What to Buy for the Homesteader in Your Life
The holidays are upon us and if you’re like me, you’ve done the shopping for the “easy” people on your list, and you’re trying to figure out what to get for the ones who pose more of a gifting challenge.
If any of those people happen to be homesteaders – and with the tens of thousands of people joining the homesteading movement every year the chances that some of them are on your list is growing all the time – I may be able to help you out with some of the best gift ideas for homesteaders, urban or traditional.
There are a lot of moving parts in a homestead and it’s a rare homesteader who has everything they want to make it all work.
There are lots of potential gift ideas, they just may not be what you’re accustomed to wrapping and tucking under the tree.
Here are a few suggestions for gifts that will make you a gift-giving hero in the eyes of your favorite homesteaders.
For the Kitchen
Wooden Utensils – real ones
If your whole experience with wooden spoons is the splintery almost flat lifeless things that come in utensil sets, it may be hard to imagine them as a worthy gift. I’m not talking about those.
Real wooden utensils are created by artisans who know what they’re doing and it shows.
With proper care, wooden utensils stand up to heavy use and will be cherished heirlooms for generations.
Bonus points if you include a jar of spoon butter to keep them in top condition
The kitchen of a homesteader gets a lot of use and these extra-large cutting mats are perfect when there’s a large amount of vegetables to be cut up for canning or a lot of rolling and kneading to be done on baking day.
There’s nothing worse than a dull knife when you’re trying to slice up a whole harvest of carrots for canning, or anything else for that matter. A good knife sharpener will keep the work to fill the pantry humming along.
Homestead cooks know when it comes to stocking the pantry, whole grains last much longer than flour. A grain mill turns those grains into fresh flour when it’s needed.
Milling grains by hand is very hard work, so most modern homesteaders opt for an electric one.
There are three main camps when it comes to mills:
If you don’t know if your recipient has a Kitchen Aid, get one of the countertop units.
Electric cookers have taken the world by storm.
They have introduced a whole new generation of cooks to the power and convenience of pressure cooking (imagine being able to cook a roast straight out of the freezer in an hour) without the please-don’t-blow-up suspense of yesteryear’s jiggly weight pressure cookers.
But wait! There’s more!
These versatile appliances have several other functions as well. Most can also be used as a slow cooker, air fryer, broiler, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and to sauté, some do even more AND are bluetooth enabled so you can start or stop cooking even when you’re away from home.
- The air fryer lid doesn’t come off. When you’re using any of the other pot functions, you have this giant air fry hood just hanging off the side of your pot. It takes up a lot of room and that’s a big deal in my small kitchen.
- It automatically goes to the “Keep Warm” function when the cook time ends. There doesn’t seem to be a way to shut this off, so you have to be present at the end of the cook time to turn the Foodie off.
Unless you’re buying for someone who is a Ninja enthusiast, get the Instant Pot.
This may be the most used appliance in the homestead kitchen.
It makes short work of anything that needs to be finely chopped or shredded, tedious and time-consuming work.
If your homesteader doesn’t have one, I can’t think of anything else that would be as happily received and appreciated.
I have and love this one from Ninja (I actually prefer most Ninja appliances, just not the Foodie until they fix that air fryer hood mentioned earlier).
For the Pantry
The Excalibur is the Cadillac of food dehydrators.
It’s the one everyone wants, but settles for one of the cheaper ones because the homestead budget is usually pretty tight.
The Excalibur has a lot of capacity and that’s important when you’re drying a whole harvest of herbs or vegetables or summer fruit to fill the pantry for the year.
The temperature can be adjusted for drying delicate herbs and the time can be set for up to 26 hours.
The biggest advantage of the Excalibur, though, is the fan at the back. This provides even air flow to all the trays which eliminates the chore of having to switch the trays around in order to dry all the food evenly.
Anything that eliminates a chore for a busy homesteader will always be a win.
This odd-looking contraption is hands-down THE best way to extract juice from just about anything.
When we had 1800 pounds of apples to process, this is what we used. We washed and cored the apples then filled the pot. As they cooked down the juice started flowing.
We used the hose to fill our quart jars with juice, then mashed and seasoned the cooked apples in the pot for applesauce.
Skip the mashing and you’re putting up jars of apple pie filling with no extra work.
