issue 54 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #54


We are new subscribers and love Backwoods magazine!!! I felt so strongly about Backwoods magazine and our present course of action, I thought this might motivate someone.

We made up our minds several years ago to become independent in our future by finding our sanctuary and building on it as we go. We didn’t want any banks involved with our future.

We were looking for 10 acres with a creek in the mountains, with the million dollar smell which makes you shake with anticipation and relieves stress big time!

We were hoping for land bordering forest service land and a maintained county road for year around emergency access.

Our search ended in May ’97. Six miles down the road from where I proposed to my wife 18 years earlier while on a camping trip! Unbelievable!

You can practically shoot a slingshot into Canada and it has a small creek running through it.

We bought a used travel trailer for $500 and put on sanctuary for shelter while building. We used lumber milled with an Alaskan II from our timber to put on a roof and plan to stockpile more for various projects over the years. This will return the $300 price tag for the mill.

To further reduce costs we are acquiring used building materials over the next two years. We already found a free front door and 160 cement blocks for $50. It’s out there—you just have to keep looking!
We will install our septic, bridge over creek (cement blocks and milled timbers) and used generator $239 in 1998.

In 1999 we will build a modified A-frame which can be built in sections anywhere and erected on the land. I found the plans and instructions in another magazine which I modified for our needs. This is such a cheap and practical design I have included my modified floor plan.

The piece of mind is wonderful! The key is to have a goal/plan and to implement it! You can too!

Steve Spear, Spokane, WA

Political awareness

First, let me say, that I think your magazine is the best reading publication on the market. Second, I think the personnel that directs its content, are the most rational and sane people in the business. Third, your circulation touches more Americans in a positive way, than all the library type books combined.

After reading John’s “My View” I must say, to me, it is a masterpiece in logic, found lacking in most political thought. I realize that some folks resent politics in a basic living magazine, but those that do, don’t understand that political awareness is just as important as our choice of lifestyles.

The more people that understand that the Constitutions of both State and Federal, forbid the unconstitutional alphabet agencies, that are now a part of the Executive branch of the corporate United States, maybe more individuals will use the courts, and demand that the corrupt government bureaucrats and the corrupt judges, follow the law.

John, even though your poems are more prose than poem, you are intensely imaginative and you understand our political dilemma. In closing you people are wonderful and Americans all. I thank you.

Jim Lee, Nevada State


KUDOS on your magazine! It is my favorite of three related issue subscriptions and I look forward to each issue.
I find it ironic that I was recently thinking of asking your position on drug use/abuse in this country when I read the March/April ’98 article “Think of it this way…’ by John Silveira. I was saddened to find that you perceive drug abuse to be, at worst, a critical health problem. As far as users/abusers are concerned, I suppose you are right. I must, however, disagree with you concerning drug suppliers.

Based on John’s position I must assume he has never had a loved one “hooked” on drugs. If so, he is exceedingly fortunate. Emotionally, financially and idealistically fortunate.

While an out of control bureaucracy may likely destroy America, I feel that drug abuse poses a more imminent path to destruction. Drug abuse is systematically destroying the very moral fiber that created this country and sustained it for almost 200 years after independence.

Our moral fiber has been in rapid decay since the drug and free love generation of the ’60s. As drug use/abuse continues to spread, our citizens will increasingly withdraw from the fight to preserve our freedom and liberty. Satisfied instead to escape into a drug induced stupor rather than face and fight for the realities of life, liberty and the pursuit of (real) happiness.

Not to change the subject but I must also comment on your periodic mis-directed observations regarding the I.R.S. You know, as well as I, that the I.R.S. does not write the tax laws. Congress writes the tax laws. At most, I.R.S. writes regulations to implement Congressional intent. While I.R.S. makes a popular and convenient scapegoat, Congress is the culprit responsible for uncontrolled taxation. I.R.S. has the duty to fairly and equitably administer the tax laws. No different than any other government bureaucracy. Stop killing the messenger and re-direct your darts and arrows to the source of the “problem.”

While I have no illusions that I will change your minds, it is great to live in a country where we are free to agree to disagree.

David Read, Oklahoma, OK

As for just targeting of drug suppliers, consider this, during Prohibition it wasn’t illegal to drink, it was only illegal to manufacture and sell booze. In other words, they went after the suppliers. The unintended consequence of this was to create a crime world in this country, the scale of which hadn’t existed before. At the same time it corrupted the police, the bureaucrats, and the politicians—but never reduced alcoholism or alcohol related problems. They increased. We have a frightening parallel to this today in the war on drugs—except that now it’s not just the supplier who gets nailed, you can go to jail or have your property seized just for being a user. Yet, as with alcohol problems, the drug problems have gotten worse and for all the laws we have, your loved one(s) was not saved and, as far as I can tell, no one else’s have been, either.

I’m not advocating drugs. I tried them in the ’70s, as did much of my generation, and all but one of us inhaled. But I didn’t like them, and gave them up. And I don’t want my kids doing them either, though they may. However, if they do, I don’t want them treated as criminals because they decide to do something with the one thing that is ultimately theirs—their own bodies.

