Now that we have our 40 acres, we are looking at the best tools that will help us build the farm. Since we are growing in a cold environment, we are going to build a greenhouse first. Our greenhouse will be built in the ground with the south facing wall being made of greenhouse film.
Here is a list of our requirements for a tractor:
1. Be able to dig trenches for water lines
2. Be able to dig a foundation
3. Have a large bucket to move dirt and create tiers inside the greenhouse
4. Be able to unload pallets off of a flatbed truck
5. Pull up old fence posts
6. Build a driveway
7. Install a grey water tank
8. Clean ditches
9. Move logs
10. Install scaffolding
11. Lift up large beams during construction
12. Much more…….
Our research showed that we would really like a compact tractor with a backhoe attachment as well as
§ A bucket
§ Drag blade for removing snow from the driveway in the winter
§ Fork lift attachment
§ Post hole auger
§ Diesel engine
§ Quality construction
§ Easy to maintain and get parts for.
We really like the idea of the bobcat style tractor, but the cost is above our budget. The more we spend on the tractor, the less we have to spend on the greenhouse and the seeds and starts for our farm.
Due to the fact that we have a limited budget, we started looking for used equipment. We went to the local farm and tractor business and found some great deals. The compact tractor that we really liked, did not have the backhoe attachment, but did have the bucket. The cost as it was is “ONLY” $17,500. Wow! This was a great deal from all of the research that we had done for a newer tractor.
Our final decision was to search through the local papers and craigslist ads to find a solution. It took a couple of weeks, but then the perfect tractor showed up!
We found a used International backhoe from the early 1960’s. We drove to the farm to inspect the backhoe. It isn’t that pretty, but everything works! The attachments are tight and all of the controls work like they should. The controls are a bit different than what I was use to. The tractor ran great, but it is gas powered. So after taking a lunch break, we talked about the backhoe to make sure that it will do all that we need it to accomplish.
It does, especially the part of affordability. From all of the searching we did, this tractor was the best price. We spent less than 1/3 of the price of a newer used tractor with only one attachment. We can still purchase parts and it will accomplish all that we need during the building phase of our project.
One of the biggest questions we had when we were going to purchase a tractor, was how to transport it to the farm. We got quotes for having someone else to that, it would cost at least $1,500 to $3000, depending upon the business.
The great news for us is that the tractor is only 14 miles from our farm and we can drive it there in about 2 hours. This may not work for you, but there are still other options. Rent a trailer that will handle the tractor, if you have a truck that will tow it safely. Rent a truck and trailer that will do so, or better yet, have the person or business move it for you as part of the cost of the tractor.
Eventually, as our Nutritious fruit and vegetables grow in size and popularity, we will sell this backhoe to someone else, if it makes financial sense.
It is always a surprise when the exact tool we need shows up at the price that we can afford. Keep looking for what you need, It takes Grit to be able to wait for just the right one.
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