47 responses to The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish
  • *
    Margaret
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 07:36)

    Great post! I agreed with everything you said!

    We are visiting in Hutchinson, KS, today, so I’m sure we will drive over to Yoder and stop into an Amish business or two, too.

  • *
    Harriet
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 08:10)

    Erik,

    You asked us to let you know if things on this website were not functioning correctly. I did not receive this in my e-mail today. I noticed it by going back to older e-mails and saw it under “recent comments”. Just thought you might want to know.

  • *
    Diane Paulson
    Comment on Good One (June 19th, 2015 at 08:11)

    Good One

    Hey, Erik, this was an enjoyable one for me, out here in California, reading too many Amish fiction novels. Thanks for the reality check. I could take the early hours, the lack of tech, but no place for down time? Maybe a walk would suffice. Thanks!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Diane. Yes I do go on walks and jogs sometimes. Sunday is usually a little quieter. I guess social time in the evening or other get-togethers is always pretty active, that’s when I get to talk to a lot of people 🙂

      • *
        Tom Geist
        Comment on Thanks... (June 19th, 2015 at 23:55)

        Thanks...

        Thanks for the topic Erik.

        If you don’t mind saying, how was it you stayed a week and/or the couple of months that you did with the people?

        Signed….Mister Nosy

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    Carolyn B
    Comment on Sleep (June 19th, 2015 at 08:23)

    Sleep

    Without the electric lights, what time is bedtime, since the head of house is probably rising at 4 a.m.?? I would think after a couple of days I could adjust to a different sleep schedule.
    Thanks for this post, Erik.

    • There’s definitely light after dark if you want it, but farm families especially tend to turn in earlier (although my friends seem to make an exception when I visit). They are good at working on a few hours’ sleep 🙂 I guess 9 or 10-ish? Probably easier to go to bed earlier in the winter of course.

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    Slightly-handled-Order-man
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 09:21)

    I would imagine that becoming the default Amish taxi is actually a fair trade off, in a way I suppose its you pulling your weight.

    A pair of questions, Erik, when your with your Amish friends, do they put you to work, and
    do you adopt Amish clothing, or are you still Amish in appearance when visiting your Amish friends for prolonged periods?

    Awesome post today, Erik.

    • *
      Comment on Being the taxi (June 19th, 2015 at 11:02)

      Being the taxi

      That’s how I think of it and have no problem at all (as I mentioned, I actually enjoy taxiing–just can be logistically challenging sometimes 🙂 ).

      In answer to your questions, I do get put to work sometimes, but I never wear Amish clothing. I think they dressed my brother up in some Amish garb as a a joke once 🙂

      Glad you liked the post!

  • *
    Donna J
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 09:34)

    Love this post! Gives you a good insight into what their day is like! I could easily fit into all the categories except the rising without electricity part. I could brush my teeth in the dark but it would take some getting use too and I also could not visit when it got extremely hot like in August!!! Any other month I could make it! That is why I guess the business I have is called “Almost Amish” !! I am a wanna be but not quite disciplined enough to be!!!! I hang all my clothes out, can our food and still manage to work a full time job outside the home but when I come home in south central Texas gotta have that AC!!!

    Do you rise and do the chores also? Just curious!!

    • Happy you liked it Donna! I have gotten up for chores (milking-related) before, but I’m not required to 🙂 When I stay on the produce farm they don’t have the same early AM demands. One thing I enjoyed last time was collecting maple sap for syrup. That was an evening thing which stretched til after dark.

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    Anonymous
    Comment on Amish! (June 19th, 2015 at 10:06)

    Amish!

    The closes Amish to Rochester, MN;
    is in Haromy,N near the IA State Line!

    I’ll get back to you if those:
    Anish People have had
    Communicated wit other Communication;
    Temporary have an English as as Guest!

  • *
    K in PA
    Comment on Living with Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 12:06)

    Living with Amish

    Eric, your post is excellent and so right on.
    I too find that living amongst Amish can be very interesting as well as rewarding… While yes, you become a taxi, you also find all the neat little nook & cottage businesses you would never know existed. Some don’t have signs and some are by word of mouth located in back of a house. One thing that I have learned, there is NEVER just one errand … Stopping at the bank, the dry goods store, the grocery store, the dairy and maybe the hardware store to have a mower blade sharpened is very likely before you even get to drop that homemade soup off to Aunt Sadie (which was the original errand).

