The 5 Hardest Things About Living With The Amish

rooftop-amish-home

One of the great kindnesses I’ve received from Amish friends has been regular hospitality when I visit. I don’t have to worry about a place to stay, which I know I can do in a number of homes. Usually it’s a shorter time of around a week, though the longest I’ve lived with Amish friends is about a two-month stretch.

Obviously, as an English person you have to adjust to a different lifestyle. On the one hand that’s great, because there are a lot of things to appreciate about that lifestyle. But it can also come with some challenges. Below, you’ll find the five hardest things for me about staying in an Amish home.

One important point: these shouldn’t in any way be taken as complaints. They are just realities about going from English living to a temporary Amish-esque life. Also, no doubt my hosts have to adjust at least a little to having me as a guest in the home (for example – having to speak more English instead of Pennsylvania Dutch).


Five Challenges Of Living in an Amish Home

1. Say Goodbye To (Some) Creature Comforts

It goes without saying, but Amish homes, while typically otherwise neat and comfortable, don’t have all the same amenities you may be used to. A lot of this stems of course from the more limited technology in an Amish place.

Obviously, you’re not going to be checking the internet every five minutes. Putting up blog posts is a challenge for me which I’ve had to overcome a few different ways including pecking them out on a clunky Kindle device.

Likewise you have to adjust your media consumption habits. If you like to catch up with the news with your morning coffee, there might be a paper, or there might not, depending on the household.

toaster-oven-control

Your clothes aren’t going to have that straight-from-the-dryer Downy softness, since they’ll be hung on a line outside, so they’re usually kind of stiff when you put them on. If you need to iron, be careful not to singe your fingers.

There’s no microwave, but I don’t have one in my own home, so not something I miss. You might not get as many showers (I like my two per day). Most Amish homes have bathrooms similar to yours, but with large families, they may be occupied.

There’s nothing surprising about these things, of course. For some they actually may be part of the appeal of staying in an Amish home.

2. Lighting Can Be Tricky

We’ve recently looked at this topic. Lighting takes some getting used to. Brushing your teeth or washing up in the evening may mean pointing a flashlight at just the right angle.

If you’d like to read at night, make sure your batteries are charged. Going into a darkened room, you’ll probably instinctively reach for the switch which isn’t there for at least the first couple of days.

flashlight-black

On the other hand, the propane or natural gas lighting popular with Amish tends to generate a ton of heat. Good in the winter, not so much in the summer. In a plainer home, you might use an oil lamp, but won’t necessarily give you a lot of light to do things by. Maybe that’s why aligning your body clock more or less to the sun makes sense. Speaking of which…

3. You May Find Yourself Short On Sleep

I’ve found sleep can be a challenge. If you’re on a farm and want to be up with everyone (and not feel guilty “sleeping in” til 6), then you’ll be on your feet around 4. Even if you want to sleep in, Amish farms have these things called roosters, and they can’t be switched off. And the rooster may just like to hang out under your window.

rooster-close-up

Even if you’re not on a farm, Amish households tend to stir early. Some work early shifts (factory workers, for instance), or have a long early AM commute to their workplace (for example, people who work PA Dutch markets).

Other, more unexpected noises might intrude upon your slumber. I remember one visit when my father and I were jolted awake by the prolonged shriek of a steam engine whistle. The engine was being used to steam the ground to kill pests (this was an organic farm) and our host had decided to let it rip as a little wake-up. I was wearing my standard earplugs, but even from across the meadow the sound pierced them like tissue paper.

I think it helps to catch a snooze if you can (unfortunately, I am not a napper).

4. “Down Time” Is Scarcer

Again, one that cuts both ways. There always seems to be something happening in an Amish household. Which is great. A lot of Amish people are readers but they also aren’t absorbed by personal electronic devices like we are, so you do more old-fashioned visiting, conversation, playing with kids, etc.

In my case, I grew up in a 4-person household. Which meant one sibling, not eight. So I think by my nature it takes me some time to get adjusted.

The other thing is, since you’re a visitor, people like to talk to you. And if it’s a big family with multiple households, or if guests are over a lot, that can mean a lot of people. Someone is always available, but there’s just one you.

clothesline-amish-trousers

Don’t get me wrong–I do like to talk and really enjoy the company of others. But I find at a certain point I get “talked out”, and I am looking for my cave. And there may be no cave available 🙂

5. You Become The Default Amish Taxi

I could probably just as easily put this on my list of favorite things, since I enjoy taxiing. It’s a great time to talk and you end up going to places you wouldn’t otherwise, like little businesses tucked out of the way or to visit relatives you haven’t met yet.

