issue 114 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #114

Raising chickens for 1st time in 51 years

Jackie, I want you to know that you are responsible for us raising chickens for the first time in 51 years of farming together. We’ve had ducks al these years, but never had a good place for baby chicks, but your article in the Jan/Feb 2008 BHM convinced my husband that we could purchase 25 Rhode Island Reds in March. At the farm store they had 2 week old New Hampshire Reds which looked healthy so we got them and put them in a tank in our garage under a heat lamp until April. We never lost a one until we moved them to their pen on slides and one got stuck under the slide.

The new shed that our son and grandson helped Ellis build also is on skids. They made sliding doors to open to get the eggs and a full size gate to get into the pen for changing water and feed. There is no other chicken house like this"it comprises two combine tail-ends bolted together on skids. The roosts are parts of an old wooden ladder and the nests are made from PVC panels and wood that our son nailed together. He wasn’t too impressed with the plan, but it was already in place before he arrived. Wire covers the sides and top and every week or so we move the pen to new grass with the tractor. The eighteen 5-month old hens have already laid up to 15 eggs in one day. These New Hampshire Red are so gentle and soft we can pick them up and pet them. I never liked chickens when I was a kid"they pecked and the chicken house was so smelly and dark. My husband says these hens have a better personality than the ones his folks used to raise. We just might get addicted to raising chickens.

Thank you for all your help in the magazine. I tried many of your recipes and suggestions. We raise and milk goats so I make cheese, yogurt, and ice cream all summer. We have 30 orchard trees so I am now canning and freezing peaches, pears, and apples

Donna Adee
Minneapolis, Kansas

Preparedness Issue intended as a mini-book

I have just talked to Rhoda and got the pricing on the back issues I’d like to order. It is with the man’s hand holding a globe (Issue No. 111). It is the most and best all round information located all in one book. I bought 5 last month for gifts to people who want to know how to get started and where to start. I feel our days as we know it are coming to an end. So I am doing what I can in a small way to help those I care about.

Donna McKenery
Springfield, West Virginia

Our Issue No. 111 (May/June 2008) was a Special Preparedness Issue that we spent a lot of time preparing. We intended it as a timeless mini-book, and have now bundled it with our EPSG book and EPSG CD-ROM (see ad on pages 56-57). I was so confident in the issue’s success that I printed an extra 15,000 copies. We still have about 3,000 left, so if anyone wants to order bulk copies (10 or more), we’ll give you a good discount. Just call us at 1-800-835-2418 " Dave

Updated medical kit

As a brand new subscriber, I was impressed with special “Economic Squeeze” issue. Jackie Clay’s article caused me to pull out my medical kit and update it from 2000. I use a fifty quart Igloo ice chest similar to what our local Red Cross uses. Obviously this keeps time sensitive items in a more steady state without big temperature swings that quickly take the life out of pills and so many other medicines. I bought plastic snap-lock tubs that I stack and put a silverware tray on top to organize the little things. Soft items are under it to snug it up against the lid so things don’t jump around in transit.

I use the red stucco tape (similar to the grey duct tape) to make red crosses on all sides and top of the chest so anyone can recognize it.

We live off the grid and twenty five miles down a dirt road. The fire department will never make it so we have fire extinguishers mounted at eye level as you come and go from every room. I have added labels that I made on my color printer that says where that rather big cooler is kept with an arrow pointing, again so anybody can find it. The walk-in cooler is really an above ground root cellar with a very small air conditioner in it.

I have also found that gun shows are a great place to find medical supplies.

Chuck Bennett
Yucca, Arizona

Need a source to build an underground house

We tell everyone we see about your magazine. We love it! If anyone knows any info regarding underground homes for our area, please share with us. We live in rural southern Mississippi and “The $50 & Up Underground House Book” by Mike Oehler is a bit too primitive for us even though it supplies lots of useful ideas. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Susan Holmes
Moselle, Mississippi

I have no specifics for your area, but our Best of the First Two Years anthology has a very good article on “earth-set” houses by Martin Harris, Jr. It’s on page 301. " Dave

Have all but 2 issues

After these many years of reading Backwoods Home Magazine I still enjoy receiving and reading the latest issue and periodically going through my old/older issues.

My oldest issue on file is Issue #2 for Dec. 1989-Jan. 1990. I have all issues except #1 and #6. I will have all anthologies to date upon receipt of #13.

James L. Roberts
Hodges, South Carolina

Nice! There are only a handful of complete sets of BHM in existence. (I have 12 of them.) I found an extra copy of Issue No. 1 and mailed it to you. You should try buying #6 online, maybe on eBay. Then you’d have a collection that’s very rare.
" Dave

Geese for home security

I’m new to BHM. The May/June issue was my first one, after I responded to your ad in my mailbox. I’d never heard of you before. This magazine makes a lot of good sense in its articles. I’ll try to buy some back issues when I can.

