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Trying to Decide on the First Piece of Heavy Farm Equipment  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 585
Location: Southern Illinois
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Doug,

You mentioned needing to move a bunch of timber.  Is this something that could be done with a bypass grapple that would attach to a 3pt hitch?  I too have timber moving needs, but I suspect mine is much smaller than yours (I only move logs 12”-18” in diameter and then only if they are blocking new growth).

This is only a thought and maybe you have better equipment in mind for your situation.

Eric
 
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What I'm trying to do is thin out the trees and harvest firewood. The excavator with the thumb seems to work well. I use it to push on the trees just in case they don't lean the way I want then to. Then I lift the tree to a comfortable height for limbing. Off the ground to keep my saw out of the dirt. Then I can cut them to what ever size I want 15'or 17" stove size.
I can mine gravel or push snow. I'm in Alaska.....I can pick up a moose for butchering.... lift the wood stove & put it just inside the front door....sling   things... a 6 way blade would be handy for grading... the trail...yard...
 
Posts: 45
Location: California Zone 10b / Wyoming Zone 3b
building homestead woodworking
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Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I am going to echo about half of what Lito told you.  But first, what absolutely beautiful land!  I realize this is only 3 pictures, but the land and scenery is stunning.  Also, judging from your pictures and your specific comments, I personally don’t think you need an excavator for your drainage ditch.  In my opinion (and this is only my opinion based on one picture, so if I am mistaken I apologize) you would be best served by a rear grader blade that has angle, tilt and offset functions.  The angle function will help curl the material off to one side.  The tilt function will let one side dig into the ground to dig the ditch.  The offset function is a bit more rare and will set the blade off to one side and let the implement operate to the side of the tractor.  I recently bought a grader blade that has all of these functions and the offset impresses me the most.  With such a blade and a little practice you can lower your blade and move forward, digging out a ditch and moving the soil out of the way.  It would take a few passes, but it could be done rather quickly.

I would think that the same task done with an excavator would be a slow process by comparison.  Again, it could be done but it would be difficult.  Alternatively you could use a box blade with one end tilted down and you would accomplish the same effect.  At any rate, I suggest you get a good, solid tractor and add in some other implements as you need a them.  There is a lot of very sound information here, and I am sure that as you get closer to making a decision, if you need additional input, this thread will continue to be source of sound information.  And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Eric



It's hard to tell from the winter pictures but there is one specific area where an excavator is needed for the ditches.  The low point on the land is currently a water/salt logged mess where the drainage is completely silted and the county installed an under road culvert higher than it should have.  The general consensus for from everyone I have talked to is to dig out the "drainage ditch" to a 4-foot depth to allow the surrounding areas to drain enough so that a longer-term solution can be found (I'm leaning towards holding pond and wind/solar powered pump up to culvert height).

I'm getting bids to have it done by a professional familiar with the area and he is concerned even a treaded excavator will get stuck (it's basically one giant "slick" of sodic soil) and we may need to wait until next winter when the ground freezes or hope for a dry spring/summer and do it in the fall.

The rest of the areas I plan to see if I can get the old v-plow up and running and get a utility tractor.
 
Alex Arn
Posts: 45
Location: California Zone 10b / Wyoming Zone 3b
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Doug Steffen wrote:I bought 140 acers last year and the first thing I did was buy a mini excavator. I have found it to be a great help . With a thumb & a blade you can get a lot of work done.


The thumb seems to be quite useful for pushing in fence posts.  has that been your expereicne?
 
pollinator
Posts: 237
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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I also vote for owning a tractor with a backhoe.
I would advise getting a quick-change bucket (skidsteer type) they are quite convenient for changing implements, and you have the whole range of skidsteer attachments available (especially if you have a 3rd hydraulic valve).
A dirt bucket and pallet forks would be the first two to get. Then add in whatever else you need: grapple, snow plow, bale spear...
For the backhoe, a 4-point hitch (to a sub-frame) is sturdier than the older 3-point hitch ones (if you went for a 3-point one, I'd really baby it.), and a thumb is nice to have, especially a hydraulic one. ;-)

Another great piece of equipment that I have is a dumping trailer.

