amish-seriesAugust 28, 2012


Amish/Mennonite fiction lovers,  please scroll below and read six blog posts about my Amish and Mennonite friends. I have the same blogs posted at my other blog site:

As of today, I will be posting all future LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY blogs every Tuesday at the above URL. Please sign in at that blog to receive a note when a new blog is posted.

If you love horses the way I do, please continue to visit this blog’s home page where I regularly post  information (including a 10- question T/F quizzes) about horses, some of the most gorgeous animals that God ever created.



August 21, 2012


A Local Hangout for the Amish and Mennonites


Two weeks ago, I was in Charleston, SC, to visit a foster daughter and her husband, who live in North Charleston. I visited the city market, which has five large one-story old brick buildings packed with vendors, just a block from the ocean front. My, oh, my, is that “market” different from our small Snyder County Farmers Market here in Middleburg! Other than the horses and carriages that take visitors in Charleston on an hour tour through the downtown area, there’s not much else that the two markets have in common.

Our little farmers’ market down the road every Tuesday sells mostly food (fresh produce, fresh meats, hamburgers and fries, etc), but it also sells animals. Besides calves and lambs auctioned off, chickens, guinea pigs, and rabbits are also for sale.

Some of the nicest rabbits there are bred and raised by two Mennonite gals I know. The Stolzfus girls always have a variety of different breeds of rabbits. One rabbit is prettier than the next. Some are long-eared, while others have short pointy ears. Some are black and white, while others are a golden tan or a buckskin brown. I’ve often stood at the cages and pondered whether I should buy a bunny, but then I think about my two dogs, Skippy and Bailey, who would probably enjoy having Peter Cottontail for lunch, so I dismiss the thought of buying a rabbit and come home empty-handed.

When I was writing one of my market scenes for TEACHER’S PET, the second book in THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, I asked the Stolzfus girls for some “bunny” tips. They graciously and excitedly filled me in on the different kinds of rabbits and some interesting tidbits about them. The girls even lent me a book about different breeds with descriptions and pictures of the rabbits, a most helpful resource, indeed.

With all that extra tips from some gals who know their bunnies, I was able to write what I believe is an accurate depiction of a rabbit sale at a farmers’ market. Following is that scene from chapter three:


On a crisp, clear Tuesday afternoon after school dismissal, Eli and Skip stood in front of a wall of cages filled with rabbits, chickens, and guinea pigs in a pavilion at Bowser’s Auction and Flea Market. Of course, Skip knew right where to go as soon as his daed parked the car, so he made a beeline to the rabbits.

A thin pretty Mennonite girl, probably in her late teens, with blonde hair and rosy cheeks stood nearby to answer questions and complete the transaction of any animal sales. Behind her at the corner of the one enclosed wall of the pavilion rested a card table with a calculator and a small cash box. “May I help you?” the girl asked.

“Oh, my, you have such a variety of rabbits here,” Eli said. “I suppose they are different breeds?”

“Jah,” the girl said. “There are forty-seven different breeds, but we only have a few kinds here every week. We have some New Zealands, Jersey Woolies, Angoras, and English Lops.” She pointed to the cages respectively. “They are all special breeds with special characteristics. But they’re all wunderbaar, in my opinion. Do you want any kind in particular?”

“Forty-seven different breeds—of rabbits? That is so interesting.” Eli lifted his straw hat, scratched his head, and squared his hat on his head again. “Oh, my son has his heart set on these with the long floppy ears.” He pointed at the black and white rabbits.

Skip’s face radiated joy as he pointed the same direction. “They look a lot like Wonnie’s wabbit. That’s why I want them.”

The girl opened a cage, carefully pulled out a black and white rabbit, and placed it in Skip’s arms. “These are called English Lops. Of course, you can see the one outstanding characteristic they have is their long floppy ears. Aren’t they handsome?”

“Ooh, I love this one, Daed,” Skip said, stroking the rabbit. “Kin we buy this one?”

“Now,” the girl started her sales pitch, “this here rabbit is a six-month-old broken black buck and would qualify for the junior class, if you plan to show him. He has excellent confirmation at about seven-and-a-half pounds. His fur is fine and silky, and his ears hang low and loose, close to the body. That’s very desirable.”

