About doug smith

Doug Smith is a small town newspaper managing editor. He has also been a freelance writer for rural living, country life, tourism, and hunting and fishing publications for the past 12 years. He lives in an 1880s Victorian-style home in the Missouri Ozarks. He drives an old pickup truck, tinkers with old tractors, is married to a young woman, they have two beautiful and successful children, and he can be found any given day around town wearing his Buffalo plaid flannel jacket and matching Elmer Fudd hat.

The List Maker’s Spring Checklist

Not everybody is like me. My wife would tell you that she thanks God every day for that fact. But I’m a list maker and prefer to make detailed outlines of what I need to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month and so on. Continue reading

Fall/Winter Household Checklist


What’s not to love about fall? Leaves turning red and yellow, and then turning loose. The comforting sight of wood smoke curling up from a chimney. The tidiness of a well-stacked woodpile standing firm along a fence row. A well-stocked pantry lined with colorful jars of home-canned food. But scenes like this don’t happen automatically. They take preparation, because it won’t be too long until winter will arrive with all its fury. Continue reading

Maintaining Your Woodpile

wood 2

It’s said the hand of the Creator can be found in many places, depending on who’s doing the looking or listening. Some see beauty or majesty in a sunset, or looking across the Grand Canyon, staring up at the roof of the Sistine Chapel or listening to a particular genre of music. Among other things, I find great beauty in a nice woodpile. Yeah, I said it — a good store of wood for the winter.

There’s just something comforting about seeing a winter’s worth of wood all lined up in neat rows under a lean-to shed roof, or along a fencerow, or even in a well-formed pile … all stacked just so, to allow for maximum air movement and drying (a.k.a. seasoning). Continue reading

Dutch Oven Cooking: History and How-To

dutch ovens 5

Editor’s Note: Each May, we celebrate the annual Dutch Oven Gathering at Lehman’s store in Kidron, Ohio, where cast iron cooking devotees came from far and wide to cook up delicious treats for visitors to sample. Those unable to attend: this article’s for you! It includes helpful tips on getting started with dutch oven cookery, plus an easy (and yummy) recipe to try. Happy cooking!

In many ways you could say a Dutch oven is the ultimate cookware. For the resident barbecue “expert” who might feel he or she has perfected the grill, taking up cast iron cooking opens up a whole new world of mastering the cook fire for the enjoyment of family and friends. For the burgeoning cook who wants a new challenge, a Dutch oven can be a creative way to adapt both old and new recipes. I could go on and on, but the fact is cooking in Dutch ovens is just FUN. Continue reading

Rebuilding Grandma’s Wood Cookstove

Blogger Doug Smith is embarking on a winter project to refurbish his grandmother's Iron Master wood cookstove.

Blogger Doug Smith is embarking on a winter project to refurbish his grandmother’s Iron Master wood cookstove.

The smells were near heavenly: a faint hint of hickory and oak wood smoke masked heavily by the scents of salt pork and homemade sourdough biscuits which still lingered in the air leftover from breakfast before sunup.

My little “Granny” Smith would be clanging skillets and pans on the cast iron wood stove top or sifting flour at the Hoosier hutch, all in preparation for the magnificent lunch spread being prepared for all the family. Mom and the other ladies of the next generation would be playing second fiddle, handing the matriarch of the family ingredients, putting used cookware in the sink for washing, or setting the table for the wonderful feast to come. Continue reading

A New Year’s Checklist for the Rural Homestead

amish wood cart

The beginning of a new year is all about both traditions and new beginnings. One tradition I’ve found helpful is to revisit my “monthly checklist” of things that need addressing around the home and property during the coming year. Continue reading

Stay Sharp This Holiday Season

Be ready for the holiday meal carving, slicing and cutting with our top-quality German-made knife and block set. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Be ready for the holiday meal carving, slicing and cutting with our top-quality German-made knife and block set. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

My wife says I’m the biggest kid she knows on Christmas morning. I’d have to agree with her, but I would add Thanksgiving Day to that list as well. The difference is this big kid is allowed to play with knives.

I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Aside from the “real reason for the season,” for me it’s mainly about the food and giving gifts. For my wife it’s about dinner parties and making memories around the dining room table. Continue reading

Seasonal Storms Readiness Primer

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

From our preparedness/homesteading blogger Kathy Harrison! In stock now.

Like most young boys, I often dreamed of living without modern creature comforts. In my ideal world I would use candles for my light, cook over an open flame, and eat canned goods and jerky.

Eventually I got my wish- about five years ago during an exceptionally bad winter when the power lines came down. For five days my family endured frigid temperatures with no phone service or electricity. The grocery and hardware stores in the nearby towns were in the same shape, leaving everyone to find their own way to survive. Continue reading

Hunting Expert Shares Electric-Free Deer Camp Setup

Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game

Process deer and other game yourself, and save the fees! In stock now at Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

As I ease up the quarter mile long driveway toward the cabin sitting on the ridge, I realize the old home place is full of memories and traditions. Yeah, this time of year is about stocking the freezer with good meat for the coming winter. But it’s also about reliving traditions, or starting new ones for future generations.

 My siblings and parents are scattered across our Midwest state, but in November the men and boys, and occasionally the women or girls, gather in to the old farmhouse to share the opening of deer season together. We eat good food, relax around the woodstove in the front room, and hunt the old fields and woodlots which grandpa cleared and worked starting nearly a century ago. One portion of the land has been in the family longer than that. Continue reading

Had Your Morels Yet?

A tailgate full of morels!

A tailgate full of morels!

Spring is an amazing time of year. Along with a complete change of landscape, spring brings forth the “lords of the woods” … morel mushrooms. With this year’s cooler spring, morels are still being found, even later than ever before.

The tasty little fungi often show themselves on a warm spring day immediately following a rain. They tend to be found in shady areas, often on north-facing slopes in the northern hemisphere that never receive direct sunlight. But they can be found in other areas where cover provides near-constant shade. Continue reading