This would also work for any kind of jelly, no strainer or cheesecloth necessary.
A lot of homesteaders have never heard of steam canning, which is a shame.
It can be used in place of a water bath and is SO much easier. There’s no giant pot of water to fill and wait to boil, and no rickety rack full of jars to try raise and lower.
The indicator on the lid lets you know your water is hot enough to process the jars safely.
The only advantage of a water bath canner is it gives you a giant pot if you ever need to heat water for washing laundry by hand or processing chickens. That’s what I use mine for now!
I know, I just dissed water bath canners when I talked about the steam canner, but some people love them.
They have always been the go-to for canning and your homesteader has definitely heard of them.
Most canning recipes will include instructions for water bath canning. If your homesteader doesn’t have one, this could come in handy…if nothing else, it’s a GIANT pot.
This is a must for food preservation.
Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning meats or other low-acid foods. Your homesteader will use this a lot and pressure cooking is alway a bit risky, so it’s important to get a good one.
This one from American Can is the top of the line and worth every penny.
This little gem belongs in every homestead kitchen.
It seals anything, you can use the vacuum function or not.
I use mine for things I want to freeze. Using the vacuum, it will keep freezer burn away for months if not longer (I’ve pulled things out of my freezer after a year that were just as fresh as when I put them in).
I also use it to make smaller packages when I buy bulk items like flour or salt or sugar or spices (don’t vacuum seal dried pasta, it will suck it down so tight it breaks the pasta – ask me how I know).
The sealer doesn’t stop at food, you can sort and seal packets of beads or seeds or anything else you want to keep dry and protected. I once even had someone pay me for something with a brick of vacuum-sealed money.
One of the dilemmas of growing and preserving your own food is how to package it for storage.
Homesteaders need a lot of high-quality containers.
The Rubbermaid Brilliance line of containers are perfect for this. They seal tightly, stack neatly and, best of all, are clear so it’s easy to know what’s inside. They can be used in fridge and freezer as well as in the pantry.
I am a die-hard mason jar fan, but sometimes you want something less heavy and non-breakable.
If I ever manage to get enough to take care of my pantry, I’m going to use them in all my closets and cupboards, then head out and start on the garage and the workshop.
I don’t think a homesteader could ever have too many of these.
In the Garden
Folks who say they don’t like wind chimes must have only heard the clangy-jangly ones. No one likes those, they sound like a goat running around with a string of canning rings around its neck.
But a set of beautifully crafted, perfectly tuned wind chimes is a delight to the soul. Homesteading is about more than hard work everyday, it’s about feeding the soul as well as the body.
I put wind chimes in my garden because my garden is my refuge, my place of beauty and renewal. I also have them on my porch to sing for visitors to the homestead.
A what now?
Think of a Hori Hori as a Swiss army knife for gardeners. It’s a trowel, it’s a dibber, it’s a hoe. The sides are sharp like a knife edge to make weeding as easy as brushing your had across the garden bed.
Have I mentioned that homesteading is hard work?
Gardening is particularly hard on the back and knees, even my 15-year old son who can buck hay bales or shovel gravel all day complains most about garden work.
This rolling garden seat helps ease the strain.
Get this one though. You’ll see cheaper plastic ones out there, those may be fine for someone with a few containers of plants of their patio, but if your homesteader has a garden of any size, they’re going to need something a lot more durable.
This one is made to be a workhorse.
This watering wand beats little sprayer heads like nobody’s business.
I love the on / off switch on the handle rather than the squeeze type ( those give me a painful cramp in my hand after using it for a while).
Your homesteader is probably starting seeds for the garden and doing a whole bunch of hand-watering of tender plants, the long handle on this wand is a comfortable way to reach plants at the back of the green house shelf, or up high.
The adjustable spray goes from a gentle mist for tiny seeds or seedlings to a powerful jet for cleaning dirty tools.
It’s the tool your homesteader probably doesn’t know she needs until she gets it, then she’ll wonder how she ever got along without it.
This odd-looking collection will delight your homesteader’s seed-starting heart; it makes sturdy blocks out of normal potting soil.
No more buying peat pellets or up cycling old Solo cups!
That’s great from a money-saving perspective, but what really sets soil blockers apart is how easy they make potting-up time.
