When a son joins the Amish: We are wimps!

One of our readers, Anne, has a son named Ed (not his real name) who became Amish a few years ago.

We hear from Anne from time to time in this ongoing series called “When a son joins the Amish”.

Anne’s grandson at home in Minnesota

Anne has previously written about the photo policy when she visits her son, a hard winter, her friends’ reaction to her son’s conversion, and dental problems.

Anne recently made the long journey from her Virginia home to visit Ed, his wife Ruth, and their two young children in their Minnesota community.

Today she outlines the stark contrasts between comfort in her own English world and her son’s very plain Amish one.

Anne’s post is a vivid reminder that Amish lives vary. Truth be told, quite a few Amish people would consider Ed’s Amish lifestyle “roughing it”.

Though they may all use the buggy and wear plain clothing, there is a gulf between the most traditional and most liberal Amish.

Ed’s community is definitely among the most traditional. Wimps need not apply.



We are wimps!

Just packing up for our stay in Minnesota this time brought to mind how hard it was going to be for us to “be comfortable” living with my son and his family. And for a week! As my husband says, “it’s like camping out”. So we are doing this for our vacation this year?!?

Northwest Minnesota Amish
View from above. Amish life in Northwest Minnesota

Ed and his wife are probably among the poorest of the poor in any Amish community. They don’t have anything the rest of us would consider basic, like running water, electricity, or even a way to bathe aside from a tub or sponging off. We secretly looked at each other about the third day, and said, “What we wouldn’t give for a climate controlled interior!”

When we got there, northwest Minnesota was having warmer than usual weather. So imagine it being 94 degrees outside and the woodstove going inside. The woodstove goes all the time, because it’s not just a cooking device; it’s also the only way to warm water for cleaning.

Amish Family Going To Church
Ed, Ruth and children getting ready to go to church

We were lucky that day, as the winds were blowing, and so opening windows helped some. But the windows are rather small in this house, so the relief they offered was limited. It can be better than going outside though. Have you seen the mosquitoes in northwest Minnesota this time of year?

We jumped into “helping”. I’m not sure our help quite measures up to their standards, though they seemed very pleased at our attempts to do just that over the course of our stay.

The daily work consisted of, among other things, producing labor intensive meals, cleaning up after those meals, and finally settling for a much lower standard of “clean” than I’m used to.

Dinner Plate
New potatoes, fresh kale, and monster peas

All dishes are washed in a basin in a small bit of very hard water. The water may be warm when you begin, but by the end of the stack, it’s cold, but there’s still more to wash. And by then, the water is super dirty! Rinsing goes the same way; use very little water, and by the end, its’ definitely not warm any more.

Fiona (my daughter) and I spent all day Monday assisting Ruth with laundry. They use a ringer washer that stands out in the yard. Each load gets 5 minutes (any more and you’d be spending several days doing laundry!).

Then you put it through two rinses, which means a total of 3 wringing events for each item. Then into baskets to carry over to the clothes lines where everything is hung to dry (again, the last loads are washed in what looks like anything but clean water!).

Doing the Laundry
Ruth does the laundry

Sounds like light and enjoyable work for 3 women, right? While we did enjoy it, it was amazingly time consuming. The 3 of us spent about 7 hours doing nothing but laundry. And that doesn’t include folding it (that went into the next day).

One reason there was so much to do was that they have 2 in diapers right now. Imagine all those diapers needed for a whole week! I had to ask myself, “How does she do it?” I’m amazed at the difficulty of the work our tiny Ruth gets done in one day…

Amish Child MN
Anne’s grandson stretches his legs

At the end of the second day my husband said he had to go get a room in town. He couldn’t stand the heat, and had not been able to sleep the night before. I went with him (gladly?) though Fiona stayed behind (this was just for one night: the weather got better slightly after this).

Fiona never had trouble with the discomfort or with sleeping either. She did, however, become frustrated at how difficult it was to live “cleanly”. We found a nearby state park that offered a shower house she used that second day.

Fiona wants Water
Ed’s sister Fiona needs a cool drink

It goes without saying that we LOVED being with our sweet little family. Both grandsons are adorable and thriving. I hope to write another post just about the children of this community. Whatever else may be ahead for our bunch, we are so grateful for the wholesome way these boys are growing up.

Our visits with both Ed and Ruth were very rich and rewarding. I still can’t get over the way Ruth wants my help and suggestions. Our relationship is very unlike any other mother-in-law/daughter-in-law that I know of. Couldn’t be more grateful!

Amish Grandson
Grandma and grandson

When we left, we knew we’d get a climate controlled room that night, complete with electricity and running water. But we were leaving them to continue living, what seems to us, a very difficult existence.

Though I know they are used to it, I admit to feeling like a wimp.

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    1. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing the pictures and narrative,Anne. You have a very interesting perspective as mother of an English person who joined the Amish. Of all the books I’ve read about Amish life, I don’t think I’ve ever read one written from your perspective. I’ve been to that part of Minnesota many times, but it was before any Amish moved there. I hope to go back sometime and wonder if many in the community sell things from their farms.

      1. Anne

        Yes, they do sell from their farms. Ed raises lots of veggies and loves for people to stop by to get some. He has a CSA (community supported agriculture) and so far, has 6 subscribers who get a weekly batch of farm fresh veggies. I don’t know if many of the farms have signage so that you’d be able to find them easily, but let me know if you go that way and I can give you some directions.

    2. Anne,
      I love your sharing of your experiences, narrtive and pictures,
      and I highly estimate your concluding words:

      “Our visits with both Ed and Ruth were very rich and rewarding”.

