Monday, September 18, 2017

We're NOT Farmers - Not By Any Stretch Of The Imagination

I begged. I pleaded. "Please, don't make me do it," I said. "Anything but that." I made the man a huge plate of bacon. (I hate cooking bacon.) I made him coffee. (I can't drink coffee). Then I smiled while he ate, hoping he was joking.

Hours later, darkness came. I finally finished my five thousand word quota for the day on my new Swiss Amish Christmas story. We settle in to watch American Ninja Warrior when he says, "After this goes off, we'll go cut the rooster's spurs."
My mouth drops open. He wasn't kidding. "Can't we just eat him?" (I don't eat meat.)
"It won't be so bad."
"No." I shake my head. "Get your dad to help you."
"Dad's already in bed."
"He is not!" He just got a new TV for his bedroom last weekend at a garage sale for $5. I know he's not sleeping, even though you can't see the lights on in his house across the road.
"It'll just take a minute."

My husband gets the pliers, my good pair of garden snippers, and a flimsy cardboard nailfile. (Again, mine). I tell my daughter we'll be right back, but of course she wants to come watch. We take a flashlight to the henhouse and I hold the light while he goes in and picks the rooster up by the feet off the roost. Needless to say, the rooster is not happy about being so rudely awakened, but you have to do it at night or you'll never catch him. He's been tearing up the hens pretty bad lately and my husband fears for the oldest ones.

We're not farmers. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Farmers make money with their livestock. We pay for feed every month and beg people to help relieve us from a fridge overflowing with eggs. I'm a vegetarian. One who doesn't even eat eggs or dairy, but I'm not Vegan. Vegan is some strange religion people around here are especially leery of.

I pull the pliers from my husband's pocket and hand them to him. We know how to do this because we watched two youtube videos on it before we walked out of the house.

"I need another hand," he says. "Take his other foot."
I cringe and reach for his huge, yellow foot but draw my hand back quickly before I touch it. "Do I have to?"
My daughter laughs hysterically.
The Bible verse about submitting to your husband comes to mind. I whimper as I make contact with the leg this time, holding onto it firmly. "Oh, please hurry," I say in a high-pitched voice.

My husband takes hold of the spur and gently rocks it just like in the video. It slips off easily and he spends the next minute and a half examining it because he's completely fascinated.
"We're going to get eat up," I say. (I'm not getting bit by mosquitoes and haven't seen one tonight but I want him to hurry.)

He pulls the other one off and he finally takes the other leg from me and sets the rooster down gently on the nest box. Still stunned, it doesn't even try to move.
"He's just been upside down too long. He'll be fine," I say.
"You think?"
"Yeah, you don't want him floppin' around in the dirt anyway. He's fine. Let's go inside."

My husband doesn't let us go inside yet. There could be snakes out (we know a guy who got bit by a copperhead this summer) and we only brought one flashlight so we all have to go together. (Our yard is pitch black without it.) He watches the rooster a few more minutes until he finally lets us come back in the house.

"That was a really good idea," he says. "I never would have thought to do that."
"Youtube, Dear. It's the wave of the future." I wash my hands twice and head back to my computer, thankful once again to be getting some use out my overpriced internet package. "But next time," I call out from the bedroom, "ask your dad."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Morning Before Church

"It's Sunday, ain't so?" I ask. Most days I don't know what world I'm in, much less the day.
"Yeah," my husband says. "Did you wash my overhauls?"
I roll my eyes at his word for overalls, then I cringe when he pulls them out of his closet. He's going to wear them again. He disappears into the bathroom with clanking of heavy metal buckles. I wonder what age men should start wearing overalls, but I'm sure it's not forty.

I try to wake my daughter for the third time, but she still won't rise. Acorns sound like rocks hitting the tin roof. Sometimes it's so loud it sends the dog hiding in my daughter's closet.

I'm glad for Sundays. Sunday means rest and my brain feels overheated. On Sundays I can read the Bible, visit family between churches, and practice my ukulele. Jim will be expecting a song. Jim's a long, toothpick of a man with a crooked grin you can't help but smile along with. He lets me watch his fingers when he plays guitar or dobro and I do my best to follow along on the ukulele. He calls it my little guitar. I love Jim and when he tells me to sing, I sing, whether I've practiced or not.

The first fall leaves sail down in the breeze outside the sliding glass window. It's dreary looking. If it rains I won't be able to take my ukulele to church with me tonight. My husband said he'd buy me a case for my birthday, but that was months ago. This year has gone by so fast. Ever since I started writing Amish books in January it's flew by. I've recently lost count of how many I've written, but I know I just published number nine.

