issue 90 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #90

Responses to letters about “Eating a horse”

Now and then we have an article that gets people all riled up. That was the case with Don Chance’s article in the July/August issue (No 88) titled Hungry enough to eat a horse? It prompted many “outraged” letters. Well, this issue we’ve gotten a slew of letters from the other side of the issue. But we’ll begin with author Don Chance’s own reply to one of the letters, that of Elizabeth Devlin, which reads, in part:

“… 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…”

— Editor

I don’t usually respond to letters sent in to any magazine or newspaper I write for, but you made some comments that I do believe need to be addressed.

1. Ancient Romans, like people from all ancient civilizations, did eat horsemeat. I found several references to various cultures, including Roman armies in the field, that ate horses for a variety of reasons, from ceremonial, to revenge, to need in times of famine, on and on. Even the word “hippophagy” is Greek in origin. But specific to the Romans, almost all of the traditional, and even ancient, horsemeat recipes my research turned up were Italian in origin, and that alone supports my original statement. The fact that these peoples ate horses doesn’t mean they didn’t also love and cherish them.

2. American Indians did eat horsemeat, and still do. I know this because, though I was born on ancestral homelands in South Carolina, I grew up in the American West. My father, a minister, was a missionary to Indian reservations in Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona, where I finished growing up in the late 1970s. I’ve been present many times at tribal celebrations, from the time a horse was selected through its preparation process, through the meal, and right up to the time the dogs were allowed to fight over the scraps. I’ve seen this at the San Carlos Apache and Gila River Pima reservations in Arizona, the Rocky Boy reservation in Montana, the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico, and among Piaute communities in the Moapa Valley of Nevada. Indians, like other ancient peoples, wanted to ingest the horse’s qualities through the meat: its strength, its stamina, its character. As an eyewitness to these events, I don’t need additional research on this aspect of hippophagy.

3. As for the Civil War, lame or “walking wounded” horses were not wasted, especially among the Confederate armies who didn’t get regular supplies. This fact won’t be found in “popular” histories of that war, though. See, I, too, had ancestors in that war who left journals and spoken histories behind, and I’ll take their word over historical revisionists any time. My family is still waiting for the government to pay for more than 100 horses that were taken and butchered to feed freed slaves in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

4. My research just doesn’t support your claim that horsemeat is a rare Japanese or European delicacy. One of the biggest horsemeat slaughterhouses in the U.S. is located within 20 miles of where I sit at the moment, and I’ve seen some of the vast amounts of animals processed there. If there were no large international market for the meat, there would be no need for such a busy and expensive facility.

5. Mad cow disease? Where did my story claim that horses replaced cattle at any time?

Like I said in the original Backwoods Home article, the subject is highly emotionally charged and will probably never be resolved.

— Don Chance

I think the responses to Don Chance’s article on horses and eating horse meat are missing the point of his article. The main reason I like Backwoods Home magazine is that it is not afraid to THINK DIFFERENTLY, and consider all possibilities.

While some may find eating horse meat offensive, and “would rather die” than eat horse meat (as one letter writer wrote), there are those among us who, while not wanting to eat horse meat right now, welcome Backwoods Home’s consideration of its possibility. If it were a matter of survival, I would do whatever it takes to survive, and not passively lay down and die, simply because a food is culturally forbidden. I will only die after exhausting all my options, clawing and scratching all the way! Interestingly enough, there are many stories of normal people in starvation situations eating things that they normally would not have even considered before (such as insects or rats), so to flat out say that you would rather die than eat a horse could be viewed as a potential form of “natural deselection” (removal of beings from a gene pool that refuse to adapt) of those who are too inflexible in their thinking to survive — leaving the planet to those of us who consider all possibilities on any issue, and don’t rule out anything, given the right conditions!

Finally, I resent the writers who thought that eating horse meat was barbaric, and thus implying that it should not even be discussed, imposing a form of “thought control” by so severely criticizing anyone who dares to think outside the box, that a magazine might consider stopping writing articles that might possibly stir up what passes for current public moral outrage. I’m sure these are the same people who criticize conservative politicians for wanting to “impose their morals” on the population by banning abortion, but are perfectly content to allow their morals to be imposed by cultural criticizing of politically incorrect ideas, and if that fails by the passing of laws to forbid anything that they consider morally improper!

