Knots for the homestead

Apr 13 2015 0 Comments Tags: homestead, rope

As a former girl guide, from a scouting family, I know a few knots, and I’m always surprised by people who can’t tie knots. Knots are so important around the farm and homestead, we use them all the time and its worth knowing which knot to use and how to tie it properly. I wanted to share with you the knots that I use regularly, and in looking up references I was amazed by the number of knots listed and the fact that there’s not even an official word for the study of knots. I guess they have just been around for a long time and used by practical people, there’s been no need to name it, just get on with tying them and doing what needs to be done. Here are the top four knots that I use a regular basis, and one more that I need to relearn.

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
Taz on the back of the ute

Reef knot (link)
Let’s start with an easy one. Everyone knows a reef knot right? Right over left, left over right and you have a knot that is tidy and tight. Are you using it correctly though? A reef knot should be used to tie the two ends of a single line together to secure something (such as a package), not to join two ropes (guilty! Turns out I should use a sheet bend to join ropes).

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
reef knot
eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
sheet bend
Trucker’s hitch (link)
This is the most useful knot on the homestead and well worth the effort in learning how to tie it. We use this whenever we tie things on the back of the ute (and by the way, there is currently a myth going around that its illegal in QLD to use ropes to secure a load, the fact is that its legal, but because most people don’t know what they are doing, ratchet straps are recommended. (link), I don’t know about other states though). I have seen people have trouble using ratchet straps too, so learn how to use a truckers hitch and/or a strap and make sure your loads are secure.

The truckers hitch that we use (Pete taught me when I got frustrated with not being able to tie on a load myself) is different to the one in Wikipedia, but uses the same principle. I like our one because you don’t have to feed the lose end of the rope through a loop, you kind of build the loop around the rope, so you can tie the hitch in the middle of a long rope without the hassle of feeding it through. If anyone know what this is actually called, or whether its a good knot or not, let me know in the comments.

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
Trucker's hitch and clove hitch

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
trucker's hitch step 1

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
trucker's hitch step 2

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
trucker's hitch step 3

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
trucker's hitch step 4 - tie off

Clove hitch (link)
I use clove hitches in the garden, they are pretty handing to secure a rope (or a piece of baling twine) to a post or stake. We also use them to secure the beginning and end of a truckers hitch.

Donkey hitch
Also known as a half-bow or slip knot, this one seems to be popular in nursing for restraining patients!  I find its useful for tying a temporary knot that is secure, but can easily be undone, for things like tying the dog’s lead to a post and holding a gate open in the yards.

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
slip knot

Bowline (link)
This is one knot that I always found difficult, but I want to learn it because I think its a useful one. Apparently its known as the king of knots, so that tells you that its important! A bowline is used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. You can imagine how useful this would be. The common pneumonic is “Up through the rabbit hole, round the big tree; down through the rabbit hole and off goes he”. I know the pneumonic, but I usually can’t get the knot to work.  (Pete's version has the rabbit doing a wee around the tree if that helps!).

eight acres: knots that are useful on the farm
bowline knot

Learning knots require practice. Sit in front of the TV with some rope and tie until you learn them. Then use them practically at every opportunity. While I was learning the truckers hitch, I made Pete wait while I “helped” to slowly tie on every load, but now I’m almost as quick as he is, and can really help instead of just standing around (as well as go pick up hay or fertiliser by myself).

When you’re confident with knots you should give whipping a try! We bought a couple of 100 m of sisal rope because it was the cheapest option, and Pete has been cutting off lengths and whipping the ends. Like knot tying, it takes practice, and can be rather frustrating, but when you get the hang of it, its SO useful. I call it mancrafts.

What's your favourite knot?  

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