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My Amish Neighbors
Having Amish neighbors has advantages as well as disadvantages. However, in my case, the advantages have outweighed everything else. In the past 10 years, many Amish families have moved into the rural areas of upstate New York. The majority of individuals have hailed from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
When we first saw these families moving into our area, we marveled at the quick way they built homes and barns, and the veritable plethora of buggies on the roadway. It wasn't long before we made friends with some of them and started asking questions about their lives and lifestyle. While not all Amish want to befriend the locals, many are willing to tell you a little about themselves once they get to know you.
We learned that our Amish neighbors came to our area of New York because it was getting too crowded in Lancaster, PA. In addition, they wanted to belong to a less strict order. They also liked the way our highways had a wide berm that was paved. This allowed them to travel between townships on a paved road and not be directly in the path of vehicle traffic. Upstate New York also has large rural areas, which was exactly what they needed to start their dairy farms.
It is true that the Amish don't have electricity or plumbing in their homes (it is the first thing they remove when they move into an older home). They also do not have phones, though some now have cell phones, depending upon the order that they belong to. Because they don't have electricity or plumbing, they have a problem when they start a dairy farm: they need a milk house with running water and a properly functioning milk tank with a cooling system. This is how we came to know our Amish neighbors.
Four years ago, our Amish neighbors came to us asking if they could use our old milk house for their own. A dairy farm that is selling high-grade milk to a co-op has to have a milk house inspected regularly, and the milk is sampled each time there is a milk pick-up. A milk house has to be kept very clean, be separate from the rest of a barn, have hot running water, and of course, have a properly functioning milk tank. We of course said yes, and we became friends with these neighbors as a result.
Over the years we have had many memorable experiences with our Amish neighbors. We've exchanged fruit and baked goods at Christmas. Their children have taught our children how to ride buggies, drive plow horses and milk cows by hand. We've enjoyed an endless supply of raw milk, and we've exchanged numerous chickens and rabbits.
This year marks the end of our relationship as our Amish neighbors are moving to New Berlin, New York. They've told us that our area is getting too crowded, and they need more property for their 9 children. We're going to miss the pounding of hoof beats twice daily to our milk house, which now stands very quiet and empty. The smiling faces we once enjoyed seeing will be gone and all we'll be left with are memories.
This past week I watched truckloads of their dairy cows go by my house, en route to the local farm auction house. Our Amish neighbors will be starting fresh in their new location and switching from Holstein cows to Jerseys. I spoke with the eldest boy, Monroe who is 15, about their move. He told me "I have a lump in my throat watching the cows go, but I'm looking forward to our new place. We're going to miss you guys."
I have a lump in my throat also, watching our Amish neighbors preparing to move away. I'm going to miss our frequent visits, and my children are going to miss their company. However, I wish them much success and hope they find happiness in New Berlin.