issue 123 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #123


Growing potatoes in hay

You’ll probably hear from a lot of people who do this—I’ve done it the past two years with varieties of red potatoes and Yukon Gold. I do it as described in the article (Issue No. 122)—lift up a glob of hay/straw, put the seed potato down, replace the hay/straw, move on. No dirt. The potatoes are beautiful, very few or no potato beetles I think because the straw/hay is unpleasant or confuses them.

This is a very old gardening method documented by Ruth Stout in the 1970s. At that time she had been doing it for 15-20 years. Ruth wrote several books about no work gardening and the year-round mulch method of growing vegetables that a lot of us use now.

Last fall voles moved onto my land and the group living next to my potatoes growing under hay/straw damaged or ate quite a few.

This year I will try two methods to keep my potatoes intact: some will go in the potato growing bags sold by Gardener’s Supply, and some will be grown using another very old time idea to keep critters away from them — growing them on top of straw/hay bales.

You put several bales side by side, put a little dirt on top, put the seed potatoes on, and cover them as usual with hay/straw, adding more to keep the potatoes covered as they grow. Temporary fencing can be put around the bales to hold the hay/straw on if you live in a windy area. I’m not sure the dirt is necessary or what purpose it serves but will use it. You don’t have to bend over to harvest potatoes grown this way. The method uses up moldy hay/straw, and the growing method makes harvesting handicap accessible or barrier-free, if you prefer that term, ideal for the mobility limited self-reliant person.

Don’t know about yields. This will be my first year with that method, but I’ve read that they do just fine.

If you are ever interested in publishing articles about alternative vegetable growing methods used by organic gardeners, you might want to read up on what Ruth Stout and Lee Poisson did. Another good information source on self-sufficient living is John Seymour. All these folks are dead now, but their research and ideas still work just fine. I use them all as idea resources.

D. Heft
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Hydraulic ram pumps

Could you do an article on water or hydraulic rams?

Rick Pettit
Woodland, Washington

We had an article about a hydraulic ram water pump in Issue No. 4, now available in our Best of the First Two Years anthology. — Dave

Furniture from crates

I’m a 60 yr. old disabled Vietnam era veteran and from 1984 to about 1999 I used to go to window plants around my hometown and get long large crates that the glass windows came to the plants on, and they had so many crates that they would give them away to everyone who would haul them off. Well, I would tear them apart and build picnic tables all summer and sell them as fast as I could get them built. Most were 4 & 5 footer long and I also built children’s tables, real low & about 38 inches long. Then any excess I got I would cut up large piles of kindling in which I used and also sold pick-up loads in winter. I loved it and made anywhere from 3 to 4 thousand a year doing this. I could have made more if I’d had some help. People buy picnic tables even when times are hard. You might want to run a story on this some time.

M.H. Deatherage
Collinsville, Virginia

I think your letter tells the story pretty well. — Dave

Use vinegar to wash eggs

When I was overseas I met an American woman who told me she ran a chicken operation at one time back in the States.

If you take a clean cloth, soak it in pure vinegar, squeeze all excess moisture from the cloth & then wipe all the goo & dirt off the egg, the egg will be sanitary & will not spoil.

I used this method when I started growing chickens. It works.

Mary Wood
Brookneal, Virginia

Poor eyesight forces me to cancel my subscription

I regret I’m not able to renew my Backwoods Home Magazine subscription. My eyesight is so poor my “reading” program is almost nil. I’m 4 issues behind as it stands now.

And soon, I’ll be moving to San Diego to be closer to one of my sons.

The aging process has not been kind to me.

I hope you continue with your work in the publishing world. I especially enjoyed your editorials & admire your philosophy in life.

The way I look at this new era; I survived the Great Depression, the Black Blizzards of W. Kansas, the poverty of my early years, and whatever this new era throws at me. I’ll survive and keep my pride, love of country, and refusal to fall into the trap of accepting any “free” gov’t give-a-ways.

My Great Grandfather brought my family to Kansas via Ellis Island, 1864, a Dutch Mennonite group. I’m proud of my heritage: Hard work, self-reliance, refusal to bear arms & kill my fellowman, but most of all, refusal to depend on Gov’t aid. I’d starve first.

As a whole, I think Americans are the most selfish, greedy, wasteful people on Planet Earth. I personally do not buy anything I can’t “afford,” or pay cash for. And I buy my own health insurance, thank you!

Norma Crawford
Huntington, Oregon

BHM best of hundreds

I work in a bookstore so I get to see literally hundreds of magazines each month—and yours is the one I read first, as soon as it comes out.

Also, (too) many of the magazines are so called “beauty” magazines—but to me someone like Jackie Clay is an example of true beauty because she is 1. a “do-er”, 2. actively living her dream life, and 3. continually learning and sharing her knowledge.

Linda Neukrug
Walnut Creek, California

BHM comes through

We have ceased subscriptions to several publications we found either hit-or-miss or totally failing to provide information we need. Not so “Backwoods Home.” You come through article-after-article, issue-after-issue. In fact, your magazine very much encouraged us to find our own backwoods home where we grow heirloom tomatoes, peppers and herbs. What we don’t sell just goes into our home larder to feed us in healthy, tasty ways.

We love Jackie Clay. Please tell her we say, “Miigwech.”

