Letters from our readers about a debt-free cabin, agriculture in the classroom, a community garden, and more.
Thank you for Hank Will’s “Finding Silver Linings” editorial in the June/July 2017 issue. The March wildfires gravely impacted my neighbors in the Kansas communities of Ashland, Englewood, Protection, and Coldwater. Since then, I’ve watched truckload after truckload of donated hay and supplies destined for Clark County roll through my town — all thanks to the generosity of caring strangers.
I live in neighboring Kiowa County where an EF5 tornado destroyed the town of Greensburg in 2007. The outpouring of love from neighbors near and far buoyed our small town during its darkest moments.
On May 4 this year, as our town was marking the anniversary of the tornado, Stars of HOPE (a disaster relief and community arts project) returned to Greensburg to hold an event with elementary and junior high students. The students painted messages of encouragement and love on wooden stars that were taken to areas affected by disaster.
On May 5, three of us from Greensburg, along with a volunteer from Arkansas and a volunteer from New York, loaded a van with stars and drove to Ashland. We met with people who’d lost their homes. We shared stories and tears. As neighbors, we reminded them that they’re not alone and that there’s hope after disaster. We covered downtown with colorful Stars of HOPE, stopping at a veterinarian’s home and the Giles Ranch, which suffered enormous livestock and personal losses. During recovery and rebuilding, we’ll continue to hold those families in our hearts.
When the tornado struck Greensburg 10 years ago, neighbors from surrounding communities rallied to help. How can we express our deepest appreciation? We pay it forward at every opportunity. Hopefully, someone’s spirit will be lifted by the artwork of kids who understand the depths of losing everything.
Thank you for your effort with the hay trucks. You may never know the impact you’ve had on a soul in despair.
Mia Covelia Fleener
I read with interest Hank Will’s editorial “Finding Silver Linings” in the June/July 2017 issue. I teach college-level philosophy classes, and I’ve found that what Hank says is true. If a person can learn to think in possibilities, then when the stuff really hits the fan, they won’t wallow in the morass for long.
The best thing to do is to revert to an ancient form of philosopy — stoicism. Stoicism tells us that we need to know what we can control, and what we can’t control. A wildfire as widespread and destructive as what Hank spoke of is beyond any human’s control. Even in the face of complete and utter loss, each of us can still control one thing: our attitude. If our attitude remains hopeful, then we can overcome the worst life throws at us.
Especially to this philosopher and ethicist, it was heart-warming to hear that differences were laid aside to help those in need after the wildfires.
I sit here alone on Memorial Day weekend thanking God for the abundance he’s provided. When I opened your magazine and read Hank Will’s editorial (“Finding Silver Linings,” June/July 2017), it touched my heart. Thank you so much for a testimony and testament of human-to-human giving and the sharing of God’s love in an organic way. Thank you for the reminder that good people give freely.
We built a cabin in the woods in West Virginia and started our homestead. The cabin took a year from start to finish, with half of that time spent working only on weekends and traveling back and forth from New Jersey to West Virginia. In August 2016, we decided to move in and finish the house and homestead. We are debt-free and have a garden, fruits, goats, and chickens, and plan to add more animals soon. A neighbor gave us issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS from 1999 to more recent years. I must say I can’t put the magazines down! They’ve been so helpful to me. I’ve learned so much during my new adventure.
Delray, West Virginia
I just wanted to thank you for your awesome magazine! I’ve recently been named Teacher of the Year for Agriculture in the Classroom by the Mississippi Farm Bureau, and I owe much of that to MOTHER EARTH NEWS. I use your magazine as a resource for many ideas I implement with my students. They truly enjoy getting out of the traditional classroom setting and back into nature. Agriculture has also opened up many new career choices for them that they’d previously not considered. Thank you and keep up the great work!
