wood

Amish Home Heating......

I'm sitting in front of a roaring fire in our fireplace right now.  We have gas heat in our non-Amish household and it's very nice, but nothing beats the old-fashioned fireplace, in my opinion.  Of course it helps that my Rachel's family business (they've been in business now for over 110 years!) sells firewood so we always have a ready supply.   So since we are sititng here in the dead of winter, how do the Amish heat their homes?  Just like with everything Amish the answer is going to vary from place to place.    Coal remains, though, probably the most common source of home heating for the Amish.  Lovina uses it to heat her home as did her parents.  Lovina's mother, the late Elizabeth Coblentz, described the heat from a coal stove as a "very fine heat."  On one or two occasions I stood too close to the Coblentz's coal stove to get warm and very quickly ended up with holes burnt into my pants, which generated hearty laughter.  But Elizabeth's husband Ben admitted that even he, a time or two, had done the same.  He brought out some denim pants with patches sewn in as proof.   Elizabeth and Ben's coal stove occupied a central spot in the living room so children had to be taught at an early age to stay away from it.   Once, on an overnight visit, Elizabeth put my guest bed so close to the coal stove that I spent the night roasting not sleeping. Coal definitely provides warmth!  There is a lot of messy work with coal stoves: emptying ash pans, carrying coal in, and making sure the pipes stay clear. Lovina's coal stove occupies a spot in the basement. A series of ducts carry the heat throughout the house as it naturally rises.  Another very good source of warmth in Lovina's house are the gas lamps.  While the purpose of these lamps are for lighting at night, they also put out a pretty strong halo of heat.  Firewood is less commonly used since the heat tends to be erratic and not as good for home-heating as coal, but you will find Amish who use it as their primary source.  Kerosene stoves, especially in more conservative communities, tend to be used for cooking, but they too also serve the dual purpose of providing home heat.    So while the rest of us have moved on to a "central air society" or electric space heaters and the occasional fireplace, coal is king still among the Amish.   

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