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Researching, Buying, and Transporting Farm Equipment
When we first moved to our property in the country, I had no intention of farming. After some circumstances changed during our first winter here, I came to the conclusion that I would indeed be farming after all. There began a busy time of researching what I needed, searching for it, and buying various pieces of farm equipment. Over the winter, I had spent countless hours researching farm equipment and trying to decide what would be best. That was the easy part, relatively speaking. The next step was to try to locate these specific pieces of farm equipment at a reasonable price. That was a challenge at times, but everything worked out well in the end. The piece of farm equipment that is at the heart of most any agricultural operation is a tractor. The tractor is the modern beast of burden that took the place of oxen, horses, and human powered farm implements of yesteryear.
Kubota M9000 Tractor With Front Loader
We were very fortunate to have gotten a very nice Japanese made Kubota tractor. The Kubota M9000 90HP 4WD tractor has more than enough power and traction to do anything that needs to be done on our small farm. The front loader has been a life saver (literally a back saver) in many situations. It was a great tractor several years ago when we got it, and it continues to be a great tractor! It's just about perfect. I change the oil and filters occasionally, grease some of the grease points, and just use it. Very dependable, fuel efficient, and a very nice machine. Thankfully, the place where we bought this tractor was able to transport it here to the farm for us. I was very fortunate to even have been able to find this tractor at the time. There was such a high demand and such a limited supply, that it was very hard to find the exact model that I wanted. I did locate one at a very good price, but it was very far away. At the time, I did not have a good way of transporting this tractor the hundreds of miles it needed to travel to get here. Even if I had a trailer strong enough, it would have been too much to expect the family minivan to tow such a heavy load that distance! It is a heavy tractor. It has ballasted rear tires for better stability and traction. That means that the tires are filled with liquid for extra weight. Normally, a calcium chloride solution is used to ballast tractor tires, but I opted for beet juice. Yes, beet juice! Calcium chloride is basically a salt and can rust out the wheels in short order if there is an inner tube leak. Beet juice is not corrosive and it offers good freeze protection and good weight density without all the negative issues associated with calcium chloride. In any case, the tractor was one piece of farm equipment that I did not have to transport here.
Bringing Home the Freeman Hay Baler from An Auction
While searching for a hay baler, I discovered that there was going to be a big auction nearby for a farmer that was getting out of the farm business. I called the local dealer to ask some questions about Freeman hay balers. During the conversation, I mentioned I was planning to go to the nearby auction to try to buy a particular model of Freeman baler. The dealer knew about the auction and knew the farmer. He told me that this farmer used to bring his balers in every winter to have them gone through and repaired and worked on in preparation for the next season. He told me that I would not find a better used Freeman baler anywhere! He even remembered repairs done to the specific baler that I wanted to buy. He said it was in great condition. That was a wonderful insight that I received even before going to the auction.
If you've never been to an auction, then it's quite an interesting experience. At this auction, there was a LOT of farm equipment, a lot of people, and a lot going on! It's amazing how fast the auctioneer can move their lips! It's a bit overwhelming at times especially when you are making a big decision and a big investment. It's just the way auctions operate because they have to move through a lot of items in a relatively short period of time. I spent most of the day there waiting for them to finally get to the hay balers. There were several Freeman balers up for sale. All of them very nice machines. The scary part was how high would the prices go with so many people competing for the same farm equipment. As the auctioneer was going down the line of equipment auctioning it off, he did something different when he got to the balers. Instead of continuing in the same direction as he had been going, for some reason, he decided to stop and start at the other end of the line of balers. As it turns out, the baler that I wanted to get ended up being sold last instead of first as it would have been if the auctioneer had followed the same direction. As a result, the other bidders snatched up and bidded up the prices on the other Freeman balers first. By the time the auctioneer got to the last one (the specific baler I wanted), a lot of the other bidders had already bought balers. There were less people competing for the baler that I wanted. The actual bidding process was all a blur to me. My heart was pounding, the drops of sweat were forming, and my mind was a spinning thinking about how high I should really go. Before I knew it, it was all over. I had won the exact baler that I set out to buy, and it sold for nearly 1/2 the price of some of the earlier balers! After the auction, I bumped into the farmer that was getting out of farming, and I told him that I had just bought his Freeman 200T baler. He responded, "That was the best one". Wow! This was just one of MANY examples of how God was so good to me in working out many details and events that I had no control over myself!
