Mini-Farm Necessities


Earlier this year, my wife and I purchased our first mini farm.  It comprises of 6 acres and is fenced and set up for horses.  The farm came complete with a 2 stall barn measuring 20 x 30 feet.   What it did not come with was the equipment to manage said property.  Below is a list of a few necessary tools and equipment for managing the property without being overwhelmed.


Lawn Mower


Since our property is mostly flat and pastured, we opted for an 60” zero turn mower.  This mower allows me to keep the yard and pasture trimmed in the least amount of time.  Careful research showed that for our situation, the mower would prove to be more efficient than a belly deck mower and front end loader.  For my purposes, I opted for the American Made BadBoy Maverick commercial grade mower that was rated for a minimum of 1200 hours or more.  This is need is subjective to the type of landscape and terrain present on the property.


Weed Trimmer


Weed Trimmers save lives and fences!  They allow for quick edging of the yard, drive way and trimming fence lines.  With our acreage, I opted for an Echo SRM 230 commercial trimmer.  One of the handy things about the trimmers is one can install the brush cutting blades and use to clear hardy brush and thickets.  This is especially helpful when dealing with horse pastures.


Water Hoses


My personal recommendation is Apex Commercial Farm and Ranch hose.  These hoses are American made and have withstood the test of time.  I prefer the red rubber, which is rated for hot and cold water and can come in handy of those cold winter days where hose flexibility and possibly warm water is needed to be run through the hoses.


Utility Trailer


My personal preference is Gorilla Carts. Primarily based on the economical cost for what it is capable of carrying.  Besides my mower, I use this cart on a weekly basis to haul feed, hay, water and tools around the property. This is one piece of equipment that is worth its weight in gold.




Amazon and Whole Foods

Amazon and Whole Foods Market have announced that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market has closed and the two companies will together pursue the vision of making Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone. As a down payment on that vision, Whole Foods Market is immediately offering lower prices on a selection of best-selling grocery staples across its stores, with more to come.


Inventing together

In addition, Amazon and Whole Foods Market technology teams are now beginning to integrate Amazon Prime into the Whole Foods Market point-of-sale system, and when this work is complete, Prime members will receive special savings and in-store benefits. The two companies will invent in additional areas over time, including in merchandising and logistics, to enable lower prices for Whole Foods Market customers.




Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality—we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards.

To get started, we’ve lowered prices on a selection of best-selling grocery staples, including Whole Trade organic bananas, responsibly-farmed salmon, organic large brown eggs, animal-welfare-rated 85 percent lean ground beef, and more.

And this is just the beginning—we will make Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods Market and continuously lower prices as we invent together. There is significant work and opportunity ahead, and we’re thrilled to get started.”

Jeff Wilke
CEO, Amazon Worldwide Consumer


New Whole Foods Market stores now and what customers can expect over time

STARTING TODAY, Whole Foods Market is offering lower prices on a selection of best-selling staples across its stores, with much more to come.

Customers can enjoy lower prices on products like Whole Trade bananas, organic avocados, organic large brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal-welfare-rated 85 percent lean ground beef, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic Gala and Fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken, 365 Everyday Value organic butter, and much more.

IN THE FUTURE, after certain technical integration work is complete, Amazon Prime will become Whole Foods Market’s customer rewards program, providing Prime members with special savings and other in-store benefits.

Whole Foods Market’s healthy and high-quality private label products—including 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch—will be available through, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry, and Prime Now.

Amazon Lockers will be available in select Whole Foods Market stores. Customers can have products shipped from to their local Whole Foods Market store for pick up or send returns back to Amazon during a trip to the store.

This is just the beginning—Amazon and Whole Foods Market plan to offer more in-store benefits and lower prices for customers over time as the two companies integrate logistics and point-of-sale and merchandising systems.

Whole Foods Market will continue to grow its team and create jobs in local communities as it opens new stores, hires new team members, and expands its support of local farmers and artisans. The company will maintain operations under the Whole Foods Market brand, preserve its high standards and commitment to providing the finest natural and organic foods, and continue to source from trusted vendors and partners around the world. John Mackey will remain as CEO and Whole Foods Market’s headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas.


Whole Foods Market + Amazon
Disclaimer: All photos, text, and information were taken from’s website.

