Friday, May 07, 2010

Selling and Buying ...

It's been busy lately around the farm, the church, and with the family. Because of that I've fallen off the blog map. But, while I was gone I was keeping up with the good discussion going on in my post about farm decisions and purchasing a truck. I've been wanting to jump in on the discussion, but just haven't had the chance until now, so I decided a whole new post would be a good idea since I think there has been a lot said ... and I've had a lot on my mind. If you want to catch up on the original post and the discussion thereafter just check out this link.

The general consensus is that I need a truck ... in fact some people are surprised to hear that I've been farming without a truck for the past few years. But, sometimes reality is that you can't have everything that would be nice to have and that you certainly can't have it at once. That has been the case with a truck, and I've been making do. Instead of a truck I've been using a variety of trailers ... borrowed from family and friends. Now I'm ready to make the plunge though ... if I can make everything work out.

But, there are some realities that I need to face if I'm going to get a truck. Right now I have a 2000 Ford Expedition with about 140,000 miles on it. I've had it for about 5 years and during that time have had some work done on it that should help it keep going for some time to come. This vehicle can pull the stock trailer with no problem and I've used it to haul as many as three large bales (round and square). On top of all of that everyone in the family can fit in it and it is paid for of course.

With that in mind I need to purchase a truck that will replace the Expedition and still work out for my needs. It will need to be an extended cab with a bench set up front and in back if possible. Since I'm selling the Expedition it's going to need to be 4x4 (it just makes sense). A long box would be a plus and I'll even admit that I wouldn't mind a topper (even though I hate the looks of them).

The issue (as always) is finances. I believe I mentioned that I wasn't going to buy a truck until I sold my Expedition. I think that just makes sense not to have two big vehicles sitting around and have money tied up on both of them (one of which I won't be using). I also have to look at other priorities on the farm and look at where to spend the limited resources I have. With that in mind I want to sell the Expedition and purchase a truck for pretty much the same amount ...

I realize that won't get me the biggest and baddest and that it means I may have to compromise in some areas, but this farm is only a working farm it it can not break me financially! If I went out and got a new truck ... okay that won't happen! Let's just say that if I went out and got a $12,000 truck I would have to eat into money that could be used for other things on the farm ... like buying hay, putting in more fence, getting temporary fencing supplies, adding sheep, installing water and electricity to the shed, and so much more. That truck might be nice and wonderful and be able to do a lot, but I might not be able to afford to do the things I could use it to do ;)

So ... sell the Expedition and then get the best truck that I can with the money I have in hand. It won't work out perfectly, but not much else has so why would I expect this to? That's just the way it works on the farm sometimes ;)

15 comments:

Yeoman said...

A couple of additional suggestions.

1. Take a look at crewcabs too. In older ones, they might not be that much more expensive, and with kids, you'll use all the room.

2. Get a long box. If a truck can't haul a full sheet of plywood flat on the bed, it'll get irritating for the farmer.

3. Forget the topper. You're going to want to toss stuff over the gunwales. If you want to keep the bed clean, I like a tarp that's permanently affixed, but that's a rarity.

Teresa said...

You will not regret getting a truck. If you are not in a rush and look at all the options, you can get something that will work for not too much.

David N said...

I think you are making a wise decision to wait until you sell Expedition. If you don't have to tap into your farming resources to buy the truck and it ends up being cheaper to run, or has cheaper insurance I guess you made out better off then you went in! By the way if you could get one of the trucks in the images for these posts that would be awesome!

Rich said...

The only advice I can give is about selling your Expedition.

I have sold a number of used vehicles and the best strategy for selling one is to have the mindset where you wouldn't have a problem in continuing to own them if someone doesn't want to buy them at the price you set. As an example, if nobody wants to buy your Expedition at the price you feel is fair, it wouldn't be the end of the world if you kept using it around the farm the same way you have been for the past few years. Prospective buyers will 'sense' that you aren't desperate to sell and will in turn be more likely to buy at your price.

On the other hand, if you are desperate to sell, buyers will subconsciously sense it and will be reluctant to buy and/or will be willing to pay less.

It sounds crazy, but from my limited experience, deciding to keep a vehicle if it doesn't sell is the easiest way to sell a vehicle. Being desperate to sell is the best way to NOT sell a vehicle.

mike jorgenson said...

I've left you a couple of comments through a couple of years, but thought I'd leave one today as we are now proud owners of a small dexter herd. Here's a link to my wife's blog. http://blog.lib.umn.edu/draeg001/regionalpartnerships/ Good luck with the truck decision-I'm in basically the same predicament.

Yeoman said...

You know, I will say that, as somebody who had a vehicle before I was old enough to legally drive, and who once loved vehicles, over the years I've come to the conclusion more and more that they're a net detriment in so many ways.

Make no mistake, I'm amazed that you don't have a pickup truck, and I couldn't get by in our modern economy without one. But, at the same time, the internal combustion engine has been the destroyer, more than anything else, of the family farm and ranch, and the small town. The "T" in the Model T, the first really affordable automobile, should stand for "throat", as it was really a knife to our throats in so many ways.

