Where Mother Came from

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ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Everything has a beginning.  Here is MOTHER's.

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). TheHAVE-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:

How to Build a Cold Frame and Hotbed

Chicken Breeds: Choosing Your Backyard Flock

Bartering: United States Agriculture and the Story of Evelyn Harris

Wild Asparagus and Wild Greens: Enjoying What Nature Gives Us

Reusing Things: 100 Ideas of How to Reuse Commonly Thrown Away Items

Cache Lake Country: How to Make Candles, Tables and More

How To Teach Almost Anything At Home