issue 72 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #72

American Survival Guide readers

Thanks for picking up my subscription from ASG. WOW. I read the Sept/Oct issue from cover to cover. Your publication is more than 95% interesting. Great editorials. Thanks for the great subscription offer which I have taken advantage with this note.

James L. Larson, Salinas, CA

Thank you for picking up my subscription from SRJ. I have renewed my subscription to your magazine to make sure I do not miss one as well I have enclosed an extra $5 (not much) to thank you and help with the bills that came with buying my subscription. Thank you again and I hope the subscription buyout pays off.

Adam Moser, Topeka, KS

I’ve ben a bit tied up as of late, but I finally got a chance to stop and say “Thanks” for picking up American Survival Guide subscribers! I wondered why I got an extra issue of Backwoods Home, and then the second time I got one the reason was clear! I’m sending my two extra copies to my parents. My stepmom is considering subscribing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dorothy Bellipanni,

Hey, how about a short ditty in the next issue about why ASG/SRJ folded. I was a longtime subscriber & before that was just buying it in stores way back in the early 80s. I even kept most of ’em.

Keep up the good work on your mag.

Daniel Knight, Mt. Vernon, WA

They folded because they went politically correct and a lot of their readership abandoned them. For a while, they were buoyed up by the Y2K panic, but when Y2K fell off the cliff, ASG was burned for about $100,000 by advertisers who went bankrupt. In the end, though, it was a reader revolt. —Dave

I had subscribed to ASG for a loooong time (approximately 20 years). The following name changes were on the covers: Survive, Survival Guide, Shooters Survival Guide, American Survival Guide, and most recently my worst disappointment, Self Reliance Journal.

I initially was upset when I received your magazine thinking that I was forced to take on your magazine as opposed to getting a refund since I was not getting what I had paid for.

However I am now pleased with most of what I have read in your magazine and I appreciate the fact that you took the initiative to buy out the remainder of my subscription. I hope that you send me a renewal notice at the appropriate time.

The reason that I never ordered your magazine in the past was that I thought that it was only about the backwoods not as diverse (guns, wells, 4x4s, freedom, etc…) The name never indicated anything about preparedness or emergency preparedness. Perhaps there should be some kind of hint added to your name to help get you a more diverse group of concerned citizens. Being a Florida resident that had gone through Hurricane Andrew the information that you have is great but your name does not let anybody know.

Jim Benson was great and dedicated. I hope that I get to see his name in your magazine.

CLiff, Boynton Beach, FL

Jim is a great guy. I’ve invited him to write for BHM. He started an online publication at —Dave

Here’s one from Survival Guide—your magazine is better—”My view” was dead on!!

Keep it up.

Robert Rutley, Roswell, NM

Just a short note to thank you for picking up ASG’s subscribers. I have subscribed to ASG from the first issue. Although the quality had gone downhill, I still wish Mr. Benson good luck.

I really enjoy your magazine. The addition of Massad Ayoob is a major plus. He is definitely one of my gurus! I am a LFI-1 graduate from October 1986. Any of your readership who can attend one of Ayoob’s courses, should.

…I wish you, your family, and all of your like-minded readers the very best.

Stephen Talpai, Willow Springs, IL

I received my first issue of BHM July/Aug. 2001, No. 70, and am thankful to finally get some information on the now defunct SRJ. You would think the publishing company would take the time to inform its subscribers of what’s going on, instead of passing the buck (or not) to you. However, thanks for catching it!

Anyone who takes such a large cash gamble as you’ve done deserves at a minimum a large thank you from all former SRJ subscribers. From what I have read so far, I’d say we all got the good end of the stick. I am enclosing $29.95 for your 15 selected issues, and sending soon my subscription for 2 years.

Charles Selph, Houston, TX

Terrorist attack on the Trade Center

Well, I ripped up a shirt and sent the kids off to school with black wristbands today. I guess that may be stupid and the things look like hell, but I believe the tears that fell while I was trying to explain to them why we should all be in mourning made an impression.

