Today’s post is all about the tools and products that we find most useful around our homestead. David made the original list, which currently spans three notebook pages! After some review, we’ve narrowed it down into seven loosely organized categories. Use this post to compare with your own favorite tools, generate ideas for efficiencies, create a wish list, or buy a gift.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
Easily one of the most time-consuming and crucial summertime projects at our homestead: ensuring that our gardens and plantings receive enough water. We don’t have the funds to install a permanent irrigation system (and maybe never will). Instead, we attached two hoses to a two-way flow splitter (such as this one) at the outdoor faucets.
Those hoses connect via Quick Connect adaptors to a system of hoses weaved throughout the property. These quick-connect adaptors, combined with both single shut-off and double-shut off flow splitters, allow us to easily attach and remove hoses to decorative sprinklers and utility type sprinklers, hand-held spray nozzles, and automatic animal waterer bowls .
The shut off lever we have attached to the end of each hose is used to turn the water flow on and off. We leave the flow “on” at each connection, and turn the flow “off” at the final ending points on the hose. This way we don’t have to run back and forth to the original water faucet, and we can connect and disconnect the hoses without wasting water.
In case you haven’t already experienced the frustration we have, keep in mind that hoses are a purchase where the old adage rings true: You get what you pay for. Buy the best quality hose you can find. We are testing and like this flexible hose, but haven’t had them long enough to know for certain.
Note that while we currently water our plantings via sprinklers, our future projects list includes the semi-permanent installation of soaker hoses (I have my eye on this one.)
Digging and Hauling:
Homesteaders do a lot of digging and hauling. We are constantly adding and replacing plantings, digging holes, and moving dirt, manure, or compost around. Here are the tools we use to accomplish our tasks. (Left to right in the image above)
- Digging Shovel, such as this one. (Ours is too old to find a link to share)
- Mattock: Use this for chopping and removing roots or digging in hard or compacted soil. Like the shovel, our model is too old to link, but here is a currently-available, highly rated mattock.
- Digging bar: Use this to cut roots, pry out plants, dig up rocks.
- Post Hole Digger, such as this one. We use this instead of a shovel for planting small plants or bare root plants. The resulting hole is well-shaped and it’s just easier!
We bought our poly-basin wheelbarrow from Southern States. Incredibly, you can order a steel-basin wheelbarrow from Amazon and have it shipped to you for free in three days. Just in time for the weekend!
Cutting: We love the cordless reciprocating saw!
David uses a cordless reciprocating saw nearly every weekend. With carbide-tipped pruning blades, it makes quick work of shrub, tree, and brush removal. He swaps out the blades and uses the saw when working on projects around the house, too. It’s an extremely useful, multi-purpose power tool, particularly when you buy a cordless model. In fact, unless you need to cut up mid-large size trees yourself, regularly turn large chunks of trees (larger than 9” diameter) into firewood, or cut large quantities of smaller trees, don’t buy a chainsaw. The cordless reciprocating saw, fitted with a blade suited for the task, is a safer and simpler alternative to a chainsaw.
Note that we suggest that when you buy cordless power tools, you choose a manufacturer and stick with it. Many manufacturers use the same battery platform across their power tool line- this is a big advantage and a major space saver. We prefer the Makita brand power tools because of their broad range of cordless power tools available using the same battery. However, we have multiple cordless reciprocating saws- a Milwaukee brand saw is pictured here.
Speaking of cutting firewood without a chainsaw, David uses a hatchet, axe, wedge, sledge hammer, and splitting maul to turn chunks of felled trees into firewood. It’s not a quick process, but he enjoys the physical labor and finds it satisfying.
For pruning fruit trees, roses, and other plants by hand, high-quality bypass pruners are indispensable. The bypass feature is important- this cuts the plant cleanly, rather than pinching the plant until it snaps. We also recommend having a long handled pair (called loppers) to cut higher or larger diameter branches.
As discussed in detail above, a cordless reciprocating saw with a pruner blade will cut shrubs, brush and tree limbs. We like the blades with a carbide tip as they last longer.
A cordless hedge trimmer is useful for quickly and easily shaping bushes and hedges. Again, purchase a trimmer from the same battery platform as your other cordless power tools. Here is the one we use.
Despite the fact that I spend at least an hour weeding most days, there is always more weeding to be done. Weeding garden beds requires care, so as not to disturb plant roots. I really like the CobraHead weeder to make the job easier. It allows me to pull out the weed root easily and precisely.
David prefers a handheld cultivator. I couldn’t find the exact one we use, but here is another version. This tool yanks larger chunks of weeds out at once, but is less precise. It also doubles as a spade for planting. It’s super handy when you weed really overgrown areas.
For big jobs, such as keeping pathways, the perimeter of your garden and along fence lines clear of weeds, a weed eater is the right choice. We use and recommend a gas-powered Stihl model.
Live Traps (small and large) : When we first bought the farmhouse, we had possums under the house. We used live traps to catch the possums and release in the woods (far from our home!). Once we caught a cat under there and realized it when it meowed loudly all afternoon!
Mouse traps: After we had the foundation repaired and the holes in the curtain walls closed, we replaced the live traps with mouse traps baited with peanut butter. This strategy has been efficient at keeping the mice at bay inside the house. The reality is that mice are everywhere that food is accessible, especially in old houses. Unless you have a mouser cat around, buy some basic wooden mousetraps. We also like the snapping traps, and they can be used indoors and out. Not that our outdoor mice have much chance- our chickens run crazily after unlucky mice. We have even seen a huge snake swallow a mouse whole!
There may be some pests and predators in your area for which traps may not work. Coyotes, for example, are prevalent in our area and will kill chickens and household pets alike. We use electronet fencing to deter predators. Depending on your local laws and personal stance, you may also wish to avail yourself of a firearm.
Electronet fencing has been a real benefit to our homestead. It’s expensive, but it lasts forever, can be moved around, and protects our animals from land-based predators.
Our original flock of six hens lived inside a coop with a small “yard” area. Wanting to allow our hens extra room to roam and forage, we let them out of their yard every afternoon. For a long time, nothing bothered the birds and we felt like we had a pretty good routine going. Unfortunately, one afternoon two neighboring dogs took advantage of the unprotected hens. Nearly all of our birds were killed. After weighing our options with our flock expansion goals, we made the decision to buy electronet fencing. The fencing allows us to have true pasture-raised birds, without fear of dogs or other four-legged predators.
I hope this list has been a helpful overview of our favorite homesteading tools and products. Please tell us what your favorite homesteading tool is and why!