issue 55 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #55

Make out a will

It’s good to have BHM coming to me again. Had to re-new. “Nary” a BHM in magazine section.

I first wrote to you folks during my husband’s terminal illness. I lost him in Jan. 95.

I dug into BHM with a vigor. Not only did I learn how others were making it, but I found the courage to go on.
That’s what you’re all about Duffy—courage and determination to build a more peaceful, better, to have a better quality of life.

The gist of my letter today is about making a will! My husband (out of fear or whatever) failed to make out one. It threw me into a legal monster—basically homeless, very broke. Bank accounts, home furnishings, automobiles are tied up in legal tangles. Don’t be fooled, that refrigerator and checking account balance belong to you. Wrong! They belong to the Estate. It’s part of an estate and those long lost relatives will (believe me) come out of the woodwork.

Lawyers and court fees will send you into instant panic and the poor house.

Please tell people to quit procrastinating and being so stupid, we all die. Make out a clear, concise will. It’s cheaper than the battle that follows without one. You won’t be there to help. Solve the agony and bewilderment of the family financial chaos!

I’m on my son’s deer lease now, in an 80-year old house. This is my proving ground—no real investment of money for housing, etc., but I’m learning. The most important thing is life-giving water. I have an in-ground cistern I have to bale—it’s undrinkable, but suitable for dish washing and baths. I have to haul drinking water.
The drought in Texas this year caused the cistern to drop dangerously low—water is a most precious thing.
Second comes housing—we can make just about anything work, but this old house is either very hot or blizzard cold. But this is very important—we learn how to insulate, work those wood-eaters in the winter. No electricity, so I’ve learned how to cope with that. My main expense is batteries for my faithful radio, oil for my lamps.
I don’t have transportation, so the good will of my neighbors is nurtured by myself.

I know how I’ll go about building my real place. This is a very good learning experience for me. Water, housing and a tough vehicle are the primaries.

I work as a wood splitter for a small seasonal company out here. I get all the wood scraps I need for heat; they take my 25 gallon butane tank in every few months and have it filled. Found an old Wedgewood cook stove for $25—running a wood splitter and handling logs 20 inches long are a stretch at times for this 57-year-old woman, but there’s nothing better than good hard work for the soul and body. I’ve learned I can do what I have to to survive.

The latest articles on food canning and storage from Jackie Clay were excellent. I hope she can put them in book form, as simple as she did for BHM. She gives me courage.

Love Don C’s illustrations, and your Bill of Rights—Constitution conversations are the best ever. I believe the cutting edge of our future lies in the ground work of our past.

Finally able to read Silveira’s poems without falling out—It’s scary when you begin to understand him. Huh?
I can’t tell you what BHM means to me without getting really mushy. You’re about courage—fortitude—liberation.

I’ve even begun a letter writing relationship with one of the personal ads—we’ll see how that goes. I’m ready for that new companion, with the same dream as I.

Thanks Duffy—for all you are to us—the faithful.

Anne Dodds, Bedias, TX

Amnesty International

I would like to again thank you for printing my letter (Alabama Prison, Issue 53). You may know, Amnesty International has launched an investigation into injustices and human rights abuses in the U.S. They have committed themselves to a full year of investigating, Now, other human rights organizations are also following their lead: Human Rights Watch International, Human Rights Out-Reach.

I can’t help but feel that your courage to print was a factor in A.I.’s decision to commit themselves. Therefore, you have been a part in bringing hope to the hopeless and some comfort in the souls crying out for justice.
It was the freedom of the press that made this country great! Freedom of the press has always been the watchdog of freedom. It is the lack that has started this country into a downward spiral. I so commend you for your courage. You may not be a New York Times in size, but you’re a “David.” May I remind you that David was the apple of God’s eye. May God bless & keep.

Patrick Swiney,
Holman Prison, Atmore, AL

Energy, water stove, Think of it this way

Strange advertisements. See back cover Nov/Dec. 98 BHM offering electricity for the independent home “off grid.” Note nowhere does an address appear, just “website,” email, tel & fax.

We are “off gridders” as are about 400 of our neighbors, you know—no “website,” no grid, no tel or fax, no computer no “on line” and now no addresses. Wow, a first.