I must be the world’s biggest sap because while I’m generally pacific, I spent the day between bouts of crying imagining what I’d do to those murderous bastards if I had one in front of me. You don’t want a visual image. I also wondered what effect this (what word do I want—tragedy is what you call it when your cat gets hit on the road) this event will have on our freedoms. It seems that American people always take the wrong message from shit (yeah that’s a good word) like this. Or to be more precise, the American people cling to what the leaders of the human flock tell them will make the “shit” better. Guess what Dave. You’re the leader of my part of the flock and you’re the one I and many others will be looking to for words of wisdom. You and John and yes, Mr. Mac. What do YOU think the aftermath is gonna be and how do we protect ourselves from those who will turn this “shit” into another battle on the war against true freedom and democracy.

I’m afraid I’m guilty of intentionally suffering from the dreaded cranial rectumitis…I peek out every so often and voice my outrage where it doesn’t matter a bit then go back to my dark comfy hidey hole and hope things get better. Maybe it’s time to do a bit more. The tears have run their course mostly anyway and it’s time to let the anger that’s simmering find a sound, meaningful outlet. I think of the signatures on a piece of paper two hundred and some odd years ago that would literally have put the signers necks in a noose. Hancock, Adams, and the others endangered their lives to give me freedom and also to say that I don’t have to tolerate the murder of thousands of my civilian brothers and sisters to benefit from that freedom.

Am I making any sense at all? I just don’t know what to do other than the admittedly empty gesture of the armbands.

Lynn Rush, Plymouth, IN


I have been reading Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening for about 8 years now and while I have enjoyed them, there is something not quite right. I am becoming increasingly disappointed in the content of these magazines. Especially M.E.N., (I know this is no new news for you) is getting more and more focused towards the rich urban folks who are building their 2nd homes in the “country.” They are catering to their subscription bottomline, as that’s where the $s are. Those of us who are truly attempting to live the lifestyle are outnumbered, but don’t give up. I have a feeling we’ll be joined by a lot of Californians shortly.

I live in rural Alaska where my husband and I try to live as simply and self-sufficiently as possible. An old Alaskan salt tossed me a back copy of your magazine a few months ago and I was hooked! Why, oh why, didn’t I know about you before?!! I took out a subscription immediately and now I can hardly wait to get each issue. I even peek at the website to see what treats are in store in the upcoming issues. A new small goal of mine (as a newly hatched freelance writer) is to be able to submit something juicy to you in the future.

Thank you for all the informative articles on home food preservation, neat things to build and create, and I feel like I am back in social studies class again reading John’s stuff on the “The coming of the American dictatorship”—(everything I’ve been suspecting and more!) Thank you and keep up the good work!

Katherine McLaughlin, Chenega Bay, AK

After seeing your companion advertisement in Countryside Magazine, I spotted BHM in my local store (which no longer carries it. I bought it and have been hooked ever since.

I have never read a magazine with so many different areas of interest. The articles on “The coming American dictatorship” has confirmed all that I have felt and resented for some time. The majority of the American people won’t get off their couches and remove their thumbs from the remote control. Quite simply, a majority of the American people are lazy zombies. They have lost the ability to think for themselves. Or, quite frankly, they are too lazy to think for themselves. How sad, that Americans, once the most independent people in the world, are now, the least. I, myself, have been taking a good look at my life and I have been reconsidering my consumerism lifestyle. What BHM advocates is a conservative lifestyle that I grew up with. I have decided to return to those roots and simplify my lifestyle.

Thank you for not being afraid to uphold the “Bill of Rights” and our Constitution.” Keep up the great work and here is my $21.95 , so I can continue to expand my horizons.

Tresa Lamb, Tulsa, OK

While vacationing with my family in Auckland, New Zealand, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke Island and the Devonport Peninsula, I brought along Backwoods Home Magazine July/Aug. 2000 issue and came to realize that the New Zealanders love home dairying, homemade jerky and solar roofing (in some of their more modern homes). This magazine is perfect for the blokes “down under” and I gave my issue to our tour guide. He was thrilled to have your magazine in his hands. He said it would be very useful for him! Keep up the good work!

