There Goes My Tool Fund

So… I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I had a moment last weekend. And it’s cool. I think it’s a totally fair and human thing to lose your shit once in a while. And we all cope with that sort of thing a bit differently… my way usually involves hitting things with a hammer, then beer, then–if that doesn’t work–sometimes I go buy a bigger hammer.

Or, in this case, a tractor.



I should probably rewind this story a bit…

I’ve been talking for two years about buying a tractor, and it’s been mostly a lot of talk while I alternately borrow my grandpa or my neighbors tractors. I borrow them for mowing the back field (which I haven’t done for over a year now because someone in my family misplaced the brush hog, apparently), cleaning out the donkey barn every couple of weeks, sometimes for demo, for plowing a million cubic feet of snow out of my driveway, for hauling dirt and gravel out to my garden, and also because sometimes it’s just super fun to drive a tractor around.



My neighbors have been incredibly generous in letting me use their equipment for the last couple of years. But because I’m “borrowing” it, I tend to only use it sparingly, and when I can’t manage any other way.  (They usually take the tractor to their lake property in spring, but I’ve been using it as I desperately worked on my garden for the last few weeks, that they actually took it to the lake and then–without me asking–brought it back so I could get more done. That’s definitely going above and beyond in the neighborly-awesomeness department.)


Truthfully, borrowing stuff is right up there with “asking for help” on the list of things that make me supremely uncomfortable, and it was becoming increasingly clear that I have enough work to make use of having a “full-time tractor” in my possession… so I started looking in earnest for a tractor of my very own a couple of months ago.

Here’s a thing about tractors… apparently they don’t depreciate like vehicles do, so the hope that I could buy a used tractor (with a bucket) outright was quickly, uh, shattered. Into lots of tiny, sad little dollar-shaped pieces.

I thought I might be able to pick one up at auction (because historically, I’ve done some pretty awesome things at auctions) but it turns out that while I’m 100% comfortable buying a house I’ve never been inside before– that kind of confidence only comes from basically building my last house from the ground up– and uh, I’m not at all a mechanic. I just couldn’t pull the trigger on spending thousands of dollars on a piece of equipment that might not work properly, and that I probably couldn’t fix.

Then, a few months ago, I thought my problem was solved. My family came up with an old broken tractor that they gave to me for free, with the thought that I could have someone fix it for just as much money as I could buy one for at auction…


Except apparently this thing was broken nearly in half. Parts of the frame were bent and though straightened and welded back together, it didn’t quite fit right. Which meant a pretty impressive stream of oil poured out of the thing any time you turned it on, and the mechanic basically refused to take my money, saying it was unfixable.

So, that was sad. And I pretty much just shoved the whole “tractor issue” on the back burner, as tractor related projects continued to pile up, and I continued to turn a blind eye to them because purchasing a new tractor would seriously deplete my tool-fund. For years.

But sometimes being frustrated beyond belief about something– even if that something is unrelated to tractors– will totally get my ass in gear about other things that are impeding my progress. I’m not sure why the concrete anchor debacle spurred me to finally take some concrete steps to buying a tractor, but that was the moment where I was like, “I am taking care of the tractor issue this week.”

So I rearranged my schedule so that I could take a day off work. Spent Monday and Tuesday evenings learning a lot of things about tractors from the internet. And then I took Wednesday, ostensibly, to go tractor shopping.


As always, it was an adventure. The first half of the day was spent on a baby-deer rescue mission…


And dealing with a blown trailer tire…


Then I spent a good five hours driving around to different dealerships, checking out equipment, and finally finding a tractor (and a few fun attachments) that felt like the right amount of power and was still in my price range. (I attribute the fact that I actually found something in my price range solely to the good karma from the baby deer rescue mission earlier in the day…)

This just got here this morning.

I was super hesitant– I mean, clearly, it took me two years–about buying a new tractor, mostly because I really hate having payments on things. Makes my eye twitch. But I realized I made the right decision when my tractor was delivered, and I got an hour-long lesson on all the ins-and-outs of using the equipment. Plus, you know, it comes with a warranty.

Here are the specs of my rig:

  • Mahindra 3016 (28hp) tractor with loader
  • 60″ brush hog attachment
  • 9″ post-hole digger

I would just like to point out how exciting the post-hole digger is, as evidenced by my mom’s reaction on facebook…

God, I hate manually digging post holes. And, now I never have to do that ever again.

You can imagine that today was filled with a lot of tractor-related fun (right up until the lightning started) including mowing the pasture…


There are donkeys in that picture, but you almost wouldn’t know it because WEEDS.


Mowed! Just about the time the ominous clouds started rolling it.

And I’m writing this post right now because the rain is keeping me from working outside, but I managed to toss a few things in the dumpster before the rain came down…


And hauled some lumber around…


Oh, and delivered a few kegs to my neighbor for his 4th of July party…


(It’s handy dating a guy who has beer connections.)

While I don’t love taking on the financial obligation of a tractor, I know that it’s necessary to keeping things running smoothly on the property. And if I’d done this a few months ago, I might have managed to plant the wheat, barely, and fruit trees in the back field this year like I’d hoped to do. But, all things in due time…

For now, I’ll settle for this.


19 Responses

  1. Hello. I’ve recently discovered your blog and am really impressed and amazed by the work you do. Love your new tractor! Curious, is it hydrostatic hitch? I have a Massey 165 Diesel, and it takes two people to hitch it to equipment. As a result it’s up for sale. I sold the brush hog last year. Am using a zero turn industrial mower to handle the mowing. But wow, I’d love a front end loader! Thanks for sharing your adventures. You are an inspiration. 🙂

  2. Can’t wait till hubby wakes up so I can show him this post from you! He so desperately wants a Mahindra. We keep looking on CL, but like you say, they hold their value so it’s a toss between buying something a little cheaper that might have a bucket full of hidden issues or just go for it and get something that has a warranty. Nothing feels better than working on your place for a few hours and really seeing a difference. 🙂

  3. I am so happy for you! This will save you so much time. Now you need a combine and a seeder, or you could make a deal with your neighbor to crop your property and maybe get enough grain for your critters through the winter! Cheers!

  4. If that thing can run a post hole digger, can it run an auger big enough to dig holes for your fruit trees?

  5. About cats chewing electrical wires – if you coat the wires with Tabasco sauce they will avoid them, in my experience. No, they don’t keep retasting and burning their tongues. Also, it dries clear and non-sticky.

    I saw that somewhere on the web and it worked for my cats.

  6. That is so great, good for you!

    I love the picture of transporting the kegs. That is going to be SOME party!

  7. I am green with the envy! My wife thought I was having an affair since I’m constantly online. She was partially relieved that it was only my tractor shopping obsession.

  8. That is one sweet rig. One day I’d love to go “tractor shoppin'”. We finally finished our month long fence project last week. Wish I had known there was a better option for digging post holes. Well actually, I’m glad I didn’t know.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.