issue 89 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #89

Romans and Indians did not eat horses!

Regarding Don Chance’s article on horses and eating horsemeat….it is too bad that someone can’t cook Mr. Chance up using one of those recipes he so nicely added to the article!

To begin with, the Romans and the American Indians did not eat horses. If information is to be used, get the facts straight. Soldiers in the Civil War did eat horses only after their rations were done and there was no food available and they were to the point of starvation. After the war, soldiers even were quoted saying that they had regretted doing so but had no alternative. This has been the only time I have read about where people have eaten horses.

Also, horses are eaten in Europe and in Japan as delicacies and NOT as a main staple of food, as Mr. Chance incorrectly writes. Horses also didn’t replace cattle in Europe after the mad cow disease struck…

Elizabeth Devlin

Appalled & disgusted by eating horse article

I own several horses two of which are thoroughbreds saved from slaughter house killer buyer’s pens. Both are great additions to my barn and herd. I am appalled and disgusted by your article re: eating horses. You are truly stupid??? Horses are full of chemicals to keep them free of parasites and healthy. All of these drugs stay in their bodies a LONG time and are clearly marked not to be used in horses sent to slaughter. Do you really think anyone at the slaughterhouse cares if these animals have been off the drugs???

Then to morbidly publish recipes for the use of horsemeat. You disgust me. Crawl back under the rock you came from. Our society has far outgrown you and your disgusting publication. I wouldn’t even use it in my cat’s litter box.

Erika Widener

Rather starve than eat a “murdered” animal

I found Mr Chance’s article on horsemeat insulting and disgusting. What next, Soylent Green? Ah yes, Soylent Green IS humans! How about an article on eating dogs and cats also to round out the let’s eat our pets list?

Let Mr. Chance stay in his adopted state of Texas where there are two equine slaughterhouses. I sure don’t want him as a neighbor. Better yet let him move to Italy, France, Belgium, or Japan. I’d rather starve than eat a member of my circle of love.

While we’re at it let’s discuss “humane” slaughter. Let me see now let’s be “humanely” brutal or “humanely” ruthless. There’s no such thing as “humane” commercial slaughter contrary to what some people would like to delude themselves to believe. The best that can be hoped for is to try to make commercial slaughter a bit less brutal or ruthless but that’s unlikely to happen considering the numbers of animals that are “processed” daily.

FWIW, I’m vegetarian as I prefer not to eat “murdered” animals.

Darrell R. Charlton, Jr.
Arco, Idaho

Unlike cattle and pigs, horses primarily pets

Nice attempt at wit in the anti-slaughter chat group. I presume, based on your arguments that you would have no problem slaughtering dogs and cats for human consumption as well—seeing as how they do that in China and you referenced what other cultures eat in support of your argument.

You seem to be overlooking the following:

• Horsemeat is not exported to feed the hungry masses—it sells for $15-$25 per pound in gourmet markets

• While horses are used for labor, sport, and recreation they are primarily regarded as pets—(unlike cattle, pigs, etc). Is it for strictly emotional reasons that it is culturally unacceptable to eat our pets? Most certainly. But there is nothing wrong with that. It is also culturally unacceptable for us to force our 13 year old daughters into arranged marriages, treat women as 2nd class citizens. Even though there’s no scientific or health reasons for this, we still believe that it is wrong (and thank God).

• There is a difference between raising livestock for slaughter, and sending an animal that has been a domestic pet for the majority of its life to the slaughter house. In truth, it would be no different than sending your aging dog to be slaughtered.

• Why do folks have such a problem with this? Well, it seems to me that it is simply the wrong thing to do. Part of what we value as the “higher” virtues of humanity are integrity, fairness, nobility, friendship, loyalty, etc. To allow an animal to spend its life in service to you (whether on a racetrack, plowing your fields, or carrying you on its back across wooded trails) and then to offer it no measure of dignity or compassion when the end of its life comes is simply against our better nature. Remember, just because we can does not always mean that we should. (Slaughter and humane euthanasia are very drastically different).

• We are not required by law or nature to extend compassion or respect to anything that is “below” us. But that should not dictate our actions. The part of us that is decent and kind is often times the better part of us, and without that, what a miserable world this might be. On the other hand, if we exercised a little more decency and tried to do right by those around us (people and animals alike) what a nice place this might be.

