We recently asked our Insteading Community and YouTube viewers if they had any questions about homesteading that we might answer. You all replied with some great questions, and gave us a lot of ideas on material we can pull together to help you!
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So for our first installment in what we hope is a long, continuing series, we have a great question from Fish Creek Country Gal:
Question: “What are some of the best tools & equipment (hand grinders, mixers, etc.) that don’t require electricity.“
The hardest thing about answering this question is deciding which tools to recommend. I have a lot to say about off-grid living and what tools we depend on. I hope that these useful, well-loved devices can be as much an aid to your homestead as they are to ours. You may notice I don’t have any gardening tools in this list — that’s because so many of them are hand tools that we’ll be making a dedicated article for them in the near future.
I should also mention, by the way, that our off-grid homestead falls on the non-technologically advanced side of the spectrumas in Luddites might feel at ease here.因此，如果你遵循下面这些简单的建议，你可能不会给那些拥有高科技设备的朋友留下深刻印象，但你将能够完成一辈子的工作。
Our Favorite Off-Grid Tools
1. San Angelo Bar
At first glance, this tool may seem too simple.It is, after all, just a 6-foot long steel bar with one pointed end and one flat end.But what it lacks in style, it more than makes up in absolute utility. We’ve used this tool for everything, from levering out shockingly huge boulders to digging fence posts in our incredibly rocky Ozark soil, to blasting apart half-rotted stumps. It’ll give you a good workout, too!
There is little more satisfying or graceful than a scythe. I laugh at all the video games that show a grim reaper-esque scythe as a deadly weapon — clearly, they’ve never seen this ancient tool in action. In reality, a scythe is more a dance partner than meat cleaver, and in experienced hands, it’s able to cleanly slice through tall grass faster than any lawn mower. As a bonus, you get to hear the birds instead of a gas motor. When it comes to maintaining meadows and making your own hay on human power, you could ask for no better tool. Though it has a learning curve, I believe a scythe is a must for any off-grid homestead. We got our firstscythe blade and snathat Lehman’s — a great store for off-grid tools and general homesteading supplies.
3. 5-Gallon Bucket
I use no tool on our homestead more than a 5-gallon bucket. I’ve written a whole article listing some of the surprising ways you can take this humble vessel and put it to work.If you need to provide water to animals, tote fresh water from the well, make a composting toilet, wash laundry, store dry goods, make an instant nesting box, carry a haul of foraged food, and more, these buckets do the job. Whether you buy a set of new food-grade buckets to hold your dried beans or salvage some old buckets from a Craigslist ad, you can never, ever have too many 5-gallon buckets.
4. Splitting Maul
When transforming rounds into firewood, there is no tool better suited to the job than a splitting maul. Often mistakenly referred to as an axe, this is basically a heavy-headed wedge with a handle that throws its weight into wood and thrusts it apart.Husqvarna still employs craftsmen who create mauls with old-style quality— the kinds you could pass on to your children, if they follow in your homesteading footsteps.
An axe was an original pioneer’s all-purpose tool. With an axe, he could fell a tree, trim and shape those trees into logs, build a house, and then cut the firewood to warm it. Then shape wood into rustic tables, chairs, and beds to fill it.
在现代的家园，斧头仍然渴望悬挂在你的身边，随时准备行动。The incredible diversity and specializations of the various shapes and sizes of axes speak to the versatility of this tool.
It’s also handy when you needto open the occasional heirloom, tough-as-nails winter squash.
If your homestead has only light chainsaw needs, there are electric models that can do a decent job. But for the tough tasks, a gasoline-powered chainsaw is sometimes the best answer. Yes, they are technically on-grid since they need fuel you can’t produce on your own, but they are nonetheless an important tool for many who are establishing their homesteads. You could manage a woodlot the old-school way with a large crosscut saw and bowsaw, but honestly, quality hand saws are getting increasingly hard to find these days.
7. Manual Pump
I have used aSimple Pumpfor more than three years now, and with it,我个人为我的家园抽取了数千加仑的淡水以满足日常需要。This manual pump is so easy to install in an already-dug well that two people can do it on their own with the supplied user manual. If you want to ensure you have access to clean water, totally independent of the grid, a manual pump like this is an incredible tool for peace of mind.
