Horse and Buggy Mennonite Versus Amish

The Horse and Buggy Mennonite or Team Mennonite as some call them mostly live north of 340 over the ridge of New Holland, PA down thru Weaverland Valley.  The Mennonite faith began in 1536 with a Catholic Priest, Menno Simons.  The Amish were part of this Mennonite group until 1693 when they broke off.  Both groups are very conservative, speak PA Dutch at home and are similar with slight differences.

You can tell the outward difference between the Horse and Buggy Mennonite and Conservative Amish people easily.  There are many sects of Mennonite and Amish that do not believe as the conservatives do, however, for ease of writing, in this post I will refer to the Conservative Amish and Horse and Buggy Mennonite as, Amish and Mennonite.

Horse and Buggy Mennonite Women Versus Amish Women   

The first thing you notice on the women is that their caps are different. The Amish cap is heart-shaped, while the Mennonite is more like a cap.   Both the Mennonite and Amish wear the same style dresses but the Mennonite’s wear prints, the Amish plain colors.  Also the Amish fasten their clothing with pins and the Mennonite with buttons.

Transportation 

The Mennonite’s have black buggies; the Amish have gray buggies.  Bikes are the way the Mennonite’s get around, and the Amish use scooters.  Both groups will get a taxi driver if they need to go somewhere that will take too long with a horse and buggy.

  

Farming

The Mennonite farm with tractors that have steel wheels while the Amish use horse-drawn farm machinery (also with steel wheels).

 

Worship

The Amish use homes for Sunday church.  The Mennonite have churches which they share rotating every other Sunday with another Mennonite group, the Black Bumper Mennonite.  Both the Amish and the Mennonite hold church every other Sunday, visiting friends and family on the “off” Sundays.

We live on the ridge in New Holland.  To our north most of the farms belong to the Mennonite while to our south most farms belong to the Amish.  Both groups are good neighbors, hard workers, good to do business with and as a whole, good people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Amish and Sulky Harness Racing

Would it surprise you to see an Amish or Mennonite partake in Sulky harness racing?  They do.

You could say harness racing begins in Lancaster with the participation from the Amish and Mennonite folks.

Training horses for the Sulky Harness Racetrack
Training for sulky harness racing

Standardbred broodmare farms, typically home to five to twenty broodmares dot the countryside.  Each owner is hoping for the foal that will become the next big winner at the racetrack.

Standardbred Horses
Standard broodmare horse and her foal
Standardbred broodmare and her foal

A Standardbred horse is either a trotter or a pacer.  A trotter is a horse that moves diagonal legs together (right front leg and back leg).  A Pacer advances both legs on the same side of their body simultaneously.  Pacers have the gene DMRT3, without it they are unable to pace and are trotters.

Training for Sulky Harness Racing

In late winter, early spring, the foals are born, and within hours their training begins.  The foals are wild, and handling along with daily exposure is crucial in taming them.   At 18 months, they are ready to accept a harness and pull a light sulky.  Only 2% of the foals will become racehorses. The others are privately sold or head to an auction like the  New Holland Sales Stable.

The Amish Racetrack

Tucked behind a farm here and there you will see a racetrack.  Between 7 am and 12 pm you will see horses pulling sulky carts flying around the track.  In New Holland, there is a training-racetrack on Lowry Rd and another one on South Custer Ave.   The training-racetrack teaches the young horses to perform above the one-mile race of two minutes, 20 seconds. In Pennsylvania, there are other qualifications to race as seen in the PA Harness Horsemen’s Association.  Only one percent make it.

Once the horses qualify for the races, the owner hires someone outside their Amish/Mennonite circle to race them.  If the horse wins the owner will get a percentage of the winnings.  Sometimes well over $100,000!

However, some  Amish districts will not allow their members to own a racehorse because they considered it gambling.  As an illustration, I have a story about a neighbor, an Old Order Mennonite man that owned “contraband” racehorses.  However, he was very discrete, until he stumbled upon a real winner and in his excitement went to the racetrack.  His horse won the prize, and before he knew it, he was in the winner’s circle with camera’s clicking.  It was not until the story hit the papers that he realized his mistake.  As a result, he received an ultimatum from his church.  He could return the winnings, donate them to charity or leave the church.  I never did hear what he chose.

Lastly, I have a fact about Pa Harness Racing, although it’s at odds with the last story.  A good part of the owners and trainers have never seen an active racetrack.  Nevertheless, it is these people behind the scenes, that play a major roll in the outcome of the race. nike air max 90 damen nike air max 90 damen

Amish Snitz Pie or Schnitz Pie

For the Amish, Sunday church is not complete until the Amish Snitz pie is served!  After church services are over the benches are turned over and out

Amish Snitz Pie
Amish Snitz Pie

comes the lunch.  This includes an Amish specialty, Amish Snitz pie or as some call it, Schnitz pie.  The “modern” recipes call for dried apples but the old Amish recipes use apple butter and applesauce.

A few weeks ago an Amish friend of mine had church in her home.  All week the family cleaned, spruced up their yard and baked.   It was an exciting time for their kids and they happily helped to get the work all done.  It was like watching a beehive, everyone down to the youngest child was doing something; although the yard is always pristine, they still raked and trimmed it until every piece of grass, tree, and flower was in perfect order.