      More aspects will be interesting in the future to read of.

    3. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Thank you Anne, as Al said yours is a unique perspective.

      It is adorable how your grandson is dressed. First thing I thought was that this community is, or at least this family is, continuing a tradition which was in the English world too, of having little boys wear dresses while in diapers. Frankly, if you, Anne, had to change him didn’t you find pulling up the dress easier than pulling down a pair of pants?

      [I have no experience yet with that, but visiting my sibling’s step son, about the same age, that seems easier than pants especially with an active boy]

      1. Anne

        I agree with you about the diapers. While we were there, Ruth was trying to potty train him. Even more helpful to be in a “dress” for that! Another benefit I’ve noted is that it’s also hard to crawl in a dress. So when mom has to pick peas, she can simply put baby down in the row somewhere and not worry too much about him wandering off 🙂

    4. Ann in Ohio

      I enjoyed reading your story! I have a dear friend who is Amish in Southern Ohio, with 7 adorable, and self-sufficient, kids, ranging from 4 months to 9 yrs old. When we visit, they make the modern English kids look like wimps! From 5 year old Henry getting the horses ready, to 9 yr old Mary changing cloth diapers with pins, to little Anna, who is only 2, washing eggs at the table! So nice to hear you enjoyed your visit!

    5. Betty Hamilton

      Thank you so much for sharing. I have read other articles written by you and remain fascinated by them. As a mother and grandmother, I can’t help but think that it must be hard for you.
      Your grandson is adorable. Thank you for the picture.
      -Betty Hamilton

    6. Marvin Mohler

      Not a Wimp

      Not a Wimp, but that life style would be different. Its a wonder to me what attracted this young man to that life style. Was it romance with his future wife or something else & the romance came later?

      1. Anne

        It was definitely romance! But not with Ruth, rather, with the Amish! Ed truly felt he’d found “a better way” when he stumbled across the Amish. He was Amish for several years before he met Ruth.

    7. Erin

      This was just a wonderful read this morning, Anne. Thanks so much for sharing the photos as well. Truly enjoyed them. I can’t imagine working in that heat. I often wonder if they take relief in their walk in freezer from time to time!? And those mosquitoes you speak of – they’re humongous this year! And, I think I have it tough with what seems to be never-ending laundry! Can’t imagine washing each item separately. Uffda! I found it interesting how you brought up cleanliness. I love stopping at an Amish farm to purchase baked goods and seeing those dirty little feet and faces! However, I do know that some people are leary to purchase home baked goods due to cleanliness or lack of. Never bothered me! I still have intentions of getting to this neck of the woods in MN (how long have I been saying that?). Think of your family often!

      1. Anne

        Thanks Erin! I thought of you while there, knowing we were in your home state. And I had the same thought about laundry; “I’ll never again complain about doing laundry at home”!!!

        As for cleanliness, I would never hesitate to purchase home baked goods from any of them. I know they take lots of special care with items they sell to the public. For me it was simply the lack of “easy” hot water with which to clean our own stuff. Every time you used some, there was less in the huge pot on the stove. And filling one of these big pots was hard for someone with little upper body strength like me. So you thought twice about using hot water freely!

    8. Robin Miller

      Thank you Anne for sharing your family vacation week with us. Reflecting back to my father’s childhood, I can imagine the day to day life for his family was much as you describe, however over 100 years ago. He grew up on a tobacco farm in Southern Maryland, no running water … just an outside pump, backhouse, wood stove going 365 days a year, screenless windows and those once a week baths with everyone using the same tub … 8 children and 2 parents. Daddy said that their one sister got the tub first then went on down from oldest son to youngest. Daddy was next to the youngest and said that the water was pretty dirty by the time it was his turn. Their farm was off the Patuxent River, so summer dips were most welcome!

      1. Anne

        What a great story Robin! I often think that we, with our “modern” ways, are the “great experiment”. The Amish, living like Ed and Ruth at the most basic of levels, are simply doing what ALL human beings have done for centuries. We are the odd balls! And the jury is still out on how well the “great experiment” has worked! But signs are that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…though for now, I’ll keep my indoor plumbing and electricity 🙂

      2. Athanasia

        Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

        That is where that saying comes from, of the progressive bath for the family using the one tub-full.

        We have a summer kitchen on our property, next to the house my oldest uncle lives in. It is 2 stories and was built around 1850, no one uses it as is anymore. It goes over the spring and also has a smokehouse. That part is still used. The rest is storage.

        My house and another house have summer kitchens too but they are attached and just a big porch off the kitchen. They used to move the stove out there in the summer for cooking and canning. The woodstove is still sitting in my kitchen, next to the gas stove. It has not been moved for years, not in my memory, since air conditioning.

    9. Mark - Holmes Co.

      We are Old Order Amish and we would find that way of life very difficult. I want to take a copy of this home to share with my family. It makes us look very modern, maybe a bit spoiled. 🙂

      1. Anne

        Hey Mark, you are making me feel lots better!

