issue 84 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #84

Cat loonies

Just finished your article on cats and cat loonies. I agree. After all, bob cats and coyotes have to eat, too. I have therefore freed my four neutered and spayed and inoculated cats. They were quite surprised, as they’d grown to expect feeding and loving on a regular basis. Two of them have been trying to get back in, but I read them your article again. . .

In fact, I think the same principles could be applied also to dogs. One who gets a dog to adore him unconditionally, to obey him, hunt for him, and protect him should respect the dog’s natural instinct to chase and kill chickens and livestock, and to breed as often as possible so there will always be more disposable dogs.

And why coop up children? Kids would much prefer to run naked and unbathed and free and to learn by trial and error. We are over populated anyway. Let the law of survival of the best winnow out the herd.

P. S. Pierce
Biloxi, MS

Ticked off, aren’t we? Calm down and read the article again. It doesn’t talk about freeing or abandoning your cats. My outdoor cats are neutered and spayed and inoculated too. And they get lots of love. I also have a dog, chickens, and children, and all live happily and in harmony with each other. You can always set up situations where a dog will kill chickens or your children will run wild, but most of us use common sense to prevent that.

I’m not sure you’ll like this issue’s commentary, either. — Dave

I subscribe to Backwoods Home Magazine and am concerned about personal privacy. I am also concerned about animal welfare. Sometimes these interests collide, and it helps to know the reasons behind certain policies and procedures.

You asked “What is going on?” in connection with your attempts to obtain mousers (Publishers Note— September/October 2003). Since I was employed by an animal welfare agency for 35 years, and “cat loony” is a comparatively mild disparagement, please consider the following information.

Shelters (like your first contact) and rescuers (like your second contact) do not “sell” animals. They have been entrusted with the welfare of the animals placed in their care. The fee you pay when you receive an animal from a shelter or rescuer is really reimbursement for veterinary, housing and feeding expenses. Often, the reimbursement is less than the actual cost.

Some people have tried to obtain animals from shelters and rescue groups to be used for medical research, fighting, “blooding” for fighting, and snake food. The “inspection clause” (rarely invoked) exists to permit access in case something goes wrong. Please keep in mind that the shelter or rescuer continues to be concerned about an animals welfare even after “custody” has been transferred. Would you prefer that they run background checks?

As far as cats running loose, do you really think cats are safer outside? (Again, please keep in mind that the shelter or rescue group continues to be concerned about the animal even after placement.) I have seen cats that have been set afire, trapped in construction sites, and deliberately immersed in tar.

It is true that more cats might be put down when policies are restrictive. But which is kinder—the final mercy of an injection, or dismemberment-while-conscious at the hands of some whacked out teenager?

Cecily Westermann
St. Louis, MO

Using your logic, then, we should allow police into our homes at any time of the day or night because “some people” abuse kids. — Dave

I have read your magazine over the years and enjoy it immensely. Being an animal advocate as you appear to be, I felt I had to comment on the above regarding “Mousers and cat loonies.” I think you have jumped the gun on your opinion of the person at the local animal shelter. I have been involved in our local animal shelter for about 10 years and we have the same conditions as to visiting the home of a person who adopts from us. We are not loonies, we encourage our people in this small country community to adopt cats as mousers, which means they live outside mostly. But, we want to make sure there is no abuse of these animals going on. You would be horrified at the things that happen to them perpetrated by people, not owls and bobcats. This we want to prevent.

We don’t walk into your home unannounced, we knock or ring the bell and wait outside until you allow us to come in. But we don’t let you know when we are coming, for what would be the sense in that? You would have everything all nicey-nice and the poor cat couldn’t tell us that is not the way it usually is. The shelter animals have had their share of abuse and abandonment by the time we get them. The least we can do for them is make sure they get a home where they will be taken care of. Thank you for patting them on the head when they do their job, they need that as we all do. Please reconsider your attitude toward people like us as we are doing the best we can. If you ever want to hear some of our sad stories, please let me know.

