Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Farm House Face Lift - A Month Spent With The Amish

Our old farm house just recently received a much needed face lift.  Larry and I purchased this house about 20 years ago and it's now time for some much needed work.  We replaced the roof when we moved in but it's now time to do it again.  Larry made contact with Chris Miller an Amish man who had replaced the roof on my sisters house and had him come and give us an estimate.  While Chris was here, Larry said give me an estimate on windows, and siding while your at it and so the month long renovation process began.
This was the ripping off of the roof but it also gives you a look at what the house looked like before renovation.
As the work began, at first I thought I should probably keep my distance from the Amish men, they probably think I'm a heathen woman not wearing a dress.  This was my own crazy thinking and didn't last long.  By the first couple of hours I had introduced myself and struck up some conversation.  My curiosity gets the best of me pretty easy.  By the second day, I said "Chris, I have a question for you."  He said, "let me guess, Amish Mafia?"  I said, "yes, is that stuff for real?"  Chris informed me that there is no way that is real.  He told me someone had showed him a clip of the TV show on a cell phone.  He said the people on the show are speaking PA Dutch but the things they are doing and saying, there is absolutely no way they are affiliated  with any Amish.  This broke the ice and opened the door for many more conversations about the Amish way of life.  I found it all very interesting!
I did ask for permission to take photos before I began.  Chris and the other guys said it is ok for me to take photos but they could not pose for a photo.  I also said I would be posting this on the internet, Chris also said that would be alright with him.  He carried a brief case with him each day and we would jokingly ask him if that was his Mafia brief case and did he have weapon in there.  He would just laugh at us.  
The day I took this photo, I walked up and said, "Chris, what modern convenience would you choose to have, if you could have it today?"  He thought for a minute and said," no one has ever asked me that before," Then he said, "I think it would be my tools."  He said that any power tools that he has in his possession he rents them, even the little trailer that his driver man pulls to all of his work sites for him, he has to rent it.  He said, "I wish I owned my own tools."   We talked at great length that day and as we talked, his 3 employees gathered around and joined in.  One thing that kind of made me sad, was that he really couldn't explain why he lived the way he did, or why they aren't allowed certain things that could make life a little easier.  
Come to find out, they are just as curious about us as we are about them.  They began asking questions as to what I did with all of these chickens and how it all worked.  Shortly after that conversation I went back in the house and I seen them all head for our barns, checking things out.   I asked them later if they found the $75 Jubilee, he said he didn't think so but I showed him later.  
They always kept a hat on their head, while working they wore a sock hat to keep warm. When work was over the straw hat went back on the head.
Each day their driver would drop them off for work and pick them up.  They took regular breaks during the day and that was when they would head off and take another farm tour.  As they worked, it was a joy to hear them outside laughing and visiting.  They never had a harsh word and there was much laughter.

These two young men are brothers.  As we talked and learned more about each other.  They informed me that all the wages they earn goes to their father up until they reach the age of 21 or they get married.  They didn't seem to mind that dad was getting all of their money, they informed me that girls can be trouble.  I said your exactly right. Larry teased these to young guys a lot. 

 The day that they ripped the windows out of the house was one of the coldest days of the year.  I told Chris, If you need anything I'll be in my bedroom, with the heat cranked, answering emails and watching TV.  I didn't hear anything out of them for most of the day, so I decided I better go check things out.  I found Chris with a broom and a feather duster when I walked in the dinning room.  I said what are you doing?  He said "Ms Angie I've made a terrible mess of your house putting this window in."  It was a funny site but I could tell he was stressed out over it.

I'm sure our mower tires don't have a chance this summer, we have so many nails everywhere.  I rolled a magnet around as much as I could.  Many of the nails are aluminum so the magnet wouldn't  pick them up.  
 One evening as they waited for their driver to pick them up Larry and I took the opportunity to visit with them for a bit.  That evening we talked about school and church.  The Amish children only go to school up to the eighth grade and only speak Pennsylvania Dutch during that time.
Church services are held in the homes of the Amish families that have enough room.  I asked how many people your house would need to hold, he said around 30 families.  I said, "that's a great reason to build a small house."  Not only do they have the church service in their home but they also feed them a meal.  He said it normally consists of the same food each week, chicken and noodles, potato salad, baked beans and pie. I said, I can't imagine the work that is involved in getting ready for that and they do it for two Sundays in a row.
I asked if he could explain rumspringa to me.  I've heard so many crazy things on TV shows, like Breaking Amish, it's hard to know what to believe and I can tell you it's false.  He described it as, when the kids reach the age of about 16 they are allowed to join the youth group at church, It's also a time of supervised courtship.  In the youth group the kids get together to sing and fellowship together.  I asked, so it's not a time when the kids choose if the want to remain in the Amish lifestyle? He said no, you can choose to leave at anytime you want.  What I had also read about shunning was also untrue.  It's amazing what you can find out if you'll just ask and not assume.

The old farm house looks great, they did a wonderful job and we had such a good time getting to know them while they worked here. Maybe we'll have them back for a barn raising someday.
Have A Great Day!