The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homesteading gift guide

Homemade match boxIt seems to be the trend this year for every blogger to post a holiday gift guide, so I guess we'd better follow suit!  I'll include some specials on our own top products, plus a few gifts I heartily recommend from the outside world.

But first, don't forget home-made crafts!  My mother's fire-starter tin is still my favorite gift of the last year, and there are other good ideas in the comments section of that post.  Mark and I tend to give gifts when the mood strikes rather than around any particular holiday, and gifts that have been well-received this year include honey, home-made jams, sweet potatoes, rooted fruit plants, and garlic.  Why not dig around the edges of your gooseberry bush and see if you've got any baby plants to share with friends?  Raspberries, blackberries, comfrey, and perennial herbs are also likely to have propagated themselves.

Homesteading calendarOkay, I know, some loved ones expect gifts with no dirt on them --- crazy people.  We just put our homesteading calendar up on Amazon, and we recommend this as a low-key way to trick non-homesteaders into liking dirt.  (Then you can give them one of the dirty gifts above in 2014!)  At the moment, our calendar is on sale for $5.99 + $3.99 S&H.

Or why not contact a local farmer and buy some pastured meat for a loved one?  The taste alone will go a long way toward winning them over to the idea of non-factory-farmed protein, and it will definitely boost their health.  If you live kinda close to us, my brother got some pastured pork from these folks and it was delectable.  You can also contact our pastured lamb supplier, but I'm not sure if they have anything available at this time of year.  No matter where you find the pastured meat, it might be a good idea to cook it up and invite your friends over for a holiday meal and then send them home with the leftovers --- that way you can be sure the meat will be cooked just right and will startle their taste buds.

Best knife for butcheringWhat about people who have been won over to homesteading, but who are just getting started?  A great option is a high-quality hand tool that will last them the rest of their lives.  The Trake is a cast-metal trowel that I use daily during the growing season, $22.65 on Amazon with free shipping on orders over $35.  The Felco F-600 Hand Saw is so sharp it makes hand-cutting a breeze ($29.97 with free shipping available) and Mark's new RUKO knife looks like it's going to be our new favorite tool for butchering chickens and deer ($23.52 with free shipping available).

Vegetable seeds are another good choice to give beginners.  For people who have never gardened before, I recommend leaf lettuce (mixtures are always fun), Swiss chard (Fordhook giant is most winter hardy, but the ones with colored stalks are striking), okra (Clemson spineless is our favorite), summer squash (yellow crookneck avoids stem borers), and green beans (we love Masai).  This post will give you an idea of where to buy the seeds.

Chicken watererOf course, if your loved ones have chickens, you know what I think you should get them --- chicken waterers.  We have a hidden sale going on right now just for our most loyal readers --- 10% off our top products.  Do order these ASAP, though, since we can't guarantee they'll reach you by Christmas unless you order this week!  (Barring floods, waterers you order early next week should arrive in time too.)

Which brings me to books.  The up-to-date homesteader could benefit from this year's top reads: Paradise Lot and The Resilient Farm and Homestead.  If they're dreaming about livestock, it's hard to go wrong with the Storey Guides.  And, if they've got a kindle you can browse all of my ebooks here.  (As a side note, my publisher let me know that my paperback is out of stock on Amazon because they're currently changing distributors and shipping all of their books from one warehouse to the other, but hopefully it'll be back up there soon.)

I hope that's enough brainstorming to get you thinking on a homesteading track this holiday season.  And if you didn't see your favorite gift here, leave a comment below.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I thought of you guys today as I wa driving around today. I am a but jealous of how simple the holidays must be for you. Few functions to go to, few trips to the store, no bad roads to brave as you travel to work, no advertisements thrown in your face, few neighbor gifts to give.
No kids and living out of town are the biggest differences I out lives. But I can learn from you to work during the summer so you can avoid the crouds, the roads, the pressures and the grumpies during the holidays. And I liked his post on gift giving. :)

Comment by Kathleen Thu Dec 12 15:47:22 2013

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