Letters to the Editor in the July/August issue of GRIT

1 / 5
Success at growing fruit trees.
2 / 5
Easy and delicious homemade English muffins.
3 / 5
Restoring old barns.
4 / 5
One lucky pig survived a chilly winter on his own.
5 / 5
A pot-bellied pig sitting in an open yard.

Enjoying the Fruits of Labor

Just received the May/June 2018 magazine. My husband and I both enjoyed the “Fruitful Tree Care” article. It gave us a better understanding of the reason for fruit thinning, as hard as it is to pluck that fruit. We get it now! Thanks for all the info.

I also enjoyed the container gardening ideas. The blue jean “container” brought good memories and a smile to my face. Keep up the great work.

Deborah Wall
Wichita, Kansas

Sourdough English Muffins

I bake these Sourdough English Muffins in the cast-iron skillets that were my mother-in-law’s wedding presents 100 years ago! My old batch of sourdough starter went bad on one of our frequent moves with the military some 40 years ago, but I was inspired after reading on sourdough in one of your issues to start making these Sourdough English Muffins again. They are so chewy and flavorful when toasted, and they freeze well. The original recipe came from Sunset Bread Cookbook and used a milk-based starter, but yours works as well.

Sourdough English Muffins

  • 1/2 cup starter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour (half white, half whole-wheat)
  1. Stir together starter, milk, and flour in large glass bowl; cover. Place in oven overnight with oven light on.

In the morning:

  • 3/4 cup flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Combine 1/2 cup flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda, and mix into starter dough. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour, and knead in bowl 2 to 3 minutes. Wet your fingers with water to keep dough from sticking.
  2. Turn out dough onto floured surface, and pat to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or tuna can, cut 12 muffins from dough and place on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Sprinkle more cornmeal on top.
  3. Cover with wax paper. Let proof in oven with light on for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Heat cast-iron skillet to low-medium. Grease very lightly with bacon grease if needed. “Bake” muffins 10 minutes per side.

Connie Catron
Pleasanton, Texas

Old Barn Revival

I was so happy to see your article on saving old barns (November/December 2016). My family thought I was crazy when I purchased my property with the idea of saving the 100-plus-year-old barn that had seen better days. I have seen so many of these historic treasures left to simply fall down. My brother and I are in the process — and about half done — of restoring our barn. It has a lot of “new” wood and right now does not have the old weathered look, but when we are done it will outlast us, which makes me extremely happy.

Kim Hill
Via email

Early Entrepreneur

Back in the early 1980s, I sold Grit around my countryside, and it was extremely fun and rewarding! I just recently went to my Tractor Supply Store in McAlester, Oklahoma, to pick up some dog food, and I ran across your magazine and had to purchase it. It brought back so many memories! When I sold Grit it was in the paper form. I would be looking to receive it in the mail bundled with a yellow strap. Once I grabbed it from the mailman, I was on my bike and was off. I must say my entrepreneur skills were spot on! I don’t know if it was just me being a kid or if most of my customers were usually seniors or middle-aged, but they really looked forward to getting their Grit papers. It’s an honor to be a part of a grassroots company that I adore!

Billy D. Wilson
McAlester, Oklahoma

Sharing the Grit

I am 71, and just received my first issue of Grit in about 60 years. Growing up, we lived in a coal camp in West Virginia and folks would buy from a boy selling Grit, I think for 15 cents. I talked to my sister and she was jealous I have one. So, for a surprise gift I’m getting her a subscription.

I read the entire magazine last night. The quality of articles was wonderful. I will read it two to three times more before I loan it to my grandson. He sometimes keeps the better ones, so I probably will never see this one again. He caught me reading it.

Thank you for the wonderful magazine. It’s very impressive. My great-grandson has 4-H pigs, so he will appreciate the article on pigs.

Toby Oliver
Perry, Ohio

The Pig Who Lived

When my mother told us she had seen a very large pot-bellied pig in the brush along our farm lane, we questioned her sanity. We did have a pot-bellied pig, Petunia. She lived in a white house with petunias growing in a window box. She was perfectly content to sleep away the majority of the day, only venturing to eat, drink, and relieve herself. She did not go hiking. The next day another sighting of the trespasser by a different person confirmed the existence of the pig, and relieved my mother. Petunia remained unimpressed.

Someone had clearly dropped off the pig, now too big to be a cute pet, in the country. To complicate matters, this was a male pig with tusks. The possibility of digging up our pasture and perhaps our yard caused us great concern. We did not know if it had shots or if we needed to worry about rabies or any of the other numerous diseases that he could carry to our animals.

For several weeks we tried to catch, trap, or otherwise confine him. All attempts were hopeless. Then he disappeared. We assumed he had become dinner for a hungry coyote. During the winter our elderly Petunia died peacefully in her sleep. We acquired two young pot-bellied pigs. Porky and Petunia II moved into an old chicken coop with a heat lamp. They thrived during the winter, so by spring they were ready to move outside.

As I went about my morning chores in the early spring sunshine, our female llamas began to wail and scream. My male llama paced and herded the sheep to the safety of the other end of the pasture. Soon there appeared a much skinnier but robust pot-bellied pig.

He quickly disappeared into the underbrush. Amazed that he had not perished during the cold winter months of Iowa, we began to formulate a plan to trap him. He resisted food offerings. He out-maneuvered our herding attempts, yet he seemed drawn to the barn.

Finally it dawned on us that he wanted to visit Petunia II. With our now older and apparently fertile pig as bait, the entire family encircled him and eased him toward the buildings. Slowly he approached the barnyard and then successfully entered the pigpen. We had removed Petunia II and Porky to protect them from any injury or unknown disease.

Since Pumba’s arrival, he has regained his weight, and enjoys the short walk to the food and water. He loves his house and straw bedding. He especially takes pleasure in having friends across the fence. He has been vaccinated and appears healthy. After his quarantine expires, he will perhaps father some baby pot-bellied pigs. There is never a dull moment down on this farm!

Susan Hellert
Via email

Susan, how wonderful that you are able to provide a home for Pumba. It sounds like he’s already begun contributing to the farm! — Editors

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