Amish housewives have quite the workload.  They do get some help in managing the household, though.  Amish homes often feature modified appliances, built to run on power sources other than public electricity.

amish hand mixerDepending on what is allowed in a given church, you might see an air-powered mixer, or gas-powered refrigerator.  Wringer-style washing machines are common.

The most conservative Amish groups use only minimal technology though.  The plainest Amish lack indoor plumbing and typically use ice for cooling food.

And sometimes you have a mix of technologies.  When I’m staying at one Amish friend’s place in PA, I grind the coffee beans by hand.  But when one of the little boys came down with the croup, an electric-powered vaporizer purchased at Wal-Mart brought him relief through the night.

The photos on this page are from advertisements found in The Connection, a new Amish monthly magazine.  Many of the ads feature “Amish-friendly” devices that help lighten the burden of household work.  You can see a few more at the link.

Living simpler

Other the past few years I’ve run a few experiments in simple(r) living, some intentional, others inadvertent (perhaps having been subsconsciously inspired by these heroic Amish housewives).

When I first moved into my home, I did not have a refrigerator.  But it was winter, so the ample windowsill allowed me to keep a few food items quite cool, at least until about late March/April.

amish sewing machine ad

I didn’t and still don’t have a microwave.   Ditto for toaster, electric can opener, blender.  No TV either.  My cell phone is ancient, and I find I don’t really care, as long as it keeps making calls.

Lately, I’ve been washing all my clothes by hand and hanging them up to dry, since my combo washer-dryer broke down (repair guy says the part is due in tomorrow.  This is one of the “inadvertent” tests).

With a stove, I’ve never really missed having a microwave, even though growing up I thought it was an essential item.  I find my head is clearer with no TV, though of course I do have the internet and a laptop, as well as a few other gadgets, like a basic iPod, and a Kindle for books.

I’ve found the washer/dryer is the hardest one to give up, though.  There is simply a lot of labor that goes into hand washing clothing.

It’s hardly an “Amish” lifestyle, but I’m happy enough with it.  Of course, if I had an Amish-sized family, I might find things tougher.  But it’s interesting to take a moment to think about our non-essentials.

If you had to axe some technology from your life, what would be first to go?

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