I enjoy visiting the Midwest, in the summer anyway. My husband and I drove to northern Ohio for
the wedding of a friend a few weeks ago and as I usually do when I travel, I sought out
opportunities to explore the local gardens and farms.
In Holmes County, Ohio, just off I-77, a large community of
Amish and Mennonites farm the beautiful soil.
The roads have wide shoulders for horses and buggies, and huge barns and
farmhouses are scattered across the rolling hills among the cornfields.
|Ohio farm country|
We drove past many Amish families going for a drive or an
errand in town. Young boys carried a load of tiny calves in a wagon, and
older couples drove alone. The people
looked happy, unconcerned as I guess they were with getting to work on time or about the latest Facebook status update. Couples smiled at each other and chatted as they rode along in the buggy.
Some of our society’s ills might be solved if it was still
normal, as it once was, for twelve-year-old boys to be trusted with real
responsibilities like managing two thousand-pound draft horses well enough to
get the horses, the load of calves, and the boys safely along public roads to
deliver the calves to their destination.
I have no twelve-year-old boys, but if I did, I am sure I would not
trust them with a team of horses on a public road. Think of how proud of themselves those boys must have been when they accomplish that important errand for their father.
|Young boys delivering calves|
The Amish have their problems, and some of their rules about
the use of modern technologies don’t make a lot of sense to me, but I am not
Amish. An Amish businessman can hire someone to drive him in a car to the
airport, where he’ll fly somewhere to conduct business, and then he’ll return
home by hired car to his home without electricity. Somehow it's okay because he doesn't own or drive the car.
Outside of Amish country, I noticed the beautiful flower gardens
surrounding many homes. The sun doesn’t
scorch plants in Ohio the way it does here, and maybe people find more energy to work in their gardens than we do because the ground there is frozen for
nearly six months out of the year. It
would be nice to take a vacation from battling weeds for six months every year!
We saw fields of corn, of course, and many wheat fields
filled with golden grain. I have become
so used to the drought in South Carolina in recent years that I was shocked to
see the environment grow drier as we drove north. Based on the healthy green foliage of the
weeds and fields, North Carolina and Virginia appeared to have received at
least minimal amounts of rain, but many of Ohio’s fields were brown. In some places, the corn had formed tassels,
but in other fields, the shriveled plants were barely two feet tall.
The drought will reduce the yield of corn, and it will make
corn prices, and consequently the prices of meat, milk, and ethanol, increase
over the next year. I read in The State
paper recently that because of
well-timed rainstorms and some cool nights in June here, SC will produce a
bumper crop of corn, for which our farmers are thankful.
|Dry pastures in Ohio|
On all my trips, I seek out gardens and farms to
explore. I enjoy seeing how plants
perform in different areas. I should
probably take a trip to the Midwest during the middle of winter so I’ll think
more realistically about the area—my friend had to explain what a sign in
Cleveland denoting a street an “Emergency Snow Route” meant—but I also like
keeping my idealistic view of this gardening heaven, even though I saw it
without adequate rainfall.