Getting the baler, and then getting the baler home were two different stories. As I was backing up our Aerostar minivan to the Freeman baler, a man at the sale came up to me and said, "You're not going to try to transport this baler with that?!?!" He explained to me how he had witnessed someone trying to transport a heavy baler like this with a smaller pickup truck, and he said the bumper of the truck was just about dragging on the ground! I told him that it was going to have to work, because I didn't have any other way to transport it. He said that it would not work. As I slowly lowered the weight onto the trailer hitch on our van, the back of the van began to droop under the ever increasing weight. When I had full retracted the jack on the baler and the full weight sat on the van, it was definitely sagging under the weight, but it was acceptable for the relatively short drive back to our farm. I was glad that years earlier, long before I would have ever imagined that I would be towing farm equipment, I had installed a set of heavy duty air shocks in the back of the van that could be pumped up with additional air pressure to be able to carry heavier loads. Sure came in handy that day... and in days to follow!
New Holland Bale Wagon Transported 130 Miles With a "Minivan"
Another piece of farm equipment that I bought and needed to transport was a bale wagon. The bale wagon is the piece of farm equipment that is used to pick up and stack hay bales. I wanted to buy a pull type bale wagon that is pulled behind a tractor, rather than a self propelled machine. I didn't want another engine, transmission, brake system, etc... to have to maintain on the bigger self propelled bale wagons. In addition, I knew that I would get much better fuel economy with a pull type bale wagon, because my Kubota tractor has a very fuel efficient engine. After searching for a while, I finally located a pull type bale wagon but it was 130 miles away. No problem driving out there to look at it, but after I decided to buy it then the challenge of getting it back to the farm came into play. As you can see in the picture, the bale wagon is a large piece of farm equipment to transport with an Aerostar van. The biggest challenge was all the tongue weight. If you look at the picture of the bale wagon, you can see how the wheels are set way back. As a result, there is a lot of weight in front of the wheels that drastically increases the tongue weight pushing down on the van. I increased the pressure in my air shocks to the maximum limit, and still the weight of the bale wagon really pushed down the back of the Aerostar. I wasn't sure if it would even work. Driving 130 miles like this was interesting, but it worked out fine and I made it back to the farm safely. Boy, that old Ford Aerostar took a licking and kept on coming back for more!
New Holland 57 Hay Rake
Next, I located and purchased an old New Holland 57 hay rake. I also bought a Hesston 6610 swather for cutting the hay as you can see in the background of this hay rake picture. Another piece of farm equipment that I bought was a Pequea hay fluffer (not shown in any picture). I got that really cheap, but it was a long drive to get it and the frame was broken. It needed a lot of welding and work to get it ready to use. The place where I bought the hay fluffer ended up being a very unique type of farm/ranch. It was an exotic animal farm. They raised zebras, ostriches, long horn cattle (with LOOONG horns like I've never seen before), and other unusual animals. They sold these exotic animals to people for a very high price. Not knowing the type of place it was, I drove there alone to pick up the hay fluffer. After I discovered the interesting place it was, I wished I had brought some of the kids to see the exotic animals. The owner sent me home with an huge ostrich egg for the kids.
Yamaha Rhino Utility Vehicle
Last but not least, the most used piece of farm equipment around here is my Yamaha Rhino 450. This utility vehicle is used for everything from hauling tools and parts for repairs around the farm, hauling hay for the cattle, towing my weed sprayer, dragging the stubble in my fields, transporting me around the farm while irrigating, and on and on. I've put almost TRIPLE the number of hours on this machine than even my tractor, and I've had the tractor longer. All that to say, it is a great machine! This piece of farm equipment was easy to transport to the farm, because I was able to tow it home inside our small stock trailer. Anyway, there were many different adventures in researching, locating, buying, and transporting farm equipment. And, most of that was before I even started farming. Little did I know all the MANY other adventures that lie ahead of me!