73 – Investing

The amount of time we have invested in growing those pasture grasses is hard to calculate but it was at least 1/2 the labor we did this year. Based on our high clay content we were skeptical regarding results, even the seed company wasn’t sure our composting efforts would overcome the hurdles we faced. That being said, we were hesitant to spend money on tools and implements that might only get used once so we decided to do that 1/4 acre test bed by hand. 200 yards of compost spreading using shovels and the backhoe bucket. I gave my lower back a workout several times by using a battery powered hedge trimmer to cut back the grasses, stimulating new growth.

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I searched locally for tools and equipment but not many people are doing any kind of grass farming around here. What I did find was expensive or junk. Knowing we had to make a trip to see Amys mom in Montana this October I started checking craigslist in her area for stuff. They practically give the stuff away up there that we needed to up our pasture management game for 2018. I filled a 20′ trailer with old but still very usable farm implements for $450 total. These families are working 100 acres on up to 100,000 acres of grass or grain so upgrading to the latest, largest tools makes sense for them which leaves fields of retired tools laying around and plenty of friendly old timers to talk a guy like me through finding what I need.

One thing I’ve learned about old farm implements- they were made when things were built right using good quality metal. This manure spreader is a mid 50’s and all original, right down to the wood. Everything works correctly and is actually fairly tight. Attach to the old Ford 8N and evenly throw 2 yards of compost down at a time. I dig old stuff and the patina on this thing is just bitchin.

One thing I was really happy to find was a mid 70’s International Harvester sickle mower. The CASE/International dealer in Great Falls stocked all the service and wear items for me to rebuild this to tip top shape for under $100. No more hedge trimmer for me. The 5′ sickle bar is odd as most or 7′ to 9′ but actually works better for me to work in some tight spaces.

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