Thursday, June 19, 2014

Backwoods Home Magazine is out.

   I got my new issue of Backwoods Home Magazine on the Kindle.  Almost all magazines give you an exact copy of the paper edition, but not Backwoods Home.  You get the articles, but that's it. I am aggravated by this because I like to read the adds in self sufficiency magazines.

As originally written "These days, Backwoods Home is a lot more about farming, gardening, canning, and other rural home related topics than it is about preparedness."

These days, Backwood Home has a lot more about farming , gardening, canning and other rural home related topics than it does about any other aspects of preparedness. The magazine has changed over the years.  They still have some very good self sufficiency articles from time to time, and they put out "specials" that are survivalist in nature.  There are already more than enough magazines focused on agrarian facets of self reliance, we don't need to convert everything to a version of The New Pioneer.

I quit buying the magazine in hard copy because it's expensive and I didn't feel like the new emphasis on homesteading issues really justified the cost. But with the much cheaper Kindle subscription I can still read the articles.

This is the type of special I always make it a point to buy.  They come out with them about once a year, and the articles are excellent.  Sometimes people ask me why, since I've been doing this for more than thirty years, I still read basic articles on survival. First , I find the stories and articles interesting. Second, nobody knows everything and I'm a long way from feeling like I know all I need to know. I'm always trying to pick up tips or ideas to improve our situation here on the mountain.  Finally, if my kids ever get serious about preparedness, I'd like to have a good , ready to hand reference library for them. That's why I buy books, and why I save the digital material in such a manner that as long as we can charge the computer battery, we can access it, internet or not.

The Backwoods Home Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guide is not bad.  It's very basic, but until Rawles' How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It came out, this was the basic reference book I always kept on my desk.  It's updated about every four years or so as far as I can tell.

You can buy either a paperback copy, or you can get it on a CD.  It's a handy book and doesn't cost a lot.  If you have relatives who aren't giving much thought to self sufficiency, this would be a good one to send to them. They might just set it on the bookshelf and forget it, but they might read it.  I would expect that anyone who read the book would have to have their complacency shaken just a bit.

The latest edition of the magazine says they are putting out another anthology. I think it's the first 22 years of the magazine and sells for about $150.00.  It's on CD's.   I haven't decided yet whether I want to buy it , because I am pretty sure I have most of the magazines in my collection already.

Overall, it you are very interested in gardening and doing your own small building projects, you will probably get your money out of the magazine.  If nothing else, it's fun to read.


  1. I have a few basic books and a lot of material I have found online and saved. I'm thinking seriously about buying a laptop to replace my current desktop computer, because of the battery factor. But I think I may also start printing out some of the saved articles and organizing them in a 3-ring binder. The stormy summer we are experiencing here and the apparent fragility of the power grid have been sort of a wake-up call. A hard copy backup can't hurt.

    1. Vicki,
      The general consensus seems to be that printing out the best and most valuable articles, and putting them in the binder is a good idea. The majority of people I have talked to about this are using solar cells specifically designed to charge laptops, and of course they have the laptop itself. I have a generator, I ordered one of those battery packs that you can use to jump your car, or charge and ac or dc appliance. So for the most part I just keep things on a stick drive or a CD.

    2. Vicki - printing out articles that you can use in the future is a great idea - i do the same! my biggest terror in a grid-down situation, is that we will lose all of our knowledge - kinda like the library at Alexandria burning down. i know, it sounds crazy - but that's what i have always worried about even before i began prepping or whatever you want to call it. so, i started collecting encyclopaedia sets. can you imagine that when we arrived at our BOL we unpacked 86 boxes of books???? kinda crazy, i know. but i worry that if it all goes to hell in a handbasket - i have 13 full sets of encyclopaedias and another 6 or 7 that are in bits and pieces. but there is much information to be found in them. some of them are from the mid-1800's and go all the way to 1970. we also have a full-set of Popular Mechanics Do It Yourself encyclopaedias from 1955 - when everything was done manually, no circuitry involved, it's all old-school electrical, plumbing and carpentry. i think it is my favourite set. anyway, just wanted to share that with you.

