Introduction to the Library
The Tool Library is a unique resource available to KLAS members. All the tools in the Library were purchased with grants from the Columbia Basin Trust in 2009 and followed on the heels of extensive polling and round-table sessions with local farmers, gardeners, and food entrepreneurs. People were asked to identify tools that would make their farms better and more efficient, but which—because of cost or infrequency of need—they wouldn't buy themselves.
The centrepiece is our fleet of BCS walking tractors and implements such as the tiller, rotary plow, and flail mower that quickly prepare soil and incorporate cover crops on farms the use land intensively with diverse crops. We also have honey extractors, hoop benders, an essential oil still, BCS hay making equipment, root washers, and dehydrators to name a few. Read more below.
Tools are stored with our "tool guardians" and rentals are made directly from the tool depots, namely the tool guardians' farms. A KLAS membership is no longer required for rentals, but members receive a substantially reduced rate.
See the Rentals page for price lists and visit the Waivers and Inspections page for information on your responsibilities as a renter, and the system of pre- and post-rental inspections. You are responsible for your health and safety, and financially responsible for any damage incurred to the tools during the rental period.
Tractor and tractor implement rentals do require a Tractor Maintenance Fee. This replaces the previous Tool Library Membership Fee that used to be charged for all tool rentals.
To contact our tool guardians to rent a tool or ask about availability, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below we give a brief tour of the available tools. For much more information on BCS tractors and implements, we encourage you to head over to Earthtools BCS, where KLAS purchased the equipment. These folks are a treasure-trove of information, photographs, and videos on operation and maintenance.
The BCS Tractor and Friends
BCS WALKING TRACTORS (4)
The power, versatility, manoeuvrability, and reliability of the BCS walking tractor have made it a small plot standby in Europe for decades. It is also well-suited to the "nook-and-cranny" farming life in the Kootenays. It is a serious tool, and our tool guardians are on guard to ensure renters know how to operate it and what's important in the maintenance checklist before you take it home.
ROTARY PLOWS (3)
We highly recommend the use of the rotary plow attachment to dig shallow swales, build raised beds to 12" depth, and as the first plowing on an old field to be turned into a garden or over to crops. It works with an auger-like plow to slice the earth below and flip it over, resulting in minimum compaction and lots of aeration, with sod upside down.
The BCS tiller is no garden-variety rototiller. It has much more power and is much less prone to damage in rocky areas. A wedge-shaped "middlebuster" breaks out the strip under the gearbox. The tiller is particularly useful for regular shallow tillage to keep grass at bay and set the ground for seeds. It's also great to incorporate cover crops, but it's best to use a flail mower first or else long, fibrous plant material will wrap on the tine shaft. With 290 rpm tine speed and up to 8" working depth, care has to be taken not to over-pulverise the soil. We recommend the rotary plow for primary tillage, and the tiller for shallow weed control and bed-prep between crops.
DOUBLE RIDGER and HILLER
POWER HARROW (1)
The power harrow is a very different kind of tiller. The action of the tiller is to roll into the earth, horizontally, while the action of the power harrow is vertical, like stirring a pot. The advantage is much less damage to soil structure, and it doesn't produce a hardpan layer as tillers can if over-used. Stirring depth is easily adjusted, and a roller on the back leaves a perfect seed bed for sowing.
To sow large areas densely, such as lawns or cover crops, or to spread granular amendments evenly across large areas quickly, the seeder-spreader is an excellent and versatile tool. An expanded-mesh roller in the rear presses the seed or fertilizer into the soil while driving the agitator shaft in the hopper. The holes are fully adjustable for a wide variety of seed or material sizes—it even does well with buckwheat's irregular seeds. You can close the shutter to transport without dropping seed.
FLAIL MOWERS (2)
The flail mower is a heavy duty mower, a “chipper-shredder on wheels,” that quickly reduces standing plants to mulch. A horizontal drum has swinging blades that “flail” out by centrifugal force to pulverize the cover crop, brush, or whatever you’re bringing down. The taller and denser the material, the slower you have to go because the mower has to grind up all that material, but nothing beats a flail mower to quickly incorporate carbon into the soil surface. The rear baffle can be removed to eject material without grinding it up so much, allowing the mower to move faster and handle coarser plants, effectively working as a brush mower.
BRUSH MOWER (1)
If you've got thick brush (hardwood to 1.5", softwood to 2") then the brush mower will cut it down. It does not chop it up like the flail mower but chops and drops, so it can handle thicker brush more quickly.
