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Showing posts from December, 2017

Wearable Tech for the Backyard Homesteader

If you are one of the estimated 50 million people who received some sort of wearable technology this Christmas, you are most likely thinking about how that gear will help you improve your fitness, lose weight or become a better athlete. While all of these are great, there's a lot for the backyard homesteader to love about this technology, as well. No, your Fitbit won't tell you when to plant your garden or water your lawn... yet, but it will provide valuable feedback on the energy you are expending doing those things. If you watch shows like  Mountain Men , you will occasionally hear the narrator refer to the extraordinary number of calories the men burn each day as they go through their rigorous outdoor activities. For those of us who merely putter for a couple of hours each day in our backyards, though, it was difficult to get a feel for the level of exertion and how it related to other activities, like running or a gym workout. Sure, there was a general sense that mowing t

Keeping Christmas Plants Alive After the Holidays

Maybe you got it as a "hostess" gift, or maybe you bought it yourself to brighten up the house for the holidays; a Norfolk Island pine, rosemary topiary, Christmas cactus or poinsettia. And if you are like 90% of people who buy these plants, the minute the holiday decorations come down they will be headed to that great compost bin in the sky. That's really a shame because most of them make great year-round houseplants, and with a little care can provide many years of enjoyment. First, a couple of caveats: ​The businesses who grow and market Christmas plants fully understand that the vast majority of people are buying them as a sort of extended cut flower arrangement. Their efforts go into getting them to bloom at the correct time and stay relatively fresh and attractive looking for the 4 or 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This impacts the way the plants are potted, fertilized, transported and even the specific varieties grown. In other words, very l

Buying Christmas Gifts For Fishermen

A few years ago I received a well-intentioned Christmas gift from a family member who was not a fisherman; a bait-casting rod paired with a spinning reel. How exactly that particular combo came about is a story I would have loved to hear, but not wanting to hurt his feelings I simply said "thanks" and later bought an appropriate reel to go with the rod and appropriate rod to go with the reel. On the bright side, I guess you could say it was two for the price of one. While the "innovative" bait cast/spinning combo is maybe an extreme example of a non-fishermen buying questionable gifts for their fishing friends and family, it's not as uncommon as one might think, so I want to offer some simple advice for the non-fisherman who wants to purchase fishing-related gifts: 1. The number one best piece of advice I can offer is get professional help. No, not that kind of professional help, but the assistance of a sales associate that at the very least has been fishing