issue 102 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #102

Your healthy editorial forced me to take notice

I’m writing in response to “My View” in the July/August 2006 issue. I wanted you to know that your magazine and the healthy living it promotes really does do a lot of good " especially on health. You start a train of thought consciously and subconsciously that goes with us throughout our daily lives and healthy decisions are made that would not otherwise be there. I’ve seen it in my own family (we all love Backwoods Home) and I know that I speak for many that won’t and are afraid to write in to ya’ll. Most guys like us rarely ever pick up a pen unless it’s to mark a piece of wood to cut. We can hardly scribble our names or signature when we have to! So when good food that is really healthy and easy to make is in a magazine like yours we take notice and health comes to the front. We pay attention. Anyway, job well done for the first 100 issues and please keep it up.

Rodney Jenkins Jr.
Venus, Texas

How do you rebuild after Hurricane Katrina

Do you have any articles on affordable homes? We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Katrina destroyed thousands of homes.

Between the cost of wood and other building supplies, labor, plumbing and concrete, it’s unreal. The cost of building has tripled. People can’t build homes.

Before Katrina you could rent for $300-400, now it’s $900+. People here just don’t have the money.

We live in a damaged doublewide. Before Katrina we had planned to build, but Katrina hit and our world changed. My husband just went to work 3 months ago. We had to live on what we saved. His job was blown away. He has another job, but had to take a cut in pay.

We have 5 children at home and I am a stay at home mom. We home school.

We have 5 wooded acres. Katrina took down quite a few trees, one hit our home.

We are looking for a way to build a home and not owe for the rest of our lives. Our home is damaged and beyond repair. The roof was full of holes and water leaked in the walls, the ceilings and other problems.

Any suggestions or articles you have would be a great help.

We are also looking for a cottage industry. My daughter loves goats (we have 2). We have chickens, dogs and a cat. We would like to get a mule.

If you have ideas in this area, it would be welcomed.

Please keep the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in your prayers. Every day is a struggle. We have barely begun to recover.

Sharon Cameron
Vancleave, Mississippi

It’s difficult to know exactly what your situation or capabilities are so maybe none of what I have to say will apply to you. But I also live on five acres, only half of it wooded. If a hurricane blew down half of those trees I would have enough lumber to build a new house.

I’d make a deal with someone who owns a portable sawmill such as a Woodmizer and give him some of the wood to help me cut it up into boards. Then I’d build a new house, bargaining my skills with neighbors for the construction skills I lacked.

This magazine has had many articles on building your own home, using sawmills, and bargaining skills. In fact, I started the magazine by building my own home, much of it out of salvaged materials. You can’t expect to recover overnight from such a big tragedy, but take that first step to recovery by seeing what you can do with your downed trees.
" Dave

Thanks for helping me build my own home

I would just like to drop you “fellas” at Backwoods Home a line to thank you for your informative publication.

Over the years your publication has given me the motivation to try my hand at many different things which when taken as a whole have benefited me greatly. Because of the can do spirit embodied in your magazine I have acquired the many skills necessary to build my own home as well as provide for my family. I am currently in the process of building aforementioned home “out of pocket” so as not to pay those gleaming giants of finance for the next thirty years. Two years of sacrifice is well worth it.

Bill Edmonds
Scottsboro, Alabama

Congrats from England on your 100th issue

Congratulations to all at Backwoods Home Magazine on the 100th issue.

Thank you for a great magazine, it has given us a lot of good advice and help over the years. we can’t wait for the next one to arrive, plus it always feels like hearing from family. Long may you continue!

Sharon, Ray & Matt Hiscock
Dorset, England

Heart surgery in India?

I was sorry to hear about yours and Jackie Clay’s health problems. I’m fifty two and have been diagnosed as having a seventy percent blockage of a coronary artery. That was nine years ago and I have no idea what it is now.

I live in the country but have a long commute to Dallas, Texas where I have a good job with good health insurance. I’m a bachelor with only myself to insure and I pay only $35.49 a week for health coverage. The company pays the rest. A check with neighbors and friends shows me that I’m lucky if not outright in a growing minority. How I could afford health insurance if I lost my job is a concern of mine. This is actually a big snag for me in getting out of the rat race.

I’m curious how you and the people who contribute to Backwoods Home handle the medical aspect of self-reliant living. I’ve read the articles about first aid but I can’t do my own bypass surgery. Is there any direction you can point me in on this? Some of the individual premium payments I’ve heard people have to make are scary.

Enclosed is an article from The Dallas Morning News about the low cost of major surgery in India and how they are targeting the United States for customers. When you can get a triple bypass in New Delhi for $15,000 and the same thing is $105,000 in the U.S., that’s interesting.

