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Last summer on our way home from Washington, D.C., we took a
turn off the beaten path where life is purposely simple-and the
road less traveled is mostly traveled by horse and buggy.
We zipped past the many hotels on the bright interstate and
fumbled our way down country roads slowly winding our way into
Fredricksburg, Ohio, home to the world's largest Amish
Of course, we got lost. But after flagging down the first horse
and buggy we heard, we quickly were put on the right path to Willis
and Kathy Miller, an Amish couple who open their farm to guests
throughout the year.
They call it Farmstead Lodging, a simple but separate room off
the side of their farmhouse, where guests find two double beds, a
bath and a tiny kitchen. Nothing fancy about it.
But that's exactly why we came.
The kids couldn't wait. It was going to be the highlight of our
seven-day road trip. For most of our ride into Ohio, we talked
about what it meant to be Amish. I answered their questions with
what I could find on Wikipedia. The black and white of it? The
Amish are a very tight, old, religious group. They believe in
simple living, simple foods and simple dress. They shun modern
convenience like electricity and driving cars.
Armed with our Internet knowledge, we were ready to actually
witness this life we couldn't imagine leading.
That night, we quickly settled in by the glow of gaslights. We
were scheduled for early morning cow milking.
The Miller family raises dairy cows-their days center around
milking cows every 12 hours, every day. The milk they collect
eventually is used to make sour cream for Chipotle restaurants.
After our early morning milking, we enjoyed a simple breakfast
of bread and homemade peanut butter spread. Then the kids hopped on
a pony cart and went for a ride with the Millers' son. Willis let
us follow him as he tended to his morning chores, introducing us to
Storm and Blaze, two work horses that have been plowing their farm
fields for years.
Kathy showed us other things, like the barn they use for church
services (each family taking turns hosting) and weddings. She
showed us how she makes all the family's clothes.
Kathy also gave us some of her homemade buttermilk cookies,
which we ate under a tree while horse and buggies clip-clopped
their way toward town. Town, we learned, was Mt. Hope, a bustling
center and the place to be on a Saturday.
We stopped quickly at the fabric store there; no Gap or
Abercrombie store in this town. The kids marveled at the fact that
practically everyone here makes their own clothes. Next we caught
an Amish-style lunch at Yoder's Restaurant. Then, we walked to the
animal swap meet where you literally can buy a pig for a couple
ducks. The kids liked seeing all the animals there-rabbits, sheep,
pigs, dogs, even llamas.
We bought a baby rabbit, with money-we had no pigs to barter. My
girls named her Hope after our Mt. Hope adventure. They swore their
dad would kill me for letting them buy a "live" souvenir, but I
told them it could be worse. I could have bought them a llama. Not
sure what the ordinance is for llamas in the Chicago suburbs.
We rounded out the day with a tour of an Amish one-room
schoolhouse, a quick buggy ride and watching baby ducklings by a
brook while chatting with two old gents. They talked about Amish
life and the comfort of living with their sons, daughter-in-laws
and grandchildren all around the same dinner table night after
night, year after year, lifetime after lifetime.
Such a beautiful takeaway for us as we hit a road very much
traveled toward our bustling, chaotic life of modern
See more of Donna's stories here.
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