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Letters and email from readers about Backwoods Home Magazine and the BHM website


Archive for July, 2009


You are absolutely Right. Finding the Most Free Place to Live

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009


Just an observation, not a criticism.

Vermont for instance is beautiful.   It was once a friendly conservative place. I have visited many times and always enjoyed being there.

But I am from South Carolina.   Although it is not free, is highly regulated and is as politically correct as anywhere else; it is also warm, hot, humid, sultry, leafy for ten months in most areas, full of strange reptiles and bugs, fire ant ridden, mountainous and flat, stormy (tornadoes and hurricanes), full of many acccents (some slow, some unintelligible to outsiders), interupted by ominous dark colored rivers and creeks, thick with diverse dangerous wildlife, crawling with spiders, swampy, floored with red sticky clay or sand that will not hold moisture, hung with ivy, vines, poison plants and grey Spanish moss, etc. I Love it here and there are just a few less people who judge me for my way of life.

Why would I want to live in Vermont or someplace else in a free state project where it is mostly cool to cold and boasts less biodiversity (some places have bigger beasts but we have the most and strangest species).  I’ll just stay here and visit the rest of the world on occasion.  I have satellite and can view and hear the world and can read almost any English language (And French) book or journal ever published thanks to Amazon and Google.

And I will not contest anyone’s choice to live elsewhere, Y’all.

Cordially and most respectfully,

T. Simmons
Columbia, SC


Finding your own freedom

Monday, July 27th, 2009


We moved to Guatemala and have found everything on your list.  It’s not without it’s headaches, but the top 10 is here, plus gorgeous year-round weather on top of it!

Mark Francis


Cheaters in Golf

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I just watched my 12 year old play 18 holes in the hot Georgia sun with 3 other boys who are the biggest cheaters I have ever seen. You would think that they could count to 5, 6 or 7 but no they can only count to 3 or 4!

Everyone tells me that they are only hurting themselves and that they will slip up. Unlike baseball, football, basketball, soccer etc. there are no judges or umpires. What do you suggest a parent do?

I told them on several occasions to go back and count their strokes, but by the end I was just so sick that I couldn’t even fight!

I found your article and would love any words or wisdom.


I encountered the same thing at the junior varsity level (12, 13, 14, and 15 years old). I was appalled at first, especially because the cheaters were winning the tournaments. But I soon realized from the other golf coaches that the cheating goes away once the kids grow up and compete at the varsity level.

I think it’s just a phenomenon of youth because they have yet to fully mature, although I’ve known plenty of JVs, like my son, who wouldn’t dream of cheating, and I’ve known adult golfers who still cheat, even if it’s for fun. The latter must be a character flaw.

Golf is the sport that most reflects life, I think. You are on your own all the time — getting out of sand traps, from behind trees, from deep rough. You have to learn to live with your mistakes, and try to make a comeback from them.

I helped start a youth golf club in my town of Gold Beach, Oregon. One of the things we teach the kids is the value of being honest on the golf course, even when no one is looking. Most kids catch on to the importance of this, and it becomes part of their character for life. I think it’s a concept that takes a bit of maturity to grasp.

Your 12-year-old has a lot going for him if he remains honest in the face of competitors beating him by cheating. The cheaters are noticed by other competitors, especially as they get into their later teens, and they get deserved reputations as people you can’t trust.

Tell your son not to worry about it, and that improving his golf game and remaining honest is far more important than scoring better than a cheater.

Publisher, BHM


M1 Garand

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Hi there

I saw your article about obtaining an M1 Garand through the CMP and just wanted to ask you about it.

I have heard about this opportunity for quite sometime and since I have a love for history, especially WWII I think it would be a great honor to own my personal favorite weapon from WWII.  So basically I wanted to ask if you knew if this is still an available opportunity.

I have followed your link to the CMP website to become a member but am unsure how to get going with it. Also, I am a 22 year old. (do you need to be a certain age?)

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing your tips on how to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity.

Garrett Pifer


The offer is still available and you are old enough to take advantage of it. Just go to the CMP website at and walk your way through the requirements.

Editor, BHM


Civil unrest

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Hello Claire.

I was just reading your information on civil unrest.

