thinking about my first tractor

lyviaJanuary 22, 2013

We are about to buy 5 acres, so we will need a tractor by summer. We are getting closer to owning horses, too. So besides a large garden, there is manure and hay to haul, fence posts to set, trees to cut down, etc. And there is a private road, so being able to plow and spread gravel would be awesome. Have I just sold myself an oversize tractor? How much could I save if I hire out the gravel and get a smaller tractor? I know it depends on the details, but I am interested in your opinions. Thanks!

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Have you had any prior experience in such undertakings?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:49PM
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Congrats! Yep, break out that task list and if you have the funds- buy right the first time. Plowing snow? Gravel drives and box graders get along well. When you get the urge to get a layer of gravel on the drive, the truck can put it in place pretty much on its own. Loaders are so very versatile, pallet forks, list goes on and on.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 8:50PM
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When you get this five acres, and the tractor to do garden, fence post, spread grave, and the other things you named; are you going to have time to all of this? If you have a full time job, it may be difficult to get it all done.

If it were me I would develop a budget for the next five years. Estimate the initial and continuing cost for each of the project. This cost should include the cost of equipment required. ie you may need a tractor, but that does not mean you can not rent some of the auxiliary equipment for the tractor. In this estimate you may need to include the cost of outbuilding to store the equipment you are thinking about buying. You should definitely include the cost of equipment maintenance. (I do the work myself on my JD Lawn tractor, in addition to gas and oil, it cost me about $50/year for the tune up kit, To have it done by the dealer it is $300.) In this budget you should include estimates of the hours that it will take to do these projects. It takes me about 2 hours to mow and trim my 3/4 acre with my 38" mower and sting trimmer.

Do you have a complete tool box? wrenches, hammers, screw drivers, etc.

Then go back and re-estimate the cost for hiring people to do the work. As you refine these budgets you will find it is cheaper for you to do some things and hire for others.

It will turn out to cost (money and time) a lot more that you expect ;-)

If you are experience with this I sorry I took the basic route, as you know all of this.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:40PM
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I'd see about hiring everything I could initially because after it's done, you're stuck with expensive toys that you've used only a couple of times. Maybe you can buy used box graders, etc. and resell after you're done. If you buy new then resell to "recapture equity" you're going to lose a lot of $$. Also, you might need a bigger tractor initially which is also more $$. After you've got the initial "ground breaking" done what you need/want in a tractor will be pretty evident.

You said "horses" as in plural and "5 acres." You've touched on a pet peeve of mine. City folks buy a "country estate" so they can have horses. Horses need to run, with 5 acres, subtract out the area for the house, lawn, driveway, horse barn, and equipment shed/barn, maybe a garden and what do you have left, 3 acres? Not a lot of room for a horse, singular, never mind plural. With three acres one horse will have it grazed down to nothing within the first month, you'll be feeding hay all year round, and hay is for getting livestock through the winter, not a year round diet.

Not being mean or trying to destroy anyone's dreams, but around here I see a lot of 3-5 acre estates with a horse or two in a "too small" area which they've grazed off and this time of year the whole thing is a mud hole. You also mentioned hauling manure, in a cart or are you going to get a spreader? Bigger tractor and even the small spreaders are pricey and don't work very well. You also mention hauling hay, square bales or round? Round bales you need a decent sized farm tractor which doesn't really lend itself to pedestrian stuff like mowing the yard and plowing snow in the driveway.

A budget was mentioned by knuttle, look at that aspect very carefully, from experience, you're looking at spending a lot of money, even if you significantly decrease the description you initially posted.

I have a farm with large and small tractors and appropriate equipment for each. e.g. There's a 65HP JD diesel with a rear mounted blade, very useful for coarse leveling. To plow the driveway, I have a 26HP GT, weights, chains, and front mounted blade. The big tractor would deposit all the gravel on the side of the drive in the lawn.

I honestly wish you well, just carefully evaluate your finances and what you really want to do. 5 acres sounds like a lot, but as soon as you bring any livestock into the equation, it's way too small.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Not trying to bust yer dreams, but Exmar is right about yer dream farm! Farmers are brought up with farming, from birth, to the time of operating their own farm! Learning by doing is the teacher, when it comes to farming, and also for other jobs of work.
Yes, it is nice to ride thru the contry-side, and look at the nice farms, with tractors in the fields, hay wagons going to the barns, riding horses scampering around the fields, all of that scenery! BUT!! If ya haven't been raised in it, and were a city kid, you do have a lot to learn! Go out, price real farm type tractors. Price the equipment you will need to buy, to operate yer farm. Price the cost of farm help, tractor fuel and upkeep, licenses for trucks, and wagons, machinery, for road travel. Find out the cost of fencing for yer horses. Price out the cost of Veteranian care. Find out how much feed for the livestock will cost every year!
Heck, I'm not even a Farmer! I live close to town. My relatives had a small farm, many years ago. The folks i still know up where the farm was, still call me "The city kid"! But, from reading things in numerous farming web-sites, and TV shows, with real farm folks doing the talking, I have developed a strong feeling for farmers and their problems. So, before you jump off the cliff--better do some research into taking up the kinds of things you say you want to do! JMHO: Rusty Jones

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 12:31PM
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By me there are many hobby farmers sitting on 5 acre plots. You can accomplish quite a bit. It sounds like a great opportunity to do the things you want to do, without it becoming too overwhelming. The way I look at the juncture you are at, judge how much you really wish to do. When you purchase equipment, buy what you can build on should you need to. But buy smart and be prepared. Deals are certainly able to be found out there on compacts from people who unfortunately couldn't make the dream work or decided that it was not what they really wanted. Lots of times, the value of the accessories don't add much to the price comparatively. Everyone wants a loader, but some would rather have a a belly mower than a tiller or visa versa. Cost wise, if it brings the reason you bought the place into fruition- its way worth it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Hey, not trying to destroy anyone's dream. With 5 acres you can have quite the estate with flower beds, garden, fruit trees, etc. It's just when you say horses or any livestock on 5 acres it becomes a hobby farm for the rich. Leave the livestock out and you can do quite nicely with a good sized LT, cart, and rototiller which wouldn't break the budget.

I've done things which logically and financially "didn't compute." However, I had fun, learned things, and satisfied that "dream."

Good luck,


    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:46AM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

I'd look to get a used Ag tractor. Much bigger than any garden tractor, much more heft. Older ones (before 1960) are mostly 6 volt (sometimes hard to start) but can be converted to 12v. Most have hydraulic lift on the back. Try to get one with hydraulic (bucket) on the front. Comes in real handy. Four wheel drive is better than 2X.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:05AM
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I work on 18 acres, tilling, brush hogging, firewood, etc. Just traded in the 1958 TO 35 for a 1996 Ford New Holland 1320 4x4, Hydro. It runs a 60inch 3ph tiller and a 4 foot brush hog just fine. I no longer bale hay so dont neeeed the hp and weight now. I would like a loader but cant justify the xtra 2-3 thousand$$s. I use a 3ph back scoop for lots of little jobs from hauling soil and rocks to toting heavy objects. Used cash price was $7,000.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:40PM
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