The Amish Diaries by Nathan Donohoe

My name is Nathan Donohoe. I am telling you my experiences with raw food and living and working on an Amish farm where this wonderful food is produced. Before I start, here is a preface so you understand where I am coming from.

So how does a “never worked a day in his life” white boy from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas end up living with a raw milk bootlegging Amish family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? To put it simply, the common love of good food.



Preface My name is Nathan Donohoe. I am telling you my experiences with raw food and living and working on an Amish farm where this wonderful food is produced. Before I start, here is a preface so you understand where I am coming from. So how does a “never worked a day in his life”…


Albert Fischer: 25 years old at the time I was staying with him. He was about 5’6”, thin and brown hair and beard with reddish streaks in it. I first met him at a Weston Price Conference on Long Island where he had a booth selling his raw dairy products. I was so impressed with…


Day 1 12/13/04 I’m writing this first journal entry by the light of a kerosene lantern. Becky, Albert’s wife, gave me an electric one, but I told her I didn’t want to be a weenie so she got me the kerosene one. I still have the electric one as back up just in case. I…


Day 2 12/14/04 Ok, I’m tired, I admit it. It’s a good tired. My back is sore and I still feel good. I’ll probably still feel good as long as my back doesn’t give out or get too sore. Cows are dirty. They’re more than dirty, they’re filthy. They shit everywhere and I mean everywhere:…


Day 3 12/15/04 a.k.a. The Beginning of Pain My back hurts. Not terribly so but more than it has in a while. Enough for me to say, “Whoa, my back is sore.” It should be, I spent 5 hours today bent over sorting, cleaning and packaging eggs. I literally packed over a hundred dozen eggs.…


Day 4 12/16/04 Little Rest We got a little bit of a break today. We don’t have too many orders and not too much else to do. The gutters are overflowing though and they will need to be cleaned. Albert and family went into town to go to a health food store. I have some…


Day 5 12/17/04 I can’t believe this is only Day 5; it feels like I have been doing this for weeks. I’m bonding pretty well with everyone even Elizabeth, Albert’s mom(1). She’s funny, she’s hardcore Amish. She walks stiffly and slightly bent over, but she’s super tough. She’s refused my help a couple of times.…


Day 6 12/18/04 This morning I was tired. I got up, stretched, drank some whey and went downstairs to milk the cows. Lucy or Lisa was crying. It’s hard to tell them apart. Barbie was crying also. I started singing to myself Jack Johnson’s song, “Times like these, times like those, what will be will…


Day 7 12/19/04 I felt a little bit better this morning, but not that much. Albert knocked on my door to let me know he was milking the cows, he knew I wasn’t feeling too well. He said I didn’t need to come if I didn’t want to. After about 30 minutes I felt like…


Day 8 12/20/04 So I have been here for exactly one week now. It seems like I’ve been here for a month. It wasn’t hard for me to adjust. There aren’t any distractions or artificial lights to keep me up. I fall asleep relatively easy at 8:30 or 9:00. I’ve bonded really well with almost…


Day 9 12/21/04 Nothing much happened today. I had to sleep in because I had a headache. I think this room is too damn cold. Marie keeps on trying to adjust the stove so I have heat, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I made them dinner and dessert though, to make up for it…


Day 10 12/22/04 It felt like a pretty standard day today. This morning while we were having breakfast, an English named Bobby knocked on the door. He was Albert’s feed supplier. He had bad teeth, thick glasses, a mullet and cowboy boots(1). He was talking to us when someone else knocked on the door. It…


Day 11 12/23/04 I woke up earlier today than usual, around 6:00am. It was sprinkling and the sun had not come up yet. Once we started milking, it started raining a lot harder. We ate breakfast and I started helping Marie make ice cream. I was going to go over to Homer Adams’s house to…


Day 12 12/24/04 We woke up a little earlier today. There’s a rhythmic sort of sound in the barn. The cows mooing, the sound of the milk machines sucking, sound of cows turning on the water and drinking, Marie saying “Whoa”. The sound of the poop and pee hitting the gutter. There are a lot…


Day 13 12/25/04 I played ping pong with George today. He’s really good. They have a ping-pong table up in the barn. That’s where they hang out with their youth group sometimes. He has this incredible backhand serve with a crazy spin. He beat me about 5 times. I beat him once. We kept on…


Day 14 12/26/04 It’s the day after Christmas. I slept on the couch by the heater this morning it was extremely hot. I would have slept naked, which would have been fine because they aren’t coming back till this afternoon. I feel weird in sleeping naked in an Amish living room. Like I’m going to…


Day 15 12/27/04 I have been her exactly two weeks. Time really goes slow when you’re not sleeping through it. I spend a lot of waking hours with these people. I got a chance to make breakfast today. I made eggs frittata with cheese, bacon, onion and garlic and spices. I really need to get…


Day 16 12/28/04 Today was a good day. I guess I find myself constantly trying to not get involved. Albert and Marie listen to a lot of my advice about their lifestyle and their business. They’re doing better, healthwise than 99% of the population and there is still room for improvement. I’m getting emotionally attached,…


