When we think about homesteading we always think of images of chickens and fall harvests. We rarely see pictures of the tools that make homesteading possible. No two homesteads are alike, and neither are their tools. What makes homesteading great is that you get to do it your own way. You can choose your own land and what crops you will grow, but most importantly you get to choose or make your own tools. This blog is a tribute and an introduction to the tools we use on our homestead. Hopefully it will give you a few new ideas about what to use around your homestead.
This is one of the tools that we can’t live without. It brings us warmth and Christmas trees. Its uses are endless, especially in places where power cords can’t reach or in an emergency.
When we first started our homestead and decided to burn wood for heat, we realized quickly that we would need a chainsaw. Initially we started with a box store bargain, but it only lasted a short time. The next purchase was the largest saw the box store had to offer, but we had a similar experience, it didn’t last. We knew it was time to ask the pros. Knowing that we cut 10 cords of wood a year, we knew we needed something reliable. We went to our local Huqvarna dealer and he helped us select a saw that would fit our needs. We settled on a 365 special because it was a saw we thought we could handle, but can also get the job done. After 7 years, and still running strong, it has not missed a beat. We try not to spend a lot, but in this case, we learned that you truly get what you pay for.
The Homemade Apple Press
On our homestead we have 7 apple trees, and once they started producing we knew we wanted to make cider so we needed an apple press. We looked into buying one, but they were too expensive, so we made our own plans using an inexpensive Harbor Freight bottle jack to apply the pressure. Later on when we planted the vineyard, we were able to use the press for wine making. This tool works well and brings us plenty of joy. There is nothing like drinking your own fresh pressed cider (or wine!).
Antique pencil sharpener
Whenever I use it I am reminded of our grandfather’s shop. I think it makes me work just a little harder to make him proud. No other explanation needed.
Small Tractor Supply Trailer
This trailer has served so many purposes of the years it’s hard to remember them all. It was initially purchased to allow our older son to mow lawns. It has hauled everything from lumber to pigs. We built a removable rack to keep the pigs on board. It is the versatile workhorse of the homestead.
The Antique Crock
This old school tool makes great food and looks good too. It is one of the few tools we display in our living space. It makes wonderful sauerkraut and dill pickles. We can not imagine the homestead without it.
Solar Electric Fence Charger
When we decided to keep honey bees, we needed to keep bears out. After a lot of research we decided on a high voltage charger that was big enough to zap a bull. This was one of the few times we went right for the best tool first. It wasn’t cheap, but it has never let us down. It has saved us money on the electric bill, and has enough capacity to fence in our pigs as well. It is a Parmak Magnum 12 Solar Pak Fencer and was well worth the $250 we spent on it.
Mowers and Tillers
After years of small front tine tillers and shovels a few years ago we upgraded to a good used rear tine tiller. We were so happy to not feel like our arms are ripping off every spring. Used tillers are very reasonable especially around Christmas time. After years of different riding mowers, this Fall we upgraded to a lawn tractor. We won it at an auction and it came with a snowblower, tiller, and a mowing deck. It is an old Simplicity and we could not believe the difference it made. It does everything well and has a hydraulic drive and lift to make work easy. By far, its best feature is the tiller. I can see us expanding our garden with this monster. We could never afford a new compact tractor, but this used beauty suits our needs.
The Simple Tools
These provide us with heat and nourishment. We always choose durable items like cast iron, composite handles, and ball canning jars. In our house we have a saying “nothing bad ever comes out of the dutch oven”, and to this day, that remains true.
The Green House
This is our first year with the green house, but we already have cold weather crops like kale and lettuce growing in it. It is unheated, but we can see that changing in the future. This $300 dollar investment should pay big dividends in delicious vegetables.
Maple Syrup Evaporator
This is a tool that may actually pay us back one day. When we first started making maple syrup we made it in a small pan over a fire. It took a very long time to boil the sap down into syrup. During this time we always dreamed of having a real evaporator, but their price always put them out of reach for us. Last season we were able to get a good deal on a real maple syrup pan from a friend. We found this old tank in a junk yard and after a year of planning and welding we had made our own evaporator. At 1/4 the cost of a manufactured one, it is the little engine that could. It makes the most delicious maple syrup.
The Farm Stand
This simple stand started as a way for our son to make a few extra bucks, but now that he’s older it allows us to recoup some of the money we spend on seeds. It is so much fun to chat with people when they stop by to make a purchase. We also enjoy how cute it looks on the lawn when you drive by.
The things that keep us sane
Just like everything else here on the homestead, the hot tub serves more than one purpose. It is also our onion and garlic drying rack, and potting bench. It is our favorite place to go after ice fishing in the winter. Our solar pool heater allows us to extend the swimming season by 3 weeks on either end and is incredibly cheap to run.
As you can see, tools make the homestead an efficient and happy place. They are our constant companions. We would be lost without them. They are more than just tools they are part of us. Every year we add more and more of them. Which naturally leads us to a future blog, where to store them. Time to build a bigger shed.