Working girls are beautiful. And sure, by the worlds’ standards, a brand new and shiny girl is what most will go for. For some reason when it comes to a piece of farm equipment, a fresh coat of green and yellow is what sells; marketed as if it can do more than its used, dingy and rusty counterpart. Ha!
On that note, we found a beauty-of-a backhoe on Craigslist that will handle all the projects around the farm with the greatest of ease. It came from another farm that is really close by and at a great price. But as it turns out, the thing needs work. So she isn’t perfect, so what? I say that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. And when buying used vehicles/machinery, you or someone you trust should know how to work on them just in case. The hubby had to rebuild the starter and she was dangerously low on oil, but now she’s perfect. She can run circles around any one of the other shiny, brand new girls… they’re too worried about getting dirty!
She ain’t scrawny either. Don’t blink twice ’cause she’ll sashay that bucket of hers around and have that hole dug out in no time. Yeah, she knows she’s gorgeous and she knows how to work it. So our list of projects is starting to pile up and by next year she’ll be a full time working girl. Here’s a quick look at her ‘to do’ list:
She’ll help us dig a pond around this group of trees next summer. Though one could argue that this project has an aesthetic purpose (it’s right in my line-of-sight from the kitchen window – it’ll be gorgeous!) the real reason has to do with ducks and water runoff. First, we want ducks and we want them to be able to access all gardens; so the pond will be located right in the center of them. The right breed of duck will gobble up slugs, beetles, grasshoppers and more and leave the gardens alone, helping this organic grower stay true to her beliefs. Second, the slope of the land will allow the water that runs out of the gardens to end up in the pond; where we can pump it back up to the gardens for a nutrient-filled, water-recycling system that benefits everything living and growing off the land. (sniffs. wipes a teardrop.)
This is one of her secret weapons. Yep, buxom indeed. This bucket is about 24″ and she also came with a 18″ bucket. Both are a little wider than I wanted for the next project, since it involves digging out a trench for gopher fencing. From what I’ve read, the most effective way to deal with gophers is to dig a 3 foot trench and put in gopher fencing (vertically) which shuts them out completely. But it makes no sense not to try it since the little critters are a never-ending problem around here. It’s a lot of digging that will be easy for her… she can handle it for sure.
Last winter (and little did we know) this entire area had a big problem with drainage. The water just doesn’t know where to go after a big rain storm and the ground is very slow to soak it up. That’s where the backhoe will once again come in handy. All the way to the back of the property is a natural drainage path to the river that serves the entire neighborhood. We can tie into it, but I couldn’t imagine us digging a 300 foot trench by hand! Or even a 150 foot trench to the front of the property where the public drain system is… whoa! What’s that saying? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
So if you just stop there, then you have to admit that our beauty is surely worth every penny and all the time we put into her. Would a high priced, brand new machine be worth it? Uh, not so much… to us. Around here you’re valued for what you can do, not how you look doing it. So how do you determine whether or not to make a major purchase like a backhoe or tractor? And if you go ahead and purchase something, should it be new or used? Well, we don’t have all the answers but we do have a few rules we always follow:
- We first take a look at the size of the project. For us, digging 300 feet of drainage either means we buy machinery or hire outside help… we can’t do it by hand. So we knew from the start that we’d be spending some money to get it done.
- If it’s decided that machinery has to be used, then can it be used for more than one project? For example: Plowing is something homesteaders will do just once or once in a great while… it’s usually meant to break up super hard ground that has never been worked before. It could be that hiring your neighbor to plow your property will be sufficient. Or maybe it can be hand-plowed with less-expensive equipment? Buying an expensive machine to do only one project is not an option for most of us. We always consider whether we’ll be using it more than once to make it worth the time and money.
- After we’ve determined that, we decide if it really has to be brand new or not. The farm supply stores are usually trying to get top dollar out you. Do the math and take a good look at where your money is going. For example: Our beauty above cost us about $5,000 (plus another $400.00 to rebuild parts and add oil) but if she was brand new, it would cost anywhere between $25,000-35,000. Pretty big price difference between new and used, ya think? And what you have in the end is two machines that do the same thing!
- For the most part, we try to not be in a hurry to make a larger purchase. Craigslist doesn’t always have your neighbors’ hand-me-downs readily available, so you’ll have to also decide if your project can wait. We knew that drainage would be a problem since last year… that was plenty of time to start a dialog with several sellers and find the perfect deal.
- The really cool thing about buying used is what I call the “check it out” factor. Look it over very carefully, test it out for as long as you need to, and ask about prior maintenance, quirks, etc. Take your time, use your intuition and always ask if you can call back if you have questions after your purchase.
Afterwards, we’ll post her back onto Craigslist and let someone else enjoy her hard-working ways. And her beauty, let’s not forget that. Yep, there is something for everyone and she is just the kinda girl we like and we know there are others out there that will like her too.