My daughter, Margaret, does more in a day than I think I do in a week, and I consider myself a busy person. One of the things she does (in addition to getting great grades in difficult college classes and volunteering for a variety of causes) is working at a tea bar in St. Paul, Minn.
The pay is about what you'd expect. Not bad but not great either. She is happy to have her paycheck supplemented by her share of tips that are left in a jar on the counter.
Every few months, when she is home for a visit, she will come with me on one of my errand runs and we stop at the bank where she converts her coins (less the quarters she uses for laundry) into paper money. This last time she got $42 and was happy about it. As we turned away from the counter and started for the door to the street, she handed me the bills, two twenties and a couple of singles, and said “that's for Father Eddy's chicken project.”
I was a little stunned; she'd worked hard for that money and giving it away meant she would do without something she might have bought for herself with it.
And that's exactly how I’ve been feeling the last several weeks as readers respond to my ask in the last issue. Our Haiti Chicken Project has received about a dozen donations so far, some big and some small, but all very appreciated. The money will help our sister parish raise chickens to be distributed throughout the Belle Fontaine region of Haiti. As I learn of these donations, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude.
I know my readers, like me, don't have a lot of money to throw around. By the time the bills are paid, there is often nothing left over to give away. Thank you all for your help. I really appreciate it.
In the mail a few weeks ago I received from a reader two prints I have placed below. The photo on the left is one taken by famed rural photographer J.C. Allen sometime in the 1930s, and the photo on the right is a snapshot taken in New Haven, Vt., in early 1991.
Eldon Sherwin wrote: “These two photos, virtually identical were taken 60 to 70 years apart in far distant communities. They demonstrate the extent and endurance of an unchanging lifestyle in a fast paced ever changing world.”
Indeed, some things that never change are the hunger of a weaned calf, and the fascination of a child watching that calf satisfy that hunger.
That nicely sums up what we try to demonstrate in our magazine where we report on folks who borrow from yesterday to do the work of today. Whether it is farming, gardening, preserving the harvest, or building a chicken coop, we would do well to learn the techniques our grandparents and great-grandparents used when doing the same task. It worked then for them, and often it cost a lot less and was often a lot more durable than what we do today using modern tools and materials.
In this new year, we continue our pledge to bring you stories and articles that promote a frugal, sustainable lifestyle with many of the benefits of fertility, community and satisfaction our ancestors enjoyed generations ago.
As this issue goes to press and is mailed to subscribers, I will be visiting farmers in the mountainous countryside of Haiti. After I return January 23 I will be busy completing all the year-end tasks I haven't yet finished. Then it is a new year with new stories and TV programs to bring you.
In late April I will be in Campbellsville, Ky., at the Homeplace on Green River Spring Festival and Plow Day to enjoy filming horses, mules, musicians and heritage crafts demonstrations.
I will be heading to Lebanon, Mo., in late May for the annual Wagons for Warriors, a wonderful event that raises funds for our injured military. Last year's event featured 40 authentic and restored chuckwagons preparing a wide variety of food. There's also live music and a parade. For more information, visit you can visit wagonsforwarriors.com.
If you have an event or activity you'd like to talk to Joe about, shoot him an email at
or give him a ring. 319-362-3027