Plain Answers About the Amish Life

Plain Answers About the Amish Life by Mindy Starns Clark

Book: Plain Answers About the Amish Life by Mindy Starns Clark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mindy Starns Clark
house, and the window treatments are extremely plain, such as green pull-down shades or simple white curtains. You might also catch the occasional glimpse of a horse and buggy in the driveway or Amish garments hanging from the clothesline. Finally, in some communities the presence of cockscomb flowers outside indicates that an Amish family lives inside.

    Amish farmhouses also often have a typical “look,” as they tend to be large and rambling thanks to additional rooms and small apartments added on as families expand and/or members grow old. Even at homes with indoor plumbing, there may be outhouses in the yard as well.
    What are Amish homes like on the inside?
    Amish homes differ from non-Amish homes in that they have no televisions, stereos, computers, telephones, or other modern technological devices. They are also decidedly plain, with an emphasis on simplicity and thrift. Much of the furniture is handmade, of wood, using fine Amish craftsmanship. Decorations are primarily functional; for example, artwork hanging on the wall will likely include a calendar or weather chart.
    Otherwise, the way things look on the inside can vary greatly depending on the district’s Ordnung . Homes in less conservative districts can appear quite modern at first glance. Kitchens will have refrigerators, stoves, and small appliances; bathrooms will feature sinks and toilets with plumbing; and there will be lighting and heat throughout the home. (As you will see in chapter 18, “Technology,” the Amish do not use electricity but have adapted many household devices so that they work with other energy sources, such as coal, compressed air, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, propane, water, wind, and wood.)
    Homes in more conservative districts may be less ornamented, with few personal touches, sparse furnishings, and only the most rudimentary of appliances.
    Conservative or not, many Amish homes feature a large living room or other common area where the family can gather together in the evenings. Because church services are held in homes rather than in church buildings, sliding walls and doors are often built in so that they can expand these rooms even further to accommodate entire congregations.
    Do the Amish shop in non-Amish stores?
    Yes. The average Amish home has a “kitchen garden,” where fresh produce is grown for the family to eat. But for additional food items—as well as numerous other types of consumer goods—the Amish patronize a variety of non-Amish stores, from discount chains to hardware stores to dry goods stores and more. They also shop via mail order.
    Do the Amish use banks and money?
    Yes. The Amish use banks for checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, and sometimes even credit cards. When given the choice, they prefer to deal with small, local banks rather than large conglomerates.
    In Amish-heavy regions such as Lancaster County, it is not unusual to see a horse and buggy in line for a bank’s drive-through window.
    â€”I N T HEIR O WN W ORDS —
    Sometimes we do agree to look the other way. For lesser things that are frowned upon, like smoking or hanging up decorations, well, those things are just kind of “tolerated,” so to speak, in the interest of community harmony.
    Do the Amish drink?
    There is no overall Amish rule against drinking. Instead, the practice varies by district. Where permitted, moderation is emphasized.
    While alcohol consumption is not unheard of among the Amish, it is not the norm. As author Erik Wesner says, you’ll be “a lot more likely to catch an Amish fella with a cold can of Dew, a piping-hot cup of coffee, or a tin of straight-from-the-udder raw milk than a cool Bud.” 6
    Do the Amish smoke?
    Pipe and cigar smoking are somewhat acceptable, but cigarette smoking among the Amish is rare.
    A few Amish communities consider tobacco to be an acceptable crop, primarily because it is labor-intensive and can be grown and harvested without

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