Happy New Year!
2024 is upon us, and another busy year awaits. Hobby farmers are doubtlessly shopping seed catalogs and planning projects for spring and summer, but overall January can be a (relatively) quiet time of year.
So why not spend some time catching up on cleaning and organizing your barn, garage and/or tool shed? It can be easy to let organization slip during the busiest times of year, when there’s so much to get done and so little time to do it all. That’s why I like to take January to organize my tools and get everything back in order. A clean and organized farm is a productive one.
Tools & Equipment
Let’s focus on tools and equipment. Will your livestock fences need an annual spring checkup for maintenance and repairs? Get a head start by organizing a tool box specifically for fence repair projects. Stuff it full of screws, nails, bolts, zip ties, electric wire insulators, pliers, wire cutters—anything you might need.
Maybe you don’t want to keep your electric drill and hammer permanently in your fence repair tool box, but if you have all the other supplies in one place, it’s easy to add a couple bulkier tools when you’re ready to work on fences.
Having an organized tool box saves you time when you’re ready to get started in the spring.
Here’s another organizing tip: keep your farm machinery instruction manuals in a single location. Don’t throw them away, and don’t let them scatter into various drawers or cupboards. Because guess what? When it’s time for spring machinery maintenance and you’re trying to figure out what type of spark plugs you need to buy, or what kind of oil your garden tractor uses, it’s faster to grab the manual than to search online for a very specific answer.
If all your manuals are organized together and easily accessible, you can’t beat that convenience.
Tidy & Accessible
Definitely focus on making things tidy and accessible as you organize your tools. Use shelves to get items off the ground and better utilize vertical space. Don’t bury important machines (like the portable gasoline generator you use during power outages) behind items you won’t be using any time soon (like boxes of garden cloches that won’t see action until spring).
Are you struggling to squeeze your garden tractor with a snow blower attachment into a corner of your garage between the rototiller and the string trimmer? Move the rototiller and string trimmer to a toolshed, or the attic, until spring comes and you’re ready to use them. At that time, you can remove the snow blower from your tractor and there will be more room for everything.
Reducing clutter and garbage is important too. If machinery maintenance has left you with nearly empty bottles of oil, coolant or hydraulic fluid, dispose of them properly. And January is a great time of year to address any damaged tools or machines you have. If you can repair any yourself, go for it—maybe your post hole diggers just need a replacement wooden handle. If machines need to be professionally repaired, arrange to have it done.
But if a piece of equipment is at the end of its life, don’t keep it around to clutter up your farm. Whether you’re throwing it away, recycling it, or turning it into scrap, send it on its way.
And don’t forget the small things. If you’re like me and have a lot of extra screws, nails, washers and bolts around for any project that happens to require them, consider organizing them into small transparent drawers so you can easily see what you have. The photo accompanying this article demonstrates what I mean.
Obviously your own organizing needs will vary widely depending on your specific circumstances. But hopefully these examples will spark your determination to organize your tools this January as the start of a productive 2024 farming year.