The other night I was on my way to pick up my son from and evening class in town. As I was traveling down our paved two lane country road leading to town (7 miles away) I saw a strange sight up ahead on the side of the road. We’re smack dab in the country so there is no street lights at all, although you’ll find a few houses with lights on their electric poles. When it’s dark, it’s really dark.
I only caught glimpses of the red blinkers as I topped the rises in road and it was about a mile away when I first noticed them. I couldn't really be sure what it was—maybe a one of the farmers in the area out checking on the cattle and parked on the side of the road. As drew closer I saw it was a couple buggies of my Amish neighbors on their way home (I believe these two groups are part of a construction crew). I don’t often see the buggies at night. I had no idea they had flashing red lights on both front and back—not really bright ones, but blinkers never the less. They also had some sort of battery styled lanterns to light the road. Naturally, I slowed down to about 10 mph and turned my on my low beams. I’m sure the horses weren’t thrilled to have headlights hitting their eyes. They were tossing their heads and I could see the lead man holding them in pretty tight. I certainly didn’t want to spook them. That would be disastrous.
There was that moment of feeling like I drove through a time portal (cue the theme from the Twilight Zone).
Horse and buggies isn’t an every day sight in most areas, unless you live in the country and have Amish communities nearby.
Did you know that Missouri has North America’s 7th-largest Amish population, with roughly 10,000 Amish? I didn't.
Missouri has attracted many Amish settlements in recent years. We’ve added roughly two-dozen new settlements over the past two decades, averaging more than one new settlement per year.
We have a large community of Amish in Seymour, Webster County. Seymour is about 70 miles (114 km) from where I live. Any time I would go to Springfield, Missouri we’d pass through the area which has various shops the Amish sell their goods in—from foods, to quilts and of course furniture. You’ll find many a buggy or farm wagon trotting along the (deliberately designed) wide shoulders of US 60/63. Good thing the shoulders are wide considering that the traffic zips along the four-lane highway at speeds of 70-ish on most days. I admire their horses. They’re beautiful, strong and definitely road savvy—I’d be nervous walking on the shoulders of that highway.
Missouri is also home to a high percentage of small Amish communities. Closer to home, we have a small settlement in Raymondville (about thirty minutes away), established in 1985. You’ll see handmade signs advertising livestock, harness and tack makers, foods, and services offered by the Amish. There are several Amish construction crews that work in our area.
|This is before the mill was completely renovated and a new|
hitching post put in.
My Danes set up a bit of a ruckus when one of the buggies or farm wagons passes by our house with large wheels crunching gravel—and horses of course. They pass by the house at least three or four times a week and the Danes are growing accustomed to them. But to my Danes minds, the horses belong in the pasture behind them and not on the road. If I’m out in the yard we’ll exchange waves. I’ve gotten to know some of the families—at least by sight and vise versa.
I’ve mentioned, more than once, that I live beyond the back forty—I’m not kidding when I say that. We’re far enough in the country that you don’t hear the traffic from Route 63—a main artery cutting through this part of the Ozarks—except on a cold winter night you can faintly hear the jack brakes on some of the semi-trucks. If you listen closely.
Time seems to slow down out here.
Today, with the autumn sun drenching the landscape and the wind blowing through the gold and red leaves of the trees. Birds flittering in the brush and the high-pitched call of the hawks hunting prey—it somehow seemed fitting to see a horse and buggy drive by.As they passed we exchanged a smile and wave set to the music of horses clip-clopping down the gravel road.