issue 66 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #66

“Stupid people” editorial

In response to Sept./Oct. 2000 BHM commentary, I charitably believe your secular view of history is very limited. In the mid-seventeenth century, Spain was building a civilization for almost 200 years in the new world. The highest skilled European tradesmen, stone masons, metalurgists, quarry miners, bridge builders, castle builders, engineers, cathedral architects, etc., came to the new world. Spanish accomplishments in the new world (Universities, architecture, building a culture) etc. set off the greatest colonization efforts the world has ever seen. The competition among the British, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danes, Russians, and others was unprecedented & contributed greatly to a very dynamic, full life for untold millions of people, both European & New World. Not everybody was subjected to oppressive aristocracy & clergy, as you contend. Your fear & almost bigotry for clergy borders on hysterical. The “Enlightenment” brought us destructive Atheist Philosophers which brought us Marxism. Marxist, totalitarian countries have killed about 100 million people in the 20th century & you’re worried about clergy.

I write this letter in friendship & genuine respect for all of BHM. I will continue to subscribe, because you have an A-1 magazine with an excellent staff & family & subscribers, plus you like micro-brews.

Perhaps, in your pursuit of happiness, you will acknowledge the greatest event in history, by far, not the “Enlightenment”, not the “Discovery of the New World,” but the Incarnation.

Bob Hagarty
Viola, WI

It took me a while to stop laughing out loud after reading the last line of your article. It about knocked me out of my seat!

And they now read this commentary and ask themselves, “What the hell is he talking about?”

Too funny! The sad part is it’s true.

Alan L. Lundy

Canning cheese

We did our first back-to-the-land move in 1976 to Sarona, WI, and built a nice house on 40 acres, had chickens, a large garden, our own pure well water, wood heat, and all the rest. After ten years we decided it was just too cold and moved back to Arizona where it has taken us another ten years to figure where we want to live. We found 40 remote acres in a fertile valley outside Willcox, AZ. The water table is higher than most areas, and the views are spectacular. We are planning to build a small passive solar house to take advantage of the almost constant sunshine, and add solar panels as we can afford them. We have a gas refrigerator but have decided not to buy a separate freezer. This means I have had to rethink my usual way of doing things. We can grow food here almost twelve months of the year, so we won’t have to store as much as people in cold climates. However, since it’s very hot here, and I’m not sure a root cellar will work, I’ve decided to dry and can most of our food.

I have greatly appreciated the letters telling how to can milk, nuts, butter, meats, etc. However, I’ve not seen anything written about canning cheese or eggs. I’ve seen recipes for canning pickled eggs, but what about canning boiled eggs in a weak brine or canning scrambled eggs? Has anyone tried that? I’m not crazy about pickled eggs and don’t think they would taste good for breakfast or chopped up in potato salad. I’m looking for a way to keep eggs that can be used as they come out of the container. I plan to try the weak brine method and will let you know how it turns out.

As for the cheese, I did try that. I canned mozzarella cheese by placing hot, clean ½ pint jars in hot water and dicing the cheese into the jars. It will melt down so you can see how full the jars are. Then place the lids and rings on and water-bath them. I boiled them too long (40 minutes) and the cheese turned yellow. However, this didn’t hurt the taste or the texture. (Can anyone tell me how long to boil them?) Let them cool completely before opening. When you open a jar, slide a knife around the inside of the jar to loosen the cheese and it will slide right out. It is just as fragrant and rubbery as before, but it grates more easily! I canned the cheese four months ago and it seems to be keeping just fine. I’m going to try canning cheddar cheese next time.

Donna J. Miller
Willcox, AZ

More guns, less crime

I finally went out & purchased a copy of ‘More Guns, Less Crime’ by John R. Lott, Jr. I read the whole thing over the past few days. Before I purchased it, I read a bunch of reviews on (which of 94 reviews, showed a 4.5 out of 5 possible points as positive!)

I also surfed the net in the middle of this reading period (two chapters into the book) and found lengthy responses to an article written by Mr. Lott for a magazine, and also, that same website showed related anti-gun-discussion-John Lott websites, which I also read a bunch of.

I am not democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, ‘green’ or any other single label group. All the groups have some valid points, same as many religious philosophies.

