issue 50 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #50

Attitude change

You most likely get letters like this all the time, so I’ll not take up much of your time with what must be repetitious for you. I’m a single lady who lives on the outer edge of the sidewalk and who’s wanted to get outta dodge for some time now. Why no big move yet? I’m old enough to know you can’t do it on dreampower—it takes preparation…lotsa that & that takes $$$. Curse of the practical world that one. Anyway, at least I am trying. This month is my last payment on my 4×4 truck (a great looking, completely restored ’59 Willy’s cabover Willy’s jeep that will last longer than I will. We doesn’t go fast, but we goes with power & in style…). After Oct., the payment goes to land $$$ & my 2nd job’ll start up pretty soon & that $$$ goes into the same sock. I figure in not too long, land can be paid for. Hell’s bells, I don’t really need all the acres in the world, just some, you know??

What I wanted to thank you for was changing my attitude. I’ve wanted to do this thing, but have wondered about the “whatif” & “doyathinkyacan” dragons that do so like to kill your dreams. One of the things I’ve learned from things y’all have written about is “if she can, why can’t I??” Which is a real big hurdle for me, to be sure. Build a house? You know, ya, I really can. I always thought it could probably be done, but by me? Well, yes, by me!! I’ve been lucky to have worked as an electrician’s helper for almost 2 years, have seem some pretty pitiful construction here in paradise. I’ve also been lucky enough for the past 3 summers to caretaker a friend’s house & that’s taught me lots. This house lives off a cistern (rainy time of year is in Sept.) The bloody thing went from about 24″ to nearly full in under 3 weeks—amazing) & is run by solar power & a wind generator, with a gas generator for 3rd backup. TV, VCR, computer if you want to play with it, sound machine, etc, etc. Propane fridge & stove rounds out the basics. That’s the good part. Bad part is this is the worst constructed house on the planet—it wouldn’t be allowed in bangledesh, you know?? I have learned to fix damned near everything, tho I draw the line at plumbing, like when the potty exploded. If it were my own, ok, that’s one thing, but these problems arose from 15 years of neglect & crappy construction. But it can be repaired, so that’s the main thing.

Guess I’m going on—sorry…

What I wanted to do was thank you for showing me that even an ordinary wench like meself can do this. Hard work? Killer, but not impossible & ya, it feels real good when you accomplish something major, even if it’s just repairs on somebody else’s house. Without your maybe unintentional encouragement, I doubt I’d even have tried & the non-tech kitchen English helps too.

K. Hawkins, Big Pine, FL

Issue countdown

A huge thank you to you for making this magazine the fine publication that it is and for not changing your philosophy of what Backwoods Home Magazine is supposed to be. It is informative, educational, frequently thought provoking and always entertaining. It is a ray of hope when I feel discouraged by what I see and hear people doing in this country. (Probably living in a major metropolitan area makes it seem even worse.) The letters from your readers encourage and reassure me that there are many fine, decent, thinking people out there.

Over the years we’ve seen changes to your mailing procedures/labels/packaging, etc. Frequently it has been Post Office regulations or requirements that caused a change, and you’ve usually discussed it in your editorials. I seem to have missed why the latest label change came about, and have no problem with it, but do miss the little note “Your last issue is number__ ” It sure helped me in making sure my subscription didn’t lapse and I usually renewed several months before the last issue arrived. Are you now going to send out “reminders.” (Maybe you always have and I just never got one?!) Sure hate to see you have the added work and expense. Can you resume the issue countdown on the mailing label? I’m sure that others miss it too.

Annette McCone,
Hacienda Heights, CA

P.S. As someone who has earned her living “working with words” I am very impressed with the expertise in the use of the language, punctuation, the careful proofreading and the overall high quality product you publish.

The latest label change is the result of us having to use a computer labeling system that is compatible with the post offices’ new automated computer equipment. All magazines have to use it to qualify for “periodicals” postage rates. We don’t own the software, but pay a mailing company to process our mail list or print out labels acceptable to the post ofice. There is no room on the label for the “your last issue is No.___” line. We’re hoping to buy the program soon and see if we can somehow tweek it and restore that line. —Dave

Redneck flavor

I’ve been receiving your magazine for about 2 years now and enjoyed every article. Haven’t made the move like we want yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. We are looking for about 10 ac. in south Alabama to start a cabin. So I will be ordering some more of your books as we go.

