. Yet, we are such a "do your own thing" society that your effort is to be applauded. Great Post! I really enjoyed it!

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  8. Sophie,
    I couldnt have said it better myself. Im so happy you enjoyed!

    Gorges,
    When living in Reedy Wv we had quit a few Amish neighbors there. We met both sides of the spectrum. I agree...They are just human and not to be mistaken for saints. I admire the Amish for the simplicity of their lives.

    I actually have been surprised myself by some of the people I know who are good honest people but just lack common courtesy.

    Glad you enjoyed the post! :)

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  9. Dallas Center has a big Brethren community. They wear bonnets and slacks all the time. Even when they are playing sand volleyball! Some of them have horse and buggies, but most drive cars. Most of the Dallas Center fire department are Brethren. A Brethren couple lived next door to my parents for a long time. They were super nice. It was great when they moved in they renovated the entire house and all of their community was over helping them with renovations. They even lifted up the house and put in a basement!
    Then they had kids. 2 boys. Oh those boys loved watching and seeing what my family was up to. It was so cute. Anytime we would go anywhere they would come out and wave.
    They ended up moving to the country so the boys could play more. She said they got a couple of BB guns and there was no way they were giving those things up. They still own the house and rent it out. So, my parents still get to visit with them from time to time.

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  10. I could almost smell the green green grass of home.(:

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  11. Sounds like a really nice trip - no need for pictures, great story telling

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