Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gift Idea

 Do you have someone on your Christmas list that is difficult to shop for?  Here's an idea!

This book is 6"x 9"

A book is the perfect gift, because a person can never own too many of them.

Under the Heavens is a story of city boy visiting his Amish relatives on the farm.

Grandpa and Grandma will enjoy a trip down memory lane, and others will enjoy visiting an old-fashioned farm for the first time.

Perfect for horse lovers.

Under the Heavens is about twice the size of old paperbacks and all double-spaced.

Click on the words below to read reviews of Under the Heavens.

Amazon Link and reviews

Or, send a $20 check or money order to:
Amish Horses
P.O. Box 495
Kalona, Iowa 52247   (This offer only valid within the U.S.A)

If you live outside the U.S.A. and want a copy; or for any other questions.

We will send you an autographed copy.  In fact, the author Thomas Nye would be happy to personalize your gift.  Just include a the name of your loved one, and something about them and/or what you would like the message to say. Thomas Nye will hand write a personal note on the title page!
Be sure to also include a clearly marked name and address of where the book should be sent, if other than the person to receive the gift.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Horse Pull in Photos

A team of Belgian Pulling Horses, take a rest.
   I like how these two pictures (above and below) show the same horses, with opposite focus.  The top picture shows both horses heads clearly.  Below, everything but the heads are clear. This may be because these horses are completely synchronized; their heads bob together as they stride, and hold still as they push.  Notice how many concrete blocks are on the sled.

This older puller does a great job.  I was visiting with a young Amishman, who was watching the pull beside me.  We liked how this man got his horses to stand quietly and get even before asking them to pull. Then, both horses leaned into their harness gently.  The young Amishman said, "That's the way you want a team to work on the farm."

In my novel, Under the Heavens, I describe a man at a horse pull as a "kind old cowboy."  It so happens, that this is the guy I had in mind while writing.  I've watched him pull horses for years.

Pictured below, is my other favorite horseman at the pull.  This older gentleman sold his team the next day at the Kalona Draft Horse Sale.  Whoever bought them will never regret it.  His horses were not old, but perfectly trained, and showed a lot of heart.  They were the only team at this horse pull not wearing pulling shoes.  Horse Pullers put shoes with cleats on their horses much like a football player might wear, to enable them to get good traction. This old fella isn't a "puller" but a man who uses his horses for a variety of things on the farm, and because they are trained right, they will also pull a big load if asked.  His horses really got in there and dug, pulling as much weight as the others even without cleats.  They pulled all the way through on the second to last pull, after which he very wisely chose to not ask them to pull the final load.  Only one team was able to pull the final load 18 feet. It reminded me of the horse pull in Under the Heavens, Lenny's horses didn't have pulling shoes on either.

Above and Below, an Amish girl stands near a big team.
The top picture is better of the girl and the bottom of the horses, so I included both.

This young Amish girl swung the gate open as teams entered the ring.
She had a smile on her face the whole pull.
Kalona Amish do not attend this horse pull, but Amish who are in town for the Draft Horse Sale often stay for it.  I'm not sure if their home communities are not against horse pulls, or if they are able to take in new sights while on a trip, that seems to be common among Amish.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Timbuktu to Kalamazoo

A few weeks ago I went from Timbuktu (or should I say, Kalona, Iowa) to Kalamazoo!

That is a saying, right?  Well, my sister lives near Kalamazoo, Michigan and runs a beautiful antique shop named Shiloh Farm. Her store was the first stop on an western Michigan "Arts and Eats" tour.  She asked me to come over and do a book signing that weekend, which I was more than happy to do.

I love to visit my sister anyway, not to mention, staying in her beautiful home and hanging out in her awesome shop.  When I woke up on Sunday morning and looked out the window this what I saw.
She had to unlock her alarm system for me, so I could run out and take more pictures while the sun was just breaking through golden leaves.

If you are ever in the Kalamazoo area, you really should stop by Shiloh Farm ARTiques.   Her store is a mini-museum and she always has copies of my books for sale too!

I just couldn't resist sharing all of these sights with you.  All of these pics were taken on Shiloh Farm.

I realize that she is not Amish, and she doesn't own horses... but I love her anyway.

What a place!

This is a fireplace in my sisters home, she built it herself. Incredible huh? 

I had fun with her grandchildren, seriously... they started it! They were throwing leaves on me, so, turnabout is fair play, right?

Yes, I'm that balding guy, and my sister is standing next to me in a picture below.  We both read dozens of books about Native Americans, without knowing the other was doing the same thing.  Now we pass books back and forth.  It so happens that she was one of the first to read my novel, Under the Heavens, and the first to read book II of the Amish Horses Series, that will be coming out soon.  Watch for the title, Catbird Singing.  She looks for errors and things that may be confusing in my books, her only problem is that she's a little too nice!

My sis, Twila, waves good-bye as I head off from Kalamazoo toward home.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Amish School

 I took a drive through our local Amish countryside the other day and passed by two one-room school houses, both having recess.  This scene is almost identical to what my grandparents would have experienced one-hundred years ago, yet it is alive today.  That is what I love about the Amish, they take us back to our own past. This is also why I choose to write novels about the Amish; my stories end up with an old-fashioned feel, and yet, are contemporary at the same time!

