34 responses to Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource
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    Comment on Amish beard protocol (December 30th, 2014 at 07:19)

    Amish beard protocol

    I have an Amish friend that is confined to a wheel chair since a young boy and has never married. He has a beard like a married man and was wondering what is the protocol concerning the beard for Amish men. Also, I have seen an Amish woman wearing a gold band on her finger. Thought that was strange. Both of these people are from an Amish community in or near Holmes county. I realize every community has there own set of rules but generally speaking what are your thoughts?

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      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 10:55)

      That golden band was most likely a shiny copper ring some Amish wear to ward off aches and pains. The single man with a beard, that varies with each different group of Amish.

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      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 11:12)

      The “gold band” is likely a copper ring that some of the low Amish wear believing it helps ward off arthritis or rheumatism pain. We see it a lot in our area among the Swartzentruber & Troyer Amish.

      Beard wearing varies a lot in different groups. There are groups that do not shave the beard before either baptism or marriage. For example, the “Nebraska” Amish boys grow a full beard as soon as they naturally start to grow face hair, so a beard won’t tell you anything about his position in life. In some groups a beard is worn after starting baptism classes or upon baptism, in others after marriage. In our community once a “boy” (by which we mean any male not married be he 18 or 38) no longer goes with the youth but sits with the married men (often in the forties) he will grow a regular beard but instead of having the beard grow up to the head-hair or side-burn, he will keep a small gap between beard & hair shaved.

      • Thanks for these explanations of different customs Mark. I had heard of most of this but the leaving the gap was one I hadn’t. So now you’ll have me inadvertently checking everyone’s sideburns next time I’m in Holmes County 🙂

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        Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (January 4th, 2015 at 11:36)

        A copper ring against arthritis and rheumatism pain? To me it sounds more like something I’d use to get pains. I wonder how they got the idea?

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    Sharon Gerstman
    Comment on Handmade Cards (December 30th, 2014 at 09:01)

    Handmade Cards

    I would LOVE to purchase some handmade cards! Would you mind letting me know where you purchased them? My email address is: clighthouses@aol.com

    If it is very far, of course I could not go get them.

    Thank you in advance

    Sharon Gerstman

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    Tom A Geist
    Comment on Questions: (December 30th, 2014 at 09:23)


    I know the answer to these but you might get questions from some that don’t know.

    Do Amish pay taxes, and if so, which ones?

    What are the holidays that the Amish observe?

    Tom in Lincoln

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    Comment on Horseshoes.... (December 30th, 2014 at 09:39)


    Eric, I have been scattered here-and-there for the past several weeks and haven’t yet made it to the previous discussion you mentioned above. But I would interject here that a recent trip to the Jamesport Amish included a visit with a local horse trainer / farrier, and he was showing us two different types of horseshoes that he/they use…


    You will notice that the one of the right has three ‘traction point’ welds on it. As to whether this would be something they would use on icy roads, I don’t remember what all the Amish man told us. But it does look like it would be a help in those kinds of slick situations.

    (The full set of pics from that visit can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ozarkinspirations/sets/72157648957112046/ .)

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      Comment on Grippy shoes (December 30th, 2014 at 11:29)

      Grippy shoes

      Thank you Don. I refrained from definitively writing that they don’t have anything akin to a “snow tire”, since my horse knowledge is quite low. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something like that. That was an interesting photo you shared comparing with the two different shoes. Looks like the one might in fact provide more grip.

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    Comment on Winter Horseshoes (December 30th, 2014 at 09:40)

    Winter Horseshoes

    We had similar weather in central Pennsylvania over Thanksgiving–nasty for traveling. The post reminded me of having to move our horses to a different field after a similar storm because their normal paddock was covered with ice. Once they realized it was slick under their feet they didn’t attempt to move, thank goodness, but stood in one spot until rescued!


    • Smart beasts! And sounds like they had the faith they would be rescued.

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      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 11:33)

      In the late fall, our farrier dresses the horseshoes with “drill tex,” a material made up of (I believe) ground up drill bits and borium (though I’m not 100% certain what all is in it) and it makes spiky little “piles” on the bottom of the shoe that will allow the horse’s foot to grip the ice safely. Strangely enough, it works better on an icy road than a clean road just as it starts to freeze. Many of the back roads in our community are “tar & chip” and we find that as it starts to freeze in early winter, horses slip more easily. Maybe they just don’t yet have their winter bearings??? We live on a steep hill and I’d rather travel down it on icy roads than clean but slick roads. There is a big difference in horses, too. We used to have one that could go down the most icy of hills and if she skidded she remained calm and kept right on going and always stayed on her feet and safe. But we had another one that if he slipped even a little bit, would panic and refuse to move. (Not a good idea if you are part way down a steep icy hill!)

