Amish Country: Quilts, Transportation & Great Food

The Amish

 

This is Part II of my posts on the Lancaster, PA, The Amish community.  Today I’ll be focusing on art, great food and unique transportation used by the Amish. Lets start with the quilts. I consider them a work of art. Finding beautiful quilts in Lancaster is not difficult. You can find them in shops or hanging on clothesline in the backyard.

First, Sylvia’s Quilts, in Bird In Hand.  It is one of my favorite places to visit.  I’m always in awe of what awaits me on her front porch and clothesline. Her quilts are handmade and flawless.  Furthermore, they start around $500 and up.  This type of artwork doesn’t come cheap.  Amish women invest hundreds of hours making quilts.  So, it is not uncommon for a mother and daughter to work on a quit together during the winter.  Also, it’s a great way for widows to occupy themselves during winter months.  Once you have admired the artistry outside, head inside her shop.  You will find hundred of quilts in every size as well as wall hangings, fabric and more.

 

Amish, Amish quilts, Amish handmade quilts, Dahlia quilt, Lancaster PA quilts

Dahlia

 

amish quilts, Lancaster Pa quilts, spinning star quilt, Sylvia's Quilts

Spinning Star

 

Additionally, murals can be found on the side of various buildings in Lancaster. This particular mural was on the side of a business in the Kitchen Kettle Village.  Quite frankly, I think it sums up Lancaster nicely:  yesteryear, rolling hills, and the warmth of beautiful art.

 


 

 

 

 
Most importantly, the main mode of transportation for the Amish is the horse and buggy.  Additionally, they use scooters and do plenty of walking.  Just like an automobile, their horses are groomed and brushed to perfection. You will spot several types of Amish buggies and wagons.  As a result, they have buggies for every day transportation.  They have buggies for church or wagons that are used to pickup supplies and the harvest.

Most of the buggies are black; however, the Lancaster Amish drive gray buggies as well.  You will find brown buggies in New Wilmington, PA. and yellow buggies in Mifflin County, PA.  However, the Nebraska Amish drive white buggies. In addition to horse and buggies, scooters that are used by youth and adults can be purchased for a starting price of $200.00.  Although they are not allowed to own motor vehicles, they are allowed to ride in cars, buses and trains.  No airplane rides are allowed.
 

 

Amish, Amish Shetland Ponies, sheltland ponies


And you can also find the unexpected in Lancaster.  What’s the chances of finding mules in that order or a young Amish boy riding a miniature pony up and down the road.   There’s definitely photo opps in Lancaster.     

Now if you’re hungry and you’re near the Kitchen Kettle Village, check out the Kling House Restaurant.  It’s located in Intercourse, PA. It’s a great place to eat lunch.  Somehow, I’ve never managed to get there in time for breakfast.  But the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch.  Depending on what you’re craving, their sandwiches are great.  And they have a nice selection of salads.  You should know, the restaurant was actually a farm house.  And the surrounding area acreage. The front porch, living room, dining room and office remain a part of the restaurant. Service is great and so is the ambiance. I was lucky enough to get a seat by the window.  Saturday’s are great days to watch the action.

In addition, across the street from Kitchen Kettle Village are a few vendors that sell pizza, wings, Whoopie pies etc. The wings alone are worth the trip.

Furthermore, the smorgasbords in Lancaster are worth a trip.  If you have a hardy appetite, check out Bird In Hand, Millers and Shady Maple buffets to name a few.  They serve everything from Prime Rib to homemade apple pies. Oh, the apple pie alone is worth the trip.

 


Not far from the Kling House Restaurant in Kitchen Kettle Village is Lapp Valley Farm. Their specialties are homemade ice cream and kettle cooked potato chips!  Because I have a weakness for kettle cooked potato chips, I always buy a bag to munch on later.  In Lancaster, Whoopie pies are big among the Amish. Unfortunately, they are little too sweet for my taste.  So, I leave them for others to enjoy.