What I found to be most interesting, among a large variety of surprising results of his analysis—is that women, blacks & old people—especially in large cities—would seem to benefit the most, at the least financial cost (& other, if you consider less murders, rapes, assaults, etc in non-financial terms) by the increased permitting & carrying of concealed weapons—out of a variety of solutions proposed to reduce crime! What is IRONIC is that it is usually the ‘right-wing’ ‘gun-zealots’ that support the use of guns & the ‘left-wing’ ‘socialist-big government folks’ that oppose it.

In other words, the people who listen to the media telling them guns are bad & stay away from them are PRECISELY those who would benefit the most from having a few more around!!!!! The anti-gun lobby has yet to come up with a solution that achieves anywhere close to the crime reduction results that concealed-carry permits appear to, or any solution at anything close to the relatively low cost!

I live in a city of a few hundred thousand, in a less-than-wonderful neighborhood. I personally own rifles, and recently added a shotgun to my collection of defensive tools. I have had a dog (or two) for the past 15 years. I also recently (after an incident last year in my front yard), acquired a cellular phone. Most of these added somewhat to my feeling of personal security. I am also investigating alarm & video security systems (& or course, moving to the country!).

My next door neighbors house was recently shot at multiple times, by someone with a medium caliber weapon, who walked up close to a window at the side of the house, and fired, grazing one of the occupants. I was not home at the time. I am glad, because I already have been in the hospital twice for a heart-stress problem, and hearing the shots & resulting 9 police cars & commotion would have ‘stressed me out’ for weeks. I have asked neighbors about the situation, and heard nothing, as well as seeing almost nothing in the paper about it (I did walk over & see the 4 large bullet holes through the house wall & window), so I don’t know the motivation. I have owned this house (& lived in it) for 15 years. I cannot afford to move to a less populous county (yet!).

After reading this book, I plan to apply for the New York State Pistol Permit, with Concealed Carry allowed. I understand it will take as long as 6 months to get the permit. I hope I will never need it, especially between now & when I receive it.

I would prefer not to have the responsibility of securing the weapon at times when it is not on my person, especially when I have to leave it in a car. I have personally witnessed long response times from local police, and believe me, when you are having a discussion, by yourself, over your little yard fence, with 15-20 people who are screaming at you, SECONDS feel like minutes or—forever—waiting for the police to arrive. (Not that I would have brandished a weapon in that case—that would have inflamed the situation—also, my girlfriend, who called the police, was inside, knew where the rifles were & how to use them, but did not yet feel a need to even get them out—though she said she thought about it.)

Unfortunately, I see no other choice than to arm myself—more for peace of mind than expectation of even having to show the weapon—it would be available IF I NEEDED it.

Thanks for a great, thought provoking magazine. Please continue to bring up issues like these.

John B. Reinhard

Self protection

Great magazine, thanks for a well designed website. My 5th renewal is forthcoming.

To those that believe that I don’t need a gun, let me relate a story. I work 200 miles from our home in the woods. I received a call from my wife detailing some idiot that was making the rounds in our rural community, passing along death threats, vandalizing whatever he could find to make his point, etc. This, she said, had been reported to the sheriff’s department about an hour previous, and no one had seen a deputy at that time. Being concerned for the well being of family and friends, I left work, and started the 4½ hour drive home, hoping that law enforcement would appear, but knowing that my neighbors would already be circling the wagons. Well, law enforcement DID appear, just long enough to pull me over for speeding. He asked why I was in such a hurry, and I told him. His response was that he was headed to the same place, and he would follow me. Which he did. Which put him on the scene 6 hours after the initial call to the sheriff. To make a long story short, he said to defend ourselves as best we could.

That was a few months ago. Now, in the political season, the sheriff running for reelection makes regular trips out our way to try for some votes, but admitted during an appearance that the nearest deputy lives thirty miles away, and that law enforcement coverage was in effect as good as it was going to get. (Not a good way to get reelected, at least lie about it, huh? Tell us you’ll be out more after the election).

