Long live the Amish! – Off the grid.

It is March 6 2019, a cold morning in Intercourse, Pa. The temperature is 19F and the snow is still deep. There it is! A recently built Amish homestead with the telltale clothesline, but also a small wind turbine and four solar panels to provide

electricity. Contrary to popular opinion the Amish do not shun electricity, they just want to be left unconnected to the “English”, in other words, live off the grid. Their desire to be independent force them to be resourceful and innovative, since they also follow the law of the land whenever possible. So it was, when the farms were mandated to refrigerate the milk before pickup they installed electric coolers. The electricity was generated by diesel generators, so bingo, they could get electricity for their workshops as well, and turn from primitive hand work to fully modern wood workshops, I know, they provided a first class kitchen for our home in Intercourse. They had a problem, federal law mandated headlights on their buggies to be street legal. The propane lights with gas stockings burned well, but were too fragile to last the bumpy buggy rides so they installed car headlights running on car batteries. They had to be charged often, and it became quite expensive, so the Amish in 2003 made the first commercially available LED headlights for their buggies, thereby extending battery life nine-fold for a marine deep-charge lead-acid battery, from six hours to 100 hours.

Even at 120 dollars a piece it made economic sense. How do you charge batteries? This is where the solar panels come in, they are used to charge the batteries. When the sun doesn’t shine the wind may blow, a reasonable backup. Now they have 12 volt electric power. The next step was to wire the house and install 12 V LED lights and provide 12 volt DC or 24 volt AC outlets for small appliances. The lights are done, the appliances are still run the hard way, diesel engines providing compressed air, which run their wells with jet-pumps and in their hand mixers they take out the motor and replace with a compressed air motor. The LED lights beat kerosene lamps any day for efficiency, and even a compressed air driven refrigerator is much more efficient than a kerosene driven refrigerator.

So if the grid goes down for an extended period of time, who is better off? The Amish are far ahead of us in preparation for catastrophes.


And the Amish do get together and fellowship for any reason, but mostly for their Sunday services, which are held in the upper room of their workshops, or in the kitchen for the women and the basement for the men. The horse-drawn pew-mobile is in the picture above, to the right. This is a tell-tale sign who has the service next time.

Forgive, the life changing message.

The folks that forgive here on Earth

have treasures of heavenly worth.

For as Christ did forgive

on the Cross, they might live.

In His death, He proclaimed the new birth!

And this, my dear friends is why the Cross,  Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection is an offense to the non-believer.

They refuse to acknowledge sin, and cannot grasp the Christian concept of forgiveness: Because He forgave us, we too must forgive, and in so doing become more like Christ.

It was in Antioch, Syria they were first called Christians. It was meant as a derogatory term, but the believers were it proudly, and it took. It survived through the early persecutions through love and forgiveness. Many were martyred for their beliefs, but through their testimonies the Church grew stronger.

The times of persecutions have returned. There are now more people martyred yearly then at any time in history. We are seeing it in so many ways. Yet, true Christians forgive. We have been given many examples of true Christian forgiveness. Let me mention just two:

cityRUNDATE:100406--Two Amish young women from Michigan came to the West Nickel Mines Amish School, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006, to grieve for the killed children that were shol on Monday, in Lancaster County. The two came with a small group that had came to Pennsylvania for a wedding.(PHOTO BY GARY DWIGHT MILLER)
cityRUNDATE:100406–Two Amish young women from Michigan came to the West Nickel Mines Amish School, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006, to grieve for the killed children that were shol on Monday, in Lancaster County. The two came with a small group that had came to Pennsylvania for a wedding.(PHOTO BY GARY DWIGHT MILLER)

On October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five, and wounded the rest, some very severely, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse. It received worldwide attention, and press and TV reporters descended on the small community. The Amish responded like they always do, mostly silence. The wife of the murderer was invited and went to the funeral of at least one of the girls. The Amish message was consistent, forgive and choose to not remember the offense. To that effect the one room schoolhouse was torn down, the privys and the fence removed and the ground plowed. A week later there was no indication there ever was a schoolhouse there. Another  schoolhouse was built nearby. This act of forgiveness was broadcast over the whole world. It even reached the Kurds of Iraq. A pastor, a couple of Amish believers and a  Christian psycho therapist were invited to Iraq to speak with the Governor and some doctors about this concept of forgiveness. They were then invited to teach about the healing effect of forgiveness to a multitude of health care professionals. Their message was given, and accepted by the Kurds. Only in Christ can we find forgiveness and be able to forgive.  The Kurdish doctors accepted their message with awe, this forgiveness is unknown in Islam.

