A few weeks ago my 1979 Massey Ferguson 85 HP tractor gave up the ghost. I bought her about 5 years ago because my little Branson 3520, which we’d brought from our previous homestead, just wasn’t large enough to mow and move hay bales. She was way past her prime and had several mechanical issues that needed attention. Over the last several months she was becoming more and more difficult to start and recently started overheating. Well she finally stopped running altogether. The weeds were quickly taking over the pasture, and winter was not far away. I needed to take action. My “to-do list” was ever expanding and rebuilding a tractor was not going to make the cut. So instead of pouring time and money into fixing her, I decided to upgrade.
There is a lot to consider when buying a tractor. It’s even more complicated than buying a car. There are a legion of manufactures and each offering a myriad of options. For some reason the tractor dealers are having difficulty getting new tractors from the manufactures (perhaps the same chipsets auto manufactures are running short of) and as a result, used tractor prices are sky high. As a general rule, I rarely buy new things. In addition to being more expensive, new tractors are also more complicated. Simplicity is better when it comes to tractors. They endure extremely rugged conditions and it's important to be able to troubleshoot and fix them in the field. Buying used isn't without risk, of course.
There were a couple of key features I was looking for. Around 80hp (for mowing), a front end loader (for moving hay, dirt, and feed), and 4 wheel drive (for traction and maneuverability). There were several tractors listed that met my needs, so it was a struggle deciding. It’s always a balance between features, condition, and cost. In the end selected a 2004 John Deere 3520. I had to compromise on the power output in exchange for features and condition. The JD3520 is only 64 horse power. I really wanted to upgrade to a 15ft batwing shredder because I hate mowing the pasture and a 15ft shredder requires about 75hp. Mowing is hot, dusty, loud, and teeth rattling - you cant imagine how bumpy the field is. A 15ft shredder would enable me to get the job done in half the time that my current 7ft shredder affords. Fortunately the seller had a 12ft shredder available that the JD3520 could handle nicely.
This weekend I made the drive up to Cameron; brought home my new tractor and shredder and immediately put it to work cleaning up the fields. It’s a huge upgrade from the Massey Ferguson, and the 12ft shredder is a joy. Overall I am pleased with the purchase. Fortunately I was able to get a few dollars by selling the Massey Ferguson, and I will be listing the Branson 3520 soon too. As the JD3520 combines all the features into one package, I no longer need two tractors. Be sure to keep an eye out in future newsletters to see the Green Machine hard at work.
$7.50 per lb. - $50 Deposit Required
Delivered the Tuesday before Thanksgiving
Fresh - never frozen
This Week's Markets
The Elgin Farmers Market is a year-round market that will remain open every Thursday. Pre-orders are encouraged.
The Taylor Farmers Market is a year-round market that will is open every Saturday. Pre-orders are encouraged. Live music most Saturday's from 11 -1.