Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pony Progress Days

"Horse Progress Days" is a two day Amish organized event, featuring anything related to farming with draft horses. Every year, around the 4th of July, Amish from all over the U.S. and Canada gather near an Amish community and trade ideas and merchandise, all horse related. One of my favorite parts is the pony parade. Each morning, local Amish children drive their ponies to the event. They line up and parade them in front of a large crowd of onlookers. I can't imagine any event where 50, or so, ponies can be driven into one arena by children and not have a disaster. These children have been riding in horse-drawn vehicles since the day they were born. They've grown up watching Dad and Mom handle horses in almost every situation imaginable, and have learned how to do the same.
Do you notice how calm all the children seem to be?

Amish children seem to be like all children were years ago. I have a theory that goes like this: Children used to want to be adults, they tried hard to act grown up and strove to be like their dad, mom, older brother, or sister. Nowadays, our culture glamorizes youth. Even old ladies try to look like teenage girls. Why would we expect our children to want to grow up when many adults don't act grown up. We don't give honor to the aged like we should, instead we idolize immature singers, actors and athletes. Okay, maybe I've said too much, but all you have to do is go to one of these events and you will be wondering where the rest of us went wrong. 
As you can see, most of the carts or wagons have a group of passengers. These children were all very quiet and well behaved, to the point where it is stunning! They are smiling and having fun, yet they don't feel compelled to fight with each other or throw fits and temper-tantrums. I mentioned how well behaved the children were, to my Amish friend, and he humbly said, "Our children are children too, they have their moments." Well, if they do, they sure don't have them in public like most modern children do.
This tiny pony above started to act up just before I took this picture. He reared up several times and tossed his head. The little man driving didn't panic. He talked calmly to his pony and brought everything back under control. His little female passenger sat quietly without fear. They sure do have a cute load on behind. It looks like a miniature horse-shoeing-stocks with a horse loaded in waiting to have new shoes put on.
In this picture above, you can see the line of ponies and children waiting their turn to enter the arena. I wish my picture was a little more clear, but I can see about 25 ponies and carts in this photo alone.

More ponies and children wait their turn.
This photo above is from last year's pony parade.
The photo below, is one of my favorite pictures I've taken yet. These little Amish girls were walking a pony foal around like a puppy. I named this post, "Pony Progress Days" because these Amish children are making progress with their ponies, while the rest of the world seems to be falling apart.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Amish Church

I recently had the opportunity to visit Amish church. Early in the morning we climbed into a buggy and set off down quiet country roads.

My Amish friend has a young family. He and his wife visited in the front while his little sons stood near my feet in the back and we watched their horse trot and beautiful scenery pass by.

These horses (pictured below) had the day off and enjoyed the pleasures of a mutual back scratching.
 If you ever visit an Amish church, prepare yourself for a peaceful treat. I will warn you in advance to quiet yourself and be ready to sit still for several hours. You can do it, their children do! Four part harmonies are sung very slowly. No, I mean slower than you can imagine if you have not been to an Amish service before. Let the sounds seep into your soul. Bible reading will be in German. Preaching will be in Pennsylvania Dutch. I happen to understand just enough Dutch to almost guess what was being said during both sermons. At one point the minister was moved to tears and even the small part I understood moved me to tears as well.
Men sit on one side, women on the other. Elders were facing us from a bench up front on one side. In front of the women, a row of little girls around 10 were facing us. I couldn't help but notice the little girl nearest the ministers. She sat quietly through both sermons and listened intently, watching the speaker with an angelic face. I couldn't and wouldn't take a picture, but when I got home I drew a sketch of the moment to help me remember it. Oh yes, and another wonderful treat, lunch after the service. My favorite part is the amazingly sweet, creamy, Amish peanut butter on homemade bread.

This is a shortened version of my experience with Amish church. If you want to really experience life on an Amish farm consider reading one of my novels. Amazon Link