Edward A. Meardon
Ottumwa, IA

Whenever I get Backwoods Home in the mail I immediately turn to the Irreverent Joke Page. Next I look at the table of contents for whatever grabs me and then I go to the letters. Wow! I couldn’t find my issue #88 so I had to look up the horsemeat article online to refresh my memory about the enormity expressed by Mr. Chance. I reread the article and learned once again that what one finds humorous, another finds repulsive and a third finds evil. I tell you what, for a publication that expounds very effectively the libertarian philosophy, your readership seems to have missed the lesson as far as it relates to someone else’s practice. The reason I tend toward the libertarian viewpoint is not only so that I can do what seems best to me but so that others can as well. I would guess that most of your readers agree with liberty for themselves, but I would have expected a higher percentage of them to allow the same for someone else. What is wrong with the government is not what they believe but their willingness and authority to enforce it. The high tone moralistic rantings against Mr. Chance tend to disillusion me about the possibility of Libertarianism ever amounting to anything. Maybe I’m assuming too much by thinking that your readership tends toward the libertarian view, but if they do it does not bode well for us. If Libertarians can’t handle someone doing what they don’t approve of, how can we expect others who don’t even profess this ideology to allow such things for us? We (Libertarians) are going to have to set a consistent example of tolerance if we are to have any right to expect tolerance for our somewhat unconventional ideas. So you don’t like the idea of eating horsemeat; fine, don’t eat any. But get off the back of someone who simply has a different viewpoint. The people of India won’t eat their cows. So what? I think they have every right to not eat their cows. They also have the right to bear the burden of their convictions. By which I mean that they have no right to expect someone else to feed them. Because it is a moral issue to them doesn’t mean it has to be one for me. I’m glad you love your horse and saved him from the slaughterhouse. Really, that is commendable. But do I have to agree with you completely on this to not be called evil? My own experience has been that most Libertarians are, shall we say, less religious than some others. But the tone expressed by many of the letters condemning Mr. Chance can be likened to a Papal Bull. I guess consistency is way too much to ask when it comes to …..Seabiscuit.

Kevin Roberts

In the early ’50s, while pulling KP duty in an Air Force mess hall in the U.S., I have unloaded and unpacked boxes of meat clearly marked “Horse Meat.” It was reddish, sorta fibrous, and was served in many military mess halls. It was often used as the meat in “corned beef and cabbage.”

Mahlon Martin
Geneva, FL

I just got another issue of Backwoods Home …boy did you get bashed about using horses for meat! Just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated that article! Coming from a European background (not French either) I have no problem with horsemeat. It is sold daily in almost every grocery store in town. I wouldn’t even be surprised if we in the U.S. aren’t eating it unawares regularly. I think it’s a shame that the value of our “pets” has become more important than the value of human life. We spend millions yearly to feed and care for them (using horsemeat as a base for some of the pet food) while those of our own kind in third world countries starve. Horses for consumption need to be raised with just as much care as any other animal. I definitely wouldn’t suggest just buying a horse for consumption without knowing its background and I think that should be more closely regulated with a commercial product. Appropriate and humane slaughter techniques should be used of course but as an end product I approve. If I could afford it I would buy a lifetime subscription! Until then, keep the great articles coming! I especially appreciate that you publish articles that are hard to find anywhere else.

A. Sunderman

Got my latest issue last night and read my way through. When I got to the letters section I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Horse loonies are even crazier than cat loonies. Makes me wonder what people were thinking when they picked up your mag in the first place. Animals are for eating; how hard is that to understand. One note of truth in a couple letters — You really should be careful because of meds that the horses have been on as some of it stays permanently in the system and you will get it if you ingest the meat.

Thanks for the great magazine, and I guess I should be encouraged about the sheeple horse loonies as they are getting a dose of reality with your mag.

Randy Augsburger
Bluffton, Ohio

I’m 68 years old. I remember WWII and the Equine Market on Main Street in Worcester, Mass.

My mother bought meat there. She got large thin (½”) cuts and made something she learned from ladies she worked with. It was called Bra-zhole (phonetic). These thin large cuts were rolled up with tomato, garlic, and various vegetables and baked. It was great, like a rolled roast.

Horse meat had very little fat, it was surprisingly tender. My mom cooked all meat well.

There is a German dish much like it called Rolleden.

We know that humans are the first animals in a no-food situation to turn cannibal. (Donner party)

The folks who wrote in have the feel of people who have never faced real hardship, real adversity. They sound like the brown rice eating nature boy-girl types who suffer from the sin of pride. “Only I know the real way, the right way, the true way.” They sound like the “Liberal Terrorists” who have invaded our daily lives and politics. And they know nothing of human nature.

Let them miss a few meals and try to jump ahead of them at the Equine Market.

During the war (WWII) I have seen a line of people, at least 15 or 20 in front of the Equine Market on Main Street in Worchester, Mass. Almost without exception they claimed they were there to buy meat for their dog. Yeah, sure.

We are having a problem up here in NE with beaver, costs maybe $100-$150 per beaver to have someone come to trap them. My daughter went to school to learn to trap them. And she eats them! I couldn’t believe it! Not me! Last week at a family reunion she cooked up some on the grill and came around with some small hunks on a plate. I tried it. It was great, tasted just like roast beef! Point is, don’t judge!

Love the magazine and admire you guys. Being a Grampa will sure change your whole life!

I sure am weary of all the smarmy, tree hugging, bambiest, moral high ground jerks.

Curtis Gleason
Templeton, MA

OK I admit it! I’ve eaten horsemeat and mule meat. Am I ashamed of it? No! At the time I was unawares but ok when I was told what it was. I can say this much, it was called a “hot” meat and it could cause heartburn. I had steak and it was very tender covered with a rich gravy and delicious.

Am I the only one willing to say they’ve eaten horsemeat or is everyone afraid of being harassed if they admit it.

There is always another side to a story and this is my side.