    The lawn and gardening is a full time job of its own. All gardening and lawn work is meticulously done by Amish girls and women.

    • *
      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 17:17)

      K in PA — we have noticed that in PA yard & garden work seems to be the women’s tasks, but here in Holmes Co. it seems to be more divided. (Though of course there can be differences family to family.) In our community there are men who take as much interest in it as their wives and I am one of those. I enjoy working in the yard in the evening after work. While my wife does most of the mowing, I do the weed-eating and edging and where she likes her herb garden I like to spend time in our flower-beds. We collect hosta plants and that’s where I put most of my interest & effort in to.

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    rhea
    Comment on Reality check (June 19th, 2015 at 12:55)

    Reality check

    Thank you for this post. I tend to romanticize the culture because it’s done without all this stuff. But, it would be hard to adjust…

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    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 17:12)

    An interesting post, Erik. There is a difference between a farming family and a non-farming family. 🙂 We don’t usually get up until around 5:30 at our home, but we don’t have a barn full of cows, either. With gas-lights in our bathrooms, you won’t need to use a flash-light. 🙂

  • *
    Slightly-handled-Order-man
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 20:07)

    As I and others have noted, this is a great and interesting post.

    I read it again, and I am surprised that Language isn’t listed as a Hardest Thing About Living With The Amish.
    Although many Amish in America are fluent English speakers, I would assume their natural tendency is to speak their culturally heritage language, Penn Dutch or whichever it is for any given family.
    Maybe it isn’t an issue for Erik, perhaps he is fluent enough in the language, or his friends speak English in his company, but as many ethnicities with their own language I am sure that they probably slip into their own language quite easily as other folks to in many different homes across the USA and Canada.

    • I don’t speak PA Dutch and as is typical I find people tend to use English when I am around, though the longer I tend to stay it seems people slip back to PA Dutch more, and also if there is a big gathering the entire room is not speaking English if they’re having individual conversations. I totally don’t mind if people slip into speaking their language around me, though it is nice that they make the effort to use English.

  • *
    Al in Ky
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 21:45)

    I found this post very interesting. I have never had the opportunity to visit with Amish people in their home over a couple of hours, so it was interesting to learn about your experiences of several days or weeks. The line I liked best in this post was, “There always seems to be something happening in an Amish household.” I’ve observed that also in my short visits of an hour or two. And the things that I observe as they are happening in Amish households are so much more interesting to observe than what people in many non-Amish households do — watch TV, surf the internet, play computer games or text on their cell phones.

    • Glad you liked it Al, yes I was having a discussion about the smart phone with someone yesterday, I see it really as something that tends to remove use from community more than it connects us, at least the way many use it now. For one it removes you from your immediate surroundings even if it
      “connects” you to someone in a virtual or electronic sense. If you throw in games, music and other applications you can really check out of your environment if you want to.

      That’s not to say I am great with devices, I am not, and also find myself absorbed by my laptop or other gadgets (no smartphone yet, but I may reach that point).

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    Matthew M
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 19th, 2015 at 23:14)

    If my ancestors had remained Amish I suppose I wouldn’t know any different, but as it is I would also miss my air conditioning. Especially in the hot and humid central Ill. summer months.

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    Linda
    Comment on Rooster noise (June 20th, 2015 at 06:17)

    Rooster noise

    Just to let you know, I received the email notification of this post a day behind.

    The rooster looking straight at me, with noise that can’t be switched off, made me laugh.

    • Thanks for letting know Linda, the post actually went out later than normal yesterday so maybe that has something to do with it.

      I am glad you liked that rooster photo. I combed through dozens if not hundreds looking for just the right expression 🙂

      • *
        Linda
        Comment on Cock-a-doodle-doo (June 20th, 2015 at 12:07)

        Cock-a-doodle-doo

        The sound made by the rooster is typically spelled “Cock-a-doodle-doo” in English.