At the bond hearing June 17, 2015 of Dylann Roof, the murderer of 9 in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston S.C. something very unusual occurred. One after another of the family members of the victims stood up and proclaimed their deep sorrow for what had happened, but they forgave him in Christ, prayed for his soul and asked him to repent and turn to Christ. This was Christian living in action.

No such forgiveness exists among the secular people, nor can it be found in any other religion, especially not in Islam. They still have not got over the loss of Spain. Yet the Christian message of forgiveness has survived nearly two thousand years, from Christ’s words on the Cross “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” to Stephens exclamation “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” when  he was stoned to death as the first Martyr. This message will be victorious even in the coming battle.




Environmentalists unite! Bring back the clothesline!

Environmentalists unite! Bring back the clothesline!

Some time ago we moved up to beautiful State College, PA, happy valley, where the thousand hills keep rolling on. It is said to be the best place for mental health in the nation and people seems to be happy, some driving their Toyota Priuses, some of them still displaying their Obama bumper stickers. But one thing is missing. With all these environmentalists around, where are the clothes lines? It turns out they are deemed unsightly, especially by home owners association by-laws.

In the next valley, in another world, the Amish are proudly displaying their Monday wash, their clotheslines are proudly displayed in the front yard. It is a magnificent sight.




They even have boys and girls clotheslines!



Am I missing something? When the EMP pulse comes, either by a solar flare or a nuclear missile, the Amish never made themselves totally dependent on the electric grid. I fact, they shun getting connected to the “English” as they call it. That doesn’t mean they do not use electricity. Their cell phones are recharged via solar panels, and their buggy headlights are of the LED type, which drain only one seventh of the power on their marine batteries (solar recharged, of course).

So, who are the “flat earthers”? Certainly not the Amish. They are good stewards of the environment and obey all the new regulations (albeit grudgingly) from the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

Learn from the Amish! Phase out the CFL light bulb!

Learn from the Amish! Phase out the CFL light bulb!

The Lord leads in mysterious ways. In 2001 we moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Leacock Township no less, the township with the highest Amish population anywhere. The soil was worked by horses and mules, the buggies were everywhere and the clotheslines revealed their plain clothes waving in the wind.


( Figure 1. An Amish clothes-line from Kishacoquillas Valley, Pennsylvania)

We had built a house in a development bordering an Amish farm and an Amish homestead. One of the most pleasant sounds is when Amish youth get together for an evening gathering, singing their hymns without instruments and especially without amps. One ethereal evening I sat at our porch listening to their pure voices.


( Figure 2 View from our backyard. Notice the work shop/ horse stall to the right. The second story is a gathering room for church and youth meetings)

They started in the key of F#, and an hour and a half later, their singing ended in the key of F#, beautiful three or 4 part singing from memory all the way, since it was getting dark and they did not use electricity.

Most people think the Amish shun electricity so they can continue to live like they did in the eighteenth century, a time when their forefathers came over to escape religious prosecution. Nothing could be further from the truth. Electricity comes from the grid, and that makes them connected to and dependent on the English, as they call us, and that is to be avoided at all cost. So, telephones are forbidden, but cellphones are o.k.  They do obey all laws, so when the Federal Government mandated the use of headlights for their buggies they complied. They tried the normal gaslights first, but the cotton stockings are sensitive to vibrations, and the old kerosene lamps did not give enough light so they were forced to use automotive headlights. This requires a car battery, and they had to recharge their car batteries all the time, but where to get the electricity to charge them? The English are always happy to charge their batteries for a fee, but the Amish do not like to part with their money, especially not to the English.

What to do? There must be a better light source somewhere, the need is there and the Amish must obey the law. So an enterprising Amishman, Elam S. Beiler turned to Silicon Valley and fitted a white LED light into a car headlight, and the first commercially available LED car headlight was mounted  not on a car but on an Amish buggy. This invention had several advantages. The light is superior, lifetime forever and a battery charge gives 100 hours of light instead of about eight hours. But they still had to pay the English for charging the batteries. The Amish did this while the EPA was busy forcing down CFL lights on the rest of us using the excuse that “carbon pollution” is worse than Mercury  pollution.

