issue 97 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #97

The Avian flu pandemic will be the biggest ever

In your column in the Nov/Dec issue you say that you think that the Avian flu is going to last a couple of months. You’d better be prepared for a much longer siege. Am I an expert on anything? Hell no. But I read two big city newspapers every day and I’m capable of reading between the lines.

I do believe that a pandemic is coming. It is only a question of when. And when it comes it is going to be one of the biggest disasters that the world has ever seen. Ever. Some people think that antiviral drugs will save us. Last week there was an article in the newspaper that a drug resistant strain was found in Vietnam. There was another article that said that the U.S. won’t have enough Tamiflu until 2007. Other people think we will have a vaccine early on. The vaccine they are working on right now takes two doses to work. Are you going to stand in line with a crowd of people for the first shot knowing that you might get exposed to the virus that day, then if you live you can go back in a month for the second shot? And another article I read said that the virus might mutate in a way they aren’t expecting, making the old vaccine useless. The best vaccine would be made after the pandemic started, after they know how the virus mutated.

I takes 9 months to make a vaccine from scratch. And then it would have to be distributed to enough of the population to stop the pandemic, in the U.S. at least. Once the pandemic starts you are looking at a year of avoiding crowds and staying home.

There was another article saying that the government intends to establish large quarantine zones enforced by the military. As soon as a zone would be established, civil behavior would disappear inside the zone. They would have a difficult time finding volunteer truck drivers to take in food and supplies. Any food delivered would be snatched up by surly crowds. And that is a time you don’t want to be in crowds for any reason.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that no one is talking about N95 masks. During the SARS epidemic, they were recommended as the only masks which block viruses. Everyone should have N95 masks at home and one at work. People who would be out in crowds during the pandemic, like cops and firefighters, should also have gloves and safety glasses. Also, they should consider the possibility that they might not want to go home in case they bring the virus to their families. They could live in trailers, RVs, sheds, or barns. Their families could pass food out to them.

The key to everything is food. A year’s worth of food is expensive for most people. You could start building up your pantry as you can afford it and see how far you get. Also, there are ways to supplement stored food such as vegetable gardens. Some people hunt and fish. Other people might have neighbors who have orchards. If you look you might find extra food.

Oh, and we might lose electricity during the pandemic. With everyone staying home, no one would be watching the dials at the power company. They need careful tending or the surges turn the electricity off. So be careful how much you depend on freezers full of food. You might live in an area where the water is pumped, and if you lose electricity you lose water as well. Then you need to store water, or at least collect the empty containers and have them ready. You can get 55 gallon barrels left over from the food industry that formerly held syrups which are cheaper than new barrels, but they have to be washed.

The electricity could be off a long time, and when it came back on it might not be stable. It might go on and off for awhile before it settles down. I read somewhere that if the entire grid ever went down it would be tricky to bring it back.

You could help if you had articles about how to prepare inexpensively. A microbiologist could talk about viruses and give the formula for simple germicide. Do you know that one? 1 part bleach to 9 parts water? You could talk about the mental game of living through an extreme disaster. A lot of cops read Massad Ayoob. He might talk about the concept of homeless cops. If each agency talked ahead of time about who should volunteer for such extremely hazardous duty, I think there would be less hurt feelings afterwards. Personally, I don’t think that cops with small children should be out in the pandemic. Also, there would be a lot of organizing of hosts for the homeless cops and food to feed them.

Have I painted a very bleak picture? This is what I’ve picked up from various sources. You’ll notice that no one has spelled it out for the public. I don’t think that they will. I suppose they think if they tell people to store food that people will panic and empty the shelves. That would be pale next to people finding out that they don’t have enough food with the pandemic on the doorstep. That will be chaos.

So, what are you going to do about it Dave Duffy?

Becky Blue
Cedar Ridge, California

Read our article on the Avian flu this issue. — Dave

Maybe try Holland’s approach to drug use

First of all let me commend you both for allowing a piece like this (Let prisoners get high on marijuana by John Silveira, Issue #96) to be published and I’m sure there’s going to be some flack.

Before moving to Europe in the mid 70’s I used to work in a maximum security prison as a recreational therapist. Now I can tell you from first hand that having the whole prison population stoned would have been preferable to any situation that I witnessed there on a daily basis; beatings, rapes, slashings. But the irony was that in between all the murderers and rapists and hard core gangsters, you had the unfortunate pothead who was caught with the smallest of amounts, yet given the harshest sentence, and sent to maximum security lockup. But by keeping the whole prison stoned 24/7 you’d need one hell of a ventilation system!

Having moved to Amsterdam in 1977 I saw how a society developed an entirely different approach to the drug issue, drawing a distinct difference between “soft” and “hard” drugs, soft drugs meaning primarily pot and hash, and hard drugs like cocaine and heroin and crack. …The Dutch approach was to semi-decriminalize the personal use of soft drugs and crash down hard on the use and sale of hard drugs. Believe me, the Dutch police authorities go after hard drug dealers like pitbulls in heat.

It is a social experiment that has won praise and condemnation from around the world, but it has proven to be a very pragmatic approach to a difficult issue—drugs in society.

