Letters To The Editor
From Issue #51
Just got the March/April issue and read it through with pleasure as usual. But I feel obligated to advise readers not to follow Robert K. Henderson’s advice in his article on foraging wild spring greens. The common bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) should never be eaten as fiddleheads, whether they are still curled or not. Sunset Western Garden Book says “Do not gather young fronds to cook as fiddleheads; they are a slow poison.”
There are plenty of other safe greens to forage, such as dandelion and watercress, so don’t take a chance with bracken fern.
I was astonished at the so-called jokes on page 62 of Issue 49. My wife, who has been loosely following your magazine is as disappointed as am I at such trash. She purchased #49 for me as a Christmas gift. As a result of your “humor,” we are withholding both our subscription, and our recommendation to our friends.
We aren’t flaming liberals, not even a nice shade of mild sunburn. I served in the marines; my wife in three branches, three states and two countries. One lesson learned very quickly in uniform is to never put down your team mates through making fun of them at their expense, especially for those characteristics beyond their control: race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or certain obvious personal shortcomings. Your life might depend upon one or more of those “beyond control” characteristics, wedded respect, courage, pride, training, add what you will. In addition to this, there is the chain-of-command, which any vet will tell you can be quickly destroyed by irreverent humor, such as what can be found in your publication. Further, if subordinates suspect a hidden prejudice, your motives for assigning risky details will always be suspect.
Take for example the “joke” about the Irish electrician. Sans Irish, not funny. Does this “joke” say the Irish are inherently too stupid to handle tasks requiring intelligence and risk? What is the difference between Irish and Black jokes? Answer: the Irish most likely won’t sue your shirt off in court; neither will the other classes mentioned in your joke page, unlike women, blacks, homosexuals, and lesbians. Your joke page is cowardly. Some might even go so far as to believe what you don’t print is being used to compile a list of individuals to be contacted for their ideology and philosophy, which is common to your own…
Got any good jokes about paranoids? — Dave
1. It got so cold here the other day it was reported the local attorney was seen walking from his office to his car with his hands in his own pockets.
2. There were three surgeons having coffee in the hospital lounge. One said that he enjoyed working on accountants. The other two asked why. He responded by saying, “Well, when I open them up everything is numbered.”
The second surgeon said, “I like working on librarians.” He received questioning looks. “When I open them up everything is in alphabetical order.”
The last surgeon spoke up. “I have the most fun working on lawyers…when I open them up there is no heart, no guts, no backbone and the top and bottom are interchangeable.”
I hope you like these. We love your magazine and think that the joke page is great fun. We also have enjoyed the articles on democracy and prohibition.
I’m a big fan of your magazine. For the record I’m a left-winger. I only say that because I see that you frequently get skewered by freaky liberals for being too fascist. My politics are decidedly socialist, (the real thing, not the hippy-dippy American pseudo-left) and I love BHM. While your readership is clearly mostly conservative and/or traditionalist, I find BHM’s editorial position refreshingly pro-free speech, even when the speaker’s ideas may not be popular. I learn a lot from each issue, both in terms of practical how-to’s and thought-provoking political commentary.
Count one pinko among your hardcore readers, and bitter-end defenders.
One nuts-and-bolts question: What is BHM’s circulation?
Thanks for the great magazine and keep ignoring the PC zealots.
P.S. Any group with as much talent as you and your staff have, and who consent to work as hard as you obviously do without the ghost of a chance of getting rich, can’t be all that capitalist. No offense intended.
Circulation is about 38,000 actual copies sold. Many magazines would multiply that by a factor (such as an estimated 2.5 readers per issue, as our survey shows we have). I am definitely a free enterprise capitalist, and I’m always hopeful of getting rich. I’m glad to know a tolerant pinko. I didn’t think there were any left. You’re a credit to your dwindling numbers. — Dave
We are subscribers—desperate to find cheap land before we lose our home! Dave’s “ex” got a CS judge to overthrow his June of ’95 judgement. Now she gets $1100/month! Dave is about to be replaced at his job by a younger witless worker. Our adjustable mortgage just jumped to $1220/month. We are trying to keep positive.
Please forward these enclosed letters to your article writers as we are seeking advice & info from them to help us make our decision. And may I prostrate myself and pay homage to you for publishing the only subscription we are keeping! I said we are desperate!! We are learning so much that we will need when we “make the move.” Your magazine will probably literally keep us alive!
