In case your notice went awry, the February Backwoods Home Magazine newsletter is now online.
In this issue, along with some interesting announcements and a special prayer request, we have tips about what to do in February and March in the garden, an even dozen recipes that take advantage of storage food, and a few chuckles.
The website is getting a bit overwhelmed with email asking us questions. The only writers we have to answer questions are Jackie Clay at her blog and Jeff Yago on his Get Powered Up energy section on the Home Page. These two can only handle so many questions in their fields of expertise because they too have their own lives and jobs. If you’ve asked a question about a particular subject or have asked for more info about a topic contained in a past article, and you haven’t gotten an answer, it’s probably because we don’t have anyone available to answer it.
Sometimes I’ve responded to individual emails and explained that the author of a particular article is not here to answer his or her question. But I’ve fallen behind on this, and it seemed kind of pointless anyway. We are a small magazine with lots of work to do to get each issue out. We don’t have the time to elaborate on what has been written in the past, and we don’t have the time to locate, then contact the writers of the articles, most of whom want to be paid for their services anyway. We paid them to write the articles, so they would expect to be paid to do any more work. This website is free, and we have no money to pay people to answer questions.
So I guess readers will just have to use the articles published on the website as a starting point, then do some research on our site or other sites if they want additional information.
I also have several email queries from writers about previous submissions. We’ll get back to you pretty soon. I’ve been kind of sidetracked with the upcoming special issue, which requires a lot more work than a regular issue.
I’m also deleting both blog posts of Feb. 26, as they refer to a post that has already been deleted so it seems pointless to keep these. I think the subject of these posts will be pleased with these final deletions.
Ever read the Odyssey by Homer? Marvelous epic poem (but a bit long at about 500 pages) of the travels and travails of Odysseus as he sails home to Greece after being victorious in the Trojan War. My son, Jake, a junior at Gold Beach High School, is reading it as part of an Honors English class.
It is one of the great adventure stories of all time. The last two nights, my wife, who still reads to the kids almost every night even though they are aged 16, 14, and 12, read them Edith Hamilton’s 26-page summary of the Odyssey from her 1942 book, Mythology. I listened too because it has been so many years since I read it.
Few kids nowadays read great ancient literature like this. Of course, as with Shakespeare, it helps to have a teacher to help you understand it. GBHS happens to have an enlightened teacher, Alan Lee, who understands the importance of exposing his students to the great literary works of the past.
I assume someone has made a movie of the Odyssey, just as they did of Homer’s other great work, the Iliad (the Trojan War), but I don’t know since I’m not much of a movie goer. But it is much more important to read the book itself, for only then can you get a feel for the complexity of an ancient society. The real world and the world of gods were seamless in those days, just as they were in most ancient cultures. People passed from one into the other, then back again, on a regular basis. There are so many gods named in the Odyssey you can barely keep track of them. But once you are finished reading the book, you have an appreciation of a great civilization (the foundation of Western civilization) with its heroes and villains. It gives you an understanding into who we are today with our distant modern culture. Great literature essentially allows you to time travel into our past.
The Odyssey is only one of many books Mr. Lee has required Jake to read. He keeps me rushing to my own bookshelf looking for old copies of Rand and Steinbeck and Fitzgerald. I try and expound on the history and philosophical principles behind the books. Until Mr. Lee, Jake, like so many kids today, has concentrated his reading on fantasy, such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the Redwall series of novels (Jake has read 19 of them) by Brian Jacques. I’m not sure how valuable that is. It’s entertaining for sure. But what about history and ideas? Isn’t that how we learn to proceed into the future?
I have a fondness for Greek and Roman mythology. Lenie will begin reading Edith Hamilton’s entire Mythology book to the boys tonight. Hamilton had the ability to condense the ancient stories down, adding her own explanations, so the stories are easier for we moderns to understand. Hamilton herself has been dead for 45 years, her book is 65 years old, but her book’s treatment of ancient Greek and Roman myths is probably still the best ever written. I highly recommend you read it to your own children. There are copies of the book all over the internet for as little as a few cents.
Here’s my take on the Presidential race so far. It’s nonpartisan; I don’t like any of the frontrunners.
If Obama is the Democratic candidate, the Democrats will win big. Conservatives will stay home. They don’t like McCain, and eight years of their man, Bush, overspending has disheartened them.
If Hillary is the Democratic candidate, the Democrats will still win, but only by a little. Many conservatives will come out just to vote against her, but it won’t be enough. Bush has really succeeded in crushing their spirit, plus Libertarians, who have totally given up on the Republican Party, will vote for a third-party candidate.
Here’s the only combination of factors that could defeat the Democrats: Hillary is the candidate and
1) She has stolen the nomination from Obama through superdelegates, or by getting state delegates that have already been discounted by the DNC to be counted in her favor, or by any other means perceived underhanded by voters. Blacks and independents will feel cheated, and they will rebel against it by voting for McCain, who is not that far to the right of Hillary.
