Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Smallholding Machinery Renovation and 'Maggie' our 'new' tractor arrives on the smallholding.

Old 'Horse Harrow' brought back to life.

That's an old horse harrow that me and 'number one' son rescued yesterday.  I painted it up about 12 years ago and used it for a garden ornament.  The old lever was ceased and the spades, blades (what they called?) wouldn't turn.  Number one soon got it working.  He's now in the process of welding a three point linkage to fit on 'Anna Ford' my Ford 3000.   You can see her back wheel in the picture complete with spike.  I adore my little tractor but the silage bales are getting far too big for her to manage.  So we have been looking for something bigger for a while.  Last Saturday morning we went 'tractor searching'.  Below is our new arrival on the farm.

'Maggie' our new tractor.  She's a Ford 4000 and was built in about 1968.  A lot of these tractors are being renovated and shipped to the developing Third World.  They want the Ford 5000 more than any other tractor because they are four cylinders and more powerful.  It's also relatively simple to make new parts for the Ford and Massey Ferguson tractors.  We still can't change the date on the digital camera.  Did I tell you the story of when I went to Argos in Killarney and bought the 'digital' camera and I asked the woman on the counter in all seriousness:

"What film does it take?"

Any road.  That's number one son taking  'Maggie's' roof off and cab.  She's now minus mudguards and inside the shed. Number one son's got his 'renovation' project and I'm minus a lot of beer tokens.  I sold two cattle last week and they paid for the new tractor.  So at least we have no finance to find every month.  Will post more renovation pictures over next few weeks.

Anybody else renovating any farm machinery?  


  1. Is that what I'd probably call a spring tine harrow?
    Sure it was designed for horses, but it'll drag behind a Ford, 3-point linkage will make it a bit more efficient (maybe there's something to be said for mechanisation)

    Spikes on the back of Anna are what we'd call a buck rake, about 5 or 6 spikes to pick loose mown grass up and carry it to the pit or enclosure where it was rolled with the tractor for hours to compact, a boring beyond belief occupation. Pick too much up and the front ent of the tractor came off the ground when you went over a bump. Nice job for a cold morning as well, with a silage knife cutting slices of it for the milkers inside. You could smell the job you'd been doing.

    Maggie doesn't look too bad, I've seen them working and looking rougher, doesn't seem to be too many rust holes. Is she running? No 1 son will probably learn a few of new swear words renovating it, but at least your imperial spanners might fit. And when he's finished you can use it while he turns his experience loose on Anna?

    Can't help with the digital camera, anything elecronic or with more than 2 switches defeats me, in fact the last car I had (Multipla) for 8 or 9 years from new had switches on I still didn't know what they did when I sold it.

  2. Yes Cumbrian, I thought she was a Spring tine harrow. Mechanization on a smallholding scale is perfect. It's the big machines that take all the jobs that annoy me. One man doing x amount of men's jobs = rural unemployment and having to find work and cheaper property in the towns and city.

    Yes she's a buck rake for the dung and moving bales. Sounds like you have done a lot of farm work?

    Maggie is running. She's mechanically sound. It's all cosmetics - new roof mudguards, sanding, painting, new Ford stickers...

    Anna was his first restoration project. He says he rushed it though because I needed it. This is true and I told him there is no rush with Maggie. He wants to find an old Massey Ferguson next.

    I know what you mean about electronics. Every thing they make these days resemble the the flight controls deck of a jumbo giant. That's why I like old tractors. They are simple to fix and repair or even make a replacement part. I reckon Maggie was made in 1968 and Anna Ford in 1971.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. I agree the small tractors are about the right degree of mechanisation on a smallholding or small farm scale, the little Fergies probably weren't much more powerful than a pair of good horses. But they were easier to control and didn't need as much skill as the horses. Only lightweight as well, so didn't do much damage to the land.
    They also do a few jobs horses can't, like your log splitter, I've also used a circular saw bench fitted on the 3-point linkage and powered by the PTO, useful but lethal. And I suppose the small bales revolutionised hay-time, but it still involved men and sweat.

    Muck spreading was another job the tractor made easier, but you couldn't avoid the back-ache involved in getting it into the muck spreader, and usually un-clogging several bits of baler twine that somehow got into the revolving bits.
    Not like the modern slurry pumps, there was one bloke had a difference of opinion with his local council. they threatened him with court action, so he retaliated by spraying the front of the town hall with a few tons of slurry. Wish I'd seen it.

    Maggie's going to look good when he's finished, amazing what a change of oil, a grease gun then a bit of cleaning and a lick of paint will do as long as you've got the basics to start with.

    Hope he finds a grey Massey-Ferguson, sheer nostalia, but getting harder to find I think? Talk about basic, the one I learned to drive on didn't even have lights, and you soon learned to put a sack on the metal seat. But they never seemed to break down, some of them are probably still working today. If he finds one and gets it back to its working condition, I'll even make a trip to Bantry Bay to admire and play with it. (Before sampling home-brew)

    Sky looks heavy as if it's trying to snow, but nothing falling, and yesterdays has almost all gone now.
    Raggy cat in front of fire, it woke up once for milk and biccies.

  4. I am loving the harrow
    When I open my allotment to the public... A guy from the village often brings some old farm makes for a great backdrop

  5. Hi Cumbrian. Yes the small tractors respect the land like the horses used to. The only real reason I decided to get a bigger tractor was that the silage bales seem to be getting bigger. I have heard that they weigh 500kgs. They squeeze all the old flag drains (found a few broken 'I know somebody who's got a smoking' clay pipe when I have been unblocking them) and leave you with a rush problem. Anna Ford is some times standing on 2 wheels - scary!

    I have seen the tractor driver saws with their enormous belts. They are incredible, but I wouldn't like to use one. I spread the dung with the buck rake or transport box on Anna Ford. I pike it and leave it in piles in the field then spread it with the pike. I believe you can spread fym when it's fresh and plough it in? Been reading about Fodder Beet seed. There is a variety that's coated with a nasty chemical that the wire worm doesn't like. It's mainly all slurry here with the slurry tanker. I have seen it done with a massive umbilical hose that the tractor pulls around. Slurry is great for growing Docks and Nettles.

    I have heard a few stories of farmers covering banks with slurry. Wish I had seen them too.

    Back wheels are now off tractor. We had great fun taking them off and rolling them between us. 'Maggie' is resting on concrete blocks. It's the front wheels tonight.

    You're more than welcome to stay here in West Cumbrian. We are rough and ready, but you'll be made most welcome. I have often let people (French tourists mainly) pitch a tent in one of the field for nothing. All I ask is they don't leave any litter that the cattle may eat. Never had any problems. Thought about going for planning for a camping and caravan site but there's too much legislation and we don't seem to get the weather. Also you need to lay out a fortune for shower blocks and get rid of the rubbish...? It's a none starter. Must look for a Fergie.

    Been wet here today. Land is saturated. Think it will take weeks to dry to even think of cattle going out and to plough. Seriously wondering if the weather will ever improve. Think Raggy cat is very sensible.

  6. West Cumbrian? That should say: West Cork, Cumbrian. Sorry.

  7. Hi John. They do look good in a garden or in a pub. I have a few old horse ploughs, a turnip seeder, hay knife and a few churns. We used to go to the carboot sale at Chirk air field, just passed Wrexham. You could often get a few old farm implements. You would be amazed what you find in old scrap yards too. A 'dead' tractor or a boat filled with bedding plants looks brilliant.

    Thanks John.

  8. The silage bales, like everyting else it seems, getting bigger. On holiday in Leisestershire I think it was, saw them harvesting the corn, huge flat fields, using the big Claas machines. Took them 5 days, it was left ploughed, disced and harrowed, and a tidy mountain of the biggest straw bales I've ever seen, square but they looked to be about the size of a Transit van. Everything seemed so much bigger, even the 6-furrow reversible plough.

    Nice to get foreign visitors, and good that they respect your property. Some farmers in the Lake District and Solway Plain have become very rich off the proceeds of campers and caravaners, to the extent they're no longer farming. But most of them started many years ago, before the stringent rules and regulations came in.
    I wouldn't like to wade through the mountain of planning restrictions and red tape that would no doubt be necessary to try and set one up now.

