Amish Farms in the Summer
One of Jill and my favorite things to do on summer evenings is to take the gravel roads and take peeks at the neighboring Amish farms. When we first moved to Iowa, to Kalona specifically, we knew that the Amish community was large. We did not realize how much of their lifestyle influences the town and the neighboring ones as well (we now live across the "highway" in Wellman, an even smaller farming town!).
The Amish and the way they operate their farms are a big inspiration to us, in ways! They keep things neat and tidy, though they are not as natural as everyone believes - there are many Amish farms that use synthetic sprays, modern machinery, and more. Their community is obviously a major part of our lives everyday, but I always hesitate to talk more in depth about it because I never want to offend anyone! The one thing that I do love about witnessing the Amish farms is that they are in constant operation. The animals are outside roaming (most often), the garden is always being worked in, and the food is fresh. It's a picturesque, storybook farm. It's what makes the place that we live unique and beautiful!
Right down the road from us now is our favorite local grocery store, Stringtown Grocery. I've mentioned it many times here before! They sell all of their food items in bulk, so you can get a lot for less money. We love utilizing that opportunity for bulk dry goods like flour, sugar, and spices. It's also a great place to find local produce when in season. Though don't be fooled, they sell standard grocery store items, too! Things like dole bananas and raspberries, processed meats and cheeses. I've watched many people come in and think that the Amish raised the meat inside of the store, even though there's a Hillshire Farms label right on the front! I did see recently that they now have locally raised meat again (they haven't had it for the past couple of summers) so that's nice!
We also love a little store off the beaten path, the Community Country Store. It's garden and chicken pasture is pictured above. It's an interesting little place if you are ever visiting Kalona. The store is located on the family's farm and sells various general items like cookware, spices, dry cooking ingredients, toys, and Amish clothing like suspenders, hats, shoes, and undergarments. It's one of my favorite places to find a well priced cast iron skillet or wooden spoons. There's also the Community Country Store Annex, which I think has even better cookware choices! They're also our favorite place to get eggs when we don't have them or are running low (though I doubt we will have that problem with our larger flock!).
There is something truly magical about taking drives here in the country. Even the highway, which is still a two lane road with not much traffic, into Iowa City is a gorgeous scenic drive. I love living here, and I don't think I will ever leave. It feels right in ways other than the simple fact that I enjoy it. Almost 200 years ago, my family planted their roots right in this fertile area of land. Somewhere along that line our small side of that moved on, but I am glad that we made it back. There are little messages and hints everywhere of the people that were once here. I think the Amish bring that to life each day. It still fascinates me to pass a horse and buggy with wobbly wheels on the road, or to see barefoot children in modernized 1840s dresses and bonnets walking to a one room schoolhouse.
Do you have a favorite place that you like to take a drive through or visit?