I started farming with a little Ford 8N. It did everything, from breaking new ground, running the combine and baling thousands of bales of hay. The 8N earned its place on the farm and with years of hard use it rarely had any problems. In all those years I replaced and exhaust manifold gasket, an axle nut, and the oil sensor line twice. Besides common maintenance that is how few breakdowns the little 8N had.
While rock solid reliable and fuel efficient the little 8N had few modern features. With no live hydraulics and no live PTO you had to plan ahead. I got very good at throwing the 8N out of gear and letting up on the clutch to keep the PTO spinning and the baler going when I hit a pileup of hay in a windrow.
As our farm started to grow we went from a one tractor farm to a multi tractor farm. One of the first additions we had was a Ford 861 diesel. With twice the power, live hydraulics and a live PTO the 861 was very advanced compared to the 8N. The 861 took over running the baler and the combine, the 8N was used as the mowing and raking tractor. The 861 with its little 4 cylinder diesel was even more fuel efficient than the 8N.
The 861 had an engine failure while idling. Since we were doing a lot more work than before we needed a replacement quick and a Ford 860 gas tractor was purchased to fill in until something better was found. The 860 was basically the same as the 861 with a gas engine.
Once I was spoiled with all these fancy features we started rounding out the fleet. We bought a Ford 4000 and a Ford 2000 as well as a Ford Jubilee with a loader and a AC backhoe. The three cylinder Ford tractors quickly started to shine. With independent PTO and hydraulics strong enough to lift the front end off the ground it was clear our farm had officially arrived at 1970’s technology. With eight gears to choose from and fuel efficient and simple engines the 1000 series Fords quickly started becoming my favorite. The entire tractor was built heavier than the previous generations.
When I started farming I did so with technology out of the 40’s. I have since advanced up into 1970’s technology and until more land is acquired it is probably where we will be for awhile. My little 8N isn’t going anywhere, our farm was built on its back and it has rite-fully earned its place on our farm forever. It still does a lot of work from raking hay to discing it is far from obsolete on our farm. That said the leap forward in technology on Ford’s three cylinder tractors has obvious advantages. With cheap parts and an easy to maintain design we will be basing our farms horsepower around these tractors.
I don’t regret starting very small and building up to what is still a small farm. This approach has kept us out of tractor and equipment debt, we paid cash for everything in our equipment lineup. We moved forward slowly and we are soon going to consolidate and sell of some of our starting equipment. We have no plans to get big quick, we have plenty of work to do on our small holding of 75 acres. We will keep our row crops planted and cultivated two rows at a time.
Our largest buildup in the coming year will be modernizing our hay operation. Since the start we have depended on a Ford 501 sickle mower. I have purchased a disc mower that needs work and will probably purchase a mower conditioner this year. Some day we may even consider buying a round baler but I worry about getting about getting lazy.
So I guess the moral of the story is stay out of tractor debt and don’t think antique equipment cannot get the job done. We are able to plant row crops and feed our cattle very inexpensively thanks to antique machinery and that is important when you are building up from nothing.
Construction is under way on a nice brooder house that will be used for hatching and caring for chicks and storage of eggs. The dining room has been getting crowded with the chick rearing and incubating and it is time to move it out and up scale it.
Our first steer to be slaughtered and sold was a success. We have buyers lined up and the beef will be picked up next week. 2016 marks the first dime I have made off cattle not counting the full freezer and beef independence in 2013. We sold two bull calves and will likely sell a couple more. Five years in the making it feels good to be approaching the top of the hill. We have also purchased a new bull, Lobo Clive who will replace Arod. Clive is homozygous polled so horny calves will be a thing of the past. Arod is now for sale.