    3. Kymber, have you ever read Lucifer's Hammer? There's a character in there who does exactly the same thing. He hides masses of books in an empty septic tank. Later, the books are invaluable for their "how to" instructions. It's not a crazy idea at all.

    4. Harry - yes, i read the book many years ago when i was in the canadian forces and was young and dumb. i didn't realize the lasting impact it must have had on me because by the time i was about 22, i just started worrying about losing books and not being able to learn and teach. thanks for thinking it's not crazy. i just worry that when the grid or internet go down - we as a society of "googlers" are going to be screwed.

    5. As I remember the guy with the books int he septic tank wasn't prepper enough to have a way to make his own insulin though.

    6. I don't think he was a prepper at all. He was just Joe Citizen reacting to the situation. I don't think in a real event like that anybody could salvage electricity, power plants, etc, but it's still a good book. Except for the fact that the villains were black, and of course that was terrible, and racist, and we all know that would never be the case. But it's an old book.....

    7. Kymber, there's nothing crazy about stashing useful books. I've got tons of them here.

  2. Harry - can i ask you a very serious question and not come off as trying to be controversial? i know that i can with you.

    my question is - is homesteading, canning, growing your own vegetables NOT considered self-sufficiency or survivalism??? i don't understand your paragraph:

    "These days, Backwoods Home is a lot more about farming, gardening, canning, and other rural home related topics than it is about preparedness. The magazine has changed over the years. They still have some very good self sufficiency articles from time to time, and they put out "specials" that are survivalist in nature.``

    again, is living in a remote location, growing your own food, fishing, hunting, canning, preserving, etc. not considered `survivalist in nature`?

    my problem with a lot of so-called "survivalists" is that they have 8 million rolls of toilet paper, 7,000 bottles of water stocked with no way to replace it and 400 weapons. most of these so-called "survivalists" don't the know first thing about being able to feed themselves! some of these "survivalists" have never foraged in the wild and wouldn't have a clue how to make herbal medicines to treat themselves. it sorta-kinda bugs me when they then look down on people who are doing what they can to become prepared and self-sufficient, in ways that make sense to them.

    i don't understand the term "survivalist" and i am starting to not understand the word "prepper" either. and i don't like when one group thinks that they are better than the other.

    my point is - if you are living in a city with a basement full of weapons - you are not a survivalist. you might be considered a prepper. IF you have the required amount of toilet paper. or something.

    i hope that i haven't offended you or any of your readers. but merely 80 yrs ago smart people were "proper survivalists" and "preppers". it was called living. i guess i am just sick to death of armchair survivalists and preppers.

    if i have offended you or any of your readers, then please, comment back and let me know how i have offended. offending anyone with this comment is not my intention.

    much love to you and yours always! your friend,

    1. Kymber,
      It doesn't bug me when people ask questions.

      I'm not saying that those things are not important parts of self sufficiency. I'm talking about what I enjoy reading and will pay for.

      I think there is a difference between a survivalist and a prepper, and I think it has to do with their view of the world. Preppers, in my mind, are more inclined to think in terms of having enough to eat, and hot water to shower in, and that's about it. They don't seem to me to give sufficient thought to the ramifications of the environment they would be living in. It's as if having 10,000 jars of canned tomatoes is all you have to worry about.

      I don't much enjoy reading about canning, or growing food, because I have had no luck at the one and never got as far as buying all the gear for the other. I went the other route. I have enough food stored away for about four years for six people. If, at about the fourth year mark, things have not been reconstructed, then I would have to break out the seeds (which I have) the tools (which I have) and start planting a garden. Until then though, I can't work up a lot of enthusiasm for gardening so when Backwoods Home goes to a primarily agrarian slant, it isn't as useful to me as it was one.

