Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on Tractors (and trucks)

As we begin to build out our new property, one of the things much on my mind of late has been used tractors. I have a whole host of things I'd like to be able to do down there that would be made easier with some diesel power on hand, and now that I have a roof to store it under (at least temporarily) I need to get with it. I am very much a fan of heavy duty and more (rather than less) horsepower than I absolutely need to get the job done.

Ideally, to be a multi-use tractor around here, I'd like something with a minimum of 80 hp (and I'd really prefer 100), a loader with a bucket and hay spear is essential and 4x4 is just barely non-essential. If I skip the potential field work I could put it to use doing and concentrate on it's loader functions, I could get away with slightly less horsepower, although not a whole bunch less because we feed a lot of large round bales in the winter and I am a real fan of being able to carry one on the three point hitch and one (or two) more on the front end loader.

We currently run a Ford 7610 (100 hp, loader and 4x4) and a Kubota M4950 (55 hp, loader, 2x4). Of the two, I like the Kubota better than the Ford despite the fact the Kubota is half the size and very old. If money weren't an object, I'd probably own two Kubota M105 cab tractors, both with loaders. For our current applications 110 hp is enough complete any job I would need done.

Jason on the Ford 7610 tractor last winter

I grew up in farm country and it seems that everyone had a vehement opinion on farm equipment. Many farmers both up there and down here have their entire fleet of tractors and combines plus all their implements of husbandry branded either green or red and many wouldn't switch if their life depended on it ! A new piece of farm equipment that differs from the norm on that farm will quickly have the chin waggers at the local cafe speculating on the mental health of the purchaser. Personally, I'm far more concerned with local parts availability than I am with what colour the tractor paint is, and in this part of the world that means John Deere, Kubota, Ford/NH and CaseIH in that order. A few years ago, Ford/NH would have been first, but several local dealerships have closed, leaving the closest dealer 40 hard miles away.

I feel much the same way about trucks (lots of horsepower and heavy duty). When I moved down here, I brought a simple Chevy Silverado half ton with me. It wasn't fancy and it sure wasn't intended to haul anything. On my farm in Ontario we had big trucks to do any hauling, so all this truck had to do was get me from home to the coffee shop, the grain elevator, or to the farm equipment dealer for parts. For all the work it did, I may as well have owned a minivan ! LOL ! Against my better judgement, Melissa talked me into adding a fifth wheel attachment for her horse trailer (2 horse straight load gooseneck with dressing room) and we did some hauling with it but I never felt comfortable that I had enough truck (or enough brakes) in front of me. (Melissa putting in my two cents here that I originally had an F-250 diesel to pull this trailer - long story involving a divorce as to why I no longer had that truck!)

After a couple of years of this I couldn't stand it any more so we bought a Chevy 2500 HD Duramax diesel with a six speed manual transmission, which is just enough truck on her trailer to make me feel safe hauling it around. We also have a 24 foot Featherlite aluminum stock trailer that we haul with this truck as well. If we were doing serious long distance hauling and if our trailers were larger than our current set up I would be pushing for a single axle five ton truck outfitted with air brakes. (One more comment from Melissa - having hauled with both 3/4 ton and 1 ton gas and diesel trucks over the years I would always take a diesel truck over a gas truck. Of course Jason thinks anything larger than a two horse trailer should be hauled with the above-mentioned 5 ton truck with air brakes.)

Current towing truck, Chevrolet Duramax Diesel

My question of the day is what do you have at home for trucks, trailers and tractors ? Do you like what you have or would you upgrade it/downgrade it if you could ? If so, what would you upgrade to ? I am most curious to read the responses to this !

When I want action shots I just have to sit in the Big Boys' field for awhile; here we have Apollo and Thomas on the go.

Chance on the run

Tony, Dustin and Baby taking a gallop through the pasture

Levendi and Elfin

Alex, Winston and Asterik

Elfin, Homer and Thomas

Lucky, Chili, O'Reilly and Lightening

Teddy and O'Reilly

Lucky, Snappy and Chili


Lauren said...

I think you know I'm currently in the market for my first rig and with lots of input have decided against the "eco-rig" (half ton and two horse BP) for the more standard "rig that will last for ever and you're already 25-Lauren-so-you-don't-need-a-starter-rig."

