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(Sub) Compact Tractors

 
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Travis,

Actually I love the ingenuity of your idea and should you ever actually put such a machine together, I would love to see pictures of it.  Actually,  I would probably want to buy it off you!  It sounds like a sort of frankentractor but one that could really work.

Also, I fully agree that I would never want a tractor without a front end loader.  

Cool idea

Eric
 
              
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To me owning a tractor as part of a working farm is almost always a decision of finance or bang for buck. When we bought our 32 acre farm (half wooded, half fields), I knew I needed a machine to help move things along, although in the long view of things I am aiming to use horses or oxen to do the work around the farm.

I went out shopping for a tractor and quickly concluded that I would have to pay at least $12-13,000 for a small Kubota or Mahindra with 600-1000 hours on it. A new Massey in the 35-40HP range was about $21,000 and even a Branson in the same HP range was $18-20,000.

So, I sat down and the first thought was - what is this tractor going to do to make itself pay? I concluded that my market garden, bees and fruit trees do not need a tractor and that my grain/hay fields can be worked with a old and simple tractor. A neighbor had a 1970 Massey 150 for sale - tractor that weighs almost 5,000 pounds, is diesel powered and is simple enough that even a newbie like me can work on it. I paid $4,000 for this thing (he had just re-built the engine 200 hours ago). I ordered an after-market ROPS system ($700) and a seat belt ($20). I will also need new tires at some point and I got one of them Westendorf auto-dump WR-30 things on the back of it in lieu of a front end loader ($2000). All said and done I am about $8,000-9,000 all in (this includes the four new tires to be installed this Spring). However, I got a heavy, reliable and simple machine that I can work on. Yes, I would have loved a new tractor, even a Branson would have done but I avoided a monthly payment, I was able to stretch the expenses over a year time on the tractor as well and I saved about at least $2-4,000 over a used tractor of a newer generation like a 1,000+ hour Kubota, one that would have had 15-20HP less, would have been more complicated to work on and could possible have restricted my choice of implements. Try pulling a haybine up-hill with a 20HP tractor . Yes, I know that there are special haymaking implements for the smaller tractors, however, they do cost an arm and a leg and the choices are far less. On the up side, I can now use the money I saved on implements for hay/grain production etc.

I will make one comment on DEF/gen IV engines - I find it odd that people (on this forum) who want to live in harmony with Nature and preserve it, would be opposed to a engines/designs with improved environmental features . It goes to show that when personal finances are in order, most people would say "forget Nature" , perhaps better to improve the environment on someone else's back? . I have a 2016 Powerstroke super duty and it uses DEF. It gets better mileage than my 2006 Duramax, is quieter and rides better. It also has a 450HP engine (over the 375HP on the Duramax) and still gets better mpgs AND is more environmentally friendly. I am happy with that choice....

On the topic of 4x4 - my tractor is a 4x2 but it is rather heavy. I have hills, mud galore here in Virginia and I am yet to get stuck somewhere. In my humble opinion, the skill of the operator and just using your noggin is much more important than simply having the 4x4.
 
Eric Hanson
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Oddo,

The idea of living in harmony with nature was part of the reason I focused this thread on the subcompact tractors as I think these are machines that are the most minimally impactful on the ground & environment (think fuel consumption) of just about any powered machine.  I applaud your commitment to this ideal.

On the DEF equipment, I am not so much opposed as I am skeptical.  My new tractor has this equipment, works fine, but I just do not know how much cleaner the tractor can get.  Being diesel, the tractor is already more efficient than gas.  Maybe I am mistaken.  Can you maybe explain how much cleaner a def engine is than a regular one?

Eric
 
              
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Eric Hanson wrote:Oddo,

The idea of living in harmony with nature was part of the reason I focused this thread on the subcompact tractors as I think these are machines that are the most minimally impactful on the ground & environment (think fuel consumption) of just about any powered machine.  I applaud your commitment to this ideal.

On the DEF equipment, I am not so much opposed as I am skeptical.  My new tractor has this equipment, works fine, but I just do not know how much cleaner the tractor can get.  Being diesel, the tractor is already more efficient than gas.  Maybe I am mistaken.  Can you maybe explain how much cleaner a def engine is than a regular one?

Eric



Eric, I understand. I think mostly new engines have higher efficiencies (more efficient at burning the fuel) and lower emissions. In the case of my truck, for example, it re-burns the soot created by burning the diesel fuel (the "cleaning exhaust filter" cycle). Similar things apply to the tier IV engines.

New tractors are nice in terms of convenience, I will say that. For most purposes they are perfectly adequate. It just depends on what you need them for. My 5 year plan is to work the land using animal power (most likely drafts since I am good with horses and I think we are too warm here in VA to use oxen in the summer - they tend to get lazy in hot weather) so from that point of view, I will close the last remaining "environmental" loophole on my own land. Until then, the tractor is used to drill in grain seeds, mow, bale etc. etc. I would probably not be able to do this with a 25hp tractor (although there is equipment out there to do so) - had I not had that requirement, a smaller tractor would have been fine. A lot of people tend to buy these things because they do not want to put in the manual labor . Part of the reason we moved to a rural area to live a farming lifestyle is to be outside more and work more physically - it is kind of an investment in my own health. I cut firewood where the tree falls and then I pull it using my riding horse, for example (he is big and stocky). Yes, it takes much longer but it provides a good workout for me and my animal. We have a lot of rocks in our fields (after I disked them) - my wife and I collect them manually and pile them manually. It is a lot of work but who needs a treadmill . I transport horse bales in my trailer but I stack by hand. So on and so on.

A lot of people miss out on the most important part of moving to a rural property - you are supposed to slow down and do things with less pressure, you are not supposed to live the New York speeds in rural Virginia...

