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ayrabz
Aug. 13, 2011, 04:09 PM
Yes, I know. Most people are going to suggest a R E A L tractor.:yes:
But...its just NOT in the cards, certainly not now, and now is when we need a new riding lawnmower.

Little farm is just shy of 5 acres, but MOST of that is wooded ravine/creek area behind house. 'Pastures' are really big paddocks, but I have set them up as best I could with / for rotation and sacrifice area. we will have 'down the lane' to mow, probably most of that with a walk behind...and then the 'pastures' which are maybe a total of 2 acres?

Not a lot. And, that area is pretty flat, but IF it wasn't an outrageous upgrade, for some extra stability, I could see times when ride on mower might venture around house for some cutting, and that area will have slight inclines----But like I said, a walk behind will always be needed, and most often used back there, I guess.

Serviceing is going to be a biggie for me. There is a certified John Deere / and service maybe 3 -5 miles from the property...so, I will admit, that will probably be a HUGE factor in what I go with.

Are there those of you with 'farmette' type properties that use more of a lawn tractor/mower ? Do you find any of the 'accessories' help you to achieve some 'tractor' like functions with one?

Anyone have any input on: lawn tractor vs. zero turn and why?

We've been limping the old Snapper along repair after repair, and often get caught in a big growth spurt with grass getting too high and it not running this season too many different times! We always thought it would be a tractor we'd look at, but really.....I can't justify it just to have the beefy toys I'd probably SELDOM use....(Two stall barn...Ramm fence)

I know we need a good mower no matter what, and I'm trying to find out if any of you have gone that route and still been able to use them in attachment/farm chore ways?

TIA!!!

MunchkinsMom
Aug. 13, 2011, 04:17 PM
I have a 10 acre "gentlemans" farm, one acre of yard, 9 acres of pasture, with gentle slope to the land.

First rider was a Troy Bilt - stay away, damn thing was constantly breaking down. Repair guy finally told me I was asking too much of it (mowing the pastures and pulling a Newer Spreader).

Bought a big John Deere Garden tractor on the advice of the salesman at the dealer. Bought it on payments. You can get discounts through some horse associations like AQHA. I've had it for 6 years now, with (knocking on wood) nothing other than routine maintenance (oil change, lube, mower blades). Mine is the GT245, they probably don't make that particular model anymore, but something newer I would guess.

If you have any plans on using the tractor to haul anything, I would steer away from a zero turn, as I hear most of them either cannot be used to tow anything, or have issues due to the weight distribution.

I'm very happy with my purchase. My husband replaced the Troy Bilt with a Cub Cadet, just for the one acre "lawn" around the house, I think the JD is a better tractor.

tasia
Aug. 13, 2011, 04:35 PM
Go with the John Deere garden tractor. Get the largest mowing deck you can. Extended warantee. I also like the little sun canopy you can get for the JD garden mower, no need to wrinkle while mowing :)

With the garden tractor I can mow, drag and pull a good size manure spreader. I don't know if you can do that with a zero turn.

The JD garden mowers at lowes & homedepot are now the same ones as the JD dealer. For awhile they weren't.

Frank B
Aug. 13, 2011, 04:35 PM
I've been mowing about 2-1/2 acres of fairly hilly ground with a J-D GX255 for 6 years with no problems. The serpentine belt on the mower deck does have to be replaced every other year. The power steering really helps the arthritis in my upper body. I got the locking rear end, but have never needed to use it -- except the time I backed it into the creek.

I don't tow so wish I'd have gotten a zero turn, but they were a lot more expensive then than now.

SLW
Aug. 13, 2011, 06:36 PM
We have 3.5 acres and a John Deere 2320. They go perfectly together like Barbie and Ken!! It is a chic friendly tractor and you will use it for so much more than mowing! They lift, drag and push heavy things easy peasy so you don't have to wait for hubba or a crew of teenagers to come along and help you move that log or bags of cement. We went with the JD for the same reason you are considering it, the proximity of a JD shop.

JB
Aug. 13, 2011, 08:03 PM
Definitely stay away from Troy Built - we killed 2 of them just mowing the pasture before we had a tractor - it just cannot take lumpy ground.

cutter99
Aug. 13, 2011, 08:37 PM
I have a John Deere 445 garden tractor with a 60 inch mower deck and a loader. It is a 22 horsepower. It was a demo unit with 56 hours on it when I bought it in 1997 and it has been great. It has about 820 hours on it now. It is gas and does not have all wheel steering due to the fact is it equipped for a loader.

My first farm was a hilly-5 acres and my current place is 16.5 flatter acres. I use the loader for everything from cleaning stalls to snow removal to moving hay, shavings, and feed. The loader can lift about 400 lbs. One of the things I really like about it is I have a bank barn now and I can get this tractor in and out even in tight space. A skid loader would be nice but it is not in the budget. This little tractor is so versitile and hearty I would hate to be without it!