        Here’s how it’s done in other languages:
        Arabic – KooKooKoo-koo
        Bulgarian – kukurigu
        Chinese – goh-geh-goh-goh
        Dutch – kukeleku
        French – cocorico
        German – kikeriki
        Italian – chicchirichi`
        Japanese – ko-ke kokkoh

        http://www.hersheyfarm.com/explore/farm-animals/

  • *
    Terry from Wisconsin
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 20th, 2015 at 07:20)

    Guten tag Erik,
    Once again you have taken us readers down the thinking path of the Amish lifestyle and could we “survive?” Years ago some friends who were raising kids as we were, the dad said, we should all send our kids to live with the Amish for two weeks…they’d come home with a different attitude! I’ve often said to Amish friends that I’d leave the kids and often the answer was, that’d be fine, we’ll put them to work! After we left their place I said to my kids…keep it up, that might happen..and you wouldn’t be able to call and get rescued! Ha! Now those kids are grown and raising kids, so maybe we’ll shoot for the grand kids! Ha!

    The Amish from my home town area are conservative so there’s no inside plumbing. If we had to use the bathroom we’d wait until we found a gas station or made it to grandma’s house in time! No bathroom with a tub or shower means you’re in the washtub on Sat pm! Maybe you’d have a potty under the bed for night time. 🙂 My mom who’d be 97 used to say, we lived like the Amish with no running water or electricity, but we didn’t smell.
    Wood stoves, kerosene or gas lights, not even a fan to move some air, and some good summer heat, makes for some bo. 🙁 We often visited on a Saturday so there was a weeks worth of dirty feet etc! The first time I was in an Amish house with a full bath I about fainted! What a treat! 🙂

    Here I am rattling on once again, but you know how I am! lol

    As Maudie says in the Budget…”Make it a good day.”

    • *
      Slightly-handled-Order-man
      Comment on Amish Summer Camps! (June 20th, 2015 at 08:23)

      Amish Summer Camps!

      Oh, I just had an idea for enterprising Amish families, older/younger childless people (or even those with children), Amish summer camps! Camps where, for a fee, English kids, can spend two weeks with Amish hosts and be given a dose of Amish life… No cameras or international television networks allowed – to avoid scandalizing the situation, though.

      • *
        Linda
        Comment on Amish Camp - almost (June 20th, 2015 at 13:43)

        Amish Camp - almost

        Shom, in Pennsylvania there is a 24-hour Amish Camp.

        http://lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/plain-for-a-day/article_f5949f44-8234-5eed-95d7-465f30931aae.html
        (2010, Plain for a day)
        “Teens embrace simplicity for 24 hours in first-ever Amish camp.
        Girls outfitted in simple, no-frills dresses and black bonnets, and boys wearing suspenders and straw hats, busily washed buggies, groomed horses, picked carrots and string beans, yanked weeds, filled clotheslines and trimmed grass with a push mower….at the first-ever Amish Camp sponsored by the Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn in Strasburg.
        Ironically, tourists, unaware that this Plain persona was not as it seemed, did attempt to photograph the Amish-bedecked camp participants, said teacher and Oregon tour company leader Donna Bahr, who has conducted 13 trips to Amish country.
        “I had warned the kids this might happen, so when we were taking our group picture, sure enough, a bus came by and stopped for photos. It was really funny.”

        http://www.hersheyfarm.com/large-groups/lancaster-county-tours/ (Lancaster County Tours, Amish Camp is listed at the bottom)
        http://hersheyfarm.com//PDFs/Amish%20Campweb.pdf
        (Amish camp)

        http://www.grouptour.com/lancaster-county-amish-tours-provide-authentic-group-experiences/
        (July 2014, Lancaster County Amish tours provide authentic group experiences)

        Years ago, Fresh Air children would come from New York to Lancaster to stay with Amish or Beachy Amish families.
        “The Fresh Air Fund placed 275 New York City children with the same number of host families in Lancaster County.”
        (1989, An Amish Vacation for New York City Children)
        http://www.nytimes.com/1989/08/27/nyregion/an-amish-vacation-for-new-york-city-children.html

        The Country School Farm is located in Holmes County, Ohio.
        A resident summer experience in Ohio for children who love animals and the outdoors …and wish to participate in the day-to-day life of a real farm. While the Barkers are not Amish, they enjoy many benefits from living among them.
        http://www.tcsfarm.com/

        A Pennsylvania Mennonite farm stay with Apprentice tours:
        http://www.verdantview.com/farmfun.htm

        Amish Bed and Breakfast, Lancaster, PA. Amish Farm Stay:
        http://amishfarmstay.com/

    • Terry, with what you note here in mind, if I had experience staying in the plainest Amish homes this list would probably look different 🙂

      Maybe I’m weird but I tend not to sleep as well if I don’t get a shower beforehand, so that would exacerbate at least a couple of my points on the list! It would be hard to get used to living without indoor plumbing, and I think many Amish people in higher churches would agree.

