Saturday, 22 August 2015

Amish Country

In the early morning of Wednesday June 24th we crossed the border from Michigan into Indiana.  The countryside was noticeably flatter and this meant more large scale crop growing (mainly maize and soya beans) and the appearance of huge self-propelled irrigation sprinkler systems - you can just see one in the distance in this photo....
 They can move either laterally or on a centre pivot, and consist of a number of spans - the apparently never-ending one below has about seven spans.
Passing Indiana's oldest commercial water-powered mill ..
Greenfield Mills has been in the same family for five generations, and produces old fashioned flour and pancake mixes.
The first clue that we are entering Amish country ....
. the unusual sight of a road bridge with fenced in sides to prevent horses from going over the edge.
The advantage of being in these areas is that they are horse friendly, and when I reached Howe there was no problem finding a rail specially allocated for horses right in the middle of town.  I was able to tether Lady and go for a bite to eat though local resident Cinda (in the fabulous hat) volunteered to keep an eye on her and my saddlebags while I was absent!
 A rather hazy photo of an Amish farmer ploughing.  They commonly use Belgian horses for this purpose...
Riding past a typical neat Amish farm..
Note the standardbred horses which are first choice for harness animals to pull buggies.  If there is no car outside a house, it may mean the occupants are Amish rather than out, though as in this case they may own a tractor!  The Amish use post and wire fences rather than electric fencing.
Standardbred horses (which are bred for trotting and pacing races) are popular due to their speed, and the Amish buggies tear up and down the roads at a rate of knots, this one whizzing past us..
Note the  warning triangle - most buggies are also fitted with flashing lights for use in dark conditions.
A common sight outside Amish farmhouses - gourd birdhouses for purple martins, who help to keep the insect population down.  
 The Amish grow gourds especially for this purpose.
Bob Pogue had phoned an Amish contact Kenny Stutzman who runs Buggy Lane Tours  in Shipshewana.  He let me tether Lady by his horse corral, provided feed, and also kindly allowed me to sleep in the covered wagon he had just purchased, shown below on the right.  On the left is one of the buggies he uses for his tours - he is a mine of local information!
I spent a pleasant evening chatting to neighbour Marvin, and another neighbour offered me use of his shower.    Thank you Kenny, and also to the Chicago gentleman who paid for my meal at the cafe.
 A rather appropriate juxtaposition!..

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