EPA Proposes New Woodstove Regulations: You Can Comment!

Heartland Wood Cookstove

Even fancy wood cookstoves will need re-engineered if the proposed regulations pass.

The EPA recently proposed a change to the rules regarding wood stove emissions.  These new rules set a high bar, and most specifically address stoves that are the most polluting models on the market.  Those stoves were exempt in the last round of rules, which were put into law in 1988.  It also tightens standards significantly for low-polluting stoves.

The new rules would eliminate many types of non-airtight stoves, wood-fired cookstoves and wood-fired furnaces, IF they do not meet tough new standards.  So far as I know, none of the current stoves in those categories meet the new requirements.  It is possible, but unlikely, that they will be able to. Continue reading

Is “Oven Canning” of Dry Goods a Safe Way to Preserve?

Freezer Storage Container boxes

Airtight freezer containers are equally at home on the pantry shelf. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Have you heard about ‘canning’ dry goods to ensure long-term storage? Today’s piece comes to us from The Ohio State University Extension in nearby Wooster, Ohio, and deals with that very topic. OSUE’s Linnette Goard, Associate Professor/Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, tells us below how to handle long-term storage of staple goods safely.

First, let me say that “oven canning” is not a safe way of preserving our food.  According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html, “oven canning can be dangerous because the temperature will vary according to the accuracy of oven regulators and circulation of heat. Dry heat is very slow in penetrating into jars of food. Also, jars explode easily in the oven.” Continue reading

Lehman’s Has The Heirloom Seeds You Want!

Heirloom seeds in packets from Lehmans.com.

Choose from a variety of heirloom seeds at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

As many of you may have noticed, we’ve started thinking spring here at Lehman’s Country Life! (Just because Ohio’s buried in snow and cold doesn’t mean we can’t dream…) Right now, many of our readers in the South and West are starting their gardens, and are ready to start seeds, and may even be considering getting cool-weather plants in the ground.

When you’re starting to plant, you can’t pick anything finer than heirloom seeds–unless those seeds are certified USDA organic. We’re pleased that you can choose from our extensive group of heirloom seeds here at Lehman’s, with many certified organic! This year, we’re pleased to add seven new varieties–they’re conveniently grouped at the end of the list.

Take a look at the list below, and then visit Lehmans.com to order your favorites! Continue reading

The Off Season: Maple Syrup and Mushrooms

Previously published in spring 2013, this entry from truck gardener Kevin tells us how he keeps busy and profitable during the winter season.   –Editor

When the market garden is done for the year (as much as it can be, because there is always something to do) we can sit back and hopefully relax a bit. If the season was good, we can survive the winter with our profits. If not, we must find something to do to make up the difference.

Such is the case for many who try to survive on the income from a market garden or from any seasonal income-based project. It can be anything and for those who try to live some type of self-sustaining lifestyle it can be everything.

As for me, I try to survive in the off season so I do not have to work for “the man”. My mind is always working, trying to find ideas to make a few bucks, not to get rich, but to be able to keep doing the things that I love.

This late winter is no different. And my first project hit me right in the head. What started out as a trial run appears to be headed for bigger things, but they will have to wait until next season. Let me explain.

Continue reading

Cool Weather & Companion Planting: Give It A Try!

Soil Cube Tool at Lehmans.com

Broccoli seedlings in soil cubes. Make seed starters with a Soil Cube Tool from Lehman’s.

I can hardly believe it’s time to start preparing for my Spring garden! I’ll be getting my warm weather seedlings started indoors in the next few weeks, and I’ll direct sow most cool weather crops outdoors when the snow has thawed and melted away. My main objective right now is to get a jump start on the season by starting a few cool weather crops and herbs indoors in soil cubes.

This winter has been extra crazy for most of the US, so it’s a little harder for me to know exactly when it’ll be safe to plant and what to expect this year.  Worst case scenario, I’ll plant my cool weather crops in the raised beds, and cover them with old windows to create a cold frame if I fear them freezing. Continue reading

High Octane Oatmeal Revs Up Your Whole Day

We flake our oats right before we cook them.

We flake our oats right before we cook them.

