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Best Tools For Working In Your Outdoor Areas

Country Sunshine lives on a small farm in rural Texas, and enjoys sharing tips and stories about her experiences in the country.

Most important tools I use to work in my yard and garden.

Most important tools I use to work in my yard and garden.

Which Tools Do You Keep in Your Tool Box or Shed for Working Outdoors?

Most people in the city have a drawer with hand tools, or they might even have a toolbox of some kind. I have both - a couple of drawers in the kitchen, as well as a number of toolboxes. Some of the boxes are in the house, while others are in the carport or on a trailer. Unfortunately, most my tools are scattered about the property, and never where I can find them easily!

The tools I use most of the time have their special places. I cannot afford to lose them, as I use my tools on a daily basis. It takes a lot to keep a farm running, especially when there is only one person doing it! Following are the most useful tools I've found to keep my property up and running!

Wedge & Sledge Hammer for Splitting Firewood

Wedge & Sledge Hammer for Splitting Firewood

Tools for Splitting Firewood

My dad always says "Cutting your own firewood warms you 4 ways:

1) When you cut it

2) When you split it

3) When you stack it

4) When you burn it!

Since my house is heated by a wood-burning stove, I spend a great deal of time preparing for cold temperatures. Sometimes it is like a scavenger hunt - picking up wood off the side of the road. Other times, it is an organized expedition, where myself and others descend on a pile of pushed over trees. And on occasion, there are the friendly neighbors who deliver pre-cut wood for me.

Regardless of how I get the wood, it is never the correct size for my stove. First, I get out a chainsaw. Depending on the circumference of the wood, I'll either use the small electric trimmer or the regular size, gasoline powered one. My wood must be no longer than 18 inches long.

After getting it to the correct length, it's time to split it. My preference is the torpedo wedge, that has 4 sides. Place it in the middle of the top, strike the wedge with the sledge hammer a few times, and it splits in several pieces. Nothing to it!

Some people prefer a splitting maul to the wedge/sledge hammer combo. I've never quite mastered the maul. It might be because I don't have enough strength.

For more detailed instructions on splitting firewood, read my article: How to split fire wood.

Here's some of the firewood I've cut & split recently

Here's some of the firewood I've cut & split recently

Here's some of the firewood I've cut & split recently

T-Post Driver

T-Post Driver

Hammers & Drivers

It's amazing how many types of hammers you need any given day. My personal favorite is my 6 pound sledge hammer. I've gone through a couple of these in the past 5 years, which shows you how much I use them!

Of course, there are the regular household type hammers that most everyone owns. Many women are comfortable with the 8 ounce hammers. I prefer 16 or 20 ounce ones. I have 3 hammers - 2 with wood handles, and one with fiberglass. I like the wooden handles, as they can be replaced easily at the local hardware store. I keep my hammers in various places around the property. It seems there are always loose nails needing to be pulled, or a nail to be added.

I used to use the sledge hammer to pound t-posts into the ground. My dad bought me a t-post driver for my birthday, and it's amazing how much easier the posts go into the ground! Just slide it over the top, grab the handles, and pound a couple of times! Mine came in hot pink; I imagine most men would prefer a different color than mine!

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But at least I don't have to worry about someone stealing it!

Get T-Post Driver on Amazon:

Texas Fence Fixer

Texas Fence Fixer

Texas Fence Fixer

A fence fixer is not a tool that city folks need. However, it's a godsend out here in the country! These are not available in most farm or feed stores. You're most likely to find them at a ranch or farm exposition, or perhaps even eBay.

I use mine all the time to tighten barb wire fences. It's great, because you can do it on your own, and it really tightens the wire!

Here's how:

1) Simply insert the slack wire into the jaw joints, bring the handles together and secure them with the attached chain

2) Take a piece of wire, lay it across the top of face of the fence fixer, and wrap it around both sides of the fence wire.

3) Take a screwdriver or plier handles, insert them into the loop between the handles of the fence fixer, and wrap the loop around the spare piece of wire

4) Continue wrapping until the loop is tight, then undo the chain, and your fence is fixed!

Unfortunately, I can't take a picture of myself doing it, so there's a video below giving a demo.

Hoes & Shovels

A hoe is probably the most versatile tool of all! I actually have several of them scattered throughout the property. With a hoe, I can:

1) Chop down weeds in the garden and along the fence row

2) Clean out chicken coops

3) Break ice in water troughs

4) Cut off the head of snakes

Shovels have pretty obvious uses, and I have several of them as well. I use them for everything from digging up shallow, temporary ponds for the ducks, to planting bushes & trees, to cleaning out the BBQ smoker, to cleaning up dog poo.

