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Journey to self sufficiency

Tools of the trade

As you get more into the self sufficient or homesteading lifestyle the tools you use become very important. We try to buy stuff that is made in the USA but it gets harder as time goes by. And some of the stuff coming from China can be decent. So it takes a practiced eye to go over a fork or shovel before you plunk down that cash for that tool.

Garden and farm tools can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I like to have a 5 tine pitchfork for most things like cleaning out pens and moving cut weeds and so forth. A rock fork is nice for picking small rocks out of the garden and can be useful for digging carrots if you plant the shorter varieties. A 12 tine silage fork works well if you are handling silage or chopped straw for bedding or mulch. We have a beet fork which has the tines blunted by bending them over for forking our potatoes out from under the mulch and it will fork hay or manure in a pinch. A spading fork is a garden essential. A couple of long handled spades are vital. We have tried fiberglass handles but I prefer wood. We also have a couple of square point shovels for scraping the chicken coop and pens after forking out the manure. A tile shovel is nice for digging trenches. We have a scythe and I recommend having one around. Learn to keep it razor sharp and taking care of a weed patch is a little more fun and won't cost you anything for gas or oil. A corn knife and a small hand sickle are nice for cutting cornstalks and cleaning along the fencelines. A few other indispensible tools are the sledgehammer, post pounder, post puller, a cant hook, a big prybar, leaf rake and yard rake, and a stiff bristle boom for cleaning concrete floors.

A couple of good quality wheelbarrows are nice to have. We like the steel ones because we have had the plastic ones break when moving firewood.

A good wagon is handy to have. You can get them with the automotive type steering which makes them less tippy. And most will have adapters so you can hook them behind a riding mower. We have a rider but with all the animals that eat grass around here it rarely gets used for mowing. We have the wagon, a dump cart, and a lawn sweeper that hook behind it that are it's major users. Your rider should be something of good size and a garden tractor type would be preferred over a lawn mower type. Since they are usually heavier built and have bigger tires. Getting extra attatchments like a snowblower or front blade can come in handy on smaller setups. A tiller attatchment would be great.

As far as tillers, if you don't have one for a rider look into a rear tine tiller. Newer ones can be had with reversible tines and that comes in handy for working heavy manure into the soil. With the standard counter rotating tines the manure has a tendancy to ball up between the tines and the wheels if you can reverse the tines it will stop that. Another option is to get an old style front tine tiller to beat that stuff into the ground then use your rear tiner to work the soil up before planting.

Even with a scythe it's nice to have a weedeater around. We have tried some of the smaller 4 stroke types and found them to be pretty worthless. We have had 2 of a certain brand have their recoil fall apart within a year of purchase. We currently have 2 Echo 2 stroke jobs with heavy duty steel blades on them. A smaller one with the sting replaced with plastic blades would be nice to have.

A good selection of hand tools is needed. Hammers saws, tape measures wrenches so on and so forth. Having different toolboxes set up for different stuff is kinda cool. I keep all my plumbing stuff in one like flaring tool, solder, flux, wire brushes, tubing cutters. I keep my electrical stuff in a pouch. But most stuff is in a couple of roll arounds in the shop.

I keep a big half inch half horse D handle drill around as well as a circular saw Sawzall and a grinder. I also have a half inch 18 volt cordless drill which comes in handy all the time. I build with screw instead of nails mostly. We have a table saw and a good workbench with a vice attatched.

A good sized air compressor is good to have and if you have the money and a place to put it a welder is a plus. I have a 120 volt wire feed and a heavier 220volt stick welder. To tell the truth, I have used the wirefeed most, it handles most jobs around here. Even welded the main arm back on a box scraper with it and it's held for some time.

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