Find Quick Answers Searching Online for Farming Information

Oscar H. Will III shares his tips on searching online for farming information, including websites for tractor calculations, math and size conversions.

| January/February 2007

Search online for farming information when you need fast homesteading answers. 

The Internet is one of the most valuable tools around my farm because it provides a connection to an incredible body of knowledge, tons of information, and practically all the products I need for the farm or otherwise. I now search online for farming information instead of looking through a parts manual or fencing supply catalog, or even, in some cases, a reference book. When I need information quickly, I can get it. When I feel like wandering around the web on a self-directed path to see what I can see, that’s possible too.

For example: During a quick break from other chores over the weekend, I decided to fill one of our old Cub Cadet’s rear tires with relatively less-toxic alcohol-based (not methanol) windshield-washer anti-freeze to give it some extra weight and traction for the winter. We already have two real loader tractors that dig us out when New Hampshire snows fly, but I recently obtained a miniature V-style snowplow sized perfectly for the Cub Cadet garden tractor, and the child in me really wants to give it a try.

True to my type, I didn’t just head off to the auto store looking for fluid: Instead, I spent some time — too much time, actually — calculating roughly how many gallons of liquid I would need to buy, then figuring out how much weight it would add. Since I don’t know where my handbook of mathematical tables and formulas is and I no longer have a handheld calculator, I turned to the Internet and ended up on a virtual trip that more than answered my questions.

Fast Help for Geeky Calculations

In the back of my mind, I knew that there was a relatively easy way to calculate the volume of a ring torus (a circular cross-sectioned cylinder formed into a circle) and since this shape approximated the tire’s and I was just looking for an estimated volume, I went with it. A quick Google ( search using the term “ring torus” lead me directly to the Wolfram MathWorld website ( and several pages devoted to torus properties, including many formulas to calculate their volumes. After a bit of measuring (on the tires) and plugging values into one of the formulas, I calculated that each tire’s volume was 2,139 cubic inches rounding to the nearest cubic inch. Since asking for 2,139 cubic inches of windshield washer fluid in a rural New Hampshire parts store is a sure way to get laughed at or possibly even booted out, I had to first convert cubic inches to the more acceptable volumetric measure of gallons before proceeding.

I don’t keep those handy wallet-sized conversion tables in my wallet (even though I know that I have several in a drawer somewhere) so I returned to Google for help. Using the search terms “volume conversion,” I was greeted in 0.48 seconds by more than 30 million links to what appeared to be relevant web pages. Since I was in a hurry, I just clicked on the first link and ended up at OnlineConversion’s website (, staring at lists containing more inter-convertible units of weights and measures than I ever imagined existed. I quickly selected cubic-inches in the “from” list and gallons in the “to” list, entered 2139 in the input box, clicked on the Convert button and in another small fraction of a second learned that the Cub Cadet’s rear tires contain 9.26 gallons each based on my earlier ring torus assumptions. I also learned that they each contain 296.31 U.S. gills, 0.15 U.S. hogsheads, and 1.85 U.S. buckets, though I doubt that information will ever come in truly handy.

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