issue 139 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #139

“Bowl of red” article

I really enjoyed your article (Nov/Dec 2012 Issue #138) concerning the umami flavor and the diverse forms of cooking chili. I thought I might share a few secrets in my highly acclaimed chili recipe (acclaimed by my friends and family, but then they matter most, don’t they).

I begin by using ground beef and rather than browning it alone, I will chop fresh onion and garlic and add these to the sautéing beef along with the chili powder and some good old Ky bourbon. I complete the browning and never drain the beef, but rather add all the tomato and bean products directly to this base. The bourbon and other items in the beef give it a much more pleasing and rich flavor, rather than the beef just tasting like a one note ingredient in the entire dish. Lastly, rather than adding salt to my chili, to give it some bite and tang, I will add in some vinegar. I cook by feel and not by measure, so I always had inconsistency with salting, but the vinegar never fails to add just the right amount of “whang.”

Don McCarty
Winchester, Kentucky

Borrowed BHM from a friend and didn’t return it

A friend let us borrow your magazine. We love it … and have yet to return it. So, we decided to purchase as many of your back issues as we could. Our decision was cemented two weeks ago, while attending an OEFFA class on processing chickens, when Jackie Clay was highly recommended to us as the definite resource on growing and preserving food. The family who sponsored the class also has a subscription to your magazine and suggested we get our own.

Teena & Brad Rose
Springfield, Ohio

So, you’re the person everyone has been writing about — the “friend who borrows the magazine and never returns it!” Glad you finally got your own subscription! — Dave

Canning clarification

I just got Jackie Clay’s book “Growing and Canning Your Own Food” and need clarification on a couple of points, please.

Page 6: “once your canned jars have cooked, remove the rings before you store your food.” If I remove the rings I would open the sealed jars?

Page 104: “Peel watermelon rind, removing all green and pink parts.” Isn’t watermelon ring green? How much or how little do I shave off?

Please clarify these items for me. I’m a first time canner and VERY NERVOUS, especially where the rings are concerned I don’t understand at all.

Draza Knezevich
Miramonte, California

No, when you remove the rings the lids stay sealed firmly in place. By removing the rings, you ensure that the lids do not rust due to dampness and food particles being trapped under them. The rings only hold the lid in place during processing. Don’t worry, the jars will remain sealed without them being on in storage.

The watermelon rind has a green skin. The meat is white or very light colored. Beneath that is the pink flesh that we eat. You remove the hard skin and any clinging pink flesh. The middle that you make the pickles out of is white and crisp. — Jackie

Isn’t that taxation without representation?

Dave, I had my 15-year-old daughter read your “My View” article, “Hiding from the government,” Issue No. 138 (Nov/Dec 2012).

She asked,”Isn’t that taxation without representation?”

Funny how things come full circle.

John Pantalone
Alvin, Texas

Cooling food quickly

I was impressed with Rowena Aldridge’s article: “Food Security 101” in BHM #138, Nov/Dec 2012, but I was concerned with her advice of letting a big stock pot of boiling meat “cool down a bit,” then just putting it in the fridge to cool completely. Refrigerators are designed to keep cold food cold, but it doesn’t necessarily have the capacity to cool down a big stock pot of hot food. Believe it or not, it will still be warm after several hours of being in there.

A food’s internal temperature must be close to 70° F within 2 hours before you should even consider putting it in the fridge. The reason why the internal temperature is important is because of the risks of food born bacteriums like Clostridium perfringens, E.coli, and Salmonella that can make you sick. Especially with the first one with improper cooling of meat. You have to be aware that between 41° F to 135° F is where these Bacteriums will begin to form when the food’s internal temperature is stored improperly.

There are several ways to cool down the food properly so you are able to keep it in the fridge without worry of food borne illness. One way is to divide the big pot of food in smaller pots or shallower pans of 2 to 3 inches deep. It will reduce the cooling time. You can also put those shallow pots and pans in bigger containers of ice water to cool it down faster. Then there is the Cold Paddle. It’s simply a plastic paddle filled with water and frozen. Stir it in the big pot to get it down to temperature. You could even use all three.

Jonathan King
Rushville, Illinois

Why I vote Libertarian

I am just writing to congratulate John on his latest editorial “Why I vote Libertarian.” (Issue No. 138, Nov/Dec 2012)

That is the BEST explanation I have ever heard. It refutes every single excuse I have ever been given. John explains this in a way that I believe will awaken a lot of people to the fact that they too are Libertarian. I let out a loud “WHOOOP” as I finished reading the article last night. What a breath of fresh air! I know that it is too new a column to re-print in our paper yet, but that piece is timeless, and perhaps down the road we can revisit this story and share it with our readers in exchange for free ad space.

Backwoods Home continues to be my favorite magazine, and one that I give for gifts. When you have people like John Silveira on your staff, you can’t lose. I always love his writing, but this one is my absolute favorite and people need to read it.

Wayne Stottlar, Editor/Publisher
The Valley Newspaper
Yeagertown, Pennsylvania

Go ahead and reprint it. — John

Thanks for subscription

Thank you so much for continuing my subscription. Your generosity and the generosity of your readers is greatly appreciated! We enjoy all the helpful articles and were dreading the thought of missing out on all the good ideas.

