Farming,  Homesteading

The New Tractor

The new tractor has arrived! We ordered it on March 23rd, and it arrived 37 days later. The predicted timeline was 45-90 days, so we were very happy to receive it early. Such a vague timeline was due to covid measures affecting the tractor manufactures as things were stuck in port last year, and parts of businesses were shuttered as a result of restrictions on businesses.

We got the call on Tuesday that it was in, and I immediately went to get things in order for the cashier’s check. The delivery appointment was scheduled for Thursday morning (Elijah’s birthday) at 10 a.m. The remainder of Tuesday and all of Wednesday were devoted to preparing for the tractor. We knew we needed to create space for the tractor in the granary, but since we didn’t originally know when it’d be arriving, we were struggling to come up with a plan. Once we knew when it would be arriving, we were suddenly able to come up with some ideas on how to deal with everything.

Waiting for the tractor to get unloaded.

There was a lot of shuffling around of “stuff” to make room for the tractor. We largely use our garage as a woodworking shop, but we don’t use all of the space, and it’s an area of the homestead we have really struggled to come up with a good organizational plan for. The granary really hasn’t been much better. The lower portion has been outdoor vehicle storage. The tractors, lawnmower, and recreational vehicles were all being stored down there, and there were other things down there that we couldn’t quite figure out what to do with.

The roll bar needs to be folded down to fit into the granary, but it fits into the space well. There’s enough space that if we had certain rear implements attached, we could still fit it all indoors.

The new plan was to clear out the front half of one of the garage bays and use that for the recreational vehicles. There was a lot of clean up work to make that possible, but it’s the perfect solution. We can park the two older tractors in one half of the granary, with the brush hog sticking out of the building. The lawnmower fits between the two bays of the granary, and the new tractor fits in the other bay with a bit of room to spare, though we do have to fold down the roll bar to park it.

The decision to buy a new compact tractor was made after we did some price comparison of new and used tractors. Compact tractors don’t begin to depreciate noticeably in price until they are about 20+ years old, and even then, you are still only saving a few thousand dollars, with the risk that the tractor could have some major work that needs to be done on it. Plus, a new tractor comes with a warranty.

We purchased the 2000 series (compact tractor), 40 horsepower model. (AKA the 2040)

We live within about 30-40 minutes of all of the following dealers: John Deere, Yanmar, Branson, Kioti, Kubota, and Bobcat. There are a few other brands that are close by, too, and some of the ones I mentioned have multiple dealers in the area. In other words, there’s no shortage of places to buy tractors. We decided to buy one of the new Bobcat compact tractors after comparing different brands and prices, and weighing into consideration the fact that it is the closest dealer to us.

I didn’t even know that Bobcat sold a compact tractor until we started looking online, and it immediately caught my attention. Knowing that they are the leading brand of small equipment like skid steers and mini excavators, we were very interested in getting a tractor from them. I think what really pushed us to buy the Bobcat was the price. Bobcat just got back into the compact tractor market in 2019. They were a part of the market several years back, but they got out of it temporarily because of the way the contract they had with the manufacturer was set up. It was never an issue with the tractors themselves, the tractors were fully serviceable by Bobcat in the time they weren’t selling, and it wasn’t like a bunch of Bobcat compact tractors were for sale, used, since that time. All indications that it wasn’t an issue of quality or anything else.

The free loader bucket was what really sold us on the Bobcat tractor, and so far, it has not disappointed!

Bobcat currently has their tractors “priced to sell” since they want to really get out into the market and be competitive, and from now until the end of May (2021), they have some really fantastic sale offers. For us, it was the free loader bucket with “cash payment” (meaning we didn’t finance through the dealership and handed them a check for the total amount). This was a huge savings that we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. We were able to pay for the tractor without taking out a loan, which was a huge blessing. In fact, we wouldn’t have even bought a tractor if we hadn’t had enough money to pay for it outright. They only asked for a small deposit with our order, and if we had been unable to buy the tractor for some reason, we would have been refunded the money, and they could have added it to their lot for sale.

Eventually, we would like to get multiple attachments for it, but since we didn’t want to take out any kind of loan, we decided to just get the tractor and loader bucket this year, and hopefully we can get new (to us) implements in the future.

Unloading the tractor. The half of the bed that the tractor is on actually tips, so as he backed the tractor off, the whole back half tipped down to act as a ramp.

There was a lot of excitement at our house on Thursday morning, with kids counting down the time until the new tractor would arrive. We spent about an hour with the sales rep, going over the basics of the tractor, unloading it, and testing it out. The tractor is “Mommy’s tractor” (though the whole family will probably use it with time), but I let Scott do the initial test drive after it was unloaded, before the sales rep left. I actually waited until he and Scott went over by the barn (without the tractor) to look at some things before I climbed on and started it up.

I was very happy with how easy the tractor is to drive. It hardly took any time to get adjusted to the new equipment. There is a clutch and you do have to shift to change gears, but you are stopped when you shift, so you really can’t grind the gears. The loader bucket is very easy to use as well, and in order to reverse, you only have to put your foot onto the reverse pedal, no shifting anything.

