Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Grandpa Horse

Yep, I'm a grandpa and I love it!  My little grandchildren love horses, like me, and want me to be the horse at times.  My old knees aren't having as much fun as Lyla and Kinley are.  You can see my little granddaughters have the concept of hitching up a team of horses by the picture below.  They hitched a team to this wagon, which by the way is a load of more horses.

 These blond horses were my first draft team.  I bought a pair of sisters that were Palomino/Belgians from an Amishman in our community and started raising colts with them. One of the mares had a bad hip and was soon replaced by her own daughter. They were Lucy and Sally originally then after Lucy passed on, her daughter Babe became Sal's teammate.  Babe had her own colts that became my horse grandchildren.
My daughter Bethany is riding double on Sal, with my son Dallas. (Picture taken about 17 years ago) This photo was shot only a few weeks after the other and you can see how fast this colt was growing.  I sold these colts at the sale barn and a few years later I saw them all grown up at the county fair.  I think they recognized me... well, I recognized them anyway!

 My current team of draft mares are related also, Karma is Coke's aunt.  The Amishman I bought Karma from still has Coke's mom, Kerry.  Kerry used to be Karma's teammate but was much shorter, so, Coke makes a better teammate for Karm.  You can see what a great match they are.
Karma (on right) is an aunt to Coke

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

After the Storm

Karm and Coke, glistening wet after a torrential downpour.

There is a song that I love, in the Mennonite Hymnal, The Storm is Passing Over.  Every time a really bad storm hits, and then passes, I think of that song.

We had a really powerful storm here in the Kalona area about a week ago.  It brought torrential rains and flooding. Which is an interesting coincidence, because the novel I'm working on now, is about a flood in the fictitious community of Bull Town.

There is nothing fun or beautiful about floods.  I do find some storms amazing even if they are frightening, as you well know if you have read my novel, Under the Heavens.  Although, I will say that my favorite part of a storm is the peaceful aftermath.
These pictures were taken after that kind of powerful, yet amazing storm.  I didn't touch them up at all.  This is exactly the way my cell phone, and my family found the scene.
A huge double-rainbow appeared and of course we had to remember the youtube video, Wow, double rainbow. 
My picture, of the rainbow, doesn't show the double part, but I love the rays of light, beaming out of the Heavens.

Friday, July 4, 2014

On the Road

 This young guy is around 12-14 and barefoot, driving a big team of draft horses

In the good-old days, young people were often sent out to do big jobs by themselves.  They were trusted with livestock that could be dangerous and farm equipment that was expensive.  It was expected that they would work hard, because everyone had to contribute to keep the family farm afloat.
A teenage boy coming in from the field, with a horse-drawn sprayer

It is so common, in our modern world, to let our teenage children hang around all day and play video games, or mess with smart phones.  Mom and Dad are both working forty-plus hours and then having to split household duties when they get home.  If you don't think things have changed much in the past couple generations, go visit an Amish farm.  You will get a chance to see what things were like for grandpa.  And I think you'll find that it was a very happy, healthy lifestyle.
Three early-teen girls pass our house one fine afternoon

Even if were not planing to make our families return to "the way things were", I still feel it is an education to see what it was like and reflect on what life could be, or should be.  It is too easy to let life happen and then try to figure out what went wrong, with our home, family or marriage.  Maybe we should take a few lessons from hundreds of generations of families that went before us.  We can hear them speaking from antiquity ... through those who have not left the past behind.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Amishland Bike Tour

 Last summer I was driving through an Amish area of Indiana, near Michigan.  Locals call this area between the states Michiana.  I just happened to be there during a yearly bike ride named, Amishland.  I wanted to drive slowly through Amish farmlands, so I followed the path for bike riders.  I was happy to go very slowly!

I would rather have been on a bike but didn't know about this yearly event until that day.  My biggest surprise, was how many Amish/Mennonite bike riders were on the road along with the tourists. These girls in the picture above seemed to be having a lot of fun and gave a friendly waive right after I took this shot.
 There are so many beautiful scenes along the way!  This is a "must do" bike ride for anyone who enjoys lovely views, Amish gardens, horses and good food.  The Amishland event is near Shipshewanna, a fantastic place to visit if you have an interest in Amish at all.  I highly recommend the Blue Gate Restaurant while your in town.  The waitresses are dressed Amish (some are Amish) and the food is fantastic!  I'm a really huge pie fan, as you know already if you read my novel, Under the Heavens. The pie I had at Blue Gate was fantastic.
One of my most memorable pieces of pie was in an Amish home.  My wife and I stopped in at the home of our close Amish friends (can't call ahead) we were dropping something off and only planned to stay for a moment.  There was this apple pie sitting on the table that caught my attention; piled twice as thick with apples than any pie I had ever seen.  They must have seen my expression, because they asked us to sit down and have some.  I answered, "We don't need to eat up your pie."  Our friend's elderly mother, who lived in the grandpa house and had made the pie, answered, "Well, I made it to eat."