I’m sure many of your readers are feeling the squeeze brought on by big government and non leadership on the part of our elected officials. We need the voice of sanity and practicality that Backwoods Home provides.

Sincerely Yours
(Name withheld by Editor)

Found old issue #114

I recently moved out of town (Yeah!) and am now back to living more like how I grew up — on some land, far from town, and am very grateful. While going through my moving stuff, sorting medical supplies, camping supplies, tools, things to up-cycle, and what-not — I found the “Whole Grain Bread” Issue #114 from Nov/Dec 2008 that I had saved. I used to subscribe, but that was before my life took on a different path and I got waylaid.

I can’t afford a subscription now, but I am glad to see this one in my pile of old books as I saved these and my Granddad’s old Fur Fish Game copies…

If you know of anyone with old copies to spare — please let me know, I need to learn to can & preserve & dig a root cellar & so much more now.

(Name withheld by Editor)

We’re donating a subscription to you. — Dave

Donation for subscriptions

We’ve been BHM subscribers for several years now, starting with The Whole Sheebang and adding several books and anthologies along the way. Just when I think there’s nothing more for you to write about, the next issue is full of fresh, useful information. My husband and I read all the articles and save the issues, and when we can buy the anthologies for those years (hint, hint!) we pass along the old single issues to like-minded folks. We love your magazine and would have to be in very dire straits to give up our subscription.

However, we realize that lots of good folks are in dire straits and must drop their BHM subscriptions. Please accept this $50 money order as our sponsorship of two subscriptions for people who would otherwise have to cancel. I have been thinking about doing this for some time now and feel better for getting it done. I’ll put a note on my calendar for next year to do it again. It’s an honor to “Pay it Forward” to help good people who are working to be self-reliant.

A subscriber
(An anonymous donation — Editor)

Thanks from us and from the two subscribers who will benefit. — Dave

Donation for office party

…I’m enclosing a $20 cash contribution towards the “Office Party Fund” (or other name?). I’m guessing from years ago that offices still have office parties around Christmas/New Year. If BHM does, fine. If BHM does not, use the $20 cash for some other “office crew” non-work use …

B. Galioto
East Elmhurst, New York

Thanks! The office ladies elected to have a pie party. We do have office parties here, especially after an issue goes to print. — Dave

Donation of hot sauce

Thank you for a great magazine. I have been a subscriber for several years and always find something in every issue that I can put into practice. I have read other magazines but they just don’t get it. I don’t live in the country like I would like to be able to but am putting all I can into my “Urban” homestead. There is always something to do.

As an Air Force veteran I am proud of what you have done for our country and the way you show your respect in every issue. As a thank you from myself I am enclosing a bottle of my homemade hot sauce. Eventually I hope to be able to expand it into a small business. Next spring I am planning to have three blends and possibly a barbeque sauce then start hitting the farmers’ markets with it. I have read your book “Making a Living” a couple times now. Great advice.

Jim Loomis
Flint, Michigan

Your sauce is damn good and damn HOT! Wow! — Dave

Semper Fidelis

I subscribe to several outdoors oriented literatures, and even though I enjoy reading each and every one of them, I find the most sustenance in BHM. Each issue has me flipping through, and reading each and every page. My wife and I especially enjoy cuddling that first night we get a new magazine and reading “The Irreverent Joke Page” together and having a good laugh. The only regret I have is that I don’t have enough time while serving as an active duty Marine to read more of your anthologies. Keep up the good work, and keep the great publication my family has grown to love coming. Your magazine is one that will be on my shelf and subscribed to for many more years to come. Please relay my thanks to all the writers and staff of Backwoods Home Magazine. Semper Fidelis!

SSgt Hunter A. Gough

BHM has a fund, sustained by the donation of readers, that gives a free one-year subscription to active duty military personnel. We invite our readers to inform their military friends of this offer. This is just our way of saying thanks for a difficult job. — Dave

Help in bridging the gap

I can’t tell you all how much I enjoy your magazine. It is the one subscription I get and look forward to setting down & reading. Around here more folks are waking up to what is coming in the next few years, and I tell them this publication will help to bridge the gap. Keep up the good work!

David Cope
Aurora, Missouri

Found BHM in India

I found your mag on my Kindle offerings. I’ve been reading a few issues over the last year — from India I might add. Tonight I called my Dad and discussed the magazine, read to him an editorial, and asked him if he would enjoy. It’s right up his alley. He has no idea that the extras are coming let alone a 3-year subscription.