Dan E. Lowry
Kaufman, Texas

No one has a solution for the skyrocketing cost of health care insurance in the U.S. For those who don’t have health insurance, bypass surgery in India is a good alternative to the high cost of such surgery in the U.S. Indian doctors are very good, and many have been trained in the U.S.

The worst is yet to come for health care in the U.S. In only a few years, baby boomers will begin draining Medicare funds, quickly bankrupting that system so the Government will have to parcel out essential operations and treatments. It will have a ripple effect on the nation’s entire health delivery system. You’ll see large numbers of Americans boarding jets for hospitals in India and elsewhere to escape the substandard treatment that will result in America. Eventually it will force a national health care system upon the country in order to spread the extraordinary financial burden. Then we’ll all have welfare style medical care. " Dave

The Government gorilla

I’m writing to you today to respond to something that was implied in your recent article, “The Government gorilla in our home.” I am in complete agreement with you in respect to the unbelievable control CPS has over our homes and lives. However, you inferred that while watching the show about this there was a police officer standing there to show the “Power” of the Government. I am the wife of a police officer who feels the need to speak out in his defense. The Government control you speak of also ties the hands of the officers standing there. Who do you think is going to have to deal with that 14-year-old who’s officially out of hand? Most likely an officer just like that one standing there doing his job. You have painted a picture that he is in agreement with the situation. That is most likely not the case, especially if it’s a case of a parent simply trying to discipline their child. They are usually fully aware that the child hasn’t been abused. Unfortunately, they are simply there to enforce the law. I simply ask you not to lump everything you see into a bad scenario. Really Mr. Duffy, the police are not the bad guys. They have their own 14-year-olds to deal with at home the best way they can.

Kimberly Marsh
Nice, California

I didn’t mean to imply that the officer was in agreement with what was going on. I realize that most police are just like the rest of us: Caught in the web of Big Government. But it does beg the question: Who is to stop Big Government from thrusting its power into our personal lives? The father couldn’t stop it. The officer is bound by law not to. The court condoned it.

What’s the answer? Someone has got to step up and say, “Stop!” Maybe the cop should have intervened and said something like, “Wait! Get your supervisor down here now and have her take a second look at this case.” My answer is to write about such abuses. Others, perhaps even you and your husband, need to somehow make their individual protests against Government abuses. Even a letter to a local politician is a start.

Some readers of this magazine go the opposite way. They don’t even want me to discuss these things. I get cancellations every issue because I dare to intrude these “politics” into BHM. If that is the price of speaking out against overbearing Government, I’ll gladly pay it if it will help preserve a few more freedoms for my children. " Dave

Thanks for exposing the child Welfare Agencies for what they are. I have seen this up close. My sister is a small woman and her teenaged son knocked her down and was choking her. Her husband, the boy’s stepdad, yanked the boy off her and slapped his face.

The stepdad was arrested – the cops weren’t interested in the marks on my sister’s neck. The child had to be protected at all costs. It was my sister who needed protection from her son. My brother-in-law had to go thru anger management classes. He’d never been in any trouble, before or since.

My nephew is in jail now, after assaulting a girlfriend. He’s 20 now, and my sister is still afraid of him. None of this makes any sense. Why isn’t there an agency to protect a small woman from a violent teenaged “child?”

Susan Jameson
Spokane, Washington

Regarding your editorial on the government gorilla in our homes, everyone should know about the good work being done by the Home School Legal Defense Association on behalf of home schooling families throughout the country. Many home schooling families have had hostile and aggressive encounters with social service agencies, often backed up by police officers. If you’re not a home schooling family, then learn the basics of HSLDA’s policies pertaining to contacts from social service workers. If you are home schooling, HSLDA’s yearly membership fee of just over $100 is an absolute must.

The bottom line is, don’t let anyone from a social service or “child protective” agency cross the threshhold of your door, no matter how intimidating he/she and their police cohorts might be. The minute you let them in, you’ve forfeited your Fourth Amendment rights, such as they are these days. If they physically force their way in, tell them they have entered your home without your consent. Be prepared for such eventualities and have at your disposal the emergency phone number of a lawyer who’s on your side. If you’re a member of HSLDA, call them. Get the lawyer on the phone with the social worker to explain your Constitutional rights. HSLDA has nipped many threatening cases in the bud by keeping out social workers and has successfully seen numerous other cases through the court system. They’ve also been on the forefront of endeavoring to educate social workers about the Fourth Amendment.

You owe it to yourself to look at HSLDA’s web site at, or call them at (540) 338-5600.

John Wesley Smith
Hallsville, Missouri

Dealing with road rage: Is a gun the answer?

