James Kim tragedy
We have all followed the James Kim story with its tragic ending and heard all the usual "ifs, shoulda, coulda and woulda" from the mainstream media. BHM is in a unique position because it took place almost in your own back yard and, as a magazine devoted to self reliance, to offer a different and interesting perspective on how to handle a similar situation other than the usual, "keep a blanket in the car" stuff. I hope BHM uses all the experts it has access to and comes up with a story of its own. I'm sure it will be an interesting and informative one.
Both Jeff Yago and Massad Ayoob's articles in this issue are responses to the James Kim tragedy.
Surviving a blizzard
Your excellent John Silveira blizzard article has generated this reminiscence.
It was the late 1980s when I encountered a wet spring storm with 90—yes 90 mph winds out of the northwest, near Yankton, South Dakota. My son, our beagle dog, and I were rescued by a passing farmer after our pickup ignition was overcome with moisture from driving into this raging, wet, wall of white.
Two days later, when it abated, we found the vehicle, unstartable, because the engine compartment was full of near rock hard packed snow up past the top of the air cleaner. In fact it looked as if we had no engine. It was completely invisible. The only way to remove the snow without damaging the engine was a tow job to a local garage where over a dozen other cars awaited a thaw job inside the warm building.
One tragic storm fatality occurred at the opposite end of town when a motorist entered the city limits without knowing it, in the near zero visibility. The exhaust pipe of his stalled car became plugged with snow (as Mr. Silveira warned about), and he was overcome with carbon monoxide. Sadly and ironically he was parked in front of a residential home, but apparently did not know it, thinking he was still in the countryside where he'd come from.
After hearing this story I carry about 300 feet of strong parachute cord and ski goggles in my winter storm kit. Staying in your car is advisable under most blizzard circumstances, but the cord allows you to explore your surroundings with a lifeline leading you back to your car. This and the goggles can be especially useful, even lifesaving, if nearby stranded motorists without a storm kit need your help. I have been both the rescuer and the rescued in such scenarios, having lived my entire life in blizzard country.
Another point, unrealized by many: If you pack nothing else, pack at least one sleeping bag per passenger. Stuff it into a stuff sack to save space, and leave it in the car year 'round. The two blizzards that threatened my life the most were in November and late April, involving very wet snow.
Which reminds me that Mr. Silveira's choice of flannel for emergency storm use is a poor one. Flannel is commonly of the cotton variety and is a killer in wet storm situations, as any mountain climber or search and rescue member can tell you. Cotton soaks up water and chills where wool and synthetics repel and wick it away.
Sleeping bags are way more efficient pound for pound than blankets, and absolutely nothing else will save your life as effectively. You can outlast most any blizzard without the usual storm kit trinkets, but you can die clutching them if you don't stay warm. The bottom line to preventing a hypothermic death or frozen finger and toe amputation is spelled "sleeping bag."
Being mother of soldier is hardest job in Army
Our family traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia, at Thanksgiving to visit our daughter and son-in-law. They are both enlisted in the Army there. While there, I found your magazine. My question is why have I never found this before? If you are based in Oregon, why did I have to go so far away? This is a question I will be asking both our local bookstores. I also am saving to buy the whole package deal listed in the back of the current issue. We spent all the money we had to go to Georgia, so it will take me about two months. This is the first time I have ever done anything like that, but they were stationed in Iraq last year, and will be again next Thanksgiving. It just seemed that the money was not that important.
Thanks for a great magazine. Please don't cancel that deal soon. While our daughter is deployed, we raise our two grandchildren, and I am teaching them how to live a simple life. Last time we raised pigs and a garden, this time we will be trying chickens and rabbits. Some things you just can't learn living on an army base. It helps keep all of us busy while they are gone.
PS: Please don't print where we live, or our last name. Last time we had anti-war protests outside my job, and I really don't want that again. Most people have been wonderful, but there are some who think the soldier's families are fair game. No matter what the government does, I am very proud of my daughter, and love her so very much. Being the mother of a soldier is the hardest job in the Army.
A good wolf joke
This is not a joke, but it should be.
Several years ago, the sheep farmers out in Montana were having trouble with wolves killing their sheep and they wanted to do what they could to kill the wolves. Well wouldn't you know the Humane Society of the U.S. stepped in and would not allow them to just kill off the wolves. It ended with the U.S. Congress getting involved and holding hearings in Washington, D.C.
One of the ladies from the Humane Society testified that the farmers should use live traps to catch these offending wolves and whenever they caught a male it should be neutered.
One of the farmers stood up and stated, "Look lady I don't think you understand the problem, these wolves aren't having sex with our sheep they are eating them."
Russel L. Pfeifer
West Fargo, North Dakota
Irreverent Joke about Muslims was ignorant
My husband and I have been subscribers for nearly one year now. We found you online and it immediately seemed that in most respects your magazine jived with our sensibilities regarding self-reliance and unhindered living.
