Sunday, January 22, 2017

Horses on Ice

 Horses are amazing creatures. I always thought of them as my fair weather friends until I moved into an Amish community.

It is so easy and fun to play around with horses on a fair summer day. Horses are built to live outside 365 days a year. Many people imagine how they would feel to live outside and think that horses should be brought into the living room. Not only are horses able to live comfortably outdoors, they are also able to work the whole winter through.

 My Amish neighbors depend on horses and their horses thrive in all conditions. In fact, my own horses began to have hoof troubles and my vet and my Amish neighbors concluded the same thing: "They need more exercise."

It's really tough for me to get my horses hitched up during the winter months. I work in town, delivering mail and don't get home until after dark. My Amish neighbor agreed to take my horses over the winter and keep them in healthy condition. So far no hoof problems... amazing.

 Last Monday we had a big ice storm here in Iowa. I had a tax appointment in Kalona and braved the bad conditions to get to town. I drove slowly down an ice-covered road in my big four-wheel-drive truck. As I drew close to my Amish neighbor's place, I saw their young sons heading out of their lane in an open cart, on their way to school. (I would have taken a picture but I needed both of my white-knuckle-hands on the wheel) Their horse was trotting at full speed. Amish have a special horseshoe they put on their horses in the winter with carbide pieces. Those horses can literally run on ice without slipping.
 As I came into Kalona I notice there were fewer cars than usual, but the normal amount of buggies heading into town.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Amish Women

Amish Women are an impressive lot.

On my Monday morning drive into work, I pass by a number of Amish farms. Quite often, I see a frozen clothesline hanging full by 7:00 am. Do you know what that means? They have been up washing clothes with a wringer washer, that is no easy job, and have already gone outside in freezing temperatures and pinned clothes on the line.

Meanwhile, they no doubt hurried back inside to set breakfast on the table before everyone comes back in from chores. I may mention that they very likely did all of this with a few toddlers around their feet and one on the way. Later in the day, clothes frozen stiff and looking like colored boards, come back in the house and thaw out enough to be folded and put away.

True, they do have help from older daughters, which is also a testament to their impressive nature. If you have raised any children of your own, you know how hard it is to keep adolescents and teenagers on task. The Amish women I know have well-ordered homes with polite children. One Amish family that I am good friends with have 9 children and the oldest is eleven-years-old. About 7 of them gather around my pickup truck whenever I pull into their drive and stand in a circle around me listening to what their dad and I have to say. If Dad isn't around, the oldest child present usually does the talking. If that older child goes to find Dad for me, the next oldest takes over telling me stories about interesting things that happened on the farm since I was last there. If Mom steps outside, she usually speaks something in dutch and one of the children runs to accomplish whatever mission she called on them to do. Probably running inside to bring out the produce she knows I'm there to pick up.

The other day I was driving home from Kalona and passed several buggies with women driving. I turned onto a gravel road and saw an Amish farmyard littered with buggies. Women of all ages were loading children into buggies and leaving a gathering of some kind. It would be safe to guess that it was a quilting. Nevermind the freezing temperatures and snow covered roads. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that these are some pretty tough mamas.