Letters to the Editor in our November/December 2017 Issue

1 / 8
The "Gucci Chicken Condo."
2 / 8
The process of making hay has come so far over the years. Visit Grit.com for accounts of old-fashioned haying methods.
3 / 8
The showdown with yellow jackets is a seasonal occurrence for numerous folks throughout rural North America.
4 / 8
In our September/October issue, author Carole West offered her DIY plans for this nifty picnic table.
5 / 8
CJ McDonald’s easy DIY chicken waterer is inexpensive to make, and birds are unable to foul up their fluid.
6 / 8
This modern-day Jari Mowers walk-behind machine is similar to the one John Wilke recently restored.
7 / 8
Before winter sets in and the woodstove gets cranking, check all smoke detectors, and maybe even add an infrared motion detector.
8 / 8
Many a youngster got a start in the money-making world by delivering GRIT newspapers door to door.

Chicken Condo

My life partner, Erinn, and I decided to raise chickens, and when our neighbors outgrew their swing set, we snatched it up quickly and converted it into a “Gucci Chicken Condo.” It comfortably holds over 20 hens. With some scrap wood, we were able to add laying boxes. Check it out!

Sal and Erinn Tartaglione
Barkhamsted, Connecticut

That’s a good-looking coop, Sal and Erinn. Looks like your birds have it made … in the shade! – Editors

Pinched Saws

In reference to your article in the September/October issue on Page 36, “In a Pinch,” one of the tricks I use when felling and bucking timber is to carry a spare bar and chain. Should the bar get stuck, I can remove the power head, install the spare bar and chain, and release the stuck bar.

Daniel Williamson
via email

Journey Ahead

Congratulations on the birth of your boys (“Becoming Dad,” Page 6 in the September/October issue). I kind of envy you with the journey that lies ahead, raising your two little guys. There will be heartbreaks, disappointments, overwhelming joy, frustration, and a gambit of other emotions all culminating in a proud papa. My prayer for your family is for health, just enough challenges to build character but not break the spirit, and periods of joy that can only come from children. Being into my third time of raising kids, I can definitely say that in the end, it’s all worth the tears of sorrow and joy. One thing though: These two guys will not just be your kids until they leave home, but will be your kids for the rest of your lives.

Many blessings on you and your family. Maybe someday I’ll get to meet the family. Have a great dad day with your boys.

Nebraska Dave
Omaha, Nebraska

Thanks for the encouragement, Dave. Since the very beginning of my time here, your readership, support, and participation in our community have been like no other. We sincerely appreciate and enjoy it. – Caleb Regan

Faith and Grit

I was grateful for Caleb’s letter to his two gorgeous little boys. His emphasis on faith and grit are very special to me. I have a strong faith and have tried to pass it on to my daughter, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. In today’s world, it seems to be something that is not valued very much.

Your boys are blessed that they have been given to a family who will instruct them in things of the Lord and will expect them to have strong minds and determined efforts throughout their lives. It is going to take young men and women with such characteristics to mend our world and get it headed again in the direction we seem to be losing now.

I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Mary Louise Church
Ovid, New York

Horse-Drawn Haying

I first remember my father cutting hay with a mowing machine pulled by two horses. We raked the hay with a dump rake pulled by horses as well. We picked them up with a rake and brought it to a stationary baler powered by two mules walking in a circle. My brothers and I poked and tied wires to make bales.

The first upgrade was a stationary baler powered by a gasoline engine. All other equipment remained the same. The mules got a break.

Our next advancement was a mowing machine pulled by a tractor. We raked the hay with a side-delivery rake. We baled the hay with a New Holland baler that picked up the hay in the field and tied the bales with string. So, my brothers and I got a break. However, we still had to pick up the bales and haul them to the barn.

This year, we cut the hay with a rotary mower, then raked it with a side-delivery rake bought in the late 1950s but still going strong. We baled the hay with a John Deere round baler, and pick them up with a bale spear connected to a tractor and haul them to the barn.