As a teenager growing up in Michigan my best friend was married to a harness racer and they made the race circuit every year with their horses. Many times I ate at their home and enjoyed the meal wondering how they could afford the delicious meat as racing is not a very lucrative profession on the county fair circuits. One day M. told me we were eating horsemeat. There was a sale of horses in Charlotte quite often where they sent the horses to Canada to be sent to France. There was also a butcher in Lansing and one by Detroit that sold horsemeat. This is where they got theirs. M. also said there was a restaurant that served it. Did I stop eating at their home after her confession? No, because I also learned you can eat a lot of different things if you’re hungry. She served possum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, squirrel, rabbits and I ate it as well as my children.

It’s been 25 years since I ate these meats but if I had to, yes, I could eat horsemeat again even though I’ve had my own horses.

So all you people violently against it, you may at some time have eaten it unknowingly.

Personally I’d rather eat horsemeat than what they call “meat” at McDonalds.

Jan D.
Albuquerque, NM

I really wasn’t surprised by the letters blasting you and your magazine over the “Horse for food” story. Still, people never cease to amaze me. How can someone who has never experienced near starvation state they would never eat something? Even worse, most of those people have probably eaten horse.

The idea of dying with dignity. Now there is a thought. I have witnessed many deaths, both human and animal, and honey, there ain’t no dignity in dying. I also had to laugh about the animal of burden. I wonder how many of those writers have been ridden. Would they feel dignified?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to belly up to a plate of horse, dog, cat, etc. But it is an option for survival. The main reason to keep the dog is he/she will help keep someone else from killing and eating the horse.

One of the things that make your magazine great, is you keep on. I noted no apology for the horse meat article. Thank you for not backing down, and I hope and pray that those people never see the day they welcome a plate of horse with a side of fries. Mostly because when that day comes, people like me will have already eaten all the good horses. That will make the experience even less enjoyable, eating a lean, tough, old horse.

Norman Pemberton
Tough old mule from Sherman, Texas

Animal worshipped as in a religion

I wanted to write to you about the animal rights people that you seem to have trouble with. I think you have misjudged them somewhat. The people I am writing to you about are the extremists, not the people who want humane treatment of animals. The point I want to make is that the animal rights extremists’ position really has nothing to do with genuine animal welfare.

Many of them (the extremists) are ani-theistic, that is, they worship animals as “god.” This should explain their opposition to anything that would put animals in a position lower than man. To many of them this is heresy. The unfortunate thing is that the courts are more than willing to help them force-feed their religion down everybody else’s throats.

This should explain why groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and others will go to the extremes that they do. To them their actions are part of a religious crusade in which anybody who does not agree with them is a heretic to be despised.

A related set of groups, such as Earth First, are “Gia” (the earth goddess) worshippers. This should explain why the “environmentalists” would consider blocking the building of fire roads into forests in California to be a victory even though it means that the forests will someday burn to the ground. Fire is “natural” and sacred. A man cutting down a tree is “sacrilege.”

This is a sad state of affairs. What is worse is that the very courts that are pushing the so-called separation of church and state are aiding and abetting these extremists’ attempts to enforce, by law, their religion on the rest of society. As a Christian I have no desire to force anyone to believe the way I do. Christianity requires a voluntary changing of the heart. Unfortunately, many of these extremists have no problem with trying to beat people into line with legal action.

I don’t say any of this from hatred of them. I just think that people should be allowed to make a choice as to what religion they obey.

P.S. Please withhold my name and address. If we were dealing with rational people I wouldn’t ask, but the extremists are not rational.

M.P., Florida

Many congratulations to you for having the guts to print the “Horse flesh article.” The Bambi/Black Beauty crowd responded as I would have expected. Despite the clearly worded caveat that horses be harvested in the case of emergency, these “fanatics” that responded would maybe be more comfortable watching their children die slowly from starvation, than to humanely harvest the flesh from a horse. Your article was sensible and well written; the fevered responses it first garnered were not.

William B. Rosser
Holden, MO

Cursed by a holy man

And greetings from England. I’ve recently discovered your website and have become hooked. We’ve nothing like it this side of the pond—more’s the pity—and it’s gratifying to see that some folk actually take their responsibilities for themselves and their families seriously. Anyone trying to put self sufficiency ideals into practice over here tends to be regarded as slightly crazy or at best a recycled hippy.

My eldest daughter has just returned from a research visit to northern India where she was told by a swami that she was cursed in a previous life by a holy man; the curse was that in this life she would not be born in India but in England! After reading the common sense and superb content from your contributors I’ve come to think that the same holy man must have cursed me also, to be born in England instead of the land of the free!

Mike Cooper

Fels Naptha Soap

We have a garden, pigs, dairy goats, ducks, a horse and chickens right now, and we’ve had turkeys, geese, guineas, quail, and rabbits in the past. We hope to get a dairy cow and start growing our own beef soon. Our children love the animals and they love to work on the farm. They’re always out with my husband doing fencing or building pens or barns—even down to the 2 year old, who is usually the designated staple or nail person. They take breaks by using hatchets on decaying pine logs and looking for termites! One night recently my 9 and 6 year old girls stayed up with me until 3:30 am playing midwife to a goat who ended up having triplets—the first one breech. We are learning and loving each other more every day and we have so much fun together when we keep things simple, and slow down, helping everyone to get involved in every job. We homeschool, too.

