Friday, December 11, 2009

Deciphering tractor lingo

Now that we have two acres, we have to figure out how we're going to keep it mown. Eventually, the horses will have three pastures and will help keep the grass to a reasonable level, but we'll still have to mow to make sure the weeds don't take over, and we'll have to mow the bits that aren't pasture. Obviously, mowing 2 acres with a push mower is out, so what are the other options? Welcome to the world of riding lawnmowers!

Initially, I figured we would just want a little riding lawnmower that we could attach a utility cart or something to, large enough to mow and haul a bale or two of hay or a bag or two of grain. These little guys are referred to as "Yard Tractors," because apparently a "riding lawnmower" just doesn't sound manly enough. Of course, these come with different engines, horsepower, and different sized cutting blades. John Deere and Cub Cadet appear to be the best names in this group, and Briggs and Stratton engines are the most common but not necessarily the best, while Kubota's diesel engines are at the top (and their price reflects that!) but Kohler seems to be the preferred gasoline engine.

Then we discovered they make slightly larger lawnmowers that you can buy attachments for. These guys are referred to as "Garden Tractors," and you can pretend you have a real tractor when you use the small box blades for moving dirt, harrows for harrowing the garden, or even move mulch with the little front end loaders! I should also point out that a lot of them come with snow blowers, but we all know how useful a snow blower would be in Austin, TX. Good brands in this group include the John Deere and Kubotas (again, pricey), but also the Troy-Bilt Big Red Horse garden tractor. It's a best buy, with a 22 hp Kohler engine, but even on the Troy-Bilt site I can't find any accessories for it that would make it useful for anything other than mowing.

As the gadget lover in me (and the husband!) were considering what we could do with all the fun attachments you can buy for the John Deere, we started thiking, well, if we're going to do all that, perhaps we should look at something a teeeeny bit larger... fatal last words, right?

Enter the world of the Utility Tractor. These little guys are like a real tractor, but smaller. They have augers, tillers, front-end loaders, backhoes, mowers, mulchers, shredders... we'd need a whole new shed just to store the attachments you could get for one of these things! Now at some point, we will need to rent or borrow a tractor with a tiller and box blade to move dirt away from the foundation. We'll also, at some point, need a tractor to move dirt around to make an arena, and to auger holes for wooden fence posts (that point is a loooong time away). There may be a few other things we'd need a tractor to do (dig a French drain for the house, auger holes for the barn if we choose to put up a pole barn, etc.) but in general, most of our time will be spent mowing... and we do not need a tractor for that.

Are you reading this, husband dear? We do not need a tractor! :)

P.S. Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl this year and would like a nice John Deere yard tractor with a utility cart. Maybe an LA100 or XP300 model. However, please do not get my husband a tractor. OK?

P.S.S. Beware of the John Deere Web site. Who knew you could have so much fun when shopping for tractors?

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