Tag: Supplies

Nebo Lights
The Lifestyle

Nebo LED Lights

Nebo LightsWe 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

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


10 Gifts for Gardeners
The Garden

10 Gifts for Gardeners

10 Gifts for GardenersChristmas is just around the corner! If you are looking for a few ideas to bring a smile to the face of that gardener in the family this year, allow us to make a few recommendations.

  1. The Family Garden JournalThe Family Garden Journal. Our garden journal is a great way for a gardener to celebrate a year of growing plants. It features 366 pages with room for to-do lists, observations, harvest records, and other notes, and it even includes a shopping list, a map, a planting table, and other useful tools for planning a garden. Makes a great keepsake. Read more.
  2. Heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are sure to delight! Choose varieties with a compelling story and an attractive appearance. If the seeds come from your own heirloom garden, that makes them even more special.
  3. The Christian Kids’ Gardening Guide. Looking for a gift for a budding green thumb? This delightful little book offers both practical growing tips and fun activities to foster a love of gardening. Read our full review.
  4. All New Square Foot GardeningAll New Square Foot Gardening. If your fellow gardener does not already have a copy of this revolutionary book on gardening, do him a favor and get him one. Even those committed to traditional row gardening can pick up many useful tips for making the garden more productive and attractive. Read our full review.
  5. Oxo Good Grips trowel. Every gardener needs a trowel. If the trowel has a comfortable handle, a sharp stainless-steel blade, and handy measuring marks, so much the better.
  6. Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Another classic work on gardening that deserves a place on every gardener’s bookshelf. This one is an indispensable reference for those who garden naturally. Read our full review.
  7. Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test KitLuster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit. Does your gardening friend know how to test his soil for pH and NPK? If not, this kit will make it easy for him. Read our full review.
  8. Gardening gloves. Even a gardener who already has a pair probably won’t mind an extra pair.
  9. Seed packets. This is another good choice for an heirloom gardener. These seed packets seal to protect their contents, and they can be used with a home inkjet or laser printer.
  10. Sweet potato beetle. This hilarious craft is a great way to use that overgrown sweet potato! Warning: The laughter will be heard for miles around!
Pros and Cons of Laminated Woods for Guitarists
The Skills

Pros and Cons of Laminated Woods for Guitarists

Pros and Cons of Laminated Woods for GuitaristsPerhaps you already have a particular type of wood in mind for your new guitar. Whether that wood is solid or laminated will make a tremendous difference in the sound that you will hear.

Solid wood is exactly what the words imply. Pieces of solid wood are carved into the necessary shape for a guitar.

A laminate is created by shaving thin strips of wood and gluing them on top of each other. The pieces are arranged so that the grain of one layer runs in the opposite direction of the grain of the next.

So is solid wood or a laminate the right choice for you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of laminates.



  • Low price. Solid wood is not cheap. Laminate is. In fact, when buying a budget guitar, be leery of a solid top. Chances are, the wood was poorly chosen, poorly aged, and poorly handled. For low-end guitars, laminate is usually a more reliable and better-sounding choice for the money.
  • Durability. Laminates are built to last. They resist both hard knocks and climatic changes better than solid woods. This makes laminates particularly valuable for children and those who travel.
  • Low maintenance. This is closely related to durability. Solid tops must be maintained at an even humidity to prevent warping and cracking. This may require special humidifying and/or dehumidifying equipment. While it is always a good idea to protect any guitar from sudden changes in humidity, laminated wood can usually survive in any climate-controlled building, especially if kept in a hard-shell case.
  • Short break-in period. Solid woods develop their hallmark sound with age and use. A laminate guitar is what it is, right from the start.
  • Feedback control. An important consideration when playing an acoustic guitar equipped with a pickup. Solid woods tend to have out-of-control feedback problems. Laminates vibrate less, creating a simpler sound with fewer overtones that are likely to cause annoying feedback.



  • Variable quality control. Laminate is frequently used in low-end instruments, which in turn are typically built with less attention to quality. In particular, the manufacturer may have used too much or too little glue, creating a dull-sounding guitar in the one case or a laminate that will separate into its constituent sheets in the other. This is not a problem with laminate per se, just a factor to look into when you see “laminate” on a spec sheet. Laminates can be used to build quality instruments. The question is whether or not the manufacturer took the trouble to do so.
  • Weight. Because of the quantity of glue involved, a laminate guitar can be heavier than a solid-wood guitar. The extra weight can be fatiguing when playing standing up for any length of time. Fortunately, this situation has improved with the development of new lightweight adhesives. The only way to know for sure if a laminate guitar will be too heavy is to try it out.
  • Laminate sound. A solid top on a well-built and well-used guitar has a sweet, resonant, complex sound that cannot be matched. As good as a laminated top can sound, it cannot compete with the upper levels of guitar construction, particularly in the hands of a practiced guitarist who plays with a wide dynamic range. A laminated top will generally have less resonance and sustain. The difference between laminate and solid wood is far less significant when it comes to backs and sides, however.
  • Tonal deterioration. Unlike solid woods, which improve in sound quality over time, laminates can actually lose their sound quality with age. This typically takes decades, but the process speeds up in particularly dry or particularly damp climates. If the glue holding the wood together becomes too dry or too moist, the guitar will vibrate differently, producing a muffled sound.
  • Low resell value. If you ever upgrade your guitar and sell the original, solid-wood construction will definitely add to the guitar’s value as long as it is otherwise a quality instrument. Laminated guitars consistently resell for lower prices.



There are three scenarios that beg for a laminated guitar:

  • An absolute beginner looking for his first instrument.
  • A guitarist who frequently travels and likes to play guitar casually on the road, particularly outdoors.
  • A guitarist who wants an acoustic guitar with a pickup.

Beginners should not hesitate to purchase a laminated guitar for their first guitar despite the drawbacks. Provided that they purchase a quality instrument from a reputable source, technique is far more likely to be the major limiting factor at first than wood when it comes to tone. Once the guitarist gains some experience and wants to take his playing to the next level, then it will be time enough to think about a pricier solid-wood instrument. At this point, he will have acquired the skill to bring out the full tone of the wood and the ear to appreciate the results.

A word of warning—some guitarists try split the difference and purchase a guitar with a solid top but laminated sides and back. There is some logic here, as the bulk of the guitar will be sturdier, but the top (which accounts for about 85% of the sound) will be more flexible and resonant. However, the top will still be prone to warping as the humidity changes, only now it will have to fight against a comparatively rigid body. While this combination of solid and laminated woods is certainly cheaper than pure solid wood and richer-sounding than pure laminate, it can also increase the risk of a cracked top. Extra care will be needed to protect the instrument from fluctuating humidity levels.

Pick Punch
The Skills

Pick Punch

Pick PunchHere’s a fun gadget every flatpicking guitarist will love!

The Pick Punch lets you make your very own guitar picks out of any suitable plastic. Put those old credit cards and gift cards to use to make one-of-a-kind picks!

Using the sturdy Pick Punch is super easy:

  1. Feed your plastic into the punch.
  2. Punch out a pick.
  3. Smooth the edges of the pick with the included sandpaper.

Great for a gift, or just to add to your collection of musical gear.

The Two Easiest Ways to Attract Hummingbirds
The Sunflower State

The Two Easiest Ways to Attract Hummingbirds

The Two Easiest Ways to Attract HummingbirdsAttracting hummingbirds to your backyard doesn’t have to be complicated! If you want to enjoy the beautiful sight of these tiny creatures hovering outside, there are two incredibly simple ways to put out the welcome mat. One requires a little advanced planning, and one can be implemented today.


Plant Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers

A diverse display of flowers is a sight few hummingbirds can resist. And if a few blooms feature their favorite color—red—so much the better!

The Two Easiest Ways to Attract Hummingbirds

Butterflies love bee balm, too!

Red flowers that hummingbirds enjoy include:

  • Begonia.
  • Columbine.
  • Daylily.
  • Gilia.
  • Hibiscus.
  • Lantana.
  • Peony.
  • Zinnia.
  • Bee balm.
  • Scarlet sage.
  • Trumpet honeysuckle.
  • Red cardinal flower.

But just because it isn’t red doesn’t mean that hummingbirds won’t like it! Other proven favorites include:

  • Foxglove.
  • Geranium.
  • Hollyhock.
  • Impatiens.
  • Nasturtium.
  • Petunia.
  • Phlox.
  • Yucca.
  • Blazing star.
  • Butterfly bush.
  • Purple coneflower.

Note that tube-shaped blossoms help the hummingbirds access the nectar.


The Two Easiest Ways to Attract HummingbirdsFill a Nectar Feeder

Have you ever been tempted to buy a hummingbird nectar mix from your favorite supplier of all things bird-related? Resist the urge! Commercial nectar mixes usually contain artificial colorings and preservatives that are actually harmful to hummingbirds.

