Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thinking About Tractors...

Things have been CRAZY around here! Two weeks ago I started coaching soccer again for my fourth season. I coach varsity high school girls and I really enjoy it, but it does take a lot of time. Each day I spend two-and-a-half to three hours at practice, and things are about to get even busier because games start tomorrow! On the flip side we have a lot of away games this year so hopefully I'll have some time to read on the bus rides home. What I'm trying to say though is that my blog posts have been a bit irregular lately and I haven't had as much time to jump into some of the discussion in the comments. But, there has been lots of good ideas thrown around and I'm following along. Keep it up!

Anyways, back to beginning farming! As we are getting close to closing on the farm and preparing our building plans I am really starting to think about the tools we are going to need. Everything from basic construction tools to a chainsaw to possibly even a tractor with a front end loader. There are plenty of Management Intensive Grazing based farms out there that survive without a tractor (especially one our size). They hire in work done when the need the tractor and save money along the way. But, we are going to be starting out with nothing and a tractor could come in handy.

Since our land is completely bare we are going to have plenty of work to do. Everything from clearing pasture to putting up a house will have to be done. Fences need to be put in, trenches and holes need to be dug, a hay shed needs to be put up, some downed timber needs to be cleaned up (for burning), hay needs to be made (we could easily hire this done). And that is just some of the summer stuff. When winter comes we are going to need to be able to clear snow and maybe even move big round bales depending on what happens during the.

So, with all of that in mind here is what I'm thinking would work for us. A tractor with 45 to 80 horsepower, a front end loader, a three point hitch, a power take off, and it needs to be used! With all of that we should be to take care of most things on the farm, and if we are careful shoppers we might even be able to afford one, we will just have to see.

Pictured throughout the post are some of the tractors I have found that would fit our bill. Some of the pictures show loaders and some don't, but a loader will be high on our list. Also, a couple of them are narrow front end, but we will want a wide front end. The first picture is of a Massey Ferguson 165, next we have a Massey Ferguson 85 (a litter earlier than the 165), after that is the International 706, then the Oliver 1550, and finally a Ford 5000.


Anonymous said...

I like the second one the best, although they all look great in pictures. It would depend on how well they run too:) What does a tractor this size and used run in Iowa? I wonder if it's about the same in MO? We are going to be hunting for one eventually also.
Good Luck on your decision, and your first soccer game!

Yeoman said...

All tractors scare me. The only one I feel safe in is one of those huge multi-wheeled jobs. Otherwise, they all are sort of waiting to hurt you.

For that reason, if it were me (and this applies only to me) I'd go horse if I needed a tractor, and for hoisting I'd do something else for hoisting.

Horses are also dangerous, but I'm more familiar with them, and they do not scare me the same way tractors do.

Make sure any tractor you get is more or less safe. Also, make sure that all the guards are on it, and if it has a Roll Over Protection device, all the better.

FWIW, I've worked on two cases where people were killed by farm tractors. They're dangerous.

Ethan Book said...

sea2shore - Ahh ... if it only could go by looks, then I would be set :) In all honesty I would like to have a Minneapolis Moline as that is the family brand of choice, but those are more difficult to come by with loaders. As far as a price ... anything from $3,500 and up to whatever you can spend. We are looking in that $3,500 to $5,500 range specifically and if we are able to do it financially I think we will have no problem finding something good.

Yeoman - Sure tractors are dangerous ... so are four-wheelers, cars, trucks, airplanes, and yes you are right horses. There are tractor deaths every year in Iowa and often they involve experienced farmers. As with anything you need to know the limits of the equipment and stay below those limits.

On the flip side people in our family (who have plenty of horse sense and experience) have been hurt by horses. Amish folks around here ... and they have serious horse sense ... get hurt by horses and sometimes killed.

Life is dangerous and you have to take all precautions and use commensense no matter what. A tractor is a tool that helps in all sorts of things around the farm ... just like the chain saw that I will be using (which is WAY dangerous).

Me, I'm think I'm more afraid of some bulls than horses or tractors ...

Ernie said...

Ethan, it will add to the price of the tractor. But I would look for one with a cab on it. You will be thankfull come wintertime you paid the extra $$.