We are in charge (and 100% mortgage paid) and keepers of 12 acres of the Mother. She is mostly wooded where we are. We don't have animals yet, besides our 6 cats, but they are in the plan. We are going toward an outdoor wood boiler instead of propane and we tend an organic market garden. In a lot of ways your magazine, books, and cookbook have aided us in solidifying our already established notions in terms of our unhindered lifestyle. We truly look forward to each edition. Thank you, truly, for that.
With all of that penned, and as a proponent of sharing ideas and knowledge, I must tell you that I was truly shocked, saddened and dismayed when in your recent issue you ran the horrifyingly ignorant "joke" Cowboys & Muslims (Issue #103, page 22).
Firstly, and this appeals to my liberal and humanitarian streak, there is room in this country and this world for us each. We are earth loving heathens in our home and we manage to keep close friends of all stripes: Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Atheist, Native and Muslim. There is not a single thing written in our nation that says we all need to believe the same.
Secondly, when one does a complete examination of Islam (not just what we hear from the Religious Right) one finds it not to be a faith of hate and intolerance. It is not what is preached by the zealots of the faith. Can any religion really claim to have a spotless and pristine history? I really think not.
Thirdly, the heart of my distaste. I was most offended and shocked that the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Native Americans, the stripping of their rights, homes, lands, traditions and livelihood and the rape of their entire way of life was "joked" about. It is crass, demeaning to your readers sensibilities, and is truly disgusting.
Though the political opinions of this home often differ greatly from those of BHM and its writers, we are adult enough to set that aside for the sake of the valuable information you provide on unhindered living.
I honestly considered letting this tactless display just be. However, being the person I am and the way our family views the world, I could not sit idle and allow my concern to go unheard. We favor truth and justice over ignorance and intolerance. You must understand the atrocious thing you have done. Shame on you!
For now, my husband and I have chosen to keep our subscription. However, our radar has been turned toward the hatred and ignorance you seem so blase about printing.
I am saddened, yet optimistic. The optimism springs from my constant belief in the true goodness of people, that I am not the only one expressing the offense you have caused, and that you will consider a little longer before printing something so incredibly arrogant and ignorant ever again.
A joke is a joke. We are not politically correct here, and we don't intend on becoming so. I don't know what ethnicity or religion you are, but our Irreverent Joke page has probably poked fun at you too. I'm Irish Catholic, and the Irreverent Joke page has poked lots of fun at them, but we've never had a complaint from our many Irish Catholic readers. You need to either lighten up, skip the Irreverent Joke page, or cancel your subscription as you threaten.
A good fencepost driver
I looked at the picture of the post driver on page 72 ("How to build a good fence for your homestead," Issue #103, page 72). You are right. It is better than a bought driver. They are designed to hurt the palm of one's hand.
The post driver I built can be lifted with one's thumbs and slammed down with open hands. It is much easier than grasping a pipe.
Mine weighs 38 pounds. I welded a 5 inch piece of shaft into the top of a 27½ inch pipe. I later added a collar for more weight. Make sure the handles are above the center of balance.
David L. Chamberlain
A hydrogen car bomb?
I just received the new issue of BHM and read the article about hydrogen fueled cars by Jeff Yago. It is my belief that in the distant future we may be able to use hydrogen to provide power for our cars, I don't see it happening for a long time.
I have a question though, if we had hydrogen powered cars running around, wouldn't they make a great bomb for some moronic terrorist to use to blow up something. Just think, 20-30 gallons of hydrogen compressed to 10,000 PSI. What a great IED.
Thanks for the great magazine.
La Crescenta, California
You have a good point, but this is already true if you think about all those existing tanker trucks hauling thousands of cubic feet of hydrogen gas every day on our interstate highways in very highly compressed bundles of tubes. Most terrorists fill cars and trucks with explosives because this produces far more damage than they could derive from the limited explosive energy contained in a fuel tank. Those with military explosives training quickly learn that they can make a bomb out of almost anything, so I think this is a minor issue in the larger picture about the future of hydrogen fueled cars.
— Jeff Yago
Reduce medical costs with high deductible
Dan Lowry wrote a letter asking how to keep the cost of medical care down in this day and age. One solution would be to move to another country where people don't sue the doctors for every little thing, but I realize that is often not desirable. The solution my husband and I use is to have a really high deductible; in our case $10k. For the two of us combined we pay about $95 a month. This won't do you any good if you run to the doctor after every little cough, but otherwise it could save you a bunch of money while keeping you protected in case you need triple bypasses and such.
Barrel stove article saved me money
I recently came upon your website (backwoodshome.com) and came across the article on building a wood burning stove for $30. I live in Ohio and after locating the barrel type described, I followed the instructions. The article was very good and the instructions easy to follow. The end result was a carbon copy of the described stove. This article saved me a lot of money. It gives me pride in American ingenuity and functionality.
Thanks for the truth
I'm writing to tell you that your magazine, or should I say "our" magazine, is the best on the market. You're not afraid to speak the truth, and we need all the "truths" that are available. We won't find it on the news, TV, or otherwise. It's a sad state we have gotten ourselves into. That is, a whole "magazine" in itself or should I say books would need to be written to show us what's really going on in this country.
