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!

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!

On the Road Again with Buffscape Amish Tours

Bluffscape Amish Tours are once again driving down country roads to bring you to Amish farms filled with Amish-made crafts, furniture, quilts, and, of course, sweet, buttery cashew crunch!  Winter wants to hang on here in Minnesota in mid-April, but we will gladly take you out to learn all about the Amish culture to get your mind off the rain and snow that seem to plague us this Spring.  You may want to wear shoes that can get a little mud on them, as we do get out at each farm to enter the Amish retail shops.

One change in our tour this year is the absence of  our non-Amish stop at Austin’s Mohair Goat Farm.  Sadly, Ada, passed away last November.  Ada was an inspiration for many as she always had a smile and greeted everyone like they had been friends for years.  I believe you can still order her famous Mohair socks from her daughters.

Keep warm thoughts and maybe Spring will finally arrive to brighten our days!

2011 Amish Tour Season Approaches

The off-season is coming to a close and I will be starting my fourth Amish Tour season with Bluffscape Amish Tours. One would think that Minnesota winters drag on, but my winter has quickly disappeared. Now I’m looking forward to getting the van and bus ready to drive our guests around the Amish countryside again. It’s time to refresh my memory and get out to visit our Amish friends.

Tours officially start Saturday, March 12th at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Unless mother nature decides to dump a lot of snow or ice over the weekend, we will be ready to go. We continue only on Saturdays in March and we will offer tours Mon. – Sat. starting in April running through the end of October.
Occasionally, I will go out on a special Amish tour in the off-season. I had the privilege of taking a young lady on a tour this winter. She had a school assignment to complete on the Amish culture. As a former teacher, I wanted to help this sophomore with her report. It also got me out to see how the Amish folks were doing. What impressed me most is that this student traveled about three hours to get to Lanesboro! She earned an A+ for her research project!
Many folks spend days, week, or months visiting the Mayo Clinic for various medical reasons. Days can get long waiting for lab work, consults, and other appointments. A couple from Rhode Island needed to get out of town for a change after spending two weeks at the clinic, so on their day off I picked them up in Rochester and brought them out to visit the Amish. What a fun couple and I think they were happy to have a diversion for the day!
The Amish farmers market will be opening the end of April, therefore, those coming along on the tour before then will not be able stop and get gooey glazed donuts, the world’s best banana bars, or sugar cookies that melt in your mouth–you will have to come back later to check that out!