My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The 2018 National Clydesdale Sale

A few months ago, my friend Queenie and I attended the 2018 National Clydesdale Sale, a yearly auction held by the National Clydesdale Association (  The venue had moved to a new location this year—the new Michiana Events Center (The MEC) ( in Shipshewana, Indiana.  The vendors set up in the open area of the MEC, and the horse auction was in the colosseum area on the other side of the L-shaped building.

The first photo is the front cover of the auction brochure.  It shows the highest-selling horse from last year—a mare—which brought $45,000!  The second-highest-selling mare in 2017 brought $29,000.  The highest-selling stallion brought $8,200, while the highest-selling gelding brought $18,500—which surprised me, since geldings can’t be used for breeding, but they seem to be favored for parade and show horses.  Notice in the pictures that the Clydesdales have braided-up manes and their tails are twisted into a sort of bun… This seemed to be the common practice.

Queenie is an animal lover, so we spent a couple of pleasant hours at the Saturday auction in the colosseum.  There was a mixture of Amish and “English” people in the stands, but mostly English in the VIP area at one end of the arena.  The Clydesdales are about the same size as the draft horses that the Amish use in the fields, but the Amish prefer Belgians, or occasionally Percherons.

One thing that surprised us was the wide range of prices for animals that (to us) seemed quite similar…  The first gelding we saw went for $33,000—but later ones of the same age and appearance (to us) went for as low as $2,500.  We figured it must have something to do with their pedigrees.*

Almost every horse was described in detail in the brochure.  Notice the difference between horse #45, “Rex,” and horse #46, “George’s Cristal’s Kid.”  Horse #46 has the extensive pedigree which apparently increases the value and sales price.  Quite a few of the horses came from Canada, and the rest from various American horse farms, mostly in the Midwest.

Many of the horses were described in terms of their looks, and also in terms of being broke to pull a wagon single or double, or as part of a larger team.  Some were described as being great prospects for winning prizes at the fall WCS (World Clydesdale Show).  Others were described as being good brood mare or stud prospects, or well-suited for farm and field work, and often in terms of their personality or intelligence.


Here is a link to a little of the action at the sale…

* A footnote about prices:  One of my readers said that prices can vary widely due to factors such as pedigree (quality show animals); training; proven success in prior shows; conformation; and/or proven breeding or proven brood mare capabilities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I was in an Amish warehouse recently and I noticed this portable gaslight lamp (above), and I thought I’d talk a bit about how the Amish light their homes and businesses. 

Until recent years (and still very often today), Amish homes and business were lit mostly with old-style kerosene lanterns and more often, gaslight from a propane tank.  The light shines out of a “mantle” made of some kind of fireproof material.  The glow is pretty, but it flickers and it’s hard to read by.

The portable gaslight I saw in the warehouse was not made to be pretty, but the ones used in homes are often built into what look like end tables on wheels.  Underneath – the gas tank.  Up above – the light fixture.  But these days, the gas tanks inside the end tables are being replaced with large batteries, and the light up above comes from an LED bulb.  Still portable, but much better.  Sometimes there is a pretty lampshade, but I used this picture because it shows the “works” better.  A second one can be seen in the background to the right.

Other types of gaslights are built into the walls of the homes. Newer and newly remodeled Amish homes often have built-in gas lines with lights like this one, seen in a bathroom.  Some local Amish farmhouses are even being hooked up to the natural gas lines that are making their way into the countryside.

I used to see all kinds of portable kerosene and gas lanterns, which were carried around and hung on hooks on the ceiling.  Many of those are being replaced by portable battery-powered lanterns such as this brand-new one I saw the other day:

Some people believe the Amish don’t use electricity at all, which is not true.  They use batteries, generators, and even solar panels, for instance.  What they don’t use is regular Com-Ed type power.  This lifestyle choice evolved early in the 20th century as a way to keep television, radio, and other worldly influences out of their homes.

If an Amish family buys an “English” home—an increasingly common event these days in our area—the Amish family has one year to remove the electricity from the home.  As one Amish farm wife (and mother of eight) told me, “I’m sure going to miss that dishwasher!”

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Yoder Consignment Auction

So, my husband has been doing a lot of driving and hauling for the local Amish lately, as a way to keep busy and earn some mad money in retirement.  A few weeks ago he discovered Yoder’s Consignment Auction, and I had to check it out.

This is a twice-a-year event (spring and fall) that draws huge crowds.  Earnest and Esther Yoder hold the auction on their farm, which is located a few miles southwest of Shipshewana at 2270 S 1000W.  Friday is the day to set up, and Saturday is the auction. 

I went out last Friday (April 13)  with my husband and an Amishman who has a water treatment business.   

The trucks, trailers, and buggies were lined up down the road all day, waiting to get onto the grounds and check in their consignment items.  Vendors were setting up their tent displays or unloading items.  The public was also in attendance, walking around to preview the items for sale.  A school fundraiser group was there to feed everyone.

The fields were filling up fast with machinery of all kinds. On Saturday, there would be a mobile auction booth on the back of a pickup truck, which would drive up and down the aisles and auction off the large outdoor items. 

As many as five auctioneers would work at once, both outdoors and in the tents.  The Saturday schedule was: 
  • 8:30 a.m. – Wagonloads of miscellaneous
  • 9:00 a.m. – Hog, dairy, and farm equipment; sporting goods; new and used furniture; bicycles; shop tools; and lawn/garden items
  • 9:30 a.m. – Horses
  • 10:00 a.m. - Buggies
Besides the actual auction, there were rows and rows of tents, and our friend had rented one of the smaller ones to set up his display.  Other larger tents had goods for sale, both new and used.  There was plenty of food, both in the main building where the local Amish school fundraiser was selling both hot and cold items, and from other food vendors on the grounds.

Saturday brought more rain.  But in spite of the terrible weather, it was a good day.  The crowd was overwhelmingly Amish, and the fields nearby had become “buggy parking lots.”  The crowds were smaller than usual, but still large, and our friend sold ten water treatment units that day! 

The next Yoder Consignment Auction is some time in the fall.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Plowing Time

An Amish friend, getting ready to plow last Saturday near Centreville, Michigan.  
Six Belgian draft horses and a two-bottom plow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Amish and Technology

Here is an interesting New York Times article about the Amish and technology.  This article focuses on the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amish settlement, but I've seen these issues here in northeast Indiana also.  The photo above is taken from the article.

I liked the quote, "Many Amish people draw a bright line between what is allowed at work — smartphones, internet access — and what remains forbidden at home." That is very true here in Indiana, also. Also, the bright line between things which they are allowed to hire, but not own (like cars).