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    Making Smart Power Equipment Choices For the Homestead

    by Samantha Biggers

    Friday, July 23, 2021, 11:43 AM

When you have a smaller property, it is essential to have suitable equipment for your needs. That may seem like a no-brainer.

Most Common Purchase Mistakes

  • Not shopping around for the best price.
  • Buying equipment that is too large or complicated. This adds to the cost and sometimes causes more trouble.
  • Not checking for used equipment. Sometimes you can find excellent deals on used equipment at dealers or through private individuals.
  • Buying too many single-purpose machines or a lot of tools that you are not going to need very often. Sometimes renting a piece of equipment occasionally is a better option.

Lawn Tractors

Pros

  • Available in many sizes and price ranges.
  • Good availability of implements you can add as you need them.

Cons

  • Cannot be used on steep to very steep slopes. Lots of storage space is needed for tractor and implements.
  • Higher up front costs

Walk-Behind Tractors

  • BCS
  • Grillo

Our property is very steep. For mowing, tilling, plowing, scraping, and a variety of other tasks, we use a BCS Walk Behind Tractor. You can get a lot of different attachments for this machine, including tools like snow blowers and wood chippers. I will warn you that this is not a cheap machine to buy, but overall, it is a better deal than having a lot of single-purpose machines, especially when you have steep land to manage.

Grillo is another major manufacturer of walk-behind tractors. Many of the implements and attachments are similar between BCS and Grillo. In the USA, BCS is more common.

The BCS is very impressive with what you can do. My husband created a lot of paths and roads around our property using the tiller and scrape blade. If we had paid a professional to come in with a larger machine, it would have cost us thousands of dollars and been a lot harder on the land. You always have to think about disturbance and erosion when you have a property like ours.

Log Splitter

Some people may think that a log splitter is huge. The truth is that you can get small electric log splitters that are very small and can be stored upright to make good use of your vertical space. They also cost a lot less. Gasoline-powered log splitter are typically much larger and cost a lot more as well. The advantage is that you can get them that are more powerful and you can use them where electricity is not available.

After years of splitting all the firewood for two homes, we bought a Boss 7 ton electric log splitter for around $500 plus $120 of accessories. I have not been able to help my husband split wood due to my pregnancy, and now it is time to get started on wood for next year. With a child on the way, we are trying to do what we can to maximize what work we can get done without destroying our backs and taking a lot of time. This splitter is pretty amazing. It will take on some big pieces, and you can put in a piece of wood up to 20.5 inches long. No more spending tons of time outside in the wintertime splitting wood. Now we have to split a little kindling maybe but are hopeful that the four-way splitter head will eliminate even a lot of that.

Remember that you can use an extension cord or a larger power station if you want to use an electric splitter where no regular power is close by. The Jackery 1500 or 2000 would power it for short periods.

Stihl Yard Boss or KombiSystem

Stihl makes its own version of the Mantis Tiller. You can get a variety of attachments including cultivators and edgers. The KombiSystem is interesting because it offers three different options for the homeowner or small farmer. You can choose between an electric KombiSystem or a gasoline-powered home or a professional version.

I like that the KombiSystem allows you to buy one powerhead that can be used for a huge array of attachments from a simple weedeater head to a pole saw, mowing scythe, cultivator, hedge trimmer, and more. If you need to get a lot of different tasks done and want to keep the engines you maintain to a minimum, then this is the system to consider.

Mantis

This company has been around for a long time. I remember seeing their infomercials back in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. The Mantis tiller is great for those that have small to mid-sized gardens and beds. Even those with raised beds will appreciate the size and time that the Mantis can save. You can get a cultivator attachment and a little plow for not too much extra. All Mantis tillers are still made in the USA, a rare thing nowadays.

Buy quality machines the first time.

Over the years, we have learned a thing or two about buying less expensive machines. When you are in your 20s and building a house plus clearing a property $500 at a time, it is tempting to buy the less expensive model. After a few times of doing this, we realized that not only were machines and power tools a safety hazard when made cheaply; they also made the job take longer due to poor performance and constant minor adjustments and repairs.

This does not mean you have to buy the most expensive either. Just make sure to buy a reputable brand that is at least mid-priced, and you will be fine. Products with a 1-2 year warranty are nice for the peace of mind they offer.

Battery Powered Machines lack the power and force that gasoline or diesel machines offer. Electric is fine for those that have a small or mid-sized yard in town. If you have a power center, then you can also utilize small electric machines and tools to take on tasks around your place for a lower cost than buying the comparable gas version.

Useful Single Purpose Machines

Chainsaw

Stihl and Husqvarna are the brands I recommend. Stihl chainsaws are only sold at authorized retailers. Husqvarna is sold at some box stores but also at power tool retailers. I feel that it is crucial that people understand the difference between homeowner grade and professional-grade chainsaws. Both Stihl and Husqvarna make models that are designed for either homeowner or professional use. If you plan on using your chainsaw a lot, then I recommend getting one of the smaller professional-grade saws. You will not regret it.

