It’s that time of year again we find ourselves trying to think and prepare for the holiday season and gift-giving. If you’re a homesteader yourself trying to find the time to shop or someone who is looking to get your special homesteader someone something, we all find ourselves asking the same questions. What do they need/want? 

Need: Ice spikes for your boots! I classify this as a need, and if you have ever needed them, you want them. Whether it is because someone let the water tanks overflow or because of less-than-ideal weather having ice spikes for your boots can be a real lifesaver. I love having a few sets to leave in my overalls and numerous farm jackets. That way, I always have a set when I need them. 

Ice Spikes Price: $15-$100

Want: A good travel mug! I am guilty of making coffee and bringing it out to the barn in a ceramic mug that later becomes a ceramic mug puzzle. I am also guilty of making a great cup of coffee, setting it down, getting distracted by some morning farm ritual, and then coming back to a cold coffee. A good travel mug can really make a difference. Something that doesn’t break and can keep my assorted morning drink either warm or cold long enough to get me through morning chores! 

To add onto this gift, an after-market cup holder! Whether it’s putting it on a tractor, 4-wheeler, side by side, or some gate panels. You can’t always have an extra hand to hold your drink or that new coffee mug, so putting up a convenient cup holder can do the job. For me, I placed some cup holders on my arena fencing, tall enough I could ride my horse and stop to take a few sips of coffee, set it back down and keep riding. Never needing to get off the horse! 

Travel Mug Price: $15-$50
Aftermarket Cup holders Price: $20-$100

Beekeeper Beginner Hive Kit
- starting at $230 

Honey supplies one of our most basic needs, calories, and bees are essential for pollination for a fruitful garden and orchard. A beehive is a valuable addition to a homestead, and beekeeping is a fascinating and rewarding activity. Beginner kits usually include the beehive, basic clothing, e.g., gloves and helmet with veil, a smoker, and a basic hive tool, plus a book for beginners. If there are children in the household, consider clothing for them to grow the next generation of beekeepers. 

To learn more about options for getting started in beekeeping, contact Betterbee in Greenwich, NY, 

Canning Equipment

For someone who has a large garden, berry bushes or fruit trees some home food preservation equipment would be a wonderful gift. Canners are an essential piece of equipment for shelf stable preserving. 

Boiling Water Canner - $22-$35

This traditional canner is used for canning high acid foods, such as fruit, tomatoes and pickled products. Enameled canners usually have a ridged bottom which works great on a gas stove. Flat bottom canners are better suited for electric stoves.

Steam Canner - $20-$40

Steam canning was developed to use less water; it may be used in place of a water bath canner. 

Pressure Canner - $40-$289

Foods that are low acid, such as vegetables and meats, require a pressure canner. They come in a wide range of sizes accounting for the price range. Two basic models to choose from are the weighted gauge canner or the dial gauge canner. Which to choose is a matter of personal preference, but keep in mind that a dial gauge canner should be tested annually for accuracy.

Emergency Food Supply Kit - $150-$300

Homesteaders want to be self-reliant in times of an emergency. In our area a snowstorm or high winds can disrupt power for days and other factors might disrupt food supply chains for weeks or months.  Having an emergency food supply will give a homesteader a greater sense of security, an invaluable gift. Whether you assemble your own emergency food supply or purchase a pre-made emergency supply kit from a company, first decide if you want a short-term supply (3 days is usually the minimum recommendation) or a long-term supply, i.e. weeks or months. For guidance on making your own supply kit visit Things to consider when purchasing an emergency food supply include the number of servings needed (3 meals/day X # in household); the type of equipment needed to prepare the food, e.g. – is the food ready to eat, does it require rehydration or is it simply heat & serve; and the shelf-life of the product. 

Book suggestion: So Easy to Preserve - $25
This book includes all the recipes and procedures for safe home food preservation found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Chapters in the 388-page book include Preserving Food, Canning, Pickled Products, Sweet Spreads and Syrups, Freezing and Drying. It can be ordered at If ordering online from another source, look for the 6th edition. 


Wildflower Seed Bomb Kit - $10-$25

Seed bombs make a great holiday gift for young gardeners to get them excited for the approaching spring growing season.
A seed bomb is a little hand-rolled ball made of compost/soil, clay, and seeds. After being planted, seed bombs break down by the natural elements, allowing seeds to sprout. Simply roll and pop them into the top layer of moist soil in a sunny location and watch the wildflowers bloom. It’s best to look for kits with New York native seeds, which help attract pollinators and benefit our natural plant communities.  

Heated Seed Mat - $20-$50 

If you’re itching to get growing this winter, consider a heated seed mat to speed up the indoor seed-starting process. A Seed mat is an electric heating pad you set underneath seed trays to deliver the right amount of heat to warm your newly planted seeds, which ensures better germination rates. The seed mats are usually the same size as seed trays, so they can sit snuggly underneath them. After your seeds have germinated, simply roll them up and stash them away for next year’s use. Just keep in mind you may need to up your watering to keep the soil from drying out.

Garden Planner - $5-$20

Gardeners looking to get more organized can’t go wrong with a simple garden planner. These planners will come in handy for tracking your plant growth rate, watering or fertilizing routine, plant pests or diseases, bloom and harvest times, the yearly plant family rotation plan, and any other helpful details you can think of! 

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