In response to letter writer Theresa Melton, address T. Melton, the Taylor water stove is an excellent product, well made, dependable, a good dollar value.

We use a dry sand heat sink. This is just a box, insulated R-40 or better on all sides, that provides room for a 2’x 6′ fire box surrounded on all sides by 2′ of dry (bone dry) sand. Heat & water is drawn off via ducts & copper pipes.

We heat a 3000-sq ft two-story and enjoy “endless” hot showers. We have left for as much as 4 days and return to a warm house & hot showers even in 2′ of snow. I will provide plans of ours if you wish—free. Addresses are: Taylor Manufacturing, PO Box 518 Elizabethtown, NC 28337. This brings ads and a list of dealers.
A. S. Hanson, Site 12 Box 6 W. R., Hoopa, CA 95546.

Response to Critical Thinking, Nov/Dec. 98 by John Silveira.

I find your views on The Constitution well founded, presented and researched.

At times I disagree with your conclusions but you always make me think, and take a deeper, harder look at what we have, and how we came about.

A parting of ways.

Your research on the bible is at best poor or uninformed. You site Exo. 1513 The Lord of Hosts defeating Pharaoh’s army, The Exodus, Israel’s conquests in the Holy Land, and attribute this to Christians? This, all, is pre-Christian, Old Testament 1375 BC Jewish conquest.

To understand Jesus and the new testament you must understand Aramaic. This is the language of the time see K.S. Acts 11:19, 21:39-40, 22:1:3, Matt 26:73. This shows Aramaic to be the language of Jesus, the Apostles, the people. See also Hab 2:2, Deut 4:4, 12:32, Prov 30:6 & Rev. 22:19. These forbid any change whatsoever.

To translate is to change. Translations at best blur meaning, at times change meaning. Translations to suit this Holy Empire or that Royal House, at times just so the bible sees it our way, can be even worse. The bible of Eastern (non-state) orthodoxy continues in Aramaic as spoken by Jesus and the Apostles, complete and unchanged.

You state Jesus said “I come not to send peace but a sword. The word for sword is an Aramaic idiom for Division—a parting. This is truly what Jesus was doing. He was forming a new church out of the old. A parting of ways, a division.

Errors of this type are almost too numerous to list, but here are some glaring ones.

The number of the beast—666. Not so! Aramaic, like Latin had no numbers just letters, and 666 does not appear in scripture. However, 50-200-6-50-100-60-200 does. Taken as numerals it totals 666. But spoken it is Nero Caesar. His name also appears upon the brow piece of the helmets of the Praetorian guard. Humm, the number of the beast upon their brow, how odd. Truly the beast number.

The parable of the man casting seed. Some falls on rock, some in sand etc. In this case to seed or to sow is to teach the way, a traveling preacher.

A serpent in “you may handle serpents” means in God you may be safe among your enemy’s (serpents).
I’ll go no further for it goes on and on. The point is Christianity started with Jesus’s life & teachings and the church in 60 A.D. At this time Eastern Orthodoxy was given all available writings to keep, guard and to add to the ancient scrolls.

They do so to this day.

Their bible (the Peshitta) is often used to correct newer works. It is in agreement with the most ancient of scrolls.

A last thought. Give the Constitution to a man who reads English & writes French, then one who reads French & writes German, then German-Latin, then Latin-Greek, then Greek-English. Question is, is it still your Constitution? This is mild in relationship to the bible.

I close for now. Keep up the good work. To answer any question yes I’m Eastern Orthodox.

Al Hanson, Hoopa, CA

John Silveira

I wish more “mainstream” people could hear and be persuaded by John Silveira. Does he do radio talk shows or the like?

Becky Semmler, Jacobson, MN

You can hear John speak on the U.S. Constitution and other things by going to our Internet web site at — Dave

I goofed on my renewal. So enclosed is $20 cash for another year, please. Start me with Issue #53, so I miss no issues.

Just so I get my bid in on favorites of your magazine, being a history buff, #1 for me is “Think of it this way” by John Silveira & his poems. Keep it up John! But I’ve got to say, I do enjoy most of all your articles.

Charles R. Narry, Miami, FL

Each time I receive my copy of BHM, I read it front to back, (and sometimes back to front), each time wondering if—maybe this time—someone may have written an article without belittling or smearing in some way Germany or Hitler.

