It’s Party Time! Join Us for Jay’s 85th!

Isn't the bobblehead adorable? Looks just like the man himself, down to the glasses.

Isn’t the bobblehead adorable? Looks just like the man himself, down to the glasses. The figurine is dated 2014.

We’re having a great time celebrating a milestone birthday: our founder, Jay Lehman is 85!

We’d like you to join the party–and we have some great prizes to share with lucky winners.

Who wouldn’t want to win this great Jay commemorative bobblehead?

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The PotMaker Makes Seed Starting Simple

The PotMaker

Make biodegradable seed starter pots easily with The PotMaker from Lehman’s in Kidron, or at

Today’s article comes to us from Ann VerWiebe, a staffer at 89.7 WKSU, a service of Kent State University. We’re proud to help support public radio, and were thrilled when Ann jumped at the idea to test one of our products. Ann’s an avid gardener, crafter, sewing maven and all-around creative person.

This winter in Ohio has been tough and persistent. Even now, weeks after it has officially turned to spring, we can’t be sure we’re passed the final frost of the season. I decided to force the issue by starting seeds on what is commonly known as a “sunny windowsill.”

I used the PotMaker to create tiny starter pots. What’s really great about this product is that it allowed me to easily – and cheaply – make something that can be planted directly in the ground once my seeds have sprouted. The simple strip of newspaper used to make the pot biodegrades in the earth without disturbing the roots of the seedling during the transplanting process. Continue reading

Bio Blocks® Turn Up Trumps At Farmer Hannah’s

Our off-grid farmer, Hannah Breckbill, is still working to keep a consistent temperature in her woodstove-heated greenhouse. Her northern plains location means that nights still get pretty chilly, even in April. We sent her some Bio Block® Heating Blocks to see if they can help.

Bio Block® Heating Blocks from

Made in Ohio by a family-owned business, Bio Block® Heating Blocks are handy and efficient, and available at

The problem with wood heat is that it’s inconsistent.  Sometimes your wood is wetter, or dryer… there are usually some funny-shaped pieces so you can’t pack your stove all that consistently.  Firewood is also hard to transport efficiently, in my experience.  On the other hand, wood has perks: it’s relatively inexpensive (very inexpensive if you cut it yourself!), it provides a really satisfying and cozy fire, and it comes from current solar energy, rather than fossilized sunlight—meaning that it is carbon-neutral. (Fossilized sunlight: oil, natural gas…carbon-based fuels.)

I had the opportunity to try out some Bio Blocks® the other night in my greenhouse’s wood stove.  Bio Blocks® are made of compressed hardwood waste. The company is based in Wayne County, Ohio, near Lehman’s. Continue reading

American Gardener Tim Takes 2014 Plan from 2013 Garden

One of our American Gardeners, Tim, isn’t a stranger to Country Life. He’s the man behind the title “Prepper Dad”, and has shared his common-sense ideas about preparing for emergencies. One of his biggest ‘to-do’ items is growing and preserving his garden’s produce. Last year, he canned and froze hundreds of containers of veggies, fruit and herbs from what he calls “the small garden.” He’s shared some pictures of that project as he prepares for gardening in 2014. “This has been the longest winter in a long time, I’m telling ya,” he says. But he’s readying sprouts and seeds, some of which are the varieties included in the American Gardens project. And he’s looking forward to a bigger garden in 2014.

the garden just after planting peas and lettuce in back left corner, 160 walla walla and texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left, first saturday in april. Strawberry patch in center back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened an broken up by hand with a garden fork. about to spread 3 bales of straw 6-8" deep over whole area but 1/2" deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow

The beginning…
The garden just after planting peas and lettuce starts in back left corner, 160 Walla Walla and Texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left. This is the first Saturday in April 2013.

Strawberry patch in center to right back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened and broken up by hand with a garden fork. Shortly after this photo, I spread 3 bales of straw 6-8″ deep over whole area but only 1/2″ deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow!

the peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of miracle grow. Used twine from TSC to make trellises for vines to climb. had to cover with bottomless milk jugs twice to save lettuce ftom frost.

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of liquid fertilizer.

Used twine to make trellises for vines to climb. Had to cover lettuce with bottomless milk jugs twice to save the lettuce from frost. It got really cold in April last year, but it’s colder this year! Continue reading

The Hand-Powered Home: Are You In?

Authentic Corn House Broom 334_2_

Handmade by Amish near our Kidron, Ohio store, this broom will give years of service. In stock now at our store and at

My get-away fantasy does not involve cruise ships or beaches. Rather I picture a small cottage tucked deep in the woods. I smell a fragrant herb garden and hear a trickle of water from the near-by falls. My cottage has no wires connecting it to the world outside.

