Summer in Minnesota Amish Country

Amish Produce
Amish Garden Produce

Summer is a very busy time for the Amish people.  The Amish women and children tend to their large gardens, keeping them free from weeds and picking ripe fruit and vegetables.  Many of the Amish farms we stop at tend to have small garden plots near their home with  larger gardens elsewhere on the farm.  After nine years of giving these tours, I’m still amazed at the size of their produce – imagine onions the size of  softballs!

A hard frost damaged some of the strawberry plants this spring, so strawberries have  not been as plentiful for the Amish as they had wanted.  It looks like many of the raspberries are ready and are quite abundant.  Most Amish women are canning raspberry jams, jellies, and pie filling this time of year.  One of my favorite berries they often sell  are wild black caps (black raspberries).  The Amish folks venture out into their woods to pick the sweet, wild black raspberries. Their arms often bear lots of scratches from the brambles, showing their hard work in finding the berries.  One of my favorite desserts is vanilla ice cream topped with fresh, Amish-picked, black caps!

While the Amish women and children are busy tending gardens and canning produce, the Amish men and boys (and sometimes the women) are busy cultivating corn, mowing, raking, and loading hay from their fields.  All of this field work is done with a team of work horses.  They do not use tractors in their field like their English (non-Amish) neighbors.  It is tough work loading cut, loose hay onto the hay wagon only to  then unload it into the upper level of the barn in the hay mow.  Hot weather is needed to dry the hay before it can be brought out of the field and placed in the barn.

Amish Field of Shocked Oats
Shocked Oats

While on the tour, I spied a couple of Amish men shocking oats in their field.  The oats are cut with a binder pulled by a horse and bundles of oats are dropped on the ground.  The Amish men and boys walk the field, stacking the oats into shocks to dry.  Once again, much walking and hard work is done in the field.  When the oats are dry, the Amish farmers will collect the oat shocks by tossing them onto a horse-drawn wagon and bringing them to the farm to harvest.  The Amish farmers use a large engine-and-belt-driven threshing machine to separate the grain.  Often they set the thresher in the barn and  toss the oat bundles into the thresher.  The threshed grain is unloaded into one bin while the straw is blown out in another bin to keep for livestock bedding.

Don’t just take my word for it, though!  Join us on our Bluffscape Amish Tours and be transported to another time as you watch the Amish farmers labor in their fields. See  how the strong, beautiful horses pulling field equipment behind them are the ultimate Amish hybrid vehicle.  Witness Amish women work tirelessly to produce and preserve food to feed their families, run a household, and craft beautiful quilts, baskets, and other goods for sale. The scene may  spark a memory for many of the guests as they, too, worked in a similar fashion on the farm once, or recall parents and grandparents sharing stories of the days before tractors.  So take a step back in time with me and book your ticket today!

Rhubarb in Lanesboro, Minnesota

Today is all things rhubarb in Lanesboro, Minnesota.  Laneboro is designated as the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota and we are very proud of it!  Each year on the first Saturday in June is the annual Rhubarb Fest starting off with a Rhubarb 5k Run, then heading to Sylvan Park for rhubarb tasting, rhubarb games, and for entertainment listening to the Rhubarb Sisters sing.  The Bethlehem LYO kids sell Rhudogs – hotdogs with rhubarb ketchup/relish.  The Bethlehem WELCA as well as other churches sell baked goods with rhubarb as the main ingredient.  Bethlehem Church also offers hot sandwiches with a rhubarb mustard.  Of course, there will be plenty of rhubarb pie to eat!!

Many people attend the Rhubarb Fest in the morning and ride along on Bluffscape Amish Tours in the afternoon.  A large group from central Minnesota is bringing two coach buses down for the Rhubarb Fest and then we are offering a step-on guide to take them on an afternoon tour with Bluffscape. Since I am guiding tours today, I will have to miss the fest, but my daughters will fill me in on all the rhubarb splendor.

Below is a favorite rhubarb dessert recipe that is very easy to make.  I shared it with an Amish friend last week and she loved it and plans to make more. Yesterday I made the dessert with lemon cake mix and it was very good.  Enjoy!

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

1 box white or lemon cake mix
3-4 cups of diced rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 pint cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake mix according to box directions.  Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 pan.  In another bowl mix the rhubarb and sugar.  Sprinkle rhubarb on top of cake batter. Evenly pour cream on top of the rhubarb. Bake in oven for 60 minutes, test with toothpick when done.