You also attached a copy of a letter you sent to a newspaper in Oklahoma (not printed here) in which you state that “If there were a united war on drugs, we could defeat the drug czars of the world.” In this country alone, the drug war has caused corruption in the ranks of the regulators. Such an attack will ensure the corruption will transcend the national level and go global. But worse, whether it’s on a national or a global level, Dave, it’s simply none of your business, Congress’s business, or the UN’s business what I do with my ultimate possession.

As for your comment in that same letter about the “…grief suffered by the relatives and loved ones of those addicted to drugs…,” I’ve known at least a hundred people in my life who experimented with drugs, either occasionally or to excess, but only one that I can remember became an addict or committed a violent crime to maintain an addiction—and that was prescription drugs. According to the drug crusaders those hundred or so people should be regarded as criminals to “save” their loved one.

About your concern that “Our moral fiber has been in rapid decay since the drug and free love generation of the 60s;” when was it more moral? The first 90 years when about 20% of the people were enslaved and denied their rights? The first 120 when we broke one treaty after another and took the land from the Indians? The first 145 when half of the adult population, namely women, were disenfranchised. From 1918 to 1933 when Prohibition spawned our modern crime syndicates? I’ll tell you what is really precipitating our moral decay, it’s the making of one law after another until almost everything is illegal and we’re all becoming criminals.

Concerning your second point: Yes, the Congress enacts tax laws, but the IRS writes the thousands of pages of regulations to carry them out. Often the regulations bureaucrats write are in defiance of Congress. (Witness what the EPA has been doing lately with private property siezures in the name of the environment.) It’s usually those regulations, that are unconstitutional, but are never debated on the floor of the House or the Senate that, even if they were simply following Congressional orders, the bureaucrats should not be absolved of responsibility for the way they trample on our Bill of Rights anymore than were the guards in concentration camps for the atrocities they committed—because they were following orders.

The only thing I can say in defense of Congress and the IRS is that neither is really the culprit. Culpability lies with the electorate. I can’t believe how many people complain about what their government, including their IRS does, then go out and vote for the same fools who have consigned us to this regulatory hell we’re living in.
— John Silveira

Backwoods prisoner

My heart went out to “Backwoods Escape” (Sept./Oct. 1998 #53, letters) the man who owned “30 acres of beautiful hardwoods in Northwestern Wisconsin” which his spouse refused to share, but had said, more than once, “you know, if you ever leave me, half of that 30 is mine” (the dry half, she claimed).

My story was eqally sad, but with a happy ending. I was married to a man making nearly $100K a year, at the job 30 years and he suddenly wanted all his retirement to himself. I just inherited a modest home, cashed in a very small IRA, and a smaller yet insurance policy to buy over 1000 acres at $150 an acre of foothills. Most of our visitors complain about the snakes, scorpions, flys, knats, cactus, outhouse, you name it, and leave within a few hours. They totally miss the voice of Mother Earth.

My former spouse is now alone in the city with his property to keep him company! I have the rustle of leaves, the songs of birds, the feel of breezes on my skin, the smell of clean, clear mountain air and five other hardy souls who appreciate eco-sustainable rural living over a city existence. So I ask our letter writer, do you want to live or remain her prisoner?

Jacque Omi Zaleski,

Libertarian publications

Would you give me the addresses of these newsletters, as noted on page 89 of A Backwoods Home Anthology: the Fourth Year: Conservative Chronicle, Insight Magazine, Liberty Magazine, Libertarian Party News.

Mrs. Bettie Skinner,
Woodford, VA

Delighted. They’re among my favorite publications. And I’ll even include a few more:

Conservative Chronicle, Hampton Publishing Co., 9 Second St. NW, POB 29, Hampton, IA 50441. Telephone: 515-456-2585. Web address:

Insight Magazine, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Telephone: 202-636-8800. Web address: http:/

Liberty Magazine, POB 1181, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Telephone: 800-854-6991. Web: http:/www/

Libertarian Party News, 2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20037. Telephone: 202-333-0008. Web address:

Fully Informed Jury Activist, POB 59, Helmville, MT 59843. Tel: 406-793-5550. Web:

Heterodoxy, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, POB 67398, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Telephone: 916-265-9306. Web address: This is also the address for the Report Card, Front Page, and Center News.
— Dave


I found your May/June eidtorial irresponsible and flippant.

If government/business/industry find it difficult to be ready for Y2K, with years to work on it, how might we expect them to complete the work and correct any errors in the days immediately following “00” with the added pressure of frightened, upset people and with the possibliity of disrupted electric service??

I would have expected a self-sufficiency magazine like yours to instead caution people to lay in a few extra groceries and store some water if they have not already done so. To retell the fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant:” To “Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” You know…”Better Safe Than Sorry.”

You fail to imagine what cities could be like with delayed welfare checks, delayed grocery deliveries, and McDonalds closed for a day or two. I am happy that I live in the country and fairly self-sufficient, but most people are not so lucky.

