issue 59 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #59

Found love

I submitted an ad with your magazine in Jan/Feb 97 in the hopes of finding a woman with the right stuff for a self-reliant lifestyle in the mountains of southern Colorado. Well, to make a long story short, I found her in Nicole from North Carolina (one of your subscribers). We are now married and very happy, looking forward to the challenge of the new life ahead of us. Thanks. We never would have met if you didn’t exist.

Let me say this to the other single searchers out there. When I met Nicole I never lied or distorted the truth and I took the time to get to know her before we met. So did she. Remember this! It works.

Mark & Nicole, Alamosa, CO

Christian nation

Hats off (again!) to John Silveira for his “Would the United States be better off if it were a Christian nation?” I fluctuated between giggling and shocked disbelief at the number of supposed Americans-for-liberty that took offense to his article spelling out that our beliefs were our own, and not to be pushed upon others by legislature.

The article was brave, honest, articulate, and I appreciated it much.

Not a right wing, not a life wing, but just an American who also happens to be Christian and doesn’t feel a need, nor a right, to push my personal beliefs upon my countrymen. To me, liberty means its between me and MY God and no one else—I’d like to keep it that way.

Thanks again, John, for a well-written article. I link your articles often on the net to Backwoodshome, as well as fax the ones not online to my libertarian friends.

Autumn Kruer, Kentucky

Fascism’s doorstep

Your editorial “At fascism’s doorstep” (May/June 1999) was right on point and there are surely a majority of citizens out here who agree with privatizing social security. Unfortunately, that plan is not in the interest of government, and it is a mind-puzzler as to how to bring it about.

The concern of social security going broke before the next retiring generation “baby boomers” can make their rightful claims, has gone from fear to apathy, with more and more people indicating that they don’t expect it “to be there.” The reason the system is in financial jeopardy, however, is not precisely what the man on the street believes it to be, that is, too much is being paid out and not enough is coming in. That is not totally accurate.

In 1967 our government had run up a multi-billion dollar deficit due, in major part, to the Vietnam War. But the social security trust fund was in excellent financial shape, and had, in fact, amassed a surplus of $2.5 billion, still growing, which the federal government could not access. The trust fund was outside of the federal budget. President Johnson chewed on that for awhile, but it did not take long for him and his advisors to come up with a solution. The social security fund, along with other trust funds, was swept into the general fund, and almost overnight the administration was claiming success at reducing the national debt. (Huh?) They called the commingling of the funds “Unifying the Budget.” What had really happened is that the solid funds, reserved for retirement of the working class who had built it, was now inside the federal budget. Thus, very easy to Borrow From, or better said, Raid, which was promptly accomplished, a practice which continues today.

K. L. Morrow,

Making butter

As one who adores the taste of homemade butter, I have driven to Amish and Mennonite communities to purchase my passion. Living outside of the city and limited on space and restrictions makes it impossible and impractical to own a milk cow or goat. I kept wondering if there was a way to combat my dilemma—and there is.

Now many folks may have discovered this already but for those who have not, well, are you going to be pleased!

Purchase a pint of heavy cream or heavy whipping cream from the supermarket (inexpensive store brands are what I use). I use a pot, collander, a piece of cheese cloth, along with a quart Mason Jar with lid and ring. Have a wooden spoon close by also to press out the buttermilk.

Pour the cream into the Mason Jar and adjust the temperature in warm or cold water to obtain 60 degrees F. Place the lid and ring on the mason Jar and begin to shake-up and down and side to side motions—you will develop a rhythm.

After approximately 15 minutes the cream will change into whipped cream and you will notice that the agitation in the jar almost stops. When I reach this point, I sit the jar down and let it settle out some then return to shaking the jar.

In another 10 minutes or so, you will feel a major change. As you shake the jar, you will feel a “mass” hitting the ends of the jar. Stop for a second and admire this blob of pale yellow “stuff” forming in the jar, then continue until buttermilk has separated (it will look thin and the butter will take up a good portion of the jar).

Now you’re almost done. I line the collendar with cheese cloth and place it into the pan then pour the buttermilk into the pan (save buttermilk to use in baking).

