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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Planning To Purchase a Tractor

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Tractors: So many choices and sizes. What size do I need and what implements do I need to go along with it. Decisions, decisions and the choices are almost endless plus sizes and brands are enough to make your mind spin. Perhaps my tractor ownership will help someone else in considering their needs. When I bought my first tractor there were only a couple dealers in the area. One foreign made and one domestically manufactured. Preferring to buy domestic I went to that dealer first. The sales person was standing alone at the counter writing something on a small pad. I waited for him to stop and look up but he didn’t so I asked him if he could show me some of his tractors. I was told to wait he would be with me soon and 20 minutes later he was still scribbling on that paper and ignoring a customer looking for my first tractor purchase. That made the decision easy for me since I resent being blown off and ignored as a potential customer.

That second dealer turned out to be a bonanza of useful information and equipped me with the tractor that fit my needs and had me trained and using it in no time. It also turned out to be affiliated with the cooperative we were members of. He initially questioned me about our circumstances and what I thought I needed a tractor for. We needed one to haul firewood and move snow in the winter. He fitted us to a tractor that was perfect for our needs and had a snow thrower on the front and a blade on the back. That tractor worked perfectly for 15 years and never gave us a problem and did much more than it was probably designed to do. Nothing ever broke on the tractor and it started and ran every time I needed it. So why would I ever consider trading it in on another tractor if it was that good?

Earlier this year I caught my foot dismounting our tractor and fell off of it. I was not injured seriously but did get a painful groin pull. Anyone who has ever had a groin pull knows that it not only hurts but you can’t lift your leg up easily until it has healed. The platform where my feet went when I was operating the tractor coupled with the more rigid shoe soles put on boots now days and my older stiffer joints made it too small for my feet and I had several close calls in dismounting. Living remotely as we do I didn’t want to be laying on a pile of rocks waiting to be discovered so I checked the newer models for more foot room. Eureka! The new models had been redesigned over the years and had a larger platform for my feet and less obstacles. Additionally I know parts don’t last forever and with the annual snowfall we receive I was concerned if a part did wear out or break due to years of stress and needed replacement we are a long ways from a repair facility. Last winter our snow came in waves where I would just get one storm cleared and another would arrive. Maybe it was time for a new tractor due to redesign and aging tractor parts.

I called my cooperative dealer and told him my plan and he invited me to come see the newer redesigned models. I was unaware that there was an unadvertised special going on at the time where the manufacturer would take $1,000.00 off a second implement if you bought an implement with a new tractor. I had always wanted a front end loader to move heavy packed snow in the winter and dirt and rocks in the summer. When I was told about the deal on the second implement my choice was easy - a front blade to push snow off the driveway when it was not practical to use the snow thrower. The two photos show my old tractor loaded on the trailer to take back so the dealer could swap the sub frame onto the compatible new tractor. The other photo is the new tractor with the front end loader. That is why I personally decided to upgrade my tractor and implements.

Looking for that first tractor? I would suggest the first step would be to find a dealer that will ask pertinent questions regarding your needs and then match you to a tractor that suits your needs. A dealer that will answer all your questions regardless of how simple they may be. A dealer who will let you test drive a tractor and use the implements coupled with hands on instruction emphasizing safety procedures. A dealer who will provide site service if you should need it. A dealer who will tell you what options you need and leave the decision to you with no crafty sales pressure. If you can find such a dealer the rest should easily fall into place. It is also helpful to ask friends who have a tractor how it performs. From the time I bought my first tractor until I upgraded it recently more brands and dealers have surfaced. I drove right past at least five dealers to get to someone I knew would put me on the proper piece of equipment and at a price I could afford. I’m a strong believer in farm cooperatives and I have never been disappointed by the one we are members of. My small tractor parked next to one of the giant ones looks like a toy but like small and large dogs, the small tractor doesn’t realize its small and does the work of a bigger one. Perfectly sized for our use and it all started with a rude and disinterested dealer who wouldn’t take the time to even show me his product. 

A good dealer is instrumental in being fit to a good tractor and accompanying implements. As a customer I would go back to the same place time and time again. He has my trust and confidence and over the years we have become good friends also.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lifestyle go to their personal website.


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