Husqvarna is often sold at Lowes Home Improvement. These saws are only homeowner grade, so while the price may seem great, you get what you pay for. Professional grade saws are made with higher quality components that will hold up to heavy use over the years, which means less downtime for repairs and not having to replace your chainsaw as often.

Do not make the mistake of getting a chainsaw that is larger than what you need. The more powerful the saw and the longer the cutting bar, the heavier it will be. Throughout a project, that extra weight will wear you out a lot faster. The Stihl 260 or 280 is as large as most people ever need, and you can change out the bar size if needed. They typically come with a 16″ cutting bar, but you can also choose an 18″ or 20″.

If you have a lot of trees to manage, you may want a second smaller saw for limbing if your budget allows for it.

Concrete Mixer

My husband and I built our own house in an area where it was practically impossible to get a concrete truck. It would have been cost-prohibitive to get a truck up there multiple times as well. We bought the raw materials and mixed all the concrete we needed. Concrete mixers will save you time and money when you want to build retaining walls or create pathways around your property. You can make stepping stones with molds for a fraction of the most, and you can create some beautiful designs.

Back when we were roughing it while building our house, I even used the concrete mixer to wash laundry!

Concrete mixers come in different sizes, so read carefully before buying. Overloading a concrete mixer will result in it not mixing as fast and will eventually damage the machine. The main mixing tub can be made of heavy-duty plastic or metal. I recommend getting one that is all metal for longer durability.

Steep Slope Mowers

Now you can get robotic mowers to go places that a typical mower will not. Of course, there are also ride-along versions. Steep slope mowers are not cheap, but if you live somewhere with rough and steep terrain and want to keep the growth under control, it might be the only way to reasonably do it.

Livestock can do the work of machines to some degree. Steep slopes are great for grazing sheep and goats. Cattle can handle a steep slope, too but not as steep as goats and sheep. It may be cheaper for you to fence some land than to try to buy a machine and maintain it. Sheep and goats are at least worth something too. Instead of mowing or weedeating, you can have meat for the table and some excess livestock to sell for cash flow.

Push mower

There are some places that a push mower works better than a riding mower. Our yard and the yard at my Dad’s house are good examples. The space is too uneven. A push mower and weedeater work a lot better and get into the smaller spaces.

Riding mowers are not safe to use on steep slopes. You have to be careful when mowing even a moderate slope because you can more easily tip over. You would be shocked to know how many people are injured or killed trying to mow a ditch every year.

Sun Joe Electric Pole Saw

This was an excellent $70 investment. When we combined this pole saw with our Jackery 1000 power center, we can drive around and trim limbs on all areas of the road. We don’t have to bother with a heavier gasoline pole saw. This one is plenty powerful, as you can see in the video and pics. The Mule will also get into areas that our truck will not. In a grid-down emergency, a saw like this or the ability to charge batteries on an electric chainsaw would allow you to cut up some firewood without resorting to an archaic misery whip or crosscut saw.

Start small when learning how to use a new machine. It is a mistake to try to do too much or something that is too complicated when you are just getting a feel for a new piece of equipment.

Transportation and General Homestead Chores

Kawasaki Mule

This is what we use more than 90% of the time to get around our property and perform work. It will get into places where our Tacoma won’t fit. The narrower mountain roads and the fact that going to visit my Dad is ¼ mile of unpaved driveway means the Mule makes a lot of sense. It will hold up to 4 people if in short bed mode and has a roll cage and seat belts for safety. Sure it only goes 25 mph max, but that is faster than you should go on our roads anyway. If you want something to play with or just run around in, you can get a speedier UTV, but you cannot beat a Mule for real work and getting around a farm.

The dump bed makes it a lot easier to move sand, gravel, mulch, and more.

ATV

While four-wheelers are fun, They are not as useful for homestead chores as a UTV. If you have a big place and need something for transportation or pulling a small wagon, they might be ok, but in general, for the money, they are not my favorite. Four-wheelers are also not enclosed at all and lack safety features. Farm accidents are common enough without upping the odds of injury even more.

Wagons

Wagons and carts are often pulled by a lawn tractor, ATV, or UTV. The load capacity varies by the cart. The better wagons and carts feature a dump bed. A lot of wagons are made of heavy-duty plastic. While metal may seem better, you need to consider how much heavier it is. Small machines including ATVs are only rated to tow so much weight. The heavy-duty plastics that are used for carts are impressive and lightweight so you can have more towing power for your actual load.

Here are a few examples of wagons and carts for around the homestead.

Power Wheelbarrows

There is such a thing as a powered wheelbarrow. These help you get loads moved without pushing and pulling on your part. They are not very practical if you have an ATV, UTV, or another method for towing a cart or wagon.