Paul Dale Roberts, Elk Grove, CA

Just a note to tell you how much I enjoy your publication. It is great to find a magazine that so closely reflects my thoughts on a number of subjects including individualism, the Second Amendment, the Constitution and nature. I do not seem to fall into the typical classifications…and your statement in the latest issue about being conservative and yet supporting what are sometimes considered liberal ideologies rang so true for my own life.

Jeff Dantré,

I was browsing at the bookstore the other day, checking out the new magazine, when I discovered yours. I read it from cover to cover. I have been waiting for a magazine to come along that discussed independent living and how to be self-sufficient. I also liked the fact that your magazine does NOT stay away from controversial subject matter (“Of kids and guns,” “The coming American dictatorship.”). One request—are you going to have more articles available on thrifty living, or various ways to pinch pennies? I’ve been looking for recent articles available to help me learn how to save money and to recycle more of my everyday products that I use creatively. (If you can give any suggestions on some other magazine/websites that y’all advocate on this I would appreciate it). Thank you for the great magazine.

Leslie Waller Jonsson, Charleston, SC

We have had many articles on thrifty living & we’ll have many more. —Dave

I love it…I love it…I love it! and my first introduction to the magazine was by accident at a library in New Jersey where I used to live. Fortunately, I also found it in my local library where I now reside, Bellows Falls, VT. But since I want my own copies, I subscribe…why not do a massive PR with libraries, hunting clubs, conservative group magazines, vets magazines, Scouts Explorers’ clubs, Audubon and other nature groups, Sierra Club, etc. They seem like good targets! I’ve had trouble getting a lot of off-beat magazines I always look for—with the reason that “the demand isn’t there”—who can prove it. Meanwhile, good luck with whatever direction you take.

I just received my first copy of your magazine, and am very pleased with it. So much that I am sending a list of friends and family names in your offer in #71 on the back of the front cover. I consider it the best of all magazines I have read. Am including a dollar with every name I send and I am betting that it will help your subscription list.

D.S. Ellis, Sultan, WA

I am writing to tell you that it was a pleasure doing business with Backwoods Home. Not only did I wake up today to find my first issue of the magazine, but later in the day the post office delivered my books that I ordered at the same time. I never guessed that they would all arrive on the same day.

I also congratulate you for being able to fix the mistake I made in my order. Thanks again for that.

Finally I want to commend you for one thing that many web sites do not offer. The ability to send payment by mail. This is a really important function to me as I do not believe in the use of credit cards. Too many web sites only let you order with plastic. Plastic does not go with my way of life. So full points to you!

The magazine is a wonderful link for me. Spent the last seven years homesteading in northern Ontario, Canada, but am having to live in the city to take care of a sick friend. Your publication is linking me to where my heart is home, and helping me plan for my return next year to a new homestead.

To all the staff at Backwoods Home, keep up the good work. I found some of your anthologies a few years back, the first three of them, and had wondered if over time your publication had sold out like many have over the years. I can see that you have not, and I am pleased to be a reader of your great publication.

Peter Mueller,

I have read all the letters from past ASG subscribers—all I can say is I echo every comment—especially your editorial about McVeigh. I love your magazine.

I love “Ayoob on firearms”, “Good life starts with a garden,” and “Earth sheltered homes and structures.” I got a real laugh out of “This coop is for the birds”—especially the names given the chickens. You can bet I’ll renew.

Ms. Mary Stuman, Amarillo, TX

Solar commentary

Although I live in the country, not the backwoods, I thoroughly enjoy BHM’s thought-provoking articles and am very pleased to see that you have brought Claire Wolfe on board.

Speaking of thought-provoking, my thoughts were particularly provoked by Dave’s commentary in the July/August issue (No. 70), which at one point dismissively lumped environmentalists in the “bigger government types,” “socialists,” and other enemies of gun rights and libertarianism. Apparently you, too, have been sucked in by the corporate media’s disinformation campaign and divide-and-conquer strategy. Government and its corporate shot-callers are able to continue whittling away the rights of individual citizens largely because we have allowed ourselves to be turned against each other, when in fact environmentalists, hunters, and backwoods residents are natural allies. Very often they are the same people.