To all these folks that don’t like gun-nut philosophy and redneck flavor. You better wake up! Your government has let greed take over. They need to go back to the basics of life and live off what they have instead of trying to take more from us. We are not strange or weird like people think just concerned that our land and homes will not be a place where we can raise our children, food, livestock, the way we see fit. This is a freedom that I treasure and don’t want to lose.

Already the price of trying to raise a family is so high that it takes everything a person makes to just make ends meet. It is hard to do a lot of things that we want to do. But we won’t give up for any reason!! This is a lifestyle that we enjoy and we don’t knock yours so don’t knock ours. When you don’t have the food to feed your family look for a full blooded redneck and he will make sure you eat! We are not self centered folks! As far as being a gun-nut yes I am. My father taught me how to hunt and fish and I would not change it for anything.

My family eats what we take from nature. We are a law abiding people, we respect the law.
This magazine is full of helpful advise you can read and understand what you read. That is one benefit that we have. We don’t have to have a mirror on the ceiling to be able to see over our nose to read. So keep up the good work and don’t let anybody slow you down.

Terry Stokes, Headland, AL

Multi-level marketing

Although I am not a subscriber I do purchase your magazine about 3-4 times a year. Being a lifetime believer in personal responsiblity and accountablity, I find your articles and editorials to be a breath of fresh air.

That is why I didn’t know whether to be amazed or amused after reading about Katherine Reader’s disasterous experience with Mulit-level Marketing (MLM). It was very obvious that the company she tried to work with left a lot to be desired. However, MLM companies are no different from other businesses. Some are excellent and some are real stinkers, with many variations in between. The buyer needs to be wary! The Better Business Bureau, Dun & Bradstreet, Chamber of Commerce, Consumer’s Digest, Consumer Hot Lines, libraries, etc., are there to help us. As with any other investment of time and money, be it plumber, doctor, home-based business or MLM company, the Consumer has an obligation (i.e. responsibility) to him/herself to look before she/he leaps. When someone tells me “I’m not sure why I got involved” and “It sounded too good to be true!” all I can do is shake my head and prepare to hear the sad story that will surely follow.

Years ago, franchising used to get the same bad press as MLM. In 1967 the U.S. Congress attempted to outlaw franchising and came within only 15 votes of succeeding. The abuses of that infant business field were great and many people were badly hurt. But, today, more than 60% of retail business is done through franchises.
Failures always get a lot more publicity than successes. You never hear about the thousands of people who have sifted through the hype, done their research and found good solid networking companies with established track records, outstandingly differentiated consumable products and a fair compensation plan that encourages teamwork as well as individual effort. It took almost a year of looking before I stumbled on to one such company.

So rather than “Just say, ‘No!'” in general, how about just saying “Yes” to informed decision making, personal responsibility and the free marketplace.

Kinyon Gorton, Eureka, IL


Just wanted to drop a note of encouragement to you. You are the only magazine I have ever taken a subscription to. I am well pleased with my investment. The personal approach to presenting material is, by far, the aspect which I enjoy most about your magazine. BHM abounds in substance and forsakes polish to bring people practical information. You have found the key to reaching people. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and politicians will follow your example in-step.

I can only imagine the wealth of nay-sayers who insisted your style would never find a niche in the market. No doubt, you have your critics, but you have accomplished what I am sure was said could not be done. With congratulations, I thank you for ignoring the nay-sayers and wish you the best of success in the years to come.

Justin O’Quinn,
Livermore, CO

Just started getting your magazine and we are thoroughly impressed. To think of all the years we have missed reading it brings tears to our eyes. We currently live in Knotts Island, NC, a small rural community 20 miles south of Virginia Beach, VA. However, we are planning to move west as soon as my husband retires from the Navy. We have yet to decide on an area but are leaning towards Idaho, Oregon and especially Alaska. Thanks again for all the great info you put into your publication. It keeps our dreams and hopes alive.

