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


Archive for June, 2011


Back Issue Index

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Dear Dave,
Recently I was looking for an article from your magazine, from last year, that I had misplaced. Thanks to your back issue index, not only did I find the issue and article, I was able to print it out!
Thank you very much for your well organized website! You folks sure go out of your way to help your customers. I’ve been a subscriber since your SECOND issue, and will continue to be!
Again, thank you,
Pat Gordon
Vancouver WA

New nomads

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Hi Claire!

I came across your blog on Backwoods Home Magazine online as a place that had linked to my website, “The New Nomads”. It took me forever to figure out where the link to me was, but after much mindless clicking, encountered the right spot. I had misused the word “monkeywrenching” in one of my blog posts about Scotland (I had) and you were using my post as an example of your frustration about lack of genuine monkeywrenching. I was hoping for a more flattering link, but I am incredibly happy about finding you and your writing anyway! In the moment.

I am working on a book about the voluntary nomadic lifestyle as a way of living outside of the system. I am planning a three year experiment of living that way myself in order to research the possibilities, meet people doing it, and of course, to have a good time. Both you and Backwoods Magazine appear to be chock full of information and potential leads for my project and I am about to dive into the archives and check it out! if the project seems like anything you’d be interested in or interested in receiving updates about ~ or ~ if you are inspired to share anything with me you know about the subject, please let me know!

Here is a link to my site  (with no further misuse of the term “monkeywrenching” :) ) and to my project on Kickstarter.

Cheers and thank you for fantastic information and writing! I feel like I have struck gold!

Kimberlie Dame


Raise A Garden?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Hello backwoods people,

This message is coming from the red hills of western Oklahoma adjacent to the TX panhandle. We are subscribers. Came here to a rural area because of the stability of the economy, safety factor and low crime. Many many jobs in the oil field. Newspapers full of adds for truck drivers and other oil field workers every week. Excellent tax base and taxes are low. Property values are low. We bought 5 acres, a brick air conditioned home and shop building for $69,900 in 2004. Population density is about 3 people per square mile. We have a hospital, a pharmacy, a real home town bank, a dentist, two doctors, one bar, 3 eating establishments, lumber yard and a variety store. There are NO national franchise stores in the whole county. There is not a single stop light in the whole county. We have a national park. Deer, turky, quail and other small game plus a resident population of mountian lions are present. Kinda neat place this Roger Mills County OK.

We have been here 6 years. Our garden has an above ground watering system into each of the 16 garden plots. It extends into the orchard of 15 trees, two blackberry bushes and numerous grape vines on the fence. All of our garden plots can be watered via soaker hose setups except for the strawberries. We water the strawberries with a movable unit overhead.

Most of the fruit from the trees was blown off in many windy days. The orchard harvest will consist of only perhaps 30 or 40 apples.

The mantra is: grow a garden; raise some food; save some money; can the excess; be more food independent. The last two years we have put on some 400 bags of commercial steer manure on the garden. Believe me when I say our soils are sandy. The top layer is mostly blown in sandy material from the dirty thirties. Rely on my judgement as I am a retired Soil Conservation District Conservationist. I know my soils. Last winter we hauled in some 4000 lbs of composted and dried cow manure from a feed lot. All of this went on the garden also. Finally this spring the soils looked beautiful. Dark, earthy, loamy and fertile.

Our estimation of the situation was the summer was going to be a scorcher. We were correct. So we planted lots of potaotes for an early crop two weeks ahead of the recommended time. Our last freeze was weeks before the normal. We have had an excellent potatoe crop of Yukon and Pontiac Reds. But three weeks ago the grasshopper hoards stripped the leaves off of every plant. So we dug them, washed them lightly and they are in the tornado celler. We think we harvested 180lbs. Also planted 1400 onions. Began pulling them yesterday because the 100+ daily temperatures  and 20 to 35 mph winds just dried them out.

Our corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, cabbage and okra are struggling for existence. We water twice a day. Even with a 70 ft long row of wooden palettes with discarded rugs nailed to them for a windbreak has not stopped the winds from wrecking havoc on our  arden. Usually the winds are from the SW but we are getting lots of west and north winds.

I have planted Okra 5 times and the young plants come up and die. They need to be watered every other hour to survice. I have saved 7 out of 50ft of rows.