I put on my headcover, a wide band of black, stretchy cloth, and slip on my sandals. It's time to go and I can't wait to get my day of rest started. I warn myself not to speak to any of my Amish characters today, but I doubt that's possible. In my mind another story's already swimming.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Who Are The Swiss Amish And Why Haven't I Heard Of Them?

As popularity for my books grow, I'm getting this question a lot. Just today I answered this on Facebook and decided it was time for a blog post. 

Who are the Swiss Amish? Well, you have to sit through a little history lesson if you want to know. When the Amish and Mennonites first settled here, they came in two waves. The first wave settled in Pennsylvania and along with other German speaking immigrants at the time they eventually formed their own language, Pennsylvania Dutch, a mixture of their German and English. (The other immigrants eventually dropped it and today it's only the Amish that speak it.) They eventually moved to different places, including Indiana. 

Then there was a second wave of immigrants from Switzerland and other places. They moved directly to Indiana and named their settlement Berne (with an E) after their native homeland of Bern, Switzerland. The two groups didn't intermingle. Some time had passed, maybe 100 years or more, but there's a mutual respect between them. They speak different languages and have different customs. Swiss Amish speak a Swiss German dialect so different than that of the Pennsylvania Dutch that when they do get together they speak English to understand one another. The Swiss Amish drive only open top buggies and don't use headstones to mark graves. They also yodel like in the Swiss Alps. Most are more closed off to the world than the Pennsylvania Dutch, and so less is known about them. 

Many authors who write about the Amish of Seymour (a Swiss Amish settlement in Missouri, where I'm from) and other Swiss Amish settlements, they write as if they are Pennsylvania Dutch living in Missouri. Completely false. Some states like Indiana have both Amish groups.

I worked for over two months to find the exact dialect they speak. It's not a written language, only a spoken one, and there is no Swiss Amish to English dictionary you can order from Amazon. The only way is to form friendships with someone who speaks it. 

I've learned so much about the Swiss Amish this year and I share a lot of that knowledge in my newest book, A Christmas Courtship, where three generations of Swiss Amish courtship practices come together to make a touching, yet humorous romance. It's only $0.99 for Kindle, free with Kindle Unlimited, and also available in paperback.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Rural Missouri Baptism

It's September and the creeks are nearly dry now. While other parts of the country face flooding in record amounts, we watch as Swan Creek struggles to cross the slab just down from the house.

It's Sunday, and a girl who had been considering it since Bible school this summer has finally come to a decision for Christ. There's a big dinner after services and an hour just to visit. Then we all go down to the creek. A long line of cars park on the side of a one-lane dirt road. I'm on the passenger side and have to exit the car in weeds waist high, hoping not to surprise a snake.

Picture of Swan Creek, down by my house.
It feels twenty degrees cooler in the shade, so a group forms under the sycamore trees. Some of the women have on dresses or skirts with slick blouses while others wear jeans. The men wear western shirts, and some (including my husband) are dressed in overalls. We wait a few minutes for people from neighboring churches to arrive. Soon songbooks are passed out and we have a prayer before we all sing, "Shall We Gather At The River."

The preacher says a few words, hands his cell phone and Bible to his wife, then wades with the girl to the deepest part he can find. He states the girl's full name and says, "I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." I hold my breath, hoping there's enough water to fully submerge her. She goes under and comes back up a church member. She pushes back wet hair and everyone claps. They walk back to the shore and a line is formed for everyone to shake her hand.

My daughter, who is painfully shy, clings to my side, and as I take her hand to leave, I hope in my heart that the next baptism we attend might be hers. She's eight, with a strong belief in God, but hasn't yet asked Him into her heart. I smile at my husband, remembering the first day of spring when I was twelve and he and I were baptized in Swan Creek. Suddenly my worry dissolves into thankfulness that God's timing is nothing like ours and I have faith that my daughter will answer when He calls her.

Tattie Maggard is the best selling author of The Amish of Swan Creek series, where she combines her own Missouri heritage with that of the local Swiss Amish community. Her books are available for Kindle or in paperback exclusively on

Monday, September 4, 2017

New Release - A Swiss Amish Christmas Series

What’s more important—what everyone else thinks, or what you hear from your heart? Schwartz has always loved to sing, ever since she was little and her teacher taught her to yodel. She’s thrilled when she’s asked to help with the Christmas program the Amish school is putting on—even more so when she finds Lucas Wickey has also volunteered to help.

Despite being “slow,” Lucas can sing better than anyone in Swan Creek Settlement. As her feelings for him grow, she must decide what’s more important—what everyone else thinks, or what she’s hearing from her heart.

Approximately 22,000 words, this is a stand-alone story.

I Hear Christmas (A Swiss Amish Christmas Book 1)