• Lastly, I am aware that you have your opinion on this and that you’ve used your eloquence to undermine ours, but don’t be so quick to take aim at those that are simply trying to be decent. Having a heart isn’t a bad thing my friend.

Jill Anderson

Horses treated with drugs not meant for human consumption

Don Chance obviously put a lot of effort into that salvo against those of us who think horses are for riding not for eating, but surprisingly, he didn’t seem to notice one problem with his logic: A horse isn’t considered a food animal until it lands in the slaughter pen so it hasn’t been treated as one. Up until that point, it has been treated with a variety of products that are clearly labeled “Not for use in animals intended as food.” No, it’s not the same as eating game; no one worms a deer six times a year. No one saturates a fish with insecticide daily to keep the flies away. These horses were raised with no regard for an end consumer’s health because they weren’t supposed to end up being consumed. And unlike a wild animal, they are models of better living through chemistry. That’s what’s wrong with slaughtering American horses and feeding the meat to people.

Cathy Coggins

Don’t need to kill pets and friends to survive

I found it to be totally repulsive.

And, I disagree with the entire premise.

If you live in harmony and appreciation of nature, which it seems you do, then how do you find it in your heart to kill an intelligent and noble being such as a horse, when there is no actual need to do so?

OK, — you all are ‘not’ the Donner party. It is the 21st century now. We don’t really need to kill and eat our friends and pets to survive these days.


Horse article vulgar, rude, inconsiderate

Mr. Chance is just tooooo funny for me! As a matter of fact, I find him down right putrid! To some people, this is a very serious issue. I don’t think his jokes are funny at all and I hope he CHOKES on his recipes! And how about we worry about the cataclysmic events as they occur. I for one, am not going to sit about and think WHAT AM I GOING TO EAT IF THE WORLD COMES TO AN END??? Perhaps we should start eating each other, Mr. Chance!

One other thing, Mr. Chance, we are talking about the horses in the United States, not the world. In the U.S. it is a KNOWN FACT that a large portion of the population is overweight! I don’t really think there are that many “hungry” people in the U.S. that would have to resort to eating horses.

There is still plenty of beef, pork, chicken, fish, and VEGETABLES AND FRUIT!!!!! Maybe we could pick up dead animals along the side of the road!!!

I usually don’t fly off the handle at someone else’s opinion, but Mr. Chance’s was just down right vulgar, rude, and inconsiderate!

Betty Scheldt
Carlinville, IL

Let’s not tamper with ethnic preferences

Not unless starving, but when we have cannibalized our own to save our lives.

Are we hungry enough to eat dog? In the orient, dogs are butchered/bled in situ for immediate preparation in food establishments. Are we going to do that?

Would a person in India ever be hungry enough to eat a cow? If so, they would most likely be ostracized from their society [or worse], cows being believed to be the reincarnations of their ancestors.

Pa-lease—let’s not tamper with ethnic preferences in the name of inflammatory ill-advised articles of this nature.

Rose Volkert
Central Ohio

Horse meat tainted

The article implied that horsemeat is a healthy food source. I believe that this is incorrect; maybe a hundred years ago you could eat a horse that wasn’t tainted with antibiotics and hormones, but not these days.

Horses are pumped up with all sorts of “enhancements” that make their flesh impure and possibly unfit as food.

More importantly, you didn’t describe the necessary step of killing the animal before you could eat its flesh. Killing a horse, I would imagine, would be a terrifying thing to do for any human being who had a caring, empathetic soul. Just the act of touching a horse, looking into the eyes of a horse, or watching it run in a field, would enable you to see the horse as so much more valuable when alive, indeed invaluable, for its beauty and grace, rather than dead for its flesh and bones.

Kathryn Wochinger
Alexandria, VA

Horses simply not food animals in America

I just read your article regarding horse meat consumption. I have studied this bill quite a bit and have read what both sides have to say. The root of the problem is not the consumption of horse meat but the method of slaughter and transportation to commercial slaughter houses. The captive bolt method of rendering a horse unconscious so its throat can be slit is anything but humane for a horse. Horses do not have the same head carriage as cows and pigs and they have an inherit flight or fight instinct that other animals do not have. I would suggest that you go to one of the anti-slaughter websites and view the footage from slaughter houses.

The myth that dog food is made from horse meat is just that. Read your labels. Even most of the zoos are no longer using horse meat for their large cats. The reason for this is that horse meat contains many substances that are labeled “not for use on animals for slaughter.” This will be one of the underlying causes for the ban of many drugs and wormers which are now used on domestic horses. There is movement underway at this time to take Bute off of the market. It is widely used on horses and many humans have very allergic reactions when this Bute laced meat is consumed.