Finally, I hope that you have been inspired by The Amish series.  In the future, I will be posting on fall foliage, places to stay & more in future posts.  Until then, you may also like Why You Should Visit Amish Country.









Why You Should Visit Amish Country – The Home and Farm

 

I spent the week-end in Lancaster, PA recharging my battery and admiring the Amish.  Regardless of the time span between my visits, I always find it to be peaceful. First, who can’t use a little peace in their life, right. We may recharge our batteries and seek peace in different ways, but we all need to stop and take action at some point.
Next, watching the Amish and their way of life causes me to pause. The fields of corn, horse and buggies, roadside produce stands, handmade quilts and the slow pace take me to a peaceful and simple way of living. They are gentle people with a deep belief in God and family above all else. Furthermore, they have a deep sense of community and helping their neighbor without the distraction of modern technology. Most importantly, they are self-sufficient, independent, and they take care of each other. They pay taxes, but no welfare or social security benefits for their community. They have no desire to integrate into our society, their lifestyle is a choice.  Plain and simple is their motto and they live it.
During my visits, I’ve taken tons of pictures and I thought I would share some of them with you in a two part post on the Amish and their lifestyle. This is Part I  – The Amish Home and Farm.  Before the Amish Home and Farm became a tourist attraction, Amish and Mennonites families lived in this house for many years.

 

 
Because most Amish families are large, most have 7 or more children, Amish homes are usually quite large.  When parents get older they remain at the home.  They usually stay in another home on the property called a Dawdi Haus.   The second home can also be used as a guest house.  The Amish take care of each other life.  Rarely is an Amish person put into a nursing home or sent elsewhere to live.
Furthermore, the Amish are a deeply religious community.  However, they don’t attend churches as we know it. For example, families take turns hosting church service at their homes. The picture above shows an Amish living room that has the furniture removed.  The host family removes the furniture and replaces it with benches.  Or, benches are set-up barn or buggy house on the property.
Benches are placed on both sides of the room. Women sit on one side and men on the other.  So, benches are placed on both sides of the room.  German is the official language of the service.  After the service, lunch is served.   Everyone socializes while the children play.  Sunday is the day of worship, so only the basic chores are done at home.  Therefore, businesses are closed. Visiting neighbors is high on the list for the Amish on Sundays.
 
There is no divorce in the Amish community.   The women take care of the home, husband, children and kitchen gardens.  The men bring home the money, work the fields and take care of the farm animals.  There are some Amish men and women who work outside the home or farm.  They own businesses such as making furniture, storage sheds and yard furniture.  Additionally, they also work as waitresses, in factories or other jobs with the English, non-Amish. I own 2 storage sheds built by the Amish.  Their work is superior.
Those who work on the farm are ready to go at sun up and stop working at sun down.  As a result, they eat a hearty breakfast before heading out to the fields.  Normally, they return around noon for lunch and again for dinner. They usually start their day at 5:30 am and are in bed by 8:00 or 9:00 pm.
The above picture is a typical Amish kitchen. Appliances are powered by propane gas.  Lights, faucets, sewing and washing machines, as well as blenders and mixers are powered by compressed air. As in most homes, the man sits at the head of the table and his wife to the right of him. The oldest child sits on the opposite end of the father. There are no pictures of family or children hanging on the walls, Amish do not take pictures. They do hang quilted wall hangings, a framed list of their children and their birthdays, framed puzzles etc.
 
Amish serve hearty meals.  They typically preserve hundreds of jars of vegetables, fruits and meat during the canning season to feed a family of 9 or more during the winter months. They are masters at baking bread, pies, and cakes.  Fortunately, they are able to grow their own fruit for jams, jellies, pies and cobblers as well as vegetables in their kitchen gardens. Their gardens and flower beds are meticulous. You won’t find a weed in them. The children start in the morning pulling weeds to ensure that nothing distracts from mom’s garden.  They butcher or use Amish butchering shops for their meat. Self-sufficiency and being experts at it is the name of the game.  And the Amish know how to play. They are astute at making things happen.
Amish women are experts at sewing and quilting.  They do the sewing for the entire family.  Furthermore, they make their own dresses and aprons, pants and shirts for their husbands and all of the children’s clothing.  Additionally, they also make quilts, diapers for infants and a host of other items. Most prefer the old Singer treadle sewing machines shown above.
They do shop at local stores such as Wal-mart for plates, glasses, and other home goods as well as undergarments, socks, hosiery, Birdseye diapers/pampers etc. Most stores provide hitching posts for their horse and buggies while they shop.
 