Anyway, the general consensus has been 3/4 ton, diesel, 4x4, extended or crew cab. (I'd have a truck already if I would settle for gas but then the shrieks of disdain get really loud... also, I'm 99% sure my friend's gas F250 would not get up your driveway and I've watched the same truck in diesel go up the hill, laughing all the way.)

And I'm pretty set on a GN at this point, but if the right BP rolls my way, I won't say no. Now I just need to decide on 2 or 3 horse!

As for tractors- thats what Jerry is for!

Jason said...


You're right in thinking that a diesel generally has considerably more torque (read pulling power) at low rpms than does a simialarly outfitted gas engine. IMO, that combined with better fuel economy and the chance at longer engine life rule in favour of a diesel. Of course, you usually get to pay for the privilege ! :)

IsobelleGoLightly said...

My lady's truck is a Honda Civic and her tractor is a garden cart. Sigh. Everything done around here is by "shanks mare and shovel".

Laura said...

Interesting post... I have to admit something... I grew up in the Ontario countryside (on a farm, but we leased the land) and I know nothing about trucks, tractors or trailers.

Shocking, I know!! :-)

The only thing I know is that if I were buying anything (even my next car) it would be a diesel.

The other thing is that I really like Kubotas and I'm dying to get a small place in the country with a teeny kubota to cut the lawn and plow the driveway!

Anonymous said...

Our barn has an awful glorified lawn tractor which is useless for just about everything except pulling our very small manure spreader over to the compost heap (that's if there's no mud or snow). But it's paid for and we can't afford anything else.

My truck and trailer were purchased for long-distance hauling - I have a Ford F-350 diesel - crew cab, 8' bed and dualies. My trailer is a 4-horse gooseneck Featherlite slant. I've hauled thousands of miles without any significant problems. I'm a big fan of diesels for hauling - especially heavy loads, and I love the stability and braking power of the dualies. That said, the truck is so big it's useless for many other things. The only issues I've had are some fuel mix problems in the fuel transition that occurred in the late 2000's, but they got that figured out, and some problems with the Featherlite hardware - the window hardware (hinges/screws etc.) IMO is too lightweight for the size and weight of the windows. Otherwise both truck and trailer are peaches.

Now that I rarely go that far with my trailer, and rarely with more than one horse, I'd like to downsize to a F-250 diesel and a two-horse gooseneck, probably still a slant since Dawn won't tolerate another horse that close to her in a straight-load. I just haven't gotten around to doing it as I can't figure out how to do it without spending a lot of money. Know anyone who'd like a relatively low-mileage truck and rig at a good price?

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

(from Jason)


I've seen your rig...very nice. I'd be happy to ask around for you. If you'd forward us some pics of the truck and trailer that would be helpful. Our retired horses email is perilously close to full, so if you don't mind I will send you another link in a few minutes.

Java's Mom said...

since we seem to talk about our tractors a lot, you probably already know we are green here. There are a lot of dealers, service places near enough to us. We have a John Deere 2305 and John Deere 2320 for manitenance and projects, and we use the gator for everything inbetween daily, all 3 are used a lot more than some would think we would with only 3 horses here. We have too many trees and big rocks, and we need the maneuverability. Both tractors are just right for us. With our current set up, we don't need more HP. We have an embarassing selection of attachments, but use them all.

We have an older F250, but use it to get around town and get hay, equipment, etc. We've only pulled with it once. Jeremy does not want to use it for when we get a trailer, he wants a newer vehicle for that... Kate, maybe we should make a deal!

Fun post, it's nice to hear what others have, use and why.

SmartAlex said...

We have a big Kubota (43 hp?) and a little Kubots (20 something hp) both with loaders. Tim bought the smaller one ostensibly for me, which is so nice since I use it... twice a year.

We switched to Kubota because the Ford customer service 10 years ago sucked. We're happy enough with the orange.

Tim believes that he should have a tractor for each implement. I am not supposed to count his tractors. A friend of ours has 9. His wife knows about 6. Key to that is 1. Buy all the same color. 2. Never park them in a row. ...Sort of like sneaking a horse (or saddle) onto the farm. If you have brown ones, don't try to hid a spotted one.

