Tag Archives: amish lifestyle

Amish Farm and House

If you’re looking for fun and education in one great location, check out the Amish Farm and House on Lincoln Highway. Although you might pause when you arrive – because it shares a parking lot with a Target store and shopping plaza – once you step onto the property you’re transported from the hustle and bustle of today to another time… a time when life was simple. The juxtaposition helps you appreciate what Lancaster County once was (and portions still are), and how times have changed. This destination is great for all ages, and features all aspects of Amish life, including guided tours through a staged Amish home, school house, wood shop, blacksmith shop, pump house, and barnyard. You can try your skills on an Amish scooter, or take a buggy ride through the property and over a covered bridge. In the fall, there is a corn maze. You can also go the “extra mile” and take a bus tour through the local farm land.

Being an animal lover, and having two small children, I frequent this destination just to see the farmyard. Playful goats leap and bound through their play place, ducks and chickens roam freely, sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, peacocks, and other livestock provide constant entertainment for youngsters and young-at-heart alike. Ironically, my son’s favorite place is the herb and vegetable garden, for no other reason than it’s paved with white rocks…. and at 1 ½ years old, white rocks are the Best. Thing. EVER. Don’t worry – I don’t let him take them home with us, but making him part with his handful of rocks is typically cause for a highly theatrical and slightly embarrassing baby meltdown. Luckily, the rocks are soon forgotten when we see the baby sheep just down the path.

In the wood shop, you can see a local wood carver making unique crafts. The smell of the wood shavings is earthy and inviting. Be sure to ask him about the giant sling shot he has attached to the top of his minivan! Maybe you’ll even get lucky and he’ll launch a water balloon over the farm for you. (He’s a local celebrity)

If you choose to participate in all the activities provided by the Amish Farm and house, you could spend several hours there… or, if you’re like me… you can enjoy a pleasant stroll around the barnyard in about 45 minutes, stop for a few “selfies” with the lamas, and still make it home for snacks and nap time. Whether you live near or far, this is a great destination and I highly recommend it.

Where the grass is greener

One of the best parts of my work here is getting to talk with many of the Amish who live nearby. Recently, I stopped by the home of an Amish mother. Most of her children are grown now. We talked about the struggles of raising children today. While the challenges are different in our two worlds, there is more shared concern than one might imagine.

Our conversation led to the cell phone and the internet. She professed to be unfamiliar with both to a degree, but knowledgeable enough to know how they tempt young people today, whether Amish or not… and the concerns these technologies present for parents.

Amish parents, unlike many of us, don’t fully realize all that can be done with these new phones, with the “world in your pocket.” There have actually been formal meetings among the Amish where outside speakers have discussed today’s technologies and their impact.

Several hundred Amish youth have Facebook accounts. They stay in touch by texting.  We have heard that some are unable to resist the temptation to take photos at weddings, where cameras are not allowed. Since quite a few Amish businessmen have cell phones, it is not surprising that many young folks do, too.

For example, the first time I had ever seen a Blackberry was years ago in the hands of an Amish carriage maker. More recently, I was having lunch with an Amish businessman who was receiving text messages from his son while deer hunting. I felt as if I was not even present at the table. He agreed that once you possess the technology, it becomes difficult to give it up or even limit its use. Our devices can bring those far away from us closer, while at the same time alienating those sitting right next to us.

The Amish position on technology is not that “anything new is bad.” Rather, they ask, “Do you control the technology, or does it control you?” They then decide to limit it, make accommodations, adapt it, or ban it altogether.

Many visitors are incredulous to learn the Amish population continues to double here about every 20 years. Surprisingly, most Amish youth still decide to join the Amish faith and the world of the horse-and-buggy, plain clothes, and eighth grade educations. The fact remains that family and community transcend the allure of the modern world, even though much of what they see “beyond the fence” certainly looks appealing.

In the end, it was this Amish mother I was chatting with at her kitchen table who summed up our conversation about the difference between what we want and what we need. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s just as hard to mow.”

Come here to learn more about the Amish

Did you know that the Amish have a horse-drawn trailer that contains benches, hymnals, and all the other items necessary for Sunday church services at one another’s homes? Or, did you know that the Amish are often bi-lingual, speaking English, German, and “Pennsylvania Dutch?”

For those inquisitive and curious minds who want to learn more about the Amish lifestyle and culture first-hand, a great place to check out is the is the Amish Experience. Located on route 340 in the heart of Amish country, this educational destination is the only location of its kind in Lancaster County to be named a “Heritage Site” by the Lancaster County Historical Society. And, unlike other museums or destinations, The Amish Experience is surrounded on all sides by farmland beauty; rural, rolling farmland, horses, cows, cornfields, and even a fruit market that set the scene for what guests will enjoy during their visit. The Amish Experience is also a perfect option for your Sunday itinerary because many other Amish destinations are closed.

So, on a sunny Sunday in June, I surprised my out of town guests with a visit to the Experience. As we toured the grounds, we enjoyed walking through rows of vegetables and herbs which are part of the museum garden. We learned that many guests had never seen what a beet, sweet pea, or potato plant actually looked like, and we enjoyed listening to the excited laughter of children when they saw a real tomato growing on a vine. We enjoyed seeing (up close) a laundry line of colorful Amish clothing, fresh from the wash, and hanging out to dry in the warm summer air. And, yes, even an Amish phone booth!

The homestead tour was fascinating. Even as a resident of Lancaster, I learned numerous things about the Amish that I had never known before. Our favorite part of the tour was the Schoolhouse, where we were able to learn from our tour guide while sitting in authentic desks donated from an actual schoolhouse in the neighboring town of Strasburg. We also got to browse through a real Amish Hymnal and see workbooks that Amish children would use.

A unique part of the Amish Experience is the theatre show “Jacob’s Choice,” which brings to life the story of an Amish teen who is struggling with his decision to join the church. The show boasts surprising special effects, and a story that is certain to touch the hearts of all who see it.

As we got in the car to head home, I couldn’t help but think of the “Jacob’s Choice” story, and ponder the similarities that we, as human beings, share, regardless of what lifestyle we choose or what path we walk. We all experience joy, sorrow, and the pursuit of happiness – whatever that may be. And while sometimes we have our differences, the more we learn about other ways of life, the more we realize that we’re all in this together.

Free Lancaster County Travel Planning Guide

Get our free Getaway Guide

View the Guide online or have it mailed to you

Get It

Receive our Email Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, deals & more

Sign Up