Letters to the Editor in our September/October 2017 Issue
Hay for Horses
We have four small fields and at one time had four horses, with no haying equipment except a tractor and a pull-behind mower that sometimes just knocked down the tall grass.
The fields are about 200 by 200 feet, and the horses couldn’t keep up with springtime grass. We usually end up cutting it. Sometimes the weather is perfect for haying. My adult daughter and I are the horse people, so the horse chores were left up to us. I’m sure my husband was in the house shaking his head at us.
Since the grass had gotten so tall, I wanted to get it off the fields before it ruined the grass underneath. We hand-raked the grass and piled it into the tractor scoop after it had dried, and brought it to the barn. The ground floor is wood, and we spread the long grass around to let it really finish drying. We were able to feed it out to our horses without any mold growing on it.
We figured that we had about 8 to 10 bales worth of hay from each field. Not bad for the effort. While I wouldn’t recommend making hay this way, it is possible. One has to be really careful about it being dry, both so it doesn’t catch fire in the barn and mold forming before you feed out. I’d love to get a real hay mower, but now it’s only me and one horse.
We may not be the only ones to have made hay this way, but our hay guy thought we did well to be able to manage it.
‘V’ is for … Vegetable?
I’d like to thank Chris Colby for his article “‘V’ is for Vegetable?” in the May/June issue of Grit. It brought back a lot of memories. During World War II, my mother owned a small family restaurant. She did all the cooking while I served as the waitress, and she hired a dishwasher. Food of any kind was difficult to obtain. Because of frequent shortages such as butter and sugar, and the number of coupons needed for a variety of things, she didn’t know from week to week what meat or other foodstuffs would be available. Her general plan was to have chicken and noodles on Monday; the next day was Meatless Tuesday; another day we specialized in bean soup; and Friday was fish day. Whatever produce was available was put to use and added to the menu from her small garden.
She must have been a good cook, because the restaurant was almost always full, and I was kept so busy I seldom had time to sit down.
Somehow, I think your magazine was made just for me. I received my first issue, and I’m still picking it up weeks later to pore over articles. I recently got into cast-iron cookware. I’ve always used it for waffles, but never for baking. Well, I’ve also gotten into making bread, so your recipes were also timed “just for me.”
My wife and I are moving in 90 days to northern Wisconsin, where I’ve owned a cottage and some land since the 1980s. We will be homesteading 20 acres that used to be an old Finnish farm. I will be raising bees — something my grandfather taught me before he passed. And so here again, you had an article on Russian bees that fascinated me.
I have made several loaves of the artisan bread, and we are obsessed with it. Tonight, I will be trying the whole-wheat recipe.
All in all, I think this is the best $10 I have ever invested in a magazine. I’m confident that I will be a subscriber for many years to come.
Lake Mills, Wisconsin
We enjoyed the wood heat article in the March/April issue.
We bought our first farm at 25 years old near Rickreall, Oregon. A 1903 five-bedroom farmhouse that, when the wind blew outside, the curtains blew inside. The basement woodstove would take a 4-foot log. To get more heat, the baby stood up and walked at 9 months old.
After four farms and 53 years of marriage, I’m proud to say I gave my wife lots of woodstoves and milk cows.
The 60 acres at Atkins, Arkansas,
provided core maturing for my three sons, for we went to the woods with one pickup and two chainsaws. I cut up, and they loaded up.
California has the huge famous sign above the town, “Hollywood.” Us rural folks are proud to reside in “Haulingwood,” Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Oregon, etc.
Richard B. Waxenfelter
Just a note to say I truly enjoyed the article on Victory Gardens in your print edition. I make my living hauling refrigerated goods, while my wife produces and preserves a good variety of homegrown produce. Sending this note as I wait to pick up potatoes in Idaho going to Texas.
Copperas Cove, Texas
Cleaning Cast Iron
We’ve been using cast-iron cookware for a long time, and thought maybe you would be interested in the way we resurrect pans that have food burned on or otherwise need help.
We always have a burn pile. When we build a fire, we put the cast-iron vessel in the fire and leave it there until the fire burns down and the pan is cool.