Conclusion

Small equipment makes maintaining a homestead possible when only a few people are available to perform physical labor. Its important to research equipment options and shop around for good deals.  It can be hard to know what exactly you need when you start working on a property. It may be helpful to set aside some money in an “equipment and tools fund” so you can more easily meet your equipment needs.

 

Do you have equipment suggestions to share?

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40 Comments

  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 7:24pm

    #1
    BBQ MD

    BBQ MD

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 08 2009

    Posts: 35

    2

    Great Topic for Discussion!

    Thanks for mentioning your experiences and the equipment you've used!  I'm really looking forward to the comments on this one.  I know there are a lot of folks with questions about property management and we've got quite a few here with years of experience in this area.  This should be a good discussion.

    For what it's worth, I actually prefer electric hand tools over gas.  I own both a Stihl MS 261 with an 18" bar as well as an Ego battery powered saw (also with an 18" bar).  I've got to say that overall, I prefer the Ego.  As for power perhaps the Stihl has a slight advantage, but the Ego has performed very well.  I've felled quite a few trees (mix of pine and hardwood), and the Ego does exactly what I need it to do.  It's super convenient to just pop a new battery in and start working without having to deal with the frustration of a difficult to start saw.  That easily happens when saws don't get used much and get stored with fuel in the tank.

    I also absolutely agree with the recommendation of a UTV.  Having the ability to move yourself and equipment around your property is so critical for so many tasks.  I've got an electric UTV that I switched to use lithium iron phosphate batteries instead of lead acid.

    The electric UTV (mine is a Polaris Ranger EV) is probably the most used item we own.  I've pulled a loaded double axle stock trailer (about 5000 pounds) without any difficulty and use it all the time to feed animals, carry things and haul trees and brush.  The upfront cost is a bit higher than a gas or diesel powered UTV, but I'm loving the durability, less maintenance and reliability of it.

    Also, FYI, if you live in an area with thorns you'll want to put some sealant in your tires.  We've had good results with Slime.  We have mesquite and locust trees in our area which have absolutely wicked thorns up to 3-4 inches long.

    I've talked enough so I'll let someone else bring up tractors and implements 🙂

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  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 8:21pm

    ccwood

    ccwood

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    Joined: Sep 12 2010

    Posts: 4

    2

    ccwood said:

    Great article and practical advice -- thanks! If you could talk about the most difficult things to learn for new farmers, that would be most appreciated. A list of major mistakes often made by the new farmers, would help those of us still wrestling with the change over to a more rural way to walk through life.

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  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 9:04pm

    #3
    Sal

    Sal

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    Joined: Jan 08 2019

    Posts: 2

    6

    Don’t rule out a tractor

    I’m a small scale farmer and owned a BCS for several years before getting a small— very small— tractor and it was a great decision for me. I agree, if you have steep land go for a BCS, but for anything else a small tractor is waaay better on a small property. I bought a Kubota 17 hp tractor and it does everything I need it to do. It lifts over 700 pounds (the BCS can’t lift anything), and it is more fuel efficient. I spend less now on my little diesel Kubota than on my gas powered 12 hp BCS.  There are just as many implements to attach to the tractor PTO— more probably— and some of them are super cheap to get second hand because they are everywhere.  I found that trying to find second hand anything for a BCS was impossible so you had to buy new.  I bought my tiller for the Kubota for $250 used but had to pay almost three times that for a new BCS tiller.
    I think there is a lot of hype around the walk behind tractors these days and regular tractors get short shrift. I know the up front costs are more for sure, but if you can find a small used tractor go for it.  You won’t regret it.   They can do so much!   I use mine (the little 17hp model) to haul hay bales, drag logs, till, clear snow, turn compost heaps, etc.
    Before you buy anything just be clear on what your needs are. If you only have a little garden or property it doesn’t really make sense to buy a tractor OR a BCS.

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  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 9:38pm

    #4
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

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    Joined: Oct 13 2008

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    0

    SkidSteer over tractor

    FWIW: I believe the best option is a used skid steer instead of a WBT or small tractor. For the most part you can get the same attachments for skid steer as you can for a tractor, but it can do a lot more since its a heavier machine. The issue with small tractors is that they cannot deal with steep inclines, deep mud, or just don't have the power to get the job done. Also recommend getting a tracted machine instead of wheel machine. Over all a Tracked machine is lower cost to operate, and has the extra traction to move stuff, or push down small trees.

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  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 10:22pm

    #5

    Arthur Robey

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1323

    2

    Doing it differently.

    I'm trying to decide which electric monowheel to buy.

    That pushing a wheelbarrow would give me the best bang for my buck. I'll need to put in more solar panels to feed the beast.

    And: it can go on public transport, in the trunk of a car, on an airplane, in my yacht.

    Plus I'll be the oldest and coolest hot-dogger on wheels.

    Because the technology is so new, it is still undergoing rapid development.

