issue 137 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #137


BHM relevant info

You don’t know this, Dave Duffy, but BHM magazine worked hand in hand with helping us create our homestead. Tim and I were just 2 clueless, 20-somethings who had never built a house, gardened, or lived off-the-grid before.

We found your magazine starting with the 6th issue and it helped to walk us through those early years. Your magazine was the only relevant information out there for this lifestyle.

We bought our property back in 1992 — before the internet and the big interest in sustainable living. People forget that there was very little information out there for this way of life.

Tim and Christine Dick
Clark Fork, Idaho

It’s contagious

Since I began my homesteading journey, my husband and I have truly taken the self-sufficiency movement to heart. We take our garden seriously, our fruit trees, anything and everything involving our well-being. For three years we’ve prided ourselves in canning our tomatoes, pickling, drying our hot peppers and making sure the worms are doing their fair share.

In the beginning I think our neighbors thought we were crazy… we were “one of those” kinda’ neighbors who didn’t weed with chemicals or cut down trees to create a bigger parking lot. The animals in our yard didn’t just include the dogs but the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc.

I vividly remember my husband telling one of our neighbors about eventually getting chickens. You would have thought we were going to build a nuclear power plant in our yard, complete with radioactive waste! Our neighbor felt it was the worst idea ever, an absolute abomination, a walking-clucking-mess all summed up in one question…”Can’t you buy your eggs?”

That was one year ago. Fast forward to June 2012…

That very neighbor is now building a chicken coop with the intention of housing 6 chickens. Not only are they getting chickens, but they have built 6 very nice garden boxes in their yard!

I say hooray to sticking to your guns! Hooray because I know our neighbors have seen the progress we’ve made and somewhere deep inside they think they can do it too. They’ve seen the benefits of growing your own food, truly caring for your land and maximizing what you can do with it. Most importantly, watching your children learn where your food really comes from. I say hooray to being part of the homesteading/self-sufficiency movement and passing it on. It’s all about baby steps.

Lynette Wheeler
Portland, Maine

BHM a breath of fresh air

Well, after being a loyal subscriber for over a decade, the views from T. Moore of Linden, CA in Issue #136 (July/August 2012) have encouraged me to do something I’ve wanted to do for years. I’ve renewed my subscription for 2 years, again, gave my sisters a subscription each, and included a subscription to a veteran of your choice. I’ve never experienced any political views in your building, canning, cooking, energy, gardening, or animal articles. Your “My View” page is just that. Having had the joy of being raised in the boondocks of middle TN, it is a breath of fresh air you are sharing each issue that many of us have enjoyed our entire life. I encourage every subscriber to give a subscription to loved ones today.

Walter Tinnin
Centerville, Tennessee

Jackie & Will’s seminar

I recently experienced Jackie and Will’s seminar on their homestead in Angora, Minnesota.

Topics were many and varied and included such topics as: building a hoop house, planting tomatoes with “Wallo’ Waters, pruning fruit trees, seed gathering and preservation, solar panels, homestead tools, and of course, food canning.

I was very impressed with these information packed three days. Jackie and Will are very knowledgeable and very willing to answer any question in terms that are easy to understand.

While they had a format, there were very adaptable to meeting our learning needs. There were many “side-seminars” like how to keep water hoses from freezing, how to make braces for fence corners, how to work with property and government taxes. The list goes on.

Saturday was our evening wiener and marshmallow roast. A crackling fire and some homespun music were enjoyed. We even practiced some dousing. Very educational.

Food was plentiful and delicious. And of course we had the wonderful opportunity of sampling Jackie’s canned goodies. Wow!

While I attended mostly for my wife’s benefit, I took much away also.

In addition to all the practical knowledge, I learned that homestead projects do not have to be “picture perfect.” Mistakes are not mistakes, but learning opportunities. The homestead is a continually evolving process.

I observed that Jackie and Will’s homestead is really an organic thing. They are a part of a living organism. All integral and part of something larger. I could go on and on but I will close and say that if you are able to attend one of their seminars, please do so.