Linda S.,
Somewhere, MI

We won’t have to wait long for all you people who prophesy Y2K disaster to see if your doomsday scenarios come true. Meanwhile, the average reader of this magazine will be better prepared than the average reader of other magazines for whatever materializes. I don’t believe in preparing for the worst, but in preparing for the sensible. Armageddon is not around every corner.
— Dave

Prevent saddle theft

We were relieved of a brand new saddle, the first new one we had ever bought. And so in the time honered practice of securing the barn after the theft I have come up with the following:

It is an inexpensive and easy to make saddle lock that ought to frustrate all but the most determined of thieves. Two pieces of 5/8 rebar, cut 4 feet and 1 foot long are for making the tee. The base is a 1/2 inch machine bolt, 3 inches long anchored in the concrete floor. To join the tee and the embedded bolt, cut two pieces of 1/4 by 1 inch bar stock 3 inches long. Weld one to a flat on the side of the bolt head and the other to the bottom of the rebar. Drill each big enough to accommodate whatever padlock you are going to use. The hasp of the lock in the picture is shielded from the would-be-boltcutter by a small box of 1/4 by 1 inch stock. This is so I could use a cheap lock I had on hand. This is not necessary if a lock with a hardened hasp is used.

A half inch masonry drill has enough wallow in it so there is sufficient space around the bolt to work in anchoring compound for a good bond. I figured if my saddle storage had a wooden floor, and I could get under it, the half inch bolt would still work, if not, perhaps a large lag screw into a joist. If the floor was dirt, a bell shaped hole filled with sackcrete would do it.

Bill Mushake, Rice, TX


Sorry this is so late! I hope I can still get issue #54 when it comes out! I can’t live without it—yours is only one of two magazines I continue to subscribe to. I have all the anthology books too. Keep up the great work!

Jenny Pipes, Grover Beach, CA

My husband devours each issue and I am looking forward to putting the home-making articles to good use. We have built a small two room cabin until we can afford to build our “real” home. We are looking to become self-sufficient and your magazine will be our guidepost. We save every one for future reference. Again, thanks for such a great source for life improvement and home living.

We appreciate you!

Jo Ann Hamilton, Atkins, AR

Thanks for an always informative, entertaining and provocative magazine.

Debbie Cisar, Crivitz, WI

Glad to find your publication especially after the eastern liberals white washed MEN.
Love your common sense articles.

Tom Bennett, Spokane, WA

1/2-year subscription

Enclosed is a check for a six month subscription. I am also requesting my one free back issue that comes with a paid subscription. Thank you. I look forward to it. Southern California is a sewer.

Taipan K. Yu, Pomona, CA

Southern California a sewer? Just because the crime rate is through the roof, it’s so crowded you can’t breathe, and you can’t sneeze without getting a permit from a bureaucrat? How uncharitable of you.
— Dave

BHM on newsstand

As I can no longer find your magazine at any of the local newsstands, please add my name to your list of subscribers.

Keep up the good work. You’re doing a great job.

Terrill Hunter, Miami, OK

Always like to use a letter like this in our letters section to remind readers that we continue to pare down from the newsstand, and we hope to get off the newsstand entirely in a year or two.

You readers with a computer and an Internet hookup should also check out our new Web page at We continue to improve it and add more back isssue articles, links to self-reliance sites, etc. I think the future of most publications is on the Internet. Our Internet page is totally free to anyone with an Internet connection.
— Dave

Getting rid of the
gamey flavor in venison

I just finished reading an article by Bill Palmroth regarding venison in your Sept./Oct. 1998 issue . I read in a cookbook how to get rid of the “gamey” taste of venison. Since learning this method, when I make venison—no one but the family knows that it isn’t beef. The method takes planning, although minimal time. I take the cut from the freezer and thaw. Then I soak it in a brine solution, no measuring, just some salt in the water in the fridge overnight. The next day, I change the water and rinse and put the meat into a clean salt solution. The next day I do it again. On the third or fourth day, I rinse the meat and soak it in clear water overnight. The next day I either prepare it or marinate it for yet one more night and then it’s ready. It doesn’t taste anything like venison.

Jane Latsch, Harrison, TN

Wood-fired outdoor wood-burning stove

While reading through back issues, I reread the article in the July/August ’97 issue on page 63 by Jacqueline Tresl. She was telling about a woodfired space/water heating system that allows the stove to be outside in a shed 10 to 100 ft from the home.

My husband and I are also interested in such a system, but unfortunately, Mrs. Tresl didn’t supply the name of the manufacturer of their system. Could you give us their information? Also, do you know of any similar systems that will work “off grid” using solar to run the circulating fan?

Theresa Melton,

Don’t bet on Silveira

My wife and I have a $10 bet. She says if I send in a letter saying Silveira’s ugly, his poetry is sick, and his columns are the blatherings of a deranged moron, that you wouldn’t dare print it?

Who’s right?

J. Anderson, Medford, MA

Give her the money. — Dave

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