When you and your family decide to move to the country from the big city or a suburb, you want to be as prepared as possible. Living off-grid saves a lot of money and reduces your carbon footprint in the long term, but the initial investment you make on your land and supplies must be significant enough to reach self-sustainability.
What to Look For In a Homestead Location
When going for the full off-the-grid lifestyle, the first thing to consider will be location, location, location! If you're reading this article, then you've probably already checked out the property you intend to use for your off-the-grid life. But just in case, here's a reminder of the things to check and consider regarding your property:
- Real Estate: You need enough land for two crucial elements — arable land and grazing pasture.
- Access: You do not necessarily need to be completely cut off from the outside world, but you'll want a certain amount of privacy from potential poachers and thieves.
- Water: Whether it's above or below ground, you want to make sure you have a reliable water source available at all times.
- Soil: Rich soil is essential for the best crop production. Make sure yours is dark and crumbles in your hands.
- Timber: A depth of woodland has many uses. From a source of building material to a natural boundary for your land, you want to keep a source of natural timber around and growing continually.
Now with the location and natural resources sorted out, we can consider the things you'll need on a daily basis for your self-sustainable lifestyle.
You are going to need tools. This is a given, but there's a difference between a well-established farm and an up-and-coming homestead. Sometimes the simplest tools are the best, while other times an industrial tool can save time and money.
Tools for Your Off-Grid Homestead
Self-sustainability means just that. You cannot go off-grid and then call a repair company anytime things break down. You may not be a professional carpenter or electrician, but if you're going to live off the land, you better learn how to make repairs and manipulate the resources around you.
Without the right tools for the right jobs, your new homesteading life will be a great deal rougher than you may like.
Basic Hand Tools
No matter how large or widespread your operation grows, basic repairs, carpentry and woodworking will always be necessary. Whether your brand of choice is Milwaukee, Dewalt, Ridgid, or another brand, make sure to invest in the latest tools. This will pay off down the road in terms of safety, quality, and longevity of your tools.
If you're creating a pen or stable for animals or making repairs to your home and food storage sheds, your hand tools will become some of the most valuable items for you and your family’s well-being.
- Claw and sledgehammers: Two of the most essential tools used by agriculturalists, the importance of claw and sledgehammers in repairs, demolition and woodworking operations could not be more evident. Sledgehammers typically cost between $25 and $150, while claw hammers range from $10 to $50.
- Machetes: These tools are excellent for harvesting crops and chopping compost. Machetes are also perfect for managing vegetation, including snedding – a term for removing branches from the central trunk of trees.
- Shovels: You need sturdy shovels for digging, lifting and moving bulk materials and soil. They're ideal for quick jobs in the field and save you money on gasoline or electricity.
- Hoe: The hoe is one of the oldest and most versatile agricultural and horticultural hand tools used in the world. You can use it for shaping and clearing soil, removing weeds and harvesting root crops.
- Post Hole Diggers: A single person can operate a post hole digger, a tool perfect for single-use jobs or delicate locations in your garden. Unlike with a tractor drill, there's no need for gasoline.
- Wheelbarrows: A wheelbarrow can help you to transport your supplies, tools, building materials, and debris easier and with less strain on your body.
Basic Industrial Tools
For the harder work needs of your farm or ranch, you'll need more "horsepower" to handle the work. Thankfully an off-the-grid life does not mean using only medieval-style tools. Machines and heavy equipment are available options:
- Chainsaws: When it comes to winter wood collection, swift landscaping, and clearing fallen trees or timber after a storm, chainsaws are the perfect tools.
- Table Saw: You'll want a good table saw for woodworking, including those larger building projects and repairs that crop up from time to time.
- Tractors: Anyone who understands farming knows how vital tractors are. These machines have become synonymous with agriculture and work perfectly for pulling or pushing agricultural machinery or trailers. They also work well for plowing, tilling, disking, harrowing, and planting.
- Utility Trailer: Also known as a farm trailer, utility trailers are perfect for transporting large items and livestock around the farm. After all, you cannot fit everything into your wheelbarrow.
- ATV or UTV: Essentially taking the place of a horse, keeping an off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV can help with daily mobility around your property. Also, with the proper attachment, these vehicles can clear roadways and trails as well as handle small-scale tractor needs.
Protection & Firearms
It may not have occurred to you initially, but retreating from civilized society means facing danger in a new way.
Citizens of the countryside will quickly realize the necessity of owning and operating a firearm. For new gun owners, it's important to understand that it's a tool like any other. While I won't provide a specific list of firearms here, there’s plenty of information out there on the subject.
More important than the type of gun you choose will be the mindset in which you use it. Once you've decided on owning a gun, remember its purpose – to protect crops and livestock, protect your family and people, and to put food on your table.
Ultimately the tools you keep on hand will determine your homestead's overall productivity and longevity. Make sure you anticipate the needs of your property, crops, and livestock because self-sustainability connects all of these elements directly to the welfare of you and your family.