This is part 2 in our Establishing a New Farm blog-series. Click here to see part 1: Where to Start & How to Prioritize.
When I first started keeping bees I didn’t have many of the tools that I have now. Hell–I didn’t even have a veil! Looking back on it now–I really have no idea why I thought I was brave enough to plunge into the art of beekeeping without one of the most crucial tools of the trade. Chalk it up to foolish naivety I suppose…. Everything started out alright, but nearer the end of summer there came a day when I opened that first hive with nothing on my face and from beneath the lid emerged a mushroom cloud of angry bees–that was the day I decided to invest in some protective gear!
The point of the story is that no matter what type of farming you’re getting into, no matter the scale–or how capable you think you are–there are going to be some investments to be made both up-front–and as you go along.
Let’s assume that at this point you’ve got your farm plan laid out. Now what?
A huge part of planning your new farm is related to tools and investments. You’re going to need the proper tools and supplies to accomplish all of the projects on your list. Perhaps you come to farming with a number of tools already. Even so–more than likely you’re going to need a few things to get the job done. It’s time to take a closer look at your projects to determine what investments need to be made.
What type of farming?
Unlike the homes in suburban America–there is no such thing as a “cookie-cutter farm”. No one farm is like another–they are as individual as the person or persons running them. The type of farm you decide to pursue, and the projects you decide to invest in, are going to dictate the tools and supplies that you will need to get started.
If you intend to raise livestock, you’ll need housing and fencing for your critters–furthermore, the type of housing and fencing depends on the animal to be contained (and the number therein).
Getting into market gardening, you’ll want to think about irrigation, since adequate water supply is crucial to growing bountiful harvests. Tools for weeding, tools for seeding, structures to help with season extension, and so forth.
Basic tools for farming
Some of the most basic tools for farming you may already own, such as hand tools like a tape measure, hammer, screw drivers, wrenches, flat and pointed spades for digging. Other things that you may find necessary include:
Pick-up truck: essential for hauling building supplies, manure, hay and livestock feed. The “Runamuk-truck” was our first big investment into our farming business, and has proven to be an invaluable tool.
Tractor: the scale at which you intend to farm will dictate the size of the machine that you need. Many homesteaders, growing largely for their own families, find that a utility vehicle serves them just fine; while most farmers growing to serve their communities need something larger to meet their needs.
Livestock trailer: if you intend to raise livestock–particularly larger livestock–you’ll need a stock trailer. These can serve multiple purposes–such as being used as a temporary storage shed.
Hand-carts: these are a 2-wheeled version of the wheelbarrow, and as such are more sturdy and less likely to tip-over, these are lightweight, yet can easily transport heavy loads around the homestead or small farm. They have the added advantage of being stable enough to be able to tow along behind an ATV or lawn tractor.
Manure spreader: with livestock on the farm, a tool such as this makes life so much easier, but again–necessity depends on the scale of your farm. At this point, we use man-power to spread the manure we bring in for the Runamuk gardens but it’s back-breaking work, and at some point I know we’ll invest in this valuable piece of equipment.
Composter: this is an invaluable tool for improving your soil, but one that you can get out of rather cheaply–or even free, should you choose to simply make a compost “heap”.
Fencing tools: if you’re planning on having livestock, you’ll need a variety of fencing tools to get the fences up that will protect your animals. A fence-post driver, fence pliers, and an electric fence tester are good to have on hand.
From our voices of experience:
Teri from Homestead Honey says:
We came to this piece of land with many tools that we had purchased slowly over the years. However, at this time, we are living electricity-free in our tiny cabin. Ultimately, we will install a photovoltaic system to power the lights and a chest freezer. But we knew we needed an immediate power source for the tools of building. We invested in a portable Honda generator, and it has been one of the best purchases we have made.”
We built our home. There was nothing on our property by way of shelter, so we had a small metal-sided pole barn built and had the interior finished out as a home. While our home was progressing, we worked on our garden/ Additional investments included rebuilding a pond in hopes of eventually restocking it. We planted a lot of young trees to serve both as a windbreak and an eventual food source.”
Tom at Snakeroot Organic Farm tells us that he invested in the following:
- Tractor (25 hp Kubota with bucket) plus snow plow blade, wood chipper, rotovator, tool bar with disks, and bush hog–all at once from one dealer, thus giving us a $1000 discount: total $25,000. The wood chipper is the only one that has received only occasional use.
- Lime for the fields before breaking the sod.
- Slab (30′ x 24′) for our house addition and slab under the garage.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of what you’ll need when you delve into farming, but hopefully it generates some ideas to help you on your way to brainstorming your own list of tools for your farm plans. Remember–there’s nothing worse than getting into a beehive and then realizing that you want a veil–erm-I mean: there’s nothing worse than getting in the middle of a project and realizing that you don’t have the proper tools or equipment to do the job properly.
Tools and other such investments are just another integral aspect of your farm planning, be realistic about what you’re going to need, get it all down on paper. In part 3 of our Establishing a New Farm series we’ll look at farming innovation and resourcefulness (aka–doing more with less money–or–homesteading DIY). Farmers are the original “Jack-of-all-Trades” and you’ll be surprised how much money you save by allowing your creative side free reign. So if you’re looking at that list of projects, tools, and other investments and seeing all those dollar signs–don’t give up hope yet. You know what they say–where there’s a will there’s a way–check back soon for “Establishing a New Farm: Innovation & Resourcefulness”!
If you have recommendations for beginning farmers feel free to leave a comment below and share them with us!
Check out these tool and investment related resources:
How I use my Broadfork – from the Homestead Lady.
The Well-Equipped Canning Kitchen – from the Provident Home Companion
How to Build a Chicken Tractor – offered by Fresh Eggs Daily
How to Build a Geodome Greenhouse – at Northern Homestead
DIY Horn-Friendly Hay Manger – by Spring Mountain Living
Brooder – 5 Little Homesteaders
Go to part 3 of this series: “Innovation, Resourcefulness, and Creativity in Farming“.