PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
January 3, 2017

Happy new year, everyone! The first few days of 2017 are already in the rearview mirror and I’m busily making plans for the arrival of spring. This is the perfect time of year to do so because where I live, temperatures are well below freezing right now and the ground is covered with snow and ice … not exactly the perfect conditions for farm activities that require dry ground and nice weather.

Making plans for the coming year is even more enjoyable when you receive a new tool for Christmas—most of you are probably familiar! This year, I got a set of ratcheting tie-down straps, which are essentially long straps with hooks on each end, along with a ratchet in the middle that allows you to tighten the straps and hold things securely in place. As with any tool that involves tension, they need to be used carefully to ensure that nothing snaps or breaks loose to cause injury.

Ratcheting tie-down straps are helpful little tools to have on hand, and I’m already pondering the many ways that I will use them. (No shame.) For starters, they’re going to be a big help while transporting large loads of supplies or debris around the farm. Thanks to a large collection of Scotch pine trees that have reached the end of their lifespan, hardly a year goes by without one of these pines coming down in a storm, which leads to a lot of cleanup work. Unfortunately, their branches can be large and difficult to stack on a wagon, so having tie-down ratchet straps will make it easier to stack large loads and transport more branches at a time without worrying about a bump causing part of the load to fall off the wagon.

I can also see the ratcheting straps being useful for moving supplies, such as fence posts and the many tools needed to replace them. A load of posts, digging bars, shovels, post-hole diggers and the like can be an awkward load for a small wagon, but the ratcheting straps should help keep everything in place.

Basically, in any situation where a moving load needs to be tied in place, these will come in handy. I move a lot of hay bales during the course of a year, and often in large loads; the ratcheting straps will be simpler and easier to use than rope, which has been my previous method of choice. They might even come in handy during the winter, when I often move hay across snow and ice using a polyethylene sled, and a couple of ratcheting straps should help eliminate the occasions when a sharp turn causes the top bales to topple off the load.

Needless to say, I’m very happy to have these new tools for 2017 and I plan to put them to use immediately. If you own a set of ratcheting straps, let us know how you like to use them!

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