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.