Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, the Things You Can See

You know that scene in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" The one with the cow standing on the roof of a barn after the place has been flooded. I saw something as unusual yesterday, although my vision wasn't foretold by a blind seer.

I was sent to the fairgrounds in Small Town to see what I could see on behalf of the newspaper—there is a forestry heritage festival going on there this weekend on account of Ohio's thriving timber industry. The festival is all about respecting our natural resources and understanding how to use them wisely, but it's also about fun stuff like beef jerky, chainsaw wood carvers, and comic lumberjacks holding canoe jousts in a giant water tank.

I was walking through the fairgrounds with my notebook in hand, jotting down things of interest and making note of people to talk to—like the guy with the chainsaw who carves bears into big chunks of cottonwood—when I saw a horse walking on a treadmill. A horse. Walking on a treadmill. It was a big horse, too—a Percheron, which is a kind of work horse the Amish use. These things could move a barge down the Mississippi.

So, I walked up to an old-order Amish couple standing next to the horse and said, "Excuse me. I've never seen a horse on a treadmill before. Would you mind answering a few questions for me?" These people acted like it was an everyday occurrence and pointed to the shaft that ran from the treadmill to an ice cream freezer. The man explained the horse was just getting some exercise and could churn a batch of ice cream in half an hour. They were making vanilla yesterday.

In case you don't know, the Amish reject electricity, although some of them allow gas-powered appliances. They wouldn't think of owning an electric ice cream maker like the one in my house, and who wants to stand out in the cold turning the crank by hand all day. So, it seems resourceful to me to come up with this odd contraption. And you have to give the Amish credit for a healthy sense of humor, don't you think?

Here is a link to the article with a photo of the horse. I wouldn't bother reading the story, though.


MmeBenaut said...

I saw this story on your f/b page of course but it's good to see the photo. What a beautiful horse but he must be peed off that he's not going anywhere.
We don't have Amish here and although I know a little about them, I didn't realise that they don't use electricity. Rather puts things in context for me.

Lynn said...

Why not read the story? It's a typical regional piece Robyn - one I've done loads of times lol - and did the job.

I feel sorry for the horse. As always, I'm interested to hear about Amish way of life - it's so very different from 'norm' life as we know it. I notice in your piece you did not refer at all to 'Amish'. Were you not allowed?

Scout said...

Mme Benaut, the Amish don't own phones or cars or use electricity. But they do borrow phones and ride in cars owned by someone else and cook and cool with gas. I don't understand their rules.

Lynn, I didn't think anyone would care about reading the whole story. And I didn't mention the Amish in the story because that's not as interesting a fact here, it's so common. And the Amish don't like to be photographed. I did consciously decide to leave out that distinction, but most people will probably figure it out based on the kind of horse, the name of the owner, and the county he lives in.

Lynn said...

Shame; I'd love to see photographs - not to gawp, but because I'm interested in their way of life.