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          Erik said it well when he said quite a few Amish would consider Ed’s life roughing it. I had to think of a lot of differences. Our laundry room, for example (which also has an extra bathroom with toilet, sink, & shower in it for cleaning up from dirty outside work before coming inside) has a gas hot-water heater that provides hot water for our whole house and seldom runs out. (We have teenagers. When they are ALL getting ready to go away at the same time, the last one to shower is probably going to complain the water is running cooler. 🙂 Why they all take such long showers I don’t know.) Our wringer washer runs like Ruth’s but we change water between loads & rinsing. We have a clothes line outside, but also one under a roof for drying clothes in rainy weather. Our “spinner” runs on a generator and spins the clothes around fast to remove extra water to speed up drying. At our home we wash about every other day during the summer to keep it from piling up, maybe twice a week in winter when we don’t go through clothes so fast. As for showering, we do that daily. Our laundry room (we call it a wash-house) has a cement floor & drain and at one end has a gas-stove, sink, counters, etc. for extra “kitchen” work area when there is a lot of canning to do. It opens out to the yard and besides windows, there is fan that can be run to increase air circulation.
          When I compare this to how Ruth washes, I realize we are “wimps” as the article put it.

          1. Anne

            I’m sure none of us would call you wimps. And I really was glad to read of your laundry happening every other day. I suggested to Ruth that she try a load of “diapers only” on Thursdays, just to ease the Monday load. We tried it while we were there and thought it really helpful, as it only took a couple of hours. Don’t know if she’ll continue it, but I’m glad to know you all make attempts in that direction too.

    10. Lance


      Having spent 2-1/2 years Amish in a even more conservative community than that one in a hotter climate, I found this to be quite humorous. If you hit the ground running in the early morning and work until dusk, you have absolutely no problem sleeping! Its our soft english lifestyle that makes walking back into that world seem so hard. If you live it day after day, you adapt quite nicely to it.

      In my still not ended quest to return to the Amish, I had a discussion with the bishop that helped launch the community Ed found Ruth in and Ed was brought up and so was the community. There is another man from the outside in a sister community and more from the outside in the parent community. I would love to visit all three communities, if only there was someone to take care of this place I am at now while I was gone, alas, there is no one. From years of exposure to the Amish, I had learned ‘Ed’s’ real name a long time ago, but I’ll continue to keep his identity safe. My own handle here is an alias too.

      Anne, thanks for the stories. I hope you can see that what Ed and Ruth are doing is good for their souls, and the moral, spiritual and physical health of those two grandsons(and any others God may send in the future). I hope some of it had rubbed off on all of your family, especially the parts about a lived faith. God Bless you and all of yours onto a Blessed end.

      1. Anne

        Hi Lance, and good luck with your hopes for the future. I hope to send Erik some thoughts that are exactly along the lines you mentioned, regarding what’s good for one’s soul, etc. So watch for that to come.

      2. Naomi Wilson


        Would you be willing to privately share more details about your experience, including the names of the communities you are familiar with, and those you are speaking about visiting? I’m not sure exactly how to go about requesting this, but I am assuming Erik would be able to give you our email address?

        We are happily settled into membership in Beachy church, and feel that is where God has placed us, love our church family, and are content with our situation, especially the fact that our children are very happy and at home there, and we would never want to risk having them being treated as outsiders, which might cause them to have doubts about the Truth and following God’s word.

        However, in our hearts we are small scale farmers, and believe that being called out and separate should include non reliance on the grid, cars, insurance, etc. We would like to be able to visit communities that are seeker friendly, which is an indicator that the Holy Spirit is present in those communities. As I said, at this point we are not looking for a church. We are just like minded Christians looking for friendships and inspiration.

        I understand if you don’t want to share such information, due to privacy reasons and the nature of the internet.

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          There is a community in Caneyville, KY, that is not Amish or Mennonite
          but has members from both backgrounds as well as many people from the outside. They preach in English, too. They are very open to visitors and live in some ways more conservative than most Amish (no motors, etc.) but in other ways are more progressive, like English preaching, a church house, etc. You might want to look in that direction. They also have a daughter-settlement near Brownsville, KY. I can try and find contact info. if you need/ want it.

          1. Naomi Wilson


            Thank you for your suggestion. We have listened to a few recordings of talks given by the leaders at Caneyville. They spoke at the Anabaptist Identity Conference, and at least one of those recordings is available. The story of Elmo Stoll is quite interesting, and we would like to visit the Unity, ME community someday soon. The Caneyville group is not so far away as ME, but we don’t ever travel in that direction, while we do have family to visit on the way up to Maine.

        2. Lance

          Tough, tough question.

          Seeker friendly Amish? Hmm, what’s that? Seriously though, I feel based on what you just wrote, I think you would best remain in your order, or something close to it. If you want a more simple and rural existence, then relocation could be in order, but your phraseology would lead me to say the three communities I just mentioned are not suitable for you. Those communities are all conservative Old Order and would not speak as you just have. You might call Don Curtis’ son Mark, his phone number is available in the comments of the ‘So you want to join the Amish’ topic. Belle Center, OH, where Mark lives, is a conservative New Order Amish group that is also a farm orientated community. New Order in general would say the things you just said while still being more ‘Amish’ than Beachy would be, in my understanding of those groups. He would possibly be better to advise you with what you are apparently seeking. Possibly you would also find what you are looking for in the ‘Michigan’ churches, where former Amish America poster, Kate, is still residing and working on becoming Amish. Also, former AA poster, Rachel, and her husband are still Old Order and in Northern Indiana, but are looking for Amish that are less drift orientated and more ‘stable’ in their beliefs and practices. They cannot find that in their current location. I feel Mark can better answer your question, if he does not, ask Erik for my email address.

