Yes, it’s true, there’s no place like home, and no matter how I slice it, Kansas is now my home.
Back in New England, when I first mentioned that I was heading back west (deep into fly-over country) to be Grit’s new editor, more than one of my coastal-minded friends wondered why on earth would I ever do that? What they didn’t know is that to me, Kansas is an ultimate destination – not like some reality show’s island of delight, but a place that a cattle-loving boy from North Dakota can believe in and dream about. And I most definitely dreamt about life in Kansas when I was young – and even when I was not so young.
It wasn’t Dorothy or her little dog Toto who first turned me on to Kansas. It was a romanticized boyhood notion that the center of this country’s cattle industry was in Kansas. In my mind, Kansas was a mystical state where real cowboys drove real cattle on real cattle trails to railheads like Wichita and Kansas City. Kansas was the closest thing to heaven that I could imagine other than perhaps Texas.
Fast-forwarding through a few decades, I definitely feel a little like Dorothy now because I’m not sure just exactly how I got here. But I do know when I accepted the position with Grit in March, I felt that I was finally headed home. Just last weekend, a semi-load of my most cherished machinery arrived at my wife’s and my Osage County farm. Now I know for sure it’s no longer just a dream.
You’ll notice that we devoted quite a bit of space in this issue to cattle: Kansas and cows – just imagine my smile. Our readers asked for more information about livestock, and this is just the beginning. You also told us that you wanted more product reviews and articles about topics like converting barns into homes or hands-on cheese making. Stay tuned: These and many other suggested articles are already in the works.
If you don’t belong to our advisory group, and would like to give us a hand, please point your browser to www.Grit.com and sign up (I would really appreciate it). As a member, you’ll receive brief online surveys from time to time, which help decide everything from article topics and titles to the magazine’s cover art. We promise to guard your email address with the tenacity of a longhorn cow guarding her calf.
In addition to the cattle coverage this month, we have served up a diverse dose of summer sunshine. From Linda Shockley’s lovely retrospective on tree swings and Susan Belsinger’s recipes for refreshing summer treats to Tim Carter’s do-it-yourself brick barbecue and Mike Lang’s instructive piece on landscape design, this issue is bursting with information we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. We also celebrate our country’s independence with a couple of pieces that, though historical in one case and hysterical in another, point to the importance of food security (even today) and remind us all that growing our own food is a worthy pursuit. I know I got my garden in this year. Did you?
As always, our goals include feeding your dreams and celebrating the rural lifestyle right along with you. Please let me know how we are doing by emailing your comments and story ideas to Editor@Grit.com.
See you in September,
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper’s Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.