In this country horses are not considered a meat animal. I would hope that an American firm would not go to India and open a slaughter house for cows as the French and Belgian companies have done here with horses.

Judy Harris

How about eating dogs and old Grandpa too?

So now you have printed an article on eating horses. What’s next, one complete with recipes on eating dogs? But wait, what about Grandpa? Should the Islamic lunatics finally succeed in shutting this country down, wouldn’t it be a shame to waste that easily available protein source?

We don’t eat horses in this country. The French eat horses. Kim Jong IL likes donkeys. The only two horse slaughter houses are here in Texas and they are owned by the French. They are not allowed to process horses for domestic use. They are also a focal point for horse thieves. You spend weeks, months, even years working with a horse to get him the way you want him and then some drug addict… Horses are so much easier to catch than range cows.

Then there is the horror for the horse in the slaughter process itself, and the long hours or days of trailering them to get there, many of them sick or worse crippled. We almost got those French slaughter houses shut down last State Legislature session and we may do it yet.

It was once said that today is the greatest time in history for the horse, because only the people that like horses own them. Americans don’t eat horses for the same reason they don’t eat dogs. And when their time comes they should be put down just as humanely as possible.

Bill Mushake
Rice, TX

The French eat horses? That figures. I boycott French products for a variety of reasons. Now I have another. — Dave

Double action revolver which can’t be cocked

I was rereading Massad Ayoob’s article in the March/April issue of Backwoods. The article discussed the virtues of the Ruger SP101 .357 magnum revolver. The caption under the photograph on page 24 states that, “Both for snag-free drawing… and for civil liability reasons, author favors spurless hammer ‘double action only’ model…” However, no details are given within the article in reference to the specific civil liability issues involved with carrying a revolver with a conventional hammer vs. one with a spurless hammer. Could Mr. Ayoob elaborate on this?

John R.
Bridgewater, NH

What it is, John, is that the cocked hammer in single action mode creates what a layman would call a “hair trigger,” which is prone to premature or unintentional discharge. There have been numerous cases where a cocked gun went off by accident, resulting in tragedy, criminal prosecution, and/or massive civil lawsuits. Over the years, a certain element of Plaintiffs’ Bar became aware of this and developed the habit of falsely accusing people of having cocked their guns when they had not in fact done so. (What you or I might call an utterly fabricated pack of lies becomes dignified as “plaintiff’s theory of the case” when uttered by an attorney.) This came about because a cocked hammer in a high stress situation would create the negligence element, which is the key ingredient in a manslaughter conviction or a wrongful death verdict.

Thus, police learned that double action only guns which COULDN’T be cocked were the most effective bulwark against this sort of unmeritorious false claim in court, and also prevented tragedy in the event of actual carelessness. Meanwhile, marksmanship knowledge was also progressing, and it became apparent that firing double action with a smooth trigger pull could be just as accurate as cocking the hammer first, and faster. Thus, a double action only revolver which cannot be cocked is a win/win situation. — Massad Ayoob

Dorothy Ainsworth

Your article on Dorothy and her studio, and later the house, was fantastic. I admire her so much, and her writing is witty and fun to read. If I’m not mistaken, this same story came out in Mother Earth too, about the same time. Let me tell you that ya’ll did a much better job of it. More story, and more pictures. I don’t currently subscribe to Backwoods, but I will now. Thanks for a great read.


Not in the backwoods, but a life of freedom

I came to know about your publication when I was pregnant with my second child. My husband and I were passionate about self sufficient living but didn’t really know where to start. It seemed so natural to us, the inclination to provide for our family outside of the mainstream.

I now have four children all born at home with a very competent lay-midwife and her assistants, one who delivered babies for the Inuit in Alaska.

While it is true we don’t live in the wilderness as we would like to, (my husband is disabled), we do have a small home, at the outer edge of a small town, with lots of trees, raised garden beds, a barn with chickens, flower gardens, flagstone walkways, an enclosed deck — all free, salvaged materials, and the interior of our home “remodeled” with hardwood period doors and molding I ripped out of a burned out house.

