Tips on Small Farm Equipment

by Robert Bradford


I fell and buck firewood with a chainsaw. We have three two-man saws and seven one-man saws. I will continue to use the chainsaw as long as petrol is available and affordable. I still have not quite mastered chain sharpening but am getting better.

Splitting firewood:

We do not have a gas powered hydrolic splitter. I use a six pound maul (so it doesn't tear up my shoulder muscles) and wedges. This system is sustainable.


We use T-posts because they can be reused almost forever. One if the best investments we have made is a post puller (does not bend posts) from Lehman's in Ohio. I later saw a better puller at Tractor Supply and we could have saved shipping costs, better because it has a grab hook to pull wooden posts also. Our homemade post driver should last forever.


One trick we learned the hard way is to spray paint outdoor tools dayglow orange to make them harder to lose.

Pole saw:

When I bought it, I was not smart enough to buy several replacement blades. Now I can't find any to fit and the brand name has worn off.

Garden Tools:

We don't have every new gadget that comes out at the garden center but we have invested in good, substantial basic tools. Over the years we have purchased several lopping shears. If we had been wiser we would have bought the biggest and best first. Value (including longevity, spare parts availability and repairability) over price is more important than initial cost.

Lawn mower:

Yes we have a real human powered reel lawn mower with a grass catcher. Like the chainsaw above we will continue to the gas powered mower to gather chicken feed and orchard and garden compostables as long as it is practical.


There is a six inch water main in the front yard. We are trying to wean ourselves from it. Today we gave a 35 ft raised garden bed 100 gallons of water from a rain barrel by gravity feed and soaker hose at zero cost. That made it rain to refill the rain barrels. We bought twelve 28 cent goldfish to put in the rain barrels to eat the mosquito wigglers and add nitrogen for the garden.

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Sep 02, 2011
Learning to use the Scythe
by: Anonymous

I will try to find the time to post a more indepth page on my experiences and some resource information regarding Scythes. For now lets just look at the basic types and what I know about them.

I chose an European pattern Scythe for the quality and craftsmanship. There are cheaper alternatives that are made from metal stampings, but they tend to be heavier than need be and cannot be sharpened to have as keen of a cutting edge. With the "American" pattern, to sharpen the blade you must grind the edge then hone it. Since this pattern is of stamped metal the edge hardness of the blade will differ with each grinding, and it will simply not become sharp enough to glide through the grass as it cuts. The "American" pattern is also several times heavier than the more elegant "European" pattern. The European pattern is lighter (mine weighs 6 pounds) even with the heavy bush or brush blade mounted.

To sharpen the European pattern the edge is hammered or peened then honed. Almost no material is removed, and the edge is work hardened at every peening. This could almost be considered cold forging the edge as the edge is re beveled when peened. After honing the blade is or should be nearly sharp enough to shave with.

There are several videos on the internet that show the Scythe in use. In a couple of the videos a young girl (age 12 or so) actually uses a Scythe in a competition against a string trimmer and wins

Sep 01, 2011
Fish and scythe
by: Robert

I agree about the scythe. I know I need one but am reluctant to pay the asking price without a chance to try it on first. The reel mower is useless on anything over 5" tall.
My experience with the goldfish is that they can tolerate being frozen solid. In the spring they wake up and act just fine. Goldfish are carp and carp are tough. I always start with several in each location to increase the odds of having at least one of each gender. Mine multiplied from 8 to several hundred in a 2' deep pond that freezes to the bottom every winter. Some will live, some will die, but some will thrive and multiply. My rain barrels are oval 100 Rubbermaid and they have enough draft to survive a hard freeze.

Sep 01, 2011
by: Keith (USA)

The gold fish in the rain barrels sounds like a great idea. Here in Ky (USA) the barrels tend to freeze over winter and would require removing the fish in the fall and keeping them inside and feeding them. The other option would be getting new fish every year, or having them in something that is deep enough in the ground to not freeze.

To go along with that reel mower have you considered using a Scythe for mowing areas that the reel mower is not practical for? I use a european type (light weight forged) for wood lot management and mowing some of the areas that are too steep for other mowers.

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