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homesteading tools  RSS feed

 
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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I'd like to know what tools you cannot live without on your homestead and what you use them for. Also, what tools do you regret purchasing and why? Not limited to just gardening - anything homestead-related really - and doesn't have to be a manual tool... could also be in the form of living creatures, such as draft horses, mules, LGDs... and could also be tools not used in their traditional sense.

Scythe?
Hori hori knife?
Push reel mower?
Big expensive wood chipper?
ATV?
Fingernail clippers?
Firearm?
Camera?

This subject might be a little too broad, but I know we're going to need to purchase some tools we don't already have once we get out to our homestead, so in order to increase the odds of making wise purchasing decisions, I'd like to hear what has worked well for other people and what hasn't.
 
Posts: 159
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my bloody sawmill. I can build >anything<

Wife..I need a brooder box.

Not a problem.

Daughter: I need a chicken tractor.

Not a problem.

Me: I need wide oak board floors in my workshop.

Not a problem.

The other thing I will not live without is my tiller. cultivate, bust new spot, scab out a patch of weed stubble...mix in the latest installment of >insert animal here< poop...

And goats. will not try to run a place without goats.
 
Posts: 20
Location: Ohio, Zone 6a
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Scythe: Just got my first one, and I love it so far. I got it mainly to cut down thistles and other weeds that the cows don't eat that grow up under my fence lines. Works like a charm so far.

Old golf bag caddy (the kind with two wheels and a handle): I picked one up at a garage sale for $5, that had a great old red vinyl golf bag. I use it to keep all of my most-used garden tools (rakes, hoes, shovels, etc.) in it to tote around while I'm working, and then wheel it back into the garage when I'm done.

Canning Jars

Pressure Canner

Vacuum Sealer (with attachments to seal canning jar lids for dried or frozen food)

Chest Freezer

Wide-brimmed sun hat

Good muck boots

cast iron cookware

Hammock (under shade tree)
 
steward
Posts: 3420
Location: woodland, washington
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carboys for fermenting
 
Mitsy McGoo
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Interesting! We already have a few of these tools, so that's a start.

The old golf bag tool caddy is a very clever idea.

We're thinking of getting two smaller chest freezers instead of one big one in order to be able to move them inside during winter for additional heat as well as not waste electricity if we don't have enough to fill a larger one for some part of the year.

I would not have thought of the carboys -- but I definitely want to make different wine varieties.

Thanks, y'all!
 
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
94
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Over the course of several years, the tools I use have been reduced to a short list
leaf rake
garden rake
tarp
pitchfork
wheelbarrel
hayseed shovel
spade
mattock
6.5 HP lawn mower with bagger
water hose
5 gallon buckets
a stick

With these I can
gather/move/spread/shred...leaves/grass clippings/compost/leaf mold/manure/branches...in vast amounts

 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
33
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What tool is not as important as NO CHEAP TOOLS! Only quality tools. They may be inexpensive if found at garage sales but always quality.

For me it is an old surplus army shovel. It is my hoe, shovel, machete, and hatchet while walking around the place. Better steel than any new tool.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
94
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Cheap tools aren't good.
Good tools aren't cheap.
 
Posts: 1983
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
71
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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I consistently use:
wheelbarrow
pitchfork
garden rake
leaf rake
sickle
reel mower
harvest knives (victorinox)
trowel
5 gallon buckets (I get these from our food co-op, they had bulk tofu in them)
large glass containers
canning jars
sun hat
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
299
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That golf caddy is a great recommendation. Easily holds and stores the multitude of long handled tools needed in a garden. Most of them I have seen have several external pockets (for balls, tees, scorecards, etc). Those pockets would be good for the smaller items (trowel, pruners, seed packets, plus all of those things that usually fall out of your shirt pocket every time you bend over).

It is not the type of thing you would buy at the golf shop. Garage sales, and Craig's List ('sporting goods', or better yet 'freebies') should turn one up sooner or later.

If it comes with a few clubs, I guess any driver would be good for gophers and squirrels. lol
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Though many users here are opposed to tilling, one of those mini tillers, such as the Mantis can be very handy. If you ever need to run underground plumbing or elect to a shop, barn, coop or raised bed, they will save you hours of hand digging a trench, especially in heavy clay soils. Also, if you have just had the plot surveyed, run it from stake to stake, and you will have just created a semi-permanent boundary marker line, which will be particularly helpful if you plan on building a living fence as your perimeter fence.