James Motylinski
Brecksville, Ohio

Can’t stop reading

A friend gave me a stack of your magazines last month. My husband and I can’t stop reading them. This has been the magazine my husband and I have been looking for for years. Spent a lot of money on magazines with worthless information. Your magazines teach me something new. I hope my friend doesn’t want them back.

Jennifer Thompson
Sublimity, Oregon

Subscribed by accident

I want to thank you for a wonderful magazine. I subscribed by accident thinking you were a different magazine. The best mistake I ever made. We receive many other subscriptions but this is the best. This is exactly what my family needs. We also love the viewpoints of Dave Duffy. I am so glad we are not alone in this crazy world. I even ordered a gift subscription for my mom since she tried to steal my copies.

Missy Bednark
Princeton, South Carolina

White and dark turtle meat

In two excellent articles on snapping turtles, Issue #136 (July/Aug 2012) I was surprised to see no mention of the most important thing about turtle meat; the fact that they have both white and dark meat, of which the dark is comparatively tender and is delicious fried, while the white meat is too tough for human jaws to chew but is the flavorful base of turtle stew (after being cut into very small pieces).

Around here, most snappers are caught on dry land as they travel between ponds and creeks (not just when their pond dries up). The biggest one I ever saw was crossing my back yard. After it took a chunk out of my dog’s nose, I popped a washtub down over it (not much room to spare) and piled cement blocks on it. It moved the tub several feet before my gun-toting menfolk arrived.

Phyl Hubbard
Corydon, Indiana

Retiring to live simple life

I am renewing my subscription to your awesome magazine for 2 more years. I have only 2 more days left of daycaring after 27 years of caring for children in my home. I am moving to my land in Warsaw, MO to work on my land, and live a simple life. Thanks to your magazine for the helpful tips and encouragement it has given me. Keep up the good work.

Lora Grandestaff
Warsaw, Missouri

Only magazine I take

Yours is the only magazine I’m able to continue. I’ve been on Social Security as my only income for 15 years now and the shrinking value of a dollar is devastating.

Thanks for all the great articles and all the good writers. These I appreciate more than most would. Keep it up Dave, John, Jackie & Richard Blunt too. …I’ve got all your issues from #1, also the first 10 years of TMEN.

Leo Weiskircher
Corcoran, California

We’ve decided to add one year onto your subscription to help stretch your Social Security. — Dave

Middle Eastern breads

I was so glad to find this article on your site with pictures (Issue 135, May/June 2012 — Middle Eastern breads). I used to work nights at OHSU Hospital. Some of the ladies would make these breads with stews and share them with me in the break room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand them when they tried to tell me how to make them. This article with pictures helped me out. It made my day.

Pamela Snook
Beaverton, Oregon

Making hominy without lye

I would like to add some information to the already amazing information in Jackie Clay’s Ask Jackie section. In the July/August 2012 issue #136 of Backwoods Home someone wrote in and asked how to make Hominy. Jackie Clay did an amazing job explaining how to make it. I would like to add some information, though.

I am Native American and my people have been making Hominy corn for hundreds of years. We never had lye, or any of these modern chemicals, and in fact a lot of my people who still make hominy don’t use modern chemicals. We use wood ashes to make hominy. I’m sure Jackie you have lots of hard wood ash. A lot of people don’t know wood ash contains a natural form of Sodium Hydroxide.

Instead of using lye, put a few cups of wood ash and boil the dried corn. You don’t have to save the water, you can rinse the corn, then if it’s not done boil the corn in more wood ash and keep going. It should take about 3 hrs. to make about several pounds of corn. If you want it stronger, just add more ash. It will save you money but you must use fresh wood ashes.

For people who don’t have wood stoves, you can get ashes from friends or neighbors who have woodstoves and save the fresh ash in a canning jar. When you need the ash just grab your canning jars of ash and make hominy.

Many people don’t know we use specific varieties of corn for hominy. Where I’m from we use a traditional Haudenosaunee white corn to make hominy. I’ll send you some in the mail so you can try some really good hominy corn…

Nia:wen Kowa tanon Skennen Jackie.

