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millionaire amish farmer

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15425
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞


http://nichegeek.com/amish_millionaire

It sounds like they are focusing on "nutrient dense foods" - beyond organic.

I wonder how many acres they have.


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Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Making money isn't so hard if you start big enough, and avoid spending on what you don't need. Also, NOTHING is a substitute for good business sense. Many farmers fail due to not being able to manage a business, and relying on credit.

But, the article is a bit misleading. He had sales of 1.8 million, that doesn't mean profit...


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R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 165
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Fred Morgan wrote:Making money isn't so hard if you start big enough, and avoid spending on what you don't need. Also, NOTHING is a substitute for good business sense. Many farmers fail due to not being able to manage a business, and relying on credit.

But, the article is a bit misleading. He had sales of 1.8 million, that doesn't mean profit...


Hey Fred, being a millionaire means owning assets that are valued at $1m or more. I think that any business with no electricity or mortgage with $1.8m in sales would be worth well more than $1,000,000.

I do agree that any business that isn't in debt is always going to do better.

Now as a slight change of topic, I consider the way of the Amish to be quite appealing on a number of levels. As a right wing, Christian zealot, even I consider the Amish religious practices to be extreme.

Still I appreciate so much of what they do. They are the ultimate environmentalists and ultimate survivalists. If Oil goes to $300/bbl, the Amish won't really notice all that much. If conventional ag fails, the Amish gain. If the grid goes down, well, they don't use it much anyway, their horse only needs five acres to fuel it. They have an incredibly well knit community that works for them. When a house burns down, 300 neighbors come by the next week and build a new one. They aren't all that hip on higher education, but they do know a lot of things and have a very high skill level in all the things that they value.

So, way to go Amos! I hope you do really well, and I hope to be able to pattern off of some of your templates.
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 397
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  13


"It sounds like they are focusing on "nutrient dense foods" - beyond organic"


it also sounds like they produce "end product" and cut out middlemen and processors
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2342
Location: FL
    
  69
The Amish, while steeped in tradition and bolstered by an unshakable faith, are regular people like the rest of us. They work hard, laugh and cry, get in arguments with the spouse, and hope for a good life for their kids. While their education is limited to the equivalent of 8th grade, it's really all that is needed for a self-sufficient, low tech lifestyle. Much of their learning is hands on. Mothers teach daughters every aspect of homemaking. The bread and pastries are AWESOME! I miss it terribly! Fathers teach the boys all about the farm and whatever craft he knows. My friend Lewis Yoder did leatherwork-the most beautiful saddles I've ever laid eyes on. He did a repair job on one. I was in the shop when the lady came to pick it up...$3000...for repairs, and worth every penny. Alvin Miller ran a lumbermill. Nothing special, but all the Amish got their lumber from him. Harvey Miller (Alvin's boy) builds picnic tables, sheds and fences using his father's lumber. Does pretty good for 16 years old.

Give up the TV, the Wii, the dinner and v movie, you'll find time to develop a skill. Stop spending every penny you earn on double mocha lattees at Starbucks, you'll be surprised how fast it accumulates. A strong faith in religion, a close knit community, dedication to family-any of this sound extreme, creepy or weird? Home cooked meals, a well built warm house, living within their means...these folks have it going on!

Just like the rest of us, there are some Amish who are less motivated, sloppy, grouchy, crazy, and dumb. There are also those who are highly productive, well kept, mild-mannered, stable and intelligent. There are numerous examples of Amish owned enterprises which are highly successful. This Amos Miller in the article likely fits with the latter description. He's just trying to feed his family, and seems to be quite good at it.


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R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 165
Location: Middle America
    
  11
good points Ken. If you don't mind my asking, did you grow up Amish, or live nearby or what? You seem to have a good knowledge of them. When you say "I miss it terribly", are you talking about the bread or the lifestyle?

Thanks,
Richard
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6652
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
137

I have often advised people NOT to buy farmland in an Amish area.

The logic behind my advice is: that if the land was good, and not over priced, the Amish would have already bought it!


Rufus Laggren


Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 349
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
    
    4
> the Amish would have already bought it...

Damn true! <g> My impression of the Amish is that immediately after being committed workaholics, they are above all practical. They are _not_ organic except coincidentally because they view the land as an asset to be nurtured and passed on to the next generation. They expect to leave things they had their hands on in better _practical_ shape than before. That does not equate to the green movement, the eat-slow movement, the vegie movement or anything else. They eat large and hearty of all the traditional German fare for better or worse. Because they produce their own food, they largely avoid chemicals, but that is a side affect. They are first Amish Anabaptist and second communal survivalist businessmen.

I believe a few years ago Amish pig farmers got in hot water because they did not toe the line about managing their run-off. The local PA aquifer was getting polluted and laws and rules were enacted to deal with that; but the Amish have serious problems with rules that require them to use certain modern means. I don't know the results of that but it shows the relationship between their religion, their traditions (they farm and raise animals in traditional ways), ecology science and political correctness. That's more or less the pecking order; science is _way_ down the bottom and PC, of course, doesn't even make the list.

Rufus
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2342
Location: FL
    
  69
Richard
I spent some time in an area with a high Amish population. The family on the other side of the hill was Amish-Lewis Yoder and family. His daughter was my housekeeper. His other daughter made the bread and pastries which I miss terribly.