I have been going through some of my old issues of Backwoods Home Magazine and re-read your article about steam power. Your proposal of a steam powered generator is intriguing. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a supplier that builds them small enough for home use (around 5 kW). Most of the ones out there are the giant ones built by and for utility companies. Do you happen to know of a source in the US or Canada?
A good source for information about steam power is Skip Goebel of Sensible Steam Consultants, 152 Von Goebels Ln., Branson, MO 65616. Phone; (417) 336-2869. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Coincidentally, he has also written a letter to us. It follows. — Dave
One thing that seems to be happening lately, is that although the market for alternate energy is flourishing, the spirit of the public in general is directing itself away from self-sufficiency and towards outside reliance. What a shame to have had it and lost it!
Now, we all see articles about missionary type events going on and how they use alternate energies to enhance their goals. However, I feel that not only are we only seeing the tip of a potential iceberg here, but we (the readership of magazines like yours) have a wonderful opportunity to help others and cement our movement.
May I suggest that your magazine promote in some serious fashion, a “mission” type section to promote such an activity and provide a way for readers such as myself to help out or donate resources toward the mission field. By providing a ‘gluepot’ of sorts this way, we can put self-sufficiency in a very positive light that will make others want to join our camp.
Most businesses, including my own, look forward to volunteering/helping/assisting/educating those in the missions field. Obviously, the good p.r. would benefit our business, but more importantly, our conciousnesses would be elevated knowing that we operate with a positive heart.
Such a goal will be impossible without your major cooperation as you are the means of communication between those that need help and those who can help. I hope that you will seriously consider this.
I’m always interested in a good article on energy, whether it’s steam, solar, wind, or whatever. I’m interested in such articles for purely practical reasons, however. A self-sufficient means of producing energy just makes good common preparedness sense. — Dave
To protect and serve
I read with great interest your article in the recent Backwoods Home Magazine and I must hasten to advise and inform you that the repeated use of the phrase to serve and protect is to a degree, disinformation—especially when used by “sworn” officers of the law. The law is that police are under no obligation or duty to protect individuals—but only the public at large. The individual is responsible for his own protection as an individual.”
U.S. Court of Appeals, December 1981, Warren vs. District of Columbia App 1981:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the same in South vs. Maryland, 1856 and in 1993 in Rogers vs. City of Port Huron, Michigan.
As a sworn officer of the law I hope that your sense of personal integrity and respect for the law will help you break this form of egoism that lets you deny reality & purvey this destructive disinformation. To be sworn to the law and to consistently misstate the law is a form of perjury and malfeasance of office.
Thank you for your kind attention. The police are omnipotent only in a police state. Your misstatement will hasten the day of such a state here in the U.S.
I’m in receipt of your letter of 12/31/97. Thanks for the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.
While the courts have held that a duty or obligation to protect may exist once police have responded to a given scene, you are correct in stating that there is no general duty to protect the public at large automatically. This is for several good reasons. First, the law realizes that it is not humanly possible for six to seven hundred thousand cops to be everywhere at once to protect two hundred to two hundred and twenty million citizens from the possibility of surprise assault or criminal depredation. That would require a cop for every citizen, a KGB agent on every doorstep if you will, and I don’t think you want that any more than I do.
Public health agencies cannot possibly prevent every drug abuser from ruining his body and eventually destroying himself, but they remain committed to the general public health. There are not enough firefighters to keep every individual from falling asleep with a lit cigarette, but this doesn’t mean that the fire service is not totally dedicated to protecting the public from the dangers of fire. There aren’t enough paramedics to hold every citizen’s hand and keep him exercising and eating healthy, nor even enough for them to be there with a defibrillator when unhealthy lifestyles produce predictable heart attacks, but that doesn’t mean that the emergency medical service in this country is not totally dedicated to saving as many people as possible from life-threatening emergencies.
Similarly, even though it is not humanly possible for the police service to prevent every crime, it does not mean that our nation’s police professionals are not totally dedicated to protecting and serving the public to whom they’ve sworn their oath.
This, I’m afraid, is the reality of public safety service in a free country. I don’t want to see a police state any more than you. Ironically, making the police strictly responsible for the safety of every citizen would lead to just that. The history is that when greater responsibilities are given, greater powers go with them. Only a police state could hope to saturate the public with its presence thoroughly enough to even attempt to prevent every possible crime.
