Homesteading Toys, I Mean Tools

Living on an acreage usually means that you may have a few more tools, or toys as some may prefer to call them then the average homeowner. I recently bought a new toy that I have had my eye on at the local farm store for quite awhile!

It is amazing how excited one gets when they get a new toy to help them with tasks on the farm, here is a round up of a few of my favorites that I have been using quite a bit lately.

Garden Hopper

I found this fabulous contraption via Laura from my favorite Youtube channel, Garden Answer. I always envisioned a cutesy, old-fashioned basket to take fresh veggies from the garden to the house but when I saw this it just made so much sense! It is still eye appealing, has plenty of room AND you can rinse the veggies off right in the basket and let the water drain through! There are three different sizes, I chose the middle size because it was big enough to hold a good haul of produce but still small enough for Scarlett to carry, which she loves to do!

A Good Old Tractor

This one may be an obvious one but only in the past couple of years have I truly began to appreciate a good tractor with a loader bucket. Growing up we mainly used the four-wheeler and a cart to do various tasks but when Coby and I got married he introduced me to how awesome a tractor can be! I use it for everything! From yard work to dragging the garden to mowing the pasture. I love how versatile it can be. I’m definitely not an expert at maneuvering yet but my first thought when I see a large branch broken off in the tree still hanging there is, “I can hook a chain up to that and pull it down with the tractor!” Or, “I hate that giant planter that is anchored in the ground with cement footings, I’ll just rip it out with the tractor!”

Spring Cleaning the barn!

A Handy, Dandy Garden Cart

This is the item I had been eye balling at the local farm store for about a couple months. We have an old wheel barrow that has a flat tire and is pretty rusted. Not the end of the world but honestly, wheel barrow’s are definitely a needed commodity on the farm but they’re such a pain to maneuver. You get off balance while carting them around and SPLAT, the whole thing falls over and you lose everything you were trying to transport. I loved that this cart had a flat bottom and could stand on it’s own no problem. It’s still very spacious inside and honestly, I think it may have more cubic area then most wheel barrows. When I brought this home I was literally coming up with things in my head to use it for so I could test it out. We decided to give it a test run cleaning out the chicken coop. I had it about 2/3 full and was afraid it would be too heavy but it wasn’t bad. Taking it through the pasture on some uneven ground was slightly challenging with the flat bottom all the way around but it wasn’t bad. Also keep in mind, I wasn’t just trying to maneuver it over uneven terrain but also trying to maneuver it with the help of a baby!

Another cart that I got was the gorilla cart, it was a Christmas present from my mom. You know you’re becoming a garden nerd when you receive a cart for Christmas and are ecstatic! Scarlett and I were putting it together in the barn last night and I can’t imagine how useful this will be in the upcoming seasons. I have been using Scarlett’s radio flyer wagon to haul items around the yard before but I think this will be a little more suited to some of the dirty jobs I have to do!

Digging Fork

I feel is a staple in any barn, whether you really have critters or not and it was just left there from when there were animals inhabiting that barn. To be honest, this is how we came to acquire this tool. I had never really used it much before because we have an actual pitchfork that works better for mucking out barns but it’s skinny tines can sometimes render it useless.

I have been using this a lot lately to help clean up hay on the barn floor. We have small bales and of course the shaft separates from the flakes of hay and ends up on the floor. For what I am paying this dry year for hay I am sure not going to let it go to waste! I have been using this to easily rake it up and take it to the fence for the Boys to enjoy!

This is one of my new favorite tools!

Final Thoughts

These are the items I have been reaching for time and time again lately for help around the acreage, what are your go-to items that make your life a little easier on the farm?

Moving Our Shed

Envisioning a New Life for a Repurposed Shed

I mentioned awhile ago the list of to-do’s I wanted to complete before winter hit. One of them the pro’s told me wasn’t the best idea and we would have to go a different direction that would have to wait until spring and the other I just sadly haven’t got to yet. BUT, this past weekend I did get one of my big items on my list DONE!

The shed where it stood in the background and it’s new home up front!

We finally got my garden shed moved to it’s rightful place! This summer we poured a cemetn foundation in my garden (read about that process here https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/07/10/533/.) We finally were able to coordinate a time with my Dad to have him come out and instruct us on how to properly move the shed.

Getting Prepped

Our first step in moving the shed was cutting all of the bolts that were securing it to the current cement foundation. Coby used a Sawzall for this.

We had to switch to the corded Sawzall as the battery operated just didn’t seem to have enough umph to cut through the bolts.

The most involved part of this process was getting the shed prepped to move to ensure that it would structurally stay together while moving it. The shed is about 10′ x 10′ so we bought six 2×4’s in 10′ lengths and two 12′ 2×4’s to help brace the shed.

