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Get Two Of Each Animal

It has been raining and raining and then raining a little more the last couple of days. The ground is soggy and there is standing water all over the place, rivers and creeks are looking dangerously high. Might need to get me some gopher wood and pitch and start building an ark. Fortunately the weather looks picture perfect for next week so this all might dry up so the farmers can finally get into the fields but warm weather following a rainy week means the grass is going to explode. Good news though, our mower is on the fritz. THAT is a whole other topic.

This is something I mentioned before but when I lived at home growing up my dad had a Wheelhorse riding mower that he used for our acre and a quarter lot. He had that mower from the time I could remember as a little kid until he sold the house in 2003. Apart from some minor maintenance the thing ran like a champ.
Fast forward to now. We had a John Deere riding mower when we got here 11 years ago and it lasted a little while before the deck came off and since that time we have purchased a couple of brand new riding mowers, one a Husqvarna and the latest a Cub Cadet. Both were pieces of shit despite being well over a grand and the Cub Cadet brand used to be rock solid. Now? It looks like everything on it is made of the cheapest possible material. I keep saying it, I don’t mind spending the money if what I get is worth the extra scratch but when I spend the money and still get garbage? That is likely to piss off a fellow. 
Now we are saying “eff it” and looking at spending the big coin on some sort of commercial get-up, a light duty tractor with a mower deck and maybe a bucket so we can scrape manure and move heavy stuff around. Anyone with any experience in said machinery, let me know. Looking at Deere, Kubota and Mahindra, open to other ideas. Something like this…

Work has also been killing me, which is good in a shekel kinda way but the weekend is looking pretty clear which is good in a mental health kinda way. Barely even had time to look at the ol’ blog yesterday, trying to rectify that today. Lots of stuff I want to link to you when time permits. First things first, working on the second pot of coffee and bacon is a sizzlin’….


  1. Mike Guenther

    Kubota is a good brand as far as smaller tractors go. The tree farm my late brother used to work for has several of them in addition to the large Massey Ferguson tractors they use. The Kubota are small enough to get between the tree rows to mow, while the large tractors with long booms are great for spreading fertilizer and herbicides.

  2. Anonymous

    Mowers mow, tractors do tractor stuff. The two don't intersect. If you have just pasture/field and do rough cut (shredder), then fine a tractor is what you need, but otherwise, just keep mowing. Used mowers used to be a deal. $500 or so, last about half as long as the new $1000 one. Zero turns are awesome and fast, but seriously pricey.

    But little toy tractors like that subcompact (20hp to 30hp ish) are effectively useless. They are too small to do much of anything but be a motorized overpriced wheelbarrow and are too heavy to mow (rut city). Everyone who buys a finish cut mower for a tractor, takes it off within a year or two (i told you so).

    To get any use out of a tractor you need to step up to the compacts. 35 to 45hp (think 5' implements). but this is still homeowner grade stuff. so now you are paying 20 grand for homeowner grade stuff. AT this level its still cheaper to rent it/have it done than own one.

    if you have 5 acres, then yes, getting a 50hp tractor (think 6' implements) is useful and affordable. Those tractors are real tractors, their maintenance intervals are long, the implements are heavy duty (and expensive) and those tractors will outlast you. But the small ones are crap. Needing exp. maintenance by 1000/1500 hours. and 5' implements are crap. And it doesn't weigh enough to do anything. and the 4' sized stuff is even more useless. AND YOU STILL CAN'T MOW A LAWN. Also the new diesel emissions crap (that ruins diesels) is on small tractors now too. DEF and such required and ruining it.

    mowing a lawn: zero turn
    1 to 3 acres: do it by hand, hire it out
    5-50 acres: 50 (ish) hp tractor, 6' implements.

  3. JackDup

    I have both a zero turn and a Deere 1025R compact tractor with the loader/mower and 54 inch snowblower. For snow that little tractor is really awesome, just 3 weeks ago we had 20 inches of snow with 3 foot drifts and it really saved the day and my back, with the added weight of the blower it can push a lot of snow and the blower ate through 3 foot drifts with ease. For mowing it works good but I use the zero turn for most of my property, also if the ground is really wet the tractor even with turf tires will probably tear up the ground a little if you are making sharp turns and sink in a bit due to the weight of the machine. My property is on a hill and do use it as a wheelbarrow but one major warning the machine is not very stable with a full bucket of dirt, it will tip over if you try and angle across a hill. My 2 cents

  4. Xzebek

    Swisher rough cut tow behinds are popular by me (northwest Montana, non agricultural). Several neighbors use them on fields up to 10 acres. People with larger ares seem to have Kubotas. I have a smaller are that I mow so haven't splurged on anything like that. FYI.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m retired on 15 acres of heaven in NW Tennessee and bought a new Kubota L3901 compact tractor in 2016. It’s run nonstop every year, performing exactly as needed. I’ve a 6” rotary mower deck, 66” quick detach bucket. I also run a pto powered chipper and maintain a 3/4 mile gravel road.

    The advantage of Kubota is Japanese engineering and manufacturing. Do not buy a tractor this size with a hydrostatic transmission, opt for the standard shuttle transmission and transaxle.

