Amish people rely on literal horsepower, and those animals leave behind their own waste products which land on the roads. This inevitably gets run over by cars no doubt perturbing their owners, and is hardly the most picturesque side of life in “Amish Country.”
So from time to time you come across news stories from corners of America where this is a point of conflict between Amish and non-Amish residents.
Now, somewhat surprisingly, horse manure is becoming an issue in America’s third-largest Amish community of Lagrange and Elkhart Counties in northern Indiana.
Local resident Chad Fry has been leading a petition push to get horses to wear bags to catch the manure, garnering over 1,600 signatures.
I was a bit surprised to see the issue arise in this community–these controversies usually occur in smaller, less-established communities where locals and Amish are not as used to each other’s ways.
In contrast, Amish have been in northern Indiana for over 170 years.
Amish here express a concern that has come up elsewhere–that the manure catchers will disturb the horses and make travel more dangerous.
Amusingly, others suggest that manure is a part of local charm that only adds to the visitor experience:
And hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Shipshewana area each year.
Kenny Stutzman has been giving buggy tours for nearly 16 years…
… “since 2000…1999, and they all come here and they love to see the horse manure on the streets,” said Kenny Stutzman, executive director, Buggy Lane Tours.
Trying To See Both Sides
I don’t live in an Amish area, so I only experience manure on roads as a visitor whenever I go to an Amish settlement. So my first instinct when I see these stories is to, pardon the pun, poo-poo them as the work of someone with too much time on his or her hands.
But I imagine as a permanent resident, it could become an annoyance. And on the other hand, don’t non-Amish residents have a right to ask Amish to help maintain cleanliness on commonly-used roadways?
I know a lot of our readers live in Amish areas and undoubtedly encounter manure while driving.
Though 1,600 signatures is small compared to the area’s 20,000-plus Amish population, it’s not nothing. Maybe there is an alternative solution that could satisfy both sides.
What do you think? Is horse manure on roads an issue worth addressing? Taking safety concerns into consideration, should Amish try to meet non-Amish halfway here somehow?