          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            I’s true that a lot of more conservative Amish come across as not being very friendly to converts, but to look at it from both sides, they often don’t know how to go about helping such a person because the difference between both ways of life is so big. Both “sides” take a lot of things for granted and neither “side” really realizes where the other side is coming from. It also takes a strong-minded person to actually make such a change and such a person can sometimes, but not always, come off seeming “demanding” or “difficult” to Amish people.
            There is a young man in our community now trying to join the Amish and though he seems like a nice guy and sincere, his strong opinions on how things “should be” and “what’s wrong” with us kind of turn people against him. It’s like, “You moved here to us, we didn’t coax you here… If you don’t like it, you’re free to go.”
            I think most Amish people would want a convert to succeed but we don’t always know the best way to help them fit in.

            1. Lance

              Self-fulfilling Prophets

              Many Amish can become self-fulfilling prophets towards seekers. One need only have the attitude that ‘I’ll lay back and wait to see if this guy makes it, first’. So the seeker learns nothing or very little because he is held at arms length by all and he cannot become ‘Amish’ enough to feel that the leap is worth the pain, so he leaves, hurt, frustrated, often bitter. You say some key things, both sides don’t know what to do, so both do nothing. When the Amish add Mt 7:6 to their attitudes of holding back, the seeker does not learn the most important things. How to be part of a Christian unity church, how to speak a language that cannot be learned elsewhere before they arrive, Amish views on the life, death, pride, humility, faith, church, Bible and Christianity, etc, etc. Extremely important things that without, make a successful transition that much harder. The doctrines are in a few books, “1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life”, “In Meiner Jugend”, “A devoted Christians Prayer Book (Christenphlicht)”, “True Christianity (Das Wahre Christenthum)”, “Amish Society”, “The Amish(Nolt, Zircher-Weaver et al)”. Those contain the doctrines that one may encounter to varying degrees, but the practice of the Amish and/or Anabpatist faith is so diverse, it can be overwhelming just finding the place you fit in. If once you get there, all the people of the group take a step back and keep you at a distance, they make sure the seeker fails (self-fulfilling prophets). Use the Word to teach, give witness to the hope that is in you, teach that language, and don’t put the light under the basket.

              Wonderful theorizing, tough to carry out, even myself. Joining too fast is also a big mistake and a lack humility on both sides are too. Nothing makes this easy, and as Milton Frey, a Amish Bishop, told me in 2008, “If it is not of faith, it will not work”. That is the single most important thing I have heard about being Amish. If it is not of faith, it will not work.

    11. Terry Berger

      An old custom

      It is especially dear to see the children in dresses. This is an old custom that was found in the larger society as well up until the turn of the nineteenth century. It does make changing diapers much more easy!! I appreciate the family’s struggle to accept and ‘feel at home’ in a plain home. I remember one of my mother’s big criticisms was that I had no fan to use when my parents would visit. It’s an adjustment on both sides for sure.


    12. Kevin L

      Anne, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciated reading it!

    13. David

      Wimps indeed.

      You don’t need electricity and running water to live well. I hate hot weather, so if I visited “Ed and Ruth” it would be in October and I’d have a fine time.

    14. Alex Knisely

      What a difference a "summer kitchen" would make

      Putting the stove outside, under a lean-to roof, for the summer would make for a cooler house. Especially with canning to do. But they’ll have thought of that and decided not to do it, they’ll have their reasons. Always interesting to see how other people get along.

      1. Anne

        They would love to have a summer kitchen. Just can’t afford it yet. Having a second wood stove is expensive, so maybe in a few years.

        1. Athanasia

          Anne, a summer kitchen need not be anything more than a lean to roof
          next to the house or shed. Our stove was disassembled and moved from the kitchen out to the porch every summer, we did not have a 2nd one. That is what most people did, and I am sure their community would help them do that.

          My husband was raised in the Amish until he was 17 and the family left and moved to this area and joined an Old Order Mennonite church. We were Swiss Brethren, now we are all Mennonite.

    15. Will Chretien

      Does the son and his family know the details of their private life, pictures of the children and home are being posted on-line for all to see and discuss? I would be hurt and offended if my mother did this and I’m not Amish. How will their community feel about Ed’s place in it if this gets back to them by a non-Amish friend or neighbour?

    16. Linda Landreth

      Thank you for sharing your loving first hand remembrances with us. Sometimes authors must change something for the sake of the story. I do love Amish themed books, but love your story better! Hugs for your whole family. Do you help them in other ways? Did you purchase any goods from a store to help them out?

    17. Anne

      A quick note to all…thanks for your kind thoughts and concerns. I’m so glad you are helped and perhaps challenged by the things we experience, even as we are.

      Will, your concern over their privacy is one that concerns me a great deal, and for that reason there are many things I do NOT share. But yes, my son knows about the blog and that I post on it from time to time. He is glad for others to know about the choice he’s made, how he lives, and some of the difficulties he’s experienced. Both he and Ruth are the most unpretentious people I know and have told me I should not hesitate to share whatever I want to about their lives. So I have a green light here, but don’t treat it like one. All to say, I REALLY appreciate your concern!

      As for giving them help, we do what we can. Our visits there always include a trip to Walmart to get them things they need. And we also go to the local grocery to get those few items they would love to have to complete a meal. Our grandson loves bananas, so we went to the grocery store several times to load up!

    18. Diane Paulson

      A Whimp Got Blessed

      Having just completed radiation therapy and subject to depression and anxiety, which I’ve been told is a normal reaction, I was surprised and blessed to read about Ed’s family’s life. I was thankful for plenty of fresh, clean, hot water to clean up with this morning and now for the fan and air conditioner. I’m from” Whimpsville” Silicon Valley, where we get upset if our internet connections slow down. I’ve been thanking the Lord all morning for all the conveniences we have and yet a bit envious of the brave and natural life Ed and his family are living, and have sent up a few prayers for their success. Wow.

