Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reluctant Homesteaders Top Ten Tools For Homesteading

Sometimes, as I walk up and down the hill, up and down the hill, I think about the things I use to get things done here at the Homestead.
I have started playing a game in my mind. Like one of those "Stranded on a desert island" games. If I had to pick 10 items to start with on a Homestead, what would I want to have with me?
One of the benefits of blogging is that I get to really pin down my thoughts on a subject, so what better subject to do this with than:

My Top Ten List of Favorite Tools For Homesteading:
(This is a list in which I unabashedly endorse name brands, because I believe in them. I appreciate honest recommendations when I can get them, so I will do the same for you.)

green acres phone pole

Broadband Internet with WiFi amplifier: I know it's preaching to the choir, but I think the Internet is the single most valuable tool for a Homesteader. Aside from entertainment and providing camaraderie, which helps with the isolation, the Internet makes so much valuable information available to us. Although it may not seem to fit the "down to earth" idealism of getting back to the land, the Internet is the number one way to gain the knowledge we have lost on the way through our industrialized society. When our fore-mothers and fathers moved from the farms to the cities, the knowledge we need now on our Homesteads was lost to most of us. Luckily it was not lost to all of us, and even more importantly we can now share what we do know with each other! I have filled many holes in my farming knowledge with the help of others through the Internet.
The WiFi base is important. I daisy chained two of these so we could get a signal wherever we needed it. That was a boon for us because, until we had a strong enough signal to reach our comfortable living spaces, we had to sit in a field to get a signal.

16" Stihl Chainsaw: Stihl chainsaws have always been the best of our assortment. I have seen many brands come and go from the Homestead and Stihl is the one that keeps on working. My favorite is the sixteen incher. It's good for trimming limbs, cutting brush and can do more than it's fair share around the farm. And it's not so big that it wears you out to lug it around. I LOVE the quick chain adjuster.
Maintenance Tip: Take the time to find a supplier of non-ethenol gas to use in your saw. The side effects of ethenol will make your "quick job" a "half-the-day job" as you struggle to get your saw started and run smoothly. Why mess with it?

Snapper Side-Discharge Lawnmower: Many of you regulars can attest to my rhapsodic tendencies when it comes to my mower. Snapper is the only one for me.

4x8 Trailer that can be pulled by a car: Man, do we love our trailer. And when gas prices are high, we love that we are driving cars and not pick-up trucks.

Felco Loppers and Pruners: I cannot stress enough the importance of a quality tool when it comes to pruners! These babies are the best thing since sliced bread. They are expensive as an initial investment but they are fully serviceable with replaceable springs, handles and blades. You will never regret the purchase of these Felco tools and the minute you buy one you will stop using all of your other pruners.
If you have a helper on the Homestead, buy one for them also or you will soon be in a slap-fight over who gets to use the Felco. Every day.
Purchasing tip: register yourself at a wholesale nursery supply where you can get these at a substantial discount. Don't be afraid to ask at the desk. Most are more than glad to make a sale and don't even care if you are a real business or not. They prefer the don't ask, don't tell method.

Cordless Drill/Driver: Cordless is the way to go. Our little Makita can do just about everything we need, and when it can't (like bore a 1" hole through a green 6"x6") Our DeWalt can. The Makita doesn't have a place to stow bits like our DeWalt does. As small of a detail as that seems, it is continually a downer for me when I get somewhere on the Homestead and realize I don't have the star bit or the bit I have in the driver is the wrong gauge. Also, jeans pockets full of bits tend to end up in the washer, not the tool box.
But the Makita has a fantastic light that shines when you pull on the trigger. I love this feature and have used it, like crawling under the house, several times to get out of a dark place.

Loop Handled Wheelbarrow: Although this may seem to be a small feature, believe me, it is worth looking for! We have 5 wheelbarrows and this is the one that wins hands down, because of the looped handles. They afford a tremendous amount of control and never slip out of your hands while pulling it up hills or bumping over rough terrain.
Possible Hack: For those who are taller than 6 foot, I think the handles would work just as well flipped up.

Eccotemp LP Instant Hot Water Heater: Hot water is what keeps a muddy, dusty, cold and doggie life civilized. Not to mention the psychological and sanitary benefits. These units are very affordable and even if you are lucky enough to have a house with running hot water, you could use one of these. Dog baths have never been so easy! I also use it to wash stinky boots properly and hand wash halters and other horse paraphernalia. If you show dogs or horses this would be perfect in the barn.
One Caution: Do not let this unit sit un-drained when it is freezing outside, even just a frost. (And I mean PROPERLY drained, with the little plug on the underside removed and the water supply not only shut off, but open so air can get in. The copper tubing in them is very thin and delicate.)

Good Boots: Good boots make my life so much easier. Here are my favorites. Muck brand rubber boots: They are warm and comfortable with a good arch support. The middle boots are Sorel men's boots I bought on sale. They are my construction boots. I wish they were water proof, but they fit well, and they are comfortable for a 12 hour day.  The furry ones are my newest and favorite. They are Columbia Sportswear and are the warmest waterproof boots I have ever owned. For farm boots they are super cute. Hmmm. In the past I had heels and sandals, now I just wear boots with everything. Well, honestly, I haven't worn a dress in over a year so...


Farm Dogs: They're good company and good security. Nothing is more valuable for security on a Homestead as having barking and menacing dogs. Especially when you have no neighbors to keep an eye on the place. They also keep the wild monkeys and rubber chickens under control.

Next post: The Top Ten List of My Favorite Homestead Gadgets!


  1. LOL Love that last part about the dogs keeping the wild monkeys and rubber chickens under control. It is good to get advice from those who have been there, done that, and share their experience.

  2. What a great list. I so agree about #1, even though I've been called a hypocrite for being a homesteader with internet (like, what do they think we're trying to do, go back to the stone ages, LOL) I admit I've never seen the loop handled wheelbarrows. Barrows are such a necessary piece of equipment. I used to love my GardenWay cart, but no longer have that. I'll have to look for the ones you recommend.


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