issue 117 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #117


How to you make a living when the economy is bad?

I would like to challenge you to come up with some articles on what to do when there’s no work and your unemployment runs out. What to do, where do you turn to for help. Michigan has the highest unemployment in the nation and things are getting worse. Even the food banks are running low. There’s some help from the churches but they like helping families with small children.

I would also like to see more do it yourself projects on homemade energy saving devices.

Here 69% of the people polled think we’re going to be in a depression. I am in my upper 50s and I hope they’re not right, but here it really feels like it. This may be my last subscription for a long while due to lack of full-time work.

Richard Rahn
Bay City , Michigan

We’ve taken up your challenge on jobs in this issue, but we’ve done it from our small town perspective of creating your own job in a down economy. " Annie

Thanks for the subscription

Please thank whomever donated the BHM subscription for me. I truly appreciate this! I only wish they were close enough for me to share what I grow with them. There’s always a chicken, duck or brace of pigeons and usually some eggs and vegetables to share " something that I always take pleasure in doing!

The only “money” charities I can and do support any time I can are VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America). The Vets are special people to me as our family has had someone in WWI, WWII, ‘Nam and now Iraq. One grandniece got back ok last year, now her younger sister is over there. I’m proud of this youngest generation of the family, but of course concerned that they and all vets have the help needed if they come home hurt in some way!

R.A. Kosek
Morgan, Minnesota

Pearls of wisdom

…I read BHM from cover to cover starting with Dave Duffy’s & John Silveira’s articles 1st then the letters from all your readers. It helps me keep my sanity in a world that is so upside down now. It brings back memories and stories of my grandparents, the lessons I learned from them. I find myself wishing I could thank them in person. They lived through and survived the Great Depression.

Thank you for keeping their memories and lessons alive for all of us in these troubled times. Like them, I feel all of you are our guardian angels. Thank you again for all those precious pearls of wisdom & lessons…always keep them coming.

Bonnie Oates
Vancouver, Washington

Don’t litter

If you with litter will disgrace
and spoil the beauty of this place
May indigestion wrack your chest
and ants invade your pants and vest

Leb Hatfield
Ruffsdale, Pennsylvania

Well put. Quite profound! Don’t throw this magazine on the ground. " Annie

Beans & rice is “love” food

I love the article you wrote on beans and rice. This may be considered as poor folks food, but my mama raised six kids on her garden and rice and beans. We did not go hungry for food or Love. Therefore I consider it as a Love food. I hope lots of people do.

Judy Cope
Marion, Virginia

Congrats to Annie; keep Dave and John working

Congratulations to Annie Tuttle, your new managing editor, for producing what I consider one of your best issues with Jan/Feb #115.

I really enjoyed all of the articles, most of all the one by Mr. Richard Blunt on gourmet nutrition with beans and rice. I think I learned more about those two food groups from this one article than in my entire lifetime elsewhere and we have over 150 cookbooks on the shelves of our studio here at Daffodil Hill.

. . . John Silveira, don’t you let Dave get spoiled now that Annie is doing all the work! We need you two to stay after these government “programs” that are coming soon. The quality of material in Backwoods Home cannot be found anywhere else. All the folks, staff and contributors are the absolute best.

H.G. Hamilton
Opelika, Alabama

Now that I’m doing all the work, I’ll make sure John and Dad keep their noses to the grindstone watching over our expanding Government. " Annie

Pumpkin chocolate bread

I perused your latest issue #116 and was thrilled to see the recipe for banana chocolate bread. I tried it out (sort of) with a variation on your theme. You see, my husband and I planted pumpkins last summer and I’ve been trying all sorts of ways to use pumpkin in recipes and your recipe tripped my trigger. Our pumpkins are deteriorating fast now and I figured bananas are a similar consistency to cooked pumpkin and they’re a bit sweet and really loaded in vitamin A so what the heck, give it a whirl. Of course I had to lick the spoon and bowl and test it out first (I know, there are raw eggs but I’m a bit daring) and it passed the taste test. Now it’s baking in the oven and the house is smelling wonderfully nice. I doubled your recipe and put it in a bundt pan and baked it for an hour. Yum yum! Another winner thanks to you and some innovation from a fellow BHM fan! Thanks for a terrific way of life!