Cast Iron Cooking Tips

These days many folk are steering away from Teflon coated cookware and moving back to stainless steel,  stoneware, or cast iron cookware.  Often new buyers of cast iron quickly find out that cast iron cookware is not what they assumed it was. Cast iron is an extremely versatile cookware and with the proper knowledge, the cookware is deliciously rewarding to cook with.  It is my hope to highlight a few tips to ease the transition to cooking with cast iron. IMG_2096

Tip 1:

Make sure the new cast iron cookware is properly seasoned.  Check out my previous blog Restoring Cast Iron to better understand how to season cast iron cookware.

Tip 2:

Allow time for cookware to preheat.  One should be able to drop a bead of water on the hot cookware and the water will quickly evaporate.  If so, the cookware is ready.

Tip 3:

Use liberal natural fats.  My preferred go to is butter. I have also has success with coconut oil as well. (A well preheated and greased skillet will provide a nice non-stick cooking experience for most non-acidic items.)


Tip 4:

If you cook with your cast iron cookware often, cleaning can be simply wiping the cookware off and placing back on the cook top or stove to dry a bit.  It is not necessary to use soap to clean cookware, but if rinsing and soap are necessary, use a mild soap and be sure to dry the cookware well before storing.

Tip 5:

Be sure to apply small amounts of oil on the entire cookware after drying the cookware. Keep in mind, if you do not use your cookware often, it is not recommended to use butter, ghee, or lard to season or oil the cookware with.  If the cookware is to be stored for longer periods, it is recommended to use canola or flax seed oil.


Tip 6:

Cast iron has the ability to get extremely hot and also retain that heat for longer periods of time.  Because of this, it is important to have proper hand protection.  Personally, I like the silicone handle covers.  But also find myself using heavy duty kitchen towels as well.


Remember to use CAUTION when working around high heat.

Shinola Detroit Journal

Shinola Detroit is on a mission to create American jobs by manufacturing goods right here is the good ol’ USA. While Shinola is known more for their American made vintage style bicycles and high end watches, Shinola also makes quality journals. More information about Shinola Detroit can be found here:

Shinola Detroit

The journal features a warm and appealing fabric cover similar to the books in the days of old. This is perfect for the nostalgic writer! Journals are available in hard and soft covers and in multiple colors.

Upon first opening the package from Shinola, one is greeted with a visually pleasing, well packaged arrangement,  as shown below.

For no additional fee, one can have initials embossed on the journal.  I feel this was a great personal touch and adds to the journal.

After several months of writing in this journal, I have been very pleased.  I now own several of their journals for work and personal use.  The medium journal is perfect for everyday writing and works great with a wide variety of pens. The small journal is good for pocket carry and seems to work better with rollerball pens and pencils (this is mostly due to writing space).

Fountain Pens-The paper is thick and smooth for the custom fountain pens I normally write with.  I found that my medium and broad pens seem to feather and bleed through (Using Noodler Eel Ink, a generally wet ink). However, my everyday fine and extra fine pens with Noodler Eel ink do excellent on this paper.

In short, I highly recommend Shinola Detroit for a high quality, handmade journal.


Restoring Cast Iron

With Cast iron cooking back on the rise, Lodge Cast Iron has created a short video showing how to restore cast iron pots and pans. This method works for all brands and makes of cast iron.

Armed with this information provided by Lodge Cast Iron, the next time you come across a rusty cookware you can confidently take on the project and bring the cookware to life again!

Tips and Tricks for Fly Fishing

Wader Changing Mat


I  carry an extra car floor mat to stand on while changing into and out of waders.  However, Simms currently offers a really nice wader mat and bag called Headwaters Taco Bag as an alternative. There is nothing worse than having rocks in your socks or wader boots. Rocks and debris can puncture the stocking-foot portion of the waders and cause a good day to become a bad day.



I learned from an experienced fisherman that it is much easier to change ones waders when sitting down in a chair.  For this, I prefer the REI Ultra-light camp chairs or my trusty Yeti Roadie 20.

Wader Repair kit


Though, I have yet to rip a pair of fly waders on the water, I do keep a repair kit close by.



Use a large container to store and organize your fishing gear. I prefer the Rubbermaid Roughneck series. This has greatly reduced the likelihood of me forgetting important essentials.



These handy tools are excellent for tying small midges to fine tippets, and handling the tiny 5x-6x tippets. I prefer the 5 inch forceps as they offer a bit more gripping surface.

Polarized Sunglasses


I highly recommend glass lenses as they are more scratch resistant and are often more durable in the event when a beadhead nymph comes crashing into your face. To date, Smith Optics Guides Choice  shades have been my go to’s for clarity and quality.