The other part of the equation is just the basic price to own a new tractor. For what I needed due to hills, lay of the land and tasks do be accomplished (45HP+), all the new tractors required a loan and a monthly payment, even a smaller Kubota would have required so since I did not want to spit out $13,000+ all at one time. Paying a mortgage while starting/running a small farm while rehabilitating the abused property you want to run the farm on is tough enough. Having a $300 monthly payment on a tractor is even tougher, esp. when the tractor is directly returning $300/year in the first few years .

I think for most farm start-up work (one-time dirt moving, earth shaping, disking, tilling, whatever) - renting equipment or even paying a neighbor per hour to do the work is a better choice.

What I said was more tongue in cheek. I suppose I should have said that if you moved to a rural property and decided to shell out $20K for a new tractor, you should not complain about its advanced environmental features...
 
Eric Hanson
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Oddo,

I can certainly appreciate the ethic by which you acquired your land as it mirrors my own.  Personally, I grew up in a rural subdivision (NOT a suburb) and while my family only owned a 1/2 acre, there was country all around me.  1/2 the subdivision was unfinished for much of my childhood and next to my yard was a pasture about 1/4 mile deep by a half mile wide.  It was beautiful.  It dropped into a valley (a rarity in the plains of central Illinois), two small streams converged, and was dotted with patches of old trees and hills.  Bucolic.  I played in and grew up in that land and it largely shaped many of my ideals about nature.

It broke my heart when the land began “developing.”  Today, the countryside had urbanized and that pasture is now a lake.  A long time ago I decided I would someday own land so I could protect it from development and today I own 9 acres in the countryside with perhaps 1 acre for my house, yard and driveway while I leave the rest basically undisturbed (I do maintain some trails and gardens, but that’s about it).

For me the tractor is a way to engage my land and maintain it (by local covenants I have to mow my 5 acres of grassland yearly), but I wanted one that would do the job while minimizing my impact on the land.  For more than a dozen years, the subcompact did this job admirably.  Recently my wife told me she wanted it mowed more often and this required a larger tractor.  Firstly, if I am going to mow more frequently, I need to get it done faster.  Secondly, I needed a tractor that would negotiate the rough ground better (meaning I needed a larger frame with larger tires) as since purchasing the subcompact, I have developed back problems that make mowing for hous on rough ground painful.  My 37 hp tractor does this quite well and even mows with less fuel than the old subcompact (2 gallons vs. .85!).

What I am emphatically not doing is subjugating my land with my tractor.  I mow my required acreage.  I maintain a driveway.  I pull a wood chipper and trailer and move cleared invasive brush which I then use for garden mulch.  I tote around numerous tools and bulky awkward objects in the loader bucket, but in the end, I want my property to look like a natural, rural parcel of land.

This has been a long winded post but I think we actually see fairly eye to eye on this subject and these things need to be stated here at Permies.

I hope you can appreciate this perspective,

Eric
 
              
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Eric Hanson wrote:Oddo,

I can certainly appreciate the ethic by which you acquired your land as it mirrors my own.  Personally, I grew up in a rural subdivision (NOT a suburb) and while my family only owned a 1/2 acre, there was country all around me.  1/2 the subdivision was unfinished for much of my childhood and next to my yard was a pasture about 1/4 mile deep by a half mile wide.  It was beautiful.  It dropped into a valley (a rarity in the plains of central Illinois), two small streams converged, and was dotted with patches of old trees and hills.  Bucolic.  I played in and grew up in that land and it largely shaped many of my ideals about nature.

It broke my heart when the land began “developing.”  Today, the countryside had urbanized and that pasture is now a lake.  A long time ago I decided I would someday own land so I could protect it from development and today I own 9 acres in the countryside with perhaps 1 acre for my house, yard and driveway while I leave the rest basically undisturbed (I do maintain some trails and gardens, but that’s about it).

For me the tractor is a way to engage my land and maintain it (by local covenants I have to mow my 5 acres of grassland yearly), but I wanted one that would do the job while minimizing my impact on the land.  For more than a dozen years, the subcompact did this job admirably.  Recently my wife told me she wanted it mowed more often and this required a larger tractor.  Firstly, if I am going to mow more frequently, I need to get it done faster.  Secondly, I needed a tractor that would negotiate the rough ground better (meaning I needed a larger frame with larger tires).  My 37 hp tractor does this quite well and even mows with less fuel than the old subcompact (2 gallons vs. .85!).

What I am emphatically not doing is subjugating my land with my tractor.  I mow my required acreage.  I maintain a driveway.  I pull a wood chipper and trailer and move cleared invasive brush which I then use for garden mulch.  I tote around numerous tools and bulky awkward objects in the loader bucket, but in the end, I want my property to look like a natural, rural parcel of land.

This has been a long winded post but I think we actually see fairly eye to eye on this subject and these things need to be stated here at Permies.

I hope you can appreciate this perspective,

Eric



Eric, absolutely. I apologize if my replies to you came off as antagonistic, they were not meant to be. I also have a John Deere lawn mower on my property and I intend to get rid of that as well in the future. My philosophy on that is that I would rather grow something on the lawn around the house, something that does not need mowing. So, last Spring, my wife and I planted a big flower garden. It grew and was just beautiful, the colors, the birds and insects it attracted. We plan to double the size of it this coming Spring and also to plant thousands of seeds of sunflowers everywhere. This should pretty much cut down on my need to mow dramatically...
 
Eric Hanson
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Oddo,

Not to worry in the slightest, I think I totally understand and appreciate your own appreciation for land and I think it dovetails nicely with my own.  I was merely explaining how I got to permie perspective and the ethnic by which I appreciate land.  I actually have quite a respect for your own ambitions on your land.

Given that I have kids, I still consider a lawn important, but I like what you have done with yours.  Good idea.

