issue 135 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #135

Rabbits and Tularemia

In your Jan/Feb 2012 issue you had a very informative article about raising rabbits for food. This is a very good idea not used by enough people. Rabbit is great tasting and healthier than most meats, at a lower cost, with less space to raise them than bigger animals.

As a young parent of two kids I have raised rabbits for a few years now. This has put food on my table and in some months a little extra money in my pocket. With the economy the way it is now every little bit helps.

One thing not mentioned in your article is a bacterial disease called Tularemia or “Rabbit Fever” most commonly associated with rabbits. Many different animals wild and domestic can get naturally infected by this disease, and thus passing it on to you.

While there is not just one way you can get infected by this disease, some are through the bite of a blood-sucking tick or flea, after they have bitten an infected animal. Another way to get infected is while skinning an infected animal, you cut yourself and the bacteria enters through scratches on the skin.

This causes nasty lesions occurring on the infection, which could even cause loss of fingers or thumbs. Other symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like feelings.

With proper antibiotics, few cases of Tularemia are fatal. If not careful the money you’ve saved or made as profit will have to be spent on high overpriced medical bills and medications. This could be a very costly and painful lesson learned.

There are some easy ways to help prevent Tularemia: Use repellent for ticks and fleas, use rubber latex gloves, wash hands and arms thoroughly with soap after handling animals, clean and disinfect all tools, knives, skinning boards, etc. (anything that the rabbit touches during skinning) with a 1:16 ratio of bleach and water solution, and cook all rabbit meat thoroughly.

Raising rabbits can be fun and profitable, just don’t let something happen that can be prevented with a few easy steps.

Brad Engebretson
Arlington, Texas

Homestead burnout article

I just had to write to say thank you for the article, “Homestead burnout — what it is and how to avoid it” by Jackie Clay-Atkinson in the March/April 2012 Issue #134. It was perfect! Exactly what I needed to read as I sit here at my desk at my “real job” feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done back at the farm. She is so right — the work will be there when I can get back to it. I also really appreciated her advice to appreciate your kids. Ours do so much to help and lately, as I’ve been more and more stressed, I know I’ve taken it out on them. Our Old McDonald-type farm can be a lot of fun IF we don’t allow it to overwhelm us. Thanks, again, for the article. I plan to print and re-read several times.

Mary Beth
Forget Me Not Farm
Duncannon, Pennsylvania

Potential poultry criminals

There is a new rule, proposed by the Animal/Plant Health Inspection Service, titled: “Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate.” It will require all poultry hatcheries and backyard flock owners to leg band all of their birds. The bands will be required to be on birds from birth to death, and it will cost a fee for each individually numbered band. There will be severe fines and criminal imprisonment for those violating this rule. The proposed regulation specifically cites Article VII, Section 8013 of the U.S. Code, which gives the secretary of Agriculture the power to make criminals out of small-scale family farmers, homesteaders, and backyard poultry keepers. Please do an article on this. People need to write their representatives and the Secretary of Agriculture and tell them that they are against this rule.


An article is in the works. — Annie

Reminds me of old days

Great magazine! It reminds me of the way it was when I was young. I remember no electric, the long path out back, and until the middle 50s I thought vegetables and fruit only came in jars that you had to put there. You help me remember the way I should be living still.

T.E. Springer
Hunker, Pennsylvania

Free subscription fund

I want to thank you for all these months you have continued to send me Backwoods Home when I could not afford to continue paying for my subscription. That kind of kindness from individuals is rare — from a business is almost unheard of. I am now able to pay you and hopefully I will be able to send some extra money at some point so you can more easily help out and bless someone else as you have me.

Phyllis Guthery
Gadsden, Alabama

Thank you for your wonderful magazine. Please find enclosed our check for a 3-year renewal, Veterinary Guide for Animal Owner’s, and a 1-year subscription for your free subscription fund. Your magazine is saying things that people need to hear. I mentioned that to Jackie Clay when I met her at the Wisconsin Energy Fair last summer (what an exciting day that was)! I am looking forward to many more years of Backwoods Home and the sage advice of all the writers. Keep up the good work!