“Oh, no, miss,” Eli said. “We won’t show him. Skip just wants a pet rabbit.”

“Well,” she said, “you’d be buying a mighty fine bunny. This one is litter-trained already and is an easy keeper. As long as you have a nice hutch set up for him, he’ll make a fine pet.”

“I’d like a lot of pet wabbits!” Skip inserted.

“One at a time,” Eli added.

“Wonnie has a brown one too, but that one has ears that stand up. I want one like that too.”

The girl walked to several other cages and pointed. “Well, that rabbit could be an Angora, an American Sable, or a Mini Rex. They’ve all got shorter ears that stand up.”

Skip was so preoccupied with “his” rabbit, he completely tuned out the girl’s last words.

“So,” Eli said, “we do have a nice-sized cage at home with plenty of straw for a nest. I assume if we feed him pellets and veggies, he’ll be a happy pet?”

“Well, you must be careful with some vegetables,” she said. “Lettuce will make him sick. But rabbits love hay—grass hay not alfalfa. He won’t need much more care than that. Of course, the hutch needs to be cleaned every day, and—”

“I understand,” Eli said. “We live on a farm and have cows, horses, and chickens. Our livestock eats alfalfa hay, so we’ll have to be careful to feed the rabbit just grass hay.”

“We have a dog too,” Skip said. “His name is Spunky.”

“And Skip’s done a good job to help me care for the animals. He promised that he’d take care of his rabbits as well.”

“I will; I will,” Skip promised.

“My rabbits eat a certain food you’d never guess they’d like,” the girl said.

“What’s that?” Eli asked.

“They absolutely love plain vanilla yogurt, and it’s good for them too.”

Eli let out a hearty laugh. “Skip, did you hear that? Your rabbit will eat yogurt.”

“Ooh, I love yogurt. We can eat it together!” Skip’s tongue went into high gear as though he tasted the yogurt right then.

“I guess we’ll take this rabbit he already seems to have claimed.” Eli pulled his wallet out of his jeans pocket. “How much?”

“Fifteen dollars,” the girl said.

Eli handed her a twenty-dollar dollar bill and waited for the change.

Skip spotted someone he knew just getting out of a car and, with the rabbit in his arms, hurried toward them.

“Over here!” Skip’s voice raised to a high-pitched series of squeals. “Look what I have! Daed bought me a wabbit!”


Well, there you have it, a visit to the “Rabbit Department” of the Snyder County farmers’ market. I hope you enjoyed your visit and now understand a little more about the different kinds of rabbits that are available for purchase and make very nice pets.



August 14, 2012




I just returned from a trip to Charleston, SC, to visit a foster daughter and her husband, who live in North Charleston. One of the places I always enjoy visiting is the city market just a block from the ocean front. In past years, this market place has incorrectly been labeled the “slave market,” where slaves were bought and sold over a hundred and fifty years ago.  The true slave market is several blocks away, where a museum has been maintained to preserve some of that original market place.

As I walked through the Charleston City Market last Wednesday, I took a lot of pictures and couldn’t help comparing that massive five-building market to our little Middleburg auction and farmers’ market that we have in Snyder County every Tuesday. For one thing, the Charleston market is every day, which draws thousands of visitors to the city. It also sells just about anything BUT food, whereas, the main product sold at our local Tuesday market IS food. I saw a lemonade stand at the city market, but that was it for food.

Lemonade stand inside
one of the market buildings

As far as our Amish friends and whether they’d like to visit the city, I think not. Amish usually don’t go on vacations, especially to such “worldly” places. But I’m sure they’d admire the horses and carriages that take tourists on an

Carriages Ready

hour-long tour of parts of the city. This time I was surprised to even see mule-driven carriages. The horses and mules are so accustomed to noise and traffic, they practically nap while they’re walking the same route that they’ve probably walked for years.

Four years ago when I last visited the Charleston market, the old single-story brick buildings were rustic with brick floors that spoke of a long time past. But this time I was surprised to see that the city had replaced all the old brick floors with slate tiles and  had renovated one of the five buildings and made it “brand new,” just like a modern mall with air conditioning and vendors who sold anything from shoes and clothing to toys and games. I was somewhat impressed with the renovation; yet, the thought ran through my mind concerning the historic preservationists in the city. I’m sure they are not pleased that this “old” section of their city is now being “upgraded.”

