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


Archive for November, 2009


Jackie Clay’s cabin add-on article

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I appreciated Jackie Clay’s Building an Addition Onto Our Log Cabin article [Nov/Dec, 2009] as that is just what my wife and I intend to do next spring.

My main question in the process, however, was not addressed:  How do you attach new framing to an existing log structure?  I mean, lag screws or bolts, sure, but how do you adapt the shape of the wavy log profile to the straight shape of the new framing?  What kind of weatherproofing at that joint?

Thanks for any help.

Joseph Yon
Kila, MT

A slot was cut through the face of the logs’ profile to receive the dimension lumber. We fit the “store” lumber into the slot, caulking on the underside and both sides.  The inside and outside sheathing also slides into that slot.

When we put log siding on the outside, we’ll notch the logs to receive a tenon cut into the log siding end, which will also be caulked well to prevent air infiltration.

Hope this answers your question.

Jackie Clay


Learning to Love the High Desert

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Sorry to hear about the taxman taking your place in the soggy northwest. But we’re glad to have you here.

I enjoyed your article on the high desert. It’s rare that someone “gets it” as soon as you evidently have.

Conditions here are somewhat more harsh than many other places, but that harshness has a beauty and splendor all it’s own. It’s why we like living here, why we do live here. The place has requirements that you must meet to live here, and it takes a certain kind of independent, self-sufficient character to meet them.

As for the solar power, I’ve read many who criticize solar and wind power as not feasible because they are so inefficient they will never replace the traditional power plants. They say it takes so many hundred thousand acres to make a wind farm that produces as much as a coal plant. Sadly, they miss the point. the beauty of solar and wind is precisely that it is most efficient for the individual residence, and perhaps a small neighborhood. It is technology that is perfectly suited to the self-reliant who want to avoid the centralized power companies and grid, which may be more efficient, but is no more reliable and much less accessible or controllable by, or accountable to, the individual. Solar and wind may not make much money for the big companies, but it is a godsend for the independent individual.

Well, again, welcome, and we are glad you’re here.

Ed Dowdle
Show Low, AZ


High desert article

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Just moved down here (Mesa, AZ) from Seattle (rather Northeast Tacoma – but Pacific Northwest, nonetheless).  Wanted to say your article was spot on.

When I arrived here in July, I had to keep oven mitts in my car just so I could turn the ignition without buring my fingers.

Many Thanks!

Garth Stewart


Silveira on health care

Friday, November 27th, 2009

John is right on target, here.

As a 30+-year veteran RN, I’ve seen countless, real-life examples of the problems he discusses here. Health care and rest of the system is going to fail, mainly because it was designed that way!

As John intimates, there is a better way and, if ordinary people can just decide they want this better way, they will have it!!! Cuba can deliver good healthcare (free!!!) to all its citizens, yet still send thousands of doctors abroad to help other countries. The fact that the USA can’t do the same—or doesn’t want to—is shameful.

After Goldman-Sachs, the AMA should be the next to be strung up!!!

Bill Byford RN
(Still hoping for a healthcare system we can be proud of.)


Life in the High Desert

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


I just finished reading your piece on moving and adapting to the desert. Absolutely fascinating, I must say.

I’ve been a southeastern dweller for most of my life, and I’m used to plentiful water, living in a rainy place and at the edge of a large river/lake. Since I live very simply, power isn’t much of an issue, except loosing a pound or two of frozen foods. I pretty much get along with one light bulb, in whatever room I happen to be.

Your thoughts on life in the dry, severe climate of the desert are, as I said, fascinating. I’m seeing the link to more of your writings, and I’m thinking I’m going to have to clear my (very vacant) social calendar for a month or so to read and appreciate your work. Some of the titles are very enticing!!!

I have to say one thing about the life-and-death issue. It happens here, in Tennessee, also. My 30+ year career as and RN is over, but I still see and hear about it. Granted, we don’t have to confront raw, and sometimes hostile, nature as you might. Maybe we should??? I can hear what I think are coyotes barking in the hills, sometimes. Would love to have one visit my front yard under a full moon someday.

Since my kids were very young, I haven’t seen a sky like the one you described. I envy you the chance to do that daily. When I ask my youngsters if they remember what the Milky Way looks like, they just cock their heads and say—“Well…Yeah…I think so”. We used to take blankets to the yard and stargaze for hours. I’m 65 now and, although in pretty good health, I worry that I won’t really see the stars again—at least from this part of the country. One of the items on my “to do before you die” list is to head far west, to the high desert, and spend a month just looking at the night sky. Maybe take a bunch of pics to share with friends who have not a clue of what a sky like that can be. Maybe use my nursing skills as a volunteer on a reservation at or near the Four Corners region.

