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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    71
    Location
    Stoughton, WI
    Tractor
    Kubota 3830 HST, 723 loader, HD QA bucket, 1 remote w/top cylinder

    Default Do I need a tractor?

    I've been lurking around the board for a while, soaking up everything I can, and also have Muhammed's book, but I'm still confused. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

    Last October I bought an older house on some land that used to be a dairy farm operation; it comes complete with silo, hay barn, dairy barn, hog shed, tobacco shed, silage bunker, and LOTS of concrete. As my CFO puts it, we bought some barns and they threw a house into the deal. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    All of this is on 40 acres, which is roughly broken up into a 7 acre alfalfa/timothy(?) field, 10 acre pasture, ~12 acres of woods/forest (complete with poison ivy), and the rest is fairly hilly, neglected pasture surrounding the house and barns. The large pasture is reasonably level, while the alfalfa field has some moderate slopes. The house sits in the hilly area, surrounded by a lawn probably an acre in size.

    My immediate concern is mowing; I don't think I want to try and do this with my little push lawnmower. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img] Burdock and Canadian thistle are busy taking hold all over the place, especially the hilly areas, and I want to start getting these under control.

    The CFO wants to bring in horses after the burdock is gone, and she's threatening to bring in some scottish longhorns which she claims actually like to eat burdock, if I don't do anything about it. I'm not planning on doing any haying, and I figure I'm probably better off getting a real farmer (read: someone who knows what they're doing) to re-seed the alfalfa/grass if needed.

    I was considering that perhaps I should get a dedicated ZTR mower to handle the mowing chores, which at this point, would be the primary purpose of buying a tractor. However, I'm not sure if a mower would handle the pastures/weeds that well, and I don't really want to buy two machines if I can avoid it. However, I don't have any other immediate chores for the tractor to do, so am slightly hestitant to buy something (TCxxD? L3x30? other?) until I know what I'll be using it for.

    In theory, we have snow in the winter time, which means plowing, although I've seen very little of the white stuff lately here in Southern Wisconsin. There's also a dirt road going around the edges of the forest, which should probably be maintained at some point.

    So, do I need a tractor, a mower, or should the fields just be left to their own for a year, at which point I'd presumably have a better idea of what needs to be done?

    Confused [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    951
    Location
    Sierra Foothills, Northern California
    Tractor
    Kubota B7300; JD LX233

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    This is an easy one...

    You need a tractor. You have a pretty good sized place. Keeping weeds down is a worthwhile exercise, and even livestock won't always do it. I don't care about what they're supposed to eat - I've heard that goats, for example, will eat anything, but I can tell you for a fact that they eat the stuff you don't want them to eat long before they eat the (nasty) stuff you do want to eat.

    Most ZTR mowers do not work well over rough territory. They are *great* for mowing large, reasonably smooth grass areas. There are industrial models that can handle more, but they start to get really expensive - getting into the neighborhood of what a tractor would cost. And they are single purpose machines - they mow, and that is all. If you have only finish mowing to consider, they might be a good choice.

    But you have much more than that. You need a tractor with an FEL - the use you'll get out of it keeping your many buildings cleared out will be worth the price alone. Moving concrete? Uh, you do know that "hard labor" breaking and moving rocks is supposed to be worse than prison, right? [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img] If you have stuff to move, get yourself an FEL. Really.

    I had a somewhat similar situation when I got here in that I had lots of rough work and not nearly as much finish mowing. My lawn is about 1/2 acre - when I got the place I bought a compact tractor with a brush hog and actually mowed the lawn with a push mower for a couple of years. The lawn tractor was a greatly appreciated new member of the family a couple of years ago, though [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img].

    OK, get yourself a tractor. Get something with an FEL and probably a brush hog on the back. It'll be expensive. It'll be worth it. You'll get a lot of advice to "go big". I agree - I should have bought bigger. But what I have works just fine and most importantly I can't imagine what I'd have done without it. So if money is an issue, go smaller, but I'm quite certain that you want a tractor that has a 3 point hitch, at the very least.

    Sounds like a really nice place you got. I'll be interested to see what you do after you get the peer pressure from all of us TBN fanatics [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]...


  3. #3
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    1,323
    Location
    Western PA
    Tractor
    BX2200

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    DO NOT get a ZTR! At the bare minimum get a BX22 (with backhoe) or BX2200 without BH, both with FEL. These are kubota models but other manufacturers make similar (how polite I am) models. But you could easily justify a larger machine than that. The only reason I mention a BX2200 is the deck is the same as the ZTR model (60" cut) and it mows very nicely. Then if one day you need a monster for big ugly work, buy a used one for small dollars because your hours on that machine should be less than the close in work BX style machine that you will use the bulk of the time.
    Sounds like a nice place there... have fun!

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    37,773
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    I agree with the other guys; you need a tractor with FEL and a brush hog at a minimum. Now a very small tractor (subcompact) might serve your purposes, but you'll wish you'd gotten a bigger one. I think there'll be times you want to get the tractor in and out of those barns and sheds, so I'd probably be looking at the doors to see how wide and tall the smallest is and buy something that will fit in there; probably could use a pretty good sized tractor if it has a folding ROPS even if you have some low doors.