All this to say that our area would be an especially easy, low risk target area for criminal activity, were it not for the fact that most, if not all, of the residents are armed. Being in a backwoods environment forces one to look at a firearm as a tool much like a hoe or a post hole digger. No one likes to dig post holes, but when the fence is down, it’s better than using a spoon or a shovel. Many don’t like to keep a rifle readily accessible in the home, but it’s a more positive response in a time of danger than clutching a phone wistfully, counting the minutes and hours it will take for law enforcement to respond to a call, and praying that the situation doesn’t deteriorate in the meantime. After all, a criminally minded person will respond faster to the sound of a 20 gauge pump shotgun chambering a shell than to a plaintive cry to ‘go away, I’ve called the sheriff’…

John Clawson

Homestead helpers

I had to write to thank you for the “Homestead Helpers” idea you gave on the “Heated Paint Storage”. (An old refrigerator).

I’m a sign painter—muralist and many times lost quite a bit of paint I had stored in my shop because of a cold snap and my heater didn’t kick in.

I just got a new refrigerator & put the old one in the garage until I got a chance to dump it. Now it will be relocated to my shop & I already put in an order for two more old ones from a customer who delivers appliances & picks up the old one. Thanks.

Ed Murphy
Port Jefferson Station, NY

Alaska homestead

Thank you for such a great magazine.

There are so many books in your bookstore I cannot afford them all. Add more that is not wanted so I won’t feel so bad about wanting them all or at least most of them.

You see I have, with my husband, a real homestead in Alaska that you can only get to by plane or walk 5 miles after a plane and boat trip or in winter there is 2 more options: dog team or/and snowmachine.

So books are real important to us to learn how to or just something to keep us busy on those too cold to do anything outside days (—20° not too bad but anything —40° you don’t do or go anywhere outside).

Thank you, please send 2 “The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of American” for I want to give one to my husband for a birthday gift in November.

Tina Cook
Yenlo Hills, AK

Alpaca sheep guard

I read with interest the article on using Llamas to guard sheep flocks.

Here in Australia we have a major problem with foxes that were introduced for hunting. They are a significant predator of native animals and of young lambs.

A number of farmers are now using Alpacas to protect their flocks. The Alpaca seems to have a pathological hatred towards any dog or fox and they have found that they have more lambs alive than previously.

In 1998 I estimated that I lost some 80% of my lambs to foxes out of 250 breeding ewes. In 1999 I lost about 10 lambs to foxes and hopefully this lambing season which started yesterday (cold and wet of course) I’ll lose none.

Alpacas are cheaper than llamas here and a male wether costs around US$240-US$350. They are best in pairs to keep each other company but also to provide better coverage of the flock. Merinos tend to stay as a group while the Border Leicesters I run are independent sheep and are more aggressive towards dogs but not foxes.

Douglas Costello
Central Victoria, Australia

BHM pretenders

In my quest looking for my own personal “Backwoods Home”, I have for some time subscribed to the Rural Property Bulletin. I am extremely disheartened to find advertisement in the publication for no less than TWO apparent knockoffs (read “ripoffs”) of your fine magazine. The most blatant is “BackHome—Your Guide to Self-Reliant Living”. I know they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but can they also say “copyright laws?”. I assume that you are aware of this, but since I had not noticed anything in your magazine regarding this, I thought I should let you know. Been with you since issue #3, and enjoy every issue more than you can imagine. Let’s make sure family and friends know that the one to subscribe to is spelled BACKWOODS HOME MAGAZINE!!!!!!

Gregg Widel

Pretenders are like bad restaurants. They hang around awhile, selling bland food, then fold. — Dave

Stringed stringbeans

In response to what I see as a need, in food preservation as our “Gramps” and “Great-Gramps” did it, I am sending you yet another way, besides the Icehouse I sent earlier, to preserve food, in this case the ever-so-prolific green bean—which GENERALLY produces FAR more food than folks can eat in the summer. What I’m referring to is string-drying, or, as my Granny called it, who was a Hazard, KY “Hillbilly”, “Stringbeans”.

To make “Stringbeans”, you get FRESH greenbeans, snap off the hull ENDS, and then, take a needle, poke thread through it two arm lengths long, tie the two ends together, and thread on a “fat” bean as a “Stopper”, wrapping the thread around it twice, tying it to the bean. Then, take a bean, poke the needle through it, repeat-repeat-repeat, until the “string” is full, then cut the string near the needle, and tie the two ends of the string together, making a “necklace” of beans! Hang the bean string in a dry, well-aired place, out of direct sunlight, like near the cookstove, heater, or doorway, so they can dry. When the beans are dry, the string will weigh only ¼ the green weight, the beans will be shriveled, brownish colored, and will “rattle” when shook or moved.

