Is the Amish Lifestyle, Homesteading on Steroids?

The Amish lifestyle in real life is a lot different than what most folks watch on television reality shows. Amish communities are present in most regions of the United States, but the largest congregations are located in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The culture in Amish communities varies in many cases. Amish and Minnonite communities may share a lot of similarities with each-other, but they share many more differences.

Amish folks are more farmers than they are homesteaders. In fact, not all Amish families work the land for a living, some run lucrative businesses in small towns that border rural farmland. The best answer to whether or not the Amish lifestyle is homesteading on steroids is “kind of.”

Amish folks

There is a sizable Amish community in my rural county. When the 2020 pandemic hit, many of us half jokingly asked if anyone had told the Amish. The lives of our Amish neighbors were really not impacted by all of the panicked buying and ever changing “rules” about going into stores and closures of entertainment activities.

Amish can definitely be deemed survival homesteaders in many cases. While each individual family may not raise or grow every type of meat, produce, or supply they need on a daily basis, others in their community probably are.

The Amish would perhaps be best viewed like a homesteading tribe – which could earn them the title of homesteading on steroids. Together, the community would be 100% self-reliant while living on a sustainable patch of land.

Amish and Homesteading Differences

Amish life a lot like homesteading in the 1700s and 1800s, in many cases yet. The Amish use horses to work the land and to move cut logs – as well as a primary mode of transportation. The similarities to modern homesteading are many, but the differences to general everyday life activities are numerous, as well.

Amish in some communities will ride bicycles, others do not – but modern homesteaders have no aversion to hopping on a bicycle and going for a ride. Some Amish will ride in cars and use a telephone (but not own one) for solely work related issues, others will not depending upon how conservative their community is regarding modern conveniences.

The may be using solar panels, and solar generators, and sometimes even gas powered generators. Unless you are homesteading off grid or primarily off grid, your homestead may have a productivity edge on the Amish.

The size of Amish families provides copious amounts of free manual labor for even large farms, and free help from skilled community members, so work even with manual tools can be completed in record time.

Odds are, an Amish family could build a barn or put in several acres of corn far more quickly than a non-Amish homesteader even with only manual tools and horse drawn equipment being used to get the job done.

Amish Homesteading Skills

If you are considering solely the traditional skill set of the Amish when pondering if their lifestyle is homesteading on steroids, I would say the answer would be a resounding yes.

The self-reliance skills of the Amish are unparalleled on a community-wide scale. Anything you do on your homestead, with the aid or modern conveniences or not, odds are everyone growing up Amish can expertly accomplish, as well.

Top 17 Amish Homesteading Skills

SewingCandle Making
Soap MakingButchering
Hide TanningHorse Shoeing
Horse TrainingLivestock Milking
Fence MendingLivestock Husbandry

This is just a sampling of the traditional homesteading skills Amish children are taught. Formal schooling typically ends around what would be considered grade six or eight. But, their education continues in the form of vocational studies until they are firmly into adulthood.

It’s not unusual for children as young as seven to be left in charge of the shop counter at a local Amish farm that sells hay, shoes horses, and the occasional farm fresh eggs. Amish children do not need a calculator (even a solar powered one) to add up a bill and make change – their basic math skills would earn them an “A” in any public school.

Amish children grow up with an inherent sense of responsibility that is often missing in modern America – but thankfully is frequently commonplace on rural homesteads. Chores or work are a big part of daily life, only Sunday is set aside for rest and fun. Yes, Amish do enjoy having a good time.

There is much to envy about the beautiful simplicity of the Amish lifestyle, but it is not an easy life. Hard work is expected in Amish communities, but can come without praise.

Slacking however, will elicit a swift and negative result from parents or other members of the community if the person with a slipshod work ethic is an adult.

A homesteader who spent a day working on an Amish farm would likely put head to pillow just a bit more exhausted than if they had spent a day toiling on their own land. That one simple yet highly accurate fact might well give credence to the homesteading on steroids image of Amish homesteading.

While I’ve never seen an Amish person appear to be on any type of performance enhancing drug, most do work with the strength, vigor, and diligence of a super homesteader … especially during hay and garden harvesting time.

2 thoughts on “Is the Amish Lifestyle, Homesteading on Steroids?”

  1. I do love reading about Amish ways of life. I do feel that we need to get back to that kind of life style. And we just may in the future. It may be a case of necessity. I love my conveniences, but think I could learn to live without them. We do have a propane cook stove, water heater, and fireplace. We have a two fuel generator. Gas and propane. We have oil lamps and candles. I can cook from scratch. Make soap. And a lot of other things you mentioned. I don’t know how to tan a hide. I have made faceless dolls. They are the cutest to me. I even have a treadle sewing machine. That the one purchase I’m most proud of. $40 at a garage sale. And it works. It needed cleaning and a new belt. I love it. Oh, and I can sew by hand.


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