My calendar tells me it’s officially winter now, which may be what inspired me to start a log fire the other day (even though it wasn’t really fireplace-cold weather yet).

Winter Fire Ceramic Stove

How bloggers keep warm in winter

In fact, I’ve got another crackler going as I write this post, since I love fires so much. Again not so much for heat purposes as much as for the smell and sound (I suspect I’m not the only one who does this).

Consider this introduction my roundabout entry into today’s topic–keeping warm in buggies. As an English person, it’s nice having an on-board combustion engine and some handy knobs to provide instant heat when traveling. When your engine has four legs it’s not quite so convenient.

The last super-cold-weather buggy ride I took, I believe, was with Mark Curtis while paying a visit to his Ohio settlement.

A heavy blanket kept us warm for the duration of that night-time ride, a trip down to a neighbor’s for supper. Though Mark doesn’t use a heater, his buggy, like most, is enclosed with a storm front, which I imagine must help tremendously.

Pity those poor souls in churches which don’t use enclosed buggies – Swartzentruber Amish, Nebraska Amish churches, and the Swiss Amish with their open carriages, to name a few. Seems character-building, at the least.

On that note, David Arment today shares a little anecdote touching on buggy heaters in the Elkhart-Lagrange Amish settlement. At the end, I’ve added a link to a post from last year explaining more about these heaters and how they work.

Did you ever wonder if it is cold in an Amish buggy in the winter time? I’m sure you have and I’m sure it is. The walls are so thin in those things that it HAS to be cold. And here in Indiana we have really cold winter weather and we have snow and howling wind. And it gets cold (yes I know I mentioned this already, but I want you to understand it gets COLD!)

My Amish neighbors, when I lived in Millersburg Indiana, would on occasion see one of my Amish buggy pictures. It seemed a game for them to figure out which buggy belonged to whom. And if there was more than one of them looking at a picture it seemed they had to find agreement on whose buggy it was. They always were in agreement although I was doubtful as they all look the same to me.

My friend Lamar saw the picture below and said immediately, “That’s us!”

“How do you know that is you? All Amish buggies look alike.”

He blinked at me in disbelief because in his mind nothing could be farther from the truth. “No that is us. That is our buggy and our horse”.

I asked about heaters in buggies, because that picture (below) reminded me how cold it must be in those buggies.

Black and White Amish Buggy Winter David Arment

Lamar told me “yes” some people have heaters in their buggies.

“So do you have a heater in your buggy, Lamar?”

Lamar said he did not, which puzzled me because (as you know) it gets really cold here.

Lamar said that the heaters were propane and he didn’t think they were safe.

So, “yes” it is cold in the buggies. And, “Yes” they have heaters, but the benefit of staying warm is offset by the danger of death. Nothing ruins one’s day like not being alive when the day is over.

I don’t know if the number of Amish who use heaters is greater than those who don’t. I’ll ask my friend Sam when I see him next. He gives buggy rides that start in downtown Shipshewana.

If I were Amish I’d use a heater, because it is cold here in Indiana. What would you do?

Here’s a photo of a propane buggy heater, shared last year by reader ShipshewanaIndiana, along with pricing. You can’t see it here, but it connects to a propane tank by a hose a couple-few feet long.

Buggy Heater Propane Power

He also shared the following:

They usually mount the heater in the middle of the dash.  They run on propane gas and the the tank goes in the back of the buggy.  Most buggy heaters are blue flame as opposed to infrared.  Infrared heats by emitting infrared rays which nearby objects like buggy blankets absorb.  I believe some do use infrared heaters in their buggies, but I know they are not considered safe.

You’ll find that full post along with another photo here. And I for one will give a little thanks for another convenience I take for granted.

Get the Amish in your inbox