No matter what you hobby or profession you’ve probably come to the realization that quality matters. I learned this back in my corporate days when I used ink pens and highlighters all day long to get my job done. When you spend the better part of the day using writing implements, accompanied by the occasional hand cramp, you start to get a little picky about what you write with…long-lasting, smooth movement, balanced weight and smudge free ink become valid criteria for a pen. And no, you don’t let anyone else “borrow” said pen. Anyone who’s worked in construction, plumbing or auto repair knows this too. And they understand the value of honored warranties when shelling out the big bucks for tools used to fix other people’s cars or homes.
When we moved to our little ranch in Colorado we were coming from 4 years of fulltime RV travel. Our only possessions, save for some furniture in storage, was on board our RV. Going from 280 square feet of living space to 1500 square feet and 3.26 acres presented a different challenge than our initial “down sizing”. We had absolutely nothing to maintain a yard, pasture, garden or deal with snow. Thankfully, the previous owners were transitioning into a suburban life and we were able to get their ancient riding lawnmower (with a tire that perpetually goes flat) and a few rakes (with broken handles or missing tines) thrown in to the house deal. But, as we started to add chickens and our first “pasture animal” into the mix we needed more reliable stuff…namely manure forks.
As I mentioned above, anyone who does home improvement projects, creates art, does crafts, bakes or sews probably has invested a lot of time, effort and money finding the tools that make life easier and more pleasurable. The first “apple picker” (or manure fork) we purchased here came with a hardwood handle and metal tines. Many moons ago, when I was a teenage, I used to clean stalls at the stables for money so I remember going through apple pickers with those cheap red plastic tines. I also remember the metal ones lasting longer but often the tines would bend and picking the “apples” (horse manure resembled a cluster of green apples) would become impossible. Let me tell you, as far as metal apple pickers they haven’t changed much.
An unfortunate incident with heavy wood chips did my metal apple picker in this past fall. Apple pickers are best suited for picking apples only. I took a chance and bought a manure fork called The Wave by Noble Outfitters. Although the tines are plastic resin they are sturdier than those of the cheap red tines on lesser forks. They’re also replaceable. So, if any happen to break I should be able to replace them rather than chucking the entire fork. At first I wasn’t thrilled by how the fork handled. The smooth metal tines on my old fork glided easily through both shavings and straw whereas the grooved Wave tines add friction. The wave tines are also angled differently so I had to adjust how I hold the fork when I scoop the poop. But, the learning curve is easy.
Here are additional thoughts on The Wave:
- I was worried about the tines becoming brittle in cold weather but this has not proven to be true. I was able to clean the stall at 6 below zero without any issue (other than the poop being frozen). If you click here you’ll see a video of a truck rolling over one of these manure forks. I wouldn’t recommend it but the makers seem pretty confident in their product!
- The aluminum shaft can be c-c-c-c-old. The very end of the handle and a 4″ spot about halfway down have foam pads. But that’s it. These aren’t exactly where I hold the handle so my hands freeze in the winter while gripping that metal shaft, even with gloves on (of course). I was going to wrap the entire handle in a pipe insulator but found a faster, cheaper solution in a pair of Wells Lamont Cold Weather Grip Gloves. They keep my hands warm and provide grip. A win-win.
- The fork is light weight…2.4 pounds to be exact. Now, I don’t mind building muscles but, if you’ve ever cleaned stalls you know that the last thing you need is to add any more weight to what you’re shoveling out of the stall.
- The wave comes with a 5 year warranty. According to the Noble Outfitters website:
“Wave Fork Warranty
All Wave Forks are backed with a 5 year warranty. In the event that your wave fork tines or rail kit breaks, we will gladly replace it, free of charge.”
I hope I don’t have to use it but it gives me some peace of mind.
- The Wave is made in the USA!
Ames 5-Tine Manure Fork
A quick word about one of my favorite tools…my 5 tine manure fork. This is a heavy duty fork used more for turning compost as opposed to sifting mini-horse sized manure from shavings. Our first gardening tool purchase was this manure fork. About a year and half after purchasing the fork the head started popping off about every third scoop of compost. If you’ve been following us on Instagram you might have seen photos of our compost piles. They’re pretty big! I like to make hot compost so these babies can be 6′ wide by 6′ long by 3′ tall. Once you wet them down they can weigh a lot. And, once the pile gets going I turn it every other day for about 2 weeks. A functioning manure fork is a necessity.After several weeks of frustration I happened to notice a sticker on the handle of my fork. I couldn’t make much out except that it said “15 Year Warranty”. I emailed the Ames Company, explained the situation (and the fact that I didn’t have a receipt) and sent a few photos of the fork including close-ups of where the head was separating from the handle. Two weeks later a brand new fork arrived at our door step…at absolutely no charge! I was shocked and thrilled! This company stood by their product 100% and my new fork is holding up beautifully.
My hope is to provide you with information on the tools we use and recommend. We strive to give an honest assessment of how they are working for us. It’s our intention to only promote what we actually use here at Mutiny Ranch. We purchased all of the above mentioned products with our own money and are not being paid or sponsored by these companies (not that we’d mind some free products to test!!). We may, however, earn a small commission should you follow the Amazon links and make a purchase with no additional charge to you!