issue 130 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #130


Back in the BHM family

I have missed Backwoods Home and am glad to be able to afford it again. I had a bad 2½ years, lost my job, went back to school at 56 to become an LPN and found a new job in my new profession. I picked up the magazine when I could find it, but not often enough. I think I actually went through a Jackie Clay withdrawal. I am glad to be back with the Backwoods Home family. Keep up the great job.

Linda Mueller
Pickett, Wisconsin

Some people lay down and quit when big trouble strikes; others, like you, just find a new path and keep going. You’re our kind of people, and we’re glad to have you back.

— Annie

LED lighting

I just finished reading the last article on L.E.D. lighting (Issues 127, 128, and 129).

I have been using LEDs for lighting since the ’90s. The first units were a tri-color affair imported from Germany. They consisted of six yellow LEDs, one green, and one blue enclosed inside a plastic housing that screws into a medium base light fixture. They effectively gave off a warm white light and are good for general illumination. I still use them for this purpose. However, they are not good for reading or writing.

My first true white LEDs were purchased from Hollywood Solar in ’99. They were about thirty dollars per unit at that time. Of the original three, two still function perfectly. These units also screw into a medium base light fixture.

I have purchased other white LED lighting fixtures from other manufacturers, at various prices, and all function reasonable well.

As I write this letter the pages are illuminated by white LEDs.

Over the time that I have used them, I have observed that the white LEDs decrease their light output over time. While I have none that have “burned out,” the most heavily used have “gone dim,” and have been replaced.

Employing “crude instrumentation” (an old photographic light meter and some inexpensive DMMs) I have determined that while the light output diminishes, over time, the power draw is about the same.

This is similar to gas discharge lamps like Xenon, sodium mercury, and even standard and compact fluorescent lamps. Fortunately, the LEDs’ power requirements are small.

Alex J. Nemeth
Rochester, New York

Project Appleseed

Thank you for your support of Project Appleseed. I have been with the program as an Instructor now for 4 years and believe it is one of the best things going for our country. I have traveled to 10 states now and have met the best people in the country at each and every one.

Ed Yeager
Bloomfield, Indiana

BHM keeps us grounded

Enclosed is our payment for another renewal of your wonderful magazine! We also subscribe to magazines such as yours, but yours is the best! It is a “red-letter” day at our home when it arrives!

We are in our late sixties and early seventies. As I write this note, my husband lies nearby awaiting release from the hospital in a couple of days. The sun is shining and northeast Mississippi is greening in the grass and trees. We’re dreaming of the time we can go home and begin work in our vegetable and flower gardens. This winter in northeast Mississippi has been one of the coldest and with the most snow on record.

Backwoods Home Magazine helps keep us grounded in our dream of simplifying and downsizing our lives. We yearn to live more as Jackie Clay and your other writers do. While we can afford all the trappings of urban life, it is not enough anymore.

How lucky Jackie’s neighbors are! We would love to be one of them! She has so much wisdom, experience, and knowledge to share. We have never met her but we know too she has the personality of one that is never boring to be around. Even my husband reads her articles first! We have traveled with her, though vicariously, over the last few years as she rebuilds her homestead. We also enjoy her canning book and the cookbook. They make wonderful gifts, too. Wishing you and your magazine much more success!

Robert and Marcelle Bethany
Tupelo, Mississippi

BHM worth the price

I have been with BHM since issue #3. The information I received from issue #126 has so far earned me $450. I have never received that kind of return on any mag I have ever received. Keep up the good work. Never let it be said BHM is not worth the price.

Steve Rudd
Aiken, South Carolina

I assume you’re referring to the gold and silver articles we ran in that issue. I, too, made money by following the advice in those articles.

— Dave

As a realtor, struggling with this economy, I almost let your subscription offer expire. After careful consideration, I’ve decided that you offer way more than the $25 renewal fee. Jackie’s awesome, Mr. Silveira always has a mind bending and refreshing outlook on our state of affairs, and the Duffys are just plain dedicated. Massad is a real patriot who only wants to keep us out of trouble. Thanks to all.

