Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.
People have asked how the Old Order Mennonites and the Amish get along. Recently some Amish have moved into Gorham where we live. Farms have come up for sale, Amish have purchased them as prices of land are less here than in Pennsylvania. We like that the Amish and Mennonites are buying the farms as they come- up for sale ,we like to see the land staying as farms. When the Amish first came we were very nice to them and they to us but there was that uncertain feeling between us, all of us were wondering how we would all get along. So of course we prayed on that . Well that uncertainty was put to the test last February.
David is a volunteer for the Fire Department. Usually when the call comes in it is a beeper call and it's just understand a non-Mennonite fireman who lives nears us will pick up David on his way in. This call came over the phone. David was to bring the buggy to a farm near ours,the roof had fallen in. We knew that was one of the new Amish families that had recently moved in. When David arrived, the roof had fallen on a horse barn with 200 cows inside with most of the cows were being let- out and put in the fields,but they couldn't stay there in the freezing temperatures. I received a call from David, from a non-Mennonites cellular phone) telling me to call his Dad and ask him to call everyone that had a cow barn and see who had room for more. I did call his Dad and we separated who to call and we both started calling. We made up a list that I called back and gave to David. This is going on at about two o'clock in the morning. About 10 cows had died and barns for the other 190. The next day the Mennonites and Amish returned. Some were cleaning up the roof and getting ready to put a new one on, some were slaughtering the deceased cows where the meat could be saved and eaten. The man who owned the cows didn't even know whose barns they were all in. Women were inside cooking and feeding everyone. What had surprised the Amish is that we Mennonites came not just to take care of the cows, but all that had to be done to help. On Saturday, lots of Amish and Mennonite came, Some Amish even came from Pennsylvania. The men worked side by side getting that new roof on. The ladies were cooking, serving, talking and more. When the barn was done the cows were brought back. About 190 cows went out when the roof fell, but 200 came into the barn. Every one of our Mennonites or the Amish helped as much as they could, contributed a cow until they had the man's total of 200. I guess the man might have expected it from the Amish, but not from us. It is not custom for the Amish to stay thank you, but the man did to our Bishop. Our Bishop replied "This is our way. Anyway, you would do it for us." That made the Amish and Old Order Mennonites friends, and formed a closer relationship between us. At one time there was no Amish,but the Amish broke away from our Mennonite due to religious beliefs,yet we are still alike in many ways.
When the rain finally stopped this season and farmers had to get planting done late our Bishop and the Amish Bishop discussed the plowing. The Amish use horses and so do some of the Old Order Mennonite,but some of us Mennonites have tractors.Our tractors have steel tires. The Bishops agreed that for this planting both the Amish and Mennonites could use horses and our steel tractors. In our fields we had our tractor plowing on one side and the Amish and horses plowing on the other side. The farmers went from farm to farm until we got all the Mennonite and Amish farms planted. The Amish handled the horse and plow and we Mennonites handled the tractors. We even went to non-Mennonite or Amish farms and helped them get planted.
David and I bought some land behind our house not because we really needed it but because some builder wanted to build a group of houses (subdivision) back there. A young Amish couple will be buying part of it from us to build their house and start a farm. David said whatever of the farm land they buy that is planted gets the crops that come with it. That would give that young couple a start in farming. Some farmers say if they buy farm land that is planted the selling farmer gets the last crop. We wouldn't do that but some farmers do.
