Useful Homesteading Tools at Mother Earth News Fair, Puyallup, Washington, June 2013

“Take what you can and let the rest go by.”

                                                        -Ken Kesey

This fair is a good-vibes event with many useful tools for homesteaders. This isn’t a comprehensive report; there lots of things I just don’t have time to cover, but here are some items that caught my eye in two days wandering around at the fair. Note: there will be two more Mother Earth News Fairs this year: Sept. 20-22 in Seven Springs, PA, and October 12-13 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Yurts made in Mongolia Unlike any of the US-manufactured yurts I’ve seen, this one has a hand-crafted look when you step inside. “The hand painted rafters and natural wood latticed walls covered with a clean white wool felt create a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. The thick felt dampens outside noise, holds heat in the coldest of winters and keeps heat out in the hottest of summers.…”

Bamboo Clothing Beautiful fabric, soft as silk, some 100% bamboo, other items bamboo/organic cotton combo. I bought 2 T-shirts, pair of shorts. Wayi Bamboo Apparel, click here.

JapaneseTripod Ladders Never seen ladders this sturdy or sensible, and I have lots of ladders around my place (like maybe10). I don’t know about the logistics of getting one of these shipped, but they’re a notch above (sic) any ladders I’ve seen.

Olive Oil From Greece Unique organic olive oil and olives from a family estate in Sparta, Greece.

Chicken Butchering Tools The stainless cones make for a neater way of offing chickens than chopping heads off and having them thrash around like, well, like chickens with their heads cut off. The other tools, like the rotating tubs with rubber fingers and the scalders are for larger-than-homestead size chicken operations and are a whiz bang way of plucking feathers.
Rototillers In the ’70s, I had a Troybuilt rototiller. It was a much-beloved serious gardener’s tool that came with a brilliant manual that told you how to do just about anything with it and how to fix just about anything that went wrong. Like a Model A Ford. These days it looks to me like the BCS tillers (formerly Mainline) are the next generation. All gear drive, automotive style clutch, a lot of possible attachments.

Scythes These guys from British Columbia offer a collection of beautiful scythe blades. Some of them are shorter than scythe blades I’ve seen. European scythe blades, ergonomic snaths and sharpening accessories.

Composting Drum Sun Mar makes two sizes of these drums and they look sturdy and animal-proof. Being able to turn the compost is a big advantage over stationary piles. These would work well in cities as well as country.

Water Pump This is a different principle than the ram pumps I’ve seen. They say it will put 200 to 1500 gallons a day in your tank with no fuel or electricity and “pumps from 100 to 1,000 feet high depending
on your water source.” Click here.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

5 Responses to Useful Homesteading Tools at Mother Earth News Fair, Puyallup, Washington, June 2013

  1. I've just discovered scythes, I've had one lying about at work (I run a large vegetable garden and and a small orchard with a team of learning disabled adults), but we had a strimmer, so I've always used that, but it died recently and we can't afford a new one so I started to use the scythe, it's better, quieter, an doesn't use any petrol. It's a great thing all round, can't imagine why I've not used it before!

  2. Just as some people are rediscovering scythes as being quieter, friendlier, faster, more efficient and cheaper to run, rototillers are now also old school.

    The faster, smarter, cheaper (less work and less cost), less damaging way is to use no-till gardening methods. Look it up. Check out the wisdom of our elders such as Ruth Stout and of course Bill Mollison and all that followed him with permaculture ( Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, Mark Shepard, just to name a few).

  3. One wonders how much H2O the felt on the exterior of that yurt would soak up across a winter here in the Pacific NW. I suppose one could 'seed' it with mushroom spores and enjoy a grand harvest or several before the whole thing rotted into mush.

  4. Here's what SunTime Yurts says regarding rain:
    "The yurts are covered in 24 oz canvas. Technically water resistant like all canvas tents. If they were treated to be waterproof, it wouldn't allow for moisture to pass through the wool fibers and canvas. Creating a very muggy yurt with mold and mildew. For extra rainy areas like west of the cascades, we recommend customers put a layer of tyvek house wrap between the felt and canvas. This is breathable and creates one more moisture barrier. After heavy heavy rains there may be a couple damp spots on the felt near the tops of the walls. But nothing a little wood stove can't dry up quickly."

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