Eric
 
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My problem with Tier 4 Compliance and their reburn is not so much with their environmental benefits, but rather with the high cost of maintenance. If a person is doing field work and it comes time for reburn, it may, or may not be a problem. Right now for instance, there is not a living plant around, rain washed all the snow away, and fire danger is about 9000 times higher then it should be. Sitting in a  dry hay field for reburn is NOT a great idea. But what about being in a barn when I am cleaning out my sheep pens and it comes time for reburn? Again, that is NOT the time for reburn. I am fully aware that I can hit override on the computer and put this off, BUT if a farmer does that (3) times, the computer shuts the tractor down, and a mechanic from the dealership with the overide codes has to come out and reset the tractors electronics. Here at least, that bill is $1200.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT!

It is pretty stinking sad when companies like John deere think they can own the electronics to a tractor even after it has been sold. It is even more sad when such an issue has to be taken to the US Supreme Court to rule on, who only partly helped the American Farmer. Yes, they ruled in favor that the farmer has a right to fix their own machinery, BUT not a third party mechanic such as a local repair shop that is NOT a dealership. Of course John Deere countered by changing the diagnostic equipment so that everytime a new model is introduced, a farmer needs to buy thousands of dollars worth of laptops to repair their own tractor.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT!

Tier 4 is not a bad idea unto its own, but the equipment manufactuers have used it to glean even more money out of us farmers. It is poor practice becaues they are alienating and angering the same customers that they depend on.

Thankfully my tractor needs are very close to the Tier 4 threshold, so I can stay under it, and never have to worry about a $1200 mechanic bill for a non-breakdown. I have enough of them without adding needless elecronic circuitry that is not required to make the tractor run.
 
Eric Hanson
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Travis,

I have really liked my Deere tractors and equipment.  It’s not that I am a “green fan” as much as I think that they have made great equipment that was particularly suited to my needs.  I especially appreciate their attention to ergonomics which IMHO, are the best on the market (I am especially thinking of the twin touch hydraulic pedals and loader controls that are a part of the tractor and not part of the loader).

HOWEVER
I was revolted about the software issue.  I earnestly believe that if you own the tractor, THEN YOU OWN THE TRACTOR!  You and you alone should be able to decide who and where the tractor gets fixed.  Ma Deere should not continue to own the tractor after it has left the lot.  Again, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the software issue.  I am glad to hear that the Supremes ruled at least partially in the farmer’s favor (he can fix his own tractor).  

Great points about the tier 4 though.  My current tractor has this function and I just hope I don’t have regrets over it, but really, what other choice is there are in the 35-40hp, assuming I am buying new?

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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Oddo Da wrote:To me owning a tractor as part of a working farm is almost always a decision of finance or bang for buck.



I truncated what you said to save space, but overall I agree with you in theory, but not in the execution.


When I teach my farm classes and get to the point of equipment, the first mantra I give to the slass is that "you cannot spend your way to a profitable farm," For me, this has meant battling my banker, people who give out grants and, and others. Simply put, financing an equipment payment means the farmer has to pay back 100% of what they borrowed...then even more in that nasty thing called interest. And even if a person pays in cash, they are reducing their cash flow ability.

What to do?

Build your own equipment!

Can't weld? Take adult education classes and learn how. Check out homemade equipment on Youtube. Ask stupid people like Travis Johnson on Permies...there is ways to do it by thinking outside the box.

Me? I reduce complex machines down to their simplest forms. Take a haybine for instance. All it does is make spinning discs with tiny blades slice through grass. That is simple enough, but getting the power from the PTO, then around a corner and to all the discs is complicated and expensive. The PTO shaft itself will cost $300, and the angle drive able to take that much HP will be about $1200, and that says nothing about the drives to get it to each disc.

So my answer is, do away with the drive system and put a 6 HP engine on each disc in a direct drive situation. Sure (6) 12 inch discs will build a 6 foot wide discbine, and will require (6) engines, but they are only $100 at Harbor Freight. That is half of what just the ngle drive will cost. The long and short of it is, a homemade disc bine would be easy and cheap to build and not cost $9000 and does the same thing...cuts grass. Now we can look at building homemade rakes and Teddiers... Now balers, that is too complex for me to make, so now it is time to really think about balers. $44,000 for a baler? Really? No thanks, a baler compresss hay. It is cheaper to build 6 fabric barns and store lose hay in it then buy a $44,000 baler that will wear itself out in 6 years time.

This is the mindet that farmers have to get into in order to survive. The money is just not going up for the sale of the farmers produce in relation to the cost of equipment. But if a farmer can make their own equipment, get the cost really down, and sell their products still, they will win in the end.
 
              
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Travis Johnson wrote:My problem with Tier 4 Compliance and their reburn is not so much with their environmental benefits, but rather with the high cost of maintenance. If a person is doing field work and it comes time for reburn, it may, or may not be a problem. Right now for instance, there is not a living plant around, rain washed all the snow away, and fire danger is about 9000 times higher then it should be. Sitting in a  dry hay field for reburn is NOT a great idea. But what about being in a barn when I am cleaning out my sheep pens and it comes time for reburn? Again, that is NOT the time for reburn. I am fully aware that I can hit override on the computer and put this off, BUT if a farmer does that (3) times, the computer shuts the tractor down, and a mechanic from the dealership with the overide codes has to come out and reset the tractors electronics. Here at least, that bill is $1200.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT!

It is pretty stinking sad when companies like John deere think they can own the electronics to a tractor even after it has been sold. It is even more sad when such an issue has to be taken to the US Supreme Court to rule on, who only partly helped the American Farmer. Yes, they ruled in favor that the farmer has a right to fix their own machinery, BUT not a third party mechanic such as a local repair shop that is NOT a dealership. Of course John Deere countered by changing the diagnostic equipment so that everytime a new model is introduced, a farmer needs to buy thousands of dollars worth of laptops to repair their own tractor.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT!

Tier 4 is not a bad idea unto its own, but the equipment manufactuers have used it to glean even more money out of us farmers. It is poor practice becaues they are alienating and angering the same customers that they depend on.

