#AmyinPA Day 4

When we started off the day our plans were fairly simple. We were headed to visit Walnut Hill School, then lunch at Shady Maple, shopping at Goods, and home to get Dawdi for an appointment. And for the most part every part of the morning went off without a hitch.
The visit to the school was amazing—everything I had imagined and more. If I counted correctly there were nine families represented by 19 children, one being Mennonite. When we arrived, the teacher asked one of the first graders to bring us the basket filled with candy for us to take a piece and the welcome book.
While the children did their lessons I read through their book. Each one had been asked to fill in the blanks of several questions including “I like when my mother…” and “I like when my father…” Some of the answers were hilariously sweet. I think my favorite was the little boy who said he liked when his dad let them eat a lot of candy and when his mother baked chocolate cakes.
The room was set up for all ages including a chart that showed the German cursive and print letters as well as the English ones. Encouraging signs were up all around including “Laughter is a smile that burst” and “You can always be a better person tomorrow than you are today.”
The children all filed to the front of the room and sang us three songs chosen by the girls we knew there. It was so sweet to hear their voices, though one little boy was tone deaf. Of course he was singing the loudest!
After school we went to eat and shop, then headed back home. Sometime around six, we got the bright idea to get out the horse and carriage and take a ride down to the petting zoo. It wasn’t far away and the horse needed to get out and run a bit.

amish day 4-2
First I need to tell you that ‘standard’ buggies are small, but somehow we managed to cram four adults and two children into the space created for two adults and two children. And though the horse wasn’t excited about pulling all that weight up a hill, he did it anyway. Dusty is a fine horse.
The petting zoo was fun. We bought handfuls of feed and visited with all the animals. Goats, peacocks, deer, various waterfowl and a Scottish Highlander named Susie. But my favorite was the little pig who greeted us with a snort and a wagging tail.
Everything was going just fine until we had to back the horse up to leave the petting zoo. The wheel on my side of the buggy gave a loud pop, but we didn’t have far to go and had to get home somehow. So off we went. We barely got a half mile down the road when the rim started coming off the wheel!
Afraid we wouldn’t be able to make it home, Sadie pulled the buggy into someone’s driveway. (I found out later than she knew the person, but they weren’t home.) Across the street a family was hard at work picking cabbage. One of the men came over to help. He pushed the rim back on and said he thought it would get us home. It got us down two houses.
There another Amish man came down from repairing a roof to help. “We just need something to keep the rim in place,” he said. And what did they use? Duct Tape! Yes, you heard right. Now you know it’s true, men are the same all over.
amish day 4-1We knew the duct tape would eventually wear through on the road, but had to give it a try. Our first helper, Henry, scootered alongside us as we walked Dusty toward home. (I should pause here and say that Sadie and her niece suspect that Dusty might have been a racehorse before coming to her farm and he does not like to walk!)
The tape held for a bit. Meanwhile it’s getting darker and darker. Sadie turned on her buggy light and we knew that home is just across the field but it seemed miles with a busted wheel.
We have to pull over at another house. This one belongs to a man and his wife who are ex-Amish. He comes out to help Henry who is still scootering next to us. The duct tape has worn through. What should they do? Add more duct tape! Sadie is worried about Dusty and the wheel so after it’s ‘repaired’ the man takes us (me Stacey, and the girls) back to the house while Sadie and her niece continue to drive the carriage.
Back at the house. I wait with the kids while Stacey takes her car to check on our friends in the carriage. Thankfully, everyone got home safely. But if I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Now I’m ready for a nap. Or at the very least another whoopie pie.

#AmyinPA Day 2

One thing is certain about Amish country—it’s easy to stay busy. Day 2 of my trip to Lancaster was Sisters’ Day, which means the sisters (and a few nieces) got together to can. Fourteen people showed up. Along with me, Sadie, and Stacey, there were two of Sadie’s sisters, four of her grown nieces, and her dad, who everyone calls Dawdi. Rounding out the group were Sadie’s two daughters and two young nieces.
Today’s project was Spaghetti Soup. If I’m understanding correctly this is a family dish and a favorite among my friends. It’s an interesting recipe containing tomatoes, ham, white beans, ground beef, and spaghetti pasta, with a few potatoes and veggies tossed in for good measure. It sounds like an odd combination, but it was tasty!
amish day 2Around 9 am the sisters started to gather at Sadie’s house. Everyone brought their jars and their portion of the soup. The plan was to make 6 times the recipe so that everyone would have plenty for their families.
Sadie set up long tables and everyone started to work. There were onions to peel, carrots to dice, and ham to cut up. Then the veggies had to be cooked and everything mixed together. Of course, we all had to give it a taste to make sure that the recipe was just right.
But let me back up for a minute. Six times the recipe called for gallons of tomatoes and huge cans of beans. So what did we mix all this in? A thirty-five gallon plastic storage tub. It was stirred with a “spoon” big enough to be a boat oar—and I’m still not convinced that wasn’t what it was. Then an assembly line was formed to fill the jars, wipe the mouths, and screw on the lids.
All said and done we made about 80 quarts of soup! What a morning! We finished up about 2 pm even with the long break we took to eat lunch. (BTW—lunch consisted of homemade pretzel wraps, taco pizza, and chips and salsa.)
After all that work what did we do? Sat under the tree in Sadie’s back yard and peeled apples from her sister’s apple tree. One sister wanted to can apple pie filling later in the week and most of the peeled apples went home with her.
Since we cooked all day, Sadie suggested we go out and eat—Chinese buffet. Her sister and brother-in-law joined us. It was great to sit, eat, relax and chat with friends after such a long day.
Tomorrow we’re heading out to Roots Market. If you’re in the area, I hope you can stop by and visit!

