Is It Worth Raising A Stink Over Amish Horse Manure?

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?

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    141 Comments

    1. Don Curtis

      My last word on poop

      I was out for a drive today. Went over to Indian Lake with my son Mark to pick up some lunch. We try to have lunch, together, about every day except Sunday and depending on his schedule. Anyway, during the drive I passed by two dead squirrels, five racoons, one seagull, and about six other bundles of unidentifiable animal carcasses all laying by the road. Roadkill. Now, why didn’t the drivers of the cars that hit these animals stop and clean up after them. Those dead bodies are ugly, smelly, and get on your tires. Plus, they are everywhere not just in Amish country. I wonder how many Amish horses and buggies are going fast enough to hit a squirrel or a deer. Hmmmm. I wonder why some of the good folks on this discussion thread aren’t concerned about roadkill.

      1. Adam

        Good point, Don. In my community, city workers drive around and pick up road kill so they’re not in the streets for more than a day or two. I’m not sure if any other places do this, but I haven’t heard of any other places that do.

        I hope Mark and yourself are doing well.

        -Adam

      2. Mary

        I sure do like your thinking, and am now always on the lookout for horse poop as well, and find some roads clear, and some pretty littered, so maybe there is a solution out there, at least it got everyone thinking…

    2. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I’ve got nothing really constructive to say about this story.

      But on a side note, my 1940s born uncle often said something that turns out to be appropriate here, he would tell people when they where being stupid to the point of unreasonableness “come off the happy horse sh’*”, which became a favorite phrase of mine in my head, if I was going to far afield in my thoughts I’d hear him say that, because he did tell me that more than a few times growing up….

      sorry for getting off topic

    3. Barbara Holton

      Decision made, no poop bags!

      http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/5a33f354defd48748da98c8d960149d4/IN–Manure-Dispute

      LAGRANGE, Indiana — Officials in a rural northeastern Indiana county with a large Amish population have rejected a call by some residents to require manure-collection devices for horses on roadways.

      The LaGrange County commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday night to end discussion of the proposal, which supporters said was meant to reduce the traffic hazards and health concerns caused by horse manure.

      The Goshen News and The (Kendallville) News Sun report Commissioner Terry Martin said he tested a manure bag at an Amish farm and didn’t believe it was safe for the horses. Amish residents raised similar concerns earlier this month about the devices.

      LaGrange resident Jack Gaham said after the meeting he didn’t think the proposal had been thoroughly considered and worried the manure was dangerous to drivers.

    4. The Other Erik

      Brief vacuum or pressure-wash water spray?

      A wet vacuum cleaner, intended for workshops, might be able to pick up the manure.

      Whoever cleans the manure could instead blast it to the shoulder of the road, using water that’s sprayed under pressure. Maybe not in residential areas, but when traveling through farmland. Too bad that residential areas are where the cleanup is most desired, I suspect.

      Pressure washers normally are powered by gasoline or electricity, but maybe compressed air would work too.

      In any case, not much energy is needed, since the cleaning would be so brief.

      The Amish might fight having to mount a cleaning device on their buggies, but who knows? Better to have a government worker using a truck-mounted system.

    5. Teresa

      Horse Manure

      It will wash away when it rains, not to worry nice folks!

    6. TJ

      Geniene or Geneine?

      It caught my attention the names are spelled differently. That’s kind of strange.
      Whatever the spelling, I’m hoping this thread peters out. There is little sense in beating a dead horse!

      1. Anonymous

        How could you spell your own name wrong? Is someone pretending to be Geniene?

        1. Anonymous

          Hey!

          That was not meant as a silly post! I simply do not like to think of someone posing as another writer. No one spells their own name wrong. You make a good point, Pal, this might not be the best arena for Geniene’s level of interest. I might not agree with all of her points, but I believe she does raise some valid concerns.

          1. Anonymous' Pal

            My bad

            I am sorry for misunderstanding your post. I just figured she was using a smartphone and the auto-correct feature changed her name without her noticing. Her posts are so unique that I figured no one would propose that “Geneine” is an impostor. My bad! By the way, which Anonymous are you?

            1. Anonymous

              No problem...

