I bought an old tractor and have used it for chipping, auguring and with a boxblade, and it works fine. But it is almost useless for grading since it is a 2 wheel drive and, being a novice, I neglected to check that the differential lock worked. And it doesn't. So when one wheel begins to spin the only way out of the mud is to apply the brake to that wheel and transfer the torque to the remaining wheel (until it also starts to spin). I do all my own maintenance but have not got round to fixing the diff lock. But I do a lot of earthworks and this is with my second purchase - a heavily used Takeuchi TL26 (track loader) which I bought for <$9,000 and has served me faithfully. You can read about some of the maintenance challenges and the earthworks I have constructed, at my NuTrac website. By the way, tractors have a high center of gravity and this can be dangerous on sloping ground.
www.nu-trac.info - new life tracks – growing organic, conservation, self reliance
Remember, getting a tractor is just the start. Without implements nothing happens. I bought a second hand '79 Ford 4600 with several implements (box scraper, chipper, front end loader) and they have served me well. I found a backhoe on craigslist, a John Deere mower deck from a rental shop and an Danuser auger from third fellow. All that and I still own goats because some of our property is to steep to safely work the tractor on. Safety is priority ONE! Killing or maiming yourself is not sustainable and tractor accidents happen fast.
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