I wanted to share some information regarding the question about Fels Naptha soap gel. I use the same recipe: 1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap (or Sunlight), 6 cups water, ½ cup borax, ½ cup washing soda. Heat the grated soap and water until boiling and dissolved, reduce heat. Add borax and washing soda and stir until thick. Remove from heat and add 4 cups hot water. Stir well.

Now here’s where my recipe differs. Pour into a clean 5-gallon bucket and fill almost to the top with cool water. Stir well. (I add 5 drops of lavender essential oil.) Start with ½ cup per load of laundry, and adjust from there based on the hardness or softness of your water. (I use 1 cup because I have hard water, 2 cups for REALLY dirty loads.) I got this recipe about 3 years ago from a now-expired internet site regarding making your own non-allergenic soaps.

I haven’t done much research on the chemical properties of borax and washing soda, and I look forward to seeing responses by others about that. I just know that borax helps to soften my hard water somewhat. Washing soda is also a grease-cutter. I’ve made a scouring powder with baking soda and washing soda and it works great.

Mrs. David Card
Fellsmere, FL

Silveira’s “Last Word”

John, let me start with telling you that I am a big fan of your writing. Your essays on “The coming American dictatorship” should be required reading for every high school student. But I have to take issue with your last article titled “Getting rich through generosity,” (Issue 89). Not the older historical part, but the references to Microsoft vs Apple. I am not sure where you got your data, but you were incorrect about licensing fees for software developers.

I have been a SW developer for about 30 years (damn, time goes by fast) and have shipped to 10s of millions of customers on numerous platforms. I have also worked at Apple developer support. I can say equivocally that there never has been a license fee to ship software on the Mac. Further, that is not the reason that developers “flocked” to Windows. They did it because of the installed base. Microsoft focused on expanding market share, Apple focused on product esthetics. The quality of software you found on both platforms reflected that. Windows always required more support and was often the choice for IS departments that saw loss of work as software migrated from mainframes to the PCs. The Mac never required much support and was often ignored by large IS organizations. Apple’s own arrogance and inconsistent marketing vs Microsoft’s focus on market share is what did it.

Other than that correction, your articles are outstanding. Keep up the work. btw.. since I have the channel open, I wanted to mention something about Ms. Ainsworth’s article about Ashland. Having lived there for a few years, I feel that she left out a few things that your readers should know… If Eugene is the Berkeley then Ashland has become the Santa Cruz of Oregon. Lots of homeless downtown urinating in the alleyways. Lots of anti-American protesters and the college is very anti-self defense orientated. They violate state law by prohibiting the licensed carry of firearms. The cost of housing is on par with the SF Bay area, and no wonder… there are many transplants from CA there. Now the nearby towns of Talent and Medford are another thing… to Ashland’s granola, Medford is shotguns, pickup trucks and dawgs. And the best part is that you can have em both.

Take care and hopefully I can buy you dinner next time we drive over the hill to the coast.

“When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.” — USMC training bulletin.

Vinnie Moscaritolo
Ashland, OR

No more pullout ads

Here I am again to bug you about PRINT anthologies, I would really prefer them to the cd. Also, guess what I found in my issue of Backwoods Home??? A stapled in pullout advertisement. Why, Why would you do that? In every issue of Mother Earth there are between 20-22 pull out, tearout and fallout crap! 20 of them!! What a waste. I pull them all out so I can read my mag without all that garbage AND I mail them all back to MEN. Do they realize how much postage it costs to include them. I know what it cost to mail them back. Times that by their readership. YIKES. I realize advertising is an important aspect to keeping the Backwoods Home magazine viable, but please please no pullout, tearout, fallout crap. Love your magazine as always. The last controversy over the horsemeat was great. Keep up the good work.

Becky Newman

I’ll make you a deal, Becky — You send me the two grand I get paid for the pullout ad and I’ll leave it out next issue. Agreed? That’ll pay part of the 30 grand it costs to put out the issue. In fact, send me 30 grand and I’ll leave out all the ads.

— Dave

How about a corn stove?

Backwoods home people should know, although only recently perfected to 98% efficiency, the corn stove was not mentioned by any of the energy experts as a method of whole house heat. Was it an oversight or total ignorance?

Harry Clift
Bluff City, TN

Your letter implies there are only two reasons a corn fueled stove has not been included in our energy articles: either there is a conspiracy of “energy experts” to keep it secret or we are ignorant.

I would like to point out that we also have not promoted a pellet stove, a waste cooking oil stove, a wood chip stove, a coal stove, a pig bio-gas stove, or a waste paper stove. Our readers understand that almost any kind of self-fueled stove is cheaper than paying for electricity or gas to heat their house, but most base their stove purchase on the availability of local fuel sources.

Your corn stove may be great for people living in a large corn producing state, but would be a hard sell in West Virginia or Kentucky where coal stoves are the rule, and vice versa. We applaud the use of any alternative energy product or device, and wish you success in your efforts. Just don’t try to sell one to somebody living near a sawmill!