我所知道的能像柴炉这样充分体现离网精神的物品寥寥无几。为了使用它，你需要提前一年计划，切割、分割和处理冬季的燃料。通过使用它，你对火和许多类型的木材都有了深刻的理解和欣赏。每天早上生火的冥想行为给了我们沉思的片刻。2022世界杯四强亚盘赔率它还提供了一个室内晾衣绳挂在上面的机会。慢炖的食物可以在它的表面烹饪。And best of all, there’s the cozy warmth and cheery glow that no artificial heat can possibly replicate.
You can find woodstoves in a huge range of sizes — there areimpossibly tiny modelsmeant for operation on a ship or in a tiny home, and there aregrand masonry stovesthat are woven into the backbone of the house they warm.You can even make your own from a 55-gallon drum.
9. Grain Mill
I grind our flouron myCountry Living Grain Millevery single day and am yet to have an issue. I love having the freedom to grind coarse or fine, and the ability to mix-and-match my flours as wanted. We found ours like new on eBay for a much lower price than the one listed on the Country Living website. You can hook it up to a bicycle if you prefer to grind your wheat that way, but I have enjoyed the arm strength-building and delicious “daily grind.”
There are many tools that are mixed up with other tools, and I feel that the delicate hayfork has fallen into disuse only due to its confusion with the much heavier pitchfork and garden fork. I found my hayfork at an antique mall, still as solid as the day it was forged. This light-as-a-feather tool is essential for moving straw and hay — a task I never did in the city, but do daily on the homestead. Whether I’m moving dry bedding, filling the mangers, tedding hay, or moving hay and straw from tractor bed to storage, I feel like this wonderful tool is an extension of my hand. Its lightweight means that you can handle it for hours without getting too tired.
11. Berkey Water Filter
As you can tell from number 7 above, all of our homestead’s “house” water comes from our manual pump. Before any of that water is used for drinking or cooking, we send it through our trustyBerkey的过滤系统。当我们住在城市里的时候，我们相信这个过滤系统可以清除城市水中大量的化学物质。现在我们住在农村，我们把它作为一种额外的安全措施，以确保我们的饮用水尽可能干净。
Berkey Filters are expensive, but after using this thing for more than seven years, I can vouch that it’s worth the price. And if worse comes to worse, it can take something as dirty as pond water and render it drinkable (though I wouldn’t want to have to scrub it afterward).
12. Washing Plunger
I’ve tried many off-grid washing systems, and they’ve all left me disappointed. I’m convinced that the majority of those plastic contraptions are made for sale to the armchair prepper market — something expensive to buy and store away for later, but not to stand up to daily use. The only laundry system I’ve ever found to stand up to actual homestead laundry is thewashing plunger— a simple tool that doesn’t eventually break like all the other contrivances do. When paired with a simple scrub-board and a 5-gallon bucket, or a galvanized steel washtub, you have all you need to get the laundry done better than a machine, and with less water wasted. On an off-grid homestead, water matters.
If you’re interested, I’ve written an entire article on my simple, off-grid laundry process.I don’t know how many of you are out there are also trying to declare your own laundry independence, but if you’re one of them, I hope you now know someone else stands in solidarity with you.
13. Cast Iron Cookware
铸铁似乎是宅居生活的代名词，这是有原因的。Once you know how toseason and care for a cast iron pan — not a difficult relationship, as you can read at our earlier article here— you’ll understand why these pans have been around for more than a hundred years with little improvement. I use cast iron pans, woks, baking sheets, skillets, and even a really neat cast iron cloche fromLodge(这是我做酸面包的秘诀)相比之下，有毒的不粘锅价格昂贵，容易损坏，而且无法在真正的柴火或柴炉上烹饪。
我知道有一些不使用电网的宅基地使用燃气衣服烘干机，这个事实让我非常困惑。在两根杆子之间系上一根简单的绳子就能很快地晾干你的衣服，而且显然在这个过程中不会消耗任何燃料。当然，天气有时会打乱你的洗衣服计划，但如果你有一个柴炉，你可以通过某种方式处理洗衣服。I’ve written a lot of my best tips and tricks over at my earlier article on using (and loving!) a clothesline here.
15. Wool Socks
Yes, I am that weird kid who got socks for a gift and LIKED IT. Even as an adult, I have never lost my excitement over socks. I suppose working outside all winter will do that to you — when you’re on your feet in calf-deep snow all day, the quality of your socks really matters. And for keeping things warm, even if wet, wool is king. Through several years of leading wilderness hikes in national parks and my new life of being a homesteader, I have worn holes in many brands of expensive wool socks. Smart Wool socks couldn’t hold up to even a year of heavy-duty wear. Wigwam socks didn’t do much better.
