|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.
We have a new addition in our family, for a little while anyway, He is our first foster child. David and I had taken courses for this last September. We were surprised when we went because many of the people there were Mennonite from Gorham, Romulus, Penn Yan, and Waterloo, One of the teachers was a Mennonite. As yet, we had not decided if we were going to take Foster Children, but they called us and asked us to take this young man. He asks that we not use his real name so we will call him Michael. David and I told her we would call her back so we prayed and decided to take him. They wanted us to take him because he is in his school district and they want him to complete this year of school there. He is in 8th grade, which is the last year in our school-but Michael has four more years to go in another school. He will be ending school this coming week. When he arrived, I did not sleep all night. Wondered what he did that he was taken from his parents. Would he hurt the children. Would he steal. Would he run away. Finally David took my hand and we prayed. I got a little sleep. After Michael got to school we called Social Services to find out what he had done. It turns out he had done nothing-it was his parents that were the problem. After he had been here a few days, David, told Michael the story. Michael said women worry a lot over nothing . Michael is good in school although he wishes he could end at the 8th grade. The first morning he went to the barn with David and learned how to milk the cows. It took him a couple of days to get good at it-but he can do it now. When it came time to pick strawberries for the Farmers Market he was right out there with us. Any chores we ask him to do-he does it although we still have some to teach him. On Saturday, I made the mistake of letting David go to buy him some clothes while I was at the Farmers Market. They finally agreed on some shirts, slacks, and underthings (underwear). Michael dresses different than we do, but there are certain things we will not allow-but somehow they agreed on everything-even dressing for Sunday. Today Michael wore a white, shirt, black tie, black slacks, and a black jacket. It was a bit different than what we wear, but we approved. Many were surprised that he would come to our service-but when asked he said he would and did. What got me with their shopping was the shoes. David bought Michael a pair of black loafers and for causal shoes Nike. The loafers didn’t’ bother me but the Nike did. David said he was wearing a pair of Nike how could he tell Michael he couldn’t have a pair. David doesn’t understand that he is full grown and chances are his feet will not change, but Michael is 13, growing, and he could change sizes in a few months. David said Michael could have out grown the shoes by the time he needs a bigger size. David and I had words, but when I saw Michael heard us and said we could take them back. I felt terrible. I told him to keep them this time. His face lite up and said he had never had shoes like this before. He would take care of them. He old shoes had holes in them that’s why we bought him new ones. That smile and the shine in his face were worth the cost of the shoes. When Michael does chores he still wears his old shoes with the holes in them-I told him to wear the new ones-but he said he wouldn’t ruin them. Once chores are done he puts his Nike on. I felt bad that I got upset over those shoes. I told David in bed that was the best set of Nike shoes we ever bought.
Someone asked how much of our food to we grown. I would say 80 to 90 per cent of it. We drink the milk and ,get cream from our cows. We get eggs from our chickens. Some of our animals are raised for our meat-beef, pork, and chickens. We grow our fruit or maybe I should say our family grows our own fruit. We grow strawberries, blueberries, and apple trees. We get peaches and grapes from David’s father because they grown them on their far. Raspberries, blackberries, and cherries are grown on my parents farm so we get some of that fruit and give some of ours. As the fruit comes in we ladies get together to do canning and make sure we share them among us and have some for Farmers Market. Also, we set aside some of our canning for those who are unable to do it or as gifts. We also make our own maple syrup, and butter. Most of the time we make our own ice cream and cottage cheese. We have my garden and the crops that we have. My garden is four our family and lots of vegetables, I don’t know if I can remember them all: potatoes, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, peas, green beans, yellow beans, corn, pumpkin, and more. We eat these and store some of them up for the winter. Cucumber we also make pickles out of. Also, we grown our own herbs that we use and some we sell at the Farmers Market and stand in front of our house. We even make our own Root Beer.
Susan and I also bake our bread, rolls, muffins, pies, cakes, cookies, etc. Now there I go to the store for flour, salt, pepper, baking soda, etc. Of course, I bake for the Farmers Market, our road stand, the sick, and just as a gift to someone. Sometimes I bake things up and freeze them in the freezer in the barn. When we get out new house, the freezer will be in the basement. David said maybe we can get a smaller refrigerator rather than the one long deep one we have now. I have a hard time reaching into the bottom of the freezer we have now. If I need something I have to get David or now, Michael, to get it out-they can reach farther than I can. Of course, we might keep them both. This time of year I start stocking it up for the winter. Michael was shocked that we had all these baked goods in our home and it was homemade. I make sure he gets something when he gets home from school. Also when he and David are doing chores in the morning and afternoon they get a beverage and something to eat. In the evening we usually have a snack also.
In the fields we grown a lot of corn, potatoes and some other vegetables. We have an agreement with the government. They want us to sign a contract but because of our ways, we would not sign one. Anyway much of our crops goes to the government to feed the army. Some people get upset because David would not go into service. Also they get upset because we worship God and not Memorial Day, Fourth of July, etc. We are thankful because these people serve for us and those that have died for us. We pray for them. When someone says we do not honor the military service-David always gets a smile and says I don’t serve in the military-but I feed them-and we do.
Well some changes in our new house. Not just one level-we will now have two levels, a basement and an attic. Someone asked me if I have a clothes driver for the winter and I do not. We are leaving our washer when we move from this house so we will get a washer and dryer for our new house. So then, I will have a dryer for the winter. I do not want to use it all the time-there is just something about that natural smell from being hung outside. It would be great to have a dryer with all of baby David’s dippers. We are not allowed to have a microwave and I really don’t want one. I feel that’s what the oven is for. Many people like the microwave, but we are not allowed to have one and I don’t really want one. I do have an electric mixer, toaster, coffee pot, refrigerator and a slow cooker. I don’t use the electric coffee pot very often.
We are also trying to figure how we can fit our green houses over by our new house. I start flowers and plants in two of them and David starts is tomatoes in one. We started and gradually grew. As David said we must have some yard for the children to play in. As yet, we still do not know when our house will go up.
Well, I started off and still didn’t get on the subject of David’s chores in farming. I hope to get to that next week. When school lets out I am having Michael bring some of his friends home to sort of a party. We will have treats and they can play baseball behind the barn or talk or whatever they want to do within reason. He was suppose to go to one of his friends house, but I wanted them to come here. I wasn’t sure he would agree until I asked him what he and his friends would like to eat. Once I agreed to make his requests, I won out. Some of his friends I may know because they live near us, but some of them I want to meet. David is going to be here, also, just to keep an eye on them in case something gets out of hand. Michael has never been fishing and wants to go. So we agreed while he was here-I would pack a picnic and all of us would go fishing. We know some of our ways are hard for him. He likes riding in our buggy but prefers to travel in a car. We don’t let him stay on the telephone all the time that he wants to and a few other things are different, but he told me my cooking made up for all the things he can’t do.I do make my clothes, Susan’s, some of David’s shirts and slacks and baby David’s. My Mother taught me to sew and there was no pattern. She just taught me how to measure someone and to make our clothes. I am so used to making our clothes I don’t need a pattern. Now I will be making Michael some more clothes and had to get patterns because his dress style is different from ours. I do not make David’s jeans because they are sometimes less expensive in stores than they are to make, but his slacks I make.
Be with God,
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