Any man who loves his tractor should read the Roger Welsh books. Start with "Love Sex and Tractors" and follow up with "Everything I Know About Women I Learned from my Tractor". Women aren't supposed to read them, but I'm sure if Melissa read them they would explain a lot.

lytha said...

this is a painful subject for me so why am i commenting? hmmm..

the love of a truck.

before i left my dear homeland i had the most awesomest truck ever - a chevy silverado 3500 crew cab long bed with matching canopy. i named it G√ľnther. four doors for only ME!

sleeping in the canopy was so much better than tenting it in ridecamp!

and hauling three horses was so much easier than with the 2500. stopping was nicer too.

i got it for bluebook and sold it for almost the same, because i loved that truck. isn't it normal to wash a truck every week? and vaccuum/dust it out too?

when i met my man, our first weekend together was in ridecamp and i remember him being shocked i could back my horse trailer around behind this truck that was 21 feet long. i wonder if i can still do that?

*sigh* you know the story here with the vw rabbits pulling brenderups. that is not an exaggeration.


Jason said...

Lytha; I owned a VW Golf diesel in Ontario and while I was pleased with the mileage (>50 mpg) I couldn't imagine towing a loaded HORSE TRAILER with it. That falls into the, "holywordthatrhymeswithtruckwhatwouodyabethinkin" category. :)

SmartAlex; Melissa has been pressuring me for some time to get her a "little" tractor much like the one Tim bought you. I'm *REALLY* hoping she doesn't read this because right now she doesn't have any friends who actually have one.... As for the implement situation, unless I'm prepared to go buy 21 (at current count) tractors, reckon I'll have to keep changing them out. Unfortunately, Melissa keeps tight rein on the checkbook. She also knows where the equipment shed it AND she knows what's supposed to be in it. :(

Valentino said...

Just bought the property where I keep my horse (yesterday!!) and have been contemplating tractors. The manure pile is not shrinking :)

My Dad and I prefer oranges... we use them in our landscaping business, so I will probably stick with Kubotas. They have been more reliable than the greens, which we had previously to the oranges, and which broke down often. Regarding service - it's a three hour drive so my Dad is the defacto mechanic. Lucky for us he's a natural :)

As for trailors... pulling a Brenderup with my Toyota Tacoma. Love, love , love my Brenderup. Light, cool, and fits my large tb. Steel rusts away to nothing here so the fiberglass / aluminum combo is essential.

The Tacoma is manual which makes backing the trailer into my trainers driveway a bit more challenging to do smoothly, but we manage :)

Jason said...


Congrats on the property acquisition (yesterday !!) !

If you are at all like us you'll now begin to realize that whatever you paid for the property will pale into insignificance compared to what you'll spend to get it in the shape you want ! :)

And SmartAlex, the books are on order ! We both feel like I need all the help I can get ! :)

Candy'sGirl said...

We have a 3/4 ton GMC 2500 with the biggest engine possible and a heavily upgraded tow package. We have a 4 horse gooseneck stock trailer we pull with it. Truck doesn't even blink. We hooked up my father in law's huge 5 horse with living quarters trailer to it and pulled it down the driveway. Our truck's springs can't handle the weight, but the brakes and engine were fine. My FIL pulls his trailer with a one ton GMC dually.

A friend of mine used to haul her two Arabs in a little aluminum 2hpb with an F150. We'd sit there urging the truck on like the Little Engine That Could anytime there was a small bump in the road. I vowed I'd never haul with something so small!

I love our tractor. Its a green 3020. We mostly use it for taking care of the arena, but it gets put to use for pretty much anything my husband can find an excuse to use it for. We could get away with *no* tractor here or a considerably smaller one, but he's thoroughly convinced we need a second, bigger one in addition to the one we've already got. We've had the house for a year and the tractor for about 6mo. The implement list is building...the boy is convinced we need one of EVERYTHING. Look at this! Honey, we don't use round bales. We don't need a thing to pick them up! What if we do in the future?! We can buy one then! But there's one on Craigslist NOW! *sigh*