We accomplished this with determination and ingenuity, to prove to the ridiculers it can be done. Although I do not have a vendetta against TV we do not have an antenna or cable, and have not had it for at least ten years. We find the television can suck the life out of your day, and attribute much of our progress to our decision to eliminate it. Despite what the nay-sayers think, we live a high quality form of life, everything we own is paid for, we get everything used or free, and even though my husband does not yet receive disability (we aren’t counting on it), I work part-time and have a small cleaning business, so I can give my most productive time to my children, my husband, and the whole host of other things that make life rich and keep me busy.

I say to all of those out there who want a life of true freedom, be determined to live a more self sufficient life, don’t give up, and remember, you don’t have to live in the wilderness to have it. You can possess it in your heart. I do.

Angile Marchetti
Pine Grove, PA

Getting BHM into a prison can be difficult

I am a state prisoner who recently subscribed to Backwoods Home. I received my first copy, and the extra copy of the bonus offer. Enclosed with the bonus issue was your letter, explaining your “new inmate policy.”

I understood your policy, since several prisons often confiscate the materials you speak of, and I would not attempt to say things are different in Ohio prisons. I can accept the agreement that you have mandated by means of this letter for subscription renewals.

However, to inform me of such a policy after the fact, while still accepting the money I sent in good faith of promised goods (in writing), is a contravention of fair trade practice. Ohio prisons will not send materials back to a publisher. If it is found to be unsuitable, or unapproved, a “minor contraband ticket” is issued to the inmate, and he is given the choice of having the material destroyed, or sent home at the inmate’s expense. When I ordered the subscription and bonus material, I fully expected this to occur, in the case of the CD, and I would have sent it home, to my friends.

Since I made the payment for an advertised special (one that does not specify limitations), I would ask that you please fulfill your end of the deal. As I have now been informed that it will not apply to future transactions, I will take such in consideration for renewal purposes. If you have a conflict with sending the advertised materials to the prison, then I would request that you send them to my friend. She will inform me of their arrival.

I do wish you would consider altering your policy to give inmates an opportunity to receive the same bonuses afforded to others. Your policy seems a bit discriminating. A simple option at the bottom of your letter to have the free materials sent to a friend or family member, even if that would include an additional postage fee, would be much more appropriate then reneging on an advertised offer.

Mark Nicodemus
London, OH

We spend an enormous amount of time and money trying to satisfy prisoners’ requests regarding their subscriptions. The problem is this: prison officials often confiscate issues of BHM and anthologies before they get to the prisoner subscriber because BHM contains articles on guns, sometimes wine-making, etc. Our anthologies are routinely rejected by prison officials.

As a result, we get letters from prisoners asking us to straighten out a situation we have no control over. Some of the letters are real angry and contain personal threats. Your letter is very civil, by the way; thank you.

I think you have hit upon a possible solution. Since the magazine itself usually (about 90% of the time) gets through to the prisoner, the magazine can be addressed to the prisoner. But since anthologies almost never get through, the prisoner should give us another person’s name and address and we’ll send any books and anthologies to that address. — Dave

Preventing freeze-ups in my nonelectric well

I thought I’d write about my hand pump well; it enables me to live without electricity. My gas refrigerator, kerosene lamp, wood cookstove, gas space heater, and gas range help, but the most important thing is my well; it’s the first thing I put in before I built my house (and out house).

I retrieved the pump stand and its 6½ feet of 1¼” pipe from an old chicken coop at my folks’ place where it was just waiting for me.

I dug a pit 9 feet deep, lined it with old-style septic tank blocks, drove a point 16 feet and hit water (I must have been lucky). I attached a new Baker cylinder. A small 1/8” “weep” hole is in the pipe just above the cylinder which drains water down after each use to prevent freeze-ups in the winter.

The first winter it froze up and cracked the lower cylinder cap. So I ordered a new cap from Baker Mfg. Co., Evansville, Wisconsin, and put a “false” bottom of 1” foam insulation board just above the weep hole in the pit. Things went well until a cold winter with lack of snow cover froze the pipe just above the cylinder. Nothing broke and I was able to break the pump free. So after each use when the pipe had completely drained down ( I can hear it by listening closely to the pump spout) I poured RV antifreeze down the pump. Later, I added another 1 inch of foam false bottom, raising it 6 inches. Then, just to be sure, I scattered a bale and a half of straw on the ground above the pump. I don’t know if my modification prevented another freeze-up as we had 8 inches snow cover last winter. Another winter with little snow will test my ideas.

