Amish lifestyle in Maine.
Large families of over ten children, farm living off the land. They say the average age of an American farmer is 59 years. But with the increase in Maine micro farmers, more Amish families moving into the North Eastern sections of the country, the median age is dropping.
It’s not easy living on a Maine farm but many hands make light work. Self sufficient, blessed with survival skills, content is the daily goal.
The local Maine Amish farm families are also some of the best patrons of the hometown libraries. Besides growing local vegetables, the Maine Amish create horse harnesses, peddle metal for your building exteriors and roofing. And small sheds and cabins, rustic furniture also are crafted in all kinds by Amish families for local retail sales.
Lots of bikes used for Amish transportation.
Not just buggies used to play the small circles around an Amish settlement. The youth travel to and from other nearby Amish settlements to visit and share news. To find a partner for continuing the Amish lifestyle in Maine. Their blinking bike lights can be hard to see. Dressing in black, with the same color applied to the carriage as dusk approaches makes motorists slow down or decide to take a different route on Maine roadways. No one wants responsibility for a poor visibility caused accident.
You see their horse drawn Amish carriages tied to light posts at the local Walmart.
During farmer’s markets, the horses unhitched from their produce wagons and taken down to water by a community river. Most Maine towns sprung up around a waterfront feature that was originally used to power the grist or flour mill wheels. To ply the watery highways for transportation and moving logs and product to market. The waterway essential for sustaining life before private wells tapped the H2O beneath the ground at each private homestead. The security and survival of the early settlement in Maine depended on that river in so many ways. Still does for the Amish stepping back into time to preserve what was lost in the hustle bustle.
What do you notice when you visit an Amish homestead in Maine?
No one on an electronic device or face lit up by the eerie glowing screen. Industry happens with many hands making light work creating something from thin air. The Amish are present in conversations and distraction chasing down a text or returning a like or poke is not in their repertoire.
Fields plowed using horses and harvested the same way.
Barns and other agricultural buildings noticed springing up as Amish settlements spark and grow steadily. Re-working abandoned farm machinery that was two row not eight row fancy dancy. The Amish settlements reverse the tide of less small farmers and trend to just a few larger ones.
During a farmstead visit to an Amish household, it is not uncommon to see eight, ten or even thirteen children size families around you.
Warm, friendly, curious. Some guarded but more genuinely unguarded and interested in what you have to say. I know of an Easton Maine family that is growing organic food for my girlfriend Meg’s organic farming operation. She operates the family business called Nature’s Circle. Thank you Meg for helping supply many of these photos taken from the Maine Amish farm landscapes she travels for today’s Me In Maine blog post.
The Amish settlements in Smyrna and East Hodgdon Maine have phones in their packing sheds.
In Easton Maine, not so much, which makes the settlements a little more removed and communication not so instantaneous.
The last trip to Easton, Fort Fairfield area, Meg treated to pumpkin pecan chocolate chip squares. I know, sounds good and one proud thirteen year old the cook. The youngest and probably most enjoyed of children as the tail end of the family grows up and eventually starts her own Amish family. Very warm and welcoming and you get lots of questions from everyone in the Amish household when you pay them a visit. Eager to learn and good listeners. Not impatient and polite as they open up their Amish homes. The Amish are very trusting, unless you give them reason not to be and that kind of news spreads fast.
The group of Amish in Easton from Pennsylvania, the ones settling in East Hodgdon and Smyrna are a different order.
Some from Ohio, Kentucky, a few from out west. None drive, some don’t even have rubber on tires and use just wood or metal.
The dogs at the farms are even more special because they love attention but are better trained than your average pups today. The dogs have more of a working role and herd the livestock, other farm animals. You don’t hear the dogs barking.
Children on the Maine Amish farms extremely well behaved.
They all flock around Meg when she visits to discuss farm orders and how to work around crop obstacles. Interested and happy to see a visitor and more sheltered in a good way. Lots of hands on training from building barns to making butter or cheese or how to grow vegetables.
The best farm practices to build up soil amendments. How to do carpentry all taught to every member of the family. Practical skills, work ethic, simple farm living and extremely well read. The Amish are definitely not flying by the seat of their pants or unprepared.
You get a sense of the simple values and how hospitable the well kept, hand built Maine Amish homes are run.
