Amish Country Journal

Reports and musings from Indiantree Farm, in Holmes County, Ohio -- the largest Amish community in the world. See more about author Larry D. Miller and Amish Country at

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Amputation At The Indian Tree

          An amputation took place this morning and the patient was our beloved Indian tree.
          A number of limbs had to be cut away to ensure safety of nearby power lines.
          The process turned out to be less traumatic than I imagined and Davey Tree Service not only consulted with me on every cut that was made, but waited half an hour for me to show up before starting at about 8:30am.
          The arborists already knew that the tree is an historic monument and had called a day ahead of time to be certain I could be on hand to supervise. 
          Our work was a compromise of the trimming that was needed, with the intense desire to not materially alter the shape or look of the unique, 250-year-old oak tree.
          In her 1997 book, "Indian Trail Trees,"  Elaine Jordan describes these trees as a, "…priceless link to the past," and urges that readers, "…help preserve the ones that are left."
          With her plea in mind and hundreds of her photographs of marker trees in sharp memory, the responsibility of preserving and protecting this living artifact weighs heavily on my shoulders.
          I tried to shift some of that weight over to the Davey Tree guys and they accepted it willingly.  The trimming was finished in less than an hour and the basic shape of our historic tree was kept intact.
          Let's hope that the tree I fondly call, "the oldest living artifact in Ohio's Amish Country," stands tall and proud for at least another century.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sleep Is A Waste This Morning

          It's 4:32am and the green glow of the digital alarm clock is the room's only light.
          The black silence of early morning blankets my hilltop and begs to be acknowledged for its nothingness.  Sleep seems a waste at a time like this.
          Artificial light seems a waste as well so I feel my way around the kitchen to start the coffee and steal a cup halfway through the brewing.  It's serious coffee but I'll need it as I wrap myself in a heavy jacket and step out onto the front porch with all senses on full alert.
          What we have here is not only an absence of light but an absence of sound as well.  The loudest noise of the morning is my tinnitus, gained 35 years ago on an afternoon in an old coal mine with friend Paul and a 44 magnum.
          A dog, about half a mile away, west, calls for breakfast.  It's a hound, tied.  By its tone of voice, I'd guess fully resigned to life mostly on a chain.
          There's a lone rooster.
          Andy Millers' I'd guess and now a second dog, also south.  This one has the note of a free dog, a herding dog, likely the Burkholder's Bobby.  It couldn't be their new dog, whose ribs were broken last week by one of the horses.  That dog will not be barking for another week or two. 
          Won't be walking between a horse's legs either.
          There's a horse in the pasture, not 20 yards from my porch table.  Must be Ruby.  She's been ostracized by the others since giving birth four months ago so she grazes alone.  I'd never have guessed she was there until she sneezed.
          If I use peripheral vision, I'm just able to separate her white stockinged feet and the black shape of her body against the graying pasture floor.
          Now it's 6:20 and morning has sucked the heat out of the coffee as the shape of the pasture hill begins to separate itself from the valley fog.  Ruby moved to the east fence line and the other horses are congregated a quarter mile away on the horizon.
          Ruby makes no overtures in their direction although she will later.  Eventually her persistence will pay off and she'll be re-accepted into the clique. 
          Color has returned to the hill and all the horses have drifted out of sight.  A few lumpy black piles are the only hint they've been nearby.
          More dogs, more roosters and a bright orange lozenge of sun, coughed up by the eastern horizon, mean it's time to go pick up the morning paper.