Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Time Machine~

        In my short story, Back in Time, I refer to my S-10 pickup as my little time machine, and myself as a time traveler.  I have also mentioned my time machine in a few of my blog posts; so, I thought I would clear up any confusion.
       If you read about my time machine, I am talking about my S-10 pickup!
       You may doubt that I am a time traveler.  If you saw were I work, delivering mail in Iowa City, Ia. (aka: Little New York) and where I travel, rural Kalona, you would believe me.
        When I leave Iowa City, Big 10 football game-day, tailgate crowds of tattooed, skimpily dressed, modern people, it's only minutes until I'm taking these cell pics of another world.  Iowa City was named number one party school recently by the Princeton Review, mentioned in USA Today.
       Driving past Amish farms, I feel as though I've slipped back into another century.  Even on my neighbors Mennonite farms, it seems I've gone back a few decades in time.
       This picture to my right was taken on my Mennonite neighbors farm. I was buying some hay and his dog jumped on board.  Dan is having a little conversation with his pooch about getting back off before the Time Machine leaves.

        Most of my cell phone pictures are cropped before you see them.  I try to take out incidental rear view mirror, side mirror and dash board sightings.  I looked through my reject pictures for a couple examples for this blog.

       I want to encourage you, my readers, to use your vehicles as time machines.  Next Saturday, or whenever you get a chance, head to the nearest Amish community; pull in a drive where a sign advertises goods for sale.
        As I have suggested before, go buy some brown eggs, sweetcorn, pumpkins, flowers or anything that is offered for sale.  Even if you don't need what your buying, the experience will be worth far more than the small price you will pay for these goods!
        When you get there, think about what decade it was, the last time someone in your family lived as these Amish do.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Runaway Horses

       Stonewall and Jackson were actually easygoing, gentle horses.  I bought this team at the Kalona Sale Barn but the guy selling them was an Amish man, that lived only a few miles from my place.  The picture with our dog "Coach" sniffing them was taken on their first day as my horses (you can tell he didn't know them yet.)
        I bought them in the fall and that next spring, when they turned 2, I took them back to my Amish friend, he used them for his spring fieldwork.  When they were ready to come home, my Amish friend and I drove them here.  I hitched them a few days later and took a nice drive down a gravel road, everything went great.
       Just before unhitching them I decided to take them out into some cornstalks, to see how they would react; because I was planning to take my disc out into that cornfield in a few days.  Well, that was a mistake!  A cornstalk poked them or the sound of rustling leaves scared them, I'm not sure, but they took off as fast as they could go.  When we started to get close to a fence, I tried to turn them out into the open field by pulling hard on my left line... it broke.  I fell back into the wagon pulling on the right line and that turned them into the corner of the field and they came to a stop, unharmed.
I was shook up about it, so I took them back to my Amish friend to let him use them a little more.  We ended up having a whole string of runaway stories over the next year.  I'm saving all of that for a collection of short stories about my horses.  I have one of my short stories posted on this blog.  It is a story named, "Back In Time."  You can click on this link below.

       I was so discouraged because I liked Stone and Jack a lot.
I felt like crying out "Why Lord?"  Now, years later, I know that it all turned out for the better.  I had so many great experiences, taking these boys back to my Amish friends place.  Because of my troubles, I got the opportunity to drive a six-horse hitch, on a plow and a disc (Stone and Jack in the hitch)  and many other interesting jobs.
        All of these experiences ended up as material for my book, Under the Heavens, due out later this year.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mail Order Barn

        I got up early this morning and drove about 30 miles to my friend Kenny's place, where I buy most of my hay.  My trusty little time-machine S-10 pickup has 26 bales on it.  I drive this far because Kenny always sells me top quality grass hay, cheaper than I can find it anywhere close to home, and he is a great guy too!