Thankfully my tractor needs are very close to the Tier 4 threshold, so I can stay under it, and never have to worry about a $1200 mechanic bill for a non-breakdown. I have enough of them without adding needless elecronic circuitry that is not required to make the tractor run.



All of the above are valid remarks and especially the complaint about the right to repair. The whole thing is really ridiculous but that's modern world for ya. This is one of the reasons I went with an older tractor like my Massey 150, it is simple and I understand how it works, no computers no crap. It actually is pretty good on diesel usage as well. For the amount of usage it gets around here, it is not horrible. I have neighbors who are conventional farmer on 100s of acres of soy and corn and wheat and their tractors and equipment cost 100s of thousands of dollars. Not to mention cost of seeds, herbicides etc. How these guys sleep at night is beyond me. I think one of them ran into an issue with her big John Deere, some kind of a computer glitch and she was not happy.
 
              
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Travis Johnson wrote:

Oddo Da wrote:To me owning a tractor as part of a working farm is almost always a decision of finance or bang for buck.



I truncated what you said to save space, but overall I agree with you in theory, but not in the execution.


When I teach my farm classes and get to the point of equipment, the first mantra I give to the slass is that "you cannot spend your way to a profitable farm," For me, this has meant battling my banker, people who give out grants and, and others. Simply put, financing an equipment payment means the farmer has to pay back 100% of what they borrowed...then even more in that nasty thing called interest. And even if a person pays in cash, they are reducing their cash flow ability.

What to do?

Build your own equipment!

Can't weld? Take adult education classes and learn how. Check out homemade equipment on Youtube. Ask stupid people like Travis Johnson on Permies...there is ways to do it by thinking outside the box.

Me? I reduce complex machines down to their simplest forms. Take a haybine for instance. All it does is make spinning discs with tiny blades slice through grass. That is simple enough, but getting the power from the PTO, then around a corner and to all the discs is complicated and expensive. The PTO shaft itself will cost $300, and the angle drive able to take that much HP will be about $1200, and that says nothing about the drives to get it to each disc.

So my answer is, do away with the drive system and put a 6 HP engine on each disc in a direct drive situation. Sure (6) 12 inch discs will build a 6 foot wide discbine, and will require (6) engines, but they are only $100 at Harbor Freight. That is half of what just the ngle drive will cost. The long and short of it is, a homemade disc bine would be easy and cheap to build and not cost $9000 and does the same thing...cuts grass. Now we can look at building homemade rakes and Teddiers... Now balers, that is too complex for me to make, so now it is time to really think about balers. $44,000 for a baler? Really? No thanks, a baler compresss hay. It is cheaper to build 6 fabric barns and store lose hay in it then buy a $44,000 baler that will wear itself out in 6 years time.

This is the mindet that farmers have to get into in order to survive. The money is just not going up for the sale of the farmers produce in relation to the cost of equipment. But if a farmer can make their own equipment, get the cost really down, and sell their products still, they will win in the end.



I respectfully disagree. Around here and in more rural parts of the country, used equipment can be had for next to nothing, especially if it needs some work. Often times the work is a weld here and there, straightening something out, changing a screw or two, bearings etc., some grease and you are good to go. Equipment auctions are also plentiful and you can find plenty of good equipment for cheap. If you are handy enough to build something from scratch, you are probably handy enough to repair something as well. Especially if the equipment you are buying is older and simpler.

As far as hay goes, it all depends who you are making it for. If it is for your own animals to graze, depending on your climate it may not even be necessary. There are programs like Graze300 in Virginia and North Carolina that aim to teach people how they can rotate cows on pastures for 300 days of the year. If you are only feeding your own cows, horses etc. - you may as well learn how to make hay stacks like my grandparents did and still do in Romania and the Balkans in general. Now, if you are making hay to sell, you will need a baler. However, they do come cheaper - again, look at auctions etc. Finally, you can always go in with someone else to split the costs.

People do not always have the luxury of time. Around here the county gives you three years to keep your agricultural tax exemption after you buy your property (assuming it was under ag tax exemption already). That means you have three years to "prove up" that you are making at least X amount of $$$ from your land. Yes, you can simply put cows on it and send them to slaughter but some of us do not want to do that. This means growing stuff like hay, market gardens, honey, fruits etc. etc. to make at least the minimum requirement or potentially face a huge tax bill at the end of the 3rd year. If I waited to take welding classes and make my own equipment, well - good luck

Most of my neighbors in this rural area are DIY types, they do everything, weld, work on old equipment, change out truck transmissions, do all sorts of engine work etc. etc. It just comes with the territory, unless you are a gentrified farm owner who can afford to buy new or pay people to do the work and the farm is a nice hobby or tax shelter.

I wrote an article a long time ago about the pitfalls of getting into the homesteading/small-farming/self-sufficiency game - here it is if you are interested in a long read!! http://glutenfreecowboy.com/beware-of-easy-farming-stories/
 
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The Tier4 issue is not something I've looked into extensively.  That said, I've never really liked the way that emissions are dealt with in a blanket way.  What I mean is, until small tractors become a significant part of the emissions problem, should they really fall under the same rules as a cross-cut of the national vehicle scene that may have 10 or 100 times the total emission output?  On the other hand, maybe like so many other technologies, cleaning-up diesel emissions is still in the early stages and we are paying the R&D price now for a technology later that will be far better and less expensive.

Getting back to the price/benefit of a small tractor, I often think about those days *before* tractors.....when communal activity often was the way to get things done.  Think barn-raising, hunting/gathering parties, etc.  Cheap oil has made a lot possible in the absence of that social activity.  Certainly I balked at the $12,000.00 price tag of the 18 hp Deere, partly because its use was not instrumental to my income and it was purchased late enough in life where you question if the benefit will meet the cost.  But context counts for a lot.  If a person in their mid-20s already *knew* that they would be needing (wanting?) a good small tractor for an operation that was to provide income, then that $12,000.00 translates to an outlay of $1,000 per year for 12 years.  There would be many automobiles that couldn't touch the price-return factor of something like that.