But Darn Tough? Those are socks I feel good recommending.Granted, these will set you back a pretty penny, but with their lifetime guarantee, they’re worth it. If you actually take them up on it, this Made-in-the-USA company will replace your worn socks with a new pair for the cost of shipping.
16. Wood Cookstove
My recommendation for this one is half-complete, as my wood cookstove has just been ordered and has yet to arrive (I’ve been waiting a long time for this one). But though my experience is currently lacking, I am full of confidence that this living, breathing heart of the kitchen will be worth its (significant) weight in gold. Our homestead will be equipped withLa Nordica’s Rosa XXL wood cookstove,and with it, we will finally achieve cooking independence.
17. 2-Wheeled Wheelbarrow
Often overlooked for its humble state, the wheelbarrow is nonetheless a hugely important tool to daily off-grid activity.I really enjoy using 2-wheeled wheelbarrows like this Gorilla Cart pictured here.The handles can either be pulled or pushed, and the two wheels offer the stability that anyone who lives on sloped or rocky land needs.
18. The Ubiquitous Mason Jar
My storeroom is brimming with Mason jars, and for good reason. They are just so dang useful. Of course you can with them, but that is (in my perspective) the most on-grid way to use these easy-to-clean vessels (your canning ability is, after all, dependent on single-use lids that you can’t make yourself).
I use half-gallon jars to hold fresh, raw milk. The small jelly jars and half-pints are excellent for organizing garden seeds. I ferment vegetables and culture yogurt in the wide mouth pint and quart jars. The long, thin jars often used for asparagus are absolutely perfect for holding sourdough starter. I store herbs and foraged teas in jars of all sizes. They’re great for infusing medicinal oils, as a sturdy drinking glass, or storing dried goods — I could go on, but you get the point. Get as many different sizes of these jars as you can, and you’ll find endless ways to use them.
19. Stainless Steel Bowls
任何厨房都应该配备一套好的碗，但我认为，对于离网厨房和家庭来说，一套坚固的不锈钢碗是最好的。尽可能多买一些尺码，越大越好。With an industrial-size stainless steel bowl, you have the perfect sourdough mixing tool.
不锈钢碗也可以起到双重作用，是离网沐浴的最简单方式。Though you may not believe it,give Ole Wick’s method a try (he details it perfectly in this 1970s Mother Earth News article).You can get satisfactorily clean with less than a gallon of water if you know what you’re doing.
20. Gamma Seal Lids
These screw-top lids transform a food grade 5-gallon bucket into a waterproof,moisture- and mouse-proof, mouse-proof, airtight food storage fortress.All of our bulk grains, dried beans, and other long storage foodstuffs are locked away safe beneath these useful lids. Admittedly, the lids can be a pain in the butt to install, but once you’ve got them on, they’re solid.
Please note, however, that these are designed for sheltered storage. While they don’t need a climate-controlled castle, of course, they at least need to be under a roof so that rain doesn’t test the gaskets beyond their natural limits. The Insteading team has seen these lids let rainfall in after being left out in the open, and the contents have expanded, popping the lid off.
21. Vegetable Cleavers
I use my trusty, lightweight cleaver to chop, mince, slice, and dice. It’s got the heft you need to hack at a large pumpkin, but it can also finely mince garlic and ginger like a champ, and its large blade is an excellent scoop to transfer veggies from cutting board to pan. If you work on your knife skills, you’ll find that one simple knife can do all the tasks of many gimmicky electric gadgets.
Final Thoughts On Off-Grid Tools
There is an abundance of manual tools that have been created for answering kitchen questions, but even they can end up being gimmicks from an earlier era. Honestly, the kitchen has always been an arena for merchants and marketers to make a boatload of sales with useless time-savers. My recommendations for the off-grid kitchen are to learn skills, and not collect too many tools. Many dishes can be prepared with the simplest of tools — a rolling pin, a cutting board, potato masher, a colander, cheesecloth, spatulas, whisks, and really, really, good knives. Get good with your hands and those simple tools, and then you’ll know what additional tools you need.
This is, of course, an incomplete list, but I hope that it’s a good enough to get you rolling. Thanks for a great question, Fish Creek Country Gal!
And if you want to have your homesteading questions answered next, keep a watch on our Insteading Community site orsubscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ll be asking to hear more from you all soon.