Poly Tough Cart by Gardeners Supply

Poly Tough Cart by Gardeners Supply


Probably the most important - or rather handy - tool that I own is my wheelbarrow. It definitely beats toting around a 5-gallon bucket! I use my wheelbarrow daily. It's great for:

1) Toting rocks

2) Wheeling bags of sand or chicken feed from one place to another

3) Loading up with firewood and bringing straight into the house

Strangely enough, if your wheelbarrow has a flat tire, it's usually cheaper to buy a new wheelbarrow than have the old tire fixed. I had one repaired just last week, and it cost $19.00!

I've been looking around for a better-made wheelbarrow, as mine is getting pretty old & rusty. I found one at Gardener's Supply that looks like it will do the trick. It's called a Poly-Tough Cart, and is supposed to handle up to 300 pounds.

© 2011 Country Sunshine

What's Your Favorite Tool?

caffimages on June 07, 2012:

I've just installed a wood burner so your information is very useful, thank you. My favorite tool is a garden fork.

anonymous on May 26, 2012:

Hammers, wrenches and pliers are the ones I use most. And a chainsaw for cutting wood

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on April 27, 2012:

@ForestsOfTranqu: Complaining gets a person nowhere, while a good attitude can take you far. Or, at least that is my opinion! Thanks so much for the visit & comments. Much appreciated!

Fantastic Voyages from Texas on April 03, 2012:

I love my wheelbarrow! I use it almost every day. Good gloves are handy as well, and it's best to have several pairs. They seem to get lost a lot!

Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 05, 2012:

I live in the country too and we heat our home with a large Norwegian coal stove and a Belgian wood stove. We provide in our own fire wood, by growing poplar willows along the garden and meadows. We chop them every 3/4 years and then the large brances have the correct diameter for our wood stove. I don't have to split the fire wood and only have to cut them in lengths of 60cm. (23,5") and staple them. Interesting was the post driver, I've never seen anything like it overhere. Have to find out first what it would be called in Dutch before I can ask around. LOL

ForestsOfTranqu on January 31, 2012:

I loved nothing more than finding wood in the forests to put into the "wood burning stove". It was enjoyable, and well worth it.

What an awesome person you are to live so 'naturally' and not complain.

Nothing smells better than wood and staying warm with wood and enjoying the outdoors.

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 27, 2012:

@goo2eyes lm: I'm not too fond of the pig smell either, but luckily, none live close by. I have to deal with chickens houses, though. I'm not certain which is worse! Thanks so much for visiting & writing a comment. I appreciate yo!

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 27, 2012:

@sheezie77: Thanks for stopping by, Sheezie! I appreciate the visit!

goo2eyes lm on January 27, 2012:

i live in the countryside. i like the smell of freshly-cut grass but not the smell of the pig sty when the farmers clean the pigs' dens.

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 22, 2012:

@DANCING COWGIRL: Ha! I don' t have time to fix all the stuff around here, much less your fence! But if you did live nearby, I'd be happy to help out! Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting!

Dancing Cowgirl Design from Texas on January 22, 2012:

Pretty good country girl stuff. My first question you hire out? We need some fence fixed!. Enjoyed your lens.

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 21, 2012:

@River_Rose: I'm a big fan of hoes myself! I like them extra sharp, but am not good at sharpening them myself. I know it's a lot of work to chop & shape rows, but using a hoe can get you into places the tiller can't. Thanks so much for stopping by, and leaving a comment. I appreciate it!

River_Rose on January 15, 2012:

My favorite tool was a chopping hoe that my dad made for me. He ground down the size of it and sharpened it extra sharp for me for chopping in the garden and making rows with it. Dad taught me how to dress up the rows on the potatoes and beans, etc before we had a tiller.

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 15, 2012:

@anonymous: Tarps! You're right! I use a lot of them! I found a company that throws away remnants of billboards, car covers, etc... and use them as tarps. I keep a pile of the remnants handy, because something always needs a cover! Thanks for the reminder.. and thanks for visiting!

Country Sunshine (author) from Texas on January 04, 2012:

@favored: When I lived in the city, I thought I had it tough mowing the yard and working the flower bed. Most people don't realize how much there is to do in the country. It's on-going, and you don't have the luxury of days off. I don't have a tractor, but I can borrow the neighbor's whenever I need one.

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments!

Fay Favored from USA on January 04, 2012:

You sure are a busy lady. Lots to do in the country that city folk just don't get. :) But on the other hand, city life is tougher than I expected. I've lived in both, and each has its good points. I find I don't need nearly as many tools as I did when I lived in the country. I miss my tractor.

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