issue 153 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #153

Avoid the rattlers

(Re: Jan/Feb 2015, Issue #151)

… My grandmother was hell on snakes with a garden hoe, and many a poisonous snake had chunks of itself fed to the chickens. For the most part, snakes dislike people nearly as badly as we dislike them. If you make sufficient noise, i.e. footsteps, as they feel vibration more than noise, most snakes will fade away and not confront you. That’s why dogs are so susceptible, they make little ground impact walking, and are naturally confrontational with snakes …

… There are occasional diamondbacks around, though I’ve not seen one here. By the way, it’s not illegal to kill rattlers in Colorado, but you are required to have a small game license. I don’t even bother the rattlers unless they’re in a position to endanger our dogs or us. One afternoon, I had Mary Anne Bradfield, the NRA State Rep at the time, out at Aurora Gun Club, and started collecting the brass after our session. Some of my .45 cases had gone under the shooting table. When I bent to get them, I found a small young diamondback jealously guarding them. I got a short stick and chivvied him back until I could get my brass safely. Mary Anne couldn’t understand why I didn’t just kill it (she’s an old Oklahoma City girl), but I’m not in the habit of killing things when it’s unnecessary. Fact is, at Pueblo West Gun Club, the standing rule is avoid the rattlers, don’t hassle or kill them.

Bill Dietrick
Pueblo West, Colorado

BHM on Kindle

I enjoy reading BHM on my Kindle; however, the information is so valuable I would like a hard copy to save for future reference! I particularly enjoy Jackie Clay’s gardening and canning info and Richard Blunt’s great gluten-free recipes. I have been reading BHM since the 90s.

Joanne Albrecht
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

Magazine shows me what I loved as a child

Yes, I went left, when straight was the way, but in 142 days I will be home working towards my own farm and grid-free living. Sir, I hope you know that many of us in here build our hopes and dreams on what you print in your magazine. Ayoob’s advice on guns, Jackie Clay and all her wisdom. Then there is you telling it like it is on the Veterans Administration …

… We are military veterans, ace mechanics, offshore engineers, farmers, wood cutters, carpenters and most of all people who have made a mistake and just want a job, a home, and some land to raise his family, eat of the fruits in orchard, can his vegetable crops, and smoke his meat for the coming winter. Sorry for the rant but I’m scared when I leave I will not longer fit the world around me and your magazine has shown me hope in doing what I loved to do as a child. I raised turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese. My brother and I built the pen and coop from old pallets we scavenged. We planted a garden every spring (where we kept the poultry the year before) and had the best garden you could dream of. I raised beagle and coon hounds and ran a trapline during the winter. Well sir, those were the days and I plan on finding that happiness once again thanks to your magazine…

Isaac Lopez
Pampa, Texas

Kudos to Don Childers

A shout out to Don Childers from a fellow artist … who admires his works full of feeling (and beauty).

Patricia Gimse
Grinnell, Iowa

Congrats to your artist — his great work made the piece (March/April 2015, Issue #152, “The simple jackknife”). Please give him my thanks for doing so.

John Dinan
Topsfield, Massachusetts

Sourdough bread

First let me start by saying that, while I do not often agree with your stance on a myriad issues, I have yet to find fault with any of your logic, which is often refreshing and, at times has left me struggling to defend my own position in my head. I thoroughly enjoy Backwoods Home and the many and varied articles contained therein. One article that was particularly interesting to me was “Mom’s Allegheny bread” in the March/April 2015, Issue #152 edition (p. 36-39). I have wanted to play around with sourdough starters since I first saw Dick Proenneke roll out a batch of sourdough biscuits in “Alone in the Wilderness.” However, one statement that bothered me in the article was at the bottom of page 37, “The gas-molecules produced by the bacterial fermentation, used in this recipe are hydrogen (H2).” As a PhD biologist, I was quite disturbed to see this for a number of reasons.

One, sourdough starters contain lactic acid bacteria, so called because they convert lactose (among other sugars) to lactic acid. They do not generate hydrogen gas. The gas produced in bacterial fermentation is carbon dioxide, but it is in much lower concentrations than those seen in a typical yeast-based fermentation, as it comes from the small quantities of (often wild) yeast present in these primarily bacterial cultures. Second, readers may become scared when they hear hydrogen gas (anyone remember the Hindenberg?) It is not hydrogen gas. Again, it is carbon dioxide, produced by the wild yeasts which came from the flour used to generate the initial starter culture. Just wanted to clarify this for those out there who may have safety concerns (or those off-the-gridders who read hydrogen gas and think they are going to run/heat their homes from the byproducts of their sourdough starters).

I love the article and the magazine and know how hard and to what lengths you go to ensure that the information is 100% accurate (I personally cut out and taped in the picture of the American chestnut picture you sent out to replace that of the horse chestnut that had been printed). Please keep up the good work. I look forward to my next magazine ever so much and wish you all the best.

Dr. Jacob J. Banik, PhD, MSc
Athens, Pennsylvania

Thanks for your letter and the correction. — Dave

I built a compost tumbler

(Re: Jan/Feb 2015, Issue #151, “Build a compost tumbler”)

Like Mr. Mooney, I cringed at the price tags on commercially available composters. His design was efficient and the construction directions easy to follow. Mine is currently about a third full (who know I had so many kitchen scraps?) and hopefully working.