I live in Indiana and tonight over the airwaves I heard the following:

“This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, this is only a test, if this had been an actual emergency such as a tornado, flash flood or
civil unrest…”

I could not take in anymore because my heart stopped beating for a moment. I have NEVER heard them say Civil Unrest before.

Just thought you might want to know about it and see if it comes up on the airwaves in your area.

Thanks for your posts! I have to get some sleep but I will read more tomorrow.

Mimi Burns


Read your fantastic article

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


I just re-read your article Preparing for civil unrest and I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful and well written piece.

I did have a follow up question – can you please share the advice on the back of the card that you are carrying from your lawyer?

In the meantime, applying your observations to the situation in Iran might not be a bad idea- It seems they went from 1 to 5 in a matter of minutes after the election.

I can also foresee your scenarios taking place in the US of A without too much imagination.

Again, thank you. Please keep up the great work!

Steve Szymke


The lawyer’s advice has been added at the end of the article. Click the link above.



Where can I live in freedom?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


I am new to you and your writing, But I was attracted to the title of your article “Finding your own freedom“.

I have been working on this topic for a while, and have an answer, though it is obviously not the only one possible.

Freedom will not be possible unless the environment in which we live is free of the dominating overbearing authority of any “body” which has the power to “make laws” , “change laws”, and impose its will through force of law and using the power of the state (police and military). Freedom is not possible unless there is a majority that accepts the right of each person to live ones life according to ones own dictates, as long as nothing that one does violates the rights of others.

I propose the “BIG” model.

Should this be of interest to you, it is available on you-tube (search “why do we have to live in fear like this” and view part 7)

If we are serious about freedom, we have to learn to accept the freedom of others as a starting point.

NC Kamdar
South Africa


Finding your own freedom

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Dear Claire:

It is so great to see you writing again!  Glad to see Hardyville still exists.  I used to enjoy your articles on WorldNetDaily, during the early 1990s.  That seems like forever ago.

Anyway, the Finding Your Own Freedom article was exceptional.  You still have that unique style that is so rare; wise, brutally honest, right to the point!

Nice job on the article.  And welcome back!

All the best,

Bob Whitmer


Raccoon Trap

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I just wanted to thank you for this article.

I built a trap just like you said yesterday and last night I caught my first raccoon out of 6 that keep hanging around our house. I saw one of them charge our cats so I knew I needed to do something. So I just wanted to take the time to thank you.

Doug Paske


Civil Unrest

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Dear Ms Wolfe:

Just read your article on civil unrest.

As much as I admit the possibility (probability?), the subject never fails to rachet up my heart rate.

Your observations are both realistic and very welcome.

Thanks, and best of luck in the future.

Bill Byford
Harriman,  TN


Cast Iron Article Issue #118

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I enjoyed Jackie’s article on cast iron.  We have collected a number of pots/pans/ovens over the years.

The section of the article addressing whether or not to “wash” one’s cast iron struck me.  My dad was from upstate New York in a very rural setting.  He had some beautiful cast iron skillets (which we now have!) that were perfectly seasoned and he used nearly every day.  I learned from him to use very hot water and SALT to “wash” the cast iron.

The article mentioned the pioneers using a handful of sand.  I think the salt likely provides the same result.  Just toss a little in the very hot water, shove it around with a rag or sponge or whatever is handy, rinse, dry, then we use a paper towel to rub just a VERY small amount of oil on the inside of the utensil, and dry it out in a 200 degree oven.  Once it cools, it’s ready for the next use.

Thank everyone at BHM for all of the hard work, the information, and the willingness to share it all with us.

Best regards,

Mary Nell Condren
DeRidder, LA


In Appreciation

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Mr. Duffy,

This message is long overdue, but I felt I had to write just to tell you how much I enjoy Backwoods Home Magazine. I read the paper version for years (still do), and now enjoy the [online newsletter].

BHM has taught both myself and my family much about independant living, and making use of the land. We have increased our organic gardening output, for one. We are hoping to begin selling both produce and other products at our local farm market late this season or early next. Even my two teenage daughters are excited about the possibility to both sell our own products and also explain to others how to get back to nature.

Your fine publication was very useful to us back in Michigan (where both my wife and I were born and raised), and also now, since our relocation to North Carolina about two years ago. I have been able to share BHM with several of our new southern friends, who are all enjoying it as much as we do. They smile, call us “Damn Yankees” with a grin, and then copy the way we build our raised planter beds.

