My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Amish Homes: Breaking Through the Stereotypes


I’ve heard some funny questions about Amish homes, from those who have never seen one.  “Do they have indoor plumbing”?  “Do they have refrigerators to keep their food cold?”  “Do they have furnaces?”  The answer to all three questions is “yes.”

Walking into an Indiana Amish kitchen, at first glance you wouldn’t notice anything different from your own kitchen.  There is a stove, refrigerator-freezer, sink, and lots of countertop space and cabinets (often beautiful ones).  If you look more closely, you can see that the appliances don’t plug into the wall.  With no regular plug-in electricity (just power from batteries, gas-fueled generators, or, increasingly, solar panels), there are no outlets on the wall.  Many of the appliances are run on propane and are specially built for Amish consumers right in their own community.  Looking overhead, you see there is no light fixture, but rather a hook on the ceiling where a lantern can be hung.

The living room looks like that of a farmhouse in my grandparents’ time.  Lots of seating, simple linoleum floors, not much decoration on the walls, and lots of natural light.  Each lamp rises out of a cabinet which holds a propane tank—but increasingly, it might hold a large battery instead, and the light is LED rather than a gas flame.  Again, they are specially built for the Amish, right in their own community.  

The bathrooms look just like what you would see in any home, except for the lack of electric lighting and the electric lantern sitting on the counter.  The sink, commode, and shower look and work just the same as ours.  Amish homes don’t have very many bathrooms by our standards, as the girls don’t spend hours primping and preening!

Amish homes tend to be large and are usually white (although not always).  Often three generations live on the same property, with the parents turning over the farm to the youngest son and retiring to the “Dawdi Haus”—a smaller home right on the farm which may or may not be connected to the main house.  Vegetable gardens are common and often situated in front of the home, with flowers on the side facing the road.  (What a lovely idea!)

I hope this clears up some misconceptions...   

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