We are fed so much B.S. on the really important issues, and the media stresses such nonsense as to who's getting married, divorced, or other unimportant nonsense.
I'm glad that people can learn important stuff, and I do mean important info, on things we will need to know if things keep going the way they are, which is downhill. Thanks for the important, needful knowledge that you give us. I hope it won't come to that; but life always surprises us; be ready...
Thanks to Jackie, too, she has inspired me to overcome anything that life throws at me, including the many curveballs and screwballs that mess up the way we live...
I really have to say thanks to all your contributors, as all your articles are great. Whether I agree with everything is not the point. With articles that explain and show detailed issues, how could anyone ask for more? Thanks again...
The economy ain't great down here in Georgia. There aren't a lot of good, steady jobs available right now. Even though the Government says we're doing great. Lies, lies, and more lies, as usual, and we must be aware of it. It's great the way you get around these lies and explain the truth. That's what America needs; truth, not deception.
In prison for six years for marijuana possession
I'm doing six years for marijuana possession in Colorado. I've been reading your magazine thanks to a neighbor. I think it's very useful. I've ran around with the rainbow family for the last ten years so it's right up my alley.
I own 180 acres in Colorado. We're completely off the grid. Anyway, I noticed you have a dissatisfied reader from Hellertown, Pennsylvania. It's people like him who have ruined our country as it is.
Anyway I'm writing to ask if he doesn't want his subscription can I have it? I promise not only will I appreciate it but I'll subscribe for the rest of my life once I'm free. Woops, I guess I shouldn't say free, that's a joke. What I meant to say was paroled. Woops, that's not correct either. Colorado doesn't parole its inmates. OK, then I guess when I do go home I promise to subscribe. Oh, yeah, and as far as letting our sacred herb into our prisons, good luck (see "The Last Word - Let prisoners get high on marijuana," Issue #96, page 95). I'm all for it. Alright then keep up the great work you all are doing and tell Mr. Silveira he's dead on in his opinions of the facts.
P.S. I just sent my friends an order form earlier tonight to order your magazine. So if you do approve my request, then I guess I'll get more than what I ordered.
Request approved. Giving people 6 years for possession of marijuana is the main reason this country has the highest imprisonment rate in the world.
24/7 sidearm possession
I don't usually write to magazines to comment on other people's letters, but this time I gotta say something.
First off, about the letter from Mr. Wickstrom (Issue #103, page 79) of Oregon knocking the 24/7 sidearm possession. I don't carry a gun when I go to town or to work, but out here I have several in easy reach, all of which have ammo nearby.
I live on a busy highway in NE Wisconsin, totally alone. I have, for instance, stopped an intruder in my driveway trying to break into my truck (9-1-1 is nearly useless out here; the response time is 20 minutes at best. I know, I've called periodically when people have had accidents. The nearest town is 20 miles away). This guy totally disregarded the alarm going off in the truck. I was just a dumb girl until I walked out with my 12 gauge Ithaca. The guy was not shot, but I sincerely doubt he'll be back. (I also keep a .22 in the garage and another in the barn just in case.)
Another time, I walked out the back door to take my laundry off the clothesline. A very angry sow bear was right there with a small cub. I didn't shoot them, either. But a few shots in the air sent them quickly packing back to the woods where they belong.
Same with the coyotes who stalk my henhouse only 20 yards from my back door, often in broad daylight.
I don't see "targets" on everyone's chests or see them all as nails with a hammer in my hand. I most certainly do not suffer from "post traumatic stress syndrome" nor am I "abnormally behaving."
All I know is, I choose to live alone, everyone knows I do, and no one messes with me. I don't run around dressed in camo (except during hunting season) and doubt Mr. Wickstrom could pick me out in a crowd. But I refuse to be a victim or run around saying, "Oh you bad boy, why do you play with guns."
I'm very surprised someone with this "guns are icky" mindset would be part of your readership. I only hope people like that will learn something from people like you (Ayoob, Dave, Jackie...). I doubt "Mr. W" lives in a very remote area or at all dangerous, ever, or he'd understand that guns are used as tools, but most certainly not as hammers.
P.S. Don't even get me started on the "positive parenting" time-out thing. That'll really get me going. Sitting in a quiet corner is not discipline. Better that the strong but loving arm of mom and dad handle the child before the strong arm of the law needs to. Then maybe our prisons won't all be overflowing with people on the "big time-out."
BHM has backbone
As a member of the media, it's disappointing for me to see how our freedom of speech is tested, pushed, and eroded by things such as blackmail, or advertiser dollars telling us what we should and should not write.
It is refreshing to be able to read a magazine with some backbone, featuring informative articles balanced with human interest stories. I can relate to these folks, who lay it on the line for their readers, presenting more than one (attractive) side of their lives.
I recently refused to renew my subscription to a similar (well-known) "back to the land" magazine published in Wisconsin that I feel is getting too far away from informative, and more toward pen pal-esque/journal writing coupled with lots and lots of advertising.
