2018 Reading Challenge: Kansas
The Lifestyle

2018 Reading Challenge: Kansas

2018 Reading Challenge: KansasA new year—a new reading challenge!

This year, Kansas is the theme. To complete the challenge, you must read 12 Kansas-related books by the end of 2018:

  1. A book about Kansas prior to 1854.
  2. A book about Kansas flora.
  3. A fictional book written by a Kansas author.
  4. A book about territorial Kansas.
  5. A book about Kansas travel.
  6. A book about Kansas fauna.
  7. A book about Kansas in the late 1800s.
  8. A book of poetry written by a Kansas author.
  9. A book about a famous Kansan.
  10. A book about Kansas in the 1900s.
  11. A book of Kansas photography.
  12. A book about a current issue in Kansas.

Here are the rules:

  • Books in electronic formats count.
  • Both fiction and nonfiction books count.
  • You can read the books in any order.
  • Books cannot be counted twice, even if they fit into more than one category.

If you can complete a book a month, you will be able to complete the challenge easily.

Stuck? Sign up for On the Range, our free weekly country living update (learn more). In the last issue of every month, we’ll suggest a book for one of the categories as a hint.

Let us know what you’re reading this year! We’d love to hear from you!


Helpful Resource

The Homestead Bookshelf
Looking for a good book? Start here.

The Farm


BoerBoer is an Afrikaans words meaning “farmer,” which sums up the history of the Boer goat (literally, “farmer’s goat”) nicely. From the breed’s origins in South Africa in the early 1900s, the Boer has been the choice of enterprising farmers wherever it has traveled.

The Boer was bred solely for meat production right from the beginning. Its ancestors were varied, including native goats from several African tribes and possibly influenced by some genetics from Europe and India. While the origins of the foundation stock may be slightly obscure, the selection criteria were simple—profitable meat production.

After several decades of breed development, the Boer spread to new countries—illegally. A group of smugglers exported frozen goat embryos to New Zealand to be implanted into does available there. The smugglers were primarily seeking Angora embryos, valuable for their production of mohair. A few Boer embryos were in the shipment, however, and these went on to establish a Boer population in New Zealand.

The first Boer goats in America were descended from the New Zealand herds, arriving on our shores in 1993. These goats were instantly recognized as having considerable entrepreneurial potential, not just as the basis of a goat meat industry, but to supply the ever-extravagant exotic animal trade. Prices of Boer breeding stock soared to absurd and unsustainable highs within a year.

Fortunately, the prices returned to sanity fairly quickly as purebred Boer numbers boomed. Today, values for breeding Boers are comparable to those of other purebred goats, putting this breed within the reach of business-minded farmers across the country. It is now common throughout the United States, but particularly in Texas, where a large-scale goat ranching industry has arisen to supply the demand for goat meat coming from immigrants from Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries.



The Boer is purely a meat breed. However, because quality breeding stock can still be expensive, most purebred Boer goats are not slaughtered. Instead, they are crossed with other goat breeds to produce less valuable animals for consumption. Most goats actually used for meat are about 7/8 pure Boer.

The other common purpose of a Boer goat is to manage pasture. This breed is good at rustling a living off of scrubby land, making it a good choice for reclaiming low-quality acreage that would otherwise remain useless. The Boer can also maintain high-quality pasture when placed in a rotation with cattle. The goats will clean up the unpalatable weeds left by the cattle, preventing them from taking over.



Boer goats are known for excellent dispositions, being quite even-tempered and docile. In fact, they can become rather petlike in their affection for their people.



On the whole, the Boer is a healthy, hardy, trouble-free goat. However, this record has deteriorated slightly since the breed’s introduction to America. Those who tend to regard their goats as pets have not been rigorous in their selection and culling of breeding stock based on health, while even commercially minded goat-keepers have neglected this important step in an effort to maximize production. It is easy to understand why breeders would want to ensure that their goats have every advantage with regard to feed, vaccinations, parasite preventatives, and other aids, but the fact remains that these practices tend to conceal genetic problems lurking in breeding stock, thus perpetuating bad genes for future generations. This is precisely what has begun to happen in the Boer breed. Fortunately, the downward trend is in its earliest stages and is quite reversible. Buy breeding stock from a goat-keeper who is focused on testing and breeding for health.

Despite the white hair of the Boer goat, sunburn is not a concern. Its skin is pigmented, providing it with adequate protection in even the most unforgivingly hot climates.

One thing that the Boer goat did not develop in its native country was a strong resistance to internal parasites. However, some breeders have focused attention on selecting for this trait with encouraging results. A careful choice of breeding stock will avoid parasite problems for the most part.