The inside is neat and tidy, simple and functional with a wooden table and a hand-made broom standing in the corner. A calico cat sleeps in the rocker by the fire and all is just as it should be. Tasha Tudor meets Little House on the Prairie.

Of course, my real life is nothing like that. I live in a typical New England village. I do have a large herb garden and a wooden table but my house is busy and noisy and I am connected to the outside world by an umbilical cord of wires that run from pole to roof. Continue reading

15 Ways to Transform Your Canning Jars

It’s no secret. Canning jars are for more than canning. They’re super useful around the house and great for when you need a simple, inexpensive decoration. We’ve put together a list of our favorite uses for these jars.

Put flowers inside the jars and tie ribbon or twine around the rims for centerpieces. For more color, you can paint the jars.Canning Jar Vase

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Behind the Scenes At Lehmans: A Sweet 16!

Andi's Root Beer Float cupcakes

Here you can see the final chocolate-rootbeer cupcake, the ‘root beer float’ topping, and the ‘ice cream’ scoop. Lehman’s USA-made muffin pans are a perfect fit for cute cupcakes too!

Andi Williams joined Lehman’s merchant group just over two months ago, but she’s already served up a great treat for Country Life! She shared photos of the cupcakes she served from her son’s 16th birthday party: root beer floats and popcorn were featured.

After a trip to Lehman’s in Kidron, I was set to make root beer float cupcakes. I started with this recipe from a favorite baking site, which calls for TWO CUPS of root beer–it makes a rich, fudgy, tasty cupcake.

Lehman’s has a wide selection of root beers to choose from.  I chose to make the cupcakes using Dad’s Root Beer and supplemented with Homebrew Root Beer Soda Pop Base. Continue reading

Farmer Hannah Puts Stovepipe Thermometer To The Test

Magnetic Stovepipe Thermometer for wood stoves

From house to greenhouse, Lehman’s Magnetic Stovepipe Thermometer helps you regulate wood-fired heating.

“Heating without a stovepipe thermometer is like driving without a speedometer.”

That’s what it said on the package, and I thought it was kind of funny, but after just a couple days with my thermometer attached to the stovepipe in my greenhouse, I can’t imagine how I ever did without it.  It was a major guessing game before, I can tell you that! Continue reading

Five Tips To Smooth Spring Cleaning

Right now, I’m handling Country Life from our southern bastion in North Carolina. My husband works for a Really Big Company That’s Based In Ohio, but they have facilities here. My sense of the seasons is a little bit earlier than that of my co-workers up north at Lehman’s in Kidron, and I’m ready to start spring cleaning!

Some of my best cleaning tips came from my grandfather. Geezer was a school custodian. Talk about an efficient worker–he never wasted a minute. And when he cleaned things, even using ‘natural’ solutions, he always wore rubber gloves. You should too.

  1. 20 Mule Team Borax

    Laundry booster, all-around cleaner. Can’t live without my Mule Team to help me clean. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, and at

    Lemons and borax: Cleans stainless steel, tile, shower surrounds, grout. Make a paste with lemon juice and borax, smear on the trouble spots. Let set a few moments, while you clean something else. Rinse with water, and dry with a lint-free towel. (My favorite is our Flour Sack Towel.)

  2. Keep household metals shiny: Once polished, be sure to buff well–you want shiny, not sticky. (Try Met-All Aluminum and Stainless, Met-All Brass and Copper Cleaner, or Flitz Metal Polish.) Next time you clean, you can wipe fingerprints right off with a Flour Sack Towel dampened in warm water. If you do this weekly, even your doorknobs will gleam. Renew the polish every few months. Continue reading

Sugaring With Black Walnuts And Farmer Hannah

Just one more article on sap collection and syrup making–from Hannah Breckbill, our Minnesota off-grid farmer. She’s got access to black walnut trees, and she tells us about tapping them last week.                                                    –Editor

French Breakfast Radishes

Certified organic, GMO free! French Breakfast Radish and other heirloom seeds are in stock at

As a farmer, making a living from the land, I experience the end of winter as a very antsy time.  I’ve been sedentary all winter, living off of my harvest from the previous season.  I’ve been keeping my livestock fed, and I may have started planting seedlings in the greenhouse, but really all my mind is on is getting into the field and getting moving, always looking toward that first harvest of spinach and radishes and herbs.

But, there is something that I can do now that isn’t just biding my time for the real deal.  This late winter/early spring time is the time of sap flow in deciduous trees, as they wake up from winter and start thinking about making buds and leaves again.  Freezing nights alternating with sunny, thawing days are the ideal time to capture flowing sap, amid the mud and slush and anticipation of abundant life. Continue reading