Jeff Yago
BHM Energy Editor

Looking for a way out

I was looking at your site (on the internet) and read some letters to the editor. Sounds like some interesting people read this. I printed out about a dozen recipes! I only wish I could live off the land self-sufficiently…Given the chance, I’d cave I’m sure. I remember my aunt crying every time when she had to butcher a chicken, but man-! Those chickens were the BEST. But I wonder if I could do that. I reside in the city and my children go to school; I drive an hour to work in Los Angeles traffic, and I sometimes wonder how am I ever going to get out of the soulless rut I am living. I used to homeschool, we used to do cool things and meet wonderful, interesting people and talk about real LIFE. Back then I was hoping to make life better, thought I would make it better magically by getting divorced. Boy was I wrong! Now it is worse. Families, stay together! Unless you are being abused…hard to tell if you are isolated. I still hope to meet a partner (marry a man!) who is into what I am… not easy to do in LA. I want to ride horses in a green field, pick apples from the tree in the sun, and grow a real garden, not just the one tomato plant I have!!! Thanks for the info.

M.J. Varney
Southern California

Don’t get down on yourself, M.J. You need to keep reading, and get onto the BHM Forum and chat with other readers. You’ll get some ideas of what to do.

— Dave

Burglary prevention

Thanks for the excellent and informative article and editorial about defense from burglars. I was a little surprised that Mr. Ayoob made no mention of security lighting. My rural electric coop encourages us to get what they call “security lights.” I call them “insecurity beacons” because they advertise one’s insecurity, and they light the way for miscreants. Their real purpose, I believe, is to waste electricity during times of low demand. Would Mr. Ayoob care to comment on the efficacy of outdoor “security” lighting?

Paul Miller
Hannibal, Missouri

Security lighting is important. You can’t mention everything in a 3,000 word article, but I shouldn’t have left that out.

— Mas Ayoob

Duffy home burglary

I’m so sorry to hear your house was burglarized. I’ve had it happen too and the feelings you expressed are certainly accurate to a “T”.

If you have wood windows, there is a hidden, screw-in lock you should be aware of. A hole is drilled into the window frame where the upper and lower windows meet (so it goes through both up to the outer edge of the exterior window). An insert is installed and a pin. You are given a “key” that looks like an old fashioned skate key, used to screw in the pin. This lock cannot be accessed by anyone except by the key. It can’t be seen from outside or undone from the inside without that key. The pin holds both windows together and they cannot be separated until the pin is removed by unscrewing it.

I kept only one key. That way I knew for a fact that after the windows were locked for the night, they could be opened by no one but me. Short of breaking the panes out, which will wake you up, those windows are not coming open!

I had a locksmith install them for me on all my windows (in a log cabin out in the VA woods), but they can be installed easily by any semi-handy person.

Hope this may prove helpful and relieve some of the tension.

Genelle Brown

I am one of the prisoners that has a subscription, though my crime is not burglary. Just wanted to write to say that while all criminals have committed a crime, not all criminals are the same. I am locked up with both hard core career criminals that simply won’t last long on the street as well as first time offenders that have screwed up but are very sorry for whatever they have done. There are former military officers, fire fighters and engineers in here. They are the ones that are more likely to once again become productive citizens on the outside. In light of your situation I just did not want you to think that all criminals are lost causes that deserve to stay in jail. Many are, but some aren’t.

Jon Matthews
Dillwyn, VA

The new issue of Backwoods Home arrived last week. Your editorial struck a very personal cord. As you can see from the envelope, I am in prison.

Seven years ago I was a burglar. Several years went by before what I had actually done dawned on me. It wasn’t just the items I stole, it was, like you say, the family’s sense of security. But, it still goes further.

Long hours of pacing bring realization. As the adage goes, “Small places expand minds.” How true that is.

It was during one of these walks that I asked myself why are lying, theft, and harm bad. I already knew they were, felt that they were, but didn’t know why. The answer is remarkably simple, and still very far ranging, affecting every aspect of life. They instill a mistrust in amongst the people of a society.

Trust is the essential ingredient of society, of community. It allows us to work together to accomplish more than otherwise possible. The lack of trust brings a slow degradation, a rotting if you will, of what it is to be a community. As a result, we begin to put up walls, protections and hinderences to our work together. We become suspicious of what others do. This further impedes trust.

Would your willingness to work for an employer be very strong if you did not trust him to pay the agreed wages? Would you shop at a store where you paid for your food before you even saw it?

I believe lying to be by far the worst. It penetrates everything, leading to uncertainty. We are uncertain of peoples’ motives and likelihood of trustworthiness; which leads to our fortification of our lives, stockpiling, hoarding, hiding, threatening, putting on false airs, etc. We lie to liars, we lie to police, lawyers, IRS, and our wives. We knowingly tell untruths to protect ourselves from people of uncertain character. Lying is worst because it is accepted to a point; “everyone does it.” In fact it is expected in some cases.

Theft erodes overall security within a community. I see it here when tooth paste, soda, or envelopes disappear. Everyone points fingers saying they just know he is a thief. Lies exasperate things when people say they saw so-and-so eyeballing someone’s stuff. Everyone is on edge. Theft is a combination of greed, lust, envy, desire, and insecurity. They are patterns of thought that destroy trust in community.

Harm is obvious. It goes deeper than physical pain, leaving lasting emotions of resentment, fear, sadness, trauma and hatred.

I have been in prison for seven years for someone’s lie that I acted upon. They told me their father beat them with his pistol, then, as they ran away, he shot at them. I stole his weapon, and so added my contribution to the erosion of America. I was part of the evil, insidious cancer eating away at our society.