    Fields here looking very waterlogged as well, some of them standing big puddles, a lot of clayey soil doesn't let them drain so well.

    Not a bad morning here, a bit of blue sky and sun's just about breaking through.
    Raggy cat in as usual.

  9. Straw bales the size of a transit van - yikes! A lot of the big farms also rip out the old field boundaries like dry-stone walls and blackthorn and hawthorn hedges. All natural habitats for birds, insects, voles...

    In 2015 the milk quotas end. So dairy farmers will need every available bit of pasture for additional cattle. Perhaps it will make smallholdings worth more, because the dairyman needs more land? I honestly think the smallholder is an endangered species. I believe China is buying land in Australia because of the growing population. That's why cattle are making better money than a few years a go. There's a world food shortage.

    The French are very polite and it's quite common for them to ask the farmer if they can pitch their ten on his land in France.

    I think modern people want a bit more than a field like a bar, shop, launderette, WiFi?, these days. Where we live there is no shop or pub for four or five miles. Also you have to get planning permission, the weather is some times terrible, what about litter, the tax man, short seasons, rowdy groups of lads and lasses...? Yeah I have looked into it and it's a none starter. I have heard the same about people buying bed and breakfast properties and not being able to make a living due to the weather, lack of public transport (we know that one) and declining tourist trade. I personally would rather pay twenty quid more to go in an hotel with a bar and that serves grub than just a bedroom and a breakfast in the morning.

    The land here is saturated. I wonder if it will ever dry up. Still can't dig over part of the vegetable garden because it's too wet. Saw a kg of onions for sale in Aldi the other day for 39 cents. Makes you wonder why you bother growing anything. A lot of people a predicting a hot summer this year. They say that every year. I will believe it when I see it.

    Wet here, but dry at moment. Terrier asleep on sheepskin rug.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  10. Still a lot of hedges here, Lake District most are protected, and Solway Plain the field size is fairly small, a lot of them still in the long strip pattern, and split over many owners, so I guess it wouldn't be economic to grub up the hedges. There's not that much corn anyway, mostly grass and fodder crops. And the big machines would struggle to get down some of the narrow and winding country roads.

    First I heard of milk quota ending, I don't know what the implications are, as you predict, probably the expansion of already huge dairy herds, and I think you're right, the smallholder is an endangered species, already extinct in some areas. I find that really sad, so many people who could take over a patch, not for profit, just to live on and feed themselves. One of my ambitions was to have a couple of Jerseys and a big enough paddock to keep them.

    Yeah, China I think is fast becoming the dominant world player, from what I hear, they're buying land all over the world, they've come to the realisation that they'll still need land when everything else has run out.

    The French have a much more laid-back attitude to campers and mobile homes, there's very few restrictions as to where they can park overnight, plenty of free toilet disposal points and water top-up facilities, every garage stocks a variety of gas bottles, I've even seen them on superstore car parks and nobody seems to bother.

    Sounds like you've investigated the caravan park idea pretty well. You're right, people expect a lot more now, and are prepared to pay for it. Only thing you forgot is the quagmire on wet days, and the fun you have pulling cars out of the mud.

    Yes, the supersheds do seem to sell some produce at a price I wonder who makes a profit from growing it, especially when it's imported, some of it a huge distance as well. But your own home grown is better, fresher, tastier, and you know what's in it /on it. You don't have to drive to Aldi either. And the satisfaction is priceless.

    Keeping dry and cool, sun's disappeared.
    Raggy cat woke up for milk and biccies, resumed sleeping in front of fire.

  11. There are still a lot of hedges here Cumbrian. I mean the big farms that produce straw and arable crops often rip out the field boundaries. The pit silage machines do struggle to get down the lanes.

    Yes I have banged my head against the wall to think of ideas how tomake a living, never managed though. There's no money writing books. I know I am a published author. I don't drive a car, took my test once and failed it on 'hesitancy', going 28mph in a 30mph area. I'm too old now and know my nerves aren't good enough to drive a car. Some people can and some can't. I love the countryside but there is no way of making a living. Tesco is supposed to be building a new supermarket in Bantry this year, supposed to be creating 150 jobs. Perhaps I may be one of the lucky one's to get a job shelf filling or maintaining the grounds?

