If you’re setting up a lifestyle block, you’ll need to buy stuff, at least in the beginning. Be prepared to spend money. Even if you don’t want to. Even if you don’t have any. Unless you’ve got unlimited time and resources, it’s unavoidable. The best approach is to be clever about what you buy and canny about how much you spend.
I’ve made a list of the five most useful pieces of farming equipment we own. Obviously, this is subjective and based on what best suits our particular circumstances but these five items are generically useful in most farming situations. That’s because they’re designed to help move things around.
If you’re new to farming, you’ll soon learn that having to transport bulky stuff all over the place marks a major difference between urban and rural living.
I’m not saying you have to buy – or even own – the bigger items. But it helps to have access to them, whether that’s through borrowing, hiring for a weekend or pitching in with your neighbours to buy communally-owned equipment.
1. A vehicle with grunt
I’m talking about a decent 4WD, ute or tractor here. If your 400kg steer drops dead in the middle of a paddock and you need to move it somewhere else, a car or quad bike won’t cut it.
2. Steel-capped gumboots
At our place, everything that we use has to do more than one job. We spend all our time in gumboots when we’re outside, so while they’re keeping our toes dry they may as well also protect them from wayward axes, dropped chainsaws and collapsing wood piles.
3. A good trailer
If possible, get hold of one with caged sides and two gates: a standard gate for the usual firewood, etc. and a stock gate. This will enable you to transport sheep, goats, calves and piglets yourself.
4. A chainsaw
It’s the sound of Saturday morning in the country: four chainsaws going hell-for-leather on four different properties. Choose a size to suit your needs, buy the best model you can afford and look after it well.
5. Upright hand trolley
Believe it or not, this is the most useful and often-used piece of equipment we own. It’s light, inexpensive, easy to use and tough. It moves hay bales, 25kg feed sacks, bags of potting mix and anything else that needs to get from Point A to Point B. We once tied an escaped wether to ours and wheeled it across a lumpy paddock back to the yards.
You get what you pay for
Over the last three years, we’ve bought or acquired other pieces of farming kit that we now wouldn’t be without: a sprayer, a set of discs and a wood chipper. But regardless of equipment size or function, we’ve learned that the same rule always applies: don’t buy cheap stuff that breaks down after its fourth use. It’s false economy. Get the best you can afford and look after it. It’ll serve you well on your block for a long time.