Interestingly, bigger does not always reduce the price per horsepower rating as the clipped local ad below illustrates.  At ~$700 per unit horsepower, it's not much different from the small Deere that I bought.  But again, context is a lot of the story in terms of what you want the tractor to do.  Economies of all kinds skew the playing field in innumerable ways.
Spendy.JPG
[Thumbnail for Spendy.JPG]
 
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As of last week, I now have 3 tractors.
A Kubota 4240, with FEL, pallet forks, backhoe, tiller, bed layer.
An 18 hp Satoh Buck (Mitsubishi) with FEL, tiller, and DIY 3pt pallet forks (donor: old pallet jack)
A Kubota 2380, with FEL with skidsteer coupler, pallet forks, and FM snowblower.

The big Kubota replaced an old IH 300 Utility with FEL and backhoe which I spent almost as much time tinkering with as using. The reliability, maneuverability, and 3PT hitch were all great improvements. This machine will do anything I care to do, except fit into small spaces.

The 18hp Satoh came about to have a second tractor at a second location, mainly for the FEL and turning compost, but also for tilling in small plots on our one acre farm. It fit much better than the 4240, being 4 feet instead of 6 feet wide, able to travel on paths we already had in place for using a Garden Way cart.
The ability to move bulk materials around, load my dumping trailer, etc... sure beats a shovel and wheelbarrow.

The Kubota 2380 (the brand new one) came about, since the other two tractors are poor snow machines for my situation, two tight driveways each with two cars and a farm road... all with no places to push/pile snow! (buildings, fences, walls, cars, gardens) All on a very busy street.
The walk-behind snowblower wears me out, at an hour and a half for the minimum, and to clear everything is a 3-hour chore.
A snowblower for the big Kubota was either not practical (3PH rear facing) or very expensive (front mount, with a 3PH hyd. power pack, or or front mount and split machine to add mid-PTO). The most expensive option being nearly as much as the 2380.

The 2380 is designed with the snowblower in mind (not an afterthought like for the other tractors) and I can fit it down the sidewalk between driveways! I'm anxious to try it, but perfectly happy for the snow to hold off just a bit longer.

The right-sizing of the small tractor to chores that one might tackle by hand but struggle with or get injured doing is HUGE!
Another hope is that I can get my girlfriend to learn to use it, and share the tractor duties... since it is a lot less intimidating in size, and easier to get onto than the old Satoh/Mitsubishi (like mounting a horse).
 
              
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:As of last week, I now have 3 tractors.
A Kubota 4240, with FEL, pallet forks, backhoe, tiller, bed layer.
An 18 hp Satoh Buck (Mitsubishi) with FEL, tiller, and DIY 3pt pallet forks (donor: old pallet jack)
A Kubota 2380, with FEL with skidsteer coupler, pallet forks, and FM snowblower.

The 18hp Satoh came about to have a second tractor at a second location, mainly for the FEL and turning compost, but also for tilling in small plots on our one acre farm. It fit much better than the 4240, being 4 feet instead of 6 feet wide, able to travel on paths we already had in place for using a Garden Way cart.



Curious, do you make a living off the 1 acre farm? Sounds like an awful lot of equipment for a small area.
 
Kenneth Elwell
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No, we don't. We both have F/T jobs, in addition to her business, a fraction of which is the farm (flowers and herbs).

WAAY too many tractors for what we're doing. Realistically, we could make do at the farm with just the new 2380.

The 4240 is a HUGE force multiplier though, and I sure would miss it! I have that to tackle the big jobs, major landscaping, compost turning (100+ cu.yds./year), and material handling (compost slings/bins of brewer's grain).
Originally got it to build a huge boulder retaining wall at Mom's house, and associated landscape construction, versus renting equipment or hiring out the job. Then it got moved to farm duty.

So now the Satoh is duplicated, and going to Mom's (now my) house :-(  to be useful there.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oddo Da wrote:I respectfully disagree. Around here and in more rural parts of the country, used equipment can be had for next to nothing, especially if it needs some work.



I agree that used equipment can sometimes work. It depends because a lot of times old equipment was abandoned because it is just beyond repair. Knowing the tipping point on parts is the key to knowing when to pull the trigger on a piece of equipment, and when not too.

I still think fabricating your own equipment makes a lot of sense. Even if a person designs it themselves, and gets a fabrication shop to build it for them, they will spend a lot less money on something that benefits their farm.

Another thing that should be done with making your own equipment is to watch for a platform to build off from. Functional does not have to be complex. An example of that was when I had to grade a new heavy haul road that I was building. My 3 point grader did not work because it goes deep when I went into a hole and up when I was on a hill. I needed something flat over a long plane. So to get what I needed I just mounted my grader blade onto my log trailer! It was a marriage in heaven, but simple.

A few other places where homemade equipment works is where ued equipment is not available. Like Erik points out, he cannot find a tractor winch where he lives...so make one! Another good time to build something is for a specific problem. Last year for instance, I had loggers come in and clear some land. They went across one of my fields and left sticks everywhere. I was not picking 2 acres of sticks up by hand, so I found a stick rake on youtube, miniturized it, used my 3 point hitch to lift it up and down and drove in circles and windrowed the sticks out of my field. The time spent in devising the stick rake was faster then if I had hand-hauled all the sticks. (Not to mention it can also rake hay too).

Another time homemade equipment makes sense is when a piece of equipment is just too darn expensive! For instance they make mini feller-bunchers, but who can afford $50,000...so I made one for $35. Try looking up homemade feller-bunchers, they are unheard of. But it really helps maintain my farm.


