7 Things Every Amish Girl Knows How to Do

Amish Girls Holding Hands

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

It wasn’t until I was about 10 years old that I realized not every girl has the privilege of learning the homemaking skills I took for granted. My Mama wanted to share the things she knew with her daughters, and she enjoyed teaching us all she could. As a grown woman, I couldn’t be more thankful for the skill set she gave me! So, with no further ado, here are 7 (of the many) things every Amish girl knows how to do.

1) Wash Dishes

When I say wash dishes, I don’t mean just rinse them and put them in the dishwasher to unload the next morning. I’m talking wash cups, dishes, silverware, serving dishes, pots, pans, bowls, containers, cooking utensils, (you get the picture)…ALL by hand. And then you rinse the dishes, dry them, and put them away. Washing dishes the old-fashioned way is much better when working as a team. In fact, when there are lots of dishes (as is usually the case in an Amish home), it’s best when there at least five people to help with the chore. One person preps the dishes, one washes, one rinses, one dries and one puts them away. My Grandma said a girl is ready to get married when she can wash dishes fast enough to keep up with at least three people drying them.

Speaking of marriage preparedness: In addition to washing dishes at break-neck speed, Grandma said you had to be able to roll out your homemade pie crust in a perfect circle. Which leads us to skill number two:

2) Bake Pies

Amish girls learn early on how to make beautiful pies of all kinds. Apple Pie, Peach Pie, Custard Pie, Crumb Pies, Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie and many more. My Grandpa’s favorite was Shoofly pie, and Grandma always had one on hand. In addition to pies, they can make lovely bread from scratch and their cookies and cakes are marvelous. Holidays are an amazing culinary experience in an Amish home!

Making Chow Chow at Grandma's House

(Yours Truly) Making Chow Chow at Grandma’s House

3) Can & Preserve 

Applesauce, peaches, pears and cherries. Apple butter, pear butter,  jellies, jams and preserves. Grape juice and grape mush. Tomatoes, pickles, relish, beets,  ketchup and chow-chow. When it comes to canning and preserving, the Amish kitchen is unmatched in experience and expertise. Families have recipes and techniques they’ve passed down for generations. Their pantries and can shelves are a beautiful sight! My great-grandmother Fannie Stoltzfus enjoyed beautifying her canning shelves with delicate edging designed from folded newspaper. 

Little Seamstress

Sewing on my Mama’s machine at six years old

4) Sew & Quilt

Because the Amish make all their clothes (including boys and mens pants and shirts!), little girls quickly gain lots of experience in sewing. In addition, they learn beautiful embroidery skills, how to quilt and often how to knit and crochet as well. As a little girl I loved the adventure of going to the fabric store with Grandma! My favorite place was the second story of “Farmer Brown’s Market”, which was filled to the brim with all varieties of material for any kind of sewing project.

Amish Family

Amish Family | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

5) Hospitality & Cooking for Crowds

Amish homes are some of the most hospitable and welcoming spots on the planet. They’re always ready to accommodate their guests with delicious food – and plenty of it. Amish girls don’t just know how to quickly present a hearty meal (of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, homemade bread with butter & jelly, applesauce, and chocolate cake with some canned peaches for dessert), they can make this meal for a whole crowd of visitors!

Working in the Garden

Working in the Garden | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

6) Gardening & Yardwork

There’s something very special about working with the land, and Amish girls are talented gardeners. They grow much of their family’s food supply, then harvest and preserve it. Little girls help their mothers in the garden and learn how to plant and care for the family’s vegetable garden. In addition, many Amish girls enjoy doing yard work, and find great delight in creating a beautiful landscape for their family and friends to enjoy. Their yards are a picture of perfection.

My Grandma Esh working in her garden, in Lancaster County, PA

My Grandma Esh working in her garden, in Lancaster County, PA. We spent many happy hours helping her pick raspberries, harvest potatoes and gather asparagus. My parents now live on this property, and continue to maintain a beautiful garden!

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

7) Drive a Buggy & Care for the Farm Animals

Men aren’t the only ones who drive those familiar buggies. Amish girls can handle the reigns too! They’re also very familiar with the inside of a barn, and know how to beautifully care for their livestock, run the farmyard and help in the fields. I only pretended to drive the buggy when it was parked in Grussdaudy’s barn, but I had plenty of experience in the barn when we visited Grandpa Esh’s farm. My favorite chores were bottle feeding the calves and helping with the milking.

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Amish girls may not be experts in pop culture, current fashion trends or fads. They may not have a clue whose songs are playing on top 40 radio, or what movies are in the theater. But I dare say the things Amish girls learn and know are far more beneficial to society (as they grow older and have influence of their own) than we give them credit for! I’m so happy I had a family who taught me these valuable skills that I use every day.

