This man is preparing this horse for a ride through the Amish farmlands in Lancaster, PA. Many Amish men earn a living giving rides to tourists who visit in the spring, summer and fall.

Why do some men work in town instead of on farms?

Farm land is shrinking due to commercialization in Lancaster. The more malls built, the more hotels and motels, the less land for farmers. So some men have had to take up other jobs, such as giving rides to tourists.

Even though this man works in town, he may have a small plot of land to grow vegetables. He may have chickens, perhaps even a cow for milk for his family. The Amish church encourages their people to remain close to the land even if they have to work in town.

When I was in Lancaster a buggy ride cost $10 a person and lasted about 20 minutes. The buggies hold four to five tourists plus the driver. There were lines of people waiting for their rides. Probably these Amish men, who are after all, very frugal, make enough during tourist season to survive in the winter.

Not that an Amish man will lounge around in the winter. He'll have wood to cut for the wood stove. He'll have the barn to clean. Animals to tend. A cow to milk. He'll do repair work inside and out when the weather permits. His wife might contribute to their income by making quilts which she can sell from her front porch.

The Amish are industrious and creative people.

Amish Men and Tobacco

(c)copyright 2002 Bea Sheftel

It is a surprising fact that the stoic Amish often farm tobacco as their cash crop. Ironically the leaders frown on smoking, though cigar and pipe smoking is not forbidden, but cigarettes are.

The Amish leaders frown upon smoking, yet tobacco is one of the major cash crops for the Amish. It is also a crop that is farmed by the entire family. Even the young children participate.

The first tobacco seeds are sown in April in a barn. They start to sprout in May and are transplanted to the open fields. These fields must be plowed, harrowed and rolled.

The children help protect the plants against worms and suckers. Sometimes they have to kill the pests by hand because certain insecticides are dangerous to tobacco.

The crop is harvested at the end of August but it is still not ready to be sold. The green tobacco is hung upside down in a special tobacco shed.

In December, when the ground is frozen and there is little farm work to be done, the family gathers in the barn. They prepare the dried leaves and size them and bale them for market. In Lancaster, the tobacco is sold only to cigar makers. It is not unusual to see a Tobacco farmer and his friends smoking a product from his farm.

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Amish Men and Their Work

Barn Raising
(c)copyright Bea Sheftel 2002

The Amish own their own farms, but when needed work together to build a barn for a couple to be married, or to replace a burned out barn.

Whether a young couple is getting married and needs a barn built, or an Amishman lost a barn to fire, friends, neighbors and relatives will help. They call the event a barn-raising. There is preparation to be made before the actual barn raising, but once all the men arrive, the structure is up in a day.

Mutual aid is part of the Amish beliefs that as Christians, and brothers in Christ, they should help each other.

The reason the barn can be built in a day is that hundreds of men join in the event and work from early morning. They are not paid. But it isn't all hard work. The women come with their baskets filled with food. There is fellowship and a feast.

They eat the main meal at noon during which the men sit at one table, the women at another. There is much good natured joking.

The barn owner will have his family to help do the finishing touches on the barn after the barn raising. This is an event the Amish are known for and it is a sight to be seen when hundreds of men work in harmony together helping a friend.

More about the Amish

Contents for Amish Research: Table of contents with clickable links to other sections on Amish research
Amish Women: All about how Amish Women live under the rule of the Ordnung