Janet Grissett,

I just got the Jan./Feb. ’98 issue of your fine magazine. I keep reading letters to you and your staff. So I guess I finally decided to put in my 2 cents worth. Your commentary was right on the money! Why should my hard earned money go to someone too lazy to get off their butt and be a productive member of society. As for you needing to put aside your political opinions my question to all those that say it is, how many of you have written to Newsweek or Time or any other magazine who’s opinion you probably agree with and asked them to stop printing all liberal opinions their magazine portray. I doubt any! In the USA we have rights and two of them are freedom of the press and freedom of speech. If you do not enjoy having these rights then please go live in some other country. Some of us would like to retain them. If you would like to repeal these rights you might as well be pissing on the graves of our forefathers and every fallen service man that this country has ever seen. So if the government is going to start mass shooting of people who believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights they better put my name on that list as well.

I guess I have went beyond my 2 cents by now, so in closing Mr. Duffy you and your staff produce the best magazine I ever read!

Here’s a joke you might use:

Jake & Dan are two city boys and they decided to go up into the mountains to do some hunting. They had never been in the mountains so they thought they would stop by the ranger station and get some maps. The ranger told them if they did get lost fire 3 fast rounds, wait an hour and do it again. It didn’t take long before they were lost so Jake fires 3 times. An hour goes by and Jake fires 3 more times. Another hour goes and Jake fires 3 more times. Jake said to Dan, “I hope they get here soon.” Dan asks, “Why?” Jake says, “We are almost out of ARROWS!”

Douglas E. Frame,
Mt. Grove, MO

My husband and I have been subscribers to your mag for nearly two years now, and every month we fight over who gets to read it first. We find the articles very informative and are very thankful there are other people out here who are willing to share their knowledge to help others achieve their goals to live less dependently. Even though not all your readers appreciate some of the politically oriented articles, I must say that is what being an American is all about. Everyone being entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, and having the freedom to express how they feel. Your magazine is the epitomy of freedom, and reflects with great dignity those Americans who still conciously believe in our basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Keep up the good work! Can’t wait for next months issue!

Renea Hargis,

Mustard gas

I am writing you regarding an article in your Backwoods Home Magazine which was in the January-February issue, “Want great charcoal, make your own,” by Robert Williams. It was an excellent article except for one thing. The article said to use a large metal bucket which will lead many to believe that a 45 gallon garbage can will also do. The problem with this is that all metal garbage cans are treated galvanized metal to prevent rust. When you put heat to galvanized metal, you’ll see an orange-green gas come from it which is phosgene gas. This is the same chemical they used in WWI, mustard gas, which is very poisonous. The gas will still be present in the air if the can is put in a garage or shed to cool. Please warn your readers of this.

Bill Stasik, Firefighter,
Hamtramck, MI

Militia article

I’m glad I found you! (In a military exchange no less!) I was looking for another magazine with a similar title when I spotted two copies of issue #47. The letters about the militia article, in issue #46 intrigued me. I ordered the back issue & a subscription & I am profoundly impressed! I’ve told my husband about Backwoods Home & he is interested. (He’s away in England & hasn’t seen your magazine yet.)

You have nothing to expiate for, not even the militia article. Let the zealots flap their gums. They only blind themselves to the truth & make themselves vulnerable to ridicule when the truth surfaces undeniably.

Dorothy Bellipanni,
Cherry Point, NC

Response to letter

RE: Letter from Mr. Eaton, Sturgis, MI. I’ll bet that Mr. Eaton is unaware of his award: most arrogant letter ever printed by BHM. This is the wrong magazine for you, Donald, especially if you want a guide to help fix up your Victorian “city home.” It is certainly the wrong forum to talk about the “$85,000” you paid in taxes.

I can guess what type of hunter you are especially when you used “shotgun” and “accurate’ in the same sentence! Also, there is a lot more to firearm ownership than this near-sighted icon you call “hunting.”

