The Family Cow ‘Work in Progress’

Sue Steiner painting in the Buggy Barn

Sue Steiner painting in the Buggy Barn

I am an artist living in the Kidron area. I have the very fun job of painting farm animal murals in Lehman’s Buggy Barn. In the photo above you can see me as I am working on the most recent mural of a the family cow. I choose a Jersey because they are often used by the Amish for that purpose and besides, Jersey’s have the most amazing faces! I love their dished profile and beautiful big, brown eyes. In this photo I painted the faux finish wooden stall earlier and am now about 3/4 of the way thru the cow painting. I would like to paint a barn cat lapping up some milk to go along with this picture. I liked the idea of painting a family cow also because Lehman’s has such a wide selection of products related to the home dairy. You can make all the cheese, yogurt, soap, ice cream and butter you’d want with the milk from your family cow with Lehman’s products! They also have fun things like milking stools, old fashioned milk cans, butter churns, old fashioned wooden butter molds to name a few.

I am having fun with the cow but the big project will be on the back wall. I am planning on painting a couple of belgian draft horses tied to a hitching post. I came across just the right pair to use as a reference a couple days ago at the hitching post across the street from Lehman’s. The horses were positioned just right so I got several photos and even got to talk to their Amish owner and learn their names, Roy and Rex. The Amish often use the belgians for their field work and to pull big wagons. They are quite impressive animals! One of my favorite sights in the spring is to see the teams of work horses plowing in the fields. So check back often so you can see more works in progress of the murals.  When you are in the Kidron store make sure to stop in the buggy barn to say hi to all the critters! To see more of my artwork go to  Thanks for stopping by!

Glenda’s Interview on the Radio

Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president of marketing and daughter of company founder Jay Lehman, was interviewed on Wednesdsay morning on KAXE radio (Grand Rapids, Minnesota) by on-air personality Maggie Montgomery. Ervin explained how Lehman’s unique line of products can help with food processing needs when you want to get close to your food source.

Glenda’s Interview

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Secrets of Success for first generation family businesses

Recently Galen Lehman took several weeks off from his job as president of Lehman’s. He spent this time visiting suppliers and other businesses he knew and admired. The companies he visited ranged from 1 employee to 300 employees. Most were owned by Amish or Mennonite families. At each stop, he asked, “What is the secret of your success?” This is one of a series of postings about what he learned

I just spent two weeks traveling across three states talking with nearly two dozen other family business owners and trying to learn everything I could about what makes family businesses succeed or fail. I was surprised to discover that every business shared common traits.

Family businesses succeed in the first generation because they are family businesses.

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Dog, Dodge and Dietz

Earlier this week I headed out into Ohio’s worst snow storm of the winter to spend some time in the “wilderness” of southern Ohio. Here I am at the start of my adventure, with my trusty Dodge 4-wheeler and 4-month-old Golden Retriever. (She has not yet proven she can be trusty, but being a Golden she will unquestionably prove herself before long.) Read on to learn about the Dietz. Continue reading

Buggy Barn Mural Update

I spent a good part of the day yesterday getting back into the swing of things at the Kidron store in the Buggy Barn. The wall of roosting chickens I began painting a few months ago now is almost complete– heads and all! A couple chickens were in the unfortunate position of not having a head for the last 3 months! Even though many customers mentioned being in grampa’s barn as a kid and their memories of ‘headless’ chickens I didn’t want to go there in this buggy barn! I told them this buggy barn would be peaceful! The chickens now look much happier!

I enjoyed meeting and talking with people at the store and getting the instant feedback to my artwork. This really is the best part of this project! So if you are in the store please stop by!

I will probably move on to a large back wall starting next week to paint a life sized hitching post with a couple Amish buggy horses tied to it. My hope is to give the impression of being in an actual buggy barn so of course you have to have buggy horses tied right outside! As many of you may know in our little town of Kidron there is a very large hitching post directly across from Lehman’s. I will paint a simplified version of this with the Lehman’s sign off in the distance just as you see at the actual hitching post in Kidron. I am creating a space for people to stand beside the life sized buggy horse mural to take photos as a keepsake from their visit to Lehman’s.

To see the ‘works in progress’ pics stop by often! I will post here on a regular basis so you can see it take shape. To see the completed outdoor murals that are a part of the outdoor cafe area go to the Mural link of the blog’s front page. To see more of my artwork go to Thanks for stopping by!