      1. Anne

        Oh Diane! Wow back to you! You are a hero and we all will pray for you to have great success in a battle for your health. A dear friend of mine just had radiation and also had a hard time, but is better now. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! Hang in there and let us know how you do. And thanks tons for your prayers for my little family!

    19. Alice Mary

      Thank you, Anne!

      I always look forward to your posts about your son & his family. I must admit, it’s the HEAT (lack of A/C or even fans) that would keep me from ever becoming Amish, no matter how much I might consider it, and highly respect the Amish & their lifestyle & culture.

      Your daughter was so brave…lucky to be able to put up with heat & inconveniences us “English” are in no way used to! I salute her, and all of you. That was a vacation to be remembered. 🙂

      I doubt solar power would be considered there—how about just setting out large containers of water (covered, to keep out bugs) to heat it up in the sun, and maybe not need to generate so much heat inside? I find myself wanting to help find easier ways for them to do things, without compromising their beliefs. (Like I said, heat is my enemy!)

      Thanks again, Anne! What an eye-opener!

      Alice Mary

      1. Anne

        Well, after experiencing this, I think the hardest thing is lack of running water. Before living with them, I always thought it would be the heat, but since it cools down at night, I know this is something I could get used to. But think of how many times you use water, both hot and cold: just a quick clean up while cooking, or after getting your hands dirty, or a quick wipe up of something spilled on the floor…and I haven’t even talked yet about personal hygiene! That’s a whole different thing, and I worry that our family puts this on a low priority due to the trouble it causes. Anyway, everyone is different, but lack of running water is still top on my list of what I DON’T want to do without!

        And I think they would consider solar power. I’ve hoped to look into it for them at some point in the future. Their main point is to be “off the grid” so other sources of power are fine. When we were there, they had run out of kerosene for their lanterns. We purchased some for them before we left, but they told us it was another expense they felt they shouldn’t afford right now. The preferred to save money for winter, when having light is a must!

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          Doesn’t their community help them? Even the very strict & traditional Swartzentruber Amish here have running cold water. I cannot imagine a family in our community having to do without lights because of the cost of fuel. That bothers me to hear it… If the whole community is struggling financially help might be less apt to be had, but surely something can be done.

          1. Anne

            Very kind of you to be concerned. I’m not sure how this works there, but I think you are right about this community being less well off than most, as it’s fairly new and most of the families are young w/lots of kids. And they DO get some help, like the days they have a frolic at their house. Also, I’m not sure others know that Ed’s family doesn’t have kerosene right now (well they do now, since we purchased some!). I don’t think Ed says much, so its probably that the others don’t know. There is a family there that could come in and put in good plumbing, but I don’t think Ed can afford it. I am thinking about asking this family if they would let us help with that cost, but then again, I know our son needs to feel that he can do this on his own. Knowing what to do to help can be tricky.

            One of the problems is that Ed has chosen to do something that takes more time to become successful at: farming. Others in the community do dairy (an immediate income producer), or sawmills (also pretty good at getting income soon). Ed works for these other families sometimes to make ends meet. I have been troubled before, wondering if the community is helping this young family. But then I meet them and see their love for Ed and his family and think I’m the one who’s off base!

            1. Mark - Holmes Co.

              I have been thinking about Ed’s situation. Would it be of any help to you and your family to correspond with someone who joined the Amish?

              1. Anne

                Hi Mark, And actually we feel so “close” to many of the Amish families Ed knows, we don’t really feel a need to connect with others. As you know, every community is different and yet, most of the people themselves are open and friendly. Once I get time, I plan to write several of the families we visited with when there…and that was one of the most amazing things to me, that we had so many invitations from these families to get together! Indeed, we had 3 separate outings over the week we were there, and every event was memorable.

                1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                  I’m glad Ed’s community has welcomed you and you feel connected to them. That makes me feel better! We’ll still keep your whole family in our prayers.

    20. Jerry Lamie

      I grew up in a situation pretty close to these conditions. Cold running water only from a spring up on the hill. No indoor toilets. We had electricity for lights and heated our home with the wood stove in the kitchen and a wood heater in the living room. We were not Amish but a group called “the Black Stockings” referring to the dress code of the women. The heat of summer never bothered us It’s the cold of winter that was difficult. We used horse power for the farming. It’s all we knew and it was never a hardship. To this day I hate air conditioning. It makes me sick and makes my joints hurt.
      Laundry day was every Monday and ironing was done on Tuesday. We also used the Magtag wringer machine. We were always clean and tidy. It was never seen as a hardship.. I could go back in a heart beat. It’s all we knew.

    21. Confessions of a Wimp!

      Anne, I loved this post and was really glad we could share it today. Lot of great comments too.

      I’ve never stayed in such a plain Amish home, most of the homes I’ve stayed in are more what you’d consider middle of the road or progressive (always had running water and plumbing, often in-wall gas lighting and/or battery-powered nightstand lamps, etc).

      But even then I’ve felt like I’ve been “roughing it” at times (brushing the teeth by flashlight always gets me 🙂 ). I think that’s because I’m just a bit wimpy in general when it comes to having my creature comforts 😉

    22. Dave

      Thank you for sharing. Your son has chosen a Spartan life. The beauty is it enables him and his family to realize all God and life has to offer. Less of life’s weeds.

