Op-Ed in Cleveland Plain Dealer

I hope you will click on over to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where a new op-ed I wrote was printed this morning. A lively discussion has already started, and I hope you will join it.

The piece is called Amish Buggies Leaving a Smelly Issue in their Wake.

Here is an excerpt:

I grew up Amish, so I know both sides of this issue. From inside a buggy, one has a close-up view of horse manure being a natural outcome. Riding behind a live animal with instincts is precarious and one soon learns that horses are touchy about their backsides. This makes utilizing a catch bag a dangerous idea. Stopping a buggy on a city street to "clean up" is just as dangerous.

Please share this widely. It is an issue that concerns Amish communities everywhere, especially in the newer communities, where the mainstream culture is not used to horses leaving messes on their streets.

"Pristine" Amish homestead in Ohio

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14 thoughts on “Op-Ed in Cleveland Plain Dealer”

  1. Pingback: Op-Ed in Cleveland Plain Dealer | Former Amish News

  2. I like your idea of turning it into an asset and using on community organic
    gardens, recycle, reuse!!! Personally, I have no problem with it and I visit many Amish areas from Berlin Ohio to Lancaster Pa.
    You would think these communities, as a whole, would have more important things to worry about and address than some horse manure on the side of the road. Thank you Saloma for your words of wisdom!!!!

  3. Manure happens? Bwahaha. I love your writing Saloma. The catch bag issue is starting to crop up here in Goshen. Some of it is the mess factor, the other is concern over it getting into the watershed and feeding the growing problem with phosphorus and algae. At Shipshe lake one of the Public Access for boats has a horse stand at the edge of the water. All that pee and poo gets caked and then ends up in the lake. Shipshe Lake is very distressed, totally green, but hanging in there.

    But really, horse manure from roads a big threat? No. Over fertilized lawns, farmers who refuse to plant carefully, fertilizer run off, livestock farms ,etc…yes, those are huge problems in the watershed. People don’t see that or want to fix it.

    And I totally agree with you about the symbolism of the buggy. I love seeing them, representative of a simpler lifestyle. I think ‘the English’ have become far too complacent and confident in their English lifestyle. Peace out.

    1. Beth, thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you were amused. How could I write this piece without humor? 

      That sounds like an issue with Shipshe Lake. It sounds to me like moving the hitching post away from the edge of the water would be a good start. I bet the Amish guys could do that in half a day.

      I think the horse piles on the road become a symbol for cleaning up our act, but people are definitely focusing on the wrong issues. Taking care of all those other issues you mentioned… that takes mindful attention and hard decisions. Most people want easy solutions.

      Peace out… I like it.

  4. First off, Saloma you handled some of the comments in the Plain Dealer with more grace than I would have. The Amish communities that I visit are rural and all of this is a non-issue. Amish from Conewango, NY have moved into new areas and have experienced “manure issues.” The problems seem to go away as folks get to know each other. The Old Older Mennonites in the Penn Yan, NY area also have had problems which seem to have been resolved. Some folks have too much time on their hands!

    1. Tom, thank you for the comments. If everyone had agreed with what I wrote, I would have been mightily surprised. 

      What you had to say confirms what seems to be the trend… the established communities don’t seem to have this issue… 

      I hope you’re right that as the Amish become acquainted with their neighbors, this becomes a non-issue. But it seems in Auburn, Kentucky, as time passed, this issue became more polarized than ever. 

      Thanks very much for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Elisabeth Keener

    Saloma, I am late getting to your blog, but this is one I had to respond to. I have had horses for 60 of my 70 years, as well as sheep, a llama, Border Collies, etc. I have always loved the fragrances of horses, ALL of the smells, even the manure. Additionally, those catch bags are not the wretched things many make them out to be. They are used on horses in many cities without the horses getting spooked. If they are introduced slowly to the horses, they will be accepted. We have quite a large and a growing community of Amish and Old Order Mennonites here in the Cumberland Valley of PA, so the horses, and their manure, are ever present. If there are complaints, they are very few. And I agree with you, I would far rather smell horse manure than diesel exhaust. Three years of living along Philadelphia’s Main Line, with all the diesel buses, was enough to make me homesick for the fragrance of freshly-plowed fields, and yes, manure.

    1. Elizabeth, I’m glad you found this post and thank you for your comments. I can imagine that using catch bags on horses in the city is a different animal from the Amish using them on open country roads, where their horses often trot along at a good pace.

      You live in a beautiful area. Because Amish and Old Order Mennonites have lived in that area for a while, it doesn’t surprise me that there aren’t many complaints about the manure.

      I know other people who like the smell of horse manure. I’m afraid I won’t go that far… I like the smell of horses… until manure happens.

      Thank you again for your comments.

  6. Hi Saloma
    Looks like I’m late to the conversation here. I want to play devil’s advocate on this subject. I have several reasons. One is that, in my opinion, obviously, when the Amish live in rural areas, the manure isn’t really an issue. But the reality is, the Amish don’t all live in rural areas, and in some cases, there are high density Amish communities living along side high density non Amish populations. This situation calls for a more nuanced, live and let live position. In these situations, especially when petitions arise requesting the Amish to address the issue, there is another important element that needs to be in play, and it’s the Amish religious calling to address the grievances their neighbors have of them. It is not a pro Amish position to allow or encourage the Amish to get drawn into the rural versus urban culture wars. In short, I think it behooves the Amish to come up with a solution.
    Here is what a solution could look like. You are right that horses might spook when subjected to a bag. But I don’t think it is a unsurmountable issue. Horses are subjected to innumerable amounts of slapping, chafing, and constraints to a fairly humiliating degree. Having grown up Amish, you have recognize this if you just think about it rationally. A bit in their mouth and a crupper around their tail? Are you kidding me? What about all the other unexpected things like a plastic bag blowing across the road in front of them, a truck engaging its jake brake, or the infinite number of situations in which a horse might spook?
    The point is, surely horses can also adapt to a catch bag. And yeah, some horses might be high risks, but again, if you know anything about being Amish, you already know that they make choices about which horse is safe-aculturated enough to drive into town or onto that highway, during rush hour. Some horses might need to be swapped-sold to family members in more rural areas where poop isn’t an issue.
    But, say for example, municipalities would give incentives, like tax breaks to horse trainers who acculturate the incoming generation of young horses to poop bags, eventually most horses would be okay with it. The goal needn’t be one hundred percent compliance, that way the tourist could still see the occasional poop pile. How is that for a market solution?
    This could be started off with crowd sourcing a fund, which would give cash prizes to inventors who designed, fabricated, and field tested the most practical, functional, and user friendly poop bag.
    If the Amish are to be a part of the modern era, it’s time engage their issues, not with reactionary assumptions that they-we can forever live in a make believe world, but with grounded in reality engagement of the issues.

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