Tag Archives: Holmes County

Work and Play at the Homestead

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We spent this past weekend in Ohio at my parents’ house as we cared for their critters. They drove up to Michigan to visit my sister’s family and we offered to care for their farm while the were gone. The kids were looking forward to a mini vacation at the Homestead. The plan was to fit in a little sightseeing and local fun in the midst of our responsibilities. The weekend didn’t go exactly as planned when the flu hit and left some feeling yucky, but even with that setback we managed to make the best of our weekend away.

The days began and ended with work as we cared for the animals and gardens. Everyone took on different responsibilities from feeding and watering animals, to gathering eggs, to mucking out the barn. The work was not too different than their chore list at home, but somehow doing the work at someone else’s home made it more fun. 🙂

We also had the responsibility of keeping Mimi’s beautiful gardens alive in the midst of 90+ degree days.

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Feeding the trout in the spring room.

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Grace watering the flower gardens.

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Rusty gathering eggs.

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Ozzie giving George his nightly brush down.

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Tyler playing chase with the goats.

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 After our chores were done each day then it was time to play. On the days when we had sick kids we stayed home and the healthy kids enjoyed swimming in Mimi and Pop pop’s pool, soaking in the hot tub, and enjoyed the treat of cable TV. There was a lot of Disney Channel viewing done by all the kids, and a lot of Weather Channel viewing done by Ozzie. 🙂

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Enjoying our nightly dip in the hot tub.

 During times when everyone was feeling well we ventured out for a little local fun. The number one requested stop by all the kids was Hershberger Farm. This farm/bakery is a must see stop in Amish country. This farm hold a special place in our hearts as it was the place where we adopted both our puppies: Winnie, our English Bulldog and Ellie May, our Bashar (Bassett Hound/Shar pei mix) from.

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They no longer sell puppies but they do have a fun free petting zoo where you can hold and feed all sorts of farm animals that they have for sell. This time of year is especially fun at Hershberger Farm with all the baby animals.

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It is funny how much my kids love this place. It is not as though the animals here are a novelty for my farm kids. Between our home and the Homestead we have most of these critters, but for my animal lovers the joy found in a petting zoo never lessens or grows old.

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There is no cost to pet or hold the animals. The only expense comes from the additional activities like the carriage rides or pony rides…

as well as the cost of food if you choose to feed the animals.

We decided to splurge on the $5.00 cost of buying 6 ice cream cones of animal feed. It is such a clever way to package the animal feed because there is no waste. You feed the animals the pellets and then feed them the cone they came in when your cone is empty…It is brilliant!

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The cone also makes a great transport vehicle for feeding the goats on the barn roof.

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At Hershberger Farm they have built stairs up to the roof for the goats to climb. If you want to feed the goats lounging on the roof you place your cone on the conveyor belt and turn the wheel that moves your cone up to the goats who eagerly wait until the cone is within reach.

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It is a lot of fun to do. Some of the kids chose to feed the goats on the roof while others opted to save their feed for the mommas and babies inside the barn.

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Inside the barn there was a regular menagerie of critters including, but not limited to: cows, horses, goats, bunnies, chickens, sheep, ducks, and even a Zebu.

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The Zebu ended up being Rusty and my favorite critter there. With his sweet temperament, excess skin and long, droopy ears we decided it was the Bassett Hound of the cattle world and we want one!

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We spent hours feeding and loving on all the babies. I am amazed we made it out without someone smuggling out a baby of some sort  under their shirt.

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Hershberger Farm also had a new addition to the petting area. Their massive, famous horse, Big Ben, has retired to the fields to enjoy a quieter life in his old age and the new horse on display is Big King. He is a three year old offspring of Big Ben and equally impressive in his size and stature.

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When everyone had their fill of animal loving we walked over to the bakery so that they could each pick out a fry pie to have for dessert after dinner that night. Fry pies are a Amish treat that one must buy when in Amish country. Fry pies are a fried, glazed pastries that are filled with a variety of pie fillings. Each kid picked out a different flavor to try.

