issue 131 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #131

Broke my brother’s heart

I’m an ASG survivor, and have always loved your mag. But times are tough and I’m thinning my subscriptions. I’ll renew when I see some more “primitive” articles. I fear you’ve become a little milquetoast out there on the left coast.

How ’bout some more of:

Game & Fish procurement with air rifles, slingshots, homemade traps (esp. this!) traps hunt 24/7. Every issue could have a new design.

Hand to hand combat techniques and training at home.

Plenty more rabble-rousing about this oppressive police state and its partner in crime, kangaroo courts.

And maybe an article on “how to mend a broken heart” for my brother-in-law Ronnie, whose {heart} did when he saw Jackie Clay was married this month. Hell, she’s everybody’s dream girl!

Bill Rosser
Holden, Missouri

P.S. You know damn well I’m gonna renew.

Dave’s #130 editorial

Again, your commentary is spot on. I underwent spinal fusion for a childhood injury from a drunk driver and numerous motorcycle accidents that did not improve my situation. My doctor prescribed large amounts of oxicodone and oxicontin to manage the pain levels. I cannot tell you all the hassle I had simply filling prescriptions written by him. My wife could not re-fill my prescriptions for me, I had to limp into the pharmacy and sometimes the pharmacy assistant would decline because it was more than she would prescribe! After lifting my shirt and showing the 10″ scar from a triple fusion, they would relent.

After 8 weeks the pain levels subsided and I no longer needed any meds. That was 6 years ago, and I thanked my doctor for taking the chance and writing me the prescriptions I needed to recover.

Just like the tax evasion laws written to get the gangsters of the twenties, all Americans are now enslaved under the draconian rules meant to only apply to the criminal element within our midst. I fully agree these bureaucratic monstrosities find “problems” where ever they look. Defund them all!

Mike Schneider
South Carolina

Article on millet

I’ve not yet seen an article focusing on millet. This in my humble opinion is an under-used grain, with excellent potential as a livestock feed as well as very healthy for human consumption. It’s easy to grow if you have at least 90 days of hot weather, needs little to no fertilization and minimal water to produce (grows even at 3,000 feet elevation in the Okanogan highlands).

My kids eat it up cooked in stews, as well as for breakfast as a porridge with milk, cinnamon and honey. (the chickens go wild for it too!). It’s easily ground & makes good soft Chapatis and flat breads … Maybe Jackie Clay has some tips and guides on its cultivation, storage, and uses? I am a huge supporter of your magazine and what it represents, keep up the good work.

Angela Cano
Washington State

Habeeb Salloum has an article on millet on page 48. " Annie

Library needs subscription

I have been following your great magazine for years now. I’m a 25 year old guy and I’ve always had self reliance in my mind. My friends and family always thought I was weird for storing food, always keeping an emergency supply. They always keep saying that nothing’s gonna happen. I thought I was alone with my thoughts, until I found your magazine. I live near Seattle, WA. Due to the poor economy here I am the only income provider in my family. I’ve been getting your magazines at a local library since 2005. Now the library decided, due to budget cuts, that it will reduce half of the magazine subscriptions. I’ve spoken to the library manager and they stated they will no longer carry your magazine. I do not have the available income to subscribe myself. I’ve read once in your magazine that folks likewise donate to your organization to support folks like me.

Tim Mironyuk
Seattle, Washington

We will contact your library and donate a subscription. " Annie

Wringer washer machine

Jackie, I just wanted to toss you a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your article on washing clothes with the wringer washer. I grew up on the farm where my grandmother, who emigrated from Switzerland, washed all the farm clothes for 6 of us in the family with a wringer washer. With age my grandmother passed on the laundry duties to my mother and she continues to this day to still use a wringer washer. When I moved off the “Home farm” to another farm my folks owned and I worked in the factory, I washed my own clothes in a wringer washer and loved it. It’s so simple fast and cheap! Now my wife and I, with our daughter, live in a small town close by and we are getting our first wringer washer together. As the old saying goes, if something works … stick with it!

