By SARA ARTHURS
Drive down the road in Hardin County and you are likely to see horses and buggies passing by.
You are in Amish country.
The Amish lifestyle is centered around farming, and the Old Order Amish do not use tractors but do use modern farm equipment pulled by teams of horses or mules. They do not own or operate automobiles and do not have electricity or telephones in their homes.
Amish men typically dress in plain, dark-colored slacks and vests. Married men also have beards.
Women wear long, solid-colored dresses with an apron and a black bonnet. Around the house, married women are required to wear white bonnets, while single women wear black.
When you visit, it’s best to meander. Just drive along and you will see a sign saying the farmer has eggs available, or honey.
“Don’t be afraid to stop,” said Annetta Shirk, chamber and tourism director for the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.
She said the Amish farmers welcome visitors coming to buy produce or other goods. Farms that have something available will have signs out, but they do not do business on Sundays.
Goods are generally sold out of their homes. Aside from farms, other Amish businesses include bakeries and furniture shops.
The Tinkertoy Furniture Shop is at 20745 Township Road 146, 1 mile southeast of Pfeiffer Station.
It has large items like dressers, but also smaller cabinets and little items like toy carts. Most of the furniture is made of oak, and how long it takes to build depends on how complicated it is.
“All our furniture is custom-made,” said owner Joseph Troyer.
He gets visitors from all over, including some recently from Louisiana.
“It’s just a good old place to live … part of God’s country,” Troyer said.
An Amish woman who declined to give her name said the holidays are a particularly busy time for her bakery, and she gets a lot of pie orders for Thanksgiving. This particular day she was selling pies, cookies, jam, honey and maple syrup.
The first settlers came to the area in 1953 from Indiana. Among them was Herman E. Stutzman, a child at the time. He now owns a sawmill half a mile south of Hepburn.
Stutzman said people may particularly enjoy just to “travel through and watch the horses in the fields.” Then there is the thrashing. “Thrashing is something that’s almost a thing of the past,” he said.
The Scioto Valley Produce Auction is open at 1 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday, usually for a few hours. It’s at 18715 County Road 200, outside Mount Victory.
The auctions start with small lots, then move to larger ones.
“If it’s produce, it’s here,” said Harley Hochstetler at the auction office.
But flowers are also for sale. In August and as summer turns to fall, there are a lot of mums. And on Sept. 23 there will be a “pumpkin day,” with free ice cream.
Most of the goods are grown locally, within 20 minutes of the site. For sale one recent Tuesday were green beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes and blackberries. An auctioneer called out the bids with rapid patter: “Two dollars, let’s go! Two and a half!”
Do be careful, though, as you drive through Amish country. There have been accidents with buggies, and Shirk said it’s important to be safe.
In addition, keep in mind that “the Amish are generally private people and often find all the attention and curiosity about their lifestyle disturbing,” states a Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance brochure. And, “They believe that the taking of photographs where someone is recognizable is forbidden by the Biblical prohibition against making any ‘graven image.'”
The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance has more information and can be reached at 419-673-4131.