After everything was over and cleaned up, they invited us in for leftover Amish Snitz pie.  I had never heard of it before; it tastes like apple pie but the consistency is more like a thick applesauce.  The pie is much easier to make than apple pie because you do not have to cut up apples, you just mix everything together and put it in the pie shell, cover with remaining pie shell and bake.

Amish Snitz Pie

2 cups apple butter
2 cups applesauce
4 Tbls sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
*pinch of cloves
*1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp instant tapioca
*pinch of salt
1 TBLS butter
2 pie crust
1 TBLS milk or cream

*, adjust the spices depending on the spiciness of the apple butter that you use.

Mix the first eight ingredients together and pour into the pie crust, dot with butter and then top it with the second pie crust.  Next, cut slits in the top of the pie to let the steam escape, and last of all, brush the pie with milk and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ascension Day in Amish Country

Have you noticed there are no Amish in the fields,  Amish businesses open, or Amish working today?  Today is Ascension Day, a religious holy day for the Amish.  It is forty days after Easter; always on a Thursday, a day set aside to celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven.

Ascension Day in the Amish Community

For the Amish, Ascension Day is a day of rest and reflection.  It begins with a church service in the house, barn or business of one of the congregation.  After services, the day is free for families to gather, have picnics, play volleyball and enjoy their time together.

Amish Easter Holidays

The Amish have many holidays this time of year. It all started with Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross.  Next is Easter, which is when Jesus arose.  Following is Easter Monday which is a solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death.  Ascension Day comes next.  Lastly, Pentecost Sunday and Monday which is fifty days after Easter, the day Jesus’ followers received the holy spirit.

Amish Impostors?

Why are tourist shops busy as usual if the Amish people are all home?  The reason is the Amish no longer own the main tourist shops.   Furthermore,  the “Amish” that are working today are impostors, dressed in Amish clothing making you think that they are Amish.    Did you get an Amish buggy ride today or on any given Sunday?  Once again folks, Amish impostors, the authentic Amish experience is nothing more than a joke on the tourists.

In conclusion, when making plans to visit the Lancaster Amish Country keep in mind the Amish holidays, remembering they are a deeply religious people and will not be working on a holy day.  Drive around the back roads, the small country shops and roadside stands are where you will be able to experience the real Amish culture.

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Amish Ox Roast – Witmer Firehouse

We were first introduced to the Amish Ox Roast at the Witmer Firehouse by

Sign for the Witmer Firehouse Ox Roast
Sign for the Witmer Firehouse Ox Roast

some friends that travel from Connecticut, 5 hours to Lancaster County, every year to attend.

Three times a year, for the past sixty years, the Witmer Fire Co has had an Amish Ox Roast to fund their operations.  It is held on 455 Mount Sidney Road, Lancaster, PA 17602.

The Amish Ox Roast

This year we arrived at 12:00 noon.  Already the take-out line of cars was winding around the block, and the waiting area full. Surprisingly, after a mere 25-minute wait, my family together with 15 other hungry people were seated at a long pre-set table.  Comparatively, in past years we have waited as long as three hours.

Our waitresses Erma and Lavina were two young Amish girls that served us family-style, they encouraged everyone to eat as much as they wanted, bringing everything twice, including dessert.   The food was incredible, definitely made from scratch using the freshest ingredients available.  Erma told us that one of the volunteers grows all the corn and when its ready another group of volunteers cut if off the cob and freezes it.    As a result of their hard labor the corn is the best we have ever eaten and clearly shows their dedication to the Witmer Fire Co.

Once the food came, a fantastic thing occurred, among the table of 15 strangers, all of a sudden there was a camaraderie, all sharing stories talking and laughing. We shared our table with a family from New Jersey and another one from Harrisburg – every year both families travel approximately two hours to come to the ox roast.   We all agreed that it is worth the ride, the food is delicious, and the entire experience is one to be remembered.

The famous Ox Roast Menu

Slow Cooked Beef
Homemade Bread Filling
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Lancaster County Sweet Corn 
Homemade Gravy
Rolls & Butter
Cole Slaw
Peaches
Pies, cake, and ice cream

The Amish Contribution

The unique thing about the Witmer Fire Company is that the majority of the firemen are Amish.  How do they get to the firehouse fast enough without cars?  Some get a non-Amish driver to take them, and others hop on their scooters.   However, the latest fad is motorized scooters as explained in Jack Brubaker’s “Scribbler” column in the Lancaster online news.

A sign reading Caution, Watch for responding firemen. The firemen is Amish and he is riding a scooter.
Caution watch for Responding Firemen

This comical sign is on rt 340 a few miles from Witmer.   The Amish are very supportive of their communities and are always willing to lend a helping hand.

From what I saw, most of the people running the Ox Roast were Amish.   However, I am sure there were quite a few non-Amish volunteers helping behind the scenes as well.

