Life on an Amish farm is quite different from life just about anywhere else today. While Amish women make their own Amish quilts using hand stitching and foot petal sewing machines and Amish men plow the fields using a horse drawn tractor and no chemicals, the rest of the world rushes past them as if they were not even there. However, the Amish carry on in a very productive and often very profitable manner without the help of societal norms or conveniences such as electricity, telephone service, automobiles, central heating and air, or advanced education in many instances. The Amish have chosen the plain and simple life, but that certainly does not mean that their lives are not every bit as busy and complicated as the rest of ours.
When it comes to the day to day worries and pressures of everyday life, the Amish have many of the same problems and concerns that most people do. Everyone needs to work and the Amish probably work harder than most due to the fact that they choose to do most everything without the assistance of modern technology. Amish farmers use no chemicals, electrical equipment, or motor driven tractors to work the land. The Amish farming family is dependent upon the produce and livestock that they can grow and sell at the market, so having to rely on natural methods to grow the food and horse drawn tractors to plow the fields makes it that much harder for them to produce the larger amounts necessary that they need to sell to the public.
Amish women contribute to the family financially as well by making Amish quilts and selling them at Amish quilt stores to tourists. Many handmade Amish quilts can be sold for more than one thousand dollars and the demand for these Amish quilts is very high. This demand for handmade Amish quilts comes from the fact that they are made completely without the assistance of electricity. What this means is that the Amish quilter must piece together every square of every Amish quilt she makes by hand sewing them together with a needle and thread or by using a foot powered treadle sewing machine. Most Amish quilts are put together using dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of hand sewn pieces of cloth together. While the resulting Amish quilt is of such high quality that people around the world travel to Pennsylvania and Ohio just to buy one of these handmade Amish quilts, they do take up a lot of time for the average Amish quilter. This can be an exhausting job, but it is all a part of living and maintaining life on an Amish farm.
Of course, the most important part of Amish farm life is Amish family life. Most Amish couples have an average of five children per family and often many more than that. Family time is very important for most Amish families and while they spend most of their time working the fields and completing the household chores, spending time as a family in the evenings is very important to keeping the family unit connected. Amish fathers will often teach their sons how to carve wooden toys, build furniture, or how to care for the animals. Amish mothers will teach their daughters how to make Amish quilts, bake delicious pies and cakes, or how to grow a beautiful flower or vegetable garden. Amish families will get together after dinner and play board games, read from books, tell each other stories, or play games outside. Connecting with the family and teaching the children how to run the farm while also enjoying spending time together as a family is of the upmost importance.
Amish children learn about life on an Amish farm from a very early age. At around the age of two years old they are expected to start doing chores and contributing to the family in some sort of meaningful way. For boys this might mean learning about the farm equipment and the dangers that might come along with living on a working farm. For the girls it might mean helping out around the house or assisting mom out with her Amish quilts by threading needles for her or cutting the fabric into tiny Amish quilting pieces. All Amish children attend school up through the eighth grade and are encouraged to excel in their studies. Most Amish children speak three languages fluently: German, Pennsylvania Dutch, and English. They do not learn English until they attend school, so it is very important that they become fluent in the language so that they can communicate with the non-Amish people of the surrounding community.
Personal fulfillment is also something that many Amish farmers and their families long to achieve as well. While the Amish follow the simple life rule of JOY: Jesus is first, You are last, and Others are in between, this does not mean that personal interests are not able to be fulfilled. While most Amish men work on the farm or in a family run business, they are also allowed to work outside the community if they choose. Amish men can express their personal creativity through wood carving, blacksmithing, house building, and other endeavors. Amish women too can work outside the home and even outside the Amish community in a variety of jobs if they choose. Some Amish women choose to work as midwives for local doctors or in nearby shops selling handmade Amish quilts, canned goods, or baked goods. Amish women have a greater opportunity to express their creative sides by being able to create beautifully colorful Amish quilts for themselves, their families, or for profit. Bright colors are generally unaccepted by the Amish for use in clothing or home decorating, but they are more lenient in their use of color in Amish quilting. This gives Amish quilters the opportunity to express their creative sides in the form of art while also giving them the ability to earn a profit by selling their Amish quilts in the many Amish quilts stores or online markets that are available.
Overall, life on an Amish farm is more difficult than that of the average person in the modern world, but they have the same hopes, dreams, and desires that anyone else does. Work, family, and personal fulfillment are all a part of the human condition, but the Amish just experience it a little differently than most people do today.