The reason for writing at this time is to point out that as a Home Security watch, it’s hard to beat geese. They have been used as sentries in other countries for years. Yes, the gander protecting his turf can be rough on small children so if you have small kids running loose, it would be wise to fence the geese where they can patrol approaches or buildings in earshot of your house, but out of reach of little kids.

Unlike dogs, geese cannot be bribed to be quiet. They count everybody as intruders"be he friend or foe, and are especially vigilant around their nesting areas. While geese are mostly grass eaters, having their water source at one end of their patrol area and some grain at the other end will keep them moving more from point to point. Depending on your situation, you could have a flock roaming your homestead or fence some into specific areas you want guarded. Surplus geese recycle nicely, too.

My grandmother would use the down and small feathers for pillows, the wing tips as dusters, the blood for sausage and the fat was rendered for cookie baking, besides there was tasty meat for a family feast. If the meat is not needed, the birds can simply be plucked of the down and left to grow some more, just do that early enough so they can grow it back before cold weather sets in. As a mostly grass eater, they are also economic to raise and have few disease problems. Also their eggs are superior for baking cakes and cookies and one replaces three chicken eggs and the shells are often used in crafts and flight feathers as dulcimer picks and in the old days as pens, hence the need for a pen knife, which in today’s world would get your kid expelled from school and be confiscated.

Robert Kosek
Morgan, Minnesota

Thanks for the laughs

I just got my first issue of Backwoods Home, after resubscribing at the MREA Energy Fair in Wisconsin. My wife & I were watching TV tonight while I was looking through it, and I started reading “The Guys’ Rules.” After a minute or two & a few chuckles, Kathleen asked what I was reading. Now, most times I’m a reasonable smart guy, so I should have known better. But it was late, & I had just finished my second drink, so I told her. I like reading, especially out loud, and most especially out loud to her. After the fifth Rule Number One, she asked, “What magazine is that?” and by way of answer, I just held it up for her to see. As she turned back to her show, she said, “Did you notice the guy on the cover is all alone?” Life is never boring when you share it with someone who makes you laugh.

I want to thank you for providing to me over this past decade the impetus for a few complete projects, several more things in the works, and a limitless number of dreams. I have way more plans than I have time or resources to complete them, but that’s ok. Today is sufficient.

James Parr
Streator, Illinois

Donors make possible complimentary subs

I love your magazine and do miss getting it delivered. Used to receive your yearly subscription but due to financial situations I can only afford to order this special issue (#111, Special Preparedness Issue), and choose to use my local library for the other issues. Keep up the good work and thanks for giving us hope we can survive the craziness.

Tina Piecek
Titusville, Pennsylvania

Each issue a few subscribers send us extra money to use for complimentary subscriptions for people who cannot afford to buy a subscription. We’ll use some of that money to send you a one-year complimentary subscription." Dave

Answers in anthologies

Just another thank you letter. I truly love your anthologies. They are a great reference. I don’t have Internet, so when I needed to find out what to do with an extra gift of eggs I found the answers in the 5th year book. When I wanted to find out what I could do with Grandma’s old comfrey plant the 8th year had the answer.

If I need ideas for a homeschool project John Silveira is the one to read. Questions on gardening and canning, of course, Jackie Clay answers. So many people contribute I can’t name them all. If I could change one thing about the magazine it would honestly be nothing. Thank you for the plastic sleeves. No more ripped pages!

Dezarae Graham
Indian Valley, Idaho

Free subscriptions for active military members

I would like to submit the name of my nephew for free issues of your fine magazine.

He has just re-enlisted after being sent to Iraq twice. He is a fine brave young man who still has 4 younger brothers and 1 baby sister at home.

It is wonderful that our military are honored by these free subscriptions.

Linda Kinney
Horatio, Arkansas

We are honored to be able to give free subscriptions to active members of America’s military. It’s the least we can do to thank them for what they do. " Dave

Going the extra mile

Just wanted to thank you for being so wonderful! It is always a pleasure to speak to you when we call to renew or have a question. No one is as friendly & as helpful as the BHM folks.

Just when I thought you could not be any better than you already are I called in to find out if our subscription had run out already or if the new magazine was on its way. Rhoda helped me out, the subscription expired with #112, #113 was currently going out. When we were determining the last issue we had received it looked like #112 was mailed “Building Eric’s House” but I did not think my husband had that one yet so she said that she would send out that one and I let her know I would mail in my renewal so we could receive #113 right away. That was super until my night shift working husband awoke. When I told him the story he quickly said “Oh no! I do already have “Building Eric’s House.”