More countries are slowly starting to see the virtues of a different approach to the “War on Drugs,” like Holland preferring to focus the war on hard drugs, and easing the laws on soft drugs.

…I’ll end with just one last thought: When you have prisons for profit, it seems that it’s almost more important to keep them full, at all costs, at all times, for the share-holders benefits.

Bernie Dunn
Amsterdam, Holland

It’s amazing just how unprepared people are

It amazes me, after watching and reading all the news about Katrina and Rita, to see the news showing so many people after Hurricane Wilma waiting in line at gas stations and grocery stores for hours and complaining the government is not helping them the very day after it hit. Did people not see what happened in Louisiana and Mississippi? (At least the police stuck around). Did they not know a hurricane was coming? Florida was better prepared and had more time to plan, but to see so many people still unprepared just floors me. Did they not learn anything? Obviously, none of those people subscribe to BHM.

John Palmer,
Arlington, WA.

Where do I find back issues of ASG?

I found a reference to two magazines that I used to read in the 1980s and the 1990s. One was “Survive” and was published in the late 70s and the 80s. It simply disappeared from the newsstand and I never knew what happened. The second is “American Survival Guide” (ASG). I understand that they have shifted to an electronic format. I had a very large collection of these magazines from over the years and unfortunately they were destroyed in a warehouse fire where they had been stored.

I am looking for a source where I might restore the majority, if not all, of the issues that had been published. I would appreciate your assistance in perhaps finding a warehouse or dealer that has a supply of these old publications that I might purchase. I also enjoy reading BHM.

C. Shawn Oak
Scottsburg, Indiana

ASG folded, and we fulfilled the subscriptions of its subscribers for a year. Jim Benson, former editor of ASG, now publishes the online magazine, His number is 949-587-5700.

Y Visionary, which formerly owned ASG, was sold to Action Pursuit Group of California. They informed me that they discarded all ASG back issues, but you might buy them on the internet at eBay. Sadly, I tried to buy the back issues when I bought the rights to fulfill ASG subscriptions, but Y Visionary wouldn’t sell them to me. — Dave

Why such fat salaries for big bureaucrats?

I certainly agree that “If you want to survive an emergency, look to yourself, not the government” (My View,” Dave Duffy—Nov/Dec 2005).

My question is, why do the taxpayers allow the continued payment of six-digit salaries to DHS and FEMA executives? FEMA was certainly less than effective during, and immediately after, Katrina. In fact, its existence did more harm than good by perpetuating the “Big brother will take care of it” philosophy among local and state governments and individuals.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. median household income is about $45,000 per year. Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, is paid nearly $172,000 per year. Michael Brown, the former head of FEMA, was paid $145,000 per year. The taxpayers are also dumping their hard-earned money into the percs and health insurance for these grossly inadequate appointees.

Cecily Westermann

St. Louis, Missouri

Useless government bureaucrats and bureaucracies are sucking the dollars out of our pockets like a giant vacuum cleaner. Why do we allow it? I think most of us have simply given up trying to keep big inept government from growing ever bigger and more inept. Too few even understand the process, and for those who do, the problem seems to have gotten hopelessly out of control. — Dave

Freebie offers confusing

I have been a subscriber for 10 years; you’re first 9, then a skip, and now again the last year. I would like to renew, but you have all these other “free” offers tied to a subscription. I don’t want to pay $26.95 for a one year subscription. That’s ridiculous!

I have the first 10 years of magazines, so I don’t need the old anthologies. I have plenty of info on emergency preparedness because I have followed it for 15-20 years! So, I don’t need that book either.

All’s I want is a one year subscription! Why do you have to tie all this other stuff in with it? That might be useful for the newbies to your mag, but what about us old customers that don’t need them?

Maurice Thill
Appleton, Minnesota

A lot of people are confused about our subscription price. It is still $23.95 if you don’t want any of the gifts. We confused things badly with the way we worded the offer. This issue we tried to clarify it. — Dave

Backwards Home

Just a note to tell you thanks for a great magazine. I only take two any more — yours and Countryside. My husband calls it Backwards Home. ha-ha He’s into Popular Science and Popular Mechanics but we’ve managed to live happily together over 50 years. ha-ha.

Joan Moses
Ely, Iowa

Where’s Annie?

I’ve been working through the great CD Rom anthology from the 1990s. I enjoyed reading the articles written by Annie and hearing her insights and perspective. It occurred to me that she must be about 26 these many years later. I was curious if she’s still contributing. I don’t think I’ve seen any articles by her lately though I’ve only been subscribing about a year. Did she go off to college? Had any great adventures or anything? Just wondering.

Chuck Baird
Sugar Land, Texas

Annie is 23, married to U.S. Marine Cpl. Erik Tuttle, and is expecting her second child in January. She still lays out part of each issue, electronically transmitting the pages from the 29 Palms Marine Corps Base in the California desert. A hopelessly addicted sewer and knitter, Annie displays and writes about her latest projects on her internet blog site, In April, Erik will leave the Marine Corps and they’ll move back to Gold Beach where Annie will resume her “on-site” job as an editor. — Dave

Canadian gun laws have not reduced gun crime

Just a brief history of what has happened here in Canada in a mere 27 years. As much as some Americans may think Canada is not gun oriented, this is not the case as well as being historically false. Civilian owned firearms is a Canadian tradition.