The drum was made in Greece and used to import olives. Since it is slightly larger than 55 gallons, I made my footers a little longer than 34 inches. That was a worthwhile change since turning the barrel results in a lot of momentum.

Lee Brame
New Tazewell, Tennessee

God-given or Constitutional right?

(Re: Issue #152, March/April 2015)Last paragraph. My right to protect myself and my family and my country is a God-given right and responsibility.

The Constitution, Second Amendment, makes it clear that my right to such will NOT be infringed by the government. Bad wording on your part.

Thanks for a great magazine.

Vigilant and armed.

Paul Roberts
Stuart, Florida

I suspect I won’t be the first or last to comment on your March/April editorial.

Concerning the “armed citizen.” The US Constitution did not give you ” … the right to protect myself and my family.” Most informed Americans consider that a God given right; the Constitution only forbids the government(s) from infringing on that right.

True rights don’t come from a piece of paper, no matter how well intended.

Dave Heckman
Media, Pennsylvania

I suspect you are right. Bad choice of words on my part. — Dave

Tanning snakeskins article was incomplete

The article on “Tanning snakeskins” in your Jan/Feb 2015, Issue #151 would have been complete if the author had mentioned that the remaining meat is excellent barbecued with a little BBQ sauce on the sections.

Ralph Enderle
Calabasas, California

Cherish your loved ones

… I wouldn’t trade our backwoods home for anything. What a wonderful way of life to wake to every morning and thanks to you and the perseverance of your magazine, I/we have gleaned an enormous amount of knowledge to be able to enjoy this very dream. Now let me tell you what brought about this letter.

My wife and pal passed away January, 2010, here one day then gone the next, literally. Massive stroke, never sick a day of her life. So as I’m going through the emotions and the motions alone on this dream we built I came across a lug of grapes we had picked in the fall to make jam. Well, I knew she had gotten Jackie Clay’s Growing and Canning Your Own Food book and needed her jam recipe. Well, I was 98% sure she had it, so I go on this endless search through all the libraries, every inch of the house, through the cottages and back again, no book. I even asked her for help in what was now a mission, still no book. I was beginning to wonder if she hadn’t magically taken it with her for use in her afterlife. Serious!

So I was down to one thing and that was to contact you on the 2% chance she wanted the book but not ordered it yet and it wasn’t even here, hoping you’d have a record of it.

By this time, the holidays are near and one evening there’s a knock on the door and here’s my “mile-away” neighbor with a box of holiday cheer, cookies and such. So as I’m going through the goodies I get to the bottom of the box and, you guessed it, there sat that long-searched-for bright green Jackie Clay book. Here my wife had loaned it to her just before she passed. So after the story and some laughs about it, the book is home again and being used, to boot! Mystery solved, it was a good day, and the jam turned out well too!

P.S. Cherish your loved ones

Rich Kuntz
Carson, North Dakota

A radical man for radical times

I’ve been a fan since I found your magazine. I spent time on a farm during childhood and I’m a Patriot & Vet.

Silveira is a radical man for our radical times, he reminds me of my favorite high school teacher. Kudos!

Next time you offer free anthologies with subscriptions please include the contents so I’ll know what I’m getting.

T.B. Robertus
San Jose, California

Sharing knowledge with fellow gardeners

I want to thank you for all the years of great information your magazine has provided. I’ve had a plot in a community garden for 32 years and in that time I’ve taught alot of “newbies” the basics of growing & preserving their own food. Sometimes I will make copies of articles to pass around at garden meetings. I may not be a “master gardener” but if I can reach even 2 or 3 people a season then I feel I’ve accomplished something wonderful. It’s great knowing that my garden is often pointed out as an example of what a properly maintained garden looks like. I’m secure in knowing that my food supply is fresh, organic, and only costs pennies per serving. The best part is seeing people’s faces when I tell them my monthly food bill is around $20! Keep the great articles coming.

Katherine Vanderbilt
Madison, Wisconsin

Inherited BHM magazines

My mother left me BOXES of BHM in her will. The best gift a parent could ever leave their child. It really pointed me in the right direction. Very on point. Thank you, Mom!

Louise Lindley
Narragansett, Rhode Island

Need help with seeds

Been a while since I’ve written to all of you good people. So today, I want to do so, and let you know “you’re still the best.” This year we will stop our subscription to another popular magazine after many years. To some it’s new times, to others, we want it to be centered on the old way.

I am 78 years young, having to slow down only a little bit these days. For over 25 years we’ve lived off grid, have a tad of solar, but not enough to run a dorm-size fridge. So no TV, no computer. Started out with several Foxfire books, Carla Emery’s book, and some other oldies. We have gardened big time in our first years, but now pretty much down to square foot beds. My husband is now a 100% disabled vet. We have one little dog, a Pekingese, that good friends brought to my husband from Pensacola, Florida when he lost his 15-year-old one.

I’d love to hear from other back to the land, off-grid people, and all gardeners who would share heirloom seeds with us. Especially tomatoes, but any kind will be appreciated. I have flower seed to trade or other seeds. We need help with garden seeds.

Lillian Faubus
Saint Joe, Arkansas


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