              I never thought of auto-correct, but I did wonder about someone signing a name hoping to fan the flames.
              There appears to be more than one anonymous, but I use it because I can never remember which pseudonym I’ve used if I try and be creative. 🙂

              1. Adam

                -Attention Erik and other site admin/moderators-
                Have you ever thought about allowing people to make their own profile to post so people can’t pose as another regular poster and to make it easier to spot posts by certain members?
                If that isn’t an option for this type of website perhaps start a forum for discustions on your blog posts?
                Another great feature this would allow is the use of private messages for those who wish to continue discusion on a certain topic but don’t want to share their email address.

    7. Geneine's Pal

      Resource

      An excellent article on this subject is Steven M. Nolt’s “Amish Stories, Images, and Identities: Two Windows and a Mirror on Contemporary Conversations.” To cite one portion of the text:

      “That most North Americans came to regard the Amish in certain ways said more about the viewers than the objects of the mainstream’s gaze. Still, popular understandings—accurate or not—have an impact on ordinary Amish life, shaping everything from public policy to tourism. Amish identity in the 20th century, then, was hewn not only by Amish convictions but also by the stories that other people told about them.” (Winter 2015, Conrad Grebel Review, 6)

      Few commenters on this site are interested in the technical, scholarly questions that you are interested in. Perhaps you have considered writing an article on this subject and submitting it to an academic journal. I think that you would find considerable satisfaction in scholarly dialogue. You seem to have the knowledge, skills, and interest to succeed in this type of endeavor. And focusing your efforts in that direction would not only benefit to the field of Amish studies but would not stir certain persons to make silly comments, like the two previous responses to your most recent (and engaging) post. May God bless you in your endeavors.

    8. Ike Klassen

      Scoop it,

      People be a little creative, carry a small plastic shovel and bag in your automobile, the next time your see horse manure on road or in a shopping mall parking lot, scoop it up , take home for your garden, flower bed or flower pots, your plants will thrive and you will be much happier. I do it and its great.

    9. Debbie

      I live near the 4th largest Amish community in the world, Middlefield, Ohio. Horse and buggy travel is not only a nuisance it is very dangerous to both buggy and auto. These buggy’s travel on 55 mph hilly roads which is ridiculous. Just imagine topping a hill and right there an Amish buggy. Amish do not have to buy license or insurance for their buggies, not to mention the wheels on those buggies tear up the roads, which are made for rubber tires not buggy wheels. As far as the horse poop goes I don’t feel like I should have to drive through it. It is probably destroying my paint little by little. As far as I’m concerned if the Amish can “ride” in a car why can’t they drive one and do away with the buggies, which should have been gone long ago. If they want to live “their” lifestyle then do it, but don’t push your religion on everyone. Why can they be driven shopping or to work but have to have the obsolete buggies? As far as I’m concerned they should be illegal in these modern times. If you can’t keep up with the traffic on the roads you shouldn’t be allowed on them.

    10. I agree! When not managed properly, horse manure feces and urine can pollute the environment, mainly as ground or surface water pollution due to the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon organic matter.

    11. Mustangkiller

      Disrespect and negligence of safety over laziness

      It’s easy to say get over it, or just move… We have the right to reside in the country or any place we choose. I have a classic truck, that I’ve put endless hours into. I find it disrespectful that another citizen believes my property should be subjected to feces. Also, any motorcycle riders here? That is a certain safety hazard to cyclists. Especially after a light rain. Think about that..

    12. Alexis

      It’s frustrating

      I get that the Amish supply so many goods to local stores and do a lot for us. But at the same time, we all share the same road, their steel wheels mess the roads up and we have non Amish residents have to pay for it, and we have to risk ourselves on the roads so we don’t drive through the waste left from their horses. We get fined if we don’t pick up after our dogs, I get dog waste is more harmful, but it’s just common courtesy to pick up after animals, they don’t do we have too. I don’t even buy things from the Amish, so why do we have to risk getting into an accident and pick up after their horses. It’s frustrating to come outside and basically at my front door to the house there is horse waste and my car has to sit in or I have to clean it up. It’s just not right at all. I’m a PA resident not sure what it’s like in Indiana, it doesn’t rain too much all like that to be like oh the rain will just wash it away. Thinking about starting my own petition here in PA. Call me crazy but I just can’t take it.