She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, But Not Really

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, craftsman riding mower, tractor, homestead, yard work, hula guy
Last week, I bought a used Craftsman tractor, mowing deck, bagger attachment, and snow blower attachment that a neighbor was selling for his son. I got it all for $800. Considering how much it would cost for everything brand new, I figured that putting some money into any repairs forthcoming would be worth the investment. It seems to run well and was taken care of over the years. All of the items purchased are certainly not in perfect​ condition, but they don't need to be.

I've been wanting to get a tractor since we moved into our house in May of 2013. Our lot is almost a half-acre and the yard is mostly wide open grassland. While I have enjoyed the exercise and time to myself when mowing for two hours with the push mower, I know that cutting down mowing time will help me accomplish more, faster and thus give me more time in general for other things. It's hard to complain about that. More time is worth $800. The irony, though, is the time spent earning the money to in turn have more time. Don't think too hard; The math still works out in my favor.

Since the tractor does not have zero-radius turning, the push mower will definitely play it's roll with yard maintenance. Also, there are just parts to the yard where a push mower is easier and makes more sense. As we continue to "finish" and build out the lot with structures and landscaping, the push mower will be needed that much more. So, essentially, buying the riding mower isn't a replacement.

Every year, every summer has different dynamics playing into how things will go. While I had considered last summer to build a large shed this summer, over the winter, I had decided that I'd rather push that off another year and backfill that job with other tasks and improvements. I hadn't planned to get a riding mower and attachments this year, so unless we decide these new purchases will be in the garage for a year until it's built, I guess the plans for this summer have been altered. The best laid plans seem to change every year, every week.

We actually use our garage quite a bit in the summer, but I won't get into that in this post. I'm imagining a future post that will go there.  While our two-car garage is big enough to store our recent purchase, there will be plenty of time working around and moving them out so we can entertain guests. Entertaining guests is a must for any house hunter worthy of being on HGTV. I know some of you know what I'm talking about. It's at least a joke between my wife and me.

When the winter comes, because winter is coming, we may have to park the van in the driveway. I know, it's unthinkable, but we've grown accustomed to parking it in the garage, and with three kids, it's rather nice in the depths of snowy winter. I still park the car outside, and since both of us can't be homemakers, I get to clean it off before going to work. I've never parked a vehicle in a garage before the van, so I'm plenty used to it and don't mind. The van is more convenient anyway as it's the main wagon for the little dragons. My car is mostly used to get me to and from work.

So, pretty soon I'll be getting the tractor tuned up and in use. First, I need to finish dethatching my lawn. More on that fun in an upcoming post.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, craftsman riding mower, tractor, homestead, yard work
Continued, one-and-a-half years later…
October 4, 2018

I felt that an update to this post was due, in part, because I was reviewing it as a part of my post refurbishment process. I always find it interesting to see what was going on in the physical world and within my mind at the time of writing past posts and how things have changed since then.

I was planning on using the snowblower attachment at the time but have since decided to get rid of it. It's still sitting in the garage as I need to figure out the "getting rid of it" part, even if it's for the high price of free. I decided last fall, after buying some parts to fix it up, that I didn't really want to go through the hassle of figuring out how to attach it. It seemed more complicated than I wanted it to be or than I thought was worth spending the time on. I wasn't even sure that I purchased all of the parts needed to get the snowblower attachment working and installed properly. The parts I did buy were returned a few weeks after their purchase. In addition to the attachment itself, there are all of the other tasks associated with preventive maintenance to get the tractor ready to operate in and through winter months.

The realization started out slow, but then hit me hard as to how much work, and more importantly time, would have to go in to setting up the attachment and tractor to potentially move a small amount of snow, if any, over the winter. You just never know how much snow is going to come at one time or if the winter will be long or short. And, at how many inches would I even be able to use the tractor? There has to be a decent amount on the ground for the snowblower attachment to be effective. Would I be looking at the tractor sitting in the garage while I used my shovel to clear my driveway, thinking about the weeks of time I spent readying it for snow removal when I could have been doing ANYTHING else with my time?

Another thing going through my mind at the time was all of the people online saying how hard a snowblower attachment is on a tractor. Sure, the tractor was made to handle it, but it's a different kind of wear and tear than when used for summer work, and that's why I really bought it—for the summer. What those "online people" said was that an actual standalone snowblower was best suited for the task of snow removal. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Sure, I wanted to also justify to myself why I wasn't going through with setting the tractor up for winter, but a standalone snowblower would be easier all around and would make more sense for smaller amounts of snowfall than a tractor would.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, craftsman riding mower, tractor, homestead, yard work
Through that first year using the tractor, I used the bagger attachment. I used the grass I collected as fill for low spots in the yard that I eventually covered with dirt and will eventually landscape—a work in progress. I did the same thing with most of the leaves last autumn and will do so again this year. This year, I removed the bagger attachment, as I have bought and used a plug aerator and a spreader, two separate items, that are pulled behind the tractor. I had no interest in putting on and taking off the bagger attachment throughout this summer, so I left it off. I recycled the grass clippings back into the ground as it's better for the grass anyway—free fertilizer. Besides, I had less of a need for fill this year.

One thing that changed this year that had a direct impact on my tractor use was the start to my using a Fitbit (read more about that in this post). One reason to use a Fitbit is to track one's physical activity, which often leads to increased physical activity, or the observance of opportunities to be more physically active. I wouldn't say that I was a slouch by any means, but it certainly has had the affect on me. What this ultimately lead to was me going back to push mowing my lawn. I get 'steps' that way. However, the tractor is still there when I need it or need to mow more quickly. I still use it for aerating and spreading, and I mow while I aerate—efficiency!

I mentioned it on social, but I had to replace the drive belt on the tractor in September. It never broke in half, but it was worn down throughout and was barely attached in one spot. The tractor sat for a while, at least a month, maybe two. It wasn't a big deal because I was push mowing anyway. It's been a good experience to have a small-engine machine to work on and do preventive maintenance. It's more work and more complicated than a push mower, but it's not as complicated as an automobile. Do I have the time for such things? Depends upon how I want to use my time, I suppose. So far, it's been less complicated than dealing with the snowblower attachment. Plus, and this is a huge plus, Uncle Bob helped me when my knowledge and know-how had run out of fumes when the engine stopped working. It turned out to be an easy fix, and now, I'm a little bit more knowledgeable.

So, here we are at the start to October. Next week, I'll be aerating while I mow, then applying an autumn fertilizer. I'll be reattaching the bagger, ready for collecting those leaves when they fall. Until they do, I'll be cutting the grass using the push mower.

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