Lesley Johnson for
PAWS Animal Shelter
Bryson City, NC

Sorry to hear you had such a bad time with the cat people. I hope you print my one important point that I’d like to remind all of us country-cat owners of: The life of an outdoor cat is never fully “natural.” They are not native wildlife. They are domestic and came to this country from Europe. They really don’t do that well without any support. They need an annual vet exam with rabies vaccination, at the very least. They need for food to be available, especially in lean seasons, and shelter from the elements. There are many risks we are willing to take, but the basic support I mention is just and deserved. As you know, when they don’t get spayed or neutered and if the kittens are born out in the bushes, the kits are not tame. You can’t catch them or the “mum” won’t let you, so they don’t get vetted. Most of the kits die horrible deaths from feline disease like distemper. Please forgive the “cat loonies” because they have seen so much of this that they cannot take it anymore. They’ve decided it’s easier to just keep ’em indoors and that is their choice. Personally, I think it is fine to let cats live outdoors. However, some folks have the attitude that “If they die, they die. If they live, they live,” without any help. This attitude may be appropriate for wildlife, but not for the domestic cat. Like you said, they have had a symbiotic relationship with us for thousands of years, probably as long as the dog. Fellow predators. But I feel that they are the most taken-for-granted domestic animal of all time. They need us. We need them. So please remind everyone to support those hard working cats! They’ve earned it and they need our help sometimes.

Nancy and Larry M.
New Jersey

In issue #83 the publisher’s note is titled “Mousers and cat loonies,” by Mr. Dave Duffy. After reading his article, I can say that I strongly disagree with Mr. Duffy’s point of view. Yes, from what I read I can see that Mr. Duffy does not abuse his working cats, he cares for them and tries to accommodate them in the best way. However, he forgets that there are people who abuse animals. the shelter lady, whom Mr. Duffy ridiculed, did not know Mr. Duffy personally. She has no idea who he is and what his intentions are toward these animals. Therefore, there is a clause about visitation rights. when I was finding homes for my dogs, I had exactly the same visitation clause in the contract. It was necessary for me to see that people adopting a pet are serious and neither want “a toy” for a child to throw away later, or a dog who is underfed, beaten, and thrown out. There is a lot of heartless and cruel people out there.

Example, last year, right after Christmas, me and my wife found two kittens in a crate outside. It so happened, the cats were given to a child as a gift, but the parents did not want pets, so they just put the crate on the street, when it was 10 degrees F. There is an example of what can happen to an animal, Mr. Duffy, and the clause in that contract makes sure the animal will be taken care of, not discarded as an unwanted gift. (for those concerned, the abandoned kittens have a good home and do pretty well now.)

By the way, I did only one follow up on the dogs I have found homes for, and I did not go there uninvited. I was not looking for an abusive intrusion without notification, quite the opposite. I just needed to see that these people have the puppy in good conditions. I’m sure the lady at the shelter would not barge into Mr. Duffy’s home and snoop around. One visit is more than enough to see if the animal is taken care of or abused, especially if you know what to look for.

Mr. Duffy is concerned about his privacy, and I respect that. The shelter is concerned about the welfare of an animal. Is that not worthy of respect?

Vito Braverman

Greetings, I’m writing to say I totally agree with you about the cat loonies.

We had a similar experience with the Humane Society. Quite some time back we took a stray dog to the Humane Society. The poor thing was skin and bones, we had dogs of our own and could not take in one more.

I handed the dog over to this lady and gave a $5 donation to help care for the animal, just to be nice. Then the lady proceeded to tell me off. She gave me this big speech about all the unwanted animals, statistics, the whole nine yards. I let it go thinking she just really loves her job.

Months passed by and we sold our beagle, so we thought we could do a good deed and take in one of those poor animals at the Humane Society. Remembering all the statistics and wanting to be a good citizen and all, we went back to the Humane Society. And then we were told we had to sign papers, basically giving them the right to come take the animal from our home if they see fit.

Well I wasn’t about to give them permission to invade my privacy, remove a pet that by then my children would be attached to. So we didn’t adopt any.

The reason why the Humane Society has too many animals isn’t necessarily due to the lack of spaying and neutering as much as it is to their policies.

I know a man who is in a wheel chair, and he had a couple of dogs for companions. He had no bags of store bought dog food in his house. Someone—he thinks it was his home health care worker—thought they were saving those animals and reported him. The animals were taken away. Even though they were well cared for and fed. He gave them table scraps, as he was living on disability.

Just thought I’d share my Humane Society horror stories.

Amy Whitlock
Gideon, MO


I was a long, long time subscriber to American Survival Guide from the early 80s and was very upset when they just quit publishing it! I never got any forewarning of it ending, also thought I would never find a magazine like it again! Then your magazine started showing up in its place & I have enjoyed it greatly!!! I have re-subscribed to your mag twice and will continue till it is not published or I die. HA! HA! Keep up the good work and the faith!

