Essentials for life on the modern homestead or ranch

A modern homestead can be anything from a multi-acre spread to a well-stocked home in the suburbs. That’s because a modern homestead is a state of mind as much as a plot of land.

“The goal of homesteading in the 21st century is all about a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, and that can be accomplished pretty much wherever you live,” said Randall Schultz, content editor of

On larger ranch and homestead properties, becoming more self-sufficient means drilling wells and thinking about backup water pumps. Working on a homestead or in the yard means wearing boots and shoes that are tough, waterproof and fashionable. It can include raising chickens and making sure they stay warm during the winter. The homestead or ranch state of mind can also include making your own laundry soap and making sure you’ve got efficient access to your garden tools.

Here are some ways to embrace the homestead, ranch and self-sufficient lifestyle.


Waterproof shoes and boots combine fun and function

Goat-shoes-boots-webWho says all-weather shoes and boots have to be dull and boring? The latest waterproof footwear offers all the function of a work boot with a fun design in case you need a little encouragement to do the “not so fun” jobs outside. The new Goat Prints Collection from Sloggers® features a pattern of playful goats on a background of either blue or green. With a pair of goat-inspired shoes or boots on your feet, doing chores in the yard or barn, working on DIY projects, walking the dog, and running errands in the rain can bring a smile to your face.

Sloggers footwear is made from odorless, medical grade materials. The deep-lug treads give the made-in-America shoes excellent traction in water and mud. Every pair includes the exclusive “All-Day Comfort Insoles” that give Sloggers® the reputation for high comfort. The boots and shoes slip on easily because there are no laces to tie or clips to fasten. Clean-up is easy—just hose them off! When you’re finished with your shoes or boots you can send them back to Sloggers® and the company will recycle them in the making of a new pair. Sloggers adds up to 50% of mixed recycled material into the soles of its boots and shoes.

The new Sloggers® Goat Print Collection includes both shoes and boots in women’s full sizes from 6 to 11. (Sorry guys!). Half sizes should order up and add a pair of “Half-Sizer Cut-to-Fit Insoles” to make any Sloggers® boot or shoe a half-size smaller. A variety of other colorful prints are also available.  Sloggers® shoes sell for $29.99 and boots sell for $39.99 in garden stores and online at


Keep your backyard flock cozy and warm

cozy_coop_chicken_webIt’s important to keep the body temperatures of animals regulated in the cold winter months, especially pets, flocks and animals that don’t always fit into doggie-sweaters. The new Cozy Coop Flat Panel Heater offers a sleek, unobtrusive design that easily fits anywhere it’s needed. This powerful heater combines both radiant and convection heat to protect birds and poultry from the cold. The Cozy Coop heater is safe to use around animals, and it uses just 200 watts—about 13% the electricity of a standard 1,500 watt space heater.

The Cozy Coop is an ETL certified radiant heater for chicken coops. (An ETL certified Zero-Clearance product is allowed to be placed on or against combustible surfaces without causing a fire hazard or any harm to animals.) The heater has a built-in thermostat and an in-cord on/off switch for fingertip control. It silently keeps chickens comfortable and warm.

The Cozy Coop Flat Panel Heater sells for $69.95 at Cozy Products® is part of the Bird-X group of companies. For more information call (800) 662-5021.


A deep water hand pump provides water even in a power outage


The right deep well hand pump can be one of the most important pieces of equipment on a modern ranch or homestead. In the event of a power blackout—including a generator failure or even a major natural disaster—a hand-powered pump can provide life-saving access to water.

A Standard Deep Well hand pump from Bison Pumps can be used as a backup to an electric pump, providing access to well water when the electric power goes out. Bison Pumps can be installed alongside or in-line with your current electric submersible pump. The high quality pump is hand-crafted in the USA for years of dependable service. It even comes with a Lifetime Warranty.

The pump’s stainless steel lift rod is FDA approved for potable water, and the tensile strength of the stainless steel is vastly superior to fiberglass. The entire pump is constructed of stainless steel, TIG-welded, and hand-polished to a mirror finish.

Bison Pumps makes a wide variety of hand-operated well pumps, including the Bison Shallow Well Hand Pump (Model 1900) that’s perfect for pressurizing a water tank. Bison also sells all the accessories needed for proper pump installations. For more information about pumps and accessories including pricing, technical support and finding the nearest dealer, visit


Keep tools organized while working in the yard

Garden Bucket CaddyAnyone with a homestead, ranch or even a backyard garden has to be a great multi-tasker. There are lots of jobs to get done, so why keep coming back to the garage or shed for tools when you can take everything you need in one trip? That’s the premise behind the Fiskars Garden Bucket Caddy, which turns an ordinary five-gallon bucket into an efficient portable storage station.

Made of durable canvas, the Garden Bucket Caddy creates lots of usable space by providing deep, stable pockets for hand tools, gloves and other small essentials. There are even two smaller pockets for pencils, and a handy holder for a water bottle. The caddy fits snugly along the outside of the bucket, leaving the inside of the bucket free to use as additional storage for tools, yard waste or whatever you choose to put there. The Fiskars Garden Bucket Caddy is designed to last for years, and it’s covered by a lifetime warranty. Makes a great gift for yourself and the gardeners on your gift list. Available for $12.95 from, 1-800-845-1124.


Make homemade laundry soap for 7 cents a load

Laundry Starter Kit webAs homeowners and homesteaders look for satisfying ways to simplify their lives and keep costs down, many are making their own soaps. Making homemade laundry soap can slash the cost of keeping laundry clean while extending the life of clothing, towels and other laundry. The Homemade Laundry Soap Starter Set includes everything you need to make several batches of homemade laundry soap—enough soap to wash more than 800 loads of laundry. You only use ½ cup of homemade soap per load, so that comes out to less than 7¢ per load!

The homemade laundry soap can be used in virtually all washing machines, including newer HE washing machines. Most of the components in the Homemade Laundry Soap Starter set are made in the USA. The kit contains a 76-ounce box of 20 Mule Team Borax, a 55-ounce box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 5 bars of Fels-Naptha soap (5-1/2 ounces each), a plastic measuring cup, a 16-inch-long wooden spoon, a 12 ½-inch-long steel hand grater, a reusable 4-gallon bucket with tight-fitting lid, a carrying bail for storing your homemade soap, plus the recipe and instructions. The Homemade Laundry Soap Starter Set sells for $54.95 from or 800-438-5346. When you run out of an ingredient from starter set, simply reorder what you need from Lehman’s.



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