In this stage, the beans can be kept for YEARS, although they were usually “used up” by April—when the NEW beans were being PLANTED! To USE—take off the string, WASH WELL!—put in pot as you would “shelled ‘dry’ beans”, let soak as you would them—overnight in the ‘fridge, drain, then put in water to cook, as you would the “dry shelled beans”, seasoned as you like beans! They are “ready” when you can take out a bean,—COOL IT!—and gently pull it apart with no more force than a piece of the bacon you have in them. YUM-YUM-YUMMY! Four bushels of these beans will feed a family of FOUR all winter into next spring.

H. L. Baggett
Tennessee Ridge, TN

Tattered issue

You can well imagine how perturbed I was to return home from an ill-fated vacation to the Midwest (my grandma died while we were there!) only to discover in the pile of mail we picked up at the Post Office the COVER ONLY of the Sept/Oct issue of my favorite magazine! Oh, to be so teased and taunted by the tattered cover of what promised to be yet another entertaining and useful issue of Backwoods Home!

I wonder now what I shall do (as I am in the process of setting up my own remote home) if a lamb should wander by…or how I might convince others to supplement my own clawhammer banjo playing…or how to turn all that lard in my freezer into a home-grown version of Ivory…let alone the important matters of setting up my water system or storing the garden’s bounty! I am undone!

What shall I do, Dave? The Postal Service feigns ignorance as to the fate of my magazine, and denies responsibility for the disappearance of its contents. Just what you’d expect from the withered benevolence of Uncle Sam, I guess! But my question is…will you guys furnish another copy free of charge, or must I send you some money, as for a back-issue, or what? I must have it…I’m an addict, and a long-time one at that…’gotta have my fix of Backwoods home, or I’ll go into shock.

While I’m buttering you up, let me say in all seriousness that I love the magazine, and that if you did offer a lifetime subscription, I’d forward the money if I could afford it. We backwards (I mean backWOODS!) types need to support one another, and I think you guys do a superb job. Not that I agree with every point you make, but we’re on the same team, and are struggling to achieve the same goals. Keep up the good work.

Will look forward to your reply, and anticipate full satisfaction as always. Tell John “Hey” from down South, and that even though some of his poetry is WEIRD, I appreciate it!

Yours in the Coastal backwoods,
Adam Henderson

We had several complaints such as yours this issue, and we sent them all a new issue. Don’t know what happened, whether it was the printer’s machinery or postal machinery that messed things up. We do have a lifetime subscription, by the way, at a cost of $500.


I thought I’d take this opportunity to thank you for the time and effort you put into your magazine. It is nice to know that there are other people who have many of the same view points as myself.

It is my opinion that you folks have a good bit of common sense and a sense of humor both of which are hard to find in this world of (Politically correct HORSESHIT.)

Forrest Chapman
Whitesboro, TX

Thank you for yet another wonderful issue. I agree with your magazine’s view nearly 100%. I just wanted to write in to express some of my thoughts, and to let your staff know that I think they are doing an excellent job.

I’m sorry you have taken some heat in regards to the article on evolution. I thought it was great! It really gave one an idea of time to see it shown in that fashion. Personally, I consider myself a Christian, but I am unable to find any real conflict between the bible and evolution. For that matter, I can’t find conflict between the bible and what the scientist call the “Big Bang” either. The first chapter of Genesis seems to have it all, and who can really say what a day in the life of God is. OOPS…Looks like I might take some heat myself. Oh well, don’t worry what others may think, just keep up the good work you are doing.

The new Energy Works section is superb! Michael Hackleman has really done a wonderful job with the writing and detail in his articles. So much so, that even a novice like myself can fully understand him, and the system he is discussing. Bravo!

In regards to gun control, I whole-heartedly agree with your stand on the issue. Don’t back down. The only way someone will take a gun away from me is to pry it from my cold dead hand.