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On another afternoon we ventured out of the house to go to Lehman’s… another must see spot to visit in Holmes county.

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 Lehman’s is a really cool store in the heart of Ohio Amish Country that has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals alike. We were introduced to Lehman’s years ago by Toby’s parents when it was just a small hardware store specializing in non-electronic housewares and hardware. Since then they have expanded and what they have to offer is so much more. They have a lot of neat things there. They have unusual sodas and even have a large section of toys. There are charming decorations  on display to add to the experience, including an old fashioned English telephone booth and an Amish buggy.  The place has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is definitely a good roadside stop to go in and walk around for awhile even of you don’t plan on buying anything.

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We were there at lunchtime and bought a hot dog for everyone. The kids loved eating in the jail cell that sits in the corner of the café.

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We walked around for a while and then the kids were each allowed to pick out a fun soda to drink outside as we lounged in the sun.

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The selection of sodas for sale is crazy! They have just about any flavor you could want including many you probably wouldn’t want. 🙂

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Each kid picked out a yummy flavor and then we purchased one crazy flavor to try. The kids picked out peanut butter and jelly flavor soda to share…and surprisingly declared it “pretty tasty!”

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We left on Sunday to return home after getting the animals and home ready for my parents’ arrival. The timing was good. In the following 48 hours more of us got hit with the same stomach bug that left Molly feeling lousy over the weekend. It was good to be home in our own beds.

It was a lot fun to get away for the weekend but it was nice to return home.

An Escape to Amish Country

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This past weekend we ran away to Amish country…aka Holmes County, Ohio. The children were shipped off to be cared for by loving (and Oh So generous!) friends and family so that Toby and I could get away.

Grace, Rusty and Tyler spent the weekend at the Hudak’s home and Molly and Ozzie spent the weekend with my parents at the Homestead. Both sets of kids were excited about their mini vacations but none were more excited than Toby and I!

After a high stress December Toby and I made the decision that rather than exchanging Christmas gifts, as we traditionally do, we would instead use the money we would have spent on each other to run away together. We decided to rent a Bed and Breakfast cottage in Amish country. We were looking for a quiet place… a place of rest and renewal… to reconnect as a couple and just be husband and wife (instead of mom and dad) once again.

I was eagerly anticipating this time away. I was looking forward to sleeping in and not cooking, cleaning, or caring for others. I was looking forward to the quiet and solitude found in the sleepy hills of Ohio.

I was looking forward to focusing on my husband…

On uninterrupted conversations and the chance to hold his hand rather than a child’s hand. I was looking forward to reconnecting and sharing our dreams for the upcoming year as well as our future beyond this year.

I had big dreams for our time away and our little escape didn’t disappoint. It was delightful!

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After dropping off all our kiddos we drove out to our “home away from home” for the weekend. Toby booked our trip and didn’t tell me where we were staying. He wanted to surprise me, and boy did he. It was a magical little cottage tucked between the snow covered hills of the Ohio country side.

Where we stayed:

“Premier Cottages welcomes you to the heart of beautiful Amish country, with seven individual cottages. Our cottages are located less than four miles from the center of Berlin, just far enough from town to enjoy a spectacular starlit sky and a quiet stroll in the country.

Our cottages are filled with delightful genuine cottage decor – featuring local, primitive, and country-style furnishings with luxurious bedding. Each cottage has a two person jacuzzi, over-stuffed chairs and at least one large stone fireplace to make your stay more romantic and comfortable. Rolling country scenery and farmlands surround the property, creating a haven of quiet seclusion that feels far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a retreat with family and friends…

Come and have your breath taken away at a slower pace!”

It did just that.

Our charming little cottage boasted complimentary treats and sparkling cider, a Jacuzzi tub for two, the most comfortable/ luxurious bed I’ve ever slept in, and breakfast dropped off on our front porch in the morning.

(It was hard to come home to reality!)  🙂

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The upstairs bedroom.

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The master bedroom with in-floor Jacuzzi.