First Aid Kit

It is smart to be well prepared. I keep a safety kit in my vehicle at all times and am prepared for everything from snake bite to accidental self-hooking.

Extendable Magnetic Retrieval Tool


This little tool works great for recovering those precious flies that get hung in vegetation or those forceps/nippers on the bottom of the river. Best part, This tool costs less than 5 bucks at Harbor Freight and you don’t have to take a swim in the icy cold water to retrieve these valuables.

Ultralight Stove

On those cold days, there is nothing like a piping hot coffee that was freshly brewed. This is why I often carry a MSR Windburner with the coffee press in my gear container. It has made cold days much more bearable. Plus, one never knows when boiling some water may be needed.



Coffee Beans

History – Legend vs. Facts

“The legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans.

The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.” (NCA)

While there are many legends of how coffee was discovered, the credibility of the legend has not been confirmed.  What we do know is, coffee has been around for many ages.  It was first cultivated as a crop on the Arabian peninsula around the 15th century. From there, it spread from Asia to Europe and throughout the globe. To date, there are two distinct types of beans that are cultivated for commercial use. From these two strands, all commercially available blends and varieties are derived  and each has their own use.

Coffee Arabica

“Coffea Arabica (Arabica), pronounced either a-rã-bik-a or ar-a-bë-ka. This species makes up about 70% of the world market for coffee beans. Being a higher value taste, this fancy grade coffee bean is sold mostly through specialty coffee shops. Arabica being grown on steep terrain makes mechanical harvesting impossible. The hand picking ensures a better quality of selection with less under/over ripe beans being selected.” (Peter Baskerville)

Coffee Robusto

“Coffea canephora (referred to as Robusta) This high caffeine content species makes up about 27% of the world coffee bean market. Being a cheaper to produce coffee bean but with a lower taste profile, this coffee is often sold for use in instant coffee. It is produced primarily in Indonesia, West Africa, Brazil, and Vietnam. Also known by botanists as Coffea bukobensis A. Zimm., Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner var. kouilouensis Pierre ex De Wild., Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner var. sankuruensis De Wild., Coffea robusta L. Linden (GRIN), Coffea robusta L. (Smit). Is commonly known in the trade as Congo coffee or Congo coffee tree (USA).” (Peter Baskerville)


Arabica – Required for a “proper”  espresso and is highly sought after for it’s rich taste. Often found in specialty coffee shops with a higher price tag.

Robusto- Cheaper, lower taste profile and is often found in instant coffee. Most commonly found in big box retail stores.

Blends- often a blend of the two to obtain a lower cost and better flavor. Blends make up the bulk of the coffee market and are sold everywhere from big box stores to specialty shops.



Peter Baskerville –

MSR Windburner Camp Stove



The MSR “Windburner” packs all into the boiling canister which makes for a neat and tidy package. This stove was designed for use in backpacking and remote situations where the added weight of tabletop gas stoves are not beneficial.  Quirks aside, this is a handy gadget to have on hand.


Setting up the Windburner is not too complex. It does require some tinkering to assemble.  However, it can be quickly assembled in under 60 seconds once the operator is familiar with the apparatus.

1.) Open boiling Canister and remove parts stored.

2.) Attached 3 pronged base to gas canister.

3.) Attach gas canister to burner.

4.) Attach all accessories  needed to cook, in this case a coffee press.img_0384


Lighting the Windburner proved to be a bit more difficult to light than originally hopeed for. At first, a piezo-electric starter was used with absolutely no success, whatsoever. After several attempts, the easiest and safest method found was to use a fire-steel or long match. The traditional cigarette lighter tends to put ones hands in dangerous proximity to the intense gas flames and can cause a serious burn.


Once lit, the Windburner really shines!  this stove works well in the wind and wet elements. I was able to bring water at 68 degrees to boiling in approximately 3.5 minutes. So that meant I was able to enjoy my coffee in under 5 minutes. This proved to be perfect for those cold mornings on the trout stream or after those bone chilling hours in the deer stand.