Incidentally, the cheapest and easiest solution is actually the best for the birds—just dissolve plain old white cane sugar in clean water in a 1:4 ratio. White sugar is sucrose, which is a major part of the natural diet of a hummingbird. While there are other nutrients hummingbirds need, they will obtain those by sipping out of the flowers you planted for them.

Never feed any of these ingredients to hummingbirds:

  • Honey; it will ferment outdoors and produce deadly bacteria.
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, xylitol, etc.).
  • Minimally processed sugars (sucanat, turbinado, etc.); they contain iron, which is toxic to hummingbirds.

And please do not add red food coloring to your homemade nectar. Red food coloring usually contains red dye #40, which can be toxic to hummingbirds. Instead, alert hummingbirds to the presence of nectar by selecting a feeder that displays red prominently. This one fits the bill, plus does not tend to jettison nectar by blowing around in a strong wind like some models do.


Enjoy the Hummingbirds!

Attracting hummingbirds is easy! With these two easy steps, you’ll be sure to enjoy the tiny creatures this summer. Keep your camera handy!

Veggie Wash
The Lifestyle

Veggie Wash

Veggie WashHomegrown vegetables are good for you, but they are frequently dirty. Veggie Wash is an all-natural cleaning spray that seems to do a good job getting the produce clean and ready to eat.

For things like tomatoes, apples, and peaches, just spray the fruit and rub it clean under running water.

For berries and lettuce, fill the sink with cold water, add the produce, and spray with Veggie Wash. After a brief soak, rinse and drain the produce.

Do you still buy fruits and vegetables from the grocery store? Try using Veggie Wash to remove that wax coating—it really works!

Pros and Cons of Slow Cookers
The Lifestyle

Pros and Cons of Slow Cookers

Pros and Cons of Slow CookersPick up any slow cooker cookbook, and you’ll be amazed at the versatility of this simple appliance. With a slow cooker, you can combine the ingredients for anything from stew to oatmeal to cobbler within minutes, then just walk away until it’s time to serve and eat.

Are there other advantages to slow cooking? Are there any hidden disadvantages? And is slow cooking safe? Let’s find out.



  • Energy efficiency. Running the oven for extended periods of time can be expensive, and much of the electricity is wasted heating up the kitchen (not desirable on a summer day). The slow cooker pulls comparatively little power and wastes none of it.
  • Convenience. How much easier does it get than a slow cooker? Pile in ingredients and wait for dinner!
  • Lack of odor. No smoke, no smells of burnt food. Just a warm, savory smell when someone opens the lid. (But please resist the urge—opening the slow cooker increases the time the food takes to cook.)
  • Food safety. Don’t worry about the long cooking process when it comes to meat. The FDA recommends cooking food at temperatures above 140°F, while most slow cookers fall within a range of 170°F to 300°F. If the meat is done, the pathogens have been killed, even if the slow cooker was set on low heat most of the time. If the food is cooked, but you are not ready to eat it yet, leave the slow cooker on low to prevent the temperature from falling into a range more suitable for bacteria. As a final precaution, thaw meat thoroughly before cooking.
  • Impossibility of burning food. Okay, you can overcook food in a slow cooker; some meats, particularly chicken, may get too dry if they go too long without enough broth or other liquid. But actually burning the food is virtually impossible.
  • Tenderness. Even low-quality cuts thrive on slow cooking. This is because the collagen in connective tissue is what makes meat tough. Slow cooking melts the collagen away, leaving a tender piece of meat.
  • Flavor. The longer food simmers, the better the flavor gets. Therefore, food from a slow cooker always has a delightful, savory flavor.



