Letter Re: Moving to Ohio’s Amish Country

Several years ago my family purchased an Amish farm in a settlement in southeast Ohio. I wanted to share a little about what we have learned because there are currently several Amish farms going on the market in our area which are not advertised anywhere. We are over two hours from any major city and nearly and hour from smaller ones. Our closest village is Woodsfield. We are in an area where Utica Shale is beginning to boom so the Amish are heading out, not wanting to be driving their buggies in the vicinity of big trucks, which I can understand.

In general the farm properties are a mix of woods and pasture. They have a large barn, outbuildings and outhouses, some have large workshops where they had sawmills. The houses are large. Ours is about 3000 SQ FT and is one of the smaller ones. This is definitely the place for someone who has a large family or many people to live together. Many have smaller guest houses. Ours has two. These were built for newly married children to spend their first years, or for grandparents to live. The homes have open floor plans because they needed to be able to have over a hundred people over when it was their turn to host “church.” 

I have found that the open floor plans make heating with woodstoves very comfortable. The chimney are generally set up to have one wood stove in the big kitchen and another in the living room. Some have a opening in the ceiling over or near one of these stoves to allow the heat to travel straight up to the second floor.

These houses have big full basements, a ground floor with generally a master bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining area, and pantry. We converted our pantry into a bathroom after we had a septic tank installed. The outhouse is always there for backup and emergencies now.

The houses also have big porches. The clotheslines range from average T shapes posts to colossal 100′ monsters connecting at pulleys in the trees. They uses older wringer washers that are run from a gas lawnmower type motor for laundry. The hot water for the wash is heated in a massive stainless steel, wood fired water heaters. They are generally available in Amish supply catalogs.

The Amish in our area are not allowed to use natural gas, so when we bought our place we ran gas lines in for gas stoves and heaters. One of the bonuses is that ours, and several of the available farms have functioning shallow natural gas wells on the property and you are allowed all of your residential gas for free. Even when the power is out we still have gas and water.

Water is generally from one of two possible sources. The first, like ours is from natural springs from the hillsides. We have a tank up at the spring which holds 1,500 gallons. and is piped down to the house and barns. Ours have never gone dry, even during the drought times. The other water sources for the farms is from drilled wells. The drilled wells in the Amish homes are powered by a small gas motor and pressure tank. There are also a lot of creeks, streams, ponds, etc everywhere out here so watering livestock is generally not an issue.

One of the big blessings is that everything grows. Gardening is amazing. You literally put the seed into the ground and God waters it and makes it grow. In the past five years I think that I have watered my vegetable garden twice. It is land truly blessed.

In the early spring just about everyone taps the maple trees on the farms and make syrup. Some of the farms make it as a business and produced hundreds of gallons every year at about $40/gal.

I have learned a lot from my Amish neighbors over the years. One thing I have learned is that they will also be impacted in the SHTF scenarios because of their dependence on gas motors and things of that nature, but they will get by. They have a strong sense of community and will work together, which I jealously admire as an English outsider.

I just wanted to let you and your readers know that this because with so many nice farms going up for sale at once it is a great time to be able to have the choice between them. Unfortunately you would really need to make the trip down to see them all in person because they are, after all, Amish. – H.M.