My husband and I agree on most things.  We love the off grid-lifestyle, the hard work and the rewards.  One thing we haven’t ever agreed on is breakfast.  I like eggs; he likes bagels.  He likes cold cereal, even in winter.  I don’t.  Most of the time, we go our separate ways for breakfast.  Except when it comes to oatmeal.

For us, oatmeal is a winter food.   As soon as the cold weather hits, I’ve got my food grinder out with the cereal flaker attached, making fresh oatmeal for him to cook.   My husband is the keeper of the oatmeal.  He cooks it better than I do and it’s a real treat to have him make my breakfast once in awhile.

What to know before you grow

gardenIt’s the dead of winter here at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio (Zone 6a for you gardeners out there). As I write this, we’ve had two of the coldest weeks of the year with temperatures hovering near zero. And what is long-time Lehman’s employee Kathi doing? “Looking for sun,” she said with a smile. Not to improve her tan, or even warm up cold fingers and toes, but for her garden.

“When I mentally plant my garden, I look outside to see when and where the sun hits. Vegetables need sun to thrive,” she explained. Kathi, a Ohio Master Gardener* with years of practical experience, offered to share advice for First Time Gardeners with Country Life. Continue reading

Rethinking Livestock As Gardening Season Comes Closer

Worm Factory® 360 Composting System at Lehmans.com

Sturdy, waterproof and portable, the Worm Factory® 360 adds productivity to your garden. At Lehman’s in Kidron or Lehmans.com.

Just the word “livestock” can conjure up scary images of raging bulls, recalcitrant Billy goats and fragile lambs. You can’t help but think of the expenses of barns and fences, the necessity of acres of pastures and the tether of twice daily chores. But before you give up the notion of raising livestock, think outside the livestock box.

Our most productive livestock are probably our bees. In an area not quite as large as our children’s swing set we have enough hives to keep us in far more honey than we can consume. The extra honey sells for more than enough to pay all of our bee expenses each year.

Our second most productive livestock is our worms. Now that may seem downright silly. You can’t eat them. Worms don’t provide eggs or fleece or any of the other things one thinks of when considering livestock but they are still a valuable resource. And they produce material that will give any garden or flower bed a kick in the pants. Continue reading

Grandma’s Pegs® Make Laundry Day A Little Greener

Grandma's Pegs Clothespins

Grandma’s Pegs are a great, eco-friendly choice for laundry day. Find them at Lehmans.com or in our retail store in Kidron, OH.

Many of us know how wonderful and resourceful using a clothesline can be. Instead of putting your clothes in that rumbling electric dryer (which also costs more), hanging your clothes outside to dry preserves energy and gives your clothes that fresh outdoor scent. However, when you are securing your clothes to the line with those handy clothespins, do you ever wonder where those pins come from? How about all the resources used to make them? Continue reading

Cocoa Indulgence Warms Chill Days

The Double Boiler

The Double Boiler will warm your coca gently, with no scorching. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

It’s snowing again. Great, white flakes drifted lazily at first. Now they are coming thicker and faster and the wind is beginning to blow a bit. One by one, my obligations for the afternoon have cancelled. No one wants to brave the elements if they can avoid it and suddenly I find myself faced with a free afternoon. Time for  music and hot cocoa.

I make a couple of different kinds of hot chocolate. I have a mix that I make in bulk and give away as gifts. It’s quite good, certainly better than any commercial mix I’ve tried, but I find myself hankering for something special, indulgent, something that says SNOW DAY!!!!

Pure Mexican Vanilla

Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I warm 2 cups of rich milk in a small saucepan (or a double boiler) over very low heat. While it’s heating, I chop of 5 ounces of really good chocolate. Semisweet is too sweet and bittersweet not sweet enough. A mix of the two is about perfect although you can use bittersweet chocolate and add a bit of brown sugar to taste. Add that to the milk and stir until the chocolate melts. Be sure you never let it boil. Just let steam rise from the top. Letting a vanilla pod steep in the milk for a bit is a real luxury but a ½ teaspoon of extract will suit too. I like a swirl of heavy cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

If you are going to go to the trouble of making hot chocolate from scratch rather than spooning a powder into a cup and adding hot water then you should also indulge in a pretty mug. Put your feet up. Turn off the ringer on the phone. Ahhh…. Bliss!