Jerry Heck

I haven’t been a subscriber for very long but what I see so far I like. So many of your articles take me back to my childhood and my pioneering parents.

I am number eight of a family of nine children and grew up during the 1930s depression era. Tho we did not have a lot of the “extras” a lot of our friends had, we always had plenty to eat, due to our big garden and Mother’s ability to can and dry everything we raised.

We always had some livestock. Cow for milk, butter and cheese. Hens for eggs and fryers for Sunday dinner! A couple of sheep for wool that we girls learned to card, spin and knit. Rabbits for food and fertilizer for the garden. Hogs for butchering and smoking, salt pork and sugar cured ham. As I said we were never hungry.

I do so enjoy Jackie’s articles and haven’t found anything that I disagree with.

My husband (of 57 years) and I enjoy your joke page—which brings me to a cute story I heard from a gospel TV minister.

“A husband and wife were arguing about who would get up first and make the coffee.

Husband: It is your wifely duty to get up and make it for me.

Wife: The Bible says you should.

Husband: Where did you get that from?

Wife: Hebrews.”

Alma Froland
Pacheco, CA

Thank you so much for the extremely enlightening article from Dr. Gary F. Arnet. You should know this is the very first time I have written into a magazine to comment about anything. Additionally, I enjoy all the research and eye opening articles you folks “ferret” out of the main stream media. Keep up the good work!

Clay Robertson
Tempe AZ

While visiting relatives last weekend in Gold Beach I was so excited to notice your office tucked in the town. I had been receiving your magazine for years, many years ago, then lost everything and seemed unable to find you again. What a thrill to be right there at the office of “The Best Magazine” available!

Obviously I am not alone in my respect as another couple from Pennsylvania was also at the door that was “closed.” They were also surprised and thrilled and disappointed to be there on a day you were closed.

We are again working on a totally self-sufficient style of living on property we have purchased in Eastern Washington where we have ideal wind and solar availability, but unfortunately are not as versed or creative as you people are. I have been telling my husband about this magazine since we met—now I can show him and together reap the benefits intelligence, knowledge, and just plain joy of the Backwoods Home.

Nancy Backlund,
Eatonville, WA

Keep up the great work! I really enjoy your editorials, making money articles, the Coming American Dictatorship series, the Living the Outlaw Life series, the Last word as well as many other articles. I’ve never kept a magazine subscription as long as this one—you put together a great combo of information. Thanks!

K. Pederson
Henderson, AR

Wood splitting

Just a note on your Art of wood splitting article: I appreciate your advice on the type of handles to use. Between my 12-year-old son and I, we tend to use up at least one handle per year.

As for the wood where there is a “Y” where two limbs start, I always just cut right above and below the “Y”, so that it is not so hard to split. Then if the “Y” part will fit in my stove so be it, but if not then it too hits the fire ring for those weiner roast with the kids.

On the article from Pete Earl, I have many other opinions. These of course are because I too heat by wood and need to gather it as quickly as possible since I do have a real job. Here in east Texas, there is always some one who is clearing their land. I have been successful in finding these people through various dozer services.

Next I had a winch put on a 20-foot trailor. So after the dozer pushes the trees down, I cut the bottoms off along with the limbs, then block it into 25-foot sections. I pull up to 1100 lbs. of tree with my lawn tractor (the mower removed) to within reach of the winch, then pull it onto the trailor with the winch. That way I block it as it comes off the trailor right at my wood pile. My kids and I are into whatever we can do to make it easier! Although we still split by hand.

I also bought a load bearer for my pickup. You know the sheet of plastic that you pull out from your tail gate to the cab. Then after you load a rick of wood or so, you can just use the windup tool to get your wood to your pile for winter.

Just some of my tricks for the trade. Nice to read your articles,

Kevin Bradway

I read your mag for the first time today online. I am a Christian man, live in Scotland, self employed (assembly work in my shed), and have a woodpile to feed our wood burning stove ( I loved your article describing the wisdom of the woodpile!). There are one or two backwoodsmen over here too!

