As promised, please enjoy a guest post by the Father-in-Law on Amish animal auctions. It will either make you want to be a vegetarian or buy your very own cow. Whichever.
Which is it? Stay out or enter at your own risk??
As promised (threatened?) here’s part two of our Amish adventures. In my last post I gave you a look into the culture clash of living near or among the Amish. This time I’ll give you an insider’s peek into one of the cornerstones of their business and social world, the animal auction.
Here in Ohio’s Amish country there is a sale day Monday through Friday in little towns throughout the county. It’s a chance to sell or buy some livestock, meet with seldom seen neighbors and relatives, and gives the wives and kids a chance to see some of a world larger than their farms. Special animal wagons are used to transport the cattle, sheep, goats and hogs to and from the auction. Some sales have a smaller side auction that will sell anything you may want to bring in. Pies, kittens, rabbits, summer squash, roosters and laying hens, out of date canned goods or boxes of stale potato chips. These smaller venues keep the womenfolk busy while the husband is tending to the more important livestock decisions.
Inside the animal auction barn you’re met with a cacophony of sounds and a wide range of odors. It’s not for the faint of heart.
You’re seated on wooden boards in a stadium seating arrangement with yellowed signs (and dangling cobwebs) from decades ago.
On one side of you is an Englishman (non-Amish) spitting tobacco into a paper cup (if you’re lucky) sitting between his feet and on the other side several older Amish gentlemen speaking in their German/Dutch dialect. (Helpful tip for you ladies – if you see an Amish man without a beard, he’s single. Beards are started right after the wedding ceremony.) Whether married or single, however, weekly bathing is optional. Remember when I talked about the wide range of odors?
Animals are brought into the sunken, sawdust covered ring through one door, whipped a bit to make them move, and whipped out another door as the bidding ceases.
Dairy calves (milkers) are sold by the head and feeder calves (beef cattle) are sold by the pound.
Hogs, sheep, goats and horses are sold by the head at most auctions. The horses are being sold for a reason. They’re past their usefulness as a buggy, work, or saddle horse. They are sold to dog food companies for processing into Alpo or Purina dinners for Fidos everywhere.
In farm country the saying about animals is “you work ‘em then you eat ‘em.” You will never see an indoor house pet. Cats to the barn, dogs to a doghouse or pen.
Most Amish are now working outside the home as there is not enough farmland left to support everyone. Men typically work in sawmills, lumber yards, or furniture shops. (Get your handmade Amish furniture just ahead on the left!) Women and teens work in one of the MANY souvenir stands or fruit markets that dot the countryside.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your little trip into the farmlands of Ohio. The bus will be stopping at Yoder’s Country Kitchen, then off to Hershberger’s Quilt Shop and finally we will be arriving at Miller’s Bed and Breakfast. Tips are appreciated!
- The Father-in-Law
Question of the Day: Which is it . . . vegetarian or livestock owner??