Complete beginner garden tractor/tractor???

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by LynninTX, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. LynninTX

    LynninTX Well-Known Member

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    OK first I apologize, but we are complete beginners. We just moved to our first *farm to be* on June 4th....we just bought 11 acres in northeast Tx (30 min from Nacogdoches, 65 miles from Shreveport, LA). We are trying to research garden tractors vs tractors and are feeling a bit lost.

    about 3 to 4 of our acres are clear and the rest is wooded, we do hope to clear some trees although never all of it

    We were blessed to be able to buy our property (incl. house) outright, and have a bit of money left over. We are trying not to go through it all though as dh needs to find a job (nothing high paying, but a job none the less). On the second day of our move the engine on our old van died and is not worth putting money into due to size. Actually we left it in Tucson, AZ. So here we are with a rental while we try to find a newer used 15 passenger to purchase. Not sure what that will cost us yet (likely $7,000-12,000). So best we can figure we have $2,000-10,000 to spend on a tractor....I know... stop laughing!!! We can only spend the higher end if it REALLY REALLY worth it and what we need to do the job. That needs to include the attachments we need for now. We need something to mow the grass (except the house everything clear is grassed over), and something to prepare a large garden area. We would like something that would also be good as we expand and clear more of the land, but are wondering if it is better to buy lower end now and then look for something better that is older for dh to repair. This is just too much land to mow with a gas push mower and get anything else done.

    I do not see how we can get a *real* tractor at this point....

    We are looking at these garden tractors and wondered if you could recommend any or have another suggestion.

    John Deere
    GT235 or GT245 (garden tractors) both have as an optional attachment a 30" mechanical tiller ** probably near the higher end by the time we buy the tiller

    4110 4WD Compact tractor (20hp) has has optional attachments either a 261 rear mount rotary mower or a 54 inch midmount mower and a 647 Tiller (48" commercial duty) **this one would be at or above our maximum we feel we can afford

    Craftsman
    GT5000 or DGT6000 (both garden tractors that will accept *ground engaging attachments*)

    TroyBilt
    24hp/54cut Big Red or 21hp/46" cut Horse (both are garden tractors that will accept *ground engaging attachments*)

    Husqvarna
    25hp/48" cut (a garden tractor that will accept *ground engaging attachments*)

    We are trying to move into homesteading slowly....

    We figured moving mid 2004 we'd settle in, figure things out, find a job, get a puppy or two, start preparing our garden area, build a chicken coop, me practice canning by buying produce at road stands or farmers market so I am ready for our produce next year.... research what fruit/nut trees grow here and plant them now or in 2005, get guineas to help with the bugs....

    2005 - start a large garden & chickens and possibly add turkeys

    2006 - enlarge the garden & add turkeys if not already, consider dairy goats

    2007 - possibly after research add a steer for beef or a milk cow

    Thanks for any help you can give!!!
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Your choice of tractors indicate to me that you are as you described, beginners. We all were at one time and I envy your excitement and enthusiasm. You need to get a real tractor initially. There are old real tractors and there are current ones. Many of the old real tractors are still serviceable and will give years of service. A nice thing about a real tractor is that the implements will in many cases fit the old and the current models so the implements never become obsolete. Buy yourself a Ford red belly (2n, 9n, 8n series) or similar with a 3 point hitch. If the budget permits or you find a bargain then get a newer 30 to 40 HP tractor with a 3 point hitch. Such a tractor plus a small push mower and a walk behind garden tiller will do any task you have, current or future. Good luck and enjoy your new place.
     

  3. Kirk

    Kirk Well-Known Member

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    With 3-4 acres to mow you probably only need a large riding mower. Most of the ground engaging equipment can be replaced with a separate peice of equipment such as a walk behind tiller. If you are mowing around outbuildings, shrubbery, ect you will end up pushing a push mower around after mowing with a tractor to get close to stuff. I mow just over 3 of my 7.5 acres and just bought an 18hp 42" cut rider from tractor supply. It takes me around two hours to mow and another hour to do the weed whacking. I looked at the bigger garden tractors and just couldn't justify the cost. I expect with proper maintainence this one should last around 10-15 years. The garden tractors look like they would last a few years longer but not enough to justify almost triple the cost. A real tractor will last almost forever but would be way more than I need just for mowing duty.

    Kirk
     
  4. LynninTX

    LynninTX Well-Known Member

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    agmantoo - we are so new and are trying, but have NO clue where to find older equipment or to know enough to know if it is good or not.... we did not just buy this land... we moved from San Diego, CA to deep east TX and know few people so far.... feeling quite lost suddenly....