Scott Conley
Hustisford, Wisconsin

Family-owned magazine

In the past year, I have cancelled many of my former subscriptions to various papers & magazines. Most of them have been bought out by larger publications and have lost their down-home feeling. They are attempting to reach a larger audience and as a result they have become faceless, slick production numbers. Any attempt to keep the “old warmth” has come off to my way of thinking as fakey & false.

Congratulations to you for still being a magazine of people, for people, in touch with your subscribers.

I am not a homesteader but as a modern farmer, your attitudes seem to match my experience and goals far better than other publications.

We pick and choose from the best of the old while not denying ease & convenience of new " i.e. my kitchen still has the “old range cookstove” as well as microwave, electric stove, and convection oven.

You probably will not yet be the biggest selling magazine in the U.S. but who knows what the future holds.

Thanks for remaining true to your subscribers and actually improving over the years.

Doris Meshek
Coon Rapids, Iowa

I think BHM will always be relatively small because we will remain family-owned. Dad has plenty of talented kids and grandkids to keep things going into the future. " Annie

Love at first sight

I found my first edition of the mag on the bookshelf at my grocery in our little town. It was love at first sight. Haven’t had the money to renew so I had to wait til now. I’ve missed you guys. I’m really happy that you let us read a few articles on your website. It’s great! Thanks so much!

Shirley Owens
Milton, Florida

Heavy political slant

We will not be renewing " we’ve enjoyed the magazine over the years, but can no longer abide the heavy political slant.

Dan & Liz Tiller
Saint Joseph, Missouri


I am deploying to Afghanistan on June 21. I’ve been at Camp Shelby, Miss. for training since March 11 and did not get my past 3 issues until June 14. Your magazine is great. I will recommend it to those I come in contact with in Afghanistan. Even though they are destitute, some may be able to order a subscription. They can really use it.

Staff Sergeant M.E. Conner
El Reno, Oklahoma

Donate BHM to hospital

I am a longtime subscriber and have been compiling the anthologies for quite a while now…I don’t save my single volumes of the magazine. I take them to the Fayetteville, Arkansas VA Hospital and donate them. Their reading material is atrocious, and your magazines are read by many people while they wait.

I collect the anthologies for my husband and me. He’s an Agent Orange Vietnam vet.

Diana Ross
Anderson, Missouri

Suburban homesteader

We have been reading BHM way before it became fashionable! We were the ones back in 1998 where people were like “What are you reading?” and “Why are you reading about guns?” We hid our homesteading side of us very well for many years and then a couple of years ago when I had cancer I thought who cares this is my life and well I am a “Suburban Homesteader” and maybe one day plan to be a “Homesteader.” I love all of the editorials but since we can a lot and raise chickens I read a lot of Jackie Clay’s articles. Since I wasn’t taught all of these things growing up her articles have been invaluable. My husband loves the Ayoob articles about firearms and we enjoy reading Dave and John’s articles about the recession and the economy and what is coming so we can be prepared! Great ideas from BHM. Keep them coming! My only mistake was letting our subscription lapse, which is now why we are renewing for 3 years.

Karen Thompson
Wilmington, North Carolina

Storing red wheat

I much enjoyed your article on wheat appearing in the July/August 2011 issue. A question for you, how long can I store, in optimal situations, dry red wheat?

Robert Houdeshell
Aurora, Colorado

Wheat will store indefinitely if kept in a sealed, moisture-, rodent-, and insect-proof container. I’ve ground wheat that was 20 years old and it was perfect! " Jackie

Making firestarters

I read Claire Wolfe’s article (Issue #129) with interest since I’ve been making firestarters for years once we started taking our kids camping. One cold, windy night with only a few sheets of paper to get a fire going was enough to convince me to make a bunch of firestarters using various materials.

I found that using petroleum jelly on a cottonball is a wonderful firestarter, you can fit a month’s worth into a pill bottle or mint tin. Spreading the cotton over the tinder helps to get it going.

Also, using dryer lint (we have lots!) pushed into cardboard egg cartons or cup carriers and then covered with candle wax makes a great starter " lasts a long time like the ones Claire discussed in her article.