The grasshoppers are numerous this year but many of the other insects we normally see are not here. Too dry. We are harvesting everything we can and abandoning the garden quickly.

Growing conditions are extreme. Local people in this area are having house water wells go dry for the first time in years and years. Cattlemen are jamming up the sales ring with cattle. No feed for them. Round bales are going for $125 each.

For anyone wanting to be independent and relying on a garden. This would be the starvation year for this area.

We are drier than the dirty thirties. Range fires are numerous.

At my home site we have had only 2.61 inches of rain since last December. Last week our yard thermometer read 119, 120 and 111 on three different days. Official temperatures from the weather bureau 40 miles away were 107 and 108. I think my thermometer was correct. Temperatures here have been excessive.

If, not when scarcity becomes the most important topic about grocery stores and Wally World you better have some stored food to start with. We do. Counting on the garden this year is not panning out. The only thing we are going to have it appears are the potatoes and onions.

The late summer crops of peppers, tomatoes, corn, Okra, beans are very much in doubt. Our corn is up to 6ft tall but I am not seeing any ears develop on it. The beans are slowly dying.

This is not a good year for a garden in this area. We have developed our soils and constructed a good watering system. However the trump card this year is the weather.

One more note: my two calibrated radiac meters from KI4U are recording a steady 0.3 rads/hour of radiation for the last 6 weeks. Normaly they only show a slight bump on the scale after zeroing. Hello Japan.

Have you read the ‘Weather Conspiracy’ published in 1972? It is a good read about why we are now having the weather patterns that are being expressed.

Have a good week end and enjoy our national holiday. we will fly our flag…..


Joe and Dar Cullen
Cheyenne, OK


Wheat article

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I appreciated seeing the article on wheat in the July/August  issue.  It had some helpful information on preparing fresh wheat for storage.

I am glad the editors made comment on using trash bags in  buckets.  They are not recommended and are unnecessary when a clean  food grade bucket is used, which is the only kind that should be used  when storing wheat in buckets.

The “bulgur” described in the article is not actually bulgur.  It is  steamed or cooked wheat and can be made in several ways in addition  to the one described.  Bulgur is steamed wheat that has been dried  and cracked.  It is an “instant” form of cracked wheat.  Bulgur is  commonly used in Tabbouleh and similar salads as well as in bulgur  pilafs.  Steamed or cooked wheat is normally used in different ways  than bulgur.

There are far more grain mills available than are indicated in the  article.  One can purchase simple inexpensive hand mills, moderately  priced and expensive hand mills that can also be motorized and  moderate to expensive electric mills.  One can purchase steel burrs,  stone burrs or an impact mill which pulverizes the grain.  I’m sure  readers would have appreciated reference links for more information.

The author also indicated that flour loses most of its food value  within a month.  Since flour is primarily the macronutrients protein,  fat and carbohydrate and flour is not a good source of the most  labile vitamins found in grain, that statement cannot be true.  Flour  is quite stable but it is better to store whole grains and make your  own flour especially if you find yourself living entirely on your stored food.

Thank you for providing a variety of articles in your  magazine.  There is always something I am interested in even though I  live in the suburbs.

Cheryl Driggs
Spring TX


You guys are amazing!

Friday, June 17th, 2011
Dear BHM Staff,

I have been waiting YEARS to be able to purchase the “Whole Shebang” and just last week got the opportunity to do so. I have so many things to thank you for; the fast shipping and delivery, the AWESOME assistance and friendliness of Rhoda, the staff member that took my order over the phone, and the quality of the product delivered. There was NO disappointment when I opened the package just all of the wonderful, helpful info that I had been so eagerly awaiting. Every time I had to return your magazine to the library it pained me as I wanted to be able to re-reference and re-read so many great articles and recipes and design plans. And last, but most certainly not least, to be able to FINALLY have one of Jackie’s books after so long of a wait…

I just simply can not put into words how excited I am to finally have a ‘permanent’ fix of BHM arriving every other month in my mailbox. I am sure that unless something drastic happens I will be a life long subscriber.

Keep up the fantastic work and never change like some others have. Everyone’s ideas and expertise are so wonderful that even an ex city girl like me can get in the homesteading groove and do more to raise my family better.

Thank you for making it so easy for my family and I to learn and become more self sufficient!

Rhoda, thanks so very much for all you did! You made my day with your wonderful attitude, enthusiasm and the above and beyond service you provided!