Minimum Government interference and maximum self-reliance is so important today. Keep up the good work. We may have to move to America for religious freedom if current European legislation on curbing and controlling independent Christian fellowships goes through. Overnight we could be classified as a cult, though we are a group of hard-working family men who worship the Lord Jesus. I pray that America stays FREE and that those of you who understand a bit about what is going on continue to teach and to encourage reliance on God, individual effort, and freedom from oppression. You may have little idea how encouraged I was to read your articles Dave. Be encouraged! Keep going! Some more pilgrims may need to build a new Mayflower soon, if our freedoms continue to be eroded here in Scotland! ( I am quite serious).



I’m currently living in the city with my parents while finishing college, but ever since I was a child I’ve dreamed of living in the country, being self-sufficient like the pioneers and the Native Americans were. I do what I can here, I’ve got a strawberry and raspberry patch, a couple sweet cherry bushes and some hazelnuts planted, but there’s not much gardening space in my parents’ yard right now. I’ve been asked not to start any more potted plants, since they started taking over the living room. I also run a Tracking and Wilderness Survival club in one of the nearby parks, although so far there are only two members.

That said, there are a couple of things I’d like to say about your last issue. In the article on Making Dandelions Palatable, the only suggested use for the root was to grind it into coffee. Now, maybe its because I can’t stand coffee, but that seems like a waste of a good vegetable. Instead, dig up some of the fatter roots, scrub them well, and cook them like you would carrots. While tough and fibrous when raw, when cooked they become nice and tender. My parents never realized I was using both dandelion and burdock roots in my minestrone, until I accidentally let it slip a few months after I started. Until then, they kept asking me to make it!

Also, in Jackie’s article on chokecherries, she mentions that some people grind whole chokecherries, but she won’t try that because the pits contain a toxin related to cyanide. Well, I just thought I’d ease her mind about that. That particular variety of cyanide is easily destroyed by heat. It’s the same kind that’s in apple seeds, and many people use those in their pie crusts and suffer no ill effects. I usually just make sure the cherries have simmered for at least 10 minutes. One recipe calls for grinding the raw cherries thoroughly, simmering them 10-15 minutes, adding water as necessary and stirring to prevent scorching, then add sugar to taste and simmer gently until thick enough to use as a spread. One plus is that while it’s cooking it has the most heavenly cherry-almond fragrance!

Melanie Rehbein

I have been a self-taught herbalist and consumer of Taraxacum Officinale for many years. I know the reason it is sprayed or dug up and tossed on the compost pile is because most westerners don’t appreciate its most important constituent and that is its bitterness. The Chinese have embraced the health benefits of the bitter herb for centuries. They say the nature of the dandelion, called “pu gong ying” is bitter and cooling. Bitterness is a taste that our bodies need. It promotes the production of bile which is vital to good digestion.

Many of the major health problems of westerners is due to poor digestion. If you don’t believe it just check out the annual sales figures for laxatives and antacids.

I enjoyed John Kallas’s article and I am guilty of drizzling a pan of sizzling bacon bits over my dandelion greens from time to time. After all I am an American.

But we need to learn to appreciate the bitterness of not only the dandelion but all the bitter herbs. It adds an interesting flavor to any soup and can give just the right kick to a summer salad. Taste and enjoy the bitterness and leave the antacids in the medicine cabinet.

Rick Brannan
Bainbridge Island, WA

Joke page

You left out the joke page in issue #83—please don’t do it again.

James Dickey Jr.
Memphis, TN

We won’t. Your letter is only one of many chastising us. — Dave

Informed jury

That was a great jury article in your July issue. Hopefully all your readers will save the article and reread it if summoned for jury duty. Just one jury vote can be an effective check on government tyranny.

Steve Hicks
White Sulphur Springs, MT

I found the article “The informed juror” you printed in the July/August issue of great interest, particularly since I opted for the trial by jury and received the harsher sentence as a result. I’ve never disputed my guilt, only done as instructed by my public defender.

David Atkinson
Ontario, OR

Code inspectors

We bought 40 acres in NE Klamath County. We can’t do anything without permit after permit. We had to get a permit just to start taking things to the property. If you want to use a composting toilet they told us we still have to have a modified septic system. So we had to buy a $580 septic permit for a 1000-gallon system that we don’t want. I thought this was my land, don’t we have any rights left? We are not wiring the house or hooking up to power lines. We don’t know what they are going to say about that.

My husband is building this house himself, he’s been a carpenter for almost 30 years so he knows what he’s doing. But they won’t let us do anything the way we want…

We bought this dream property for cash, now it’s turning into a nightmare. We took your advice and want to live that way but I don’t know if our government will let us. I thought when you bought something it was yours. I guess America isn’t the land of the free anymore.