John, If you’re the typical self-reliant reader of Backwoods Home, I suspect that you have adopted a healthy lifestyle and practice common sense fire prevention and crime prevention. I would be surprised if you didn’t have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to protect yourself from fire, and burglar alarms and firearms to protect yourself from criminal intrusion. I don’t think your tax dollars should be sucked into community bankruptcy to pay for frequently preventable damages often caused by other people’s own carelessness and apathy. It’s not fair to hold the police to a different standard.
So it is that, while the cops can’t be absolutely capable of or responsible for preventing all crimes, the protection of the public remains our very real and total goal. That’s why I and every cop I work with will continue to proudly live up to our motto, “To Protect and Serve.” It is also why, as discussed in my article that triggered this dialogue, so many of us emphasize teaching the public to protect themselves long enough to pick up the phone, call in the emergency, and establish the contact that does begin to make the public safety agency responsible for the protection of an individual member of the public. — Massad Ayoob
Thanks for not selling the BHM mail list
Thank you for doing a good job each issue. I’d also like to thank you for two other things:
1. Either you don’t sell your mailing list or you are very selective to which other magazines/organizations you do sell the list to. I have not received a truckload of odd junk mail during the past year.
2. Thank you for not sending me monthly promotions for renewals for five years, or books to buy, or useless junk mail. A few other magazines do that and it annoys me to the point that I will not renew with them. You have a list of books to buy and if I choose, I will order them. Your renewal letter was very simple and straightforward. The $5 option to purchase an anthology is a nice incentive, however, at the present time my budget is tight. Your final sentence is the best—”Whatever you decide, I’d like to thank you for your business in the past.” It’s nice to be able to decide and know that if I say no, you won’t bombard me with “please renew letters.” Perhaps one would be OK—one or two months later in case a customer changes their mind or budget allows them to renew. One magazine sent me six letters (yes,six)—stupid, sappy letters, too (“I bet my husband a steak dinner that if I wrote to you, that you would renew”)—No, it didn’t work.
We never sell our mail list, and we send two renewal reminders for the very reasons you stated. — Dave
Freezer paper substitute
I read your magazine and like it a lot. I have a money saving tip you might be interested in.
I do a lot of big game hunting here in Colorado and after buying freezer paper year after year which is expensive. I decided to try something new. I used old newspaper to wrap some deer meat and dated it Nov. 1995.
It is now Dec. ’97 and we got it out and tried it and it was fine.
In fact we had some wrapped in freezer paper and it was no different than the news wrapped meat.
I rolled the paper around the meat so it covered it three times and it works well.
Just thought you might like to know.
Breath of fresh air
I just read the letter in issue #49 from Donald S. Eaton, who, because you didn’t have a category #4 for him (people with their head up their posterior, decided to drop his subscription. I am applying for the space he leaves. Here’s my money for a new subscription. I hope Mr. Eaton can survive breathing methane in that dark place. I am in category #5, a freedom-loving, patriotic American, who could not live in Mr. Eaton’s Law-and-Order society, and who doesn’t want to dictate to others how they should live and think and feel.
I am a self-proclaimed Constitutionist, a Jeffersonian Liberal, and your magazine is a breath of fresh air to me. The “My View” editorials, and the “think of it this way…” critical thinking columns make me want to be there with you folks, sharing feelings and thoughts with freedom-loving people. Massad Ayoob is my kind of cop, and I enjoy learning self-protection from the police. By the way, the letter written by Randahl and Bev Witt in issue #49 brought tears to my eyes. These are real, human, Americans!
That “Think of it this way…” article in the March/April issue by John Silveira was terrific. As one who has read a lot of history, I mean a lot, that article brilliantly and yet understandably describes the problems faced by representative forms of government.