The Amish couple that is buying our land is going to have a new a neighbor. I have something to say that even Marilyn didn't know until now. Richard, stop telling Marilyn to take pictures of our house,it isn't going to be ours much longer. After a family discussion we have decided to sell our house, barn and some of the land to one of David's cousins who wants to move here. We are building a new house and barn. As yet, we have not decided when we will be building. The Amish couples house and barn will go up first in a few weeks. We have lots of things to decide like the design of the house. I want everything on one floor-no two story house. The washer and storing the canning goods in the basement, but no bedrooms on two floors. Also want more bathrooms or at least a bathroom and a half (powder room). David wants a larger barn, a bit more modern than the old one. This house will set back from the road a way with fence on three sides so the children can play in the front and back of the house within the fence without going out into the road. That is the main reason we are building this house to get back from the road-but adding a few things inside doesn't hurt either. Both the Mennonites and Amish will build the Amish couples house and our house as well. A lot of people think we are wrong building everything on one floor. David said it doesn't matter to him if it's on one floor or two,he doesn't have to clean it or cook in it,lol. Dividing the property with the three farms will leave us about 300 acres to farm. It is just on the next road over from where we live now. It will be a little further to get there, but not that much in a car or van. Susan feels mixed as she is moving from being close to one friend,but will be across the street from another. I told her that we aren't moving that far and both her friends can come and play. She feels like we are moving miles away, but once we get in there she will realize it's not as far as she thinks it is. She will be starting in the same school with her friends. We will be going to the same service building. Nothing much changes except a new house and barn. Some of our relatives will be closer, but some will be a bit further away,but we can get to them in our buggy. One of our neighbors will be Amish and the ones across the street Mennonite.
We Mennonite ladies have also gotten to know the Amish much better since we have worked with them In the cooking and serving as the roof was going up. Somehow with the Amish they find out things faster than us when we Mennonites use our phones sometimes. An Amish couple were moving in near us and as the lady was walking out of their house in Pennsylvania she fell down the stairs and broke her leg. Their furniture truck was on the way up here. Word spread, all of the Mennonite and Amish ladies that could with myself included, went to their farm and cleaned the house from top to bottom. When the furniture arrived the men and ladies went down to the house, but how to you know where to put furniture in someone Else's house. David's grandmother was there. Even at her age, she is a take over person. The lady that was moving in her sister was also there. Grandma asked her how her mother's house was set up. The sister of the lady looked at grandma like she was nuts. Grandma asked whose house is your house set up like,all girls follow their mothers. The lady admitted hers was set up like her mother's. Grandma said that settles this we're setting up this one the same way,just tell us where to put it. The only difference was they must have a downstairs bedroom because your sister won't be able to walk upstairs and her husband would want to be with her. That's how this house got set up. When we found out when they were coming up,their house was filled with food casseroles, canned goods, store bought items, deserts, rolls, on and on . Grandma made arrangements for them to have a maude (maid) to cook, clean, and help out. The Amish made sure there was a van on call to take the lady to the doctors, drug store, etc. Several of us were there to greet her when their van pulled up. Poor lady thought her house would be full of boxes when she moved in. When her husband helped her into the house she could hardly believe it. Her sister came over and told her where everything was. The maude was there to start helping. Now the lady that fell can walk on a walker, but we still make sure she has groceries, meals, laundry is done, etc. We come and visit with her so her husband can chores. We are Mennonite - they are Amish but it doesn't make any difference when friends need help.
Also got some news today regarding our Farmers Market. I was very disappointed today when we were told that it will only be open on Saturdays from 8:30 to 12:30. Not open on Fridays or holidays-just Saturday. They weren't before but thought they would be this year, changed their mind. David was with me today. He said it is the Lord's will. We prayed and then went on selling. Later a lady came up from the Veteran's Hospital that is also in Canandaigua. They had decided to hold a Farmers Market there on Tuesday, and would we like to set up there. I looked to David he nodded with a smile on his face. So now we will be at the Farmers Market on Tuesday and Saturday. We think this will be better as it give us time between the Farmers Markets to bake, prepare vegetables, and more. It worried me because the Bake Sales money is divided between myself, our mothers, grandmothers and if our nieces bake for us they get some also . If there were no Farmers Markets most of us could live without the money, but it helps the grandmothers out. If the grandmothers need money we would be glad to help them, but they won't take it. God works in mysterious ways. We lost one Farmers Market day, but gained another.
You asked about our men's hats. There are some people that make them. I am not one of them. I was surprised to hear some come from China. We get our hats at a store in Canandaigua. The hats are made at Hickey-Freeman in Rochester, New York. Hickey-Freeman makes men's suits, coats, etc. They also make Mennonite and Amish men's hats. Until next time.... Jean (Images from cindy47452 flickr)