I did a little research, and decided we would head toward Plain and Fancy, in the little town of Bird-In-Hand. This is a little less than 1 1/2 hrs from home. I have been in this area many times, but not in recent years (since we had been living in FL and all!) Rt 340 is a beautiful road to drive along!
Tara watched "Twilight" on the way, and I enjoyed seeing all the things that had changed along the way. Part of this route was my daily commute at one time, so it is interesting to note all the changes, and the "remember whens".
Once you get closer to the Lancaster area, the area turns more rural with lots of farms. This area was originally settles in the 1700s and much of the land was granted to the Amish people by William Penn. There are farms that have been in the same family for 300 years. If they were to sell this land today they would be millionaires many times over, not having to work another day in their life, but that is not the Amish way! That is not to say that they don't find ways to make some extra money.
This is what gives you the FIRST clue that you are close!
We arrived at our destination and of course the 12 yo had to be difficult and was going to "stay in the car". I told her we planned on taking a "buggy" ride, and she might have a long wait. Seems her stomach was bothering her. So there are no pics of her on this day, or my mother as a matter of fact, as she does not really like to be photographed!
We signed up for our buggy ride at Aaron and Jessica's Buggy Rides which is found right near the "covered" bridge on the property of Plain and Fancy. ($8 per adult, $5 for child for 1/2 hr. I had printed a $2 per adult discount coupon on line). To let you know, recently Tara and I went on a carriage ride through several of the historic areas of Philadelphia. We did have the carriage to ourselves, but that ride set us back $80!!!
We had to wait about 1/2 hour for our turn, but it was a comfortable day, and there is a nice shaded area to sit. We saw several horse and buggies drive by while we waited.
This was our ride, and as you can see, this is a wagon! Mike and Ike were the "muscle" that got us where we wanted to go. We were with a group of 7 from Denmark, Mom a nurse, Dad a doctor, and 5 children, the youngest a little cutie named Lukas! Also with us were a group of four from Rhode Island, mom, dad and two little girls. The three younger ones got to ride in the front with Abe our driver.
Abe was raised Amish, one of 11 children in his family. His father was a Bishop, and he said he and his siblings were raised to be examples, so they were very strict. Abe chose not to join the Amish way of life when he was "of age", which is the perogative of all Amish children. He laughed and said this means I can tell you anything you want to know!!! Because he chose not to join when he was "of age", he was not shunned by his family. Only when you join, and then choose to leave are you excommunicated. This is the only picture I have of Abe.... He was very nice and was great with the children.
Abe told us of some of the Amish ways, and some history. Having been raised in relative close proximity to the Amish, and having several family friends who were PA Dutch, we knew a bit more than the other folks, but still learned some things!
Many of the farms are predominately dairy farms. Hershey is about 40 miles from this area, and many of the farms sell their milk to Hershey for making chocolate. They also have crops like corn, tobacco and alfalfa. Yes, the Amish can smoke!
Our ride took us through this farm, but at the owner's request we were not able to take photos while on the farm. It was beautiful. One of the Amish men was out selling home made choc chip cookies, pretzels, lemonade and decorated horse shoes, as well as bottles of cold water! I don't know how many buggies go through each day, but he made $10 off of our wagon! The lemonade was fresh squeezed, and I don't know what they seasoned the pretzels with, but they were yummy too!
This is a scooter bike that the kids use to get around. Abe said these have not always been allowed, as they though the kids could get too far too fast on them! LOL
One of the reasons Abe told us that he did not join was that some of the rules (man made, not from the Bible) didn't make sense. Amish can not have electricity in their homes, nor own cars, but they are allowed to use gasoline to run generators for their barns, and they can hire someone to drive them if they need to get livestock, etc somewhere that they can't get with their buggies. They also use modern hospitals/doctors, as they do not have the education to go to medical school. Depending on the order of the Amish, these rules vary. They do not want technology to get in the way of the family!
The Amish children are still taught in one room schoolhouses with one teacher for all of K-8th grade. None of them have more than an 8th grade education. Each "district" within the community has it's own school, and all the children walk to school as they are never more than 2 miles apart. There is NO homework, as they have plenty of work to do on the farm and in the home!
A few random facts... I wish I could remember them all!
- The average Amish family has 7 children.
- Only about 4% choose to not join the Amish church when they are of age.
- Amish can be found in 24 states, Central America and Canada.
- Due to the large size of the families, they are moving into new places where they can find cheap land. Recently they have been moving to Colorado from the Lancaster area.
- Lancaster has the 3rd largest Amish population in the US.
Next up, lunch at Plain and Fancy