    23. Naomi Wilson

      Hi Anne, may I make a suggestion for a gift for your family? We recently got running water back after eighteen months without, and the necessity of heating water on the stove was our greatest burden. Much worse than pumping the water by hand. I had washed all our clothes by hand up until that point, but gave up and started taking them to the laundromat, rather than heating all that water on the stove top! We got sick a lot in our first six months or so of not being able to wash hands easily, but then our immune systems seemed to adjust.

      If I had to do it again, there is one purchase I would be sure to make. All Amish that I know have a stainless steel tank that sits over a fire box. It’s in one piece. This is used for heating wash water, for scalding chickens and even small hogs, for canning, for making huge batches of broth and other foods, in other words, so many uses. It can be used outside or in the house.

      They cost $625, and can be purchased at Millwood Machinery in Mechanicsville, MD. This is only a 45 minute drive from our home in VA. Here is the address: 36845 Millwood Lane, Mechanicsville MD 20659 (301) 884-0757. Amos R.

      Thank you for your contributions to Erik’s blog! I always enjoy your updates.

      1. Lance

        Conservative Amish often have cast iron kettles in their wash houses just to heat water and those other uses Naomi states. It is quite handy to have a rain-water cistern with a pitcher pump that can be close enough to the kettle to pump directly into it, say through a adapted gutter or pipe or something. I have seen this whole setup and it works quite well. Sadly, a ancient well used cast iron kettle often sells for as much as that new stainless does, at auction too. Conservative Amish buy at lot at auction, used, instead of sending away for new.

      2. Anne

        Hi Naomi, And thanks for your good insight. Actually, they do have one of these steel tanks, but it’s not on the stove right now. They just lent their extra stove to someone who really needed it (new in the community) and the old steel tank that was on the back of theirs was found (when we were there) to have a bad crack in it. So I’m not sure what they are going to do, but I think it can be repaired, so that’s the best solution. Anyway, you really know how hard it is from your own experience. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

        1. Naomi WIlson


          The one I’m talking about has it’s own firebox. No need for a stove. I found a picture here. Scroll down until you see the square liquid food cooker/canner.


          1. Anne

            Oh yes, that does look helpful. I expect that if he could find one at auction it might be just the thing. The expense of the new one doesn’t fit our budget either! What a great idea for the future though, thanks!

    24. Anne

      health, the unspoken issue

      Thanks again everyone for your great comments. As I’ve reflected on much of what’s been said, I realized that one missing bit of info would help give you all more understanding of some of the issues. And that is that Ed has actually had some pretty significant health issues over the past few years. They have become more pronounced in the past year, and the pressure of two little ones at home and a wife to care for has put him over the edge on some things. He doesn’t know exactly what is causing his trouble, though he is definitely gluten intolerant. However, we suspect there is more going on here than that, as his symptoms suggest something more complex. Over the past year, he’s struggled with significant weight loss (weighted 110 at the lowest!) lack of energy, and some depression. We feel he simply doesn’t have the energy to do all he needs to do to get a bit ahead. We are consulting with doctors here who are friends and are concerned and knowledgeable about what’s going on, so we have hope that we’ll find some solutions. Your prayers for him are most appreciated! I think that once he’s physically on top, he’ll have more energy to put in proper plumbing, deal with repairing the tank for the wood stove, fix the buggy wheel (has a broken wheel so they are using a cart), and more. It is truly a hard time for them right now.

      1. Lance

        I am sorry to read of Ed’s serious health issues. Those would make establishing a home, family, and farm anywhere a very difficult task, much less in a far off, new Amish community. We should all pray that God leads Ed and Ruth to the doctor that can guide him back to health. Of course, God himself will do the actual healing.

        I have several adult on set food allergies, but none made me loose weight like that. As you say, it may be more complex than that. At least a more natural home grown diet should help prevent problems from the toxins accumulating from our worldly manufactured foods.

        The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make his face shine upon thee and give thee peace.

      2. Mark - Holmes Co.

        I am so sorry to learn that Ed is facing health problems on top of a heavy work load. He must feel overwhelmed at times. We’ll definitely keep them in our thoughts & prayers. There is a couple who also joined the Amish and live in the Amish community near Mora, MN. I was thinking they might be able to be of help. If nothing else, they would understand what it’s like.
        Many of the Amish newspapers, like The Budget, will publish showers for people going through hard times. Folks from all over read those showers and might feel moved to send lines of encouragement or money gifts.
        We all go through trying times in life. Hopefully they can someday look back and realize it was all worth it.

        1. Erin

          Mark, I had heard that a family that had converted to Amish was living in Mora. Our family used to participate in a CSA and had the opportunity to meet a few of the families living there. Such wonderful people. We really miss our fresh veggies and eggs, but more so, visiting with the young couple that ran the farm. I am from Milaca and there are now about a dozen families living there. Milaca and Mora are about 25 miles apart. I know they have had several pancake benefits to raise funds for a young boy that had a saw accident. They have been well received by the community and are busy establishing their own businesses.

        2. Marcus

          Swedish settlements

          Nice to see Amish communities in/around towns started by swedish settlers! I wonder if there are any converts that might even be of swedish descent? I don’t really know anything about Mora, MN except that it’s a place with swedish ancestry and it’s named after the original town of Mora over here. Oh, and they even got their own version of the Vasalopp ski race. hehe

          Over and out
          Marcus, Sweden

      3. Erin

        Anne, this just saddens me. I know I have mentioned that there is a Country Doctor in Central MN that sees a lot of Amish and Hispanics. She opened up years ago from her farmhouse to serve those communities primarily. She does not accept insurance and her rates are very affordable. I believe $25-35 for an office visit. She also accepts payment in the form of baked goods, meat, etc. Does Ed have an English neighbor that would be willing to transport?

