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Old 09-11-2017, 07:32 AM
bcraley bcraley is offline
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Default 5 acre homestead in Ohio

Hi Everyone -

I recently purchased a flat 5 acre parcel that is currently being farmed in central ohio. No trees. We are building our home 250 feet from the country road and will have a gravel drive for the next several years.

I plan to mow as much as 3.5 acres with an acre of wildflowers/prairie grass planted on an acre and the half acre pond taking up the rest of it. And we'll keep a small garden.

The only tractor experience I have is on a riding lawn mower. I hear one of two things. 1.) Get a sub-compact tractor with front end loader, mowing deck and snow blade. or 2.) get a zero turn and a quad with snow blade.

My concerns are 1.) if I can mow the 3.5 acres in an 1.5 hours I don't want to prolong the mowing to 3 hour by making the wrong machine selection, 2.) how much am I really going to use a front end loader? 3.) How effective is a sub-compact tractor going to be at snow removal?

I'm figuring a budget in the $10k-$15k range, regardless of sub-compact or zero turn w/ a used quad.

So which machine serves me best knowing that I have a 5 acre flat plot to maintain that is currently being farmed?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:32 PM
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Tough questions. I'll share my experience with you.

I mow about 4 acres, maybe a tad less, I've never surveyed just my lawn area. Never the less it is close to what you will be mowing. I started out shopping for a sub compact and ended up buying a slightly larger tractor (30hp) because Kubota was upgrading the Grand L 3010 to a Grand L 3130. So I could buy a 30 hp tractor for a hair more than a 24hp tractor. I was actually concerned I had bought to big, but soon found out I did not.

My plan was to purchase all the tractor I could and purchase the Front end loader aka FEL a year or two later. Like you, I was not sure of how much I needed that feature. The tractor gurus on the forum I was on at the time (15 years ago) advised me to buy the FEL with the tractor, not only would I save dollars but the FEL would be indispensable. Hind sight is 20/20 and I have to admit their advice was right on. So I'm passing it on to you. The FEL is a back saver, time saver and a work saver. I added a tooth bar which makes it dig even better, clamp on forks and a clamp on ball hitch. With the 48" forks I can carry all kinds of things that would not fit in my bucket. So handy for so many things. Every winter I want to place my implements in the rear of my pole barn. I use the forks to carry by box blade, rear finish mower and my brush hog and place them right where I want them.

I first mowed my 4 acres using my 6' rear finish mower on the tractor, and a Simplicity with a 48" deck for around the house, pole barn and flower beds. My front yard was a tomato field prior to our purchasing this property. So, while it is mostly level, it is bumpy. Using both the rear finish mower and the simplicity it took 2.5 hours to mow.

A few years later I was able to afford a zero turn mower. I bought a 61 inch zero turn and it can mow the entire yard in 1 hour 50 minutes. But zero turn in made just for mowing. For all round use you most likely would be best off with a compact tractor, just like you thought. They are very powerful and capable of all you need done, they they will not be the absolute fastest at mowing. No biggie. They do get the job done.

I will admit to being biased to Kubota. I own a Kubota tractor and two Kubota RTV's. All work flawlessly and hold up as expected. I hope a Kubota sub compact is in your price range. It's been over a decade since I priced new, so I'm afraid they are priced a little north of your top price.

There are a lot of brands on the market now that were not there when I bought in 2002. So, I will pass on the best advice I got way back then: Look at as many different brands as you can; sit in as many seats as you can. The ergonomics of each brand, and each model can be different as we all come in different shapes and sizes. Some tractors will fit you better than others.

Get the total package price from each dealer, and hopefully find a dealer you trust and will like dealing with in the future. You will need the dealer and when you do you want one you can count on and that will help you fix issues and problems that will come up as years go by.

Happy Shopping and good luck to you ...and welcome to Net Tractor Talk. Enjoy and post often.
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:57 PM
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So this then leads me to my next question. If I'm buying a SCUT or CUT with rear PTO, should I even consider a belly mower or do I want to focus primarily on a pull behind? And what's the benefit of one over the other?
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Old 09-11-2017, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcraley View Post
So this then leads me to my next question. If I'm buying a SCUT or CUT with rear PTO, should I even consider a belly mower or do I want to focus primarily on a pull behind? And what's the benefit of one over the other?

Depends on how man trees you have. I rented a 3 point mower once and said never again. You have to remember when going around trees the rear mower moves away from the tree and you end up leaving spots. If you have open land then the rear 3 point hitch mount is fine.

A Zero Turn will be the fastest of all and get around trees the best. Yes that means two toys.