Sure enough, on page 68 of this issue, (November/December ’98), in “Think of it this way—” I find “Germany was a Christian nation under Hitler;” which calls for a “So what?” Why Germany? Why not the USSR, or, more to the point, why not England? Two of the biggest monsters in the history of the world were Josef Stalin and Winston Churchill, (both ranking right up there with Franklin D. Roosevelt), yet the silly pissant who penned the “Think of it this way” article trots out Germany and Hitler. If National Socialism and Hitler could have carried the day before and during World War Two, the world we live in now would be considerably better. I mean a hundred percent better.

As long as Backwoods Home arrives I will read it, (by and large it is one of the better magazines that I receive); by the same token, every time some nut pens a slighting remark about Germany and Hitler you will hear about it.

George D. Smith, Goodyear, AZ

Personally I think Hitler was a murdering tyrant, and National Socialism was a fool’s political system.
Hitler and National Socialism appealed to some people because the world was in economic recession. They thought Hitler and socialism could save them, just as others thought Stalin and communism could save them. History teaches us that neither system worked and that Hitler and Stalin were both mass murderers.
National Socialism and communism are two branches of the same rotted tree. We stamped out one with World War II, and the other is dying as we speak. Why anyone would feel nostalgia for either of them is beyond me. It’s like feeling nostalgia for the crash that hospitalized you for years with a broken neck.
Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. National Socialism and communism provide us with important history lessons, and I am in favor of frequent reminders so we don’t go down those reckless roads again. — Dave

I always thought John Silveira suffered from an incomplete, imprecise, and warped understanding of history. He proved it in his article entitled, “Think of it This Way” in the November/December issue of BHM.

Les Goss, Alton, MO

The first Backwoods Home I read was issue number 8 and I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed every issue since then. Over the years I’ve been tickled a time or two by the sensitivity of some of your detractors, but now I must join their ranks. Yes, even I have been offended by the editorial content of your magazine. Of course I’m referring to Mr. Silveira’s article concerning the pros and cons of this being a Christian nation.

The Founding Fathers did enact the First Amendment to keep religion from being regulated by the state, but wasn’t their intent to assure that every man, woman and child be able to worship Jesus Christ in any way they saw fit? Of course they didn’t say this specifically, but there’s a lot of things they didn’t specify, things that would be taken for granted. I do not believe that it would ever have occurred to them that our amendments would be twisted to ban such things as prayer in school or guns in the home.

As to that tired old argument concerning all those unfortunates being killed in the name of God, that position does not bear scrutiny. Truly, those of the Inquisition, the Nazis, the slave owners and rioters, they were all “Christians”, but it was despite this that they did what they did, not because of it. The Bible is full of “constitutional” protections. I would argue the point of Christianity not making countries any better. Compare Christian nations to those that are not in matters of technology, human rights, quality of living and you’ll find that for the most part the Christian nations are holding their own. No one could argue that they don’t have a lot of room for improvement, but again that is due to the human propensity for greed and self-centeredness. In short, your gripe is with “Christians”, not Christianity. The two are easy to confuse.

Nowadays crime victims continue to pay for the upkeep of their assailants. Christian laws are simple and fair and with them we wouldn’t need penitentiaries. If you stole something you paid it back and then some. If you couldn’t pay you went to work for the victim until compensation was made. The victims were reimbursed what they lost and the criminals learned a valuable lesson about what it was like to have the fruits of their labor taken from them. Murderers and rapists were put to death, which may seem harsh but then so is the crime.

The “church” that Constantine joined hands with most certainly was no representative of Christianity, quite the opposite. As to rendering unto Caesar what is his, that was taken out of context. Biblical law has strict safeguards concerning government abuses and taxation (tithing), which when properly exacted amounts to about twenty per cent of your income, and no more, regardless of economic status.

As an American and a Christian I must say that while we don’t agree I will defend to the death your right to be wrong about this matter. And as to the rest of the magazine, thank you so much.