Setting Up the Braces
  1. We placed two on the side walls, about 2′ up from the floor. These were also used to give us something to jack the building with too.
  2. One across the center of the building, perpendicular to the ones on the side.
  3. Two along the side with the door, one along the bottom and another at an angle across the door. There was one along the bottom of the back wall as well.
  4. The two longer boards we attached at an angle high up on the back wall angling down to the floor of the wall with the door.

We then started using two jacks to raise up one side of the building. Coby and my Dad were using the jacks to raise the building just enough for me to slip a 6×6 block underneath of the building to hold it up. The building has some rotten spots that gave way during this phase. When this happened it made the whole building shift a little and I had to reposition the blocks to make sure the buidling was steady. Once this step was complete we positioned skids that my Dad had made, they were made of 4×6 lumber with holes drilled into them and chain loops drawn through so we had a place to attached a tow rope. With the skids positioned I took a 2×6 board and screwed it into each skid on the front and back to help act as another brace while moving. We got everything attached and hooked up to the tractor, the moment of truth was here!

Moment of Truth- Moving the Building

Coby eased the tractor forward and a loud wood splitting sound pierced the air, my inital thought was,

“Well, there goes the building!”

Luckily it turned out just to be one of the 2×6 brace posts snapped. When it snapped it pulled some of the skid with it so I had to reposition it, nice and tight against the building and re-attached it.

I thought this was going to be a super slow step but it sped right along! I apologize for the sound quality, it was a very windy day!

The moment of truth was here again! Coby eased the tractor forward again and I was amazed at how fast he could move that thing and it did great! He got it lined up with the new cement foundation, got the front tractor tires onto the foundation and couldn’t get quite enough umph in the tractor to get the rear tires over the foundation as there is about a 1′ rise from the ground to the top of the cement. He then decided to unhook the skid, drive the tractor by itself over the foundation and turn it around. We were then able to hook up the tow rope and chain onto the bucket and have the tractor in reverse to tow it. Once the building was right next to the foundation Coby lifted the bucket the chain was attached to very gently and we nestled the 6×6 blocks under the skids to help elevate the skids into place to get it onto the foundation since it is elevated so much higher then the ground because we live on a hill. We had to do this again with some 4×4 blocks on top of the 6×6 blocks as well to ensure the skids would be able to clear the foundation. After we were set up Coby put the tractor into reverse and pulled it onto the foundation!

Securing the Building to the Foundation

At this point we realized the Tapcon concrete screws we had were definitely too small. I got the largest size available at the local hardware store but my Dad was not comfortable with using those to anchor the shed to the foundation. Since it was rather windy this day we decided to leave the shed as was, anchored on the skids and wait until we could get larger Tapcon’s.

My Dad got 5″ Tapcons during the week, there is a 2″ footing with 2×4’s around the bottom of the building so this gave us 3″ that would go into the cement foundation to secure the building.

The next weekend Dad and I set out to get the building anchored to the foundation. We started by using the loader on the tractor to gently push the building more square on the foundation. It was a little askew when Coby pulled it on the foundation so we let the tractor do most of the work for us to get it centered. We then took out the skids and slowly lowered the shed onto the foundation.

We had to add plates on the South wall of the shed as they had rotted away. We had a 2×6 laying around and cut them it length. We had to do some fabricating to make it fit the building correctly as the adjoining wall jut out slightly. The rest of the building had two plates so we added two to this wall as well.

As we were trying to get the footings around the building secured with Tapcon screws we realized the East and West sides of the building toward the door slanted up. We started to dismantle the braces we installed on the inside of the building to move it hoping that would shift enough to gently let the building rest flush to the floor. We worked at trying to get this thing flush for a long time but it wasn’t cooperating. Dad thought that possibly the old foundation angled one direction and then our new one maybe angled the opposite direction so the building was not sitting right. I was rather appalled he would suggest such a thing as setting up the framework for that foundation I swear was almost the death of me. I thought we had leveled the framework to within an inch of my life but who knows!

You can really see the gap underneath where the shed won’t rest on the foundation. Dad wonders if maybe they only used one plate on the right side where they used two on every other side of the building. We will test this theory and I will let you know!

We used a steel tamping/digging bar to get the building to sit exactly where I wanted it, scooting it an inch this way and that until it was perfect. We used the level to ensure that the door was square and would securely close. We then used a 3/16″ Masonry bit to pre-drill holes for the Tapcon screws. This took some time and patience because of course, drilling out cement isn’t a fast job! I then used my impact driver to secure the screws. I sadly have a hard time getting enough pressure on a drill to fasten things without stripping them but for some reason the impact driver works so much better for me. It’s an embarrassing flaw for the daughter of a man who’s done construction all his life but it’s the truth!

Final Thoughts – It’s Done!

We have the building fastened down and it looks amazing in it’s new home! It really anchors my garden and is the perfect axis to center everything from. Not to mention it will be handy to have all the gardening tools right there when I need them! Now I just have to wait until spring to really get everything in full swing!!