Friday, 10 June 2016

Living in a different century

Buggies instead of cars for transport

There aren’t many people who would willingly give up what most consider creature comforts. The Amish roots can be traced back to the 1500’s but they came in early the 1700’s from Switzerland, Germany and Alsace-Loraine in France to Pennsylvania.

Not your common road sign

Not everyone in the Lancaster area are Amish. At first you might wonder if there are any here at all. To see them you need to drive through the back roads.

A big job for one so young

The most recognizable feature is the way they dress, then the fact that they ride in horse drawn buggies and often plough their fields with mules instead of tractors. Then you start to recognize the clothes on their clotheslines as most American’s don’t dry their clothes on clotheslines, so it's not a common sight.

Lots of trees and greenery
Some people call them the plain people because they all dress in a similar fashion, with nothing that can single them out such as buttons or lapels. They all wear solid colour fabrics. The women wear capes, aprons, a full skirt and long sleeves. As they don’t cut their hair it is usually worn in a bun and concealed by a prayer covering, we only saw white ones. The men wear straight cut coats with no distinct features such as lapels, broad-fall trousers, straw or black hats. They grow beards but not moustaches as these are associated with the military a they are against violence and war. They use diesel or petrol for power, so I guess that explains how a guy fixing buggies was using a cordless drill. Different areas use different coloured buggies, in Lancaster they are grey, but they can be white or black too. Lindsay had to go to the chiropractor and there was one spot for a horse and buggy area in the carpark under a tree and it was being used.

the old with the new

You don’t often see the buggies on the main roads, but you will see them on the back roads. Apparently they aren’t allowed to drive cars but they are allowed to accept a lift from someone else. Some mow the lawn with a hand mower, others use a normal lawn mower and others use a ride-on mower – it seems there are varying degrees of conformity.

A woman beside her buggy in typical dress

We saw a number of boys about the age of 12 driving tractors or plowing the fields with the horses. Women were mowing the lawns with either a normal petrol mower or a ride-on mower. It seems they do use some modern conveniences. There were also a number of cars in their driveways. Children were helping their father’s with the planting of the crops or serving in their garden stalls – it’s definitely a family affair. A few places had a number of gravestones only a few metres from their house, like a family cemetery. Women who were working in their vegetable gardens were barefoot.

A vegetable garden next to the house and washing on the line made it a sure bet that this is an Amish house
too cute
Bare feet again
There are lots of covered bridges. Many get swept away in storms and have to be rebuilt.
Showing the construction inside the bridge
The father is ploughing the field (left) and the kids are planting the crop (right), this is where they crossed each other
Mowing the lawns with bare feet - you wouldn't do that with a Honda

Congress have made them exempt from paying taxes for social security as they look after their own and often have a large family. At home they speak a dialect of German but in the shops they speak English. The reason they distance themselves from the 21st century way of life is because it undermines their family values. When you look at how distracted people become with their mobile phones, they may have a point.

Little girl with her own pony and dog. This cart has rubber wheels which is unusual.

Circle M in Lancaster


  1. Thanks Jane.......I have read many a tale of the Amish people but never one first hand

    1. Me too, it is interesting that their numbers are actually increasing not diminishing. Maybe people want a more simple life...

  2. Interesting living concept for the 21st century. We could probably learn something from it.

  3. I have read many a yarn of the Amish people but never one first hand.......thanks Jane. They do seem a very gentle people