Years ago someone dear made me this pillow. The bit of embroidery says:
Tractor Owner’s Motto
Never let on that your tractor’s great fun.
This secret we keep from our love ones and friends.
So wipe off that grin,
Heave a big sigh,
And lament how that tractor work just never ends!
Truth be told I had never wanted a tractor or envisioned owning a one. I had thought of getting a BCS tiller perhaps with the front cutter blade, that seemed like enough. Actually the pigs do the tilling so even that is overkill.
Then in 1998 our gravity fed water line got cut by the logging equipment when we were doing field clearing above the house. Turns out the 1/2″ diameter pipe was only about 3″ below the soil surface. Since we get deep snows it never froze – no frost depth.
We priced out hiring someone to dig a trench and put in a new water line. We were shocked. For the quoted costs we could buy a tractor with a backhoe and do it ourselves! We didn’t have enough money at the time so we went through a few years of just laying the water line on the surface. That did freeze on occasion resulting in us hauling water from the spring down the road. That got old fast.
Once we had enough money we bought our tractor in early 2001. We got the biggest, most powerful beast we could afford. We knew we would find use for that extra horsepower. I was incline to get something smaller. My experienced farming uncle and cousin said get at least 50 horse power. We compromised at a 4WD 48 hp John Deere with backhoe and bucket loader.
We also got a cone seeder, rake and box scraper. The seeder has not been all that useful as our hills are too steep. Perhaps that will be useful on the future valley and high plateau fields. The rake was a waste of money for us. The box scraper is very useful for grading the roads, getting the crown right and ditching. I wish it were bigger though – ours is only 5′ wide.
The bucket loader and backhoe have been extremely useful for trenching (the original purpose), putting in fence posts, grading, moving material, terracing, toting 4×4 hay bales and all sorts of things. In addition to the fixed bucket we have a jaws bucket that can grab things – it is so powerful it can cut small trees. Very useful for picking up rocks, grabbing a scoop of fibrous material like hay bedding, etc. Adding chain hooks to the buckets, front and back, gave us a crane (backhoe) and bale mover (front bucket).
We later got forks, not cheap ones that go on the bucket and could bend it but real forks that attach to the lift arms. These are much stronger and were well worth their cost. They have allowed us to unload tractor trailer trucks of materials that have paid for their cost hundreds of times over.
So far I have resisted getting a bush hog. We have pigs and sheep who are more than willing to do those tasks, don’t roll down the steep hills, are quieter, use no petroleum and enjoy the mowing work. I don’t. Honest.
We have the wheels set out to the full 8′ width so the tractor looks like it has a huge butt. This gives it stability on our hills. I don’t like even the idea of rolling sideways. I don’t tend to drive across the hills for this reason. Facing down is best as then I can control any interesting motion by just dropping the bucket. Dragging logs downhill works fine as they tend to follow sedately.
We also have fluid weight in the rear wheels and 400 lb logging chains on each rear wheel – additional weight and lots of traction. These are necessary in our long icy winters so I can keep the whey road open and deliver hay to the livestock. I leave the chains on the wheels year round. That may mean a little more wear on the chains but it means less wear on the tires. The tires are far more expensive than the chains. After ten years the chains are still holding up well. I wish I had gotten chains on the front tires as they are more worn than the rear tires.
I think the poem was inspired because I have a cousin who said that tractors are cheaper and more productive than shrinks. She may be right. I have one and not the other.
There are projects we never would have done without these tools. Simply moving huge rocks and granite, building roads, gaining access to feeds have been worth it. It was right for us to get the biggest, most powerful machine in the series. I was right to get this series so the turning radius isn’t overly large. A good compromise. A good team.
Outdoors: 28°F/14°F Cloudy, SFS Glazed
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/56°F
Daily Spark: “God has no religion” -Mahatma Gandhi