      • *
        Terry from Wisconsin
        Comment on just some more useless info... (June 20th, 2015 at 21:03)

        just some more useless info...

        My home town has a population of 1550 and one motel for lodging. While staying there the Amish topic came up over a cup of coffee. The owners are lots of fun, full of stories, and they will often have Amish lodging with them. Nothing like a cup of coffee and a story about the Amish! The Amish out in the country…live…well I’ve already told you how they live…and the out-of-town company prefers to stay in town with running water and a toilet inside! Yah-hoo!

        Having an ex Amish friend who grew up in Indiana, says that his Amish brothers and sisters have a good life style. No roughing it so to say.

        I went to school with Amish kids, we saw them in town, the locals ventured out to do business with them, we got to be friends, and as a community we only knew their way of life. It wasn’t until years later when I visited Amish in other communities that I learned how different their life styles can be.

        We have visited the Amish many times in the Kingston/Dalton area as I’ve told you in the past. The Mrs, myself and a another couple went to visit friends and I had written them and said we were bringing supper along. After supper it was time to do the dishes and I saw steam coming out of the dishwater! I asked, Do you have running hot water? The Amish Mrs looked at me kind of silly like…well, duh…of course we have running hot water. And I thought wow..you guys are modern! Ha ha! When we have eaten with an Amish family the hot water for dishes comes off the stove in a tea kettle…not out of a faucet! Erik, I’m hear to tell ya, I was-a-learning a new way to be Amish! (This was only about three years ago.)

        Keep them stories coming, and we the readers will all learn a new thing or two! 🙂

        Tomorrow in church I’ll be happy to be sitting in a pew and not on a backless bench for three hours!
        Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!
        Blessings ahead, Terry

      • *
        Slightly-handled-Order-man
        Comment on bathing among the Amish (June 20th, 2015 at 21:43)

        bathing among the Amish

        okay, here is a question relating to bathing without indoor plumbing, how common is actual sponge bathing among non-indoor-plumbing Amish?

        I know this is delving into stereotypes and myths, but if your forbidden indoor plumbing, what are your other options, and I’m 20 percent sure that the most conservative Amish person won’t jump into their property’s pond (if they have one), get au naturel (spelling?) and clean up that way owing to a likelihood of things like leeches and the next leech like thing – English shutter-bugs… (okay, joke there)

        I apologize if I’ve offended anyone, I don’t mean to, I feel it is an honest question…

        • *
          Eli Stutzman
          Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 21st, 2015 at 21:18)

          Well, the hardest adjustment I still experience is actually the lack of a bathroom/toilet. Coming from the most conservative branch, toilets were outside and for women only. Visiting relatives means get used to the smell in the heat of summer. I understand some of ours have graduated to using toilet paper instead of the proverbial catalog, the ultimate recycle.
          As for bathing, the winter is the most challenging. Sponge method was used during the coldest months, and weekly at that. Saturday night, wash neck and ears, hands and feet. Mother would begin with one of the brood and work her way through until all the young ones were appropriately scrubbed. The older ones had to scrub their own selves in the same manner.
          Summertime, the wash-house served as a bathing facility with water conservation practiced. Remember. it takes a lot of effort to heat enough water in an iron kettle to bathe one person, let alone five or six. Lets just say the water was well used.
          I suppose that is still their practice. And no, nobody ever complained to us that we smelled. At least, not to our face. Understand that it wasn’t too long ago your ancestors too lived like this.

  • *
    Diane Paulson
    Comment on Good Idea! (June 20th, 2015 at 08:47)

    Good Idea!

    “Order-man”, I love that idea! Only the camps should include us English adults too. I’m not sure I could get my air condition loving husband to join up, though. I’d bring my best friend instead.