PS My 13 yr old daughter thinks I’m a ‘dork’ because I did a little dance when the box showed up today. Who cares; it is worth it! :-) Besides, I know her head will be stuck in the magazine and books too.


The family cow

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I read the article about the family cow.  I am seriously thinking about buying one.  I have an Amish neighbor looking for one for me.  He has a jersey.  I stop everyday on my way home and visit with her.  She would have been perfect for us.  I hope I can find one like her.

Your article really made me examine how we do things here on our hobby farm.  We have goats and have gone that way and I have always wanted to try out the family cow.

Thanks for the article.  It was nice to read and I am going to give it a try.  Wish me luck in finding the cow.

Kevin Gross


Is BHM still available on the newsstand?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011


Is BHM still available on the newsstand? I know it used to be, since that is how I got interested in it. I have been a subscriber for a few years now. You would reach more people and get more customers if copies of the magazine were out there.

Best regards,

Jack Kavanaugh

Jack: We put about 12,000 copies on the newsstands, mainly in places like Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc.. We restrict it to that small number because the sell-through on the newsstand is only about 35%. The rest of the magazines are destroyed. It’s an expensive way to attract new readers, plus the distribution companies often go bankrupt, burning the publishers for payments.



Where Is the Tea Party When It Comes to Marijuana & Gay Civil Unions?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011


I am a long-time reader and have all of the anthologies.

Your magazine is the real deal in a market stuffed to the gills with glossy crap with more ads than content. Furthermore, you have played a part in moving my political beliefs more toward Libertarianism by laying out the concepts in a clear, consistent, non-hypocritical manner. I read your article, and the subsequent comments, about marijuana laws and recently published similar thoughts. The difference was I went even further to include gay civil unions. My point was that the more power we give government to take away someone else’s rights, the more power they have to take away ours. It’s as simple as that. Like it or not, it’s the truth. But my readers fail to get that logic. I don’t see how anyone could miss it. This fact just seems so clear to me. Could you help me understand how I can communicate to my readers without alienating them? How do you do it?

Your appreciative reader,



Sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

My short answer is I agree with you.  I think gays should be able to form civil unions with all the rights of anyone forming a union through marriage.

I read your online post, and I’d like to respond to one paragraph in particular that reads:

“What bothers me is that the groups fighting for our personal liberty seem concerned with everything BUT our personal liberties. They focus on money issues. They focus on taxation, bailouts, being required to purchase healthcare, and laws affecting business. Meanwhile, they ignore any law that forbids someone to do what they wish with their own body, in their own time, in their own home, without harming or affecting a single other person. They are OUTRAGED at any regulation affecting commerce or freedom OF religion (nevermind freedom FROM it; that’s another topic), but don’t blink an eye when the federal or state government legislates morality.”

You are incorrect in this regard, at least as it applies to Libertarians like me and to most tea partiers that I know. This group includes TV personalities such as Judge Napolitano and John Stossel, both Libertarians who have large TV audiences. We are as concerned with government legislating morality as we are with economic issues, but in these times of severe economic recession with the American economy about to go over a cliff due to its unsustainable debt, we tend to focus more on economic issues.

Some of us may not be for gay “marriage” due to religious or traditional concerns, but we certainly have no opposition to gay rights. However, we don’t want any sort of special rights for any group, whether they are gays, ethnic groups, religions, or groups of any sort. The reason is primarily economic, in that we don’t want to have to pay for special rights with our taxes, but we also don’t want our own rights infringed by having to abide by special laws that protect special rights for special groups.

Let me respond to another paragraph in your post:

“I know what the bible says about homosexuality. I grew up in a Pentecostal church so you don’t have to tell me about the bible. But I also know that most of the stuff the Old Testimate says we should do or forbid is just downright sadistic in today’s world. “

This is where you are probably having trouble “communicating with your readers without alienating them.” You go on to site examples of Old Testament sadistic advice, of which most people would agree. The problem is you are “in their face” and denouncing a book that is sacred to many. What you say is valid, but few people respond well to “in your face” arguments. They want respect for what things they view as sacred or traditional or otherwise important to them for any number of reasons. If you give them that respect by not trying to rub their noses into some obviously bad advice in the bible, they will likely be more open to your opinion. That’s how I do it anyway.

Take care. You’ve got a good blog with good, coherent writing. That’s rare in blogs.




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