Tim Carroll, Jefferson City, MO

Again, applause on your “Think of it this way . . .” article in issue #53. However, Mac makes the same claim on page 40 that he made back in issue #44. In the midst of his commentary on the Bill of Rights he says “. . . no one ever says what the source of these rights are.” Again, I take issue with this statement (as you published in #45).
You are quite correct in saying that the Constitution never addresses the source of our rights. Nor does it ever declare our separation from Great Britain or the reasons for that separation. Our founding fathers didn’t just assume that we were an independent nation, did they? Nor does it say anything about forming a new government or where this new government gets its power. Assumptions? But the Constitution does say that it was written “…in order to form a more perfect union…” The only assumption our founding fathers made was to assume that we were all familiar with the Declaration of Independence, the document that established all these things—including the source of our rights.

Nelson got real close when he misquoted the Declaration of Independence as saying “…we’re all endowed with certain unalienable rights…” If you get your almanac back out you’ll see that he forgot a few words. It really says “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

Which brings us to the real reason for the decline of America. The people of America keep forgetting or rejecting their Creator. The Bible, the Creator’s book, states in the book of Psalms chapter 9, verse 17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Chapter 8 of the book of Deuteronomy also clearly warns of the destruction that awaits the nation that forgets the Lord. The solution? Remember Him and repent. “Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalms 85:9)

John Day, Altamont, KS

Bookstore blues

Enclosed is $19.95 for a one year subscription. I’m tired of trying to beat everyone at the bookstore for a copy!! Last time I had to go to 3 bookstores to find “the last copy”!

Kathleen Kruger, Mancelona, MI

Irreverent joke

Presidential Punishment Poll

Please indicate your preference below:



The Lorena Bobbitt Solution ____

Impeachment and The Lorena Bobbitt Solution____

I figure this will still have plenty of mileage left in it for the next several months yet. (Years? Oh please shoot me!)

Of course…if you guys wouldn’t be so stingy with our BHM (I want one every day please) topicality wouldn’t be an issue. (Notice how I cleverly wove a political word in there?)

Don’t you people know there are people out here wasting away from BHM deprivation?

Peggy Abts, Cochranton, PA


I really enjoy your magazine a great deal. The idea of pen pals would be great! However I do have a problem with your article on canning (Sept/Oct 98). In it Mrs. Clay insists that people should not use those “cute jars” with zinc caps. I was taught to can when I was 8 years old. My mother always used zinc caps and rubber rings and none of us ever got sick. In fact almost 40 years later I’m still canning in those same jars and lids and I’ve never had a problem with them. I make sure the jars have no chips on their rims and that the jars are regular masons with enough threads to screw down the caps tightly onto the rubber rings. I turn them upside down to check for any hissing as leakage that would indicate a bad seal. This has always worked for me. As for bail-wire jars I use those to store dried herbs—pretty and useful! If any readers are interested, the rubber rings for jars can be gotten from Lehmans in Ohio.

Jan Genske, Madison, WI

Once again, a great issue. Sure wish I lived close to Jackie Clay. We would have a lot in common. I usually can about anything that doesn’t wiggle too much and a few things that do according to my family. This year, because of ill health, I haven’t canned much, but I would like to share a couple of recipes and ask a couple of questions or maybe someone could write a short article to answer them. We produce or can fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs but buy dairy products from the store. I’ve been thinking about buying the dried milk and also powder in bulk, but am not too enthused about spending that much money and then finding we don’t like it and won’t use it. I buy and use Trio cheese powder. Is this the same that comes in large cans? How is that cheese powder used? What about the oleo powder? Does it make the tub type or the stick type? I sure would appreciate some good information about these products from someone that is using them.

I was in the hospital for a few days early in June and out of work for that month. It sure was nice to not have to ask family or friends to make trips to the grocery store.

What kind of corn do you can? Most of the sweet corn grown around is the super sweet kind and it does not can well. Also I have been unable to find White corn for canning so ours is yellow. Jackie’s sure is pretty and white.
A friend gave us a yellow-meated watermelon that sure was good. I saved seeds and maybe I’ll have some to dry and try some yellow wine next year.

My gun-crazy oldest son was real impressed when I quoted Massad Ayoob. I think he’s decided that Mom isn’t completely stupid. Keep up the good work and good luck to all. John, I write poetry too, but nothing as deep as yours. Thanks.

