issue 82 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #82

Eastern Kentucky

Sure enjoy your publication. I lived the first 34 years of my life in Eastern Kentucky. In 1991, I moved to Bowling Green in Western Kentucky.

Life in Eastern Kentucky develops a sense of self-reliance and independence. Rich, poor, and middle class alike have to deal with the remoteness, sometimes impassable roads, and power outages. I owned 19 acres back in E. KY. My home was ½ mile from U.S. 23. The home had 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, and a drilled well. Many times the water would freeze up or in summer the well would run low. Luckily there were close neighbors with dug wells that let me get water the old “drop the bucket and pull method” way. I remember the winter of 1977 that it snowed 2 feet and temps stayed between 10° and 20° for 3 weeks. Vehicles couldn’t get in and out of the “hollow” where I lived. I rode my horse to the country store two miles away. My house had central heat but sometimes the power would be off for 2-3 days. Luckily, the house had a great fireplace with a 4-foot firebox. There was plenty of wood on my place plus E. KY is “coal country” so I had a big stockpile of good coal for the fireplace. Even when it got -20° and no power, my house stayed a comfortable 60-65°.

Now years later my family lives 300 miles from my little farm. We’re in a subdivision now. But we try to maintain some self-reliance. On our one acre lot, I plant a good garden. We don’t rely on fast-food, rather big pots of soup and stews in the winter and fresh vegetables in the summer. We’re the only family in the area who has a clothes line (which we use in warm weather).

My grandmother grew up on a 200 acre family farm. She taught me volumes of knowledge about home remedies, gardening, caring for animals, blacksmithing, etc. She was born in 1901 and died in 1993. I loved to hear her tell of the meals they had when she was growing up. They canned everything from homemade sausage, corn, green beans, tomatoes, and cured their own hams. They had a huge flock of chickens, ducks, and geese for eggs and meat.

My dream is to one day return to the woods and return to self-reliance. I have also listened to my grandma’s advice regarding debt. She said “Never go into debt unless you can keep a roof over your head if hard times hit you.” I have a very small mortgage payment. It astonishes me to see couples in their 30’s and 40’s who have a $2,000 + per month mortgage. If one of them lost their job, they’d be without that fancy roof over their heads.

Bottom line is live within your means, don’t let the media or “keeping up with the Jones'” sink you into debt, grow a garden (even apartment folks can plant vegetables in pots) and some smaller complexes will let you plant a little garden on their grounds.

Many people in the 30’s-40’s age group feel it is somehow degrading to use a clothes line or home-can food. How wrong they are. These activities relieve stress, get us outdoors, and provide learning activities we can do with our children.

Marcia Blohs
Bowling Green, KY

Fulfilling the dream

I just received my book order and the free anthologies which came with my subscription renewal, and thank you for quick service.

We have read Backwoods Home Magazine for years and have purchased many books through your publication. We have dreamed and planned and prepared for our own “homestead,” and at times really questioned the reality of the dream and possibility of ever accomplishing it.

It is ever so interesting in our quest for rural, self-reliant living, how these things come about. Needless, to say, when the opportunity was suddenly in front of us, we were and are not as prepared to jump as we thought we would be—of course, its timing and location have both been a bit of a surprise.

In September 2002 my wife was offered a job in Arvada, Colorado (that’s a northwest Denver suburb). We hated the idea of moving to a major metro area, but also knew that in a few years it could possibly get us out of metro areas for good. Never could we have imagined that with this relocation we would find the ideal of both worlds!

We have found a small, 2.64 acre “homestead” with a nice spacious 1970s home, its own well, septic, and some out-buildings, and a few fruit trees. It is located in an unincorporated area north of Denver International Airport, an area unlikely to develop very much due to the paths of incoming flights to our east. It’s a two mile plus drive on dirt roads to the nearest paved road and while I-76 is only a few miles further, just a 20 mile drive into work and only 5 or 6 miles to all the amenities of big city life. Still, with the exception of the in-bound airliners, there is no sign of being close to a major metro area when standing in our drive or on our porch. Even the city lights are over the hill and out-of-sight!

We have heard coyotes howl and have even had out dog answer them back. We have seen skunks and jack rabbits and cotton tails running across the yard and have heard tales of rattlesnakes. A few mornings ago I stepped outside to see our neighbors pasture occupied by a small group of mule deer.

The space limitations have changed some of our plans, but the economics of raising livestock for home use is also somewhat limiting. We are planning a dairy goat and perhaps a calf to raise for veal each year, “grass lambs” to feed on the pasture all summer and butcher in the fall, and of course the standard poultry, game birds, and rabbits. Some expansion to the orchard and the addition of some berries should help fill the bill in the garden department.

I just wanted to let you and your readers know that it’s possible to find that remote rural lifestyle and to fulfill the dream, and yet, stay close to the metro areas we love to hate and seemed tied to for employment or other reasons. Look around, and there, in the most unlikely place and while perhaps not ideal, one will find the dream.

Thank to Backwoods Home for helping us keep the dream alive long enough to find our place and for providing us the resources and knowledge to start making our dream our reality.

C. Reynolds
Commerce City, CO


This is just a note to say thanks for the great magazine Backwoods Home is. I sure don’t remember how I came to find it but that really doesn’t matter. I’m grateful to have it. I think I’m about to launch into a lengthy pistle here as I am wont to do when I’m talking to a friend about something I believe we share, so if you simply discard it now I wouldn’t blame you any. Without going into detail about the things we absolutely agree on let me say this—I haven’t found anything you have expounded on in the last two years that disagrees one iota with the things I’ve been able to discover on my own. I will admit that my information comes happenstance and that my research expertise is at the D minus level, if that. However reading your articles is akin to listening to my own thoughts most of the time though, and it’s wonderful to know I’m not the only person with these thoughts and feelings. I appreciate your encouragement. Please stay healthy and safe and keep it coming.

Grant England
Gales Creek, OR

Just a short note to let you folks know how much I look forward to and truly enjoy your magazine.

So often today people are quick to criticize or complain about a product or service but yet won’t take time to say “Well done” to someone who does a great job.

You folks certainly are in the “Well done” category. I assure you, your efforts are not taken for granted.

Again, thank you and enjoy the upcoming holiday season. May your next year be full of joy and success.

Shawn Hutcheon
Depauvill, NY

I rarely take the time to express how much I like something impersonal like a magazine; but here it is. I enjoy each and every magazine. Even when my opinions differ from those of one of your writers, I feel that I’ve usually gained something from spending the time reading what I’ve read.

I’ve been a libertarian/anarchist/”outlaw” for many years now. I try to live my life by Rabbi Hillel’s version of the Golden Rule (paraphrased): Don’t do to others what you don’t want others to do to you. The well-intentioned but controlling people on the left and on the right don’t seem to get it; the writers at Backwoods Home do. It’s as simple as that. Keep up the good work!

Walter Sharshon

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