Amish Neighbors: Staying Organized During Spring’s Work

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to share the thoughts and musings of our local Amish neighbors, as published in Plain Values Magazine.  This series covers questions ranging from religion to education in the Amish community. Today, Emily Hershberger shares her thoughts on running an organized household amid the joyous busy time of spring. 

By Emily Hershberger

March promises the hope of spring, In swampy places peepers sing.

April sees the birds return, Scatters showers on leaf and fern.

Around the Year ~ Tasha Tudor

How do such large families seemingly stay so organized during this busy time?

Out with the cold and in with the spring is what comes to mind as the sun shines these days. Pretty soon, we’ll notice the first Coltsfoot bloom in the ditches and the Spring Beauties pop up in the otherwise bare lawn, and we are assured once again that the next season is almost here. It would be lovely if we could spend long hours in the neighboring woods, observing the reawakening that is happening, but in all reality, it is also the beginning of a busy time for most of us. Fruit trees and grapes need to be pruned, gardens planned, early crops planted, lawns raked, spring cleaning finished up, and much more. For us farmers, it’s getting the fields prepared for the spring seedings, the fences fixed so the cows can go on pasture (oh happy day!!) and thinking about first cutting hay. So how do such large families seemingly stay so organized during this busy time? Let me put in a disclaimer: first, we do not have a large family, and second, I do not consider myself the model of efficiency, but there are many, many women I greatly admire and who have taught me much over the years. And I could add “homesteaders” doesn’t quite fit our mold; our farm is our livelihood.

Amish Country in the spring

It seems much of our culture is rather structured, with everything having a rhyme and a reason. There is stability in knowing that each season brings things that need to be done in order for us to be able to enjoy the beauties of the season coming in. Summer is planting and harvesting, autumn is preserving and preparing for the cold months, and winter is spent, in other words, preparing for spring. Closets and drawers get sorted, organized, and cleaned; March might begin with the walls, ceilings, woodwork, window whites, windows, furniture, and floors all getting a thorough cleaning. There is something so gratifying about washing curtains and hanging them back up in a sparkling, clean room. The same goes for sheets that have line-dried in early spring–I’m convinced that luxury makes your brain release endorphins and creates a happy feeling! Some weeks will come when the farm work is most important, and the floor barely gets swept, but we know that everything was clean at one time. A lot of women have workdays once a month where their sisters and sisters-in-law get together, and they do whatever is on the list. Very enjoyable and helpful, especially if you’re preparing for church services. In the winter months, lots of sewing gets done so that once the outside work begins, there are not many clothes that need to be made. Weddings start happening in April, so if your family needs certain attire for that, most women will have everything made, ironed, and hanging in the closets. Just the other day, my friend was telling me that she wanted to get fabric and sew her dress for a family wedding coming up in the fall. To me, that is impressive! But she is preparing for the busy times, and this enables her to help on their farm and ENJOY it.

A friend of ours became gravely ill, and the future looked uncertain. Her sister had the difficult task of checking the children’s closets to see if the appropriate clothes would be ready should she pass on. It touched me when she related how everything was there, pressed and ready to go. This friend was granted life, but I’ll never forget how she had her things in order. We are not promised tomorrow, and I like to think that most will make similar preparations for their families during the not-so-busy months.

Being stewards of the land and homemakers are worthy virtues and highly important, yet being so busy that we don’t have time for others is just sad. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in good things that we really miss what life is all about. In communion church, we hear that alms are not just monetary but also the giving of our time. I remind myself of that when I think I have such a busy day and I get asked to make a gallon of potato salad for a funeral in a neighboring church. It’s a little thing I can do for the ones who are grieving. So perhaps doing what you can before the busy times keeps us from feeling overwhelmed when the unexpected happens and allows us to graciously give where needed. Plus, as my husband keeps reminding me, you’re just as busy as you make yourself to be. Annoying but true.

So, perhaps the secret to being organized is to take the example of the industrious ant and the slothful grasshopper in a favorite childhood story–plan carefully and work ahead so there is time to live a life of worship. For me, a springtime walk through the woods after the evening chores renews my spirit.


Emily Hershberger with her husband and two children have an organic dairy near Mt Hope, Ohio. She enjoys farming, gardening, garage sales, and a good book.

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1 month ago

I love Lancaster County. I live in Florida and I feel like I have come home when I am there. It is so peaceful and I love the atmosphere of the beautiful farmland and the Amish people.

Becky Patterson
Becky Patterson
1 month ago

I really loved reading your article. It gave me a sense of happiness and that I better get going with my spring time chores.
You gave me a little encouraging push…thank you ?.
I live in Stow, Ohio and I love going to lehmans hardware.
I love driving along the countryside down there. I love watching the buggies and the horses. It seems like a simpler and easy-going, even though it is a harder life, but it gives me a sense of calmness. I love it.
I hope to read more of your articles. They are a good fuzzy feeling. Take care. ?

Marie b
Marie b
1 month ago

Beautiful story..I only wish I could be that organized let lone be motivated..hopefully getting out of the wintery feel and starting to enjoy this spring will get me motivated ? I have the feel just need the push..thx Emily great luv Holmes county & Mt. Hope.. hope to visit soon..thx marie from ??

1 month ago

Lovely and thoughtful.

Good ‘n Full Farm
Good ‘n Full Farm
1 month ago

I was fortunate to work on Amish farms in Holmes county Ohio as a ‘crop scout’ years ago. I learned that we are all very alike, some funny people, some not so, and everyone in between. I admired the mix of old and new ideas I saw on most of these farms, something that most people don’t think about with the Amish.

1 month ago

I have been dealing with depression lately and just reading this gave me a sense of such peace. Thank you for sharing this story.

Reply to  Becky Patterson
1 month ago

Thank you so much for visiting, Becky!

11 days ago

[…] Note: We are pleased to share the thoughts and musings of our local Amish neighbors, as published in Plain Values Magazine.  This series covers questions ranging from religion to […]

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