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Grader Blade on Log Trailer
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Grader
 
Kenneth Elwell
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There is something nice about having your own equipment at the ready, but another option is renting.
The HD stores near us rent the subcompact TLBs and mini excavators, so for a one-time need, it is very economical to let them own and maintain a machine!
The contractor rental chain near us was always a good place to rent a skidsteer for a weekend. Especially a holiday weekend, since for a "Sunday rental" they would deliver before they closed on Saturday evening, and pick it up when they opened Monday morning... delayed to Tuesday because of the holiday!
Do that on Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend (long days near the solstice...) and you can get a lot done for "two-days rental".
 
Travis Johnson
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:There is something nice about having your own equipment at the ready, but another option is renting.
The HD stores near us rent the subcompact TLBs and mini excavators, so for a one-time need, it is very economical to let them own and maintain a machine!
The contractor rental chain near us was always a good place to rent a skidsteer for a weekend. Especially a holiday weekend, since for a "Sunday rental" they would deliver before they closed on Saturday evening, and pick it up when they opened Monday morning... delayed to Tuesday because of the holiday!
Do that on Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend (long days near the solstice...) and you can get a lot done for "two-days rental".




Here that does not work because rental is based on hours and not days. A day is 8 hours, a week is 40 hours and a month is 160 hours.

I am not disagreeing with you though, I rent a LOT of equipment. What I have found is, a person really has to have the seat time. If you can get all 160 hours on a machine rented for a month, you can get a lot of work done!! The same on a week or by the day basis. But if a person can only get 20 hours of seat time, and it rains for two days, then it can be a loss. That is why in my book when I get into renting of equipment I always suggest cabbed machines, and tracks! They work in the mud!

On the downside a person has to pay for the stupid transportation. I am 1 hour from my rental shop who charges $120 an hour. Since I do not have my own lowbed, it means renting a machine will cost me close to $500 in transportation alone. (Out and back to drop it off and out and back to pick it up...4 hours at $120/hour). THAT SUCKS, and has to be accounted for.

But on the upside, I can deduct 100% for leased equipment, so that makes a lot of sense.

For goodness sakes though, carry insurance, I have abused some nice machines on accident.





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5 Hrs to get this track back on
 
John Weiland
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:There is something nice about having your own equipment at the ready, but another option is renting.



Agreed....although I haven't capitalized on this option, there are many offerings nearby.  Did make the purchase of 10,000 lb gvw, 16' trailer for the occasional need, but instead have used the trailer mostly to help out others.  The trailer neatly parks the Deere and a ball-hitched back-hoe and it's gone to a few places to dig out well heads and do other mild excavating.  But this brings up as well another option between 'barn-raising community' and purchased equipment that will get used too seldom to be worth the while:  neighbors or community members that will stop by with equipment to do the job for you.  A person I know who is now in elder care had moved to a rural setting for the last active phase of his life.  Amazing how many people came to till his garden, snowblow his driveway, etc., all for the usual neighborly perks.....produce bartered/exchanged in the summer, a coffee cake dropped off at odd times as a way to say 'thanks!'.  I gotta think that in a community where some roots have been sunk, it may be far easier to get some help done in many regions.  Mixing and matching many of these solutions can often keep the farmstead moving along.....
 
Eric Hanson
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So I thought this would be a good place to review my current tractor.  As of this spring (April, 2018) I now own a 37 hp JD 2038R to replace my old 2005 JD2305.  The old tractor was still in great condition and as fortune would have it, I sold the tractor and implements to my neighbor with the proviso that I can borrow it when needed.  I got the tractor for two, closely related and several minor reasons.  

Since I bought the old tractor I have developed back problems and sitting on seat that jostles up and down can be very painful.  Also, my wife wanted me to mow our five acres of tall grass more than once per year.  The 2305 was ok for mowing once per year, but the ground is quite rough (lots of chuck holes), and took about 3 or so hours to mow.  Add into this time out for when the tractor overheated (short tractor, tall grass and lots of fluffy seeds and chafe that would block airflow to the radiator combined with no temperature gauge, only a light) and the process was a hot, dusty, sticky, all-day affair.  So more time on a rough riding tractor was not going to work for my back.

In addition to the rough mowing qualities, I wanted to make certain that this is the last tractor I ever buy so I bought with some better features and expansion in mind.  I purchased the tractor with a loader and 6’ rough cutter (I was originally recommended a 5’, but it mows 6’ tall grass lot like it is not even their), have since added a 7’ grader blade for road maintenance & snow removal and Plan on getting a grapple and flail mower with hydraulic offset.

For mowing, the new tractor is amazing.  I can now mow the tall grass in about an hour with no stopping.  The loader is even more powerful than the old one and I can grade the road well.  The tractor also has several other bells and whistles, and though they are not necessary, they are nice.

The biggest downside to the new tractor is simply that I can’t get into the small space that I used to and getting back into my woods might require me to cut down one medium sized tree (my inner tree hugger shudders at the thought!).

I bought the tractor without a mid PTO as I have no need for a mid mount mower or a snow blower.  Also, I have some bad history with mid PTO’s.  The only problem I ever had with the old 2305 was a hydraulic leak on the floor.  I looked and looked but I could not find the source so I called up the dealer to pick up.  After they had it for a couple days they called me and told me it was fixed.  Fearing thousands of dollars in repairs, I went to the dealership where the bill was under 1k.  They tossed me a little bag with what looked like an O ring made out of rubberized, greasy grass.  While I was mowing, I accidentally put the PTO selector into the both mid and rear position and as I traveled over the tall grass, the mid PTO wound grass onto the mid PTO shaft and ground out the original seal.  The new grass O ring was actually doing an ok job of holding the hydraulic fluid in.  I have been skeptical of mid PTO’s since.

