Friday, May 21, 2010
You'd be amazed at how many different machines you need to farm. Basically, your tractor is like your drill, with lots of attachments. You can't use a concrete bit on wood, and you need a phillips head driver for drywall screws, but a different driver for deck screws. You might have a drill bit that puts in a hole for a doorknob that you might use once or twice. That's sort of how your farm equipment is, although everything costs like 5,000. We have a rototiller, a cultipacker, a seed spreader, a mower, a back hoe attachment (that leaks terribly), and a very smart device called a springtooth and another even smarter thing called a weed badger (picture). This is a rotary tiller head that is mounted on an arm that allows it to swing in and out. Without the weed badger, there would be no way to weed between the trees. Most of this stuff we got at an auction or borrow from family, but a few things we did pay a lot for.
Even in the days of farming with a mule or team of oxen, there were still several sorts of plows, discs, tillers and spreaders. Basically, if you thought it would make your work easier, you made it. And if it worked really good, your neighbor might notice and ask you where you got it. Eventually it would get patented (usually not by the guy who first came up with it), and someday mass produced. In fact, one of the fore-runners of the CAT was created right here in Fresno. It is basically 2 wheels and a scraper blade that allows the dirt to spread out slowly behind. It was used to level most of the San Joaquin Valley around the turn of the century. No one remembers whose brain child it was exactly, but they knew it worked.
It's the same today. Most farmers have to be part-time machinists and welders, or be really, really good friends with one, because there is no such thing as a perfect machine. And you also better know how to maintain engines, as you have your pump engine to worry about, not just your tractor. Everything burns diesel, unless you pay PG&E to pump your water, but that kinda is the same thing, as they burn a lot of diesel at their power plants too. We're still waiting on the electric car, I'm pretty sure it will take another 30 years to figure out how to make electric tractors with torque. Before you know it, you need about an acre just to put all your machines, a machine shop, and enough oil to float the Exxon Valdez.
I think we should go back to using mules to plow.
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