Haulers for the Garden and Beyond

Whatever you need to carry from here to there, there's a cart, basket, or even ATV to help carry the load.

| April/May 1999

Keeping up with a self-sustainable country place involves a tremendous amount of fetching, hauling; lifting, pitching, shoveling, racking, and stacking. If you happen to be in the early stages of swapping a sedentary but rushed, high-stress city existence for an active but self-paced life on the land, you're likely content—even eager—to accomplish much of this work using muscle power at a deliberate pace. I'll never forget how I relished the honest sweat and sore muscles of hand-digging my first garden and hoeing my first-ever green pea vines in the clean country air. But soon enough you realize the day only has so many hours and the human back only so much endurance. And when the garden expands from a few rows of peas to an acre or more of varied produce, plus fields of staple grains and potatoes, the hauling-by-hand becomes work ...hard work.

These days, as I begin carving yet another new place out of a patch of north country woodland, much of my time and cash investment goes to lessening my physical load now and for the future.

The first step is to reduce or eliminate heavy hauling chores. If you can avoid it, why hand-carry heavy things, forcing yourself to haul your body weight up hills or over long distances in addition to the load

The second step is to reduce the number and weight of things needing to be hauled. And the third step is to reduce the distance across which things need to be moved.

Only then should we consider mechanical load-easers, evaluating them in order of cost and complexity—ranging from baskets, bags, and harrows to sleds, skids, wheeled carts, and wagons to draft animals, engine-powered light haulers, and wheeled automotive-type vehicles.

At the new place, I have several immediate tasks that are typical of new homesteads: short-hauling moderately bulky or heavy furnishings and equipment, including a wood-fired heating and cooking stove and water heater, an electric generator, and machine tools; moving rock, soil, and tree stumps to turn the thin soil on a lightly wooded hillside into a terraced kitchen garden; digging and trenching a water supply and disposal system; moving stones to buttress the cabin foundation against stream erosion; hardening the access road and clearing it of snow; and getting in firewood.

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