Bob Gildner
Ashley, Ohio

Just love your work, Jackie! Our group of friends have your last book to thank for our full canning season!

Plus we ladies have handgun & hunting licenses.

We pass this magazine around among 12 friends. Keep up the good work!

Anne Brewster
Perry, Maine

Lifetime subscription

I discovered BHM very late in your first year of publication. Along with many others, I sure wish I would have purchased a Lifetime Subscription.

During those early days, did I see the price at $125 or $150…or was that a Guinness-induced illusion???

Whatever it was, it was one of the great bargains of the century.

David Wallace Johnson
Superior Township, Michigan

I’m afraid it was a Guinness-induced illusion. We offered the Lifetime Subscription for $500 from 2000 to 2009. Our few hundred “lifers” are part of an elite club, now.

— Annie

Processing cattle

“Raising cattle on your own place” (Issue No. 85, 15th Year Anthology) was very informative — seems like each new article I read I get another nugget of information. What I can’t seem to find is how long to raise the cattle before processing them. Do you have a set amount of time?

Doug Rehmer
Troy, New Hampshire

There really isn’t a set time for deciding to butcher. Many people who get calves may not want to, or be able to, winter them over and decide to butcher them at 400-500 pounds in the fall. Their growth is affected by several factors, including: feed vs. grass-grazed, free range vs. feedlot, etc.

In our experience, we just let the calves grow by their mothers’ sides. Usually at about 500 pounds, I’d call the vet and we’d castrate the males. As I have written, the testes serve as natural ‘hormone implants’ and cause the young calf to develop the blocky, meaty structure desired in a beef. By castrating them at about that size, it prevents further ‘bully’ growth that might affect the texture and flavor of the meat.

Our cattle were pretty much solely grass-fed. Plenty of pasture in the summer and plenty of good hay in the winter comprised the majority of their diet. During the winter, I added a smattering of feed, a pound or so each day for each animal. That was partly to add some minerals and benefits of grain in the absence of fresh grass. Of course, I kept a mineral block available all the time.

Once the animals reached the 900 to 1000 pound range, we’d load them and take them over to the local processor. That was usually well into the second year. If you let them get up much past 1000 pounds, the cost-benefit ratio drops pretty quickly. The bigger they get, the more feed that gets converted to fat instead of meat, as well.

— Charles Sanders

Living at 8700 feet

Here’s my check for two more years of wonderful literature! For nearly five years, I’ve been devouring and applying lots of self-sufficiency ideas mentioned in your magazine and anthologies. I and my family live up in the mountainous “foothills” above Denver, CO. At 8700 feet, our home has lovely vistas, but a back yard (½ acre) that’s steep and rocky. What a challenge it’s been to garden up here! Most vegetables need protection from extreme temperature changes and hail throughout the short growing season. So, besides planting asparagus, rhubarb, and horseradish, we’ve carved out a small passive solar greenhouse on our steep slope (facing south, of course!) and directed water from our rain barrels above — gravity allows the water to flow downhill into the greenhouse soil.

Up above our front patio, the kids and I pick-axed steps to a flat area above our garage where we created our chicken “cab coop.” It’s a repainted used truck cab on metal bed frame runners. We lifted the cab onto 4 columns of cinder blocks, so there’s space underneath for totes of straw bedding, etc. (It also prevents moisture and rats and snakes from entering the hen house.) The back door lifts up to expose the egg area; there’s windows on both sides for light and ventilation, and the cab window in front opens during the day for the chickens to enter their outside coop. The coop is a large, completely secure area made out of 2×4 studs, screws, metal plates, and stapled securely with hardware cloth. I made a 5-foot high door to enter into the coop area with 2 different-type locks on the outside (raccoons are notorious for opening locks.)