Renting other equipment (excavator/skidsteer/dozer) is a great way to side-step all of "problems" of ownership, (cost, maintenance, storage, repairs) and if you can save up the work and take the time to tackle it all at once (rather than chipping away) it's amazing how much you can get done in a week or even a long weekend.
Hiring a machine and an operator might be more expensive, but you may get more accomplished faster with a pro at the wheel, and they likely are using larger machines than the rental ones...
 
pollinator
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Alex Arn wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I am going to echo about half of what Lito told you.  But first, what absolutely beautiful land!  I realize this is only 3 pictures, but the land and scenery is stunning.  Also, judging from your pictures and your specific comments, I personally don’t think you need an excavator for your drainage ditch.  In my opinion (and this is only my opinion based on one picture, so if I am mistaken I apologize) you would be best served by a rear grader blade that has angle, tilt and offset functions.  The angle function will help curl the material off to one side.  The tilt function will let one side dig into the ground to dig the ditch.  The offset function is a bit more rare and will set the blade off to one side and let the implement operate to the side of the tractor.  I recently bought a grader blade that has all of these functions and the offset impresses me the most.  With such a blade and a little practice you can lower your blade and move forward, digging out a ditch and moving the soil out of the way.  It would take a few passes, but it could be done rather quickly.

I would think that the same task done with an excavator would be a slow process by comparison.  Again, it could be done but it would be difficult.  Alternatively you could use a box blade with one end tilted down and you would accomplish the same effect.  At any rate, I suggest you get a good, solid tractor and add in some other implements as you need a them.  There is a lot of very sound information here, and I am sure that as you get closer to making a decision, if you need additional input, this thread will continue to be source of sound information.  And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Eric



It's hard to tell from the winter pictures but there is one specific area where an excavator is needed for the ditches.  The low point on the land is currently a water/salt logged mess where the drainage is completely silted and the county installed an under road culvert higher than it should have.  The general consensus for from everyone I have talked to is to dig out the "drainage ditch" to a 4-foot depth to allow the surrounding areas to drain enough so that a longer-term solution can be found (I'm leaning towards holding pond and wind/solar powered pump up to culvert height).

I'm getting bids to have it done by a professional familiar with the area and he is concerned even a treaded excavator will get stuck (it's basically one giant "slick" of sodic soil) and we may need to wait until next winter when the ground freezes or hope for a dry spring/summer and do it in the fall.

The rest of the areas I plan to see if I can get the old v-plow up and running and get a utility tractor.



Yikes.

Wonder if you could start drying it out by digging out only the most accessible end of ditch and pumping from there to elsewhere, presumably the culvert?
 
Doug Steffen
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From the pic's I'm not sure the excavator would be a good choice for your place.... not many trees to move, I'm thinking a tractor with the attachments would be better.
 
Alex Arn
Posts: 45
Location: California Zone 10b / Wyoming Zone 3b
building homestead woodworking
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Dillon Nichols wrote:

Yikes.

Wonder if you could start drying it out by digging out only the most accessible end of ditch and pumping from there to elsewhere, presumably the culvert?



Maybe, the lowest point right by the culvert is the least accessible part.  Other option is to lay down mats to act as a bridge for the excavator.  While I would love to get this done before we put the new driveway in, it may just need to wait until winter and assume we will need to re-do part of the road if it floods again.   Its a half mile long driveway and the part that would be flooded is pretty small.
 
Alex Arn
Posts: 45
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I found a picture of the saturated sodic soil from October.  That white stuff is actually alkali leach (think salty baking soda) and not snow.  ~240 acres drain into this area with 80 of that receiving flood irrigation (my property has not been irrigated in over a decade).  Because the drainage system is non-existent all of that water ends up concentrating the natural sodic salts in that area creating a sodic quagmire that little can grow in.  Most of this slick is on the Irrigation district's land but I have their permission/blessing to deal with the problem since it affects my property and my neighbor (and they would like me to buy it).  


IMG_3293.JPG
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Thats not snow
 
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