Saturday, October 13, 2012

13th Annual Jamesport Amish Quilt Auction

Gail Ledesma, Verna Graber and Joe Burkholder getting ready
The annual Amish Quilt Auction is going on today in Jamesport, Missouri. We have been busy the last few days getting ready for the quilt show and auction.

The judging is over and we have many beautiful quilts for sale this year. More than 300 hand made quilts are up for auction today.

There were too many quilts to show here, but I did get a picture of the Best of Show ....

Best of Show
 The judges were overwhelmed this year. They all  complained that there were too many beautiful quilts. It was tough to pick a winner. This is a good problem to have. The word is that the large number of quilts being auctioned (a record number this year) will mean lower prices. My wife is looking to bid on a quilt she likes. I hope that prices are good!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Hay Harvest

Fall is here and the last cutting of hay is being raked. This is a common scene about the Amish countryside. This photo is of a 15 year old Amish girl driving a 4-horse team pulling a double rake.

I was told that she enjoys doing field work with the horses. I watched her work for a while yesterday and noticed how relaxed she was.

This was just another beautiful day around Jamesport!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Amish Home Tour

Amish Kitchen
I have been taking tour groups to the Graber Farm this year for an inside peek at the Amish life style. The tour only includes a walk through the downstairs are where the Grabers do summer cooking, canning, and daily laundry.

Some of the folks who took the farm tour were cusious about the upstairs portion of the house, so I asked permission to take some photos. I was able to take quite a few pictures. Here are a few

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Amish Hospitality

Free Amish Carriage Rides
Jamesport, Missouri celebrates Heritage Days every year at this time. One of the Amish attractions in the area is Shearwood Crossing.

At Shearwood, they are having customer appreciation days to coincide with the Jamesport Heritage Festival. They are giving free carriage rides, and miniature train rides all day.

Amish ladies are serving food and dessert, as well as home made ice cream.

Train Rides at Shearwood Crossing
The turnout this year is exceeding expectations. The interest in all things Amish seems to be on the increase. I have noticed that a large number of tourists from the St Louis area are coming to Jamesport. Many of the tourists share that they have seem stories about Amish on the TV. This might account for the current uptick in Amish tourism.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Amish Open House

Amish Open House Draws Community Together
Several times a year businesses around Jamesport will have a customer appreciation day or open house. This past weekend we had several Amish businesses running sales, offering raffles to give away merchandise and gift certificates, and serving  free coffee, donuts, and home-made ice cream to all visitors to their stores.

Last week I was at Countryside Bakery and noticed that they were preparing to make two thousand donuts for the open house events around town. They were bringing in extra help to get the job done. During the open house I had an opportunity to try a few of the donuts and can absolutely state that the Amish ladies made up a great batch of donuts! The weather has been cooler and the dough has been rising perfectly. The donuts were big and fluffy.

The stores having open house included: Jamesport Sales and Surplus, Jamesport Country Store, Jamesport Truss, Jamesport Lumber, and Jamesport Builders. These Jamesport Amish businesses are a vital part of our community and remind us all here in Jamesport that "hospitality is a way of life".

5 Gallon Ice Cream Makers.
You cannot have a local Amish event without home-made ice cream. Jamesport Sales and Surplus had two 5 gallon ice cream makers going  on their front porch. You cannot beat their ice cream! I cannot get enough of this stuff.

This coming weekend is the Heritage Festival. There will be more ice-cream, more open houses, free buggy rides, and more free coffee and doughnuts. Heritage Days is one of the best festivals of the year. We step back in time to celebrate the old crafts. Demonstrations will take place all during the festival. Music, crafts, dancing, and shopping will highlight festival activities. We are looking forward to record crowds at this years festival.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Breaking Amish TV Series

Breaking Amish TV cast.
I watched the first episode of the new reality show "Breaking Amish" I have mixed feelings about it, since it deals with very sensitive personal issues, in a very public way.

The situations portrayed on the show are being played out as a result of larger family tragedies. It may be enlightening, but my heart goes out to the families that have to face these decisions with a camera crew looking on.