    Here we find Chooch testing the edge. (Get real, old man. You'll never be as loose as Chooch, but I do know how to fall, being an ex-paratrooper. Chooch falls like a girl.)





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  • Fri, Jul 23, 2021 - 11:09pm

    jturbo68

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Aug 04 2009

    Posts: 270

    1

    Skidsteer vs Tractor vs Telehandler

    I have a tractor w/ Loader, but am pretty sure if I were to do it a again, I would do one of these.

    Tractor replacement and also a side by side UTV.

    https://www.bobcat.com/utility-products/toolcat/models/5600/features

    OR

    If you need reach and the capability to place a brush mower on the boom:

    https://www.jcb.com/en-gb/products/telescopic-handlers/516-40

     

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 12:23am

    #7

    Arthur Robey

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1323

    2

    Goats

    "If you have no troubles, get a goat."

    Turkish proverb.

    My son bought a kid back from school. Him and I were besties. We used to butt heads often.

    He used to smell my breath to see what I had found to eat. If I had eaten meat, his disgust was obvious.

    If offered a variety of plants, Goats are very picky eaters, because they have to balance the plant poisons.

    He used to sit on the couch with me and watch the Falkland wars on TV. My wife left me and I had to get rid of him.

    I miss my goat.

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 7:20am

    #8
    RandomMike

    RandomMike

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Mar 12 2020

    Posts: 325

    3

    Battery chainsaws and solar power

    I've purchased a Milwaukee M18 and an Oregon battery chainsaw, and been using them for 6 or 7 years. They do, for me, just as much as a 'standard' 50cc gas chainsaw, without the gas/oil/pull start/choke stuff.

    Plus, I have some solar panels and an inverter, so I can charge my chainsaws from the Sun and never buy gas again!

    Oh yes I forgot, I have a 8" battery pole, tree trimming chainsaw and it works great too.

    In fact, for the curious, I'd recommend getting/trying the smallest cheapest (though well-rated) chainsaw you can find. You will likely be impressed with it when used for the appropriately sized wood.

    And on another subject, I had a pet male goat with horns also, as a kid (ha ha). And we butted each other also. He made me smell like a goat, but I didn't mind.

     

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 7:53am

    #9
    Curt504

    Curt504

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    0

    Curt504 said:

    I'm very impressed with this review and talk of off grid house building!!

    BUT it occured to me that the quest of "off grid" is not cheap nor gizmo free as one (or me) imagined.  Its actualy MORE gizmos, stuff, expensive stuff...

    LOL...  So much for simple living.   Yes I agree rustic, rural living is a range not a one size for all.  I'm "older" and can't imagine working this hard.

    I have even more respect for those of you who are rustic, rural, even off the grid.  Quite impressive.

    Take care to all.

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 8:03am

    #10
    LeMon3

    LeMon3

    Status: Member

    Joined: Aug 31 2009

    Posts: 13

    4

    Nice article Sam...

    Thanks for this Sam.

    A little background:

    I suspect we're on a slightly larger property than yours, but still small as these things go. There's only the missus and me now, as the novel coronavirus has completely stopped the WWOOFers and others we used to host.

    At 140 acres, we're 10% of the size of our immediate neighbour, and about twice the size of some of the other properties on our bit of dirt road.

    Only 70 acres is pasture and cropping capable, the rest is reserved for Nature to do her thing.

    For us, the most useful device is a tractor. A 4 in 1 bucket/loader on the front with a Euro hitch to allow bucket to be swapped for forks or other implements. A three point linkage on the back to run a flail mower / block splitter / Yeoman's Plough / chipper / carryall or whatever.

    To run through the implements - the loader allows me to lift heavy things - up to 1500 kg (sorry I don't do American customary units). The 4 in 1 bucket allows me to pick up heavy things/remove old fence posts/etc without having to use ropes/chains or whatever. Changing to forks allows me to unload trucks etc with ease.

    On the back, the flail mower does a fantastic job of mowing/mulching the pasture the cows don't like to eat, while spreading the mulch to help it all regrow into better pasture.

    The block splitter has a 30 tonne capacity, necessary here as the only trees we have are all hardwood, cross grain eucalypts. Your 7 ton electric would burn itself out on the smallest branches...

    The Yeoman's plough is fantastic for breaking up soil compaction. Where we've used it we've gone from 2cm of topsoil to 45cm within three years. Highly recommended if you can find one, especially if you live on ancient depleted soils as we do.

    The chipper takes the trimmings from where we are practicing silviculture and turns it into woodchips that we can then mulch around the trees to feed them more nutrients.

    The carryall does just what the name says - carrys stuff on a platform on the 3pl, for when the loader just isn't big enough...

    We don't run a tiller on the tractor, mostly because the [email protected] depleted soils we have won't cope with it. Where we want to grow veggies, we build raised garden beds and bring in mushroom compost to feed them.