      The argument over what you should have and store goes back at least to the beginning of the cold war in the 1950's and probably further. Everybody knows that you need the basic items, but everybody has different opinions on what you need the most and what you should put the most emphasis on.

      I am not aware of anybody looking down on people who do their own growing and preserving. I don't. If anything I wish I had the energy and the skills to do that myself. If the wording of my post was vague, I suppose you could get that impression. What I was trying to say is that there are so many "New Pioneer" style magazines out there already, that we really don't need the ones that used to focus on other aspects of self sufficiency to go that route as well. Diversity is not a bad thing in this neck of the woods, and just because growing food is popular and has a lot of adherents doesn't mean every article in every survival magazine has to be related to that.

    2. Matt,
      There's a first time for everything!

    3. Kymber said exactly what I was thinking.

      Harry, You would have to plant that garden the first year. You need folate (a B vitamin) and it only comes from RAW fruit and vegetables.


    4. Kimberly, I have just about every kind of vitamin and supplement you can imagine in my storeroom, but I don't know folate. If I bought it at the drug store, what would it be labeled?

      When to plant is something I haven't given much thought to. If what we were experiencing was some sort of event which could be cleared up in a year or so, I would be fine. If it was going to take longer, my stores might begin to appear a bit on the skoshi side. I also know that people who wait to use equipment or develop a skill until they really need it are asking for big trouble. I meant to plant a garden this spring, but I never got around to it. First it was too cold, then it got too wet and hot. I just never got out there and gave it a try. I have lots of seeds in my stores, some are a couple of years old and some are newer. I still don't have an answer to how to keep the wild hogs, bear and deer out of them. The electric fence didn't work at all.

    5. Harry what you are looking for is Folic acid. it is commonly found in B complex vitamin.... which usually will have everything you need as far as the B's go.

    6. Harry - Kimberly is dead right! if you bought it at the drug store - it would be called folic acid and is probably in all normal vitamins like centrum or whatnot. here is a quick link to what folates are, why they are so important and what foods to find them in:

      another great way to incorporate healthy, non-supplemental folates is to grow sprouts! you can grow them in mason jars on your kitchen counter/window and you will see that they are very inexpensive! see this post of mine:

      supplements and vitamins are ok in my books - but i would only rely on such things in a complete emergency situation. i much rather grow and eat my own turnip greens, kale, sprouts, etc. and get the nutrient value from the actual plant. i hope that you consider growing sprouts or kale or swiss chard or spinach as they are cool weather crops and you could plant some in a covered beds (remember jambaloney's beds covered in chicken wire) and get some good nutrients from food that you grow yourself. you can plant those cool weather crops, depending on your climate, probably around end august. you would have to check on what your growing zone is.

      if i am coming across as preachy - i am sorry. i am always trying to leave comments that could be helpful to someone. and i think the biggest thing that we need to do in order to survive whatever is coming is to eat healthily. you know i'm big on that. and not trying to be preachy.

      btw - did you see my comment on your wife's getting car sickness. i tried to provide a couple of examples of her not having to take a drug in order to not get car sickness.

      much love Harry. i gotta run for a bit but i will definitely be checking back!

    7. I have been taken folic acid to help with my sleep problems along with vitamin D. I did a post about it. It has finally started to take. They were on about injections at one point, as I kept complaining my brain was fuzzy and I was forgetting stuff. it really has helped and I eat marmite everyday. I didn't know about the sprouts.

      Kymber - which are the best sprouts

    8. About hogs, deer, and bears. Yum! If you don't want to eat them, A really tall fence, and REALLY good electric fence. You can't just use any kind of electric fence charger. You have to get the most expensive ones that show the most animals on the package. They shock the hardest. You will want one that is solar. That way you can set it up were ever you want, and don't have to worry about when the power go out.

    9. Kymber, isn't there just some pill I can buy and put in the cool, dark store room? I want this stuff if I need it, and the general consensus is that I do, but I want it to be easy.