Serve while still warm or chilled.

Amish Religious Holiday – Ascension Day

This Thursday, May 14, the Amish observe a religious holiday, Ascension Day.  Ascension Day is recognized 40 days after Easter and is the day that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven.  It marks the end of the Easter season.  Amish always take this day off from work, therefore, they do not do business on Ascension Day and no tours will be given.  Everyone will be back to work on Friday, including Bluffscape Amish Tours.

One of the many Amish-made crafts you will find on a Bluffscape Amish Tour are the colorful rugs pictured above.  They are made of a knit/polyester material and come in a variety of colors and designs.  The Amish ladies sew the rugs using a treadle sewing machine. One of my favorite rugs I have seen in their shops is in the design of a sunflower.  The rugs look almost too pretty to step on!

Pecan Tassie Bars Mady by SE Minnesota Amish

How many of you enjoy a delicious piece of pecan pie? If you like pecan pie, then you will enjoy this recipe I received from an Amish friend. The original recipe for Pecan Tassies creates small individual bite-sized treats. But, the Amish ladies turned this mini treat into yummy, easy-to-make bars. This recipe isn’t as sweet as a typical pecan pie recipe, but just as tasty!

Pecan Tassie Bars

Crust:
1 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 Cup butter (softened)
2 Cups flour

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually add flour to butter mixture. Cover and chill for one hour. Press dough into bar pan (11×15) bottom and up sides.

Filling:
1 1/2 Cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
2 Tsp. vanilla
1/8 Tsp. salt
1 Cup finely chopped pecans
1 Cup finely chopped walnuts

Stir ingredients together–mixture will be dry. Spoon into crust and spread. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until set.  Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk and you are ready for a snack.

*The recipe didn’t come with many details, so you may want to keep an eye on the oven as it is baking.

Amish ladies are wonderful cooks and when they serve their bars you better be hungry! Most bars that I have been served when I visit them are at least 2 x 2 inches in size!

Plan a Bluffscape Amish Tour in Lanesboro, Minnesota

Now is the perfect time to plan a trip to beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota.  Be sure to include a tour with us at Bluffscape Amish Tours.  Your tour will depart from Stone Mill Hotel & Suites in Lanesboro to travel the rolling Amish countryside. The Amish are busy working the soil in preparation of their spring planting.  It is always a treat to see the horses pulling a one-bottom plow.  A gentleman on my tour yesterday said it reminded him of his youth as he had to do similar work in their fields years ago.  At the Amish farms we will get the chance to peruse the Amish shops for handmade reed baskets, leather belts, locally made scatter rugs, hand stitched quilts, and much more.  My favorite treat is Emma’s dark chocolate covered cashew crunch–sweet and buttery!  Your guide explains all about the Amish culture and will answer any questions you may have during the tour.

As you can see by the above photo, trout fishing by the Lanesboro dam is a favorite for many folks.  This is a view of the Root River from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lanesboro. If the people you are traveling with like to fish and some would rather find something else to do, an Amish tour would be a great way to spend your morning or afternoon!

A Beautiful Ride with Bluffscape Amish Tours in the Fall

After a very busy summer and fall, Bluffscape Amish Tours in Lanesboro is nearing the end of our tour season.  We continue tours daily until November 2 and will tour Saturdays, November 9, 16, and 23. Come to Stone Mill Hotel & Suites in Lanesboro to depart on a tour at 10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.  Plan to ride along on a tour to learn about Amish living as well as shop for Amish made goods.  As of this writing there are only 61 shopping days until Christmas!  Do you have your wish list started?  Amish crafts make wonderful gifts not only for Christmas, but gifts for any occasion.

If you are not into shopping, you will learn plenty about Amish schools, church, weddings, funerals, and meet some of the Amish families at their farms. View the beautiful countryside as we drive to their farms in Fillmore County located in Southeast Minnesota.  You will love the hillsides covered in fall colors against the bright blue sky.  The golden corn fields next to the dark green alfalfa fields make a large patchwork quilt on the farming landscape.  Amish shocks of corn dot the fields in rows waiting to be harvested.  Listen for the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the crunching of buggy wheels on the gravel road as we make our way to the Amish farms and shops.
corn shocks henry
Photos by Chris Komor

Find Amish Garden Produce on Bluffscape Amish Tours

Summer vacations are winding down and school is back in session, but Bluffscape Amish Tours in Lanesboro is still offering fun, educational Amish tours.  Take a look at the photo above.  Can you imagine yourself sitting on a porch this fall in an Amish-made hickory chair?  While out on our tour you will have a chance to sit in one of these chairs to feel how comfortable they really are to relax in.

