MOTHER’s product picks for August/September 2017.
Compiled by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
Kershaw Link Knife
$69.99 at Kershaw
Hank Will, editorial director for MOTHER EARTH NEWS, has always had a place for Kershaw’s folding knives in his kit. Among the several models Hank uses, he finds the Link, with its SpeedSafe assisted opening, perfect for cutting the twine off large round hay bales while he’s feeding his sheep. “The knife holds an edge, opens and closes with ease, and clips securely in my pocket,” Hank says. “The BlackWash blade finish looks great and the works feel wonderful in my hand.” Because this knife has an aluminum handle, it’s the only folder Hank uses to process chickens.
Hank also says a Kershaw is comfortable and reliable as an everyday carry and as a general ranch knife. The knives are made in Tualatin, Oregon, and are backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Kershaw was founded in 1974 with a mission to design and manufacture high-quality tools.
$199 at Squeezo Strainer
Squeezos are invaluable tools for canning. These large, hand-crank strainers take the place of food mills for separating pulp and juice from seeds and skins, and they can increase your food preservation output while decreasing your labor. You can use your Squeezo for tomato preservation projects, applesauce, grape jam, and more. The process is fast: Load the hopper no more than half full with fruits or vegetables, and turn the handle slowly while applying gentle pressure to the food with the included wooden plunger.
The all-metal Squeezo is made in the United States and comes in silver and black. The 9-inch hopper holds up to 2-1/2 quarts of food, and the tool comes equipped with a recipe book and the standard tomato screen with 1/16-inch holes for milling tomatoes and other soft vegetables. Two other screens are also available for purchase — the berry screen has 3/64-inch holes, and the pumpkin has 1/8-inch holes. The company promises that Squeezo parts will always be available, even for strainers purchased in the 1980s.
Ball Sharing Jars
$8.99 for 4 jars at Fresh Preserving
Gardeners and home food preservers are generous people, often giving away almost as much food as they grow or put up. If you’re inclined to charitable acts but don’t have produce to spare, here’s another way you can help — buying Ball Sharing Jars.
For every package of Sharing Jars sold, Newell Brands has promised to donate 36 cents to Feeding America. That’s the equivalent of four meals for this hunger-relief organization, which operates a network of 200 food banks across the United States. Feeding America served 4 billion meals to the nation’s hungry in 2016 and operates a food-rescue program that recovers fresh produce and lean protein before it reaches landfills.
Sharing Jars come four to a package, complete with lids and bands for canning. These regular mouth, 16-ounce jars are free of bisphenol A (BPA) and are made in the U.S.
Gorilla Multi-Use Dump Cart
$146 at home improvement stores
Wheelbarrows are great, but a steel utility cart from Gorilla Carts can help save your back. MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Dorothy Swezey Hurst swears by hers, praising it in our article “Aging Gracefully on the Homestead” (February/March 2017). Hurst says, “I love my garden cart! I can load firewood, tools, building supplies, chickens, and more onto my cart.”
Features of the 1,200-pound-rated GORMP-12 model include inflatable tires for rolling smoothly over rough terrain, removable sides so the cart can be converted to a flatbed for hauling large items, a quick-release dumping system, and a steel mesh bottom for easy cleaning. The company offers a number of replacement parts at online at Gorilla Carts so you can keep on trucking that garden waste to your compost pile for many years. The steel frame is power-coated for longevity. Gorilla Carts also offers a variety of other models, including a heavy-duty 1,400-pound-rated cart ($198).
Coop-Ala Automatic Chicken Feeder
$195 at ChickenDoors.com
MOTHER EARTH NEWS employee Connie Roberts is an experienced flockster who’s had problems with poultry feed attracting mice, so she was eager to try the Coop-Ala automatic chicken feeder. Not only did the feeder keep rodents away from the food, but Roberts found it well-made and durable. “And my chickens weren’t able to scratch the feed out of the hopper, so there’s less waste,” she says.
The Coop-Ala operates this way: The lid to the bin opens when a chicken walks onto the step plate. Two pounds total are all that’s needed to activate it. Several birds can eat at the same time, and the bin holds up to 15 pounds of feed, which can fuel six hens for a week. “The Coop-Ala holds a lot of feed,” Connie says, “so it’ll work great if you’re planning to be out of town for a few days.” Designed and built by Texas engineers, the Coop-Ala is made of galvanized sheet metal with polyethylene ends. There are no exposed levers, so you won’t have to worry about the feeder pinching your birds’ feet.
Big Sprinkler Jumbo Sled
$138 Big Sprinkler
Got a big garden? Consider a Big Sprinkler. Editor Hannah Kincaid deployed the sprinkler in her family’s garden. “The Big Sprinkler reached the entire expanse of our 40-by-100-foot garden — and then some — and we only had to rotate it slightly every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure it soaked the plants closest to the sprinkler as well as those located at the perimeter of the garden,” she says. “We were most impressed by its range and durability.”
The Big Sprinkler has a cast aluminum body with steel components and brass fittings and weighs 11 pounds. The steel Jumbo Sled base is easy to slide around in the yard or garden and allows owners of extra-large properties to connect multiple sleds in a series. “The Big Sprinkler feels heavy-duty and high-quality — plus, it’s super easy to hook up,” Hannah says. The nozzle flow can be set from 3 to 16 gallons per minute, and there’s an adjustable breaker for changing the stream pattern. The sprinkler can be set to water in either a full or partial circle.
Photos (top to bottom) by Kershaw; Squeezo; Ball Canning/Newell Brands; Shane Keyser/Gorilla Carts; www.ChickenDoors.com; Hannah Kincaid.