Due to our nation’s suffering economy, both my wife and I have found ourselves among the ranks of the unemployed. We are utilizing all of the advice on simple living and “putting by” of food and necessities that BHM has taught us to help us weather the storm until we find suitable employment again.

So again, Thank You for the wonderful Backwoods Home Magazine. We truly appreciate it!


Randy and Kathy Stone and Family
Shelby, North Carolina


Activists on both the left and the right spotlight a broken federal government

Thursday, July 16th, 2009


[Regarding your article]

I wish we lived next door to you, or at the most just around the corner or across the back fence.  Both my wife and I just love the way you write — it would be so much fun to meet and talk from time to time.

Good going and God Bless you.

Tim Richardson


Jackie’s Cast Iron article

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Thanks! Despite loving to cook on well-seasoned cast iron, I’ve never been able to properly season it. After reading your article, I figured I’d give it one more try.

I found a cast-iron griddle at a garage sale last weekend. Although it looked seasoned, it was little used, much like my own, since I was never able to do it correctly.

To make a long story short, I hand sanded that thing for two hours on my deck yesterday. After I got it down to 220 grit sandpaper, I decided I didn’t like it well enough yet, so I started over again at 60 grit. It was as close to glass as I could get it before even attempting to oil it.

After sanding, and cleaning it with paper towels and a LOT of oil (no water) until all the loose iron was gone, I oiled it, tossed it in the oven, and waited …. perfect eggs this morning, and it didn’t stick at all! I now have a couple more things in my basement that need sandpaper….. dutch oven and bigger griddle being the two biggest things.

Paula Werme
Boscawen, NH


It’s a small world

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Back in the ’70’s, I was an avid Mother Earth News reader and subscriber. Somewhere through the years, Mother Earth lost her way and forgot about loyal readers and sold-out to commercialism. But, wherever it was that Mother Earth lost the trail, Backwoods Home surely found it – I only wish I had discovered you earlier!

I was leafing through issue #117 and when I came upon the syrup making of Roger Clark, I nearly fell out of my chair. My best (and oldest) friend, Gary Layman, is the nephew of Larry and Mildred Terry who are the parents of Roger’s wife. I have visited that little farm near Obrien, FL several times over the years and have stood in that very “cook house.” Not only is it a small world for a publisher in Oregon to know about a small town syrup legacy in rural Florida, but the article was keenly accurate.

I only wish the author had mentioned more of Mildred Terry as well. She was an incredible woman and was the quiet breeze beneath all their wings. And, if that weren’t enough, there was another article a few pages over about Roger’s son making knives (which I didn’t know). You had me hooked with all your wonderful bread-baking articles, but when you started writing about people and places that I know personally, well … I was back home!

Thank you.

Randy Harris
Conyers, GA


Civil unrest article

Saturday, July 11th, 2009


Just finished reading the article on civil unrest. Wonderful job of putting it all together. Have shared it with family and friends.




Whole Wheat Bread

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Thanks for the “Whole Wheat for the Whole Week” article. [Issue #117 – May/June, 2009] I changed the recipe to add Whole Grains to it. I found a recipe that tells you how to prepare the grains. I was just putting them in dry before, good but hard on the teeth.

This is what I used.

2 Tablespoons Wheat Berries
2 Tablespoons Oat Groats
2 Tablespoons Spelt Kernels
2 Tablespoons Millet Seed
2 Tablespoons Barley.
(Cracked Wheat, Oats & Spelt).

Cook grains together in 2 parts Water to 1 part Grain (I used 1 1/2 Cups Water): Cook until water is absorbed. Cool to room temperature. I added this just before mixing in the flour.

I had to divide the recipe into 4 parts instead of 3 parts because we like smaller loaves of bread.

Another GREAT BIG thanks for all of Jackie Clay’s articles. Her Canning Article gave me enough confidence to can our meats. I canned as a kid with my Mom but all she really canned was Green Beans.

Angi Weyhrich
Springdale, WA


Secessionist article

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Hi Claire,

Enjoyed the article.

For those of us who live in the Socialist Republic of Boulder County, Colorado, secession seems highly unlikely especially when most here still get goose bumps up their leg when they hear BHO and when they learn that zillions of taxpayer spendulus money is heading their way.