Doc has some good information above.
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Old 09-11-2017, 05:49 PM
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I went with a 3pt finish mower because I have 50 acres I'm tending to with the tractor and did not want to deal with a belly mower in the way for clearance issues. For your situation I would think a belly mower would be the answer even if you don't have many trees now ....cause you probably will before to long, plus mowing in tight places around the house. I had the simplicity mower for that very reason ...course had it before buying my tractor an knew the wife liked mowing with it so a 3pt finish mower was the ticket for me, and it's a few hundred cheaper than the belly mower.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:53 AM
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Exactly right Doc. No trees... as in ZERO trees right now. But we really enjoy trees and we will be planting several as soon as money allows. So I'm slowly being convinced that a tractor with FEL and belly mower is the way to go... at least for the first several years till I have a nice lawn in, then I may want to switch to a zero turn to cut down on the mowing.

Is the used market a good way to go for tractors? Or is it not worth the headache? I've been looking at Craigslist and it appears I can save several thousand by going with a used machine.

I assume I would want a 60" deck at minimum... does going to a 72" deck really make that much difference in mowing time?
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:12 AM
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A 72" deck is more prone to scalping if your yard is not exactly level. 60" will get the job done and fit in most places easier, and store easier in your garage or pole barn.

I like buying used, and have done that when buying most items. I priced tractors for a couple years prior to buying. Used ones 2 or 3 years old were so close to the price of new that I went new and got zero percent interest, better financing terms all the way around.

Before I could afford a new tractor I bought 3 used mowers / small tractors. Each one had issues. Mower decks wear out and cause issues that are a pain the the butt. Still I considered a used sub compact but these tractors hold their value so well, and there are very few nice used ones on the market (at least when I was buying 15 years ago) that I went new and I'm glad I did. It all worked out for me.

The more you get out there and shop the more you will learn. Ask questions of each dealer, see how they respond and what you can learn from each. It will be a good experience overall. Good luck.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:25 AM
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Welcome to the forum and congrats on your new place!

Hmmm, with a budget of $10-15K, I'd suggest you get all 3 (tractor, ZTR and ATV).

You can get used with an approx budget of $8-9K for tractor, and about $3500 each for the ZTR and ATV.

I have all 3 and here are my findings.

Tractor:
- As mentioned, the loader on the tractor is almost a must have.
- Unless you have deep snow or drifts, the ATV with blade will be faster than the tractor for clearing snow.
- For mowing the lawn, the tractor is heavy and will cause damage to the lawn when it is wet. In the winter and spring, plan on leaving ruts wherever you drive on a soft surface.
- Attachments/implements on the tractor will make it very versatile, more than an ATV or ZTR.

ZTR:
- Probably your fastest/easiest way to mow the lawn. Unless you get one that accepts some implements like a snow blade (which is rare), it is dedicated to that sole purpose.

ATV:
- In my opinion, it's the most versatile piece of equipment. I think of ATV standing for "Always Take Vehicle".
- With a blade on the front for snow removal, it's faster than the tractor by far until/unless you get into deep snow or drifts.
- A trailer in approx. a 4x8 size will make doing so many chores very easy.
- An ATV is light and fast compared to the tractor so you can use it for running around doing all kinds of chores in a quick and easy fashion.

At my current place, I've had the tractor and ATV's for over 20 years and the ZTR for about 13 years.
1. I found the tractor invaluable when I first bought the house but my land needed serious work including bringing in and handling over 400 tri-axle dump trucks of dirt and stone. After the lawn was established, the tractor doesn't get near the usage and is now relegated to doing loader work or if I need something from an implement out the back. In general, it doesn't get used nearly as often as the ZTR or ATV.
2. The ZTR has proven itself as the best/fastest option for me for mowing. It
3. The ATV gets used a lot.

I'd guess I use the tractor monthly, ZTR weekly and the ATV almost daily.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:29 AM
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PS - On the ZTR, I'd avoid "homeowners" models like you find at a box store. A more commercial mower will be significantly better.

When you do look at commercial, check the hour meter (look for mowers that have 50-100 hours for each year of age) and try to avoid mowers that have actually been used commercially by a lawn service since they get beat up pretty badly.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:56 AM
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Awesome info! I was thinking used tractor and ATV with snow blade to start with, then probably a ZTR in a couple of years after the heavy lifting of building a new home and getting the lawn established was done.