Also, Boers, particularly older Boers, can be susceptible to hoof rot, but only when kept in unsanitary conditions. Any appearance of hoof rot in the herd is a sign that an improvement in pasture management is necessary.



  • Easy-to-handle disposition.
  • Respect of most mesh and electric fencing.
  • Adaptability to both extreme heat and cold when provided with a simple shelter.
  • Strong instinct to graze even during adverse weather.
  • Ability to thrive on brushy pasture.
  • Disease resistance.
  • High fertility rate.
  • Ability to breed year-round.
  • High incidence of twins (note that young does usually only have one kid the first time).
  • Excellent mothering ability.
  • Fast growth rate.
  • Heavy muscling.
  • Mild flavor, often compared to veal.
  • Meat tenderness.
  • Premium prices paid by consumers for Boer-influenced goat meat.
  • Marked ability to transmit docility, growth rate, and meat quality to crossbred offspring.



  • Abundance of poor-quality specimens.
  • High feed requirements of goats from show lines (not usually a problem in goats bred for commercial production).
  • Susceptibility to internal parasites.


Complete Series

Goat BreedsGoat Breeds


7 Cold-Weather Country Living Projects
The Lifestyle

7 Cold-Weather Country Living Projects

7 Cold-Weather Country Living ProjectsLooking for something to do indoors on those cold, cloudy days of winter? Put that time to good use with one of these projects:

  1. Set goals for the new year. And schedule time to work on them. When pursuing an objective that requires a long-term commitment, writing down your goal is the first step to making it happen. Planning time into your day for zeroing in on that goal is the second step.
  2. Research a new enterprise. Get a head start on that new project you were contemplating and do some research. Winter is a great time for reading, making notes, calculating budgets, and laying plans.
  3. Plan a garden. Don’t waste a minute of the growing season! By preparing for spring gardening now, you will give yourself plenty of time to create a planting schedule, purchase seeds, and start vegetables indoors.
  4. Learn a new craft or skill. Many crafts typically considered hobbies can be enjoyed for their own sake, but they can often be put to practical use, as well. Hand-knit scarves for the family will be greatly appreciated during winter chores. Original art can be sold for extra income. Woodworking can be useful in hundreds of ways around both the farm and the house.
  5. Overhaul your web content. Are your links (both internal and external) still functional? Is your more timeless content still up to date? Is your about page still relevant? Are there tweaks you could make to your design or taxonomy to make your content easier to find?
  6. Start a reading challenge. Is the weather outside frightful? Sit down with a good book. Taking up a reading challenge is a good way to stretch yourself by reading about topics you might otherwise have overlooked, thus expanding your knowledge base.
  7. Write a book. While you’re reading broadly and acquiring new knowledge, take some time to put your own knowledge into a form that others can benefit from. Research, writing, and editing all take time—what better time than when the outdoor chores have let up a bit?
The Farm


AngoraThe Angora comes to us from the Himalayas of Asia Minor. Its origins are so ancient that the details have been lost altogether. It is believed to be a direct descendant of some species of wild goat, perhaps the Persian bezoar or perhaps the markhor, famous for its twisted horns. Read More

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017It’s Christmas time once again!

Thank you for another great year at Homestead on the Range! We are looking forward to bringing you even more helpful country living information in 2018.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for some helpful resources to start the new year right or just for a little interesting reading, allow us to make a few recommendations.


Best of 2017

From Homestead on the Range

3 Ways to Stay Posted3 Ways to Stay Posted


The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)




Introducing Cowboy PoetryIntroducing Cowboy Poetry


Pros and Cons of Niche MarketingPros and Cons of Niche Marketing


Keeping a Garden JournalKeeping a Garden Journal


Winkler CraterWinkler Crater: A Kimberly Pipe in Kansas


What is a Landrace Breed?What is a Landrace Breed?


Seeds From the TombsSeeds From the Tombs


8 Reasons to Memorize Scales8 Reasons to Memorize Scales


The Wonderful Wizard of OzThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz


5 Tips for Improving Your Writing5 Tips for Improving Your Writing


British and Continental Cattle BreedsBritish and Continental Cattle Breeds




Ox Yokes and CollarsOx Yokes and Collars


Dog BreedsDog Breeds


Pros and Cons of Hot CompostingPros and Cons of Hot vs. Cold Composting


The Agricultural Adjustment Act in the Great Plains: Part 1The Agricultural Adjustment Act in the Great Plains


