|AMISH FARMING AT MOUNTAIN GLORY FARM|
Several Old Order Amish families moved to our local area from Ohio in November 2011. We invited the eldest married daughter of one these families to live on the Farm and make use of our acreage. Barbara Gingerich Miller and her husband, Enos Miller, have built a new dwelling/storage building, with a new barn to be raised in the Spring of 2013. Having our farm return to a working dairy farm is a dream-come-true for me. But I never dreamt Mountain Glory Farm would become part of a new Amish community in the process!
Many extended family members and friends will be visiting to help Barbara and Enos develop the farm. You may see a dozen or more Amish at any given time coming or going in buggies or working in various fields. And when the new barn goes up in the spring of 2013 you can experience a true Amish "frolic" barnraising with 40 to 50 Amish men working together.
Although united in a common religion, Amish communities differ greatly in certain customs and traditions. After reading many books on Amish culture I discovered that some of my assumptions/experiences from visiting Lancaster, PA many years ago do not apply to our newly arrived Old Order Amish community from Ohio.
In order to live in peace on Mountain Glory Farm, the Millers have asked that our guests observe a few courtesies:
A Very Brief Explanation of Amish Culture
Amish Commitment: The Amish are committed to God, family, church and community. Their faith is rooted in a literal interpretation of the Bible. The Amish religion, part of the Anabaptist movement that has it's origin in 16th century Switzerland, is based on an individual's personal commitment to God. The term Anabaptist refers to those who do not believe that an infant is capable of committing his soul to God at baptism, only an adult can. An Amish person becomes a "brother" or "sister" of the church when he or she fully commits to God, and is then baptized. This usually occurs toward late teens, early twenties or upon marriage and is a life commitment. Centuries ago the Amish created an "Ordnung" which is the rules of conduct handed down generation after generation, regularly reviewed and earnestly taken to heart.
Their dedication to family life guides their decisions about where to live and what occupation to pursue. Divorce is extremely rare and much, if not most, of an Amish person's life revolves around their large extended families. Beyond the family circle are the congregation and greater Amish community. Although Amish do not live in communes or closed communities, they do live closely grouped together for the sake of fellowship, support and practical reasons. They do not build churches. On a rotating basis they gather, every other Sunday, in a member's home or barn to worship and share a common meal.
Obedience & Submission to Authority: An Amish person's commitment to his faith includes the willingness to be obedient to the precepts of the Bible, the rules of the Ordnung and the decisions of those who have been chosen by their congregation to be the ministers and bishops. Although united in a common religion, the Amish differ greatly in certain customs and traditions, some being far more conservative than others. Some wear suspenders, some use tractors, some use a reflective triangle on the back of their buggies, some smoke, some build schools while others believe in home schooling. Essentially, each congregation can create its own customs and dress code. Members feel it is their duty to rebuke anyone who appears to be straying from church standards, although such admonishment is undertaken with great humility and in a spirit of love. Persistent rebellion may result in a member being excommunicated, or being "shunned". A member may always return to the church if proper repentance is made and accepted by the congregation.
A Sense of Purpose: The Amish lifestyle is not just quaint custom. The practices are designed to maintain the right relationship with God, to live a life that is pleasing to Him, to set a good example to others, to grow in purity and humility and, ultimately to attain eternal life in Heaven. Separation from the influence of the world is an important factor in pursuing these goals. Although they may not physically detach themselves from modern society, their style of dress and transportation is an outward symbol of the mental and spiritual boundaries that mark the limits of their interaction with their non-Amish neighbors. All non-Amish people, regardless of their nationality, color or race, are referred to as "English" people.
Simplicity: The Amish mindset is to pursue a life that is free of non-essential "clutter". Their plain clothing symbolizes a life that is not taken up with possessions or the pursuit of the latest style, gadget or entertainment. Amish parents have more time to devote to their families because they have deliberately chosen to live at a slower pace. A horse drawn buggy does not carry them to and fro dashing from one activity to another. They strive not to live beyond their means, to be content with what they have and to find their greatest joy in the blessings of family, friends and work. Too many conveniences are seen as a danger, leading away from service to God and tempting them to seek earthly pleasure and idle pursuits.
Work Ethic: Honest labor, providing for oneself and one's family, is a calling that leads to greater godliness, according to the Amish doctrine. Amish parents raise their children to participate in family chores from the time they are able to understand simple commands. Little children speak only their own dialect and do not learn English until they begin schooling at age 5. Most rural Amish children are home schooled by elder siblings and are taught until the 8th grade. Then they are expected to begin working with their families.
The ideal occupation for an Amish father is farming, for in this work he can be home with his family all day and bring up his children to work with him. Farming also satisfies a love of the land and being part of God's creation. Amish people walk bare footed to be closer to God's earth. Carpentry and furniture making are also professions that Amish pursue if inexpensive farmland is not available. Older children bring in additional income pursuing these other professions until such time as they marry and begin their own farming family. Women frequently tend farm-stands, selling baked goods, crafts and quilts. The entire family works hard at doing daily chores, gardening and canning, laundry, housecleaning, sewing and caring for the little ones. Amish social life revolves around working together in barn-raisings, quilting bees, or some other project that is best completed as a group.
Tradition: "If it was good enough for my father and grandfather, then I guess its good enough for me." This was the response of one Amish father when asked about his hand milking system. It would be mistake to think the Amish never change. But every new idea or form of technology is carefully examined to consider if it will affect their cherished lifestyle and purpose. With the guidance of the Ordnung, oral and written histories, and the advice of their ministers, the Amish tend to stick with "the way we've always done it".
From a few hundred brave souls who sailed to America in the 1700s to escape religious persecution to the estimated over 200,000 or more living across the US today, the Amish have maintained their beliefs and way of life. As our "civilized" world continues to become more complicated, the Amish communities continue to grow.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call us at 207-266-3711 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.