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

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

My Favorite Facebook Photos: 2022 Edition

So, I put lots of photos (taken by me) on my Facebook page that don’t make it to this blog page.  Here are a dozen of my favorites from 2022…  Which is your favorite one?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I saw this creative birdfeeder stand along the road near Middlebury.

This is an old-fashioned apple cider press, seen at my dog groomer's house.

I managed to get this stealth shot at an Amish schoolhouse one afternoon.

This is my friend Glenn saddling up a horse to give my friends a buggy ride.  

Tractors are making their way into our Amish community, little by little.

It takes about 7 wagon loads of firewood to heat a house for the winter.

My friend Freda strung twine up this old silo and planted morning glories.

This is my friend Rosemary's garden, along 250N near Shipshe.  It's been featured on postcards!

This schoolhouse put sheep in the schoolyard for the summer, to keep the grass short.

This is the laundry for my friend with six sons!

Trust is a part of the culture in Amish Indiana.

This young man can drive a team of Belgians with ease!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks for looking at my pictures!  Find more on my Facebook page, here.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Taking a Tour

Hello, dear readers!

Spring is coming, and some of you may be planning a visit to Amish Indiana.  If you’re here to dine and shop, have fun!  But if you have lots of questions and want to take a deep dive into learning about the Amish culture, I am available for private tours.  More information below.


FAQ on Private Tours

1.      Where do we start? 
     Typically I pick you up at the location of your choice—usually at your hotel.

2.     1.      How much do you charge?

            I charge $30/hour with your vehicle, or $35/hour with mine. Some people hire me for just a couple hours, most for all day--it's up to you!  My SUV can hold myself and three passengers comfortably (or four if we squeeze a bit).  

3.      Can I take photos?
     Definitely.  The Amish don’t pose for photos and don’t want their pictures taken, but there are still lots of opportunities for photos—farms, gardens, animals, scenery…  I wrote a post about that, which can be found here.  For an example of the kinds of pictures I take, look at my Facebook page, here.

What will we see?
     That totally depends on you.  We will likely drive around the Shipshe/Middlebury area, making various stops, while I talk about the culture and answer your questions.  Possibilities include: produce stands (in season), cemeteries, bakeries, Amish wooden toy shop, Amish jam shop, gardens, dairy farms, schoolhouses, Amish general stores, meat/cheese shop, Amish honey shop, Amish grocery store, quilt shops, Amish leather shop, popcorn shop, local log-cabin prayer chapel, sheep farm, Amish birdfeeder and birdhouse store, Amish herb shop, Amish greenhouses, horse auctions, a scenic drive through the countryside with photo stops, or a drive through Shipshewana to see the 14 Walldogs murals. (More about those here.) 
     A great way to figure out what you want to see is to read my blog posts.  I’ve written about 200 posts (including most of the abovementioned topics), so just skim through the titles and read the ones that interest you.  An example: After reading a post about it, I had one couple ask me to take them to the Amish junkyard!
     Some people are new to the area and are more interested in an hour or two of “reconnaissance” to familiarize themselves with it—so in that case you can pick me up and we can take a driving tour around Shipshe and Middlebury and I can I tell you the best places to eat, shop, and see things.

5.      Can we meet some Amish people?
     Yes.  I know a dozen local Amish families well enough to stop by with visitors, particularly if I give them a little advance notice.  [One note:  Dress modestly and conservatively if you are interested in this option.]
     If you visit on a school day (August through April), we may be able to visit an Amish school in session.  If we are touring at 4 p.m., we can watch cow-milking time on a farm.  I may also be able to arrange a buggy ride (if you don’t mind paying the driver for his time). 

6.      What about a lunch break?
     I know several smaller local places that are fun for a lunch stop, if we are touring all day.  A favorite with my visitors is Topeka Pizza, but there are plenty of others.

7.      Is there a best time of year to visit?
     Any time of year is good.  Each season has its special features.

8.      How can I contact you?
     Email is the easiest—  You can also text me at 630.728.5308, or call me at that number.  I am retired, so my schedule is pretty flexible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Saying Goodbye to Katie


Late Sunday Evening, January 29, 2023

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my young friend “Katie”… How do I put my feelings about that in words?

I first wrote about “Katie” (real name, Kathy) in this post, and again in a few other posts after that.  I already wrote about the night before the funeral in my last post, called “Keeping Vigil For Katie.”  Read that too, if you didn’t already.

So after my all-night vigil, I came home Saturday morning, slept for an hour, put on my best black dress, and went back to their family farm.  Although the funeral officially started at 9:30, many buggies were already there at 8:00.  I was shown to the large outbuilding where the funeral would take place.  The extended family had been there an hour already, saying their last goodbyes.

The seating arrangement at these events follows a certain protocol.  I was shown to a special area where Wheelchair Mary (her name for herself, not mine) and a few other special friends of Kathy and the family would be seated.  The only other Englishers I could see were Kathy’s hospice doctor, who sat with his family in front of me.  The outbuilding (recently remodeled and updated by Kathy’s father in time for this event) held perhaps 400 people, and nearby was a second venue with hundreds more.

The coffin was closed and the funeral started at 9:30 with a series of two or three sermons and a prayer—all of this in “Dutch.”  Then at about 11:00, Kathy’s obituary was read aloud in English.  After that, each section of people in the assembly filed row-by-row past Kathy’s coffin, now open again, starting with the several hundred who were gathered in the building nearby; then the home church group and other groups in the main building; then the extended family of Kathy; then lastly, her parents and nine siblings ages 4 to 21. Never in my lifetime have I seen such an outpouring of grief…  As Kathy’s parents and siblings gathered around her coffin, clinging to each other and weeping, I doubt there was a dry eye in the building.

After the funeral, 50 or 60 of us headed to the cemetery while the others shared a meal.  Slowly the dozens of buggies entered the road behind the hearse buggy for the several-mile drive to the cemetery on a hill behind an Amish farm, where the grave had been dug and a tent set up.  As we gathered around, the minister said a few words, and then—according to Amish tradition—the pallbearers lowered the coffin into a wooden casket which was already in the ground, and the top of the casket was put in place.   

Then the pallbearers took up shovels and gently began shoveling the soil back into the hole over the casket.  As they grew tired, other men stepped forward to take a turn.  Many of the teenaged boys who were present did their part too, as the family stood silently and watched.  Then Kathy’s littlest brother, four-year-old Caleb, stepped forward to take a turn.  His 21-year-old brother bent over behind him, helping him hold the shovel and drop the soil down.  After that, Kathy’s other brothers all took a turn, as well as her normally shy ten-year-old sister.  (Well done, Jane!) 

After the soil was replaced and a marker put in place, a few songs were sung—the beautiful harmonies being carried out over the farmland—and then our procession of buggies returned to the home farm for a meal. 


Now it’s Monday afternoon, and I want to finish this post.  Today the Miller family is taking another day to rest.  Then tomorrow it’s back to school, work, and farm chores. 

Last night I took their three oldest to a Sunday night singing in my car; it was 15 miles each way, in bad weather, so I gave them a lift to make their lives a bit easier.  They invited me to come back early and listen to the singing, and I took them up on the offer.  As I sat in the back with the moms, I made this recording (no video) of one of the songs the 80 or so young people sang—so  I’ll end this post with their words—“When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown, in the new Jerusalem.”