The Bright Spot of Winter

By Troy Bishopp

The grass whisperer getting a lift from his compact diesel tractor

By the time you read this, spring will have sprung and the snow will uncover (in places), its grip on the soil.  In my neighborhood, folks are saying it was the coldest winter in recent memory.   But there is warmth in my heart because I survived the epic adventure thanks to an invaluable piece of equipment:     The compact diesel tractor.The author and his Bobcat tractor making child's play of snow removal

Here at the farm it felt like an ole fashioned winter from my childhood, where sliding and tunneling through gargantuan mounds of snow tamed the savage beast of the winter solstice.  Now that I’m a tad older, winter just seems to represent more work.  I guess some would say that the pasture-frolicking, fence-moving, carefree grass farmer finally has to do some REAL work for a change.  I would concur, feeding and caring for livestock in a Northeast winter is no picnic.

In the context of wintering livestock and general farm chores, I would say the purchase of a 50 horsepower Bobcat CT-450 Compact Diesel Tractor from our friends at Warner’s Sales and Service was the best move we’ve made in a long time.  We chose the familiar white, charcoal and orange because it met our goals and budget but I think all makes of compact diesels are terrific.

In his book, Compact Tractors, author Dennis David describes them as “compact utility tractors or cute little cutters.   As farming became more refined so did the needs of tractors. The answer was a smaller, more maneuverable and fuel-efficient tractor with a variety of implements and attachments.”

“The compact tractor as we define it today made its debut quietly here in the United States in the late 1960s. These tractors had been in use for a number of years in Asian countries, but the compact was new to American shores at the time. The compact was ideally suited to the needs of the small farm, construction and landscape businesses, and homeowners alike.   With its power, small size, versatility, and implements, the compact utility tractor has managed to become a mainstay in both the agricultural and construction business.”

Jeez, where do I start the asset count for operating our cute little tractor?  IMG_3463

Well for starters, it has an awesome hydraulic system that can pick up an enormous amount of weight like baleage bales, manure pack and multi-flora rose roots.  Snow removal is more like child’s play.  One must be careful of this power and add counter weight, because us men push the limits of the machine and end up lifting several tires off the ground.

Our quick attach, multi-tool is equipped with a grabber for handling baleage without damage, a three pronged bale spear for moving big square bales, a backblade for one pass snow removal and a heavy bucket for digging and loading all kinds of stuff.  The compactness allows me to fit in our barn and clean out manure in minutes, not pitchfork hours.  The 4-wheel drive allows me to maneuver through tough conditions and helps me unstick myself from my overzealous habits.

Under this winter’s brutal cold and conditions, it started everyday which is some advantage against our older model tractors who are still hibernating in the shed.  The rookie, believe it or not, is also pretty fuel efficient for the horsepower expended.

Along the way our compact has volunteered at the Deansboro Cemetery, plowed snow for neighbors, shined at the Boro’s tractor day and been on display in numerous family pictures just like our old standby tractors from the 40s’ and 70’s.  This new family member has blended into our environment flawlessly and will be in service for the next generations, I hope.

I can only think of one downside (for winter)    we didn’t get a cab.  However we needed the flexibility to get into tight height spaces.  Maybe in the future they will come up with a quick attach cab you can put on in 30 minutes, so our winter and August days will be more comfortable.

I am concerned that our new family member is part of the “one and done” tractor line as Bobcat has discontinued making them.  I guess this will be more of an incentive to keep the maintenance up so it will be one of those unique models on American Pickers that will be worth a $100,000 dollars in the year 2090.  Come to think of it, maybe I’ll add a few more of these compact diesels to the farm if they appreciate that much.

It is with reverence that I commend the inventors, manufacturers, dealers and service folks who provide the families of compact tractors to us that work on the land everyday no matter the situation.  You have provided a bright spot in an otherwise merciless winter.  Come to think about it, this time-saving machine has allowed me to get in the house sooner so I can warm up to more episodes of Caribbean Life.  Published by Lee Publications