Laurel Laulkar
Atlanta, Georgia

Habitat for Humanity

John Silveira’s “The Last Word … Turn the poor into capitalists” (in Issue No. 137, Sept/Oct 2012) was an interesting article that, for me, both rekindled old and generated new thoughts regarding housing and the poor…

Habitat for Humanity seems to me to be very close to the kind of program for which John is advocating in his article. As explained on Habitat’s Why Habitat for Humanity is Needed page, very similar arguments are made …

David A. Rumpf
Neenah, Wisconsin

We also like Habitat for Humanity. My wife, Lenie, is a former volunteer builder on a Habitat home. — Dave

Gun rights the backbone

I am writing to tell you guys how much I enjoy your magazine — there is no other quite like it, considering both content and quality of writing — and how much I appreciate your articles on firearms. I believe that guns and gun rights are the backbone not only of self-reliant living but of individual freedom and liberty, and I consider your gun-related articles the backbone of your fine magazine. In fact, it was after reading several of Mas Ayoob’s BHM articles online that I purchased my first copy of BHM in a bookstore and then decided to subscribe.

I’d list the names of all the BHM writers I enjoy, but I’d inevitably leave some off and have to slap myself later on. Suffice to say that I find all of your writers to be excellent, combining great knowledge of subject matter with the wordsmithing skills to put it all down on the printed page in a crisp, coherent, and entertaining manner.

Kudos, Mr. Duffy (and family). You have created and maintained one of the finest magazines on the planet. Please, keep up the excellent work.

James Hargis
Ada, Oklahoma

“Underground economy”

Just finished reading your latest edition (Issue # 138, Nov/Dec 2012). Best one in several years.

The matter of underground economy is getting more and more in the forefront. I am real curious to know what was in the third article that Dave did not want to print. Some books about the underground economy that may be of interest are “Living well on Practically Nothing” by Edward Romney (no relation), “How to Make Cash Selling at Swap Meets and Flea Markets” by Jordan Cooper. The one by Cooper was published by Loompanics, and that company is now out of business. Also, “How to Survive Without a Salary” by Duncan is good. There are tons of books on this issue, and us “back to the land, homestead” types are not the only ones doing it. The whole key to it is what Claire said: Don’t claim $40,000 and live in a multi-million dollar house, drive a high end sport car. That is a huge red flag, and the government snoops do check that sort of thing. What gets the initial attention of the IRS is the zip code you report. If a person reports $40,000 and lives in 90210 (Beverly Hills) that will get a drive-by look at your residence. That same income reported from Cave Junction, Oregon, will not get anyone’s attention. As us baby boomers hit the “Golden Years” it is an issue that will be more and more on the forefront, and be an even bigger thorn in the government’s side.

Randy Westfall
Peoria, Arizona

The article I did not print lacked adequate research. I often reject articles by good writers if they are insufficient in my judgment. Some writers with big egos don’t like that and stop writing for BHM, but most shake it off and come back with a better article next time. My iron-fisted insistence on top quality benefits everyone, except the writers who leave in a fit of indignance. — Dave

Living other’s dreams

For years when I read Backwoods Home and realized that my wife and I are living a lot of other people’s dream it causes me to pause. Years ago when I was pastoring a church in a rural area of Alabama we would walk to a house a mile and a half away. It was unoccupied and needed a lot of repairs but it was one of four homes in the middle of the woods. My wife tracked down the owner of the property and he said, “If you will do the work I will pay for the repairs.” It took a lot of work. I was still preaching and working a full-time job and now I had a home improvement project.

It took four months and hundreds of man and woman hours to get the place livable. It took hundreds more to make it ready for livestock. It has taken hundreds more to sustain it all.

When I read of the good folks desiring to do what we are doing, I wish they could find what we found. So, saying all that I would like to pass on a few tips we have used and lived through by the grace of God.

l. You cannot be too shy to ask.

  • We still only pay $175 a month rent after living here for five years!
  • I get all my firewood for FREE.
  • Farmers in the past that knew us would let us pick fields after they got their fill.
  • The sawmill will sell us boards for $1 of oak, pine, cedar.
  • We pick up pecans and sell because others are too lazy. We keep the money.

2. You can’t be afraid of hard work.

3. You will always have SOMETHING to do. Build a shed, fix a fence, can food, butcher goats, pick peas, shell peas, cut firewood … You will never be bored.

4. You cannot be afraid to venture out and attempt something.

What did I know about installing a fireplace chimney kit, butchering goats, living out in the country, burning my trash, recycling used items for useful articles, taking 100 free chickens, free truck and car (they ran) bartering with an Organic farmer? I learned and continue to do so.

I thank you for writing the magazine you do. It has helped me and my family. As I was cutting more firewood for next year (from a large oak my neighbor had cut down) it made me think about the last five years a lot. The only drawback is that we do not own the property. We have been told that we have inherited 20 acres north of where we presently live. It is undeveloped and rural. I can only be thankful that no matter what the future holds, “I will try to always be thankful for what we got to do.”

Noah Richardson
Ariton, Alabama

Man, dog, and magazine

Just wanted to thank y’all for the great magazine. We love it. In fact we got the new issue today and this is what happens … the man and his dog are completely wrapped up in reading the new articles and even pulled out last month’s issue to reference another article.

Sondra Reed
Atmore, Alabama

A relevant magazine

I’m so glad I found your magazine. It is such a well-written, relevant publication. I also ordered some of Jackie Clay’s books, and her canning book and pantry cookbook have become my “go to” guides for anything kitchen and food preservation.

Lisa Coburn
Sinks Grove, West Virginia

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