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Buying Things

Garth Brown |

When I was new to farming I made some ill-advised equipment purchases. There was a backhoe attachment for the tractor that never actually worked, which was sold at a loss after sitting in the barn for a while. There was the huge old haybine that met much the same fate. Then there are more marginal cases like the auger, which was relatively cheap and has been quite useful at times, but which gets so little use day to day that it often feels like clutter.

I’m happy to say I learned the folly of purchasing equipment without being certain it’s needed. Growing grain or putting up forage requires lots of specialized implements, and they must be used regularly to justify their cost. I’m happy to let other local farmers take care of these tasks while I focus on animal management.

All of us on the farm are like minded about this, which is usually good, but can lead to a situation in which a machinery purchase is put off for a foolishly long time. For example, I’ve been here five years and somehow not purchased a dedicated snow moving implement. The house I built is at the end of a fairly long driveway. I have pigs in hoops at the top of the farm and the baleage they eat in a field at the bottom. I feed cows hay all over the place. I’ve somehow gotten by with just a bucket, but it’s taken an absurd amount of churning through drifts to accomplish. As the number of animals on the farm has increased, this has shifted from a reasonable approach to something much more foolish. I can walk cows to hay if the tractor can’t make it through, but I need to be able to bring feed to the pigs. Last year I had few enough to theoretically haul it by hand, but with four times as many this coming winter that won’t be a realistic option.

While I’ve put off getting a snowblower for too long, I did have the foresight to purchase a new truck before the old one completely failed. The old pickup is a diesel, two wheel drive 1998 Chevy 2500. Until the past few months it had been surprisingly reliable, aside from categorically refusing to start when the temperatures dropped much below freezing. But it began having issues like spontaneously dying while driving down the turnpike, and it’s a poor vehicle for taking to market, so I found and purchased a used moving truck to replace it.

It may be used, but its eleven years younger, and the ten foot box has plenty of room for all my needs. I’ve been stripping the paint and decals, and once I get a fresh coat on and maybe find a new hood at the junkyard it will look reasonably presentable. It’s far more pleasant to drive than the old pickup, though I could say that about literally every car I’ve ever driven, so it’s not really high praise.


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