The entire chicken complex is surrounded with a portable electric fence. I also hid the exposed coop views from the neighbors with a tall bamboo fence, boulders, and Russian sage. So far, it has successfully thwarted curious bears, foxes, raccoons, hounds, and hoodlums for two years — not one chicken has been lost! Now, if only the hens would keep producing eggs. Time for a new batch of chicks!

I’ve learned to pressure can meats and vegetables, bake bread, and rotate food storage, thanks to the awesome Jackie Clay and other contributors.

Taking hammer in hand, I built storage racks for canned goods. The oldest dated cans roll forward and stack from the back. It was inexpensive to build and they actually look attractive!

By now you’re probably convinced I’m bragging about all these neat projects my family has completed, but that wasn’t the intent. I’m honestly excited that such information is available to us BHM readers. It has made a difference in our lives in these crazy times.

Next year, I’m going to add a beehive above my chicken “cab coop.” It is already protected from predators by the electric fence, and is facing east above the stone wall planted with Russian sage. I’ve located a seasoned apiarist just down the road from me as a mentor. I can’t wait till next year! I’m also buying a gun and ammo — and by golly, I’m gonna learn how to use it!

Sharen Fisher
Conifer, Colorado

Defunding government

I am responding to the Editorial in the Mar/Apr 2011 Issue (Defunding government is a sensible voter solution … , Issue No. 128) . . .

The answer? Term limits, no matter how small the office. Limited time and exposure…and no time for making cushy deals that perpetrate becoming an “untouchable” in, or out, of office. The other would be pulling the teeth of the unions. Do we really need a public workers’ union? The city father, the county commissioners are all guilty of allowing this robbery to occur. It’s all about VOTES! Those officials don’t care what kind of taxpayer $ it takes to make the unions happy. After all, it’s not their money, but by giving in to union demands even to the point of helping the union’s planning the use of the taxpayer’s $, they get the union to VOTE them into yet another term in office. . .

And for the guy in South Carolina who said in “Letters” that he wouldn’t renew his subscription because of the “political” commentary…self-reliance comes in many forms, and making a stand against those who would want YOU to support THEM with your tax dollars, who would demand you support their pet projects, who would want to control your life, has to be a part of the plan to gain this self-reliant place in the world. . .

M. Claypool
Reno, Nevada

We love your magazine — and we especially appreciate the article on defunding local government. Here on the Mendicino coast we have similar problems. Dave Duffy for President.

The Beckingtons
Littleriver, California

Your concerns about the uncalled for actions of your police and the general disarray in your county is all too familiar.

The familiar part is that neither your city council nor your county commissioners have the guts to adjust the staffs and tasks to suit the reduced income. That takes real courage to face up to current income conditions and to furlough or lay off personnel so to be in bookkeeping balance. Am I to assume you don’t have those kind of politicians there in Gold Beach? If so, you have my sympathies.

Will D. Sinclair
Yates Center, Kansas

I’d like to add my two cents and expand on the dead-center-on-target My View (Issue No. 128) and the letter from konker of the United Kingdom on page 82 of the same issue.

In my 25-plus years of cold calling sales experiences from extensive traveling to, and talking with, a great many folks in the Metro NYC/Long Island area (total 12 million population); Boston, MA; Caribou/Presque Isle, ME; L.A., CA; Madison, WI; Dayton, OH; and Austin, TX; metro areas with which I’m very familiar with, all have an underlying commonality of agreement with both above. Talk about widespread.

Seems to me far too many Public Servants follow the credo “How to Serve Mankind” without realizing it’s a cookbook from a popular movie. The American taxpayer has been stretched to the limits of exhaustion (and financially broke) of “being served to death.” The very same is applicable to a great many local, county and/or state level Governments, except their taxpayers have only been told their Government has the sniffles but not the reality of being terminally ill. The Federal Big Gorilla is also terminally ill, but believes it has magical accounting (actually printing presses in the cellar) to save their derrieres — and you thought the “Too big to fail Wall Streeters” were creative in their accounting that ultimately led them into the abyss, taking a multitude of other “Too small to save ‘experts’ and naiveties” with them. And, as always, the taxpayers just keep on paying and paying. Time to empty out the secret cookie-jar, shoe-box and mattress reserve savings, ha ha.