After having lighters fail and matches get wet I tried making my own “waterproof” matches, which works okay except they tend to be brittle and hard to ignite. Now I use a magnesium stick firestarter that never fails to work. I found mine in a camping catalogue, they’re also sold at Walmarts.

I love your magazine, have just signed-up for another year. I’m interested in being as self-reliant as possible. We live in a small town on a half acre lot where I keep 4 chickens in a mobile chicken tractor that my husband and son built to my specifications (we built it on top of a garden wagon, with a pen attached on wheels). When it’s time to re-locate the hens we just pick up the wagon handle and pull it to the next spot. We have about 30 different fruit trees, tons of everbearing raspberries, strawberries, etc; I ordered the trees about 3 years ago and I’m excited by the fact that my peach and one of my plum trees are both loaded with fruit and the apples are also beginning to produce.

Keep up the great articles and information. I suspect that more people will be in need of it in the near future and your magazine will be an inspiration to them.

Marie McKinney Stone
Greenfield, Indiana

I don’t loan out BHM

Thank you for the last two Jackie Clay books. I love her books and articles. The last one on wash day sure brought back memories. Reading her articles is like spending time with an old friend.

I really enjoy your magazine. I’ll never do many of the things covered in your articles " dig a well " go solar " raise dairy goats " etc., but if I wanted to I would feel confident enough to try after reading your articles. They are concise, well organized, fact-filled and based on someone’s actual experience. The articles give real how-to information.

I read a number of magazines that claim to give insight into the same areas you cover. They have beautiful pictures, exciting titles and absolutely no usable information.

Keep up the good work. I have read your magazine for years and love it. I also share with others who are interested. No, I don’t lend my copies, but I will buy an extra copy for them. No one who reads this magazine wants to give it back, so you must be doing something right.

Jean Kelley
Tacoma, Washington

“Lone wolf” survivalist

I’m a “newbie” with your magazine and a “lone wolf” survivalist for 30+ years.

I very seldom see or hear about any self-sufficiency or survivalist ideas that I have not used or rejected. I live on heavily wooded acreage that has been in my family for 170+ years. I have a rural blacktop road in front of my property and a 200+ square mile lake/swamp in the rear. One thing I’m fairly positive about “ain’t no such thing as urban survival!”

Somewhere in the southern USA

Made a pleasant mistake

I made a pleasant mistake. I subscribed to BHM for my husband, thinking it was Backwoodsman.

When I saw your helpful articles, I read them cover-to-cover.

I enclose a 2-year sub. for me! It is as if your magazine interviewed me asking, “What are your interests?” It’s a perfect fit!

Brenda Dorsey
Littleton, West Virginia

Thanks for BHM

Your magazine is definitely our very favorite magazine and it is a competition to see which one of us gets our hands on it first the moment it arrives!

The articles have helped us with our small farm. We have hay and timber. Our family includes horses, including 2 Haflingers, a donkey, cats, chickens, and our dog " Bob. We have both retired now and enjoy our life on the farm. The chickens are our newest adventure. Jim is still building on the “mansion” chicken house as the baby chicks grow in a water stock tank. We are planting a “bigger” garden just for the chickens!

Life is good! Keep up the wonderful magazine!

Pat and Jimmy Butler
Vernon, Alabama

Last year, during a difficult period in our lives, you graciously provided us a gift subscription. I want to thank you again for such kindness. It meant so much. Although I’ve had yet another surgery (5 in just over 18 months) I’ve saved enough for my subscription. I’ve found BHM just too valuable to be without. Jackie Clay’s articles have been wonderful tutorials. She is such a remarkable woman. Give her my thanks.

Hopefully in the future I can pass on a gift subscription to another needy family. BHM helps people help themselves. It gives us tools to do it on our own, but still know there are good people out there willing to show us how. Thank you for all you’ve done. We won’t forget your kindness.

Abby Ward
Hazleton, Pennsylvania

I am writing to let you know how wonderful I think your publication is. I am currently in prison, but will be released in October. I have a 20 acre homestead in Mississippi. I have been reading your publication for over a year (unfortunately someone else’s subscription) but I hope to get my own soon.

