Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Visit to Amish Country

by Karen Rose Smith

My latest cozy mystery series, Daisy's Tea Garden, is set in Lancaster County's Amish country.  I started book 4 in the series last week and I needed to soak in the atmosphere of this pastoral farm country to add sparkle and freshness to the novel.  At first my husband and I just drove around the back roads circling Smoketown and Bird In Hand.

As a reminder of how hard Amish farmers work, we spotted this farmer preparing his fields.  He was using six mules.  Imagine handling the mules, let alone tilling the fields.  Also consider how much longer this takes to prepare the land this way rather than the "English" way.

We drove along with and behind a few buggies.  I have to think the Amish take their life in their hands every time they venture onto roads with SUV's practically larger than the buggies! Most of them are outfitted with the hazard sign and reflectors.  At some lengths of road, there is a separate lane for the horses and buggies.  In the photo at the start of the blog, the buggy is open.  From my research I learned this is a "courting" buggy. 

When I was a teenager, my uncle bought an Amish buggy.  Back then, roads around York County led through farms.  I don't know if he was experimenting or just wanted to experience how a buggy resembled the surrey of old.  With the buggy, he purchased a Standardbred horse.  These horses--his was named Jo Jo--are trotters who are trained to pull a buggy.  They are amazing as they trot along, ignoring traffic, just doing their work--pulling their master and his family.

There is a spot where we like to stop in Intercourse, a small town in the heart of Amish country. Kettle Village is made up of craft and homemade food stands.  These Amish dolls caught my attention.  They are made from a wooden ball and clothespins. 

Amish furniture is handcrafted and beautifully made. This pale blue island drew me to it.  My dad did woodwork as a hobby so I've always been interested in it.  In my series, Daisy is dating a former detective who now owns a furniture store--WOODS--in Willow Creek, right down the street from Daisy's Tea Garden.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of Lancaster County's Amish country.  This drive always takes me back to a simpler time when life wasn't so frantic and hurried. If you're ever in Pennsylvania, stopping in this area is definitely worth your time.

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