    I have even seen 'organic' veg in plastic, flown in from Israel in Aldi. Everybody goes for cheapness rather than quality these days. Totally agree you can't beat the freshness and satisfaction of growing your own veg. I miss the laugh and jokes and 'how to' talk a good allotment, that I used to have when I rented my allotments in England and in Wales. Smallholding is too isolated and you are not a cow in a field silently chewing grass. People need people. I bet there are loads of old farmers who could show people how to farm and the youngsters could do the physical work. Experience and knowledge takes years, doesn't it?

    It's a shame you don't live near me, I would gladly let you graze your Jerseys, Cumbrian.

    Dry here but the ground is saturated. Raggy cat isn't daft is he?

  12. There's not much money in the countryside, making a living is always going to be a problem. With small acreages and a few buildings, best thing is to try and produce most of what you eat, and you seem to be doing that OK. But there's always a need for some money coming in, you can't pay the electric bill with a joint of beef or a couple of hams, and you can't produce averything you need.
    Like you, I'm stuck for ideas, I can't think of any crop that pays, you're competing with Isreal and everybody else. Beef production sometimes pays, but you'll know more about that. Dairy is in the hands of huge herds and lots of technology. Pork I think is a bit unpredictable. Sheep need a lot of space. Eggs are produced by the million in intensive systems. Rabbits might be an idea, cheap to house and feed, easy to breed, don't need to go through an abbatoir, but I can't see them paying that well. Fishing doesn't seem to pay any more since the Europeans were allowed to fish our waters.
    What about tractor renovating? Don't know the economics of it, but if it's a hobby it might pay a little? Or making / repairing implements?
    Horse livery? There's a few of them locally, don't know much about them, what you need to provide or prices charged.

    The Tescos and like of this world are very good at telling us how many jobs they create in an area.
    Yes, but most of them are part-time or contract positions on minimum wages, only the management are permenant and salaried, and they're not usually local. I couldn't count the number of small businesses that have been kept going for several generations which have been put out of business by them.
    And all the profits go straight back to Tescos head office to be distributed to already-rich directors and shareholders, where the little business lived over the shop and spent his profits locally.
    They want everything; they've killed off the milkmen, newsagents, butchers, fishmongers, grocers, greengrocers, sweetshops, off-licences, bakers, florists, and they're doing their best to take over the pharmacies and opticians. A local garage, been in the same family ownership for 77 years, closed dowm a couple of months ago because Asda was selling fuel cheaper than he could buy it, there's only one independant filling station left in our area now.
    They're winning and there's nothing can stop them.

    So, in my opinion, the "job creation" is a fallacy, they replace good solid local businesses with temporary and part-time slave labour.

    The old farmers, or indeed any old tradesman, could show most of the younger generation how to do the job in the traditional manner, there's far too much hard-won skill, knowledge and experience, gained over many years, goes to waste. Machines, computers and factories have taken over everything; quality and pride in the job seem to have been lost in the modern accountant-driven world.
    Yes, quantity over quality.

    No snow, no rain, but getting a bit breezy, and there's ice in the wind.
    Raggy cat's got a lot more sense than a lot of people I know; but then so have most animals.

  13. Thanks Cumbrian for that. The countryside is a wonderful and peaceful place to live. But it's nay on impossible to make a living. Even the big farmers rely on their single farm payments. The EEC is stopping payments to smallholders with less than 4 acres. They say it costs too much in administration. They don't sat that to the big farmers who get thirty thousand plus. Perhaps the supermarkets will own the farms in the future or everything will be flown in from a cheaper source?

    The big supermarkets do seem to have a licence to make money in every part of the retail world. I suppose though any job creation is better than none. Nobody wants prisons, quarries, nuclear power stations on their door step, but they create jobs. I do think you make a very point that the little man (shop holder) always loses when the big supermarket comes to town.

    There should be a new Arts and Crafts movement teaching people country and life skills. Oh to see a saddle maker or a traditional blacksmith again.

    Wet here and the cattle are inside eating their straw. Terrier on the sheepskin rug for a change.