Keep up the good fight!

Tom Bolt


Thanks for a job very well done

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Reading each issue of BHM gives me a little more hope in knowing that there are others who share the ideas I consider just good common sense.  As our government leaders make only more and more damaging decisions that will affect our country, particularly economically, it is such a help to not only feel less isolated, but to also read some practical advice in how to respond and take care of ourselves, our friends, and families.

We have been blessed that my husband has been able to earn enough to supply us with a nice home and amenities.  (I’m thrilled with my double oven and air conditioning.)  But reading your magazine helps me feel better prepared to face the inevitable worsening down-turn in our economy.  We have already seen a huge decrease in salary, but thanks to having some skills learned in years past- some from your magazine- I have not had to worry that we can still have enough to eat and a way to heat our home.  I’ve never felt it wise to think that we will always be able to buy what we want when we want it, and even though we didn’t learn many of these skills because we truly had to, I’m so glad God did somehow give us the interest in learning.  Things like gardening, canning and preserving, raising livestock, sewing, orcharding,  wine- and beer-making, etc. are almost second nature and don’t seem like a hardship at all.  In fact, I can taste the quality of the results of our labor every day.  My husband would put our Gewurztraminer wine and our peach salsa up against any commercial brand any time! My family prefers homemade ginger ale and “plain” home cooking over most restaurants and commercially prepared food.  Folks who used to tease me about my shelves of home-canned foods, big gardens, bulk supplies of flour and other things, aren’t laughing now.

How invaluable is your magazine in giving so much practical advice and information in all of these skills!  Though some readers have been doing some of these tasks for years, there is no way to ever know it all, and we can always learn more from one another.  The humility with which you share your knowledge is also very refreshing.  Even the features addressing the more ideological side of issues are not delivered with the typical arrogance I find in many other columns from other sources.

To change the subject completely, I thought I’d add a suggestion to Linda Gabris’ “Homemade premixed foods” feature in the May/June, 2009 issue.  I found that adding about 1 teaspoon of salt to the oatmeal mix really improved the flavor, and I’d highly recommend it as long as one is not on a reduced sodium diet. Adding a few drops of maple extract when cooking the oatmeal works nicely, too. I used regular rolled oats, which I processed in the food processor for about 45 seconds, instead of the instant oats, since we can buy the regular oats in bulk more economically than instant or quick oats.  I tried and loved the basic biscuit mix! Though I could technically have reduced the baking powder slightly since using buttermilk, keeping the amount as listed gave us the fluffiest biscuits I’ve ever made. Thanks!

In the “Ask Jackie” column, I wondered if the reader asking about carbonated beverages was asking how to make homemade soda with the intensity of seltzer water, rather than just carbonated water.  Though homemade sodas are slightly fermented to create the carbonation, the alcohol by-product is truly negligible.  Though sanitation is important, making homemade sodas is rather easy, particularly using commercial extracts and the correct yeast.  The soda can be ready in as little as 2-3 days, and the results are worth the little effort.

Thank you for a job so very well done!  Each of your contributors does a terrific job of offering practical and timely advice and instruction.

Erin Dumont,
Sam’s Valley, Oregon


Cast Iron

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Oh my. After a couple days away from your website I logged on and scanned quickly for something to open and of course — my all time favorite subject — CAST IRON COOKWARE!!!!!

I loved the article immensely – almost as much as I love my cast iron cookware. I have 2 dutch ovens, a griddle, many, many skillets (probably at least 6) and just bought two pots with wooden handles at a flea market. I’m always on the prowl for more cast iron. That is my weakness. I LOVE Lehman’s and every time I go, I almost always get a new skillet or some other valuable piece that I just have to have. I typically make soups and stuff over the campfire in my dutch ovens, I have never baked – I’ve been afraid to try. This is the same reason I haven’t bought the cornbread trays.

I’m at work and at lunch so I printed the article to finish reading at home. Thank you, Jackie, for a very informative article (and an exciting one for me). I will try to bake something now, you’ve given me some confidence to try.

Linda Fenk
West Wheatfield, PA

We’re happy you enjoyed the article, Linda and hope you’ll consider subscribing to the print issue. Only a few articles from each issue go online so why take the chance of missing one you’d really enjoy. — Dave



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