Amish

I was out visiting my Mom last weekend and I spoke with an old friend who happens to be of the Amish persuasion. He has a woodshop that runs off of a waterwheel and he creates some very nice, albeit rough, country furniture. Emil said to me, "You Englishers seem to be having quite a problem with this oil thing. I hope you all don't finally decide to use the creek. It's a small creek and would only support a couple of Englishers, although it could probably handle fifty or so more of us Amish.
Emil has never been a subtle man.
But he has always been truthful.
t.
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"Tom Watson" wrote:

Sounds like you were in Lancaster County.
Travel 400 miles west and you are in Wayne County, Oh where I grew up among a very sizeable Amish population.
They were allowed to use internal combustion engines for stationary power to run saw mills.
My dad sold them grease and oil for those engines.
To this day, they still build a lot of white oak furniture and there are still working sawmills in the area.
Had a neighbor who had a house built by the Amish.
They would not quote a price other than labor by the hour.
The neighbor had gotten a couple of quotes from local contractors but elected to have the Amish build it.
Every morning a crew consisting of the father, some uncles and a whole bunch of kids showed and worked the whole day with nothing but hand tools.
Before summer was over, the house was built, under budget and of good quality.
Something to be learned there.
Lew
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You know, Lew - I worked side by side with Amish fellas for years. I preferred them as framers and masons because they had good numbers, didn't have loud radios, and didn't drink wine at lunch, which could be a problem with some of our other masons, although not the framers.
It's pretty damned interesting to be on a job with an Amish crew. There's no chatter and there's no cussing. They get done more in a day than a typical Englisher crew. I do have to say that they are not the best finish carpenters I've ever worked with. Their concept of plain leads them away from my concept of finish.
t.
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"Tom Watson" wrote:

plain leads them away from my concept of finish.
No direct experience, but can definitely relate.
Lew
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I've never seen an Amish, let alone met one.
I can sympathise with what they are trying to do, to some extent, but no man is an island and the mores necessarily get a bit complicated and decisions become arbitrary in some way that may seem less so to an initiate.
What's the basic rule on technology? Forgive the flippancy but I gather that it's something like, "Damn the ICE, unless it's older than anyone likely to be operating it." In this way it becomes something that is always just "there" and can then be considered non-technological in some way.
I can understand it simply if they say, followed a neolithic lifestyle or had a cut off point at, (thinking), the industrial revolution or at mass production or had a blanket ban on fossil fuels or any one of dozens of other obvious rules, but the tempering of ideology with the minimum of expediency is absolutely fascinating.
I supppose it's easy to say "shun technology unless it's absolutely necessary" but it's intriguing to see what _necessary_ might mean in terms of the group compared with the individual.
Is steam power more correct than ICE but less correct than water power or sweat? Is plastic ever a good thing? It seems like it should be obvious, but looking closely I realize I really have no idea how it works.
The existence seems to be almost Zen (yeah, I know, I know.... be gentle) but I admire the _focus_ greatly and the lack of guile.
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Bored Borg wrote:

My impression is that the general rule on technology is that it's OK as long as (a) you don't become dependent on technology that you can't fix without buying parts or services from outside, (b) it doesn't facilitate social interactions other than face to face, (c) it doesn't serve as a status symbol, and (d) the English can't turn it off. That view may be considerably in error.
--
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--John
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I read (IIRC FWW some 20 years ago) that the (some?) Amish are allowed diesel engines as they do not involve electrical stuff to operate and start easily with (optionally hand-pumped) compressed air. The article dealt with a shop which was run entirely on hydraulic motors and air. The air router they showed intrigued me enough to go chasing after one until I found out the cost and the insane CFM required to produce 1 HP on that particular model. It looked like a pretty serious operation all run off one stationary diesel.
r
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In article <dfb5d459-8f3b-47e1-998f-e7180f0eabf0

