National Geographic : 1970 Jul
The Hutterites, Plain People of the West they've been great neighbors to me and to everybody else around here. "Lots of times I call Joe and tell him I'm in a bind-can he spare a man? I always get two or three. I'm 50 years old and getting too stiff to break horses, so I call Joe to see if he's got a boy who'd like to ride a colt for me. Well, those kids don't like anything better. And when I offer to pay Joe he always says 'give it to the boys.' They don't get much allowance, you know, and Joe works it out so different boys get a chance at the extra spending mon ey. And during branding time, when every body needs help, they'd be insulted if we didn't call." NO MATTER what colony I was visit ing, when the dinner bell rang there was always room for me at the table. The main dining room, where meals are served, is referred to as "the kitchen." The women take turns cooking, as with other jobs, such as soapmaking and baking bread. At the long wooden tables gleaming from many coats of varnish, everyone sits accord ing to age, with the boss and the oldest man at one end. Very young children do not eat with the adults, but are fed earlier. Before eating, heads are bowed and the boss, or in his absence the oldest baptized man, says grace: "Herr Gott, himmlisher Vater, segne uns diese Gaben, die wir empfangen werden von Deiner reichen, milden guten Hand, durch Jesum Christum.Amen." "Lord God, Heavenly Father,bless us these gifts that we from Thy bountiful, kind hands will receive, through Jesus Christ. Amen." The food, although not fancy, is plentiful and filling. There are meat and potatoes, sev eral vegetables, fresh-baked bread, honey, and invariably noodle soup and fried eggs. On some days there may be a Hutterite specialty such as schuttenkrapfen, a dumpling made from cottage cheese wrapped in dough. In the Latest style is more than four centuries old. This young girl braids her hair back and front as did her mother and generations before her. After finishing, she will don the traditional polka-dot head scarf. Gardening on their knees, Surprise Creek women thin sprouting carrots, beets, and parsnips. When the snow flies, tables will still be heavy with vegetables; careful preserv ing of foods follows the teachings of Jacob Hutter, the 16th-century leader for whom the sect is named: "You should gather in when it is summer, so that in... dangerous time of winter you will have something to draw upon...."