When you buy homestead equipment, be it tools, machinery or kitchen gear, there are a few things you can do to get better value from your purchase.
Homesteaders tend to be a bit harder on their equipment than regular folk: they use it more, they use it harder, and they expect it to work for a longer time.
As a result of this, there are a few rules of thumb that you can follow that will help you maximize your return on investment, ensuring your hard earned dollars go towards things that are going to serve you in the long run.
What follows are some essential items to keep in mind when buying for the homestead.
Do your research
Before buying anything for the homestead, do a little produce research to ensure you are picking goods that are well reviewed and proven good. Nothing is worse than buying something only to have it quit on you days later. Avoid this by being diligent during the research phase. On-line reviews, manufacturer reviews, friends, neighbors: all of these can provide valuable insight. Use your resources and make sure you’re picking the right product, model and manufacturer!
I get so mad when we buy something, and it sucks! We don’t hesitate to return items that don’t live up to their promises. It is essential that you hold poor craftmanship accountable. I am all about getting the best bang for our buck. Even so, we sometimes get a lemon.
We’ve started taking the time to write product reviews for items that deserve our praise so that others can benefit from our experience. These are items we’ve tested hard and LOVE like the Hori-hori knife, the Amish Canner and the Stainless steel steam canner. We also share the items we use in the kitchen here and here. One thing we don’t do is recommend items we haven’t put to good use for a long time!
I LOVE my hori-hori knife. It is the BEST hand tool EVER!
Buy the commercial model
Homesteaders are hard on their equipment, as much of it is continuously used. On our homestead, for example, we destroy your average rake or shovel in short order, just because they are built to very low standards. The metal bends with hard use. The thin wooden handles crack. They are garbage, meant for backyard use. Standard kitchen tools often lack durability. The motors burn out, parts break, and we end up wasting more money in the long run because we end up having to replace it with a better model. We should have known better.
Today, when we buy gardening tools, we buy them from the Amish, or we purchase commercial models. The same can be said for everything else. Our UTV is a Kubota RTV 900, a diesel workhorse meant for the job site. Our power tools are generally professional grade, or close to it. We often buy used to decrease our costs, but we’ve stopped buying standard consumer grade products, pretty much across the board. They are just not tough enough and do not last.
Check the warranty
Generally speaking, warranties in 2018 are garbage. You’re lucky to get a year or two. There are exceptions, however, and if you do your research, you may be able to find products that have more extended warranties. This is especially important for things like appliances and vehicles.
Buy the bigger model
Although this rule does not always hold true, it has always served us well. Homesteaders tend to do things on a larger scale than many products are intended for. As such, we are often well served by buying a slightly larger size model of whatever it is we are looking at. There is a balance, of course, but when you are evaluating anything, always look one size larger than you think you’ll need.
For us, this approach has meant a larger chainsaw, which was the right decision. It has also meant investing in a huge Amish canner that holds up to 36 pints, which has been a huge time saver when we are processing food.
This isn’t a photo of our chainsaw. I borrowed this image from pixabay. We have the Echo CS590
Wait for sales
Homesteading typically means you need to stretch your dollar, and waiting until things come on sale is a great way to do that. In the same vein, price checking multiple vendors can pay dividends, as can ordering online. Before you plunk down your hard earned cash, make sure you are getting as much for it as possible. You worked hard for it, and there is no sense in needlessly pitching it towards someone else’s profit margin! Be careful with your money! As they say, take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.
Buy second hand
Don’t hesitate to buy items second hand, especially things like hand tools. If you are careful in what you buy, you can often find tools that are in almost new condition for less than half the prices of new. Also, if you buy second hand, you can avail yourself to tools and equipment that is no longer being manufactured. This often results in a superior product for you, as they don’t make things like they used to. A used cast iron pan, for example, can be a real treasure!
This is our good ol‘ reliable tractor. Here are our thoughts on Picking a Homestead Tractor
Gearing up a homestead is not a straightforward thing: you need a lot of tools and equipment, and if you buy it all improperly you are going to end up spending way too much money, not to mention having tools that are too small or not powerful enough for your purposes.
You’ll end up re-buying, or possibly going broke! Take your time, follow some of the advice above, and you’ll be sure to get suitable equipment that doesn’t break the bank. Be patient, be smart, and wait for buying opportunities. Your back, your wallet, and your homestead will thank you.