Thanks so much for following along as I share things I learned from my Amish Family here on my blog series 31 days of lessons from my Amish family! I’m having a great time reminiscing and reflecting, and it’s a joy to have you join me here.

~ Justina Dee

 

Work Ethic & Resourcefulness {Lessons from my Amish Family}

Amish Children | www.lydiaglick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Industry is learned at an early age. | Photo Credit Kathryn Dienner

If there’s one valuable life skill I learned from my grandparents it’s that a person’s worth is not determined by their success as it is commonly measured by the world, but rather, their value to society should instead be judged in more meaningful ways.

Abraham Lincoln said “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing”. There is a perception of the Amish community in today’s pop culture that is built around “reality” television shows. In these portrayals, my relatives are cast as naïve, ignorant and foolish. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take you beyond the mythical shadow of the Amish people which has permeated our TV screens and the internet, to the “tree” with deep roots of character that I love and appreciate.

Sunrise over the farm |www.lydiaglick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Sunrise over the farm | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

As the sun rises over an Amish household, there has already been much activity. My Grussdaudy & Grussmommy were always up early, preparing for the day. I remember when I spent the night at their house and set the (obnoxiously loud, tick-tocking) Big Ben alarm clock which sat on the little nightstand by the antique guest bed in which I was sleeping, for 6:30 AM. I was so excited to wake up early and help Grussmommy make breakfast for Grussdaudy before he headed out to his wood shop. But when I woke up and made my way down the stairs, Grussmommy was washing dishes and Grussdaudy was already out the door!

As the day progressed, there was never a lack of activity. My grandfathers worked diligently at their respective businesses – Grussdaudy in cabinet making, and Grandpa on his farm and other enterprises. They took the responsibility of caring for their families very seriously.

Washday

Washday

When I was at either of their homes, I usually spent most of the day helping my grandmothers. (Or better stated, I liked to believe I was helping them, and my Grandmothers were gracious enough to let me think it.) One of the chores I helped Grussmommy with was washing clothes. We used an old-fashioned wringer washer, and then used clothespins stored in her homemade bag to hang the clean clothes on the line to dry. Grussmommy was a small woman, slender and sweet as could be, but very robust. Three things I loved most about her were the gentle smile which constantly graced her face, her kind blue eyes, and her small but strong hands that continuously stayed busy.

Working Amish Farm |www.lydiaglck.com | write31days #31AmishDays

Industrious Homestead – a Working Amish Farm                     | Photo Credit Julie Lea Wladorn

My Grandma loved working outdoors, and we spent countless hours working together in the garden, the yard, or doing projects around the farm. The Amish take great pleasure in creating beautiful grounds, and neither of my grandmothers were an exception to the rule.

Working in the garden

Working in the garden | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

Both my grandmothers were extremely active, with not an ounce of laziness to be found in their body! They found deep satisfaction in loving and serving their family and community well, and seemed never to tire of cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, preserving, organizing, sewing, quilting, caring for those in need…well the list goes on and on! Both of them were talented seamstresses. Grussmommy’s sewing machine was an old fashioned treadle variety, powered by the steady movement of her feet. What beautiful, practical skills my grandmothers possessed! I remember wishing there was a way to download the wealth of knowledge and life skills they carried, from their brain to mine.

My Great Uncle and Great Aunt raking leaves

My Great Uncle and Great Aunt | Photo Credit Kathryn Dienner

My grandparents were extremely resourceful, and did things the “green” way before anyone ever made it the cool thing to do. Grussmommy was the master of repurposing things. I remember the way she washed plastic bread bags, and propped them up to dry and use again. All my grandparents stayed active until well advanced in years, and didn’t like to sit still during the week for any great length of time when there was work to be done.

Amish Produce Roadside Stand

Amish Produce Roadside Stand |  Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldrom

The Amish are an industrious group of people. You can find small family enterprises scattered all over the counties where they live. My personal favorites are the roadside produce stands, where they sell delicious home-grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers and fresh farm eggs. Their roadside businesses are a true treasure to the locals.

Sign

Updating the Produce Sign | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

“If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. It expresses the way my Amish family handled their responsibilities. They worked hard. They persevered. They were industrious, cheerful and never idle. They displayed self control and diligence. They were resilient. And they lived their lives well, taking great satisfaction in doing whatever they set their hand to with all their might, and to the best of their ability. They had an outstanding work ethic.

Amish Couple | www.LydiaGlick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Amish Couple | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

You many never have heard of my grandparents before reading this blog post. They were humble, quiet people who never took the spotlight on any stage. But their lives were engrained with the stuff that matters. Honor, respect, courage, love, humility, peace, incredible resourcefulness and character. They could lay their head on their pillow at night knowing they had done their jobs well.