In conjunction with the Ox Roast, the fire company was running a bake

Pies, cookies cakes display by Amish women at the Witmer firehouse
Amish Bake Sale

sale with various Amish baked goods.  We did not buy anything this year but from experience, I can tell you, these ladies know how to bake.

We left the Ox Roast with our bellies full; new acquaintances made and finally in anticipation of the next Ox Roast on October 20, 2018.

Future Ox Roast Dates

In conclusion,  if you missed the April Ox Roast, the following schedule will help you plan for future Ox Roasts.

  • The second Saturday in February.
  • The third, fourth or fifth Saturday in April (depending on Easter weekend).
  • The third Saturday in October which this year will be October 20, 2018.

Another thing you can do so you don’t miss an Ox Roast is email oxroast@witmerfire.com, and they will send you a reminder when the next Ox Roast is coming up.

 

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Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn – New Holland, PA

Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn is a favorite snack sold in Yoders, our local grocery store.

Sign on back road for Emma's Gourmet Popcorn on Hill Road, New Holland.
Sign for Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn on Hill Road, New Holland

This past weekend when I was driving on  Hill Road in New Holland I saw a small sign for Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn and stopped in to check it out.

The Business

Much to my surprise, the business is set up in the Amish owners home.   It’s evident from the wash flapping on the line that the family occupies the house.

The headquarters for Emma's Gourmet Popcorn
Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn Headquarters

The house is beautiful and the landscape pristine.

The business is in the basement/garage.  As you open the door the sweet aroma of popcorn, caramel and the flavor of the day greet you.  It smells wonderful!  The place is immaculate with the retail area in front and a glass door separating it from the kitchen area.  The Amish do not have electricity however they find ways to work around it.

Free Samples
The inside of Emma's Gourmet Popcorn retail store. Bags of assorted popcorn.
An inside view of Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn retail store.

Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn offers forty-two different flavors of popcorn, from Key lime pie to Amish Peanut Butter Schmier and everything in between.   On Saturday when I stopped in, they had ten different flavored popcorn samples to try, each luscious and hard to resist.  I finally settled for cookies and cream, it was a hard decision but the right one, my family loved it.

Why Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn?
Amish girls packaging popcorn at Emma's Gourmet Popcorn
Amish girls packaging popcorn at Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn

What makes Emma’s popcorn so good?  Each batch of popcorn is popped by hand in coconut oil the old fashion way.  It makes a difference.

 

The business was founded in 2006 by the mother of the current owner, Emma Fisher.  Emma was famous throughout the Amish community for her flavored popcorn, friends and family would beg her to make it, and that is how  Emma’s Gourmet Popcorn came to be.     It is still a family business, but they have branched out and are now wholesale along with retail, offer fundraisers, an online store and gift baskets.  The last thing they have added is a new line of absolutely scrumptious biscotti and energy bars.  When you are in the area, visit their retail store on Hill Road, or look for them at  www.emmaspopcorn.com. nike air max nike air max

New Holland Sales Stable Horse Auction

New Holland Sales Stable is a livestock auction on 101 West Fulton Street, New Holland PA.  It is the largest livestock sale in the East.  Here local farmers bring their livestock to buy and sell.  Each day it is something different; horses, cows, pigs, goats, dairy, etc.,  It is an excellent place to go to see the local Amish and Old Order Mennonite in action.

New Holland Sales Stable

New Holland Sales Stable livestock auction

Monday – New Holland Sales Stable Horse Auction

The horse auction is the busiest day so that is what I am going to talk about.  It starts every Monday at 10 am. The horse owners bring the horses to the auction Sunday evening or early Monday morning then the horses  are vet checked before the sale; any horse deemed unfit for sale will be turned away.  Consequently, this has sadly resulted in abandoned horses at the sales stable, or horses returned home and starved.

Well before the auction begins, the sales stable is bustling with activity.

First  of all, you see excited horse lovers walking around searching for the perfect horse. Then, there are rightfully concerned citizens from rescue groups that are looking for horses they can save. Lastly, some people go to the auction just for the excitement and to watch people.

Equestrian supplies for sale outside the New Holland Sales Stable
Equestrian Vendors outside the New Holland Sales Stable

Outside the Sales Stable, there are a variety of vendors selling, lead ropes, saddles and a  hodgepodge of horse supplies.  The prices are excellent! The mood is festive, and many people come every week to socialize with their friends and hang out. Some people love this auction and consider it a great place to get a horse for under market prices. On the other hand, many people hate it because many of the meat markets buy from this auction, as a consequence, horses that do not deserve to die can end up in the slaughter pen.

Every Monday as many as one hundred to one hundred and fifty horses pass through this auction.

New Holland Livestock Auction
Leaving the New Holland Sales Stable

Finally, after an exciting day at the New Holland Sales Stable, you see all modes of transportation returning to their farms with their winnings!

Auction Schedule

Monday: 7:30 am – Pigs;  9:00 am – Sheep/Goats;  10:00 am – Horses/cattle

Tuesday and Thursday: 2:00 pm Sheep/Goats

Wed: (1st and third of the month) Feeder Pigs

In conclusion,  the auction is a great place to witness the Lancaster community in action and who knows, maybe you will come home as a new horse owner! nike air max thea damen nike air max thea damen