The Amish here in Jamesport, Mo take a much more reasonable approach to their children who go modern. They are accepted back to visit and Amish families here accept and cherish their non-Amish grandchildren. It seems to me that the Amish here cling to love and understanding of their children, and do not shun their children for fear of damnation. I personally do not believe any God would want parents to reject their children .... in the name of their God. On the other side of the equation, these kids need to grow up and be realistic about leaving home. Even non-Amish families have to deal with this issue. It remains to be seen if these kids are leaving home for the right reasons. Bottom line ... This is like watching a train wreck, and I hope no one gets hurt too bad!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Amish Tractor?

Amish Tractor? Interesting combination of horse and engine.
I was attending the North Missouri Produce Auction this week and noticed a team of horses pulling strange looking rig. I snapped this shot with a telephoto lens. On closer inspection I could see the details enough to determine that the team was pulling a Power Take Off (PTO) unit  and hydraulics that were operating a cultivator.

It appears that this unit is 1/2 of a standard tractor. The horses supply the pulling power, while the engine operates the cultivator.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Amish Pony Carts Proliferate

Amish Children Exit School House.
Over the past ten years I have noticed a steady change in the Amish community. I can remember when I used to drive by an Amish school when kids were coming or going to class. I would always smile at the line of kids, walking barefoot and carrying their lunch pales and books. Times has changed.

If you look closely at the picture, you will notice that only two of the kids are actually walking home from school. Amish kids in Jamesport mostly "drive" themselves to school in miniature carts and wagons.

A little over ten years ago I noticed that miniature horses began appearing at Amish farms around Jamesport.  As the years went by I began to see Amish kids riding miniature horses. That was apparently only the first step in a quiet evolution that has culminated in a proliferation of miniature horses and pony carts. Now it seems that you cannot pass an Amish farm without seeing a pony cart for the kids. This is making the littlest Amish more mobile.

The size and style of the pony carts is diverse. The kids are as cute as ever. I hope they stay safe on their journeys to school and back.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Amish Farrier Delivers On Site Service

Traveling Amish Farrier Provides Vital Service.

On many occasions I have noticed a strange Amish horse drawn rig on the highway. I didn't think much of it, but over time my curiosity got the best of me. I asked an Amish friend if he knew who was driving the unique  team and wagon. My friend told me that it was the farrier wagon, and that the strange trailer being pulled is the tool wagon. The traveling farrier goes from farm to farm and shoes horses for local farms.

Once I knew what to look for, I began to keep a watch for the farrier, hoping to catch him at his work. At last, this week my vigilance paid off. Yesterday I happened across the traveling farrier while he was shoeing horses.

Amish Farrier Uses Mobile Tool Cart
On the first real full day of rain in months, I caught the farrier working under the roof of a barn at a nearby farm. I asked if I could get some pictures of him at work, and he graciously agreed. From the photo hear you can see the team of Belgian horses he uses to pull his farrier wagon.

He said that he likes doing this work and had relatives that taugt him the trade when he was younger.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Free Range Amish Turkey

My Thanksgiving Turkey taking a stroll.
One of the advantages of living in the country is that you can order a turkey from a local Amish farmer, then watch it grow!

I pass by the Raymond Mast farm quite often and this year he is raising a Thanksgiving Turkey for me.

See the turkey in the picture? The one in the middle of the road is mine .... He seems to have a death wish. The turkeys are allowed to range free during the afternoon, and like to wander across the road, where they feast on grasshoppers!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Amish First Day of School

Walnut Creek Amish School
 Today marked the first day of the Amish school year. The teachers at Walnut Creek Parochial School have been busy cleaning and preparing the school house for the arrival of the children.

I was allowed to see the classroom prior to the beginning of class. The sun had just risen and was still low on the horizon when I arrived. It had rained just yesterday and the grass was still wet and the air was fresh and filled with the promise of blue skies and fair weather.

One Room School House
There were three Amish ladies there preparing to teach the class. There were two regular teachers and one special education teacher. They said that the kids are always excited on the first day and everyone was happy that the day had finally arrived.