Environmentalists are folks who value wilderness and the outdoors. Say, doesn’t that describe BHM’s readers? When wilderness is bulldozed or polluted into extinction, there will be no more backwoods for any of us to live in or visit. When the multi-national corporations control the world’s food supply through patented genetically altered crops, where will those who refuse to toe the corporate/government line go for seed stock?

For the record, I am a member of the NRA as well as the Sierra Club, which is neither anti-gun nor anti-hunting. In fact, the July/August 2001 issue of their magazine, Sierra, features an article by a fellow who established his backwoods home in northwestern Montana largely because of the bountiful hunting he is able to enjoy there.

Let’s wake up and quit sniping at people who are more on our side than otherwise. Corporations have hijacked the rights that the constitution intended to guarantee to individual citizens, and government more often than not is busy protecting corporate rights while ignoring those of individuals. I consider the right to keep and bear arms no more and no less important than the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat uncontaminated food. I am a libertarian environmentalist, and I am not alone.

Michael W. Woodward, Interlachen, FL

Ginger beer

Greetings from England!

You may well be interested in this recipe for ginger beer, given to me by a friend some time ago. It’s quick and easy to make and is a lot less bother than the old-fashioned ginger beer that used to be so popular.

Pam’s ginger beer

12 cups hot water
12 cups cold water
3 cups sugar
4 tsps. powdered ginger
1 tsp. tartaric acid
juice of 2 lemons
18 sultanas (3 per bottle)
6 one-liter bottles with screw lids (plastic soda bottles ok)

Mix all ingredients, except sultanas, and place three sultanas in each bottle before capping. Pour liquid into bottles and cap. Leave 1-2 weeks before drinking.

Amazingly this tastes pretty good; the sultanas ferment and give the brew its fizziness. I haven’t experimented to see what effect different amounts of sultanas would have. Enjoy and keep up the good work!

Kostas Jarvis,

Dictatorship series

The Coming American dictatorship series has been very insightful, but with the article on jury tampering you have gotten to the heart of the problem. I call it jury tampering because that is exactly what the government is doing. Trial by jury, as guaranteed by the Constitution, is effectively null and void due to the “rules” of the court. Judges who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution routinely dismiss all prospective jurors who have the audacity to admit they understand the rights of a jury. The jury was our last line of nonviolent defense against a government gone mad. That line is gone. What choice are they leaving us?

Another excellent facet of John’s series is the way it is written without conspiracy theories. Without right wing paranoia. Just a plain and simple stating of the facts. All of the factual information contained in the series is already out there, but most of it is clouded with far-flung conspiracies, calls to racism, or claims about this being a Christian government. It seems that only the loonies can see where the country is headed. It’s really great to have this information all in one place written from a level headed point of view. I do wish BHM could afford to make this entire series available in print for bulk purchases. We need to be passing this out on the street corners of America.

I just watched a 15 year old boy get sentenced to prison and branded for life as a sex offender because the judge would not allow informed jurors on the jury. Four 15 year old boys accompanied a 14 year old girl into the girl’s bathroom after school. Accompanied, not forced. In a bathroom stall three of the boys fondled the girl through her clothing. At the least the girl willingly allowed this. The boys claim she encouraged it. The one I saw stand trial stood at the door and operated the light switch. He didn’t even get his hands on the girl. But he was tried as an adult instead of a juvenile. The judge should never have allowed that, but he did. Then the judge dismissed all prospective jurors who said that they might disagree with the law. The law states that the 14 year old girl is not old enough to give permission for this activity. So her consent does not matter. If it matters to you, a prospective juror, then you are off the jury. Now if the boys had been men, that law would make sense. But the law does not make sense when the boys are really no older than the girl. The most perverted thing happened while the jury was out deliberating the case. The judge said, “If they vote their conscience, they’ll find him not guilty.” What a hypocrite. The jury found him guilty because the judge only allowed sheep to serve on the jury. It’s tantamount to Pilot washing is hands after the trial of Jesus. What future does this boy have now?

Name withheld at request of sender

Please allow me to register my mild surprise.

This in regard to John Silveira’s “The coming American dictatorship” (excellent! brilliant!) Part V, in the No. 70 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, in which John in referring to the major media outlets, when being asked by Dave why these outlets neglect to inform the public (in this instance on the true nature of EOs), John offers: “Because most of them are unaware of it,…etc., etc.”