I enjoyed your “Grow a Community Giving Garden” article in the December 2016/January 2017 issue. We have a similar community garden in Wamego, Kansas. The volunteer members use the produce and share with community organizations. We’ve been developing the garden for 10 years. Last year, we built a greenhouse using money from a grant. We have 2 acres that the local Baptist church lets us use, and the city provides free water! We grow herbs, vegetables, berries, grapes, and fruit trees. If you’re traveling down Interstate 70, we’re 40 miles west of Topeka. Stop by — we’d love to give you a tour. Keep it growing!
As teachers for Master Composter classes, we always enjoy reading about different composting methods and their results. “Best Organic Fertilizers” in the April/May 2017 issue is one of the best concise discussions on types of fertilizers. The accompanying chart is a big plus. In our next class, we will reference what the chart shows about compost as the best all-around organic fertilizer. The slide will end with “Listen to your MOTHER!” Thanks for the timely information.
Melanie Files and Rick Lowman
Martinsburg, West Virginia
My wife, our three younger daughters, and I attended the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Belton, Texas, again this year. We were there all day Saturday and most of Sunday morning. I found it refreshing that some vendors remembered me from last year, by name.
Also, before her Heritage Hogwash presentation, I had a lengthy visit with Alison Martin of The Livestock Conservancy. I raise a few Tamworth pigs, and we talked about how hard it is to find true breeds that haven’t been crossed with something else to get show conformation.
My family enjoyed the weekend, and we’re so glad you decided to hold a FAIR in Belton. We are planning to attend the one in Pennsylvania in a couple years so we can see and visit that part of the country.
My husband asked me, “What kind of jewelry would you like for Valentine’s Day this year?” and I said I would really love a garden shed like one of those in MOTHER EARTH NEWS! So, we gathered ideas from many of your magazines (I keep them all!) and made our own plan. We used leftover materials from other builds, old windows given to us by friends, and wood cut from our farm. It took us about two months of weekend building to finish the job. I’m so delighted that we have a go-to spot for all of our garden and potting needs. Next spring, we’ll begin seedlings for our many vegetable and flower gardens. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Janie and Tristan Lineberry
Five years ago, my mother bought a geranium plant, and over the summer it bloomed wonderfully. Before that, we were the sort of people who would throw it away after the autumn frost’s kill, but we decided to bring the geranium into our sunroom instead. We did, and it grew beautiful pink blooms all winter long. That geranium is now 5 years old, and several times we’ve taken cuttings and rooted them in pots as gifts for friends. We have the first flowers on the block every year when we put it on our front porch. Last year I counted 41 flower clusters blooming at once!
“MOTHER’s Wish List” (June/July 2017) asked readers for stories about their tried-and-true tools. So which tool do I reach for time and time again? My daddy’s hoe. If Daddy were alive, he would be 100, and this hoe looks it. Daddy wanted to be a farmer, but in the late 1960s, with 5 acres and five kids, full-time farming wasn’t an option. So, Daddy worked in a factory all day and settled for being a farmer on evenings and weekends. He would come home every day with an irritable tiredness. He rarely said a word, just silently went out to the toolshed, grabbed his hoe, and headed for the garden. The closer he got, the easier he began to walk. He would enter the 1⁄2-acre garden, take a breath of fresh air and damp earth, and start hoeing. He worked with fervor, hardly looking up after the hoe touched the ground. After about an hour, Mama would open the screen door and yell “Supper!” Daddy would stop, take one more cleansing breath, and walk back toward the toolshed. There, he would brush dirt from the hoe, put it gently back in its place, and head to the supper table with a peaceful, thankful heart.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
I just reread Hank Will’s commentary entitled “Just Choose Hope” from the December 2016/January 2017 issue. We’re on a 5-acre, multi-use mini-farm near Wilsonville, Oregon.
I’d like to share our experiences with American Guinea Hogs this past year. We bought two 7-week-old gilts in January 2016. They were easy to raise, and their sweet personalities kept us entertained! We fed them seasonal farm crops, some pig chow, alfalfa pellets, and green hay. When they got to be a year old, we called mobile slaughter. The “girls” were hanging at 88 pounds and 100 pounds. We were anxious about doing things right, but all worked out well. And we’re pleased with the meat quality.
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