I have been planning this visit since the end of the last school season, but as usual, I procrastinated throughout the Summer and did not actually visit until this morning .... just 2 hours before class began!

The blackboard was already prepared with today's assignments and the teachers were getting the name tags prepared for the children to complete. The walls were covered with familiar sights and a few unfamiliar ones as well. There were two alphabets on display, both English and German. The teachers explained that Friday was German. The children read, write, and sing in German on Friday.

Wood stove provides winter heat.

The school library is at the rear of the classroom and the mudroom is large enough for all the students to hang their coats and store their belongings. There is a wash sink there, but the rest rooms are still outdoors.

The school yard is very large and has play swings, a slide, basketball hoop, and of course, a baseball diamond. Outdoor activity is popular among the Amish.

Teacher's Desk
There is no electricity in the classroom. Light is provided by propane lantern and large windows and both sides of the room.

I enjoyed my visit this morning. There was a warm feeling about the classroom, and I had a sense that the children were fortunate to have such a nice atmosphere to grow and learn with friends who will last a lifetime.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rescued Squirrel - Rusty is His Name

Rusty the Squirrel
This week I heard that their was a baby squirrel that was rescued after being abandoned by its mother.  This happens fairly often on Amish farms.

The squirrel was named Rusty and will be raised until old enough to return to the wild.  It is not recommended to capture or raise wild animals unless you are a skilled animal rescue practitioner. We are fortunate to have many such skilled rescuers in our community.

I love to see these little critters. This is just one more reason I like living in Jamesport.

Update 10/18/2012 ... Saw Rusty today. He is getting regular visits outdoors and spends hours in a large tree near the H&M Country Store. He will probably begin living totally free very soon.

Bacon Ranch Bread

Bacon Ranch Bread
I stop in at the Countryside Amish Bakery almost daily. I was speaking to the owner about my favorite baked goods and she told me to try something new. She created a new recipe for "Bacon Bread".

I took a loaf home and heated it up for breakfast the next day. It was great! It was like eating breakfast sandwich without the egg. Now I have to try it sliced with a fried egg.

You never know what little treasures will show up at the bakery. Their most popular novelty bread is the "Jalapeno Cheese Bread". My favorite is "Apple Bread".

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amish Buggy Legroom

The Ubiquitous Amish Leg
After living around the Jamesport Amish, you begin to notice subtle behavior patterns. One of the local Amish habits always brings a smile to my face. In the summer, local Jamesport Amish like to dangle a leg out the door of their buggies while they cruise the highway.
I asked a local Amish girl (see photo) if she agreed that it was a common practice to dandle a leg while driving the buggy. She laughed and said that I was correct, and that they do like to dangle a leg as they ride. Just one more reason to enjoy the laid back life here!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Amish Phone Booth

Amish Phone Booth with Solar Panel

Leave a message

Most tourists visiting Jamesport ask about the little buildings scattered throughout the countryside. They look for the most part like out houses. They are actually Amish phone booths.

The Amish here will not allow phones in their homes, but will allow the use of phones as long as they are away from the house and cannot be heard. The idea is that a phone in the house would detract from family quality time. The Amish do "not" answer phones. If you want to reach an Amish friend, you have to leave a message on their answering machine. They will call you back

Inside of Amish Phone Booth
This is another example of how the Amish have adapted to modern devices. In the photo above, there is even a solar panel to charge the batteries in the phone booth.

The inside of the phone booths appear to be small offices where Amish check messages and make business calls.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Amish Kittens Adopted

Relaxing at H&M Country Store
I was acting as tour guide on Saturday and stopped at the H&M Country Store for my last stop of the day. I was relaxing in a porch chair in front of the store and witnessed an amusing drama that took place over the adoption of a kitten.

There were two families with children looking at the cute kittens for adoption on the porch of the store. One of the mothers ducked into the store to avoid the pleading of her daughter, who obviously had fallen in love with the kittens. Poor dad was left to deal with the pleading kids.

