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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Skills Saturday: 10 Essential Tools for Your Hobby Farm

A determined soul will do 

more with a rusty

 monkey wrench 

than a loafer will accomplish

 with all the tools in a 

machine shop.

- Robert Hughes

I've been reading The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency by Anna Hess and was glad to find one of the sections for December to be on the topic of tools - which ones you need and what to look for.  Experiences on Estle Schipp Farm have taught me to have the right tools, at the right time, to do the job right.  

When I do not have the right tool, I will always do one of two things....either I will impulsively buy a tool and spend too much money or I will try to make do with what I have and make the task even more difficult than it needs to be.  

The chapter has sections for basic tools, garden tools, cooking and preservation tools and building/demolition tools.  Today, I will focus on basic tools.  Here is the list plus some information on each.  

10 Essential Tools for Your Hobby Farm

  1. Gloves - you will certainly need a good pair of leather gloves both to protect your hands and to give you more traction in your grip.  These will need replaced every couple of years - if they don't need replaced, you aren't using them enough.   To our farm girl readers, if you think you do not like to wear gloves - stop trying to make men's sized gloves work for your hands - get gloves specially made for women--like these:  Womanswork Original Pigskin Work Gloves
  2. Eye and Ear Protection - Your vision and hearing are too important to risk using tools without proper protection - Please use it - no excuses. 
  3. Wheelbarrow - or wagon - You can carry vastly more weight if you use a wheelbarrow or wagon - save your back and let physics do more of the work for you.  You will use this much more than you expect - whether it is hauling mulch to the garden, firewood to the stacking area, weeds to the compost pile or feed to the chicken coop.  
  4. Five Gallon Buckets - You need *at least* a dozen and more if you can get them - you will use them for so many things.  Turn the upside down and you have a quick spot to sit while picking raspberries or to sit by the campfire.  Right side up and you will use them to tote water to your animals, manure for composting, or filled with your beekeeping supplies.  Later this year, I'll be using some of mine to collect sap for maple syrup.  Note:  You can obtain these buckets for free or nearly free from groceries, bakeries and restaurants.    
  5. Ladder - you will not likely use this tool on a daily or even weekly basis, but when you need one, nothing else will safely do.  Please note that ladders used in an unsafe manner are highly likely to cause a very nasty fall.  Always - and I mean every time - use a second person to steady the ladder.   
  6. Tarp - oh the many things a tarp can do!  It can be thrown over anything that needs to be kept dry.  It can serve like a blanket to toss chicken bedding onto and then drag to the compost when you are ready to discard.  It can be a tent or an impromptu form of shade too.  Have several on hand.  
  7. Extension Cords - over at Estle Schipp Farm, it is a rare event that the place where we need to do work with power tools will be near an outlet.  Since work will need done nearly anywhere on your property, have several heavy duty extension cords that can be used outdoors.  
  8. Tow Strap - I have to confess that I did not think we would need one of these - but we have needed them - once when a sister's car slid off into the ditch along the side of the road in front of our house, once when our truck slide off the drive into a  mud bog, and once when our neighbors tractor rolled over into our don't get stuck without a tow strap available! Tow trucks are few and far between out in the sticks.  
  9. Come Along - before we moved out to the country, I had no idea what this tool was.  Sometimes they are called a hand winch and they are mighty handy if there isn't another vehicle around when your own car is stuck or when you need to move a fallen tree - especially one blocking your driveway.  
  10. Ratchet Straps -  If you want to be sure that something you need to haul around on the farm - or to the farm - or away from the farm- will stay secure in the back of the truck, use ratchet straps.  They fasten down quite securely and you won't have to worry so much about your knot tying skills on pieces of rope.  

So this is the first installment of tools to get for your hobby farm - the Essential Basics - and just in time to add to your Christmas wish list....So much more useful than another bottle or body spray or lotion.  ;)  

In future posts, I'll cover the rest of the tools for your hobby farm and how to best care for them too.  (I think there is a MaryJanesFarm merit badge for that!)

Thanks for joining today and, as always, I appreciate comments so please let me know another essential tool you want to add to the list.  

Tomorrow is Sunday Cooking....last week I listed my Soup Notes and this week will be my Casserole Notes.  Hope to see you then.  

Peace be with you, 

Star Schipp 

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