issue 128 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #128

Saguache County Public Library gets BHM

As Saguache County, Colorado, is a very sparsely populated county, it has struggled for many years to maintain a public library. Now, due to the current harsh economic realities, it has found itself barely able to pay its utility bills let alone be able to purchase books, magazines, and/or newspapers for its patron’s use.

Therefore, several service groups have offered to purchase/subscribe to some of these items in order to be of assistance to them. The Saguache Study Club, a local women’s service group, has chosen to renew subscriptions to several magazines, including Backwoods Home, which has been requested by local library users as they enjoyed the magazine in the past and have missed it.

Please find enclosed a cashier’s check in the amount of $24.95 for a one-year renewal for this magazine for the Saguache County Public Library.

Alice F. Wardlow
Saguache Study Club President
Saguache, Colorado

Thank you. We have doubled your subscription to two years. — Dave

Teens read anthologies

Thanks for the informative and honest information you put in your magazine. Our family argues over who gets it first when the mail comes! Our son is 15 and our daughter is 12 and they read and re-read the anthologies all the time. Keep up the good work!

Dianne Evans
Taylorville, Mississippi

Gold and silver article

I enjoyed your article on Gold and Silver. (Nov/Dec 2010, Issue #126) I am a retired roofing contractor. Several years ago, I roofed an old Civil War home. On the front of the home, there were poplar boards 16 in. wide, that had been hand planed and the roof we tore off were wood shingles. Upon completion, the owner wanted to pay me with Gold Krugerrands, which I happily accepted. The price then we agreed to was $450 each. Since then, when we meet, I tell him I am still making money off his roof.

Bennie Johnson
Fayetteville, Georgia

Steel roof question

Just wondering if the author (Installing a steel roof, Nov/Dec 2010, Issue #126) had any data on why not to install the screws on the ribs? I see this as more leak proof as the hole is above all the water run off?

Jason Kowalczyk
Syracuse, New York

The reason for placing your screws in the flat and not the top of the rib are as follows:

1. The manufacturer specifications call for this type of application.

2. It is difficult to seat the screw to the proper depth when screwing on top of the rib. You don’t know when the sheet is tight against the decking, or when the washer is tight against the steel until you have gone too far and made a little divot in the rib, or you leave it too loose and the washer doesn’t seal the screw hole.

3. Cosmetics. When you tighten the rib too tight, you bulge the flats in the steel between the ribs and your roof will look “all crinkly.”

4. Expansion and contraction. When you screw the steel in the flats and not on the ribs, your neoprene washer smashes between the screws washer and the steel, making a very tight seal. As evidence of this seal, if you ever have to remove a screw for any reason, the washer usually stays stuck on the steel as if it was glued. When you have the screw on top of the rib, there is less surface area and certainly no way to torque the washer down to the degree it needs to be smashed. In 20 years of the steel expanding and contracting, your screws on top of the ribs will be as loose-as-a-goose from all that movement, and therefore a leaking problem. — Norman Bennett

Protecting your stored food from earthquake

I enjoyed Jackie Clay’s article about long-term storage of food. One small suggestion I’d like to add. We live in an area with the possibility of earthquake. My husband nailed strips of 1 x 2″ “rails” about 2 or 3″ above the bottom of about half of our shelves (the ones with my bottles of canned fruits/vegetables) to keep them more secure if an earthquake hits. There is still room above the “rail” to access the bottles, but will hopefully keep them from crashing off the shelves.

Linda Hicks
Highland, Utah

Chicken—man’s best friend

I just found the “Forget the dog, chicken is man’s best friend” article. I am so touched by the hominess and the friendliness of this article. I was telling my husband about it and I came to tears as I explained that the author’s grandmother gave her broth to her neighbors and then made a delicious Sunday dinner.

I am so tired of political correctness and all the stress around me. I say thanks for this article and the love that’s in it. I can’t wait to read more.

Carol Oertle
Springville, Utah

An article on cheese & butter?

