This resource page lists services, products, and companies that we personally use and/or know have proven valuable to others. Here you can quickly find the recommendations mentioned in our posts. You may save thousands of dollars from just one page!
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links included, but they are to products/services/companies that we highly recommend.
Water Livestock in the Winter, Water Chickens in the Winter
K&H Pet Products Perfect Bucket Heater: This is the perfect bucket heater, the name doesn’t lie, to prevent water from freezing for our livestock. I’ve used it outdoors to heat a 15 gallon plastic water tub in temperatures of -20F. At that extreme, only a small hole, the size of the heater itself, is open for our goats and chickens to drink from, but in typical freezing winter temperatures, 0F-32F, it keeps the whole surface open, when properly shielded from the wind. The plastic clip which holds the cord in place is a tight fit, which is desirable as it doesn’t easily allow the goats to pick up a loose cord and lift the heater out of the tub. I’ll get more of these Perfect Bucket Heaters for additional watering stations if I don’t upgrade to an in-ground self-contained, heated waterer.
Allied 1000 watt Water Bucket Heater: The way I like to use this heater is to put it into a full bucket of water that I think might freeze solid overnight. The next day, if it has, I simply plug this miracle in and minutes later, I can start pouring the water out. This Water Bucket Heater melts ice fast! It won’t work to get water up to scalding temperatures for removing chicken feathers, so save yourself the trouble and get something else (learned that the long way), but as stated above, it has it’s purpose. I’ve also used to warm a container of water in the winter for washing up outside after cleaning a mess of fish, ducks, chickens, and other game.
Farm Innovators Chicken Waterer Deicer: We use these in our nipple chicken waterers – 6 gallon buckets with nipples mounted just like in the picture shown to the right. As with most of my recommendations, you can find them at your local farm store, or on Amazon here: Chicken Waterer De-Icer. And by the way, keeping the buckets covered not only keeps the chickens water clean, but also improves heat retention. I drilled a small hole in the lid of the bucket covers just large enough to slip the electrical plug through. I have three of these run in succession for my flock. They love the warm water on the frigid days. I did find that if you use bottom mount nipples, they will freeze solid in extreme temps (-20F) with this heater, so make sure you’re using horizontal mount chicken waterer nipples as shown.
Homestead Money Savers
Nest Learning Thermostat: At our homestead we use Nest Learning Thermostats. We have been using these thermostats since their initial release in 2011. We believe they are the best programmable thermostat available today. There are considerations to make when using Nest Learning Thermostat with a millivolt HVAC system, and we’d be happy to help you understand them. Our Nest Learning Thermostats have saved us thousands of dollars in utilities over the years, so are a top choice for Weekend Homesteader Money Savers. We love the custom schedules and location aware updates recently introduced. A full Nest thermostat review with connectivity, scheduling, features, and compatibility considerations will be added to our blog soon.
Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Our metropolitan home has an embedded alarm for smoke and carbon monoxide, but our country homestead was built in the 70’s. Our insurance provider, American Family, offered a discount on our homeowners insurance if we installed a Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm. The clear voice alerts are much more effective at expressing what the alert condition is when compared to the sirens found on other alarms. Also, self-tests are performed and texts are sent to our phones to inform us if any follow up action is needed. No more forgetting to test batteries, ensure the sensors are cleaned, etc. With the incentive offered from our homeowners insurance we’ve saved hundreds of dollars in just a few short months.
Amazon Prime: We have been using Amazon Prime for several years. As weekend homesteaders we benefit most from the FREE Two-Day Shipping, especially on items we realize we need for the next weekend when we return to the homestead. Additionally, we participate in the Subscribe & Save program, whereby items are shipped automatically to our address on a predetermined scheduled, and this saves us up to 15% on products we consume every month (think TP, cleaners, diapers for the baby, etc). There are additional benefits to the Amazon Prime membership too, like unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes, free music, and more, but we haven’t taken advantage of those other perks, except for the Prime Music benefit (see our Amazon Echo recommendation). But the FREE Shipping has saved us hundreds of dollars on items we use regularly around the homestead. Some of our startup maple-syrup-making supplies were acquired through Amazon Prime and many of the items we needed to start raising chickens were too. Note: Sometimes you may find a better deal at your local farm-supply store. Don’t neglect comparison shopping your local retailers. Depending on your location, however, you may not have to pay tax on items purchased through Amazon and no local retailer we’ve approached have honored lower prices found online through Amazon.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself: I love this book. It covers everything you could possibly imagine regarding homesteading, A-Z.