Of Bartering and Buggies

Buggy by an Amish Barn

Buggy by an Amish Barn

One of my favorite things I enjoy about living in Kidron, Ohio is the Amish. My husband has family here but I grew up maybe 20 miles north. 20 miles doesn’t sound like much in distance but as far as culture it is worlds apart. I lived on a farm so the rural lifestyle is not new to me. What was new were the Amish and in particular having Amish neighbors. Contrary to popular belief my experience with my Amish neighbors is they are not standoffish at all. They are quite friendly and quite talkative. We meet in our shared lane or by the mail box often and chat for long stretches of time about all sorts of things. I happen to like horses so we can talk horse talk or talk about gardens, livestock or the weather. We talk about my dogs (who misbehave) and their dogs (who behave). The wife makes soap that she sells to Lehman’s so I help her by printing off soap labels on my computer. She makes a beautiful product but to label it would be difficult as you can imagine without a printer or computer. I am glad to help her with this. Last time I did she wanted to pay me for the soap labels but we decided she could just lend me their billy goat to visit with my doe instead of exchanging any money. How’s that for bartering? Not your usual exchange but it works and now with any luck I’ll have goat’s milk this spring.

I also give my Amish neighbors rides to doctor’s appointments or the bus station for the times they travel to see relatives. One time after a trip to the bus station they offered to pay me gas money but I jokingly told them they could give me a ride in a buggy instead. Time passed and it slipped my mind but one day the daughter knocks on my door to let me know she was there to give me a ride in the buggy. Oh joy!!! I was going to go for a ride in the buggy!! I was very excited to be doing this! She wanted to know where I wanted to go. The only place that came to mind was the ice cream stand several miles down the road. By car it is not even 5 minutes. I, of course had no frame of reference as to how long this trip would be by buggy. We headed for the ice cream stand and the first thing you notice is how the world just looks so different in the buggy. Of course you wave to everyone you go by. My Amish driver pleasantly chatted away the whole time. What a different world viewed from a buggy and what a different perspective ON the world. The rhythmic clip clop of the horse’s hooves and bounce in the buggy kind of lull you into this relaxed state as you watch the world pass by. No wonder the Amish live by ‘Amish time’. You cannot be in a hurry in a buggy.

We got to the ice cream stand after what seemed a long time—I felt in a time warp almost! I had lost all track of time. I offered to buy the girl a cone but when she got back in the buggy she could not eat AND drive the horse so I got to drive the buggy. Oh, this was better than I ever expected! I own and ride horses so I am used to handling them but to drive a horse in a buggy is an altogether different feel and oh, so fun! I got to urge the horse on into a pretty fast clip and then bring him down to a slower walk. It is a much different mindset to think about the need to pace your horse so you think of that as you drive watching them to see when they need a breather.

During the buggy ride toward home the occasional car would pass and you always wave. You can see much better into a car from a buggy than you can from a car into another car. Gives you another glimpse as to how the English must appear to the Amish. My guess would be always in a rush but my Amish companion never uttered any words of frustration at the cars.

I did turn a few heads as cars passed and they saw an ‘English’ woman driving the buggy. In fact I was passed by my neighbor who I watched do a double take and then not long after that, my husband who really did a double take. He stopped to ask if I was going to take my son to baseball practice! Well, I had planned on it but I learned a very important lesson in buggy travel and that is you get where you’re going when you get there! Your horse only can go so fast and there is not a whole lot you can do about it but sit and watch the world go by!

By the way my neighbor got me out of a bind with my son by taking him to baseball practice so he wasn’t late! He did a double take of me in the buggy and knew my son and his son needed to be at baseball practice so he gave my son a ride. Yeah, I got good neighbors and that means a lot!

You can see some of my artwork inspired by the Amish community in Kidron, Ohio visit www.amish-art.com

About Sue Steiner

I am a professional artist living in the Kidron area. With a farming background and my love for animals and anything agricultural it was a natural fit when Lehman's asked me to paint the murals you see at the Kidron store. My biggest project to date was the mural of a life sized team of Amish work horses at the hitching post in the Buggy barn. I have the pleasure of adding to the murals on an ongoing basis as a painting demonstration during store hours on many Fridays. I also have the pleausre of bringing Ohio Arts and Crafts Guild members to the store for a wide variety of demos. You can find the demo schedule on this web site under the Events tab. It is always a pleasure to be in the store meeting new folks. I find Lehman's customers to be the very best, down to earth people! It is also my pleasure to help network with all the talented artists and crafters in the area.

6 thoughts on “Of Bartering and Buggies

  1. I would love to meet some Amish – we have none around here that I am aware of but I have seen them traveling in their buggies when I travel in their area – what a wonderful way to live but I haven’t the courage to go ‘back’ to that life style. I like my modern appliances too well.

  2. I don’t think I could give up my computer or camera but I could do away with the phone and tv! :) What I like to do is just take the mindset of enjoying simple things by uncomplicating my life and live close to God and nature.

  3. What a great story, Sue. Thanks for sharing. One thing to keep in mind is that, for the Amish, simple living IS their way of life and they look at our busy, sometimes stressed and over-gadgeted lives and probaby think, “Well, I couldn’t live like they do.”


  4. Really enjoyed your story, Sue. We have had Amish neighbors for almost 14 years. We moved to our current residence three years ago. Catty-corner to our house, just up the road a short jaunt, is a small “Amish starter house.” We discovered that the house is usually rented by a newly married Amish couple who live there for about a year, until they start having babies and consequently outgrow the house. So far, three Amish couples have moved in and out of that little house since we first moved into ours. What a delight it has been to get to know them, but how sad to say “good-bye. It seems we finally got to know and enjoy David and Susan, Levi and Fanny, and for the life of me I can’t recall the first couple’s name — but each couple has been friendly, kind, and neighborly — and they share bounty from their garden. David and Levi can be funny, yet serious, too. Their outlook on life, shaped so dramatically by their church and life-style, is refreshingly honest and forthright. We love having Amish neighbors — but we’re still waiting on our buggy ride!

  5. what a wonderful story, I wish I had Amish living in my neighborhood, but I dont believe there are any in NH. I love their life style, sense of family and their beliefs and how they stick to them, Society hasnt made them stray.

  6. Thank you simplefarmgirl. The same things you mentioned are what I admire too about the Amish lifestyle. I find my Amish neighbors to be so refreshing. Actually anyone who is down to earth is refreshing IMO. :)