Yeoman said...

There's good reason to be afraid of some bulls.

Indeed, some cows are downright mean.

I've been hurt pretty badly in a horse accident myself. And I've never been hurt by a tractor (although I very rarely drive a tractor). I won't get on a four wheeler, however.

Yeoman said...

Ernie said:

"Ethan, it will add to the price of the tractor. But I would look for one with a cab on it. You will be thankfull come wintertime you paid the extra $$.


The last time I drove a tractor was in the winter, and it had a cab. It was one of those huge modern farm tractors. The heat was most welcome.

A cab might be nice in the summer too.

And if it has some sort of ROPS feature, all the better.

Rich said...

I second the advice Yeoman gave - "...make sure that all the guards are on it, and if it has a Roll Over Protection device..."

I used to have the attitude that Roll Over Protection Systems (ROPS) were just there to protect the idiots and I didn't really need to worry about rolling a tractor. But a few summers ago, not once but twice, I almost rolled a small tractor which actually had a ROPS, and it is a pretty awful lonely feeling to be on the verge of being crushed by a tractor. When you have a loader on a tractor, with a heavy load, on an incline, they are much less stable than they appear. The older I get, the less I would like to operate a tractor that had a loader without at least a ROPS. If you buy a tractor that built before ROPS were installed, it might be money well spent to retrofit a ROPS for a small margin of safety.

When you are buying a used tractor, it is equally as important to make sure the brakes work in addition to the engine, etc. That lesson was learned when I almost crashed into a train because I couldn't get stopped fast enough, (f.y.i - the buckets on front end loaders will work as anchors in a pinch).

To my eye, the bucket on the International 706 looks a little too big for that that size of tractor

Yeoman said...

On ROPS, I was worked on a project where a fellow drove a heavy Caterpillar tractor off of the highwall of a mine. The tractor landed upside down, but he lived.

That convinced me.

Tom K said...

What, No Minneapolis Moline or John Deere to choose from?

rob said...


Glad I'm not the only person who won't get on a four-wheeler. I was starting to wonder how I'd ever make it as a live-off-the-lander. : )

Steven said...

On the safety of a four wheeler, or any motorized tool, I think it's mostly about the user/driver. I don't own a 4-wheeler but when I have driven them for different reasons I always find myself wanting to push the limit of what they are supposed to do. It's alot of fun to climb a hill or a ditch that looks impossible, but those are the kinds of things that get us hurt.

Ethan Book said...

Good thoughts everyone. A ROPS device would be nice, but have to be added to any tractor we can probably afford. For a farm like ours in Iowa I see no reason to buy new because of the multitude of good used tractors in Iowa.

Rich - As to the bucket on the 706, that is a loader that is recommended for that tractor by the loader company, so it should be fine. I think the picture makes it look bigger than it is.

Also, these are specific tractors we are looking at as much as they are examples of sizes or models that I see a lot of in our area.

Tom K. - Yes, no John Deere is on the list. For some reason people want a lot of money for that green paint ... even if it is fading. But, if I can find a good deal on a 3020 or 3010 I would take that! And the Minneapolis Moline will be on the top of the list if I can find one that fits the bill!

Equyne said...

I am a single woman with a 77 acre farm to take care of alone. I have a Ford 3000 with bush hog and front end loader. I love it. It is enough tractor to move round bales with the hay spear that mounts on the loader's bucket. I can mow or cut fields, drag trees (although I use horses more for that), and attach a post hole auger when I need to do corner posts for fencing. I have to say that I would be like a one armed woman if I didn't have the loader. It is great for pruning tree limbs (especially if you have a second person to drive and maneuver the bucket to get you to the right place and save your having to climb up and down), I used it extensively in putting up my own barn (52 x 80 pole barn) to lift rafters and roofing up for me, and of course the bucket can be used for moving bulk shavings and things. It doesn't do much in the digging area but I have used it some. They are pretty simple tractors to maintain and service.

The Coach said...

I have been coaching soccer for 8 years now, and I need all the help I can get. Hang in there with the soccer coaching and check out these free soccer drills for a little inspiration.

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