Hey folks! I recently read a post on another blog on basic tools that come in handy for a small/backyard homesteader. While I definitely agreed with most of them, I thought I would expand upon her list a little. Plus, I would love to share my list with other homesteaders/gardeners who may be in the same boat as us and not have a fortune to spend on power equipment, as nice as it would be! (One can always dream, right?) Even though we have a decent chunk of land altogether (a little over 24 acres), most of it is wooded and not suitable for farm land (yet), so the area we're currently using for planting is pretty small, so I would like to think this list will apply to yards/gardens of all sizes!
- Shovel-Let's face it: This is a necessity. Even if you're not using it for planting, you will likely need to dig something up at some point, whether it's to dig up an unwanted plant, turn/spread compost around, etc.
- Trowel-Honestly, I actually don't use these much because, well, they require kneeling or squatting, in general. Both of which I hate doing. BUT, they can come in very handy for transplanting seedlings, removing weeds, etc. Plus my 3 year old loves using it to dig in the dirt for fun, so that's good enough for me that she's keeping herself entertained outdoors. ;)
- Rakes-Both metal and plastic. Out of all of the non-powered tools I use around the farm, our metal rake is my #1 go-to and most used tool. Seriously. I love it a little too much. It's surprisingly versatile and inexpensive! I use it for a plethora of jobs, including grass raking, weed raking, evening out soil, and much more.We have tons of trees, so naturally, a ton of leaves in the fall. The regular ole heavy duty plastic rake is, of course, the best choice for this job, if you're into raking leaves. Honestly, the main reason I rake ANY leaves is for my 3 year old to jump in. ha ha Although I do also rake them away from the north side of the house in the spring because they collect like crazy against the house during the winter! The regular plastic rakes are also good for raking grass clippings, I have found.
- Pitchfork-I had been wanting one of these FOR-EV-ER. But truthfully, now that I have one, I haven't used it as much as I thought I would. However, it has come in handy for turning over our compost pile and picking up piles of grass clippings and chicken bedding/poo to put on said compost pile.
- Twist Tiller-If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that we recently purchased one of these while meandering through Rural King, killing time between doctors appointments. (Have I mentioned that I REALLY love Rural King?) For $10, we couldn't resist.If you've read any of our homesteading updates lately, you will know that we don't have a roto-tiller because they are just out of our budget right now. (The lower end of purchasing a brand new one is $300-$400, last time we checked. Yikes!) So, we bought a pig to do the job.However, even with the pig, we will still need to do some tilling of our own, as we have a Guinea Hog and they are said to not root (aka dig) as much as other hog breeds. No problem, now that we have this handy dandy tool. I've already tried it out on a small area of the garden where we had some onions that we already harvested and need to make way for fall crops. We had a lot more grass/turf there than I care to admit, but if you're up for a super arm workout, then I definitely recommend one of these. It takes some work, but it's better than nothing (or using a shovel).We are planning on putting our pig in our old garden areas to take care of the “clean up”, so I imagine it will be easier to “till up” these areas with this tool afterwards, not that it's impossible to do it on undisturbed ground. Like I said, it just takes a lot more effort! But, growing our own food is worth the effort, right? Plus, if I can do it, you can do it! Even though I used to play tennis throughout my youth, I have little upper body strength. So, there ya go.
- Wheelbarrow-This is also one of my favorite “tools” around the homestead. I use it for everything from hauling new chicken feed bags off to the coop to hauling sticks to the fire pit to hauling grass clippings to the chicken coop. Even if you have a small space, a wheelbarrow can come in very handy for so many things!
- Work gloves, rope/twine, etc.-I felt like maybe these shouldn't have been included in this list as they're not exactly tools, but these things are worth their weight in gold if you happen to need them. Work gloves come in handy for all kinds of projects, especially weeding. Seriously. Take it from me: Use gloves of any kind when weeding! If you're like me (especially if you neglect your garden at first like we did!), you will get “weed cuts” (like paper cuts). They're not fun, take longer to heal than you would think, and are more bothersome than you would expect. Work gloves can be purchased for fairly cheap in bundles at farm supply stores. Do yourself the favor!
Rope/twine can come in handy for lots of projects too, even if you aren't raising livestock of
any kind. For instance, we have a grapevine that we really need to train and a few "extra"
tomato plants that we don't have cages for. I have a feeling our extra laundry line cord is going
to come in handy soon for these!
- Loppers/Tree Trimmers-If you have a lot of bushes, trees, and brush like we do, definitely invest in some loppers! We just recently purchased one and I don't know how we went without before! It's been great for cleaning the paths up through the woods as well as clearing small trees from big areas we are trying to clear for the future.
- Ride-On Lawn Mower-Besides the obvious of mowing your lawn if you have a large one, these also come in SO handy if you have a nifty lawn mower cart like we built last fall. Luckily, we came into our ride-on mower for free, but I'm sure you could purchase your own at a discounted price at a local used small engine repair/farm equipment store. If you have an abundance of wood on your property and like perusing local Facebook groups for deals, the initial investment of the mower is worth it. The “cart” can be built for next to nothing and, depending on how big of a cart you build, is basically like having a mini tractor/backhoe. Awesome, indeed!
- Weed Eater-If you don't have a roto-tiller, a weed eater is very helpful in preparing areas you want to plant...Besides it's intended purpose. This is my other go-to tool. I used it to prepare our main garden, our squash patch 2.0, and grain crop rows for the chickens. It's also handy for weeding between large rows, like our squash patch, for example. We have a lot of overgrowth/brush and I've used ours to thin areas of that out as well. I do realize weed eaters are a bit more expensive, but they are totally worth investing in, if able!