    10. Kimberly, I had a massive electric fence around my house, outbuildings, and meadow. It was four strand, heavy gauge, and the fence could knock a full grown man flat. The bears just tore it to pieces and the hogs went right through it. I hate to use barbed wire because I don't want to tear any of the animals up.

    11. Sol - the absolutely best-tasting sprout is popcorn! yes - popcorn! it makes delicious sprouts! my other favourites are radish, lentils, all of the brassicas. mung beans, clover, alfalfa and mustard seeds. all of these things you can grow yourself, use the actual vegetables for your harvest and food stores, but always let some go to seed so that you can then have fresh, healthy green sprouts over the winter. i have read that you can sprout and eat any seed except for beans. also - see my comment above which links to a post i did about sprouts - sprouts are really good things!

    12. Harry - there are lots of "vitamin" pills out there and they must be useful because so many people take them. i think it's all "snake-oil" salesman stuff by big pharm to make money. even just 80yrs ago no one needed to take vitamins because their diet provided the recquired vitamins and nutrients. i am not a big fan of taking vitamins at all. but yes, stock up on some centrum ultra or some other vitamin thing if you are not planning to get the nutrients from the actual food.

  3. I have about 10 gardening books and some ebooks from "the greening of Gavin". I have the books from my small holding course earlier in the year. We have a few DIY books.

    I have quite a few live off grid books that I have been reading over the years as I would like to have solar etc

    What I am missing is a medical journal and more herbs in my garden that my Grand Mother would have used.

    That is all I can think of right now.

    1. I don't know of a medical journal, but there are several good books on "do it yourself medicine" like "Where there is no Doctor." I'm sure you can get digital copies.

  4. I think I have around 10 years of the print Anthologies (1st years was year 1 & 2 combined ?), they are a good resource and provide a lot of great reading - thought the 'Coming American Dictatorship' was good (and reading now - how prophetic!). I quit subscribing because I noticed the content was pretty much the same as I already had. Countryside magazine (the Jerry Berlanger pre Y2K issues are pretty awesome!) suffered the same fate with me.

    The only magazine I've kept up with The Backwoodsman, its changed from its earlier 'Frontiersman Living in Cabin in the Woods' with more up to date content (last issues had a lot of treasure hunting articles for example).

    I am glad Backwoods Homes is still around.

    1. Backwoodsman is a good little magazine. We don't get it up here all the time, or if we do, people are buying it before I get into town.

      I don't remember Countryside Magazine, maybe they never had it here.

  5. "These days, Backwoods Home is a lot more about farming, gardening, canning, and other rural home related topics than it is about preparedness."

    Ok. That was badly worded. I should have said " These days, Backwoods Home has a lot more about.......than it does about the other aspects of preparedness."

    My bad.

    You're supposed to read what I was thinking, not what I wrote. >:-(

  6. Hmmm. Seems to me June is rather a bad month to be pushing anything Homestead related. Like any Homesteader worth their salt would have time to read anything right now :)

    As for planting seeds stored for how long? On the fifth year? Harry you better hope things have settled down and something you have stock piled is worth a mint because you aren't going to get a garden going then worth a thing. There is a steep learning curve I think.

    I also don't think Homesteaders are ignorant or ignore what may come to pass in a society in collapse. What better place to ride out that kind of thing than on a homestead? If anything I think survivalist under your interpretation are the ones ignoring what will happen to society and putting all their eggs into one basket if you will.

    1. I'm not pushing the magazine. I always worry people will think I am connected to the things I write about somehow, but I'm not.

      If seeds aren't good for four years, then some of the outfits selling them to me have been less than honest in their advertising. Not that the prospect of that would surprise me.

      Not having done gardening is a weakness, I concede. But if all I plan to grow are corn, potatoes and beans, shouldn't I have a good chance of success if I follow the directions in the book?

      There are tons of homesteaders who are great growers of vegetables. But they have no back up power, no back up water, no medical supplies, no firearms or ammunition. Being on a dirt farm does not endow one with the ability to ignore what goes on in the larger world.