Roy and Donna Swedlund
Salem, Wisconsin

Great office staff

Your office staff must be the envy of many other magazines — they have always served us with exceptional promptness, competence, and courtesy. (Also integrity.) Twice now, they have gone well beyond the call of duty to assist us. I’m sure that they are a big factor in the success of your magazine.

Peggy Wilson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

They are. — Annie

When I Was a Kid This Was a Free Country

No sane person could disagree with your editorial in March/April Issue #134 (guess that leaves out congress critters and bureaucrats), but does anyone in their right mind believe Congress or anyone else in a “position of authority” would allow these problems to be mitigated or eliminated? One small example; a huge proportion of the country did not want a debt limit hike this last year. Poll after poll, etc. showed this. Guess what happened? And, if there was ever a more pathetic example of a leader than John Boehner, I’d be hard pressed to even imagine him. Our last, best hope was the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and they have completely and utterly failed us at every turn. Don’t even mention my home state senator, McCain, and his authorship of detention under NDAA.

Yes, the problems are easy to enumerate, but I don’t see them getting anything but worse. Anyone that thinks a “major event” will be anything but cause to bring out more force is strictly an overactive “rose colored glasses” optimist. Worst part is, I think most of our country could care less.

Enough ranting from an old guy. I remember, with sadness, the title of G. Gordon Liddy’s book, “When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country.”

Vic Safranek
Phoenix, Arizona

Cause of food allergies

I have been a reader for many years. My office area has every copy I ever bought along with 4 or 5 competing magazines. I was a subscriber to Organic Gardening from the 1960s until it changed too much. I own a complete set of the Foxfire books and read them more than once. I also own an early edition of Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring. I don’t agree with everything I have read or do read, but I keep learning! Some ideas I would like to share.

Our food allergies, in my opinion, come about because we have changed the genetic make-up of crops. It took centuries for the natives to culture a corn that could feed them and their livestock — what did not work was not saved for seed. In the last 50 plus years we have altered it and wheat with genes so insects can’t or won’t eat it. If the bugs can’t eat it, should we be surprised that many of us can’t either?

I have always had a garden and use natural fertilizer (manure), no chemical weed killer, rotenone for insects. A young neighbor watched my tomatoes grow with their mulch of fresh cut grass — he copied it! It took 3 weeks to kill his whole garden. He had a beautiful, weed-free lawn; but the herbicide killed tomatoes, beans, and zucchini just from the mulch.

People using ovens to can. I remember when I was about 6 or 7. Mom canned a whole oven full of jars with sweet corn. They were done and as my dad removed them, he tightened a lid on a hot jar. Flying glass scattered around the kitchen. As the jar in his hand exploded, flying pieces of glass broke a couple more. Mom used store jars for canning – Miracle Whip, coffee, Spry, among other things came in glass to save metal for the war effort. Anyone remember the old “73” lids? They were made so “small-mouth” jars could be used.

I could go on, but this is enough. Jackie, I read your stuff first! Hard to disagree with any of your advice.

Thaddeus (Ted) Kozicki
Iron River, Michigan

No more veggies from the store?

My passion is gardening! After being an avid reader of Backwoods magazine for many years, it has become my quest to lead a self-sufficient lifestyle, and not purchase another vegetable either fresh or canned, from the grocery store ever again. Well, it has taken me two years to reach my goal, and my quest has now been fulfilled. I grow enough of my own organic veggies to can, freeze, dry, and eat fresh for a year or more for a family of four. I also used my own fresh veggies to can and make all of my own soups. I also make my own pickles, relishes, salsa, marinara sauce, and juices, etc. If I grow it, I will find a way to store it for future use or eat it right out of the garden. How good is a salad for dinner that you picked fresh ½ hour ago? It’s awesome!

