October 7, 2020

Written by Art Petrosemolo

My Amish housewife-friend, Rose, lives about a mile away from me and during the past year she taught me to can peaches. She also taught me how to make jam while helping Tina, my wife, improve her bread making. Rose has always been there when I was researching foods stories for Lancaster Farming. To say we have become really good friends would be an understatement. She is someone I visited or have talked to almost every day for more than a year. If I pick the right day to visit, I even come home with a fresh loaf of bread right out of the oven.

Rose, her husband, and six children have just moved to the Midwest and I’m a little bummed. Many of my Amish and Mennonite friends who know us both well ask me: “Are you concerned that Rose is moving? Are you worried?” Well the answer is maybe a little for both.

So what’s the big thing about moving? Heck, Tina and I moved six times all over the East Coast from the early 1970s before the final move to Garden Spot in 2016! People move all the time in this country and although it can be difficult, you adjust and move on. You too, have probably moved more than once in your lifetime.

Many of my closest friends from stints in both Pennsylvania (outside Philadelphia) and New Jersey (near Red Bank) moved while we lived there and I got over it. We communicate by email occasionally and talk when we can but what’s the phrase…. “Life goes on!”

So you may be thinking, “Art, get over it!”

Rose is a strong horse and buggy Amish woman who is raising young children (ages 3-12) and running a big household. She is what is described today as culturally assimilated. She has a mobile phone and knows how to text. She handles the family horse and buggy like a pro and even though I haven’t ridden with her in the carriage, I know she gets around as needed just as Tina does in her Subaru.

Yes, I got calls from Rose, occasionally, asking if I could pick up this or drop off this and that. And if I could, I did and if I couldn’t she understood. It’s always been nice to know that she felt comfortable enough to ask.

But this move by Rose and her family isn’t to Bird-In-Hand or even Lebanon—it’s to Southwest Missouri—about 1,600 miles and a long 18-hour drive by car. There aren’t going to be sisters’ days for Rose, with her mom, sister and sister-in-law anymore and maybe, only maybe, she may come back to visit friends and relatives in Lancaster Country every few years.

Well, you are asking, why is Rose moving to “Missour-a” as they like to call it?

Rose’s husband was born and brought up on a farm in Leola and like most Amish farms in Lancaster County, it could not support more than one son and his family after their parents retired. Mark became a successful contractor and has framed homes for more than 20 years while looking for farmland that he can afford (and probably doesn’t exist) anywhere in Lancaster County so he could get his hands back in the dirt.

Mark’s younger brother moved to Fair Play, Missouri with his family several years ago and joined a very small Amish community there. Mark and Rose spent a week with them at the time to help them move in and Mark took a liking to the area, especially the cost of acreage for farming.

Mark, Rose, and their family visited Missouri two years ago and again in June; but the June vacation was more than a visit as while there, the couple purchased 150 acres near Mark’s brother and committed to a new lifestyle in a new part of the country. The plan wasn’t to move next year but to be out there before the first snow in the fall (and they do get snow in the fall in Missouri).

The area’s coldest (average below freezing) and most snow-filled month is January and that will be just a few months after they move into a considerably smaller home.

Mark will build the family a new home as the 1,200 square foot one they are moving into to start just won’t cut it for too long with six children. Moving from a four-bedroom, two-story home with three bathrooms, and a finished basement here in New Holland, they will need the space.

But I remember saying multiple times as I grew up and wanted to take this job or move there: “You gotta do what you gotta do!” but, now it’s not me moving.

So I’ll miss the calls that say the bread is just out of the oven or can you take me to the dentist with one of the children.

I’ve given Rose an iPad as a going away present that will work with wi-fi that she’ll be able to access making her phone a hot spot. I truly believe she’ll be shopping with Amazon Prime for dog food, toilet paper and stuff sooner rather than later.

I’m a great letter and card writer and will send the family notes and photos. And yes, if I forgot the recipe for strawberry jam or how many baskets of peaches to order from GreenBank Orchard on Sheep Hill Road for canning, I’ll give Rose a call. And I’ll swap stories with Fanny Stauffer at Hammond School Farm and other mutual friends about what they have heard from Rose.

I’ll keep the family in my thoughts and prayers daily and ask you to do the same and deep down I know they will be just fine. The real question is, will I be fine and how long will it take me to get there….?

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