    None of this needs to be expensive or new. For the first 10 years on this place we ran a 30 year old International 685 tractor which we picked up for less than 10k south pacific pesos (about 7k in US dollars at the time) and most of the rest of the implements we picked up second hand too.

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 9:06am

    #11
    LBL

    LBL

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    LBL said:

     

    I suggest the Deere 6 wheel "Gator", mainly because it is low to the ground and ...

    HARD TO ROLL OVER.

     

    Very important.

    I have a neighbor who has one.  We are limited using it on my land.

    It is good on an incline up to about 20 degrees, but a lot of our land is 40 degrees and steeper.

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 2:17pm

    #12
    Penguin Will

    Penguin Will

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    3

    Location, location, location....

    Chainsaw & log splitter? I have to say that it all depends. Decent sized hardwoods and a good bit of it? Have to say the electric stuff just isn't up to it.

    I say buy a good stihl or husky OF WHICHEVER BRAND HAS A FULL SERVICE DEALER CLOSEST TO YOU. For me that was a husky. Husky also has a really good series of pro saws with slightly less top end power. There isn't much a 545 or 555 won't do that a typical homesteader has any business doing.

    Lawnmower? I can tell you all about what not to do. 😮

    And I have to say a good winch is sometimes worth its weight in gold. Tractor, side by side, 4wd.... Whatever is handiest. But a good winch has really helped me out when I needed it.

    Will

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 3:25pm

    #13
    Levitas

    Levitas

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    3

    This is a great discussion…

    Very interesting topic! Our Grillo walk behind is amazing, easy to work on and repair- although some parts can be challenging to find in the states like the bearing seals and bearings. I agree whole heartedly that a small tractor is extremely valuable as well as skid steer. Our farm is small and we are surrounded by a wonderful community and that’s really the only way we could dream of getting through our season and improving our farm.   There are many projects that require large or specialized equipment. Being able to hire or barter with friends and neighbors with equipment and experience running specialize machines is huge! The guy that runs a mini ex all day is probably gonna do a way better and quicker job and I will. Going in together on renting a machine and helping each with respective jobs can really reduce costs and help projects get done more efficiently. Like trenching waterlines or grinding stumps. Even going in together on a piece of equipment, although complicated, can really increase everyone’s capacity and ability to get projects done, like a dump trailer or skid steer. Also being able to call that friend that can fix pretty much anything is so incredibly valuable. Farming is incredibly fun and challenging. Things are constantly going wrong, breaking, and also miraculously turning out better than you expected. It takes a community sharing their time, expertise, and equipment to really make things happen. You can own every toy on the shelf but it’s lonely when there’s nobody to work with.

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 4:15pm

    000

    Status: Bronze Member

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    Posts: 309

    2

    000 said:

    Guessing my knees won't last long on this, but oh! I so want one, you know, to exercise the cat. LOL

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  • Sat, Jul 24, 2021 - 6:55pm

    #15
    ptcdn

    ptcdn

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    0

    BCS a real wrokhorse

    starting a garden in my backyard last year (because of long thoughts and finally Chris promoting it strongly) i was using a BCS machine and it was quite a success to start doing the heavy duty tilling. Yes, it is a very good machine to use for heavy duty. This year however i switched to a smaller Honda and another machine which did the job on the surface tilling so to speak for less heavy duty work.

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 9:13am

    #16
    LBL

    LBL

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    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 392

    1

    LBL said:

    A neighbor of mine with about 45 years of chainsaw experience recently cut his thigh about 3/4 inch deep - with a chainsaw.

     

    There are alternatives for breaking wood into pieces.  I used a 20 inch handsaw to cut down a 12 inch tree that was about 40 feet tall.  It took about a 1/2 hour and it was a lot of exercise.

     

    With a lot of wood, just dropping it in the right place, e.g. on another log or a rock, will cause the log to break in 2 pieces.

    Though that does involve lifting it up and dropping it.

    So conceivably in the process of avoiding chainsaw use, one could still hurt one self.

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 9:47am

    Pappy

    Pappy

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    Joined: Jun 29 2020

    Posts: 208

    2

    Death by tree felling

    Guy I used to work with, his father was a lumberjack. Yes he cut trees for people as a removal service, but he mostly did trees for lumber mills.

    Five years ago, all by himself, was felling some large trees and one fell onto a neighboring tree and bounced off on the way down. It pinned him to the ground and crushed a bunch of internal organs. Died before the ambulance arrived.

    This guy had over forty years experience and still was killed using a chainsaw.

    The problem with chainsaws is the speed at which things happen. That continuous row of spinning teeth, the potential energy of a twenty ton tree trunk, 32 feet per second per second…

    The danger is in human desires and need for time saving coupled with the proximity to so much speed and wood mass.

    In nature, it could take months, years or even decades for a tree to fall. We humans attempt to do it in minutes from two feet away.

    Yes my friend’s dad had four decades of experience, but the odds are definitely stacked no matter how small they are in a time frame such as that.