Wagon Ride | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

Wagon Ride | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

 “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

My Amish family taught me lessons of Character and Integrity : the kind of skills that never go out of style and never fail to bring true success.

~ Justina Dee

Thank you for joining me on the #Write31Days challenge, where I’m sharing things I’ve learned from my Amish family. You can read other posts in my series by clicking here. 

Links:

CNN Money – Why Amish Businesses Don’t Fail

PSFK – America’s Most Successful Business Model? Try the Amish.

Sun Sentinel – Amish Farmer’s Success “At a time when leading agricultural economists have declared the small commercial family farm a relic, Lancaster County`s 1,200 Amish farm families are thriving.”

The Christian Century – Amish ex-farmers have business tips for CEOs :
There’s more to it than making a bundle of money

And a few more quotes, just because I love them:

“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.” ~ Joshua Waitzkin

“To achieve what 1% of the worlds population has (Financial Freedom), you must be willing to do what only 1% dare to do..hard work and perseverance of highest order.”
~ Manoj Arora

“Thank God every morning when you get up, that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not.  Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle never know.”  ~Charles Kingsley

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” ~Sam Ewing

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher

Simplicity & Order {The Rhythms of an Amish Life}

 

Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus. ~ Ann Voskamp | LydiaGlick.com #write31days #31AmishDays

Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

I often hear myself and others saying “I wish life would just slow down. Everything’s just so complicated and chaotic.”

It’s one thing for us to decelerate life while on vacation. But freeing our lives of tumult and clamor in the everyday – that is entirely another story, and it can be exceedingly difficult to accomplish.

But if there’s anything thing the Amish people do abundantly well, it’s this. They’re masters of the rhythm of a simple and orderly life.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” – E.F. Schumacher

Can you remember the last time you spent the day in a place still and quiet enough to hear the grandfather clock chime every hour, and the clip-clop of horses hooves on the road as a buggy passed by? Have you ever sat down at the kitchen table with your family to savor a home cooked meal for breakfast, lunch AND dinner every single day of the week? Or enjoyed the beauty of talking with your spouse, family or friends for the evening, without television, internet or telephone stealing away your focus from the people you love and care for? My Amish family can answer any of those questions with a hearty “yes”.

The goal is not to live poorly but to live richly in the things that really matter. | LydiaGlick.com #write31days #31AmishDays

Photo credit Kathryn Dienner

So how do they do it?

Simplicity begets order. Take away the “need” and the desire to keep step with modern society, and things begin to look very different.

Simplifying life requires deep conviction, firm resolve, unyielding discipline, strength of character, and a decision to live intentionally. When these things are in place, we won’t be tossed to and fro with every gust of societal wind that blows our way.

Through their intentional lifestyle, the Amish people have removed the beast of consumerism from their homes and lives. And as a result, things are simplified and there is capacity for order.

Today, I want to learn from my Amish family by thinking about one step I can take in the direction of intentional living, and then act upon it.

~ Justina Dee

Thank you for joining me as I join the #Write31Days challenge, and share things I’ve learned from my Amish family. You can read other posts in my series by clicking here. 

Special thanks to Julie Lea Waldron and Kathryn Dienner for the beautiful photos from Lancaster County, PA!

Link: Thoughts from James Watkins on Living Simply & Richly 

Saying Goodbye To Some Good (Book) Friends {40 Bags in 40 days}

Books #lydiaglick

 

My adorable nephew already loves to read :-). Here’s a picture of him with his daddy’s books. Our whole family loves books. I’m incredibly fond of them. The smell of a library is intoxicating to me. I choose a trip to the bookstore over the mall every single time. But sometimes we can have too much of a good thing, and that’s NOT good.

Lent is here, and this year I am honoring this special season with a serious household purging mission. I want to have our things in order, so that I can easily say “YES” when God asks me to do something. The first step of order is to eliminate the unnecessary. I decided to tackle the thing that would be most difficult for me to say good bye to on this, my first day of “40 Bags in 40 Days“.

I saw some helpful tips from organizer Peter Walsh regarding these covered friends of mine. He suggests getting rid of:

#1. Books you are never going to read.

#2. “Gift books.”

#3. Books you no longer love.

As a lifelong bibliophyle and homeschool mom it’s going to be difficult to bid farewell to some cherished titles, but a clean & clear space will make my heart sing and free me up for better things.

Would you you like to join me and others on the journey of de-cluttering our homes in 40 days? Click here to learn more about 40 bags in 40 days.

Happy home-purging!

~ Justina Dee