Mr. Duffy, prison is not why I am sorry. I have brought harm to my family, friends, and culture that cannot be repaired. Daily, the question of how to make the world a better place plays in my mind. Everyday I try to do my part to make it better by demonstrating honesty, trust, and dignity. I confront those around me who lie or cheat. “What good is your world if you lie even once?” Once your word is questionable, it will remain so for ever more.

Some of us have seen what damage we have truly wrought. I ask you not to pigeon-hole all of us by saying “once a thief, always a thief.” I am not a thief. I am not a criminal. I will not return from whence I came. We are more than the sum of our parts, more than our environments, more than just our experiences. We are growing, constantly, throughout life.

Different topic. Your magazine is a nice “sibling” to Countryside and Small Stock Journal. I found Countryside through Mother Earth, and Backwoods Home through Countryside. Currently, I receive all three, and find they more complement than compete, with each other. Each has a distinct flavor, concentration and different topics. I don’t think one is better than another, though preference is another story. If I had to choose it would be yours.

I like Jackie, Mr. Ayoob, and The Last Word. The opinionated tones, and directness are refreshing. I don’t always agree, but do respect someone willing to put their idea out in public view, though not trumpeting it as gospel. BHM is well written, arrives at expected times and has easily read print. It informs in a much more comprehensive way than most other publications I have read.

Jason R. Glascock
Green Bay, WI

It is with great sadness I read your editorial about the burglary that occurred on your homestead. It has become a sad fact of life that as we all attempt to escape the urban blight, it follows us into the rural areas, as Mr. Ayoob has stated.

You wrote in your editorial that the burglary was a “cheap wake up call.” I agree. Ours was not so cheap, and we were not so lucky. My wife, being the eternal optimist, and believing that all people are basically good at heart, was devastated when we came home from work a few years ago to discover our home quite literally trashed. The side door to our garage was destroyed (they used a “jamb-spreader” to break the studs and kick in the door to gain entry. We found our dog, a lovable, 65 pound Doberman/Beagle mix, with broken ribs and an almost broken leg, wandering aimlessly outside. They had gone through every room in the house, flipped all of the mattresses off of the beds, ripped them open with sharp knives (guess that’s where a lot of old timers used to store their money), and dumped the contents of closets, dresser drawers, etc. into the middle of the floors.

After it was all said and done, they got about $6500.00 worth of shotguns, handguns, long guns, and ammo; approximately $650.00 cash my wife and I had been saving for Christmas (the burglary occurred a week before Thanksgiving); a few sentimental pieces of costume jewelry my wife had saved from her mother and grandmother’s estates; and every single one of my daughter’s video games, and both game consoles, ripping all of the cabling to the TV, VCR, etc.

The Kentucky State Troopers that took the burglary report dusted for prints, etc. told us that our dog was lucky; another recent burglary in our area saw two pit bulls left in the house that were victimized, sprayed with pepper spray so many times in the face that one asphyxiated right there, and the other, after many vet bills, will have respiratory problems for life, and is now blind. There were a total of 27 burglaries in our area in a two to three week period back then. Our neighbor always had an alarm system, but said that he never armed it anymore, It “wasn’t necessary,” he said.

The rage that I felt was incalculable. The same questions that you were/are asking now went through my mind, also. I was not the carefree, unprepared type, but after living in the country for a few years, I got lax in my efforts. I didn’t install an alarm system (I could have done so myself, at almost negligible cost for equipment), because I didn’t think it “was necessary.”

ALL of these have since been rectified. My wife finally got over the foreboding feeling at bedtime each night, as she arms our full security system. My daughter’s video games were replaced by the homeowner’s insurance, as were SOME (not all) of our weapons. We have a lovable set of Schutzhund German Sheperds (the female weighs 132 pounds), who have already proven their worth and loyalty to the family more than once. They earn their keep by guarding every entrance to our house each night, alert to the slightest noise, and giving us great companionship and love. Each year, about March, I get a letter from the Kentucky State Police, stating the serial numbers of the stolen weapons, asking if any have been recovered, and if I want to keep them in the KSP stolen property database. To this date, none have been recovered.

Dave, I can assure you that, in time, you will be okay with this event, but I don’t think you will ever get back all of that carefree, easy feeling again, at least not to the degree we all had before these events; I sincerely hope you do, but I know after 4 years, at least in my experience, I haven’t. If I see a strange car, truck, or van pulling down the road to any of our neighbor’s houses, I will get in the truck and investigate, as my neighbors do to my place when we are not home. I’ve gotten some dirty looks and nasty comments, but they either turn tail and run (maybe it’s that chunk of brushed-satin stainless steel hanging on my belt?!?), or are pretty nice and have a good explanation for being there. If nothing else, it brought our neighborhood together.

But, as you said: “…..I miss that carefree feeling the burglars stole.”

On a lighter note, my family and I look forward to each and every issue of BHM; you all do such a wonderful job with the magazine, and I hope that my letter has spurred you to “keep keepin’ on!”

“The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.”

David A. Soos
Taylorsville, KY

Just read “My View” and “Common sense about burglary prevention” in the latest issue!!

I had visitors last week from the San Fransisco area and they were burglarized a couple of weeks ago. They were shocked, stunned, and mad.