#AmyinPA Day 1

What an incredible day I’ve had in Pennsylvania! Stacey and I got up early and headed across the border to Lancaster County. Our first stop was brunch at Yoders’ Restaurant. Thank you to the very special readers who came out and joined us. It was great fun to sit and visit.

amishday1After that we headed over to Sadie’s where we unpacked the car, played with her sweet daughters, and helped with chores. How many Englishers does to take to water the horse? 2 Amish girls. Yes, that is correct. After trying unsuccessfully to fill a bucket by hooking the hose up to the water pump, we discovered that there was a valve and pipe that led directly into the horse’s trough. While waiting for it to fill, we turn to see Sadie’s three year old and two year old have filled the bucket! We fed the chickens, gathered the eggs, then went in to eat.

Supper consisted of tomato pie, baked zucchini, macaroni and cheese, along with baked sweet potatoes, and biscuits with peanut butter spread.

We ate until we couldn’t eat any more, then headed down to Sadie’s brother’s to help with the chores. We helped with the milking, feeding and watering the horses and cows. But my absolute favorite time of the day was sitting on the porch with Sadie’s family. There were ten adults, two teenagers, and three little girls. Such a fun way to see the sun go down, just visiting with new friends while darkness falls.

The Amish Wedding List

Summertime begins what I think of as “prime wedding season.” Brides are getting excited, grooms are getting nervous, and family/friends are thinking about the perfect wedding gift for the happy couple. In the Amish culture, summer is usually a non-wedding time. There’s too much work to be done from planting and gardening to spring cleaning for the Amish to think about a wedding. But when wedding season comes, they contemplate the perfect wedding gift just as we do. However, the bride’s family has it a bit easier than most because there is a standard list of items that the bride’s mom supplies to her daughter to get her started in married life.

My Amish friend once told me, “We don’t have to pay for a college education for our children, but we get their household started. That’s probably close to the cost of a college education!” Then she graciously gave me a copy of “The List.” It’s a two-sided, hand-written document which she titled “List For Girls.” It’s been in her family for so long, no one remembers who actually wrote the list. Here are a few items that I found interesting:

  • Canned goods

the wedding list blog20 quarts of applesauce, 40 quarts of fruit, 20 quarts of vegetables, 30 quarts of meat, jellies, and 4 rolls of “baloni”. Canning is a way of life for the Amish, but it is very time consuming. Can you imagine the amount of work that went into canning these items? What a treat for a new bride to have her cold cellar stocked like this!

  • A kitchen stove and pipe

Amish girls learn how to become wives and mothers from an early age. But once they finish the 8th grade, they spend a great deal of time with their mothers learning how to cook, sew, and take care of children. The kitchen is often the center of family gatherings. A kitchen stove is a must in any home, but especially in an Amish kitchen.

  • A sewing machine and cabinet

Since Amish women make most of the clothes that their husbands and children wear, a sewing machine is something that they cannot live without.

  • Twelve tablecloths

I’m not sure what I would do with twelve tablecloths. I don’t even own one! But the Amish have very large families and entertain often, so this is a great start for a young couple.

  • A bedroom set

This includes a box spring and mattress, along with two extra box springs and mattresses. Several bedrooms will already be furnished by the bride’s parents by the time the couple begins thinking about having children. Often times, if the groom is one of the youngest in his family, his family will give him his bedroom set for one of his future sons to use.

  • Washing machine and twin tub

Just like in our culture, a washing machine is a must.

There are 37 more items on the “List For Girls”. So you can see how this could be close to the cost of a college education!

How many items on this list did you receive as wedding gifts when you were married?