Vedavoo Beast Sling Review

History-Scott Hunter

Inspired by his own experiences and frustrations he had with gear, Scott Hunter founded VEDAVOO in 2009. Without formal design training or a background in sewing, Scott used the company’s last $700 to buy a used, 1970’s era sewing machine on Craigslist, and taught himself to build packs in his garage. Custom projects refined his craft, and in time, he followed a traditional hands-on approach to designing a line of packs for fly fishing. Since that time, products like the Tightlines Sling Pack, Spinner Daypack, and Chest Pack have shown that durability, versatility, and ease of use set VEDAVOO apart from other gear builders. In over 5 years of building gear, the company has never received a return due to quality of materials or workmanship. This is possible because all gear is meticulously crafted using only the best American Woven fabrics, and American Made webbing, fasteners, buckles, zippers, and hardware. Even the thread used to sew the packs is American Made. Though the road is challenging, we don’t compromise. We build BETTER AMERICAN GEAR.  Vedavoo Homepage


I am 5′ 9″ and about 215 lbs. and the standard Right hand sling conformed to my body quite well. I was surprised at how well the fit was, especially with fitting over my waders and additional gear. The pack does well to stay in place while trekking the trails to the fishing hole, fishing, and wrangling fish to the net. 


As expected, the pack does not get in the way of the wearer. The pack holds about 3 bugger barn boxes or 1 beast jr. box which is good for the type of fishing I usually do. The tippet holder does well and does not lose my tippet spools as some other packs have done.  I did come to appreciate the unique hidden pouch that runs behind the main compartment. This pouch was perfect for storing a map, GPS unit, snacks and lunch.  I would have preferred a strap or cordage to allow for a more secure method holding of my water bottle and a better location in which to hang the net. I believe this pouch was designed for the Liberty bottles and I did not have one on hand at the time of this trip.  While I am aware of that  Vedavoo also makes a net holster called the Netster for net retention I prefer my net to be secured to my pack. That said, I enjoyed being able to fish without the weight of a heavy vest weighting down my shoulders.


The detail of stitching stands out on this pack. All stitching was tight, clean and intentional. Each pouch is well thought out  and well placed within the available space of the pack.


Overall this pack is excellent and functions very well.


  1. Customization available
  2. Solid construction
  3. High quality
  4. Comfortable fit


  1. Net is awkward
  2. No water bottle secure strap
  3. no designated place for fore-snips


Go Check Vedavoo out and give their products a try!

Stay safe out there!



Pursuit-The Necessity of Outdoors

Being the son of a third generation carpenter, creative design and fabrication is in my blood. And being an engineer, I often draw inspiration from simple objects and patterns I find in the outdoors. Not only do I find inspiration, I also find that the outdoors provides relief from stress and clears the mind. I would speculate that this is among the many reasons people enjoy the outdoors. In this post, I would like to elaborate on why many men are passionate and even obsessive about the outdoors.


In the modern workplace, many men are often chained to a place of manual labor: i.e. sitting at a desk all day, or constantly on the phone and in meetings. This environment often causes the common work days to become stagnant. And in a seemingly stagnant workday, it is hard for one to feel inspired, or even tap into those creative ideas due to the energy spent on simply trying to get through the day or even week. Oftentimes, this contributes to many health related issues like a lack of energy and reduced productivity. 


Men, in general, are wired for adventure. Whether chasing wild trout, photographing spectacular views, achieving a personal milestone, or even hunting the prey of choice, many men thrive where they are engaged in pursuit. The outdoors often sets the stage of pursuit by providing opportunities for family adventures, hunting, fishing, or perhaps conquering the local hills and mountains. The challenge and thrill of conquering an obstacle brings a deep sense of fulfillment that is difficult for many to put to words. In his book, Wild at Heart, author John Eldredge, references the creation of mankind, pointing out that men were created by God in the wilderness and then placed in the Garden of Eden, while women were created in the garden. This makes sense to me; it explains why men are seemingly more comfortable in the wild places and women seem to be more comfortable in the safety of cities.


It is in the solitude of the outdoors that many find the time to process the emotions, thoughts and ideas that often surge through one’s being. I am convinced that, for many men, emotional maturity is cultivated though the serene environment of the outdoors. I have heard countless stories of veterans who found help and healing in the tranquility of the outdoors and the relationships formed through the outdoors. It is my opinion that where we are immersed in the creation of God; we are able to fully admire His handiwork, and, in the process of admiration, we find healing for the broken places of our lives. 


In closing, I would like to invite you and your loved ones to make time to enjoy the outdoors. Explore the hills, immerse yourself in the water, pursue your dreams, and be sure to stop and smell the roses. You only have one chance at life! Live, dream and impact those around you with your unique gifts. Remember, God loves you and…

“Adventure is out there!” –UP