Chris “Kahon:wes” Deere
Kahnawake Mohawk Territory

Thanks for sending this information for readers! Of course you can use clean wood ash to make hominy. Many of our ancestors, both Native and non-native, used wood ash to make lye for both hominy and soap. Be sure to use clean wood ash with no plastic, treated wood or other toxic ash. I’d love to try Haudenosaunee white corn. My favorite hominy corn (so far!) is Cherokee White, but I’m always looking for new varieties to try in our garden. — Jackie

No soy for pigs & chickens

In your “A contrary guide to feeding animals” article (Issue No. 135), you say “dried beans of any sort except soy can be used for pigs and chickens.” Having had chickens in the past (and missing it), I am getting ready to raise some more for eggs and meat. I was also going to plant some soybeans to make feed. I’ve not heard that soy is bad for chickens . . .

Do you mean that I should not feed chickens dried soybeans, or no soybeans at all? If I have to soak or cook them, that’s fine so long as I know. Sorry if I’m “behind the curve,” but if you could help a guy get back up to speed on country life, I’ll be “crowing!”

Michael Hamm
Yelm, Washington

I don’t recommend soy for several reasons:

1. Commercial soy is loaded with herbicides and pesticides, and is nearly always genetically modified. If you want to go to the trouble of growing your own and if you grow an heirloom variety, you can get around that aspect. I prefer to grow pole beans for most of my bean crop, and soy is a bush.

2. To be a good source of feed for pigs and chickens, soy needs to be well-cooked and ground, which I think is too much work. Raw soybeans can be slightly toxic to chickens and pigs, especially in high concentrations in the diet.

3. Soy is loaded with plant estrogens, and in my opinion, given the amount of estrogens we already have in our water (including ground water), adding something with an estrogenic effect is not a good idea.

4. As I mentioned in the article, soy makes soft pork. If you’ve ever noticed, commercial bacon, even when refrigerated, is very soft. If you’ve ever had bacon from pigs fed the traditional way, it’s firm, which I much prefer. — Beth Greenwood

Stupid People made my day

… Approx 2 years ago we ordered “The Whole Shebang” and have enjoyed it tremendously.

There has been so much to read in everything that we have received from you, that I am just now getting to your book of essays “Can America be Saved from Stupid People”. I must say that this is one of the most pleasurable books that I have ever read, and I am only half way through!

So many of your stories fit into my life so closely and I am willing to bet that most people could say the same thing. I am at work again tonight and I am having a ball reading the book. I have laughed hysterically, so much so, that people are coming from other offices to see what is so funny! I have also cried, and in doing so, I have put the book down a couple of times to reflect on similar events in my life (and to try to hide a tear).

I thought you might like to know, that for as long as it has been since you wrote some of these stories, they are still current in today’s times. I admire your talent to write and express the feelings that I have in my own heart, but lack the words to say. You have made my day, sir.

Roger Durham
Orange County, Texas

Roger, you made my day too. I just updated the Stupid People book to include the last five year’s worth of my columns, plus some material from my online blog. It’s now more than 400 pages and sells for $24.95, but we’re giving a $10 discount to anyone who bought the first edition. The discount will be on the honor system. If anyone bought it, just say so and take $10 off the price. You can order the book on page 96. — Dave

Jackie’s book saved the day

On the afternoon of July 4th I discovered the door to the freezer kept in our garage had somehow been left ajar and all the meat still cold but thawed. I was shocked to say the least since we are retired on a limited income and I had recently taken advantage of some sales and had the freezer practically full! We could not afford to lose any of these precious items.

I have canned vegetables and fruit most of my life but had never tried canning meats or meals in a jar. Luckily I had lots of jars, lids, and a pressure canner. I alerted my husband of the disaster and we sprang into action. I grabbed Jackie’s book for directions and we began a two day process of canning all the thawed meat. We now have a cupboard full of canned pork roast, sloppy joe, ground beef, chicken, barbeque beef, beef stew, and a few other tasty items that we will enjoy all winter.

Thank you Jackie for your great book and down-to-earth advice. Luckily I had the good sense to purchase your book on Growing and Canning Your Own Food last year which has become my “kitchen bible.”

Brenda Boggs
Dayton, Ohio

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