Day 17 12/29/04 Today... (dot dot dot) was a gross day. I got to pluck and eviscerate 6 chickens today. I didn’t kill them, Peter did. He did it a different way than Homer did. He put the head between two nails on a log and chopped it with a machete. An old, rusty, pitted…


Day 18 12/30/04 I went to learn how to bake bread today at an Amish woman’s house named Sara. I was picked up by a driver. He was a fat older man, crew cut gray-black hair. His truck was a phallic symbol. Diesel, big ass truck, red, extended covered cab and six seater. The stick…


Day 19 12/31/05 We woke up around 7:00 am today. After milking the cows, I came in and hung out for around an hour or so. I was able to open the Vedic Astrology books that I got. They’re great. I played ping pong with George again. I’ve gotten better. He won best 2 out…


Day 20 1/1/05 Aaahh, the New Year. New things, new possibilities. It doesn’t feel like something new. It feels like the same old stuff. Holidays, special occasions, new years, etc. don’t really mean too much to me out here. When I was living in the real world, I always knew when something “special” is going…


Day 21 1/2/05 I’m laying here on my bedroom floor listening to the sounds coming through the vent. Marie is playing harmonica and tapping her foot. I hear the sound of Lucy and Lisa laughing, Barbie crying and playing with the toys. The warm air from the living room hits my face as I look…


Day 22 1/3/05 Albert’s mom doesn’t care about what Albert and Peter are doing with the raw milk and would rather just have Organic Valley pick up the milk like it used to. They all still eat pretty badly. Shortening, white flour, bad oils, really crappy bread. His mom still buys cream cheese at the…


Day 23 1/4/05 I’m tired and exhausted. I worked all day today, helping Albert pack and ship. He does so much; I don’t know what is going to happen when I’m gone. I talked to that guy Richard today; he orders from Albert, he’s an Aajonus guy. I called him, wanted to hear his experience…


Day 24 1/5/05 I called Aajonus again today. He told me to call between 7:00 and 9:00 am. I called at 6:59am, I didn’t know if he was going to be busy or not, I wanted to make sure I got him. His answer machine picked up saying, “Thanks for calling Optimal Health etc, please…


Day 25 1/6/05 We woke up earlier today. I had to leave early to go to Homer’s to slaughter 30 chickens. I had to do everything. I had to catch them today. It was hard at first, I found the trick was to go for the feet, then they can’t fight me as much. It…


Day 26 1/7/05 Tired, super tired, sore. Super tired and sore, super sore, sore. I woke up earlier, not necessarily early this morning. 6:00 am, we had to have a lot of packages out by 10:30. I had to get up earlier. I got out there, it was still dark. Peter was already in the…


Day 27 1/8/05 We woke up around 5:30 am this morning. I was getting picked up by Homer at 6:30 am and I wanted to help out a little bit before I went. We were going to an 8 hour conference by this Mennonite Nurse named Melissa who was giving a lecture on Ten Steps…


Day 28 1/9/05 Lazy day. We woke up late. Too late. We started eating breakfast at 11 am. I took a nap afterwards, and then it was 2:30. I had to let the cows out. The day went by pretty quickly. It took me over an hour to write the diary entry from the previous…


Day 30 1/11/05 Hand hurts too much to write. I caught 200 chickens that were to be sold at an auction today. Luckily, I didn’t have to kill them. Peter told me we had to clean the entire hen house tonight of poop, it’s over 300 feet long. I was thinking “Uh-uh”. We didn’t finish…


Day 31 1/12/05 I woke up at 5:00 am this morning. I got picked up at 6:00 am to be taken to Christian Ackerman's to butcher a pig. The driver almost left without me. Peter didn’t know I was getting picked up and told her it was the wrong house. I had to run after…


Day 32 1/13/05 I’m hanging out with Albert and Marie right now. Lucy and Lisa are asleep on the couch. The wind is howling outside. The chimes are chiming. Albert is using my cell phone. I let him use it so we could hang out instead of him going to the phone outside. I hope…


Day 33 1/14/05 - memories of the Amish A cheerful light skinned, plump, black man just walked into the train car. He announced, “Tickassss Out! Take ya ‘tam!” I asked, “How ya doin?” He said, “Fine, sounds like the train’s fawlling apaaaart.” The train was making a lot of noise. I said goodbye to everyone…


Acknowledgements First and foremost I would like to thank Albert, his family and all the other Amish I hung out with who helped bridge the Amish/English cultural gap by allowing me, a raw meat eating, eccentric surfer from California into their homes and lives. I would like to thank my Mom, Dad and brother for…


Epilogue I am satisfied with the Primal Diet - experimenting and refining... It has been nearly 2 years since I first wrote the Amish Diaries. I prepared this for blog publication while sitting in an open air kitchen in the middle of the jungle on the Big Island of Hawaii (where this photo was taken),…

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