Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Amish, My Adventures

A few years ago, while standing in the canning section of Wal-Mart comparing prices of their jars to Dollar General (DG won), a lady beside me asked what was I canning. (It seems anyone, anywhere feels safe in striking up a conversation with me. People seem to sense I am a boring person in need of adult conversation.) I answered, then asked what she was canning. She began to tell me how she visits an Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee and purchases her produce fresh and cheap. CHEAP! Yes, that is my language. I returned home and consulted Google maps and set out on an adventure. It has resulted in me traveling there every Wednesday for almost three years now to purchase fresh milk, eggs and every kind of produce grown in Tennessee at dirt cheap prices. What is even more valuable than the food, is the wonderful families I have grown to know and appreciate.

Ethridge, Tennessee is home to an Amish community with a population of about 1,500.  It is 50 miles from my house so it is a 100 mile round trip. I make a huge loop so I can visit all the small towns and hit all the different stores. Every Wednesday is a long grueling day for me since this is the day I do all my grocery shopping and run all other errands. Is it worth it in savings? Definitely.

Now, a little history about the Amish courtesy of the internet:

The Amish movement originally began in Europe by Jacob Amman (1644 to 1720).  Later in the early 18th century, some of his followers began migrating to the United States. The group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century Europe by isolating themselves from the modern American culture. They do not use electricity, drive cars or dress in modern clothes. They are devout Christians and strive to practice their religion in simplicity.

I love them.

I would like to share some of what I have learned; however, I must be considerate. They do not allow pictures of themselves nor of their property. I do respect their boundaries but feel that if I am driving down the public road I can take a picture discretely from my car. So please realize the pictures taken from my car will be less than stellar - it is what it is.

Many of the families sell farm products to the public from small stores/sheds in their front yards.  In the picture below is a little store sitting by the road.

They advertise what they are selling with signs at the end of their driveways. Some houses do not sell anything but if there is a sign up, it is appropriate to drive up, park in front of the little building and wait.  They will quickly come out.  They can easily hear your car pull up because there is no television on inside.  Usually a teenage daughter or the mother will come out to help you.  Sometimes a younger child will come out to help but I learned quickly they have difficulty understanding English since it is their second language.  "Pennsylvania Dutch" is spoken in the home, although they do learn English when they start to school.

Each driveway is a large loop so you will not need to back up.  I thought that was unusual until I pulled in behind a horse and buggy one day.  Putting a horse in reverse is doable, but not easy.  Notice there are no backup mirrors on a buggy.  Oh, by the way, be careful where you step when you get out of the car...horses and such. Just sayin'.

This is December so there is not much fresh produce being sold.  They also sell all types of handicraft items, jellies, quilts, birdhouses, soaps, the list is endless. One house has a man who fixes clocks, another makes shoes, and some others have wood mills.  On the sign below, the last item is a "Butcher Hog" which means you can drive up, pick out a hog, and drive home with it.  

They make it clear on their signs they do not sell or work on Sundays.

Last week I visited one of the little stores I stop by frequently to get Bill's favorite salted peanuts. The lady was not there but was inside her house sewing.  The store was empty so I quickly ran back to my car and slipped in my camera.  I KNOW IT IS A BOUNDARY VIOLATION TO TAKE A PICTURE, but to quote The Simpsons, "It ain't stealing if you take it quick." I knew no one would believe me unless I took a picture of the self-serve cash drawer sitting on the counter.  

PS:  I only "stole" a picture.  The six dollars was my payment for the peanuts.


  1. Oh my gosh Jeannie, how lucky are you?! If I had access to an Amish community I would totally go there and shop. Fresh homegrown produce and nicely made handcrafts. I'd love that!

    1. I love going down there every week. It is hard to not overspend though. Watching how people live and function without electricity has been educational. I am constantly learning. My plans are to continue sharing my little adventures since their lives are so different from ours.


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