In an effort to learn all we could about horse-powered farming and horse-drawn farm implements, we recently attended Horse Progress Days in Arcola, IL.  It is an annual event, but it is in a different state each year, hitting IL only once every 6-8 years.  I couldn’t pass it up!!

Out of respect for the Amish, we didn’t take a lot of photos.  The Amish don’t appreciate being photographed, and because this is an Amish-hosted event, at an Amish farm, in an Amish community, there are LOTS of Amish folk around.  It’s nearly impossible to take a photo without getting close-ups of Amish. There were also a lot of Mennonites, and I wasn’t sure what their feelings were regarding photography.

In any case, we did get a few.  I wish we had a gotten a photo of the horse-and-carriage parking area. There had to have been well over 100. Of course, as we drove in, the kiddos were fascinated by all the horse-drawn Amish buggies we passed–most on their way to the event.  When we arrived, there was a designated field, complete with hitching rails and water troughs for the horses and buggies to park, an area just for bicycles, and another field for cars and trucks.  It didn’t end there, though.  As we emerged from our van, a huge wagon drawn by a team of draft mules pulled up and offered us a ride.  We couldn’t resist.  We hopped on, and enjoyed our ride to the main event.  Of course, with my big mouth and the way I have of sticking my foot deep into it, I fear I managed to thoroughly insult the mules before we arrived.  I really didn’t mean to, I just don’t like mules, and S and I got into a conversation with the Mennonites riding along with us (who also had a preference for horses).  Oh well.

When we got there, the main form of transport and kiddo activities around the event was all horse, pony, or miniature-driven wagons.

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There was a petting zoo.  Although there were some cute little critters, the owner (a commercial business hired for the event) had a too-skinny black bear, and an even thinner lion and cougar tightly confined into cramped cages for people to look at.  I hate seeing wildlife confined like that.

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Then there was the main event.  We missed the horse pull competitions, and didn’t really care about all the field plowing and cultivating demos.  We did make sure to attend the hay-making demo, though, as that will be our first big job with our horse.

A team of Belgians pulling a forecart, attached to a hay rake of some sort.

A team of Belgians pulling a forecart, attached to a hay rake of some sort.

It was a rather warm day, so we treated ourselves to some fresh, homemade ice cream.

Kiddos watching the ice cream being made.

Kiddos watching the ice cream being made.

An antique, gas-powered, John Deere ice cream maker.

An antique, gas-powered, John Deere ice cream maker.

Trust me, it was DELICIOUS!

Trust me, it was DELICIOUS!

After we had our fill of the event, an Amish guy I have been conversing with on the phone (yes, some are allowed to have phones in their businesses or at the end of their driveways) got to meet, and he gave us directions (Amish style, since everything is traveled by horse and buggy) to go visit a Jersey heifer we are looking to buy.  We got to go see her and see how she looked.    I loved driving through all the Amish farms.  It is such peaceful, beautiful country.  I could totally live there!

Then, it was off to grab a bite of dinner.  No where sounded better than a good Amish-made meal at Yoder’s Kitchen.

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Finally, we headed home.  I think every child but JR slept the whole way.  All in all, a really good day!

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