Missing Fingers, Bulls$hit, and Cuckoos

Hey Lori, you still good with me staying with you for a couple days?  I should be there mid-afternoon Sunday.

Sure, but I was expecting you on Monday. . .

Shit!  With the shift in my travel plans, I got my days all mixed up.  Well, truth be told, I’m famous for mixing up dates and times, so it’s not at all surprising :-/

As a retired Army officer, her ability to adjust on the fly is as keen as ever!  She didn’t miss a beat and insisted that this will work even better.  Her brother-in-law was having a finger party at their Air B&B on Sunday afternoon, so I could join them! 

Umm, I’m afraid to ask what a finger party is.

Well, he didn’t want to celebrate a milestone birthday, but was OK with celebrating the 40th anniversary of losing two fingers in a childhood lawnmower incident!  Now this sounds like people with the kind of sense of humor I could spend time with!  I was not disappointed.  The party included family, childhood friends, and even a first responder who had showed up the day of the incident (who is still a close family friend) as well as desserts resembling mangled hands and fingerless jokes told by his kids!  And their Air B&B, Liberty Hill Lodge in New Philadelphia, OH is incredible.

Jeff’s great sense of humor shown thru on a day of endless fingerless jokes! Such a fun day with Lori’s sister Jonna and brother-in-law Jeff.

I had stopped by Ashtabula County on my way to Lori’s to check out the numerous covered bridges for which they are known- including the longest and shortest! 

Lori took me to Amish country near her family’s farm where she grew up, which included the Stutzman’s Crossing covered bridge at Walnut Creek.  The bridge is in Holmes County, which has become the largest Amish settlement in the world.  We started our tour of the county at the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center where an incredibly knowledgeable teacher took us through the history of the region through a “10 ft tall by 265 ft long cyclorama (mural in the round), that illustrates the heritage of the Amish and Mennonite people from their Anabaptist beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525 to present day.”  

Hay baling Amish style.
As common a mode of transportation as horse and buggy, the Amish get around on electric bicycles in Holmes County. An Amish cruising through the the covered bridge at Stutzman’s Crossing at Walnut Creek.
Cyclorama depiction of first Mennonite preacher sailing to America from Europe around 1680s

As interesting as Amish country was, the highlight of the trip however, was spending time with the Sigrist family and touring the family farm.  One of the great joys of making friends in the military is that you often get to know their families and have the privilege of learning about their areas of the world. Although I had met most of her family a few times over the years, I had never been to the Sigrist farm, so it was a real treat to get to see the multi-generational farm first hand.   What started out as a dairy farm has now become a thriving compost business, Bull Country Compost.  It was fascinating to see, and mind-boggling to hear, how complex the process is to turn the abundance of cow and heifer manure in the region into high quality compost for commercial and residential uses.  I love science! 

Lori, her mom Linda, and me at the family farm, which is now Bull Country Compost.
Lori’s dad John, and her brother Tim, initially developed the compost, and Tim has been refining it to perfection over the years since. Even my non-green thumb could grow something with this beautiful compost!
Organic compost produced by Bull Country Compost. Spread the bull 🙂

Of course, no visit to the area known as the Little Switzerland of Ohio would be complete without a visit to the Giant Cuckoo clock in Sugar Creek!  It was featured on the cover of the Guiness Book of World Records in 1978 as the world’s largest cuckoo clock.  We showed up on the half hour and watched as the wooden band emerged to play a polka for the dancer figurines to twirl around to.  The kids that had gathered got the biggest kick out of it (and so did I!)

Guiness Book of World Record Cuckoo Clock
Me and Lori enjoying the half hour Cuckoo clock show

Although my time in Ohio was short, it was packed full of sightseeing and time well-spent with a good friend and her family 🙂

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