A response from Dave to a Letter to the Editor last edition indicated a number of cancelled subscriptions per issue because of writing something that was unpopular to some BHM readers. As my mom (a veteran of the retail business) always says, "Those kind you don't need."
Hats off to BHM for refusing to bow to the candy-coated public opinion on what "should" be written, and instead, marching to the beat of your own accordion, accompanied by the First Amendment. In the interest of putting my money where my mouth is, enclosed is my check for another two years' subscription.
Your "My View" was the best in this new issue. Like you, I stopped voting Republican because they no longer supported principles of limited government. The only question I have is, "When did Bush convince you 'that he was for limiting Government, controlling spending, and protecting Constitutional freedoms'?" I remember from the New Hampshire primaries in 2000 that Bush criticized the Republican Party for its traditional stand on limited government. He gave us ample warning that he was for Big Government. But like you, I held my nose and hoped that he would either be converted later or that the other Republicans would reign him in. I was wrong, so I voted Constitution Party in the last election. I no longer hold my nose when I vote.
Here is my favorite quote by the Founders:
"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."—John Quincy Adams
Contrary to what Michael Medved says, his vote is the one that is lost because he throws away his vote for a party that doesn't believe in or support his principles. Can you think of a better way to waste your vote than to elect someone who does not support your principles? After Michael Medved criticized my presidential candidate, Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party, I wrote Michael an email and told him I would probably never vote Republican again. And I haven't.
A friend in the Constitution Party said it best when he showed me campaign literature of both Republican and Democrat Congressional candidates in which they both boasted of the same big government programs, none of which were authorized by the Constitution. Then he said, "We don't need a change of speed. We need a change of direction." The only way we'll get change, it seems, is to change our votes.
Thanks for the great editorial and the fantastic magazine.
You couldn't have hit it any closer than you did in your "My View" (Issue #103, Jan/Feb 2007) about Michael Medved's frustration over the Libertarian Party "stealing" votes from the Republicans.
While I did not hear the specific broadcast to which you refer, I have heard him several times in the past claim that voting for a third-party candidate was essentially "throwing your vote away." Medved suggests the better course of action is to continue voting Republican (as most Libertarians would, given the choice between Republicans and Democrats) and "changing the Republican Party from within."
However, voting Republican does nothing more in the end than sanction their current course of higher spending and government growth.
The best way to effect change in the Republican Party is to vote Libertarian. Medved is absolutely correct that the Libertarian vote lost the Republicans the U.S. Senate, just as it lost them the Governor's office in Washington State in 2004. (Dino Rossi would have won soundly had even 10% of the Libertarian votes gone Republican.)
It is my hope that the Republican Party leadership is seeing the same thing that Medved is seeing. If so, that will effect positive change in the Party faster than anything else possibly could.
Port Orchard, Washington
Re: Dave Duffy's article My View Jan/Feb 2007 Issue #103.
This article appealed to me because I am of the same view regarding elections. For years my wife and I have been good Republicans. However, for the last several elections I have never voted for a winning candidate for most offices. I decided long ago to vote my conscience. I have refused to be goaded into voting for the "lesser of two evils," (which, incidentally, is still evil) and be taunted with the warning that I am "throwing away my vote."
The majority of voters seem to be led like sheep by the mainstream media. Minority party candidates are hardly ever even mentioned. It is argued that we have a "two party system." That is correct. It is a system which maintains control of government no matter which party wins. And, as Dave says, today one is no better than the other.
It would help if Libertarian image could be improved, instead of being portrayed as a bunch of selfish irresponsible drugheads (this being the media image). I canvassed door-to-door to get Ron Paul of Texas on the ballot as a Libertarian presidential candidate some years ago. This fine individual is now doing a great job as a Republican congressman. As I see it, Libertarians are for Constitutional government. That means getting government to abide by the Constitution, and stay away from assuming powers which are not granted to it.
If more voters would have the moral courage and intellectual honesty of Dave Duffy, we would not be "losertarians," but "winnertarians."
I found your "Losertarian" editorial in Issue #103 quite interesting. I had not known of Medved's comments and the Montana election results before reading it. But you may well find it intriguing to note that the situation was not unique; the same thing happened here in Missouri.
Shortly after the final election results here were published, I sent the following to the "rec.guns" Usenet discussion group:
I recently noticed something interesting. Missouri Libertarians gave the Senate to the Democrats. Annoys me a lot.
To explain: I'm a Missouri voter, and identify myself as a Libertarian, but I vote firstly and primarily on gun rights. To me, that is the overwhelmingly important issue. I'll accept the label of "single-issue voter" regarding that.
I would like to vote Libertarian all the time, but I will vote for another pro-gun candidate over an anti-gun one if the contest is close enough that my vote matters. This was the case in Missouri this month, where Republican Jim Talent (incumbent) had an NRA rating of "A", while his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, had an "F" rating. The contest was nationally reported as a key close race. McCaskill won.