Come on, John, I know you can do better than that. I’ve seen you at work!

Or, with so lame an “explanation” as this one, with knowledge and skill as formidable as yours heretofore, were you merely having “Mac” have an unusually lazy day?

Surely you know and I’m sure that you do, John, that the mainstream media do not neglect to inform the public because they are “unaware”; they “neglect” to inform the public because they are controlled. Soviet-style controlled. Willingly. Because they have quite literally sold their journalistic souls.

And having sold out to the highest bidders, the mainstream media/”free” press can’t anymore inform the public, even if anymore they were inclined to.

So please do not have “Mac” make such a mistake again—or deny him lunch til he rectifies it!

Thank you as always BHM for otherwise being consistently “spot-on,” keep on holding on tight, to your own journalistic integrity!

Peggy Abts, Solon Springs, WI

The “best I’ve read”

This is my second issue of BHM and it further convinces me of the quality of this publication. I have read hundreds of “survival” magazines, subscribed to many and even write my own. I like people with courage and intelligence. Your articles are written for doers, not sitters and explain how-to. BHM is about the best I have read. Wilderness Way is as good but is on a different subject. How about more articles similar to the “executive order” one?

Can you use the subscription check I sent you as a renewal whenever my ASG runs out?…

I brought an 18′ sloop here from Lake Erie, caught snappers and rattlesnakes and sharks, scrubbed boat bottoms, hunted sunken galleons (and found some) on the way for spending money and killed a jaguar with sword & spear. I had drunk too much or I never would have taken that challenge. That thing walked up, looked at me, buffed its claws a couple times, smiled, and said, “Dinner!” A friend had hunted cattle-killers in Argentina for big ranchers and told me how to take it. I’ve always been “in” pioneer/minimal-style living and still am (sometimes). When a kid, we would go out for weeks with only what we could carry: a bottle for water, a bag of ground grains, maybe salt, a blanket, a knife & digger, a pan or pot, and a gun or bow. We could eat only what we got that day. I also had a small seine since minnows are handier than bigger fish. The blanket had a slit in the center and was blanket, serape, carry-pack, etc. I’m hunting a few acres now so I can get out of these big cities. Did you pick your area or were you born there?

Dorothy’s chicken house is neat. The only thing I might do different is have two pens and alternate weekly so greens could grow well, and maybe corrugated metal so sparks wouldn’t set it on fire. some fine sand available increases lay, as does morning sun in the house. I never thought of buying mature hens. Aren’t many “burnt out” before commercial growers sell them? Diatomaceous earth rubbed into feathers or hair kills fleas, etc.

If I ever build another home, I will have water, gas and power (and maybe antennas) run through exposed 1″ metal water-pipe run along the walls and ceils, each painted a different color, like when I was a kid. Easier installed, repaired, redone.

Paul Doerr, Fairfield, CA

Hydro series

Congratulations and thank you for your inspiring series on building a pelton type hydro electric power plant. Michael Hackleman shows his stuff with the details he goes into and really shines with his inventiveness and fabrication of parts for this project. (Bore sighting a pelton wheel, I love it!)

You have kept your promise to publish a comprehensive do it yourself article(s) for a complete home site hydro electric system. Now I’ll keep my promise. Enclosed please find my check in the amount of $91.95 for a 5 year subscription to your indispensable magazine.

I also promised to tell a friend about Backwoods Home Magazine so here goes.
For those of you who have recently joined the Backwoods Home family from American Survival Guide, you couldn’t have fallen (risen?) into better hands. And if by chance you are contemplating a home built hydro system for your homestead, I urge you to back order Backwoods Home issue #67 through #70. You will not regret the order or your subscription to BHM.

Mike Ing, Lakehead, CA

Solar and wind power

I first would like to point out how much I enjoy Backwoods Home…. You all are doing a great job.

I was trained by U.S. army as a combat engineer in 1968 & 1969. I was one of 40 best combat engineers in Vietnam and in the world.

I have 20 years heavy construction/building at Mt. St. Helens dams after 1980 when the mountain went off.