My two brothers and I put hay up on the same farm our father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather did.

As I turn 81 years of age this year, I hope, with the good Lord willing, I have a few haying seasons left to see what the next generation of technology will bring.

Donald L. Ward
Hartford, Kentucky

Yellow Jacket Advice

Regarding your article “Unlikely Allies” in the September/October 2016 issue, there is another easy and non-chemical way to deal with yellow jacket nests in the ground.

First, you collect two buckets of fairly small wood chips or pea gravel, about 4 gallons each.

Second, you carry them out to the nest locations, the opening of which you have carefully noted the day before, while it is dark and they are all in the nest.

Third, you pour the first bucket of material directly over the hole. Then you remove any branches pencil-sized or larger that protrude from under the pile of material. This is to prevent them from crawling along the open space along the side of the branch.

Fourth, dump the second bucket directly on top of the previous dump.

Once you have dumped the first bucket, you are safe from stings while you remove branches and complete Step 4, which is for insurance. The material is so dense and thick that they cannot dig their way out and die in their nest. I have never had failure with this method except when the nest was in a gopher hole, and the bees used the gopher maze to find another way out, and another time the nest was in a long crack in clay soil. Obviously, you must be sure you know exactly where the hole is.

Carol Michener
Zenia, California

Plans Put to Use

Thank you so much for the article with the picnic table plans in the September/October 2017 issue. My boyfriend built one for our backyard yesterday, and we love it!

Cynthia Metz
New Albany, Indiana

Chicken Waterer

This watering jug is easy to make, easy to use, and keeps the water clean.

Simply get a plastic 5 gallon jug — like the ones kitty litter is packaged in. About halfway down, cut a rectangular hole in one side of the jug big enough for the chicken to put its head into the hole. Fill the jug with water up to the opening and place the jug against the wall of the chicken coup to prevent the chickens from tipping it over. To refill the jug, simply take off the cap and pour water into the jug.

The nice thing about this jug is that the chickens cannot climb on top of it and get anything into the water. The water stays clean and is always available for the chickens. These are cheap and super easy to make.

CJ McDonald
Whittaker, Michigan

Restored Sickle Bar

My Dad, John Wilke, 81, of Branchburg New Jersey, recently restored a Jari Monarch Model C vintage sickle bar mower.

The mower, originally owned by my grandfather, was left unused in my barn and not lubricated for years. An intermittent project over several months, my Dad replaced the old rusted engine with an engine from a roto-tiller, ordered new replacement parts, and cleaned all the remaining rust by giving it a primer and two coats of paint. Just as good as new, my son now has the right tool to tackle the jungle of weeds on my 7-acre farm.

Karin Evans
Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Smoke Safety

With winter approaching, heating safety is paramount. In addition to smoke detectors, I also use a battery operated infrared motion detector. I put the detector in the basement, and set it “staring” at the furnace. If smoke appears where it shouldn’t be, it sounds the alarm upstairs. In fact, I find it responds faster than the smoke detectors.

Milton Ammel
Parker, Kansas

Grit Salesman

I just found the Grit website. It brings back fond memories of my first experience as a “salesman.” I was born and raised in Chanute, Kansas, and if my memory still serves me accurately (most of the time!), I believe I built my weekly “circulation” to about 50 copies, all delivered by bicycle. There were valuable lessons learned in those days, in the early 1950s. On September 13, I officially retired after 42 years as a “road warrior.” Grit was my start.

My next step is to go back to your website and enter a subscription to the magazine which apparently has now “replaced” that great little weekly newspaper.

R.D. “Casey” Casebolt
Shawnee, Kansas

Share Your Thoughts

We welcome letters from our readers. If you would like to comment on an article or share your opinions, send us an email (with photos, if available) to letters@grit.com, or send a letter via the USPS to:

Grit Mail Call
1503 S.W. 42nd St.
Topeka, KS 66609

Electronic submissions are more likely to generate a timely response.

Need Help? Call 1-866-803-7096