Editor’s note: The Amish sometimes get a bad rap for their treatment of animals. However, in my interaction with the Yoder’s I’ve seen nothing but humane treatment and genuine love for them. The Amish represent a large, diverse, nuanced group of people now numbering close to 400,000 in the United States and Canada and, just like in any large population of people, you’ll have a spectrum of behaviors represented. Daniel and Gloria Yoder are, in my mind, representative of a younger generation of more progressive-thinking Amish that view the animals as part of God’s kingdom and treat them as such. While there are issues with inhumane animal breeding in some Amish settlements, the Yoder’s are not a part of that. — Kevin Williams
How about sizing up a comment made by my cousin’s husband?
“I am convinced that interacting with animals instills a certain amount of commonsense in children.”
When I heard it, I just smiled. In fact, it sounded a bit humorous or even maybe a little far-fetched to my way of thinking. But, you know, since he said that my mind keeps returning to that statement time and again. I’ll let you decide whether or not it is true.
As Julia, 5, keeps growing up and interacting with animals more and more we also notice a developing maturity in feeling able and responsible to care for our pets. Take, for example, Julia and Austin. Both were thrilled with delight when a friend presented a fish bowl, goldfish, and pretty little stones to go with it, for their birthdays this past fall. Julia was especially impressed when daddy explained to her that she is now the one responsible to feed the fish.
As she watches them grow and gives me reminders to change the water, she does really feel like she’s grown several inches. Every now and then she comes to me standing as straight as possible asking if I think she has grown some more.
In talking about animals, horses rank among the top of Julia’s favorites. No one is as faithfully committed to giving them words of affirmation than Julia. If we are going up a hill with the horse and buggy and she calls out encouragingly “good girl, Sapphire!”
The cutest and best of all is Julia and her little puppies. She literally spends hours with them. Austin is right behind wanting to do everything Julia does whether it is cradling them in soft baby blankets or giving them rides in their toy dump truck. Of course with him being a 2-year-old boy I always need to say “stay off of his tail,” reminding him that pulling on the little puppies tails and things as such are not kind ways to treat these adorable little pets. Julia on the other hand is like a little mommy talking to them as if they understood each word.
A week ago Julia was absolutely in her glory when we told her she could take a puppy along to my parents where they were hosting a hymn singing for our church that evening. She danced with delight as I helped her pack a purse with an extra blanket and so forth just in case. Sitting on her little seat in the back of the buggy her grin reached ear to ear as she clutched her little bundle.
Upon arriving mom had prepared a tasty supper including a huge pot of soup with bologna slices on the side and Jell-O salads and “company cake” for dessert. This was a perfect meal for a winter’s evening for the guests who had come for supper and singing.
Julia was a proud little mama as she showed her friends her little “girl” which she had named Sugar.
This summer we also hope to get chickens so we can have our own eggs and perhaps a cow or a goat for milk. A kitten is also on Julia’s list for the spring.
While our discussion here is primarily about the children and their love of animals and how this helps them develop, I would like to inject that I too enjoy trailing after Daniel, helping with the animal chores, or building fences for them. As a young girl I loved the quiet freshness of the morning as I sometimes took a turn milking our goat or feeding the rabbits. Now since I am married Daniel takes the primary responsibility for the farm-related things though I do enjoy joining him.
Now, rewinding to my mother’s supper I need to introduce you to my family’s “company cake” recipe. You can also drizzle a glaze over the cake if you desire, but the cake is also great without.
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients well and pour into two 8 inch greased cake pans.
Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Top all four cakes with crumbs. Cool and enjoy.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.