Starting with the smallest mold, it makes little soil blocks just the right size for germinating a seed and snuggling the little seedling when it emerges. Then use the next size to make a bigger block and set the first block inside it. When the plant needs a bigger size, use the big four inch mold and make a block with the hole already in place and drop the whole soil block into it. When it’s ready to go to the garden, just dig a hole and set the whole thing down in it.
With this nested-block system, you take a plant from tiny seed in a tiny block all the way to ready for the garden without ever disturbing the roots.
Most of us need to extend our growing season. If we can start our plants inside in the late winter and early spring, we can get a big head start on the summer harvest.
We can also put in a more varied fall garden if we can start cool-season things like salad greens and peas inside our nice air-conditioned house, out of the summer’s heat, then put them out when the temperatures cool in the early autumn.
Magazine articles will tell you to start your seeds “on a sunny windowsill”.
All you get is weak, leggy seedlings and a frustrated gardener.
Your homesteader needs a grow light, a full-spectrum light that gives plants all they need to be healthy.
With a grow light, she can position it a few inches above the plants and move it up as they grow. This produces strong plants with sturdy stems that will hold up to the heavy work later on when it starts producing food.
Even if she already has a grow light, another one just means she can start more seeds.
In the Library
You Can Farm or anything by Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin didn’t create the concept of permaculture design or regenerative farming, but he’s certainly the face of it. He doesn’t just talk about, he’s been doing it and innovating it since the 1970’s and he has it nailed! His book, You Can Farm is jam-packed with wisdom and practical help that will be an enormous help to your homesteader.
Ben Falk uses permaculture design to create a massively productive farmstead in Vermont. He explains how to do it in this book.
This should be on every homesteader’s bookshelf. This is the 50th anniversary edition of Carla Emery’s timeless reference for all things homestead.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a homesteader who doesn’t read Mother Earth News at least occasionally. If yours doesn’t already have a subscription, she’ll be happy to get this.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been the go-to for farmers and homesteaders since 1792. Published yearly, it’s full of farm wisdom and up-to-date information about the upcoming year and how to make the most of it. It truly is “useful with a pleasant degree of humor”.
The work on a homestead never ends. In the busy-ness of the day to day chores, it’s easy to overlook important things that need to be done seasonally.
Ann Larkin Hansen’s book breaks a homestead into sections by function (the barnyard, the chicken coop, the orchard, the garden, etc.) and outlines all the important tasks that need to be done in that section each season. It’s a huge help and will go far in helping your favorite homesteader keep things running smoothly.
In the Barnyard
Even urban homesteaders are keeping milk goats these days, they’re almost as common as backyard chickens (check out Weed ‘em and Reap on YouTube for a family successfully running a homestead including goats, pigs, and chickens in their backyard in Arizona).
If your homesteader is keeping dairy goats or sheep (yes, there are dairy sheep), a milking stand is a must.
Here is a craftsman on Etsy who makes sturdy milk stands for goats (large or small or he can make one stand that accommodates both) and sheep. It arrives as a flat pack pre-cut and with all the hardware and instructions necessary to put it together.
In the Equipment Shed
Here’s something that gets a lot of use around our homestead. Between the animals, dirt, dust, mud, tree sap and who knows what else, there is a lot of dirty messes on a homestead.
We power wash the inside of the animal houses, the tops of the horse trailers, the driveway, our porches (especially if the chickens have been on them) our lawn furniture, the outside of the house, and I’ve been tempted more than once to power wash the kitchen.
A robust power washer makes short work of messes and grime. The operative is “robust” this is no place for a cheap electric one. Even if it isn’t cheap, an electric power washer won’t be as effective or as portable because there aren’t always outlets where a homesteader needs a power washer.
Here is our favorite one at Lowes
If a homesteader can count on anything, it’s that he or she will be right in the middle of a project when the battery in whatever cordless tool is being used at the moment will go dead.
This leads to an embarrassing amount of partly finished projects because when you have to break away to go put the battery on the charger, by the time it’s ready to use 30 minutes later, you’ve already moved on to another project. I used to tell people I live in a half-way house because the porch was half-way done, the addition to the chicken house was half-way done, you get the idea.
The struggle is real, folks, get your homesteader a few high-capacity extra batteries for what ever brand of tool they have. You’ll help end the blight of half-doneness.