      4. Mary

        Prayers for your family

        Could your son have diabetes? Also, his frustration at being so poor and making do or going without could be a source of his poor health. With his health issues, a wife, and 2 young sons, he might be willing to accept some help. If you offered to have someone install some indoor plumbing for them and had it be a Christmas present, he might accept it. With everything so difficult, they will both be sick. We aren’t Amish, but we were just as poor as Ed and Ruth and now our health is horrible because we had to do everything the hard way. There were so MANY times, we prayed that someone would fix something for us, but help never came. Could an account be set up at a bank and people on this blog and others could donate to help them get started?

        1. Anne, the mom!


          Mary, You are so kind to be concerned….and I want to reassure you that Ed is actually NOT the one frustrated at his situation! He and Ruth are both pretty content. As parents we look on and see that their lives are much, much more difficult than they need to be. So we are the ones who are frustrated 🙂

          And I’m sure he doesn’t have diabetes, as he’s tested positive for gluten intolerance. I’m consulting with a doctor here who’s great at helping folks with unique problems and I’m sure he will help us figure out if there’s anything else going on.

          1. Lance

            Gluten intolerance is a increasing problem. The industrial seed wheat producers keep pushing wheat into a greater and greater gluten content and more and more people cannot take that much gluten and the intolerance causes health problems, as Ed has found out. I am assuming Ed did not have this problem in the past? I never had a problem with crusts until over the past several years I became intolerant to pizza crust due to the high level of gluten in it these days. If Ed could find a old cultivar of wheat with a more ‘normal’ amount of gluten in the wheat, he could grow it on his farm. He might not be allergic to the flour made from that wheat. In addition, using wheat berries grown on the farm instead of already ground, processed, and bagged ‘enriched’ flour is magnitudes better in quality and healthfulness. I think Lehman’s still sells small scale mills to grind your own wheat. Sustainable Seed Co has a website and sells heritage wheat varieties, maybe someone could send Ed a catalog from them with a note as to the purpose.

            Also, by using self grown and ground wheat one greatly reduces the blood sugar problems that enriched store bought flour poses. No diabetic should ever eat enriched flour and processed sugar nor anything made from them. I should also be a warning to the rest of us. This is one of the greatest health problems in today’s modern society, the consumption of highly processed flours, sugars, and food items made from them that are causing diabetes and weight problems to develop.

    25. Carol

      Anne–you must feel sometimes like simply engineering an “intervention” as desperate parents sometimes do when their children make decisions that put themselves and the grandchildren in peril.

    26. Destiny

      Amish in Canada

      Hi Erik,

      You say on here, that the only Amish in Canada are in Ontario. That is actually not true anymore. There are now Amish living by Gladstone, Manitoba. I have a friend, who used to live by them, who told me about them, and I googled it, and it is true. There are Amish living around Gladstone, Manitoba. I hope to go there sometime in the near future. I just thought I would let you know. Maybe you will want to go there and check it out. 🙂

      1. No Old Order Amish in Manitoba

        Actually I don’t think that’s correct Destiny.

        This question came up a few years ago. The article that you find mentioning Gladstone when you Google “Amish Manitoba” is 8 years old:


        I addressed the question of Amish in Manitoba at this link here, with an explanation of who those people probably area (looks like they are a conservative or Old Order Mennonite group): https://amishamerica.com/amish-canada/#comment-23618

        Based on other sources, they were probably misidentified in that 2006 article. It happens often enough, especially since Old Order Mennonites use horse-and-buggy and are visually similar.

        If Amish have appeared in Manitoba, it probably would have happened in the last year or so, since none were listed there in the last Amish settlement list nor in any of the ones in the years previous to that: http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/57700/JAPAS_Donnermeyer_Luthy_vol1-issue2_pp107-129.pdf?sequence=1

        There are also Hutterite colonies in Manitoba.

        1. Destiny

          Amish in Canada

          Oh, that is too bad Eric. I do know that there are Old Order Mennonites in Manitoba, but my friend had said there are 20 Amish families living by Gladstone, and I had a googled it. I had thought both lived around Gladstone because that was what I had either read or heard. If not, the Amish need to hurry up and come out west to the Prairies.. better for farming anyways than the Canadian Shield! Hahah! 🙂

          1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

            Hi Destiny, are you from Manitoba, yourself?

            1. Destiny

              Amish in Canada

              No, Slightly-Handled-Order- Man, I am not from Manitoba. Are you?

              1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

                I am not from Manitoba myself, but my family settled there upon their immigration from Eastern Europe. I have relatives who still live in the province and I have gone back to visit numerous times. You’re question peaked my interest because Gladstone sounded familiar to me, so I searched it out on a map search engine, and it turns out that it rang a bell because it is to the south of where my family settled. In fact its probably ingrained in my memory having heard my father and his sisters and brothers (who all grew up out there) saying things like “So we had to go all the way to Gladstone” or “But that is in Gladstone so we had to go there for it” even in the present day (give or take 15 years).

                The large geographical area is pleasant and beautiful country and is great farmland, and as noted there are Hutterites in the bigger area. I forget her fill name, but a woman who sometimes posts here called Linda who is a Hutterite and has/had her own blog about her community and roughly that part of Manitoba.

                I can’t remember what its called, someone can probably help us out with that, but I’d recommend it if your interested in that faith in that part of Manitoba.

