Dear Mother: Life in a Little House

Check out this reader's letter about the big impact MOTHER EARTH NEWS has had on her life.

I was recently given an old family photo. When one of your subscribers saw it, she said it looked like a Mother Earth News magazine cover. I don’t know about that, but I decided to let you know what a big part your magazine played in my
family’s life.

My mother had been planting a garden for a few years before we moved from Southern California to Kansas in 1974. She subscribed to your magazine, and she also read The Foxfire Book (edited by Eliot Wigginton) and How to Prepare for the Coming Crash by Robert L. Preston. She even wrote to her grandmother to ask what her life had been like caring for a family of 13 people on an Oklahoma farm in 1920.

In 1976, My brother and I helped our parents build a small house on 10 acres, because the local bank wouldn’t loan money to build the geodesic dome my parents wanted. A friend finished the roof, but we did everything else. Our house had skylights, a woodburning stove for heat, a homemade front door, a lagoon, and an outhouse. Several months after we moved in, the outhouse was replaced by an Ecolet. (This meant that during cold weather, we no longer had to bundle up to use the facilities. It also meant that 13-year-old me was ready to invite friends over!)

Mom had a job outside the home, but her days started and often ended in her garden. Many of the articles in your magazine guided my parents through projects and the lifestyle they were living. Sometimes, we had bees and chickens, and a small greenhouse, and always hard but rewarding work to keep us busy. Mom learned to can fruits and vegetables, and made the best whole-wheat sunflower bread in tin coffee cans. She taught me to sew on an antique Singer treadle sewing machine, and I used Mother Earth News as a resource for the report I wrote about geothermal heating in eighth grade. I was so excited about the idea of not hauling wood for the stove.

Modern conveniences made their way to the house where Mom spent her last days. I’d love to share that family photo, but I’m not able to send it in. The lady in that photo used what she learned from your magazine to teach us how to live in that little house. Thank you for that!

Lorri Caldwell
Via email

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