Sunday, July 15, 2012


I mentioned in my last post that our main motivation for going to PA for vacation was to celebrate a family wedding.  We started off our vacation in Lancaster Co., PA, where my husband's sister lives with her family.  On day 2 of our wild and crazy PA vaca, we got up early (in a new time zone, to boot!) and picked up our very own tour guide, brother-in-law Steve.    He took us for a drive out into the countryside so that we could "gawk" at the Amish and Mennonite people as they were beginning their day. 

It was a beautiful warm, sunny Thursday morning and the Amish and Mennonite communities were hard at work doing various phases of hay making.

Side bar:  I LOVE hay.  I would buy the Yankee Candle scented like freshly-mown hay, if they made one.  I may some day eat it myself.  Well, probably not. 

The Amish and Mennonite farmers seem to do what we call "strip farming".  Instead of taking a huge field and planting it in only one crop, they divide the large field into strips:  a strip of hay, a strip of corn, a strip of hay, a strip of corn, and so on until they run out of field.  We don't know why, but one theory is that the rows on the end produce better, so by farming in strips, you have more end rows.  My theory is that the strip of hay is just the right amount of work for one day.  Why bite off more than you can chew? 
We drove around for quite a long time, just enjoying watching the young men doing their haymaking behind their majestic horses.  The horses were pulling motors that would run the implements.  Brother-in-law Steve explained the different levels of the religous orders and how some families or groups will use some modern conviences to varying degrees, like motors, tractors with steel wheels, and cars with no chrome.
At this particular field, a young boy was riding along.  I wonder if his mom said, "Go with your older brother, you're driving me crazy this morning!"... Or maybe his dad thought it was time he learned how to operate that contraption (which was actually a hay mower)... Or maybe he was actually needed for this task.  It's too bad you can't see it more clearly, but the younger boy isn't wearing any shoes!  A few miles down the road we saw another boy about that little guy's size running across a freshly mown field BAREFOOT bringing the bigger boy a water jug.  I can barely walk across a sidewalk barefoot, let alone a hay field!!

I don't know if it's normally laundry day on Thursday, or if every day is laundry day, but most every farm had laundry hung out to dry.  The Amish and Mennonite run their laundry lines on a pully system that is attached to the top of the barn!  Imagine laundry flapping in the breeze from the middle of the yard, all the way to the top of the barn!!!  It was really a site to see.  I didn't take a picture because I thought that was maybe a little too much shameless privacy invasion on my part...

In conclusion, I am very interested in becoming Mennonite (Amish is too strict for me, I think).  I would happily embrace the quietness, the peacefulness, the extra work, the solitude, if it meant I never had to go to WalMart again.

(p.s. They go to WalMart, too, according to my sister who went to college in Southern Illinois.)

1 comment:

Lori said...

One reason for strip farming is to help decrease water run-off if they are planting in a hilly area. Not sure if these fields were hilly but I know PA has lots of hills! Sounds like it was an interesting day for you!