The result was Talent 47.4%, McCaskill 49.5%, Libertarian Frank Gilmour 2.2%, and Progressive Lydia Lewis .9%. Note those numbers. If all the Libertarians had voted for Talent in just the Senate race, and used their Libertarian votes for other races (as I did), Talent would have won, 49.6% to 49.5%, and the Senate would have stayed Republican on a razor-thin margin. So my state's Libertarians shot themselves and all the rest of the nation in the foot by misguided idealism.
Of course, there is a counter-argument: If all the Progressive party voters had voted for McCaskill, she still would have won. But I think the ideology of Libertarians in concern for gun rights would and should have been a stronger motivation for them to give up their Senate votes for this specific issue; the Progressive agenda is more diffuse and there was more reason for them to split from the Democrats.
I feel shame that it was my state that did this to my country.
Now, based on your editorial comments, you may not feel the same way about this as I did, but I thought you'd like to know that the surprising result, with Libertarians swaying voting over the hair-thin margins we seem to have all too often these days, happened here too.
I wonder if there are other states where the same thing occurred?
Saint Louis, Missouri
I also vote gun rights first if I think it will be a close election. That's more important on the state level, as many states continue to support things like right-to-carry laws. I actually had hopes Bush would support a federal right-to-carry law. Like my other hopes for the Republicans at the federal level, I was disappointed.
Enclosed find a $30 check for two copies of "Stupid People."
"My View" on "Losertarian" was on target. In relation to that, when Lieberman lost the primary and ran as an Independent, I recall a "pundit" demanding that he withdraw because "the people have spoken." I have yet to hear a comment about "the people" after the election. In both parties a minority chooses who they "allow" you to vote for. We need to choose our own candidates.
There is a solution to the critics of third-party voting that Dave Duffy writes about in "I'm Proud to be a Losertarian." It's called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).
In IRV you list the candidates' political party by preference. One could list the Libertarian Party as your first choice in a particular race, then the Republican as second choice, etc. Or in my case, I would list the Green Party's candidate as my first choice, then the Democrat as my second choice, etc.
When your first choice doesn't receive at least 50% of the votes cast, your vote would go to the second or third candidate you voted for that office. There would be no more voting for the lesser of two evils because you would be ranking candidates on the ballot by choice.
Unfortunately, the United States does not have this on a federal or state level. But several U.S. cities do use IRV. But it would not take a Constitutional Amendment to implement IRV. Individual states could implement this and it would avoid minor party votes being called "spoiler votes." It would also benefit the Republican and Democrat parties to champion IRV, because they would not really "lose" votes to the Libertarians and Greens.
Everyone would benefit from IRV, the major parties as well as minor, because no longer would one be labeled throwing your vote away for voting third-party. Both Ireland and Australia use IRV in all their elections.
Voting for your favorite choice (in my case Green), should not end up in electing your worst nightmare (in my case Republican).
I like the idea.
I just received my Jan/Feb issue and being the standard engineer type, started reading from the front and read your column, "I'm proud to be a 'Losertarian' again." I put down the magazine and opened up a new Word doc and before I read the next page, I have to shout Amen!
I have considered myself a Republican for a long time, but right now I'm so very disgusted with them I would absolutely refuse to shake W's hand. I work in a mid-sized office building with a security guard who sits right opposite my office door. He and I share many discussions about politics as he's one of those folks that think clinton (uncapitalized on purpose, please do not edit) was the greatest thing since sliced bread and can do no wrong. I take pride in that I can look objectively at the party I've been supporting and see their faults...but that has led me to decide I'll not even vote in the next one. We have no choice...as you said, the Republicans have not delivered and this administration stands exposed as having actively assaulted our Constitution.
I am disappointed, too, they failed to follow through on any sort of Social Security reform, but enraged that they refuse to effectively address the acute threat that illegal immigration poses to our culture and our security. I got so angry when I heard Bush repeat that old lie, "They are doing jobs Americans won't do," I could have spit. I have done site visits on commercial construction sites year after year, and I see them filled now with immigrants...most of whom are obviously illegal. It used to be just the landscaping contractors, then the sheet rockers and brick masons, but now they have assumed most of those formerly well-paid construction jobs.
When I first read about the North American Prosperity Partnership, the brain child of the Council on Foreign Relations (I am not a conspiracy nut...this is documented on their own website), that proposes to eliminate the borders with Canada and Mexico by 2010, I didn't believe it. Since Tom Tancredo has taken up the alarm, I realize that Bush truly does intend to do away with the United States in favor of a North American Union. I've read articles, etc., that portrayed him as a born-again One-Worlder, but thought it was just his opponents attempting to smear him again; after all, he's a man of faith, right? I don't believe anymore that his God and mine are the same. He swore his oath of office, "to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States" with his hand on the Bible; his actions now show he did not respect that oath or the Bible he swore it on.
I could go on and on, but I just had to tell you, since I know you'll probably catch a lot of flak for that column, that I think you are right on with one exception. I don't think voting Libertarian will have any effect at all. The list of politicians with honor that work for the good of the people is so short, I think that soon we will be at that point John Silveira mentioned in a previous column...when the Tree of Liberty is watered.