    I love so much that when my John Deere zero turn crapped out I spent the extra shekels for a professional grade Z251 zero turn. Fully welded deck, three cutting blades and the transaxle is fully serviceable, not sealed.

  6. 3g4me

    Zero personal experience but I'm fairly decent at research and analysis and extracting pertinent info from masses of material. From what I've gathered, many homesteaders prefer Mahindra, Kubota, and Kiyoti in no particular order. Find something that's flexible in accepting general attachments (various buckets and grabbers). Also read a piece that made me consider, warning about ability to get both service and replacement parts depending on your location and how long a particular manufacturer/dealer has been in the area. Hope you find something that works.

  7. Greg

    This is a discussion and advice thread I've been needing for the same purposes. I do know that there is a whole spectrum of Compact Utility Tractors, from lawnmowers up to real farm tractors. I want something big enough to take standard 3-point PTO implements, and the above comments will be well considered. I'll check back again to see what gets added. I've been waffling between Kubota and John Deere for years. My BIL swears by his Mahindra. I do not like how John Deere is now refusing to even let owners do any maintenance, and will void any warranty if you try. And from what I hear, the used market is nearly dried up and gone; insanely expensive if you find anything.

  8. Anonymous

    Just like anyone laying out big bucks for what can be done by hiring it done causes one to pause and reconsider the outlay of hard earned money. While all previous posts presented good information, I have done it differently but the same. In 2000 I purchased a 1997 John Deere 755, a 20 h.p., 3 cyl diesel with a 60" center mower deck. Later purchased a 4' 3 point tiller and a 4' box blade, still mowing and gardening today. like the gentleman said, some what light duty but will still do the job if I just slow down. after acquiring more land, I bought a Kubota L3901 4 wheel drive with a hydrostatic transmission, with front loader with detachable bucket, 72" rotary mower and 72" box blade, also 8' backhoe. Fine tractor, used for two years and completed what I needed it for, sold it with 500 hours on it and got my money invested returned. As far as buying a new tractor now I would lean towards Kubota , as mentioned John Deere is not as customer friendly as has been in the past.

  9. Mike Guenther

    Mahindra must have gotten better. I know about 20 or so years ago, quite a few people who bought them were sorely disappointed in the customer service on their tractors.

  10. Saami Jim

    Buy from a dealer who has a great service and parts department, in my experience, that is more important than deciding between reputable brands.
    I prefer Kubota, but our Kubota dealer sucks, so I have a New Holland, our local New Holland dealer has a great service and parts department.
    You may want to consider buying an old ford 860, with live power and hydraulics, I have a couple, one a 56, one a 1958. Easy to work on, parts available, the last one I got for $2500, and its a great Homesteader’s tractor.
    You can put a finish mower, or brush hog on the back, or any number of affordable used three point attachments.

  11. Anonymous

    Will offer an endorsement for Kioti, the other orange tractor. Have a 45 hp 4WD, with front end loader and run 6 ft implements. I have not been gentle with this machine and for nearly 7 years it has done 99% of what I have asked it to do on our homestead. Small enough to maneuver in the woods, enough HP to complete most tasks. I don't know how prices are now but was a relative bargain compared to the bigger names when I bought. Recommend and would buy again (but maybe 50-55 hp). ~~dirtraodlivin

  12. Feral Ferret

    The Cub Cadet is just another MTD like so many of the mowers, both riding and push mowers. MTD make many different brands using the same parts other than a few body pieces and paint jobs. When you go to buy parts, you get to see a list of all of the different mowers that use that same part. Buy the cheaper version of the mower instead of paying for the big name brand if you buy new. I buy used, then do any needed refurbishment on the cheap buying parts online (usually on eBay). If you aren't sure how to fix something, there are umpteen how to videos on YouTube. Watch at least four different ones for the same repair. It won't take long to figure out who knows their stuff and who does not. then you remember their channel for the next time you need to fix or replace something on the mower.

    I bought a used 21" Troy Bilt (MTD) for $150 three years ago from a co-worker who wanted a nicer mower. It replaced a 21" Montgomery Ward (MTD) that I bought used for $300 a dozen years ago. Very similar construction and even use a few of the same parts. Both were solid Briggs & Stratton engines I sold the old one for $100 to a friend whose father does small engine and equipment repair. He took replaced the rusted out deck and is still using it.

  13. Anonymous

    I'm a fan of Kubota, and older models from brands like Deere and New Holland/Ford. Having worked on a couple farms, and moving equipment for customers, the older stuff holds up better. What you've seen with modern mowers holds true, a lot of it just doesn't last like it used to. Depending on your needs, a compact tractor in the 30-40 hp range can do a lot. But it will be annoying to mow with a tow behind like the Swisher (have one, works fine, just harder to get into tight areas where a normal mower would be more nimble. But the trade off is worth it if you need a bucket loader or PTO driven small implements.

    Back in the mid 20th century, there were even compact tractors with belly mowers that still performed other farm duties well. I want to say it was the Farm All Cub, and some from Oliver and Deere. But those are getting to be 70 years old in some cases. I'd check with local Mennonite farmers, see who they get equipment from, might be a decent deal on an older, low tech unit. They hang onto their stuff forever, so they'd know who to ask for more info.

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