While pastoral fields of spring lambs and waving rows of corn are the stuff of dreams for most nature lovers, farming isn’t all that.
Although farmers are lucky enough to avoid staring at a computer screen all day long, farming is a job like any other. In fact, it’s getting harder every year, with 2018 showing record numbers of farm failures in some states.
Whether you’re thinking of embracing the farm lifestyle, or if you want to fine-tune your existing operation, you need the right tools to do it. It all starts with having the right farming equipment at your disposal.
These are the ten must-have items you need in your farming box of tricks.
Large Farming Equipment
Let’s face it, no respectable farm doesn’t have a tractor of some description, even if it’s one of those ride-on-mower mini versions. These versatile workhorses are essential for plowing, mowing, raking, harvesting and baling.
Even without all the attachments, a tractor is your right-hand man when it comes to farming. They’re the original 4×4, with the strength to haul or drag heavy loads and cross the most rugged terrain. Tractors are the embodiment of the saying, ”slow and steady, wins the race”.
A Pick-Up Truck
Along with a tractor, a pickup truck and trailer are the next most essential items for any farmer. How else are you going to cart fence posts, hay, and feed bags around?
A livestock trailer is essential for moving your animals to market and bringing in new stock. It also doubles as a carry-all for large items or big quantities of feed.
Fire Fighting Equipment
It’s a no brainer that an out-of-control fire can be the ruin of any farmer but fire equipment has another important use on any size farm.
No matter how small your pocket of land is, you must burn fire-breaks to stop the passage of any blaze that does break out. Without the right equipment to control these intentional fires, you could end up with an inferno on your hands.
A skid unit that fits on the back of your pick-up truck or trailer is first prize, but ordinary fire extinguishers will do.
If you’ve spent a day or two around livestock, you’ll realize how important — and time-consuming — fencing really is. An auger or air-powered post driver makes light work of digging to install fence posts.
Of the more conventional tools, a drill is one of the most useful ones to have on a farm. Next in line is a circular saw, especially if you want to build anything at all.
Once you get a brushcutter and a chainsaw, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without them to help you clear invasive vegetation.
Unless you opt for battery or gas-powered tools, you’ll need a generator to operate your power tools out in the fields.
A Fully-Stocked Tool Box
The little things count for a lot when it comes to farming. Stock up your toolbox with essentials like pliers, hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers and add to it as you need to.
These small essentials are a great help when it comes to small fixes that can prevent big problems. An auger is another thing you can’t live without if you want to avoid digging holes for fence posts for hours at a time.
A humble ax is a must-have tool for chopping firewood and getting rid of invasive trees.
Healthy stocks of nails, wire, nuts, and bolts are a godsend too. Never underestimate the power of baling twine.
For some, gardening is a hobby, for the farmer it’s a matter of life and death. When you live miles away from the nearest supermarket, you’ve got to grow your own fruit and veg.
A flat spade and a pointed spade come in useful all over the farm as well as in the veggie patch. A good digging fork doubles as an implement for cleaning up manure and a hoe is useful for keeping weeds under control.
A composter is essential for improving the soil in your vegetable garden and a high-quality garden hose will last for years. If you have a full-size tractor, you need a lawnmower to keep your lawn under control.
After fences, you need a few other essential items to keep your animals in good health.
Feed storage is important for keeping their rations clean, dry and free of vermin. Water must be in plentiful supply all day and night. Unless you want to spend all your days with a hosepipe in hand, self-filling water troughs are the way to go.
A river or dam may seem like the better alternative for watering your cattle, but they have a knack for getting inextricably stuck in muddy patches.
A sturdy shelter is vital to keep them out of the blazing summer sun and a warm shed is a literal life-saver during freezing cold winters.
Most livestock is pretty good at keeping warm, but they do it at the expense of their body condition. If you want to keep your animals fat during the wintertime, livestock heaters can help to keep your feed bill down.
Be sure to keep a supply of spares if you don’t want your animals to suffer the shock of a cold night when they’re used to cozy comfort. See here for some of the heater parts you should keep in stock.
Unless you love having your veterinarian around, you’ll also need a stash of emergency first-aid items for your animals. Bandages, antiseptic spray, and penicillin are some of the must-haves to treat minor injuries and prevent infection.
Learning how to vaccinate and deworm your own animals will save you thousands in veterinary bills and ensure that they thrive.
A Kitchen Mixer
Yip, you read it right. A kitchen mixer helps you to reap all the benefits of farm living to the fullest.
You can churn butter with it, make ice cream, whip cream and prepare vegetables for storing in the freezer. A good kitchen mixer is the perfect side-kick for the small-scale farmer’s wife.
Apart from the right farming equipment, you’ll discover that you need a few more things to make the most of life on the farm. The bad news is that you can’t get these tools from the local hardware store.
Patience and experience are two of the most important things you’ll need for farming and they only develop over time.
Until then, keep reading my blog for more tips on how to survive the simple life.