Haying Gear

For a change of pace….how about some tractor stuff.

I vowed not to get a tractor- no rusting assets!!  Then I paid the hay guy for baling the middle field….then I vowed never again.

Tractors are like computers, first decide what programs and peripherals you want to run and then you will know what computers to look at.  Same goes for a tractor- choose the implements then the tractor.  Well, things are never quite that easy.  After a few drinks on the canal road with the neighbor….we decided that if we could get trail (pull-able with wheels), self powered/driven implements that we could get a pretty light weight tractor and save money on horsepower.

First purchase was a trail sickle bar from International Harvester.  I am guessing late forties and maybe a version of the 10.   Hard to find much about this sickle bar as the trail versions were fading out as the 3-point tractors were taking over.  Anyway, a lady in Powell Butte sold it to us and we were on our way.  Note: sickle bars are great when the grass is standing shin height and you have time to let it dry as there is no conditioning of the grass blades.

Next, came the baler.  My neighbor is a good guy to know….he can talk the horn off a rhinoceros…I am lucky to borrow a pen to write someone a check.  Well true to form, he pulls up the driveway with a 1946 McCormick International 55W baler two days later.  This is the find of the century in my opinion.  It has an International Power Unit on top and if you can drag it around a field it will spit out bales all on it’s own.  The baler had sat for 15 years or so as a farm ornament in town; however, it really didn’t take much until it fired right up.

Self powered baler

Self powered baler

Next, was to find something to pull it.  First, the neighbor found a Ford 9N.  We have both had experience with these tractors in our past.  Downsides of this tractor is that the PTO and tranny go at the same time, the hydraulics bleed off, and the lowest gear is too high for tilling.  Upsides are that they are pretty cheap, 3-point hitch opens up all sorts of implement options, and they are bullet proof tractors.  It was certainly dwarfed by the baler though.

Enter Craigslist….a farmer in Terrebonne was advertising a Farmall M.  I was kicking around a Cub but was worried about being able to pull that beautiful baler.  Did a bit of homework on the M and thought it was more tractor than we needed….of course, then I went to take a look.  This M had a live pump to run hydraulic lines any time the engine is on.  It also had an M&W Hand Clutch that will take the power away from the wheels without disturbing the PTO.  Throw in a highway gear, a separate distillate tank, tires that held air, and a crank that spun- I was sold.  Having luck getting the bayler running without much trouble I thought the M would be just as easy- and it was (although it only sat for 5 years).

Neighbor already had a Deerborn rake so we were ready.  All we needed was someone who knew how to run the old baler.  Neither of us knew much, the neighbor knows a good deal….and I can usually get motors to run….but we were clueless on how to make a bale.  We drug it around the field for a bit, hoping that the wire was still threaded after all those years on the lawn.  No such luck…the left wire worked okay but the right one needed to be rethreaded.  Also, the chute is 2 1/2 bales long and the tension was incredible.  We must have stuffed an acre of hay in the chute before we bled off the cylinder that held the bales in….and then the bales finally started to come out.  We tried to rethread the right wire but were clueless.

Neighbor called a friend that came out the next night to help.  What are the odds the the nation’s leading wire baler expert rolled into the field the next day.  He had owned a couple of 55W’s in his younger years and got us going in no time….only asked for gas money and looked a little happy to see one of these machines back in action.  This was not a parade guy- these machines were meant to work and seeing it covered in dust with the governor slapping and the belt slipping just a bit put this guy right at home.  I half expected to hear stories about tractors of yesteryear from the guy…instead, he got us up and running and was off- got to get the hay up…not talk until the rain comes mentality I guess.

Once threaded properly, the baler spit our 50+ bales without a single miss fire.  So we are good, trail sickle bar, wheel driven rake, self-powered baler, and an M to pull them all.  Neighbor has since found another Ford and a couple of bush hogs to help with his reclamation business….so we are now well covered.  We have ten acres to bale this weekend, a good test for sure.

The good news, we are able to bale our own hay.  This is important as if the pasture gets too high the chickens trample as much as eat.  Also, it would be best to hay on our schedule over the hay guy’s schedule.  The best news is we can do our fields on our own cheaper than hiring it out just once.  Ahhh, sweet independence….one less external input into the farm!

1946 Farmall M and 55W bayler

1946 Farmall M and 55W baler