The 60 inch mower makes lawn mowing go fast and the mulch kit puts a nice finish on the lawn. I even use it to mow the fenceline in the pastures.

I service it regularly and replace the mower blades/ mulch kit yearly. My dad told me when I bought it that it may cost more than some other brands but the John Deere is worth it. I do have to say he is right!

philosoraptor
Aug. 13, 2011, 08:52 PM
I went through two "lawn tractor" mowers in the first few years I lived where I am. They're built to last exactly 12 months (the length of their warranty). Then pieces fall off. One of then lost a c-clip and the front wheel fell off when I was driving. Store them over the winter and sometimes they don't want to start next spring, no matter how you winterize them. The mower decks are almost always belt driven, and you know that belt falls off or breaks, just as you're hurrying to get chores done. The tires are for "lawn" use, as in flat smooth suburban yards. At $1500 - $2500, I'd expect something a little better. STAY AWAY from the Lowes and Home Depot machines - I don't care whose brand-name sticker is on them - they're basically crummy little pushmowers you sit on.

I bought a 23hp Kubota BX23 with 5' mid-mount mower, FEL, and backhoe. It was $14k but 0% financing and a multi-year warranty. I forget when we got it (7-8 yrs ago), and it starts the first time EVERY time. It doesn't stall in damp grass. It's small enough to maneuver around my little dwarf fruit trees & ornamentals to be a mower. But it's big enough to plow snow, carry muck, put down gravel, and remove stumps. It's 4WD. And did I mention it never fails to start! :D

Bottom line: forget the "lawn tractor" and go straight to a small diesel tractor. You won't regret it! If price is a huge issue, wait for a clearance sale or shop for used ones. While it's great you have a local JD dealer, don't be afraid to look at Kubota, NH, etc. If you have a small lot, focus on their "compact" tractors. The nice thing about a little diesel tractor is that they have resale value, unlike the Home Depot's gas powered putt-putts.

danceronice
Aug. 14, 2011, 10:27 PM
I'll have to ask Dad what he has--the lawn tractor gets used for mowing around the house and hauling loads in the little trailer (wood, tools, grass clippings, when Old OTTB was alive the muck buckets), which is a lot more practical than using the big (compact, not big-big, but still, big) New Holland. That's reserved for things like large-scale brushcutting or discing the field or moving REALLY big things with the loader (they have 120 acres.) The little red mower's lasted a few years now, and technically the old little blue one still runs most of the time, but the mowing deck died a while back.

ETA: The red lawn tractor's a Craftsman. His suggestion is make sure there's a removable/cleanable deck, and think about if you want attachments for things like snowblowing/plowing. (I may buy a riding mower not because I need one for the lawn but because where I live I sometimes get more snow than the walk-behind blower can handle.)

tasia
Aug. 15, 2011, 09:39 AM
STAY AWAY from the Lowes and Home Depot machines - I don't care whose brand-name sticker is on them - they're basically crummy little pushmowers

Bottom line: forget the "lawn tractor" and go straight to a small diesel tractor. You won't regret it! If price is a huge issue, wait for a clearance sale or shop for used ones. While it's great you have a local JD dealer, don't be afraid to look at Kubota, NH, etc. If you have a small lot, focus on their "compact" tractors. The nice thing about a little diesel tractor is that they have resale value, unlike the Home Depot's gas powered putt-putts.

The JD mowers at homedepot and lowes are the exact same mowers sold by JD dealers now. For a while they weren't. I was at the JD dealer last week and this is what they told us. Also JD is going to be making a gator in pink now:lol:

hosspuller
Aug. 15, 2011, 01:23 PM
If you have hills to mow, forget the zero turn mower. All the steering is done through the drive wheels. Once the wheels loose a bit of traction on wet grass, you'll get a wild ride to the bottom of the hill. A zero is great for flat mowing...

I deal with three sectors of Deere machine dealers... Lawn & garden, agriculture and construction. I didn't mean to own a Deere fleet, it just happened.

Be aware ... John Deere mowers in a given size (say 48 inch cut) are not the same. JD makes mowers in all the price points. Old saying that has much truth : You get what you pay for. Make sure you're comparing model numbers not engine hp or cut width when you're pricing machines. The Deere models sold at the big box stores are about equal to the other brands sold there too. (not tough enough for horse keeping)

baysngreys
Aug. 15, 2011, 02:44 PM
Ditto the JD riding mower. I have a 52" deck and it's a work horse. I can pull my harrow with it (although it does better with only 1/2 the harrow, both sections really tax the engine), I tow my spreader (the smaller Fimco), and my 25 gallon tank sprayer.
It's great on hills, my front paddock is pretty steep down to the lake - I haven't tipped it yet!

