I am getting to the age where I avoid unnecessary physical risk and just want to get yard work and home chores done more efficiently. In most cases this means using tools and machinery to give me greater mechanical advantage. Instead of throwing myself into tasks with great abandon, I tend to look for a machine to do the heavy lifting. As you can see in these pictures which Gretchen took yesterday, I have a new piece of machinery to play with.
One of my major home chores for the fall is producing 4 or 5 cords of firewood to heat our home for the winter. This involves sawing 10 foot logs into 18 inch chunks and then splitting the short logs into firewood.
For the past two years, I have hired others to handle the chore of cutting and transporting logs from the woods to the splitter. I have done some of this myself, but carrying 50 pound logs over uneven ground is tiring and potentially risky work, so I have been looking for an affordable small tractor to make this job easier.
There are more lawn tractors every year, but they all come with mowing decks and I don’t have a lawn. I resist spending money for machinery that I will never use.
I have been putting the word out that I wanted a used lawn tractor without a mowing deck and I finally got one with the help of Tom King, my next door neighbor.
It is a well-used 13.5 HP Craftsman Lawn Tractor with a fairly low center of gravity, but it has decent ground clearance since the mower deck has been removed. This will let me drive it through the forested areas of our three and a half acre lot.
I plan on putting chains on the rear wheels for more traction and will probably upgrade my current firewood wagon to something slightly larger.
The test will be whether this tractor provides enough power to move the firewood fast enough to get our firewood supply in place for the winter. The temperature has already dropped to the point where I have fired up the pellet stove in the framing shop. Now it is becoming necessary to fire up the wood stove in the house.
Once the house wood stove gets lit, it will probably be on for the next five months and life becomes a matter of keeping enough firewood on hand to keep the home fires burning. The stove with it’s forced air distribution heats our 1650 sq foot home to 78 degrees with ease all winter.
Since I have enough logs on hand for the next five years, my heating costs should continue to be less than $200 a year, based on a twenty year stove life, a ten year log-splitter life, and a five year tractor life.
Life is good! I put the tractor to work at 5 pm after installing a new battery and I was able to fill the firewood rack on the front porch in just 15 minutes. I spent another hour exploring what slopes the tractor could handle, picking up piles of construction material and stowing them away.
I may add chains and extra weights for the tractor eventually, but it is able to handle the important work now with no further changes. It gives me the equivalent of two extra helpers for pennies an hour.
I am very pleased with the tractor and I have Tom King to thank for finding it for me. Everyone should have a neighbor who is that helpful.