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


Archive for the ‘Dorothy Ainsworth’ Category


Getting Logs

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Hi, new to prepping and found your site.  Love all the good info there. Read one of the articles on getting logs and thought I would comment.  We live in the country in Louisiana and our state has huge pine forest and logging industry.  They cut tracks everywhere you look around here.  They take some time cleaning up after themselves and sometimes don’t at all. There is so much wood left over it is amazing.  You can really get as much as you want.  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.

1. Approach the owner of the land, if clean up was not part of his deal with the paper mill he will gladly let you take what you want for free.  Often even if clean up was apart of the deal they will let you take what you want because they usually burn what is left anyway.

2. Approach the logging foreman for the track cut.  A case of beer will usually do the trick and you can have all you want.

3. Go in on the weekend and take what you want.  They are gonna burn it anyway so no one here minds, usually anyway.

There is allot of all types of wood to be found doing this, including hard woods and pecan.  All different sizes and shapes.  You can do allot with what you find.

This works well here in Louisiana and might work in other area’s too.

Your new friend,

Don Bottoms


Ok…if you can do it I can at least try

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Ms. Ainsworth,

I’m writing a fast note to you while I’m getting dressed to go explain to the county engineer that I want to build my own house out in the country. I have no clue what to expect but judging by the phone conversations, perhaps he’s going to gently try to guide this 54 year old woman to pulling a mobile home on the property or just contracting a builder. I’ve been studying & drawing up my plans & using your dreams are goals with deadlines motto to push through just a little bit more every day. By the end of the month I think I’ll have all the kinks worked out. Today’s visit to the permit people is asking them specifics and for guidelines.

I’ve read everything you’ve written that I can get my hands on and wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories. Since 1980 I’ve wanted to build my own place but  have found excuses not to move forward. Finally I have the land and thanks to stories from you and Dave Duffy, am beginning to believe that I can pull this off. Personally I don’t subscribe to being a victim thus gotta keep going forward.

You need to know that I’ve enjoyed every article you’ve written and if you have any books out there point to them!  I’ll go after those too!

I’ll write more later but wanted you to know that your motto of ‘if not me then who, if now now then when’ was the catalyst that woke me up.

Thank you.


Marylynn Brooks


Eric’s House

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Among your other fine articles, I’ve been following the construction of “Eric’s House” with interest. It appears that he will have a beautiful house when finished, at a fraction of the cost of hiring it done.

Of course, the pride of doing it yourself is inestimable.

Since I bought an old farmhouse on 145 acres in rural West Virginia in 1989, I have had to learn all of the skills involved here. While I have formal training in commercial carpentry, nothing in that prepared me for working on these old “Jenny Lind” houses.

I’ve done plumbing from the well, wiring from the service connection, gas piping from the wellhead or city meter, and septic systems from where you don’t want to know.

When severe summer or winter weather knocks out the power for weeks at a time, those less prepared can visit me for a hot shower and some TV, because I’m prepared for that.

I have also acquired four rental properties, and have had to replumb all of them, rewire most of them, and fix roofing, windows, doors, and things too numerous to mention.

I love where I live, and also your magazine. I have only one question.

Uh…What’s a “Building Inspector?”

John Dillon
West Virginia


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


Good news for would-be loggers!

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Dear Dave,

Something good might come out of this recession after all:  Good for do-it-yourselfer log-home builders that is. Because lumber prices have fallen so drastically, logging companies are NOT bidding for areas to log. It costs more to log than they can sell the logs to lumber mills for. It’s a sad state of affairs, but this may be a window of opportunity for ambitious hard-working people to go get their logs to build a house with because the competition is temporarily out of business.

I called around today to several USFS Ranger Districts and BLM Districts (entirely separate branches of the federal government), and found out that here in southern Oregon there ARE stands of trees (Lodge-pole Pine and Douglas Fir) that can be cut with a permit and the cost is minimal (5 or 6 cents a linear foot I was told). The trees vary from 6″ to 8″ diameter, which is sufficient for house-building (6″ at the small end).