The piece I just read sounded like your relocation was, maybe, stressful. I’ve always felt that when a door slams shut, another opens. The story of my life, at least—haha. Hope your transition has proven educational and beneficial.

Looking forward to more of your writings. Thanks!!!

Bill Byford


Civil unrest

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Dear Claire,

A professor of economics asked what happens under certain economic and social conditions.

I said  revolution!!

He said poor people never revolt. The middle class leads revolutions.

Thus we see why, having dumbed down the last two or three generations, the powers that be are entering into the next phase of destruction–impoverishment.

A hungry and uninformed people, whose medicines and other necessities are being held hostage, cannot revolt.

Note that the necessities are very little produced in North America anymore and so are unobtainable.

Enjoy your writing.

God’s protection on you.


Deborah Harvey


Article Correction Needed

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Dear Editor,

In the article, With commonsense planning, you can survive hard times,  under SALT you state that iodized salt is used for canning pickles and meat preservation. NON-IODIZED salt is used. This needs to be corrected immediately before you kill somebody.


Dinah M.
Certified Home Canner


This is a typo and should read “non-iodized salt”. However, using iodized salt will not kill anyone.

The reason you don’t use iodized salt in pickling is that when combined with certain natural occurring minerals in some water, it can darken your pickles.

Most table salt used in the US is iodized and it has been strongly recommended that consumers USE iodized salt as it combats iodine deficiency possible in some areas of the country.

Used in such minute amounts, it certainly won’t poison anyone. I use iodized salt in most of my canning and have for decades.

Jackie (and still alive!)


Thank You!

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I read with great pleasure about the inception of Backwoods Home Magazine and send my best wishes to all for another 20 years!

I first found your magazine on a store shelf in Calgary, Alberta, and then had a subscription for a while.  And despite moves to Ontario and the Yukon, I have kept a hold of those original copies and re-read them with continued interest.  Now I will admit that I pop into the website and continue to read with interest between managing my gardens and homeschooling my son.

I also never ceased to be amused by the border guards who still ask me if I subscribe to the magazine… I guess Canadian readers are a worrisome bunch…

Many thanks again and best wishes.

Jen Kennedy


Welcome to the desert!

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

I loved your article in the latest BHM. I can sympathize with your recent move.

I myself moved several years ago from Orange County, California to Moab, Utah. Though I don’t regret it all, even though I went through a good deal of culture shock and awkward acclimatization as well.

I’d love to see you write more articles on self-reliant living in the high desert. Most of the BHM staff has (understandably) a northwestern climate slant on the tips and advice they proffer.

I hope you come to love 300 plus of full sun a year. I think it makes winter more bearable even if it never gets above freezing.

Keep the Faith!

Ardell Hollobaugh


Post-construction cleaning

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Just wanted to thank you for giving me knowledge on post-construction cleaning. I appreciate it, and I’m sure a lot of others do too.

I used to do this for about a year, it’s a tough job. I was working my butt off. After reading your page, I now realize I was totally getting ripped off. I’d love to start my own Post-Construction Clean Up Business one day.

Thanks again!!!

Hilary Horvath


Shotgun kick back reducers

Friday, November 20th, 2009

I just finished reading your article on the merits of .20 gauge shotguns [and about] the kickback, flinching etc. issue. The logic of your piece makes sense to me but I’ve seen several devices being sold such as sof tec from Benelli, soft cell from Remington and some spring type devices that are supposed to drastically reduce the recoil of a .12 gauge shotgun.

Do they really work? If so it would seem that you could have the best of both worlds i.e. less recoil and more “force” from a .12 gauge. As an aging dude with a bad shoulder I’d like to find something that doesn’t cause me too much pain to shoot.

Lornie B.

Hi, Lornie,

There are all manner of recoil reducers, and some of them work pretty well. On the one hand, they do indeed give you 12 gauge power in a more controllable package. On the other hand, if you put them on the 20 gauge, it will kick still less.




Len Torney Article

Thursday, November 19th, 2009


Me and two auto buddies used Len Torney’s info for a fleet upgrade. Gas saver idea.

Thanks, he’s a smart dude!!

If we save what he says, I guess we should send him a case of Foam.


Phi, James & Bill the (aka Fat Tire)



Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I was a subscriber many years past and enjoyed and tested Backwoods Home Magazine…job loss/more bills piling up/etc and had to drop the subscription.

I was able to re-subscribe here lately and have ordered some of the back issues….which myself and family members have “devoured” and I have noticed…no more poems as once was in the past….what? No interest? Lack-o-room? No…submits?

Just curious.

