Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tools of the Trade

So the question is if you have a bit of money at this moment; but, you know that you will not have this money in the future, which tools would you purchase to improve your self sufficiency?

For the sake of this post I think that we should consider tools that someone just at the beginning of this journey would need.

This is a partial list. I invite you to include your ideas and I will post an updated list with everyone's ideas on it.

So this is my partial list:

One hot water bath canner. If you did not have the canner maybe you could find the rack to put inside a big stock pot at a Goodwill or antique shop. A pressure canner is nice but can be a bit pricey. I find that when I first started canning I would can anything and everything. What a lot of work. Now I can tomatoes, jams, jellies, some vinegar pickles, some salsas and chicken stock. The pressure canner gets used for some tomato product, salsas and chicken stock. But I use the hot water bath primarily.

Which brings me to my second important food preservation tool. A dehydrator. I started using a small electric dehydrator from RONCO ( off all places). But ideally I would like to make a solar dehydrator. Dehydrated food retains its nutrition. It is so much easier to chop some veggies or fruit than it is to heat water on a warm August day.

Jars. Canning jars for canning but any ole jar will work for dehydrated food. Most of my canning jars have been purchased second hand. I just make sure that they are not chipped. If I had my druthers I would purchases some TATLER reusable canning jar lids and use them for those foodstuffs I know I will be using just for myself and not giving as gifts.

5 gallon buckets have many uses around the homestead. I use them for making compost tea, rhubarb leaf tea. These teas are used in the garden for amending the soil and garden pest control. They can also be used for growing tomato plants on a deck or patio, thus saving you room for other crops if you have a small garden.

A rain barrel. I can not say enough for water storage. We have lost our water several times due to power outages. Water from the rain barrel can flush a toilet, it can be used for washing.

Chainsaw, safety helmet, ear protection, chaps and a good ax. Especially the chaps. Mark wears his everytime he uses his chainsaw. Safety first!

I love my pitchfork. I use it for harvesting some food, turning compost, loading up the wheel barrow with soil amendments. A couple of good hand tools for the garden.

A small lunch box sized cooler. I use this for making yogurt.

If I were to invest in any home improvement I would consider building a rootcellar. If you do not want to dig a big hole in the ground you can build a small room in a cold part of your cellar to preserve food for the winter. With a rootcellar you can store winter squash, potatoes, apples, onions, garlic, cabbage and so much more.

Or a chicken coop. Chickens are cheap to obtain, they eat food scraps, they provide compost for the garden, the eat slugs from your garden and they provide eggs. Some of they can be a source of meat.

Finally, the ultimate resource of knowledge The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. This book has all sorts of information on growing and preserving food. It also is a first resource for information on livestock and homesteading skills.

So, are there any other suggestions? Please share your ideas in the comments.



Heather said...

What a great list! I think the only other thing I would add is a crock for fermenting :-) Although, you could definitely use glass jars for that as well. We are getting our first baby chicks this weekend, and are looking forward to fresh eggs...whenever they may come :-)

Practical Parsimony said...

I lack Tattler lids, chainsaw stuff, and root cellar.

But, I am doing this on my own. I have more gardening tools than I actually use. I was given a free yogurt maker, so that is covered.

A Ball Canning Book would be handy for a beginner.

My investment would be a greenhouse or more shelves in my house for food storage.

Stevie said...

Cattle panels!! Cattle panels make movable/portable fences and gates for livestock and gardens. They make temporary or permanent stalls or divided areas in barns. They are natural trellises and when covered with plastic they make row covers and greenhouses. They can make compost bins and planters for roots crops like potatoes. When covered with tarps they make livestock housing or shelters for milking, hay storage area, etc. around here a 16' long and 4' high cattle panel costs $20 or $30 but can be used and reused endlessly around the farm.

Wendy said...

I second all of your suggestions and would add: a good ax and/or maul; a garden wagon.