By Marcia Eichhorn
Many of my guests at Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast are interested in the Amish lifestyle and I do my best to share with them, and now with you, what I’ve learned from living 11 years in Shipshewana Amish Country. I find the Amish lifestyle very interesting and inspiring. I think you will too.
The Amish Lifestyle
Most people who know anything about Amish, probably already know that Amish do not have electricity in their homes. They use propane, natural gas, or batteries for lights, stoves and refrigerators. Generators run electrical equipment such as milking machines, woodworking tools, washing machines and water pressure tanks. They heat their homes with wood, coal, or gas.
When a young person turns 16 years old, they have many choices to make. They might have a cell phone, get a vehicle, wear English clothes, or use a camera, which are allowed when in “rumspringa”. When they join church (between age 16-38), they give up these things. But during “rumspringa” they spend weekends with friends and join one of the many young peoples’ groups. On Sunday evening they might have sings, play games, and enjoy a meal with friends.
How Amish Make a Living
In this area one of the biggest employers are the numerous RV Factories. Another form of income are chicken houses, which hold between 20-30 thousand layers or fryers. A 600 ft. chicken house is built on the family’s land, where they feed and care for them. In 6 weeks they are collected and taken to market. Amish also earn their living through dairy farming, woodworking shops, and garden produce. Others earn their living through retail shops.
The Amish Farmer
The average farmer has up to 9 draft horses. All field work is done with horses. Depending upon the size of the family, they could easily own 3 harness horses and a couple of ponies. A typical buggy horse is a Standardbred. They can cost from $500.00 to $4,000.00. The average new buggy costs between $3,400.00 to $7,000.00. A buggy horse usually gets shod every 6 weeks. Typical cost is $50.00 per horse.
Amish women sew all the trousers, shirts, and suits for the men and boys, as well as dresses, coats, coverings, capes, and aprons for the girls and themselves. One of my guests wanted to know what it would be like to “dress” Amish, so we had our own Amish Dress-Up party and took some photos for them to remember their stay with me one winter day.
Amish do not have phones in their home. A few families share a “phone shanty”. You leave a message for the party you wish to speak to, and they will call you back.
The Amish have kept a simple yet “full life” of God, Family and Community. Not a bad idea!! I am blessed to call my Amish neighbors- friends.
Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms. Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors.