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Space is a premium commodity for many of us. Space on the shelf, space in basement or space in your pantry. When you are thinking about the things you will give up your valuable space for, you want to make sure they are worthy. You can’t afford to have any one-hit-wonders on the shelf.
Homesteaders need things that serve multiple purposes. You don’t want to have a different tool for every task on the homestead. You also need to consider cost. There’s no reason to dump a bunch of money into something that can only serve a single purpose.
There are some things every homesteader should have that can be used in a multitude of ways to make life a little easier. These aren’t necessarily things you need to run out and buy. You might already have them in your house and had no idea they could be used in other ways.
The following list includes the multipurpose items you need to have in your home for every day as well as after a major event.
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1. Aluminum foil
Aluminum foil, or tin foil, is cheap and is going to last forever on the shelf. It has many, many, many uses.
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- To cook with is the most obvious, but you can use it to cook meals in hot coals. Wrap up some potatoes, meat and veggies and put into a pile of hot coals.
- Cover windows to block the sun when you don’t have or don’t want to run the AC.
- Create a little wall next to your camp stove to keep the wind from blowing out the flame.
- A wad of aluminum foil is a great way to clean a grill. Heat up the grill and then rub the balled-up foil across the grate to remove grease and baked on food.
- Use the foil to line a box and create a solar oven. Cooking outside in the summer is one way to cut energy and not heat up the house.
- Foil can be used to scrub a pan that is dirty with caked on food—note, don’t use it on Teflon.
- Use foil to replace the springs in a battery compartment for a flashlight. You can also use foil to make a smaller battery work in place of a larger size, like using an AAA in place of an AA.
- Use some foil wrapped around an antenna to improve reception.
- Cut strips of foil and attach to your fruit trees and berry bushes to scare off the birds.
2. Baby wipes
You don’t have to spend the money to buy the fancy ones. You can pick up wet wipes at the dollar store or buy in bulk.
- Use them as intended—butts.
- If the power is out and you’re well pump doesn’t run, wipes are going to be a lifesaver. Use them to wash your hands or a quick sponge bath.
- After a long day working outside, stinky, sweaty feet can be an issue. If you don’t have the time or inclination to take a full shower, wipe your feet with a baby wipe to get rid of the funk.
- If you’re dealing with muddy footprints from your four-legged friends, it’s easy and safe to grab a wipe and wipe their feet before they can spread mud from one end of the house to the other.
- Keeping a pack of wipes in the fridge or your ice chest when you’re out working can be a quick and easy way to cool down. Wipe the back of your neck and your forehead to lower your body temperature and make you feel a lot better.
3. Baking soda
No homestead should be without baking soda. It is probably one of the most useful, multipurpose tools you can keep on hand. Baking soda isn’t going to expire. Keep it dry and it will be good forever. It might not be great for baking after a couple of years, but it’s good for other things.
- It’s a cleaner. It cleans everything from toilets to sinks to floors. It’s an amazing cleaner and it’s safe on anything.
- It can be used in the laundry.
- Use it instead of toothpaste.
- It’s an air freshener. Sprinkle it on carpets, furniture and bedding. Let it sit and vacuum.
- Use it as a bug deterrent by springling some along your windowsills and doorways to keep ants and other bugs from coming in.
- Keep your drains fresh and smelling good by dumping some baking soda down them every couple of weeks.
- A paste of baking soda and water is an excellent bee sting remedy. It can also be used on mosquito bites to stop the itching. The paste can also be used to cure diaper rash.
- Sipping on a mixture of warm water and a little baking soda can relieve heartburn and indigestion.
- A water and baking soda paste can be used to alleviate the pain of a sunburn.
- Add baking soda to a pot of boiling water and dip a whole harvested chicken in it for a few minutes to make it easier to pluck the feathers.
- Baking soda sprinkled around your vegetables can keep aphids and spider mites at bay in the garden. It will also repel slugs.
4. Five-gallon buckets
If you’re lucky, you can find these for free. Food-grade buckets are also important to have around. The two are not the same. Make sure you don’t use buckets that have been used for fertilizer or any other chemicals in them. Buckets are ridiculously multipurpose. The following are just a few of the many ways to use on the homestead.
- Use them for container gardening. Five-gallon are perfect for tomatoes.
- Use a bucket as a chicken waterer.
- Buckets can be fashioned into nesting boxes for your chickens. The plastic makes them easy to clean when needed.
- Use a bucket to keep your tools together and easily transportable.
- Buckets make excellent chairs for fishing. Use it to carry your tackle and the fish you catch when you’re done fishing.
- Buckets work great for mixing cement to plant fence posts when you only need a little.
- Use a bucket as a quick handwashing setup when you’re out working.
5. Coffee filters
These come in packs of a thousand or more and are very cheap. Even if you don’t use a coffee pot, you’ll want to have some of these on hand.
- Keeping a few coffee filters inside your cast iron pans will keep them from rusting. The filter absorbs moisture and will keep it from sitting on your pan.
- In a pinch, they can be used as toilet paper.
- Use it as a filter for grease you want to strain and save.
- Use it to strain fresh squeezed juices from the fruit you harvest.
- Coffee filters are excellent for sprouting seeds. Moisten the filter and wrap the seeds inside. Place in a warm window and they’ll sprout within days.
- Use coffee filters in the shop to keep those little nuts, bolts and screws separated and in one place when you’re working on a project.
- If you’re enjoying a meal outside, put a coffee filter over your food to keep the bugs out.
6. Duct tape
This one is pretty obvious. No self-respecting homestead is not going to have duct tape. The uses are endless. Keep plenty on hand. There are few things on a homestead that cannot be fixed with duct tape.
- Make quick repairs to a screen, vinyl or a tarp covering your wood pile.
- Repair broken tool handles or use it to cover a handle that gives you splinters.
- Many a car, tractor and trucks have been fixed with a little duct tape around a broken hose or to hold whatever together.
- Patch rain gear.
- Wrap duct tape around your pant legs during tick season to keep them from crawling up your leg.
Again, buy it in bulk and you’ll get some great deals. You’ll want to have a variety of strengths. Sometimes you only need a little.
- Trellises in the garden.
- Use it to keep a gate closed.
- Paracord can be used to replace a pull cord on your chainsaw, lawn mower and so on.
- Tie up an animal until you can get their enclosure fixed.
- Temporarily mend a fence.
- Tie down a tarp.
8. Mason jars
If you’re homesteading, you’re going to be growing your own food, hopefully with enough to preserve. You’ll need plenty of Mason jars for that but have some extra for other needs. You can always use a jar, whether it has a lid or not.
- Store your cooking oil and grease.
- Hold your loose nails, screws and what nots.
- Use them to hold candles when the power goes out.
- Use them to store the seeds you harvest from your heirloom crops.
- Use them to store water.
- They make great scoops for animal feed.
- Store old motor oil.
9. Plastic sheeting/Tarps
Tarps are going to be handy for a number of reasons. You don’t always need to have the thickest, but you’ll want some on hand to fix any number of issues that comes up on a homestead.
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- Use it to repair a broken window, leaky roof or drafty door in a cold winter storm.
- Use it to block the cold air in a barn or chicken coop.
- Use it as weed control in the garden. Just cut small enough holes for the roots of your veggies.
- A greenhouse.
- As a water divergent if flooding is an issue.
- Protect tools and equipment.
- If the power is out and you can only heat one room, use plastic to close off a hallway or room.
10. Zip ties
- To support vining plants.
- Keep a gate latched.
- Mend a hole in a wire fence, can also be usedin place of wire to attach fence to a post.
- Small engine repair.
- Keep cords together and off the floor.
- Hang a light in the chicken coop.
- Seal feed bags to keep the animals out.
- Hold on a garbage can lid.
- Attach to the end of your tools to quickly hang.
- Fix a leaky hose connection.
These are just some of the common items you will want to keep around the house in bulk. When you start looking at things with the idea of using them to serve many purposes, your creativity will spring to life.
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