…One of the things I have realized since reading your magazine is that I have taken my freedom for granted, but not anymore. I look forward to getting home and building my homestead and raising my kids. Thank you for the best magazine I have ever read. I look forward to doing business with you for many years to come.

John Thurmond
Poplarville, Mississippi

I just wanted to thank you ALL for your excellent magazine! I have learned so much from you and your subscribers. It’s the one magazine I can’t live without. I’m sending a check to renew for another year, also I’m sending a little extra for someone else who may not be able to afford it. God bless you all and keep that good info coming.

Aundrea Obrien
Amsterdam, Ohio

I found your magazine in my library and have been reading it for a couple of years now. My local library has a subscription and I try to stay current with them as they come out and re-read the older ones.

I am now in my mid 40’s and I sort of remember the “gas crisis” and odd and even fueling days. My father gardened but I only remember planting tomatoes and okra. He was not a hunter but did own a .410 shotgun, that was only shot one one occasion I can remember while visiting family in Kentucky. I did have a Daisy BB gun and put many a shot down range.

In the late 70s and early 80s I was a Boy Scout and the life lesson and motto “Be Prepared” made perfect sense. The simplicity of self reliance, cooking, camping, enjoying outdoors, sportsman skills like paddling a canoe, shooting and archery.

That I’m sure influenced my decision to join the military where I spent 17 years both active and reserve. After the first “Gulf event” I was able to use the GI-Bill and complete college and began working as a white collar banker where I was for a decade. The money was great and the toys modern but I sort of lost my roots. I always kept a tomato and bell pepper plant or two each year but not much more than that. I had been 9 years with the same bank in Delaware when we merged with a larger bank. After a year with the new larger bank I thought I was safe. Abruptly in 2007 one month after getting my 10 year award I was downsized.

It took over 6 months to find a job that paid less than half of what I was making and was in another state. I found myself away from my family all week and evenings after work. Rather than be frivolous I spent time in the public library. This is where I found BHM. My family is now with me in a modest house on one acre in rural central NY. Where we keep a dozen chickens and this year’s garden is the largest ever. The fresh eggs are a hit with my wife’s family. My son, now 4 years old, loves to eat fresh peas out of the pod right from the plant. He helps with weeding and I am showing him the basics that I hope will provide him a lifetime of skills.

I enjoy your magazine and have hopes of expanding to a place with more land to have room for larger animals like goats, sheep or a pig. We have a family friend who just became a librarian and we have asked her to subscribe to BHM and to look at purchasing books for circulation by the contributing authors of BHM.

Thank you for all your work and your great publication. I’m glad it’s not like the others that are both left-wing commentary with 90% commercial advertising.

Eric Hickey
Braconid wasps

Just a word for Marc Burdiss (Conquer Hornworms – July/Aug issue #130). He would have more Braconid wasps if he grew dill and had Queen Anne’s Lace plants in his yard. The wasps look like small ants with wings and have a very small proboscis to collect nectar. Those two plants have tiny flowers that they are attracted to. I leave some Queen Anne’s Lace to grow around a few trees for that purpose.

Also I have just found out I’m gluten intolerant. I’ve cooked for years (and years) and have a great collection of recipes to sort through, with lots of choices, but does Jackie Clay have a few recipes I could use to freshen up my menu to keep from getting too monotonous?

Wouldn’t stop my subscription to your magazine for anything!

Glenna Long
Auburn Hills, Michigan

Found missing magazine

The lost is found! Recently I told you that our latest magazine never arrived and you sent me another one. Thank you so much. It seems my husband got it first in the mail and it stayed at his desk. Shame on him! The enclosed is to pay the cost of the extra copy and I do appreciate you so much. Please forgive him!

The newest one arrived and guess what? I am keeping it myself this time " tit for tat " a little childish for folks in their 70s? We do enjoy the magazine.

Norma Whiting
Athens, Tennessee

Dutch oven cost

In BHM May/June 2011 issue #129 in the letters section, Channie Heimer wrote in about her dad’s dutch ovens.

For whatever it’s worth Channie, I’ve been buying dutch ovens at Goodwill and other thrift stores for the last few years. I’m not a collector or an expert. I’ve been paying between $30 to $75 for them. Okay, the $75 one was a brand new Utah Centennial.