And finally, “Mister I-am-a-stock-broker-for-one-of-the-nation’s-largest-firms”: what’s wrong with being eccentric? We’d better take care of those people at the edge of the herd because the government wolves are working their way toward the center where you are.

Next time buy Mother Earth News so you can look down your nose at people in North Carolina.

Steve Bidleman, M.D.,
Klamath Falls, OR

In response to “Embassy of Heaven Church” Jan/Feb ’98 issue.

What does a person who pays over $85,000 in taxes know about the world most of us live in? It takes a lot of us four years just to MAKE that much and some folks a lot more than four years!

Concerning his attack on large capacity firearms magazines. The right of ownership does not center around hunting. It is just another right being taken away from us. I have 15 rnd. magazines. I’ve also got 20, 30 & 32 rnd. magazines. They’re not for hunting, they’re for my personal pleasure because I want them. That right shouldn’t be infringed on by people making laws who excrete from both ends of their body.

I don’t need them, I want them. I enjoy shooting just like a large portion of the public enjoys being glued to the “stupid tube” on Super bowl week end. I’m about to infringe upon their rights, even though their pleasure is providing the most impressive target for terrorism that I can think of.

With Mr. Eaton’s income, I’ll bet his only vehicle isn’t a rusty 11 year old 4-WD pickup with 145,000 mi. on it. It’s more likely to be a Lincoln, Caddy, Corvett, Porsche, BMW, etc. Not because he NEEDS it, because he WANTS it. My old rust bucket would get him where he wants to go but I’m sure he wouldn’t WANT it and probably wouldn’t want to be seen in it!

Banning weapons or magazines will not prevent crime or terrorism. We had an unfortunate incident just yesterday a few miles south of here. A 14 year old boy went to school with 5 weapons, rifles, shotguns & a handgun. For an unknown reason he entered the school and opened fire killing 3 and wounding 2 others as of last report. Another black mark against legal firearms owners.

Would stiffer laws or bans prevent this? NO!

First, he was a 14 year old minor already covered under gun possession laws.

Second, the weapons were stolen, so they were already illegal no matter what his age.

Stiffer laws and bans will not, cannot, control crime and terrorism. Only staunch punishment will help control crime. Execution where indicated, and personally, I think it should be public. This should be carried out when convicted beyond any shadow of doubt. The criminal should not live on death row for years at the taxpayers expense while going through appeal after appeal usually at taxpayers expense. I’ve heard statements about public execution, such as, it would give children a “mental complex.” Ya, maybe a mentally complex thought that, if I do something like that, they’re going to do that to me! Terrorism is another subject. True terrorism for a cause and not some idiots out for kicks, is the lowest and most effective form of “guereilla warfare.” It kills and maims the innocent, creating the most fear and hate possible. It cannot be contolled because you cannot control an enemy which is ready, willing and sometimes eager (religious) to die for their cause. We can only try to apprehend them before they execute their actions and hope for the best. Even execution is of no use against terrorism when the subject is being martyred for their cause. Terrorism is high in countries with total gun control. They will ALWAYS get their weapons, explosives, chemicals & bio-agents. 99.9% of what they use is illegal anyway.

Two quick facts: Technicalities —Firearms Magazines. Clips. A magazine is a device that is removable from the firearm. It holds ammunition in a case containing a spring and follower which pushes the next round into position for loading. A clip is a similar device but only holds the ammunition, it has no spring, its only a metal clip. An example of a firearm that uses a clip is the excellent rifle, the M1-Garand. Most people talking about Clips are actually talking about magazines.

Effectiveness of BANNING—I recently read an article in a very reputable magazine stating that smuggled R-12 Freon (BANNED), has now (1996) surpassed the cocaine market in Miami, FL.

J.D. Hooker’s article on the all round shotgun was good. I would like to add to it the following. When you said Buckshot “00 & 4” is good for close in range. I’ve had extensive experience with it. To be sure of humane kills, I would have said very close range. I’d put a 20 yard limit on it to be positive of getting enough pellets into the vital area. Also, you may hunt in heavy brush but never take a shot through the brush unless you have an opening to shoot through! Check your state laws before it’s not legal here in Indiana! From IN Hunting Lawbook. Quote: LEGAL FIREARMS. Shotguns must be 10, 12, 16 or 20 gauge loaded with slugs or sabots. Rifled slug barrels are permitted. Combination rifle-shotguns are not allowed. End Quote.

