Tag: Backroads

The Amish Entrepreneur

Amish Horseshoe Souvenir
Amish Horseshoe Souvenir

When I was a kid I had a lemonade stand, but here in Lancaster County the Amish kids set up a stand selling horseshoes. I see them occasionally on the back roads but most of the time the shoes are just painted or rusty.

This entrepreneur goes a few steps further to attract the tourist crowd. He offers horseshoes with a picture for $3.50, with a flower for $2.00, plain for $1.50 or rusty for a buck. This one has a picture, it’s painted and has flowers so its a bargain at any price.

The pictures are mostly of horses but some have scenes like covered bridges or life on the farm. I can’t imagine where they get the images because they don’t have cameras, cell phones, computers or printers. I guess they cut them out of a secret magazine that only the Amish subscribe to.

These horseshoes may or may not be lucky for you, but with the thousands of tourists that crave unique souvenirs these kids can afford to buy a brand new scooter or whatever Amish kids spend their money on. I think the horses should get a cut but maybe they’re happy just to get a new pair of shoes.

Signs That Horses are Intelligent

Give them a sign
Give them a sign

Back in 1966 Mister Ed went to college to become a veterinarian so he could help his friends beat the high cost of medical care. 50 years later here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania most horses are home schooled, which is more convenient and much less expensive.

Although not all horses are taught to read at a college level, the ones that pull the buggies are encouraged to develop basic skills including the ability to read signs. This is almost a necessity these days with all the confusing traffic rules like turning right on red.

You can lead a horse to water but if he finds it himself he has a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. Note: we don’t know if horses are color blind but for the ones reading this I felt it was better in black and white.

Are Horses Dumb Animals?

A horse is a horse, of course, of course
A horse is a horse, of course, of course

According to Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death, unlike the average person standing in a foggy field, horses think about nothing all day long. For example he writes this about the lower animals:

“They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being.”

Tom Dorrance, who has been referred to as the horse’s lawyer wrote a book called True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse & Human. In it he says: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them.”

So you have to ask yourself one question, and its not do I feel lucky. How much does a lawyer charge a horse or a cow, and if they go to trial together can they get a group rate? From my experience with horses and cows, that’s gonna be one messy courtroom.

Between a Fence and a Hard Place

On the fence
On the fence

I saw these huge flowers this morning which I now believe are Hibiscus, also known as dinner plates. The light was fairly good and it seemed as calm as a lake in heaven, until I set up my tripod. Then they started to move.

I’m not sure why, I didn’t shoot down on them and tried my best to show their good side, but no matter what I did they swayed back and forth slowly like a drunk sailor (no offence to sailors or drunks). After about a half hour I was about to give up when I saw one on the fence.

The dictionary definition of being on the fence is to be uncommitted or undecided in a controversy. I believe the controversy here was whether or not to let me take some decent photos and the majority decision was not to. But she was wedged in tight and we both knew it.

There’s probably an important lesson to be learned here about resistance. Suzy Kassem said: “When you keep hitting walls of resistance in life, the universe is trying to tell you that you are going the wrong way.” On the other hand, Constance Friday said: “Resistance is a sign that shows you’re going the right way”

Next time I hold them in place or find one on a fence. For a fraction of a second I considered picking some and bringing them home but that would be wrong on too many levels. Karma is a bitch.

Amish Dreams

For sale-$3000 OBO
For sale-$3000 OBO

Young Jacob comes running in the door one afternoon as excited as a rooster at dawn and pleads his case: “Dad-Dad-Samuel Stoltzfus is finally selling his buggy for only $3000 or best offer! Can you buy it for me-please, please, please?

Even the Amish know that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, but he’s a good kid and it’s about time for him to have his own vehicle. So after milking the cows they go down and take a look.

Dads been around buggies all his life and he knows his stuff. He walks around slowly and looks for repairs to the body. Then he inspects the rims as well as the suspension and lights. Its bad, probably run into ground by Eli and Amos those hooligans. But Jacob sees only independence and freedom.

Dad says: Tell ya what son, at the end of the corn season you can have my old one and I’ll see about getting myself something new. Jacob is a little disappointed but in November he’ll be 16 and that means Rumspringa. He knows that patience is a virtue, and with a buggy and a little luck he might just end up with Emmas.

Were you born in a barn?

Barn find
Barn find

When I was growing up my father was very fond of the phrase: Close the door, were you born in a barn? I felt this was rhetorical so I never answered, but I always wondered about the barn lifestyle.