    An alternative way of felling trees before steel and internal combustion engines was to burn the trunk at the base. Not always feasible depending on your forest conditions and seasonal dryness, but if done right it allows the one felling the tree to be safely distanced when it falls and not having to hold a spinning tool of destruction in their hand while doing so.

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 10:08am

    RandomMike

    RandomMike

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    No till

    I have had rototillers for 60 years. I own four now plus a 5' tractor 3pt.

    This year I didn't till. I mowed very low, planted in a shallow trench made by a middle buster, or a hole drilled in rhe soil by an augur on a battery drill.

    Then as weeds grow I mow with an Oregon 16" battery mower between rows.

    Not sure why I tilled for 60 years.

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 10:17am

    #19
    treebeard

    treebeard

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    2

    BCS

    I have a BCS with a mowing deck, tiller, and flail.  Recently bought a cart for the BCS for hauling stuff.  I can recommend all that equipment, very well made.  Originally bought it on Eliot Coleman’s recommendation.

    For small tools, I was originally gearing up to go all electric with Echo.  But then found out that Home Depot bought the name from Echo and the electric line had nothing to do with the Echo company.

    I found that out the hard way when I tried to take the electric chainsaw for repair to an Echo dealer.  Long story short, I have abandoned Echo for Stihl.  What a difference, Echo is complete crap in comparison.  The Stihl equipment is great.

    Echo electric saw worked OK for the short time I had it (had problems with the oiler), but my son bought about 30 chainsaws in various states of disrepair for a few hundred bucks from a guy going out of business.  He sold off most of saws for parts, but was able to put together 4 or 5 saws from the bunch. He got enough money from selling parts that he made money on the investment and the saws were essentially free.

    Since I have been the happy recipient of a free Husqvarna from my son, I have abandoned the idea of going electric there.  Recently bought 7 cords of logs instead of split wood.  Son had a 750 and I used a 550, made nice work of the pile in a weekend.  Would not have been possible with electric saws.

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 10:33am

    #20
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 569

    5

    No till

    Now into my second year of no till gardening,  will never go back to tilling again. I guy named Charles Dowding from England has great, numerous and detailed videos on the subject

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 10:36am

    #21
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 569

    2

    No till

    Now into my second year of no till gardening,  will never go back to tilling again. I guy named Charles Dowding from England has great, numerous and detailed videos on the subject.

    Make my own compost from a small meadow and fall leaves

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 3:57pm

    #22
    richo27

    richo27

    Status: Member

    Joined: Dec 22 2012

    Posts: 15

    3

    tillers

    I have been gardening for over 65 years, and I think a tiller is good for one thing, and that is uniformly incorporating compost into the soil.  It is very hard to do this uniformly by hand, but a tiller is just made for the job.  Spread about 2 in. of compost on every fall and till it in uniformly to the top 6 in.  You are good to go in the spring.

    One thing I would highly recommend in a tiller is to get one with a dual direction or reverse drive tines.  I always use the reverse direction tine drive and it does a much better job.  I have a Craftsman 208 cc counter-rotating tine machine, and of all the tillers I have owned it is by far the best.    

    https://www.toptenreviews.com/tillers-craftsman-208-review

    The Landworks also makes a utility cart power wagon that I believe is much better than the power wheel barrow.   It tips forward so the front is flat on the ground and allows one to tip large things like big firewood rounds in.  I love mine.

    The other thing I could recommend is the Larin tailgate lift.  It is quite reasonable at about $500.00, easy to install, it just slips right into a 2 in. receiver hitch, and lifts 500 lb.  It is almost a necessity to lift large heavy firewood rounds.  

    https://larinstore.com/products/hitch-lift  

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 6:57pm

    grandefille

    grandefille

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 11 2010

    Posts: 60

    4

    chainsaw safety

    LBL,  Your neighbor's injury sounds very painful.  Ouch!  I grew up in farm country, where everyone used a chain saw.  Very few guys used any safety equipment beyond steel toed shoes and gloves.  No hearing protection, no helmet, no chaps.  I spent about $200 on those things when I got a chain saw at the ripe old age of 57.  Guys in the neighborhood laugh at me, but it's WAY cheaper than a trip to the Emergency Room.

    Julie

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  • Sun, Jul 25, 2021 - 7:53pm

    #24
    Mpup

    Mpup

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Mar 01 2020

    Posts: 291

    5

    Fence stapler

    For those who have fencing to be done, DeWalt makes a 20v cordless fence staple gun.  We found this VERY useful putting up fence this year.  No more loose posts from whamming them with a hammer/fence tool, no more thumbs or fingers hit.  Greatly reduces the time required to put up fence.  These are pricey but if one has a lot of fencing to do, a great investment.  I was able to borrow one from a friend.  If friends/neighbors go in together on one, the cost is not too bad.  Worth checking out local rental stores.  May need to ask them to carry this item.  A great tool

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  • Mon, Jul 26, 2021 - 9:15am

    #25
    BBQ MD

    BBQ MD

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 08 2009

    Posts: 35

    6

    Something they discussed at Polyface Farm

    One of the things discussed at Polyface was the sequence of actions needed to develop a new property.  While it's fun to contemplate what equipment you want to buy, you're probably better served by accurately assessing your needs first.  I think this was the order in which they described the steps--

    1. Access--If you can't get there it doesn't exist.  You'll need to either cut a pathway or use a vehicle (or horse if you prefer) to see what you're dealing with.  Once you know your property then put in more permanent roads so you can actually develop it.