Kittens for Adoption
The other family agreed on adopting a kitten and their child was overjoyed when she was allowed to choose one of the kittens to take home. That left two of the kittens left in the cage for adoption. The young girl who was still bargaining with her father was relentlessly going through the age old promise of how she would feed and care for her new pet everyday until eternity and beyond. Dad kept shaking his head .... no.
At that point I chimed in with a comment that as a grandfather, I had a vote and I voted yes for the young girl to get her cat.

The pleading continued until mom came out of the store and rejoined the discussion. The young girl immediately used the old "dad said it was OK routine" and mom was temporarily perplexed.

That's when the Amish owner came by and noticed the family group that was surrounding the kitten cage. She walked up just in time to overhear mom utter the words that would be her downfall. Although she really did not want a kitten, mom explained to the children in her most sympathetic voice that she really did want to have a kitten, but she only wanted the black and white one that had been taken by the other family just minutes before. Mom smiled, thinking she had slipped out of a tough situation and could refuse the kitten without taking responsibility for saying no.

That is when everything went sideways. The Amish owner, having heard mom's excuse, stepped in and happily announced that everyone could be happy because she had more kittens hidden in a cool storage shed and immediately walked over to the shed and produced a black and white kitten! The kids were jumping with joy and you could tell by mom's slow head shake that she was defeated.

I almost laughed out loud when the kids sealed their victory and snatched up the black and white kitten. I know this battle will go on again and again as long as there are kittens and children. It was nice to see the kids win this one with the help of a quick thinking Amish woman.

Monday, July 23, 2012

River of Pigs

River of Pigs

I was out at the Menno Graber farm today for a last chance photo opportunity. Menno is shipping his hogs off to market tomorrow, so I drove down to get some photos of the hogs keeping cool in 108 degree weather!

Menno has a pond uphill from the pigs. He uses gravity to  get the water from the pond to his hog pen. He releases enough water to make a river of mud for his hogs to enjoy.

Tourist love to see the farm animals, but I have to warn them to keep their windows rolled up. Hogs after all, are odoriferous.

Too cool to care.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Local Artist Expanding

Custom Native American Dress
 Local Artist Betty Polley invited me to her studio this week to see her latest work. Betty does custom design of clothing and jewelry for clients around the country.

She showed me several designs she had done, including some beautiful foot jewelry. She explained that many of her clients like to go bare foot, but want something on their feet to look nice. 

Betty is moving into a larger studio next month. She plans to continue work in Jamesport, but will need some help to keep up with the demand for her designs.

Foot Jewelry
Canvas Art
Custom Jewelry

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Early Melon Harvest

Amish family harvesting melons.
Early hot weather has affected local melon crops. We are getting good melons to market lately. I was out in the Jamesport countryside yesterday and took some pictures of local farmers harvesting melons.

I bought some melons last week at the Clear Creek Produce Stand. They were great! I almost managed to eat one whole cantaloupe on my own. Yum. 

Clear Creek Produce
I  made a few trips this past week to the Clear Creek Produce Stand, just south of Jamesport off  Hwy 190. I enjoyed talking to the kids there and bought some good produce. The stand is one of those old fashioned honor system places. You take what you want and leave your money in a jar. How cool is that?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Annual Spring Hill Amish Auction a Great Success.

At least 4 auctions going on at one time!
I went to the annual Spring Hill Amish Auction today with the grand kids. It was hot and dry so we immediately went to the food building and got some home-made ice cream.
The turnout was impressive. From reports I got from some Amish, this year was far better than last and a part of a continuing trend upward. There were at least 4 auctioneers going at the same time across more than 20 acres.
People were using horses and 4-wheelers to get around the sale area. This seems to be a growing trend as the size of the auction has grown over the years.
4-wheelers used by buyers.

The parking lot was huge. I was concerned about parking, but this year there was plenty of space. I noticed that there were several RV's dry camping in the parking lot. There is no charge for parking. This looks like a good opportunity for local RV clubs to come out for a fun and low cost event. I plan to speak with the auction organizers to see if we can advertise RV space for next year. All the inns in town were full and it would help if people could dry camp at the auction.
RV's with lots of room to park at the auction.