What is left in the jar is butter and a little more buttermilk. Press the mass of butter with the wooden spoon to press out the remainder of buttermilk and pour off as you squeeze out the excess. I then fill the jar half full of cold water and repeat the process of pressing the butter a couple more times (pouring off water and refilling jar). After you have extracted and washed the buttermilk from the butter empty the contents into a bowl or plate and add a little salt (I use a little less than 1/4 teaspoon per batch). Mix salt into the butter with wooden spoon.

Okay, now comes the best part—taste it! Place your butter in the refrigerator or freezer if you plan on building a storage. From start to refrigerator; the process took me 30-35 minutes.

Rocky Sisemore, Chattanooga, TN

Cows vs. goats

I am writing in response to a letter from a lady wanting info on dairy cows. I wonder if she has considered dairy goats? A good dairy doe will produce one gallon+ per day for at least the first 120 days of lactation, sometimes longer. She will need a lot less space and feed than a dairy cow. Although nutrient percentage requirements are about the same as a cow’s.

I have bred and raised goats for nine years. I find them much easier to handle and care for than cows. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in beef and will not remove it from my family’s diet.

I know what these animals are fed and how they are cared for. I trust the milk. It is naturally homogenized and can be pasteurized right on your kitchen stove with very little effort. I use the milk as any other milk. I make fudges, buttermilk, yogurt, ice cream, puddings, pie fillings, sour cream, cream cheese, Ricotta, cheddar, collery and cottage cheese. There are many more that can be produced.

The meat I can and use in soups, stews and bar-b-q. Summer sausage can also be made.

They make good pack animals.

Price ranges from $150 to $1400. A registered gallon a day doe is $350.

I haven’t made butter yet, but as soon as I get my cream separator set I’ll make that as well. The milk doesn’t separate like cow’s milk does…

I’m sending the American Dairy Goat Association’s address and phone # if anyone wants more information: ADGA, PO Box 865, Spindale, NC 28160 (828) 286-3801,,

L. C., Virginia

“Finding, buying and living with the family milk cow” states:

“Goats give about a gallon a day, which is quite enough for the average family’s needs. A family milk cow will often give eight to ten gallons a day. This is adequate for a family’s milk supply, as well as an extra amount for treats such as cream, butter, yogurt, and cheese, and there will still be enough left over to raise a calf for beef. And although both the initial cost and subsequent upkeep of a cow are much higher than those of a goat, the return per annum and the final resale of the cow are also much higher.”

I raise both Holstein cows and Nubian goats. While the quantity of milk per day is about right in average animals, the author stated in the last line of this paragraph that the return per annum and the final resale of the cow are also much higher. This person has not done the financial homework or the goat would be the one with the higher return and resale.

To start, the purchase of a cow is more as you will pay a minimum of $.20 per pound for a half grown or fully grown cow at an auction. Since the animal runs 500-1500 lbs ($100-$300), your initial investment is higher than the goat at an auction. From a dairy you will pay $500 or more for your cow. Cows are often sold for $1,000-$2,000 if they are from good milk lines. Does start at $35 at an auction (usually there for a good reason) or $100 from a breeder. Goats bred for milk can run up to $700 a piece but the average is about $200.

Yes a goat produces less milk, but it is naturally homogenized and also better for you. It has a much more easily digested milk sugar, higher vitamin and mineral content and is closer to mother’s milk than cows milk. It is lower in cholesterol too. Having two goats will still be less expensive to feed than one cow and would give the average family enough milk to use for other things too.

As for return on your investment, let’s start with breeding your cow. Most people will not want a bull on the place just for one cow. It is economically unfeasible and probably dangerous. That means it will need to go to someone with a bull, or be led.

Most people who own a bull do not want to fool with having others bring their animals in for breeding. There are the issues of possibly bringing disease onto the place, or of taking care of a cow while waiting for it to come into season, or where to pen it, or what happens if it is injured or gets sick, or if the cow doesn’t settle and there is no calf. All potential expenses and headaches to the bull owner.

