Last weekend we visited some friends north of Cutbank, Montana, a quarter mile south of the Canadian border.  While there, we had the opportunity to tour a Hutterite Colony.  It was very cold out, single digits, so we didn’t do a whole lot of walking around the farm, but we did see inside the home and kitchen facility of the Hillside Colony.  They were very friendly to us and allowed me to take photos.  I learned that it was a huge privilege to be allowed into a Hutterite home as an outsider.  We were given a tour of the whole house including their bedrooms and the basement where few people are allowed.  I didn’t take many photos inside the house as I knew it was a privilege and I didn’t want to over-step any boundaries.  Maybe if I get to visit again, I can take some more photos.

Hutterites are communal people and very religious.  They share nearly everything.  Someone could walk into another’s home and take a clock right off the wall.  It belongs to the Colony and is shared.  Unlike the Amish, they do use technology ONLY as a tool.  However, technology is not allowed.  No one has cell phones or tablets.  They grow their own food, make their own clothes and furniture.  They have very little in their homes and the floors were incredibly shiny.  They clean the floors a minimum of once a day!  They do not have kitchens or refrigerators in their homes.  The living room had one bench, a small table and two rocking chairs.  Each bedroom had a bed and one hand made dresser.  The basement had a storage facility, immaculately organized and a small room with a sewing machine.  Basements are private spaces used only by the family.  The main living space upstairs is community space, even though it is meant for one family.  During the time we were visiting, there were 3 visitors who randomly walked into the house.  We visited the home of the Farm Manager.  Only he and a couple other men were allowed to drive.  He let us know that they are unable to park colony vehicles in front of their homes unless it’s only for a few minutes because they are not personal vehicles.

Good thing for me, they LOVE babies!  I walked through the door and Greta was pulled right from my hands.

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The girls really enjoyed playing with our cell phones!

 

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Each of their homes is a 2-story apartment (main floor and a basement) in this long building.  The Hillside Colony has around 75 people.

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Before dinner is church.  The men sit on the left and the woman on the right.

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During dinner, the women sit on the left and the men on the right.  Children eat after the adults eat.  Three women cook and clean the kitchen at a time.  They are on rotating schedules.

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Everything in the kitchen building was VERY clean.  I would eat off their floors.  I just couldn’t believe how clean everything was.

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The bread making room…

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The refrigerator and freezer full of their last fall harvest

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Every family had their own refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen building.  They were free to eat whenever they wish, however they have to keep their food in the kitchen building.  Note each family’s food stash has a padlock!

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Potato peeling area…

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The mechanical room

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If you ever get a chance to visit a Hutterite Colony, I suggest you bring a baby.  The Hutterite women are very quiet and babies are a good ice breaker…and probably the ONLY thing you might have in common.

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We had a nice afternoon during our visit.  My friend brought them a few bottles of wine as a gift.  They get paid about $9/month for their work and any money they make goes straight to the colony.  So items like a bottle of wine are much appreciated.  I did notice in one of the girls rooms, she had a pair of Dansko shoes on a shoe rack.  I learned that Danskos were a sought after item and all the girls wanted them, but cannot afford them.  Those shoes were a gift as well.  According to their religion, all material goods are held in common and all members of the colony are provided for equally and nothing is kept for personal gain.

Another very interesting thing I learned is they graduate from their school, which is also on property, in the 8th grade.  When they graduate, they are trained into all of the adult jobs; cooking, cleaning, gardening, for the women and the men, woodworking, farming, milking cows, fixing machinery, etc.  Their primary language is German and they begin to learn English at 6 years of age.  The young girl in the photo above and below is about to graduate the 8th grade and become an adult.  She told us she is excited to begin learning her new jobs.

Many of you know, our family is living in a camper while we are building a house.  I shared that with the Hutterite women and I don’t know what she was thinking…but she gave me a pair of Hutterite made slippers.  It was very thoughtful.  We left with slippers, fresh sausage and the best canned corn I have ever had.  It was a really neat experience and I look forward to going back and bringing some gifts.  I think it is a totally bizarre way to live, but it was very interesting as well.

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