Sunday, July 19, 2015

And Now, The Work Begins...Part 1

We're busy making lists, and our lists have lists! We're trying to keep a hand on the money and be careful; but, still, money has to be spent. We have to go back for the closing. We have to transport plants down for planting. We have to get a storage unit for storing things until September. We will have things in Virginia and things down there in Kentucky. We have to get the equipment and move it over to the place. We have to cut hay, maybe (if a neighbor farmer hasn't already done it). We have to plow for a garden. We have to plant the tomatoes and peppers; and, later, a fall garden. We have to pack up here, and unpack down there. Thankfully (and due to work), we MAY have plenty of boxes and crates and barrels. We're packing clothes in the barrels. The barrels had roasted and toasted onions in them. Our clothes will smell like onion spices. I don't think they will be eatable, but they sure will smell good and make you hungry, until they get washed! Work provided lots of nice sized boxes. They aren't too big, nor too small. And they are heavy duty, not flimsy. We already have lots of them packed and taped shut. Now, we can't find anything we are looking for. I have a box of mixed band aids – packed. I bought another box. Shoot, you're always needing band aids. You can't have too many. On this trip, we needed a band aid. I bought another box of mixed band aids. That makes three boxes of mixed band aids. You're always needing band aids. You can't have too many – can you? Anyway, we are trying to get by and still get things done. We have to draw a line sometimes and just do without. Or go out and buy another one. As you can see, there are lots of things that need doing.

Fiona is covering most of the things on the property and the buying. She asked me to cover the equipment since it is “odd” and most people don't know of or understand what we are getting.

This is NOT a tiller. It is a two wheel tractor with a tiller attachment.

This is a hay baler for a two wheel tractor. It does fifty pound round bales. As you can see, this is not a tiller, but a tractor. It can do almost anything a farmer's tractor can do, just on a smaller scale and in tighter corners.


I wanted one of these balers and Fiona told me NO. Friday, she saw one at Earth Tools in Owenton, Kentucky. Now, she wants one and I am telling her NO. For now I am saying no. This is a $9000.00 option. But they have a big cute factor up close. According to Fiona. She is used to a farmers round baler and 1000 pound round bales. So these little fifty pounders are “cute”. Joel is Earth Tools owner. He told us of a customer of his in Tennessee that can't keep the round bales. People are almost buying them before he can get them out of the field. They are using them to mulch their gardens. They roll out a nice three to four inch mat of hay for mulching around plants. It is about two feet wide. Perfect for mulching. A roll of hay unrolls like a bolt of cloth or a roll of bubble wrap. You just take the loose end and give the rest of it a push down the aisle.

So, to back up a little for my philosophy. I believe in “use it or lose it”. My Mother had a small fabric shop up in the hills of West Virginia. One day a woman came in for some thread or something. Her husband came with her. My Father just happened to be in the shop. That man and my Father got to looking at each other. Then they got to talking. They determined that forty years prior, they had worked together. My Father asked him what he was doing now. He said he had just retired and didn't do anything but sit and watch television. He said he had a yard about the size of my Mother's shop. He said he paid a boy to mow the yard. He just sit and watched television. My Father told him that if that was all he did, he would be dead in six months. Two months later, his obituary was in the paper.
My earliest memories of Dad's Father was of when he was in his early seventies. He still had a horse or two to plow and work the garden. That garden fed him and his wife. It fed the animals. It provided our family with a lot of what we ate. At six or seven years old, I “helped” in the garden a bit. My Father helped some. But my Grandfather did most of the work. He also had two to five cows to milk twice a day. He had three or four hogs to take care of. He had a flock of chickens. He had lots of farm work to do. They lived to ninety plus, with good health.

Genetics play an important part, but lifestyle is important, too. And God DOES say when. When God calls, we WILL come “up hither”. Our lifestyle also helps to determine the quality of life. You can sit down and die. Or, you can remain active for as long as possible. And, hopefully, with a better quality of life.

When I told people what I wanted to get, they said that I was crazy. They said I was getting old and shouldn't be trying to farm. They said I should at least get a four wheel tractor. For the price I am paying, I could get a Kobota or Kioti or Mahindra or John Deere or something else. I told them that I didn't want to sit down, that I wanted to be active. Time will tell. God could say that tonight is my time to “come up hither”. If so, my worries are over. I just know that I feel better and am happier when I am active and busy.

We spent most of Friday morning with Joel at Earth Tools in Owenton, Kentucky. And spent a lot of money. And we may not be done. Don't let Fiona know. I may have to give in on that cute baler. We don't “need” it. It would just be nice to have. (And, ohh, so cute!)

Joel sells the BCS (blue) and the Grillo(green) and implements that fit both. They are quite similar, just different colors. The green baler is a Caeb, not a Grillo. Almost the same color, different manufacturer. In the photos, a blue BCS is the power unit for the green baler. Not color coordinated.

These power units and implements are imported from Europe (mainly Italy), and are designed to last forever. Joel says he has a BCS that is seventeen years old and has over 2500 hours of use on it. He said he expects to get at least another twenty years out of it. I don't think this was sales talk. I think he tells things the way he sees them and lets the units sell themselves, which they do nicely. He cut himself out of some sales during our meeting by suggesting things to me that would work better for me. Sometimes, it was just a better way to use the implements. We talked about how I wanted to use the equipment and what I wanted to use the equipment for. He cut the equipment cost by a $1000 right away by suggesting a different power unit. He explained that Grillo had a new unit that fit my needs even better than what I was prepared to buy. It was a better, more reliable design. It was an eleven horsepower diesel instead of twelve horsepower diesel. He explained that the implements I was getting didn't need the higher horsepower and would work easily with the smaller engine. And, being diesel, it would last “forever”. That cost him $1000.00.

