Your best buys of 2006


Who knew?
Who knew that a bigger air compressor could change a life? Or that a simple pair of pruners designed for lefties made such a difference?
You knew. Well, you found out last year when you made a single purchase that “made your day.” Actually it “made your year.”
We asked readers: What did you buy with your hard-earned bucks in 2006 that rates as the year’s “best buy”? And the answers were a smorgasbord of tools and equipment and even a truck! Life is good.
– Susan Crowell

Monroe Harbage
Plain City, Ohio
Best buy: Generic air compressor from Tractor Supply Company
The greater work power of the 175 pounds of pressure allowed Harbage to add air tools and increase what he can do. Harbage, who bought the air compressor on sale for roughly $250, says “it’s saved so much more than that” already. “I use it four or five times a week.”

Rebecca Mihalik-Franks
East Rochester, Ohio
Best buy: Sure Latch gate latch
Tired of having to unwind and unlock chains to open and close the gates on her farm, Rebecca Mihalik-Franks spied a one-handed latch (approx. $15) while visiting Straight A’s Supply, just south of Minerva. Aha! Perfect! She called up H.P. Fence, which had installed her fencing, and sure enough they had some and came out and installed them pronto (latch plus installation approx. $30). After the installers left, she checked out the new latches. “Just one finger and a thumb, one the same hand, no less!” And the bonus: “I could stand at the far end and slam the gate shut.”
The latches even passed the real test: feeding time, with Tommy, the “Gate Buster” in the lead. When the gate swung open and he headed toward the opening at a fast pace, Rebecca shoved the gate closed. “Clank! Wow, I didn’t know he could stop so quick.”
“Those Sure Latch gate latches just made my year!”

Jason Lawton
Leetonia, Ohio
Best buys: Stihl MS290 chain saw and a Felco #9 pruner
The Stihl with an 18-inch bar was a best buy ($416 with case, starter kit and oil) for Jason Lawton because it has a lot of power, is lighter weight and easier to use than the older Stihls and has a larger fuel tank. He loves it for cutting firewood.
And the Felco #9 left-handed bypass pruners ($47 at rank right up there, too, because they’re ergonomically designed for lefties, they fit his larger hands, and the blade is easily removed and replaced for sharpening.

Jan Douglass
New Waterford, Ohio
Best buy: Hay hook.
OK, so it wasn’t a new purchase, but a discovery of a hidden tool that made life easier for Jan Douglass, who was tired of lifting and toting square hay bales to the hay chute and throwing them down to the animals. A search uncovered an old hay hook (beautiful oak handle and all, Douglass says). “Now I just jab in that ol’ hook and drag the bale wherever I need it,” she adds. “I don’t know who invented it, but it’s made my chores a whole lot easier.”

Larry Litman
Washington, Pa.
Best buy: ATV
Sons Michael and Matthew, who hold down both farm and off-farm jobs, both purchased 4-wheel drive ATVs and the family uses them all over the farm. “Many steps are saved for us,” the Litmans write. Ashes, the family’s Blue Healer, also thinks the ATVs are a best buy. She jumps on as soon as the key is turned!

Bob Wood
Via e-mail
Best buy: GPS guidance system
“A low-priced GPS guidance system has made spreading lime, fertilizer and spraying much easier for me, and doing a better job might pay for it,” says Bob Wood. “I also found that using it for tillage, I could have parallel patterns every time.”

Jim Faber family
Hundred, W.Va.
Best buy: Gas-powered leaf blower
You name it, the Fabers use their new leaf blower for it. “We use this blower for leaf removal, snow removal (dry powder), grass clipping removal, gutter cleaning, barn floor cleaning, dust removal from rafters in the barn and cellar, heat vent cleaning, drainage culvert cleaning, etc.”

Myron Wehr
New Waterford, Ohio
Best buy: John Deere 625 hydra-flex platform for combine
Wehr, who uses the platform on his combine to cut soybeans, writes, “It followed the ground contour better than my previous platform, doing a cleaner job of harvesting soybeans.”

Phil Greenisen
Salem, Ohio
Best buy: Used bucket truck
A local electrical contractor was downsizing and had an 1980s model bucket truck for sale (the kind of truck the utilities use to lift a person to work on wires, etc.). “It’s not pretty,” writes Phil Greenisen of their 2006 best buy, “but everything works and it seems to be safe.”
“With the bucket truck, we were able to paint the entire exterior of the vintage barn that we purchased, had dismantled and reconstructed on our place in 2003. Without the bucket truck, we would not have been able to get the job done by ourselves. We are pretty sure that the cost of having the barn painted by a contractor would have exceeded the cost of the bucket truck.”

Kathy Davis
Perrysville, Ohio
Best buy: Water-resistant cell phone holster
We’re sure there’s a story behind this, but Kathy Davis writes that her best buy was a water-resistant cell phone holster from Duluth Trading Co. (800-505-8888 or The holder cost 12 bucks, “which is considerably cheaper than my replacement cell phone,” she adds.


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