Curt Richardson

We publish poems as we find ones we like. — Dave


M1 Garand article by Mike Blank

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


I read the article, purchasing an Underwood M1 carbine and 500 rounds of ammo. Haven’t received the ammo yet, but they sent me a beautiful U.S.G.I. carbine.

You have to rely on the “luck of the draw,” however I was extremely pleased. The rifle is about half the weight of an M1 Garand and ammo is cheaper. It does not have the knockdown power of the Garand but suits my needs well.

It took about 7 weeks from the time they received the order until the rifle was delivered to my door.

Thanks for the article.



John Shuttleworth

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Dear BHM,

I was sorry to learn of the death of John Shuttleworth through your article Looking back on 20 years of BHM. Over the years I had wondered what became of him.

John Shuttleworh through his magazine, The Mother Earth News, had a profound influence on my life in two ways. First he convinced me I should move to the country. Twenty five years ago I bought the land but I let life get in the way of actually moving. Second he introduced me to Helen and Scott Nearing. I had all but given up on the idea of living in the country but about three years ago I reread “The Good Life”. If Scott Nearing could build a new house at 70 I could at least try. So 2 months short of my 65 birthday I started work on a house on the land I bought 25 years ago and was now paid for. Except for the well and septic system I’ve done all the work myself.

I love getting up in the morning, sometimes a bit slow but my blood pressure is down 10 points and my cholesterol is down 30 points. With a little luck I’ll be living in the house for my 66 birthday in February, 2010.

I quit reading the MEN after he sold it and it moved to New York, but 35 years later, it’s still influencing my life. I hope he knew what a positive long term impact he had on people’s lives.

R V Collins
Sacul, TX


The Last Frontier

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Ms. Wolfe,

You’ve touched on a topic that I’ve thought about time and again. Speaking with liberty minded friends I’ve said that the only places left are Space and some area in the Antarctic! And the statists are doing their damnedest to cut off the last option. Think about it. On our planet we have nations laying claim to territory they don’t even tread upon yet they say its “theirs”. What kind of Imperialistic, cockeyed, brain damaged reasoning is that?

I also had to laugh when you used the word “criminals” in how some folks, albeit brainwashed statists, describe the odd balls who don’t fit their tiny mold. Yes, some can certainly be considered criminals by any set of standards, and yet I’m left scratching my head knowing full well that the definition itself, as used by government and its boot licking minions, is corrupt. They see every problem as a nail to be beat down with its “authoritative” hammer. Which is to say that you’re to shut the hell up and do as you’re told while forking over dough with a gun pointed to your head. That kind of “freedom” and “order” I can live without.

With regards to the last great frontier we have NASA endlessly sucking tax dollars to beat down ones hope that anything will ever be accomplished in our lifetime. This isn’t by accident but by design. When you have people being paid to “produce” nothing what incentive is there? It reminds me of that movie “The Truman Show” where the lead character, when he’s young, has this burning desire to discover the world while his controlled life (just like governments everywhere) seeks to discourage any such notions so that it can financially benefit off of his existence and share in some sick pleasure in playing the part of God while manipulating him.

I’ve also said to my friends that the only reason people in America managed to find any “freedom” at all was because it was too far away and too expensive for the powers that be to reign them in. It also didn’t hurt that they had enough weapons to reinforce that fact. Sadly these founders pulled the same stunts on their newly minted citizens that they wailed and bemoaned about their British brethren. They made it illegal to do what they just finished doing. How very hypocritically convenient!

Escaping this planet is mankind’s last chance, short of global revolution, of fleeing from these rat bastards. So lets encourage a search for alternate energy and a way to flee so that all “criminals” such as ourselves can forever be paroled from this present Earth. Time to leave the nest.



Mr. Ayoob’s article

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

I just finished reading Mr. Ayoob’s article on the Marlin 336 lever action .30 .30. I found it very informative and well written.

I was looking for info on a rifle I inherited from my father. It is a Marlin 336, but the letters after 336 are R.C. Is this another variation of the models he spoke of or just a mistake in the stamp?

I was looking for information on how to break it down for cleaning and lubricating and Mr. Ayoob’s description makes it sound easy.



Congratulations on a classic rifle.

As I understand it, the RC suffix designates the Regular Carbine model, as distinct from, say, the SC or Sporting Carbine model. (My SC came with a 2/3 length magazine tube, for example,and the SCs often had gold triggers.

The factory should be able to provide takedown instructions, or you can try

Good luck



Great magazine

Friday, November 13th, 2009


I just wanted to drop you a line telling you how much I like your magazine. I have been a subscriber for a year now and I am re-upping for more.

