Firstly, a local guide explains the Amish culture, faith and the way of life. The nation’s capital offers a complete change of pace, as we discover through a two night stay at the Fairmont Washington DC.
At 6:00am of a morning, this little town of Lancaster is very much awake. I did not know why and I still don’t know why. Perhaps it is a town that provides employees to another larger town somewhere else.
After breakfast, a guide was waiting at the Amish village to show us around a few farms and aquaint us with the lifestyle of these ‘different’ people. Firstly, we are driven to a couple of dairy farms. The farms are generally an average of 70-90 acres of very fertile land. The grass is green and healthy. Large sections of paddocks are growing corn, we would call it maize, to be used for cattle feed in the winter months. Crops of lucerne and various vegetables are well cared for. The Amish live very simply and use very old-fashioned methods of farming and living. There are no TVs, no electricity to the houses. Horses pull carts and farm machinery.
The dairy herds number 50 or so high volume milk producers. Stalls have names of the cows on each of them and each cow comes to its own stall without being coaxed. Milking is done using a vacuum pump into a churn first then carried to the vat for collecting by the dairy co-op. House yards are all neat and tidy for us all to enjoy.
Families average 7 children per household. Everyone works for the benefit of the farm. Children go to school to Year 8, which is the government requirement. There are many schools in the area as each school has just the one teacher for the 25-30 grade 1-8 students that attend. As soon as the student is 15, they are allowed to stop attending to work the farm or in the carpentry shop. Those that want to go to school beyond 18 are required to go to another community. We spent some time in a house with the school room attached, learning of the teaching philosophy that is followed.
Transport is by horse and buggy, the “street” ones are glassed-in with a windshield. The fields are worked with horses pulling the sowers, mowers and carts.
The house is simple with the kitchen table being the main focus of family activity. Meals are wholesome and mealtime is a time of family discussion and involvement. Children usually marry by 23, often by 18, when they leave the protection of the family. In old age, the parents live in an adjacent house to one of their children and there they stay for the rest of their lives. The cemetery is very plain with just a small headstone.
Handcrafts and home built furniture and games are a specialty for some. Church and religion form much of the reasons why families follow the traditions and cultures of by gone days.
After our visit to the Amish village and lifestyle, we stopped by another touristy village for the gift shop run. The village name is “Intercourse” for which there were many humorous number plates, tee-shirts and articles proudly displaying the place name. (We nearly purchased a new number plate for the motorhome but thought we might have too many making remarks or sounding horns as they drove by.) We passed by Chiropractor which, well, you can read his street sign.
Our destination for the day was Fairmont Hotel in the nations Capital, Washington, which means tomorrow is a lot of walking to see the tourist mecca spots.