We live at the 4200′ elevation in the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington. Our access road is three miles long with an elevation gain of 1,000′. This past year we had a record snowfall of over 9 feet.
I have an 8-foot snow plow I’ve been using for the past eight years. It does the job well but two years ago we had almost 7 feet of snow and for the first time I ran out of room to put the plowed snow. If you plow snow you know what I’m talking about. I made multiple trips down the hill and pushed snow off the road where I could and as far as I could but it wasn’t enough. We ended up hiring a big dozer to come in and push the piled up plowed snow off the road and over the edge where we could. It cost $550 for the dozer.
We never used to get this much snow but weather patterns change and I was going to have to do something different. Hiring a dozer is fine but I like to do things myself and buying a dozer of that size wasn’t worth it. I went online and started looking at alternatives, mainly snow blowers.
95% of the snow blowers for tractors mount on the 3 point hitch and you have to drive backwards to remove snow. That wasn’t going to work for me on my road! I have a Case 55 HP diesel tractor. They make a front load snow blower but it requires more hydraulic power than I have. Most of the other major brands have a front mount blower design as well but again you have to have enough hydraulic power to run one. Most compact tractors don’t have that kind of hydraulic capacity. You can also get a snow blower that mounts on the front of your tractor and is connected mechanically by rods/frame that run from the front of the tractor to the rear and connects to your PTO. I wanted something simpler.
Those are your only choices – a rear mounted blower, a front mounted blower that runs off your PTO, or a front mounted blower that requires more hydraulic capacity than most tractors have. Kubota and Bobcat are two exceptions to that.
My research turned up only two snow blowers that were powered independently which eliminated all of the problems as described above. The one I chose to go with was called the Big Pigg (mtenorthidaho.com). It came with a quick attach frame, a remote control to operate it with from the tractor seat, and a Kohler 27 HP gas engine. These snow blowers are manufactured in Idaho at a small family owned machine shop. They make a fixed amount of them each year and you can choose from several models. Since I bought mine they have a new model which is powered by a 40HP gas engine. They make two different widths that I am aware of – 72″ and 84″. They are made specifically to front mount on ATV’s, trucks, and tractors.
With my set of controls, from the tractor seat I can start and stop the engine, start and stop the augers, rotate the chute from left to right and raise and lower the chute. As I mentioned, my road is 3 miles long so a round trip of 6 miles is all done with one tank of gas. My gas tank holds about 3 gallons. My snow blower cost a little over $8,200 two years ago. The only other comparable competitor at the time was priced at $12,000.
Depending on conditions this blower can throw dry snow up to 70′. Wet snow not as far. It will blow up to 6″ deep wet snow and 10″ of powder. Over all I’m very satisfied with this product. Remember when I had to hire a dozer with only 7 feet of snow? This year I had 9 feet of snow and was able to keep my road open with a combination of my snowplow and blower and NO DOZER.
Photos by author.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.