Duffy! Here’s “My View” of your “My View” pg. 7. Jan/Feb. ’98. Amen Brother, Right On! Keep up the good work!

James Bishop, Vincennes, IN


Just read John’s/Mac’s latest article on the presidents and the Constitution. Kudos are definitely in order. It is so refreshing to read a patriot who does his homework. We, too, must wince in conversations about Thomas Jefferson when we admit that he, too, set aside the Constitution to accomplish the Louisiana Purchase. And this, from an otherwise honorable man!

One small plug for Abe, however. At least he admitted he was going around the constitution. Clinton would be hoarse for life if he made such an admission each time he strayed (from the constitution—relax, Hillary!)
If John/Mac is looking for another article to write, you might pass on a suggestion to him. We have been looking for the quintessential article debunking the omnipresent “fact’ that we live in a democracy. It would be so nice to fire a copy off to every college professor “expert” interviewd on television, every ill-informed reporter, and every Congress creature at townhall meetings.

Shirley Ryle,

See John’s article this issue.

Ayoob column

Massad Ayoob, your Jan/Feb. column struck a real chord with me.

I just finished a course with the San Rafael, CA Fire department on “Disaster Area Rescue Team” operations. They realize they only have 25 firemen for a 50,000 person town, and if an earthquake happens, they’re going to be hard-pressed, to say the least. I think what they’re doing makes eminent sense and is similar to what the electric companies have done by subsidizing consumers energy-saving efforts as a cheaper alternative to building big new power plants.

Your point about shying away from personal protection issues is spot on. When I asked the fire captain giving the course what we should do if confronted by armed looters, he said something to the effect of “get out of there and leave it to the police.” Of course, he also had just said that the reason the course was being given was that in a disaster you couldn’t count on the fire dept. being able to get there, maybe for days! What about the police not being able to get there for days?…Everyone blithely talked around the issue—sure the emperor has clothes on, doesn’t he?

The course, which included triage, light search and rescue, and some first aid spurred me to take a more extensive CPR/first aid course from the local Red Cross. This course was aimed at what to do to save lives in the ten minutes until the paramedics get there, so perhaps it’s not fair to criticize them for avoiding the personal protection issue.

By the way, I’ve read many of your books and bought copies for friends. Your writing is right to the point and zero BS—a real breath of fresh air. I would guess your viewpoint is shared by many beat cops who see that the higher up people go in the ranks, the more they seem to dissemble and talk politically correct new-speak, even if they started out as normal people. Part of it is the need to be tactful, true. But lying to avoid a touchy subject is something I try to teach my daughter not to do. Anyway, enough blathering from me. Thanks again for your incisive writing.


Irreverent joke page

Hi all. Not sure if this should be on the new joke page or where. We in Texas just have to wait til new bills get passed here to get a good laugh.

Case in point: Effective Sept, 1997 is the new way to mark your land for no trespassing. Placement of a vertical line of purple paint on post or trees on the property, provided that the marks are vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length or not less than one inch in width; Placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than 100 feet apart on forest land or 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land. Now after you get everything painted purple you are to put up signs no less than 2 feet by 3 feet in size with block letters at least two inches in height. Put up at each entrance for vehicles to the property that gives notice that the presence of purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property indicates that entry’s forbidden. After Sept. 1998 you don’t have to put up signs. I guess everyone would know why the price of purple paint has gone up.

These jokers get paid for this sort of thing. Now we wonder why everything is a mess. If you can’t believe this it’s in section 1 section 30.05.

Carolyn Evans,
Cleveland, TX

Differing opinions

I have greatly enjoyed your commentaries and perspectives. That doesn’t mean that I agree with all of your opinions, but that’s my point. I find it very curious that so many people seem to be threatened by opinions which differ from their own—a kind of ‘I’m right and everything else is dangerously wrong’ attitude. They sound to me like people who don’t like to think.

