Labor-Saving Tractor Implements

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I knew about that earlier?” Or wished there was an easier way to accomplish a task? For those of us living on a homestead, those comments seem to come up often and such was the case with me recently.

I maintained our trail to the source of our firewood with a rake and shovel. Our dead standing aspen are at the far end of our property and to keep the trail open to them is a physically demanding job. In addition, there are all the tree limbs that have accumulated over the years. Both are hard physical jobs that usually don’t come without a lot of muttering to myself. I wished there was an easy way to accomplish these tasks or I wished I knew a better way.

Aggravating tree limbs. Probably the worst, dirty and most annoying job was dealing with the brush piles full of pine limbs. Those limbs catch on your clothes, scratch, cut forearms and legs, and are in essence a miserable nuisance. In the past we would haul them to the disposal site on our utility trailer but since they entangle each other (and did I mention they are totally annoying) we had to untangle them, and load them one at a time. It would take us most of the morning to remove one substantial pile of limbs.

Eureka! A solution. I also post articles on MOTHER EARTH NEWS Community Colorado Facebook page and as I was posting one, it had a photo of a Kubota tractor exactly like mine. On the front end was an implement that appeared as a task saver so first thing Monday morning I called our Kubota dealer to inquire if they made one for my size tractor. It turns out they actually do make them for a compact tractor and after some discussion I had them order one for me. I had checked implements on the Kubota website but they did not show a grapple. I found out they are made by a subsidiary company called Land Pride.

Making the job easier. A month passed and my grapple arrived and was installed on my tractor. It didn’t take long to remove those piles of branches. I drove up to the pile of branches and latched onto a bunch, let the hydraulics crunch them up and dump them on the utility trailer. What used to take all morning I can accomplish in 20 to 30 minutes. The entire job was done in a single morning that used to take days. Do I feel foolish for not having discovered this implement earlier? More than just a little.

Multiple uses. I have found it can also serve other functions as well. It can pick up and move rocks as well as move firewood without heavy back-breaking lifting. I can latch onto a downed tree and suspend it at a comfortable level so I can cut it to firewood length. No more bending over and ending up with a backache. 

Box blade for more labor-saving

The same time I ordered the new grapple I ordered a box blade implement. I had seen a box blade in use but always in conjunction with ripping up land to level that land. I had always maintained our long driveway with a single rear blade and also with a rake and shovel. It was getting pretty lopsided and ragged and I was hoping a box blade would make it easier to maintain.

Efficient and easy to use. Again I was impressed at how level the box blade made our driveway and I also used it on the trail to our firewood source at the far end of our property. What a labor saver it turned out to be and the cost was very moderate thanks to our stimulus check. I couldn’t accomplish with the rear blade in a week what I could accomplish with the box blade in half of a day.

‘If only I’d known this sooner’. Those are two recent cases where I have said to myself,  “I wish I had known about this earlier”. I think about all the painful backaches, muscle aches and painful joints these two implements could have helped me avoid.  Not to mention hernia surgery to correct a tear that was from lifting large rocks that this grapple now moves with ease. Both implements take some time to get proficient with but the learning time is actually pretty short. Now thinking back on our 23 years here I don’t see how we lasted this long without these two implements. We did it the hard way and every day my sore joints and aches remind me of doing it the hard way. The satisfaction of doing it the hard way rapidly diminishes in light of my recent discovery of a grapple and box blade. 

‘No fool like an old fool’. What I have spent over the years on across the counter pain medication could have paid for the grapple and then some. As I was growing up I heard my elders say, “there is no fool like an old fool”. Point well taken and I should have listened more closely back then. It is my sincere hope that someone who is in the same situation we were 23 years ago will read this blog and profit from my mistakes.

Bruce McElmurray homesteads at high elevation in the Southern Rockies with his wife, Carol. For more on their mountain lifestyle and their observances of animals coupled with their strange behavior, visit Bruce’s personal blog site atBruce Carol Cabin. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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