Salisbury, North Carolina
Pursuing self-reliance is difficult but doable
I wanted to start off by thanking you folks for doing what you do. I have been a subscriber for a while now, and your articles and mindset helped me come up with an idea of how I could become more self-sufficient and free to choose. I work for a heavy manufacturing business, so my wife and I knew we couldn't move to rural Montana or deep in the desert of the high plains and work where we do. Your words and thoughts helped us come up with an idea, and then over time come up with an action plan. After three years of planning, I am just a few months from retirement now and we are working on our hobby farm raising chickens, bees, fruit trees, vegetables, and doing woodworking. We moved onto our farm three years ago and with your guidance, we have avoided lots of mistakes turning our dream into reality.
Make no mistake; it has been terribly difficult the last three years. Working a full time job, tending to all harvest activities, and still being an attentive husband has been very tiring. My wife and I have had more than one conversation asking each other if the whole idea was a mistake. I was naive thinking that just getting here was the reward. The work is hard, but the returns are why we do what we do. I read in almost every issue about folk's dreams of turning back to the land. It is a wonderful dream. Often it sounds like folks have their dream, but haven't got to the hardest job of putting together the plan. My advice to folks that have a dream to try their best to define what they want to do, set up their action plan, and then set their plan into motion. Continually evaluate where you are toward your plan. Keep talking with your partner along the way making sure you both are aligned with the direction you are headed. Don't be afraid to change course if you begin fine tuning your dream. Don't start too many things too fast. Be honest with your abilities and how you will support your dream. You will need to learn so many things that don't immediately come to mind. Talk to people in the field you are interested in. For example, farmers are also mechanics, welders, woodworkers, and electricians. If you miss some critical skills, go learn them. Believe me, you can't afford to hire all those needs out. You will be broke in a hurry.
Lastly, keep reading. Keep learning, keep thinking, and most importantly keep talking with those you love. It will all be worth it.
Two Patriots Farms
Mussey Township, Michigan
Chainsaw article helpful
I had never sharpened a chain saw before, and I didn't want to screw it up, so I looked on the Internet for help. I found Thomas Brewer's article, "Ambidextrous chain saw filing" (http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/brewer57.html) (Issue #57 in The 10th Year Anthology). In it, he describes a stand that holds the saw while you file the chain. It worked like a charm.
Oak Harbor, Washington
A free subscription for a worthy person
Happy New Year to all of you! Thanks for a great year past of your terrific magazine. I have learned a great deal from you and each of your contributors. Love the way "you guys" think, and aren't we all just crazy about Jackie Clay? (She reminds me so much of my own mom, long gone now.)
I have enclosed a check for $15 plus $23.95. The $15 is for a copy of your new book, "Can America Be Saved..." Looking forward to getting that. The $23.95 is for someone you choose, who can't afford a subscription, to get one. (My New Year's resolution is to quit smoking and help others with the savings. Well, maybe I'll splurge a bit on some gardening supplies too.)
I wish all of you a great year ahead and good health and joyful moments.
We'll send the free subscription to a worthy person. Thanks! Someone once told me, "The more good you do, the more you'll get in return." I've found that statement to be true, and you will too.
Bradford Metcalf saga
I have been a happy Backwoods Home Magazine subscriber, off and on, for over 20 years. The Bradford Metcalf Essay (Issue #103, page 82) broke my heart; 40 years in prison for expressing your so called "freedom of speech." How many years did the terrorists get that blew up the World Trade Center parking garage?
Thank you for printing my letter in your Jan/Feb 2007 issue (page 82) in response to John Silveira's Last Word in the previous issue. Too many people (one is too many) believe that John's "rantings" are just anti-government paranoia.
First off, it isn't paranoia when "they" really are out to get you. Actually, John's watchman-on-the-wall diatribes are rather conservatively written, considering the magnitude of the constitutional violations being generated by our current legislatures.
I speak from experience when I say that all of what John said in his latest Last Word (Issue #103, page 90) is true. For over nine years, I have waged a legal battle in the courts to 1) prove my gun collection was legal, and 2)get an adjudication in the Supreme Court on the Second Amendment.
Folks, I can now say that I was delusional when I thought I could get any kind of justice out of the justice system.
Our courts supposedly base their decisions upon previous decisions by the same or higher courts. Those decisions are called "case law." The judges like to refer to it as "the common law." The whole thing is only a sham. Every reference to a previous decision becomes a steering away from good, constitutional, rational law. Why? The courts get to pick and choose which cases are published. The really horrific ones never see the light of day. The decisions which become precedential are generally small usurpations of our rights.
Need proof? Look at our Fourth Amendment. Our nation started out with a man's home being his castle—literally. A lawman walking up to a citizen and without probable cause, asking to search? Two hundred years ago, the citizen would have slapped the fool making such a ludicrous request. But the Supreme Court eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. And the Fifth. The Sixth. The First...I place the entire blame upon our federal judges. You say that is pretty harsh? Check it out. The courts always pass the buck to the legislature by saying, "It is assumed the legislature knows the law they have written is constitutional." Right! The legislature always says, "If it isn't constitutional, the courts will strike it down." Catch 22.
