Thursday, December 31, 2015

Snowy Pastures

A little bit of snow is a good thing. Up until the past few days, Iowa has had about as mild of winter ever recorded. It rained a lot and my horses were having to deal with mud. When the temps drop below 32 degrees we get cold weather cement. (our mud hardens)

 I don't know how much these horses are able to find under that snow but they never give up looking for something to nibble on. I know this Amish farmer provides hay for his horses, but when horses have their fill of hay they like to look for an extra treat.

As I've said before, horses are as tough as buffalo and prefer to stay out in the weather unless there are subzero temps and wind. It was snowing the other day and my own horses (pictured above) didn't come inside until I called them in and fed them hay. The doorway (I'm standing in to take this pic) is always open and they have two sides of a barn they can enter at will.
There are two ponies in this field. A small white pony is standing behind this brown one. Ponies get really furry in the winter months and don't seem to notice cold or snow.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Amish Countryside in Winter

 If you want to step back in time, drive through Amish farmlands.

The views are so classic and beautiful.

Life seems so wholesome and healthy.

All of the glitz of flashing lights disappear.
 Let the beauty of nature paint its own Christmas display...
                                            And let the heavens provide the Christmas lights!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Cookies

My wife decided to invite all five of our grandchildren over for a Christmas Cookie making party last Saturday. She put on her Santa's-helper apron (Santa thought she looked really cute in it!)

Last Christmas she made little aprons for all of our grandchildren to wear while doing art projects or baking cookies. They all put on their aprons and "chef hats" and we were ready to get started.

 Our littlest chef had to stop for a few moments and send an important text message. (actually he was looking at pictures on my phone, his favorite thing to do... especially my horse pics)

Two of our four daughters were there to help, and you can see them at the table with our grandchildren.
Of course we had to make some horse shaped cookies too.

 and everyone loved adding frosting, sprinkles, and colored sugar.
 Of course we had to do taste testing too!
Everyone put on a reindeer hat and lined up for a photo with Santa's helper. 
Cookie dough and sprinkles approximately $5... memories of making Christmas cookies with grandparents... I'm gonna guess, priceless.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Winter Scenes on the Amish Farm

There is something cozy about Amish farms during the holiday season, don't you agree?

I think it's that old-time, down on the farm quality of life that we all miss. We long for it all year, but the holiday season brings it out more than ever.

We long for the sweet, simple life. A time when people knew and cared about their neighbors.

A time when we knew the names of horses and cows instead of "cell phone aps." A place in history where little boys and girls ran and played in the snow, and also knew how to do chores.
 I love visiting Amish farms because all of this is still happening at this very moment... just as it did when my grandpa was a boy.

A few simple toys at Christmas were enough. They were toys that we enjoyed but didn't get "addicted" to. Instead of staring at a "little screen," or a "huge screen" all Christmas day, people sat and visited with each other.

Just as they still do on Amish farms.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Peace on Earth

With all of the violence in the news nowadays, I can't help but think that we all could learn a little something from the Amish.

What an iconic image of peace on earth, Amish children walking home from a one-room school house.

Do Amish children ever squabble while they trek a few miles through the cold toward home? Oh yeah, I wont say they never do. In fact, I have a story about that.

Our "English" neighbor lady told me that she saw a rather large lunch-pail setting on the side of our road. She had noticed a group of Amish children walking along that area a short time before, so she stopped in at the nearest Amish farm and asked about it. The Amish mother was rather embarrassed, but admitted, "That belongs to us. Our children take turns carrying one lunch pail that holds all of their lunches. They had a dispute about whose turn it was and our older son told his little sister, 'It's your turn.' and set it down. She refused to pick it up."

Our "English" neighbor asked, "Do you want me to pick it up and bring it to you?" The Amish mother said, "No, it will set there until our daughter finishes her chores and goes to get it."

