Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 1 - Touring Amish Country Part II

After we rested up from our earlier buggy ride, lunch, and drive through the countryside, we headed to The Amish Experience for our VIP Tour (Visit-In-Person), one of the other things on Ashlee's list of things to do while in Amish Country.  The tour we booked included a tour of the countryside with three stops along the way:  an Amish dairy farm at milking time, an Amish business, which was a gourd farm, and an Amish home. We arrived and checked in about 30 minutes early, so we perused a few nearby shops before heading back to catch our tour bus.

Huge Sock Monkey at the Candy Shop

Giant 5 lb Lollipop!

Poor Pitiful Work Horses

Then we loaded a mini bus with about 10 other people and headed down the road while our bus driver dodged traffic and horse buggies, literally, and narrated into a headphone microphone.  Not only did we get the history of the Amish and a lot of stories about the area, we got lots of dialogue between her and the people in the cars/buggies all around us as she navigated the streets.  It was quite entertaining... and a bit frightening a couple of times!

The first stop on our tour was at the Esh Dairy Farm.  When we were walking toward the barn to begin our tour, we noticed a lot of kittens/cats hanging around at the barn door.  They seemed to know it was milking time too.  All the cows were lined up at their stations ready to be relieved of their heavy load.  I was in pain just looking at them.

Check out all the kittens/cats waiting for a drop of milk!
Just look at that face!

At least they get to eat while they get milked.

Got milk?  Looks so painful!
We listened as Mr. Esh explained the process and watched as the two oldest Esh children began their chore.  I really wanted to get a picture of the children hooking up the cow to the pump, but I didn't feel I was a good enough distance away for it to count as "acceptable" to take the photo.  Oh, well!  I don't remember all the details of the milking process, but it was quite the process.  My favorite part was when one of the girly cows decided to "take a load off" and just plopped down.  She got a gentle nudging from the teenage boy, and she reluctantly stood back up so he could hook her up.  You could tell the cows were treated very well, and the barn was pretty clean... for a barn!

Taking a load off!
Just outside the barn were three newborn calves.  They were about three days old and were ready and waiting to be bottle-fed.  The kids on the tour each got a turn to feed them... definitely a highlight!

After our tour of the barn, we walked around back to see their home, their vehicle/buggy, and where the children played.  They also had a couple of peacocks... who didn't enjoy us getting too close. 

A look inside the buggy

Then we wandered back to the front and into their gift shop where a teenage girl was waiting on us. There was a small light inside that was powered by a generator... I am so spoiled.  The quilts were amazing.  Since the girls and I had started taking an online class at the beginning of the summer to learn to make a quilt, I knew how much work went into making them.  The teenage girl then pulled what looked like a quilted pillow off of the shelf and introduced us to a "quillow."  She proceeded to pull a quilt out of the pillow, and we realized it was all attached.  She folded the quilt back up and tucked it back into a pocket, and it turned back into a pillow... thus, a quillow!  The girls were amazed, I was amazed, Scott was amazed.  Scott just looked over at the girls and said, "Pick one out."  Fortunately, they weren't anywhere near the cost of the full size quilts hanging around the room, which ranged from $600-$1200, and we ended up snatching two more for Nana and Mimi for Christmas!  Score!

Snuggling under our new Quillows!

It was then time to load the bus for our next destination - Smucker's Gourd Farm.  Stay tuned for more of our tour.

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