Jean is a old order Mennonite woman from New York state. She shares her stories exclusively on Amish Stories.
Hello everyone, I am back to continue about the Farmers Market. At 5:00 AM the van comes to our home to pick up the baked goods, my mother (or mother-in-law) and sometimes Susan. The back seats of the van go down and David slides in the wooden shelves that fit into the back of the van. David made these shelves-each one has a ridge so that I can put in pies, containers of cookies, etc. so they don’t slide out. Every time our driver lady gets a new van David has to make different shelves to fit the new van-one van never seem to be the exact same size as the previous van-even if it is the same make and model. In between the shelves we put in the items that do not fit on the shelves. From our house, the van goes to my mothers house, mother-in-laws house, and both grandparents houses. Everything is loaded in the van and off we go.
We arrive at the market at 5:30, cover the table, and set out our baked goods. There is an Old Order Mennonite couple next to us and he gets another gentleman to slide the shelves out. We set the shelves up behind the table where customers can see what is on them. They shelves has sort of legs that slide down so they will stand. When David is there he and the man next door slide the shelves out. Even before we are set up some other people, that are set up, come to us for cookies, donuts, and more with their morning coffee. Once the Farmers Market opens at 6:00 AM we are flooded with customers. We get more customers on Saturday than Friday, but we are busy both days.
At the opening of the day most of the people are regular customers that come in every week or month. We have gotten to know them and they know us. Also, we know, that certain people like certain goods, so we try to make sure we have them. We have a cash box that we make change at. Also , whoever is with me and myself have a money purse (money belt) hooked around our waist. One time, when David was there, he and I were busy with customers and someone took the cash box. We did not see who took it or the cash box again. Now, we wear the purses and after the cash box looks like it has a a lot of paper money , we put some in our money purse. If someone gives us a large bill-$20.00 or $50.00-it goes into our money purse and we make change out of the cash box. More than once whoever is with me and myself have caught someone’s hand reaching toward the cash box. We tried putting the cash box on the back table, but if we turn out back to make change people sometimes steal the baked goods. We don’t have much room so there is no place for a middle table-so the money purse has worked out very well.
Most people are very nice, wait their turn, and would never think of stealing. It’s the few not so nice people that we have to watch for and the worse thing is if someone had a need and asked for some money-we would probably give it to them. We wouldn’t make them prove the need-we trust in the Lord. If they are taking money from us that is not theirs that is also between them and the Lord. We both bring our lunch with us so about 11:00 ones of us eats lunch and the eats at 1:00 or later. If customers are slow, we both eat at the same time. Also when customers slow down one usually takes a walk around the market to see what others have for sale and to get some exercise. We don’t go to far from our area because we never know when we will have to return to our tables fast-sometimes buses of customers come in.
In the Finger Lakes tourists come from all over. Many of them would like to take our pictures. Even when we ask them not to-they do. Some of them are nervous around us and stare, but do not come close. Others come and ask us questions, most of which we are glad to answer. When David is there, they would rather talk to him than to me-which is fine. But of course there are some who are rude. They ask why we don’t fly the American Flag. That we should go back to where we came from because we do not respect this country and do not deserve to live here. That we should live in the current century and stop dressing and acting the way we do. Some people believe that we are not Old Order Mennonite, but dressed like them-actors-to draw tourists. People want their pictures with us. Some try to talk us down on our prices. Some are just rude. Thank heavens there are very few of these rude people. If David is there, he handles them. When he is not there we try to be as tactful and as kind as we can be.
Yes, in most ways the tourists have helped our business. Most people like to come and buy from us, ask questions, and are kind. I have had customers pay more than I have marked on the baked goods, because these are goods they can not get in their area. A few times we have had tourists come over on our side of the table and take money from people buying – when we have been flooded with people. When we get talking they have either been selling in markets like us or owned a store. Any person that has come and helped us like that have never taken a thing. They also will not take money for pay. We usually give them something they would like-a pie, cookies, etc. Usually we don’t let people do that but sometimes we haven’t had a choice with all
Yes, we have been out of New York State to the Lancaster, Ohio and more areas to weddings, funerals, etc. Usually we go by van, bus or train-we are not allowed to fly except in an emergency. We try to avoid tourists areas when we are there. Yes, we are glad that we do not live in a big tourists area like they are. In the Finger Lakes we deal with tourists at the Famers Market and sometimes at our home stand in front of our house, but we do have anywhere near as they do in Lancaster. When a day is finished at the Farmers Market, we go home to our quiet farm. At our home stand, we are usually glad to have tourists. We like to find out where they came from, where they are going-how they found us in our area because we are way out in the country. You have to take six different roads to get to our farm. Of course there are good people and not so nice people. I guess I have told you mostly about the markets and how we live. If you have any questions, please ask.
Due to this is planting season, Farmers Markets time, plus we also set up and sell baked goods and sometimes vegetables, jellies, jams, fruit and more on some special village Saturdays like Gorham weekend, Rushville weekend and more-I am not able to make or bake a special items. I hope you understand. When the fall comes and harvesting is done, I may be able to, but I just don’t have the time at this time-I hope you understand. I did ask our Bishop, last Sunday, and he told me I could not make prayer kapps for someone outside Old Order Mennonite. If you live near Old Order Mennonite or Amish you may be able to buy some prayer kapps at yard sales. Again, I hope you understand. Our prayer kapps are a little smaller than our bonnets-so that the bonnets will fit over the kapps. Our prayer kapps are white, light weight and starched.
Yes, we do have pets. As we live in the country people leave their unwanted pets in our area. We have seen people leave them from their cars in front of our houses. Early on David and I decided we would not have a dog. Many of the kittens and cars that have been left in our area are in our barn-but we thought we had no need for a dog. Usually when dogs are left in front of our house we call the dog patrol. This particular one the dog patrol could not catch. He would sit on the edge of the road, stare at out house, but when the dog patrol came would run off. David tried to catch it by putting food out. The food would be gone, but we couldn’t catch the dog. One day I let Susan out in the back yard playing-she was about three, I was in the kitchen and could see her. I turned away for a minute and turned back she was gone. As I ran out of the house I called David from the barn, we saw her down by the road with the dog. The dog would not move as we yelled at him. From where we were it looked like the dog was biting Susan. David grabbed a board to get the dog away from her. He ran faster than I did and he realized the dog was not biting her but was standing between her and the road trying to keep her from going out in the road. I grabbed Susan and David tried to grab the dog, but off it ran. After much feeding and slowly walking closer day after day-it finally came in our yard. A few days after that it came to us. In became our pet. We washed it and took it to the vet in the buggy ( Bad mistake. He loves to ride in the buggy) and found out this big dog was yet a puppy and still had more growing. That was three years ago. The dog is big but as harmless as they come. When our regular gas reading man is on vacation-I have to take the dog inside because any fill in is afraid of him because of his size. People that don’t know us and pull in the drive way think twice when they see him coming. He is suppose to herd the cows in the barn but David says he mostly chases the cows not herd them.
Yes, we do speak Pennsylvania Dutch. It is a bit different is some phrases, but mostly alike. We speak it all the time except when we are among people who do not speak it-then we speak English. Although Susan knows some English when she starts school-that is all they speak so we will have to be using English more in our home.
We have some Amish that have moved in our area and if what we heard is correct more are moving in. Yes, we are friends with them. In a way it is a bit funny. Most areas the Amish out number the Old Order Mennonites-in this area the Old Order Mennonites out number the Amish almost 100 to one. We all help each other when in need.
Well this is it for this week. Please keep asking questions.
Be With the Lord,