Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Amish Life 101

I passed an Amish farm on my way to work one morning and got this photo of their barns.

Amish life 101, begins with horses

Working with horses is second nature to an Amish child.  Hardly a day goes by that they don't need to handle a horse.  They can't get frustrated and give up if they have troubles, they have to find a way to work through horse problems and come out the other side, somehow.  Most modern Americans have little experience with horses and try to handle them like a dog, and they fail.  When things don't go well they say things like, "I don't like horses." or "Stupid horse."  The reality is that if you depended on horses for transportation you would find a way.  You would soon figure out that horses function as predictably as mathematics; if you have trouble balancing your checkbook, it's your mistake, not math's.  (disclaimer: Some horses have already been ruined by previous poor handling. In those situations, if you have problems, it's not your mistake.)

Some math is complicated and takes some figuring to come to a solution to solve problems.  Same thing is true of horses.  But in the end, I'm convinced that it is true that horses are very predictable to those that use them regularly, thus the success Amish have with horses.

This is one of my favorite pictures I've taken so far.

I'm always impressed by what all these girls can get done while barefoot! 

How many teenage girls, these days, have to hitch up a horse if they want to go somewhere.  If they did, I doubt they would head out barefoot to get that job done.  I have been stepped on my own horses and was glad that I had some shoe leather between me and that big foot.

My wife and I were guests in an Amish home one evening.  Another Amish couple were also invited for supper but arrived quite a bit later than expected.  When they got there, the wife said, "Henry was milking and I was going to get the horse and buggy ready, but I couldn't catch our horse."  She seemed worn out and exasperated and made a statement, "I bet those fancy ladies in town wouldn't make as many shopping trips, if they had to catch a horse before they went!"

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.