Amish Barn Raising : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I doubt if anyone but an Amishman could answer this but I'll try my luck. I've always admired the Amish and wish I had joined up with them when I was younger. My question is this. Where do they get the money to build the barns they build? I mean lumber aint cheap and an all wood structure has got to cost some money$$$$$$. And I doubt they have the timber cut, sawed and dried from their own property, (not everytime)so don't try that one on me. Does anybody out there really know?

-- Red Neck (, January 05, 2002


Well I'm not Amish and I can't say I know with absolute authority, but if you live simple, you'll save money. I don't think the Amish shun money just modern conveniences! I know they will dismantle a barn and move and reassemble them as well. One might imagine them getting paid to remove old barns the same as a guy with trucks and an excavator.

-- Ross (, January 05, 2002.

Any Amish community I have ever been around has at least one sawmill operating. That is where they get the lumber to build their houses and barns. As far as other stuff, like nails, windows, etc...they all work at something. Some work for English farmers...some build furniture and sell it..Others quilts...some have greenhouses and sell plants. We had an Amish crew that did a cement floor for us. They have a neighbor (not Amish) that drives them where ever the job is. They live Amish, but make their money of people like us.

-- Lynette (, January 05, 2002.

Pretty much the same way you would. They buy or barter it. Plenty of successful amish out there, some running multi-million dollar businesses. A frugal lifestyle doesn't necessarily equate to being poor.

-- Dave (, January 05, 2002.

They pay for it from the cash from their many enterprizes. The amish are highly motivated when it comes to making money!

-- David R In TN. (, January 05, 2002.

Never think of an amish person as financially poor. Some are farmers, carpenters, craft persons. They make and sell lots of products. While it may not show externally and they may never tell of their wealth, there a good amount of money floating around an amish community. They self finance homes and farms within their own communities.

-- Gary (, January 05, 2002.

The Amish in our community all help each other and each bring something to the barn raising. The lumber they use is fresh cut, not dryed. Fresh cut lumber shrinks as it drys and that keeps the pegged joints tight, green timbers drying around already dried pegs. I took down one of these barns several years ago for the lumber, it looked like a good wind would blow it over. After I pulled all the sideborads off we tried to pull the frame over with a 135 hp tractor, it wouldn't budge. We had to cut or drive out 3/4 of the pins in the joints before we could pull it down.

-- Paul (, January 06, 2002.

The way I understand it with the amish there is a group of about 4-5 families and one is "the banker". At least that's what a fellow I worked with that was friends with them because he was into draft horses BIIIGG TIME!!

-- katie (, January 06, 2002.

They will also borrow capital from an older, well established Amish with no interest. They likewise will have an outstanding bill at the Amish (the place I know is Mennonite) hardware store.

I also know of at least one who has a bank mortgage.

Many Amish are not all they appear to be although they may have other superlative qualities.

Mrs G

-- Mrs G (, January 06, 2002.

Why does having a mortgage, or having a balance at a hardware store mean that the Amish "are not what they appear to be"? That statement makes no sense at all.

-- Meg (, January 06, 2002.

I have a book titled Living Without Electricity. It's a book about the amish. There are different groups and different standards believe it or not. They for many years have been publicized in "our society" much as being one way, but the truth of the matter is they deal with the same problems we do, just because they appear to live a very different lifestyle doesn't protect them from that. They have people for example in their groups that have drug, alcohol or manage ther money poorly just like in "our society".

-- Katie (, January 06, 2002.

The Amish are also exempt from taxes. They do have similar problems as us, but they are NOT as they appear. They make big time money from travel tourism in Lnacaster, not to mention the money they make in the restaurant business. It's well known that on a sunny day, no slips are worn by the women...hehehehe

-- julie britt (, January 06, 2002.

Around here we are just now getting Amish moving in and they say when they go to a closing on a farm purchase they have the money in green stuff in a shoe box. I know one that farms about 60 acres and rents out about 300 acres to a local farmer.

-- Mel Kelly (, January 06, 2002.

The Amish are not exempt from taxes. They pay them like everyone else does. The exception is social security, as they do not draw on it. When they build barns, labor and some materials are donated by the community. They do have mortagages. Are you sure that it isn't conservative or old order Mennonites that own the restaurants? It is my understanding that Amish do not own businesses of that sort. They are always confused with the more conservative Mennonite groups. There are many misconceptions about the Amish. Amish is the name of their religion. Like Catholic, or Baptist, or Pentecostal or whatever. They are human beings like everyone else. But for some odd reason every one expects them to be perfect.

-- vicki in NW OH (, January 06, 2002.

