Sap’s Running in Amish Country!

Hello, friends. Dave here. We’re busy collecting and boiling maple sap these days. Have eighteen gallons of syrup finished, and a pretty good “run” today. Looks like the next few days may be decent. Went for a short drive today to see if my Amish neighbors are collecting sap too, and they are. We’ll post some pictures here with some explanations. Continue reading

Have you heard of The Mennonite Game?

The author's Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

The author’s Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

“You’re Amish!”

I glanced back to see where the words came from. The kid was staring straight at me.
“No, I’m not,” I replied.

I had just taken my seat on the bus the first day of attending a new school. Twelve years old, and going into the seventh grade, this was a day I had been dreading. It was not easy to be around new people. Now this.

The kid who spoke appeared to be a couple years older than me, and kept staring accusingly. He wasn’t backing down.
Continue reading

Wilderness Reflections

mountain sunriseSometimes I have to go to the wilderness to experience real life, to get away from all things man-made.  It is a place where I will likely become a meal for mosquitoes—where the unexpected is to be expected—a place where there are wolves and bears.  And once there, I will tackle activities that I don’t always feel completely prepared for.  The wilderness answers some of the questions that we have about ourselves.

Can we cope without watches, telephones, running water, and electricity?  Do we have the emotional and physical strength to handle severe weather conditions, or long tedious portages, while our bodies are loaded down with heavy packs and canoes?  The answers are out there. Continue reading

Very Cool Customers … and Their Stories

karen g at may daze

Organic Gardener Karen Geiser enthralls a crowd at Lehman’s May Daze Celebration this past spring.

Organic gardener, author, blog contributor, and mother of five, Karen Geiser, is no stranger to country living. She shares her expert advice with customers just as if they have pulled up a chair on her front porch. . . and all the while shelling peas, pitting cherries, or churning butter (depending on what is in season on her farm). 

We always enjoy hearing about fascinating customer connections that happen in our store. And Karen certainly has the pleasure of interacting with many visitors and hearing their stories!

Here are some recent tidbits she reports:

  • Last week I met folks from Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil (Must have been Latin America day).
  • A fellow from Pennsylvania visits frequently and always tells me about his garlic (which he got from me) that has won several blue ribbons at the county
    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family's Jersey cow.

    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family’s Jersey cow

    fair.

  • This week there were many good conversations over edible weeds – around the table were an herbalist from New Mexico and a family from West Virginia who really knew their plants.
  • An interesting couple from Virginia who has lived off grid for many years visited the store to finally buy the luxury of a gas refrigerator – mainly to have ice. It’s hard to believe they could live without a fridge for so long, and they described how they can their butter.
  • This week a lady said she was there from Robinson, IL because she heard me speak at the Master Gardener conference over a year ago. She had no idea she would run into me, and we had a good laugh together as she told me about the things she grew because I recommended them (like mouse melons). I helped her figure out other places to hit for her first adventure in Amish country. She said some of her girlfriends have visited Lehman’s after the conference, too. 

Stop by Lehman’s on Thursdays, from April through early November to visit Karen and learn from her wealth of hands-on knowledge. 

Kidron: Our Home, Our Heritage

KidronSignNewKidron.  I first heard the word when one of Dad’s cousins, Mark Ross, was visiting our family at Elida, Ohio.  I was a boy, and we were living on a farm, the only residence on the very short Neff Road.  Mark was making his rounds visiting friends and selling his own special mix of cereal made from multiple grains and seeds.  He ground it himself, and marketed it as Morning Cheer.  It was delicious —especially on cold winter mornings — with honey and fresh whole milk from Pogey, our Jersey cow.

Mark lived in the village of Kidron, in Wayne County, Ohio.  It was just another fairly obscure little town out there somewhere in the middle of farmland.   He told us about the Amish, and described how they dress, and how they used horses and buggies for transportation.  He explained how they were a plain people, living simple lives.   I liked that.  Living like my Grandparents had lived.  I wished we had a horse and buggy.

Kidron's farm machinery sales, held on the Kidron Auction grounds, bring large numbers of Amish and non-Amish visitors to the village.

Kidron’s farm machinery sales, held on the Kidron Auction grounds, bring large numbers of Amish and non-Amish visitors to the village.

But visiting Kidron?  Probably not.  It was too far away.  This was long before Lehman’s became a tourist destination, and there would likely never be a reason to go there.  I remember when one of my older brothers made the trip to Wayne County to spend some time with Mark’s son Lynn.  He told how they had hitched a ride on an Amish wagon.  I couldn’t imagine how exciting that must have been.

Little did I know what the future held.  By the time I was twelve, my Dad was called into the ministry at the Salem Mennonite church near Wooster.  This put us in Amish country!  I would see Kidron after all!  It was exciting to see buggies going by, and we were no different than tourists—grabbing our camera for a picture of a real Amish man with his horse and buggy.