The Coal Chronicles – Book III

I am writing several blog entries, documenting my experience with the Hitzer coal burning stove. The following is the third entry. Oh and by the way, names have been changed (sort of) to protect the innocent. I recommend starting at the begining with The Coal Chronicles – Book I and The Coal Chronicles Book II

Problem: The Hitzer is in the basement, the family lives in the floors above.

The heat isn’t going to do much good trapped in the basement. As readers might remember, our house came complete with electric baseboard heaters. These heaters are attached to the wall and wired to the 240 volt electric. There is no duct work in the house, making circulation of heated air a bit of a challenge.

The challenge is to move the heat into the upper floors of the house and return the cold air to the basement.

The house is a rather unique house, a split level overrun with stairs. This was a novelty to us, coming from the flatlands of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley. The novelty has worn off now, since you have to go either up or down in most cases simply to use the bathroom. But, I digress.

The house has a very large patio door on the northeast side, or as I have heard it termed around here, a door wall. To provide heat in the area of the door wall there are two unique heaters in the floor. They are quite large and deep. I surmised that they were deep enough to go through to the basement, but could not verify this due to the finished ceiling. I had taken the grates off the heaters several times to retrieve lost toys and other droppings to the child’s “wishing wells.” I carefully removed the ceiling tile in the basement where I thought the heaters would be located. Sure enough, there was the bottom of the heater enclosure. The heaters are simply oil-filled elements in a steel enclosure, nothing to them. I have worked with high voltage electricity in a past life, so working on 240 volts does not bother me. I removed the wiring and with a bit of effort the enclosure came out of the hole. I was delighted to see that the resulting space was nicely framed with floor joists. After a bit of trim work in the basement ceiling I was golden.

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The Old Dog Has Arthritis

Our old Border Collie was looking kind of “creaky” last fall, and later when the weather turned really nasty she stayed in her dog house for long periods of time. On the occasions when she did come out, she was really gimped up. At the worst, she was carrying her hind leg as though her hip pained her considerably.Contemplating her pain, I recalled an old timer once telling me that a teaspoon of pectin a day would both get rid of and keep arthritis away.

I checked the information out and putting it together with additional information gleaned during research, I came up with a recipe for “dog treats” that for the old dog have turned out to be the equivalent of an ancient “spring tonic”.

Within a week of putting our old collie on these treats we could see an improvement. After a couple weeks she was running around again – on all four legs. Continue reading

Steps to Health: Just Start with One!

As spring approaches, I look forward to longer days and the time to spend outside after the work day is over. I always enjoy looking for spring flowers and planning the gardens to add color to the emerging green landscapes. Another spring topic is that of making good choices concerning our health or trying to improve our habits on a daily basis. What does that mean to you? Have you ever thought about what things you might change to improve your health? Or the health of your family?

The American Heart Association recommends the following several steps to help us live a long and productive life. Many of the suggestions are simple additions to the meals you may already be planning. Others are just ways to make you aware of the possibilities of things you can do to set a good example. Remember, all we need to do is take one step to get started. Change happens slowly and becomes a habit with each day that it is practiced. Take the first step and try one of the following suggestions: Continue reading

Composting: A green solution to household waste

Waste management experts report that “food waste represents almost 15 percent of the total waste sent to public landfills each year- this is the single largest type of disposed material.”

Composting may not be the most glamorous of home improvement projects, but name another scenario where you can improve your garden, and do something for our planet by having less trash to go in our landfills every week. Starting your own compost is simple and has an enormous return. Compost is essentially layers of natural material that eventually break down to produce an extremely nutrient-rich soil (gardeners often call it “black gold”). This natural fertilizer is great for your garden as it replenishes nutrients missing from damaged soil. As any gardener will tell you: the success of your garden depends largely on the quality of your dirt. Continue reading

Grandma’s Banana-Apricot-Cashew Bread

Ask anyone in my office, and they’ll tell you that my grandmother is one of the best bakers around. This greatly endears her to my co-workers, since I often bring in the goodies she so nicely shares with me. (The fact that she taught half of our employees – or their kids – in the 3rd grade is also a large part of the endearment.) This moist, nutty bread went over BIG, and several people asked for the recipe, so here it is, straight from the farmhouse kitchen of Grandma Ruth:

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
l teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3-4 )
l teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom of loaf pan. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients (except nuts and apricots) just until moistened. Stir in nuts and apricots. Pour into pan. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool five minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.