    Kirk that is what we were going to do, but were told tillers even rear tine are not going to be able to break in new ground that has NEVER been worked before. We can put our boys to work with a push mower areound the trees and such.......
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    As a new poster let me point out the archives forum, there is thousands of questions and 10s of thousands of answers there. As for your tractor needs, almost any compact size unit will serve, try and get a diesel unit, less maintiance, less fuel, stronger than gas unit. Is the land level, if not seek a wide wheel base model, 4 wheel drive is a good plus.
     
  6. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

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    IMO with all those nice kids, that no nothing about machinery. I'd buy a nice safe lawnmower and maybe the tiller attachment. You'll probably only need to use about an acre for most of your animals. Graze a goat or two or jersey cow out on the other two acres. Make sure you teach the kids the safty around equipment. To easy to lose a hand or fingers.
     
  7. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You can get an old farm tractor with 3 point hitch for less than $5000 including a 3 point rotary mower, and a 3 point plow to turn the sod over for planting. An old disc or spring tooth harrow will work it down enough to work into shape with a rear tine walk behind roto tiller that every garden can make good use of. With a little luck thw whole works would cost less than $5000. Get out a phone book and let your fingers do the walking looking for impliment dealers. Don't buy before checking out all the possible choices.
     
  8. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We went ahead and got the craftsman GT5000, it is the same as the Husqvarna on your list. We went with the 25hp Kohler engine and manual transmission. We run it with a bagger and find it has more than tripled our compost production in just 3 weeks.
    We have also used it very successfully to drag downed trees out of the garden area.
    The ground engaging attachments include a plow, disks, tow behind tiller etc., but we don't have these yet as we will not need them until the fall.
     
  9. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    In the interim, don't forget that you can hire someone to till/plow up the garden patch for less $ than to have a big tiller overhauled. Works for me.
     
  10. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Yes! I suspect that you can HIRE a neighbor to plow up a garden spot for a tiny fraction of what it would cost to buy a tractor! Then, you could put off buying a tractor until next year, when your DH has a secure job. Save the money in case of emergency.

    NEXT year consider a tractor, unless you want to keep hiring the neighbor! Or, since the intial ground has been broken, a simple tiller.
     
  11. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    In any country community, there's always somebody looking to hire out and do a bit of bushhogging, or garden work.

    I'd let somebody else's tractor do the work this year. You might want to look around for a tiller, because after the initial busting and discing, that's about all you really need (and need is variable, I've reworked small gardens with a spade and a hoe, but that's work!)

    You're a might late for a spring garden, although it's still not too late for purple hull peas, okra, and some squash and tomatoes. But down here, some of the best snap beans I ever raised were in the fall.

    Good luck!
     
  12. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    I can't say it loud enough. SEARS CRAFTSMAN!!!!!!!! And get the extended warranty where they come to the house to fix it. It's the BEST!! They come fix things for FREE, and if they can't fix it you get a new machine FREE!!, no matter how old it is.

    I have a friend to gets all major appliances from Sears, and so far over the years, he has received two new refrigerators, a new range/stove, new weedeater, new microwave. Seriously, it doesn't matter if the item is 15 years old. If they can't get the part, example: a new thermostat for the oven, you get to pick a new stove of equal value to the one you had...it's CURRENT value as if NEW, not a depreciated value.

    Sears Craftsman. It's the way to go.
     
  13. Tractorman

    Tractorman Well-Known Member

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    Older model Ford 3000 or 4000 best small tractors made in my opinion and I have used a lot. They are not a small compact tractor so they have enough weight and strength to do any job around the farm. Get the ones with the 3 cylinder diesel it will work from sun up to sun down and uses very little fuel. I agree with uncle will you should be able to get one for around $5000 and I bet the small mowers will cost close to that. Plus a 30 year old ford 4000 will still work harder and last longer than a brand new garden tractor and you will not be limited to small slow implements that are only made for your mower.
     
  14. LynninTX

    LynninTX Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all the ideas and help. I'll print this off for my dh. Maybe he can try the feed store Monday and see if anyone knows anyone who would come out and do it for a price to bide us some time.

    We are not trying to get a summer garden in... thinking of possibly fall definitely next spring.
     
  15. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

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    Welcome LynninTX,

    Congrats on your immigration from the PRK. I too am a San Diego native but I got out when I was 3. :)

    Welcome to Texas. We're glad to have you and your quite large family.

    If I were you I wouldn't get a garden tractor at all. I agree with agmantoo, you can get a good compact tractor for about what a new lawn tractor would cost. Although you only have 3 - 4 acres to mow you do have 11 total acres and the tractor will serve you well.

    Good Luck,

    Michael

    p.s. - tractorsbynet.com is a good tractor resource.
     