      People who grow crops, no matter how good they are at it, are subject to an infinity of things like no rain, too much rain, bugs, blight. All manner of issues that might destroy their crops, and in a collapse scenario one won't just pop down to the farmers depot for more fertilizer, bug spray, or whatever each spring. To me, that seems to fall afoul of the "one basket rule."

      Granted, I can go four years IF I am only feeding the number of people I counted on, IF nothing spoils, IF the house and barn don't burn down. But I still feel more secure with supplies on hand and stored than I do counting on the abundance and benevolence of Mother Nature. Ideally, the thing to do would be to pursue both courses at once I suppose, but most people seem to fixate on one or the other.

      I should have grown a garden this year, but I didn't for a number of reasons. What can I say. Maybe I will try next spring.

    2. Harry in answer to your first question No you wouldn't really be able to grow beans, potatoes and corn just from the book because you would have no clue what the conditions are in your particular location. Oh you may be able to grow one, two, three potato plants but do you know what your average yield is going to be? How many you need to plant to even have a chance at a harvest that will last you until the next one? The list goes on.

      I grant you there are many out there who think they can grow a few plants with a drip irrigation system off their tap water but there are just as many survival types who have no clue what they are going to do once the MRE's run out as well. In fact I think most that I would call survivalist don't really go past the food they have stored or focusing on what they can find, forage or kill. I think that is pretty narrow minded myself. I guess we do need a third wheel called homesteaders because they are the most all around combination of survivalist and preppers out there.

      Really I look at it as Survivalist = Mountain Men and Homesteader/Preppers are more the old Pioneers on their farms, ready to defend themselves or travel to the local fort if times get violent.

    3. i look at it this way.
      God makes specialists for a reason.
      read about noah's sons. there's your basic handbook on genetics
      if you are a 'mountain man' and i am a truck farmer, you bring me furs or leather and i give you enough beans, corn, jelly linen et cetera to keep you going and for you to trade to the indians until you come out of the mountains again.
      i know nothing about firearms and when survivalist websites go into all the numbers and names i am baffled.
      at my age i am not going o become conversant with them [guns].
      now, we have no dairy animals but i can make butter, yogurt and yogurt cheese. my daughter spins, weaves, crochets, tats, and knits beautifully.
      get the knowledge and skills you are suited fro--everyone has a talent-- and then team with others who fill your needs as you fill theirs.
      there's a place for all of us.

  7. That's too bad your version isn't just like the paper version. Our school is trying to move towards online books. The hard thing is that the publishers are not consistent. Also the money comes from the student's book fees, but we order them. There's been some problems with the publishers wanting the school to have ownership of the books. We want the students to own them. It kind of gets complicated.

    1. Does your school give the kids computers? They tried that in Atlanta and most of the laptops were "lost." Probably sold for crack and thunderbird.

  8. Well, if I can't grow something like potatoes and corn it doesn't seem to me that there's a lot of point in worrying about it. I guess l would have a couple of years to figure it out and if I couldn't I would have to make do with barter. Corn and potatoes won't be hard to trade for since everybody and their dog raises corn, beans, and potatoes.

    1. harry,
      kale and root crops
      deb h.

    2. deborah's advice is good advice!

  9. Hey Harry,


    Can I jump in on what Kymber said...........

    I got 80.000 rolls of toilet paper (and one band aid)

    No really.....

    For several reason's I am a one man operation. I have to live here for now (not just for the surfing)

    Gardening is out (for now at least) I would need help with a garden. I can barely maintain my house as it is let alone start a garden (the joys of being single)

    The only thing that grows down here in South Texas is weeds, mesquite and marijuana (I guess the pot can be medicinal, but pot and guns don't mix in the eyes of the law, so I don't do drugs or mess with marijuana)

    What I do have....

