During the nearly six and a half years that MOTHER EARTH NEWS has been published, one particular question has popped up time and time again from almost everyone who's talked to me about the magazine: "Where did you ever get the idea for a publication like MOTHER?"
Well, I got the idea from a lot of places.
From living the first seven years of my life on a 40-acre family farm (complete with goat, cow, pigs, chickens, orchard, big garden, etc.) and a fair number of my later years on a 144-acre largely "organic" farm in Indiana.
From decades spent with people who lived and worked outdoors at their own pace and in their own way, as a natural consequence of who and what and where they were.
From picking a great number of rocks out of the pasture by hand. From helping to build what — at the time — seemed like miles of terraces across washed-away hillsides. From pouring many cubic feet of concrete and otherwise remodeling old and constructing new barns, houses, and toolsheds. From throwing thousands of bales of hay to a herd of dairy cattle and then hauling much of that hay — in somewhat altered form — out to spread on the fields. From fishing some, hunting a little, and working a lot on those Indiana farms.
From the 12 years I spent on the road as cartoonist, writer, road manager for a performing group, draftsman, common laborer, aircraft electronics technician, display fabricator, salesman, gas station attendant, deliveryman, reefer hand, designer and builder and owner and operator of a trampoline center, factory worker, film director, model designer, and a whole lot of other things ... including bindlestiff.
From the files I've kept since I was six years old on wholistic agriculture, home businesses, do-it-yourself low-cost housing, wild foods, natural dyes, native lifestyles, recycling, conservation, and related subjects.
And from the wonderful, magical trail of printed words left by those who traveled MOTHER's path before I set ink to the first issue of this magazine. The Freedom Way (reprinted in its entirety in MOTHER NO. 1). The HAVE-MORE Plan (reprinted in toto in MOTHER NO. 2). The good old farm magazines of the 30's and 40's and very early 50's (back before agricultural fields were turned into thinly disguised factories). The magnificent mechanics publications of the 30's and 40's (when they still told you how to do things instead of how to consume trademarked building supplies and power tools and new cars). And a great number of books about living better for less, recycling, raising homestead animals, foraging wild foods, and all the other subjects that MOTHER regularly covers.
You'll find excerpts from a few of those books on the following pages: