Day Trippin’ With Uncle Mike: Amish Country

“Day Trippin with Uncle Mike” is a Pickerington Online series featuring fun trips within a few hours of Violet Township, Ohio. Michael Nicodemus is a biology professor, birder, travel enthusiast & uncle.

July 1, 2021
by Pickerington Online Contributor Dr. Michael Nicodemus

As you approach Ohio Amish Country, the landscape is undulating with rolling hills, alternating between patches of forest, agricultural fields, and pastures. Sparrows, goldfinches, and blackbirds perch on fence posts or emerge from the tall grass only to disappear into another field. There are many routes you can choose to get to Amish country, so we chose to take some of the gravel roads around the area in order to see some of the local birds. A two-hour drive from Pickerington is Holmes County, Ohio – home to the worlds’ largest Amish settlement. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
If you ask most people familiar with Amish Country where the best place to eat is, they will tell you Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen in Mt. Hope. The food is buffet style or can be ordered off the menu. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
Everything they serve is really good, but they are best known for their fried chicken. The fried chicken is the best I have ever had. They also have amazing bread, peanut butter, pot roast, mashed potatoes, and salad. If you manage to still be hungry, they have great pie as well. Photo by Michael Nicodemus

The name “Breitenbach” is German, meaning “bright or broad stream”, and is the name of the stream that runs through the grounds. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
The Breitenbach Wine Cellars in Dover has a beautiful exterior. Inside, there is a wine-tasting room, where you can sample any of their 20-30 wines. They say that their “Frost Fire” wine is like biting into a grape. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it has a nice, crisp, refreshing flavor.
Photo by Michael Nicodemus
There are at least three cheese-makers in Ohio Amish Country. All of them have elaborately-designed buildings and great cheese. Most of the time, they will have samples of all of their cheeses, but not right now because of coronavirus. All the cheese at Guggisberg in Berlin is very good, and they have some varieties that are not common like smoked Swiss cheese. They also have a good variety of dried meats, sauces, snacks, and souvenirs. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Guggisberg is the “Home of the Original Baby Swiss”. The factory also was crowned grand champion at the U.S. Cheese Competition, beating out more than 2,500 other factories from across the nation.
Photo by Michael Nicodemus
The Amish people immigrated from Germany and Switzerland to America in the 17th century. That heritage is evident in the fine woodwork available for purchase throughout Holmes County, including these Bavarian-style clocks found at Guggisberg. While most Amish speak English, they also speak a language known as “Pennsylvania Dutch” which is a combination of English, German and Dutch. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Lehman’s in Kidron is more than a hardware store. They do have quite a selection of hardware, especially of the home-steading style (things like canning, candle-making, etc.). They also have a sections of puzzles, toys, candy, clothes, kitchen utensils, and outdoors goods. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
The layout feels like a maze, which gives it a fun feeling of discovery as you wander through the store. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Jay Lehman founded his store in 1955 to serve the local Amish with non-electric household goods. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Kauffman’s is one of the many bakeries of Amish country. They sell fresh-made bread, pastries, and snacks as well as ice cream and a variety of spices and sauces. “A typical day for the staff of Kauffman’s Country Bakery can mean baking around 250 loaves of bread, 100 cookies and more than 100 pies for tourists and locals alike,” according to Kauffman’s website. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
Keim Lumber in Charm is a beautiful, clean home improvement store. Their big claim-to-fame is that they have over 100 types of lumber including some really beautiful exotic varieties. They sell them in typical lumber sizes and also as blanks for pen-making or other small-scale woodworking projects. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Amish people generally adopt a simple mode of living, dress plainly and modestly, and limit their use of modern technology. Much of the way that they farm is reminiscent of what farming would have been like 100 years ago all across the United States. They make more use of human and animal power and less of electrical. Depending on what subgroup they belong to, they may use more or less powered-equipment.

We saw several beautiful fields of wheat shocks in Amish Country. The purpose of the wheat shock is to stand up the wheat to dry prior to threshing. This method of harvesting and processing grain is unusual to see outside of Amish Country, since many “modern” farmers would use a combine, which harvests and separates the grain in the same machine. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
Ernest Warther was a very talented artist. His primary artistic designs were scale models of trains made out of materials like ivory and ebony. He worked at a time in history when ivory was not illegal to own and ebony-harvesting did not carry with it the moral implications it has today. He crafted each of the parts of his artworks by hand, even crafting his own knives to carve the wood and ivory. The Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens (Dover) is built around the original location of Ernest and Frieda’s home and his original workshop. Photo by Michael Nicodemus
Equally interesting are the Warther’s collections of arrowheads and buttons. Mrs. Warther collected over 70,000 buttons and arranged many of them into beautiful designs. The whole Warther family collected arrowheads and then arranged them into beautiful patterns as well. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
Frieda Warther’s buttons art. Photo by Earl Nicodemus
The Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center has historical displays and a large library of Anabaptist-related books. You can arrange a buggy ride and a tour of Behalt, which is a 10 x 265 foot mural about Anabaptist history. (We did not go on the tours because we were running low on time at this point.) Photo by Michael Nicodemus
To me, Miller’s Rustic Furniture in Saltillo is like a combination furniture store/art gallery. Much of the furniture there is made on site, and it is all beautiful. They use fine hardwoods and often have a mixture of planed wood and smoothed branches. The prices are higher than you would see at a regular furniture store, but the quality and the beauty of the furniture are so great, that prices are very reasonable for what you get.
Photo by Michael Nicodemus

Photo by Earl Nicodemus