Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Sunday, August 29, 2004


As soon as we started telling people that we were buying acreage, they started asking when we were going to get a tractor. "Tractor?" we originally replied. "Why would we need one?" (Yes, I hear those who are more knowledgeable snickering at our naivety already.) Well, 4 weeks on the the property and we bought a tractor. But the journey started a long time ago.

We originally made an offer on this property November 2003, which was not accepted due to the fact we had properties to sell. We proceeded to plunge ahead and list our places in hopes that 'our' ranch wouldn't sell out from underneath us. Our house went under contract to close June 1, so we scrambled to make another offer on the ranch.

The Sellers, who'd been on the market over a year by this time, were interested and we quickly agreed upon a price. They, however, required a contingency upon them going under contract on a place to purchase within a few days -- we were assured that it was nearly a done deal. Well, the day before the deadline we got notice that their deal had fallen through. Story was that the Seller's sellers claimed that they had another offer. Whether our Sellers believed that or not, they tried to push their luck and insist that the tractor be thrown into the deal! They rejected that offer and went with the other buyers. OOPS! So our contract to purchase the ranch terminated.

It's a different long story, but it took another week and a half for our Sellers to contract with a third property, which finally solidified our purchase contract. This was all a very tense time - seemingly all over a tractor!

Our inspection rolled around and we spent a few hours combing over the place. Dave and I nearly choked when we rounded the corner of the barn and, within earshot of the Seller, the inspector joked whether the Seller's tractor was included in our contract. It was some time before we were alone and could explain our reaction. After that it was a running joke everytime the Seller did something to annoy us to say we were going to insist that he leave his tractor behind for us.

Then another friend asked whether the tractor was included in the deal - aparently this is a fairly common arrangement. So I grilled her - what would we need one for? Shocked, I would have to say her expression was. "Why, everything!" she exclaimed.

And so we're learning.

It rained, poured really, the entire weekend we moved in. The barn has some drainage issues and holds puddles all around it. Huum, tractors can have a variety of attachments for grading and scraping. Our driveway, too, has some monster pot holes in it down at the road. And speaking of our driveway - if we intend for customers to be able to get to our facilities in the winter, we'll need to plow it.

Then there is the moving poop thing. Once our giant poop pile was carted away (see Holy Crap!) we were then left with a huge area in which to dump poop. So we did - all over the place. We had no plan of attack, and ended up with 7 different piles astonishingly quickly. Taking stock, we thought a better plan would be to have one pile, so we needed to consolidate.

And the weeds. We have weeds. We have weeds, in some places, nearly as tall as I am. But we also have weeds a mere 2 feet tall that we thought surely would be too insignificant to attack with a bush hog. We got after them with a string trimmer. Then gave up and switched to a blade trimmer. After that we just plain gave up and admitted we needed a bush hog.

Ginger's boyfriend, Roger, brought over his oversized lawn tractor that has a front end loader on it in preparation for the open house. Ohh, I think Dave was secretly thrilled. He was buzzing around in no time, finding things to scoop up. They leveled the dirt area inside the barn, scooped up all the shavings into a pile, and yes, consolidated the little poop piles. Dave also got a lesson in hydrolic system repair from Roger, when the valve controlling the front end scoop stopped working.

We'd done some shopping, just to find out what tractors cost, and were shocked to find out that the number was fairly consistently $12-$15,000 (for one with a front end loader). Huum, not in the budget. Yet it was inescabably clear we do need one.

Through the seller we got a lead on a very used tractor for sale cheap. We went to look at it, and really not knowing much about tractors observed that it did, in fact, run. And it was red. And it did have the basics, like a 3 point attachments and the power transfer thingey on the back to hook up implements. And, they wanted only $2500 for it.

Test Drive

So we bought it. It doesn't have a front end loader, but we can get that added, and if we end up replacing the tractor we'll just move the loader to the new one.

The guy kindly delivered the tractor to us, and parked it out front of the house. A few hours later Dave went to move it to the barn... and discovered that the key had been left in the ON position and killed the battery. Ah well, this is just the first in I'm sure a long series of maintenance issues with this thing. But no way to learn other than getting your hands dirty, right? As long as they are Dave's hands I'm fine with that! ;)

Dave is currently in the process of learning how to drive it, pull our neighbor's bush hog, and NOT get stuck. So far he's always managed to get it unstuck himself. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I don't come home some day to see the tractor sitting out in a field somewhere, awaiting rescue.



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