[Disclaimer: this paragraph is my humble opinion...others may/will disagree]
Tilling repeatedly is very harmful, but doing it once on virgin soil, should create a richer tilth that will only get better as time marches on.
They are useful for breaking new ground. For double digging, make one pass, and then shovel all of the loose dirt out. Then fill (or half fill) the hole with compost or green manure (a half-half mixture is probably best...provides both humus and food!). Now make your second pass, (to incorporate the amendments into your subsoil,) then shovel your original, amended soil back on top. The billions of soil creatures that were killed in the process will more than be replaced. The survivors, now in a better environment should more than double the previous population within a season. You have now created a better environment for them. You will have life in your subsoil, which creates a healthier top soil (and will itself become part of your topsoil in a season or two).
 
Mitsy McGoo
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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John Polk wrote:Though many users here are opposed to tilling, one of those mini tillers, such as the Mantis can be very handy. If you ever need to run underground plumbing or elect to a shop, barn, coop or raised bed, they will save you hours of hand digging a trench, especially in heavy clay soils. Also, if you have just had the plot surveyed, run it from stake to stake, and you will have just created a semi-permanent boundary marker line, which will be particularly helpful if you plan on building a living fence as your perimeter fence.

[Disclaimer: this paragraph is my humble opinion...others may/will disagree]
Tilling repeatedly is very harmful, but doing it once on virgin soil, should create a richer tilth that will only get better as time marches on.
They are useful for breaking new ground. For double digging, make one pass, and then shovel all of the loose dirt out. Then fill (or half fill) the hole with compost or green manure (a half-half mixture is probably best...provides both humus and food!). Now make your second pass, (to incorporate the amendments into your subsoil,) then shovel your original, amended soil back on top. The billions of soil creatures that were killed in the process will more than be replaced. The survivors, now in a better environment should more than double the previous population within a season. You have now created a better environment for them. You will have life in your subsoil, which creates a healthier top soil (and will itself become part of your topsoil in a season or two).



That's very interesting, John Polk. I, too, thought that all forms of tilling were a permie no-no, but you provide what seems to be a good argument for doing it just once. For our future gardens at our land, I was just planning to lay down a cardboard kill mulch on the sod this summer/fall, bring in plenty of local mushroom compost to form borderless raised beds, let it mellow over the winter, and then start our first spring garden (I've used this method of letting the compost mellow over winter before, and it worked great). I think this is the fastest way to get up and running quickly (though probably not the cheapest), but it's good to know that your method could be used for future expansion.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I think that your system of cardboard/compost is better if you have autumn/fall to let it mature and mellow. The tilling method will lower the amount of soil life to start with, and they would probably not recover much, if any, over the winter.

The tilling method would work better in the spring time than in autumn, as that is when the population of soil life begins to grow, as the soil warms. If the tilling method is done as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, you can get in both summer/fall crops (even if it is just cover crops/green manure).

The main problem with tilling (especially roto tillers, whose blades spin much faster than a conventional disk), is that most people who use them, do so every year. This does not give the soil life enough time to repopulate before the next pass.

A once-over pass is a good way to incorporate a lot of organic matter (and amendments) into a nearly dead soil (dirt).

 
Posts: 6546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
595
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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a broadfork...vermont midsize garden cart...mower with bagger...wheelbarrow...five gallon buckets...dehydrator...canning jars...rakes,shovels,forks,sickle,sythe...hand woodworking tools...weaving looms...
this amazonkindle (we have no computer)....stereo...good walking/hiking shoes...and probably lots more.
I would have to say the cart gets more use than most anything and the broadfork is my favorite to use once we got the rocks out (we have never used a tiller just a shovel, pry bar, etc so its a slow go and we are wearing out after several decades...I wouldn't recommend it)

I agree with buying quality but there were times we went with the cheap hoses to survive the drought and of course they weathered poorly but saved the vegetables. Usually it took us so long to afford the next tool that we had time to compare quality etc. and be certain we wanted it...no impulse buys.
 
Posts: 3
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The very best tool I have is my husband! He has built, fenced, plumbed, roofed and generally turned his city boy's hands to whatever needs doing. He's turned a bare paddock into something approaching a homestead in 5 years, while I have pootled about with manure and packets of seeds.