I’d appreciate ideas on this subject others have learned from experience to prevent freeze-ups in their non-electric wells.

J. Turnquist
Deerwood, MN

Controlling groundhogs with a gasoline-soaked burlap bag

I’ve been reading your interesting magazine since ASG went belly up. I read the article in your July/August issue about controlling groundhogs. My grandfather had a different method which I’ve used numerous times with consistent results.

Take an old burlap bag and dip it in gasoline. Then stuff it in the groundhog’s hole and cover it with a couple of inches of dirt and a rock or something heavy. The next morning the groundhog will be dead under the burlap bag after trying to push the gas soaked bag out of the hole. Gasoline fumes are very toxic. Remove the dead groundhog and burlap and the hole will air out so other wildlife can use it, or fill it solid so livestock won’t step in it and break a leg. Keep up the good work with your magazine.

Joe Shumaker

Bill of Rights Day for South Carolina

I wrote earlier telling you that I was working to try to establish yearly Honors and Remembrance, of Dec. 15, as Bill of Rights Day, in the state of South Carolina. I had managed to have bills introduced in both Houses of the South Carolina legislature. House bill H.4701 and Senate bill S.959. The legislative session has closed, but before it did S.959 was passed! The House also had its first reading of H.4701 and when session reopens, this bill will have its 2nd reading and vote. Backwoods, I’m confident that this bill will pass, as well. The state of South Carolina will begin to honor this great day of our American history and out heritage in 2005. I’m hoping the memory of this day will bless the people of South Carolina, young and old alike, and the future generations of the state. I’m also hoping that the people will become grateful, rather than remain apathetic to these blessings of Liberty, which have been bought for us all and placed in our care.

That’s the latest up-date Backwoods; thank you so very much.

Bill Ivy
Johns Island, SC

A tool shed from whiskey bottles

First I would like to say that this is a great magazine. I just received my fourth issue and I read it cover to cover as soon as it arrives.

I would like to respond to Paul T. Bowman’s “Tool shed from whiskey bottles” letter. The form of construction is called cordwood construction. In most cases the builders used cordwood instead of bottles, although I have seen where they would use a few bottles for light. Kind of like glass block.

I could go into great detail, but there are plenty of books written on the subject. Here are some titles: Building the Cordwood House by Jack Henstridge, Cordwood Construction: a Log End View by Richard Flatau, Cordwood Masonry Houses: A Practical Guide for the Owner Builder by Rob Roy, and The Complete Book of Cordwood Masonry Housebuilding: The Earthwood Method by Rob Roy.

Hope this is of some help. It is really a DYI type of building method. I hope Paul finds what he needs and has good luck with his project.

Again, thanks for the great magazine. Just like Tracy Luck wrote, it has allowed me to live outside these prison walls. At least for a little while. Living under these conditions has taught me what is really important in life and how to appreciate the simple way of living.

James J. Volkman
Oshkosh, WI

Mac is right

Please send me the Outlaw Special advertised in the Coming American Dictatorship. I could not agree with Mac more and he has definitely done a lot of homework to have all that knowledge of the Bill of Rights & Constitution. We are looking at a very formidable time in the near future and we are all about to be labeled a threat and called terrorists! This series hit the nail square on the head.

The average American needs to turn off the idiotic TV and start reading and listening to a variety of talk shows on short wave radio. Some are Dave and Joyce, Alex Jones, Derry Brownfield, John Stadtmiller, Pastor David Langford, Steve Quayle and many others. But Mac is right, it’s too late, there’s too many sheeple to change things.

John Elder
Eureka, KS

Catfish Biscuits people are real homesteaders

I received my first issue of Backwoods Home Magazine. I do subscribe to two other homestead off the grid magazines. I will be dropping one after receiving Backwoods.

Your magazine covers so much from cover to cover, without the advertising on two out of three pages that other magazines have. I can’t say enough about it, only keep up the good work and thank you.

I own 19 acres in southern NH about a mile off a dirt road. In two years I’m going to build a small cabin, 12×16 with a loft, have goats for my milk and some hens. To live off the land has been my life’s dream. One thing or another has kept me from doing what I love so much. When I read Catfish Biscuits it gave me a look at how life was back in the 20s and 30s, the good old days. They are the real Americans, the real homesteaders. I take my hat off to them and give them thanks for clearing the road for me.