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We spent a lot of time snuggling in front of the fireplace after returning home from sightseeing in the bitter cold.

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Toby loved having satellite TV and being able to actually watch a Steeler game on Sunday afternoon.

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Breakfast on Sunday morning.

As guests at Premier Lodging we received a coupon for a free Wendell August Forge Christmas ornament… a memento of our weekend in Holmes county. We drove over to the store in Berlin to window shop and pick up our souvenir.

 

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Wendell August Forge:

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“As you enjoy the breathtaking beauty and simplicity of Ohio’s Amish Country, a visit to our largest store on the outskirts of Berlin, OH is sure to be a trip highlight. Berlin is nestled in the rolling hills of Holmes County, home to the largest Amish and Mennonite community in the world. The Amish are quiet people who hold fast to their traditions and way of life. They are renowned for their crafts, and the quality of their work is exceptional.

This combination of tradition and quality craftsmanship unite at our store the minute you see the store driving down Route 62. The 13,000 square foot timber frame facility, located beneath the blue and yellow water tower is the largest of its kind in the State of Ohio. It houses many exciting attractions, including a 5,000 square foot showroom filled with our unique, one-of-a-kind handcrafted metal giftware that Wendell August is famous for. As you enter our front door, you are immediately captured by our beautiful product and the vastness of the space. The timber frame construction is awe inspiring in and of itself. You can’t help noticing the World’s Largest Amish Buggy, made especially for us by an Amish buggy maker just down the road from us. Gather your family and friends for a picture right in front of the massive buggy on a genuine buggy seat! Another guest favorite is the old time Nickelodeon, certain to entertain with its multiple instruments playing memorable songs.

For history buffs and those wanting to get a better feel for our story dating back to our company founding in 1923, be sure to stroll through our museum area and take in the short video in our guest theater. Here you’ll walk through and be inspired by the collectible Wendell August giftware from the 1920s – 1950s. The movie tells both the company history and teaches you more about how each one of our gift items is made one-at-a-time by hand in our American workshops.

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You will then enjoy the chance to walk through our workshop space where we have set up all of the tools of our trade from the die engraving through the creation of our product. You will get a great sense of how our craftsmen in Pennsylvania make our wonderful giftware.

Once you have experienced all of this, be sure to try your hand at being a craftsperson yourself in our interactive hand hammering room and take home a treasure made by you!”

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For $2.00 we were able to try pounding out our own aluminum scene on a patterned plate. We chose an Amish barn raising scene.

 

Heini’s Cheese Chalet:

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“Our Grandfather, John (Hans) Dauwalder, trained as a master cheesemaker in Switzerland, and came to the United States in the 1920’s to display his artisan talents in a growing cheese market. After several successful years at the Bunker Hill Cheese Co-op, John decided to return to his hometown in Switzerland to further his romance with Lili Mueller. The two fell in love and were married in 1933.

In 1948, John and Lili, together with their two children, Peter, our Father and Marguerite, our Aunt, sold the family farm in Switzerland to join John’s Brother Crist in the United States. Crist had purchased Bunker Hill Cheese in 1935 and asked John to join him in building the family cheese business.

In 1962, our parents Peter and Nancy, who were married in 1955, acquired Bunker Hill Cheese. Today it is one of the premier cheese retailers east of the Mississippi River, and one of the most successful wholesale manufacturers serving clients throughout North America.

Our family business continues to be the primary outlet for the Amish farms in the region. The Amish farmers still provide their milk to our factory in traditional milk cans, the same manner as their forefathers did. The relationship between the farmers and the Dauwalder family is personal, and together we are committed to continuing on into the 21st century.”

Our next stop was Heini’s Cheese Chalet where we had fun sampling many of their 50 different types of cheese. They were all delicious but my favorite was the smoked horseradish cheddar and the Vidalia onion crème cheese.

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Here we also purchased the kids’ souvenirs. We decided it would be fun to buy them each their own jams that they could use on toast. We decided to buy them untraditional flavors, thus adding to the novelty of the gifts.