Drill bits, where do they go? Who knows. I’m starting to think the squirrels sneak into the workshop and carry them off. All I know is there’s never the right drill bit available when I need it.
It will be wonderful day when some entrepreneurial homesteader creates a drill bit subscription service that sends out a box of assorted bits every month…and socks, the world needs a sock subscription services too for the same reason, but that’s another topic.
Do the homesteader you love a kindness and give drill bits every chance you get.
In the Hen House
Ahhh, the sweet sound of baby chicks peeping, scratching through wood shavings on the floor of their cage, and huddling in the warmth of the red glow from a heat lamp.
Chicks under heat lamps make me cringe.
I’m a big How-Can-This-Go-Wrong person, so when I see a heat lamp hanging over a bunch of dry tinder chips, I see a fire waiting to happen. Gravity is a fickle thing and it’s just waiting to plunk that hot bulb right into those wood shavings. I was a nervous wreck when we got our first batch of chicks. I checked that heat lamp every ten minutes around the clock.
Fortunately, for my sanity, I discovered brooder plates.
Think of a stiff heating pad on adjustable legs and that’s a brooder plate. They come in various sizes that accommodate various numbers of chicks. I have the 20 chick size and it’s perfect whether I have a whole flock of chicks or just a few from a rogue broody hen who decided to hatch a clutch under the porch.
The top of the brooder plate stays evenly warm and the legs can be adjusted as the chicks grow.
It’s the sane way to brood chicks and if your homesteader doesn’t have one ( or several) of these, your gift will be VERY welcome.
Some people shy away from gift certificates, thinking they aren’t personal enough. I’m here to tell you homesteaders love gift certificates to places that have the things we either use all the time, or the things we’d like to have.
I have to admit, I have had awful luck with ordering plants and trees from afar. I get those darned catalogs that seduce me with their glossy photos of citrus trees or lush banana plants and I lose my mind and start ordering, dreaming of the fresh oranges I’ll be picking from my orange grove or harvesting giant bundles of green bananas to ripen on my porch.
Then they get here and die.
A homesteader will always welcome plants and trees and buying them from the local nursery takes the guesswork (and the impulse buying) out of trying to find the right ones for their area. Friends don’t let friends kill plants.
Local Feed Store or Tractor Supply
The operative words here are “feed” and “supply” because if there’s anything a homesteader burns through faster than greased lightening it’s feed and supplies for all the critters, people, plants, trees, soil, worms (yep, homesteaders feed their worms), and keeping up all the buildings, tools, and equipment that make up this glorious life of homesteading.
It’s a madness that never abates, but we love it.
Give us a gift certificate for chicken feed and we’ll bring you eggs every week for a year!
If a gift certificate to a local store is problematic, we would love gift cards to Home Depot, Lowes, or Amazon. We like to support our local businesses as much as we can, but when we can’t find what we need, those are the places we go.
This is the handiest little gadget I’ve every seen.
Everyone on my list is getting one this year whether they are homesteaders or not.
The tip of each point of the snowflake is a different screwdriver head and the gaps in between the points are different sized wrenches and you just carry it in your pocket or on a keychain.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in the back forty needing a screwdriver and had to walk all the way back up to the house to get one. By the time I get up there, I’ve usually spotted something else that needs attention even more, and the loose screw gets left for another day.
While you’re at it, you might want to get one of these for yourself too.
My son bought a pack of penlight flashlights a few months ago and gave one to each of us to keep in our pocket.
Best little gift ever! There will never be a time on a homestead when a flashlight doesn’t come in handy, I’ve used mine when I lost track of time and didn’t get around to closing the chicken door until after dark. I needed a light to do a head count and make sure everyone was safely inside. I use it in our feed room which has no electric light. I even use it inside the house to see to the back of our strangely dark closet in the utility room.
Evidently lighted closets weren’t a thing when this house was built.
A true homesteader will marvel at your thoughtfulness when they pull a multipack of mini flashlights out of their stocking on Christmas morning.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, there isn’t much that doesn’t come in handy on a homestead.
Even a non-homestead gift will be welcome and used, just maybe not for what you intended.
I asked my yoga-loving daughter about a piece of equipment with a nicely padded seat I saw in a video she sent me. It turns out it’s an inversion chair designed for doing headstands.
I wanted it for a milking stool.