  • *
    MaryAnn Pepe
    Comment on Staying with the Amish (June 20th, 2015 at 10:09)

    Staying with the Amish

    Eric, I am always fascinated by your personal stories. I am just curious as to how one would get to stay with an Amish family? When I last visited Lancaster, I found nothing in the pamphlets that advertise this. The best I could do was get a pen-pal which was exciting to me.

    • MaryAnn the best I can say is make friends as you are doing and that may lead to a chance to visit. The first time I stayed in an Amish home I actually wrote a family I had kind of gotten to know saying I was coming to visit and simply asked if I could 🙂 They were brave enough to say yes, and my family and theirs have become close since then to the point that they’ve been down to NC to visit on a few occasions as well. I don’t really know that anyone is doing this sort of thing as a formal business and whether something like that would even work (though I won’t be surprised if I hear about Amish homestays at some point). There are some Amish-run B and Bs but of course that is different than actually staying in an Amish home.

  • *
    Carol
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 20th, 2015 at 15:49)

    The most difficult thing about living with the Amish would be (for me) to avoid asking “why” innumerable times. “Because that’s the way it is” is not a satisfactory answer to those of us that have grown up in a culture that encourages questioning of things we do not understand.

    • I think it’s a perfectly natural question from someone outside the culture and one that no doubt gets asked a lot (though maybe not always satisfactorily answered). How often do Amish people wonder the same about their own culture? I tend to be less self-reflective about my own ways, and it is usually only when I see another different way of living that I am spurred to take a more critical eye to my own habits and ways of doing things.

  • *
    Amish girl – Rebecca
    Comment on Bathrooms (June 22nd, 2015 at 11:13)

    Bathrooms

    Some of these comments about people’s experiences in homes w/out indoor plumbing were interesting. We have your average bathroom- Tub, shower, commode, and sink – and a battery light for the quick things like brushing teeth and gas light for when you’re in longer.
    But, frankly I’ve visited in homes in other communities, where I was surprised by how they lived. Because just from meeting the people I expected they would live like us. Keeps life interesting !

  • *
    Alice Mary
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 22nd, 2015 at 11:40)

    As is becoming “usual” with me lately, I’m once again late to this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it, including the comments and add-ons of fellow bloggers.

    The Amish camp idea is terrific–I can see it being used instead of using a textbook-intensive curriculum during the Englisch school year. What’s better than “hands-on” learning? And adults could use the experience, too!

    Like some others here, indoor plumbing and air conditioning are two of my “must-haves” for residential living. No, I don’t have the AC running all summer, mainly when the temp is mid-80’s or more and the humidity is oppressive. I don’t think other people would want to be near me when I start to sweat—I wouldn’t want to risk actually dripping on their property or themselves… I know, it’s disgusting 🙁 , but it’s a fact of life for some of us…and it has little if anything to do with menopause, which for me is more of a dry heat :).

    Thanks for another “keeper”, Erik! I look forward to more of your personal experiences with the Amish!

    Alice Mary

    • Glad you liked it Alice Mary, I enjoyed writing it. This week I plan to do the 5 best or favorite things about staying in an Amish home.

      • *
        Alice Mary
        Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 22nd, 2015 at 17:12)

        This is just a guess, Erik, but I’ll bet one of those “best things about staying in an Amish home” has to do with PIE! (Or something else that comes from the oven or off the stove!)

        Sure hope you include a recipe or two…hint, hint! 🙂

        Alice Mary

        • You’re probably on the right trail there Alice Mary. I am not the best one to get recipes from since I specialize in handling the food after it’s already been prepared 🙂 I will welcome anyone’s submissions though.

  • *
    Amish girl- Rebecca
    Comment on The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish (June 23rd, 2015 at 18:48)

    Alice Mary, I would be glad to share recipes as I did on (Which is the best Amish baked good ?) Just let me know what.

  • *
    jennifer
    Comment on abt the roosters being loud (August 12th, 2015 at 20:36)

    abt the roosters being loud

    When i was at my grandmas had listen to a rooster an i didnt think that was bad what was bad was having listen bunch gaggling peahens the female bird the ones that have the pretty feathers i cant rem the name off reminded me of when i have heard men complain abt women snding like clucking hens .

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