Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Amish Tractor Time Double Take

I had to take a day trip back up into Iowa today and on my way back about 5 miles North of the Iowa-Missouri border I saw the oddest thing. I had to stop and watch the activities a while.

I lifted the above picture off a forum where it had no owner acknowledgement but even so that picture is almost exactly what I witnessed except there were two Amish guys in the middle trailer and they were both head to toe in black complete with jackets and hats.

Since we have some Amish and Mennonites around my area (Mostly Mennonites) I learned a long time ago you can't tell what one group will allow or not and their groups are so small you can have two Amish living across the road from each other and one will have electricity and a closed buggy while the other will not. Some have tractors, some rubber wheels, some not. Some wear colors, some don't.

About the only general rule of thumb I have ever had with Amish is.... Don't buy a horse from them.

I must admit though the above scene was something I have never seen before. Apparently it isn't all that uncommon a thing in some areas but I have never seen it around here. I googled it as soon as I got home and found some pictures and YouTube videos on it.

What they had was as you can see a cart pulled by a team of horses that was also pulling a round baler. It was a JD 255 I believe and requires hydraulics to run and kickout the bale not to mention a 540 PTO. On the middle trailer was a generator that turned the PTO shaft and charged a battery to run the hydraulics and fire off the kick switch.

Now here's the part the puzzles me. If their particular elders won't allow tractors how can they justify a generator? While nothing about the scene violates my "You never know" rule regarding Amish it just seems an odd and somewhat hypocritical cross of religious rules if you ask me.

However for those of us NOT restricted by the various views of group religious elders it sure made a couple of light bulbs go off in my head for some post collapse ethnic engineering. I mean if you can pull one of those around and make it work with six horse power that kinda opens up some other options....

Think about it.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!


  1. That's mental! It looms like they're looking for loop holes in their rules to be honest. Part pf me is a little disappointed.

  2. The rule for the Amish goes something like this. If the technology is invasive and distracting it is not allowed. Obviously the rules tend to get locked in place at times, but then individuals find a way around them, and until the elders ban it, they can keep doing it. In general, if the new use doesn't get out of hand, I gather that the folks are allowed to keep doing it. Recall that the Amish do have refrigeration: they use propane or natural gas. Finally, note that there are a number of different groups of Amish, so the rules will vary. In particular, it seems like some of the more settled groups have started to leave the farm. My guess is that population pressure, and the cost of land, is forcing a change.

  3. We saw Amish in Pennsylvania last year who were pushing gas lawn mowers and using gas-powered leaf blowers. I guess "our" ways are creeping into theirs, which I found somewhat disappointing as I've always admired their lifestyle.

  4. They had a show for that kind of equipment here one year and it was amazing at what was available for draft horses. They have treadmills that transfer the energy to everything from washing machines to ice cream makers. They said that the horses don't get enough exercise much of the year so the treadmill keeps them in shape. I would say that a horse would be worn out by the time they sold one.

  5. Why do I now have the picture of a piece of farm equipment being drawn by sheep in my mind?

  6. I think I am with Kev, there is something a bit disappointing about all that. I know little really about the Amish or Mennonite rules/life. I "thought" obviously wrong that they didn't use electricity or anything modern. Not saying anything is wrong with them using what they want. I admired the simple life attitude and self sufficiency they are known for. Hear say and all :O)

  7. The Amish are people, just like the rest of us. When they first moved in near my parent's place, I thought they would be good neighbors- and they turned out to be as big a nest of crooks, thieves, and ne'erdowells as I can find around that place. I do know they get a tax exemption on their sawmill that allows them to undercut the existing sawmill by 25%, while using the exact same diesel powered equipment. I also know they ripped my dad off for a few hundred dollars worth of hydraulic equipment that he had stored in a draw on his place, and one of the guys tried to move his fence 20 feet onto his neighbor's property because 'he wasn't using it, and I will'. I've no love lost for them- if they want to continue with their cliquish religion, it makes no nevermind, but they'll get no sympathy or admiration from me.

    1. Yup.

      I hate to talk about them collectively because everyone should be judged by their individual actions, but in my area there are a lot of them. Some of them only farm enough to "stay Amish". Some of the business owners we have refused to do business with because they are pushy, expect us to drop everything to get their stuff done immediately and then conveniently forget to bring a check to pay for it.

