Thursday, February 7, 2019

Spending the day with 4 Amish ladies

I played taxi driver for my neighbor and 3 of her cousins. Their driver had cancelled on them due to flu and they had appts...chiro and massage appts with a stop at Aldi's on the way back. They are going 50 miles to have these appts as that is the only lady chiro in the area. I enjoyed the time even though I really need to learn German as they would forget and get to talking in German, they try to be respectfully of speaking English around Englishers.  We were gone from 10:30 to almost 5 pm.

We talked about being frugal...which they don't call it that, to them it's respecting their resources. We talked about getting meals on the table quickly and when it's already been a long day of child care, laundry in wringer washers and clothes lines and gardens with preserving the harvest. We talked about routines. We talked about getting it done and still having time to rest.

I'll start with meals as I know my neighbor's husband is a meat eater... he has made that comment several times that he wants meat at all 3 meals and he makes sure he provides meat so his wife can put it on the table. All the husbands AND boys take care of chores..aka feeding and watering animals BEFORE breakfast which is usually served around 7 am. Wives and daughters gather eggs. (Because I asked what happens if you have no sons or no daughters...then it's the oldest child does chores and the second oldest does eggs.)

Breakfast might be oatmeal or homemade granola with canned fruit and an egg or like "meat eater" have sausage with it. Very little bacon is used as it's not something pigs produce a lot of.

Lunch is at noon pretty much across the board, or 1 pm during day light saving time as they don't do that time change. It's canned meat, canned potatoes, canned veggies or fresh from the gardens and some kind of dessert. Dinner or I should say supper as it's at 6 or 7 pm AFTER chores is the same as lunch...NOTICE CANNED MEAT and CANNED POTATOES. Casseroles are very common, Soups are common year around especially on laundry day but steak, pork chops, meatloaf isn't. With canned meat and canned potatoes they can have a meal on the table in 15 minutes. Since I am not in to canning meat so much I figure cooking a good supply of meat and putting it in the freezer in "meal" size will help.I do that will my turkey and hams , used to do with the hamburger as just hamburger for pasta,sloppy joes,  mushroom joes and taco meat. We don't eat that mix much anymore but I think I will go back to precooking my hamburger. When the gardens are producing what ever is ripe is what is ate. They ALWAYS have cake,pie, cookies and canned or fresh fruit in season for snacks. They burn those calories with the manual labor they do.The ladies decide what they are fixing the night before right after dinner. They know what they will be baking the night before. Not waiting until that morning or right before a meal is the biggest thing that helps keep the meals on the table without frustration.

Baking... Monday and Saturday at least, but most bake also midweek. Baking is done when the stoves (wood burning in this area) are already heating the water for the laundry to be washed not "wasting" the heat. They will bake the bread,cakes, pies and cookies at this time along with making noodles and using the top of the stove to help dry the noodles so they can cut them rather than leaving them hang or lay all over the house to dry. Especially nice in rainy weather. The young lady that used to live here showed me last summer how to do it on the stove and what to check for to see when it was dry enough to cut, maybe 2-3 minutes. She said since I don't have a wood burning stove to use a skillet to lay the dough on. They do one piece of dough as a time. Their cook stove is also the one that heats the house. Some have more than one stove. Our neighbor has 3, a kerosene cook stove for summer, a HUGE cook stove for winter and a smaller cook stove in the laundry room which I would have called a summer kitchen as it's a 20 by 20 ft room that she also uses for canning so it doesn't heat up the house in the summer.

If they are baking a casserole , the whole meal goes in the oven.Winter squash and sweet potatoes , casseroles are used a lot during the winter for the veggie since the stove is heating the house.Stove top meals during warm weather.

Routines help save you from frustration and gets most of it done and that's how they put it. Monday, Wednesday or Thursday and Saturday are laundry days. Baking is done on the same days. Bedding is washed middle of the week. Housecleaning is done on Saturday though if they have some thing that needs cleaned during the week they will do it. Houses are "spring/fall" cleaned from top to bottom usually right before when they have church service at their house BUT other family or friends will come in and help clean the house and prep food that is served that day. Some mend/sew on Tuesday or Thursday. All iron the afternoon or the day after laundry day.Floors are swept every night after supper.Dishes washed after the meal.Everything is put in place when no longer being used. They don't get something and then decide where to put it, BEFORE they get it , they figure where they will be keeping it. Sunday is NO work beside chores for taking care of animals. Church is every other Sunday and visitation with family and friends is encourage for the other Sunday. Meals are prepared the night before, dishes are to be done as normally done. Soup and sandwiches are common. They don't use condiments like we do. Might be the lack of refrigeration?

Kerosene lamps are used for task lighting only. Curtains are pulled open for light, and closed as soon as it gets dark during the winter or half closed during the summer to keep the heat out.They sew, iron, and read at windows. In winter they might do those things at the kitchen table where there is a lamp lit until they go to bed. They get up anywhere from 4 am to 5:30. Bed is usually around 8-9 (exception is teenagers and young adults).

They don't have summer clothes and winter clothes. They on average have 5-9 outfits.

I asked about trash... oh yeah because no one has trash service. They ONLY thing they could think of that they had to deal with was the lids off their canning jars. Some use reusable one, others put holes in the lids and hang in the gardens to scare off birds, some recycle. Others find an English neighbor that will allow them to "share" their trash service. They all compost and  all have burn barrels(allowed in this township.)so paper stuff is burned if they don't use it to start the fire in the stove and dump the ashes in the gardens. and since they can all their own meat, veggies and fruit and get their staples mostly from the bulk store....they just don't have the "trash". They don't use paper towels (cloth rags) they don't use paper napkins (cloth napkins) they don't use paper tissue (cloth handkerchiefs), they don't use paper plates,plastic silverware or paper cups. Everyone has a water bottle.(Most drink water, juice or herb tea, very few drink coffee or "black" tea).

After supper, dishes are done (wash water heated while they cooked the meal), they or the one of the kids will sweep the floors and then they sit and read from Bible, talk of the day, wife might do mending while this is going on but pretty much the day is done, the hour or so before bed is one of slowing down and stopping.

They do get a kick out of me hanging laundry on the kitchen porch clothesline in freezing or rainy weather, seeing the oil lamp lit early mornings and during supper. How dark our house looks compared to other Englishers in the area.I swear the one looks like they turn every light on and never close their curtains. How big my pantry is for Englishers as the neighbor has helped us moving things around down there. They all are looking forward to seeing how I garden.

They either grow their own seeds/plants or buy from one of the other Amish that do.Most buy it from the ones that grow is as they don't have grow lights ;)

They miss fresh salad during the winters. I figured that with what I saw what they all bought at Aldi's... lettuce, lots of iceberg lettuce, lots of bananas, cool whip, canned fish,cream of mushroom soup(that was the one having church service next), and the 2 younger ladies bought pizza for their supper that night.

TO follow this up, Hubby and I talked about respecting our resources, routines in the house especially with the garden work going to be starting and him looking at working seasonal work for ODOT this summer AND working for the Amish. We talked about getting meals on the table to cut the "what are we going to eat when we should be sitting down to eat".

Blessed be