Ingrid Olson
Platteville, Wisconsin

Advice on burying things

A few tips on caching (Bury a gun article in Issue No. 115) things from my experience. Use a cleanout fitting instead of glue on cap for one end. Coat the threaded plug with non-harding pipe dope. Now you can open it with two sticks if needed to and reuse it.

I like to use the property survey stake to locate my burying point. Form a square with the property line at the stake. Bury three feet back centered between the lines. Keep the top 3 foot down and put as many metal objects in the deep end as you can. To find it I have a four foot 3/8 metal rod painted with a handle on the top to probe with.

One last thing. You would be stunned to find out how long antibiotics and pain killers will last in inert nitrogen gas with no exposure to light or heat. I have used 40-year old sulfa powder. It worked like fresh. Lastly, an unscented maxi pad and a bandage will soak up a lot till you can get help.

Robert Cox
Pampa, Texas

Y2K was interesting but today is frightening

Y2K was interesting " today’s events are frightening " when economic/social events reach a certain point " really bad things could happen " If our idiot Congress could think about anything other than ideology (Partizen Politics) we might come out of this bruised but not broken " I don’t hold out that much hope that that will be the outcome.

Jim Schmautz
Lolo, Montana

Bailout article by Silveira good explanation of crisis

Due to poor cash flow I put off renewing my subscription. I have not missed an issue, buying them at Border’s Books in Hyannis.

John Silveira’s writing on the meltdown & bailout (Jan/Feb 2009) is a great explanation on what is happening to our economy.

John Hassay
South Dennis, Massachusetts

There are a lot of us

We have enjoyed your magazine for many years. We have shared your wonderful articles with many friends. It has been so many years that I do not remember how we found you. As a home schooling mom of 10 children, we are just grateful that we did. In these unbelievably difficult times ahead we are appreciative of all the knowledge and lessons that we find in your pages. Please tell everyone there that there is hope. There are a lot of us. We are not on the news but we are many and we are people who pray. We will continue to do so in the upcoming years.

Sara Gray
Polk City, Florida

The kids want BHM part of homeschool curriculum

My husband & I read your magazine, but now our 11- and 13-year old kids devour it, and have been doing so for several years now. They want BHM to be part of our curriculum (if not the “Whole Sheebang”).

Charles & Madelaine Weigel
Arena, Wisconsin

We’re on our way

About 4 years ago I wrote expressing our financial situation (dismal), and our dream to get back to “Backwoods Home” living. You encouraged us, and so did some readers. We will always appreciate that.

Last year we grew out and sold 5000 heirloom plants in our basement and sold them at farmers’ markets and through mail orders. That did NOT provide the funds to achieve our dream, but it did pay some bills and we also were able to can or freeze a lot of our own vegetables.

Last September we bit the bullet and picked up a decent “fixer-upper” in rural Alabama.

Our freezer has venison and squirrel. Our fields are plowed and ready for 2009. We will be offering even more heirloom plants, grown without chemicals as more and more people are eager to grow their own gardens with the plants that taste “like we remember.”

Gary and Janet Smith
Ashland, Alabama

Finding unglazed tile

A couple questions: Where can I find unglazed tile for the bottom of my Dutch oven, have tried all local places and a large baking supply in Erie, PA. No luck. Also in Issue 115 Jackie’s recipe for Salt rising bread " it states work in more flour and knead for about 20 minutes. Is this correct? Seems like a long kneading process.

Joel Price
Lewis Run, Pennsylvania

You can get unglazed quarry tiles at Home Depot. They come in 6×6 or 12×12. They need to be ½-inch thick. And 20 minutes is correct for kneading. " Annie

Using the garden fence to supplement a small garden

Dorothy, I enjoyed your article on Garden Spaces for Small Places (Issue No. 116). I have always had a small garden " basically it’s just one big raised bed. What I did to maximize my output was to also use the fence that I had around it. I placed a 3 foot chicken wire fence all around the bed and along one side. I planted cucumbers, and the other side storing beans. So these would grow up on the fence itself and not take up any inside garden space. It’s great because you can just walk along the outside of the fence and pick everything. The cukes and string beans grow and hang nice and straight off the fence.

