Backwoods Home Magazine

Letters To The Editor from Issue #158

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #158

Delaying the next ice age?

My compliments to the author O. E. MacDougal. The article on ice ages past and present is very accurate. It is refreshing to see someone give a correct big picture. All of his information is already out there on the internet, just not put together in a cohesive story like this. It is the kind of information that the so-called global warmist alarmists do not want us to know and refuse to address: basically they are cherry-picking the data to meet their biased viewpoints. The basic gist of the article is that we do not know enough to predict the future climate trends. People like us do recognize that the climate is going to change, we just cannot as yet predict which way it will go. However, the odds are we are going to go back into a deep ice age and keep repeating the pattern for a few million years. Heck, if humans are increasing the world temperature, we might be delaying the next ice age: a good thing? And as Mister MacDougal points out, the world has been way warmer for most of the last billion years, to the point of no ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

Paul G. Dennis Jr.
Boscobel, Wisconsin

Of course we’ve got global warming

I love this magazine. I look forward to every issue. First I read the Editor’s page, then Dave’s view, then "The Last Word." It’s random after that until I get it all.

I was a bit disappointed not to find "The Last Word" in this latest issue (and maybe a bit worried about John?) but I started with "Gee Whiz" and … hey wow! MacDougal! It don’t git no better ‘n this! Halfway through the article, it got better.

Four issues ago (May/June 2015, Issue #153) John brought up a politically controversial topic. (Politicians should stick to politics or keep themselves better informed.) In this issue Dave drops the same topic gratuitously into his dissertation on Groupthink.

Now, here’s the Scottish fellow with the real answer to the whole debate spread out and explained for us all. Mac explains that some time about the year 950 (AD/CE), Earth and its inhabitants began to experience rising temperatures, resulting in longer growing seasons, safer sailing, and farming on Greenland … among other things …

As a child growing up in eastern Oregon in the 1940s and 50s, I can personally attest to common winter temperatures to at least 40 degrees below zero, and commonly occurring snowfalls to obliterate farmers’ fences. As a child of homesteaders (from the Ed and Carolyn Robinson era) I remember that Dad could never count on more than a 90-day growing season.

After my hitch in the Army and my fling at the world, I returned to eastern Oregon at the beginning of 1980. In the last 35 years I have seen winter weather to match that described above, and in the most recent 20 gardening seasons, in only two years have I had fewer than 120 frost-free days …

… One of my sons gets credit for this snappy little two-liner …

"Of course we’ve got global warming; we’re still coming out of an ice age."

Kate Patrick
Baker City, Oregon

Bug-out trailer concerns

Regarding "Emergency Planning Beyond the Bug-out Bag" by Jackie Clay-Atkinson (Jan/Feb 2016, Issue #157): This is a very appropriate and timely subject. The items in the article are well considered. The one item that is of concern is that travel trailers are designed with very small weight-carrying capacity. Some can carry only as little as 200 or 300 pounds. Considering the quantity and weight of the food and supplies mentioned in the article, the trailer will most likely be extremely overloaded. This creates a hazard and could lead to a breakdown resulting in a complete loss of everything. Thus perhaps a better choice than a travel trailer would be a toy hauler RV, a flat bed trailer with some cargo protection, or a horse trailer with or without a living section. These can carry a lot more weight, but is this still sufficient?

Secondly, make sure that the vehicle tires are less than about five years old regardless of the tread appearance (condition). During an emergency situation and possibly no available help, you do not want to be stranded on the side of the road by deflated tires.

George Radzykewycz
Benson, Arizona

Our travel trailer is 32-feet and easily carries our emergency supplies. It is in no way overloaded, as we have removed some of the heavier "normal" items such as the furnace and hide-a-bed in the front. We don’t pack tons of supplies — moderation rules. True, a smaller trailer would have to be more lightly loaded; Mom and Dad had a 12-foot trailer and still had it packed with emergency supplies, albeit less than we have in our bigger trailer. Not everyone can afford a toy hauler or horse trailer, but a decent old travel trailer can be bought for under $1,000. We bought ours for $500 and remodeled it to suit our purposes. — Jackie

Install trap door to heat greenhouse

I’ve just come across your "Simple Greenhouse" article (Jan/Feb 2016, Issue #157) today while researching various topics and I just thought I’d offer a suggestion that may provide a small improvement. I understand from other research I have done that compost heaps generate heat as they decompose. Also I know that in the northern U.S., the winter months can be quite cold.

If a small hole was dug between the beds (covered by a solid trapdoor to walk over) compost could be placed there to break down and would perhaps help to keep the greenhouse a little warmer at the same time. Just a thought …

Ross Filippi
Sydney, Australia

Dealing with Grazon

My wife and I are avid homesteaders and preppers near Fort Worth, TX. And we are subscribers to BHM. We have goats, donkeys, rabbits, pigs, chickens, and gardens. As part of our gardening, we compost a lot of used hay and manure, along with anything else that the animals don’t eat. We buy local hay, same as most folks.

I recently became aware of "killer compost." I followed up on this and was shocked to learn of the accidental/unintentional side effects of Grazon (picloram) and other similar products in the hay and manure and how it destroys garden soil for YEARS.

Grazon is a selective herbicide. Unfortunately, vegetables get selected! We seemed to have a decent garden the first year we tried. But ever since, there seems to be an increasing, unexplained ill effect on some of the garden plants that we try to grow in the plot where I till in the compost. Last year, we got only a handful of beans, and the peas did nothing. This along with dismal yields of the other vegetables. But corn was okay.

Learning about the "killer compost" tied it all together. I spoke with my dad about this and his garden. He uses Grazon on his pastures but was completely unaware of the dangerous side effects. We got the label off a jug of it right then and there and read the "fine print" that says in black and white to NOT use manure from a Grazon treated field or hay for ANYTHING.

Who reads it? My opinion is that a bunch of us have been unwittingly poisoning our land for years by buying hay from treated fields. (The last time I checked, bales of hay didn’t come with warning labels).

So, I want to know your experience and practices on the matter, please. Y’all seem like serious and conscientious homesteaders, so I figure y’all would know something about this.

Brian and Stephanie Rasco
Burleson, Texas

Check out the article "This deadly toxin can kill your garden" from Issue #157, January/February 2016. David Goodman (also known as David The Good) goes into detail about Grazon and the devastating effects it has on your garden.

On page 13 of this issue, Sylvia Gist explains how to test hay and compost for the presence of Grazon. — Jessie

Recycling books

Recently, I made a discovery that I would like to share with readers of your excellent magazine. At a local recycling facility, I learned that the operator of the facility whom I have known for a number of years receives older books and printed materials for recycling. I have been able to rescue some very interesting and useful books from the pulp grinder and was able to purchase these books by the pound for literally pennies on the dollar. Of course, it may not be like this elsewhere, but it is something I would suggest to anyone such as myself who enjoys reading older books. You never know what may show up waiting to be rescued.

Mike Macek
Taylorville, Illinois

Applause

We love, love, love Backwoods Home. All the gardening and canning info is great. I just finished the third year of gardening which abruptly ended August 23 with a hard frost! No tomatoes this year. But we put up everything we are able and make jelly and jams all year — even corn cob jelly.

All the articles are good and useful. Keep up the good work.

Bea Anderson
Black Hills, South Dakota