I quickly called BHM and spoke to Rhoda. Here is the perfect example of the greatness found in the people there. She was happy to hear that we had 112 and appreciated our phoning back to let them know that there was no need to send another because #112 was already sold out.

Rhoda called her daughter and made arrangements for her to bring Rhoda’s own personal issue from her home to the BHM office during lunch so that Rhoda could send it out to us to make sure that we would have it! Amazing! That is a truly good-hearted person. So big kudos to Rhoda and her daughter for their willingness to go the extra mile. We sure love all of you there"you really are the cream of the crop!

Pam and Jim Halliwill
St. Augustine, Florida

Free men shall stand

When I was in high school in the late seventies I read a book written by Senator Jesse Helms titled “When Free Men Shall Stand.” That book set me on a path of conservative political views that leaves me, as my family and friends say, “leaning so far to the right that sometimes I hang upside down.”

In the September/October issue of BHM John Silveira wrote in his “Last Word” essay, as clearly and concisely put as I have seen in years, the truth of all Americans’ Natural and God Given Rights.

Thank you BHM. Keep up the good work and “Free Men Shall Stand.”

Ben Jones
Tangent, Oregon

Cloth diaper article

I have just discovered your magazine. I want to thank you for a very informative and easy to read magazine. I just purchased the Sept./Oct. Issue #113. This is the third issue I have read and I am impressed and pleased with the contents.

The “Sewing and using cloth diapers is easier than you think,” caught my attention right away. My husband and I raised five children and always used cloth diapers. We now have twelve grandchildren and on June 13, 2008 we became great-grandparents for the first time. I may just have to try sewing some of those diapers to surprise my granddaughter.

Elisabeth Davie
Harvard, Illinois

Separating the urban legends from the facts

I ran across this tasty tidbit in Latts & Atts (Lattitudes and Attitudes) Sept. 08 issue #100.


Lady Interviewer (aka LI): So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

General Cosgrove (aka GC): We’re going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.

LI: Shooting! That’s a bit irresponsible, isn’t it?

GC:I don’t see why, they’ll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

LI: Don’t you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

GC: I don’t see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

LI: But you’re equipping them to become violent killers.

GC: Well, Ma’am, you’re equipped to be a prostitute, but you’re not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

I like to laughed to death when I read this. Figured maybe you could use it in the mag. Or have a laugh.

I don’t know anything about copyrights or whatever so I put contact #s below. I tried to make it readable. I’m in the sleeper of an 18-wheeler and the road’s not very smooth.

Cruzers and Backwoods people are cut from the same cloth, self-reliant, and independent, fun-loving.

I actually think BHM should be required reading by every American. Would that be draconian?

Bob Bitchin
White, Georgia

I’ve heard this funny interview before, so this time I decided to have John Silveira do some research on it. Turns out the interview never actually took place; it’s just an urban legend.
But there’s a lot of merit in your suggestion that BHM should be required reading " then everyone would know what’s true and what’s not. " Dave

O.E. MacDougal" Should we unretire him?

For about 99%, you’re right on. I do encounter some things I don’t quite agree with.

I’m an old hard core American farm boy who grew up with nothing and still, at seventy two, don’t have a whole lot except my farm and very busy life. For heaven sakes don’t ever “retire.” It’s too darned much work.

Please continue to put the hammer down on the American way. And yes, use a supercharged cattle prod on the east coast socialist liberals.

For quite a few years I’ve said that real America ends at the Mississippi River, from there on it’s European Socialist. East coast politicians really believe One World Government is a good thing and the only way to go. The supercharged cattle prod, you know where, is what those morons need most.

We really need to split up the huge seven western states to gain some political clout against the east coast.

I for one, am really tired of people like boozenosed Kennedy and communist leaning socialists like Clintons and Obama trying to tell us real Americans how to live.

Of all the judges on the high courts, none are west coast natives. Is that some kind of coincidence? I think not.

I do miss Mac & Dave’s conversations. Bring him back out of retirement.

Gene Tindall
Klamath Falls, Oregon

I am talking with O.E. MacDougal now about possibly bringing him out of retirement. " Dave

Environmentalists and gun owners

Dave’s column in the September/October issue really took me aback. “A vast cultural divide exists between environmentalists and gun owners,” says Dave. News to me. I have been both an environmentalist and a gun owner for a long time and have never had a problem with that. There is no inherent contradiction. (Please do not confuse environmentalists with animal rightists.) I know lots of other environmentalists who are also gun owners. Many gun owners are outdoors people who understand even more than most folks how essential the natural world is to our physical and spiritual well-being. Accordingly, many gun owners have joined environmental organizations to try to keep it all from being paved and polluted into oblivion. So while there may well have been some kind of cultural divide at work in Dave’s situation, the fact that a particular group of people was anti-gun cannot be attributed to the fact that they were environmentalists.

