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.