In Holmes County, Ohio, I think the closest thing you can find to a tourist attraction is Yoder’s Amish Farm. And I say that because you can buy tickets to take a guided tour through an old order Amish home and barn. You can buy a ticket to take a buggy ride or a ticket to go inside the one-room schoolhouse where the educational system is explained by a young Amish teacher. And there is a gift shop on the premises, which makes me think of it as an attraction. Other than that, the experience is as authentic as most of the other sights and sounds you’ll find as you wander through the farmland of Ohio’s Amish country.
My daughter and I were invited to partake in the full experience of Yoder’s Amish Farm. We were greeted by a college-aged young man who wasn’t Amish himself, but had grown up in the area and was quite familiar with the culture. He took us through the house and explained much of what we were seeing: the types of clothes they wear and for what occasion, and the way they transform their homes into a space for church service with benches filling the main room.
As we toured the grounds, we were followed by barn cats and a litter of puppies. My daughter and all the other kids played with the animals. Back at the house, Amish women were baking cookies in the kitchen. They sold them on the honor system as we finished the tour: $0.50 for a cookie baked fresh moments ago. The adults sat in one of the chairs on the porch, contently eating cookies. I especially liked the Molasses cookies.
We climbed aboard one of the distinctive black Amish buggies and took a short ride around the farm. We were surprised at how smooth the ride was. Our only real comparison was to the stagecoach ride we’d taken years before at the Olde West Festival, but that was no real comparison at all.
Then we entered the one room schoolhouse. I was immediately taken back to grade school. There were cursive and block letter examples tacked across the top of the backboard. There were Class Rules posted colorful pictures denoting the names of each student taped to the fronts of their desks. There was a world map on one wall and the teacher’s desk anchored the front of the room. A few very worn schoolbooks rested atop it. I took a closer look at those, as I am always drawn to books. They were basic reading primers you’d find in elementary classrooms and that was significant because schooling for the Amish only goes to 8th grade. At that point, both boys and girls have moved from speaking a low-German language to high-German and their education is considered complete.
This was explained to us by the young woman standing in front of the classroom. The “teacher.” Or rather, the person I thought was pretending to be a teacher, then learned that she actually was a teacher. She looked to be about 18 and in keeping with their custom, she, too, had received an 8th grade education. I learned that only unmarried young women can be teachers and they are not expected to be any more educated or worldly than the students they teach.
I thought about all my daughter and I had learned about the Amish at this farm. It was like a step back in time and it was easy for us to almost view it all as a costumed village scene. But it wasn’t. These were real Amish people in their daily garb, letting us have a peek into their world. Which naturally, made us want to see even more…
Has anything in particular piqued your interest about the Amish?
*Special thanks to Amish Country Ohio for sending us there.