Last weekend, I had the chance to tour an Amish farm via SIMBY Agritours. It was a really cool experience; I highly recommend jumping on one of the SIMBY tours at some point this summer.
So, what did I take away from this experience?
- Function stack as much as possible. My favorite example: Pump water from cool well into cement trough. Put cans of milk (still warm from the cow) into the trough. After drawing off the heat from the milk, the water overflows and is piped to the animals’ drinking trough…keeping it from freezing in the winter.
- Farming is a ton of work, and I am a lazy slug most of the time. I may think hard all day, but farmers think hard and do hard physical labor on top of that. I am physically unprepared for full-time farm work.
- Amish homes have a lot more space and a lot less furniture than I would have guessed. There was almost no counter space aside from the dry sink. There were only 3 lamps in the entire lower floor of the house.
- Moving water is hard; when going off-grid, arrange your water situation to avoid toting buckets as much as possible.
- I probably have enough garden space for all our vegetables for a year, but that doesn’t take into account grain, pasture/hay, or animal products.
- I don’t much care for canned asparagus, but I could eat buttered egg noodles until I explode.
- The five kiddos on the farm didn’t speak one word the entire time we were there. That was probably due in part to the fact that they didn’t speak English, mostly. All Amish kids in this area are bilingual: their mother tongue is a dialect of Swiss German; they learn English in school starting at age 6.
- We drove through my hometown on the way to the farm. Jonesville is looking rather prosperous these days. Downtown is full, the school has new windows and was recently painted, and the homes in he outskirts look a little less run-down than I remember. Hillsdale County has roughly the same amount of unemployment as downtown Detroit, so it’s good to see even small signs like this.
- The rural landscape that is to city dwellers “another world” is just “where I grew up.” And yet, I was always considered a “town kid” and still don’t feel like a country-dweller.