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An Amish Barn Raising

Updated on October 27, 2010

Bremen, Indiana

As an exception to the rule, I was invited to participate in a real Amish Barn Raising, or as the Amish call it themselves, a Frolic. Nowadays not too many new barns are built, given the lack of enough land for all the young people to have their own farm.

In this particular case, the barn raising was actually a gentlemen's agreement between the Amish (who do not have expensive medical insurance) and the local hospital. The Amish would construct this building, and the hospital would provide medical care for the Amish.

The new building was to be approximately 25 by 15 meters, and about 5 meters high.

The Morning

Getting up in the morning was in real Amish-style, that is at 04.45 a.m... Half an hour later I drove to our friend and picked him up. Then we went to Bremen, where we had breakfast.

At 06.30 we were at the construction site of the Bremen hospital, and some sixty Amish were present.

On the concrete floor stood the sidewalls, temporarily held by wooden beams. All the necessary materials for the construction were at the site, and they had been donated by a major local manufacturer.

At first, it took some time to get organized and to see who would do what, but after just fifteen minutes simply everyone started chipping in.
All kinds of wooden connections were nailed together, so promptly that just one hour later the outside walls were as good as finished. Then a forklift began to raise the outer rafters, and the Amish crawled over the narrow slats like trapeze artists !

Just a while later, a large derrick began laying the rafters. The trusses progressed rapidly, and in between slats were nailed at an incredible speed.

Another team placed the bottom of the aluminum sidewall panels, and still others were assembling the doors and windows in the wooden frame. Thereafter came the actual aluminum siding panels.

At 10.00 everyone took a short break, with some coffee and the inevitable donuts... Fifteen minutes later everyone went back to work, and transpiration flowed freely in the humid heat.


A traditional Barn raising
A traditional Barn raising


At 11.30 the work was stopped. The local minister said a short prayer, which was followed by lunch.

The very ample lunch had been prepared by a few Amish ladies, and it was displayed on several tables in the form of a buffet, complete with beverages and dessert.

Half an hour later everyone went back to work with renewed vigor.


The roof construction on the trusses was begun by a wooden roof covering, which would receive a heavy paper backing and then be covered by Shingles.

But unfortunately we never got that far, because at 1 p.m., when about half of the wooden covering had been installed, it started raining cats and dogs. The men kept on working for another half hour, but the rain turned into a a severe thunderstorm. When lightning began to strike, the men were forced to shut down. and somewhat later they decided to stop for today.

If it had remained dry for another hour or two, the roof and the aluminum sidewalls would have been completed in just one day !

My Frolic Experience

What was so very special about this experience was, there is no other word, the joy every single individual took in this work, regardless of what exactly was done.

No lagging, no dissatisfaction, no attitude, no jealousy, just the pride of accomplishing something with and for the community.

A most refreshing experience in today's climate of selfishness !

Read more about our visit to Nappannee, Indiana,


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      mike 5 years ago

      a we all could learn very useful things fromthe ;amish people they seem to have very good ways ofdoing things and seem to know how to treat other people.

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