The BCS has a five year warranty. The Grillo only has a two year warranty. But, I prefer the Grillo. It has not been in the American market as long as the BCS. But, it is built as strong or stronger than a BCS. And, it is more customer friendly when it comes to customer do-it-yourself home mechanic. It is easier to work on. The engine is a Lombardini (a Kohler company). Any manufacturing defects will show up in the first month or two. I don't expect any problems from this equipment (either BCS or Grillo) after the first month or two. Either would work fine. I just prefer the heavier duty Grillo (and Fiona prefers the green).

The information on the equipment is from Earthtools Website. 

Berta Rotary Plows $1875.00 (I am including the prices because they are on the website. Can't hide them.)

From Joel's website:

Essentially the rotary plow has a vertical shaft with 4 spiral blades (plowshares) turning at approximately 250 rpm.  Soil in front of the plow is cut into and then immediately centrifugally discharged to the side as it is inverted.  Basically, in a single pass through sod, the plow will leave a 10-12 inch depth of worked soil.  And because the soil is not trapped under a hood and repeatedly pulverized (like with a tiller), the soil structure is not beat to death. Tilth of soil is similar to that which has been plowed and disked with a conventional tractor: good enough for large seeds and vegetable starts; may need secondary tillage on the top 2-3” for small seeds.  Plow works 8-10” wide per pass, but unlike a tiller, there is no such thing as a ‘second pass’ with a Rotary Plow, so it more than makes up for it’s narrow working width in the fact that it only has to go over the ground once.

This only needs seven horsepower diesel to operate. Once you get experienced and become a “smooth operator”, you can use this implement to hill potatoes, corn, etc. I intend to use this to break up the soil and a power harrow (later) to work the top two to three inches before seeding. The power harrow will be used to weed between rows, also. The rotary plow is great for making raised beds, swales, trenching, etc.

R2 Power Harrows $2249.00


 From Joel's website:
THE ORIGINAL—NOT AN IMITATION. Built by R2 Rinaldi of Italy since 1979, the Power Harrows (also called Rotary Harrows) offer the ultimate in seedbed prep and secondary tillage/weed control. Professional Market Gardeners in Europe have been using these machines for many years, and folks in the USA and Canada are finally “catching on” that these tools are the best option for soils that are worked repeatedly during the growing season. HOW THEY WORK: Multiple sets of tines rotate on vertical axes (yes, this is the plural of axis) for totally horizontal tillage of the soil – No inversion of soil layers and no vertical compression leading to hard pan formation. Also, the “stirring” action does not over-pulverize the soil such as can be done with a rototiller; the soil stays in better shape, and can be worked more times in a season without risk of seriously damaging soil structure. Depth incrementally and perfectly adjusted by means of a convenient screw-crank which moves the steel mesh-roller in the rear up or down, allowing 0” to 5.5” working depth. Mesh roller also perfectly levels and pre-tamps seedbed for precision seeding and good seed-to-soil contact. Extremely heavy-duty, the hardened steel gearing runs in an oil bath, shafts supported by ball-bearings. Steel Side panels are spring-loaded to allow rocks to be “kicked” around the edges of the rotors without damaging tines, and the steel panels themselves never dry-rot and need replacement. Also, due to the fact that this is the only soil working implement that actually has an oscillating swivel-joint at the PTO coupling allowing the harrow to “float” independent of the tractor axle, these tools are also coveted by the landscaping industry for leveling out / renovating yards or any lumpy terrain. The implement even has a small (removable) adjustable-height grader blade at the front to level out the ground in that plane as well.

I expect this to be a great help in weeding and seed bed preparations. It needs ten horsepower diesel to work.

This is the start of  our equiptment, we have budgeted for it and it is not cheap but an investment in our future.
Part two will continue the list and explain more.



  1. Heads up....There is an error in continuity with this post. We had the offer accepted but had not closed when Ralph put this post together. We just didn't get the article in to the blog before closing so at the start of the post Ralph mentions we still have to close!

  2. I would love little cute round bales. However, not in the cards for us. We will have the custom haying guy bale our small pasture like always. I am so excited for you and your new life. Always look forward to your posts. How far from your old digging to the new?

    1. The baler is a dilemma, we have to get a clear answer from the Ag extension office as to how much money we have to make selling stock, vegetables or seedlings to qualify as a farm...custom baling may be the income source we need for that. Then the baler would "earn" it's keep.
      The farm is 8 hours away, an annoying distance!

  3. I hope you are blessed with the property. That is a 'cute' piece of machinery but is very interesting.

    If you have a craigslist or freecycle group in your area, check them out for free moving boxes. Or ask around at the local grocery, hardware or liquor stores for their boxes. They may have some smaller size boxes for the heavy items like canned goods or books.

    I'm excited for you both.

    1. Boxs....thank you for that suggestion. We were really lucky in that respect...The bakery where Ralph worked had a dough conditioner that cam in heavy grade boxes. He brought a wonderful supply home with him. However anyone who moves can use your advice!

  4. Replies
    1. Make a nice round table top, put a bale on end, put table top on bale.....voila coffee table that "Liddy" can snack on when you have friends over :)