Any idea on how many hours per year a tractor should have on it when buying used? How about an ATV?
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:51 AM
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I agree with all BCzoom posted.
If you decide to go used ..... I just happen to have an 06 honda 500 for sale. 700+ hours. 4k miles. I bought an 09 RTV 1140 which has two rows of seats and will transport more people to our river lot at the other end of our property, about 3/4 mile away. So, I'm selling this extra ATV. I also have a honda 450 ES ....have to keep the electric shift so the wife can drive it. She can't drive the foot shift.

Selling it for $2600. It has a winch. It was Yellow but previous owner did a home made camo job on it. I'll attach a few pics for you.

I'm about 1:50 from the east side of Cols. taking rt 33 to Athens, then take rt 50.
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Old 09-12-2017, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc View Post
I agree with all BCzoom posted.
If you decide to go used ..... I just happen to have an 06 honda 500 for sale. 700+ hours. 4k miles. I bought an 09 RTV 1140 which has two rows of seats and will transport more people to our river lot at the other end of our property, about 3/4 mile away. So, I'm selling this extra ATV. I also have a honda 450 ES ....have to keep the electric shift so the wife can drive it. She can't drive the foot shift.

Selling it for $2600. It has a winch. It was Yellow but previous owner did a home made camo job on it. I'll attach a few pics for you.

I'm about 1:50 from the east side of Cols. taking rt 33 to Athens, then take rt 50.
I knew you were down in there some place Doc, but I didn't realize you were on Rt. 50 also. We live on Rt. toward Chillicothe.

I agree with what the others are saying. Except be careful with buying used mower decks. My MMM looks OK, but it is getting to the point that I'm having to replace a bunch of parts on it (well the tractor for that matter too). My tractor is a 2003 with 21XX on it. I'm probably going to have to look at something new(er) in a year or so. I'm spending more time working on my NH than I am working with it any more. Now that being said, it has been a good tractor and I've done a ton of work. And that has been part of the issue, I've asked it to do things that bigger tractors should have been doing.
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Old 09-12-2017, 11:29 AM
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I'm about 10 minutes off Rt 50 but if you find yourself in the Belpre / Coolville or Athens area and want to hook up just let me know. If I'm not tied up I'd love to meet you in person.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcraley View Post
Any idea on how many hours per year a tractor should have on it when buying used? How about an ATV?
For a tractor, for the most part, hours per year isn't really important so long as:
1. It's priced accordingly.
2. It's not nearing the end of its reliable life cycle which varies by brand but figure approximately 5000 hours for a top-tier (Deere, Kubota, New Holland).
3. It has been properly maintained.

Take a look at this thread to get a ballpark on tractor values. I came up with an algorithm that seems to work (for me at least).
http://www.nettractortalk.com/forums...read.php?t=224

For an ATV, I do something similar. Find the price of what you're looking at cost new at the time and depreciate it $1 per mile and $100 per year.

Not sure where you are in Ohio but I'm just over the border in PA. I have 3 ATV's I'm going to sell. One of them, a Suzuki LT-250F would meet your needs nicely but it needs a bit of work (it runs hot so it needs either the valves adjusted and/or a carb tune-up) and probably needs a new battery. It's a 1999 or 2000 but only has about 1000 miles on it.The other 2 I'm selling are for youth or teens.
My daily driver is a Honda of the same year Doc has but down one size (Rancher instead of what looks like a Rincon in Doc's pictures). Those are some very reliable machines. In over 10 years of ownership, it was at the dealer once, for a bad voltage regulator).
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:27 PM
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If you can't get the spreadsheet to come up in that link, let me know and I can e-mail it to you.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:23 AM
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So in the vein of getting all three... talked to the wife last night and she didn't throw a fit... so why not!

I have a friend of a friend who is selling a Hustler Fastrak 52" deck 20 hp Honda purchased in 2005 by a 70 year old gentleman who used it to maintain his lawn, never commercially used. Garage kept, well maintained and in what appears to be good condition, but no hour meter. The family is asking $2500

I know Hustler marketed the machine as their high end residential machine. Is this a good machine to get me started with a zero turn? Is the price fair?
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Old 09-14-2017, 07:20 AM
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Not really familiar with the Hustler brand but looking at internet pictures, it appears to be a pretty robust machine based on pics of steel thickness and such.

A little surprised there's no hour meter... how do you know when to change the oil? Is there a plug or knock out in the fender where the hour meter should go? My hour meter is under the seat, on the inside of the fender. Look the machine over and see if by chance there's a hour meter in a discreet location.

Looking around on the internet (e.g. e-bay), the $2500 price seems quite reasonable. Here's a similar machine to give you an idea.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hustler-FasT...IAAOSwDQJZq~FE

Good luck!
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