    I recently paid of my house (a long story) so if a great depression hits. I wont be homeless.
    I got an extensive network of like minded friends that have a variety of disciplines from making AR-15's from parts, to welding, and everything else between. I do a bit of amateur gun smithing myself however I have built two AR's (with a little help) on the stupid milspec trigger. Stag uppers are easy to order so its no point in building the upper from parts kits. I even got friends who are buying 90 percent lower recievers and jigs so they can make there own lowers (all NFA rules applied of course)
    On the medical thing. I got two friends that are, full time RN's and one Dentist that are like minded.
    I would love to move out into the woods and be a farmer or better yet move out to West Texas and be a rancher like I talked about extensively in the past. I have a lot going for me even know I am stuck where I am at. That and I am in Texas is a big plus.
    I also have neighbors that are experienced in raising hogs and another neighbor that just made an 'urban chicken coup' and will be raising chickens soon.
    I also live about one mile from the salt water with all kinds of fishing and being that I live near the King Ranch, wild hogs, Javelina ( a cousin of hogs) Deer and other critters roam around all over the place.

    We also eat Sharks down here. Shark steaks are considered a delicacy down here and we are waiting on that 14 foot Great White Shark coming down the coast. That 14 foot shark will get cut up faster than a dead horse in Stalingrad during the winter of 1942.

    One really big point is that we really don't know what kind of collapse happens, or how bad or what. There are a thousand different scenario's that could come down from EMP, alien invasion from outer space or the most likely, another great depression.
    The point is, being flexible. The stuff you have prepped with, or the survival skills (survivalist) stuff you can do can out in the woods can be an asset (or a liability)

    There is no perfect scenario and no guarantee you will survive.

  10. Amazing that I should read this just now, after getting home from work for the evening-I just checked the Backwoods Home website, and they've not updated it for me to read the free sample articles from the new issue-yeah, I'm cheap and neither subscribe online or to the paper copy. On the other hand, I browse it now and again at the local bookstore, and by recommending the website in the past to friends and family, I've won two CDs from them so I have eight years of the magazine on CD-ROM, which could come in handy.

    Apropos of nothing, well, kinda related, though, I was at the bookstore that carries BHM and saw this John Seymour book about self-sufficiency, I forget the exact title, but came out in 1976, and written by this gentleman who was British and had run farms in Africa and had been a soldier there as well, but came home to England to farmstead a few acres and wrote all sorts of helpful things he'd learned about that. I found that book free online, and downloaded it to my laptop computer-good stuf! KB

  11. Blogger is really working poorly today. The reply to comment function is completely unserviceable. When I tried to use the regular comment form to reply to CC and KB, it crashed and lost the comment. So I am going to try again.

    CC: If you are hooked up in a group that is very capable, and whom you trust, you are in good shape. I'm in complete agreement that as no one can foresee the future , you can only take your best guess at what will happen and prepare for that. For instance, in a total collapse your mortgage would be come irrelevent, because there wouldn't be any banksters trying to collect it, or any medium of exchange to pay it in. But in a Great Depression scenario, being mortgage free would be critical. What you do depends on what you think is down the road.

    KB, I subscribe to the digital version of BWHJ because it's only a couple of bucks a month, so cheap that it just doesn't matter. I wouldn't pay the full price for it, though.

  12. Matt,
    If I just buy Vitamin B and I getting the thing you and Kimberly and Sol are talking about. I have vitamin B. I'm getting a little confused , I think Sol said vitamin D has it. Maybe both of them have it.

  13. Rural revolution blog lives in Idaho with bad soil and short growing season. After years of failed gardens she put in a raised bed garden using used tractor tires which she gets free and they deliver them to her property. Thinking tires with root crops and Kymbers wire on top would be easy. I've grown potatoes in raised beds now for two years and they are my only reliable crop, very prolific and easy to grow. My garden is fenced but creatures (squirrels, rats, raccoons, snails) eat most everything else, including jalapeños. So this winter I'm constructing pvc cages ... we'll see if that works.