What Surprised Me?
Home from my recent trip to glorious Lancaster County, I thought about the question author Suzanne Woods Fisher had put before me on her radio program Amish Wisdom. She’d ask what surprises I’d encountered while studying and writing about the Amish.
“Nothing, really,” I’d said. I’d visited before and done extensive research. Not that I thought I knew it all!
In truth, this last trip I did encounter a number of surprises. For instance the multitude of buggies that were on the road right after the church services let out on Sunday, what should have been a no-brainer.
One surprise was the willingness of a formally Amish man to transparently share his life growing up Amish. It pays to sit at the counter at restaurants!
Another surprise was the Amish using solar panels to charge batteries. Why hadn’t I noticed the panels before? An Amish farmer pointed them out to me. He told me that I should Get Started with using solar panels and after learning a bit about them, they sound great. He told me that they rely on the solar panels for all energy usage in their home and they work perfectly. Plus, they’re great for the environment! Renewable energy is amazing!
Having read, Why Cows Learn Dutch, by Randy James, I knew alfalfa is a difficult and complicated crop to cultivate. I was surprised to learn from a Lancaster County farmer that they plant alfalfa five times a year. I’d wondered, in the past, why the emerald green staple always seemed to be flourishing, except in winter. Call me weird, but those facts fascinate me. The farmer told me that he was looking at cattle feeders for sale because during winter, they couldn’t rely on the crops for food. The farm I visited had lots of animals (including cows) and it was nice to learn more about them.
I was also taken aback when an Amish friend candidly shared that his adult child suffers from Lyme disease and is very ill. Having lived near Lyme, Connecticut, I am well aware of the infectious disease, spread by ticks; they’re tiny in CT. In the past, I’d looked on Google and investigated Lyme disease in Pennsylvania, so I knew it was a real problem, but it seems to never be mentioned. I’d marveled that Amish kids run around barefoot and had even asked Amish farmers about it. I’d assumed their immune systems are more resilient than ours. According to my research, Amish also rarely have allergies, asthma, or autism; I learned about their low occurrence of autism in “Family Life Magazine.”
A very lovely surprise was to see Leaving Lancaster for sale at so many locations in Lancaster County!