It’s interesting how the Amish farm is so important to the Amish culture.
Yesterday, I was interviewed on a radio show and the question came up about trends in the Amish world. I mentioned that one of the trends that I’m seeing is how Amish families are either moving far away in order to find affordable farm land to sustain the family OR young couples are moving into contemporary houses (and disconnecting the electricity). When the young couples have to do this, they typically have to take jobs with non-Amish…construction, stores, market, etc. This means that there is more exposure to the Englischer world and, with it, the evils that we face.
The farm is central to the Amish culture. The children work on the farm, alongside their parents. They learn how to plow, plant, and harvest with daed. They learn how to cook, can, and preserve with mamm. They have very limited exposure to the Englischers and that helps to create the bond with the Amish community and church.
I’ve personally seen how hard the farm wife works. I used to long to live on a farm. Not anymore. Visit? Yes! Live? No thank you. It’s a hard life. My friend Anna works from before the sun rises to well after it sets. She makes cheese, preserves fruit, cans meat, and makes ice cream…all to sell to tourist. She has to help her husband with the dairy, cook for her growing family, wash everyone’s clothing, and tend to the garden. Even with her lovely children, she has her hands full. She loves it. I envy her for that passion but I still like the convenience of a washing machine and food store.
Over the past 35+ years, I have been traveling to Lancaster. It’s amazing how it exploded from a quiet, sleepy place to very busy tourist attraction. It’s a Catch-22. We want to see the Amish world yet it is slowly moving further away. I think we need to support the farmers more…buy their products at their farm stands: jams, bird houses, furniture, cakes, vegetables. Every little bit helps to keep the farmers living the life they need…and we want.