As a kid on the farm, we always had 20 mules and a couple yoke of oxen around the barn yard. There’s a certain “home-grown” country air that let’s you know you’re livin’ right and life is good.
Over the years, Papaw (Forest Wooten) the mule trader passed on and so did the mule and oxen. I missed the barnyard aroma enough to bring in some mammoth Jacks and brighten the place up a little. I even built two outhouses. These were for function, nostalgia, and status symbols of AG affluence.
As I work in Jackson County, I started seeing road apples. Then I saw a sawmill and a nursery. This is the way I met 2 Amish guys – Ben Peachy (sawmill) and Robert Miller (greenhouse). These have become business contacts for getting my logs sawed into lumber and a source of plants I’m not growing. These are good, honest people doing an honest day’s work. This would make it good business but mainly, I think I’m there for the party. I really enjoy being around the horse-drawn farm atmosphere. It’s good to smell the road apples and see the kids actually working.
It’s a trip for me back in time to the way it used to be in my little world on Swauger Valley. As we grow, we consider “progress” to be “bigger and better.” I think most of us at some time realize that sometimes “less is best.” A lot of times less money means less stress and less time away from family too. I think the Amish have a pretty good handle on family, farm, and faith.
Southern Ohio has seen pilgrimage and migration for centuries. They may have been settlers of Quaker, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, or Amish faith but they came by land and sea. Some floated down the Ohio River on flatboats from Pennsylvania. Some came over The Cumberland Gap from “Virginey” and through the “Canelands” of “Kanetucky” to get to the fertile bottom ground of Southern Ohio.
I’m dealing with two different Amish groups in Jackson. One came here 15 years ago, from Holmes County, Ohio. The other is from Pennsylvania and also came here 15 years ago.
Forest Wooten brought his family from Lewis and Greenup County, Kentucky to Scioto County, Ohio by way of oxcart across the ferry at Portsmouth.
Ben Peachey has the Amish sawmill in Jackson on Route 776. His people came here to Jackson in the late 1980’s. They came from Pennsylvania. There are about a dozen Amish craftsmen/farmers in that community.
Robert Miller owns and runs the “Four Mile Nursery” on Four Mile Road. His people are from Holmes County, Ohio. I trade with Robert. I like the plants, people, and atmosphere there.
It’s all about horse-drawn migration and it’s a good way of life. When you look at these farms, the very reverence, for the land itself, is most obvious.
The fields and pastures are mowed, the fence rows are clean, and the skies are not cloudy all day. There’s a lot to be said for the horse-drawn way of life and if it’s unique you seek – just follow the road apples.
When I’m around the Amish it’s like going back in time to reliving my childhood. It’s as if Mamaw and Papaw are there along with the livestock. Isn’t it funny how the mind works? I thought I was going 20 miles to Four Mile Road. I did that and my mind went back 60 years.
Life is good.
Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.