Friday, October 19, 2012

Returning to the agrarian life....can we learn from the Amish?

I personally believe that we who are captivated by the recent homesteading movement could learn a lot from the Amish. Okay, I know you are thinking- Megan has really gone off the deep end. I am not saying we need to forgo electricity and the like, but the Amish are a people who revere simplicity and hard work over convenience and self-pleasure. They have foregone many modern conveniences involving electricity, as well as many traditional services that the "outside world" provides. Many Amish families make nearly all of their food from home, only needed to buy basic staples, and grow their own produce in their gardens. They value the good of the whole community over the individual.



It seems to me that new homesteaders could take some clues from the Amish, and I aim to be one of those that studies their culture. I hope that with one of our next trips back home to Kentucky we can visit an Amish community and learn from their ways of living. Whether it be their gardening techniques, preserving methods for food, the crafting of furniture and household goods, or their dedication to their faith, I think we will definitely be inspired by their simplistic lifestyle. Certainly their work ethic is also something to be admired.

What's also fascinating to me (as a preservationist) about the Amish, is that from what I've heard at least in Kentucky, when an Amish community settles in a new area or a family purchases land, the property values increase sharply from what they were. Why is this so? I believe it is because they are such good stewards of the land.

I have had a deep longing for a few years now to be able to return to a more agrarian lifestyle, working as a farmer from home, keeping my house as a haven for my family, and trying to be as self-sufficient with food and basic supplies as possible. I like my job, but there is definitely something deep within my soul that senses how wrong it is to be cooped up in an office building most of the time, sitting at a desk in front of a computer. My body yearns for movement and sunshine (natural Vitamin D), my muscles need to be worked, and my mind needs to be refreshed by the outdoors and the satisfaction I feel producing a product from my own hands.

Don't get me wrong- I love what I do and I don't think I will ever stop being an architectural historian in a sense. But there are days when I feel that how we operate within the confines of our workplace, our commutes, our lack of human interaction, our lack of communion with nature, and the never-ending bureaucracy- that just seems so unnatural to me and only promotes stress. Our bodies weren't meant for this, and mine has certainly paid a price for it.


The Amish have found a way to survive and thrive in an increasingly hurried, frantic, and stressful world where we are bombarded with commercialism, technology and consumerism every day. There is a book called "Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life" by Nancy Sleeth that I hope to read over the Holidays-- once I'm finished with it I will share with you the  wisdom beneath its pages!





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11 comments:

  1. I enjoy reading about the amish and gleaning wisdom from their strong sense of faith and community. Looking forward to your thoughts on the book.

    Blessings,
    Missy

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    1. I am looking forward to reading it :) will share my thoughts with you soon!

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  2. Great post Megan! I enjoy your blog!

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  3. That book sounds really interesting! I am big on the agrarian lifestyle, but I'm not any good at it right now :-) I would love to be able to take a step back and have our family more home-based. Know that we can go outside and pick our dinner, and have a lot less reliance on the outside world. I think that we are moving in that direction, which is exciting, but it is hard work.

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    1. I know, right?? Our lifestyle is definitely a work in progress in terms of meeting those goals. But we can certainly encourage each other in the process!

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  4. Love this post!! I've been thinking the same thing after spending some time the last couple months in an Amish community near us! I also grew up around a lot of Amish folks and as a little girl remember telling my mom how much I wanted to "become Amish" because I loved their simple, sustainable lifestyles. I wrote a recent post about shopping at the Amish market and how it saves us money http://www.montanasolarcreations.com/2012/10/living-rural-and-eating-healthy-on.html

    I'm definitely following your blog, can't wait to see more thoughts and ideas you share about this :)

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    1. That's so awesome you have an Amish market near you where you!! I wish we had one.....I look forward to checking out your blog :)

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  5. Found your blog on the Homestead Barn Hop and I agree that we all could learn a lot from the Amish. Could I go without all our modern conveniences, no but I would be willing to give some up especially the TV. We live about 1/2 hour away from a small Amish community and we go there often to buy all my bulk food items and spices. We also purchase raw milk and I make butter and cheese with it. We were talking to the Amish dairy farmer once and he was telling us that he milked his cows twice a day but could make more money and milk them 3 times a day. He said that he just needs enough money to get his family by and isn't trying to get rich.
    Most of us are always looking for the easiest way to get rich, get more than our neighbors and are never happy with what we have, me included.
    They are very family oriented, take care of their fellow Amish in time of need and their work ethic is wonderful. They believe in working for everything they have, take no handouts and are a delightful group of people. Of course you will see negative things pop up about them but they are humans and you can find a bad apple in every box.

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    1. Hi Paula! Your words are so wise, and I agree that we could probably do without a lot of things just as the Amish do, but our culture and consumerism gets the better of us sometimes. Thanks for visiting here at the roost :)

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  6. Nice post. I agree with all the comments above. I would love for you to lin up to this week's Farm Girl Blog Fest. Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/10/farm-girl-blog-fest-5.html

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