Would we use them enough?
Would they do what we needed them to do?
Would they handle the work?
Could we use them for multiple tasks?
Would they justify the expense of the purchase?
How would they treat the soil or hay?
Would they help us keep fit?
It was a long list of questions. In the end we had the information to make purchases for the future.
Some things went wrong, like the wonderful Diesel engine on the Grillo G110. It was a Koehler. A solid engine with great power and fuel economy. We loved it but it was not designed for farm work. It was more suited to stationary applications. After a number of serious problems due to dust we had to admit it was not going to work. Now a gas Honda motor runs the Grillo and the work gets done.
One thing we had not taken into consideration was the rampant growth of things green in this country. We had a serious battle with grass and lost most of it. Ralph knew the Grillo and the flail and drum mowers cut the grass/hay/weeds really well but we simply could not keep up to it. Then he hurt his back.
One piece of equipment we had never looked into was a riding mower. We both felt that walking behind the Grillo was good for us. It is not hard to do. Walking is good low impact exercise. Then one day we stopped to see our Small engine guy Aron. He had customers and while we waited we looked at a Husqvarna Zero Turn mower parked outside his shop. It look almost new and was tagged for sale. We looked at each other and I think we both had the same thought.....FAST MOWING!!!
So we asked about the mower. It was a trade in on a bigger mower. It was basically new and a good deal. It had a blower and bagger set up already in place. We went home and talked about it a lot. Looking at our fence lines and the areas that we had not yet cut we knew getting the zero turn had possibilities. Could it pull a cart or wagon we asked? Yes it had a hitch mounted on it. It would cut across a fairly steep slope as well. It was a major expense and we waffled, then Ralph tried the Grillo and flail mower. His back rebelled and we knew we would be wise to get the Zero-turn.
Then we looked hard and found a very good small wagon for it. It was mounted with a dump cart option, wide sturdy wheel and stake pockets for sides to be mounted. It was not cheap but after looking at a lot of other carts we felt it was by far the best quality. It came home from Tractor Supply. We built side panels for it and Ralph promptly hauled leaves with it. Watching him learn to drive the speedy machine was a blast, I am glad he started out in the big field.
Cleaning Katies Stall.
Unloading Manure in the West Garden.
This winter we took the blower assembly off and used the zero-turn and cart to haul manure from at first the poultry and then the cows. It was a blessing, We hauled water in the cart, wood, scraps from the barn rebuild, pumpkins and t-posts from the removal of the old fences. The dump feature made it easy for Ralph to unload the manure where he wanted it on the Garden. We drove over piles of leaves and the blower sucked them up and bagged them for us to use as mulch.
Picking up leaves, I didn't have to rake them!
Filling the wagon from the bagger.
The best thing though was the speed of the fence mowing. Our shaggy fence lines were tidy and clear in no time at all. The bagger and cart haul grass clippings in for mulch and composting. This spring the new Paddocks were all trimmed to ready them for even growth.
[ Ralph did get stuck a couple of times, the Husqvarna does not handle slippery, heavy tilth going up hills, although back and forth is fine.We used the reliable but slow Grillo to pull the Zero-turn out. Ralph never gets it stuck where you can get a truck! ]
The Fenceline maintenance is even more critical now with the new woven wire fences.
This small farm keeps us hopping and best of all learning. What we realize is you have got to keep an open mind about equipment. You have to make changes in the way you do things and look to options within the machines you buy.
The Zero Turn has been a real surprise. It is far more useful than we ever thought it would be. The Grillo is still the star for rough work and the gardening but this mower we never dreamed of getting is earning its place in the way we do things.
God Bless all of you and be safe.