I have 2 dogs and guns and don’t always secure things.

Since their experience and reading about your violation and Massad Ayoob’s article, I have decided to tighten up my security.

Kindly forward at your earliest convenience all four books by Massad advertised on page 16 and charge my VISA.

Norman W. Lampman
Idyllwild, CA

Thank you

Thank so much for a great magazine! I can always find something to smile about and shake my head over, a new recipe to try, ideas and tips to make life a little easier, issues to sink my teeth into and a sense of intelligence and communitiy.

Jeanne Skinner
Fennville, MI

Getting internet service without a land line

I have subscribed to your magazine since the first year it was published and am always pleased with the mix of useful articles and hard hitting commentary. Keep it coming!

I have a few questions to ask:

1. What are the options for internet service without a land line phone or cable? I only use a cell phone at my residence but would like to have internet again.

2. Where can I find information about wiring a house for both AC-Grid and DC-Alternative? I am planning my new house and would like to be able to use both as needed.

3. Where can I get info on low head hydro power?

Martin “Ace” Mershon
Alix, AR

I use Starband Satellite for internet service. Their number is 1-800-478-2722. Online it’s For wiring, get Jeff Yago’s book, Achieving Energy Independence-One Step at a Time (page 95). For low head hydro, read Michael Hackleman’s articles on our Alternative Energy CD-Rom (page 96).

— Dave

A great country job

I have had such a difficult time this summer finding your magazine, that I finally have to give in and subscribe. Please note, though, that I do not want my name, address or any other information used for any other purpose than this subscription.

…In your article “35 country jobs”… you missed one. I started my own business “The Garden Assistant.” I had a 2-hour minimum, and posted flyers at the local supermarket, liquor store, and fish market. I started this in May and have been booked solid through Labor Day weekend. I do weeding, hedge trimming, planting, water gardens for those on vacation, etc. In areas where you have a large number of elderly folks, this is a great business. The very best part of this business is that 75% of my clients like to work in the garden with me. So not only am I making a living, getting great exercise (lost 15 pounds this summer), I have met some of the most wonderful people in my area.

Aside from that, y’all are awesome and I have missed you this summer.

Kelly Jane
Ipswich, MA

We do occasionally share our subscribers names with reputable self-reliant wholesalers. But we don’t share names of people like you, who tell us not to.

— Dave

Lifetime subscription

Please find enclosed my payment for the Lifetime subscription special as shown on page 32 of the current issue. As a former ASG subscriber and whose current subscription was expiring this issue, I decided it’s time to do it up right. You have shown me that your publication strongly supports my beliefs, and needs for the future. I must say you make a very compelling offer in association with the Lifetime subscription special offer and I simply cannot afford not to have the material you are offering in my survival library. I strongly believe in self-reliance and being prepared for the future and your needs, and your magazine is a great asset in this area. Our family will be making the move to a self-reliant homestead/hobby farm within the next 10 months. This plan has been in the works for several years and it’s finally all come together. With your publication and its insights added to the many other materials we have already gathered and made preparations with, our success is assured. Thank you for such a quality publication.

Jerry Jarvis
Henderson, NV

A recipe for laundry detergent

Ages ago there was some sort of skinflint column in the Seattle Times newspaper that stated how to make your own laundry detergent.

I got this article out and never used it for years until I finally located some washing soda. Somewhere on this earth washing soda is mined, I don’t know the details. I do know it is one of the main ingredients in Oxi-Clean, which is way more expensive. Anyway recipe follows:

1/3 bar of soap
1/3 cup washing soda-not baking soda
1 gallon of water
a skosh more water

Grate up 1/3 of a bar of soap (the purer the better, Ivory works fine). Place in a sauce pan with enough water to melt soap into liquid. Heat up but don’t boil. Stir to help dissolve.

Heat up a gallon of water, it needs to be hot but not boiling. Add soap solution to the hot gallon of water, stir. Add 1/3 cup washing soda and stir well until dissolved.

I always note a slight change in color. Once I add the washing soda the blueish tinge leaves.

Now it has to cool down enough to pour it into a container. An old liquid Tide bottle works well. In time it gets thicker and some lumps develop, but it works, and there is no crust.

M. Amberson
Everett, WA

Striving to build a self-reliant life

I am fortunate to be reading Backwoods Home. I had a vivid imagination as a child of growing up in the deep woods a “homesteader.” I never had a chance to live out that dream until now. I’m a latecomer to the lifestyle. I’ve come home after 15 months active duty and want to become self-reliant on my small farm (26 acres). I know I live a little too modern for most of your readers, but I am trying to work my way off the grid, out of the mainstream and invisible to the government.

I found your magazine ad in Mother Earth, and there is a big difference. I bought the Whole Sheebang to get caught up. The two immediate problems I face are developing an income off the farm and living with a wife who “loves the world.” I’ll get used to sleeping alone, but it still takes money for a few bills. I hope you continue to publish articles on farm businesses. I believe there is a way to make a modest income off the land. I just need the right idea. My philosophy now is: spend less, save more, live modestly. I spend as much time with my children as possible these days. Keep printing, don’t change and we’ll follow. I need the company. I get lonely among all these people.