Edwin Blood
Newark, NJ

Japanese make better cars than Americans

I admire anyone who speaks up and says what he thinks, but these people who think they are being American by purchasing American junk need to look deeper. In 1975 I had a Buick Century and a Toyota pickup. To work on the Buick you have to have two sets of tools, USA standard and metric. The Toyota took only one set of tools.

I have a 1984 Mazda pickup out there on the street with 200,000 miles on it and still going. There are a few rust spots on it that wouldn’t be there if I were out there.

Japanese products are far superior to USA products simply because Japanese manufacturers don’t have a government standing over them telling them who they can hire and who they can’t fire. The people who can’t be fired have no interest or pride in their work.

I bought a 1962 Corvaire. There was rust under the dash and on the firewall simply because it was never painted. I noticed there was something under the carpet. I raised the carpet and found several screws that belonged under the dash. If Japan would build a Corvaire it would be the nicest small car on the road.

It’s a shame our government tries to run the automobile business when they can’t even run their own government business successfully.

Clyde Melvin
Lake Butler, FL

A fresh Libertarian view of the military

After all these years, I find myself more and more Libertarian in my political views. The one area that I think the Libertarian Party as a whole needs to address is the military. I’m an engineer for a defense contractor, so you could say that my viewpoint is pretty skewed, and perhaps it is, but in this day and age of global communication, transportation and trade, we are wiser to think of defending our border from both within and without. The terrorism issue in particular brings this into sharp focus. In the past century, the military has not been the entity to fear, but rather the government sponsored police branches (Waco was the ATF and the FBI, not the Army or Marines. The Nazis relied on the SS and the Gestapo, to which many members of the Wehrmacht and traditional military were vehemently opposed.

Heidi Godfrey
Lisbon, IA

America bashing of colleges and media

I work at a major university and (sadly) see and hear the brainwashing of our college students that goes on daily. Coming from a military family and child of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam war hero, it’s a tough thing to sit and just do my job without being able to speak out. We get really weary of the America bashing by the media.

I do want to thank you so much for all of the terrific ideas and recipes. I live in a townhouse about 20 miles outside of Washington, DC and sadly can’t give up my job and move to a “secure” location to pursue the self sufficient life that would make me really happy. But, I am able to adapt many of the recommendations and ideas that come out in your terrific magazine to our life. I get really depressed thinking that if the grits hit the fan there is no way in the world for us to get anywhere safer (have you ever been in DC Metro traffic at quitting time, much less during an emergency?) By the grace of God my son survived 9/11 at the Pentagon so we had a quick lesson in communication during an emergency—cell phones were useless as were local phone calls on regular phones.

We will continue to attempt to do the very best we can in the situation that we find ourselves and with the help of BHM it makes it easier. Keep up the great work.


Was American Survival Guide forced into folding?

After being a newsstand reader for awhile I’ve decided to go for the “Whole Sheebang.” It will be a great addition to my survival library. I was reading the letters in issue 87 and was surprised to see someone say that ASG was ‘coerced’ out of business. I thought they had simply folded in a post Y2K slump in readership. Can you offer more detail about what happened to them?

Tim B.

Coerced is not the right word. ASG’s publishers succumbed to the pressure of bad publicity. Every time there was a highly public shooting (Columbine, for example), the media anti-gunners would point to American Survival Guide on the newsstand as a flagrant example of publications displaying “guns that kill.” The publishers, who had 11 other magazines owned by the same company (Y Visionary), including some other gun and knife magazines, simply decided to get away from all the bad publicity and potential lawsuits. They also did extend a little too much credit to Y2K advertisers, so lost that advertising revenue when Y2K fizzled and the advertisers went bankrupt and couldn’t pay their advertising bills. But Y Visionary basically folded ASG to get itself off the hot seat.

As a footnote, I heard they were about to fold within a day or two of their decision, and within 24 hours had signed a deal with Y Visionary to buy the entire ASG database — for one dollar. People have been calling me a genius ever since. — Dave

BHM is good enough to use in homeschooling

I want to let you know I received my package of anthologies. I am so thrilled with everything. We have been reading up a storm. There is so much information in these books. It allowed us to see some things we didn’t even know. Ways to save even more money. Thank you so much. This is a true blessing to our family. We have decided to use these books in our homeschooling. My husband and myself feel they will learn much more in these books then they would ever learn in a reading book of any kind. Your company will be in our prayers. We have in the past told people about your magazine. I can tell you since you have done what you have, we have doubled what we are telling people. Most of our friends and neighbors cannot believe a company today would help someone as much as you have us. We want everyone we come in contact with to know, so they know that there are big companies out there that are concerned with the small people. Again thank you so much. If there is anything we can do as a family for you or the company please let us know. We would be glad to help.

