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FREE RESOURCES & TOOLS
When To Plant (Phone App) As far as homesteading apps go, this is the only one I use on a regular basis. It tells you when and what to plant depending on your geographical area. You can search all plants, those that can be planted NOW, and you can even make you own list of favorite plants. You can look at each plant for more specific details and characteristics. This app is made by MotherEarthNews.com.
LocalHarvest.org Looking for local food? Here is an excellent place to start. Find everything from Farmers Markets to the Farms themselves.
SoilFoodWeb.com Dr. Elanie Ingham (Phd.) is a top quality source for information on how to correctly make compost and compost tea. Composting is not adding more and more organic material to a pile and turning it every once and a while. She provides onlike courses, webinars, and workshops. I haven’t takin any of her courses, but hope to in the future. There is still a wealth of free information on the website if you aren’t ready for a full course.
My Radar Pro (Phone App) I personally like to see what’s going on rather than base my plans on the weatherman’s daily precipitation percentage. There are a ton of weather apps out there, so shop around. I’ve used this one for a while and it works for me. It’s free and cost a few bucks to remove the annoying ads. I use it mainly when working outdoors to checkout nearby rain clouds. I’ll also check to see if large rain clouds are headed in my direction.
Homestead Blueprint Interested in purchasing a new homestead? Here you can answer a string of questions to get custom information to help you get started. Also enjoy many free guides and tons of helpful information.
Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe (~150) – I did a ton of research before buying this axe and I have no regrets. It is expensive, but well worth the money. Don’t buy it for more than $150, search other sellers if the Amazon price is too high. It is small enough to not get in the way when using a chainsaw, but large enough to get the job done. It goes with me for any tree work. I like to have quality dependable tools, that can be repaired. I like to buy dependable tools that I will be proud to pass on to a future grandson or granddaughter. If you are on a budget and want a quality axe you buy an older carbon steel axe-head from eBay and put the handle on yourself.
Boiled Linseed Oil (~$12) – If you use any kind of hand tools that you care about you should have some of this or something similar. You can also find this at your local hardware store. Linseed oil can be applied to steel tool heads and wood handles. It will prevent rust when using a softer carbon steel. It will also prevent your handles from drying out and rotting. It is also good for water sealing wooden outdoor furniture.
Mora Knife (~$20) – I’m a firm believer in carrying a fixed blade knife when working around the homestead. This knife is used as a tool, not a weapon. It must be sharp but more importantly, easy to sharpen (carbon steel) and especially durable for prying. I wear it on my back right hip and use it so often I catch myself reaching for it even when it’s not there. Now before you go out and buy one, know there are better, more expensive alternatives out there. The reason I recommended the Mora is because it is the best quality carbon steel for the lowest price. I had a Mora in the past and lost on a backpacking trip, sigh. My current knife is handmade. I found it at a gun show for $30 with a leather sheath. It’s ugly, used, and beat-up, but I love it.
Chainsaws (Price depends on brand and size) I own and use a Stihl “Farm Boss“ and a smaller 14″ Husqvarna for saplings and limbs. Stihl chainsaws are designed better in my opinion, but be prepared to pay extra for it. Before you buy remember with every power tool there is maintenance, upkeep, and cleaning involved. It maybe easier and less expensive to hire a neighbor or a professional. It may be better to buy your first one from a local dealer who can help you with maintenance and answer any questions.
“Gaia’s Garden” is a great book if you are interested in Permaculture or Ecological Gardening. It is an excellent place to start. You will get philosophy and real life examples of successful gardens. It can also be used as a resource and practical how-to guide.
“Sowing Seeds in the Desert” is heavy on philosophy and very inspiring. Masanobu Fukuoka is the father of ecological, natural farming. It’s great to just run outside and get started, but invaluable to have your mind set in the right place before you do so. Even if you never plan to farm or garden I still believe these words will be valuable to you.
“You Can Farm” is what started it all for me 4 years ago. The book is not as cheesy as the title sounds. Joel Salatin, a celebrity in the holistic farming community, started a new way of small time farming. His theory and practice is very similar to those before commercial mono-crops were planted across America. A tried and true method based on good food and community. This is an entertaining read and I still use it as a resource for some things especially raising broilers.
“The Good Egg” Is an entire book on cooking with eggs! I use this book for new ideas since I eat a lot of eggs, yes I eat A LOT of eggs, haha. It is mostly recipes, but the author also goes over the different cooking techniques (poaching, hard boiling, scrambling…ect). The instructions are detailed and easy to follow. It’s the size of a text book and cost under $20.
JohnnySeeds.com – (Not an affiliate) – This is where I buy the majority of seeds and gardening equipment. They have tons of great FREE resources right on the website, I trust, to help get started and troubleshoot pest & nutrient issues. Sign up here for a free catalog. There is specific growing information on for each variety of plant. I use my catalog every year to keep track of what I am growing. By the time I’m done it’s ripped to shreds and glued into a notebook.