Bravo!!! I am glad to see Jackie Clay has a new prodigy in Enola Gay. I loved the article on home canning bacon! Please convince her to do more articles on things not normally home canned. Such as the cheese and butter she mentioned in her article. Adoring, hungry, anxious, novice home canners await an encore article!

Tom Irvin
High Springs, Florida

Canned bacon

I have a question regarding the article “Canned bacon—roll your own” by Enola Gay (Jan/Feb 2011, Issue #127). How long can bacon be stored safely using this method and how long will it be of good quality? Thank you very much for your time.

Caribou, Maine

Canned bacon can be stored safely for years, just like any other canned meat. The quality will be unaltered, other than a loss of nutrients after a few years (all canned foods are susceptible to nutrient loss when stored for long periods of time). Something to watch for with any canned meats are signs that your jars have lost their seal. You should never see anything “growing” in your bacon and when you open it, it should have that tell-tale “whoosh” of a properly home canned product. Other than that, the bacon will store well for years, especially in a dark, cool cellar. One thing to consider if you are planning on keeping your bacon on the shelf for a number of years, is using parchment paper rather than masking paper. The properties of the parchment paper are more conducive to long term storage than the masking paper, which may begin to disintegrate over the years. Parchment paper is readily available at large grocery stores or specialty kitchen stores. — Enola Gay

Living the simple life

Thank you for your magazine. We have been trying to live a simple life for about 10 yrs. now, It can be done. It’s nice not having any bills or credit card debt. Life is so less stressful.

We have 2.5 acres with goats, gardens, chickens, dogs, and one shop cat. Thank God I learned my lesson when I was young not to worry or keep up with the Jones.

Karin Becker
Maples, Florida

Filled with knowledge

Thank you for such an essential magazine! Every issue is filled with the most useful knowledge. Our family has the confidence to order Khaki Campbell ducks (our first outdoor animals!) because of the information in your magazine articles! I really feel sorry for those who are ditching their subscriptions voluntarily. We will be “Sitting Pretty” while they flounder. And for those poor souls feeling the pinch and need to cancel, please take one of my three years paid for here and extend it to one of them. I’ll enjoy my two years and always come back for more! Keep up the excellent work!

Margot Keyes
Epsom, New Hampshire

Self-sustaining farm

Thanks for all the great info and articles. I’ve been reading your magazine for about 5 years now. It’s always been my life dream to run my own self-sustaining farm. Four months ago my wife, 3-yr.-old, and I made the plunge. We’re fixing up an old ramshackle house and have started with goats. Once the snow melts (1½ feet now) we’ll be tilling a huge garden. Reading your magazine articles about self-reliance has really got me inspired.

Emil Daily
Valley, Washington

Preparedness for families with young children

If at all possible, would you please include some emergency preparedness/home food storage articles for families with small children (i.e. toddlers & infants)? Any info would be great, however specifically relating to guesstimating clothing needs for growing children, medical treatments relating to small children and/or any specific needs for a nursing mother that may not be apparent until an emergency arises (such as dietary effects of a home storage diet on breast milk, how to treat any medical issue without medication that would hurt the infant…). I think you get the picture. We are a young family slowly, but surely becoming more self-reliant in a quasi rural area, so we really don’t get much “survival” information due to the “it won’t happen here” mentality. Also, my days seem to fly by without having to live without the amenities, and I can’t even imagine surviving with an infant and a toddler when having to make all meals from scratch.

Anyway, any info on this subject would be greatly appreciated!

Angela Brown
Pierpont, Ohio

Canning dried beans

I ran across your article about canning dried beans. In your article, you mentioned that you don’t recommend canning dry beans without cooking/soaking them first. I have found it quite successful at canning kidney, black, pinto as well as navy. I think I have it down to a science now. I can pinto beans the most. I put 1¼ cups of dry pinto beans, 1 teaspoon salt and fill the quart jar with water to the neck. I pressure at 10 pounds for 90 minutes. They come out just right. I usually use them for making home-made refried beans. For a pint I use ½ cup beans, ½ teaspoon salt and fill water to neck. I can stack pints on top of my quarts so they get pressured the same amount of time. I usually can black beans in pints. I don’t recall having them too hard to work with.