Here are the flavors we purchased:

Tyler: Loganberry Jam

Rusty: Sassafras Jelly

Ozzie: Corn Cob Jelly

Molly: Kiwi Jam

Gracie: Dandelion Jelly

Speaking of jam…

Our next stop was:

Smucker’s Company Store:

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For more than 115 years, The J.M. Smucker Company, with its trusted brands and quality products, has helped to make family meals memorable. Today, The J.M. Smucker Company Store and CafĂ© continues this proud tradition by showcasing products and merchandise from the Company’s family of brands.

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I was blown away by all the products and name brands owned by Smuckers. I had no idea. It was fun to try samples and gather recipes that use many of these products.

 

In addition to the fruit spreads, coffee, peanut butter, ice cream toppings, pancake mix, syrup, and baking products you’d expect, you’ll also find our signature branded gifts and merchandise — from kitchen accessories to apparel and more

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It was very interesting reading about the history of this family brand.

 

Then it was on to…Lehman’s Hardware Store:

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“We’re a destination. What started as a small hardware store serving the local Amish in Kidron, Ohio, grew into something much bigger than founder Jay Lehman ever dreamed. Gathering four pre-Civil War era buildings under one soaring roof, today our store is a place to embrace the past: from old-fashioned treats and sodas to practical, non-electric goods that help you live a simpler life. Shop and reminisce your way through thousands of products while browsing Jay’s antique collection located throughout the store. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time—the full shopping experience is nearly a quarter mile long!

We LOVE Lehman’s. This is a favorite stop in Holmes county. We love checking out all the cool antiques and the unusual and practical products sold here that can’t be found anywhere else.

And while here we can’t leave without purchasing a bottle of soda. We played it safe this time and avoided the bacon soda and the peanut butter and jelly soda and instead bought a crème soda and a butter beer.

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Another stop on Toby’s wish list was:

Keim Lumber:

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“Our 4th generation family owned business began in 1911 as a rough lumber mill with just 4 employees.  Today, we’ve grown to a 50 acre complex with over 700,000 square feet of retail, office, warehouse, and millwork production space, with over 400 dedicated employees.  Our goal is to build relationships, provide outstanding products and services, and ensure our customers always have a great experience working with us, all the while retaining the qualities of hard work, dedication and honesty from the legacies left behind from our father Bill, grandfather Roman, and great-grandfather Mose. 

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With over 60 exotic & specialty wood species in stock coming from as far as the West Indies, Africa and the Pacific Rim, our “Wood Shed” is a must see for everyone. 

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It is a carpenter’s dream store! While here we bought some supplies for our bus renovations and explored different cabinet options for the bus’s kitchen.

Housing an exotic wood selection ranging from a 513 year old Bubinga slab to poison ivy, the display in our showroom is one of amazing variety. Be sure to stop by and choose a unique exotic lumber piece for your next project.”

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On my wish list was a stop at Just Enough Antiques:

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“If you love the patina of history, you’ll find it at Just Enough Antiques. Shopkeeper Daphne Ross features a cozy collection of primitive, farmhouse and vintage treasures along with American Arts from local artisans and craftsmen. Six rooms, two porches and outdoor spaces are filled with many one-of-a-kind pieces.  If you don’t know what you’re looking for until it speaks to you, get ready for a long chat at Just Enough Antiques. Visit out historical 1850 house just west of the village square in Smithville.”

For Christmas I received a gift certificate to Just Enough Antiques, my favorite store in Amish Country. I had so much fun shopping and picking out some new things for the house. Among my purchases were a old wagon side that will become my new key holder by the front door and an old red cooler that I am going to use to file paperwork. I love this place!

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My four purchases.

 

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We even ate lunch at a Amish restaurant that boasted an Amish buggy/table you could eat at. The Reuben sandwiches here were delicious!

 

It was a perfect weekend away. Thank you to everyone that helped make it a reality. I returned home feeling rested, refocused, and even more in love with my eternal companion.

I am incredibly blessed!