    2. Water--Whether you're fostering the development of animals or plants, you'll likely need water.  This does not mean drilling a well necessarily, but may involve digging ponds or tapping springs or natural sources of water for your use.  At Polyface, they had the luxury of using elevated, spring fed ponds in the mountains which provided natural water pressure due to their elevation.  These were then channeled using black plastic pipe to numerous access taps throughout their pastures.  This enabled rotational grazing while allowing the animals to access water in multiple locations.

    3. Fencing--Now that you know the general topography and soil of your land you can decide where to put fences depending on what your goals are.  Obviously a fruit orchard will differ from timberland which will differ from a cattle pasture.  One thing that impressed me at Polyface was the extensive use of electric fence.  Electric fencing is so much easier to install than barbed wire and affords much more variability in that you can rearrange your fence in minutes to graze a different area of your pasture.

    4. Barns, Equipment, Etc.--After those earlier steps are completed is the time to solidify your goals and determine what equipment will help you achieve them.

    Hope that's helpful.  I probably missed a step or two but I thought what they did at Polyface Farm was ingenious in its simplicity and functionality.  BTW the equipment I saw them use most often included line trimmers to keep the fences clear, tractors to mow (and trench the ground for placement of water lines) and UTV's for mobility.  Joel also demonstrated his chainsaw skills and showed off his sawmill (not cheap but useful for building things if you have timber, and will save you a bundle on lumber costs)

     

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  • Mon, Jul 26, 2021 - 7:59pm

    #26

    Oliveoilguy

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 1260

    4

    Tractor Mounted Chipper

    I bought this amazing machine from Salsco, an American manufactured beauty. The flywheel weighs 220 lb and is balanced to perfection. Cuts 4” stuff like butter. Supposed to do up to 7” but I’m being conservative. Self feed is essential. I would not think a manual feed would be a good idea.

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  • Mon, Jul 26, 2021 - 10:00pm

    #27

    Arthur Robey

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1323

    1

    Screaming Banshee

    A chainsaw is a must for me. The risk-reward thing kicks in. Either I have firewood to dry out the cabin or I don't.

    But I am considering a rocket stove and heat sink for the very reason that I may not have access to a saw if things really go south. A rocket stove uses kindling, The problem then is how do I look after my forest? The fuel load becomes dangerous with failed saplings.

    I guess that's why I have a boat.

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 9:47am

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 708

    2

    No Till

    I bought a broad fork from Gulland Forge years ago and stopped tilling.  I finally sold my tiller.  Heck, now, after learning about Singing Frogs Farms, I don’t even broad fork my entire garden every year, only carrots and potatoes.

    Broad fork

    There is a discernible difference between resilience and sustainability.  Just food for thought.

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 10:50am

    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 50

    3

    chainsaw injury preparedness

    I gave myself a cut in my leg with a chainsaw doing something I recognized at the time was questionable.  Then I properly cleaned the wound, numbed it with lidocaine, and gave myself four sutures.  No complaints with how it healed up, but I may have had a big complaint traveling 90 minutes to the urgent care clinic, waiting for another 30 minutes, then 5 minutes of surgery for $450 out of pocket.

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 1:26pm

    #30

    Snydeman

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 06 2013

    Posts: 652

    0

    LesPhelps

    I'm glad I'm not the only one still remembering/adhering to the lessons learned from Singing Frog Farms. I fully intend to go no-till from here forward in my gardens. I just ordered one of those Broadforks based on your post alone!

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 4:58pm

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 708

    1

    Gulland Forge

    When I purchased my broad fork, Gulland Forge was located in Wisconsin, about 20 miles from where I lived.  He threw it in the back of his truck and delivered it to my door.

    You won’t be disappointed in the quality.  He is a traditional blacksmith to his core.

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 8:21pm

    #32
    Mysterymet

    Mysterymet

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: May 23 2020

    Posts: 357

    0

    Ruth stout method

    I use the ruth stout method for potatoes, squash, onions, etc. It works well here.

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  • Tue, Jul 27, 2021 - 9:06pm

    acesovereggs

    acesovereggs

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Aug 22 2018

    Posts: 63

    0

    acesovereggs said:

    https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2020/09/how-to-make-biomass-energy-sustainable-again.html

    Coppicing seems like a practical method of harvesting wood.