  5. #5
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    6,240
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Tractor
    John Deere 790

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    I think you're asking the wrong question. Instead of "Do I need a tractor" you should be asking "How big a tractor do I need?" The answer to that will depend on what you intend to do with your land. Even basic lawn mowing, property line maintenance, snow plowing and such could justify a mid-sized CUT for that much space. If you intend to maintain a good chunk of the place with some livestock you could easily justify a small utility tractor with a riding lawn mower for grooming chores. Figure out how you want to keep your property and we'll have all sorts of tractor suggestions for you [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  6. #6
    Elite Member thcri's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    4,667
    Location
    Minnesota SE
    Tractor
    New Holland TC29D, 2001

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    jlemon,

    I have to agree with everyone else. You need a tractor. The sub-cut would even be kind of small. You are in southern Wisconsin and I know you can get a lot of snow there. If you stay in the 24-30 horsepower range you can do a lot and still do a pretty good job of finish mowing. I have a 29 horsepower and I do finish mowing with it, I just have to make sure it is dry out when mowing. I would look then at the R4 tires to help you some in the pastures and snow plowing. I think that range of HP is a good tractor for doing all of your chores. Not to small not to big. As far as mowing I also landscaped my lawn with a tractor for in mowing in mind. This eliminated a lot of trimming.

    I personally would not go to the sub-cut but many people here would disagree with me, it is just me personal opinion. You may want to look into them but get out there and test drive some of them and tell your dealers what you want to do. Before you know it you will be getting comfortable with a decision.


    murph

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    80
    Location
    SE Wisconsin
    Tractor
    Kubota BX2200

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    jlemon,

    I'll put another vote into the "you need a tractor" category. Either than, or 50 very cheap hired hands...

    I'm just southeast of you in Kenosha county. I've got 8 acres of grass/prairie/oak savannah, and I've found that my BX2200 does most of what I need. I've got some stumps to dig, and I wished that the BX22 (the backhoe model) was out when I bought. That's pretty much my only regret.

    For your needs, you could certainly go bigger, but I think you need to take some time and figure out what you're going to do with the land. Do you need to get inside tight buildings with the tractor? Are you going to end up farming the land, or just maintaining lawn, pastures, and doing some gardening.

    If you're in the neighborhood, give me a holler and check out our place. When we moved in we had the perfect setting, except that there was burdock and thistle grown all over the property near the house (only about a half-acre of lawn). I've expanded it to about three with mowing, and it really looks nice. I did this without a tractor---I used my old trusty commercial JD walk-behind mower (54"), and just beat the weeds into submission. The nice thing about WI is that whereever you mow, you will end up with grasses of some sort. I imagine that you could put off your purchase for a year or two, if need be. I've got plans for our place, but they're still over a 10-year range, and we've been there six already.

    The front-end loader is critical for all sorts of stuff. Moving soil, mulch, stuff. Light to moderate digging. Moving rocks and concrete. Beating multiflora rose into submission. Pounding in fence posts (really). You'll find a million things to do with it. It also sounds like a backhoe might be a very good investment for you. And then a finish mower and a brush hog, to round out the implements. Maybe a box blade or rear blade for the road.

    Have fun with it. And you're always welcome to come down for a test drive if you're looking at the BX.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    951
    Location
    Sierra Foothills, Northern California
    Tractor
    Kubota B7300; JD LX233

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    <font color="blue"> I personally would not go to the sub-cut but many people here would disagree with me </font>

    I may have given the impression that I was pushing for a sub-cut, but what I was really trying to do was push for something other than a ZTR [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]. For the property described, get a good sized tractor - but Bird was right about making sure it will fit in the buildings that you want to clear out.

  9. #9
    Epic Contributor Soundguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    48,794
    Location
    Central florida
    Tractor
    ym1700, NH7610S, Ford 8N, 2N, NAA, 660, 850 x2, 541, 950, 941D, 951, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4600, 5000, 740, IH 'C' 'H', CUB, John Deere 'B', allis 'G', case VAC

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    With 40 acres.. it isn't a matter of "if" you need a tractor.. it is how many do I need.. and what size...

    Many go for a 'compact' in the 25-30ish hp range for 80 percent of the work.. and some get an old AG tractor for the once a year heavy projects...

    Good luck. You are in the right place for information.

    Soundguy

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    71
    Location
    Stoughton, WI
    Tractor
    Kubota 3830 HST, 723 loader, HD QA bucket, 1 remote w/top cylinder

    Default Re: Do I need a tractor?

    Thanks for all the responses! I walked the field again today and it's fairly bumpy, so given what chrisjbell said about ZTRs requiring a flat terrain, that pretty much rules them out. I had mainly been considering them because they were cheap [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img] and thought that if most of my duties were mowing, they might make sense.

    I suppose as RobS said, I should be asking what size tractor I need, however, having no tractor experience, that's hard to answer. I just see mowing and general maintenance as the main duties. At the moment, the current planned livestock (for some time in the future) is 4-5 horses, plus some sheep and geese. Eventually I would need to add more fencing and smooth out/groom the forest roads as well as adding some more trails for riding.

    I guess those tasks calls for a FEL and boxblade.

    Bird: The largest building entrance is 12x10, while the smallest one is 8x8. I'm not sure I'll ever want to get a tractor in the smaller one, as there's plenty of storage/workspace area elsewhere.

    kofronj: Your field description sounds like mine! Burdock, Thistle, multiflora rose, creeping charlie, and some kind of weedy ground cover with leaves the size of dinner plates. Oh yeah some grass too. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img] I've attached a couple of photos of the property:
    back pasture in distance,
    looking up the hill from the forest,
    front lawn and front pasture

    I was looking (drooling?) over the L3130 and TC33D, but really have no idea if that is the right size or not. Do I need to worry about the tractor &amp; implements crushing my septic system in one of the side fields?

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