To Al is another set of problems. The first being to find someone with semen or who knows how to Al. The second is to know when the cow is ready. It is not always apparent in an animal.

Now breeding a goat has the same problems but it is cheaper to keep a buck than a bull. As for the smell associated with goats, a dehorned buck has usually had the scent glands removed too. Most dairy bucks have little or no strong odor. Finding semen is also easier and a straw of semen is cheaper too.

Gestation on a cow is nine months while it’s only five months on a goat. A cow rarely produces more than one calf a year. A goat is capable of kidding two times a year. Most goats average two kids at a time. There are numerous kiddings of three and even four at a time. Each offspring sold, eaten, or kept as replacement milkers adds to your income from the original animal.

Now, feed is your main expense. The size of the animal dictates how much it needs to maintain and to produce the offspring and the milk. The cost of feeding one cow is more (at least on our ranch) than feeding five goats.

The manure from goats can also be used safely to fertilize a garden and since it’s smaller than a cow pattie, it breaks down faster. This is another income potential with goats. The person using the manure for fertilizer will also have organically grown foods, something very desirable and expensive in this health food aware society. This may not be used or sold by the goat owner, but if it is, it can increase the annual income from the goats.

Though cattle have retained what seems to be a higher resale value, there have been numerous times the goats have sold for more per animal than the cows. One example I can give you is when we sold a 350 lb heifer at auction for $48 and a 75 lb doe at the same auction for $65. I sold several does at $125 from the ranch the same week. Reports from other sellers at the auction were poor for cows/cattle. They were saying that local ranchers couldn’t hardly give away calves and half grown heifers.

As I stated previously, the article was informative about how to purchase an animal but I feel it was the writer’s preference, not the economic value, cost of the cow over the goat that was the basis for purchasing a cow.

One last comment: If the homesteader only has a small area to keep livestock, a cow is more impractical. My goats do not get out of fences that the cows haven’t gotten thru and they need lots less room. Hot wires work well for both.

Bonnie Henze, Starcrest Ranch, TX

Bombing Serbia

I have been subscribing to BHM for a few years and always look forward to receiving it in the mail.

I especially look forward to the articles by John Silveira. The man has a way of cutting to the bone on any issue he takes up. I enjoy his writing a great deal.

In the July/August issue his article in the commentary section “Why are we bombing Serbia?” is awesome.

Our founding fathers warned against involving ourselves in foreign conflicts. But as usual the politicians choose to ignore the past and sooner or later as pointed out by Mr. Silveira, our country will pay the price.

Alvin E. Bush

Looking for a place

I have subscribed to your magazine for several years now and have enjoyed it very much. It gave me a lot of food for thought and practical ideas as my family contemplates the move to the country in a few years. As a Chinese immigrant growing up in Hong Kong, my desire to own land is both foreign and deep-seated. It is foreign because very few people own land in Hong Kong—six million people live in a mere 400 square miles area and much of it is mountains and hillsides. I still have vivid memories of living in a 28-story apartment complex where each building holds about 5,000 people; in a less than half a square mile there stood about 10 of such buildings—a whopping 50,000 people crammed into half a square mile. Unthinkable but that’s how things are in Hong Kong and many other places in the world. The desire to own land is also deep-seated because I had a little taste of what it’s like living in the country when I grew up in Hong Kong. My junior-high pal Ping lived in the countryside, his family owned about an acre of land. I used to visit him whenever I could. Roaming the hillside, swimming in the creek and mud-fighting in their watercress field were some of the favorite things we did. One time we decided we should own our piece of land too. We scoured the hillside behind Ping’s house and found this little piece of space—about 15 by 20 feet; it was full of weeds and thistles. We spent many hours clearing and tilling the land. We wanted a garden and an orchard. We asked Ping’s mom for some vegetable seeds and planted them in our garden. We spent many trips up the hillsides and found a wild orange tree and replanted it in our orchard. We were so eager for our garden to grow that we watered the plants too much and they all died. But the orange tree lived! Shortly after that the school year was over. Ping decided to quit school and I never returned to my piece of land again. That was over twenty years ago. During the last few years we have visited different places in hopes of finding our dream place. We went to Idaho and will be taking a trip to Montana. However, driving through a place and spending a few hours or days here and there could hardly justify where we would like to live the rest of our lives. We feel frustrated. Dave, here is an idea for you and your magazine—have your readers submit articles about their communities. Articles should include the general stuff such as geography, climate, employments and attractions, but more importantly, write about things that make their place special—things like community events, festival, fishing, hunting, etc. I would love to hear from other readers about their special place.

