Friday, February 20, 2015



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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Yellow Amish Buggies of Big Valley, Pennsylvania.

The most unlikely of Amish buggy colors, the striking lemon-topped vehicles of the Byler churches, mainly in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania’s Big Valley settlement, are hard to miss.
This is the rarest of carriage hues, with only five church districts in this affiliation as of 2012 (see The Amish, p 139).

The theory is that early tops were made from unbleached oilcloth–the same kind once used for raincoats–which had a pale yellow tone (Plain Buggies, p. 56).

To be sure, this is an unforgettable color, and in a culture that values plainness, a little surprising to see. But it’s a custom that’s been around a long time.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Amish Ice Harvesting

No electricity - does that mean no refrigeration for food? Absolutely not. Places like Lehman's sell refrigerators that run off propane. I once had one that ran off kerosene. There is also the old fashioned icebox. 

The icebox is a cabinet for food. A block of ice is put in to chill the interior. At one time, icemen delivered blocks of ice to homes across America.

Amish in Wisconsin and other areas harvest ice each year. Groups that do not use electricity will have iceboxes to keep food fresh. The ice is cut and stored for use during the year.
  • 25-30 tons of ice are needed to fill a 12 x 12 x 8 foot ice house
  • The Amish use a circular saw on a sled, supplemented by a chain saw
  • Workers wear “ice cleats” for traction 
  • Each load weighs about a ton-and-a-half and is hauled by at least two or three horses
  • The ice they gather is worth $5000 to $6000
  • The ice house may be a refrigerated truck body, but the preferred house is a two-foot-thick Styrofoam structure
  • 30+ tons of ice is enough “for even a couple of families” and may last into a second year

Ice harvesting can be a fun, community event with women bringing hot drink and doughnuts and “friendly competition” of sliding ice cakes across the frozen surface.
Ice cutting
Amish Wagon Hauling Ice
Sounds like a fun day if you don’t mind the subzero cold.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

EPA Attacks The Amish & The Rural Poor With New Wood Stove Rules

EPA Makes Wood-Burning Stoves Unaffordable to Save the Planet

All they have to do is claim that it’s all the save the planet, and they can create as many regulations as they want, thereby making certain appliances a lot less affordable for the people who depend on those appliances the most.
Many people in rural areas rely on wood-burning stoves to keep themselves warm during winter. A large percentage of Amish homes rely on wood stoves for heating and cooking. Many nonAmish in rural areas also depend on wood for heat. The new regulations made by the EPA will make them more expensive for these people to own. 
The EPA has finalized a 344-page rule to make wood stoves more environmentally friendly, meaning that millions of Americans will soon be forced to buy more expensive wood-fired stoves.
Republican lawmakers have opposed the rule, saying it would harm millions in rural America, including the Amish,  that rely on wood stoves to heat their homes every winter. With natural gas and electricity prices on the rise, wood stoves can be an economical choice for many living in the countryside.
“The EPA’s shortsighted regulatory overreach is once again hitting hardworking Montanans in their pocketbooks,” said Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
Some 2.4 million American households rely on      wood stoves for heat. When the agency proposed the rule last year, critics argued 80 percent of wood stoves in use would not meet tightened standards and consumers would never be able to buy them brand new — raising energy costs for millions of people during the coldest times of the year.
“Thousands of Montanans rely on wood burning stoves for affordable, cost-effective energy — yet once again, the EPA is moving forward with new, costly regulations that could stand in the way of Montanans’ access to new residential wood heaters or burden Montana families with higher costs,” Daines said.
The EPA will apparently graciously not require people to buy the new, more expensive wood stoves, even if they have now don’t meet the new regulations. In other words, if they like their wood stoves, they can keep them. I know we’ve heard something like that before, but I can’t recall what the context was exactly. But I seem to remember that it didn’t turn out to be true. But I’m sure in this case, it’s all true, and those 2.4 million people who rely on wood stoves won’t be forced to replace their wood stoves with something they can’t afford.
It’s good that they’re cracking down on lower income people who own and use wood-burning stoves to keep themselves warm, thereby making the poor poorer. And it’s good that they completely ignore the 1,700 some private jets that descended on Switzerland for the global warming conference. Because that wouldn’t be fair to crack down on them. They’re the ones making the rules that keep us safe. They shouldn’t be forced to live consistently with the rules they force on us serfs.