The chipper-shredder is useful for small batches of shredding and small chipping jobs, handling branches up to 2.5" in diameter. The hammermill-style shredding chamber and the flywheel chipper dispense underneath the machine, directly onto the ground. By moving the tractor and chipper periodically, an area can be covered with mulch easily.
LAWN MOWER (1)
The lawn mower can cover a lot of territory fast at 38" wide and in fast gear. A bag on the lawn mower collects all clippings, so it can be easily used as mulch or to add to a compost pile. The mechanisms are well built, with 1/8" steel decks and high-lift blades that help deal with stumps and rocks. The mower can handle tall or wet grass, leaving a clean, finished cut behind.
BCS Haymaking Equipment
DISC MOWER (1)
HAY TEDDER (1)
The next step in making hay is to rake or "ted" the hay, turning it over and spreading it out as needed to dry it out. You want to handle drying hay gently, and that's what this octopus of an implement, the hay tedder is specifically designed for. Once the hay is dry, a quick trip down the rows with the tedder can pile the hay in rows that are just the right height and width for the hay baler.
HAY BALER (1)
The hay baler has two circular rakes to guide the windrow of dried hay into its rolling mechanisms that pull and roll hay into a round bale. When the baler is full—a signal lets you know—you stop the baler and pull a switch to engage the wrapper to tie the bale up in netting. The hood is cracked open and out rolls a 40 or 50 pound bale of hay. The hood is closed and the baling continues down the row.
SILAGE WRAPPER (1)
The final stage in the game comes if you want to make silage—or perhaps you'd like to get something better from wet hay you were forced to bale too soon! The silage wrapper is matched to the baler so the same round bales can be quickly wrapped in silage plastic to ferment for winter feed.
Other Large Fancy Tools
ESSENTIAL OIL STILL (1)
The prospects are so tantalizing for the essential oil still, from lavender to oregano, mint to orange, or rose to pine, the possibilities are endless with this highly sophisticated still that can extract oils or alcohols. The still's main tank fits about 4 gallons of material and is plugged in for electric heat. The still can fit in the back of a station wagon for transport.
ROOT WASHERS (2)
These 26" root cleaning drums rumble and roll your roots to clean perfection in a short time. If you've got a pile of potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, or any other root that you want to polish up, nothing beats it. The only drawback? The drums are heavy, so come prepared with a truck bed or trailer that can take it and some extra hands for the hoist.
FRUIT PRESSES (2)
These medium size wood-stave fruit presses come with a grinder, and work well to make apple cider or other juices. The presses are just small enough to be easy to transport, but just large enough that each pressing yields a substantial amount of juice.
These medium size dehydrators are commercial quality with multiple settings to dry food to perfection. There is also one large dehydrator available.
PRESSURE WASHER (1)
If you face a big cleaning task, a simple pressure washer can make it go away fast. Nothing fancy about this one, but it sprays hard.
Simple but Powerful — No Subscription Required
No Tool Subscription is required to rent the hoop benders or seed screens. These tools are available to all KLAS members.
SMALL HOOP BENDERS (3x4', 3x6')
To make long-lasting and durable hoops for your farm or garden beds, nothing beats the 4' and 6' benders. They are designed to make hoops from ten-foot lengths of 1/2" or 3/4" steel conduit, available at most hardware stores. If you need something really strong, they'll bend 1" conduit too, but even the 1/2" makes a far stronger hoop than the usual PVC used by gardeners. It's a long term investment. The hoops can be used to suspend anything you can think of, from shade cloth and row cover to clear poly or tarp. See detailed Quick Hoop Instructions here.
LARGE HOOP BENDER (1)
The 12' bender is for making large, walk-in hoop houses. The bender makes half-hoops from ten-foot lengths of 1-3/8" steel "top-bar" used as the top rail in chain link fence. When two halves are put together, you get a hoop that's 12' across and 6' high at the middle. These hoops are the ribs of high tunnels that can make three-season greenhouses or more. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. See detailed High Tunnel Bender Instructions here.
SEED SCREENS (1)
Perfect for seed savers, a set of eight seed screens, each with a 10"-square wood frame, is designed to sift small batches of seed. Shaking the collection on large mesh sizes holds the chaff and large weed seeds, letting the desired seeds, dust and small weed seeds through. Then, shaking with a small mesh size lets the small weed seeds and dust fall through while catching the desired seed. Stack frames together and do the whole operation at once.
For more information on prices and how to get your hands on these amazing tools, visit the Rentals page. For information on pre- and post-rental inspections, please visit the Waivers and Inspections page.