Beans with pork and
tomato sauce:

1 qt. dried navy beans (2 lb.)
¼ lb.. salt port, cut in pieces
1 qt. tomato juice
3 Tbps. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped onions
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice

Cover beans with cold water and let stand 12 to 18 hrs. in a cool place. Drain and cover with boiling water; boil for 3 min. Remove from heat and let stand 10 min; drain. Pack 1 cup beans into hot jar. Top with piece of pork and fill jars about 3/4 full of beans. Combine tomato juice, sugar, salt, onions, and spices; heat to boiling. Pour hot sauce to within 1 in. of top of jar. Seal. Process qts. 1 hr. 15 mins. at 15 lbs pressure. Yields about 3 qts.

Canned pinto beans:

Put 1 cup cleaned pinto beans into clean qt. jars. Fill with boiling water to 2 in. from top. Put 1 tsp. salt in each jar if desired and pressure 90 min. at 15 lbs. pressure.

Barbara Fischer,
Sharon Springs, KS


I am writing first of all to thank you for your good work on Backwoods Home Magazine. I have enclosed my payment for a subscription to your magazine, though I have been a reader for about four years. Every two months, I would locate a copy of BHM and read almost every word. What an excellent resource! Maybe I didn’t subscribe so long because I subconsciously figured a magazine this good wouldn’t last. Thank God, it has.
BHM is a “guiding light” to those of us who aspire to live a life of freedom, away from the “rat race,” the urban sprawl, and the domineering hand of “big brother.” I am particularly fond of your conversational articles on the Constitution. While I place myself in the political and economic camp of libertarianism (little “l”) I am a Christian and social conservative. Needless to say I find no political party to call home these days. That’s why, for the most part, I find your articles on the Constitution so refreshing.

I especially want to complement the issue in which the most “Constitutional” presidents were named. As an “unreconstructed southerner” at heart, I thought you hit the nail on the head in identifying Abraham Lincoln as the biggest offender. I concur with your opinion that FDR is second—but I have to say the current occupant, with all the crimes and abuses he’s committed, now deserves a third place ranking!

Another great feature is the letters to the editor that you print. They are so inspiring. As a Professor at a college, I am currently forced to live in a large urban area. However, I am even now looking for land along the Blue Ridge for a retreat, and I hope, an early but productive retirement. I live for that kind of freedom, for that kind of opportunity! Those letters you print from folks who’ve done it before are such a boost! Thanks to them and you!
Of course, I like the Ayoob articles, and the other helpful and practical features that give me ideas for how I will construct my retreat when the time comes. I save every issue. And finally, I thank you for your column. Every two months, your insights and commentaries make me think, encourage me to act, and help me to prepare myself for whatever might come next. On the same token, you aren’t shrill and alarmist, as some of the so-called “survivalist” gurus are these days.

You know, it’s frightening to see our nation go through so many negative changes in the past few years. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect, with the death of morality, the expansion of central government power, the frantic pace of life in the world. But it’s great to have BHM as a resource for happy, free and prepared living! Keep up the good work Dave, and God bless you!

J. Dale Weaver, Nashville, TN

Who would have thought I could have stumbled upon such a great magazine in the library of the quintessentially suburban city of Columbia, Maryland.

Mary Erickson, Columbia, MD

Keep up the great work. I look forward to each magazine, and read it cover to cover. I’m still planning a move to a “simpler” life style and the articles on self-reliant living have given me much needed insight.

Karl F. Schwille, Norfolk, VA

I saw your (our) magazine in our local Walmart 2 times. I bought a copy both times.

The magazine is so wonderful. My views aren’t as strange as I have been told.

I am disabled. I try to do what I can. I live in town and can’t have my own anything.

I used to own a rabbitry, a hatchery, poultry of almost every kind. I bought/bartered for milk and wild game. I had 1/2 acre garden and freezers’ (old not working—holds water very well) full of cat fish.

Now I depend on my mother and step-father a lot.

I will! get better and I will have a farm again. I am determined not to be dependent on the government or my parents.

The magazine is even better (to me) than Mother Earth News, Countryside, and Organic Gardening put together. In the #50 issue, about playground toys, was just the ideas I needed. My daughter (3-1/2 yrs old) was tickled with the tire swing.

Dawn Dodson, Mandeville, LA

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