But the courts could fix this country. They could adjudicate by original intent, that is, they could look at what the founding fathers meant when they wrote the original documents. There was plenty of debate. Read the Federalist papers. Better yet, read the Anti-Federalist papers.
My focus for the last nine years has been on the return of the Second Amendment, you know, our right (?) to keep and bear arms? I am now headed to the Supreme Court on this very issue for the fourth time. My arguments are fine tuned. The problem? The Supreme Court picks and chooses their docket.
For the last 68 years, they have actively refused to give a direct addressing of exactly what the Second Amendment means...
Out of about 800 federal judges, I haven't seen one percent who even give lip service to our Constitution. By most of their adjudications, you couldn't tell if they had ever even read the document. Like I said, if the federal judges desired, they could return us to constitutional rule...
The circuit court case law which I have challenged (and been resoundingly shot down upon) states that a person in the "sedentary militia" does not qualify for Second Amendment protections. My allegedly "active militia" activities certainly take me out of the "sedentary" category. Accordingly, the Supremes should at least look at this case. What I believe I have is the perfect vehicle to take to the Supremes. Since I am incarcerated, I cannot "drive" that vehicle to court. That requires media pressure...
The Supremes can hear a case on homosexual marriage or a woman's traffic stop for seatbelt non-compliance. But adjudicate an amendment which could affect the draconian sentences of about 10,000 federal prisoners (and God only knows how many state prisoners) for clearly, blatantly unconstitutional statutes?
I have the vehicle. Is there anyone out there to drive it? Time is short.
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, Indiana 47808
Children and C.P.S.
Before I start my tirade, I feel it important to first say I am an Eagle Scout, honorably discharged veteran, have worked for the U.S. Forest Service, have 2 years of college, and have never used tobacco, drugs, or alcohol—not a bit.
Though I may sound like an upstanding citizen, I have lately found myself in trouble with the law, or should I say, the laws of this once great nation? Earlier this year, I was arrested for "child abuse." I left red marks on my 10 year old son that were not gone 12 minutes after the fact. His mom...dialed 911 and then hung up, which brought the sheriff's deputies out to my home. Wanted to also charge me with stopping the call. Luckily, she was honest about hanging up the phone herself, but I was still taken to jail for spanking the boy. Pictures were taken the next day for my "class B felony abuse," that found no bruises at all, yet my charges were not dropped, and I now face a lifetime of not owning firearms, as per the Brady law! I was out on my own recognizance after close to a week, but no longer allowed to associate with my children for about 3 months.
(One of your letter writers) seems to think that a bruise on a child constitutes need of a major life altering punishment to be thrown on every parent who does this. You truly must be one of those "soccer moms" who wants to control every aspect of others' lives. Didn't you read the previous issues? If you want to be a socialist, fine, go live in a socialist nation and be happy. A "class B felony," which is normal for "child abuse," is only one step down from a murder charge, and carries 1-10 years prison time per charge.
Someone can get in a fist fight in the street, while drunk, and get a misdemeanor charge, with several bruises or other damage involved. Also, a drunken brawl doesn't exclude one from the right to own firearms for protection of family, or putting meat on the table; "child abuse" does. I can understand if there were broken bones, cuts (real ones, not the accidental scratch) or other forms of real abuse. You (socialist) people take things too far, go grow your gardens in Sweden. The real abuse is the social workers telling our children that all they have to do is "Call 911 if Mom or Dad spanks you, and we will take care of it." In this case, Mom or Dad will be put in jail, and the children will be put in C.P.S. custody until "Mom and Dad become good little parents" who are now so many more sheep, or the state won't "give" them "their" children back...
A few comments re: your Issue 103. In the letters section, Jeanne Guelke said you had it all wrong about "big government." You really got it only part wrong. Nobody will deny the need of good parenting, however I have seen the abuses of child protective services, and they HAVE been the cause of family break ups. I was a policeman for 31 years with a major metro police dept. I personally saw cases where CPS employees actually put accusations in the minds of small children. They actually made the child believe "daddy did it" when later, after the damage was done, it was proven daddy was innocent. I've seen it happen enough times for me to not take the government's side without close scrutiny.
Re: Miles Wickstrom's letter (Issue #103, page 79) comment of Ayoob's unreasonable fear, it's obvious Wickstrom has never been in a dangerous situation and has always counted on the cops to protect him. Bees and wasps more dangerous? Every year in this country, I know there are thousands of serious attacks from both the 4 legged and 2 legged critters which have or could have led to serious bodily injury or death had it not been for the firearm. I can probably count on one hand how many times I've not carried a firearm in the past 34 years. No, I don't usually carry a firearm inside my house, but have on occasion and this is Ayoob's choice. I guess by the shrink's standards, I must be hyper vigilant also? This is a magazine of rural living and self preparedness. A firearm is a very important part of this, and if you aren't carrying it, it won't do you much good...