Glenda Gay

Just keep telling other people about us. In the 15 years of our existence, word of mouth is still the best advertising we have. — Dave

Our home-built vacuum packer

In the May/June issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, someone asked about vacuum sealers. About 5 years ago, we made our first vacuum packing machine. It was made of a vacuum pump, gauge, chamber, and an aluminum top plate with a neoprene gasket. The hoses were water hoses from the local hardware store.

We were getting ready for Y2K and realized that we couldn’t afford the commercial dehydrated food. We decided to try vacuuming dried food. We found our canning jars at thrift stores and bought new lids and rims. Some of the jars we bought were rather dirty, by I scrubbed them up. I’ve been thinking that since vacuuming is a dry process, anything that had leeched into the porous glass would stay there. I don’t know if that is technically true or not. But it is true that bacteria and viruses cannot live in a vacuum. That is why you shouldn’t vacuum yeast, sourdough starter (the dry kind), or any seeds that you intend to plant in the garden.

One of the advantages turned out to be that you could buy large quantities of dried food on sale or at Sam’s Club and vacuum it. As long as the seal holds, the food inside is as fresh as the day you vacuumed it.

Our original set-up was not very powerful. We couldn’t vacuum wide mouth jars and we were having trouble keeping a seal on the regular mouth. Two friends of ours who are mechanically inclined helped us with a better system. We had the wrong kind of hoses for one thing. They said to use rigid automotive hoses. Then they suggested that we add PVC tanks to store the air in between vacuumings. Now instead of releasing all the air each time, it goes into the tanks and is stored there. The pump doesn’t have to work so hard and it doesn’t take as long to do each vacuum seal. I’m enclosing a couple of photos so you can see it. Notice the Martha Stewart vacuum chamber. K-Mart has since discontinued this particular waste basket. We also changed our gasket to closed cell/high density weather stripping. That works much better. We have to put on a new one from time to time. The new system does vacuum wide mouth jars and we have much less trouble losing seals.

I had been thinking of writing an article about this, but I can’t get around the mechanics of it. Well, I don’t know how the damn thing works. Yet for mechanically inclined people, it is a wonderful thing. It might encourage them to enlarge their pantries which is an important thing. It can help them save money, even though it is expensive to build. I was thinking of taking it a step farther and dehydrating food myself which would then be vacuumed. That would help people who live in climates with high humidity.

Oh, another advantage I thought of is that you can vacuum spices. If there is any trouble large enough to affect our imports, I can have some spices stored a long time.

I wanted to thank you for writing about storing white flour. That is the only thing we haven’t been able to vacuum. You said at some time that you had stored some white flour for six years. I’ve tried storing some too, but I’ve only gotten to 1½ years and so far it has been fine.

Becky Blue
Cedar Ridge, CA

Raising beef cows

Love the information on raising beef cows. We got out of the city a couple years ago, bought into an acre and half and just got our first beef cow last weekend. Lots of great information here. I appreciate it! And you’re right—the experience for our young sons is beyond compare.

Erika Harmon

Lifetime subscriber

I have read Backwoods Home for a long time. Actually I have read every issue, and can say that I have gotten more out of each issue than anything I read. From money saving articles, to all the crafts that I give as gifts. Now I am glad to say that I am a lifetime subscriber. I look forward to seeing you guys around a long time.

Louis Bartee
Huntsville, AL

Planning a suitable temporary house

Now this is what I’m talking about. This has got to be the best magazine of its type I have ever subscribed to. And I have read them all. Sorry folks the others, you all know who you are, you have to go. I have learned more from my first issue of Backwoods and the seventh year anthology than years of, well, I think I’ll say it — Mother Earth, and trial issues of Back Home magazine all put together. Now I do need your opinion on something, because I do value your answer. For a temporary living for four people what do you suggest, a tipi? I have had a tipi once before but never lived in it. I stayed in it for short periods of time. A yurt or one of the new domes. Temporary by my standards means 3 to 5 years.