Just thought you might want to know that some of us would be happy to give you twice what Mr. Blunt said they’re likely worth. No offense, Mr. Blunt.

Sherrill Rose
Mt. Angel, Oregon

My way of life

My name is Lois V. Buck, a subscriber for your magazine … I’m 90 years old and still can and freeze all I can. Richard furnishes my vegetables for me since my husband passed.

Thanks for such an interesting magazine filled with so much information. My husband, 91 years old, of 70 years passed Oct. 2010, we’ve lived self-sustaining almost all our marriage. I still do as much as I’m able, it’s my way of life and happy too.

Lois Buck
Lake City, Florida

EPSG, Stupid People books

Have been buying BHM at a bookstore for several years and missed very few copies in all that time. Kept wanting to get the Emergency book for a long time. Finally listened to myself and took the plunge. Now I’m curious about the “Stupid people” book. So is my son.

There are a lot of things in the magazine I agree with and some things I’m not sure about yet so I keep reading.

J. Joyce
Memphis, Tennessee

Both are excellent books. " Annie

Dehydrated vinegar

I was reading Jackie’s blog on the website a couple of months ago and a lady asked about where she could get dehydrated vinegar. Jackie mentioned that she didn’t know. I have a spice place that is really good to order from that carries not only dehydrated vinegar, but also wines, teriyaki sauce, cheese powders, and others. They are very good to work with. They

There was also a letter in one of the last issues from a lady in Montana asking about some cast iron left to her from her father. There is a really good website that has all kinds of info and recipes for all different kinds of cast iron cooking and baking. They also have a lot of info on cleaning, seasoning, and saving old and even rusted cast iron. Many are also collectors of or know where she might be able to sell some of hers like she mentioned. That site is:

James Kolczak
Green River, Wyoming

Started my own blog

My husband and I have become great fans of your magazine (and Jackie Clay) since we started subscribing about 5 years ago when our retirement plans came closer to reality. For years we had wanted to retire on our 40 mountain acres. Some of our friends and relatives supported and applauded our plans, while many others thought we were completely out of our minds, the result of early onset senility. Even our son was reluctant to approve. But in 2008 we did what we had dreamed. We are now living off the grid at 3800 ft, up a 4 mile dirt road, in the middle of the woods, and we are loving it. Our only way off the mountain in the winter is on our 6-wheel ATV, upon which we put tracks.

Your magazine has been a great help and we are in awe of the many people and their stories about whom you have written. We really had not considered being completely self-sufficient until after reading your magazine for several months, and thought, “Hey, maybe we can do this!” We have a ways to go, especially for food, but next year we do plan to get some chickens and will build their coop later this summer. We have your booklet, “Chickens, a beginners handbook” and that certainly seems to have all the information we will need. This year we started gardening in a few Grow Boxes, and plan to start a large garden on our sunny west ridge next Spring. I have really been putting it off as I have a brown thumb, but my husband says he’ll paint it green if that’s what it takes. Right now our pantry always has at least a 6-month supply of food and other necessities.

I started a blog on June 1, 2011, describing how we built our home and continue to live up here. The name of it is “Off the Grid and Out of my City Mind,” and can be found at I would welcome other subscribers’ comments and suggestions.

Rose Camp
Wenatchee, Washington

Dehorning cattle

In the article on dehorning cattle, 2 alternatives came to mind. Instead of cutting the horn off you can dehorn a calf, by cauterizing the horn with a hot (fire-heated) polling iron (same principle as branding with a hot iron only the iron is placed over the horn button). This had to be done before the horn starts to grow & the calf is still small enough to be thrown & held down if you don’t have access to a squeeze chute. Another alternative is to put removable weights on the horn to turn the horn downward. (We did this in 4-H & F.F.A. because at the time polled and horned shorthorn & Hereford cattle were shown in separate classes at fairs & breed shows.) The size of the weight has to be changed as the calf grows older. Check with your local 4-H beef leader or the high school FFA Teacher/Advisor. The weight comes in 2 piece pairs that were bolted together around the outside of the horn.

Charlie Cox
Prescott Valley, Arizona

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