Luke Lee, Portland, OR –

I’d gladly consider publishing someone’s account of where they live and why they like it. Meanwhile, don’t get too frustrated. There is no perfect place to live, until you get there and make a pretty good place perfect for you. — Dave

Y2K scare

You have offered simple, “down to earth”, “back to basics” ideas, articles and recipes, and fun and interesting stories and editorials, that have been great to relax out here in our “Backwoods home” and read.

I LOVED the “Doom…” issue.

We (coincidentally) did just what you suggested and sold the $125,000 house for a $63,000 one and got rid of all the things that are supposed to make our lives so much “simpler” (ie. the pagers, cell phones, caller id and call waiting).

I am writing to “Thank you” and to CAUTION YOU…While you write about all the “scare” and speculation of Y2K, you yourself have been swept away and are cashing in on it. I believe, like you, that we’ll all just look at each other and smile and go on with our simple way of life when that big ball drops in New York…and I’m looking forward to some really great “yard sales” in a few years when people clean out their storage sheds of all they are buying up now in fear!

Kaye Mindar, Luna, NM

Cashing in on Y2K? I’ve been saying all along that Y2K won’t amount to much. I’ll be at the yard sales with you. — Dave

Fire article

I read your on line article “Fully Involved” all that I can say is “excellent”!

Being a veteran firefighter of 18 yrs. I have been there and done that. When asked “WHY?” I’m a firefighter, I too have given those same responses in the past. But, anymore I just reply “It’s just a calling that very few of us receive.”

Tom Mopas, California

Terrific article by Diana Morgan (“Fully Involved”—July/Aug issue). As a 58 year old volunteer firefighter/emt, I can testify to all the emotions she described. Firefighting is a very special kind of brother/sisterhood which doesn’t reveal itself readily to outsiders. However Ms. Morgan did an admirable job of finding the words to describe some of it for the perceptive reader. Volunteerism is a big part of backwoods life and nothing is more basic than the crusade against the death and destruction of uncontrolled fire.

Al Saxton, Hayfork, CA

Send in the Waco Killers

Thanks loads for letting everyone know about this really fantastic (as in great) not as in unbelievable, book. It really makes you think. This alone would make it great, but finally here’s someone that actually agrees with me.

I’ve been saying for years that this late, great country of ours was becoming communistic. Perhaps people reading this book will finally get the wake-up call desperately needed before things get even worse than they are and believe me going unchecked the way things are they can still get a whole lot worse. Again, many thanks for the book and for putting out such a sensible magazine.

Mary Cook, Custar, Ohio –

This book is reviewed on page 46 of this issue. — Dave

Outhouse article

Donald Bogle, Jr’s “outhouse tip” sure made a waste of a good “space blanket”! I have a better one—take a piece of good quality rubber foam-backed carpet, tack it down around the wall edges, not the seat-edges, use the yellow “3-M weatherstrip cement” around the “hole”—those tackheads pull those “lower whiskas”…Now, you have a “throne fit fer a King”! WAAAARMO! Warm in winter—cool in summer! Plus, it ain’t slick…!

A. Enkiar,

Scary words

My, you certainly had a mixed bag of letters in the July-August issue (usually the first part I read), from the man with no address but lots of wives (he’s beyond help) to the lady with the 3-½ foot iguana (can’t she use it to guard her chickens from less fearsome creatures?) to Doug (who wants to appoint you King, Dave)—enjoyed them all.