Cat’s Meow for Sale

My friends and I spent several hours strolling through the market and mostly just window shopping. My friends did buy some beautiful T-shirts but I went home empty-handed. I know it’s hard to believe that I didn’t find anything that would suit my fancy, but I just enjoyed walking, taking pictures, and soaking in the local color.

If you ever take a trip to Charleston, SC, make sure you have the city market on your itinerary. It’s worth the visit, and you’ll be glad you did.

Local TV Station Broadcasting

AUGUST 7, 2012



As the author of the Amish/Mennonite fiction series THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, I’m fascinated by the lifestyles of the Amish and Mennonites in central Pennsylvania. I have several friends who are Mennonites, some who claim to be “Mid-Atlantic” and others who say they are “Anabaptists.” All these friends are what we English would call progressive or modern Mennonites because they drive cars (all dark colors-mostly black), they have electricity in their homes, and most have cell phones. But all have similar lifestyles and orders of worship. Their dress is traditional with the “kapp” on the women’s drawn-back hair in buns (some kapps are black, others white) and the capes on their dresses, but the dresses can be multi-colored pastels including flowered prints.

Of course, we’re not talking about Old Order Amish or Old Order Mennonite here at all. Old Order folks are the horse and buggy folks, the Plain Folk who have no electricity, cars, or phones. These Ordnungs usually dress in dark clothes, and the men and women often have long sleeves even in the heat of the summer.  The men wear straw hats or black hats with large brims while the women often wear dark colored bonnets over their white kapps when they are outside. The Amish sects like this and the new order Mennonites parted company a long, long time ago and probably will never meet on common ground again.

But back to my Mennonite friends. Recently I visited Brenda and Grace, Mid-Atlantic Mennonite ladies who invited another English gal and me to lunch. My friend and I thought we’d be having a sandwich or a small salad topped off with cottage cheese, but the Mennonite gals surprised us with home-made pot pie with tender shredded pork, corn on the cob, apple sauce, three kinds of canned pickles, and spiced zucchini slices that tasted that spiced apple rings. For dessert, Brenda opened a jar of canned peaches, topped off with that cottage cheese we were expecting on a salad. The meal and fellowship were heavenly, to put it mildly.

Mennonites are known for their hospitality and home cooking. Believe me, my friend and I were given the red carpet treatment by two of these gentle, soft-spoken folks. The pot pie was some of the most delicious I’ve ever had, and it’s a luncheon engagement that I’ll remember for a long time.

Mennonite Pot Pie Recipe

Boil chicken, beef, or pork until soft.

Make pot pie noodles by adding one egg to 1 ½ c. flour and ½ tspn. salt and mix.

Add approximately ¼ c. water and mix; then form dough into ball.

Roll out with rolling pin, let dough dry for an hour or so.

Slice rolled-out dough into one-inch squares.

Remove boiled meat from large pot full of meat broth.

Cube three raw potatoes.

Add individual pieces of dough to boiling broth with cubed potatoes and keep stirring between the adding of the noodles.

Simmer for about 30 minutes then add meat back into broth and noodles.

Stir every few minutes to prevent noodles from sticking together.

Serve piping hot and enjoy.


JULY 31, 2012



What Will You Find at a Farmers’ Market in Snyder County?

Our farmers’ market here in Snyder County reminds me of a gigantic yard sale that includes tools, clothing, calendars, garden flowers, rifles, clocks, welcome flags, antique bottles, saddles, baseball cards and just about anything else you can imagine and at a fair price.  Besides all kinds of new and used “junk,” the food vendors are a big drawing card for Amish/Mennonite customers and the “English,” as well.

If you went to the Middleburg Farmers’ Market with me every Tuesday, you’d be able to buy fresh meats of any kind from a local butcher shop, wheat flour, rice, barley, licorice sticks, block cheese, jewelry, brown sugar, fresh fruits and veggies and so on from Amish/Mennonite vendors

Delicious Fries

and English too. You could get a breakfast biscuit at one stand and walk to the other end of one of the buildings and buy absolutely delicious

“home-made” French fries. You could walk outside into the pavilion and buy sticky buns, snitz pies, or wheat bread from an Amish woman.  And you could do all this before lunch, when you could go in the big red barn to another snack counter and get your hamburger and Coke.So what could you do after lunch? You could hang around for the auction where anything from chickens and rabbits to piglets and calves are sold. Maybe you need some hay? How about straw for bedding in your barn? Stick around. That will be auctioned off too. Hours later in the afternoon, you might just be tired enough to leave, drive home, prop up your feet on a wooden stool that you purchased, and enjoy a hoagie that you grabbed at one of the Amish food counters before you decided to leave.