Well, they're here to stay. From time to time when some alarmists fears that oil prices or environmental concerns means the days of American driving will soon be over, I laugh, as I'm sure that's not the case, but I also can't help but think "I wish".

Rich said...

I'm not so sure that the internal combustion engine killed the family farm and ranch.

I have a 1935 farm ledger that my great-grandmother kept which details the assets, expenses, crop yields, livestock, etc.

Apparently this was the year when they converted from horses to tractors because it details the purchase of a tractor and the sale of all the horses. One tractor replaced five horses and the horses sold for more than what the tractor cost.

Doing some rough estimates in my head, the feed/pasture needed to support 5 horses would have supported at least 5 cow/calf pairs which would have produced 4-5 calves per year. 4-5 calves would easily produce enough cash flow to buy parts and fuel for the tractor.

Of course, a smaller labor force was required to run the tractor, which meant that some people had to leave the farm either willingly or unwillingly. But this also meant that my great-grandmother's children who continued to farm were able to make a decent living.

My great-grandmother was widowed with 8 children, and was a thrifty, frugal woman that worked hard to hold onto the farm during the depression. If horses had had a definite advantage, I don't think she would have switched to tractors.

Having said all that, I do think there is a place for horses (I was wishing I had a horse available yesterday while moving some steers on foot). But, there is also a place for gigantic tractors, small tractors, trucks of all sizes, ATVs, etc. What is important is looking at how using horses, tractors, trucks, etc. impacts the functionality and profitability of the farm.

Yeoman said...

"If horses had had a definite advantage, I don't think she would have switched to tractors."

Exactly the point. While horses do hold their own in some regions and some uses, the emphasis on efficiency the internal combustion engine has given means just what you note. Engines had the advantage for most things.

The point actually isn't really debatable. It's been developed by such widely varying thinkers as Wendell Berry and Will Cochraine. Indeed, at one time Cochraine proposed to restrain the development of powered farm machinery in order to save the family farm. It's a pretty proven point.

The tractor meant increased efficiency. And that meant you could farm more. That meant you soon had to farm more. It's a process that hasn't stopped yet. The abandoned homesteads everywhere, as well as the "bedroom communities" and commuter traffic give plenty of evidence of it, if any was needed.

But, in the end, something was lost. As people exist for reasons other than efficiency.

Rich said...

The more I read and study the ideas of some of these "thinkers" that are trying to save something, the less I think they actually understand about the problem they are trying to address. Or, they are primarily focused on the romantic or idealized aspects of farming much more than the pragmatic aspects.

In my area, the main problem I see is there aren't enough farmers. Good farms are neglected, unfarmed, or underfarmed (for lack of a better term). If I was inclined, I could easily triple or quadruple the amount of land I was farming, because there aren't enough farmers to actually farm the land effectively. Since many of the local farmers are in their 60's and 70's, when they start to quit, what is going to happen?

Restricting the amount of land farmed or the type of equipment I could use won't magically produce more farmers or rebuild a community. I don't have the answer for encouraging more farmers or rebuilding communities, but I do think the first step is encouraging profitable farms of all sizes and types.

As an aside, why is having a farm that operates efficiently detrimental to the human existence? If I am working for myself and I can do a job in an efficient way that reduces the amount of time needed to complete the job, then I can choose to spend the "saved time" as I choose. If I am working for someone else, then the concept of being efficient is entirely different regarding human existence.

Scott said...

The Iowa DOT has a vehicle auction coming up on June 5th in Ames - I recommend you check it out.

The majority of the trucks are "safety orange" 2wd 1500s, which isn't your dream truck, but there are other options. And the prices on the orange trucks are excellent.

Take a look at the prices from their last auction:
http://www.iowadot.gov/auction/10.31.09_prices_by_description.pdf

Anonymous said...

Also check out the State of Iowa vehicle auction in Des Moines - they sell any state vehicles that are not DOT or University vehicles (I am not sure when the next one is). My family has picked up a few surplus DNR trucks this way, and I am currently driving a 1/4 ton Ranger that belonged to the Eldora detention center in its former life.

Yeoman said...

"In my area, the main problem I see is there aren't enough farmers. Good farms are neglected, unfarmed, or underfarmed (for lack of a better term). If I was inclined, I could easily triple or quadruple the amount of land I was farming, because there aren't enough farmers to actually farm the land effectively. Since many of the local farmers are in their 60's and 70's, when they start to quit, what is going to happen?"

I envy you that problem. The problem here is the opposite, land prices are more and more expensive, so people who want to get in cannot.



"As an aside, why is having a farm that operates efficiently detrimental to the human existence? If I am working for myself and I can do a job in an efficient way that reduces the amount of time needed to complete the job, then I can choose to spend the "saved time" as I choose. If I am working for someone else, then the concept of being efficient is entirely different regarding human existence."

Indeed it is, and it's actually an amazingly complicated subject. On small acreages, in terms of economic efficiency, minus labor (which does have a value, of course) animal power is actually more efficient. On large acreages, it certainly is not. But perhaps that's entirely beyond the point, as ultimately the value of all human activities probably shouldn't be judged in terms of efficiency, but rather on some other sort of intrinsic value.

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