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    Elva Bontrager
    Comment on A couple of nit-picks here (December 30th, 2014 at 12:34)

    A couple of nit-picks here

    The word is ‘reins’, reigns, unless you are referring to kingdoms, you know.

    But in buggy talk wherever I have lived, they are not reins at all- reins are what you use when you are riding a horse. In a buggy or wagon, they are ‘lines’.

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    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 12:41)

    Elva, I’d agree with you. We use “lines” to drive and around here the “rein” is the overcheck that goes from the bit to the back-pad to keep the horse from putting his head down too far. But I notice most non-Amish people talk about “reins,” so all depends of who is talking. 🙂 I’d be unsure of what to call all the things I see in a car. (Though I do know the steering-wheel steers the vehicle, ha ha.)

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 13:14)

    A couple of questions I’ve been asked (by people who know I follow this blog):

    Why don’t Amish women ever cut their hair (or do they?)?
    When do Amish women wear their Kapps, and what kind/color are appropriate for which “occasion”?

    I figured there’d be “winter” horseshoes…I love learning about these various adaptations!

    Happy New Year to all, and please be safe walking, driving…really, attempting ANY form of outdoor “locomotion”, especially on New Year’s Eve. There’s a great potential for lots of tipsy people out there, so let’s all be careful!

    Alice Mary

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      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 14:30)

      Galen touched on the uncut hair idea. Read 1 Corinthians 11 for more insight, especially verse 15.

      White & black caps vary somewhat. In some communities only black caps are worn (like Adams Co., Ind.) and in some only white (some of the Lancaster Co. churches). In most Midwest Amish communities, married women wear always white caps. In our church, single girls wear black caps to church until they either marry or declare singlehood and sit with the married women. School age girls often wear black caps during the week just because it is easier to keep clean and less upkeep (it’s not pleated in back) but might wear white for good occasions.

      My wife & daughters wear a cap most of the time. For nightwear a small scarf is worn over the hair. When doing dirty or hard work, like butchering or painting or working in the garden, usually a scarf or “veil” (a small round piece of cloth held on with bobby-pins) is worn.

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      Comment on Drill Tec on Horseshoes (December 31st, 2014 at 11:40)

      Drill Tec on Horseshoes

      On winter horseshoes, Aaron Perkins left the following comment over on the AA Facebook page:

      I use the same horse shoes in winter as we do in summer. They have stuff (not sure of spelling) called drill tec on them to give the horse traction on pavement and concrete. Works well on ice too as long as there is no ice build up. Most Amish around here use it, so either they don’t use it in Indiana or there was ice build up in the shoes. I also issue snow pads and in wet snow I spray the hooves with white lithium grease. We have had no accidents yet.

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    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 14:07)

    Hi Erik,

    I read the post about women’s head coverings. I see Alice Mary’s comment. My grandmother was not Amish though we are German Dutch. My maternal grandmother NEVER cut her hair because in the Bible it states that “a woman’s head should not be shaven.” She then started to lose her hair because it hadn’t been cut and then she required a wig at an age younger than most. I remember innocently asking, “Grandma, where in the Bible does it say that you can wear that (ghastly) wig?” (I didn’t say ghastly but it was surely implied.) My Grandmother’s response was “you daren’t be fresh young man.”

    Questions: What happens to a divorced Amish person? Does the man then shave
    his beard? Is the woman looked down upon?

    What if a woman is barren? How is she perceived since so much
    attention (not sure if that is the right word) is put on procreation and
    large families? or what if the issue lies on the man’s side?

    Newburyport, MA

    • Thanks for your questions Galen. I enjoyed reading your and Mark’s discussion. A divorce question at least will be included in the FAQ.

      Ben seems like someone I wouldn’t mind listening to in a chair on a porch somewhere. Sounds like a beautiful story.

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    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 14:40)

    Galen, since divorce is not an option, it’s not a question we would have thought of. A widower would not shave his beard, though. I’d feel comfortable saying once the beard is grown, it’s there to stay. Or I’ve never heard anything else, anyhow.