I would also like to let the readers know that I would be interested in hearing from them if they have found a perfect homestead in a place with some freedom. Our once rural county now has interstates, high taxes, zoning, ordinances, crime, high land costs, and strict building codes. I have tried to fight these things by speaking out at meetings and writing letters. I even had one letter printed in the paper, but I can’t carry the fight alone. Most people here are passively sitting and watching their freedoms being taken away. I can’t stand that! They are like cattle being led to the slaughter. At the last meeting I attended, I said that I was off to find a place where people were still allowed their freedom. I don’t know if that place really exists anymore, but if it does, and you have found it, please write. Especially if it is located in the South or West. Also, please don’t write if all you want to do is fuss about evolution. You have your opinion and I have mine. I respect that.

Jaynelle Louvierre
Cordova, NC

I found your great mag at the bookstore back at issue 55 when Y2K was such a threat. But the reality is that living in preparation is a lot more relaxing than worrying about “what if’s”. I’d much rather spend my time slowly getting things together than come down to crunch time and have nothing ready. That’s why your mag is an inspiration to those of us who can only do a little at a time. Keep up the great job.

Kurt McKay

Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I have been reading your magazine off and on for about a year, mostly because it is getting harder and harder to find your magazine.

After reading your view in the July/August 2000 issue we finally decided to subscribe. More and more, Americans are going to have to realize that the Second Amendment is not about hunting and that they must take a stand for freedom and liberty.

I also wanted to say that even though I am a Christian I totally agree with you on not hiring a religion editor.

Thank you for a great magazine.

Mary & Jim Blackburn
Kittanning, PA

Patriotic American

Though still profoundly desirous and possessing considerable knowledge, fate has decreed that henceforth I should not live remote and self-sufficient. However, I am renewing the gift subscription to BHM which I received from my son.

I am renewing because I believe in our Christian based Constitutional Republic as opposed to the Liberal’s agenda of systematically replacing it with an Agnostic Socialist Democracy, and because in you and most of your readers I seem to have found politically alert, ideological, and religious soul-mates.

Since I am a Patriotic American (the antithesis of Liberal Socialist degeneracy), I am an Honest, Law-Abiding, God-Fearing, Pro-gun/2nd Amendment, Anti-Abortion, English First and Pro-School Choice Conservative. Accordingly, I am brazen in my Political Incorrectness. Furthermore I am a computer literate, disenchanted and former but still voting Republican, Libertarian, and a Southron without a trace of racial prejudice and proud of our heritage, as well as a Redneck (by the correct but not by the Socialist’s perverted and intentional mis-use of this term).

Therefore in this largely ignorant, misguided, and apathetic state of our present national psyche it is both encouraging and refreshing to discover other kindred spirits of similar awareness, beliefs and activism as I, especially who are in a position to hopefully awaken some of our complacent head-in-the-sand citizens whom the Socialist Elite disdainfully refer to as the “Plodding Herd” and the “Unwashed Masses”. And so herewith, I do my little part to support your excellent enterprise.

Tony Miller
Mt. Pleasant, TN

Escaped being a battered wife

I once had a subscription and every intention of writing to you, but never did. I knew the right time would come, and it is now.

I’ve wanted to move out to the backside of nowhere for as long as I can remember. I got married 2½ years ago to a man that was gentle, romantic and wanted to move to the country (away from Florida) that is, until after the wedding. After the honeymoon was over I realized he was really a manipulative abusive drug dealer that saw me as a possession. By the time I knew this I was so emotionally battered I honestly believed I couldn’t make it without him, and was resigned to enduring the torment my life had become in the cesspool of existence that is central Florida. But God smiled on me. We had a roommate for 2 years that saw or heard it all and knew that under the physical scars and behind the emotional walls was a strong capable independent woman just waiting for her time to shine. He told me when I decided I’d had enough he’d help me leave. It took a year, but I finally did. I spent a month sneaking out “unmissables”, & a week at a domestic violence shelter, then ran for my life. We left with 3 kids (14, 9 & 4) a dog, camping gear and a Buick Regal in the back of a 28 ft. U-Haul with $125 to our names, and opened a map, closed our eyes and put a finger on a spot and headed for the border.