Julie Watson
Sixes, Oregon

Insect infestations

I am not writing to be critical, I just want to correct some misinformation provided in Jackie Clay’s “Ask Jackie” section in the Jan/Feb 2011 Backwoods Home Magazine. Jackie refers to grain weevils as “pantry moths” and suggests putting out pantry moth traps as a control method. Weevils are beetles. Moth traps are based on a sex pheromone, and no moth pheromone is going to attract a beetle. There are at least three weevils, five other beetles, and two moth species that infest grain and pheromones are species specific (that’s their purpose—to attract a mate). Putting out a pheromone trap for Indian meal moths is not going to catch any Angoumois grain moths, for instance. Also, pheromone traps only attract and capture male moths (and they are not 100% effective), and one male can mate with more than one female, so trapping males will not stop egg laying but is a useful monitoring tool. If someone has an insect infestation in their grain, they can take specimens to their local cooperative extension agent who can identify them and give control advice specific for that species. The advice will probably involve sanitation, right fitting screw top lids, and freezing. I’m not faulting Jackie; it’s unclear to me how she does all she does and still finds time to contribute so much to Backwoods Home. Maybe she doesn’t need any sleep!

Juli Gould, Entomologist
Phoenix, Arizona

There’s always something new to learn, no matter how much you know. I’ve always had luck with the pantry moth traps, and of course, cleaning up all infested cereal and flour products. And I’ve been lucky, I guess, not to have had any “bugs” in my stored food, other than weevils or pantry moth larvae. Pre-freezing stored flours and grains is always a good idea and is especially good if you have had a problem. — Jackie

Fluorescent bulbs and migraine headaches

The articles in your magazine re: compact fluorescent bulbs and how good they are at saving energy may be true. However, the truth of the matter is they are causing untold health problems to your readers. Please let me start at the beginning.

Five and a half years ago, my wife, daughter and I moved to the mountains of central Utah. The previous owners had these compact fluorescent bulbs throughout the house. Shortly after moving into our home, my wife began getting horrible migraine headaches. We didn’t know what the cause was, and she continued to suffer.

About a year later, I joined the local fire department and went through wildland fire fighting training. A young fire department, we soon realized the community deserved more, and some of us went through structure fire fighting training. As a part of this training, we had to go through Hazardous Materials Operations training. It was from here I learned of the hazards of compact fluorescent bulbs. Aside from the mercury contained in each bulb, they also cause migraine problems. If you look at the package of each bulb, you will notice a warning of only to “discard the bulb in accordance with the law.” Nothing else. What they don’t say is that 2 or more broken bulbs must be disposed of by a “Haz mat” team. I don’t know how true this is, but I do know after learning this info, we replaced all the bulbs in our home with incandescent bulbs. Since this time, my wife has had almost no incidents of migraine.

I realize it is considered “green” and politically correct to use these bulbs, but in my opinion, green does not always equate to healthy. I only advise your readers if they are using these “green” bulbs, and suffer more frequent migraine problems, get rid of these bulbs (in a legally prescribed method?) ASAP. I realize people who live off the grid believe it necessary to use these bulbs, but is it really worth it? It may save them much pain and suffering, as my wife can attest to.

Marty Duitz
Fairview, Utah

Least free society

You state “What, on paper, would appear to be the freest society in the world appears, in practice, to be among the most oppressive. Does this bother anyone besides me?” (The 13th Year anthology, “The world’s least free country”)

I would like to agree with you. It bothers me for two reasons. And not the reasons you might think. You see I’m not American though I have been visiting the USA for 20 years or so for vacation and business so have the perspective of an outsider.

The two reasons are that (i) the people in the US seem to be oblivious to the inexorable legalistic technocracy that the nation is becoming and (ii) since US culture is globally influential through media and multi-national businesses there is a creeping legalism in countries where common sense normally prevails.

