Close Encounters of the Amish Kind

My daughter and her family live at the corner of a country crossroads. A straight paved road intersects with a straight gravel road. Down each leg of the gravel road are Amish farms. Soon after arriving I saw a horse drawn Amish buggy pass through the crossroads.

I'm beginning to get used to the rattle and shake that I hear just before a buggy or a wagon comes by the house. Katie says there is more buggy traffic on the road past the house then there is car traffic. I believe it.

My first reaction when I hear the clip-clop of hooves is to grab my camera. It is tricky to get a photo. First of all, the outfits are always going by at a fast clip. The horses are usually at a brisk trot and will only walk through a turn at the intersection. Secondly, the Amish don't want their photos taken so I try to snap something when they are not looking toward the camera.

Recently I grabbed the camera when I heard a buggy coming and went out on the porch to stealthily take a photo as they passed only to be taken by surprise when the buggy pulled into Katie's driveway!

They were coming to use the telephone.

Katie and Nathan have good relations with a number of their Amish neighbors and the Amish often come to use the phone, the freezer, tools, etc. They barter and trade goods and services with them also.

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and saw this pony and cart-

Daniel had come to use the telephone. Katie told me that he is nineteen years old and loves to talk on the phone. She says that he wasn't meant to be Amish. He surely would have a cell phone glued to his ear if he wasn't. She thinks that he has phone dates with a distant girlfriend.
He brought a small raw chicken to pay for the use of the phone today.

Tonight my grandson, Jonah, and I took a walk down the country road. On the way we met one of the Amish neighbors. The man, Samuel, was heading to Katie's to find out if he had any phone messages. We had a friendly chat. He asked many questions about Oregon and I greatly enjoyed our interaction.

Down the road we came across his father's sprawling farmstead. There were many out buildings, a large farmhouse and an even larger barn.

Though the sun was beginning to set, there was still work being done. A young man and girl were using a single bottom plow behind a horse to turn the soil along the edge of the property. Other young people were doing more outside chores. The man with the long white beard was the father of the clan.

As we passed the farm I noticed the father, Mr. Frye, began watching me and even tracking me as I walked on the road with my grandson. Eventually I waved and introduced myself and we had a nice talk. While we chatted, three big pigs escaped from the barn and started to tear around the yard by the house. The white bearded Mr. Frye began calling for the dogs. Two terriers came speeding from behind the house and nipped at the heels of the pigs until they finally ran back into the barn. At the same time the boy with the plow was heading toward us as well as the girl with the horse. They were crossing the road to finish their work by plowing along the edge of the field on the other side.

Believe me...I was dying to whip out my camera and take photos of all these charming farm activities.

I just can't help myself wanting to photograph these quaint scenes that are so rarely observed by anyone outside of these communities. The Amish lead lives of hard and never ending labor. I'm fascinated by them. I know that despite their outward appearances they have the same problems as everyone else in the world. But they are friendly, hard-working people and Katie tells me they are the best neighbors anyone would ever want to have.

Even if they won't get their own telephones.