 
This is the typical wardrobe for Amish girls.  Dresses are muted colors and calf length.  Muted colors include: pink, green, purple, blue, brown and black.  However, no prints are allowed.  Prayer coverings are black or white. And are pinned onto the solid colored dresses.  Hook and eye closures can be used, but no buttons.  Prayer caps are white and heart shaped. Shoes are black.  I have seen the Lancaster Amish wear sandals, Crocs, sneakers or go barefoot.
 
Girls wear a white prayer cap around age 9.  A black bonnet can be worn over the prayer cap.  In the winter, a black cloak is worn.  The black bonnets may be worn without the cloak, but the black cloak can’t be worn without the black bonnet.  Also, Amish women do not cut their hair.  Amish women are not allowed to wear prints or jewelry, not even a wedding band.
 



This is a picture of a nursery or small child’s bedroom in the Amish home.  They have the usual furniture that you would find in a nursery: a crib, rocker, changing table and dresser.  What I didn’t see was a bottle warmers, mobile or  baby monitors.

 

I bet this changing table is worth a mint.  It was heavy and study.  The hardwood floors are the wide planks and absolutely beautiful.  Amish women take their ability to keep house seriously.  As a result, their homes are spotless.

 

This is the typical Amish boy’s room. The boys wear black pants that hit about the ankle.  Their shirts are muted colors with snaps and hook and eyes.  The pants are worn with suspenders, but they have no zipper.  Instead, hook and eyes are used.  On Sundays, the boys and men wear black pants, white shirts, black vests or jackets.  Married men grow beards without a mustache.

 

This is the typical dress of a married Amish woman.  Her aprons are black instead of white.  Her husband’s clothing, is the same as the boys.
Another fact is, Amish women usually give birth at home and are assisted by a mid-wife.  However, they can use a birthing center or hospital if they desire.  

 

 

It looks like an older son is replacing posts on the farm.  Also, he has several of his younger siblings on the wagon.  He made sure everything was in place after making each turn.  Amish boys work the fields with their fathers at an early age.  Women and girls also help if needed.  Usually, Belgian horses or mules pull the equipment.

 

Corn fields are abundant in Lancaster.  It is harvested in stored in the farm silo to feed the farm animals.  This young man above is handling a team of 6 horses.  The Amish are masters of their domain.   The women are subordinate, but equal partners in their marriage.  Women are involved in the daily operation of making the farm efficient and productive.  Many can be seen hand picking various vegetables or helping with the harvest.
Amazingly, the Amish still use wringer washers to do laundry.  Hanging clothes outside on a clothesline is still a part of their chores.  Once dry, they iron the clothes.
Most of all, Lancaster is a combination of things. For example, traffic, shopping malls, horse and buggies and endless rows of corn and other vegetables.  It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the simplicity of a culture.  The beauty of the farm houses and acres of rolling land capture your deepest senses.  Furthermore, it draws you into a life that can only be admired by those who are willing to put down their smart phones and laptops.  I admire their ability to persevere in the mist of modern technology.  Also, their calming affect takes me back to the days of running through the cool grass bare foot.  Eating homemade ice cream or drinking ice cold water from the hand pump down the lane when I visited my grandparents.  Oh, how I yearn for those days now.
Last, if you have an Amish community nearby and you haven’t visited, you should.  We can all learn from the Amish, and it’s a great family activity.  Additionally, you may also like:  Quilts, Transportation and Great Food.