Homesteading in Amish Country

How the author and her husband found their dream home along a back road, homesteading in Amish country in pastoral Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

| June/July 2003

  • A typical view from the Dickinsons' front porch.
    A typical view from the Dickinsons' front porch.

  • A typical view from the Dickinsons' front porch.

The author and her husband choose homesteading in Amish country as a new way of life.

My husband, Jack, and I found our dream home three years ago along a back road in pastoral Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The patchwork of fields, pastures and woods looks like a colorful quilt spread over the hills, and warm and cozy is how Jack and I feel in this valley.

Communities of Anahaptists — Amish and Mennonite people — founded this farming area nearly 300 years ago, and they remain the primary inhabitants today. Many are of the old Order, choosing to live as their ancestors did. These people dress plainly (the women wear dresses, aprons and bonnets) and travel by horse and buggy.

When Jack and I decided to escape the frantic pace of Philadelphia, we spent many weekends driving in the country, hoping to find a little fixer-upper. One such weekend, we ended up in an area called Churchtown, crossed an old covered bridge and spotted a vacant house just down the road with a "For Sale" sign out front. "Stop!" I cried.

We got out of the car and looked in the windows. The house appeared to have been vacant for some time. We could see that everything would have to be redone — stripped to the bare bones.

When we walked out back and saw the view, though, we both gasped. A little stream ran through the back yard, which bordered on a lush pasture. Beyond that, beautiful farms stretched as far as we could see. My heart beat faster. I just knew this was the home meant for us. I knew I could look at that view for the rest of my life and never get tired of its beauty and serenity. We called the real estate agent and made an offer on the spot and began our adventure homesteading in Amish country.

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