I will update later,

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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John Weiland wrote:But this brings up as well another option between 'barn-raising community' and purchased equipment that will get used too seldom to be worth the while:  neighbors or community members that will stop by with equipment to do the job for you.  A person I know who is now in elder care had moved to a rural setting for the last active phase of his life.  Amazing how many people came to till his garden, snowblow his driveway, etc., all for the usual neighborly perks.....produce bartered/exchanged in the summer, a coffee cake dropped off at odd times as a way to say 'thanks!'.  I gotta think that in a community where some roots have been sunk, it may be far easier to get some help done in many regions.  Mixing and matching many of these solutions can often keep the farmstead moving along.....



This is kind of a sticky situation because for me, having equipment, I tend to be the person doing the doing. It is not so bad now because I am retired and have the time to do what I want, but when I was working full-time, and only had weekends, holidays and vacations to run a farm, stopping what I was doing to help others was problematic. I wanted to, but gosh I had so much I had to do on my own farm.

But it is an important resources that can be used, just sparingly. I think when people first move into an area, they are so ambitious, and have so little, that they ask again and again for neighbors equipment-help, and it can kind of grate on the long-timers. I strong urge people to consider that point if they want to keep happy neighbors...just that...happy neighbors. There is a saying, "If you have to borrow something more then three times, it is time to get your own."

But as for deep roots and obtaining help, when I was dealing with a banker, she kept asking me what I would do if this happened like not have enough hay for the year, and I listed about six farms that would inevitable help me out, and then she asked the same for bedding, or equipment. In the end she said, "you keep saying your best asset is your soil fertility, but I think it is all the farm connections you have."

I hate hay...I really hate, hate, hate hay. It takes forever to make, it takes numerous amounts of equipment, it is not as nutritious as other feed, etc, but I still feed it because of all the people around here who do haying. Because of that, I can trade and barter to feed my sheep with no cost outlay. Every year I say, "I am going to use my own equipment this year to feed my sheep", and for 11 years now, trade and barter the feeding of my sheep instead. But if I ever do; NO it will NOT BE HAY!
 
              
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Travis Johnson wrote:

John Weiland wrote:But this brings up as well another option between 'barn-raising community' and purchased equipment that will get used too seldom to be worth the while:  neighbors or community members that will stop by with equipment to do the job for you.  A person I know who is now in elder care had moved to a rural setting for the last active phase of his life.  Amazing how many people came to till his garden, snowblow his driveway, etc., all for the usual neighborly perks.....produce bartered/exchanged in the summer, a coffee cake dropped off at odd times as a way to say 'thanks!'.  I gotta think that in a community where some roots have been sunk, it may be far easier to get some help done in many regions.  Mixing and matching many of these solutions can often keep the farmstead moving along.....



This is kind of a sticky situation because for me, having equipment, I tend to be the person doing the doing. It is not so bad now because I am retired and have the time to do what I want, but when I was working full-time, and only had weekends, holidays and vacations to run a farm, stopping what I was doing to help others was problematic. I wanted to, but gosh I had so much I had to do on my own farm.



This is not just a sticky situation for you, it is mostly sticky for everyone :). I do not mind barter and I do not mind helping and receiving help but I think for tyhe most part, the "American way" is (or has turned into) "pay your own way". For the most part, most people do not like "owing" anyone anything. I know I don't. Even when I had or have to borrow something or someone for a job, I always try and pay the person a fair rate, unless they insist on not getting paid. Yes, this can open you to the risk of being the sucker who always pays for everything but on the other hand, it also allows you to weed out the people who truly want to be your friends/good neighbors from someone who just wants to part you from your money. Let's be honest: 1) if you are new to a rural area, most locals have been there for generations and they do not really need you and 2) if you are new to the area, there are plenty of locals who can take advantage of your "green" status to part you from your cash.

The barn raising, the community stuff is all great but for the most part it is a thing of the distant past. I am not saying that's a good thing, I am just saying it is the way it is.

Travis Johnson wrote:
I hate hay...I really hate, hate, hate hay. It takes forever to make, it takes numerous amounts of equipment, it is not as nutritious as other feed, etc, but I still feed it because of all the people around here who do haying. Because of that, I can trade and barter to feed my sheep with no cost outlay. Every year I say, "I am going to use my own equipment this year to feed my sheep", and for 11 years now, trade and barter the feeding of my sheep instead. But if I ever do; NO it will NOT BE HAY!



Depending on where you live and what kind of an animal you are feeding, hay can be a huge drag on your finances. When we lived in South Florida, a square bale of horse quality hay was anywhere between $14 and $22. In Central Texas it was about $11-$16 per bale. You could get it for $8-9 from a local ranch if you were savvy. Around here a square bale of good quality horse hay (like Timothy or mixed Orchard/Fescue), if you can find good quality horse hay, goes for about $5-6/bale. At $15-$20 per bale it pays for you to make your own. At $5? Not so sure... I do it more for the fact that I do not want to depend on anyone else and I want to know what is being mowed. If you are savvy, you can buy used equipment that needs some work and it will be way cheaper than buying new (you already know that :))
 
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Oddo Da wrote:....Yes, this can open you to the risk of being the sucker who always pays for everything but on the other hand, it also allows you to weed out the people who truly want to be your friends/good neighbors from someone who just wants to part you from your money. Let's be honest: 1) if you are new to a rural area, most locals have been there for generations and they do not really need you and 2) if you are new to the area, there are plenty of locals who can take advantage of your "green" status to part you from your cash.

The barn raising, the community stuff is all great but for the most part it is a thing of the distant past. I am not saying that's a good thing, I am just saying it is the way it is.



In general, I can agree with these statements as long as I'm thinking nationally and not locally.  The person mentioned in my previous post who was now elderly and requesting occasional assistance from local sources was himself raised on a farm and knew well the notion of "overstaying your welcome".  He was judicious about what kind of favors to ask for and did not balk at being told that the requested services would not be available.  I'll just say the in our local area, even though no one wants to be 'fleeced', in general people tend to try to help when they can fit it in.  As it happens, the guy most often to help out was the most immediate farmer.....full time dairy operation with additional crops. I suspect it meant little to this farmer to continue with snow-plowing that he was already doing anyway to drive up the driveway of the one in need and blow his out as well.  It's not always just about being friendly, although that certainly is a part of the social capital of the region.  It's also about *knowing*, to the extent possible, your neighbors.  The more interactive you can be with helping out in small ways like this, the more you get to know who's living next to you.