I guess I am like most homesteaders trying to make do with what they got. And, right now I have fifteen acres of land, a house with a roof that doesn’t leak, four Boer goats to clear the land (did I mention that all fifteen acres are filled with blackberries?) and, I got word today that I am getting three and a half Dexters (One bull, one pregnant heifer, and one steer). So far so good right? Well not quite, I am feeling like I am beginning to run before I am able to walk, yet my wife has complete confidence in me even though I am telling her I am making it up as I go along.

So, knowing my situation, I am glad to have found your magazine as it is what us beginning homesteaders need, an experienced practical voice in the wilderness. Saying that I would like to add, I am sorry it took me nineteen years to find your magazine, however, I am glad it didn’t take another twenty.

Once again, thank you.

Happy twentieth birthday.

Jack Chilla


Massad’s article

Thursday, November 12th, 2009


I read Massad’s article, “Consider the 20-gage Shotgun“, in the current edition of your magazine. It was an excellent piece. It was so good that I ordered a Remington Model 1187. I pick it up today.

However, I have a question for Massad.

He didn’t address the issue of scopes in his article. I didn’t order a smooth bore barrel as I plan to use this gun exclusively for deer hunting. Could I have his thoughts on the subject? Is there a real difference between shotgun scopes and rifle scopes?

Indiana doesn’t allow the use of high powered rifles for hunting because of population density. So if I’m going to use a scope should my zero point be at say 50 yds instead of 100 yds?

Also, I read an article in the latest NRA Rifleman magazine by John Barsness about the truths and myths around breaking in and cleaning a shotgun barrel. Wondered if Massad has read this article and if so what is his opinion on it.

I couldn’t find a contact e-mail address on your website for Mr. Ayoob so I’m sending this to you in the hopes you will forward my questions to him.


Stephen Neff

Walkerton, IN

I’m pretty much in agreement with Barsness.

On getting your 20-gage ready for deer season, my suggestion is to get ahead of the rest of the Hoosier hunters and arrange to spend a day or at least part of one at the Sand Burr Gun Ranch in Rochester, Indiana. The place is a combination gun shop and shooting park, and owner Denny Reichard and his daughter Ashley know anything worth knowing on the latest and best 20 gauge slugs, and how they work on deer as opposed to test gelatin.

Call them beforehand (574)223-3316 and they can probably hook you up with the best possible shotgun slug scope, mount it for you, and get it sighted in with all your trajectory dope from ten yards to a hundred. You’ll leave the range sighted in, confident, and ahead of probably 98% of the other deer hunters in Indiana insofar as preparedness to drop some Hoosier venison.

Tell ’em I sent ya.

Best of luck,



Life in the country

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I woke up this morning much like every other morning. 10 minutes before the alarm clock. Another 10 minutes of sleep robbed from me.

I stumble into the kitchen to make the morning coffee and look out the widow that’s over the sink. There she is. Like every morning for the past 2 years Annabel is standing by the water trough staring at me. I have no idea why but she starts her day off the same way. She stares at me for a few minutes, moo’s and then walks off to the south west corner of the pasture. That side just happens to meet up with my neighbor’s horse pasture and where my neighbor dumps her leftover hay when she refills her bails for the horses. Annabel will wait patently for her morning leftovers and then she wanders the pasture. When I get home she meanders over to see if I have a treat for her and then she goes back to her spot next to the horses. I’m not sure if this is social hour but it is a routine for her.

I thought to myself how sad it must be to have your day so repetitive, so scheduled. I then walked to the chickens and threw them some scratch. Went into the house and started supper. The same things I do everyday. So much so it is as if I’m on autopilot.

While at the sink peeling potatoes I looked out to see Annabel playing with the goats. Kinda like a parent playing with their kids. It seems me and Annabel have more in common than I had ever thought. Our biggest difference is the size of our pasture. I run from one end of mine to the other. I have a routine similar to hers and find myself sharing the same simple pleasures of a good meal, a quiet sunset and time with loved ones. Perhaps Annabel’s day isn’t so sad. After all what else do I need but these simple things?

My kids would tell you plenty they need. The latest Youtube video sensation, a new game for the play station or texting their friends. The list is almost endless for them just as it was when I was a child.

It took many years for me to understand that none of these things that seemed so important could replace the beauty and simplicity of the views from my porch. Watching the last of the leaves blow off the black walnut tree. Seeing the dog chasing a chicken around the side of the house, then watching the rooster chase the dog back around to the other side. The shadow of the barn slowly working its way across the field until it fades into the darkness of the night. Kids chasing fireflies and watching the same spider build its web for the 100th time this summer. All the things I used to be too young to care about and too busy to be concerned for are now some of my favorite things and most precious memories.

After spending the first half of my life rushing through it I think I’ll spend the last half sitting on my porch enjoying it.

Thanks BWH for helping me achieve my goal.

Aaron Roots and family
Warrensburg, Missouri



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