In Florida, I had a 3 bedroom house, a pool, 4 cars, a boat, a camper and 2 motorcycles, all paid for, and I didn’t have to work. Now I have 4 tents, a screen room, a rented campsite with no electric or water and a weekly car payment, and wouldn’t go back for anything. I left a lot behind, but I’ve never been happier because I left behind a man that not only scarred my face, he almost shattered my soul. It has taken time to start the healing, and I have a long way to go, but I’m finally turning back into me! My backbone is coming back, mostly thanks to Scott, and his incredible patience and understanding like no one else could. I fell out of love with my husband long ago, and realized after only a few weeks that what I’d been looking for my whole life was right under my nose! Scott is strong without brutality, firm but not cruel, masculine without all the “macho” crap. He makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, and has made me see life in a whole new way. The best part is curling up in his arms after the sweetest moments of the night knowing I’m being held by my best friend.

So now here we are in the mountains. No one even knows what state but my mother. We have slowly acquired things here & there, but can’t find the one thing we need before it gets cold—a canvas “Hilary” tent, new or used. They stopped using canvas years ago. So if anyone has any suggestions on where to get one or its equivalent, we would be most appreciative!

Now the most important part of all this—a Deep Heartfelt Thank You! to all at BHM! The issues from my old subscription were a candle in a very dark world for a long time. Through your pages, I knew I wasn’t the only one that wanted to go to sleep hearing nothing but crickets & a giggling creek, (I do now!) or wrote dark poetry (Thank You Silveira) or just wished for the joy of a shelf full of produce I grew & canned myself. Most of all, thank you for helping me see that I can do this! I’ll be sending for a new subscription soon, so don’t change!

Anyone with information on Hilary tents (or anything else I’d love a pen pal) can send it to me through my mother, Becki Hudson, 1301 E. Ohio Ave., Deland, FL 32724.

Cherie Lamb

As an anarchist…

As an anarchist I really like Backwoods Home. The only thing I don’t like about it are the Christian fundamentalists who think the earth is only 6000 years old. I also disagree with your comments that global warming is a joke. Just look at Greenland. We should be seeing some Viking settlements soon because of the melting! Also, I think capitalism sucks! I believe in decentralized socialism. But that’s not going to cause me not to re-subscribe. I’m looking forward to your publication The Coming American Dictatorship, because George W. Bush Jr. said in 1999, that “there ought to be limits to freedom.” I’m voting for Ralph Nader (Green Party) for president. I urge all who want to resist the tyranny of multinational corporations to do the same! Yours in Freedom.

Richard Clark

Grateful trucker

Hey Dave, all I can say is, (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I’m a trucker, long haul, just me & my dog. I recently pulled into a truck stop that carries your magazine, I scooped it right up! I wish I found your mag. long ago! It’s great! I was so pleased with it I called & ordered the 12 Back Issues in the back. I was pleased to see the box when I got home, that’s the only reason I went home! As soon as I can I’m going to subscribe for 3 years. Right now fuel is killing me, I own my own truck, so everybody & their brother got their hand in my pocket, Oil Co., Government, D.O.T., fuel taxes, road taxes, state troopers & their bullshit tickets, etc., etc., the list goes on! The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of going to Montana and building a log cabin & opening a small engine repair. I’m also a carpenter by trade. I keep telling my dog, gona buy ya some land & let ya run! She bin a good & loyal dog, she bin in my truck the last 6 years & never complained once.

Whenever I start gettin down, I reach down & grab one of yor magazines & it brings me right back up! You think some of your readers can help me locate a piece of land up in Montana? Shore would appreciate it. You should try to get your magazines out to the truck stops somehow, all the truckers I’ve shown your mag. to took the address and is subscribing. You’d do good at the truck stops Dave, there’s a lot of good ol boys out here!

Tony Brown
Hamilton, NJ

Live traps

Charles Sanders’ article on “live traps,” or “rabbit gums,” as my grandfather called them, was very good.

Granddad used to set them in his vegetable garden to cut down on the “free-loading,” only he made them without the hardware cloth end. This was a mistake, and causes me to add two suggestions.

First, carry a long stick or pole with you when you check your traps, and, by all means, look at what’s inside from a safe distance. On one occasion the rabbit inside turned out to be a skunk, and on a second occasion he found a large and very upset stray tomcat.

My grandfather lost both contests.

Paul B. Duvall

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