It finally happened. After months of me sitting on the fence dad gave up on me and bought a loader tractor himself. Let’s not focus on the machine. Let’s talk about the first day of usage. We filled in a hole in my yard, hauled 8 loads of lime and manure out to the fields. Then we put a nice layer of bedding into the cattle barn so my moos would have a nice, comfy, clean bed for a few days of forecasted cold rain. All in about 5 hours.
I am telling you from experience, based on my availability, that’s about a month’s worth of work. Probably more than that as it encouraged us to do work I was simply not doing. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that other jobs came first on the list. After you fill a manure spreader three times in one day by hand it’s nice to just sit on your tookus for a minute. It’s hard to get into the back corners of the horse barn to clean out the manure but it was easier since the machine did the heavy lifting. Plus I work off-farm and that takes more than just my daylight hours, I come home tired…so it’s just hard to get it all done.
Let’s put a few numbers to this deal. It takes me the better part of an hour to load up a manure spreader. First I use the pitchfork and pry out a bit of material about 4 feet from the spreader and toss that in. Then I work in a line toward the spreader tossing in each little scoop. Like a typewriter, I work line by line backward and toward the spreader. This leaves lots of small, loose crumbles of compost behind that I alter scoop up with a flat shovel. Then I use a round point shovel to put an even layer of lime on top of all of that. Each shovel of lime weighs maybe 10 pounds. It takes a lot of shoveling to cover the spreader with a half inch of lime.
The loader tractor filled the spreader with four scoops of composted manure and one scoop of lime. It may have taken all of 5 minutes to load up the spreader. Happy days!
So we scraped up manure here, scooped out manure there. There were places we couldn’t get the tractor so we had to dig manure out by hand but we had been so lazy all day we had the energy remaining to get the work done. It was great! Dad drove the loader, warm in the cab. I spread the material (driving into the wind!). Then we filled in groundhog holes with lime, spread fresh bedding for horses and cattle, moved material that had been sitting for multiple years and called it a day. We still went home tired but we were tired after doing much more work than we could have accomplished previously.
So two things. I don’t know if bigger is necessarily better. A smaller tractor or a Bobcat could have gone places this tractor just can’t go but this tractor never even hesitated about scooping up lime. Second, the farm simply can’t afford a loader tractor at this time. Dad bought the tractor. But now that we have it around I have to agree that we can’t afford to be without it. On that line of thinking I got a series of notes from a friend some time ago encouraging me to buy a loader.
We did it, we bought a loader. We just no longer can lift or move anything without getting hurt, and renting or borrowing a loader to clean out our deep bedding was too expensive. We figure it’s an investment for our daughter. I don’t want her broken down like we are. I got a leg up of sorts with my brothers used equipment, which we have slowly upgraded. My husband is good about taking care of things, and he’s good with equipment so the tractor should last our farming life and as long as she wants to mess with it. Too many things were left undone, now with forks and a loader we have been cleaning up like crazy. Now if we can just get rid of the things we have gathered up that we don’t need we’ll be looking like a respectable farm.
BUY YOUR LOADER!! You don’t want to end up broken down at 57 because you dug manure by hand and carried how many bags of chicken feed…
[Husband] is a heavy equipment operator, and skid steers are a [bear] to work with compared to a good loader. Too low of ground clearance etc for deep bedding, he was stuck all the time, and subsequently we were stuck too, renting it from the neighbor or the rental business. He only got stuck once with the tractor, and since he didn’t get stuck he didn’t tear up the ground like usual with the skid steer. You know I think you should buy a tractor, maybe a used one? I’ll stop now. Because I am going to take a pallet of hay over to the corral for my heifers…with the tractor 😉
So there you go. Dad bought a used loader tractor big enough to replace his primary machine. I think I would have gone smaller but he bought a lightly used 60 horse tractor for the price of a new 40 horse. Plus it has a cab for a little dose of A/C when he’s putting up hay, wind protection and warmth when we are horsing around in the winter. Now all we need is a PTO-mounted post hole digger, some gates, a mountain of fencing, a new roof on the barn…
Congratulations! That tractor is going to pay for itself over the years, that’s for sure.
Loved the typewriter analogy – I wonder how many of your audience have actually used typewriters, besides me, Matron, your Mom…
I did my editing around 4 in the morning here after washing dishes and before washing eggs. Just me and a cup of coffee. I had to make a quick edit on one of the quotes to omit language we normally don’t print on the blog. And I had no idea what the typewriter reference was. I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t work on the blog at 4:00.
@ SSF – I learned how to type on an old manual typewriter in High School. I just about bought a 90 yr old antique Remington #10 this summer and took that trip down memory lane with my Para-Legal mom of the hand carriage returns like HFS forking his lines of manure and stinky too but with liquid white out and stinkin’ jammed keys etc.
@ HFS – nothin’ says lovin’ like Dad buying a front-end loader! I can’t see Santa topping that gift this yr!
@ Not the Caretaker – though you didn’t buy an old Massy 44 w FEL and blade like I did, a fun poem comes to mind (note one word edited in last line for family content):
FISH STORY by Frank Young
You’ve worked for years like you had to do, Provided for them but what about you? Should you labor on in selfless giving, Or is it time for a little living?
You’ve got your house, you’ve got your car, An occasional night, spent at the bar
A loving wife and a kid named Fred, But you need a tractor out in the shed
So you set aside, perhaps a weekend, And follow the light of your own beacon
You hit the back roads on a mission, And tell them all you’re going “fishin”
Down shady back road and dusty lane, You search the fence rows like a man insane
Driven on by force unknown, You’ve got to have one for your own
Back home they wonder if the old mans daft, He’s never been fond of water craft
And never owned a rod or reel, Never came home with a fish-filled creel
They speculate a mid-life crisis, They speak of variety and how it spices
They think perhaps some psycho-pill, Would help you make it up over the hill
But that’s not heard by your deaf ears, You can’t be burdened by all their fears
You’ve made your move, won’t turn around, Till what you seek is finally found
Then suddenly in that small clearing, You spot an old McCormick-Deering
It speaks to you in rusted voice, The die is cast, you have no choice
The price is paid, no second thought, Already proud of what you’ve bought
You load the relic behind your truck, And thank the gods that brought such luck
You head back home, your prize aboard, And vow that soon it’ll be restored
To the fine machine it used to be, Its not just iron, its history
The family greets you, “Hi’ya Dad”, Certain that you’ve at last gone mad
They blame the stress, a destructive factor, But what the heck—you’ve got your tractor!
Oh I have a lot to say. Don’t think I am offended but I hope he didn’t buy it for me. Geez! I would rather believe we both saw the need and I out-chickened him. I see another post coming.
I didn’t mean it like he bought it for you – that’s what the poem is about – buying something he wanted for himself and good on him! In my extended family (and sometimes the neighbors) we are always happy (sometimes ecstatic) when someone buys something as we all share letting others use things we have as needed. It seems your dad did the same with you getting a month of work done in one day – oh happy day!