Duffy and konker remind me of a quote I heard somewhere years ago, “Every Law passed is yet another Government-at-any-level opportunity to ‘legally’ squeeze even more money from its citizens and creates and/or enlarges the criminal class to diminish their credibility.” . . .

Dom Quattro
Astoria, New York

Congratulations Curry County! At last, “We the People” stood up and said NO to government. … on the sheriff tax levy you said no. This gave me hope. There are some people not willing to swallow the old “we’ll have to close schools and let violent criminals out” line the government uses every time they want more of our money.

Did anyone notice in the article how fast the government “official” said they may have to take money from another source? A source that may be illegal for them to use for the sheriff. That did not seem to bother the “official”— just an inconvenience? It seems our government from local to federal has become hooked on spending our money with abandon, and no sense of shame or responsibility. Unfortunately, I feel we have created this monster by continually sending the same people back every election cycle. Think about this, every cycle they put on their new suit, polish their shoes, come out and tell us how they hear us and they will change (I’m really tired of that word) and like always we send them back and here we go again. The only change we see is that they want more money, more control. America, when will we learn? When will “We the people” stand up and say no.

Not just no but HELL NO to out-of-control government spending and control? Are you not tired of living on less so that the government can live on more? Why is it that the government has to have multi-million dollar buildings to work from, why do they need the absolute best and latest of everything? Can we afford this kind of spending in our lives? …We all should start thinking like Curry County.

Glynn Griffith
Pensacola, Florida

I fondly recall my first exposure to Backwoods Home Magazine on the supermarket magazine stand in Jamestown, NY. Cover: The House that Dorothy Built! Mid-nineties? I stopped what I was doing and read the whole magazine at the store! “TMEN on Steroids,” the real deal. I own an 1860s farmhouse, timber framed, on two rustic wooded acres. I installed a 90-foot-deep well, and septic system, and nat. gas forced air furnace. I also have a spring-fed cistern 100 feet uphill, that gravity feeds the house 30 psi water pressure. A wood stove supplements the program. So I can laugh at power failures (ice storm — one week power loss last time). I’m in Chautauqua County where jobs are scarce (unless you’re a bureaucrat, doctor or lawyer. . .

…I like your idea of de-funding the irresponsible govt. I see the first thing they cut are services — then they raise fees (“no new taxes”) ha. The very last thing cut are the cushy bloated bureaucracy jobs with guaranteed cost of living annual raises and golden retirement pensions. . .

I’ll join Massad Ayoob — I’ve been a fan of his for years — “In the Gravest Extreme,” “Stressfire,” etc. I’m studying gunsmithing (American Gunsmithing Institute DVDS in Napa, California) but have no machine lathe or workshop. I’ve assembled AR-15s and DPMS ARIOS in various calibers. New York state doesn’t allow sales of 10 round + magazines or clips, like Jersey & Calif. Highest taxes in the nation, gasoline $4 a gallon, regulations designed to subjugate, micro-manage daily minutia to give some fat cat bureaucrat a job. Local, county, and state police compete to write petty traffic tickets at $150 a pop destined to generate revenue. Raising sales tax to 8¾%? Why not. How ’bout a “bed tax of $5 to $8 per nite for local hotels to soak the tourists? Done. Time to fleece the flock. At times I wish I could “Make like a sheep, and get the flock out of here” but I can’t afford to pack up and more. . .

