If you find yourself with a new small farm or homestead, you will also find yourself with a chore list the length of your right arm. A good small farm or homestead is like a good marriage — it is a beautiful thing, but it takes effort and hard work.
Hard work is something that you will never run out of, I assure you. Plowing, planting, harvesting, shoveling manure, cultivating, moving dirt, mowing and so much more are daily duties for the small-time farmer. Horses are nice, but I have never been a horse man, and I don’t intend to start being one. If you are like me, and don’t exactly feel like running back to 1889, I suggest you seriously consider a tractor.
A piece of land less than 150 acres can be managed with one machine. Two is preferable, and I have never worked a farm over 50 acres in size with less than two. Of course, if you only have small piece of land, one is plenty.
There are so many articles and blogs about what to look at when purchasing the tractor itself. You should always check the oil, examine as much of the engine as you can, check for fluid leaks, etc. If you are unsure of what to look at when purchasing a new tractor, take someone with you who knows machinery.
Let’s examine your tractor needs and point out a few good options for your homestead or farm.
If you have purchased 15 acres of wooded land with a large garden and some limited grazing area for livestock, you don’t need a 100 horsepower row crop tractor. A tractor between 10-50 horsepower is just what the doctor ordered. Mowing, plowing and cultivating will be the day-to-day chores performed by your tractor. At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I’ll say you may not even need a front-end loader on your machine. In fact, you can even take the minimalist approach and purchase an older Ford 8N, or a Farmall Cub or Super A and you will have plenty of tractor for your plot.
For the homestead or small farm that is larger than 15 or so acres, at least one tractor with a front-end loader is recommended. If you have a haying operation, you will need at least 40 horsepower to pull and operate a bailer. If you have a field or several fields, plowing, planting, perhaps watering and fertilizing, and harvesting are all tasks that require some muscle. Again, I would say at least 40 horsepower is needed.
A front-end loader will make everyday tasks much easier on a larger piece of land. Moving hay, shoveling manure, moving dirt and rocks, and lifting heavy objects can all be done with a front-end loader. I can’t imagine working more than 15-20 acres without one. I wouldn’t want to do it!
Now, this is where bullets will start to fly if I make a tractor model recommendation for larger pieces of land, and I think I’m going to bow out of that. I can in confidence point you toward most machines made by John Deere, Case IH/International Harvester/Farmall, Massey Ferguson, and Ford/New Holland. I’ve used John Deere and International Harvester/Farmall (now Case IH) machines most of my life and I always will, LORD willing. I recommend doing your research, and purchasing the tractor that is right for you, and where your farm/homestead is located.
In closing, every farm is different; every land owner’s needs are different. It is best to sit down and take stock as best you can the needs you have for a tractor and choose the right size and model for your land and goals. Don’t go too small; it is always better to get more tractor than what you need than to purchase one too small.
What advice would you add on buying a homestead tractor? Share your thoughts in the section below: