Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Very Useful Small Equipment

A friend came by and caught me on my ATV. 

On a small homestead farm, I have found that certain pieces of small equipment makes life not only easier, but makes my farming style successful. Without them I would not get the amount of work done that I need to. Not all my equipment needs gasoline to power them. Some are actually hand operated.

Now, by small I don't mean a small tractor. Although a small tractor or a skid steer would be quite useable, I see them as being too expensive for a small homestead farm. Unless I would find myself being suddenly wildly successful, I don't see how I could justify such an expense. I swore I would never, never allow myself to go into debt again, so big purchases are basically out. The only big purchase I have allowed myself has been a pickup truck. And that truck works hard and helps earn every penny I make!

I keep in mind that if I had a job that could be better done by a piece of big equipment, I could always hire the job out, or rent the equipment. Far cheaper than buying and maintaining an expensive piece of machinery.

So, what would you see on my homestead?

Rototiller. This is my main workhorse. Without it I could not do this farm. I actually have two. One for serious soil preparation, such as breaking new ground( a Troybilt). One lightweight one for cultivating and tilling established beds (a Mantis). The Mantis gets used practically every day.

Lawnmower. Not used on lawns! Ha. But it harvests clippings to use in making compost, feed chickens, or use as mulch. I don't have any lawns. But I have one mower modified so that it sits up higher, cutting vegetation at about 6-7 inches. I use this for cutting the pasture after the livestock has eaten it off. This helps keep weeds and unpalatable grasses from taking over. I have another mower that is a standard bagger. I mow along the street, my neighbors' grassy areas, and sometimes the grass in a local macnut farm. This gives me all the clippings that I need. I'm not fussy about my brand of lawnmower as long as it is a bagger and is self propelled.

Chainsaw. Very handy for cutting up fallen tree limbs and trees, making fence posts, making trellises. With 20 acres, there always seems to be a need for a chainsaw.

Chipper/shredder. Great for making compost and "soil". I also use it for making wood chips. I found that running reject macnuts through it makes great chicken food. What's leftover becomes garden mulch. The machine is an Mighty Mac, by MacKissic.

Weedwacker. Initially used to reclaim overgrown land, it is now used for maintenance. Mine is used every week. Without it, this farm would not be kept up. A very important tool around here. Using this I do not need to spray Round-up. Both my original and my current weedwackers are Shindawa.

Now, I also have an assortment of standard construction type tools, like a sawsall, chop saw, circular saw, drill, etc. Nothing fancy or complicated, but all quite useful.

Sugar cane press, hand operated. This processes my cane crop. It took a year's sales of cane juice to justify its purchase. But I believe it was worth it. Besides, it's fun!

Oil expeller, hand operated. I use this to produce my oils....macnut, kukui, sunflower. It paid for itself the first month I used it.

Macnut husker/cracker, hand operated. Very useful for processing macnuts. In one hour I can now do in what use to take me days. Since I can sell all my macnuts at a good price, it was easy to justify this purchase.

I use to have a large coffee roaster, but I couldn't justify it's cost. The sales just weren't there. So the roaster is history, for now at least.

ATV. I guess this should be included because its main job is on the farm. I get around on it. I haul rocks, soil, wood, and supplies with it. I only added an ATV two years ago. What a luxury! I now use it every day. The one I have is a Recon by Honda.

Pickup truck. A real necessity. It gets used not just for transportation, but also hauling a trailer, moving livestock, pulling rocks and logs, tightening fence. My current one is a Ford 150 4 x 4 with a towing package and off road plates underneath.

Trailer. I don't own one yet, but it's in my future. Right now I borrow a trailer when I need one. But that's getting "old". Tis about time I consider getting my own trailer.


  1. Love your blog Su Ba ; ) How did you modify your lawn mower? I need something that will mow at that height myself!

  2. I took the lawnmower to a welding/machine shop and had the wheel assembly welded to the mower deck. The wheels are now fixed in position and the mower cuts at about 6". Perfect to topping pasture weeds. Now, each mower might be different, so you might have to have a piece of iron to fix the position of the wheels. But mine was long enough to reach ok. It was an easy solution and didn't cost me much. I have since ruined the original engine (hit a hidden piece of partially buried old t-post), so I just swapped out the broken engine to a new engine on the old mower deck. Did the trick.

  3. We would bring our welder. And I have to ship my little Echo chainsaw. She's the light of my life next to my hubby!

    Great list of items!

    Are goats any good at clearing land in Hawaii? Of course, one needs a really good perimeter fence.

    1. Many people use goats to help control brush and grass from taking over when it regrows. Most goats are kept tethered.