Saying goodbye to good neighbors


On a gray April day, with a chill in the whipping wind, we said our good-byes to our Amish neighbors.

When we moved to this farm, we were welcomed by kind neighbors all around, some English, some Amish. It has been our great joy watching the children growing, the personalities blossoming in each individual.

When our neighbors to the north let us know this winter they had purchased a bigger farm in upstate New York, we accepted the news with a mixture of joy and sadness. We felt joy for all of them, about to embark on a grand new adventure; we experienced a heavy dash of selfish sadness for our own loss of good friends and neighbors.

Young Mary, always quick with a smile and a wave, greeted us as she always has, taking a moment from a busy day to come say hello.

“We are going to miss you so much, Mary. You’ve been such wonderful neighbors,” I said, trying not to shed a tear. “Aw, you’ll get better ones!” Mary said with a grin.

Willie and Jakey, helping with the enormous task of moving day, came by just long enough to offer a quick hello and good-bye, and vanished in to the crowd of friends and family who had come to help. I caught a quick glimpse of Mosey, the youngest of the boys, who waved from afar.

Their English Shepherd pup, Queenie, who had been born on our farm a year ago, was friendly as could be. She seemed to sense something very big was in the works.

“Watch out for porcupines up there,” my hubby said to Willie. “If Queenie gets in to a round with a porcupine, remember you don’t dare try to pull the quills out. A veterinarian will have to cut them out.”

New venture

The young boy listened intently, shaking his head in disbelief as to the wildlife their new world might entail. This family has been woven in to our own life stories.

Doug shares great Jakey, Willie and Mosey stories of the many times the boys pitched in to help him with what otherwise would have been enormous jobs. The young brothers made quick work of any task, trying to see who could work the hardest.

“We like to work,” their mother said to me one night at milking time.

And it showed, upon each face.

We will miss those smiling faces, those grand waving arms from their farm or their buggy when they spotted us. It would nearly always prompt Doug to share a great new story, quite often about something wonderfully memorable Mosey had said or done.

Riding away

The family, busy with last-minute details, would soon catch a bus to be driven to New York. One large truckload of their farm and home goods that they could do without for their final month here had already been taken to the new place.

A second truck sat at the farm, full as could be, and a few things they no longer needed nor had any room for were being offered among those who had come to see the family off.

It had already been a very long day, and there was still a great deal ahead for them. The Holsteins were to be milked out early the next morning by neighbors, to be then loaded onto a truck, bound for their new home in New York, along with a small flock of sheep.

As soon as the small herd arrived there, the plan was for the family to have unpacked, ready to milk them out for the first time at the new place.

The work horses would be leaving the day after that in a truck better built to accommodate horses.

“We’ve got to build a barn,” Sam and the boys had told us.

They will use lumber from the woods on their new farm property, and they will build what will serve the purpose of a growing family.

Drawing parallels

The conversation prompted me to think of my ancestors who settled here in the 1800s, using native timber to build first a barn, then later a house. We never did get to say goodbye to Mosey. He stayed very busy.

A wave will have to do, and that may be for the best. We just may have to take a long drive someday soon to see what Mosey and Queenie are up to. Then we can say hello, and goodbye, properly.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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