Community Connections and Long-Term Projects

Check out these reader letters about making connections with neighbors, pet advice, and long-term projects at home.

Finding Ways to Build Community

I fairly recently resubscribed to Grit. I enjoy every issue, especially the readers’ contributions.

I’m a career Army National Guard soldier with service in three states (Ohio, Alabama, and Wisconsin). I currently work as a dual-status National Guard technician (mechanic). With just about a year of service to go, some things will be changing soon. My wife and I will soon celebrate our 25th anniversary, and all seven of our children are still at home. We’re currently in the process of renovating a very large farmhouse – just the right size for our family – that was built in 1915. We have some acreage to utilize for gardens and livestock, and it came with mature apple, pear, and plum trees. I’m the only pastor of a small-town church near where the new-to-us house is located, and our church family is second only to our immediate family.

In May of 2001, my wife and I, along with our (then) two daughters, moved into a farmhouse on some acreage up a dead-end road in rural southwest Wisconsin. We thought it would be a good idea to get to know our neighbors, but we weren’t sure how to go about doing it. My wife came up with a brilliant idea that we’ve used to stay in touch with our neighbors ever since. She spent a day making Christmas cookies, which she arranged on a nice seasonal plate. She added a Christmas card and went to knock on some doors. The cookies were such a hit that we’ve taken Christmas cookies to our neighbors every year since. Counting that first farmhouse, along with the one we’re currently remodeling, we’ve lived in four different locations, and every year, the neighbors get Christmas cookies and a visit. If, for some reason, the cookies aren’t delivered by about the first week of January, often one or more of the neighbors will call or stop by to see if everything is OK.

Thanks for a great magazine. I always look forward to reading each issue.

Joe Matthews

brown dog scratching itself, self hygiene in wildlife of an aban

Seeking Pet and Predator Advice

My family has been getting Grit for many years, since it was a newspaper. We agree with Patt Makela (“Old Recipe and New Ways to Connect,” Mail Call, September/October 2021) that lots of us don’t have computers or smartphones, or we don’t text, and we would appreciate an address or phone number. And we still write letters.

I appreciate all the tips given on animals and pets. I’ve been using diatomaceous earth for fleas and ticks, but I find that it dries our dogs’ skin out. Any information on what others use that works and is safe and natural would be appreciated. We also have goats, a donkey, chickens, guineas, two ducks, and cats. We live in the country. We’re having trouble with raccoons, opossums, and coyotes, and we’ve noticed a rat problem at our chicken house. Any information on these issues would be helpful. We all like to hear how others do things. Thanks for such a helpful magazine.

Grit reader
West Virginia

Remembering Grit

One of my favorite memories is sitting by the fireplace in my great aunt’s house and reading her Grit newspaper. This was sometime around 1947. I’m 84 years old now. I loved Grit then, and I love it now.

Helen Tucci
Jacksonville, Florida

A Feathered Friend

Our dear granddaughter has taken a fancy to the neighbor’s backyard chickens, especially to the one she calls “Goldie.”

Steve Weller
Via email

little blonde girl leaning on a pink plastic toy shopping cart

Whistle Know-How

Many years ago, my dad made a nice whistle out of a willow stick or branch. Does anyone know how to do that?

Gladys Erickson
Sebeka, Minnesota

Slow and Steady

I just read the piece on Caitlin’s stone patio project (“Our View,” September/October 2021). It wasn’t until I read that article that I even considered what type of projects I tackle. I’ve easily come to the conclusion that I’m a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of person. I currently have three projects: one that I’ve been working on for more than five years, a second one that’s two years old, and a third one that I just started this summer.

The five-year project is a flower garden. When we had our patio done, I had to move my ferns. I moved them to the side of our house, where it’s mostly shaded and the grass wasn’t growing well. This led to the idea to make the entire side yard a flower garden. During the past five years, I’ve collected irises, a snowball bush, and astilbes from my childhood home. When my mother-in-law died, I collected lily of the valley and lamb’s ear plants. My sister-in-law gave me Lenten roses and more irises. I also gathered some river rocks from a neighbor who didn’t want them any longer. A friend was thinning out her hostas and wanted to be part of what I call my “memory garden.” Every plant I have in this garden came from someone or reminds me of someone. What joy this garden has given me, not only from planting and nurturing the plants, but also from the memories I experience every time I walk through it.

For my two-year project, my husband and I have taken on the challenge of clearing out the evasive honeysuckle and ivy in the large woods behind our house. We only work on this during spring. We hope to replant rye grass and natural wildflowers.

The final project is painting my laundry room. Our laundry room contains not only a washer and dryer, but also a freezer, refrigerator, workbench, furnace, and electrical panel. I’ve decided to paint one wall at a time. When I have time to paint, I start my laundry and go to work. Not only do I get a wall painted, but my wash gets done quicker, because I’m not running up and down the stairs. Plus, I can clean out the room some while I’m down there. We’re retired, and we’ve decided that we don’t need all that stuff.

Pam Morin
Via email

purple clustered astilbe flowers

Card-making Supplies

I’m looking for used card-making supplies, such as card stock, ink pads, rubber or cling stamps, stickers, and dies (to use with Big Shot or Cuttlebug machines). Please write and tell me what you have and state your price.

Mrs. Elmer Kuhns
31643 Miltonsburg-Calais Road
Woodsfield, OH 43793

Pen Pal

I enjoy having pen pals, as well as getting stickers, cards, and stationary. I save used postage stamps.

Rosa Lee Hauck
96 Post Office Btm
Edgarton, WV 25672

Feed Sacks

I’m looking for white-colored feed sacks for embroidering kitchen towels. I will purchase them if necessary.

Martha Adams
3425 Bedivere Court
Annandale, VA 22003


I’m a recently retired Chicago police detective looking for a tent campsite in the Midwest for “no-trace camping.” Ideally, a small rural piece of land near a creek or lake for fishing and relaxing. It can be for one-time use or once or twice a year. I’m a firm believer in leaving a campsite as I found it. If you own a rural piece of property or farmland where I can camp for a few days and relax, please let me know.

Bill K.
P.O. Box 557963
Chicago, IL 60655

Share Your Thoughts

We welcome letters from our readers. If you’d like to comment on an article, share your opinions, or submit a “Looking For,” send us an email (with photos, if available) to, or send a letter to: Grit Mail Call, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Electronic submissions are more likely to receive a timely response. Readers assume all risk associated with publishing a mailing address, requesting correspondence, and responding to correspondence requests in Grit magazine.

  • Published on Feb 19, 2022
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