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What are your must have tools?

 
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Hello everyone, I am about to close on my homestead property and was wondering what your must have tools are to have on the land?

Thanks in advance!
 
pollinator
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I am sure you will get a long list.

You cannot have too many buckets.
A Vermont Cart or similar.
A 12 foot step ladder for working outside
Front end loader. The older I get, the more important this is.
I have two sets of battery operated tools. One quality, the other is cheap....for dropping when working in high places.
I have 2 chain saws using the same logic.
 
Posts: 58
Location: Off grid in the central Rockies of Montana (at 6300') zone 3-4ish
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Howdy, I love my Rouge hoe, A-frame level, compass, pitch fork, Mora knife, and broad fork.
 
Posts: 6
Location: Brittany France
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Hey congratulations!

So you're closing the deal on this homestead, meaning you'll soon be breaking new ground, if it's been standing for a while!  

Which is totally great, as you get to choose what you want, where, and how to set it up to suit your style of doing things.
 
But there are some ground breaking basics that you're going to need; and whether you're going for no-dig or bulldozing; Hugel pits or Hugel mounds; raised beds or straw-bales; agriculture or forest gardening; you're going to need tools.

Of course, if you're rich, that's not a problem.

You just make a list of whatever takes your fancy, and what will get the job done in the fastest, most ecological and sweat-free way possible...  

But you may not be rich; and your question reveals a certain canny sense of economy, a need for efficiency and the best all over, most useful tools and gadgets to get the job done.

Bravo for you!!!

So for that I'm putting myself in your shoes, virtually speaking, and remembering that feeling of having to tame the wilderness.

If you're lucky, previous owners may have left established beds, neat and tidy; with a green manure crop to keep difficult weeds down and to dig in to enrich the soil.

If, I said!  But the chances are you'll have to forge a way through thick undergrowth, in mid May, and have your work cut out to attack all the green savagery out there without laying waste to the land.

Depending on the terrain; is it flat or hilly? Soft, or firm and rocky? Wet and clayey, or dry and sandy?

Leaf litter and humus forest-floor? Or peaty, soggy and acid?  Thin, stony drained limestone and flint? Or shale, rock or grit?  

The land determines the work and the tools.

Mostly, where's there's a lot of overgrowth of vegetation, I'd favor a scythe or shears to lower the top growth, then depending how much land you have to clear I'd put in chickens or goats, to level the rest.

Spade, fork or hoe; which do you find most useful?  Depends on your strength, stamina and what you're growing.  

I always found a fork more useful than a spade for lifting and turning soil; breaking new soil and planting e.g. cabbages.

But for controlling weeds, especially in the early stages of raising roots, beans and peas, or brassica; a hoe is so useful; fast and effective.

Tree planting; a fork is excellent, but for digging edges or maximum load shifting for a Swale or pond; a spade is pretty well indispensable.

A Spade is needed for mixing cob, or laying a cement foundation for a cabin or yard, digging a latrine or soak-away.

For cutting and clearing brush and trees, timber and firewood, a Merlin, hand axe and a couple of sizes of Bow saw.

You'll need a wood saw for building and furniture or other constructions; chicken coops etc. Pliers wire-strippers, for all wire work; electrical, fencing, cages or fixings eg hinges and doors on cold frames or polytunnels.

Then there's all you might need for roofing; Hammers, wire pins for slates or corrugated sheet steel, a small bladed saw to avoid cracking and splitting of corrugated fibre roofing sheets.

A shovel for mixing lime; sand, straw for cob.  A gantry for accessing higher walls and the roof.

You need a cutter and gloves for handling glass;  and for rough timber.

Torque wrench adjustable spanner and small saw for guttering, plumbing and solar showers, water heating and water distribution.

Containers for fresh water, piping for clean water; also for grey water to water crops and fields; or a swale; and black pipes for a septic tank or soak away, separate compost heaps/ boxes for human or kitchen and garden waste.  

Tools for digging or creating boxes for these.

Building a header tank for water supply; pump for a well or low lying river to be pumped up and let trickle down

Rainwater capture (sheeting; any kind of roofing and barrels, tanks etc)

Some kind of transport; wheel barrow, sled; pulleys; chains, tools to manipulate these

I think I've though of most tools you might need.

Definitely start with shears; fork; spade and hoe!

What an exciting project!!!

Tools for leather work and harnessing; curing skins, carding wool, spinning, brick kilns and gloves, pincers, shelving, straw bales, pitch fork or spikes.

A hand plough/plow or seed drill; muck spreader, scarifier; you can grow reeds or willow in the swale for weaving into basketry or containers.

You'll maybe need a windmill or hand grinder for the grain if you're sowing rye, barley, oats or corn

A potter's wheel, kiln, (earth /bread) oven grids and metal shelving.

Hope that's enough!
 
Posts: 104
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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An ever-larger tool shed for all the tools you will acquire. I swear they hook up and multiply when my back is turned. Naughty, naughty tools.
 
