Miss Part I of Adams County Journal? Click here to catch-up.
The "Wheat Ridge" Amish settlement in Ohio seems to have struck a delicate balance that works. It's one of the most traditional Amish settlements that I have encountered. By diversifying their local economy the Amish here seem to have shielded themselves from the ravages of the Great Recession that hit Indiana settlements so hard. The Amish here are not dependent on factory work but instead have built a range of businesses from metal works and pallet shops to home-based bird seed businesses, shoe stores, and bakeries. Farming isn't a very viable way of life in the rocky, hilly Adams County soil, so the Amish here are a bit more immune from the mercurial agri-economy. In other words, this is a "Goldilocks community", they seem to have gotten everything "just right." The rural location of the community insulates it somewhat from city influences. This is in no way making it sound like this is paradise. As any place there have been issues in this Amish settlement, but, from an outsider's perspective, this is an Amish settlement that seems to have "gotten it right." In my opinion the hardscrabble hills and unforgiving land will keep this Amish community from growing too much. The settlement started in the mid-1970s and has grown to four church districts. I think that's probably about the limit for the area. The Amish population has been growing far faster just to the north in neighboring Highland County where there is plenty of arable, flat land at cheap prices. Here are some other highlights and observations about the settlement (more in Part III later this week):
Buggies: This settlement features a mixture of buggies. Traditional closed top buggies rule, but spring and summer in Adams County is an indescribable riot of colorful wild flowers, migrating birds, Appalachian breezes, and star-speckled skies. Who wants to be closed up in a buggy when you can experience such beauty with all your senses? Because of this, open carts are also popular. This youngster took advantage of one of the first 40-degree days in some time to take his pony and cart out for a ride.
Homes: Like the buggies, the homes are a mix of styles. Unlike much older settlements where the Amish came in as pioneers clearing land and building homes, the Wheat Ridge community started in the 1970s, so the Amish generally moved into existing homes. When an Amish family acquires land they'll build from scratch. This is one of the newer homes cloaked in a surrounding field of snow. So you see a mix of old farmsteads, newer almost suburban style homes, and even a few ranch sprinkled in.
SCOOTERS: Bicycles with their aerodynamics, penchant for traveling longer distances, and just general worldliness have not been permitted in Wheat Ridge, but foot-powered scooters are allowed. Old and young alike use these to zip around on solo trips to school or between family. This man scooting off was probably in his 60s and fit from the exercise. We had pulled to the shoulder of the road to look for a red-tailed hawk that had landed atop a cedar tree. The man stopped beside our car and I exchanged pleasantries with him and asked if he minded if I got his photo as he pedaled away.