In the state of Washington I built Washington freeways, dams, bridges, local roads as well, runways. In military we had to build whatever was needed, from living, to fighting from, to every type of explosive.

But when it comes to solar and wind and water…question…how does one really find out who has the best system on the market. Would you please help me with this problem.

Ed Wood, Kirkland, WA

Self-reliant lifestyle

I’ve ben a fan of your magazine from the early days. It’s very refreshing to find a publication that gives an alternative to the liberal drivel constantly spewing from the “mainstream media outlets. I particularly enjoy the articles on the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and your editorial columns. I have a small cabin in the hill country of northern Pennsylvania with hybrid wind/solar electric power and wood heat and have been living the self-reliant lifestyle for quite some time. I find meeting and overcoming the challenges of self-sufficiency to be very rewarding. Keep up the good work!

R. Clark, Fassett, PA

From suburb to country

I just wanted to take a minute to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading the articles on your magazine’s website. So much so, in fact, that I’ve decided to subscribe so that I can actually read an entire issue of BHM for once. It’s money well spent. As a San Diego suburbanite looking to make the “big move” within a few short years, your magazine has been, is now, and will continue to be a great source of information—a source that is helping my family and me properly prepare for a move toward self-sufficiency. Indeed, we’ve already begun the transition despite our suburban location. Location sure helps, but the principles involved in self-reliance are where the rubber meets the road, and that is what makes your publication so useful—much of what your magazine instructs can be applied nearly anywhere if one has the simple desire to try.

Doug Park, San Diego, CA

Soap without lye?

Due to being retired and on a very low income, we will never be able to live as far out or as self-sufficiently as we would like, but we have made many changes in our lifestyle. We eat healthier and have found many helpful articles in your magazine.

One thing I have never seen in your magazine is a recipe for soap which does not use lye. Is it possible to make soap without lye? If so, would someone send me a recipe? I will trade my recipe for homemade dog biscuits. These biscuits are healthy, natural, and your dog will like them better than anything in the stores. They have a 3 month shelf life but your dogs won’t let them sit that long! If you don’t have a soap recipe but want the biscuit recipe, send me 2 first class stamps and I will have it in the return mail.

Keep up the great magazine.

Mary Ann Gove
4160 Purple Sage Trail
Cottonwood, AZ 86326

We found 3 soap making articles in our archives: in Issue No. 34 (contained in our 6th year anthology, in Issue #10 (in the Best of the First Two Years), and in Issue No. 65. Unfortunately, all use lye. Can anyone out there help Mary Ann?

Thank you

The chief purpose of this letter is to say thank you.

I had noticed your magazine on the rack at a local bookstore several times over the past year of two. I had never, I am embarrassed to say, purchased a copy, probably because it would have been a reminder of the life that I wanted to be leading, and wasn’t.

For reasons that are not germane to this letter, it has recently begun to appear that my wife Mary and I will be moving to Oklahoma later this year, to a country place we have not yet pinpointed on the map. In anticipation and in honor of that fact, I allowed myself to buy the July/August issue of Backwoods Home Magazine last week.

You have no doubt anticipated what I am going to say next. Reading your magazine was like coming home—except that this time I came home to a “family” who have chosen to be family, people who have done some serious thinking about what the world has become and what they can do to live lives of honesty and integrity in spite of that.

I had come to believe that I was all alone, thinking what I think and feeling what I feel in the midst of four or five million people who to all appearances find nothing unusual or wrong about the concrete-and-steel nightmare that our “leaders” and “leading minds” choose to call the Indispensable Nation poised proudly at the End of History. Reading Backwoods Home Magazine was a refreshing dose of reality, and I can’t begin to tell you how much good it did me to know that there are people out there, such as yourself, who see what I see and, even more importantly, dare to speak the truth that they have seen…Reading Backwoods Home Magazine last week was like standing out in the first life-giving rain at the end of a long drought, face raised to the heavens, whispering “Thank you” over and over again to whoever or whatever is out there at the other end of the lines of communication and knowing that the circle has come around and everything is going to be all right.

J. Douglas Hand, Wyandotte, MI

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