Amish are a sect of Mennonite and are the "plain people". They are direct descendants of the Anabaptists appearing as the Free Church movement (1525-36). German is their language, English the second. They barter and exchange services to get what they need. They are able to use electrification/transportation, depending on their bishop. They are exempt from paying social security taxes and don't accept same, and never go on welfare. They have their own schools & educate only thru the 8th grade (WI vs Yoder, et all-5/15/1972-US Supreme Court). Most boys become tradesmen. Men have beards but no mustache and wear a uniform of black or blue pants & white shirts often with summer straw hats/winter black felt hats. Their mutual aid fund for disaster help is based on a members real estate value.

Typical barns are 40wx60-80lx2-stories high, built of green wood, which is easier to cut and dries to fit. Similar to Swiss bank barns. If it's a replacement building (from a fire), nearly always the basement of stone or concrete block (for the stalls) is still intact. The floor will require new timbers/joists and of course the structure itself may use upwards of 50K/bf of lumber. Contrary to your statement, logs are cut from neighboring farms to measure for the timbers, posts and beams.

-- matt johnson (, January 06, 2002.

nowdays in PA they're most likely using a sawmill and the wood is coming from other sources rather than neighboring farms. Just not enough trees left on Lancaster, Dauphin county farmland to support that amount of cutting. The farm in PA we sold to an amish family had a 60x80 bank barn like you described. Stone walled bottom level, built into a bank like a split level so both floors had ground level access on opposite sides. It was built in 1865 and in great shape but it burnt down a few years ago. The amish replaced it with a metal side/roofed barn. They were old order amish too. They'd been our neighbors for about 10 years and bought our 70ac farm so their 2nd born son could take over their farm. They ran a dairy and strawberry operation for a living. Great people to have for neighbors. They kept their farm up real nice and their house was immaculate. 1st born son left the sect. I bailed hay with him few years. He kept his blue jeans(usually a bag of weed in a pocket) and jacked up dodge challenger parked on a neighbors farm while he was still a teenager. 9 out of 10 farms sold in that area now go to the amish.

-- Dave (, January 06, 2002.

I forgot to add that the Amish also tear down barns that other people no longer need or want, often traveling many miles to do so. They reuse the good timbers and lumber. Barns have been torn down in my area by the Amish and the closest Amish community is several counties away.

-- vicki in NW OH (, January 06, 2002.

Hello Red Neck,

Around here there are a couple of Amish construction companies. They do restoration work on old buildings. In fact, the Old Hodgson Mill a few miles from me had Amish workers this past summer. They removed the 100 year old foundation of rough beams and piers and replaced them with much authencity. They even used pegs to hold them together just as the original builders did at the turn of the century.

A friend of mine used a couple of Amish boys to help build his timber frame house. He paid them a regular wage but, since they did not drive, he had to pick them up and drive them home every day.



-- (, January 06, 2002.

I don't know about other states but here in Pa. in Mifflin and Juniata couunties there are three different Amish churches and three different bishops. The bishop has the say in what they consider "worldly" for church. Most of them have a shed that is on their english neighbors property and in that shed they have a refrigiator and deep freeze. They usually have a phone also. As long as it is not on their property the bishop says its OK. They do have to pay property taxes and state income tax but as far a social security, workmans comp and unemployment comp they are exempt. I know of contractors in Lancaster county they hire Amish to work for them and when they bid a job they are usually 30% under another english contractor. Usually any work outside of the home that the young amish do and any wages they get they give to their parents. A lot of the Amish in Juniata and Mifflin county have running water and flush toilets as the use an air pump for the well. They use a diesel engine to run a air compressor and this supplys air for their shop and if it's there they can use it for their house if the bishop agrees to it. The bishop is like the king and what he says goes. They do have problems whith their young people and that's to be expected, so the bishop says, and until there accepted into the church it's accepted. There are many misconceptions about the amish cult but to each their own.This is america and god bless them.

-- Herb (, January 06, 2002.

Eventhough Amish in some areas don't send their children to school they also pay school taxes. Don't ever think that being Amish excludes you from pay taxes as someone else said they just don't contribute to Social Security or accept it, why in the world would they want to accept it when within their group elderly members are very well taken care of and don't want for anything, can we say that about elders drawing social security? Think not, how often do we hear of an elder living on dog or cat food because thats all they can afford. How about them going without medication because they can't afford to buy it. It is sometimes sad how the elder population has to live these days , way back when Social Security first started I think it more or less meet the needs but with the growing cost of living SS has not kept up even with the cost of living increase they get each January. Above and beyond that way back when families were more caring about their parents and grandparents and when needs came up that the elder couldn't afford the needs were taken care of by family mambers. Today family members are so scattered across the country that when elders are in need very often nobody knows because we are so far apart. Elders won't ask because they are proud.

Amish life is not as different as you might think they have their problems but they deal with them within the group and find a solution. As far as money goes, as someone else said, living plain doesn't equate to being poor.

Their is also another group that are sometimes mistaken for Amish and they are Old Order Church of the Breathern similar but different.


-- (, January 07, 2002.

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