We have tools for almost any need or use on our farm: from the large pieces of equipment to tweezers to remove splinters from flesh. But there are some tools on the farm that get heavy use. Tools that are general use rather than task specific are the most valuable. These five tools are, in my opinion, necessary for any aspiring farmer.
1. Fence pliers: Here is true multi-purpose tool. The tool clips barbed wire. The “beak” is used to dig out fence staples. It has a hammer on one side to pound in fence staples to secure the fencing. And the plier action can be used for any number of actions. (Seen on the right with the orange handles.)
2. Garden mattock: This is one of my favorite weeding tools. The handle is 16 inches long which gives the user significant swing with one arm. When you have pigweed threatening to overtake the watermelons a swift chop with this beauty sends the thorny weed into the afterlife. A mattock anvil on one end and a fork on the other both useful for grubbing out or chopping off. I bought it at a hardware store on their clearance table for $1.99. (Second from the right)
3. Japanese digging knife: A six inch shovel blade with a serrated edge on one side this knife is designed to dig in soil. We use it to transplant, weed or cut roots. We routinely have fights over who gets to use it. A carbon steel blade it holds a terrific edge but needs oiling after each use to prevent rusting. (third from the right)
4. Grafting knife: A German Solingen knife that I carry everywhere but on planes. If I could buy a dozen to hoard I would. There is simply no better all-around knife in the world. And it has a beautiful dolphin shape to the design. This knife is beveled on one side of the blade and easy to sharpen. The blade is curved like most grafting knives. It is used for any farm activity that requires a knife. I’ve cut hay bales, harvested asparagus, gutted rabbits and whittled a fork. I love my Solingen! (base of the Japanese digging knife)
5. A magnet on a handle: We are constantly dropping nails, fence clips, bits of wire in the grass while working on projects. Just yesterday I stuck a rusty fence staple in my shirt pocket. After mowing I pulled my shirt off while walking back up the drive and heard the staple hit the drive. Unable to spot it I retrieved our handy magnet. Shaped like a golf club with a magnetic disc on the end it is indispensable in preventing punctured tires and feet. A few swings back and forth and I heard a “click” as the staple hit the magnet. Problem solved.