We love Nebo lights. They’re bright, they come in all shapes and sizes, and they attach to just about anything.
That last part is what makes Nebo flashlights so handy. Depending on the model, a Nebo flashlight can be attached to a belt, a pocket, a magnetic surface, a nail on the wall, or even a strip of Velcro. Read More
A quick glance at the heating properties of Osage orange may suggest that this tree is the world’s best firewood (if you don’t mind battling thorns and sharpening chainsaw blades frequently). After all, this dense wood is the hottest-burning firewood east of the Rocky Mountains, producing as much as 32.6 million BTUs per cord according to K-State. That’s enough heat to warp a wood-burning stove without proper precautions to keep the temperature down.
But sitting in front of an Osage orange fire can be anything but restful. Once the wood heats up, the constant shower of sparks can transform your fireplace in a miniature fireworks display.
Sparking occurs when the wood releases sap, which in this species is a thick, sticky white substance containing latex. The sparking increases dramatically if the fire is suddenly exposed to air.
You can mitigate, but not completely eliminate, the spark shower by allowing the sap to dry out before burning. Osage orange dries very slowly, taking from six months to two years depending on the size of the pieces. Note that the wood should be split before drying begins. Dry Osage orange is remarkably like iron.
It’s always best to be on the safe side, even with dry wood. Never burn Osage orange in an open fireplace, and never leave the fire unattended.
The Web Soil Survey site takes a little bit of getting used to, but it provides a wealth of information. Once you have selected an area of interest, you can view a map identifying the types of soils on your property.
But that’s just the beginning—these facts are then translated into information that you can use to determine the best use of your land. View details on:
- Building site development (potential challenges to dwellings, lawns, shallow excavations, small commercial buildings, etc.).
- Construction materials (usefulness as a source of gravel, sand, topsoil, etc.).
- Land classifications (suitability for farming, irrigation, forest, conservation tree plantings, etc.).
- Land management (erosion hazard, fence post depth, potential for damage by fire, potential for seedling mortality, soil rutting hazard, etc.).
- Recreational development (suitability for motorcycle trails, paths, playgrounds, etc.).
- Vegetative productivity (productivity of crops, range, and forests).
- Plenty more to keep you busy!
If you want to get to know your soil better, this is a very informative start. Enjoy!
There’s nothing like a homemade gift to warm someone’s heart at Christmas. The time and love put into a handcrafted present make it special.
If you enjoy country living, you have an excellent opportunity to make and grow gifts that will touch others. Need some inspiration? Consider these ideas:
- Heirloom seeds. If you raise and save seeds from heirloom plants, why not share that favorite variety with a gardening relative?
- Live plants. Some of your family members might enjoy a sample of a perennial plant to grow. Perhaps you can share a productive and hardy variety of berry, or maybe an herb in a pot.
- Herbal concoctions. Many people have an interest in herbs, even if they don’t necessarily grow them. Delight someone this Christmas with dried herbs for cooking or making tea.
- Kitchen treats. Are you good at baking homemade bread? Is your jelly a favorite? Share some of that down-home goodness with friends and family this year.
- Country crafts. Put your skills to work creating something for that special someone. Build a birdhouse; knit a scarf; paint a rural scene. The sky is the limit!
Louisiana State University has put together an excellent website packed with countless building plans available for free PDF download. If you are the do-it-yourself type, this is a site that you should definitely bookmark!
Just to give you a very small sampling of the plans and projects that are included:
- Dairy parlors.
- Rearview mirrors for tractors.
- Walk-in refrigerators.
- Roadside fruit stands.
- Chicken coops.
The PDFs are simply diagrams—they do not contain step-by-step directions. However, dimensions are provided. With a little bit of building know-how, you should be able to get started without too much trouble.
While some of the plans are a little overkill for most country families (need an auction barn?), many of them will provide useful ideas for your construction projects, whether large or small. Highly recommended site!
…In truth the finest heroes are home-spun, and are more often hidden in obscurity than platformed by public observation.
HomeMade: 101 Easy-to-Make Things for Your Garden, Home, or Farm by Ken Braren and Roger Griffith provides a drawing and a brief summary for each project. Many of the projects also include exact dimensions. Others are less specific and more for brainstorming purposes.
Take a look at the list of things you can build with the help of HomeMade:
- Basement closets.
- Root cellars.
- Lawn chairs.
- Tool sheds.
- Compost bins.
- Plant supports.
- Bird feeders.
- Loading chutes.
- How to clean and store paintbrushes.
- How to sharpen tools.
- How to build a compost pile that will actually compost.
- How to bale hay on a small scale.
- How to tighten a fence.
Are you ready to build something?
This is not a post about recycling—at least not the type that involves saving up plastic bottles for the local recycling center. This type of recycling is quite a bit more interesting because it seriously challenges your creativity.
If you’re keeping a close eye on your spending, there is one key question that will arise over and over and over again: how do you obtain the equipment you need without blowing the budget?
One answer is to save everything. Well, maybe not literally everything. But you can certainly collect scrap metal, extra lumber, broken-down farm equipment, and a host of other materials normally designated as trash.
Once you have a stash of spare parts, the fun begins. The uses “junk” can be put to are amazing:
- Deflated inner tubes can be trimmed into rubber patches.
- Craft sticks and worn-out spatulas can be converted into plant markers.
- Threadbare blue jeans can be cut into rags for use when working on trucks and tractors.
- Scrap wire of various types can be used to repair fences.
- A broken plastic fence post can be made into an insulated gate handle with the help of a little caulk.
- Wire nuts can keep the rooster from accidentally cutting his hens with his spurs.
- Leftover chicken wire can be shaped into protective cages for garden plants.
- Dead plants can become the start of a compost pile.
This is just the beginning. The list could go on and on.
So stretch your creativity and your dollar. Start looking at the many resources you haven’t tapped into yet. Before you throw anything away, challenge yourself. What use could you put that piece of junk to? You may surprise yourself with the answer.