  14. Yes, the superstores probably own a lot of farms, I believe the Co-op is the biggest "farmer" in England in terms of acreage, Tesco is the biggest wine importer and they own vinyards. I've seen fields in the Southern counties with a sign "Growing xxxxx for Tesco" or whoever, so they're making inroads into every sphere of life in the UK and probably a lot of other places.

    Can't really blame people, especially whem times are hard, for wanting to find the cheapest, we're all guilty of that; and with the best will in the world, it's often not possible to buy locally, or even UK produced things.

    Very true about prisons, quarries and nuclesr power stations, we've got all 3 in Cumbria (or Cumberland as I still think of it) and just accept them as a necessary evil, same as the steelworks and pits, now gone.

    Yes it would be good to see a revival of the old country crafts, blacksmithing, saddle and tack-making, the cobbler, even traditional butchers, I can't remember the last time I had real black pudding or brawn (both banned by EEC nonsense). And some of the countryside skills, drystone walling and hedging are two that spring to mind, some of the old drystone walls have stood for many decades, but now starting to look a bit sad, nobody seems to want (or know how) to repair them, and the modern practice of flailing a hedge with a giant attachment on the back of a giant tractor just seems to make a mess.
    The standard farm-yard hand tools like the scythe, sickle, bill-hook, pitchfork, wooden rake, bow saw, mell, etc; there's generally a corner of the old farms with a heap of these rusting away.
    Then the dairy skills, starting with hand-milking to butter and cheese-making, and kitchen occupations like jams, preseves, brewing and wine-making.
    And the hobbies. Fly-tying using real feathers, purse-net making, crook-making using a rams horn.
    And field sports. Ferreting, walk-up rough shooting, fishing, fox-hunting (now banned, but a traditional Lake District activity) even poaching game, fowl and fish (maybe illegal but much practiced), hound trailing.
    Not really sorry about the loss of cock-fighting, badger-baiting, dog-fighting or hare coursing, but they were (and probably still are in some districts) popular past-times.

    Tried to snow earlier, but nothing now, just cold.
    Your animals seem to be having a good life, like Raggy cat asleep in front of fire.

  15. Thanks Cumbrian. "Progress" is the word I believe to describe the ever changing world and rural landscape. Mechanization gets rid of the sweat and toil and slavery, but it also takes the jobs. I would like to know how many British Industrialists have set up in Asia in the last few years. They always go to where something can be made cheaper - more profits. "We" all go in the cheap supermarkets because its more money left in our purses and wallets. Bought some veg seeds from Aldi yesterday for 79 cents - unbelievably cheap.

    The Western world seems to do its manufacturing shopping from the container ships from India and China, it's lamb from New Zealand and its vegetables and fruit from Holland, Spain and Israel.

    I often think the county councils should employ people in every town land to maintain the hedges, overgrown allotments, water the hanging baskets, pick up litter, unblock drains... I believe when the council estates were constructed in the 1930's with the massive gardens to grow veg. Every estate had a man to keep the place tidy.

    Why not have a certificate in rural skills? Or even another 'Land Army'? Pay unemployed people a 'living wage'to maintain roads, farm land, dry stone walls, bridle ways, dig over allotments, dredge rivers, pick up litter, build 'affordable housing' which fits in with the existing buildings, public transport, community centres, work in Cooperative shops...? The list is endless. You would be making the countryside a place full of people again. Instead of the present one which is full of monoculture (grass) and unaffordable 'holiday and 'weekend' homes.

    Throwing it down here. 'Maggie'the Ford 4000 is in the garage with a new coat of grey paint, minus her wheels. Getting a new exhaust manifold today and two new front wheel bearings. We want a 'Fergie' or another tractor project soon. Number one son says 'Maggie' will be up and running in a fortnight, if not sooner. The next job is to free the discs on the plough. I bought her for 65 Euros in the end.


  16. These tractors are being restored so that they can be of use again. Usually, they are still in good condition. They just need some revamps and they'll become great and functional once again!

  17. Keep up the good work , I read few posts on this web site and I conceive that your blog is very interesting and has sets of fantastic information.
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