Gary & Janet Smith
Ashland, Alabama

Duffy/Silveira for President

I have read your magazine for some time now and can’t find a dam thing wrong with it. Don’t ever quit writing it. It’s good, it’s honest and to the point on pretty much everything you write about as far as your how to stuff—the recipes, the firearms and how good it is to be an American. It also reminds me that we should share with others less fortunate. My work is slow but I have several things going to sustain me. You can’t hardly work one thing nowadays to support yourselves let alone save for retirement. Having said that I would like to pay for a certain person that I never met but read his letter in your open forum. Please don’t mention his name if you should publish this cause I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone! Your magazine reaches people, it touches people, and it is GOLDEN!…

P.S. Dave Duffy or John Silveira for President. L.O.L. You guys rock!

Steven Ballas
Federalsburg, Maryland

Love living in the woods

Thanks for such a Great magazine! I haven’t received an issue yet that I haven’t learned something! We love living “in the sticks,” and your many tips makes it a lot easier!

Paul & Laura Smith
Oakland, Illinois

BHM is a silver dollar among federal reserve notes

I am a fairly new subscriber. Although I’ve only received a handful of issues so far, I am already a firm believer in the value of your magazine and will continue to be a subscriber as long as BHM is offered and finances allow. My husband and I are slowly working toward a self-sufficient lifestyle, and I have learned so much about various skills and topics through your publications. I look forward to each issue of BHM and devour the articles, cover to cover.

Your Jan/Feb 2010 issue was exceptional. One article in particular provided me with some very useful and applicable information—Mr. Ayoob’s article on women and guns. I have been shooting for several years and have always had decent accuracy. However, after applying Mr. Ayoob’s strategies, especially the forward stance, I saw dramatic and immediate improvement. Although at 5’9″ I am not petite in stature, this simple adjustment has made a world of difference. Not only did my speed and accuracy improve immediately, but my comfort and confidence are much greater as well. I now feel competent and “in control” of my firearm, rather than nervous, and almost fearful when firing. I feel so much more equipped, physically and mentally, to protect myself and my children, though I pray I’ll never need to! So, thank you, Mr. Ayoob!

I cannot begin to thank you ALL enough! I have learned so much from Jackie Clay’s articles and greatly enjoy reading about Last Chance Gulch, Eric’s house, growing and foraging for food, raising animals, and everything else you offer! John Silveira’s opinions and observations about the state of our nation are quite astute, and I find myself nodding in agreement quite often as I read his articles. If only more people in our country would have a desire for self-sufficiency, we’d all be better off. Thank you so much for all the work you do to put out this excellent publication. BHM is a silver dollar among Federal Reserve notes!

Kristie B. Grier
Myerstown, Pennsylvania

I preserve BHM in binders

I received a complimentary copy of your FIRST ISSUE, probably by your finding my name in a classified ad I had placed in a related magazine. I subscribed at once, and have so much valued your magazine over the years. I HAVE EVERY ISSUE, preserved in binders, and I intend to keep getting every one you continue to publish!

William Boughton
Weyerhaeuser, Wisconsin

You make us think

Renewing our subscription and ordering a book—great read, cover to cover. Don’t always agree with Dave, but we do appreciate different points of view, especially when they make us think (which is not happening with a lot of folk out there).

H. Doyle & Gay Cornell
Emmett, Idaho

Tired of right-wing drivel

No thanks, I have had enough of your right-wing drivel. Too bad you decided to alienate your readers who just wanted healthy living content.

Scott Norris
Broomfield, Colorado

Annie’s editorial inspiring

I have enclosed a check for a year subscription at $24.95. I have included an extra $20 for Dave Duffy’s Youth Golf Club. I don’t want anything for it. I just think it’s important to support good causes. I wish I could give you more.

Please tell Annie Tuttle that her Editor’s Note about building a better future by starting with your family and community was inspiring. It made me sit down and think about how lucky I am, especially here in Michigan. It also made me think about ways I could improve things with my own family and community. Thanks for a great, inspirational magazine.

Erick Hoscila
Eastpointe, Michigan

Remembering old ways

You have a great magazine. I wish I could keep getting it, but I’m retired now and have no extra money. At age 80 I see so many things in the stories where I can say “Been there, done that.”

There is so much that is forgotten today. Like preserving eggs in [waterglass]. It was mentioned in one of your articles (11th Year Anthology) and I can show people now that it is a true way eggs were kept in the old days.

So much of what you publish brings back the old time ways. Keep up your good work to reach the next generation.

Dave Swenson
Cincinnati, Ohio

I noted in the accompanying old news article you sent me that you were a battlefield medic in Korea, twice wounded, and awarded the Bronze Star. I think that earns you a complimentary subscription for at least three years. When that runs out, call me and I’ll extend it another three. Thanks for your service to the country. — Dave

Watched Annie grow up

Annie, I live about 50 road miles from the Twenty Nine Palms Marine Base, and have since 1986. I have most of the issues of BHM, most of the print and most of the CD anthologies, and some of the books. I’ve watched you grow up since grade school, living with your father. Thank you for your part in making BHM such a good magazine.

David Brown
Desert Hot Springs, California

I enjoyed living in Twentynine Palms for the five years my husband was stationed there, but the heat was something else. It’s great to have readers like you who knew me growing up through the magazine. I had the best possible preparation to become BHM’s managing editor. — Annie

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