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  • Wed, Jul 28, 2021 - 10:52pm

    #34
    kdredske

    kdredske

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 27 2020

    Posts: 21

    2

    kdredske said:

    I greatly appreciate all of the information in the blog post and in the discussion. I had never heard of walk-behind tractors. While researching, I realized that DR has a walk-behind field and brush mower that you can change accessories on. I already own a DR woodchipper that I have owned for 15 years and love so I feel like I could trust the quality of any of their other products. I really appreciate the commentary on skid steers versus small tractors and UTVs too. I am trying to decide which I would benefit most from for the least amount of cost. Balancing the work and the cost is definitely a huge challenge for many of us I think.

    As for the actual gardening/farming part. . . I'm with @MysteryMet and use the Ruth Stout method of no-till gardening. I don't know what I would've done without her book called Gardening Without Work: for the Aging, the Busy and the Indolent. Last year when I first heard Chris speak and started my first garden, there was no way I was going to make it work if I had to till and pull weeds. I had a neighbor years ago who had a no till garden that was amazing also and he recommended Crockett's Victory Garden which I had to purchase a used copy of. Both are fantastic for setting you up with a calendar of when to do what and most importantly . . . Ruth Stout gave me the details on HOW to start my no-till garden after I saw the Singing Frogs Farm presentation. I can't recommend these two books enough to get me started.

    I've expanded my horizons with the visit to Polyface Farm and wish I was younger for starting this homesteading adventure. I now want to clean up and make it easy to get to the two ponds on the property and as I walk the farm that I rent the farmhouse on, I see the places that we could setup new ponds or at least where to catch run-off water that could be used for watering animals and turning the farm into something that could actually make money - not to mention all the hardwood trees that could be leveraged if one actually tried to manage the woods rather than let them grow wild. If nothing else, all of the participants here give one hope and it allows us to dream. I love being able to escape to these kinds of places with all of you here.

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  • Thu, Jul 29, 2021 - 7:24am

    stolenfates

    stolenfates

    Status: Member

    Joined: Mar 21 2020

    Posts: 4

    0

    stolenfates said:

    Why would a UTV be a better option than a pickup truck?  I have a 2011 Nissan Titan and while a UTV might be fun for running around it can't do 1/10th of what a truck can do, which is why farmers still use trucks.  Other than being smaller and being able to get into places a truck can't (which for most doesn't help much) what advantages would a UTV have?

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  • Thu, Jul 29, 2021 - 8:08am

    BBQ MD

    BBQ MD

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 08 2009

    Posts: 35

    1

    BBQ MD said:

    Trucks are definitely useful, but a UTV has the advantage of going on narrow trails through woods, crossing terrain that a truck couldn't.  Also, I can operate my UTV over a field full of mesquites without worrying about punctured tires.

    A truck though is a must have for things like picking up fence supplies, hardware and feed.

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  • Thu, Jul 29, 2021 - 8:17am

    #37
    BBQ MD

    BBQ MD

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 08 2009

    Posts: 35

    3

    Ruth Stout foiled by herbicide

    I too was enamored of the Ruth Stout videos on YouTube.  I spent hours placing a nice, thick layer of hay over our future garden site only to be disappointed later when I found that my hay had been treated with a systemic broadleaf herbicide.

    It took a few years before things would grow well in the garden.  Now, I just use wood chips that I chip myself so I know what's in the garden.  Be careful of where you source material for your garden.

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  • Thu, Jul 29, 2021 - 9:38am

    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 392

    0

    LBL said:

    >>>  I gave myself a cut in my leg with a chainsaw doing something I recognized at the time was questionable.

     

    Pictures ?

     

    I was bit on the neck by a black widow, or something else that I was very allergic to, about 5 years ago.

    The swelling was EPIC.  Gosh I wish I had taken pictures !

    First the left side of my face and forehead, all swelled up about 1/2 inch +.

    I looked like I had been sitting in a make-up chair for a role playing the Star Trek character, Romulan ?

    Then the swelling moved to the right side, for a day.

     

    Then it moved to my ear, which was about 3/4 of an inch thick, and sticking out.  Yoda ear, except, BRIGHT red.

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  • Fri, Jul 30, 2021 - 5:43pm

    Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 25 2019

    Posts: 50

    1

    Pictures of a bloody mess? Nah.

    I would venture to say most people here don't want to see a stomach-turning bloody gash, even if they're mildly curious.  I mentioned this incident so others will be prepared with wound irrigation and suture kits, especially with lidocaine, which may be difficult to get.

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  • Sun, Aug 08, 2021 - 3:34pm

    #40
    offroadingking

    offroadingking

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jul 29 2021

    Posts: 4

    0

    I miss ATCs

    3 wheel ATCs are solid. They stopped cuz people thought they tip over easy but if you know how to ride them they actually handle better than a 4 wheeler. One fewer tire makes a big difference.

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