Kansas GovernorsKansas Governors




Web Soil SurveyWeb Soil Survey


Murray McMurray Chick SelectorMurray McMurray Chick Selector


Stockdog SavvyStockdog Savvy


How to Master the English BibleHow to Master the English Bible




Food PreservationFood Preservation


Top 10 Marguerite Henry BooksTop 10 Marguerite Henry Books


Cover Crop Decision ToolCover Crop Decision Tool


An Introduction to Heritage BreedsAn Introduction to Heritage Breeds


Kansas Ag ConnectionKansas Ag Connection




Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test KitLuster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit


Pick PunchPick Punch




Shetland SheepdogShetland Sheepdog


George M. Beebe
The Sunflower State

George M. Beebe

George M. BeebeGeorge M. Beebe was born on October 28, 1836, in New York. Like many politicians, he first chose to pursue the legal profession, being admitted to the bar in 1857. He began practicing in Monticello, New York, but later that year moved to Peoria, Illinois, where he briefly worked as the editor of the Central Illinois Democrat.

In 1858, Beebe moved to Troy, Kansas, and once again practiced law. That same year, he became a member of the Territorial Council, the upper house of the territorial legislature.

Beebe was appointed to the post of territorial secretary in 1859 to replace Secretary Hugh Sleight Walsh, who was resigning after exposing Governor Samuel Medary’s claim bond fraud. However, Beebe’s confirmation lingered in the U.S. Senate through the influence of Mississippi senators Jefferson Davis and A.G. Brown, evidently owing to some question of party loyalty. Secretary Walsh may have had a hand in the delay.

In any case, Beebe wrote to Senator Davis, pledging his loyalty to the Democratic Party and proclaiming himself a defender of slavery. Beebe was eventually confirmed as Kansas territorial secretary, and it was in this capacity that he had the duty of serving as acting governor.


Time in Office

Beebe acted as governor from September 11 to November 26, 1860. The main event of note during this period was a November visit to Fort Scott to visit Free State guerilla leader James Montgomery. Beebe informed Montgomery that he had heard strange rumors of the latter’s actions and had decided to investigate for himself. Beebe was speedily convinced, however, that border warfare was not imminent and decided to take Montgomery’s advice not to send out federal troops, the militant abolitionist having hinted that such a move would be considered an insult. When Governor Samuel Medary returned, however, he promptly requested the assistance of federal troops anyway.

But when Governor Medary realized that statehood was just around the corner, he resigned on December 17 that same year, leaving Beebe to serve as the final executive of Kansas Territory. There was little to do at that point but wait. As one of its final acts, the territorial legislature wrote a bill in early 1861 to repudiate Medary’s fraudulent bonds. Acting Governor Beebe vetoed this bill, but it was subsequently passed over his veto.

Kansas officially became a state on January 29, 1861. The new government was inaugurated on February 9 with Charles Robinson as the first state governor. His territorial duties at an end, Beebe moved to Missouri and later Nevada before finally returning to his native state of New York.



  • Served as the last acting governor of Kansas Territory.


In His Own Words

  • Delayed confirmation process: “I want the wish of the party here to be recognized. They ask Walsh’s removal. The dem members of the legislature & the Gov will resign if he be not removed, so for my own appointment I care nothing. Let some one else be appointed, but if I ever come before the senate for confirmation for another office (& I expect to) I hope you will be good enough to examine into the case before upsetting ‘my kettle of fish.’ This office holding is a humbug.”


Complete Series

Kansas GovernorsKansas Governors


What Are Milk Components?
The Farm

What Are Milk Components?

What Are Milk Components?Milk components are a common topic related to dairy cattle. For example, when researching dairy breeds, it is commonly mentioned that Jersey cows have more components in their milk than Holsteins do.

So what are the components of milk? There are three main categories:

  • Fat.
  • Protein.
  • Other solids.



When a cow’s rumen digests fiber, it produces fatty acids. Some of these fatty acids are processed in the udder and released in the milk, accounting for about half of the fat naturally found in milk. The other half of the fat enters the milk from the bloodstream, often coming from the cow’s liver or backfat, or directly from fats absorbed in the diet.

Because fiber is important to producing milk fat, cows generally have higher levels of fat in their milk when fed diets high in natural forages of good quality. Cows are sometimes fed low-fiber, high-energy diets to increase total milk production. Needless to say, this extra production comes at the expense of the fat component.

Fat content is generally expressed as a percentage. This is important because a high-producing cow like a Holstein may yield more pounds of fat per lactation than a Jersey. However, a gallon of Holstein milk contains a higher percentage of water than a gallon of Jersey milk does. Total milk yield and percentage of components are usually inversely related.



