9 Best Tips For Keeping Your Old Tractor Going Strong

What upgrades and old-time tricks should you consider for your old tractor? Is a 12V conversion a good idea? A roll bar? A comfy seat? Read on!

I bought my tractor a year after moving to my 37-acre farm in Western Oregon. I needed a tractor just to keep the pastures from turning into forest. In addition, I raise free-range hens in portable houses, and the houses need to be pulled to a new location from time to time.

My tractor is a 1957-vintage Ford 640. Like the more numerous “N” series tractors — 9N (1939 model) 2N (1942 model) and 8N (1948 model), it is a gasoline-powered four-cylinder utility tractor with a three-point hydraulic hitch and a PTO (power takeoff unit) on the back. It’s bigger than the N-series tractors, with about 35 HP. At the time I bought it, I thought it would be nice to have a tractor that was powerful enough to pull a ground-driven hay baler, though now I know enough people who have been injured by balers that I’ve lost interest.

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Your Chickens in July [Newsletter]

News from the Farm

We couldn’t ask for better weather: warm but not too warm, encouraging us to spend time outdoors. The only fly in the ointment is that our tractor is still in the shop.

Publishing News

Poultry Breeding and Management: 100th Anniversary Edition

A big milestone in the Golden Age of American poultrykeeping (roughly 1910-1960) was the publication of Professor James Dryden’s Poultry Breeding and Management in 1916. Working just down the road at the Oregon Experiment Station in Corvallis, Dryden accomplished a lot, It’s not clear whether he was more respected for being the first to prove that you could breed hens for higher production, or because his simple, effective management methods made two generations of farmers far more successful.

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Living With a Low-Yield Well

Slow wells and running out of water are no jokeSlow, low-yield water wells are no joke, as I learned when I nearly ran out of water one summer. Yikes! Running out of water is seriously Not Fun.

How did we fix our problem? More importantly, how can you fix your problem?

Can you need a new well? Maybe not! With the right setup, you can have all the water you need with a very slow well. We do fine with a well that gives only a quart per minute.

Table of Contents

What is a Low-Yield Well?

A low-yield well (also called a “slow well”) is a water well that has delivers water more slowly than you need. Since a well is basically a hole in the ground that water seeps into, if you pump the water out of it faster than it’s flowing in, eventually the water coming out of the pump falls to a trickle or stops altogether.

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More Farmer’s Market Tech

We’ve played with a lot of different technologies at the farmer’s market. Electronics used outdoors need to be rugged, easy to protect from rain, and usable in bright sunshine.

Back when we made people order fryers in advance, we brought a Panasonic ToughBook so we could take the deposits and enter the orders on QuickBooks. We stopped doing this when we started bringing chickens on spec, rather than just to fill orders. Because every cop car in the country seems to be equipped with one of these, used ToughBooks are plentiful and affordable on eBay and other places.

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Pre-Season Work

We’re gearing up for a busy year in 2013 and are catching up with repairs and upgrades before the busy season starts, with contractors doing the difficult parts.

The upper part of the barn roof has been redone. In the Seventies, corrugated roofing had been nailed over the original cedar shakes, which didn’t hold the roofing panels securely enough, and they were starting to blow off. So we had that all taken off and re-roofed with new steel roofing that Karen had acquired at bargain prices.

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