And as an ex-bureaucrat, I can wholeheartedly agree with Silveira’s and/or Dave Duffy’s treatment of bureaucrats and bureaucracies. I often hear people complain about the laziness of people in bureaucracies. I must say most bureaucrats work incredibly hard, and these are the people that one ought to fear. A lazy bureaucrat may only waste his salary; a hard working, ambitious bureaucrat can and does waste millions on grandiose projects because this is the way to gain promotions and power. The beneficiaries of these projects—higher ups, Congress, or some segment of the people—will usually be grateful, as they will, after all, get some benefit they never had before as a result of the project, and as the money for the project does not come directly out of the beneficiaries pocketbook. In fact they generally have no idea of the cost involve; to them it is simply manna from the government. So they are happy to get a $10,000 benefit from a project which the bureaucrat spent $100,000 of “government money” on, and that makes the bureaucrat’s boss happy and so the bureaucrat gets an outstanding performance rating and a promotion. If you don’t get on this wagon, you don’t get promotions and are classed as deadwood and reviled by all. I know, unfortunately, whereof I speak.
I seldom vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate for any major office anymore. While I sympathize with the Libertarian movement, and lots of people I admire are Libertarians, and I think that that is a good direction to go in considering the present state of government, I have reservations about where that leads eventually. But I would gladly vote for a Libertarian candidate at this time.
But a great, and intellectually stimulating, article.
When I read Jackie Clay’s article about common sense preparedness in last December’s issue, I happened to have a large number of milk jugs laying around which I had not yet brought to the recycling station. Intrigued by her article I cleaned them instead and filled them up with an emergency supply of water.
The timing was just right. A few days later Maine was hit by the most damaging ice storm in ages and I was left without electricity for
What I would like to see, maybe as a follow-up to Jackie Clay’s article, would be a listing of how long one can safely keep various food before they should be rotated out of your supply.
I am dropping a note just to say how much my husband and I enjoy your magazine. We picked up a copy of it two months ago when the store we were in did not have the other backwoods type magazine. Since then I have ordered and read the 12 selected issues. There was so much wonderful information in all those issues. We have begun our own homesteading and your magazine is showing us not only how to go about it but that so many others are doing it. We have eight children, seven of which are disabled in one way or another so we live about forty miles from a city, and that is as far away from the doctors as we dare go. The one year old is on a heart monitor and has had two major surgeries this year. He has been in the hospital ten times this year so it has been hard to get going, but we have. So far we have four goats and one pig. We did have two pigs but when we were transporting them one ran away. We did lose a pig but learned a lesson. My husband is going to build a chicken tractor and the coop he saw in your magazine, as I plan on raising chickens for eggs and meat this spring. We also hope to get a family milk cow as eight children under the age of ten drink a lot of milk and some of the children do not like goat’s milk. I am looking into a greenhouse this spring but my husband says I am moving too fast. He has just started a small woodshop on our land and he wants to devote his time to that…Some say with disabled children it cannot be done but we will prove them wrong. We have done it before when they told us two of our children would not live and today here they are.
I think your magazine is fantastic and have already renewed for three years. It was just what I was looking for and love all the articles on self-sufficiency. My family and I live in town but are looking for a place with space in the country. It may be a couple of years before we can move but with help from your books and magazines our dream will come true. I have a garden so we can and freeze a lot of vegetables. Last fall I wish I would have had your magazine as we butchered a pig. We have meat but it would have been cut up a lot neater. Thanks.
Just a quick note to let you know that I really enjoy your magazine. Especially since I have moved out to the country 10 years ago. It’s a 30 mile drive to work, and hard on cars, but I know folks who drive farther to have the peace of mind of living in just the right country setting. Keep up the great work.
Thank you so much for all the great info in your magazine. I am a single woman living in the woods. I moved my 40 ft. 5th wheel to where I am now about four years ago. I had to put a septic system in for my trailer. I did the septic system by hand myself! Next time I will find an easier way! Your article regarding putting in the 50 gal. barrel for grey water was superb! Mine works 100% and it’s been 4 years now.
Hard to heat house
I am having a problem of heating my cabin. If you have any back issues concerning heating efficiently I would like to know or if you have any ideas please let me know. I don’t have any electricity so it will have to be solar or whatever. Winter time sun is only about six hours.
I think you either need to get the air moving (solar fan) or get another wood stove at the other end of your house. — Dave
Follow your dreams
We have recently been turned on to BHM and I’m thrilled to know (through reading your letters) that there are so many folks out there that share your views and can relate to and enjoy this magazine.
My husband dreamed “The Impossible Dream” over 20 years ago and left a good job and the San Diego area, pickup truck full and landed on his newly purchased property.