                1. Destiny

                  Amish in Canada

                  That is interesting that your family is from the Gladstone area. I actually live in Saskatchewan, so when I thought there were Amish in Manitoba that excited me because then I could go there, to see some, rather than all the way to Ontario, or the States ( though I do want to visit Amish country in the eastern states where they are pretty big). I am more interested in the Amish and Mennonites, and sometime I do want to go see the Old Order Mennonites in Manitoba.

                2. Destiny

                  Amish in Canada

                  That is neat that your family is from the Gladstone area! I actually live in Saskatchewan, so when I thought that there were Amish in Manitoba, I got excited because then I could go to Manitoba to see the Amish instead of Ontario or the States. Although, I do want to go to the eastern states and Ontario to see the Amish some day. I am actually more interested in the Amish and Mennonites, and I do want to go to Manitoba some time to see the Old Order Mennonites.

    27. Don Curtis

      My Amish son, Mark

      As many of you know, my son, Mark, joined the Amish about twelve years ago. He is a part of the New Order Amish community at Belle Center, Ohio.
      I read this post to him. He didn’t know of any Amish who live quite as primitively as Ed and Ruth. Mark said, “I guess I qualify as a wimp. I like having a bathroom and hot and cold running water.”
      Mark washes his clothes with a Maytag wringer washer, as well. Two rinse tubs. He lets the clothes stay in the washer about 15 minutes. He changes the water after about four washes. Depends on how they look, he said. Mark’s problem is that his washing machine is in the basement. At almost 62, his knees aren’t what they were and he sometimes has trouble getting the loaded wash basket up the basement steps. It would be nice if his house had a ground floor wash house. Maybe that will happen one day. Several of the ladies in the church say they will gladly wash his clothes for him. But, my son can be a bit stubborn and independent, at times. I don’t know where he gets that from.
      Mark said that he wrote to Ed and Ruth but that he never received a reply.
      Mark said that he feels that the church Ed is a part of should be informed of how things are for Ed and his wife and family. Although that particular community might be made up of young families, they are surely in fellowship with other communities that would be willing to help out.
      If they can afford it, Mark suggests a summer kitchen. I can remember that my own grandparents had a summer kitchen. As I remember, they used to dismantle the whole stove and move it out to the summer kitchen and then back into the house when the weather got cool.
      Mark sleeps in the house. Most of the day he is outside. Evenings he sits on his screened in porch. That way the lights aren’t lit inside. The house stays cooler and Markk does, too.
      Of course, I am almost 92. I can easily remember no air-conditioning, wringer washers, etc. And I wasn’t even Amish! But, we never had a horse and buggy. Our earliest car when I was a boy was a Model A Ford.

      1. Anne

        Your Mark

        Hi Don, and you certainly give some good perspective. First, I have to remember that Ed and Ruth are indeed more “plain” than most Amish. Since this community is the only one we’ve ever known, we tend to think they are all the same. Not that everyone is his community is as simple as Ed is, but most don’t have bathrooms, just out houses, and none that I know of have warm running water.

        Then to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that NO ONE had these modern day conveniences, well, that also reminds us of how spoiled we are. Thanks so much for adding your perspective to this post!

        And I’ll try to remember to ask Ed about whether or not he heard from Mark. If he had time, I feel sure he’d want to connect, as they have so much in common!

    28. Jessie Cochran

      Love this post!

      Thank you so much for posting this! It’s great to hear your family’s story; I’ve never heard anything like it. Your grandson is adorable! I’m assuming your son and Ruth live in Todd County, MN, which is in NW Minnesota. The only other Amish settlement in MN is in Harmony, which is in SE Minnesota. I’m looking forward to the post about the children of the community. Thanks again for posting!

      — Jessie 🙂

      1. Actually there are around 16 different Amish communities in MN 🙂



        I am looking forward to hearing more too, Anne has been very kind to share here.

        1. Lance

          Interesting document, Erik. Thanks for posting the link to it.

    29. Anne

      Hi Jessie, and thanks for your post. They actually live in Polk County, just SE of Crookston. And I’m working on my next post to send Erik. Hope to get that out soon while my 60 year old brain still remembers the things of importance!

    30. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      During your visits with the young family you ought to write a diary, I know that might take away from visiting time, but it might be worth the effort, at least even from a family record point of view, especially if Ed and Ruth may or may not write diaries themselves.

    31. Thank you kindly : )

      I truly enjoyed your writing Anne. Your son has embarked on a wonderful and interesting journey. How would you describe his faith?

    32. Amish Girl-Rebecca


      Anne, I am a little late to comment on this, but if there’s anything i as an Amish lady could do , let me know I’m also gluten-intolerant.I could share a few recipes.If he’s still having health issues, I could also have a shower set up in the Budget(the Amish newspaper).I’m sure there are many who would love to help with encouragement and money.If you want help e-mail me @ miller_rebecca60@yahoo.com

      Or if you just want to correspond with someone from another Amish community.

    33. Would like feed back please

      I am working on a book about joining the Amish. I am interested in talking to people who are interested in joining the Amish as to why they are interested, etc. I’m interested in talking to those who tried joining the Amish and it didn’t work out.
      I’m also interested in talking to some Amish folks to get their perspective on the English joining their communities.
      All interviewees can remain anonymous. I do need to be able to verify your story. We can go into further details through email. Those interested in sharing can contact me at: goliveplain@gmail.com
      Thank you!

    34. dee


      Haven’t seen an article in awhile about Anne’s son “Ed” who joined the Amish. Wondering how he and his family are doing–well, I hope!

      1. Hi Dee, I haven’t been in touch for awhile with Anne, but had been planning to reach out to her. Thanks for the reminder, maybe we’ll hear more at some point.