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Our 20-HP tractor with power take off and a 3-point hitch. It does everything on our 30 acres that we need.


on particular crops or animal prob- lems. If your property contains a large amount of standing timber and you are planning on cutting some of the trees for either profit or ground clear- ing be sure to find a timber expert. He will be able to give you an idea of which trees to harvest, and how much the timber should be worth.


Tools For The Job Diesel powered equipment is the


easiest and safest option. I am not a fan of keeping horses, mules, oxen or donkeys in order to plow a field and pull a wagon. My brief reasoning is as follows: Upkeep on animals is expen- sive. Feed bills, vet bills, Ferrier bills, and the list is always growing. Horse drawn farming equipment is still very expensive, and in some areas you may have a hard time finding someone to teach you how to use horse drawn hay rake or plow. Stick with fuel stor- age and diesel powered equipment. If


Our mobile chicken coop or “chicken tractor” as it’s known.


you are accustomed to old fashioned farming techniques then by all means continue the faithful practice. A horse drawn plow is not for the beginning hobby farmer however. On our mini farm we have found


that a 25 horsepower, 4-wheel-drive diesel John Deere tractor fills all of our needs. It has been very reliable, and parts are easy to obtain. Our choice of tractor was based on the avail- ability of parts. The nearest Deere dealer is 18 miles away. The next clos- est tractor dealer is double that. You can buy too much tractor. Too much tractor in too little area will cause you problems, and more than likely you will end up breaking something in the barnyard during the process. Buy the size tractor you need, not the size you want to show off. I would make sure to get the 4-wheel drive option, however. It comes in handy pulling the chicken tractor around the farm when it is muddy.


Fuel storage on our farm is handled


by two, 500-gallon, above ground die- sel tanks. Our tanks are gravity fed. They don’t require electricity for their use, which to us is a huge advantage. Having fuel available on the farm cuts down on wasted time and cost. It also ensures that you will have some fuel on hand during an emergency. While a thousand gallons may not seem to be a lot, it will go a long way in a small tractor being used around a small farm. We are not growing thou- sands of acres of grain, but instead we pull our chicken coop and tilling the garden. Fuel can be bought from a local fuel jobber. I would not allow the tanks to become over half empty. A fuel additive needs to be added to stored petroleum products — this will increase the shelf life, and cut down on the microbial algae growth that will ruin fuel tanks and the sup- ply within. In the past, algae growth has not been a problem, but with the introduction of ULSD or ultra low sulfur diesel, the algae growth began to become a problem. Since sulfur has now been removed from most of the domestic fuel supplies, keeping your fuel treated is of the utmost im- portance if you are going to keep a vi- able supply of fuel.


Diversify Growing a large diverse garden is


A country-living grain mill in action. It has a durable design and is easy to use.


28


Labeling is key to organization. I mark each bucket or can in two ways: with product inside and the date it was packaged.


important to any long-term, self-suf- ficiency plans. This will allow produc- tion of fresh and nutritional fruits and vegetables. Not only will the fresh produce bring needed nutrients to the table, it will also allow a diversity in the diet on the farm. Eating beans and rice, and then rice and beans will only go so far. A large garden producing a substantial amount of food is what most Americans would now refer to as a lot of work. It will take time, de- votion, considerable effort and most


REALITY CHECK • 2012 SPECIAL EDITION


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