Small Farm Profitability – Part 1

You may have guessed that part of my plan for small farm profitability is to be cheap! I think that the biggest single problem that beginning farmers face is the pressure to take out a loan, run to the nearest Kubota dealership and plop down 20-40 thousand dollars for a tractor that should have only cost them $3000. Of course, I don't begrudge the fellow that buys a new tractor...hell, I would love a brand new tractor with the plastic covering still on the seat! It's just that I have bought countless numbers of implements and other farm equipment from auctions and select private sales. Tractors from the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70’s in good mechanical condition are cheap, reliable and have all of the benefits of modern tractors. Small tractors haven’t changed much at all in 80+ years! Think of it this way. What would that same $20,000 buy me? A tractor, a few different cultivators, a seed drill, a small swather, a potato planter and digger, a small combine, an auger…perhaps even a small grain truck or gravity wagon. I am good to go start making money and the guy with the Kubota is still just riding around on his tractor. Starting small means being frugal and putting up with other farming neighbors looking down their noses at you as you bark and surge along the gravel road in your 1967 International 503 combine! Air conditioning is for wimps!

My list of the best, most reliable, easy to fix tractors in order of my preference for a small livestock or market garden farm:
   1) Any 1970's IH tractor under 100 hp with 3pt hitch- ie 766, 666, 566. Should be around $5,000-$10,000 Parts still available at any Case/IH dealer. Engines are practically bullet-proof. Most have cabs here in Canada. Any number of loaders fit them for an extra $2000 and most should already have them mounted. John Deere's are good, but they are incredibly over-priced for what you get.
   2) 1960's Allis Chalmers D series tractors - D14, D15, D16, etc. As above on parts, price and reliability (except you need to go to an AGCO dealer). Most already have loaders attached. Ingenious 3pt hitch system called "snap-coupler". If you find the implements to go with the tractor buy them!
   3) Probably the most under-rated tractor in history was the Ford tractors from the 50's. Late model 8n's, 1950's 600 series, 800's and later 900's were tremendous tractors. Parts are still available, but you shouldn't need any. Tough little tractors with ahead-of-their-time hydraulic systems. Because of the way they were engineered you can get a much older tractor and pay less for it but have the same features of other manufacturers' later models. The only reason I place them 3rd is that the later models with indpendent pto's can be difficult to find...they were under-rated as I said earlier and sales started dropping way before they should have. By the 70's Ford tractors were not well-built and I don't consider them an option.

Above is a random video from uTube on the subject of Ford Tractors. Please check out all of "stembre's" other uTube videos to see what an 8n Ford can do! Please keep in mind that I do not consider myself an expert on tractors but these are my opinions on the subject. Take it for what it opinion. Happy Farming!