I believe you’d agree with me that a farmers’ market, especially this one in Snyder County, has just about anything you would want or need … except maybe a new car. For that, you do have to drive down the highway to the auto sales lot. But for practically everything else you’d need, you could take the day, stroll through our farmers’ market, and get some really good deals:

“A Few Good Deals at Market Today”

Peck of peaches –   $9.00

Peck string beans – $6.00

Small box plums   – $1.50

Touch Me lamp   – $17.00

3 lbs. jelly beans   – $5.00

12 oz. honey         –  $3.50

6 Sticky buns         –  $2.75

2. lb. oatmeal       –  $1.50

5 lb. salt                 –  $1.15

Sweet potatoes   $. 75/lb

“Quality” sunglasses – $3.00 each

Antique ironing board – $10.00

Antique Mont.Ward sewing machine – $5.00

Used microwave – $5.00

Used “SORRY” game – $ 2.00

3 ft. Collectible Memories Porcelain Doll – $10.00

So, Amish/Mennonite fiction lovers, let me know if you’ve seen prices like this at any of your “flea” markets or shopping centers. I think you’d have to admit that these prices are not bad. Not bad at all.

Happy shopping!



JULY 24, 2012



The Hoovers at Market

Hoover Girl with Tomato Produce

Last week I took you to the Tuesday auction and farmers’ market that is five minutes down the road from my house. Today we’ll continue with our visit there and introduce you to some of my Mennonite friends, who sell produce at several local farmers’ markets, including our Middleburg Market that has been in operation for over 40 years.

I usually buy my bananas and vegetables like corn, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and sweet potatoes from Hoovers’ Produce stand inside a relatively large building that houses various vendors. The Mennonites’ prices are almost but not quite as high as the mainline grocery chain down the street. That’s one reason I like to shop at Hoovers’. The other reason is that the produce is usually fresh.

The Hoovers who have been coming with their produce to our Middleburg market for many years are part of a local Mennonite group that has a special ministry to older folks. When my aging mother developed ailments that prohibited her from attending church on Sunday evenings, the Hoovers and about fifteen other members of their church, including some deacons and quite a few young folks and children, would come to our home once a month to have a “church service.” The group would sing hymns in beautiful four-part harmony. Then one of the laymen would present a short devotional. The  hour they shared several times a year was a blessing to my mother and me, and it’s one of the fond memories I have of Mom’s last days here on earth.

Mrs. Hoover at the
Family Produce Stand

This picture is of “Mamm” Hoover, who is always at market on Tuesdays. She’s a sweet lady who is also a business woman and counts your total bill to the penny. “Daed” Hoover, here with his cantaloupes, has a very Dutchy accent. These folks are fluent in Pennsylvania Dutch, but, of course, they only converse with us

Mr. Hoover

Englischers in our native tongue.

Every Tuesday I give the Hoovers our week’s worth of newspapers, which they shred and use for cow bedding in their barn. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that they read all the papers before donating them to their cows.

July 17, 2012


I want to welcome all my Amish/Mennonite fiction fans to the first post of THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY blog. My plan is to post something “Amish” or “Mennonite” here every Tuesday, so you can enter the world of the kapped folk and see what it’s like to live as if in “days of yesteryear.” We’ll visit with Old Order Amish all the way to progressive Mennonites and, hopefully, share photos of these folks in their every day lives.

I’m fortunate to live in Snyder County, central PA, where many Amish and Mennonites live. Every Tuesday just five minutes from my house, quite a few of those folks gather at Keister’s Farm Market and Auction both to buy and to sell. I’ll share photos of some of those people, the Amish from a distance, who will not pose for a camera, and the Mennonites, who have no problem being photographed.

