Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Amish and birding...one of their favorite hobbies

I see many folks comment on how Amish are selling birdhouses in their front yards. Well, some might, but most likely they’re enjoying one of their favorite past times: birding. Feeders of all types abound on Amish farms, from the cylinder finch feeders, wooden feeders, and purple martin houses. They’re active in the Audubon bird count, really caring about their feathered friends. Some Amish raise pigeon too, just for enjoyment.

In Amish Knitting Circle, Jeb makes his wife, “Granny”, a white gourd birdfeeder. Here’s an excerpt from the Christmas Cookies edition. Before this scene, they were stringing cranberries as a Christmas present to their birds:

They both sat in silence, listening to the tick-tock of the pendulum clock. The wind beat against the windows at a steady pace, and Granny thought of all the shawls they’d made so far for the tornado victims, and the thought warmed her heart.              
            She was startled when Jeb sprang up and ran from the kitchen and out the door. What on earth? Is he so upset about Luke and Ruth he needs to take one of his walks? She got up and looked outside but saw nothing, it being pitch black. You’ll kill yourself on that ice….Old Man. Granny went to her white cookie jar, needing a sugar cookie. They were gone? The grandkids had raided her jar again? She huffed and put her hands on her hips, but then chuckled. They didn’t realize just how many cookies she had hidden in containers all over the house.

Granny heard the door open and felt a blast of cold air. She turned to see Jeb, riddled with snowflakes all over his black clothes, and saw that he held a large box.

            “I just couldn’t wait.” Jeb walked over and gave her a kiss. “Here’s your Christmas present.”

            She hugged him, even if his coat was freezing cold. “Danki, Love.” Jeb placed the large box, wrapped in brown paper, on the table. Granny sure loved presents and ripped it open in no time. “Ach, Jeb, I love it.”

            “When we were stringing cranberries for the birds, it got harder and harder not to give it to you. Made it myself.”

            Granny’s eyes misted as she saw the all-white gourd birdhouse. Jeb had grown extra gourds this year and she always wondered why.

            “It’s a purple martin feeder,” Jeb said. “They can get in on all four sides.” He picked up the large feeder and pointed to the opening on all four gourds that were attached to make a circle.

            Granny looked at Jeb and wondered what she did to get such a loving husband. He hung on her every word. She’d mentioned last summer she’d always wanted a gourd feeder. She loved the feeder, but the fact that Jeb remembered what she’d said in the summer …She squeezed Jeb again. “I love you…Old Man.”

 In the story, Jeb has a fishing hole, and if you dig a pond, the mosquitos will come. Granny wanted a purple martin house since they eat bugs in mid-air, and love mosquitos.

Here are some pictures of gourd feeders I took in Smicksburg, PA….where Granny and Jeb live ;)
Combo gourd and purple martin hotel ;)

I slowed down to see if the Amish man on the left, peaking out from the barn, was selling feeder. He wasn't.

Notice how high the martin houses are place. Must be better for the birds to catch bugs.

I don't think the Amish living here will have one mosquito to pester them.

A lone purple martin house in a field, but always close to the family home.


  1. Beautiful photos and good information. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Diane. I love birds, Amish & photography, so it was fun. ;)

  2. Oh Karen, how lovely. Thank you for showing us the simple world of such beautiful people, and sharing the excerpt from the story of two of my favorite characters!

    1. Karen, danki. As usual, you are so encouraging. You and Jim should take a ride up and travel the backroads. It is sooo peaceful!

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  3. I always enjoyed watching martins though we never got a martin house after we got married.

    My husband has a lot of Amish relatives living in Smicksburg area.

  4. A Joyful Chaos...hmmm. That sounds familiar ;)Thanks for stopping by. We share the same agent, Joyce Hart! And you're writing with Suzanne WF. So, where do you live and who are your husband's relatives in Smicksburg? I may know them ;)