If you stay with an Amish family there is a good chance you will be politely asked at some point to give a ride. For me it’s a way of repaying the kindness and I’d never take compensation for it, even though people offer often enough.

taxicab-yellow

I put it as a challenge here because sometimes the logistics are hard, especially when more people want to go along than you have room for. I remember one time I was picking someone up with the small pickup truck I used to drive. I expected 2 or 3 passengers; we ended up with 6 or 7.

And sometimes the items you might be asked to pick up are not at all designed for your vehicle, which in my case these days is usually a little rental sedan.

I recently had to get creative when tasked with bringing home a long roll of some sort of plastic material for a farmer friend. It must have weighed two hundred pounds (OK, maybe not quite that much), and due to its length I had no idea how I was going to cram it in the car.

But like anything else you figure it out (in this case with some weird angling and adjusting seats), and there’s usually a memorable story attached to revisit later.

Related notes on Amish hospitality

Here’s something I wrote back in 2013 showing what Amish hospitality is like:

How many places could you just show up at, and expect to get a place to sleep? I’m sure we all have a few. Family at the least. Returning to NC from Indiana yesterday, I decided to see if I had someone like that in Ohio.

The Amish friend I pointed my car towards (Ivan Miller is his pseudonym if you’ve read my business book) did not disappoint. I had tried to warn him I might appear Sunday evening, but with no luck. Though there was no room at his proverbial inn (big family) he quickly located a bed at the home of fellow church members, a young couple just down the road.

Ivan wondered if I was at all nervous just showing up unannounced. I said not really. He said that if I had been, then it was my problem because there was no reason to be. I was just thinking that is a blessing.

Of course, I did offer up free Amish taxi services for this morning. But that was after my sleeping spot was secured, so I still have to give Ivan the credit!

That experience still gives me warm memories. I still experience similar hospitality to this day (though I usually call ahead first!).

For the Amish, it’s not too uncommon to “surprise” friends and family like that. You find that Amish families, big as they tend to be, are quite flexible when it comes to finding room for guests.

One reader (Michigan Mary) shared an interesting comment on how that works in different Amish groups. The Swartzentrubers she refers to are the plainest (lowest-tech) of all Amish, while the Old Order refers to the more “mainstream” Amish:

Our mutual friend, the furniture maker, tells me that it is much more common among the Swartzentrubers than the Old Order folks. He says that since many Old Order Amish in Holmes have cell phones, they will call before they trek out to see friends and family, whereas the Swartzies will just “drop by”, usually right at meal time, and stay for many hours.

Finally, the kindnesses can go both ways. Here’s an anecdote from Roberta about a non-Amish family who helped an Amish couple one evening:

Some friends of ours had an Amish couple knock on their door late one night. Their horse and buggy could not make the hill in the snow and they expected to stay over. At first my friends were a little surprised but, after all, it is probably what we would have done back in the day. Nowadays most of us around here have a 4-wheel drive car or some other vehicle that will make the grade.

So my friends put the Amish couple in their car and drove them up the hill and told them they would be back to pick them up in the morning. The horse got the rest of the night off, snug in the barn with the cows.

Not bad – the family got to stay in their own bed that night. And that made sense. Though I can’t help but thinking the non-Amish family missed out on an experience by not just letting them stay over. But maybe next time, if there’s a blizzard on.

Adjusting is Rewarding

Again, I wouldn’t ever trade the experiences I’ve had or the friends who’ve been so kind to welcome me into their homes. While living with the Amish takes some adjusting to your lifestyle, there are of course many rewarding things about it. If you’d like to hear that side of it, check out the five best things about living with the Amish.

Image credits: Toaster oven- nicksherman/flickr; flashlight- scphoto365/flickr, rooster – 38911797@N07/flickr; clothesline- davaodude/flickr; taxi cab- raptortheangel/flickr

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    54 Comments

    1. Margaret

      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.

      1. Thanks Margaret! Have a great trip to Hutchinson.

    2. Harriet

      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.

      1. Thank you Harriet. This email actually went out a little later than normal today, do you usually receive our emails? The last one was sent on Tuesday, and there were a few last week.

        1. Harriet

          Yes, I normally get them. Today was the exception, although I have now received it. Thanks.

    3. Diane Paulson

      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!

      1. 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 🙂

        1. Tom Geist

          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

    4. Carolyn B

      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.

      1. 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.

    5. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      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.

      1. 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!

    6. Donna J

      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!!

      1. 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.

    7. Anonymous

      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!

    8. K in PA

      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.

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        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.

    9. rhea

      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…

    10. Mark - Holmes Co.

      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. 🙂

      1. Mark well that sounds better, that is definitely sleeping in 🙂 There are actually gas lights in some of the bathrooms but I don’t always want to turn them on if it’s just a quick tooth-brushing.

    11. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      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.

      1. 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.

    12. Al in Ky

      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.

      1. 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).

    13. Matthew M

      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.

    14. Linda

      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.

