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Contemplating a small tractor

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Boulter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 7 Central Ontario
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster

2007-08-10          144609


Hi:

I am thinking of getting a tractor. Here is a description of some jobs I do manually now, plus future jobs I envision with the right gear. Maybe you folks could both suggest a suitable tractor size, and suitable or alternative methods of work.

I think 30 to 35HP, 2500 to 3000 pounds, 4WD, geared transmission is about right, but I will defer to you experts.

I collect firewood on my property. I use about 15 face cords per annum. I figure I work about an 8 hour day per face cord by the time I fell the tree, buck it where it falls, use my hand cart to do the 100 or 200 feet to the nearest road access for my F150, load four cartís worth in the pickup, truck it up to my staging area, rough split with wedges and/or maul, stack in drying piles, (months later) load hand cart and stack behind the house, finish split and load into the house. I figure with a tractor I could load up the bucket and dump in to the F150, saving the hand cart work, or possible move the wood in the bucket to the piles for direct stacking if the material is small enough to not need rough splitting. Or I could skid out the trees to the staging area, but I like to do this work in the winter because it is a slower season and it is nice to buck without worrying about hitting the ground or having a dirty log. I can also see given enough time making a skid system such that the tractor can pick up loads from the drying stacks and move them into the wood shed without need to load (either tractor bucket or push cart or truck) and stack again.

I wonder what firewood techniques others might suggest given a tractor and a pickup truck?

You can also take from above that I donít necessarily need the most time efficient machine, just the smallest lowest capital cost machine that will get the job done eventually. I donít necessarily have a lot of work for a tractor, just more work than I can do manually. I seem to fall further and further behind every year. Though I hear that once you have a tractor, new uses make themselves known.

I might be interested in doing some very small scale saw log skidding as I woodwork and have about 20 acres of hard maple. I canít see using more than about 1000BF per annum. Plus it might be nice to square off the small red pines for quick and dirty small building construction material.

I do some small agricultural stuff for personal use and a bit of sharing with friends. I have about 4 acres of field which is of very poor caliber, pretty much sand, and about 2000 square feet of garden plot. I have not done much with the field yet other than have a pigs dig up 100 square feet at a time in a movable pen or ďpig tractorĒ. This idea is failing as without irrigation, I canít plant a cover crop after the pigs do their thing. Plus there are plenty of stones turned up that I have to haul away with the wheelbarrow. Then it takes me an hour to smooth over the areas with a shovel and rake as the pigs tend to level it, but the field slopes about 1 in 20. Also the pen is not very movable given the field slope. The 2WD F150 wonít pull it up hill, and I canít manually move it uphill either.

Iíd like to get the area fenced in as the deer would decimate any crops. Then Iíd like to grow some crops to feed the pigs, and expand the garden area. So I envision using temporary electric fences to rotate the pigs and crops inside the perimeter fencing that would define the 4 acre area. I would like the tractor to help with stone removal, plowing, discing, leveling etc, but not necessarily planting or harvesting. I have a walking seeder that would work well enough on large seed crops like corn for the small area that I would do in any year. Though I might at some point mow alfalfa and similar for winter usage, I donít ever envision keeping more than one sow and a few smaller animals through the winter. Anything bigger scale than that, Iíd buy in the food I think. The pigs would self harvest their share and I would manually harvest the people food.

Just a bit more about fencing. I want to put cedar posts on 50 foot centers with 3 steel posts in between, though I would consider all cedar if the auger worked well enough. So the immediate requirement would be for about 50 post holes. Problem is, from the dozen holes I dug manually, 2 out of 3 holes would dig up a 4 inch or larger (8 to 10 inch) rock. These holes took 2 or 3 hours, the sand (not many of these) holes 15 minutes. Is an auger going to dig the nasty holes effectively, or am I going to end up doing a lot of this manually with my big steel pry bar anyhow?

I have zero need for mowing as the amount of grass I have can be done < 2 hours with a push reel mower.

A backhoe looks interesting as I have a 1000 SF barn that needs the foundation replaced, and my wood shed needs its retaining walls rebuilt. Donít know if these projects would be too small scale to justify the cost of the backhoe. I also see trenching for irrigation piping, maybe 800 feet or so, and the odd buried electrical cable.

I shovel the snow manually to a length of 3 vehicles off the road and then haul groceries etc. between the car and the house with a utility sleigh.. If I had a tractor, I might be tempted to maintain the whole semi-circular driveway of 300 or so feet in the winter. But I might not too. Shoveling by hand that much snow can take the place of a gym membership.

I am trying to establish an orchard, so the tractor could help there also with things like moving the mulch away from the trunks in the fall, and adding new mulch throughout the growing season, and maybe with harvesting.

I donít envision much loader work that involves shuttling back and forth. The loader would be used more for moving things like harvested stones and bucked firewood. I think I would be a good candidate for a geared transmission over hydrostatic, but I am open to persuasion either way.

I can see using a scraper to maintain the bush roads.

I want to build some stone walls.

I want my tractor to fit into an 8x12 foot building. Anything bigger needs a building permit and drawings, so it would take longer to do the paperwork than to build the structure. Yes ... I live in Ontario. If the attachments need a second or third 8x12, that is fine. If it would really need a larger building, I would purchase a kit garage which would presumably come with drawings.

A big concern I have is service. I own no way of moving a tractor long distances and the closest dealership of any brand would be about 100 miles. My F150 is unlicensed so never leaves the property. I have no desire to pay to keep a truck on the road. So it would either cost me $500+ to rent someone to transport, or it had better not break down too often, or I better learn to fix it myself. I do have a truck mechanic buddy up the road, but frankly he is a busy guy, so I wouldnít want to depend on him. I have no idea whether this suggests old technology say 8N up to 70s vintage which are presumably dead simple, or taking tender loving care of a newer modern tractor.

As for cost, Iíd rather not spend $30,000, but I can certainly do so if that much money buys me 35 years worth of tractor whereupon, being 80 years old, the race is on to see if I or the tractor dies first.

I have some physical issues that might rule in or out certain tractors. I am 6'3" tall with size 15 feet.

That is all I can think of for now. Iíll keep reading through the archives, but if anyone has any comments I would be most appreciative.

Boulter

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Contemplating a small tractor

View my Photos
kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5223 South Carolina
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2007-10-02          146458


Boulter, no idea why no feed back to your questions, are you stil looking for thoughts? kt ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Contemplating a small tractor

View my Photos
Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7152 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2007-10-02          146463


Kenneth, I think the problem was the original thread was started twice somehow.

See the thread linked to below.


Best of luck.

....


Link:   "OTHER" Tractor Thread.

 
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____________________________________________________________________________________
Contemplating a small tractor

View my Photos
kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5223 South Carolina
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2007-10-02          146468


Murf, that is good. I thought it seemed familiar and could not believe it had no feedback. It was sitting in the no one loves me section waiting so I threw it out there. kt ....

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