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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Day with the Amish

Pulling up to the Amish farm it appears as any other beautiful farm, with a distinct "farm smell" and all.

The house looks like another charming farm house.

There is a large barn full of horses and cows and even a mother dog with a new litter of puppies nursing.

A large chicken house that contains over 3,000 laying hens.

A pond in the pasture beyond the garden area. Mother horses and baby colts frolicking nearby.

Very picturesque.

The difference is the people. (Here they are butchering chickens for those who were buying...)

Their kitchen is HUGE! This family has 13 children. So the kitchen/eating area must be able to accommodate 15 for meals... and many many more when company comes or they host a meal for the youth or house church service. They have no electricity but you can't hardely tell. Much of it is ran off of gas. There is no TV, no radio, no kitchen aid mixer or toaster...

This is set up in their front yard...

Christian playing with their baby kitten...


Elle is getting a buggy ride. The oldest son (20 years old) trains horses, he was working with this one. We also went on a large wagon that they use for hauling hay. The horses are MASSIVE and so beautiful! They took us on a ride through the field, around to the grandparents field and to the Amish school and back. It was such a beautiful ride.

The girls cooled their feet in the water from the Artisian well that they have set up to pump out and stream down through their yard. There is a cup there for the kids (or anyone else for that matter) to drink from it at any time, and it is so refreshing for cleaning your hands or dipping your feet in as you needed.

And here are the boys cooling off in the big tub that was originally bought to raise fish in, but the Amish boys have made it their own! It is filled from that same Artisian well.

The day with this Amish family was life changing. They were such an incredible family. All that you see here (and I didn't take many photo's because the Amish do not like having their faces in photo's) is ran JUST by this family. They do not have hired hands, no employees. Really try and grasp this.... a family of 15... with the oldest child being 23 and the youngest just turned a year old a week ago.... they milk 50 cows (each of which they know by name- they are trained to go to their specific stall when they come in from the pasture. They are just called and they come in and go to their stall.) They clean around 500 DOZEN eggs A DAY! They take care of over 30 horses, 3000  laying chickens, 50 meat chickens, 50 cows, make their meals from scratch, train dozens of horses, and care for all of the young kids, on top of regular daily life stuff, selling all those eggs, tending a HUGE garden.....etc...etc... WOW! And all of this while the sun is shineing... they can't work in the dark. =) It is truly an incredible example of what can be done with a family that works together. (not to mention the lack of a TV or computer! ha!)

Even with all of this, the thing that really effected me the most was the dad, Harry is his name. He is the happiest man I have ever seen. I mean actually, really, truly happy- overflowing with pure joy. I didn't exchange many words with him, but I saw his face, and I saw him smile. It is hard to find a man with real joy these days. Even through their smiles, their jokes and their laugher if one looks close enough, they'll see the weight they carry, the burdens of their job, struggles within their family, poor choices coming back to haunt them, financial responsibilities, pressures of temptations etc... But not this man...this man was free. He was weightless and solid at the same time. The kids too. I spent a good deal of time with the oldest daughters (they helped at the "camp" for the first couple days). They were so geniune, so joyful and I really can't think of a better word than "free". They weren't nieve, quiet and "robotic" like some may think of Amish women. They had excellent sense of humors, were smart, but not above learning a new way of doing something, they were kind and EXTREMELY hard workers. The oldest son, who was just 20 years old had the confidence and sureity of a "successful" man twice his age, and yet the humility and kindness of a girl half his age. He too had that same freedom about him as the father did. They all did. Let me tell you, you really can not believe the depths of it unless you see it- and look.
 They are FREE. It was without question that if something tragic were to happen in their lives they would be unchanged in their joy and peace. They have a solidness about them I have never experianced. Their eyes hold what "freedom" looks like. They do not carry the burdens of this world, only the joy of hard work and real love for others. I want that same freedom, now more than ever... I can no longer convince myself that it doesn't exist. It does. I saw it, undeniably so, with my own eyes.

Homestead Camp

The kids and I drove up to Wisconson again this last week. They were SO good in the car- even without the DVD player (I forgot the right cord!). It was very different this time since all the snow was gone. When I was packing, Elle came out in her big puffy pink snow pants... She thought we were going to play in the snow! =)

Here's Elle, Molly and Megan. They played dolls, drew pictures, played with the baby kitten, rode bikes and chased Bubbles- the rabbit- all weekend. The girls took us out to catch fire flies the first night we were there. I have never seen them before and was just amazed at how beautiful they are. They are truly every bit amazing as they are talked up to be! It reminds me of the phospherescents (spelling!?) in the sound in August (when the water glows when disturbed). It is so beautiful.

Happy baby and mama Ashley.

Mikey pulling Elle in the little wagon cart.

The Amish girls made this bread. IT IS INCREDIBLE!!! I got the recipe and will post it when I give it a shot for myself. I need to figure out how to properly cut it down, since the recipe is for 5 loafs! (they have a big family)

Christian's favorite toy...

Erin and "Smiley" (when he smiles it totally looks like a cartoon smile!) tending to the soup over the fire.

crank wheat grinder hooked up to a bike.

Kids being kids...

The Amish girls making the dough for homemade noodles.

Noodle dough drying- I failed to get a photo of the cutting of the noodles. But they were delicious.

We made A LOT of homemade soap! I will be sharing this recipe too once I try it for myself back home. It really is a lot of work, so I can see why the idea is to make a lot of it when you make it to make the effort worth it.

Here's the prep work for the large pot of soup.

Picken chicken off the bone...

Soup over the fire.

YUM!! We added dumpling balls at the end of the cook time and it was delicious. We canned what was left and brought some back with us.
My next post will cover the day at the Amish farm (amazing). It was such a nice weekend. I wish I could have taken more photo's- especially now, looking through at how much I missed... It was just tough to tote a camera around- keep it safe from all the roudy kids- and watch my own roudy kids at the same time. But, the boys had a BLAST being boys- catching frogs, snakes and even a turtle, canoeing in the flooded part of the field, throwing knives (at a target) and playing in their tree fort. It was a wonderful weekend of learning and enjoying my kids loving nature.


We went to the Seaquarium here in Miami for Father's Day last week. It was a bit of a let down for the price ($114!!! And Christian was even free!)... but the kids really liked it and it was fun to see the trainers swim with them.

That is the ACTUAL size of a humpback whale tail!

I wish I could have taken more photo's of this show, but my hands were full with the little ones.

I missed the "great" shot, but it was hilarious! This peacock was trying to mate with the turtle! It was too funny...

This was truly the greatest part of it all. Just as we were leaving there was this blown up water slide thing... It was SO hot out and even more muggy so the water was so nice...