The corn stands 5 feet tall, the temperatures are in the 90s and Johnny Byler got hooked on his head while fishing with a friend, reported Mrs. Jerry Ray Byler in a recent front-page article of the Budget.
Mrs. Byler is one of about 860 correspondents for the Budget, a 123-year-old weekly newspaper, which carries the news of Amish and Mennonite communities, from Diagonal, Iowa to the three Minnesota outposts of Bertha, Clarissa and Lenora. They write about who got married, who went to church, who received dentures—and how 11 chickens went missing when Toby Schrocks of Cisne, Ill., forgot to close the chicken-house door.
Budget Correspondent Paul Troyers in Genesee, Pa., reported that family members held an auction with good results. “The medium-sized dinner bell that mom wanted to throw out brought $400,” he wrote.
While many newspapers are struggling and competing with the Internet, the Budget isn’t. Its 18,000 subscribers for the most part don’t text, email, have computers or smartphones. They use the Budget, which is mailed to their homes, to keep them informed, post notices or exchange helpful hints.
One woman had 400 pounds of beets, which she washed in her wringer washer. “It worked very well,” she reported. Others ask fellow readers to send get well cards to someone in the hospital or birthday wishes to an aging and lonely widow.
“It’s like someone talking over the back fence to a neighbor,” says Budget publisher Keith Rathbun. Mr. Rathbun, who isn’t Amish, covered sports and put out an alternative entertainment weekly before coming in 2000 to the Budget. The paper also includes a small section about goings-on in the village of Sugarcreek, such as high school sports and council news.
The Budget runs about 500 letters a week on 44 to 46 pages that contain no photos. It costs $45 a year; newlyweds pay $42.