Azomite (Rock Dust) (~$42 for 44lbs) – Amazon Prime offers free shipping on this item which is awesome! I bought some of this stuff and have been adding it to all of my garden beds and planted trees. It is micro nutrients for your plants. Do you have to have it? No, but it is only going to help. and if your are doing soil restoration like I am it may be a good idea. Oh yah, and don’t buy a 44lb bag for a few beds. A little goes a long way.
Green Sand (~$50 for 7.5lbs) – You can probably find a better deal elsewhere, just use the link as a reference or Google “Green Sand.” You will probably have to order it online or special order from a store, because it is not easy to find in typical improvement stores. Five pounds is good for 100 sqft. Also a great addition to soil blocks.
Blood Meal (~$14 for 2.5lbs) – (NPK) This is an alternative to synthetic fertilizer usually in powder form. It is high in Nitrogen and a little goes a long way. You can spread this out when adding compost to your garden, use it for sheet mulching, or as a fertilizer for soil blocks.
Bone Meal (~$10-4.5lbs) – (NPK) Is another alternative fertilizer that is a good source of Phosphorus.
Agricultural Lime or Wood Ash (~$8-10lbs / free) (NPK) This will add some Potassium and trace elements/minerals to your soil. You do not want to over use lime or wood ash so you may need to do some more research and/or get your soil tested before hand. If you soil is acidic like mine you may need to add some lime. Read this before using too much wood ash.
Worm Castings (~$18 for 15 lbs) – Free 2 day shipping with Prime. This is an excellent soil amendment and quality product. I bought 2 bags last year and use them for soil restoration. This is not something you absolutely need, but it does help and will add beneficial micro life to your soil and fertilization that is easily accessible to plants.
EcoGlow (~$80) – This is a Brooding Heater for baby chicks. There are a few different sizes available. I own the 20 which is good for up to 20 chicks, but only down to 50ºF. Please don’t buy it believing you can give up the ol red heat lamp forever, like I did, grr. That said, I don’t regret buying the EcoGlow. It saves money in power and it is not a scary fire hazard. Bottom line if brooding in ambient temperatures it works great, and you will save money over time in power usage.
Solar Powered (Motion Sensing) Flood Light (~$40) – This thing is great for Predator Protection! It’s weatherproof and the LED light are super bright. Help keep those predators away and see when you visit the coop or pen at night. I have one pointing toward the most venerable spot of the coop. I don’t know for sure if it has worked, but I have yet to have any breaches into the coop, well besides snakes, heh. These lights could also be attached to MOBILE chicken pens as well.
Chicken Water’er Nipples (~$5 for 10) – There are a lot of people out there in the chicken world who use these. I have some on a 5 gallon bucket that hangs inside the coop. I am not 100% sold on these things yet, but I do like them. They have some issues freezing during the winter. In the mid summer I am not sure if they provide the chickens enough access to water. The lid to the bucket is a huge pain to take off and put on, maybe they make better ones? It’s also difficult to carry the 5 gallon bucket around, full, without being able to set it down because of the nipples on the bottom. The good news is the water stays clean longer, meaning you have to change it less often.
Miller Stainless Chicken Waterer (~$28) – Miller makes good waters and feeders. I use this one among other plastic ones. The good thing about metal is that it’s not going to break if it freezes up during the winter and will last longer than most plastic waterers. Though I do use some of the heavy duty plastic waterers and they do not break when frozen.
Miller Galvanized Feeder (~$23) – I also use one of these feeders in a covered outdoor area. It works well and is way more durable than the plastic ones. My only gripe is that the chickens have a hard time getting the feed in the center of the feeder. This is not a huge deal as I just dump it in the morning. If you ferment feed like I do you will have to get some sort of a bowl, but it’s still good to have something for dry feed.
Petzl Head Lamp (~$15-$40) – I bought an LED Petzl head lamp in 2008 for long distance hiking. It still works great! The cheaper ones work great too. I honestly have at least 5 head lamps around the house. The others I bought from Lowes to have around the house. Candi and I use them daily to check on the chickens and take the dogs out to poop at night. Everyone should have some of these for convenience or just in case the power goes out.
Power inverter (~$40-300) – Sorry no link up this one they stopped making the one I use. Search Amazon there are several out there. This is a simple easy to use power inverter for those of you who don’t want to drop all the cash for a generator. It’s not as powerful as a generator, but it will power most appliances. I use one for our chest freezer full of beef. It also works to keep our fish tanks heated if the power goes out during the winter. To use it you just hook it up to car battery and plug it into an extension cord. You have to run your car every so often to keep the battery from dying. I love this thing.
The Amazon affiliate program disclaimer – No tricks here. If you click the amazon links I posted and buy the product I get a teeny tiny percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything extra. Basically amazon pays me to send them referrals, which they should right? A few bucks here and there goes to help support the monthly website bills. In the end it’s really just a tool to show you things I believe in. Many Thanks.
Amazon Prime – (Currently $99/year) If you don’t have prime it may be worth taking a look. I’ve bought bags of dog food, worm castings, rock dust, and other things for free 2 day shipping. You also get unlimited photo storage! I always save the money I spend on it each year and get access to tons of TV shows and movies. Prime may not be right for you, but living 30 minutes from the store without cable TV it’s been a huge money saver for me. Click below for a free trial.