A day at the barn raising…

The barn raising is the most recognizable image of Amish Country and a highly visible symbol of the deep commitment to community that is such a big part of Amish life.

Even though a lot of newer barns now feature metal roofing and siding, the frame itself is still constructed of heavy timbers using the mortise-and -tenon or “timber frame” style of construction.

A typical Amish barn-raising will start with the foundation already in place, and the timbers will be delivered already cut to length. In some cases, the Amish barn-wood used in the timber frame actually is logged and cut on the property using a “portable” sawmill set up on the site.

Starting early in the morning, the crew- often made up of members of many different communities – is gathered together. After a prayer, a man something akin to a foreman or construction manager explains how the construction process will proceed.

In what seems like just a matter of minutes, the heavy timber walls start going up. A combination of ropes and manpower – lots of manpower – is used to raise the walls which then are quickly secured in place.

Once the outer walls are raised, work begins on the roof and barnwood siding. Again, with so many participants, the work goes quickly, and the building begins to take shape at a pace that would impress and amaze even the most jaded observer. Barn raisings definitely are a community event – Amish from many nearby villages will show up to help, as will some of their English neighbors, too.

These days, if the word gets out about a barn raising you will also see a fair number of English people who drive by or stop in to just watch, and marvel at the massive undertaking that unfolds before their eyes. While the men work their construction magic, dozens of woman perform culinary magic, preparing a meal for the crew, which may number well past 100. At noontime, the work comes to a halt and the massive meal of traditional Amish fare is served from the woman’s [http://www.primitive-decor.com/amish-baskets.html]Amish handmade baskets to the worker’s first, then everyone else, according to long-standing customs.

Today, barn raisings also are an excellent example of the careful blending of technology that takes place on a slow, but continual basis among the Amish. Most barns now are built with metal siding and roofs, instead o f wood. The materials are lightweight, durable, and maintenance free, and can be attached with a speed that is unmatched. It makes sense.

You’ll also see chain saws at a modern-day barn raising. They are used to trim off the ends of roof rafters as they are nailed in place. In years past, of course, hand saws would be used to trim the ends. It would be a mistake to say that the Amish are opposed to change itself – they are not. Changes happen in the Amish world, but they take place slowly and deliberately. Starting shortly after sunrise on a Saturday morning, from just the finished foundation and deck, the entire structure was completed by the time many of us would just be finished running our weekend errands.
Amish Country Barn Raising By AJ Ross