We had a good time. It was a carnival atmosphere with kids and adults all enjoying the event. If you have not attended this event, you should try to make it this year or next. It is turning into the best event of the year. Tomorrow is the final day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grand Children Summer Visit

Lucy,Cara, and Loretta chase chickens
 Once again we are blessed with a visit from some of our grand children. Lucy and Noah Ledesma are here from Yulee, Florida. They will stay for 3 weeks this year. We are already going on adventures. Yesterday we went out to the Homestead Creamery to watch the cheese making process. Lucy spent some of her time playing with Loretta and Cara Flory. I caught them terrorizing the chickens in the hen house. The girls thought it would be great fun to chase the chickens with sticks and make them all run into the hen house. It was chaos.
Noah watches cheese making.
Noah spent most of the time in the creamery watching the older Flory girls making cheddar cheese. They make cheese every Tuesday. Both of the kids enjoyed our trip to the dairy and Lucy has new friends to visit. The Flory family has 8 girls and 2 boys. Noah had no one to play with except for the girls. We plan to go back to the dairy at 5PM to see the milking.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Young Amish Craftsman Builds Dreams

John Graber completes dream house.
I drove out to Trenton, Missouri yesterday with young Amish craftsman John Graber. John just turned 21 this year and is taking over the family furniture building business. He is a new generation of Graber craftsmen who is branching out to custom design and building projects.
John's motto is, "If you can dream it, we can build it". When I heard that he had a customer with a 25 year old tree house they wanted to save for sentimental reasons, I decided to see what John did for them.
As you can see from the photo John took one of his fort designs and integrated it with the old tree house for a new generation of kids to enjoy.
I was impressed to see how quickly he built the new addition while all the while listening to his customer and integrating her ideas. He truly made her dream come true. I spoke with the owner and she confirmed that John built it just the way she asked. She was ecstatic. Good work John.
You can see more of John's work at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Amish Rebuild After Fire

A fire last Saturday June 9, 2012 consumed a local Amish pallet manufacturing shop. The fire was huge and brought people from the surrounding area to help put it out. The buildings were a total loss. Initially I heard that it was not certain that they would rebuild.
Today I heard that the Amish had come together, cleaned out the rubble, graded the site, and began pouring concrete for the new foundation. I am not at all surprised by this, as the Amish are noted for coming together as a community to help rebuild when disaster strikes.

The pallet shop employs several workers and keeps the Amish saw mills busy with work. It is an important part of the Amish economy in Jamesport. As the reconstruction goes forward I hope to chronicle the event with additional photos.

June 15, 2012, 7:30AM
June 15, 2012, 9:00 AM

June 15, 2012 12:30 PM
UPDATE:  06/15/2012  7:30 AM ... I went out to the pallet shop this morning to see how things were going. The concrete had set and the walls were going up fast. I plan to go back this afternoon to see if the framing will be done today.

June 17, 2012 08:00 AM
UPDATE: By 9:00 AM the trusses were up on the south side. By 12:30 PM the trusses were all up and rafters were almost complete. Note in the photo that Amish on the ground are tossing 2x4's up to the framers who then nail them. The younger Amish boys climb up to the top and deliver nails to the framers.

UPDATE: June 16, 2012 .... After just one week after the explosion and fire, the pallet shop is up and has a roof. Most of the siding is on and many of the windows installed. The Amish will take a break on Sunday, but will probably complete the building on Monday or Tuesday.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Amish Saw Mill Tour

Horses pulling wagon load of  scrap.
 I had a small tour group from North Carolina today. One of the tourists was a woodworker and asked if we could stop at a saw mill. There are a few Amish saw mills in the area, so we stopped in at the Troyer Saw Mill. They cut logs into pallet wood which is then sent over to an Amish pallet manufacturing shop.
The interesting thing about the mill is that they use draft horses to do all the heavy lifting.
Tourists watching saw mill operation.
This was the first time a tourist asked to see a saw mill. It worked out pretty well. It was noisy, but everyone seemed to think it was fun. I checked with the owner before we went into the mill. I would not suggest going without getting permission. They are not really setup for tourists, but since we were there I dis get some good photos.