Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Human-Scale and Low-Tech Tools for Homesteading

Clip art from

I have these old National Geographics from the late 1960's that have advertisements for old lawn tractors. There is one where there is a sexy young lady sprawled over one like it's a sports car; there is another one where there is an a guy lounging on the tractor like it is a hammock, with beer (!!!) in hand, and there is yet another ad where the same woman and man from the other two mentioned ads are together, and the woman (young, sexy and scantily clad) is kissing the man (older, slightly over weight).

These ads would be great fodder for Adbusters no doubt. Lawn tractors that will draw in supermodels?? Lawns big enough to be mowed on a tractor?? Lawns at all?

Unfortunately a quick browse through an online hardware catalogue will show that they are still being marketed for people's lawns...even in the midst of a global financial, food, and fuel crisis.

In all of this stupidity, there are plenty of folks with their heads screwed on right. There are great online catalogues featuring low-tech and human-scale tools for us to use, while we are trying to be more self-sufficient and better to our planet.

Obviously these tools will not be good for everyone in every homesteading situation (i.e. when dealing with a large area of crops), but I certainly think that it makes more sense to use a tractor for farming as opposed to cutting a lawn. I am also a huge fan of the idea of using horses for bigger jobs (another post!).

Here are some excellent resources to check out for more information:

'Human-Scale Tools for a Sustainable World', episode 67 by Peak Moment.

An article by Mother Earth News on the best low-tech tools for the garden/small farm.

Whenever possible, it is great if you can get handcrafted tools made in your area, or even made by yourself. However, that is not always possible for many of us, so here are a few great catalogues to check out:

Smith & Speed (featured in the Peak Moment video)

Homesteader Supply


Lee Valley


Richters (limited in the tool department, but check out pot maker! also excellent plant and seed selection)




perma_culture said...

Wow! I could spend hours looking at all of those web sites. I really enjoy watching peakmoment as well. =^)

FreeDragon said...

Even better would be no lawn at all. The North American lawn was actually brought over with the English and out climate really isn't suited for it. Despite being made of grass, lawns aren't earth friendly. Fuel is needed to power the mower, water is poured on it to keep it alive, and chemicals are sprayed on lawns to keep the green color and to kill the weeds. When it rains those toxins enter the ground water thus slowly poisoning us. If you are paying someone to maintain the lawn then add costly to the list of offenses. A better use of the yard would be growing food, growing native plants, or even leaving the ground bare so your kids and pets have a place to play.

Anonymous said...

i never understood why people had lawns. everyone should try to grow some of their own food. those are some nice tools and speed and smith!

nefaeria said...

Hello folks!

Perma_Culture: Lol, I already did! Be careful ;)

FreeDragon and Anon: I agree with you both 100 percent. I think with the way things are, we will start to see lawns becoming smaller, and food gardens popping up all over the place.

Even if and when things get 'back to normal' (I have some doubts about that, but perhaps another post), I think that once people see how rewarding it is to grow your own food (even if it is just a little!), they will continue to do so.

We all could use a little 'green therapy'!!! :D