Today we headed up to the Amish farm where our farmer–who up until today was only a name–and his family, have their home and raise the chickens and cows and pigs and sheep that make up some of our family’s food.
Before Farm Day, we had a couple family discussions about what it means to be Amish, and how we would be wearing more “covering” clothes than we might normally be out of respect for our new friends. I showed the children pictures of Amish people on the internet, and we talked about how their lives are different than ours. Especially intriguing to the kids was the choice not to have electricity.
It was an early start to the morning, but a beautiful day for a drive. When we arrived on the farm, David had started the tour in the barn where the butter was made. Rachel was working on making the butter, which involved a large metal spinner in a stainless steel box. Sarah was splooting the pounds of butter into the plastic containers in the background, though I didn’t know it was Sarah at that point.
So many intriguing things from this day:
Butter making is part art, part experience. Rachel warms the cream to 60-63 degrees, then mixes it in the mixer box, then she works it around by hand. Then the buttermilk is drained out, then it is rinsed with water. And at any point in this process she may realize something is not quite right with the butter. Maybe the cream got too warm, or the milk was a little different. She adjusts as she goes to create something handmade.
David was also a surprise. I have had this vision of “Amish Farmer” in my head. Well, David looks Amish, and I suppose I look like a 41 year old mother of three, but there’s a lot more to people than how they look. For one thing, David’s face is ageless. His hair and beard are white, but his face, and in fact the faces and skin of the whole entire family, are absolutely smooth and beautiful; incredibly gorgeous, young skin. David could be anywhere from 44-58. Buds and I could not agree on an age.
And such a tease! He could not answer a question without a joke and a twinkle in his eye.
Sarah, his wife, was also such a treat. More reserved and seemingly shy than David, but when it was just Buds and I visiting with her, she was so kind and loving and soothing to be around. She also took the time to truly listen to Zachary and shared with us that, “Your son said something to me…I can’t remember the exact words…but it was so interesting.”
It turns out that what Zachary had said to her was, “Farm Day was like a scientific adventure through a world with all the creatures of the Kingdom Animalia.”
Yeah…I can see why she couldn’t exactly remember his wording.
So, we watched butter being made. We saw the meat chickens in the portable coops out in the field. The cows were at a distance, as were the sheep that were over by the pond, but we got up close and personal with the pigs that will become our sausage someday. The children all got to hold and pet some “peeps,” and then there were the puppies.
Here are the puppy descriptions:
We were playing with the Yorkiepoos (miniature poodle mama mixed with yorkie daddy) on the lawn. The boradors were in the corn crib and I don’t think they got out to get played with. Boradors are from mama Misty who is a border collie and Goldie, the yellow lab. They are ready for new homes now, while the yorkiepoos need more time with Twinkle.
The Yorkiepoos were in a little pen on the lawn where we had our picnic lunch. Four sweet, black, curly puppies. They children climbed into the pen with them, and played for hours. Yessa literally did not come out of the puppy pen for two hours. Buster and Monkey spent extensive time in there, too, but for Yessa the puppies were the perfect mix of puppy and baby. To be carrying around a furry baby was a dream come true for her. The puppies were exhausted by the end of the day, but, as David pointed out, by the time they are ready to go to their new homes, they will be so used to being handled and played with, they will be perfect family pets.
Our group shared a picnic lunch with a host of different delicious food. And when Sarah brought our her homemade bread with homemade butter, you can bet your bippy we tried some. It was delicious.
There are still some questions I have. For example, they don’t use electricity, but David has generators to run the equipment. I don’t understand the difference. I certainly don’t begrudge the use of “power,” especially after seeing how much physical labor it took for Rachel to make the butter, even with using a machine. I just don’t see why the source of the power matters.
And phones. David has a phone in their farm store. Brenda said lots of Amish have a “phone shack,” and they sometimes share it with several families. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t have one in the house, then? Where is that invisible line? And who gets to decide where the line is drawn?
David was too busy chatting and hosting for me to invite a philosophical discussion, but I hope for the opportunity some day.
Oh, and just a funny family memory. We placed a bulk order to get hamburger, chicken, and pork while were were up there. We’ve always purchased the rope sausage, but they were out of it. In the course of conversation, David realized we squeezed the sausage out of the casing to use it. He looked at us in aghast shock?! The casing costs money, and we could have been buying loose sausage all along! I told him we’d bring back the casings after we squeezed the meat out for him to reuse. That got a laugh out of Sarah.
We didn’t stay for the wagon ride or the pony rides, so we have those to look forward to next year.
I’m grateful we had the chance to spend time with this family who does so much for our family. What a blessing to be reminded once again, people are people, and the vast majority of us are willing to reach out a hand of friendship to each other…looking for ways to find common ground. It was a day filled with many blessings.