Amish Women and Their Industries ~ excerpt and giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Alana Rowden. Congratulations, Alana, you have won an Amish-made fabric bag from Rachel’s Country Store!

As the Christmas season approaches, many of us are brainstorming on what to do about gifts for family and friends. Today, I’d like to share with you again about a store that belongs to my Amish friend: Rachel’s Country Store. The website to her store is http://www.rachelscountrystore.com/ She sells items that are handmade by the Old Order Amish, such as dolls, pillows, baskets, wall hangings, and fabric purses. She also has a selection of Amish cookbooks and rhythm clocks (popular in many Amish homes).

Rachel's Country Store

Rachel has written a guest post on my blog where she shared a bit about herself, and I also wrote about her in my non-fiction book, Plain Wisdom. Below is an excerpt from Plain Wisdom where you can learn more about Amish business women. Following the blog post, you’ll find instructions for entering to win an Amish-made fabric book/tablet bag from Rachel’s Country Store that I’m giving away!

Something on the Side: Amish Women and Their Cottage Industries

Amish_woman_making_quilt

During one of my visits to Miriam’s, we hitched a horse to a buggy, loaded up the children, and went to see some of her women friends and family. She asked what I called it when women had a small business in their home. I said, “A cottage industry.” She said she called it “having something on the side.” She added, “Almost every Amish woman has something on the side.”

Stifling a chuckle, I explained to her that for the non-Amish, that term usually referred to a relationship outside of marriage. When she could close her mouth and take a breath again, she turned many shades of red and then burst into laughter.

Amish women carry out the traditional roles of wife and mother—keeping the home and raising children—but most also have a small business venture to help bring in money. The money an Amish woman earns goes toward meeting the needs of her family, just as a husband’s money does, but both usually keep some of it to spend however they choose.

Our first stop was at the home of Miriam’s Mamm (her mom). It was hot outside, but I felt more heat pouring through the screen door as we approached. Miriam’s mother bakes a multitude of pies and pastries for several bakeries, some belonging to non-Amish people, some to the Amish. Besides the family kitchen, Miriam’s mom has a separate room attached to her home where she bakes four days a week.

A stainless-steel gas oven with numerous shelves and doors stood five feet tall. Shelves on the walls held tall stacks of baking utensils. Long countertops were covered with uncooked piecrusts ready to be placed in a pan and filling added. A teenage girl stood at the sink, washing dishes.

Miriam’s eight-year-old daughter put on an apron and began helping. She earns money helping out her Mammi (grandmother) during the summer. I couldn’t believe Amanda wanted to spend a summer day inside a room with no air conditioning and ovens radiating heat. Amanda said she’d spent years waiting to be old enough to help make piecrusts. When she was younger, her job was washing dishes, sweeping, and getting the ingredients out of the pantry so her Mammi could keep baking.

After we visited for a few minutes, Miriam and I returned to our buggy. Along the “tour” route, we passed a woman with a roadside produce stand. A mile or so later, we saw an Amish woman getting out of her buggy at an Englischer woman’s home. Miriam waved to her, then told me she cleaned people’s homes for extra money. Other Amish wives bring in additional income by sewing quilts, working at a market, selling greenhouse-grown plants, or working once or twice a week in a restaurant.

Married Amish women don’t hold full-time jobs. If a young woman has a job before she marries, she’ll give up that job after marriage. However, there are two exceptions to that rule. If a couple can’t have children, or if all the children are grown and out of the home, the wife can fill her days in any manner she and her husband choose, including full-time work.

While raising children, women can run small businesses that fit around the family’s schedule. Until we began writing together, Miriam had a craft business. It required long hours, but she often involved the whole family in making the items, and she was able to schedule her work hours around her family responsibilities…most of the time.

My home is filled with wall hangings and other crafts Miriam has made, and I love all of them. In addition to those items on display, I have several of her note cards. After her family helped her brainstorm ideas, she sketched several scenes on eight-by-ten-inch canvases and painted them. Then she took the originals to a graphics shop, where a man printed the images on four-by-five-inch note cards and provided the appropriate-size envelopes. Miriam and her family folded each one and placed small stacks of them in little boxes. She put them on consignment in various stores and sold them herself during craft shows. She sold crates of them to me, and I sold boxes of them through my Web site and gave them to people as thank-you gifts.

Amish-made wall hanging

Single Amish women may work full-time in an Amish market or watch young children for an English neighbor or teach school. Since wedding season is in the fall, schoolteachers know months before the school year starts whether they’ll be able to teach that year or not. If a wedding is planned, a new teacher will be hired, usually a month or so before the first day of school.

Most single men and women live at home until they marry. While living at home and working a full- or part-time job, they usually give their parents some or all of the money to keep for them for later or to spend as needed for the family. Young men or women who have joined the faith but haven’t married by the time they’re in their middle twenties may choose to get a place of their own. Occasionally a few friends will rent a place together, but that’s very unusual.

Few Amish women remain single, but I happen to be friends with one. She owns a very successful dry-goods store, and her parents’ home is attached to hers so she can help take care of them. (She has several sisters who live nearby, and they also help with their parents.) She helps cater meals for weddings, travels throughout the United States on purchasing trips (with a hired female driver), and never has enough hours in the day for all she’d like to do. During one of my trips to Pennsylvania, she cooked a wedding feast for me so I could ask questions and take notes, and she also invited several Amish women. The whole evening is one of my most cherished memories.

rig in front of Rachel's Country Store

Giveaway:

Today’s giveaway is for an Amish-made fabric book/tablet (iPad is a tablet) bag from Rachel’s Country Store. To enter to win, simply comment at the bottom of this post. To buy this item from Rachel’s store, click on this link: http://www.rachelscountrystore.com/Amish-Made/Totes/Fabric-Book-Bag.aspx

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If you are reading about this giveaway anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website by clicking here: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/2013/11/19/amishwomenexcerptandgiveaway/and then leave a comment at the bottom of the post under the words “Leave a Reply.”

Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.

The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, November 26, at noon Eastern Time. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.

As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. For a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway, please go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/giveaway-rules/

Helpful info for first time commenters:

  • For your protection against web crawlers gathering your e-mail address for purposes of spamming, please do not put your e-mail address into the body of your comment. Only write it in the field provided. That way only I can see it. Your e-mail address will ONLY be used to contact you if you win.
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  • If you’ve been notified that you’ve won and you’re unsure about giving your postal address by replying to an e-mail, I welcome you to send the name of the item you won and your postal address through the Contact Cindy page of this website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/about-cindy/contact/ We keep good records, so we’ll be able to verify your information and get the item in the mail as soon as possible.
  • Please be aware that I aim to get the items sent as quickly as possible, but at really busy times it can take up to six weeks. (I don’t have a staff. But I do have two daughters-in-law who help when they can. But they each have a life and professions not connected to my writing and giveaways. What?! <big grin>
The winner of last week’s blog post that was titled “Coffee ~ A Story From Author Meg Moseley” is Sharon Holweger. Congratulations, Sharon, you have won an autographed copy of Meg’s book, Gone South!

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