Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What is a barn raising?

What is a barn raising?

There may be better an expression of practicing true brotherly love than that of an Amish barn raising. When an Amish barn burns to the ground, the community comes together to rebuild a new barn. The Amish community skillfully completes the new structure within a day.

The Amish do not carry property insurance, so after a fire, a barn raising is usually scheduled. Rather than allow one of their church members to suffer from a severe financial loss, the Amish ban together to share in the hard work to rebuild.

Under the direction of an Amish master carpenter, the building of the new barn is swift and certain. Everyone from the Amish community assists in the endeavor. The foundation is built and is prepared before the actual day of the barn raising. The materials are delivered and readied. On the day of the raising, the Amish families swoop into action. The men cut and saw wood planks and boards, and erect sturdy, thick weight-bearing beams. They swing hammers, driving thousands of nails throughout the day. The framing is completed before the noon meal and in the afternoon, the siding and the roofing is completely installed.

The women prepare and serve a large abundant meal. Long benches and tables are positioned on the lawn. The hungry Amish men are seated by age, with the oldest eating first. Plenty of farm-fresh fares is available. The children are fed after the men eat, a casual and gentle way to teach the youth patience. After the men are fed and return to their work, the women eat.

Children are also involved in the barn raising. Boys help with the building construction, and girls tend to chores involving the preparation of the food. Their assigned tasks are based on their age and their skill level.

There is a picturesque magnificence to the raising of an Amish barn. At dawn, there is just a foundation; by dusk, there is a towering new structure of wood. The barn, usually sporting a metal roof, is completed, and ready for storage of tools and supplies for the Amish farm, or for housing for animals. Built with quality care, the Amish barn raising is as much a day of fellowship and community spirit as it is a day of accomplished labor. There is good-natured banter and perhaps some simple practical jokes and jovial laughter. Non-Amish can only marvel at the completed work, and what many skilled hands, working for a common cause, can achieve.

At the end of the day, the Amish neighbors, tired and dirty, climb into their buggies to return to their homes. As they drive down the farm lane, there is a great feeling knowing what they accomplished that day by raising a barn. For the Amish, barn raisings are not exercises in nostalgia, but the cement that holds their community together.

Special Note:

Amish Wisdom is an ongoing feature of various entries about the Amish on George Sheldon's website and blog. Written and produced by George, it is intended to provide information about those of the Amish faith.

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