Between my riding mower and an old golf cart I can do about everything on the farm, except move round bales :)

2DogsFarm
Aug. 15, 2011, 05:38 PM
I have Made-Do for 7 years now with the YardMachine (MTD) riding mower that came with the house when I bought it. Probably at least 10yo by now.
17HP, 42" deck.

I mow about 1ac lawns regularly and 3ac pasture infrequently.
Every year it gets a tuneup and sharpened or replaced blades from my local repair guys.
This year the carbuerator died so he put in a rebuilt one.
Ask your neighbors who works on their equipment - my guy works out of his garage and picks up & delivers for $25.

I can pull a metal dumpcart loaded with 300# of whatever - usually composted manure going to the gardens from the pile.

I'd LOVE to have a Newer Spreader, but so far budget does not allow.
I "spread" manure in the pastures when I mow by lowering the deck & shredding the piles as I go.

I would like to add a snowblade, but so far neighbors with real tractors have done my plowing for me.
Yay Neighbors!

The only thing I miss is the ability to add a FEL. That bucket would make my life a whole lot easier.

MunchkinsMom
Aug. 15, 2011, 11:01 PM
PSA - for those of you with lawn/garden tractors, grease the bearing in the mower deck! My husband just fried his 2-year-old Cub Cadet deck, burnt up one of the bearings, I'm fairly sure he was not greasing it (he is very handy, but not very mechanically inclined).

So, now I get to mow the lawn with my JD until he gets his fixed.

ToiRider
Aug. 15, 2011, 11:09 PM
PSA - for those of you with lawn/garden tractors, grease the bearing in the mower deck! My husband just fried his 2-year-old Cub Cadet deck, burnt up one of the bearings, I'm fairly sure he was not greasing it (he is very handy, but not very mechanically inclined).

So, now I get to mow the lawn with my JD until he gets his fixed.

I wish you had mentioned this last week!!!!!

MunchkinsMom
Aug. 16, 2011, 02:26 AM
I wish you had mentioned this last week!!!!!

Sorry, his just died yesterday after he had made two circuits around the back yard.

Since he does not take advice from me well, I have not mentioned it to him.

MunchkinsMom
Aug. 17, 2011, 01:50 AM
One more tip for those of you with lawn/garden tractors. Get an inexpensive leaf blower, and blow all the grass out of the mower deck after you mow, especially around the pulleys and the belts.

If you don't, eventually you will have a fire in the mower deck. My father in law killed the Troy Built that way, by never cleaning the deck.

ayrabz
Aug. 17, 2011, 05:47 AM
thanks EVERYONE!
I really do appreciate it. I have been making notes, and revisiting the JD site and reviewing specs. (and GEEEZE it can get confusing! they make a bazillion different model levels and specs)

While I've spent a little bit of time looking at other makes...I'm leaning more and more to going with my gut and sticking with JD. Not because I prefer the product, but because I really want easy, local servicing.

That said...I'm still not 100 percent sure on : trying to make do with a lesser garden tractor, or face financing on a sub compact. I guess? the zero turn is just not practical, unless we had bucks for two machines.

I really 'believe' we need a lawnmower on this type of property. I'm not at all sure we 'need' a real tractor, but the issue is the timing. Mower is on its very last wheel...and I won't be 'horsekeeping' full time there for sometime.....

I think? the higher /beefiest end of lawn tractor does ? come with a front loader option accessory? but then...would it even be worth it vs. the smallest tractor....SIGH. I think we'll probably go with a mid size JD lawn tractor.....

2DogsFarm
Aug. 17, 2011, 06:47 AM
Ditto what MunchkinsMom says about cleaning the deck.
I have a long-handled brush I use after every use.
Also check the air filter if you've been mowing someplace dusty.

& a tip from my repair guy - if the mower seems to be overheating (mine will then shut down until it cools off) try loosening the gas cap. Not loosey-goosey, but just not screwed down tight.

ayrabz:
if you can recall which mower can take a FEL please let me know!
I'll be needing a replacement eventually & that option would sell me pronto!

ayrabz
Aug. 17, 2011, 08:22 AM
2DF:
I really tried (!) this morning to cut/paste/ either the link, or the description here, but for some reason? couldn't get it to work.

If you go to John Deere....click on lawn tractors....click on accessories....they have one FEL, and they list the models it can be used on.
Seems their BEEFIEST (the 700s ) all 700 models can use this. But then, it shows some X400s and X500s that seem? to be able to utilize this IF you get them in the 2w vs. the 4wd. ?

tasia
Aug. 17, 2011, 09:10 AM
You might want to make a list of everything you want to be able to do with your mower/tractor and take it to the JD dealer, see what they suggest. Also used or previously loved might be an option.

