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!

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

Fall Amish Tours

Fall is a prime time to ride along on a Bluffscape Amish tour.  The leaves are just starting to change color.  I recently heard on the news that the fall foliage will be the most vibrant we have seen in years.  I can’t wait!  Fall is my favorite season, but sometimes I wish summer could follow fall instead of winter.  Wouldn’t that be great?

The Amish have autumn produce such as onions, squash, and pumpkins for sale.   The Amish will be husking corn once the corn dries down in the field.  Much activity happens on the farm in preparation for winter.

No Pictures Please

Winter seems to be hanging on a bit longer this year than last year. Before the rain/snow this past week, a few Amish were able to get their team of horses and farm equipment ready for spring field work. While driving along on our tours, we were fortunate to see a few Amish cultivating the soil and planting oats. Spring is a wonderful time to see the Amish farmers working in their fields and the women and children planting their gardens. Many Amish had already planted cabbage, radishes, and lettuce and covered the ground with garden fabric to keep ground warm so the plants can start to grow in the cool weather.

When you come along on our Amish tours, please refrain from taking pictures of the Amish. The Amish do not want their picture taken. The Bible verse from Deuteronomy 5:8 states: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” The Amish find the camera offensive, so please refrain from taking photos of them out of respect. This is one reason why I don’t post many photos about the Amish on my blog. If appropriate, I will share photos from our tours of craft goods, animals, and buildings, as I know how much people like looking at photographs.

Please consider coming along on a Bluffscape Amish Tour this spring! There is much activity to see on the Amish farms regardless of rain or snow (but I prefer sunshine). Let us do the driving and we will tell you all about the history and culture of our Amish neighbors in the Lanesboro, Canton, and Harmony area.