If you’ve read BACHELOR’S CHOICE, then you’ve already vicariously visited a farmers’ market, which I describe in detail in the book. Well, guess where I got all that information. Of course! From the real-live market that I frequent every week. Here’s the actual scene from chapter fifteen in the book:


“Every Tuesday, Bowser’s Auction and Market on route 35 outside of Mapletown was the place to be!

On the large open field next to the massive red barn complex, rows of vendors, Amish, Mennonite, and English, had set up their stands and were selling their wares by eight a.m. Mounds of fresh, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage, and baskets of fresh fruit, some shipped in from the south, some local, covered tabletops. Dozens of other tables, under canopies, displayed baseball cards, stuffed animals, old sleds, dolls, antique lamps, used clothing, carpenters’ tools, welcome flags, and a menagerie of “treasures” that wooed bargain hunters from near and far. Behind the stands were rows of trucks, vans, and Amish buggies, resting from their earlier arrival and hasty unloading.

As Katrina neatly arranged her baked goods on a wooden table, she took in a deep breath, her senses filling with a hint of grilling hot dogs and bubbling French fries. A gentle breeze sifted through the grounds, and a strong waft of horse manure invaded Katrina’s nose, the fumes trying their best to overpower the pleasant aromas of frying foods and her own baked goods.

I truly do love to come here. Katrina surveyed the passing crowd, snaking in and out among the tables. There are so many wunderbaar things to see and so many friends to meet. I’ll sorely miss this place. She stationed herself at the stand, waiting for the passersby to check out her wares. Sitting on a stool, she studied the scene before her, one that always made her heart pump a little fast.

Eager vendors were already making their pitch to a steady flow of shoppers. Other marketers lounged in the shade of their beach umbrellas, preparing for another hot August day. Hands folded on their round bellies, they scrutinized every person who came near their stand.

Katrina examined a steady stream of English folks who milled about the tables, including her own, like ants after sugar cubes. Some toted large empty bags, their eager faces betraying their desire to buy something, anything. Sunburned farmers in baseball caps mingled with plump women in tank tops and shorts. Wide-eyed kinner stared and, when mamms turned their backs, touched every toy they could reach.

As usual, the market had drawn a large gathering of local Amish. Bearded men in straw hats, white or blue shirts, and black trousers with suspenders exchanged the latest news in their Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. The women, in white kapps, granny glasses, royal blue dresses with black aprons and work boots, also chatted in their own little circles. The kinner, carbon copies of their parents, stood close to the adults and eyed the tables with wonder.”

Note the Child in Bare Feet


So there you have a taste of what a farmers’ market in “kapped country” is like. If you are living in a part of the world that has no Amish or Mennonite folk, I trust that you’ve enjoyed your little trip “to market” here in Snyder County.

In a few weeks, I’ll be visiting one of the Amish/Mennonite capitals of the world: Lancaster, PA. I’ll have dozens more photos and stories to tell. So, sign up so you receive my new blog every Tuesday and enjoy everything “Amish” and “Mennonite.”




July 11, 2012

Amish/Mennonite fiction fans, welcome to my page! I trust you’ll sign up to become regular readers of my weekly blogs, in which we’ll discuss all things Amish and/or Mennonite. I plan to post every Tuesday, so join our exclusive club and learn what it’s like to be Amish and/or Mennonite.

Living in Snyder County, central PA, a region heavily populated by Amish and Mennonite, has afforded me the luxury of knowing some of these folks personally, observing their ways, and writing with authenticity about their lifestyles.

Just five minutes away from my home is the Tuesday Keister’s Auction and Flea Market, where many Amish and Mennonite folk frequent with their baked goods,  homemade wares, chickens, rabbits,  and antique deals of the day.  A weekly social gathering as much as “business,” the Amish and Mennonite seem to enjoy interacting with English like me. They sure do enjoy taking my money!

Anyway, if you’d like to know anything about these kapped folk, let me know, and we’ll address any question you have. In the meantime, I’m going to take pictures of my Tuesday auction and flea market and from time to time post them here for you to see.

                                      “Rusty,” a buggy horse of an Amish friend

I trust you’ve enjoyed BACHELOR’S CHOICE. Watch for TEACHER’S PET,  volume 2 of THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, in a few weeks with LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN to follow shortly thereafter.

Happy reading!



  1. I’ve read Amish novels by Beverly Lewis! Sometime, I’ll have to read The Loves of Snyder county series!

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