We have had a great weekend over here At The Lemontree House.
One of the highlight of this weekend was our trip about fifty minutes South of where we live, down in St Mary's county, Maryland. There is a somewhat sizable Amish community cohabiting with the population in the small towns in that area.
We usually go down there every couple of months of so, since we now buy all of our poultry, beef, pork, honey, some of our eggs, milk and a few other things directly from the Amish farming families.
We decided however, that would start making the road trip more often because:
- It's so beautiful down there, it's free therapy!
- We both love driving through the country, it's so relaxing and we get to spend quality time "stuck in the car" chatting, laughing and dreaming about the future
- Just what I said: we have some a somewhat unrealistic dream of selling everything and moving to the country, raising our chickens, growing our own food and homeschooling our children (it's a rather popular dreams these days!
- We wanted to start consuming real cow milk: our strategy is to buy a few gallons at a time to freeze and thaw as we drink it. We also wanted to buy eggs solely from there
- We just like everything rural, country and the more we go there, the more we can observe and make notes for the future.
It is truly an enchanting area, at least for the part of the me that dreams of a nice little country farmhouse with a chicken coup and a few goats nestled in rolling hills.
The best yet somewhat strange part of it though, is really how close the Amish families live to their neighbors. As soon as you turn off the main road (a state route with lights, a Burger King, and a shopping center with all the regular society's amenities), you share the road with buggies and young Amish boys. There are even "regular" houses sandwiched (for lack of a better term) in between Amish families' homesteads.
I was telling my husband how I think that these people just have the best life; being able to enjoy a quiet, simple lifestyle, while sharing the same land with people who have kept some of oldest homesteading traditions.
Also just being able to have daily access to real fresh milk (straight from the cows) and related products such as cream and butter, real eggs, real honey, freshly picked produce and best of all real poultry, beef, pork, and goat meat is such a privilege in today's modern society of processed everything, from fake tomatoes to cloned onions, meat from tortured chicken, neglected pigs and GMO corn fed cows.
Did I mention fresh unpolluted air, and an environment free from noise pollution: honking, police sirens, auto engine noises, loud music in cars etc (I can see and hear the busy road right from my living room window).
Sorry for the rant... Back to Amish country!
Our first stop was the Herzler's Farm where we usually buy our chicken, eggs, milk, honey and occasionally cream and cheese. It's usually busy on Saturdays as many more families like us come to buy better produce for their families.
The girls of the families are usually very busy cleaning the chicken while the younger boys (as young as what I guess to be 5-6 year-olds) pick the chicken to be sold from the coup, hold them sometimes 2 or 3 chickens in one hand at a time and proceed to, em, getting them ready for cleaning (the boys are sooo brave!) and they do all that often bare feet.
However, it was all quiet when went there and this time we were the only ones there, which we really enjoyed. We pulled up into the property following the graveled driveway from the road, parked, got out of the car and patiently stood there for a little bit, knowing that our arrival had been noticed; we didn't have to wait for too long.
The two girls who usually so happily serve us did just that and 30 minutes later we were leaving with our 5 chickens, 2 -24 oz mason jars of honey, 7 dozens eggs and 3 gallons of milk.
While waiting, I was able to express the artsy side of me and took these beautiful pictures of my son, Nathan,
and both my husband and my son together,
The structure behind them is the place where the family keeps their hay. Just behind it, there is another large chicken coup and then the field where they grow tobacco for a good part of the year. They also have goats and some cows but only for the family's needs. We usually go to another family for our beef and pork.
Finally, our last stop was for apples and sweet potatoes.
We stopped by Anna's place. Now, she, my friends, is my kind of gal: funny, talkative and welcoming.
We chatted for a good 15 minutes about cultures and languages: Pennsylvania Deutsch which they speak, German (which I took 4 years of), French (my first language) and English.
She narrated the stories of her grandfather saddened that Pennsylvania Deutsch was getting too diluted (with English) and that the younger generation of Amish was not putting much effort into speaking the language the way it had been.
She also shared some of the stories that were passed down from earlier generations of her ancestors about how they got their last name and why. Listening to those stories were soo much fun; I wished I had some cool, family story or oral tradition, recounted from generations before me. But I enjoyed hers a lot.
She then proceeded to teach us about the different kinds of apples and what they were best for.
We got a full case of different kinds
We also got some sweet potatoes and saw purple cauliflower which I had never seen before (not pictured)
We left Anna's place happy to have shared stories and laughter and not just the typical goods/money transaction. I told her next time I will be glad have her tell me more stories about her family's traditions.
I snapped a few pictures along the way and think the scenery is just so beautiful and peaceful.
It makes me long for a time where I will be able to part from much of the conveniences (many of which have a cost that we have refused to calculate) of urban life and learn to enjoy a simple life, focused on family, faith, and in tune with nature.
One last one: Nathan biting on a juicy apple from Anna's.
Should I add that our chickens, honey, eggs and milk cost us less than $100?