If only this was the full measure of conflict in our world, what a peaceful life it would be.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Amish Farm Tour

Amish farms are peaceful. (near Shipshewanna, Indiana)

Gardens, livestock, and families working together. (northern Indiana)
Clothes on the wash-line in almost any weather. (Iowa)
Buggies, wagons. (Iowa)
Draft horses work and relax in green pastures. (Near Shipshewanna, Indiana)
Extended families live in close proximity with each other. 
Big barns, small sheds, pole buildings, and chicken houses.
Fences, fields, and wild flowers.
White farmhouses.
Ponds, windmills, martin houses. (Odom, southern Indiana)
Hay-fields (southern Illinois)
Silos. (near Arthur, Illinois)
Big houses with lots of children, and big barns with lots of horses. (near Nappanee, Indiana)
Peaceful  (Wisconsin)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Best Kept Amish Secret

There are many wonderful Amish recipes for food and healing, as well as multitudes of  Amish ideas for working with horses and other livestock. In fact, I truly feel the best kept Amish secret has something to do with how willingly Amish children join in with work around the farm.

Maybe this blog post should read: A very well kept Amish secret, Under the Heavens.

Up to this date, my novels have been read almost exclusively by Amish and Mennonites. When my first novel, Under the Heavens came out, I was very nervous for those of Amish background to read it. One of my greatest surprises was how well it was received by older Mennonite folks. Many former Amish enjoy reminiscing about their early days and life on the family farm. Under the Heavens seems to bring back many good memories.

One older Mennonite man in our community actually called me on the phone to ask questions. "Where is this farm? I've been trying to figure out who this family is, do I know them?" I was very pleased that my story was so believable, he wanted to figure out just who the family was. 

My books are novels, however, they are based on my real life experiences with our Amish neighbors and friends. We have had many over the past 35 years.

My draft horses came from an Amish family not far down the road. I have had many wonderful opportunities to learn about farming with horses from that family and others in our community.

I have also been pleasantly surprised to learn that Amish folks themselves want to read books with Amish settings. It does make sense. Many Amish love to read and have made every effort to keep life simple, and separate from the world. Why would they want to dwell on that "other" lifestyle when reading.

If you have memories of life on the old-fashioned farm, these books will take you back to those days of simple pleasures, and good clean fun.

You can purchase a copy of Under the Heavens on Amazon, or receive a signed copy directly through me, Thomas Nye.

Book I  Under the Heavens  $15
Book II Catbird Singing       $15
Please send $5 for shipping costs
Whispering to Horses           $7
Plus $3 for shipping

(If you order two books, there is no extra shipping charge for the second book)

Make the check payable to:

 Thomas Nye
P.O. Box 495 Kalona, Iowa 52247

Amazon Link  also available as an eBook for $2.99 each! (Amazon or Barnes & Noble)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Amish Fall

 I am sharing a selection of fall photos here. They are pictures that I took with my cell-phone this year and last year during October.

There could be so many more Amish pictures if I wasn't trying hard to not offend my Amish friends and neighbors.  I try to photograph barns, fields, livestock, and of course horses.

I took this picture of Karm and Coke (below) yesterday
 These corn shocks (below) were in an Amish field in Wisconsin. My wife and I took a little get-a-way there last week and, as usual, I drove through an Amish area. (ask my wife about that)

Amish buggy heading up a beautiful road in Wisconsin

My wife's dad lived up this farm lane when he was about 12. He grew up and still is a Mennonite, but back in those days the difference was small.
 I already shared this picture (above) on another blog post. However, it's one of my favorites and a great Amish fall pic!
 This Amish school house was in session when I drove past. Look at the children running through the yard during recess. Amish are less opposed to photos of children. In fact, they enjoy discovering their children in a photograph that comes out in the paper. (They would never admit that but I've seen them smiling and showing each other.)

These calves (below) were enjoying the last green grass of the season, on an Amish farm.
 This Amish farm (above) is where one of Amish friends grew up. He is still Amish but now lives in Ohio. We went to a visitation at this place when his dad passed away.

These calves (below) are in front of another Amish farmstead. Right before I took this pic, I passed an elderly Amish woman walking on the road. She had several cats that were following her and I slowed way down. She called as I passed by, "Thank you for not running over my cats!"