James M. Hastings
Canon, GA

Best issue in years…
My wild neighbors…
A wife thru BHM ad…

I have been acquainted with BHM since close to its conception, but for some time I have felt that it has become somewhat rote. Seems over the years a lot of the same stuff has been hit from different angles…

The reason I haven’t canceled just popped up in this latest issue. Boy I lit up like a pitch pine fire, best issue that I have seen in years! I really liked the one on “A portable mini-cabin,” and “Fried chicken for breakfast,” but by far “Split shake siding” has got to be the best I’ve seen in any magazine of this sort in years. Mushroom Castle just blows me away…

I’ve been back on this 80 since ’98 and other than the first year haven’t really had any problems. We got a lot of snow machines up the trail in the winter and a.t.v.s by the swarm in the summer. Last year the hub broke on my old beater pickup. Over the fourth of July some of these people tried to start it and drive it off the block. I had left the keys in it as we have never had any vandalism to speak of in what I loosely call the neighborhood (a twenty square mile area with four year-round residents). When they proceeded to bury the back tires they stoned the truck breaking out all the windows. The State Police weren’t really interested in coming this far into the bush. Now if I had pulled iron on someone that would have been different…

Where I live now I feed the birds and have many that daily take advantage of it. This practice also can attract other things—squirrels which can be a real pain. I have hip dog friends that don’t believe in violence or the war etc., but have no problem popping a squirrel. In the early spring before breakup when everyone else is planting gardens and flowers we still have a couple feet of snow. A lot of times small bands of raccoons come to pilfer from the feeders, even fishers come. As my cabin is built on cedar posts, at night I sometimes hear the bunch going at it under the cabin. When I yell out the window for them to knock it off, out will come a fisher like a lone Palestinian being chased by a bunch of Israelis. Then there are the pine martens that I so love. Blood thirsty little things that during hard times have climbed out to the end branches of the big spruce out my window to get my attention as I sit at my desk, letting me know in no uncertain terms that they want a handout. But my summer neighbors shoot them, damn things eat all the grouse and rabbits. But I try to explain that is how they feed their families. They can’t go to the supermarket after all, and besides you shoot the rabbits and grouse don’t you? Or they will cry about the beavers chewing down their trees and shoot them in the creek by their cabin. Then come over and say I just shot a big snapping turtle in the creek. When I ask why, they say because they eat all the baby beaver and ducks. So I reply don’t you also?

Now bears, poor things get as bad a rap as wolves. A landowner stopped by once a couple years ago and we were leaning opposite each other over the hood of his truck talking when he says he thought he saw something by the corner of my cabin. I said it must be my dog. No, he says he is here at my feet sleeping. We continue talking and around the corner comes a black bear and just sits there looking at us. We remark on it and continue to talk for another few minutes. My neighbor backs out the lane, the bear still sitting there. I walk with my dog to the cabin, the door being what, maybe eight feet from the bear who doesn’t move. I get my video camera and leave my dog in the cabin. After all this is worthy of a picture, but as soon as I go back out he runs off.

So late that night or the next I hear em out at the feeder, I get up and go out into the moonlight nude with my hands low at my waist flipping my hands and saying shoo, shoo, get outta here. The thought occurs to me maybe I should be scared or have my gun. But I dismiss the thought as crazy. What am I going to shoot him for? Being hungry? But I still wonder approaching a bear standing on his hind legs with a reach as high as mine. He scampers off and as I turn to head back inside, there is another one sitting there by the corner of the cabin watching me. Now I guess if these bears wanted to do me harm I’d be a mess right now. I started putting the bird feed on top of the flat roofed wood shed, only to wake to find one of them laying up there on his side like a couch potato shoveling sunflower seeds into his mouth. I took a long video of him laying there, with his long front claws ever so gently pulling back the heavy lumber tarp covering the shed and licking the seed beneath, then pushing the tarp back so as not to leave a mess.

A few days later I hear a shot and a few minutes later my summer neighbor come up the lane on his a.t.v. Why I wonder can’t he walk the couple hundred yards through the woods? I can never understand a.t.v.s, beer cans along the road, guns, this all seems to follow a pattern. Anyway he says I just shot a bear and don’t know what to do with it. What a stupid A-hole. I had tears in my eyes when I saw him laying there along the creek and really wanted to shoot my neighbor in a bad way. I’ve had wolf prints around my cabin and have been lulled many a time into other worlds by their yapping and howling, but never molested.

I just don’t understand the mental jag that people get into. Why move to the woods if you can’t respect your neighbors. They are running out of places to go. I just don’t understand the mind of man. These snow-mobilers and people on their a.t.v.s race up this valley, for the most part don’t look to either side, just guzzle their beer and throw the cans as they go. This is recreation?

Now in closing let me say that I put a personal ad in Backwoods Home back in ’99, got a number of replies only one of which wasn’t in some pipe dream. We wrote for a couple of years and as I had my own semi truck at the time I visited her a number of times at her parents home in northern Texas. We were married coming up on two years ago. Last August I caught our baby daughter early one morning as our midwife was late. A nice account of that can be found in the Vol. 88 Jan/Feb ’04 issue of “Countryside” entitled “The story of Alanna.” But bottom line if the forces that be are with you and you are honest, these personals really do work.

Nathaniel Luttenon
Ishpeming, MI

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