All you need to do then is wipe out the pan and reseason it.
Mount Shasta, California
Have a Heart
I have and have used a Havahart box trap to decrease the population of raccoons, groundhogs, and others that plague my garden each year. I surmised the garden pests were not entering my trap oftentimes because they could see and/or smell the bait at the back of the trap. Therefore, they spent their efforts at the back of the cage trying to get to the bait.
So, I designed a sheet metal cover to drop over the back 50 to 60 percent of the trap, where the bait is placed. (It was a winning idea.) Now, the garden raiders no longer spend their time reaching through the cage wire in an effort to get at the bait.
I increased my catch from two or three animals per season to a record of 25 raccoons and 23 groundhogs in one season. I now get to enjoy more of my beans and sweet corn.
Grove City, Pennsylvania
Smart thinking, Norman, and we can apply this same principle to homemade traps. Dig it! – Editors
Fishing Line Keeps Deer Out
We live in the Ozarks, where there are a lot of deer. I read about the deer deterrent in your garden. I was skeptical about Gerry Hawks’ fishing line note in the March/April issue of Grit. We tried it, and it made a believer out of me — no more deer tracks in the garden.
K. De Vore
First off, I want to say how much I really enjoy Grit Magazine. It’s a way for me to feel close to the farm life that I miss so much.
I’m writing in response to that story you wrote in the November/December 2016 issue, “A Rite of Passage.” Caleb, it isn’t common for kids to relive memories of childhood through others’ stories. So the best way to say I feel where you are coming from would be to say, I actually carried my trusty old Pumpmaster 760 right there alongside of you. That’s right, Caleb, I’ve hunted or actually we’ve tromped those fields between Uniontown and Bronson (Kansas) quite a few times, with nothing more than a lot of burrs in our socks and our BB guns.
See, Caleb, I remember going hunting for quail with my Grandpa “Ben” Gillham who used to always meet up with the good old boys (Uncle Fred) and family. And it was way back then that I too was not ready for my first 20 gauge.
Then in about 1976 or ’77, I too got to complete hunters’ education that was given in Fort Scott, Kansas, if my memory serves correctly.
I grew up in Bronson, Kansas, on a farm. Often the only friends I’d remember were from hunting trips. They were few and far apart out in the sticks. I went to Marmaton Valley in Moran, so you and I didn’t go to school together.
That part about your dad throwing hedge apples up for you to shoot at as target practice could be any of us youngsters. But it was the whole article. And I don’t remember calling you Caleb. I do remember a Cale and the Regan Boys.
But I want to say thank you, as those memories are all but forgotten. As my late Grandfather Ben Gillham who passed on back in 2002, the farm is all gone now, just a bunch of weeds and, yes, there are a few coveys of the bobwhite quail and a bunch of dove out there today. And out on the dam side of the Bronson Lake there was some really fat pheasants, but ol’ Richard Booth who owns that property moved to Grove, Oklahoma. And he’ll go ape-poop if you hunt his birds without permission.
Anyhow, Caleb, thank you once again. Oh yeah — is Todd Foxx from out that way too? The reason is the Goodman brothers, myself, and the Ramseys used to get together out at the Fin and Feather Sport Club for some good duck calling, and there was always a Foxx there too. Just asking.
As you can see by my subscription label, my expiration date is 3/1/2018. Out of all my magazine subs, only two have such a long subscription on them: Grit and Predator Xtreme hunting magazine. I love them both.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Thanks for the kind words and shared memories, Donald! Todd Foxx is a buddy from Fort Scott, and I don’t think he ever called ducks with you guys, although he’s one of the finest duck hunters I know. – Caleb Regan
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Small Backyard Gardening
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are is our motto or in this case with the backyard gardening space available.
Homemade Wheat Bread
We love the letters from our Grit readers. This month: firewood cutting tips, a wonderful whole wheat bread recipe, more switchel recipes, and photos of toad houses.
Reader Letters, July/August 2021
Letters from our readers this month include musings on saffron, homemade noodles, uses of blood meal, and cherishing family time.