I recall surprise when we first moved here and my wife jackknifed a trailer that was transporting her repaired tractor....the incident force her car into the ditch but fortunately doing no damage to person or equipment.  A guy driving behind her saw the incident, had a pick-up with a ball hitch (who doesn't around here!?...), and nicely offered (and delivered!) on re-hitching the trailer to his pick-up and bringing it to our home. (The assumption of having a cell phone on hand is now changing this type of behavior and most will leave you by the side of the road, thinking you've already called for help....)  My wife is from the east coast and pretty savvy and wary of such offers, but it's not unusual for people around here to do this.  Additional types of assistance of this nature in the 30 years of being here has generally supported this observation.  I'm not saying it's entirely altruistic....and is probably somewhat based on the idea that we all may find ourselves in dire need at some point.  Requesting and receiving help from the neighbors becomes somewhat commonplace after a while, but again possibly on a regional basis.
 
              
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John Weiland wrote:

Oddo Da wrote:....Yes, this can open you to the risk of being the sucker who always pays for everything but on the other hand, it also allows you to weed out the people who truly want to be your friends/good neighbors from someone who just wants to part you from your money. Let's be honest: 1) if you are new to a rural area, most locals have been there for generations and they do not really need you and 2) if you are new to the area, there are plenty of locals who can take advantage of your "green" status to part you from your cash.

The barn raising, the community stuff is all great but for the most part it is a thing of the distant past. I am not saying that's a good thing, I am just saying it is the way it is.



In general, I can agree with these statements as long as I'm thinking nationally and not locally.  The person mentioned in my previous post who was now elderly and requesting occasional assistance from local sources was himself raised on a farm and knew well the notion of "overstaying your welcome".  He was judicious about what kind of favors to ask for and did not balk at being told that the requested services would not be available.  I'll just say the in our local area, even though no one wants to be 'fleeced', in general people tend to try to help when they can fit it in.  As it happens, the guy most often to help out was the most immediate farmer.....full time dairy operation with additional crops. I suspect it meant little to this farmer to continue with snow-plowing that he was already doing anyway to drive up the driveway of the one in need and blow his out as well.  It's not always just about being friendly, although that certainly is a part of the social capital of the region.  It's also about *knowing*, to the extent possible, your neighbors.  The more interactive you can be with helping out in small ways like this, the more you get to know who's living next to you.

I recall surprise when we first moved here and my wife jackknifed a trailer that was transporting her repaired tractor....the incident force her car into the ditch but fortunately doing no damage to person or equipment.  A guy driving behind her saw the incident, had a pick-up with a ball hitch (who doesn't around here!?...), and nicely offered (and delivered!) on re-hitching the trailer to his pick-up and bringing it to our home. (The assumption of having a cell phone on hand is now changing this type of behavior and most will leave you by the side of the road, thinking you've already called for help....)  My wife is from the east coast and pretty savvy and wary of such offers, but it's not unusual for people around here to do this.  Additional types of assistance of this nature in the 30 years of being here has generally supported this observation.  I'm not saying it's entirely altruistic....and is probably somewhat based on the idea that we all may find ourselves in dire need at some point.  Requesting and receiving help from the neighbors becomes somewhat commonplace after a while, but again possibly on a regional basis.



Don't get me wrong - I absolutely agree with what you are saying. It is just that there is a big difference between someone mowing your lawn as a favor or blowing out your driveway for snow and something like showing up for a barn raising or log home building or whatever the local flavor is.

I continue to be surprised by my neighbors and total strangers around here as well. Polite, helpful and kind are the words I would use. However, I think all of that stops a bit shorter now than it did a hundred years ago. After all, my neighbor farmer farms 500 acres and she is super busy and has her own health problems and everyday issues to deal with...
 
Travis Johnson
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I have seen this issue a lot!

I am one of the people that have family that has been here forever, 1746 officially, but really before that.

For me, hearing about people that have moved around is a huge red flag. I even had one guy show up wanting to rent my house with his family, then proceeded to tell me he had been to several farms in the area, rented them out for a year or two, then had to leave. His first farm was a failure, and I suspect that he was squatting and not paying his rent on the rest. That really raised the red flag on this guy, but then he started to tell me how to farm.

He could have stopped right then because he was not stepping foot on my farm.

I know a farm has to inevitably change or it will fail, but then again, things are also done for a reason. For instance grazing 300 days a year. Perhaps that is possible in Virginia, but it is NOT happening in Maine. People bring these ideas up here, not knowing how truly rough winter can be, then ultimately fail, and leave town. On average the pattern is a 8 year stay.

In my twenties I invested a lot of time and energy into people, hoping that they would pull through, learn and have a nice farm, but after so many people did not listen, or left anyway, I have just focused on my farm and family.

A lot of failure or success is based on acreage. The smaller the plot, the more non-traditional things can be tried because if there is failure, it is on a smaller scale. My property taxes are $10,200 a year alone, so I have to be profitable to that level just to keep what I have. I have to change to stay with the times...I have seen many too many conventional farms fail to do that...but at the same time, it has to be calculated change.
 
Eric Hanson
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Travis,

I have a situation similar to this right now with my neighbor.  When I sold my old subcompact tractor to my neighbor, I sold him most of the implements as well.  However, we share a couple of attachments like a subsoiler and 3 point ball hitch for a trailer.  When I need a tractor to get into a small space I use his new/my old subcompact tractor.

I have another neighbor who is trying to build in a challenging area on his property and I offer him my tractor services when I can.  To me, this is a part of being a good neighbor.

Eric
 
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