Dave Orban  at the BLM office in Chemult Oregon said he can be contacted  at 541-618-2200.  Would-be loggers seriously interested in cutting trees down for enough logs for a medium-sized house can make an appointment with him to check out his area of Douglas Fir stands. He mentioned the Plumb Creek area near Shady Cove, Oregon as another possibility.

Gina Duggins at the Prospect Ranger District didn’t have any cutting areas open for sizable poles in her district but she was very helpful and gave me numbers to call for several other districts who might have trees to cut, namely lodge-pole pine (desirable because they grow straight and tall and have very little taper).

Here is the list she gave me:

USFS Ranger District in Chiloquin:  541-783-4001
USFS Ranger District in Chemult: 541-635-7001
USFS Ranger District in Diamond Lake: 541-498-2531
USFS Ranger District in Klamath Falls: 541-885-3400
BLM District in Klamath Falls: 541-883-6916
BLM District in Roseburg: 541-440-4930  (lodge pole pine mentioned)
BLM in the North Umpqua area: 541-496-3932 (lodge pole pine mentioned)

I suggest also checking out Butte Falls, Rogue River, and the Applegate BLM and USFS Ranger Districts, and districts near where YOU live in Oregon or any other state. I have found that sometimes if the USFS doesn’t allow any cutting in a particular area, the BLM might have an area nearby where they WILL allow cutting. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but you must try BOTH sources. Don’t give up just because one of them says no.

Good luck!

Dorothy Ainsworth


Tire gardening

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Love the tire gardening article!

Just an idea: Seems like the sidewalls you’re cutting off the tires could be put to good use.

If you do your best to cut them off in a single piece, then cut a crossways slit to make an open “collar”, you could  put them around the base of young trees. Fill the center with mulch. They should act as a weed-guard, help retain your mulch, and make mowing a lot easier!



Tires for gardening

Friday, March 13th, 2009

To the Editor:

I read in the article, Garden Spaces For Small Places, By Dorothy Ainsworth, about making used tires into small beds for vegetables or flowers.

The only problem is that mulch made from shredded tires leaches chemicals into the soil. A study in an organic gardening magazine mentioned zinc in particular, and suggested that other heavy metals might also be found in quantity.

It would seem to me, that the only difference between tires, and mulch from tires, is the increase in surface area. Shredded tires would leach faster than whole ones. Still, how much faster? Better safe than sorry.

Thank you for your time,

Ben Homer

I googled:  “Are tires safe for gardening?” and found mostly positive answers and why.

Shredded tires for mulch DO have tremendously more surface area for leaching, so I would NOT recommend that, but whole tires are chemically stable. They have been run at high speeds and the inner surface has oxidized so the surface molecules have formed a seal. If worried, a person can always line the tire with gardening plastic.

I personally am not worried at all, especially for short term use, but to assuage any trepidation, simply google the same question I googled and read the answers. Many of the answers are from scientists and they aren’t worried either about the use of whole tires.

The main culprit
would be zinc but in whole tires it doesn’t leach out fast enough to do any harm according to most of the reports I read. One report said the plant will only take up what zinc it needs and that’s it. Our bodies use zinc, so it’s not like a toxic poison, unless we overdose, but that goes for ANY vitamin or mineral.

True, it IS better to be safe than sorry, and Ben Homer’s question was a good one, but by doing some extra research I still feel secure in using tires for gardening.  But after reading all the reports yourself, you are free to draw your own conclusions and make your own informed decision “to use or not to use” tires.

Dorothy Ainsworth


The house that Dorothy Ainsworth built!!!

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

This article was one of the most inspiring I have ever read.

I just had to write to tell you that I had lost my capability of believing in my dreams and goals. But after reading this, I am back to believing again!!

I must say, I am extremely impressed with what Dorothy has accomplished. She had great determination, fortitude and a hard working attitude. It is amazing what a person can and will do when they have a positive attitude and a dream. Not only did she conquer her dream, she lost it in a fire, but she did not give up, she started all over again.  Wow, what does that tell you about a person? DETERMINATION AND COURAGE!

I love your magazine as there are great articles to read.

Thank you,




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