      They will harass and bother old people who have a property that they want to buy, especially the recently widowed. They have driven property values up, because the elders have the money in the bank and back up loans/mortgages to the young ones. I heard rumor that they can get a 99yr mortgage but i don't know if that's true or not. Because the farm will get passed down to a son or married daughter and the elder will build a house on the farm (and still help out).
      They now have Social security numbers, I don't know if it's because they need that for the obamacare exemption or because they are using them to get credit cards. The young ones are on the internet as much as we are.

      My husband always says they have to go to church on Sunday for all the screwing they do during the week, mostly of the English, although they are probably cut throat to each other too.

      The good things are that they are family oriented. They run a good hardware store (that has everything). and they police their own problems inside their community.

  8. Amish are very hypocritical. So very many of the elders do not even teach the bible in english, the people go to church and hear sermons on the rules put forth by the elders, the amish are not encouraged to read or study the bible....

  9. This sort of thing flummoxed us, too, until we watched a video we got at a thrift store. It's a PBS documentary called "The Amish: A People of Preservation", and it's very well done.

    The elders will consider more modern technology, weighing it as to whether it will have a significant effect on the speed of life and whether it will turn a community project into a solo one. You see modern equipment being pulled by horses because it is still at a slow pace and still involves the community. We saw a hay baler being tended by probably 6 - 8 men, all involved at different points. Other men, women, and children were all around doing other support tasks. Less physical and faster than the old way, but still slow and still involving a lot of people.

    So you end up with gasoline-powered tillers being pulled by horses. Looks weird, but it works for them.

    Some modernization they will accept in order to keep their businesses in business, rather than allowing them to fail and the men needing to go work in the factories. The dairies, for example, were allowed to modernize to bulk tanks and other things, probably to comply with various health laws and to keep their prices competitive enough.

    At the time of the documentary (2000), some 90% of young adults, after being given plenty of time to decide (years, starting at age 16), stay in the community. Some communities have had to move, as the population grows but there is no more land they can buy in the area for farming.

    Very interesting. A lot of things that seemed so contradictory were explained very well.

  10. Instead of answering each comment individually like I usually do I will just do one post. Everyone has some good points and I don't have any problem with Amish and certainly none with Mennonites but I think a few of you did point out a problem in that the Amish are given certain tax and other legal breaks for their lifestyle.

    If they are going to continue to embrace modern equipment and amenities then maybe those tax breaks and rule exceptions need to be looked at. Since I have family in other parts of the US I know how some of the so called "Primitive" cultures end up screwing over the rest of us due to special rules and exceptions by violating the spirit of those benefits.

    And NO Ody no sheep will be harnessed to any farm implements :)

  11. Oh and Texan - There is no hard fast rule when it comes to Amish or Mennonites. You can never tell where the line is drawn on anything from one group to the next and some I have heard as Wolfman points out, feel they have a better claim to just about everything than us outsiders.

    I remember one time back in the early 80's I was in a little diner in another Northern Missouri town and ended up partying all night with two pretty girls. I drove em all over just having a good time. When they mentioned it was time to go home they had me drop em off on this gravel road in the middle of nowhere and they changed back into their dresses before heading off across the fields. I had no idea they were Amish until that moment.

    1. I should point out they were wearing regular cutoffs and strap t-shirts all night, not naked until they put on those dresses lol :)

    2. Now I know where you get those tractor drivers!

    3. Sf - I think more than a few of them would go for it if the elders and the parents weren't looking.

    4. They were probably still "rumspringa". The time between 16 and around 22 (more or less) when they can try the world on and see whether they want to leave for good or stay. They can go pretty crazy... and then most of them ultimately decide to stay.

    5. Miss M - I thought that only lasted a year, and they had no contact with their group while it went on? Of course see rule number one so I guess it could last longer or shorter depending on the group and allow contact too.

    6. It probably does vary according to the group. We also watched "The Devil's Playground", a documentary on rumspringa (also well done). It follows several teens through this time, as they try to decide which side of the fence to stay on. In this particular group, it started at 16 and ended around 22 or so, unless they decided to join the church before that.

      The teens would actually have wild parties out on some of the back lands of the group, with the elders figuring that at least the kids had some protection as long as they were on their land, even if they were doing things that would normally bring disapproval.

      Some would leave, get jobs, buy cars, etc. But there was always the option (in this group, anyway... I don't know about others) to live at home, where they could still do all the carousing without having to worry about paying bills and such.


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