If there’s one thing the big storm of 2012 taught me (aside from the fact that I am not nearly as indestructible as I once believed) is that to do anything in the country you need either horses or horsepower.
Horses and I do not get along – if you think machinery repair bills are excessive, just call a vet. Besides having a ‘pet’ that outweighs me by a factor of 6 to 1, eats 50 lbs of feed a day, and deposits the leftovers all over the yard in steaming piles isn’t all that appealing.
It’s down to horsepower then. Until now I have made do with begging friends and hiring locals to drag out broken trees and stumps, grade my driveway, plow our road, and generally help with the grunt work – of which there seems to be no end. But when I added up all those costs I realised that had I made an investment into a tractor and a few attachments 7 years ago when we moved here, it would have been paid for by now.
As my father-in-law used to say (I think it was a rough English translation of an old German saying), “too soon old, too late smart”. But not too, too late as I have now embarked on “The Great Tractor Hunt”.
With my limited budget there are few options, and all involve 40-year-old-plus machines. Like any piece of old machinery some will have been better maintained than others, and some will be outstanding. Since tractors hold their value so well there is little to tell about the condition by the price, and the physical appearance can also be very misleading (farmers aren’t generally big on repairing dents or rust). So there is lots of driving around, looking, listening, and kicking tires involved, hoping to find that gem among all the worn out and just plain tired machines on the market. Fortunately I have some very knowledgeable friends – farmers and mechanics who have been around tractors their entire lives – to help me find what I need.
With a bit of luck the search won’t take too long.