 It is hard to see but there is a Native American style TP right behind that buggy.  I'm not sure, but my guess is they are studying Native Americans and this is a teaching tool.  Looks like they have fun, eh?
 This group of Amish children are playing a game of softball.  Doesn't their world look so peaceful, clean and wholesome?  Somehow, it makes me sad when I see this and think of what our modern children are missing, growing up too fast, weighed down by images modern media exposes them to. Just standing in line behind Amish families, checking out at a grocery store, I've felt ashamed of magazine covers near the register.
 As you can see pictured above, several students and the teacher drove buggies to school, being to far from home to walk.  I snapped a closeup shot of a pony, wearing harness, grazing the ditch while waiting for his young owners to finish school.

If you enjoy the sentiments I shared in this blog, you might want to read the Amish Horses Book Series.  Here is an Amazon link: Under the Heavens, Amish Horses Series

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cowboys and Amishmen

Cowboys and Amishmen have something in common, they both grow up working with horses everyday.  By the way, the same thing is true of Cowgirls and Amish women.

Here is a picture of me on the black horse (I was about 14 yrs old) That's my step-dad Dwain Chapman on the sorrel horse.  This picture was taken on Uncle Truman's ranch in Idaho, Truman was Dwain's oldest brother, and a real cowboy.

I watched this Amishman working with these horses and he was good with them.

When we learn to speak, our language becomes so much a part of us that we don't have to think about the words. When you learn a foreign language, you have to think in your native tongue and then translate into the second language. Even then, you will always have an accent.  You may wonder where I am going with all of this.  I'm comparing people who grow up working with horses daily, with those of us that come into it later in life.  We usually don't speak "horse" as a first language but we can get pretty good at it, over time.
Amish Girl with a Big Team

Just as Amish speak Dutch as a first language, many also speak "horse" fluently, we call people like that, "horse whisperers."  I have known a few in my lifetime.  The rest of us speak "horse" with a "human" accent.  
There are exceptions to this rule.  Some people just have a "way with animals" others of us love our horses so much we find a way to communicate.  None-the-less, I am usually impressed with the way Cowboys and Amishmen handle horses.  I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not a Cowboy or an Amishman; but horses are as much a part of me as anyone else.
My Son in the black hat and his buddy Nolan
This is an old picture too
This is an old picture

Amish Girls Riding 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

150 Year Old Apple Tree

Apple season is one of my favorite times!  A few days ago, our good "family friends" stopped by with a jug of their home-pressed apple cider. The Miller's have a family gathering each fall, working hard and having fun at the same time, making cider.  I stopped in once while they were pressing the apples and was amazed at the process... and the results!

Our Amish neighbors a couple of miles up the road sell apples, garden produce, eggs and a whole bunch of other things.  My wife and I stopped in a while back to buy some garden produce.  We spent about a half an hour there because the elderly matron of the farm was, in my wife's words, an excellent sales person. My wife's mother bought produce from this lady for years and now my wife stops in and gets even more than she went to buy.  It's all worth every penny!

I stood outside while the ladies were haggling prices and watched a group of little Amish children playing near the barn.  I wanted to take pictures, but thought maybe I shouldn't.

Before we left, I asked the kind, older lady, "Do you still have that old apple tree that leans on boards to keep it off the ground?"  She was obviously pleased that I asked about her special tree and encouraged me to walk around her produce shop and go see it.  I didn't know she was following me so, I snapped this picture.
"The last time I visited this farm, this tree was propped up on boards," I said.  She grinned and didn't say anything right away.  I've found that if you stand quietly for a few moments, a person is often rewarded for having patience.  She began to tell me more about her tree.  "We think this tree is about 150 years old." And then she proceeded to tell me that her husband put props under the tree in the 1970's and then her son re-propped it in the 1990's and just a few years ago they abandoned the props and let the old tree lay on its side.  She smiled and looked at her tree affectionately, saying, "We still get apples from this tree every year."  You can see apples in its boughs in this picture.

I couldn't help but feel that I was witnessing something extraordinary!  There has to be some type of moral lesson or fable connected with this tree. (Don't be surprised if it makes an appearance in one of the Amish Horses Series books)  In the meantime, you all need to see this picture, it is too wonderful to keep to myself. 

My picture isn't very clear but because the Amish woman was standing there I didn't want to take any more shots.

I included this picture because it was taken in front of the farm with the 150 year old apple tree.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dogs Love Bluegrass

Dogs who live in Bluegrass homes are happier than those who live in Rock-n-Roll houses.

Our Dachshund, Lucille
(she prefers to go by the name Lucy)

Okay, this is just a theory but I'm sticking with it!  I'm also gonna guess that cats prefer Classical music, though some may love Country. There have actually been studies done that prove plants grow better in an environment of Classical music -vs- Rock-n-Roll.  Don't get me wrong, I myself listen to all kinds of music, but I was listening to some Bluegrass this morning, while writing, and my little Dachshund seemed especially happy. That's when my theory about dogs and Bluegrass was born.

One time, a few years back, I took my team of draft horses back to the Amish farm where they were born.  The Amishman that sold me the horses had asked if he could use them to do his spring plowing.  I used my brother-in-law's horse trailer and took Stonewall and Jackson to the Amish farm before heading to work at the Post Office.  I arrived at daybreak and didn't see anyone around.  A generator was running so I knew that milking was underway.  I headed into the milk-house and heard singing, but went unnoticed.  Several teenage girls were milking cows and singing hymns in German.  I stood and listened, afraid to be noticed, knowing that the beautiful moment would end as soon as they saw me.  It did.  I'm quite sure that hymn-listening cows produce much more milk than cows who are forced to listen to staticky radio. Especially a radio talk-show with some guy yelling about his views on politics.  What do you think?

I will admit that I've known some real rock-n-roll dogs, but most seem to be born for bluegrass.