The Amish lifestyle in Maine. Neat as a pin, there is an order. Everything around you with a structured order to it. The homes are working farmsteads. All are in a circle, taking your coat and providing you over the top lunches and snacks. Sitting down together, all are paying attention and no one is lost somewhere on a device. The Amish are present and glad you are in their household. Happy to have you as a guest.
You step back into time but sense keen awareness of what is going on around you in their hand built not modular manufactured homes.
Maintaining old order Amish living, without electricity. In Fort Fairfield, Easton there are outhouses. In East Hodgdon and Smyrna, there is indoor plumbing with generators. There are different degrees of Amish living in Maine.
Not stressed out or frantic and steady she goes rules the day like a ticking metronome that keeps the beat. There is a time in every season to plant this, cultivate that and for harvest. For stacking firewood, stocking the summer kitchen or filling the root cellar. All the Amish do not want any kind of a fight. The Amish individual wants peace amongst themselves and others. Avoiding dissension, staying reasonable and tolerant and always on task to do their share of chores.
There is much to do and idle time is not found in large supply.
Working hard to stay on the farm, to raise a family. To make a living from many means that keeps it interesting and varied. The weather, pests, the market for what they peddle can cause set backs that they prepare for and expect. They are ready for what is ahead and plan for it. Life is not always easy sledding and hills, dips, curves happen to test a person. To define and improve an individual.
The role of women, in East Hodgdon and Smyrna and how they compare to Easton and Fortfield Maine.
Is there a distinction of how they are treated as a whole in the Amish order or depends on the home, the day? All women are dressed to not bring attention to themselves. But the garb stands out like a visit to King’s Landing just over the northern Maine border into Canada. Where the theme of the day is early settlers, what their struggles were as you enter their World for an afternoon or day long visit to remember. Except with the Amish in Maine settlements, it is not pretend or a re-enactment. Where they period costumes are removed and everyone hops in their Subaru or mini van, SUV to hit the Trans Canada highway to head to their modern homes.
Practical clothing that lasts and not trendy or the latest style and made from scratch is obvious observing the Maine Amish families. Clean, consistent, no Johnny Rebel, Jimmy Rebel or Leader of the Pack stand out as they all stick together for the greater good.
You are walking back in time with family tradition roles and children precious but seen and not heard is the rule.
Respect, maybe a little fear mixed in or consequences. Limits, better defined boundaries. Are the Amish children raised with a stronger rigorous training? More rod, less spoiling? Do kids know their limits? Or is it lack of routine, ritual, or order that causes no structure to some degree in today’s society? Discipline and not a lot of idle time. Small community schooling with the older kids helping the younger ones with a teacher or two in the settlement. Doing the same pass on what you learn as families work together collectively. No time to sit in your room and pout or live singularly when the day ahead has a long list of chores attached to it. Too many kids for one to ever be spoiled might be part of it as you pitch in and do your part in the Amish household.
Community day is Thursday at the Smyrna and Fort Fairfield, Easton too.
Work on projects in the area for the Amish community members is very important. Giving back and helping out. It has its own special day reward. Helping the elderly and learning from their success and setbacks in the lifelong process. There is always something given back, that rubs off in the doing a good deed for others.
In the Fort Fairfield, East Hodgdon, Smyrna Amish communities there are farmer’s markets on premise.
The Amish bring produce, baked goods into the nearby farmer’s markets community gatherings. The Pioneer Store in Smyrna Maine is full of practical devices. From wood stoves to kitchen utensils that are not flashy but work and last. Jars of old fashioned candy you don’t see at Wally World or as impulse items around the digital scanner at Circle K.
The homes in the Easton, Fort Fairfield filled with plenty of hand crafted hardwood flooring.
Lots of blue paint is used in the interiors for a commonality. Red barns and designs like Boston area housing from before 1900 very prevalent. And all built by hand and horse from scratch. Lumber cut, sawed on premise and constructed to last by many, not a few skilled carpenters. Barn raisings where this week it is your turn, next weekend mine. Jack of all trades is definitely the rule of the Amish day. That skill set runs deep and provides the satisfaction knowing that everyone with a strong back, a clean mind and daily work on your faith brings you peace and contentment. Farming is a noble profession.
Hope you liked this blog post on Amish in Maine from settlements in my area of the state.
We’ve blogged about Amish farming in Maine before. Stay tuned. A lot more flowing in for another blog post center around Unity, MOFGA headquarters. That’s where many more Amish families settled to build a better life in Maine.
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