But I was astonished at the 24 year old girl (no slouch, she says) with a good grasp of our country’s overabundance of ridiculous laws, who then went on to express her confusion between wanting to (a) protect people’s rights, or (b) “controlling, by law, population and pollution”—specifically controlling those “ignoramuses” who don’t care about her concerns and “big business”, which knows her concerns but would rather make money. (How rude.) Well, that would make for a few more laws and a few less rights, wouldn’t it? Are this girl’s words a little scary to anybody else?

I believe (hoping I’m no slouch either) that the controlling of pollution by law has been underway for a while now, and we’re all paying through the teeth for it. Well, clean is nice. But I have to wonder: “control, by law, population…”, How? Something like the state-mandated limit of one child per family in China? If this girl would like to take her child (sans “plastic suit” of course) and her fiance (sans “toxins” of course) and go to live in China or somewhere else they might respect her wishes more, I’ll chip in for her boat ticket. She’s dangerous.

S. Goodman —

2nd Amendment article

Thank You!! For the best new gun phrase in the last 99 years! Being a gun collector (read that accumulator) and somewhat survivalist (part-time self sufficient house) I am on occasion asked how many guns I have. I can’t wait till the next time when I can innocently chirp “with me?” Thank you for a very thought provoking article that should be read into a Senate or House Bill. Also for the “My View” article by the same Author (I capitalized that on purpose), John Silveira.

I have watched Backwoods Home grow over the last several years. It has been a wonderful experience.

Tom Goss —

Loved your “Steenking 2nd Amendment” article. Nothing like a little history lesson to shut down the Klintonista rantings. Too much of our ‘popular culture’ is derived from soundbytes, leaving us with misinformed, slogan-spewing do-gooders. Emotions replace logic and chaos reigns.

David Dewey, new reader

Loved the essay on our Second Amendment rights! I totally floored some people today when I mentioned that militias aren’t necessarily organized militias as we know the National Guard to be, but common citizens banding together to protect their rights. You folks are worth every dime I pay for the subscription!

Dave Franklyn —

John Silveira, I just finished reading your article “Think of it this way” and I have read many more of yours. Thank you for being able to say what I and a million other’s feel.

Jim Anderson, Arlington, WA

The article on the 2nd Amendment was outstanding!!! I understand it and the Bill of Rights much better now. Keep up the good work and keep the faith!!

Pat Gordon, Vancouver, WA

I just finished reading your 13 page write up about the 2nd Amendment. Very good. I just hope you were able to drink that six pack after you arrived in Florida, because here in Florida the police set outside the busy lounges, and wait until you get a block away then they pull you over and arrest you. It’s never happened to me but on my own I’ve sat across the street or road from many a lounge, bar, private house party and watched the police, sheriff, etc. stop many a good citizen who weren’t weaving or driving too fast or doing anything wrong other than trying to get home. I was caught several times in parking lots watching different bars, and the cop would ask what are you doing, ask for my license, registration, etc. then be told that I couldn’t do that, or that the next time they saw me doing that, that they would arrest me. I said to several officers what for I’m on private property and have a right to be here as long as the property owner doesn’t object, then they would say either leave or be arrested for suspicion so I would leave…the gov. is taking everything away from us and our rights a little at a time and we’re letting them.

Francis H. Pardus

Just a quick note to congratulate you on your fine magazine. I’m a confirmed libertarian/individualist working in an academic setting where such ideas appear to be pretty rare. It is good to read articles and letters from like-minded people.

I especially enjoyed John Silveira’s article on the 2nd Amendment and gun rights in the July/August issue. Very thought-provoking, and provides plenty of ammunition (no pun intended) with which to fight the gun control nuts. After reading the words of the Founding Fathers regarding the right of the people to keep and bear arms, I don’t see how anyone could doubt where these men stood on the issue.

I also agree wholeheartedly with Gretchen Mead’s letter regarding government intrusion in the everyday lives of private citizens. I too am convinced that the U.S. is heading towards totalitarianism. What scares me the most is that, unlike Gretchen, most Americans seem to be blissfully unaware of this slide down the slippery slope. This seems to be especially true of our young people, who have never known anything but the welfare state.