      1. 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 🙂

        1. Linda

          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/

    15. Terry from Wisconsin

      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.”

      1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

        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.

        1. Linda

          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/

      2. 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.

        1. Terry from Wisconsin

          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

        2. Slightly-handled-Order-man

          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…

          1. Eli Stutzman

            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.

    16. Diane Paulson

      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.

    17. MaryAnn Pepe

      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.

      1. 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.

    18. Carol

      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.

      1. 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.

    19. Amish girl - Rebecca

      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 !

    20. Alice Mary

      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

      1. 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.

        1. Alice Mary

          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

          1. 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.

    21. Amish girl- Rebecca

      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.

    22. jennifer

      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 .

    23. Debbie Jerkins

      Are there any Amish Produce Markets close to LaPorte, In?

      Hi there,

      We used to have 3 Amish families that came to the Farmers Market, every Saturday, in Michigan City. They aren’t here, this year. How come? I loved the non GMO corn and the green beans. The younger Amish children would take the money, and give you back your change, (with their Dads watchful eye) and the Moms were so sweet & thoughtful. Great jams and other goodies. I miss them. The husband doesn’t make any distinction between GMO or non GMO…he’ll eat anything!!! Not me.

      Regards,
      Deb J.

    24. Walter Boomsma

      When the power goes out...

      Here in Maine we are often subject to power outages in the winter and we joke that it’s time to slip into our Amish mode. Well, almost! It’s actually a bit comforting to realize one can get by with considerably less… and that less can be more. I’m looking forward to the “flip” side article!

    25. Lorna

      Different things that I would miss....

      I enjoyed your article. My Amish friends live a much simpler, or, in their words, a lower Amish lifestyle. When I visit, I miss a flushing toilet bc their toilet is in the far corner of the house, through the washroom, or accessed via the porch. It has flat wooden seats, with holes that have flat wood covers, over a box made of stainless steel or wood with gaps! In summer, the smell can be overwhelming, and I try never to look inside bc the piles might be high! In winter, the smell is less but the temperature is much lower!! They do all provide toilet paper. Washing my hands is done in ground-temperature water from the washroom tap, with drying accomplished on my pants or a communal towel. So far, I’ve resisted the communal drinking cup! So far, I’ve not stayed long enough to bathe at any of my friends’ homes, but that would be done in the washroom in a fiberglass bathtub. The room is heated in a ~50 gallon, wood-fired, stainless steel hot water heater/60-quart canner. It’s essential to remember to carry a small flashlight or headlight with you at all times in order to be prepared for the total darkness that falls when the sun goes down! I don’t mind the kerosene lamps at all…but the extra beds have all been very bad, in spite of clean sheets and blankets. The distance between the upstairs bedroom and that toilet way out across the washroom is difficult at night. So, the 5 things I miss are flush toilet, deep bathtub, warm water for washing hands, and satisfying answers to my “why?” questions. Oops, that’s only 4–and, understanding the conversations around me. All of the rest, I can accept without much fuss. My friendships are so rich that I don’t much care about washing dishes in a dry sink in a three-stage process of metal basins, or working continuously at “daily life” chores.

    26. Lorna

      Correction to above comment....

      The room AND the bathwater are heated with that ~50-gallon wood-fired water heater/canner apparatus. The water comes from the spring-fed faucet and the wood comes from the woodsheds that are attached to the washroom.
      I should have proofread my message first!

    27. David M Hill

      no big deal

      My family sort of lived with an Old Order Amish family considering we resided in the middle of a very old established settlement in Missouri. It was a farm sold by an Amish family. No electric,running water,central heat etc. We had some dairy cattle and milked by hand each day and our children were forced to take a horse and buggy to their school. No bus transportation. It lasted almost 2 years.

    28. Richard Traunero

      You speak truth

      Everything you mentioned rings true with me, too, from my experiences living with the Amish. Great stuff.
      I enjoy taxiing folks around, and I, too, remember an occasion or two when the van, which had seating for 7, had probably 12 or 13 people in it! Certainly illegal, and definitely unsafe, but, hey, we just rolled with it and got the job done!

      Great memories, thanks for sharing.

    29. Jeffrey C Masters

      Truth

      I could have easily written this article. Our time spent with Amish friends is much as you described. I would mention a couple more; different foods, and adjusting to a house full of kids. As you said, these are not faults at all, but subtle differences between us that really make us appreciate each other more. As for taxiing I have made shopping trips, ferried youth around, taken a bride back to her home to get a forgotten item, moved families long distances, and too many times, made trips to the hospital with an injured child. We seem to mark the years by which child we took to the hospital for what accident. One of my favorite young ladies just got married a few weeks ago, and we spent several days with the family. I can tell you that staying in their homes, is about the most relaxing way we can spend time. Some of the best friends I have. Thanks for the article, I really enjoy them!!