Protein makes its way into milk thanks to the action of rumen microbes that start the process of breaking proteins down into amino acids. Mammary glands later reconstruct the amino acids back into proteins with the aid of glucose. Also, small amounts of albumin and immunoglobulin proteins enter milk directly through the bloodstream.

It is interesting to note that the chemical makeup of the protein component can vary from cow to cow. Casein is the main type of protein found in cow’s milk, but it can come in two forms, known as A1 and A2. The latter type is considered easier for humans to digest.

A deficiency of dietary protein will indeed reduce the amount of protein in a cow’s milk. However, once the cow’s protein needs are met, feeding additional protein will not further increase amount of protein in the milk. Beyond this point, protein content is strongly influenced by genetics.

Like fat, the protein content of a cow’s milk is expressed as a percentage.


Other Solids

Many times, when milk components are under discussion, fat and protein are the main solids of interest. However, there are many other solids that make milk:

  • Lactose: A type of sugar; the carbohydrate component of milk.
  • Minerals: Including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
  • Vitamins: Particularly vitamins A and B complex.


Why Components Matter

  • Components indicate cow health. A healthy, well-fed cow with minimal stress will have plenty of fat, protein, and other nutrients to spare for her milk. On the other hand, a cow suffering from mastitis or from rumen acidosis will show a considerable drop in fat and protein components.
  • Components are important for human nutrition. Two glasses of milk from two different cows are vastly different. A glass of milk from a cow bred and fed for high total milk production is mostly water. A glass of milk from a cow bred and fed with an eye to components contains more of the proteins, vitamins, and minerals necessary for good health. Even the fats are beneficial to humans, as they are important for building cells.
  • Components offer value-added opportunities. Fat and protein are necessary to the manufacture of butter, cream, and cheese, among other dairy products.
  • Components give rich flavor and texture to dairy products. Milk fat and other solids are what make ice cream creamy. In fact, one of the factors that separates gourmet ice cream from just plain old ice cream is a higher percentage of fat.
The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)
The Lifestyle

Last-Minute Gift Idea: The Worst Jokes I Know

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)Searching for an inexpensive last-minute gift idea perfect for children? Take a look at The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!): 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages by B. Patrick Lincoln.

This illustrated book is sure to delight jokers (cards, you might say) of all ages with puns new and old:

A very prudent gardener planted dollar bills throughout his entire garden. One’s first thought might have been that he wanted to grow the mythical money tree. But no, the gardener knew better than that. He was merely trying to ensure that he had rich soil.

Young jokesters will enjoy trying out clean, corny wordplay on their family, friends, and pun pals as they find out:

  • Why is it inadvisable to read the contents of this book to an egg?
  • Why was the ground delighted with the earthquake?
  • And why did the chicken really cross the road?

Share a laugh this Christmas!

Click here for more information and buying options. Free sample pages are available.

Samuel Medary
The Sunflower State

Samuel Medary

Samuel MedaryFrom an early age, Samuel Medary, native of Pennsylvania, was a influential Democrat, his foremost weapon being his formidable pen. He was born in 1801; 16 years later he was already contributing prose and poetry to the Norristown Herald. After a series of moves and some time spent as a rural schoolteacher, Medary established his own paper in Batavia, Ohio, in 1828—the Ohio Sun, dedicated to the cause of Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign.

Medary further bolstered his reputation as a Jacksonian Democrat with one term each in the Ohio House and in the Senate of that same state. But Medary could not keep away from the newspaper business for very long. On completing his time in the Ohio Senate, he purchased the Columbus Western Hemisphere, changed its name to the Ohio Statesman, and continued using his pen to shape the thought of the Democratic Party.

In addition to editing his newspaper, Medary played an important part as a delegate from Ohio to the National Democratic Conventions at Baltimore in 1844. Westward Expansion, slavery, and economic issues were hot topics that divided the party that year. Andrew Jackson’s support was considered a valuable asset to any candidate, so the former president entrusted a letter declaring his personal choice to Medary for safekeeping, to be presented only in the case of absolute gridlock. Gridlock ensued, so Medary displayed the letter and rallied the Jacksonian Democrats behind James K. Polk. Polk went on to become president, although, contrary to popular myth, he did not campaign with shouts of “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!” This “campaign promise” of a United States that extended to 54° 40′ north was actually a demand made by the Democratic Party and its associated newspapers. In fact, the slogan may have been coined by Medary himself.