2) The New York Times and other major media outlets continue to attack McCain with political hit pieces. That will cause conservatives to rally around McCain in a big way because they hate the NY Times and left wing media far more than they are dissatisfied with McCain.
3) Hillary continues to turn off male voters. This is a dynamic that no one will talk much about, but it’s obvious most men don’t like her. Let’s call it the Bitch Factor, but Hillary has a smug look that reminds a lot of men of someone they’d rather forget.
4) The Dems talk about gun control too soon, as in before the election. This will set off alarms in the heads of one-issue voters who regard the Second Amendment as the most important amendment, and they will go to the polls to vote against gun control.
The Democrats can avoid a lot of headaches by just nominating Obama. They’ll win the Presidency and Congress in a landslide. Blame yourself, Republican Party. You forsook conservative and libertarian principles for too long, and now you will pay the price.
Chickens are kind of dumb. If they weren’t protected by humans through domestication, I think they might become extinct in a few years. But I really like them, and not just because our chickens have given us a steady supply of healthy eggs for years. Chickens are just fun. They are not only friendly and like to follow you around, but they do all sorts of weird things just like other pets do.
This time of year our chickens free-range, but they are so used to interacting with my family, dog, and cats that they poke their noses into everything, including our house. A few days ago I chased a Barred Rock out of our kitchen after I caught it eating a plate of leftovers it had knocked off a countertop. This afternoon I found one nesting in a box of screws in the garage. I had opened the garage door in the morning because the temperature had climbed to 60 degrees.
Unfortunately, while I went to fetch my son, Jake, to show him where this dumb chicken was nesting, he had jumped out of the box of screws and broken both eggs. Maybe I was dumb! I should have grabbed the eggs first.
We have a lot of big trees in my area of Oregon. My three sons play in them often, sometimes alarming Mom with how high up they can climb. I wandered the woods with my youngest son, Sam, for a couple of hours yesterday and got a lesson in the various names they have given different parts of the forest, mostly names borrowed from the movie, Lord of the Rings. The backwoods is really a wonderful place for kids.
Work continues on the May/June 2008 (No. 111) issue. As much as I try to maintain a calm demeanor as I engineer it, my enthusiasm is being transmitted to the writers and editors. There is something special in the wind. They know it and I know it. The mix of articles is about right. The theme, which will remain secret, is perfect. This is going to be a great issue. I predict it will sell out immediately on the newsstands, and our subscribers will buy up the extra 10,000 or so copies we’ll print as gifts for friends and relatives. This is when it’s a lot of fun to be running BHM. You can transform great ideas into nuts and bolts.
We’ve sponsored two subscription contests recently on internet forums.
In the most recent, on the Alaska Cabins and Remote Living thread of the Alaska Outdoors Forums, we gave away six one-year subscriptions to the magazine.
Recently we sponsored a similar contest on the Homesteading Today Forum, on their thread, Homesteading Questions.
Sponsoring these forum threads and holding the contests have been great opportunities for BHM. Even I am surprised at just how popular BHM has become. We’ll continue sponsoring these threads, as well as look for other threads to sponsor on other forums.
Nelson Martin of Columbia, Missouri, sent me this message:
“Check out the poll on the home page of www.strike-the-root.com, on what is their readers’ favorite libertarian magazine!"
Wow! Backwoods Home Magazine is winning the poll. Goes to show what “living by example” can do. I don’t think of BHM as a Libertarian magazine, but as a Homesteading magazine, even though other Homesteading magazines would not ever entertain the thought of writing Libertarian commentaries.
BHM is more the embodiment of Libertarian ideas. Ninety-eight percent of the content has to do with taking care of yourself and your family by doing things around the homestead. You’ll never find a “government solution” in BHM. John Silveira and I comprise the only Libertarian commentary, with his Last Word column and my My View column. These columns are more valuable, I think, surrounded by articles that shows people living their lives by taking care of themselves, whether it involves building their own home or canning their own food.
Most readers of BHM do not consider themselves Libertarian, and probably pretty much ignore politics. But they tend to live their lives as we Libertarians wish everybody would — by taking care of their own needs and by minding their own business, not the business of others.
I expect the dawning American recession, coupled with a Hillary, Obama, or McCain in the White House, will make BHM more popular than ever as people retreat into their own world hoping to escape the heavier hand of Government.
Two of my sons and I are recovering from winter cold viruses. Sam missed four days of school, Jake two, and I’m just kind of moseying along with a milder version of whatever they have. We got a nice break in the rain today with 60-degree sunny weather, so we all went outside for some vitamin D.
Then we set off the brush pile with some diesel fuel. It was so wet it took a bit, but it lit. They love our annual burn. Our brush pile has been in the same place for 10 years, and this year it was huge due to the big storm we had two months ago. Burned all day and has plenty of coals as I write this post just past midnight.
The rivers are expected to rise as the snow in the mountains melts. We had a beautiful sunset again. Great place to live. I love it here. Maybe I’ll fish tomorrow if the ocean is calm. Maybe even go upriver to visit Franz Shindler.