  16. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I would vote for a decent garden tractor, maybe a Craftsman, and hire out the rest. It takes a lot of $30-50 hours to add up to one payment on a tractor. Then you can evaluate after a couple of years what you actually need the tractor for. Plus, you can buy 10 Craftsmans before you could pay for a John Deere of similar horsepower.

    My tractor guy makes two passes in our quarter acre garden in about 40 minutes. It takes him about 3 hours to brush hog our 5 acre field. Money well spent, especially considering he's responsible for breakdowns and repairs when working. He cracked the shaft on the brush hog last summer. Sucked to be him.

    Just don't overextend yourself. We had the same pipe dreams when we started, and we started realizing really quickly where the best places are to pay someone else for work.
     
  17. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Congrats on the new farm. Now on to the tractor. First thing to do is figure out what you want to do with the tractor, then fit the tractor to the task then fit the tractor to the budget. $2k-$10k is a BIG range. There is a BIG differance between a gt245 and a 4110 compact. The gt, craftsman, troybilt and Husqvarna are riding lawn mowers where the 4110 is a full 3pt hitch and hydraulics. The Garden tractors can have ground engaging devices but usually that means a tiller and maybe a plow, usually propitiary to the specific tractor and usually pretty pricey options.

    From looking at your time line and task I might say you couldnt use the garden tractor, but then I see 11 acres and that screams compact. If your never going to be bailing hay on your property then then a compact tractor is a good option. They can be fitted with mowers(finish and bush hog), front end loaders and will take most "FARM" implements that you might need.

    There have been several recent threads regarding tractors, might be worthwhile to do a search for them. Compacts can do a lot but also have there limitations. If they fit your needs then they are great. I have a grey market Yanmar compact and love it. Spent about $7k for my 20hp compact and it came with a tiller, front end loader, tractor, bush hog, carry all. I couldnt find just a JD or kubota tractor for that price. There are issues with grey markets but for the "casual" farm needs they are a good investment.

    You might also look at several tractors. With 3-5 acres of alnd you will most likley need a "lawn mower" a good used lawn tractor can be found right now for a good price. Many of the lawn/garden tractor will go on sale with the 4th of july. Grab a nice tractor to mow the lawn and tug around a small trailer then get a compact in the next year or so when it becomes more of a needed item. That gives you another year to be looking for a good deal.



     
  18. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................Hi Lynn, Since your budget is in the 2 to 10k range you have alot of choices. You have received alot of very knowledgeable advise. I'll make one recommendation alittle different from the others. if, you can expand your budget maybe up to around 12k, I would find the nearest Kubota dealer and visit with them about some of their USED 4x4 tractors say in the 30hp, range . That would probably be a 3 cylinder diesel. Also , check into their shuttle shift and Hydrostatic transmission(s). WHATEVER model you decide upon, make sure it has a Frontend loader. If, you buy a Lawn tractor , YOU WILL WISH that you had gone ahead and bought a REAL tractor. A lawn tractor is nothing MORE than an over priced Lawn mower. Kubota makes the BEST line of Small and Medium tractors available. They're NOT cheap , but properly maintained, they will last forever.....fordy..... :eek: :)
     
  19. oldnndway

    oldnndway Member

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    Hey LynninTX ... Welcome to East Texas (get ready for summer !!!)

    I'm right down at the other end of Sam Rayburn from y'all.

    I too would suggest finding an older tractor, like a Ford 8N or similar.
    You can get a good used one for the low side of your estimated $ .
    I would suggest checking an "East Texas Peddler" type sale paper...maybe a local Thrifty Nickle or such. Also watch the tractor dealers as they sometime get them in trade or watch for one along the highways.
     
  20. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lynnin,
    BEFORE you spend your dollars on the ground attachments for your Sears garden tractor... DON'T! We have a 26 hp Craftsman garden tractor which I love, it works beautifully, however the implements such as a tiller, plow, and harrow for it are worthless. With every weight you can buy for the tractor and every weight you can put on the implements, they still simply bounce across the top of the ground. Learn from my mistake and don't waste your money on them. Use this mower for what it was meant for, cutting large yards, up to 5 acres.

    As for "real" tractors, well we have both the old and the new. Our old workhorse is a 1947 Farmall MD. yeah it will probably last forever, but this is not the tractor for a beginner. It's a booger to keep running, and I sure as heck won't operate it.

    We also have a 2003 New Holland 45D Boomer. It's 4 wheel drive, has power steering, and is a dream to operate. I now do all the brushogging, and the front end loader to me is like God's gift to women! (Sorry guys, LOL). We use it far more than we ever thought we would. We have a loader, posthole digger (which we use to plant all our trees, no more backbreaking digging) and brush hog.