We have been hemming and hawing about getting a tractor for over a year. There are projects galore we could use one on. Rototilling, digging ponds and swales and trenches for water and sewage lines, turning our massive compost piles, moving drainage rock, and getting the last nine logs we harvested in September under cover. We need to mow now before it gets too tall to do it in a single pass.
We don’t have a flatbed trailer either which complicates things.
Risk of breaking down and the threat of another project has kept us out of used and inexpensive tractors. I don’t need another mechanical project, I have quite a few and they are no longer relaxing. They are gumption blockers that feel like emergency quick fixes and just add to the pile of anxiety and get in the way of getting things done.
I would love to have the time and mechanical skill to get an old Ford or Massey Ferguson. I would also love to convince myself that a subcompact 25-27 hp could do the job. We’ve been looking at 30-35 hp models with enough weight to pull a subsoiler and carry a 20ft log safely, the difference in price is significant, and that eats into money earmarked for home construction which I know we have underestimated.
The allure of a shiny new package deal is strong. Warrantied and cared for properly is a big deal. Buying used has the looming specter of a tractor that might look good, but was “rode hard and put away wet”.
Yeah we have a lot of digging to do. 600 ft of well line, 300 feet of septic line, ponds, ponds, ponds. Swales might be doable with a loader bucket but only with a bigger tractor. We could rent a ditch witch. If we stuck with a big name brand we could dig until we are done and sell the backhoe.
Having had a friend’s Bobcat with a grapple we have found it invaluable for limbs, logs, and turning compost. Given the amount of selective logging and small road clearing we will be doing for years to come, this has moved high on our must have list.
Dirt, back blading, cheater swale digging, gravel moving, feed lifting, and just to use as a counter weight with pulling a disc or plow or subsoiler. This is a non-negotiable integral part of the tractor for us.
Needs a stump jumper, and having enough cutting power to get through two inch debris is important. Clutches and shear pins help keep the shaft and moving parts from breaking when things get bogged down. We need to mow down to 6″ to drop grasses down to add organic matter to the soil and not damage roots.
So not wanting another project and not finding a used tractor that was significantly cheaper than new, we started digging deeper into new tractors. We looked at Deere, Kubota, Mahindra, Branson, Jinma, and Bobcat. Evenings were spent comparing tractor specs and crunching numbers.
After more than a year we finally made a decision. The Kioti CK30. I wish we didn’t have to use a tractor, but I’m glad we finally have one.