Our local, state, and federal govts are blinded by their own self-absorbed prosperity, spending like drunken sailors, incapable of reducing spending or economizing. Any businessman or household has to tighten our belts and operate under an austerity budget. In Gold Beach, and my town, and down South, speed traps are set up. James Bond would invent car-mounted radar-seeking missiles — a few of these would have a chilling effect on the “GOTCHA” tactics of raising revenues! Ha! Betcha John Silveira could figure out how to do that. Talking on a cell phone without a seatbelt on is a double windfall for govt coffers around here. But they’re exempt from these laws. Each County Clerk in NY state has a profitable job perk of offering for sale to their political friends & family, special I.D. license plates by the thousands (CX-000 or 1H-000). These conspicuous plates exempt you by “identifying you as a special member of the country club in power. DWIs to parking tickets, you’re excused. Let’s try to run a freedom of information records check with Dept. of Motor Vehicles. But that would be denied and they would target you for harassment. You’d get pulled over without probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion, which supposedly they must have. Those calculator-sized Alkasensors they force/compel you to breathe into are deliberately calibrated to test positive for the slightest trace of alcohol on your breath. . .

The name of the corrupt game is revenue enhancement. Very profitable. It’s a bonanza. The blood alcohol content — BAC — went from 1.8% to 1.5 down to 0.8. . .

Who profits? Insurance companies, lawyers, courts, govts, judges, tow truck drivers, impound lots, alcohol counselors & classes, etc. It’s $1,000 to install the “car start breathalizer electronic box” on your car, after your year suspension/jail/court fine. Big business, indeed. The system is designed to snare you if you safely drive home from a restaurant dinner and one cocktail. . .

The fit is going to hit the shan, globally speaking. Thanks for being a lighthouse on a dark horizon! Guess I needed to vent a little.

Bruce Johnson
Lakewood, New York

Dave’s book was eye-opener

Thank you so much for providing this magazine and the books. I found Backwoods Home at my health food store and loved it. My sister-in-law promptly bought me a subscription and several books. I’m just about done with Dave’s essays (Can America Be Saved From Stupid People) which has been eye-opening. I changed my political affiliation to Libertarian yesterday.

We were down in Gold Beach earlier this year and I so wanted to stop in, but it was a weekend and the office was closed. We will have to make a point of coming down during the week as I would love to meet everyone.

Holly Campbell
Salem, Oregon

We love visitors. Just be careful driving when you get here so you don’t run afoul of one of our revenue-enhancement officers.

— Annie

“Saving” BHM issues

Just wanted to say how much we enjoy your magazine. We live on a small 5½ acre homestead in southern IL, where we keep kinder goats, chickens, ducks, and a breeding pair of G.O.S. hogs. We plant a big garden each year & have just planted peach & cherry trees, as well as some horseradish & rhubarb. I’ve been canning for about 15 years or so, but bought Jackie’s book last year and love it! I’m ordering her cookbook as well. I wanted to ask if there is a way you could 3-hole punch the magazine? It would be so nice to be able to keep my copies in a 3-ring binder, but they are too thick for me to punch myself. Just a suggestion.

Mrs. Sarah Paintiff
Bunker Hill, Illinois

We can’t three hole punch the issues, but we do offer anthologies, which are back issues bound in book form.

— Annie

Travelers’ gun rights

A recent article in the April 2011 American Rifleman Magazine (p.77) was an unpleasant shock. Apparently, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Gregg Revell, a Utah man who was arrested in transit for “possession of an unlicensed handgun” in New Jersey. He had been on a flight from Pennsylvania to Utah when he missed a connecting flight in New Jersey, his luggage was re-routed to Newark, and he had to retrieve his luggage and stay overnight in New Jersey. He was transporting his handgun unloaded and locked in his checked luggage, in compliance with the federal Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA). Although the charges were later dismissed, the Utah resident spent 10 days in jail before he could post bail. His civil rights lawsuit was dismissed by the US Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, because the gun was “readily accessible” to him while he stayed overnight in the NJ hotel – thus the FOPA did not apply to him while he was in New Jersey.

The Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal, so this ruling stands in the 3rd Circuit. This decision should concern every gun owner who travels cross-country, who might be forced to spend a night in some anti-gun state such as NY, NJ, IL, and others.

I drive every year from Idaho to Ohio, passing through the State of Illinois. I carry my firearms in Illinois in compliance with the FOPA, unloaded and locked in a hard case in the trunk. In the past, I have stayed overnight at various motels in Illinois, always bringing my firearms into the motel room to prevent their theft from my vehicle.

I now realize that, without an Illinois firearms owners ID card (FOID), I could be breaking the law in Illinois by having my firearms “readily accessible” in my motel room. My choice would appear to have them “readily accessible” to me, probably in violation of Illinois law, or to have them readily accessible to criminals by leaving them outside in my vehicle.

I have decided on a third option: I will never again stay overnight in any motel in Illinois. I will stop in either Iowa or Indiana, depending on the direction I am traveling, and plan on driving completely through the People’s Republic of Illinois in one day. Marksmen traveling through other anti-self defense states (NY, MA, NJ) should plan to stay overnight outside of those states — otherwise they risk arrest and the loss of their 2nd Amendment rights.

I would suggest you pass this warning on to all Backwoods Home readers, and advise them to let the Chambers of Commerce in Illinois and similar states know that we will not patronize their overnight accommodations until those states cease their attacks on our rights recognized by the 2nd Amendment.

Peter Humm
Mountain Home, Idaho

You’ve hit upon the best way to reply to these attacks against our rights — by withholding our money from both those doing the attacking and those quietly acquiescing in the attacks.

— Dave

Mas Ayoob: best on planet

I was searching the internet for articles by Massad Ayoob and found all the ones he wrote for your magazine. That guy is awesome. I already read one of his books, now it’s time to get another. Massad Ayoob is the best man on the planet to write about firearms.

Ken Mansfield
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The American debt crisis

Hey kids, pause “American Idol” for a moment and let me “lay some wisdom on you,” as you kids like to say nowadays. It’s about the US Debt and what it means to you, AND, if you pretend convincingly that you’re fascinated, we’ll go out for pizza afterwards, OK? Great.

Now, it’s hard to wrap our heads around billions and trillions of dollars, so let’s reduce these numbers to a human level. Let’s look at it from the perspective of a family budget: we’ll divide the actual numbers by one billion, and talk about months instead of years.

Let’s pretend that we are a family of criminals (the US government) living in a pretty rough neighborhood (the world).

Sadly, every month we spend $1500 more (the deficit) than we bring in with muggings, shakedowns, and con games (government revenues). So I borrow the difference from the neighborhood loan shark. The funny thing is, I already owe him $14,000 so far (the debt). But he’s been pretty patient for a convicted homicidal maniac (the Chinese government).

What’s worse, I’ve been running a pyramid scheme that’s gotten a little out of control, and people are beginning to catch on. But I’ve already promised a total of about $100,000 (total unfunded liabilities) over the next few years to pretty much everyone in our extended family (entitlement programs). Some are well-off and won’t miss it, but some are desperate and could really use the money I scammed from them.

I sat down with Mom to figure a way out of our problems. I (a Republican) bravely proposed spending $100 less this month, but she (a Democrat) screamed that it’s an unacceptable cut that would destroy our standard of living. She said we should open more credit cards in your names (borrowing), mug more people (taxation), and try some more counterfeiting (quantitative easing).

Finally, we agreed that we are basically OK, things will work out, we just need to spend $30 less this month (the 2011 budget deal).

So I called up the loan shark and explained that he’s eventually going to get all his money back — we promised on our kids’ lives — if we can just borrow another $1370 this month while we figure things out.

So, we’re good! By the way, he said to say “Hi” and that he’s really, really, looking forward to meeting you kids soon.

Now, who’s up for some pizza?

What’s the matter, kids?

Tom Isenberg
Moscow, Idaho

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