Prior to 1978, you could legally purchase a long gun without a permit of any kind. That’s right, walk into a firearms store, buy a rifle or shotgun and walk out, no questions asked except your age. Good or bad, that is how it was.

Each province set the minimum age as to what was considered appropriate to legally purchase a firearm. Each province also set their own license laws as to the carrying of a firearm for hunting or target shooting on public land.

In 1978, about one in four Canadians owned at least three firearms with 7 million gun owners and 21 million guns (mostly long guns) out of a population of less than 30 million. Under Liberal government (most of Canada is controlled by eastern liberal French Canadian politicians), we lost that freedom. Anti-gun groups, anti-gun media and anti-gun politicians passing strict control laws from 1978 to 2005, as well as Canadians mistakenly trusting in the wisdom of our federal government, did it to us.

Now, after extensive licensing and registration of firearms, the current Liberal government tells Canadians there are only 2.2 million gun owners and 7 million guns in Canada. Of course this is false because only about one in three Canadians obeyed the law, got licensed, and registered their guns. We have a lot of legitimate deer and duck hunters who are now criminals in this country.

Since 1995, the licensing and registration law has cost Canadian taxpayers 2 billion dollars.

My point is this: Once the laws are made they are tough to repeal. Under pressure from what in most cases is minority groups, governments will strip away at your rights and pass laws until you have nothing. Unfortunately, we also made the mistake of being much too quiet about our common law right to own guns for hunting and target shooting.

We now have draconian laws, wasted taxpayer dollars, legitimate gun owners made into criminals, and no one is any safer in Canada then they were prior to 1978. Our homicide rate with firearms remains about the same year after year, decade after decade.

Yes, it happened here. Great magazine.

Vernon, BC, Canada.

How do I battle mice?

We received our Whole Sheebang and it’s great! The printed materials alone will keep us reading for months! Thank you for offering such a terrific group!

I would like to ask if you could print something in an upcoming magazine about mice. It’s harvest time and with the weather cooling and the mouse houses being turned under by harvesting, we have a mouse problem. I thought all the mouse entrances were sealed but I was wrong. Any help on how to get rid of these little pests would be greatly appreciated! We have glue and snap traps set but they seem to be smart mice. Smart and faster than a housewife with a broom!

Carolyn Shepherd

Cats! I have five “outdoor” cats to control our mice, rats, moles, etc. (Unfortunately they also eat birds.) I also have the plastic “better mouse traps” and poison in the attic and at an under-the-house entryway I have been unsuccessful at closing off. Very successful. — Dave

Florida to Tennessee

We began subscribing to BHM several years ago when we had just bought 7 acres of land in rural Tennessee. At that time we both had stressful jobs in downtown Orlando, Florida, but wanted to get out of the city environment for many reasons, among them quality of life and the ability to survive in the event of a national meltdown! Although we’re basically small town/city folks, we know the value of country living and as of June of this year are living our dream! We know our limitations (off-grid is not an option yet.) We really appreciate BHM’s many helpful insights. I am looking forward to beginning my first Tennessee garden next spring and learning to can. We’re going to take it slow and listen to the locals who have been living here for generations. We especially enjoyed Julie Crist’s article which reinforced what we’re learning! I’m a 3rd generation native Floridian and could probably have survived on the land there in an emergency. However not too many Florida skills translate to Tennessee. It’s like starting from scratch learning flora, fauna, and climate.

Anyway, guess I’m just saying thanks for a great magazine! It’s good to know that there are lots of people who don’t expect the government to provide more than national defense! We appreciate the recipes, insights, Jackie Clay (for lots of reasons), opinions, etc!

Peg and Dale Simpson
Pikeville, Tennessee

Looking for a partner

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your magazine. I’ve been a subscriber for several years now and while I haven’t made it to my little corner of heaven yet, I am working toward it.

Last January I decided I was going to do whatever it took to get myself out of debt so I could live the life I wanted to instead of the life I had to live in order to pay the bills. I was 48 (49 now), no dependents, very little in the bank, even less put back for retirement, and absolutely no clue as to where I wanted to live. Since I couldn’t afford to quit the medical field (I am a Medical Laboratory Technician) I became a “rent a tech,” AKA a traveler or agency personnel. I now work for several medical employment agencies that provide temporary medical personnel to medical facilities. …

I am almost debt free and my future homestead account is growing nicely. Plus, I get to buy myself a few perks along the way. One of those perks is the enclosed check for a lifetime membership to BHM. Now, no matter what my financial situation is I won’t have to worry about scraping up the money to pay for my subscription. I’m looking for a partner or partners to homestead with. I don’t know anything about raising livestock or hunting but I garden … I have dozens of ideas on how to bring in money on the homestead. … I know there’s other people out there like myself who can’t go it alone financially or physically.

Yvonne Hill
East Wenatchee, WA

Comments are closed.