Four days ago I had a handgun pointed at my head. This was not the first time. The first time happened 2 years ago when I was managing a small retail shop and was held up by 2 armed men. I knew that they wanted cash, and when I gave it to them they were gone. This experience did not bother me. I was able to go on with my life normally.

This recent event has bothered me. I have trouble sleeping. This man had crossed traffic during rush hour…resulting in someone honking at him (not me). Assuming it was me who honked (my assumption) he turned around and caught up to me, pulled alongside me, and pointed a handgun at my head. I could see directly down the barrel. I slammed on the brakes and he flew forward. He faked getting on the freeway and pulled over…I got on the freeway and sped to get away. As I passed he got out of his car and leveled his gun on me again. There was no time to get a license plate number and there was no way to turn around. Unarmed, I feel I did the best I could, even though it could have been a turkey shoot for him as I passed his car on the access road while I was fleeing on the freeway. Armed, I would have had a defense, and could have pulled over behind him and got his plate numbers and hopefully help remove a dangerous criminal from society, if even for a few days.

This experience has left me with a prime directive. Learn to carry concealed legally, learn to carry concealed responsibly, and then carry a concealed weapon.

Since this happened I have been devouring anything I can on the subject of self-defense. But my reason for writing is I would love to see an article, especially by Mr. Ayoob, on road rage and how to defend against it in extreme circumstances, especially when you are surprised and have limited maneuverability.

Russ Hall
Austin, Texas

I’ll ask Massad Ayoob to consider such an article for a future issue.
" Dave

Taking an active role in my own health

Just wanted to let you know that I had my first stress test today. Everything looks fine. Thanks for all the encouragement to have that done. Due to your articles in the last few issues I have decided to take an active role in my health and that of my daughters. We had the necessary tests to get a good baseline for our health and we are joining the local gym. Our diet, which was already fairly healthy, will be changed a bit so we can get more calcium and less fat. Thank you for your persistence in getting your readers out of their recliners! I look forward to more great articles that will empower us with the knowledge to move ahead into a healthier future!

Bonnie & Anna
Rolla, Missouri

Good for you. A good diet (low in saturated fats and triglicerides) and aerobic exercise (1/2 to 1 hour a day) will solve many health problems.
" Dave

Observations on America

In your most recent issue, you wrote a wonderful editorial on your recovery from open heart surgery and how it had led you to a healthier eating lifestyle. I was very interested to read your comment regarding this and how no one else in your cardiac rehab group seemed to be very interested in changing their eating habits. I am an emergency room nurse; prior to that I was a critical care nurse specializing in cardiac patients. I can tell you with conviction that out of 10 patients I care for, only 1-2 of them will be interested and motivated to change their lifestyles after an emergency or life altering illness.

I am currently pursuing a higher education degree and as part of my masters program, I plan on studying the relation between healthy eating and illness, as if we didn’t already know there is a correlation. I am firmly convinced that 40-50% of all chronic illnesses in America is directly related to how we eat on a daily basis. I treat patients daily whose diet is a direct contributor but who will deny it or proclaim that “we all have to die from something!”

I feel certain that the daily doses of advertisements and commercials that most people ingest from morning to night is the main root of the problem. However, I also see another trend that is deeply unsettling and is frequently addressed in your magazine and that is the American way of blaming others for their problems and always expecting others to solve their problems. Most of the business that revolves through our ER daily is minor, easily solved things that, several years ago, would have been taken care of at home with home remedies. With the evolution of HMO’s in the eighties and the consumerizing of health care, people have been swayed into believing that a pill, procedure, major surgery, etc. is the only or the fastest, easiest solution. I could tell many horror stories of how millions of taxpayer dollars are being misused by the thousands that are on Medicaid. I’m not speaking of the elderly or those who truly meet criteria and, unfortunately, there are plenty of those in the land of plenty. I’m talking of the many able bodied Americans who simply don’t want to have to get up in the morning to go to a job and take orders from someone they don’t like. I don’t feel there are any real solutions to this problem until someone finally has the courage to completely overhaul the system. I don’t see that coming in the next few elections. Most politicians won’t stand up to their constituents and say “Enough!”

Please continue to make strides in your recovery so you can continue to publish a magazine with conviction. You and your writers have the courage to write and print what most people are already saying. From my professional point of view, you are on the right track to successfully live into your nineties. Good luck and good continued health. Be assured I will continue to read your magazine!

