Wednesday, June 13, 2018

10 Random Things I Love About the Amish

My husband and I just spent a long weekend in Lancaster County, and as usual we’ve come back with a renewed appreciation for the place and its people. Springtime in Lancaster County is uniquely beautiful, with many fields still being plowed and planted, corn only about knee-high, and flowers just starting to reach their full bloom. Making the idyllic scene even more delightful are the sights of the Amish going about their days, working, playing, and most of all enjoying one another. 

Now that we're back home, I’ve been going through the photos I took while there, and that in turn inspired this list. 

1. ...the way they farm, which turns all of Lancaster county into a beautiful patchwork of fields and crops. Because the Amish don't use modern farming equipment, their fields are smaller and more varied, making for a beautiful and unique agrarian landscape that looks rather like a quilt.

2. Speaking of quits, I love seeing their beautiful handiwork on display!

3. …the fact that they’re almost always barefoot. As an often-shoeless person myself, I totally get why they like to go around that way whenever they can—though this particular sight, which we spotted numerous times during the day, might be pushing it a little too far. Even I wear shoes when I drive!

4. …the way they’re always adding on to their houses as families grow and needs change. This photo shows a perfect example of this practice in action.

From what I can tell, what started here as a single stone house (#1) has slowly evolved into a sprawling 5 (or maybe even 6)-part structure, one that likely houses a wide range of generations all living together. How cool is that?

5. ...the various ways they bring in extra income, especially via roadside stands. You can find these sorts of stands all over the county, some manned and some on the honor system. There they sell not just produce or jams or home-baked goods, as you might expect, but also things like tote bags, potholders, bird houses, and whatever else might catch the tourist's eye.

Handy travel tip: One of the best ways to interact with the Amish in a friendly, nonintrusive manner is

to visit one of their manned roadstead stands, where you can chat with Amish kids and adults alike. Just be sure to buy something while you're there! You'll almost always find them to be polite and friendly, especially the kids, who are extremely comfortable interacting with adults and can deftly handle the business side of things, making change, answering questions, restocking goods, and more. Enjoy!

7. ...what incredibly good cooks they are. Speaking of roadside stands, that's where we got this mini whoopie pie, which was so delicious that we talked with the owner about having a whole bunch made for our daughter's upcoming wedding. (She's thinking about including a "Pennsylvania-centric" snack table at the reception, so whoopie pies should fit right in.) In response to our question, the owner retrieved his own daughter who makes the pies herself–in oatmeal, chocolate, pumpkin, and other flavors–so we could discuss price, timing, etc. Of course we bought a small pack to bring home to our bride-to-be for her to try, and she was on board after the first amazing bite. Yum!

7. ...the German influence of their heritage, which shows up not just in their names but in the names of their businesses and even their roads.

8. ...the many ways they are in the world but not of the world. I try not to be intrusive when taking photos, but when I saw this Amish man waiting to make a left turn, I simply couldn't resist. Here he is surrounded by modern America in all its glory–cars, power lines, traffic rules, etc.–quietly making his way home with just a horse, a buggy, and a good old fashioned left turn hand signal. Love it!

9. ...the ingenious ways they power their devices without using electricity–not to mention the ways they still continue to surprise me at every turn. Take, for example, this humble phone shanty. It sits aside the road and likely serves as the only telephone for several neighboring farms. It probably houses nothing more than a phone, an answering machine, a pad and pen, and perhaps a stool. As with all Amish phone shanties, it seems totally low tech...

...until you spot the other side of the building and realize that the answering machine runs on solar power! 

10. ...the way they work hard...

...and play hard.  

I'm always astounded at the incredible amount of energy the Amish have at the end of a long work day! I guess it just goes to show how physically fit all that activity keeps them.

Any Questions?

If you'd like to learn more about the Amish lifestyle, be sure to check out my nonfiction books, including A Pocket Guide to Amish Life and Simple Joys of the Amish Life (both available through my website) and Plain Answers about the Amish Life (available wherever books are sold). There's so much to learn about their unique beliefs, ways, and lives. And though there are a few elements I'm not crazy about, overall I can't help feeling that there is SO MUCH TO LOVE about the Amish life. I hope you agree!


Support a Great Cause

Did you know that a portion of the proceeds from all of my Amish nonfiction goes to the Caring Fund of Philhaven, which provides mental health care services to the Amish? Here's a brief video about the program:

You can learn more about Philhaven and Green Pastures here.

What's On Your List?

That's it for my list of 10 Random Things I Love About the Amish. How about you? What do you love about the Amish? Tell us in the comments, below!


  1. 1. I love their dresses and colors. Easy simple and comfortable.

    2. I love they way they make extra money too!

    3. They way they come together in need of others

    4. Their gardens and how they have influenced me and my garden.

    5. Their maticulis way they tend to their chores.

    5. The respect their children have

    6. The way the schools are ran and how much God is there

    7. Their friendship and trust they have given me.

    8. I also agree with the way the ads and build onto their homes

    9. They way they care for their elders in their community.

    10. How little they need to realize the importance of life.

  2. 1. I love their value of the elderly - taking care of them and keeping them a part of the family and not something that can be disposed of in a "home".

    2. I love the simplicity of clothing where it's not a matter of style or whose wearing the popular at the time clothing and whose wearing bubba clothes. Everyone is equal in what they wear.

    3. I love how they come together not only for their family but for neighbors, community and even people they don't know who are in need.

    4. Love the way they pass on tradition whether cooking and sewing that we perceive as women's work or how to make a crop grow or build something like men's work.

    5. I love how they are nonprejudicial in both race and age. Everyone is welcome and thought of with love and value.

    6. I love the emphasis in school on reading, writing and arithmetic teaching skills that will help them as adults. It's not learning cursive because it won't be needed or not learning real math to learn some new method.

    7. I love the way they know what is valuable and it's not STUFF that you buy at a store or put on a shelf.

    8. I love their food but also their willingness to share recipes and the so called secrets to the Amish cooking. Every where I have tasted something that I loved and asked questions about how it was made or what was in it, I was answered quickly as in not this is our family secret and it can't be told.

    9. I love their believing that hard work never hurt anyone. It's not a sin to be make money if you are willing to put in the hard work to do so. At the same time, all work and no play makes John a dull boy. They can play as hard as they work. If you don't believe it go to some of the competitions at one of their events. We went to the MayFest in Shipshewana, IN and watched the competition that was like the tractor pulls but it was the Amish men with just their bodies pulling chains attached pallets loaded down with weight. Literally tons of work, but they worked hard and had fun doing it.

    10. I love their devotion to church, family and community. I honestly think nothing makes them happier than helping others. They believe in giving a hand up instead of the rest of the country wanting and expecting a hand out.