We’ve done virtually all the rough country mowing at the farm the past two seasons with DR’s 44-inch cut, 17-horsepower, electric start, tow-behind Field and Brush Mower. DR Power recommends pulling the mower with an ATV or garden tractor. We have used both of those motivators and a couple of different UTVs with good success. The danger with using the UTV is that the mower controls aren’t as close at hand as is optimal. The DR tow-behind Field and Brush Mower has performed exceptionally well, considering the abuse it’s experienced.
I will admit to being a mite skeptical to the concept of such a scaled-down mower for rough-country cutting. Until we got this mower, we handled all the rotary cutting with a Bush Hog Squeeler mounted on the 36-hp Kubota’s 3-point hitch. Some of our country is really rough … strewn with chunks of limestone no less … so operating the tractor in our roughest pastures isn’t very comfortable. With their long suspension travel and cushy seats, the ATVs and UTVs eat those bumps for breakfast and come back looking for more.
Behind the Polaris Ranger Sportsman 500 ATV, the DR tow-behind Field and Brush Mower was a dream to operate. I first used the mower to cut some hiking trails around the farm. I was able to make the paths at about 11 miles per hour. The ATV was surefooted and comfortable at that speed, and the Kohler twin-cylinder engine had no trouble spinning the Field and Brush Mower’s blade … except in the thickest and tallest grass in moist lows. In those areas, I had to slow the mowing to about 5 miles per hour. The Polaris/DR Field and Brush Mower combination was also invaluable for cutting the acres of fire break around the CRP, in preparation for the controlled burn we accomplished last spring.
Since I don’t have much luck controlling musk thistles with herbicides, and I don’t really like spraying the stuff, this year I went after the herbaceous pests with the tow-behind Field and Brush Mower. This time, I used the Cub Cadet Volunteer UTV to pull the mower. The mowing was pretty light-duty for the Cub Cadet, but it was surely comfortable mowing. I got so carried away with shredding thistles that I eventually mowed about 20 acres with that combination. Again, the Field and Brush Mower performed flawlessly. Somewhere along the line, the entire front projectile guard on the mower got torn off. It is made of a flexible rubber-like material, and I suspect that some thorny Osage Orange seedlings just grabbed hold of it as I was mowing them down. I think this piece should be replaced with something like chain mail … or it should be available as an option. I didn’t feel worried that the piece was missing when using the UTV, but with the ATV or garden tractor, it would have been potentially dangerous.
This fall, I cleaned up the fire breaks and paths and mowed a bunch of cedar saplings with the DR Field and Brush Mower behind the Polaris Ranger 700 EFI XP. The Polaris is a dream machine when it comes to mowing … and since it has a speedometer, I was able to document that mowing at 10 miles per hour was easy to do. The Field and Brush Mower is a monster when it comes to chewing up small trees and brush. The 17-horsepower version is rated to shred saplings up to 2 inches in diameter. I know ours has tasted a few trees that were larger. On our last outing, I noticed a couple of bolts that attach the motor housing to the deck had worked loose and fallen out. The machine’s manual indicates that you should check and tighten all nuts and bolts periodically. Considering that the mower has around 60 acres of bouncing around and almost 40 engine hours on it, I am not surprised that some things came loose. I have done no checking or maintenance on the machine other than changing the engine oil.
I continue to be impressed with the quality and utility of the DR tow-behind Field and Brush Mower. Truth be told, the Kubota-mounted rotary cutter never got used this year. I am not ready to sell the Bush Hog Squealer just yet, but it certainly isn’t going to get the hours going forward as it used to in the past.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.