Traditional Amish Farming Methods
What do you think of when you hear “Amish Farming”? Maybe a horse and buggy, simple clothing, family farming, or all of the above. Depending on the community, there could be a number of these elements! In a nutshell, Amish farming follows traditional practices similar to what would have been common before World War II. Amish farms tend to be small-scale, family-owned with diverse crops and animals to feed the family. Those traditional farming methods still characterize today’s Amish communities. The Kalona SuperNatural milk producers work on small acreages with an average of 30-50 cows. They make it a priority to keep family first. It’s common for families to live together and share the work on the farm — everyone has a job to do!
When visiting an Amish farming community–like Kalona, Iowa–you’ll see the use of draft horses to plow. The amount of horses used depends on the number of plows. If there is one plow, then there are 3-4 horses. If there are two plows, it is not uncommon to see 9-10 horses. You might even see young boys operating the plow alone. These boys are usually 7-12 years old and can handle 10 draft horses. Impressive!
Some communities may use diesel-run tractors as well. However, they look a bit different than the tractors on conventional farms. How? The Amish do not use rubber tires! Their equipment has steel wheels like what those seen before the Depression era.
The Amish Farmer
Amish farmers receive a formal 8th-grade education but gain knowledge in other areas. They have skills to include horsemanship, iron-working, construction, and crop and animal husbandmen. Amish farmers are creative and innovative thinkers at a young age. They solve problems, fix what’s broken, build what’s needed, and produce a good product for sale.
Each Amish community is different, which means the farming methods vary. Some communities allow machinery, others stipulate horses only for farming. Most Amish farmers follow the organic method, even if they are not certified organic. The cows are pasture-grazed even if they are conventional dairymen. They will grow cover crops even though they are not required to. They understand biological systems and the benefits of certain organic farming practices. Just like us!
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