Mr. & Mrs. Frank Garcia
Oakridge, OR

Chicken eggs

I really enjoyed the article “Happy chickens, healthy eggs.” I have my own chickens, around 50 hens and 6 roosters. I can sell every egg I can get. They’re turned out every day. I get brown eggs rich in flavor. I got some neighbors who won’t touch a store bought egg, once their taste buds got a taste of country eggs.

I was surprised at the nutritional value of country eggs. Eggs for years have gotten a bad rap. The article didn’t recommend how to eat ’em, so I started eatin’ ’em raw, not bad! I remember my Grandaddy punchin’ a hole in the shell, then commenced suckin’ the egg dry! I figured it’s better raw than cooked. I wouldn’t want a store-bought egg raw.

I’m lookin’ forward to my first copy.

Jerome Richardson
Conway, SC

My goals

As I re-read a letter from “frustrated” Nov/Dec 1995, I am reminded of so many people that should read your magazine.

I have been an avid reader since the early ’90’s, and have learned so much about the government, homesteading, and people in general.

I am currently married, living on 40 acres owned by my husband. I am happy, but could be happier.

My goal in the next couple of years is to own my own property, have a farmers market, and build my own cordwood cottage.

I am suggesting to all of your readers that want to be independent or “self-sufficient” to take it one step at a time.

1. Learn everything you can about homesteading.

2. Pay off debt.

3. Begin to accumulate the stuff you’ll need once you’re free.

4. Dream, plan, learn.

5. Listen to Jackie Clay; never give up!

P.S. My local library could use your magazine. Do you have a special rate so I can subscribe for them?

Anna Rantala
Iron River, WI

If anybody would like to give their local library a gift subscription, we can give you a 15% discount. So just send us $18.66 with the library’s address and we’ll get their subscription going. — Dave

Joke of the day

Joke of the day that you can use if you want to:

After putting her children to bed, a mother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the kids getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. At last she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard her 3-year-old say with a trembling voice, “Who was that?!”

Here are some other things I found that you might want to print:

“Hold on my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.” Daniel Webster, 1851.

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime, and punishment of his guilt.” John Philpot Curran, Irish Statesman, 1790.

Ron Tackmann
Attica NY

Creating your job

On creating your own job…In 1977 while in high school in rural central Florida, I made money—more than I would’ve flipping burgers—by selling homemade lamps made from “found” (natural and recycled) materials. Sockets, plugs and zip cord (I later switched to molded cord/plug sets.. cheaper, easier, better) were purchased from a local surplus store. Although I probably put in more hours making lamps than I would’ve flipping burgers—if you added up time spent collecting materials, buying parts, assembly and testing, sales setup (usually beside the road at a nearby crossroads) and related activities, I had a lot of fun doing it! Getting paid for doing something fun was just icing on the cake.

I took some pride in making each lamp—tinned leads, underwriters knot tied at socket (and at plug if I wasn’t using molded cords) and each one signed, dated and numbered on the bottom. I’ve often wondered if any are still in use.

A lot of experimentation, trial-and-error, and planning were involved, even in such a simple enterprise, but it was fun, kept me out of trouble and in spending cash. There are many such “cottage industry” type jobs to be done—the secret is finding one that suits you. Will you get rich? Maybe, maybe not. Will you have fun at it? Possibly. If nothing else, you can keep—or at least help keep—yourself above water financially…if need be.

Scott Thomas
Lexington, KY

The curse of oil

I just wanted to wholeheartedly concur with you on the Curse of oil—issue #82, July/August 2003, article, which I took off the internet. You did an excellent job, and nailed the problem perfectly.

We have been preaching this line to our Saudi friends in Aramco for some time, but it hasn’t sunk in yet, I’m afraid. If you take the entire oil export rate of Saudi Arabia, 8,000,000 barrels per day, multiply by the average net-back revenue per barrel, around $25 right now, it seems like enormous wealth. However, if you take the annual oil revenues and divide by the population (20,000,000), it is only $3,650 per person—not all that great. Wealth comes from producing goods and services for a multitude of markets, not just selling one easily obtained product, serving one rather unsteady marketplace.

We’ll keep working on them, but I must admit, it seems hopeless.

Dan Shoop
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

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