Tooling up on the lifestyle block

by Anonymous Author

The machinery and equipment you will need or want on a lifestyle block is directly related to the jobs you are likely to need it for.

Here is a basic list of some the jobs you are likely to carry out on your lifestyle block and the tools need to help. 

Fencing

Even a well set up property will require fencing maintenance from wear and tear or stock and vehicle damage.

You will probably find there are always new fencing projects coming up too as you develop your block.

Having the right tools for this job makes the difference between completing the job with or without tears.

Here is what you need:

• Hammer with claw head: Treat yourself to a nice well balanced one.

• Fencing pliers: What you can’t do with these is not worth talking about. They cut and tie wire knock in staples and then pull them out and much more.

• Spade: The best type for fencing is the trenching spade. It has a narrow blade so can fit down a post hole.

Get a good and heavy one.

• Posthole borer: Type depends on your soil. A mechanical one for a tractor is excellent in free soil but hard work in puggy clay and dangerous if there are likely to be tree roots around. A simple hand borer with an almost flat face is excellent in clay.

• Spinning jenny: This holds wire and unwinds it as you pull. It can be an elaborate collapsible job, such as those the stock firms sell, or you can make a simple one yourself.

• Rammer: This is probably the secret of a good solid fence. The best will be the heaviest with the smallest ramming head. The handle should be solid steel, then it can double as a crowbar.

• Saw: A small chainsaw is best. It is easy to carry around and can be used to either clear scrub out of the way or cut the tops off posts and shape stays.

• Wire tensioner: This is a kind of lever which has pieces that slot onto the sides of a wire tightener that stays permanently in the fence once the wire is tightened on it.

• Chisel: Between 38 and 5Omm wide.

Shelter trimming

Ideally you will have plenty of trees and hedges for shelter. If so, there will always be some maintenance to do. If you have specific shelter belt species and hedges you will need them trimmed regularly by a contractor, it is unlikely that you would invest in a trimmer yourself. However you will have to deal with trimming overhanging branches and fallen trees.

Here is what you need:

• Chain saw: A petrol driven machine of a size you can cope with. They come in various sized chains — choose one to suit the size of timber you are likely to be cutting and the weight that you can handle comfortably. 

• Large bow saw: You will be able to do a lot of small jobs with one of these.

Water system repairs

Fortunately modern water systems are very easy to maintain and repair as they are made out of alkathene which is easy to cut and join.

If you are in an area that does not get many frosts, there is no need to lag the pipe to protect it from freezing and bursting. Because of this, you will need very little in the way of tools for your water system.

Here are a couple of essentials:

• Sharp knife: You will need something for cutting pipe 

• Two adjustable crescent spanners 

Conditioning paddocks

On small blocks it is often necessary to harrow and or top (cut) paddocks to keep them in good condition free of dung piles and rank grass.

Weeds, such as thistles, ragwort and docks will need dealing with from spring to autumn.

• Harrows: These are used to spread manure over a paddock to return it to grazing condition evenly. There are various different designs but they are basically a linked, uneven metal device pulled behind a vehicle. They last forever so tend to be bought second hand, though agricultural engineers will make a set for you if you are unable to locate a set.

• Topper: If the grazing regime you have leaves you with rank, untidy paddocks at some times of the year, then cutting the longer grass will improve the paddock markedly.

If you have a tractor, you will probably be able to hire a topper.

On a small block it is probably uneconomic to purchase one unless you find a cheap one and are mechanically minded.

• Sprayers and de-weeders: Weeds will need spot or area spraying.

If the area is not too large, a backpack sprayer will do the job.

You can buy small boom sprayers for the back of 4-wheel farm bikes if you are a keen sprayer, or larger ones for tractors. For individual weeds such as ragwort, a ‘wand’ filled with herbicide is a cheap piece of equipment. It can often be as easy to completely remove the weed though with a small spade.

Feeding out

In winter and dry summers you will need some way of getting the hay to the animals. It is possible to bring the animals to the feed of course with small numbers, but even on a small block you will want to move the feeding area regularly to avoid pugging or spoiling one area.

• Flat bed trailer: Only a small one is usually required on a lifestyle block, towed behind a vehicle.

• Carry-all tray: This is a hydraulically lifted carrier for a tractor.

Animal health

For most animal health application, you will need to be able to use or have adequate animal handling facilities with a narrow race to hold animals still if not a head bale for complete immobility for the trickier jobs.

Some of the items you are likely to use are:

• Drenching gun: You will need one that will hold a minimum of 100mls for cattle. There are some nice, easy to clean guns on the market and handy for worming drenches to administering mineral supplements.

• Ear taggers: You will need to ear tag animals from now on with the TB identification tags. If you have pedigree stock, you will also need the breed identification tags.

• Elastrator: This is used for applying elastic bands for castrating lambs, calves and kids and docking lambs.

It is a simple hand held device that holds open a special elastic band during application.

• Feet trimmers: If you have sheep or goats you will have to trim excess hoof off as required. A pair of feet trimmers is essential for the job.

• Dehorning: For this operation you will either use an application of a caustic substance (bought from your agricultural merchants) when the animal is very young, or you will need a professional to remove the horns if the animal is too old for this. Neither will require purchasing equipment. Article supplied by lifestyleblock.co.nz.