Posts: 87
Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
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A good pocket knife!!
Very seldom am I without a pocket knife.  I give them to my kids, (all grown up) as Christmas presents every year.  My four boys are all in construction and are hard on the knives, as am I.
 
John F Dean
pollinator
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Hi Dennis

Yes to the pocket knife.  While I do have a Buck 110, I also have 4 cheap knives that
See real use. Slob that I am, if I misplace the Buck, I would spend the day looking for it.  If I misplace a cheap knife,  I grab one of the spares and keep on working
 
Posts: 14
Location: Seattle burbs
hugelkultur forest garden food preservation
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Congrats on your upcoming closing!

Depending on what sort of terrain you're dealing with, here are two lists. I grew up on a 500-acre working farm in central Texas (cows, goats, horses, chickens, row gardening and haymaking) but now live in the forest in Washington state (raised bed gardening, food foresting, wildcrafting and trailmaking, just getting into fruit trees and bushes) and the lists are quite different. :-)

List One, large, flat, non-wooded property, Texas-style:

a good come-along (for just about everything: fencing, butchering, moving stuff, etc.)
a really good knife
a good manual post-hole digger (for more than just fence posts)
the best tractor/shredder/loader/multi-use work vehicle you can afford
a great wheelbarrow
an awesome sun hat!
possibly a good guard animal like a Great Pyranese, depending on what livestock you're keeping (please avoid 'quick fix' or cheap-out herd guard solutions, because you'll pay for them in lost livestock and trauma, I promise)

List Two, wooded property, PNW-style:

a great machete
a really good knife and hori hori
this amazing hand hoe (my favorite garden tool ever, I think):Nejiri Gama Hand Hoe
(someone already mentioned buckets, lots of buckets)
a good chainsaw and a couple of assorted manual bough saws
rain gear that fits and you actually like wearing
a solid deer-fencing solution if you plan to grow vegetables (this parallels the above-mentioned guard-animal 'don't cut corners' advice, because you'll pay for every half-hearted attempt in lost crops, time, and enthusiasm)

I'm sure I could come up with so much more, but that'll do.

Best to you!

Laura
 
Posts: 70
Location: Northwest Missouri
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My new best friend is a cheap alternative to a hori-hori. Less than $10, fits in your back pocket, cuts, weeds, measures, saws, plants.... I've been using it for everything. Menards Yardworks Comfort Grip Handle Garden Knife.

My older best friend is a two wheel stand-up dolley. Pneumatic tires are a must. Such a labor saver carting things round from feed bags to railroad ties to rocks.

Also a huge fan of a cordless reciprocating saw. Great for cutting below the soil to save your chainsaw blade and of course, can cut just about anything anywhere.
garden-knife.jpg
[Thumbnail for garden-knife.jpg]
 
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For women and people who have trouble kneeling:
- a low stool to sit-and-work, preferably in a shady spot
- a cordless reciprocating sawzall, which lets you cut below the soil to get those pesky privet roots
- my battery-powered push mower goes where a big riding machine can't; we cut by zones of necessity--walking/driving paths much more often than the back 40, bee pastures, etc.; permies, btw, do not manicure lawns
- lots of pruners and loppers
-  a sledge/sled to haul heavy and bulky stuff; I don't have one but want some heavy duty flat metal sheet thingie that I can slide stuff onto and pull by hand or with the utility cart.
 
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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For the expensive but worth it, Knipex pliers.  They run circles around a normal slip joint pliers.  I carry the seven inch versions of both in my tool belt, they replace a pliers, crescent wrench, pipe wrench, and they punch WAY above their weight class.

https://smile.amazon.com/Knipex-8701250-10-Inch-Cobra-Pliers/dp/B000X4PU26/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=knipex%2Bcobra&qid=1589306774&sprefix=knip&sr=8-3&th=1&psc=1

https://smile.amazon.com/Knipex-8603180-7-Inch-Pliers-Wrench/dp/B000X4KP1C/ref=pd_aw_fbt_2/140-1037992-4340458?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B000X4KP1C&pd_rd_r=5e5b6cee-9864-409a-8167-821b8c840f29&pd_rd_w=Nvdob&pd_rd_wg=FnM48&pf_rd_p=5a363ea0-26a1-4e23-b77d-a2fc776c8030&pf_rd_r=GM3FMFB23993YZ4XCWE1&psc=1&refRID=GM3FMFB23993YZ4XCWE1

The ten inch versions are way more powerful for only a couple dollars more, but don't fit in a pocket.  They are a better choice for a toolbox.  


 
Posts: 4
Location: Ruther Glen, Virginia
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Alysia Leon wrote:Hello everyone, I am about to close on my homestead property and was wondering what your must have tools are to have on the land?

Thanks in advance!



I purchased a tool called a Claw 20 years ago, and it's been a godsend. It has two handles up top, and four curved prongs at the base. Place it on the ground and step on it to get a good grip on your weed, then twist back and forth. Even weeds with taproots come right up!
 