At the Cincinnati National Democratic Conventions in 1856, Medary again came to the forefront, this time as a supporter of Stephen A. Douglas. Although James Buchanan won the nomination and became president, the new president won Medary’s respect for his support of the Lecompton Constitution. Medary must have gained favor from Buchanan, as well, because when a territorial governor was needed for Minnesota in April 1857, Medary was the president’s choice. Granted, the position was a rather awkward one, because Minnesota Territory had already set up a state government while Congress delayed on admitting it to the Union. Minnesotans debated whether Governor Medary could legally sign anything the “state” government passed. Medary mostly stayed out of the territory and allowed the secretary, Charles L. Chase, to handle affairs until Minnesota was finally admitted to the Union in May 1858.

After a brief spell as postmaster of Columbus, Ohio, Medary was selected to become a territorial governor again—this time in Kansas.


Time in Office

Samuel Medary arrived in Kansas Territory on December 18, 1858. One of the most important events of his time in office came almost two months later. On February 9, 1859, Medary signed a law requiring the citizens vote on whether or not to organize yet another constitutional convention. This vote was held on March 28 and demonstrated the eagerness of Kansas residents to put the matter to rest once and for all. Delegates were duly elected, the convention was held, and the result was the Wyandotte Constitution. This document was approved by a vote of the people on October 4, 1859, with 10,421 voting for it and 5,530 against it.

The next step on the path to statehood was to elect state officials so that a government could be set up quickly and smoothly once Kansas was admitted to the Union. The elections were held on December 6, 1859, the result being a landslide for the antislavery Republican Party across the future state. In the gubernatorial race, Medary ran against Republican Charles Robinson, who had illegally served as governor of the Free State government during the Bleeding Kansas era. Robinson won 7,908 to 5,395, earning the right to become the first governor of the state of Kansas, as soon as Kansas became a state.

Shortly after the elections, Medary found himself caught up in scandal. Provisions had previously been made by the territorial government to examine claims made by people who suffered damage during the period of guerilla warfare. Territorial officials expected that Congress would pay the claims, as the territory did not have the legal authority to issue bonds to pay them. However, in January 1860, it came to light that the territorial treasurer had issued bonds for the claims with the governor’s approval, and that these bonds were being used to establish a bank in Lawrence. The illegal bonds had been sold fraudulently in New York.

Medary’s relationship with the Republican territorial legislature, already strained by the bond scandal, did not improve when on February 20, 1860, he vetoed an act prohibiting slavery in Kansas Territory. This bill had caused great turmoil in the legislature and was only passed with a struggle. Medary observed that the move appeared to be “more political than practical,” but vetoed it primarily because he felt that the territorial legislature did not possess the sovereignty to ban the institution of slavery. By contrast, Medary observed, the Wyandotte Constitution was an act of the people (the true source of sovereignty) and therefore could legitimately ban slavery in the future state of Kansas.

But clearly the Republican Party was on the ascendancy in Kansas. By the time Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Medary was convinced that the best thing for him to do was to resign. He left office on December 17, 1860, and returned to Ohio, where he established a newspaper called The Crisis. His highly critical views of President Lincoln, the Republican Party, and the fighting of the Civil War led to the destruction of his newspaper office by an angry mob in 1863. The following year, Medary was arrested for conspiracy against the government. He died before he could stand trial.



  • Served as the last appointed territorial governor of Kansas.
  • Called the convention that drafted the Wyandotte Constitution, still in effect today.
  • Defeated in the first gubernatorial election in Kansas.
  • Perpetrator of the only bond scandal in territorial Kansas history.


In His Own Words

  • Bleeding Kansas: “Every thing seems to near a more hopeful and quiet appearance, all over the Territory, and with a year of prosperous emigration and full crops of the present settlers, Kansas by the opening of next Spring will scarcely be known from its appearance to its old acquaintance.”
  • 1859 election results: “…I have not a solitary doubt left about our having a democratic majority in Kansas. Yet we have to submit to the eternal disgrace of having it go forth as a Black Old John Brown state. It is our own faults in part—and we deserve it, but I do not feel comfortable under the additional disgrace of running behind the balance of the ticket, by being cut by pure unadulterated Democrats, as must have been the case.”
  • Veto of territorial abolition act: “Sovereignty does not reside in Legislatures; it resides in the people; and their sovereign acts must precede legislative bodies. And here, I presume, is the rock on which you have split. If sovereignty resided in Legislatures, then, indeed, no one would dare to dispute your sovereign acts. But in this great essential you are deficient, and hence the embarrassment under which you labor in completing your round of ‘all legislation.’ You can pass laws regulating the condition of master and slave, or you can repeal such laws, or refuse to pass them, but you lack the sovereignty necessary to create a slave, or wrest him from his owner. That is an exercise of power which clear, undisputed sovereignty alone can exercise; and it must be done by the sovereign himself, in convention assembled.”


Complete Series

Kansas GovernorsKansas Governors