28 May

I’m Impressed. My First Amish House And Barn Raising: Almost Done

by Jon Katz

When I went out to check the new site for Moise’s daughter Katy Ann two days ago, there were the makings of a floor. This morning, there was a temporary home and a temporary barn for the horses and sheep, if there are any.

Half of the crew had gone back to their farms and homes, and the remainder of workers were finishing up, putting in the windows, cleaning up the debris.

This was the first close look at the old Amish Custom of Home Raising and Barn Raising, something for which they are famous. The workers come in from everywhere, work-non stop, laugh, and sing.

There is no drama, no exhortations, no criticism or arguing. I’m not quite sure how they do this, but even the youngest workers seem to know what to do and just do it.

And no one is paid for this work; it is all part of being Amish, something everyone does for everyone else. The favor is likely to be repaid.

Everyone got a good laugh out of my hat and welcomed me as an “Ami.” One called me “Grandpa.”

The way the Amish work is impressive; it’s as if they all have the same work plan in their heads; they just put their heads down and work until it’s done.

Moise has a well working from a previously unknown stream behind the house. An excavator he knows drove up to the top of the hill where Katy Ann, Moise’s daughter, will be living with her family in a few weeks. Construction on that home and barn will begin in the fall.

I’m struck by the lack of drama, argument, tension, and clear but largely unspoken authority. This is a culture that worships work and loves working.  They don’t raise their voices or speak loudly or conspicuously.

The thunderstorm the other night that I rushed to warm them about didn’t bother them a bit; they just sat in their carriages and sang to each other.

There is none of the alarm culture and panic that marks our society.

Once the rain and wind stopped, they went right back to work.

When I visit, I check in with Moise but stay away from work. Everyone knows my name, welcomes me, and waves at some point.

While the Amish carpenters finished up and started cleaning, all their horses were out grazing contently in the big field, which will soon be planted with something.

Everything is used.

There’s a temporary house, not with water thanks to Moise’s well-hunting skills, an outhouse for the family to use until septic or other system is built, and a barn for the horses and, possibility, some sheep.

The permanent house and barn will be at the top of the hill and will be much larger and more substantial. I’ve been invited to come back and visit. I’ll be there.

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