It must be a great place to live I thought, because for one thing you apparently didn’t have to close the doors. But we lived in Levittown, Long Island in the 60’s and there were no barns anywhere to be found.

Later we moved further East to Setauket, and in the woods behind our house was a real barn, doors open and everything. The owner was said to be insane and shooting trespassers was not out of the question so I never had the nerve to see it up close.

Here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania there are almost as many barns as soccer moms who drive like Indy Car racers. And I still wonder what it would be like to live in one. I have a feeling it’s probably cold in the winter, hot in the summer, smelly and buggy.

Of course some people renovate old barns to perfection, complete with heat, air conditioning, windows and even doors that close and lock. But I think that most of the people who can afford that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth. The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south. The simple things I see are all complicated, I look pretty young, but I’m just back-dated, yeah.

The Camels of Lancaster County

I'd walk a mile...
I’d walk a mile…

Yes Virginia, there are camels in Lancaster County on a very large farm off Mill Creek School Road in Bird-In-Hand. I’ve been there before but the big ones always seem to be way off in the field doing whatever camels do.

Yesterday I was in the area, which is not far from the daring cow escape I witnessed on Friday, and discovered three baby camels frolicking just a few feet from the barn. This one may not look like a baby but a baby camel can weigh up to 90 pounds at birth, the other two were much smaller.

In the past I would have gladly walked a mile for three camels, maybe more if I knew they would be posing in good light. But they share the same problems with horses and Alpacas: crud in their eyes and unless it’s late in the season, flies all over those pretty faces.

At one point a tour bus called The Amish Experience pulled up and let three passengers off to take selfies. I thought nothing of it until one woman insisted on kissing the big one, not once but several times. I hope it was good for her because he seemed a bit confused by the whole thing.

I found out that these are dairy camels and are raised for their milk. Also available are camel milk yogurt and camel milk soap which is made by a local company. I didn’t really smell them but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to smell like a camel right out of the shower.

It’s really something to see if you’re not expecting it, but for a local like me it’s as normal as a tourist making out with one. Maybe they should set up a kissing booth because that tour bus passes by every day. It’s all good until someone gets their nose bit off though; I guess they could sign a waiver.

The Escape Artist

Daisy on the lam
Daisy on the lam

Back in march I wrote a piece called Coming Home, about how cows never come home because they never leave, and I talked about the brave ones that occasionally make a break for it just to see what’s out there.

This morning I saw one make the escape, only the second cow escape I’ve witnessed in the eleven years I’ve lived in Lancaster County. I watched with an almost clinical interest to see if this was bravery or boredom.

Daisy (she was tagged) crossed the road and instead of tasting her freedom she tasted the grass on the other side. I walked over to take a photo, and chewing on a stem she gave me her best tough girl look. But she was scared; I could see it in her eyes.

Soon a very large Amish woman came out and shooed Daisy down the road to her own farm while the other cows cheered. I’m not sure if they were cheering for Daisy to come home or to make a break for it, but it started to rain and I lost interest.

T.S. Eliot once wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” In this case it was about a quarter mile until she was reunited with her friends. I can only wonder if they thought Daisy was a hero, a coward, or just another pretty face in the crowd.

Desktop to Instagram the Easy Way

Mowing the lawn
Mowing the lawn

The Amish don’t care about Instagram but a lot of people do. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get on there but I don’t have a smart phone believe it or not, and I looked into the workarounds.

Most are complicated and involve either setting up a Dropbox account or using an app to mimic a mobile device. But I found a Firefox add-on called User Agent Switcher which impersonates a mobile device, takes seconds to install and works perfectly.

After installing the free add-on you’ll see an icon on the toolbar with a dropdown menu to choose your preferences, choose Android / Crome 40 before signing in and you can upload, crop and caption. Use hashtags with abandon but the maximum allowed is thirty per post.

Instagram used to insist on a square format but now lets you upload landscape and portrait-oriented photos, although not with this method. So either crop to square in editing or change the aspect ratio on your camera to 1:1.  Photos should be 1080 x 1080 pixels but can be less if necessary.

If you’re already on Instagram this can save you a lot of time, but if you’re thinking of starting ask yourself why. I met a guy named Steven Maerz who owns thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, posts absolutely stunning shots of bald eagles among other things, and has 464 followers while Love Food has 6.9 million followers.

So if you’re the competitive type consider posting a lot of photos of your lunch, because not surprisingly, a grilled cheese sandwich is much easier to compose square than an Amish man mowing his lawn.

Check out the User Agent Switcher Add-on for Firefox here. You may want to check out Love Food for inspiration but not if you’re on a diet, there’s a lot of cake.