The only thing that has been a little weird for me is to get adjusted to the break/forward/reverse setup. Our lawnmower is also a hydrostatic transmission, but the shifter is on the right hand side, and to go reverse, I pull back on the shifter. I can still perform the same motion, only it’s with the loader bucket control, and since my foot is usually on the forward gas pedal, I have to get used to the fact that it’s not just a break. The result has been that I have accidentally driven forward when I meant to break, and I have tipped the bucket up and raised the arms up instead of going into reverse. I’ll get there, though!

The tractor is easy enough to use that the three oldest kids were all able to drive it without any trouble. In fact, it’s so enjoyable to use that Aaron was getting upset with me yesterday when I told him he couldn’t do work with it. It’s “Mom’s” new toy, and some of the work I was doing, the kids wouldn’t be ready to do just yet. I asked him who wanted that tractor the most, and he said he did, but I had to let him know that it is in fact me, who wanted it the most. There are so many things around here that I want to do that I just have not been able to because we didn’t have the right equipment for the job.

Of all the kids, Aaron was most excited to drive the new tractor. I’m pretty sure he’ll be trying to find jobs to do with it on a daily basis, and he’ll probably beg to use it to clear the driveway in winter.

The tractor arrived with one hour of engine time on it, but by Friday morning, it already had 5 hours on it. We immediately started to do a bit of work with it after the sales rep left our house on Thursday. Scott worked on scraping and leveling the ground behind the old chicken coop slab, and he and I took turns making some trenches in the secret garden where I am making some huglekulture beds. I did one bed a few weeks ago, but have been delaying doing the rest because it’s so much work to dig up. What would have taken days of work and given me a sore back took maybe 20-30 minutes to dig. I still have to do everything else for it by hand, but not the hardest part! Scott also wasted no time making two jumps for the dirt bikes, and he and the boys are already plotting out how and where they can make more.

On Friday, I worked on leveling out the garden a bit. Scott plowed the garden a certain way that created a deep furrow down the middle that we thought might fill back in more when he ran the spring tooth over it, but it didn’t do as much as we thought. So I worked on scraping and pushing. It’s not gone, but it’s much better. And then I moved a big log across the yard with the tractor, and that was about it. Oh, we did get a slow moving vehicle sign for the back of it, and Scott attached that yesterday afternoon.

This morning, Scott has been running here and there with it, doing odd jobs. I can’t adequately describe how amazing it is to have a piece of equipment start up every time without fail, and to not have any random issues like a leaky tire or a battery generator that doesn’t work. I will probably be spending several hours on it in the next couple of weeks, just working on preparing the garden. We are going to be making clearly defined garden beds this year with mowing paths in between beds (that are actually wide enough for the lawn mower), and the beds will be wide enough for the tractor to pull a tiller through.

One garden bed is going to have sand added to it for my root crops, and they are all (hopefully) going to get manure. Some of them will hopefully get some wood mulch this year, too. Moving any of that into the garden will be so much easier than trying to shovel everything by hand, move it with a wheelbarrow, and then shovel it again and work it into the soil. My back hurts just thinking about it!

It is no joke to say that I was skipping down the road to start my morning walk the next morning. I cannot praise God enough that we were able to buy this tractor, and that it arrived when it did. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for planting in the next two weeks, and I would be doing it all by hand this year without the tractor. I am so grateful that I don’t have to do it all by hand! I have been praying that it’d come in early so we’d be able to use it before the garden season begins.

The turn radius on this thing is absolutely amazing! I could not believe how well it turns. I am limited a bit because of the bucket, so even though it turns great, we will have to be mindful of how much room that takes up as we go around things. I laughed when I was looking over everything on the tractor and I noticed a cupholder. It’s a great idea, but it was funny to me because my friend was just telling me that morning about how her little guy wants a Bobcat (skid steer) with a cupholder when he grows up. He loves tractors, but he didn’t even know that Bobcat tractors are a thing, so when I saw the cupholder on it, it made me chuckle and think of him.

The cupholder gave me a chuckle (though I’m sure we’ll use it), but I also laughed a bit at the safety illustration of the person wrapped around the PTO shaft. I know it’s no laughing matter as many people have been severely or even fatally injured by them, but the illustration just looks ridiculous to me.

I think I will do a more thorough review of the tractor after we’ve put a few more hours into it and have gotten used to it. That was the one thing that was really lacking when we were looking up tractors… written reviews of the Bobcat compact tractors. There are lots of video reviews, but not much in writing.

One last note for those wondering. We worked with Miller Implement in St. Nazianz to order this tractor. They were great to work with, and very knowledgeable. If you would go there, the sales reps each have a territory that they work with, so you will likely have a sales rep sort of “assigned” to you. We talked to two reps, and they were both really good to work with. One answered all of our questions and set us up with a quote, the other took care of the actual order, helped me change our tire order after the initial order was placed, answered any other questions I had, and then made the final delivery. The only reason we talked to both men was that we didn’t make an appointment the first time we went in, and we just talked to the available rep to figure out if we were even interested in buying a Bobcat.

Miller Implement’s info…

I look forward to sharing more about the projects that we complete this year as a result of the new tractor, and I look forward to giving more information on the tractor as a whole!

Love and Blessings~ Danielle

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