Benny Von Cannon
Seagrove, NC

A tipi, yurt, or trailer would be fine. If it were me, though, I’d build a good sized shack on a post and pier foundation that I would later use as a nice, big workshop. The details and standards of what will eventually become your workshop (or studio) are not nearly as demanding as that of your final home. It would also make a nice guest house for later. I simply like the permanence of wood, even for a temporary house. — Dave

Hopi squash, solar, and Annie’s new baby

Hi folks! I love your magazine. It’s just what this ol’ do-it-yourself farm girl needed. I contacted the Aurora Farm concerning the Hopi Pale Gray squash seeds. Barbara asked that Jackie email her at Seems there is a minimum order of $60! I’m afraid I will have to pass on the seeds as I have already ordered all my seed for this season and have most of them in the ground and growing. Keep on feeding us with solar stuff. I can’t get anyone else but my 15-year-old interested in getting off the grid right now. I’m hoping the young sprout will help me by learning all he can about electricity, then maybe the two of us can figure out a way to ‘go solar.’ And congrats to Annie on the birth of her baby. I’m a do-it-yourselfer there too, as none of our five have been born in a hospital. My husband delivered the last three at home. And my daughters have continued the tradition. One has three, all born at home attended by her hubby and gramma (that’s me!) and the other one has two delivered by a midwife (her hubby is not so sure about this do-it-yourself way of things.) May God bless you all.

Sandi Vinson

Anthologies save room

I have subscribed to Backwoods Home for many years, however, I moved into a small space and have to get rid of my stacks of magazines … the anthologies are a great way to save some space in book form. I may decide to save a little bit more space and buy some CDs at a later date and pass the books on as gifts. Thank you so much for a great magazine.

Teresa Wodarski
Dundee, NY

BHM on my computer

I’m moving back to the country after 30 years—so I’ll need all the help I can get. Thank you for the great magazine. I have been enjoying it on my computer for over a year and now that I am going back home, I’m really looking forward to reading all of each issue.

Rose Wesolek
Mahaffey, PA

Backwoods Home Mag worth more than price

There must be some mistake. I bought the most recent issue of Backwoods Home Magazine yesterday in anticipation of my recent subscription taking effect.

I cannot believe the wealth of information in that one issue. It’s worth far more than the cover price. And you sell back issues on CD at a huge discount as well? Are you crazy?

The articles are very well written, contain a great deal of advice that is very practical. I learned a great deal more than I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not overrun with glossy advertisements.

You just aren’t charging enough for your magazine. Are you sure you’re not cheating yourselves? This publication in a steal!

Alex Langley
Camarillo, CA

An American ideology every citizen needs

Here’s my one year renewal for a subscription. If you want to send me your freebie 384-page book, that sounds great! You don’t have to send any more free stuff. I really appreciate BHM’s philosophy. To me it’s an American ideology that every citizen needs to be educated on.

Cory Larson
Moorhead, MN


Been reading your magazine off the newsstand for years. Much better than what the American Survival Guide became before it went under.

Tom Judge
Jefferson City, MO

I just renewed my subscription to BHM and I’m glad I did. I used to have a subscription but I let it lapse. I have been buying it ar Wal-Mart but they stopped carrying it. The last issue I bought contained the article on homeschooling and had an assay by Jacob Duffy. Tell him that I really enjoyed his essay and I hope he writes another one for BHM. I’m looking forward for my first issue.

Kennith Perry Goldthwaite

I have been with your magazine since issue #3 (Feb/Mar 1990) as a reader. I still have each issue and will keep each new issue also! You have without a doubt the very best magazine out there. I sincerely hope it continues. I live in Lincoln, ME but work in Orono—letter carrier, outdoors everyday. Rain or shine. Will be retiring to Eastern Alaska in 9 years. Thank you for making life in the lower 48 bearable.

Lawrence Custis
Lincoln, ME

I have been reading BHM for several years as an employee of the Ellsworth Public Library. I recently married and we will be moving off-grid in July. We need all the help we can get! That MEANS Backwoods Home Magazine. Love to all you great folks.

Julie A. Clayton (Gillette)
Lee, ME

BHM around the world

Please accept my late check for my renewal. (The military has been keeping me busy.) Congrats on the new additions to your family! I am pleased and proud to report that old copies of BHM … have been around the world, and I am aware of 3 new subscribers. Keep up the great work

— The Military Reserve Guy
Charles Wilson
Columbus, OH

Thanks Charles. We grow primarily by word of mouth. Doing a good job for people like you is the best advertising we have found. — Dave

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