Gotta have one of these on a farm!

When we decided that buying our homestead was something we wanted to pursue, I told Zina, “I built the urban farm by hand.  I wheel barrow-ed all the top soil in and I man-handled all the landscaping stone needed to Xeriscape the front yard.  If we are going to do this and it is going to be on the scale that it has the potential for, then I must have some machinery to help out.”

Of course I didn’t want to have one of those ginormous tractors with the eight wheels that are 6 feet tall, pulling a huge disc, seeder or sprayer behind it, but a little putz around tractor to haul inconveniently shaped or heavy objects would sure be handy.

Wishes fulfilled.  A couple of weeks back the local dealership dropped off a compact John Deere tractor.  It was too late for one blizzard and just in time for another.  So far it has a front loader (already coming in handy) and a 4 foot wide rototiller to help with the garden.  On order is a middle buster and a 1 blade mold board plow (the gizmo you often see in pictures being pulled by a horse and a thread bare farmer sweating in the summer sun.).  The middle buster is a piece of steel with kind of a heart shaped blade on the bottom designed to “bust the middle” of a row in order to plant things like potatoes.  It can also be used to help harvest them.  All I can say is thank goodness for some forms of technology.  The farm was never intended to make us a family of luddites.  It is simply healthier, better for the soil, and for the environment to engage in locally grown food production.  Starting this whole production in our 50’s demands a certain amount of convenience.

Here she be:

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Of course, you can see from the images that my son – the mechanical engineer wanna be who starts college in the fall, thinks all of the hydraulics and moving gizmos are just all that!  Who-da thunk you get a teenager to WANT to come and help out with farm chores?  Just give em a nifty toy to mess with and you’re good for at least a few days!

A few days after these photos were taken we got hit with a typical Colorado spring blizzard.  The drifting would have had us all but snowed in save for the new tractor.  Here is what Aaron did for two hours the next day:

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The humor in this story now begins.  While digging the family a trench out to the main road, our neighbor, whom we had never met, drove down to meet us……..in one of those very same ginormous tractors (I am six feet tall {the guy in the hat and overalls}) – you can get an idea of the size simply because the tires are almost as tall as me!.  He decided that it would be nice to come down and help out and finally meet the new neighbors.  He had a snow plow blade on the front that was as wide as my pickup is long.  Aaron was pointed away from the main road and didn’t see this beast bearing down on him.  When he did notice it was hilarious – it looked like a go cart being chased down by a semi!  We were wondering if we fed and watered our tractor if someday it might grow up to be like this one!  What had taken Aaron two hours, this guy did in a matter of a minute or two.

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It turns out that the farmer (Brad) is the one who has been leasing the back 30 acres of our property to farm it with wheat.  He wanted to come by and see if we would still be interested in doing that.  I told him as long as he doesn’t spray pesticides on it and because wheat isn’t genetically modified, we would be happy to have him do it.  In return I will get an enormous amount of straw that can be used for the chickens and for mulch and general composting.  He gets to sell the grain.  He said that right now he is working upwards of 5000 acres of land… none of which he owns.  The main method for non-landowners out here is simply to dry farm.  The ground gets tilled, the seed gets planted followed by lots of praying and hoping for sufficient moisture and then, around the 4th of July, comes wheat harvest.  Last year’s drought left us with 30 acres of unharvested, stunted wheat.  Considering that as I type this we are getting another 6 inches of snow, the moisture levels are quite a bit above last year…. but that’s not saying much.

The organic garden I am going to put in is around half an acre – Easily that if you take into consideration the seed corn and sunflowers I want to grow for the chickens.  It is HARD packed right now as it is where an old horse corral was.  Many hooves have pounded it down – but all of those horses have also made it the most fertile land on the farm.  Brad has volunteered, when he comes out to disc the back 30, to run the disc up through the garden as well!  Said he’d have it busted up and tilled in about 5 minutes.  Woohoo!  Gotta love other people’s machines!

So the JAZ Farm has a tractor and has networked to have access to some folks with much bigger toys to help get the big jobs done.

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