Currently, the Amish women are busy picking produce out of their gardens and processing canned goods for use in their meals this winter.  There is rarely an idle moment in an Amish woman’s kitchen.  Some of the Amish farms will have fresh produce for sale as well.  I have been picking up zucchini and onions to saute in butter or roast on the grill.  I’m also planning to make a chocolate zucchini cake!  The tomato plants are starting to produce red, juicy tomatoes and cucumbers seem to be plenty.  Refrigerator pickles may be fun and tasty to make, too.
Hopefully, you can make plans to ride along on a Bluffscape Amish Tour and pick up a few vegetables to use in your favorite recipes this fall.  Stop by Stone Mill Hotel & Suites in Lanesboro or call 507-467-3070 to reserve your tickets for an Amish tour in SE Minnesota.

Tour Guest Reviews Excellent Bluffscape Amish Tour

Summer fun is in full swing here in beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota.  Our Amish tour guests have written reviews about their experience this summer on a Bluffscape Amish Tour.  Here is one recent review:

“Excellent tour with a very knowledgeable guide (Verne)”

I really learned a lot. My knowledge of the Amish was misguided at best; for 3 hours we were constantly educated by our guide and I have a much better appreciation of the lives and culture of this group. I can’t say I would want to live in that manner, but it’s really interesting to learn about and to see ‘up close and personal’. And of course, Verne added a whole lot to the experience.

Visited July 2013

I was very happy to see Vern mentioned in this review, as he is one of the best Amish tour guides you can have on your tour.  Vern spends his personal time learning as much as he can about the Amish of SE Minnesota, therefore, he can answer many of the questions you may have about the Amish culture.  

Please read more reviews about Bluffscape Amish Tours on TripAdvisor!

Call 507-467-3070 to reserve your seat on a Bluffscape Amish Tour – the best tour in Lanesboro located at Stone Mill Hotel & Suites!

Whoa! Ride Along with Bluffscape Amish Tours in Lanesboro, MN

Whoa your horses!  Stop in at Stone Mill Hotel & Suites in Lanesboro, MN to reserve your Bluffscape Amish Tour to learn about the Amish of SE Minnesota!  It’s like stepping back in time when you see the silhouette of a horse and buggy in the distance while on our Amish tours.  If Amish buggies are parked in the farm yard, you will have the chance to see the buggies up close.  Many Amish farmers will have their horse-drawn field equipment set out to view as well.  Guests on our tours have commented that it brings back many memories from their childhood or have heard stories from their parents or grandparents when they used to work with horses in the field while growing up on the farm.  Work is more intensive on the Amish farm as it used to be in our family’s past, but it is very rewarding and humbling.

Whoa!!  Pull on in and ride along with Bluffscape Amish Tours in Lanesboro, MN!  You will be glad you did.

Bluffscape Amish Tours in Lanesboro, MN

If you are making plans to venture to Lanesboro, Minnesota for a family vacation, a quiet get-away for two, or a day trip with your friends, be sure to include a Bluffscape Amish Tour in your itinerary.  Your Bluffscape guide will take you on a fun, educational tour of our Amish neighbors.  This June you may see the Amish plowing and dragging their fields with their horse-drawn equipment and planting their crops as we are experiencing a late spring with many rain showers, therefore, a later than usual planting is taking place.

With all of this rain we have been having, the grass grows fast and that means lawns need mowing.  A lawn mower some of the Amish use is pictured above.  They hitch up their horse and ride along on their “one-horse mower”!  Otherwise, many Amish use the manual push lawn mower on their yards to cut the grass.
Take a break from your lawn mowing and head to Lanesboro to ride along with Bluffscape Amish Tours located at Stone Mill Hotel & Suites and enjoy munching on sweet, buttery cashew crunch, too.  Now, I better check on my lawn . . .