Last spring we bought a couple of rooms of cherry furniture from one of the local Amish companies (http://www.greenacresfurniture.com /). They aren't grid connected, rather have diesel generators for their woodworking and showroom lights. From what I can gather from talking to them, they aren't allowed to use technology personally (luxury) but can use it to run their business (necessity). They use calculators, advertise on the web (and radio), and even use cell phones for the business.
-- Keith
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krw wrote:

Like most others, there are different groups/sects/sub-sects w/ differing rules...
Around here some use automobiles as they've been judged necessary owing to distances making alternatives unviable even though some of the same still farm w/ horses/mules; otoh, the dairy barns are fully air-conditioned and equipped w/ the latest in automated milkers and other production-aiding technologies.
In general, it's impossible to generalize... :)
--
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Visited the towns of Intercourse, PA (the town commonly used in movies about the Amish, such as "For Richer or Poorer" starring Tim Allen and Kirstey Alley) and Bird-in-Hand, PA, a few years ago.
We did the tourist thing and visited the quilt shops and antique stores. Quite a few seemed to exist for the purpose of shaking down us English. High prices. Some were not even run by Amish... they just looked Amish on the surface, so tourists spent money there! Sick. If you see a horse and buggy and a woman dressed funny, she may only be there to shake you down. Buyer beware. The Amish masquerade party.
We got tired of that and visited a few true Amish shops off the beaten path (from a block behind the main drag, to many miles away). My wife wanted some cloth swatches for her own quilts, so we visited a few fabric stores. They ranged from having electric lights, calculators, credit card machines, and even electronic cash registers, to very non-technological... gas lights, simple kind people, and very reasonable prices, depending on where you went. Some even use plastic grocery bags (presumably recycled). I think, given the credit card machines and grocery bags, when it comes to doing business, they do have a lot of leeway.
Bought some homemade root beer from one elderly gentleman with a hand-lettered sign in front of his barn. It was meant to be read by a customer in a very slow-moving vehicle, I think, as it was only 8x10 inches. We had to back up and read it again... it was worth the stop. Farms around the area sometimes put out fruit and vegetables on tables and stands in the front. Never any people around, you just take what you need and leave money in a jar, on the honor system. Sometimes they don't even put prices on things... you just pay what your conscience tells you to and make your own change (which means they probably get about 10x what they would have asked if they had posted prices.)
A word to anyone visiting the area... get out and drive around the whole area. Get lost, then get found again. If you are out driving around Lancaster County and you don't see any other cars, but you see horses and carriages, you are in Amish Country. If you see more cars than horses, you are in Tourist Trap.
It's worth a trip. I hope to go again someday.
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snipped-for-privacy@tomato.com says...

We bought a quilt in the Ohio Amish area too. They aren't cheap (the quilt for the King bed was $1600), but they do marvelous work. The shop is on the main drag but was really a consignment shop for the Amish women in the area. You could special order pattens from a book but the lead time was 1-2 years. We didn't want to wait around for them to finish. ;-)
You're right though, other shops featured Chinese and Indian imports. WalMart is cheaper.

That's exactly the way it is in the Ohio Amish community. When I was a kid we used to visit the Illinois community every year or so but I don't remember that detail.

Damn. You got me. I love good root beer (bottle of IBC in front of me). My uncle used to brew it (about 1% alcohol.

Farms in VT would do that too. Several reported minimal losses and in fact made more when their prices weren't marked. People really don't like ripping off the little guy. Roadside stands that use the "honor system" aren't just an Amish thing. It's nice to see whenever, though.

I have to get back to the Ohio area. I want a couple more dining room chairs (we bought a house with a big enough dining room), perhaps some bar stools, and maybe a corner cupboard. They sure spoiled me on furniture stores. I can't stand shopping for furniture anymore. It's all expensive crap.
--
Keith

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I heard that when the Amish go deer hunting, the quietly sneek up on the deer and build a barn around it.
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On Wed, 08 Oct 2008 20:02:31 -0500, "Dave B - Parkville, MD"

The Amish don't hunt deer. They invite them.
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snipped-for-privacy@erehwon.com says...

...to dinner.
--
Keith

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