The population of Amish folk in the US is somewhere around 250k, with high density areas in NY, PA, and OH. While most folks handle their money well, they are just as broke as the rest of us. Land can be had in the Amish dense communities. I looked at a recently renovated 3BR house on 8 acres of fantastic land with fruit trees and pasture with an asking price of 70k. I have a friend I grew up with who owns a fine horse farm in Lancaster, PA. Good land can be had-the laws of supply and demand still hold. With large families, a great percentage of those 250k people are children, the adults are paired off, the elderly live with their children so they might be cared for, and the land is passed down to the next generation. The land is primarily rural-there is not a great deal of demand for it, so prices are reasonable. While it is certain these folks may hold some excellent land, having held it for several generations, they don't own all of it.

One day I went to talk to Jonas Miller about the produce auction, run by another Amish family a couple towns over. While there, I took a look at his crops. He grew vegetables for market. I asked him if he grew them organically.
His response: "It's all organic, 100%. But I won't lose a crop to the bugs. I'll use the spray when I have to."
Just like the rest of the population, a full understanding of organic growing is lacking.
R Hasting


Joined: May 10, 2011
Posts: 165
Location: Middle America
    
  11
Ken Peavey wrote:Richard
I spent some time in an area with a high Amish population. The family on the other side of the hill was Amish-Lewis Yoder and family. His daughter was my housekeeper. His other daughter made the bread and pastries which I miss terribly.

One day I went to talk to Jonas Miller about the produce auction, run by another Amish family a couple towns over. While there, I took a look at his crops. He grew vegetables for market. I asked him if he grew them organically.
His response: "It's all organic, 100%. But I won't lose a crop to the bugs. I'll use the spray when I have to."
Just like the rest of the population, a full understanding of organic growing is lacking.


That is very funny. 100% organic. Except when it isn't.
Willy Kerlang


Joined: Apr 29, 2011
Posts: 106
I have been curious lately as to what kind of seed Amish farmers use. This seems like a good thread to ask this question. Do they save their seed from year to year, or do they buy it commercially? Do they favor heirloom seeds? I wonder what their rules are regarding GMO crops.
Rufus Laggren


Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 349
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
    
    4
It may well vary by community. As I understand the Amish life, each "church" (about 400 people) sets it's own rules. When the next generation makes the church too big for all to meet in one house and govern conveniently, they split off another "church". Along with the practical necessity of thinning the ranks, there is the usual politics and bureaucratic give and take; there often several people (and their families) who are more than just ready to branch off. The Amish are really quite contentious within their group, mainly about religious matters and what is allowed. They are very independent people in some ways and there is no single "Amish way" - far far from it.

Rufus
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2342
Location: FL
    
  69
In my experience with the Yoder family, some seed they save, some seed they buy. One day I picked up a 50 pound sack of onion sets at Agway, gave Lewis a few pounds. They went straight into the garden.
Understand: As people go, these folks are as run of the mill as you and me. They are not the oddball, throwback freaks alluded to by the movies and media. They have their ways of doing things, as we all do. One of their 'ways' is to not be dependent on others, and things are kept simple-for a reason. They wear hats instead of sunscreen. Rather than a glasstop Fridgidaire range, Lewis has a Kitchen Queen and an awesome set of cast iron cookware. There is plenty of firewood to be gathered for free and does not make one dependent on the work of others. There is no electric bill, no car payment, no homeowners or car insurance, no phone bill, no cable TV, no internet fees, no oil changes or new batteries, no water or sewer bill, low property taxes, and they are exempt from Social Security contributions. If they want a new ride, they get the horses together. The kids have leggos, bikes, coloring books, and Play-Do. Ice is cut from the pond up the road, stocked in the icehouse, lasts all year keeping the food cool. The grocery bill is low, but I've taken Lewis when I head to Aldi's: he likes that blue cheese dressing. They don't eat lung casserole. They eat meatloaf, mashed potatoes, hot dogs, mac n cheese, fried chicken, scrambled eggs and toast. They wipe their backsides with Angel Soft and flush it away into their septic tank.

The biggest difference in their lifestyle is where all their resources come from-right from home. Several families will share a bull for beef this month. They milk thier cows, make their own butter and ice cream. The fried chicken was in the flower bed yesterday. The flour for the bread might be from the store, might be from a neighbors field, or they might have grown the wheat out back and milled it in the kitchen. Breakfast sausage, bacon and pork chops were eating from the trough last week. The water in the pipes flows from the artesian well or is pumped to a holding tank by a windmill. The horses get hay, corn and oats from the back 40. They don't wait in line for gas.

There is much involved in the Amish lifestyle which folks on these forums are striving to emulate. We discuss woodstoves, energy independence, home heating, off grid living, and home food production. It's too bad they are so far ahead of us that they don't have access to the internet and Permies.com.

Alison Thomas
volunteer

Joined: Jul 22, 2009
Posts: 933
Location: France
    
    8
Ken Peavey wrote: It's too bad they are so far ahead of us that they don't have access to the internet and Permies.com.



That made me smile! It's such a loss for us guys who are having to reinvent the wheel so to speak. I'd LOVE to learn from Amish folk. Ken, that picture you just painted with words was awesome - the bit about the pond and the ice... Hats off to them.
 
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