Jim Bougioukos
Boston, Massachusetts

Thanks for military sub.

A little over a year ago a friend requested a free military subscription for us. Times were tight but looking up and that subscription really helped us feel connected with like-minded folks. We’ve since come further along and renewed on the 3-for-2 special " love the new chicken book! Now we’d like to contribute to your military subscription fund in the hope of helping out another service member & family. Enclosed please find a check for a year’s subscription " put it in the kitty for the next folks in line.

Melonie K. Hankins
APO, AP

Wonderful! We’ve put your check back in the kitty. Thanks. " Annie

Missed Backwoods Home so we’re back as subscribers

My wife and I had been long time subscribers to BHM; a couple of years ago my company started cutting back on my hours and we just had so much coming in and not enough to go out so we had to let our subscription slide. Now, two years later we still don’t have as much coming in but we sure have missed our friends at BHM! Jackie and Dave and all the others have been missed in our home. This year, no matter what we decided to get all caught up again. We are ordering the 13th and 14th year anthologies as well as restarting our subscription. I guess in a manner of speaking you can come home again, because we are there with BHM! Thanks to you guys for your steadfastness. God bless.

Rob and Marg Smith
Garfield, Arkansas

BHM is the real deal

…your magazine is more relevant than ever. I have been living off grid, in a backwoods home for 20 years. Your magazine seems to be written by the real deal. Not by Green-freak-pantie-wearin wanta-bees like the other magazine that I won’t be renewing. Thanks for being real.

Tim DeLair
Edgewood, New Mexico

Here’s a recipe for making choco/vanilla pudding

Our local library here in Delavan, WI furnishes our small neighborhood with copies of your magazine. I look forward to every issue.

It was written up in your Jan/Feb 2009 issue that making one’s own pudding from scratch was relatively easy. I have been doing just that for many years. It omits the harsh chemicals that are included in the store-bought varieties; the taste is excellent. Below I have listed my simple ingredients for a choco/vanilla pudding, which I hope your readers will try:

1 cup milk
1-2 tsp. granulated sugar
1½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa – omit for vanilla pudding
1 tsp. vanilla

Looking forward to your next issue.

Gertrude Kaemmerer
Delavan, Wisconsin

Global warming opinion was a grand slam homer

I was recently gifted (by a friend) with a subscription to your magazine. Similarly, I received a gift from my (liberal) Mom to another back-to-the-basics magazine with the acronym M.E.N. I have read a couple of issues of both and wanted to commend you on a job well done. Frankly, if it was not a gift from my mother, I would cancel my subscription to the ever so liberal “mother”…incidentally, not my mother. The deciding factor was Dave Duffy’s “My view” in the March/April 2009 issue. As a degreed (not armchair) ecologist, I applaud a scientific discussion of the supposed global warming/climate change issue as opposed to the litany of politicians espousing their vested and hypocritical opinions.

When I see the multi-trillion dollar global impact on international food prices caused by the recent push for ethanol, I shudder to think what will happen to global natural gas and other commodity prices if we continue down this misguided and corrupt path to CO2 cap & trade. It is also the height of hypocrisy for the elitist liberal community (political, social and Hollywood) to be spouting concern about the plight of the down-trodden world-wide when cap and trade will most drastically and directly impact the global poor"as was the case with ethanol. And to think that all of this nonsense is based entirely on the false assumption that anthropogenic CO2 liberation is the root cause of “global warming.” Anyway, thank you for allowing me to vent, and again, Mr. Duffy hit a grand slam with that one!

Mark Vanoni
Divide, Colorado

Your column “My View” is the first thing I read in every issue. I really have to commend you on your position on global warming (Issue #116).