2DogsFarm
Aug. 17, 2011, 02:59 PM
2DF:
I really tried (!) this morning to cut/paste/ either the link, or the description here, but for some reason? couldn't get it to work.

Thanks - I'll check the JD site.
There's a local dealer or two here.
Maybe I can play them off each other...

witherbee
Aug. 17, 2011, 05:12 PM
We had bad luck with our JD lawn mower. Seemed to be costong us about $300 in repairs quarterly. Might have just been the dealer we were using, but did try a couple of other repair places. Of course we may have just had too much to mow - 10 FLAT acres, but used it mainly on the yard and smaller paddocks (about 3 acres total) and used the Branson tractor for the fields.

Bought a zero turn Cub Cadet and LOVE IT! Takes me literally 1/2 the time and is just really easy to use. Only bad thing is no towing and I agree - not a good choice for hilly or brushy terrain.

Good luck!

MunchkinsMom
Aug. 17, 2011, 10:18 PM
Dang witherbee, I think you got a lemon! I'm sure we bought from the same dealer, and this year is the first one that I have not paid them for the annual tuneup and blades (had my neighbor do the work this year). I use mine to mow mostly the pastures, and now the lawn (until DH decides to fix his Cub Cadet).

ACP
Aug. 18, 2011, 12:15 AM
I had a big Craftsman 25 hp with a very wide mower deck. I also bought a manure spreader, the tilting dump cart, a disc, a plow, and a scraper blade. We used it every day and it was super. The mower deck could be left on when you used the manure spreader or cart, it had to be taken off to use the disc, plow or blade. Being able to muck directly into the manure spreader was wonderful. I used a muck bucket for the manure itself, but wet sawdust went directly into the spreader. We ran the spreader on what was once an all sand area and built up the footing until it was super for dressage. The dressage arena was telephone poles and you could use the blade to scrape the footing away from the rail, then back, then away, then back, and really fluff things up. It was wonderful. The plow could be set to just barely scratch a half inch deep furrow, and you could also pull a big drag mat - a chain link fence section with old tires on it, to drag the pastures. I kept about 20 very level acres in good shape with mine. It was serviced very well and ran for four years with hard work, we did sharpen blades twice a year, and as mentioned, used a blower to keep the mower deck clean.

I'm not saying get a Craftsman vs. a Deere, but really make sure the model you buy will have all the attachments you want. Tractor now, attachments as you can afford things.

danceronice
Aug. 18, 2011, 12:00 PM
I'm not saying get a Craftsman vs. a Deere, but really make sure the model you buy will have all the attachments you want. Tractor now, attachments as you can afford things.

Yep, check before you buy! A John Deere or a Craftsman (Sears) also has the advantage that the dealer (JD dealer, Sears store) is unlikely to stop carrying parts for your particular brand.

Rabtfarm
Aug. 23, 2011, 04:50 AM
You might want to see if there are any second hand Deere compact tractors available...but understand that the local dealer will be reluctant to deliver one up for you especially with attachments, etc..they make their money selling new. I am running a 1988 955 Deere and it does cost me occasionally in replaced parts but that is still cheaper than an entire new tractor.

BTW this 955 with a 72 inch mower deck is a phenomenal lawn mower. Add in the rest of the farm chores it can do (with the front end loader, post hole digger, york rake, snowblower, backhoe attachments)and you quickly get away from a zeroturn. Good luck.

shakeytails
Aug. 23, 2011, 07:29 AM
Since we kill all riding mowers, I'd also suggest a little-bitty subcompact tractor, or maybe even an ATV with attachments.

We really need a lawnmower (we currently mow the lawn with the 70HP tractor :eek:) and I'm leaning towards a newish subcompact (that's big enough to also rake hay) and a finish mower attachment.

anchodavis
Aug. 23, 2011, 08:58 PM
I agree with philosoraptor - even if you just go with a really small compact tractor, you're likely to get more use and life out of it than any lawn tractor. They make small, economical ones these days, so they are worth checking out. The guy who runs the local Kubota dealer lives down the road from me, so I was able to work out a deal where when I need servicing, he will just pick it up and drop it off on his way in. He also found me a 37 hp, 2008 model that had been sitting in another kubota lot for 2 years - so when i bought it last fall I got a good discount even though it was essentially the same as the new models. I'd recommend finding a dealer you trust and being honest with them about your basic needs as well as wildest desires, and see what they can do for you. then compare that with the lawn tractors and consumer reviews on lawn tractors. I've only had mine a year now, but it always starts and as we keep finding new uses for it on our 25-acre "farmette" - I am grateful to have it!