Last year we moved to State College, home of the Penn State Lions, a town where the Obama stickers are everywhere on their Priuses, bike paths are everywhere, the backyards are clean and neat, beautiful  parks dot the hills with manicured lawns and flower beds, but we could find no clothes lines. We had built a new home in a zoned neighborhood, no clotheslines allowed, an energy efficient “energy star“ home where every light is of the CFL type, and a light post is mandatory.

This post light was equipped with 3 candelabra style CFL light bulbs, and – you guessed it, they all failed after eight months.

This got me thinking. Could we learn from the Amish?  They still shun grid power, but they are not above taking advantage of opportunities. The Government is promoting solar panels with all kinds of tax credits, and they make sense for the Amish since they are going to use them for charging their car batteries.  So, up comes the solar panels on the top of their work shops, and add a wind generator for cloudy days, and their problem is solved.


(Figure 3. A gathering in a newly built Amish homestead. Notice the solar panels and small windmill on the roof of the outbuilding)

One thing leads to another, and next thing you know is to take a car battery and a headlight into the house and use for lightning. After all, it gives a much better light than a kerosene lamp for less money, so why not use it? Then why not wire up the house with 12 v power and plug in 12 V LED lights?  It surely makes sense for the Amish. They are seeing the light, and are still independent of the power grid.

Does this make sense for us?

001003 (Figure 4 and 5. The experimental post light. The CFL light is now warmed up enough to give an equivalent shine. From left to right : LED, incandescent, CFL)

I am running an experiment with the post light, one light is a 40 W incandescent light,  one is a 9 W CFL light and one is a 4.5 W LED light.  Yesterday, the EPA came out with new guidelines for power plants. They with make it unprofitable to make new coal fired plants, so electricity costs will “necessarily skyrocket “, as then Senator Obama so succinctly put it, so energy conservation is now more important than ever if we are to balance our household budgets.  We could start by allowing drying the wash by the sun again. That would save a few kilowatt-hours per day, but that would also make too much sense.

The EPA has been promoting the CFL lights to conserve energy.  There are many things wrong with the CFL lights. They take a long time to warm up, up to 10 min to give full light output, so they make no sense in a bathroom or a closet where you only spend a few minutes, but during that time you want a full light to read the comics or fix your hair. They also have only so many turn on and off cycles before they fail. When they fail they sometimes explode in the base, break and splat mercury all over the nursery, so you have to deep clean or replace the carpet. They take cold temperatures badly, so they should not be used outdoors (I have 5 outdoor CFL lights thanks to energy star).  You are supposed to recycle your broken CFL lights, but most end up in household trash.U.S. landfills are releasing more than 4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and storm water runoff, according to a study in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Assn.

Incandescent light has only two problems, high energy use and short life. But they cost less.

LEDs are expensive, but their cost is coming down, and they never die, they just fade with time. The announced lifetime is when their light output is down to 70% of the light it once had. They work everywhere except in unvented fixtures, such as hall lights. If they overheat they fail promptly.

So, which light should I use?

For the post light let us consider the three alternatives

Light type            Price      Lifetime               W            energy/yr            bulbs/yr.              Cost/yr

Incandescent     1.50        2000 hrs               40           175 KWh                2                           $20.50

CFL                      7.00        3000 hrs               9              40 KWh                 1.5                         $14.50

LED                     5.00     15000 hrs                4.5          20 KWh                 0.3                           $6.5

It is clear. The LED light is the winner hand over fist.

Bathroom light

Light type            Price      Lifetime               W            energy/yr            bulbs/yr.              Cost/yr

Incandescent     1.50        2000 hrs               40           15 KWh                 0.2                          $1.80

CFL                       7.00        7000 hrs or          9             3.5 KWh               0.25                        $2.00

.                                            5000 cycles

LED                     15.00     15000 hrs             4.5          1.7 KW                  0.02                        $0.47

Here the clear winner is the LED light. Second place goes to the incandescent light bulb. The CFL light is a poor choice even for economy.

Phase out the CFL lights! Follow the Amish! The Amish are more with it than the EPA!!