Making hay in LaGrange County

Driving by hay-making in LaGrange County, Indiana, brought back memories of such days growing up on the farm, but with tractors pulling the baler. Stacking the bales on the wagon made for callouses and frayed pant legs. Wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
A drive-by photo of haying in LaGrange County, Indiana, shot from the passenger seat. The scene brought back memories of such “all hands on deck” work in the community where I grew up in Oxford County, Ontario. Only difference, we pulled the baler with a Cockshutt 30 tractor. Stacking the bales on the wagon made for callouses and frayed pant legs. Same was true for stacking the bales in the barn. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything–though, I do not pine in the least to repeat it. I’ve got good memories of helping a neighbour, Harry Weil, do custom baling. The noon meals were terrific. And I was complimented on stacking the bales so tightly in the barn that you could dance on them. That summer I kiddingly wondered whether cows ever suffer from hay fever. When pigs fly, probably.

Summer Stage #2, Sunday, 5 June 2016–There’s drama aplenty down on the farm, what with tending crops and gardens, looking after newborn lambs, calves and colts, and making hay. That’s what we saw in LaGrange County, next door to Elkhart County, where we spent two nights with Gerald and Mary (Marty’s sister) Miller at their cottage on Oliver Lake.

What we witnessed is a real, modern-day Amish farming drama, not a reenactment. I snapped the photos at 30-45 mph, Marty driving, as we drove through the county where she grew up.

LaGrange County Amish raise lots of horses.
LaGrange County Amish raise lots of horses. Photos are blurry since I took them from our moving car.

A rendezvous for lunch at Kimmell House Inn

Lunch on Thursday at the Kimmell House Inn was delightful. From left, Marty, Mary and Gerald Miller, and Gwen and Dean Preheim-Bartel. Highly recommended.
Waiting for our lunch, Thursday at the Kimmell House Inn. From left, Marty, Mary and Gerald Miller, and Gwen and Dean Preheim-Bartel. Delightful two-hours. Highly recommended. Breakfast served, too. And dinner, by reservation, for groups of 10 or more. Or treat yourself or someone special to a Victorian Tea Party, served on delicate three-tiered trays, beverage, sandwiches, pastries, “and finally, a buttermilk scone with real English clotted cream.” What more can a body want for historic beauty, timeless hospitality and modern comfort? Maybe a walk and look around the farm.
The Kimmell House Inn, a B&B that also serves meals for non-guests, is a beautifully restored and modernized Victorian house on US 33 between Goshen and Fort Wayne. US 33 is the historic Lincoln Highway, the 1913 route..
The Kimmell House Inn B&B is a beautifully restored and modernized Victorian house on US 33 between Goshen and Fort Wayne, on the historic 1913 route of the Lincoln Highway. On July 1, 1913, the highway visionaries formed an association to promote the establishment of a “continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful travel of all descriptions, without toll charges. This highway is to be known, in memory of Abraham Lincoln, as The Lincoln Highway.” The original route was 3,389 miles long.

Obama visits Elkhart

President Obama came back to Elkhart, Indiana on Wednesday to tout US recovery. He came in 2009, 13 days after taking office, to promote his economic stimulus plan. Unemployment in Elkhart County then was 19.6 percent. Today the jobless rate in 4.1 percent.

“By almost every economic measure, America is better off than when I first came here,” he said. We watched proceedings on TV, though some of our friends got tickets for the president’s speech held at Concord High School. Obama paid tribute to the people of Elkhart County for their initiative–with help from the federal stimulus package–to bounce back after the 2007 recession.

Following the speech, 100 area residents were invited to a town hall meeting with Obama, hosted and aired by PBS. Then he was off to Colorado Springs to deliver the commencement address to the 2016 graduates of the United States Air Force Academy. I didn’t hear that anyone asked him what he planned to do after leaving the White House. There are lots of “Help Wanted” signs around Elkhart.

Homeward bound last Sunday

On the way home from Ontario on Sunday I picked up the Detroit Free Press. I like the column by Lee Hamilton, now a senior advisor for the Indiana Center on Representative Government. Hamilton addresses the troubling phenomenon of hostility toward government that has grown over the years since Ronald Reagan, in his first inaugural speech as president, said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Hamilton continues, “This is troubling not because those agencies–or the government as a whole–are faultless, but because it’s not clear how a democratic society and market economy can function without an effective government.” His point is the need to find the right balance to make the market and the government work. I’d add key social services, education, and healthcare to Hamilton’s core functions, but I do like his even-handed bid to get things done right in a civil manner.

“Limited government Is more often part of the solution than it is a problem. It funds core functions–such as infrastructure, the court system, and national security–that allows the private sector to flourish.”  His last sentence: “It’s the balance between limited government and the private sector that it’s our job constantly to assess, debate, and get right.”

I like the reminder in The Detroit News masthead of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Surely a majority of people today care about civility and effective function of government, whether local, state, or federal, and in the community of nations.

Flowers of spring put on a show

Tending new starts in 2016

‘I’m the greatest’

The world knows that Mohammad Ali, probably one of the best known people on the global stage, died on Friday, age 74, after more than a three decades-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and lived in retirement on a farm in Berrien County, Michigan. He died of septic shock in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona.

More than a three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, Ali was a philanthropist, a voice for racial and religious justice, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, and more that will be revealed in tributes around the world. A boxer yes, yet more a man who lived and died a good life.

I end with just a few of Ali’s famous quotes: “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” / “I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.” / “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.” / “I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest.” / “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

‘Till next time. -John





2 thoughts on “Making hay in LaGrange County

  1. I look forward to these posts. It is just like having a visit. Dad always enjoyed the summer drive to the Amish to see them in the fields years ago. I enjoyed it too. I always learn something too. I didn,t know about the Lincoln highway. And I love the flowers, especially the three poppies. Go back and look at her smiling with two eyes and a smile. Endearing. I look forward to the next post. K

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thanks. The weekly roundup serves as something of a diary of being and doing, letting the past help shape the future as we are grateful for the here and now.


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