In addition to eating more flavorful and nutritious vegetables, I no longer worry about purchasing vegetables that may be tainted with Listeria, or E-coli and BPA issues that are scaring the canned food industry. I also grow wheat, rye, and barley all within the confines of a small 2500 sq ft garden space in Zone 3.

It can be done! You just have to want to do it. You have to eat daily, right? So, why not eat healthy, delicious, and chemical free? So, thank you Backwoods Home Magazine for providing me with the inspiration to pursue my passion and I hope you inspire many other readers.

Dyan Knittle
Reno, Nevada

Dogs ate my magazine

My dogs love your magazine so much they ate it before I even opened it! Can you please send me a March/April 2012 copy?

Seana Brandon
Durango, Colorado

It is in the mail. You must have one smart dog. — Annie

“Learn to shovel crap” should be required reading

I am writing to inform you of a major oversight on my order for The Whole Sheebang. You failed to include a warning label or note stating “Contents will cause sleep deprivation, loss of work productivity and social withdrawal from the family.” From the minute I received the box of anthologies and books, I can’t put them down. I read Starting Over by Jackie Clay in one sitting and have not been able to stop from there. My wife stole my Backwoods Home Cooking book before I even had a chance to look at it. My sons each grabbed an anthology and I find them now in every room of the house including the throne. I’ve issued strict orders, not to be used in place of TP. The articles are educational, thought provoking and inspiring. Last night I read issue #29 (Fifth Year Anthology) and I’m going to ask both my sons to read “You have to learn to shovel crap before you learn to be the boss.” This article should be required reading by any individual born after 1990. I don’t agree with all the written commentary but I do agree that you are producing the best damn self-reliant living magazine on the market. Keep up the excellent work and please consider my suggestion.

PS. Do BHM paper subscribers have the ability to download the Kindle version for free or are we required to pay the $1.99?

Kurt Carlsen
Apex, North Carolina

Glad you like The Whole Sheebang. Only Kindle subscribers can download the Kindle version. Amazon’s rules, not ours. — Annie

Best issue ever, again!

I say this every time a new issue comes out, but Issue #134 really is your best ever! Keep up the good work.

Congrats to Claire for the fantastic front cover. Just a thought. How about offering this picture as a screen saver? Charge $5 to download and use the money for Veteran subscriptions.

In closing, my husband and I would love to sit around a campfire and shoot the breeze with Dave, Mac, and John. It’s so nice to find people who “get it.”

Mark & Lisa Kujawa
Macy, Indiana

We will do that, but for free. I’ve asked my webmaster, Oliver Del Signore, to make several covers available as screensavers. — Annie

Issue #134

Great issue on all the 2012 Hype. As everyone is well aware, we all have enough real “Apocalyptic Scenarios” to be concerned with…Our shot economy, unsustaining debt, both public and private, tensions in the Middle East, Terrorism, social decay, etc…The very last thing we need is the imagined — which can and does separate itself from the reality and usually towards the worse degree to compound what we all have on our plate already…

Scott K. Donaldson
New Auburn, Wisconsin

“Starting Over” book is an inspiration

I recently purchased Jackie Clay’s canning book and received as a bonus her book “Starting Over — Chronicles of a Self-Reliant Woman.” I have glanced through the canning book and am sure I’m going to love it once I get time to really sit down and read it through, but the “Starting Over” book really intrigued me so I started reading it first. Just finished it this morning. As one who is longing for a place out in the wilderness, I was fascinated with reading about Jackie’s efforts to get her new homestead going. I also was filled with admiration for the way Jackie kept plugging away at it in spite of the many difficulties life threw at her. Jackie, you are my new hero and such an inspiration!

Nancy Saucier
Picayune, Mississippi

From politics to poultry

We adore Jackie & her family and have enjoyed & absorbed all that she shares along with ALL the BHM family. Thank you for making it so easy — from politics to poultry — to understand and partake in what we have also found to be “the good life.”

