My 50-Year Back-to-the-Land Journey with the Pages of MOTHER EARTH NEWS


Woman And Dog In Nez Perce River

The author takes her dogs wading on a recent trip to the Nez Perce River.

“Somebody get the shotgun! The dogs are chasing the goats!” I yelled from the back door of the church to my housemates working in the garden. It was 1970 and the first issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS had just been published. At that time, I was a 19-year old student at the University of Iowa going for my art degree and a dyed-in-the-wool hippie and devoted back-to-the lander. I was living with my friends in a vintage Alice’s Restaurant-style converted church south of Iowa City on a back road in the corn fields. Life was good then and we lived life in the moment.

Most of us worked part-time in the newly established New Pioneer’s Food Co-op and got food in barter. In the winter, the church was too cavernous to heat in its entirety, so we laid mattresses on the floor and squeezed into the front vestibule that was our kitchen. There we enjoyed the heat from the woodstove while a blizzard raged all night long.

We got a bunch of goats, including a stinky billy goat and some nanny goats for milk. The neighbor’s dogs were always loose and constantly threatening our goats. One day they injured the big billy and we had to put him down. After that, with guidance from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we built a bonfire and cremated him.


11/27/2020 6:35:08 AM

Such memories you bring back.. Graduated in 1968, a theater major, and after graduate school in the Colorado mountains, settled on a farm in Minnesota and started homesteading. Life was tough, money was scarce, but we had milk, meat, veggies, but the rewards were wonderful. The kids learned about hard work, rewards and sharing with others. Now, at 75, my homesteading days are about over, and it's time to teach the grandkids about gardening, natural animal husbandry, and the joys of sitting and watching a sunset. I too have had every issue of MEN in my hands and it still come every month! Joy.

11/26/2020 7:36:51 PM

Great story! I want to read more... like you, I have old copies of MEN, and wanted to be a back-to-the-lander. But alas, school and life got in the way. We came to Iowa City in 1976, and now live north of town. Always wanted goats!

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