    Oh… wait… yes, I did. Ever hear of Sam Mullet and the Bergholz Barbers? That’s the only time I’ve heard of a beard cut off someone who was still Amish, though there is bound to be someone out there who had one shaved for surgery or something…

    There are childless couples and no one would think of asking where the issue lies. Some adopt, some remain childless, some struggle, some accept it. We are very close friends with a childless couple who give so much to the community and seem like “family” to everyone. She once remarked she feels she has “lots of children.” On the other hand, I know of some who have really struggled to accept this. Not all of them are Amish, either.

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      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 14:52)


      Thank you for your response. I’m only (slightly) familiar with the Lancaster Amish and I had a nice talk with “Ben” and elderly Amish gentleman who was in his mid 80’s, very witty, and he approached me as I was sitting in a gazebo. He wanted to share all these Amish jokes with me that were quite funny. I had never met an Amish gentleman that was so forward. I asked him many questions, a lot concerning what illness/cancers etc. are prevalent in their community and he said not too much cancer but mostly heart attacks and strokes. (which I am not surprised). I then asked about divorce. He said that there were some folks in his community who did divorce and the ex-wife was shunned or joined another community and the gentleman stayed part of that community.

      Ben was in the construction business and helped build the Bird-in-Hand Motel and Restaurant. He and his wife would sit on their porch and rock in their chairs for hours. I often wonder if they are still alive. Another good thing to mention is that Ben had left the Amish community and came back in his 30’s and married the love of his life. When he shared his beautiful story, he cried.

      The whole gazebo experience is one I’ll always remember and cherish.

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        Mark – Holmes Co.
        Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 15:04)

        Galen, let me clarify… Divorce is not allowed, but there are cases where one partner has left the Amish and filed for divorce, but in no case I have ever heard of was the “left spouse” excommunicated, though the one leaving would be. The left one would not remarry as long as the spouse was living.

        I can think of at least three cases in this community where a husband ran off. I am not saying there are not more, but that’s all I can think of.

        It would be interesting to hear more of Ben’s life-story.

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          Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 15:20)


          Thanks for the explanation. I could have spent hours talking with Ben as he was a true inspiration. I’m sure returning to the Amish when one is in their 30’s must have been difficult as well as adapting to the “English-ways” for those 10 or so years. I was touched by his devotion to his wife and to the Amish community.

        • I know of a couple of cases at least where the wife has left the husband, for whatever reason, I believe separation not divorce. I don’t think we should be surprised at that, marital issues are hard and no culture is immune.

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    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 15:45)

    That story about the family and the horse and buggy was a heart-stopper. I’m glad everyone made it back into the moving buggy!

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    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 19:24)

    So would an Amish woman refuse chemo for cancer if it meant she would lose her hair in the process?

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      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 31st, 2014 at 10:03)

      No, losing hair would not be an issue, though there may be individuals who decide not to take chemo for various reasons, but I don’t recall ever hearing that hair loss was part of the decision. I personally know women who had chemo and lost their hair. A few opted to wear a wig, but one lady we know did without a wig.
      There is a young lady in our community who lost most of her hair when she was a girl. You’ll never guess how… in a roller-coaster mishap. All she was left with was hair at the very back of her head and some serious scarring elsewhere. She wears a wig, too.

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    Al in Ky
    Comment on Winter Horseshoes, Handmade Cards & A New Resource (December 30th, 2014 at 19:29)

    I’m looking forward to the new FAQ feature. It will be a good feature for people who know little about Amish life as well as people who have extensive knowledge of the Amish

    I think a good question would be: How many types of Amish are there? or Is there only one type of Amish? (I’m thinking of Kraybill etal. listing of Amish affiliations in The Amish.)

    As I think about that book, which is a wonderful resource, maybe another good question would be: What book(s) can I read to learn more about the Amish?

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    Comment on No ice caulks? (January 26th, 2015 at 20:19)

    No ice caulks?

    Wow. Horses in some areas have little ice caulks put on the heels – and sometimes toes – of their shoes. Sometimes a pad was put over the foot, under the shoe to prevent snow and ice packing and causing injury to the hoof.

    I suspect that ice caulks wouldn’t be all that effective trying to pull a buggy uphill on ice, though.

    Poor horse.

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