  • Need for planning and preparation. Changing your plans at the last minute just doesn’t work with a slow cooker. You will need to know what you are making well in advance of dinner, perhaps even early in the morning. Then you will have to prepare your ingredients and thaw your meat.
  • Slow pace. Need dinner in a hurry? Obviously, a slow cooker will not help you here.
  • Incompatibility with cans. Many home cooks complain about the texture of canned food, particularly vegetables, cooked in a slow cooker. Fresh produce has the structural integrity to be tenderized while slow cooking instead of turning into mush. Frozen produce works, too, but note that as it thaws it can make the meal somewhat watery.
  • Uneven results. If you combine vegetables and meats in the slow cooker, you may notice that the vegetables (especially potatoes) take longer to cook than the meat. Often a little extra cooking won’t hurt the meat a bit. If you are concerned, however, either precook the vegetables slightly, or put them into the slow cooker well before adding the meat. Chopping them finer helps, as well.
  • Nutrient loss. As vegetables sit in the slow cooker for extended periods of time, they slowly lose nutritional value. Don’t worry—the vitamins and minerals are still present in the broth. But if maximizing nutrient intake is a priority, eat your vegetables raw.
  • Bean toxins. Raw beans, particularly kidney beans, contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which is why they must be cooked thoroughly at very high temperatures before being eaten. A slow cooker does not get hot enough to destroy phytohaemagglutinin, so all beans must be boiled before going into the mix.



The slow cooker has so much going for it that it is considered indispensable by many home chefs! The biggest drawback is exactly what makes the finished product taste so good—a slow pace. As long as you can plan and prepare well before it’s time to eat, you may find that the slow cooker becomes your best kitchen assistant.

Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit
The Garden

Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit

Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test KitKnowing the state of your garden soil is handy, but if your garden is for personal family use only, you probably don’t feel justified in ordering a professional lab analysis. Fortunately, inexpensive test kits are available online.

This kit by Luster Leaf seems to do a fair job. It tests:

  • pH.
  • Nitrogen.
  • Phosphorus.
  • Potassium.

As you can see, only the bare basics are included. The tests focus on NPK, not trace minerals. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to keep trace mineral levels in balance by regular applications of compost and organic matter.

Using the kit is easy. Complete instructions are included, but the basic procedure is:

  1. Prepare the soil sample.
  2. Dilute the soil sample according to the directions.
  3. Put the solution into the test container.
  4. Add the appropriate powder to the solution.
  5. Compare the color of the solution to the color chart on the container.

Did you detect a problem with your garden soil? The instructions offer advice on how to remedy the situation.

One word of advice: The powder may lose some of its efficiency over time. Keep the powder capsules stored in the included airtight bags in a cool, dry, dark place. Try to use the tests within about 18 months for the most reliable results.

Simple and inexpensive—perfect for the budget-conscious gardener.

Ox Yokes and Collars
The Farm

Ox Yokes and Collars: Withers Yokes and Ox Collars

3 Types of Yoke and a CollarWithers Yoke

The withers yoke is only used with humped zebu-type cattle, such as Brahmans. The yoke is a wooden pole resting on the hump of the animal and is held in place by a rope or leather strap around the neck. Note that the rope does not take any of the weight of the load. Sometimes wooden staves projecting downward from the pole add extra stability; these do not bear any weight, either.

This yoke is by far the simplest and is easy to make, repair, and fit to a team. Unfortunately, its very simplicity tends to invite some slipshod construction that will inflict pain on the oxen. This is quite unnecessary—the withers yoke is easily modified to allow for maximum comfort.

On the other hand, the withers yoke is also easily broken. It tends to give the teamster less control of the animals than other yoke types.


3 Types of Yoke and a CollarOx Collar

A good ox collar is made out of wood with leather pads lining the inside surfaces for comfort.

One of the most critical differences between an ox collar and a horse collar is the way the power of the draft animal is applied. A horse pushes into the lower part of its collar, while an ox pushes into the upper part. The ox also has more prominent, mobile shoulders, which are accommodated in the design of the proper collar.

A major advantage of an ox collar over a yoke is that the teamster can use one ox instead of two. From the ox’s perspective, it is probably more comfortable, as well, as the force is applied over a larger (and better padded) area. The result is greater efficiency.

However, cattle are herd animals. While one ox can provide sufficient pulling power for a small farm, it will probably be calmer and more content working with a friend. But a whole team of oxen can still be worked with collars. In fact, collars are easier to fit to oxen than yokes.

Probably one of the biggest disadvantages of the ox collar is its cost. Due to its complexity, it can be difficult to manufacture at home, as well. Please do not try to economize by putting a horse collar on your ox—it is guaranteed to rub and cause painful sores.

The ox collar frequently requires more maintenance than any of the three types of yoke.


A Final Note

Perhaps even more important than the type of yoke is the fit of the yoke. No ox can work efficiently if his yoke or collar does not fit properly. If the ox tosses his head frequently or is unwilling to work, he is probably uncomfortable.

Proper training and conditioning is also important for best results, regardless of yoke type.