Diane Miller
Clearfield, Pennsylvania

Jackie’s next generation

Been subscribing since the beginning. Thank you! Someday my goal is to have time to submit some stuff. I’m Jackie Clay’s well-trained next generation. My teen loves your irreverent joke page. We’ve learned so much.

Laurie Brooks
Saranac, Michigan

News from shortwave

Keep up the great job you all are doing. In my opinion Issue #133 just might be your best…

I study where our country is going, agreeing with the views (especially political ones) put forth in BHM. Recent articles by Patrice Lewis and Claire Wolfe had real information a prepper can use to make some hard life decisions…

One way I gather news is to listen to talk radio from around the USA on my short wave receiver. It’s the same am/fm radio I use to listen to my local stations only it has s.w. also to listen on the MHz frequencies. You will never hear the hidden truth of events on mainstream T.V. like you will on s.w. talk radio. Shows like Alex Jones 12.160 MHz, Trunews 4840 MHz or Melody Severstrum 3.195 MHz. Just .com them to get the hours on air. Speaking of .coms, try my two favorites, Armchair Survivalist, also on s.w., and survival blog.

John Galt
Chunky, Mississippi

First garden in 20 years

Love your website! You encouraged me to plant my first garden in 20 years (I’m 71), then I had heart valve surgery and my kids and grandkids kept it weeded and watered until I was well enough to take over. I canned tomato products, pears, applesauce, squash, and jams. More next year!

Mimi Cook
Waterford, Pennsylvania

Understanding history can tell us the future

Over the years I have enjoyed your magazine, and I really live the life, grow the food, hunt the meat. Owe no one!

Living in my 1200 sq. ft. solar passive home being a self-employed painter – wallpaper hanger makes life challenging but very rewarding, even living in liberal Connecticut.

Your articles of you and MacDougal talking have reaffirmed my thinking of the state of the U.S. and our money system. I wish you could tell us the whens and wheres of our future, but just understanding history can tell us the probable outcome.

Dana Macmillen
Guilford, Connecticut

Zombie apocalypse issue

Backwoods Home Magazine is always interesting and informative, but you topped yourselves with Issue #134 (March/April 2012) — the “Zombie Apocalypse” issue.

Cecily Westermann
Saint Louis, Missouri

Potting peppers for winter

I would like to add a thought or two about “A homesteader’s journal, Part 2” (Jan/Feb 2012 Issue #133). In particular, I wanted to comment on the practice of bringing peppers indoors after the growing season. Ms. Payne reports pulling up the plants and hanging them upside down to dry. This is, of course, perfectly fine. However, I wish to report my success at potting the pepper plants in an appropriately sized pot and keeping them alive through the winter. I have had pepper plants live as long as 7 seasons this way. I have tried this with some of the smaller-fruited peppers — bird’s eye, pequin, chiltepin. If given sunlight, a little warmth and not too much water, you might even get a winter crop out of them. Once the weather settles into the warmth of late spring, I put the peppers outdoors, either in pots or directly in the ground. It should be noted that the truly wild pepper is a perennial plant in its native range. If a modicum of care is taken, a single plant can live many years, even in the colder regions, such as USDA Zone 6, where I and my peppers live.

Shan Bentz
Cold Spring, Kentucky

Like-minded people

I have been getting your magazine for a while now. I really enjoy the fact that you cover such a variety and wide scope of information pertaining to self-reliant and homestead living. This magazine has given me so many good, usable articles. My first reason for purchasing it was because I was interested in emergency preparedness. I did a small volunteer class for our church when I realized how few people in our congregation were prepared for anything.

While I try not to give place to fear, it is a very uneasy time we are living in and I find it very refreshing to have this magazine to read for unwinding my brain at the end of the day and comforting to know that there are other like-minded people out there. I am also very much a family person and it reminds me of home.

Jennifer Carroll
Hohenwald, Tennessee

Comments are closed.