My husband has done a lot of research on this subject and has also concluded that global warming is just a reoccurring phase. It is not man made as most people think. It’s just used for political purposes. But boy! Try telling people this and you stir up a lot of anger. It is not the popular position.

So while I usually keep quiet on the subject my husband just can’t seem to help himself, and often lands himself in hot water. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you get mail on this subject. Thanks for a great column!

Christine Gavitt
Thorndike, Maine

Practical skills are key to self-reliance

About 18 months ago I ran across your magazine. It has helped me tremendously in doing things I wanted to do but didn’t always know how to do. The most relevant and best example is Jackie Clay’s column and her articles. Reading her informative column made me realize that I could be doing more canning, using a pressure canner. Learning to pressure can has made such a huge difference in my food planning and storage that it is almost impossible to explain to others, although I certainly try.

I learned to make jelly when I was in the seventh grade in a Home Economics class. The impact on me was tremendous! I had no idea that it was possible to make my own jelly! Around the same time some friends of my parents made a long visit to us and the woman actually made her own bread! Another revelation: I could make my own bread! Please understand that my parents grew up in large cities and they bought all their food and bread. I know nothing else up to that point and really hadn’t thought much about it. When I left home and established my own household, especially during the years I was a single mom with two children, I made my own bread, plus things like unsweetened applesauce, jellies, jams and most things that could be canned in a boiling water bath canner. My experience was that my children were very healthy, ate more vegetables and fruits than most of their contemporaries and appreciated (even to this day) eating minimally processed foods. Additionally, I never had to spend money on “extras,” money I didn’t have anyway.

Because my husband basically grew up on a farm, I have been fortunate in the last few years to be able to grow most of our vegetables and a lot of our fruits for storage. Last year my husband enlarged our garden, which is all raised beds, to 24 up from about 6. We are having a terrific time planning this year’s crops. I believe that many people are making an effort to stop buying non-foods and getting back to the basics, which may be an economic decision for most but can only help defeat the centralization of the US’s food production, which (duh) has led to some pretty scary recalls and food scares in the last two years.

So this brings me back to your magazine. Unlike some other magazines I have gotten in the past, your magazine is practical. It teaches us that we can be self-sufficient in today’s world of “experts.” We don’t have to be sheep!

J. Sloan
Spokane, Washington

Looking forward to getting back to the mountains

Years ago, bought the first issue off the newsstand and continued for many years to do so, using so many of the articles to guide me towards a more self-sufficient existence. Life changed, we moved to another state and different lifestyle, lost my husband. Now, remarried, retiring from “work” and looking forward to going back to the mountains (didn’t sell the property all those years ago) I haven’t been able to find your magazine on the newsstands. However, I found you online and here I am. It’s like returning to an old friend, so many of you are still there, except Mac. Hopefully he’s ok, maybe just got too busy. My new husband has yet to read your magazine. I’m looking forward to introducing him to one of my favorite things.

Toni Woods
Hillsboro, Oregon

Mac is back in this issue, on page 31. And he is already lined up for next issue. Welcome back. " Annie

Stew all over the ceiling

I get excited when (BHM) arrives in the mail and I can’t wait until I read it from cover to cover.

I especially am in awe of Jackie Clay. This woman is a dynamo. Her articles help me revisit my childhood days in Canada where I experienced my mother gardening, canning, cooking, and sewing. All practical skills which I am trying to reinvent for myself while having the pleasure of living in the country in Oklahoma. At some point, I want to follow her advice and muster the courage to use my brand new pressure canner. Stories I’ve heard over the years of stew all over the ceiling give me the jitters.

Each issue of BHM stimulates my imagination to try something else to save energy and economize. I know I am just on the fringes of reliant living with all my modern appliances, but as I bring in wood for the fireplace, or admire my shelf of colorful jars of fruits and pickles, or come up with still another contraption for building my own solar oven, I wax nostalgic and admire those of you who do so much more to have true independence.

Thank you for keeping my dream alive, and in my seventies, giving me a more pragmatic respect for this great earth.

Norma Gage
Mead, Oklahoma

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