And finally, the Last Word section. I have been involved in years of investigations and assigned to federal task forces for almost 20 of my 31 years in law enforcement. I've been involved in many "RICO" prosecutions, and many more property seizures. I've had to go before either Federal magistrates or superior court judges in every case, and have never seen the type of RICO prosecutions or drug seizures you write about. Again it's probable there has been prosecutor misconduct in these type of cases, but I guarantee you it will be in the very minority of the cases. I have helped take some extremely violent criminals off the street using the RICO statute, and in every single case they were members of violent gangs, conspiring to or actually committing those crimes. I don't know of any simple drug user or dealer who was not a member of a criminal gang who has been prosecuted under RICO. Yes, I have seen cash seizures from suspects going through airports. These are usually drug running or money laundering suspects who are already targeted due to past investigations. After the money has been seized, they have the right to go into court to prove where the money came from and why the government shouldn't seize it. If they can show proof, the court generally orders the return of the cash. I can understand where this may be abused, but this should not be a reason to do away with the seizure system, and certainly has nothing to do with RICO. If the suspect has a valid case, he should be allowed to sue the government for damages.
I agree with and believe in some of your Libertarian ideas, but only up to a point. Without federal law enforcement, we would be in dire straits. Local law enforcement could never fight a lot of the serious crime without the help of the Feds.
Great magazine Dave, keep up the good work. It's ok to be wrong once in awhile, I have been myself, once or twice.
Hurricane Katrina letter
Your Letters feature is one of the best I've seen, chock-full of valuable pointers and insights contributed by readers, and helpful editorial replies.
I mostly look for self-sufficiency pointers, as we have been striving towards that goal for over 30 years. We can learn a lot from each other's experiences, and I find your suggestions to various challenges faced by the readers to be right on target, for the most part.
However, after reading one letter (from Sharon Cameron, Issue #102, page 86) in the Nov/Dec 2006 issue, I felt your reply was lacking. My heart really goes out to Sharon Cameron and family from the Mississippi coast, after reading her letter describing her situation after her home was damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Katrina. Since the family lives on 5 acres with a woods that was partially blown down in the hurricane, it does seem like a reasonable solution to salvage the downed trees and cut enough other trees to make it feasible to barter with a portable sawmill owner to saw boards from the timber to build a new home with. However, that answer is too simplistic, when you realize that would still only be a start on the total cost of building a home, since the roofing, windows, doors, drywall, insulation, wiring, heating and cooling equipment, plumbing, bath and kitchen fixtures, etc., would be still an astronomical cost. In the meanwhile, they would be potentially destroying their woods and its offerings for their family's future. As you said, you really don't know their situation or if your suggestion is feasible for them, and neither do I, but there are so many people who are in the same situation on the Gulf Coast, as the writer mentions, that it would be a service to them all if you could dig deeper into a solution of how to afford to re-build in their area. Why not a series of articles shared by your readers about how to start over with whatever they have left after something like that hits?
I think that the affected residents need to find hope in alternative solutions to traditional building methods. Public libraries and bookstores have reference books and magazines on alternative construction that may suggest better choices than traditional frame construction, and may include specifications for special needs in the Gulf region. Research may lead to consideration of geodesic domes, earth-sheltered construction, passive solar options, traditional canvas-and-stick yurts, or those made of modern materials. When building, consideration of orientation towards the sun for passive solar possibilities can assist with heating/cooling costs...
John & Val Strege
Walton, West Virginia
For 17 years this magazine has detailed all the various methods of construction, where to get materials, both first class and very inexpensively. But first you must begin the process of re-building. A person must take that first step. That's all I was trying to say.
I liked the article on urban gardening (Issue #103, page 66). I have been doing this for several years now. I thought I would share a few photos with you and fellow readers.
Keep in mind while you look at these, that our patio is 20 feet long and 8 feet wide, our total yard space is 25 feet by 50 feet.
Most all my planters were salvaged from the curbside, as well as the wagons that I use to hold large tomato plants. Last season I had three wagons with planters that held green beans, purple beans, and tomatoes. I also had several hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes, the hybrid tomatoes in planters on the patio, along with several types of hot peppers and various herbs.
In our garden area, which is 6 feet by 18 feet, we had more tomatoes, green peppers, and hot peppers, leaf lettuce, onions, celery, summer squash, green beans, radishes, and beets. We also tried winter squash and watermelon, but those didn't grow very well this time.
The summer squash did amazingly well, giving well over 24 squash from just two plants (a variety called Lemon Squash).
In the previous fall we prepared the garden area by tilling in large amounts of shredded leaves and compost and allowing the leaves to decompose all winter. In the spring this yielded soil as nice and dark and rich as store bought potting mix.
The planters all contain this soil mix: 1/3 compost, 1/3 top soil, and 1/3 potting mix. With this combination, I did not have to fertilize the plants all season. As you can see from the photos, the plants did not suffer from lack of fertilizer.
For those who don't think they have the space to grow anything... guess again.