Dena Sigman
Denver, North Carolina

Building codes have put my new home on hold

I am a big fan of your magazine. I have received it for a few years now. My family bought some land a few years ago with the intention of building our own little bit of paradise. When we bought the land it was way out in the “boonies” as my father called it. We never had the money or time to build a house but did build a small storage shed. Now that we have a bit of cash we wanted to build a house. We soon found out that there were permits, inspections, size requirements, building codes, and so much more that has been put into effect now! My question is how do those that move out of the cities deal with all those requirements? One permit alone was going to cost us over $100.00! We cannot afford to purchase other land at this time and are severely disappointed in all the governmental paper work that is now required.

Thanks again for a great informative magazine!

Dawn Singleton
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Building codes are a fact of life nearly everywhere now. I’m building a 24×36 barn, and my permits have cost more than $700 so far. Codes are good for those few bunglers who would build a structure that would be dangerous to inhabit, but more often they are about raising money for the local bureaucracy. " Dave

Thanks to Jackie, Claire

Thank you for such an informative magazine. I’ve only started to implement some of the information I’ve learned during these past couple of years, but will be using a lot more after I get my family moved next year.

A big surprise to me"I caught my wife reading parts of a couple issues recently, and she never reads more than she has to"until now!

Jackie’s “Starting-Over” is always the first article I turn to and I have to give thanks to Claire Wolfe for commenting about a movie that I didn’t know of, but has become a family favorite. I ordered “A Home of Our Own” on her review, waited a month due to back-order status, and have been watching it at least once a week since then.

The Smiths
Lovelock, Nevada

BHM website the best

My name is Pat Sherman. I am 28 and my wife and I have just purchased 3.5 acres. On Tuesday 8/1/06 I was at the local auction and picked up 4 Jersey calves. They are all steers, which I will be raising for beef. I plan on selling a couple in a few months. I only bought all 4 because I won the auction for a dollar per calf. This will be my first time raising cows. I just want to say that I was searching the web for info, and I have to say that you have a great site. The article on raising calves is the best one I could find on the web for what I was looking for. Keep up the good work. And I can guarantee that I will be returning to your site!

Pat Sherman
Hubbard, Oregon

Glad you use the website (, but don’t forget to subscribe to this print issue (page 97) too. It’s money from print issue subscriptions and anthology sales that allows us to provide all these good articles. " Dave

Dave’s new boat

That sounds like a very nice boat as shown on the cover of your July/Aug magazine. I think you’ll enjoy it a lot, especially being in such a perfect location.

I’d like to see the numbers for it such as length, width, weight, displacement, what the hull is made of and who made the hull. 200 HP seems like a lot. Such info would probably make a good article in your magazine.

Jim Stanek
Holcombe, Wisconsin

The boat is 24 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, weighs 5000 pounds, and displaces 3 to 4 inches of water when on plane, which makes it a good river boat. It’s made entirely of aluminum. The builder is Wayne Adams, 541-247-7730. I could have gone with a smaller motor, but I opted for the 200 HP Honda, which will get the boat up to 40 mph in calm water. I don’t go that fast and use it mainly for fishing in the ocean.

Some readers, mainly in the chatroom we have on our internet website, did not like me buying the boat. They assumed it indicated I had “too much money.” One said disgustedly, “He must be rolling in it!” I thought it was kind of funny. Here we have a magazine that is devoted to self-reliance and improving one’s life, yet some readers are put off at a sign of success. It says something about human nature: In the eyes of some, those who achieve will always be the hated minority who don’t deserve what they worked for. " Dave

I raised my family in a tent"in the Yukon!

I have been a reader since your magazine was available in the Yukon Territory, Canada. That would be about your third year. All I can say is, wow! If you read on I’m sure you will understand.

When I was 15, I left Montreal for the wilds of the Yukon. There I worked in jobs that would keep me in the bush. When I was 17, that was 1980, I met my wife, a native Yukonner. This year we are celebrating our 26th year together. Together we had 3 children. Now as you can imagine, having your first child at 17 can be very difficult both mentally and financially. When our third child was born, we realized that with the money we were making, we had to find a better way. Our solution was to buy a piece of property 50 miles north of Whitehorse. It was an undeveloped piece of property with no services at all. We lived in a 14 x 20-foot wall tent while we slowly built our house. Well it turned out the money for the house was very slow in coming. So we ended up living and raising our children in that tent for almost 13 years. Truly, 13 years.

Let me tell you, almost everything of what you printed, and some, was used on the farm, from raising livestock to how to make money in the country.

Anyhow, I recently purchased your Whole Sheebang and thought I should drop you a note to thank you for all your hard work. Those were the best years of my life.

I would love to speak to you personally and hear the voice of the man who developed, what I term, the most influential magazine I have ever read.

John Morrison
Bowen Island, BC, Canada

Just give me a call. If I’m not out on my boat, I’d like to congratulate you personally on a job well done. " Dave

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