Ken McCravy

Long article

You asked for our opinion concerning the “longer articles” which began with Michael Hackleman’s 20-pager in the current issue of BHM, so here’s mine…

In a nutshell I greatly prefer shorter articles which cover a greater variety of articles. If I want to research a certain subject, then I will look to purchase a book from the fine BHM Bookstore found in every issue.

Thanks for listening and I hope that these looonnnggg articles will be reserved for your booklist in the future.

Dave Brock, Lowgap, NC

I just read Issue #58, cover to cover, as I do with every issue. Terrific!

I loved the “in depth” coverage of “Water”. The length of the article, though unusual in a magazine, was an extra bonus. It was more like a brief textbook than a feature article. I learned a lot! If only more so called “self reliance” publications did this.

I have all the BHM issues back to #1 and this ranks in my top 2-3.

Paul Duvall,


Most informative and educational magazine out there. Enjoy your office discussions. Makes one think. The letter section almost makes me laugh as much as your joke page. Some people sure take articles personally instead of putting a little thought and understanding to another’s opinion.

Robert Shultz, Clatskanie, OR

Just a short note to tell you how much I enjoy your magazine. Not only is it full of great information and thought provoking articles but it seems to piss off the liberal pinko commie puke bed wetters that accidentally pick it up. I just can’t verbalize how much pleasure this gives me. Sign me up for another 2 years.

John McKean, Gardnerville, NV

Received my 1st issue of your magazine and I have to write that it’s one of those mags that you go thru several times and find something of interest you missed before, and my hats off to a mag that doesn’t drop a dozen subscription cards all over a couple of pages…after turning fifty I get tired of picking up needless trash on the floor.

Ken Little, Jones, OK

Keep up the great work you are doing for America! Very few people have the spine to do what you’re doing. Liberals have just about ruined the greatest country on earth. Let’s take it back. What do you say boys? Truth first, fairness second, arms if necessary.

The #1 magazine in my house for how-to articles and Libertarian ideals. Where, I ask you, can you get so much bang for the buck?

Brian Sharp, Tipton, IN

What a brilliant magazine. There is no other word for it. My wife and I, since January this year, started thinking seriously about self-sufficiency, etc, and living in Toronto. Really felt under the thumb of ‘the system’ or whatever its label is. Since then, I hunted down a job in Northern Ontario, 600km north to be exact, and lo and behold we moved in 3 weeks! I’m sure you must get tons of praise mail, but I want you to know this mag (I stumbled upon it on the internet by the way) hits the mark, I think mostly because you get to the point in a simple way, that you don’t need a degree to read or understand it. The anthologies are a god-send, too much good info, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like your editorials the most though. Anyway, we plan to build our straw-bale home in the North, with solar & hydro generators to boot. This won’t happen overnight, but when we get cracking on it, we’ll keep you informed.

Brian Witts, Ottawa, Canada

I love your magazine, and have all but the last anthology. Keep up the good work, and please don’t ever quit publishing!!! I have just written an e-mail to Art Bell suggesting that he have both Dave Duffy and John Silveira on as guests. I think that many of his listeners share your views, and I believe that if you offered an Art Bell listener special, that you would gain a lot of subscribers!

While his show sometimes deals with somewhat odd subjects, he also has very important and influential people on (I feel you fall into the latter category).

Been reading Backwoods since the beginning (bought at newstands). Silveira and Ayoob reliably informative and provoking. Keep up the good work. Don’t believe in subscriptions but in your case I’m pondering an exception.

E. A. Costa,

I’ve gotten your magazine almost from the beginning when we lived in North Carolina, finding it the most interesting and informative magazine I have ever read. Please keep up the great articles concerning Y2K, protection, survival & patriotism. I enjoy your straight forward writing. It is amazing just how many folks are in total denial with matters concerning what is really happening with our country. Was super happy over issue #55 from the cover all the way through—way to go!

Pamela MacLeod,
East Machias, ME

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! (sound of head banging on desk) ARHGGGGGGG!!! You been out there all this time!!! I have been looking for a magazine like this since Mother Earth News sold out back in the late 70’s.

Bill Ingram, Marietta, GA

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