We really want a post hole digger, to fence all the animal systems into place as we go - it would be great to quickly whack up chook runs to rotate as a garden beds... divide more paddocks whenever we wanted. And I'd love a scythe to cut hay. We also hanker for a trailer to move stuff with - soon, soon.

Currently top rated tools in our house over 5 years homesteading starting from scratch:
My laid back Saanen dairy doe: she browses weeds and keeps the pasture over the septic tank down so we dont have to mow, provides dairy products, meat from any wether kids, and a load of composted hay and manure from her shed each year. She's also a sweet pet.
Our laptop for internet to learn how to do homesteading stuff and stay in touch with distant loved ones!
Wheelbarrow, hoe and my 3 prong rake tool
Fencing tools - spinning jenny and strainers
Milk stand for the goats built from old floorboards
Top quality spades x 2 (always needed at the same time - so one each)
Hubby's general toolkit - hammer, screws, spanners, cordless drill etc
Our woodburner fireplace with cooktop, and a stihl chainsaw to cut trees up when they fall
My gardening toolbelt - has secateurs, seeds, tags, trowel etc


 
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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Mother Earth News did an article about this some years ago. I think they listed 25 tools that you should not try to homestead with out. They listed a hammer, regular screw driver, phillips head screw driver, some sort of saw, sledge hammer, digging iron, wheel barrow or cart, leaf rake, regular rake, spade, hoe, madock, cresson wrench, channel lock wrench, mower, syth, tape measure, That is about all I can remeber from the article, its been over 20 years, lol.
 
Posts: 46
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on a daily basis I use this one pitch fork I really really like, stainless steal bucket, and several times a week my knife, my hammer, line, tape measure
I have several junk wheel barrows, really really want one that works well enough that I am not fighting it - I use these daily
I have ruined all my shoes, wished I had kept a pair out marked as town shoes - not to be worn around the place
 
Posts: 226
11
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I use all of these constantly:

Muck Boots
Scythe (vintage American) with several different blades
Potato Hook (like a 4-tine cultivator but with longer tines)
Aluminum broad transfer shovel (for barn mucking--screw those stupid manure forks.)
WW Manufacturing Digging Fork
Bully Tools Rice Shovel (with edge sharpened)
Predator Tools "Big Red" all-steel shovel with optional serrations on one edge
Vintage "Hiram Holt" lightning hay knife
Wheelbarrow
Eswing Rigger's Axe
French-pattern genuine cork pith helmet (in hot weather)
HexArmor cut-resistant gloves
Countless (30+) machetes of various patterns
110# Fisher anvil/metalworking hammers
Knipex Mini Pliers Wrench (not inexpensive but SO worth it!!!)
Wire cutters
J-clip pliers
Large vice
3-lb. Tramontina pick mattock with extra long handle (from EasyDigging)
Hori hori
Various axes
Pro-grade butcher's knives by F. Dick
Leather welding apron
Kalamazoo 1x42 belt sander with sharpening belts down to 9 microns
Estwing long-handled rock pick (chips ice like you wouldn't believe!)

And many many more. Pretty much every tool I have gets a workout and I'd hate to lose any of them.
 
Posts: 112
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I just got this today, and it feels like xmas.

 
Benjamin Bouchard
Posts: 226
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Be careful! They're addicting! I suggest The Scythe Connection as a retailer for European style blades and snaths, personally.
 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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The blade on this one is from the outfit in Austria that everyone knows about. The snath is from that place in Tennessee. I was going to buy this online and save some money, but I wanted to trade with these guys in Dallas who just opened a feed store in the design district, just because I like em a lot. I initially poo-pooed the idea online in the Dallas paper, because I figured it was just a way for rich women in town to greenwash their lives by keeping a few chickens. Then I went over at lunch one day and met Bill and Fred and decided that any change toward small scale, sustainable farming or urban livestock is a net gain in some sense, and I warmed up to them a bit.

They want me to grow clover and stuff for em next year, and I'm down to give it a shot. It'll be good practice, and it'll be fun and might make me a few dollars. Plus, it'll help in getting the ag exemption on the property taxes out at the farm.
 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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I'd like to find one of those backpack seed spreaders somewhere. I could just broadcast clover seed by hand, but I worry about getting decently even coverage.
 
We're all out of roofs. But we still have tiny ads:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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