I guess the first thing you do is dig a hole for the “crapper,” then, step by step…build a saw mill, cut trees, dig water lines, build fences, gardens, wood fired hot water heater, a shop to build more stuff etc. etc. A rich and rewarding life as many of your readers know. And to those still in the city and have a hankering, I say, follow your dreams, TRUST it will all fall into place and be willing to do lots of hard physical work.
P.S. We are now fully wired with inverter, China Diesel, TV, VCR, washer, dryer, computer, etc. etc.
My husband and I are subscribers to Backwoods Home, and absolutely love the magazine. Keep up the great work!
I, however, have a request for you. I’ve been pen palling for years, and the only source for pals I knew of, “Women’s Circle,” has gone out of business. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out a new source of pals, and that’s when I thought of Backwoods Home. What better place to find pals with similar interests that we can become friends with and exchange ideas.
Not everyone has internet connections; and those of us that don’t still do things the old fashioned way, and enjoy it! So, I was wondering if you’d consider adding a pals section to the magazine! Heck, I’d even volunteer to help if you needed it!
Let’s see what kind of reader response we get. — Dave
John’s collected articles
As usual, the March/April issue of BHM is top drawer! I loved every part of it. I’m writing to ask a question: would it be possible for John Silveira to compile all the articles he has written on government into one volume for sale? Yes, I have all the anthologies, except #5, which contain all his articles. However, one slim volume of his works on government would make nice presents for my grandsons, so they will know and understand how their government is supposed to work. I have some friends that would enjoy the book, too. John, I’m still waiting for that next installment of the algebra/math column. I found the first one to be very, very easy to understand. Keep writing your poetry and articles—I and many others love them!
We plan on such a book. — Dave
Going it alone
I am female, single and almost qualify as a senior citizen but would like to let you know I appreciate your sensible attitude on guns through your articles by Massad Ayoob. Despite the Montana address, I have never ascribed to the “freeman” philosophies…but was raised on a western ranch where guns and hunting were a fact of life. We ate venison all winter because we could not afford to eat beef…our “cash crop.”
My grandparents homesteaded the original home place of the ranch where I grew up and I am now back in the country myself. If you publish this letter, I would like to request some input from other readers. Seems most “back to the landers” are couples or families but I know there are others out there “going it alone” as I am.
How do others set realistic goals, manage two-person jobs, decide priorities when it is impossible to do everything…in other words how are other single individuals operating? I know I am not the only active…though aging…homesteader determined to survive. Would certainly like to see some feedback on this in articles, reader’s letters or from anyone who would care to contact me direct.
A great deal of the homesteader’s lifestyle is spent raising crops, raising animals for consumption and household use, and growing ornamental plants for beautifying the homestead. Many times certain seeds, plants, and breeds of animals are not readily available. I would like to suggest that your magazine feature a breeders’ directory and seed/plant source so that homesteaders might be able to make contact with each other to obtain quality plants and animals for self-sufficiency. Keep up the good work. Your magazine is an excellent source of information. Try to remain informative without leaning too heavily upon political issues. Backwoods Home Magazine is better as a learning tool for self-reliance rather than a podium for expressing political beliefs.
Any reader response to this idea?
Growing fruit trees
“Plant fruit trees, pick big bucks” paints a very rosy picture and fails to give enough attention to the downside. In order to have fruit that is good enough to sell, you are almost always going to have to spray. In this area, that means a minimum of five times per season. Spray is expensive and so is the equipment to apply it. There may be health hazards, so care must be exercised. Try organic methods and things are even more labor intensive. Plant many different varieties and these may require spraying at different times. If you do not thin or remove the small apples, leaving one about every six or eight inches, you run the risk of breaking limbs and will certainly end up with little scrubby apples that will not attract customers. If you do get ten bushels of apples from a tree, it’s large enough to require a ladder. Are you going to turn a customer lose with a ladder to pick his own? I hope that you have good insurance. During the dormant season, apple trees must be pruned or trimmed to remove damaged limbs and to properly shape the tree. Ignore this and production goes down while disease increases. Make cider? Good idea and I do some myself. But another e. coli scare and EPA may very well require all cider to be pasteurized. Are you ready for that expense?
Growing fruit is interesting and can be profitable, but study the project thoroughly before you start counting those “big bucks.” A good idea would be to talk to the people at your local agricultural station. Also, $15 membership in the Home Orchard Society, PO Box 230192, Tigard, Oregon 97281 is money well spent.