I wish more environmentalists would become gun owners and more gun owners would become environmentalists. In my experience, that actually seems to be happening. But it will continue to happen only if we all spend some time together sharing our ideas with civility and discovering how much we really have in common. I am sorry that Dave had a bad experience with Mr. Sagrillo and his group. It is shameful that they would even consider banning BHM from the MREA Fair just because BHM runs gun articles (although we must remember that ultimately the board’s decision was to not ban BHM…

Michael Woodward
Interlachen, Florida

I agree with you that there is a great divide between gun owners and most environmentalists. But the dividing factor, even more than gun ownership, is the environmentalists’ lust for power and control of our lives. They want to control whether or not we can smoke, they would like to control what we eat (no new fast food restaurants in South LA if they have their way), and many other things they support to control our lives so that we live as we should, according to their rules. All for our own good, of course. We poor simple people really can’t be trusted to run our own lives.

Gun ownership is a big issue right now but if that issue did not exist there would be a million others that would come up. They will not be satisfied until they have control of every facet of our lives and we all behave like good little puppets and do as they say. Needless to say, that is not the life for me. Keep up the fight.

Robert Considine
Fulton, Illinois

A fire from China

We had a copy of Emergency Preparedness but lost it when our house burned down"all due to an extension cord made in China. It had a fake UL listed label on it.

The fire investigator told us he sees them being shipped in by the boatload every day. You can’t tell the fake from the real. So if you have extension cords in your home"think twice about them! We got out with only the clothes on our back on the coldest night of the year. The cord exploded and it was over so quick. It took six months to get rebuilt"now we are living out of boxes and bags till we find furniture.

Melanie Rodney
McHenry, Maryland


I enjoy your publication so much it’s difficult to describe; John Silveira (the best!), Don Childers, Jackie Clay (thanks to her I found the source for the Hopi Grey Squash plus a lot more excellent info). All the writers keep it real, and every drop of information is spot on!

So in order to improve my knowledge I need to subscribe to keep my issues arriving on time. Also I want to get a 2 yr. subscription for my sister and to get her the preparedness Special issue as well as the issue preceding it. Also a good one (issue).

My sister doesn’t live very far from your headquarters.

We both practice self-reliant living with hunting, fishing & home gardening"who knew it would come in real handy.

I love Massad Ayoob on guns. We both learned to shoot our 22 guns before we were 12 years old. Nell was 9 yrs. old & snuck out the single shot 22 and used it for target practice"put it back just like it was found and the parents & grandmother didn’t catch on till a day or 2 later and another kid ratted her out! (Such great memories!)

Sue Ballingham
Reno, Nevada

Thank you for a great inspiring magazine! It’s wonderful to have the encouragement that there are other people doing (and enjoying) the same sort of things that we are!

We so appreciate Jackie Clay’s gardening & canning advice. The older generation around me is no longer canning. Just this week, a friend got some cukes from us & made her first pickles!

We got your Emergency Preparedness book for Christmas & started stocking up in an organized way. Talk about great timing! Anyway, thank you all., We appreciate what you are doing.

Margaret Hutcheson
Brightwood, Virginia

I was shopping in a health food/organic store when I saw an intriguing magazine at the checkout. I took MEN (Mother Earth News) for years but dropped it as being a little too slick and this one looked authentically conservative and self-sufficient. I bought it and have not been without it since that time. I have all of the anthologies except the one I am ordering now. I know a lot about farming and self-sufficiency but I learn something new each time I get a new magazine. Keep up the good work!

Donna Rhodes
Millington, Tennessee

Food shortage editorial

(Re: “Food shortage” editorial in Issue No. 112) …just wanted to take my hat off to you again. You continue to be a most clever thinker and I greatly appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us. Your editorials really need a much wider exposure. Your readers are going to be inclined to this way of thinking which is why they gravitate to Backwoods Home. My concern is the millions who need to read this message (and your others) who will never be aware. I’d consider it a true public service to see your editorials placed where Jane Doe would have easier access.

You always stretch my thinking and my imagination. Thank you so much for what you do!

Genelle Brown
Danville, Virginia

The tools & knowledge to help rebuild America

With what this great nation of ours is headed into, your magazine is the most important piece of information I have at my disposal. I was a Benedictine monk, an order that is fifteen centuries old and is credited with rebuilding Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Backwoods Home gives the American survivor of our collapse the tools and knowledge to rebuild, and the character and strength to persevere.

I have been a subscriber for several years and have saved every one of your issues. Now I want to complete my library with the attached order.

John Michael Lyons
Hastings, Nebraska

They’re just jealous

Thank you! My co-workers look at me weird when I’m reading your mag at work, but they’re just jealous!

Susan Fleckenstein
Mooresville, Indiana

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