I honestly was thinking that the apples would not be cooked all the way through, because of how thick it was. I was wrong. It was cooked perfectly and logged in my memory as one of the best pieces of pie I ever had!
 These pictures were all taken during the Amishland bike ride.  This ought to give you some idea of what a good time your in for, if you take the tour.  I have no connection with the organizers of this event but I shared a link to their homepage at the bottom of this blog. The event is scheduled for August 1-3, 2014.

Here is the Amishland bike ride link:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Garden Spot of Iowa

In my mind, Kalona is the garden spot of the state of Iowa.

Most of these pictures were taken in the past few weeks. I love fresh garden produce and enjoy driving past Amish farms and looking over their huge gardens.  I am always impressed when I pass an Amish farm (on my way to work) at 7:00 a.m. and see teenage girls already working between the rows.  On my way home, someone is usually working in the same garden.

In my novel, Under the Heavens, I mention that an Amish garden is lived in as much as any room in the house.  That is probably an understatement.

Amish farmers near Kalona still plow up fields, making them appear like huge gardens. In the old days, all of Iowa was plowed, gone over with a disc and harrow, until all soil was neatly combed.

Most farmlands in the U.S. now fall into the category of no-till.  Once harvest takes place, remaining stems and root systems are left in place, keeping soil from eroding.  This is good for the soil but not as easy on the eyes.  The farmlands surrounding Kalona still look garden like.

Garden tea is a delightfully fresh drink, it tastes like summer in a glass, and is a staple in almost every Amish home.

I highly recommend taking a leisurely drive through an Amish/Mennonite community and noticing their gardens. Many Amish families sell fresh garden produce for a living.  Stop in and let yourself go back in time, to a place where food was anything but "fast", and almost everything is healthy and tasty.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Amish Books

 I love history. My favorite time period would probably be the early 1800's.
       Growing up, I always read horse books and watched cowboy movies.  Throughout my life, I have read a ton of books about Native Americans and the Civil War. When I moved to a community that was populated by Amish and Mennonites, it came to my attention that living in this area was the closest thing to going back in time.  Now, I love Amish books, because they have the essence of those wonderful by-gone years, yet, the events taking place in these books are possibly happening in the here and now.

       A short time ago, I set up a new Facebook page named, Amish Books.  I have gone to great lengths to connect you with as many types of books about the Amish, and with as many authors of Amish Books as I can.
       I discovered that many Facebook pages about Amish books are managed by specific publishing houses to promote their own titles.  This fact limits the variety of books they can share with you.

       If you are on Facebook, please check out Amish Books and "Like" it!  If you hear of any books about the Amish, please feel free to share them with all of us on this Facebook page.  Here is the link for Amish Books:

       I will gladly post any Amish book on this page.  My goal is not to decide which are "good" or "poor" but to make you aware of as many titles as possible.  I'm sure that different readers will connect with different authors, depending on their interest.  Some are looking for romance novels while others may be interested in farm life or religious views.

       Under the Heavens, is more of the type about life on an Amish farm.  As the series title (Amish Horses) suggests, there is a focus on horses, yet it includes a little romance and religion to boot.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Road to Nowhere~

Sometimes, when I'm out driving, I see a road that draws me in.  I find myself wanting to head down that road and imagine that some great adventure awaits me there.

There are a few roads like this in my area that I have never been down.  I'm saving them for some lonely afternoon, or keeping them a mystery because...

... sometimes when you take a road like this they turn out to be just another ordinary road.

Okay, I admit that I usually take every interesting road I see, because I'm looking for great pictures to share with my blog readers.  And I am obsessed with the beauty of God's creation.
Furthermore, in my area there are surprises around every curve in the road.  You never know when you'll cross a hill and see Amish children riding a pony.  One rainy day on my way home from work, I passed a farm where a plain-Mennonite family lives.  Two boys were out flying a kite in the rain.

Next time you see a road that seems to be drawing you in... take it!  If you find some great adventure there, it will be worth being late to wherever you were going.  If it's just another road you haven't lost much.