        This time I took some pictures of his barn and asked him some questions about it.  He told me that his wife's Grandpa built this barn from a kit, he thinks was ordered out of a Sears catalog.  I have never heard of that!  He didn't know when it was built but guessed in the 20s or 30s.  He told me that each board came with a stamped number on it, so that a person could follow pre-printed directions.  Kenny has been told that four other barns just like this one were built nearby and this is the only one of those four left.  It seems that the arched roof was a weakness, that is until Kenny's grandpa-in-law took matters into his own hands and reinforced the rafters as seen below.  He also added these dormers which also was part of a plan to strengthen the structure.  That old guy is a man to be proud of!  People like him are what this country was built on.

       This beautiful old building and many like it across America need to be protected, they are irreplaceable.  Much of the hay stored in this mow (or loft) will come home to my place for Karm and Coke's winter chow.

       For more old barn photos check out my Facebook page 

      Click on this link and look for my photo album "Barns" don't forget to "Like" my page while there!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Barn on Wheels

        The other day, I was finishing my chores when I noticed our local electric company, Farmers Co-op, was pulling in our drive.  They told me they were shutting our power down for a few hours, I didn't ask why. My elderly neighbor, Leo, stopped in on his daily walk by our place and told me that our Amish neighbor, a mile and half down the road east of us, was having a corn crib moved from a few miles west of our place.

A little bit later buggies started coming past our place, I snapped a few pictures out our front window.

I headed outside with my cell phone and got some pictures of the corn crib going past our place.

 It looked like everyone was having a great time when the buggies all came back past.  There was a buggy with a whole group of young boys and another with a lot of little girls, pictured above.  One had a three teenage girls in it, also pictured above.

About an hour later, my wife and I were on our way to town and passed by the place the corn crib was moved to.  Here are pictures below of its final resting place!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bantams For Sale


       I always thought this Twin County Coon Hunt sign is a fun one!  It has hung here for years, on the corner of 500th and Hwy 1, near Kalona, Iowa.  I'm not sure who the coon hunters are, and I've never seen a sign at the other end of that 3 miles, so for me it is a mystery.

       When I saw the Bantams For Sale sign, I knew where that arrow was pointing, I go by that Amish farm everyday on my way to work.  As you can see by the pictures below, I went on over one evening and bought 3 Bantams.

       I stopped at this Amish farm around dusk and was met by a boy about 8 years old.  I told him that I was wanting to buy some Bantams (We call them Banties)  These chickens are a little smaller than your typical chickens, more feisty too!  This young man set out to sell me some of his large flock of Bantams, leading me back under some shadowy pines, where there were long low coops filled with chickens.  In only a few moments a crowd of his brothers and sisters were with us, as we looked at all the choices of color and ages in their chickens. I believe there were at least six children clumped around me as I tried to decide which chickens to take home.  The children were so cute, dressed in their Amish clothes and stood staring at this unfamiliar non-Amish man.  I told the group of siblings that I knew their grandpa and had bought horses from him before, they all grinned and I could tell I was not a stranger anymore after that.  The young man that was around 8 years old seemed to be the spokes person, that is until his older brother about 15 arrived and then I never heard another word out of the younger brother.  Older brother told me, "We're having Church here tomorrow, that's what all the activity is about!"
       I know that it is a big deal, when Amish host Church at their home.  They usually have relatives come over and help clean everything inside and out for about a week before the big day.  Before I left with my new rooster and two hens, the dad of the house had come around to see what was going on.  He knew who I was and remembered that I had bought horses from his Dad-In-Law.  I apologized for interrupting their preparations for hosting Church but he assured me that his children were more than eager to make a chicken sale!
        Then next morning we woke to the sound of our new rooster crowing.  On our way to Church we passed by this farm.  It looked "as clean as a whistle" and we could see a crowd, dressed in Sunday best seated on long benches inside a pole-building.  I had to wonder what it sounds like at that farm every morning when all their roosters are crowing.

       If you want to buy some Bantams, look for this sign about 5 miles north of Kalona!