Over the years when I have left the US to head home to the UK, I have felt that I was leaving a police state for the land of the free … a slight exaggeration to make the point, but not far off. I have felt that common sense is disappearing from the US social life and being replaced by laws. An example: … In the UK there are no laws against jaywalking (except on Freeways) … you will not be booked for crossing a road when the man is on red. The lights are to advise adults when it is safe to cross rather than treating people as children to be caught for being naughty … the impression I have when visiting the US is that (i) really, it is the least free country I regularly visit (I now work in Australia and spend a lot of time in Asia and Europe too) (ii) people are told/brainwashed that the US is the land of the free (iii) things are getting worse. The most insidious part is point (ii). It is an example of American Exceptionalism. Which is to say that since the US is the biggest economy in the world there is a natural extension to “the US is the best in the world … at everything.” Though the US certainly is the best at some things, I would argue that most of these are in the economic sphere rather than in the social and that the US is walking zombie-like down a de-humanizing path of over-regulated social and cultural life. I hope the US wakes up to this because of the influence it has outside of its shores.

United Kingdom

BHM defends freedom

Bravo! I must say, Dave Duffy’s editorial, “California’s conservatives missed a chance to speak up for all constitutional rights” was worth the price of the issue alone (Jan/Feb 2011, Issue #127).

As an anarchist, I’ve not been very happy with the right-wing libertarian “Ayn Randian” mindset of Backwoods Home magazine, and I’m certainly not a fan of the so-called “tea party movement.” If the TP movement had any philosophical and political honesty, they would be backing every Libertarian Party candidate and not the Republican Party!

Marijuana legalization should be front and center for anyone who says they favor freedom. If not, they are just a bunch of right-wing hypocrites! We need to end the war on drugs as well as the military adventurism abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank God for Wikileaks and PFC Bradley Manning plus Julian Assange for showing us the evils of the American Empire.

Although I might not agree with everything that Backwoods Home stands for, I do agree with Dave Duffy’s consistency in favor of FREEDOM.

Richard Clark
Salem, Indiana

Legalizing marijuana

I agree with everything you say in your editorial with regard to legalization of marijuana. (Jan/Feb 2011, Issue #127) As a resident of California, I voted against Proposition 19. I would have liked to vote for legalization but…

There was a provision in Proposition 19 making it a felony to use marijuana around a minor. There was no exclusion for medical marijuana. This would have made criminals out of several of my friends who have children and smoke marijuana in their own houses under medical marijuana provisions. i.e., this proposition would have taken a situation that is presently legal and made it illegal.

If the State of California really wanted to stand up to the Federal Government on this issue, they have plenty of constitutional backing already. I doubt that, even if marijuana were legalized in California, the State would actually have the guts to tell the Feds to butt out.

Ken Young
Petrolia, California

Marriage commentary

Just read your editorial “Getting the state out of marriage” (Jan/Feb 2011, Issue #127) and you are dead on. In fact this is something I have been known to pontificate myself. So there are at least two smart guys left in this country.

I think marriage actually started as a legal thing, not religious. It was more about keeping track of who owned what land and such. I believe it became associated with the church because those were the guys who could read and keep records. But then, as things go now, something that gets started as a practical matter gets blown out of proportion and taken over.

Howard Peer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Too much politics

We won’t be continuing to subscribe to your magazine. Rather than using your pages for topics relevant to sustainable living, you have too much of your personal politics and negative government agenda.

You have a right to your political beliefs, and we support your right to express them as you feel. But we will no longer pay you to do it.

Candace Stimson
Clyde, North Carolina

Replenished gift fund

I would like to say a big thank you for the subscription you gave us in the past year. Enclosed is $10. This is not for our renewal but please use it towards somebody else’s gift subscription. We have enjoyed your magazine tremendously.

Gwen and Val Pendragon
Bemidji, Minnesota

Thanks. We keep a fund that is used for and replenished by people just like you. — Dave

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