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I would add to the items above that a good wagon or cart is very helpful.
 
pollinator
Posts: 390
Location: N. California
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I would add try to get the best quality you can afford. Nothing worse than having your tools brake on you.  I learned this lesson buying crummy shovels, and tool with fiberglass handles, the sun takes the outer coating off and then you have to paint it every year.  Don't forget the basics.  A good shovel, and metal rake are a must have for almost any project. Good luck to you.  Nothing like knowing you can do what ever you want because it's yours.
 
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Many folks may only be familiar with the straight kind of machete, as I was, but my horizons expanded when I spent some time in Jamaica these past two Januarys. They have at least three common types of machetes, each with preferred uses.

My favorite, the hooked machete(billhook), is especially helpful for clearing brush and pulling up plants by their roots and the hook can keep your hands away from hazards like poison ivy or, in our case, fire ants and hiding live electric wires. The hook makes it great for working and weeding in the garden, and digging in rocky soil, in addition to the usual machete uses of cutting down small trees and brush. Folks there use it for harvesting fruit and crops, cutting sugar cane and opening coconuts. It's the one tool that most folks in Jamaica have access to and I definitely understand why. Also, if you've got skill, you can open a beer with the wooden handle.

This has easily become my favorite tool while I'm there and two of my friends and I brought them back to the states with us this year. I still need to sharpen mine(that's a skill I still need to develop), but I'm looking forward to using it on the farm this summer.
IMG_20200202_102645.jpg
One of the machetes we brought back!
One of the machetes we brought back!
IMG_20200202_102654.jpg
This machete is sharpened on the inside of the long blade and hook and also on the outside curve of the hook
This machete is sharpened on the inside of the long blade and hook and also on the outside curve of the hook
 
Posts: 10
Location: Columbia Gorge, White Salmon, WA
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My property is covered in Snowberry and every time I need to dig a hole, a swale, etc I have to deal with lots of roots.  My favorite tool is my root slayer.  It is a shovel with a very sharp edge and serrated sides.  It is true to its name.
If you have to deal with a lot of tough roots and are doing hand digging I would recommend looking for a root slayer.
 
gardener
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Allysa,

Congrats on the new property!  I have to ask about your tools.  Are you interested in power tools or hand tools?

I like to break down my tools into the following categories:

Mechanical hand tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, etc)

Long handled hand tools (shovel, rake, etc)

Power tools (cordless drill, saw, etc.)

Outdoor Power Equipment (Chainsaw, trimmer, etc)

Heavy equipment (tractor and implements)

That last category is the most useful and most expensive.  Of the other categories, I find a good, forged grub hoe to be very flexible & handy.  Of course things like a garden cart and multiple 5 gallon buckets are extremely useful.  I always use small, mechanical and power tools to build and fix things.  And if one is even considering cutting any type of trees/branches, a Chainsaw is basically required.  I actually use a battery chainsaw for trimming quite a bit.  I also keep a hand axe for all sorts of tree work.  Also keep in mind how useful a level can be so consider a long pry bar.

Really, the ultimate collection you collect is ultimately up to you and your projects.  I don’t know what your land looks like or the projects you have in mind, so to be of more help, I will need to know that information as well.

Good Luck,

Eric
 
Posts: 1
Location: Virginia
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Our family got a 24 acre woodlot that had been clear cut ~30 years ago and left for nature to do its thing.  There is a good mix of hard wood and pine, a few areas where the pine grew in very very thick.  When we first started, our favorite was a good 300 ft DeWalt wind up tape measure so that we could get everything mapped out to try and come up with a long term plan for some of the areas, we picked a couple areas to work on and will revisit the mapping periodically as we progress.  Make sure you have a plan!

My favorite tools have been a handsaw (prefer Silky), a chainsaw (20 inch for bigger, 12 inch for lighter work), a sold pair of loppers (Fiskars), and a good rake.  After clearing out the brush/raking to evaluate the layout, we determine what to do with the area, taking down the trees we want (either cleared or to leave the larger hardwoods).  Once it is clear, raking it out, running a tiller at a light setting to loosen up the top layers, and planting grass/clover (seed spreader and tiller)  Our favorite this fall was a solid backpack blower to keep the areas we have already cleared from getting too covered.

Eventually, expect a broad fork to be a favorite for breaking up larger areas we want to plan...have a couple raised beds we have planted potatoes in to eventually turn into berry bushes.

When heading into the woods, I usually have a handsaw and a larger blade for taking the pine limbs out as high as I can reach.  If you have a lot of planting in your future, get those compost bins going ASAP (add some worms) and get the ground covers growing so you will have plenty of greens to add to your pile, I bet you will end up needing a lot of good soil!

Biggest early win we had was putting up a couple of Shed In The Boxes and decking one out with full shelves so we could organize our gear. and a couple of game cameras to 'secure' the gear.  Biggest temporary setback was starting a more permanent storage solution and not properly determining which trees we needed to clear in order to build.  Good luck with your project!!!
 
Posts: 69
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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A decent pocket knife, an Asian sickle (aka a kama) and a rake. I have other tools but these three I use the most. Of the three, the kama gets the most use.
 
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