Driving behind slow-moving horse-drawn vehicles is a common occurrence in Kidron. Take it slow and enjoy the scenery!

Driving behind slow-moving horse-drawn vehicles is a common occurrence in Kidron. Take it slow and enjoy the scenery!

As it turned out later, I attended high school in Kidron, and there I met the love of my life, a Swiss farm girl who lived at the south end of Kidron.  In one of our early conversations, she wondered if I was related to Mark Ross.  “Yes,” I said, “I am.”   I mentioned that Mark used to come to Elida selling his specialty cereal — Morning Cheer.   A surprised smile appeared on her face, and she told me that Mark ground the grains for Morning Cheer in the shop on her farm.   Amazing!  We were connected a long time ago by a man and his cereal.

For quite a few years, a sign at either end of our town proclaimed, “Entering Kidron, an Energetic Swiss Community.”   The signs have been gone for a long time now, but the statement is still true.  This is a community built from hard working Swiss immigrants who first settled here nearly two-hundred years ago.

A lot of the older Swiss people still speak the language.  It’s a dialect of German, and some of the words have a distinctive sound that reminds me of someone trying to dislodge a popcorn hull from the back of their throat. It’s amazing that the language has hung around so long.

Today the signs at the outskirts of our village say, “Welcome to Kidron, established in 1819.”   Hard working families invest in the community in many ways.  Kidron Community Council is made up of volunteers who look after the welfare of the community and initiate community events.  Kidron Volunteer Fire Department is second to none—staffed by men and women who love our community, and who want to give back.  Occasionally during a Sunday morning services, the beepers will go off, and at least four of our men will rapidly walk rapidly from the building and hurry to the fire house.  Our local schools are top-notch, and our churches are attended by the families who own the village businesses and provide employment for many local people.  This is community at its best.  It takes mutual respect, hard work, and a desire to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This is  Kidron, the energetic small town nestled in the middle of rolling hills and picturesque Mennonite and Amish farms.  It’s home, and there’s no other place I’d rather live.  Come see us sometime.

Happy Earth Day: 40,000 Trees (Give or Take)

jay and galen with trees

Jay and Galen Lehman stand with a tree on Jay’s property outside Kidron, Ohio. Nearly all the trees in the photo were planted by Jay.

Today is Earth Day. And yesterday, our founder, Jay Lehman turned 86 years young. It’s fitting that Jay’s birthday neighbors a holiday dedicated to caring for the earth. Because Jay has spent decades – literally – planting thousands of trees – literally – around our store in Kidron, Ohio,  our office and warehouse building, and his home. It’s a “hobby” he’s passed on to son Galen (Lehman’s President) and grandson Matthew as well. And what a legacy it is – read on…

Fun Facts about Jay, Galen and TREES:

As of Spring 2014 (last year) Jay and Galen estimated they had planted about 50,000 trees.

They plant nearly all hardwoods – a mix of walnut, oak, cherry and sugar maple. This should allow a sustainable harvest of quality hardwood over the next 100 years.

jay with tractor of trees

Those are baby hardwoods in the back of Jay’s tractor. Jay planted them around our office and warehouse building in 2008.

Galen says: “200 years ago, when the first settlers arrived here, the land was covered with hardwood trees. It is said that you could walk from one side of Ohio to the other without seeing the sky. … I suppose Dad and I are just trying to put things back the way we found them. Most of the trees back then were chestnuts. Some of the beams in the oldest parts of our store, reconstructed from barns and cabins dating to the early 1800’s, are made of chestnut. A few lonely chestnut trees still stand near our our Kidron store. Somehow, they survived the blight that nearly wiped out the American Chestnut back in the 1950’s.”

Read more about Jay, Galen and planting trees here:

https://www.lehmans.com/blog/if-at-first-you-dont-succeed/

https://www.lehmans.com/blog/the-trees/

Happy Earth Day!

Want to visit Lehman’s in Kidron? Ignore your GPS!

These nice folks came all the way from West Virginia! Their GPS sent them to our offices. Silly GPS!

These nice folks came all the way from West Virginia! Their GPS sent them to our offices. Silly GPS!

It’s a long story…but let’s just say that Kidron’s not Brigadoon, even if your GPS insists there’s a different location.

You see, our warehouse and business offices are just a couple of miles away from our Kidron store. Both are located off Ohio State Route 30, and both locations are on streets that have names beginning with the letter “K.”

Sometimes, GPS units get confused, and want to send visitors to the office. We find the offices very exciting, but you are probably looking for a more enjoyable place to spend the day.

Here’s a primer on how to get to Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. Pair this with these mapping directions, and you’ll be fine. Continue reading