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The Perfect Tool

Garth Brown |

Spring has finally arrived on the farm, at least if a diminishing snowpack and above freezing daytime temperatures count. I have a proud tradition of planting too early, and my records indicate that in my most delusional year - 2012 - a few weeks in the 70s convinced me to direct seed kale in the garden sometime in the middle of march. I didn’t expect it to amount to much, of course, and it didn’t. In fact, the stuff I planted several weeks later ended up overtaking it. So in some ways the late thaw is probably good, in that by the time the garden actually thaws and dries enough to work it should be a reasonable time to start putting in early greens and carrots.

But sooner than that we’ll want to get our onions and early beets going in the greenhouse, so yesterday I looked around the tool room in the barn to make sure the soil block maker was there and to check what components of the soil block mix I had on hand. (Ed or I will do a more detailed explanation of making and using them for our veggie starts in the next week or two.) Seeing not just it but also all the other quality tools that I use in the garden, from shovels and rakes to the Dewit hoes that make weeding, if not effortless, at least efficient and satisfying.

But the single tool I rely on most is my pocket knife. In the winter its main job is to separate and open the bales of baleage, but it has hundreds of other uses throughout the year. When I first started farming I had a fixed blade Buck knife, but that was uncomfortable to wear, and once the belt loop on the sheath broke I set it aside. My brother Ian then gave me a Spyderco, which I quickly lost. So about two years ago I decided that, since I use a knife so much, I should find the one best suited to my needs. I looked at all manner of quality folding models, ranging in price from forty to a hundred dollars, but then I happened across the Svord Peasant Knife, and I haven’t looked back since.

These are the qualities that make it singularly suited to life on the farm.

1.) It’s cheap relative to its quality.

2.) It can be opened and closed even with completely numb hands or while wearing thick gloves, or even with completely numb hands encased in thick gloves

3.) The blade is sturdy enough to stand up to not ideal uses, like chipping ice or scraping dirt.

4.) It’s called a peasant knife, so you don’t feel bad when you use it for such dirty, dulling tasks.

5.) It easily takes a good edge.

My biggest criticism is that the polypropylene handle is ugly. While Svord does make them with wood handles as well, they cost significantly more, which leads me to my final point.

6.) It is easy to completely take apart, and thus I could easily make my own handle to replace the ugly one it came with.


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