I have always thought that the human mind and all that it is cabable of is God’s greatest creation and our greatest gift, and to use that gift to explore and examine other perspectives and to re-explore and re-examine our own opinions from all angles is what allows us to continue growing. (It’s also a lot of fun!) As I see it, the examination of differing views has three possible conclusions: (1) the differing view may be found, in our opinion, to be worthless of merit, and we stand stronger in our original opinion; (2) the differing view may be found to have more merit than originally thought resulting in a change of our opinion; or (3) both opinions may be found to have merit resulting in a modification of our original opinion. But regardless of the outcome, thoughtful consideration of something different gives us the opportunity to become a little wiser. Where is the threat? Is it in the action of a person who thoughtully expresses his opinions or merely in the minds of those who don’t realize that differences are a necessity. For without differences, there is no cause to think, no reason to know why we hold to certain beliefs and opinions, and no opportunity to show a little tolerance or grow a little wiser. That, to me, is a very frightening thought!

Caitlin E. Mears,
Wilmington, DE


I am sitting here in my “new’ house in Alaska going through your first anthology copying recipes and I realized I needed to thank everyone at your magazine for helping our family realize our dream.

My dream of living away from the maddening cities started when I read John Shuttleworth’s TMEN in the 70’s but it got lost in marriage and divorce. When the 80’s rolled around I was in college studying engineering—didn’t have time to think let alone dream. Working, getting married and having my first child (at 40!) still too busy to dream. The 90’s arrive on the horizon—working, trying for MS in engineering, putting hubby through school and learning to be a parent (lots of on the job training!) Then lost my job to Mexico (thanks NAFTA), now I have time (I first go crazy) to dream —the 119 degree summer helped to make up my mind that I wanted out of the El Paso, TX area.

I dreamed of a cool place with trees and water. We have worked three years to get the job my husband has here in Alaska. I say we worked—I now bake, can, sew, knit and learned how to buy in bulk (and this is from someone who couldn’t boil water). The first time I ever cooked an egg I didn’t know that there needed to be shortening in the pan.

Thank you for reminding me of my dream. It had gotten covered in all the extra things living in the city seems to put on us.

Thank you for having recipes in your magazine. The only bad thing that happened was the post office broke open my box of cookbooks and recipes. I lost one cookbook (out of print, of course) and all my recipes on cards (they even lost two of the boxes). There went all my mother’s recipes and my “special” recipes, so here I am copying recipes from your books, but I wanted you to know how much I thank you and keep up the good work.

Pam Mitchell, Tok, AK


It was great to see an article on making tofu at home (see p. 75, #48). I’ve been making my own tofu for about ten years, and know only of one or two other people who do it also.

I did, however, find a few things in the article to comment on. First, the article defines the coagulant, nigari, as natural sea salt. Nigari is one of the components of natural sea salt, but not equal to it. Sea salt will not coagulate the soybean’s proteins. One needs to specifically use nigari.

One misconception worth noting: it may take “about an hour” to make the tofu, but one needs to take into account the time for pressing, cleaning up, etc. I find that about 2 1/2 hours just about does the whole job.
Something the article omitted that is worth saying: When simmering the pureed meal in water, be very watchful of the pot. The whole mixture foams up as it approaches boiling and will readily boil over. (I’m sure you can imagine how I know this.) It can make a huge mess on your cooktop.

The soy fiber left in the cheesecloth sack ofter pressing out the soymilk is not a grain, and is not called “okra.” (Okra is a great vegetable I grow in my garden.) What’s left in the cheesecloth is the soy “bran” and it’s called okara. There are some good okara recipes I use, but that’s enough for another article. Lastly, I’ve always pressed my tofu in its form for one hour under very light weight. I prefer to treat it gently.

As Mr. Stone says in the article, fresh tofu, eaten just after it is made has a soothing freshness to it. I hope I contributed to making it a little easier for people to venture making their own.

Nancy Starr, West Fork, AR

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