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Did I just get screwed? Long post

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  • Did I just get screwed? Long post

    Feeling a little stressed and not sure I'm making decisions well at this point, so I'm looking for input.

    So I have a 2 acre pasture (it's actually like 1.9 or something according to the seed-drill guy) and we sprayed it last year to kill the alfalfa. I fertilized it myself this spring (you should have seen me with my little Scott's spreader and hundreds of pounds of nitrogen--I looked ridiculous) and bought the seed myself.

    A local man was recommended by my client to drill the seed. I called him up this winter to see if he was interested and he said yes. I asked what it would cost (I thought it was over 2 acres at that point) and he said he wanted to look at it closer to the time. Now, I know he has been to this acreage many times, as he was working with the previous owner on stuff, but still that seemed reasonable.

    I called again the end of March (he had told me to call the end of March) and he said I should really have the pasture mechanically raked before putting down seed. I said that sounded like a good idea from what he described, but I wanted a cost bid. He basically told me to settle, I was too early to seed (which was true) and we would talk about it closer to the time.

    I spoke to him in April to get advice on if I should spread the fertilizer ahead of time, he said yes, but we didn't discuss anything else at that point. I was getting really worried because I felt like he was putting me off, but when I asked around if there was someone else who could do this, everyone kept telling me this was THE guy. I was also getting worried he wasn't going to show. My husband pointed out that such a small job is probably barely worth his time...

    Last week we hit 96 (after snow shortly before) and he called my workplace at noon. He said he had already raked the ground and he was confirming that the pasture seed in the garage was what I was putting down. I said yes (thinking, oh wow, you just went ahead and started?) and didn't bring up cost, because he was already there and half done. I was very worried though.

    Got the bill today. Description: Seed Prep (3 passes), drill owner's seed. Charged $550 plus $22 tax.

    I was thinking it would be a lot less! I'm wondering if this is a fair price? This is a small town, everyone knows this person and a few recommended him and if it is fair, even if it is on the high side, I don't want to make a big stink. I know some will say I should, but keep in mind I have a business in this town too and need to "get along" with everyone. I just feel a bit "played." I sort of wonder if this would have happened if my husband had been the one dealing with him and not me...maybe. And maybe I'm way off base and the price is fair? I just know I spoke to someone a couple hours away and she paid $25/acre for seed drilled (but she had 20 acres).

    I was planning to over-seed the other pastures next year, but will look elsewhere regardless, as I am not happy with how he went a head and started without honoring my request for a bid.
    Last edited by TrotTrotPumpkn; May. 22, 2013, 11:48 AM.
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    That is about what I would expect to pay around here.
    Nothing is cheap these days.
    You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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    • #3
      I don't think it is unreasonable - fuel costs are up and time is money and he probably spent as much time doing a piddly bit as he would doing a much larger area. When working small areas, it takes a lot more work to get corners, turn around, etc than it does in bigger areas. I know when I mow or cultivate sloughs, pissing around the in the small slough by the house takes as long as its much bigger 'brother' across the road, sometimes even longer. The shorter the runs the more often you have to turn and reset the equiment for the next short run. The question is how long he worked rather than how many acres he did. Wanting to pay by the acre in this situation is completly ureasonable in this situation.
      Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

      Member: Incredible Invisbles

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      • #4
        You kept calling him and asking what to do next and when; in his mind, you hired him.

        Pay it, I think it's reasonable. it's as much set up and hassle to get ready to do 2 as it is 25, and as was pointed out above- it's a PITA to work a small plot vs big flat fields.

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        • #5
          No idea about the cost but I would NOT be happy he turned up unannounced and started work without giving a quote, and was poking around the place to find the seed, however nice or well recommended he is!

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Ok. That's what I was wondering. Fuel prices jumped here this past weekend, but that's ok. I'm not going to quibble. I'm not trying to be cheap, I just want to pay what's fair. Sounds like this is. Thank you for answering, I really appreciate everyone's input.

            I just felt like I was stringed along a bit. I like to know what stuff is going to cost a head of time (I'm a huge planner--it's just how I am).

            The nice thing about this field based on what you are all saying, is it is open and flat (no fence) and surrounded by a much larger area of corn fields, so it isn't super tricky to turn around or work in (but that's a moot point).

            Thanks again for answering. I feel much better.
            DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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            • #7
              Last job I had customed cost me $100.00 for 300 feet of lane by 20ish feet wide - I hit the point of no return for snow removal so had to yell for help. $100.00 an hour is about the going rate for small jobs. And no, I didn't feel strung along, just grateful
              Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

              Member: Incredible Invisbles

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              • #8
                That's fair, he had to load his equipment, unload it, fuel, time, and hassle for a small acreage.

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                • #9
                  If I could get someone to do my 2 acre pasture for that much I'd be all over it. Instead I can't even get anyone to call me back about raking/liming/overseeding it as the job is too small, the acreage is fenced, and is has just enough slope to be a PITA. Instead I end up out there with a small spreader every year cursing.

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                  • #10
                    I had our pastures overseeded this spring.

                    $225/acre -- that included the cost of seed and fertilizer.

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                    • #11
                      Can you find out the going rate for tractor work per hour? Do you know how many hours he spent doing the work?
                      Man plans. God laughs.

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                      • #12
                        I don't think you got played, just the way some Country workmen do business.
                        You two had discussed the job more than once.
                        His word was good - he told you he'd do the job, he did it.

                        My hayguy routinely fills my barn (I pay for hay delivered & stacked) when I'm not there, even though I always ask him to call the day before.

                        FWIW (& IIRC): it cost me ~$250 almost 10 years ago to have my less-than-an-acre small field drill-seeded. I did not supply the seed or fertilizer.
                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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                        • #13
                          If I am reading your post correctly, this guy was personally recomended to you. If I venture to read between the lines on your post, I am thinking this guy was recomended because hes the best. If I can speculate if he's that good , he's in demand big time, and probably (the old saying) busier than a cat covering poop on a marble floor, this time of year. His bedside manners so to speak might not be the best,( Showing up unannounced, calling you 1/2 way through to enter the garage and confirm about the seed) but perhaps hes literally to busy to be totally the best at customer service. But that doesn't mean he isn't the best at a the job. I can over look alot , if someones good enough at the job. It just may take some getting used to, his way.
                          That being said I feel the price charged was also fair. It sounds like he understands the ground and is a good steward of it for you. Sounds like he made very good suggestions as to the care of the land. Showed up did the job. If anything perhaps you got a real smoking deal. If it was me, I would pay the bill and make him a plate of cookies , and hope he comes back next year. That small of a piece of land turns alot of people away. Good luck and hope your pasture grows beautiful!
                          Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

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                          • #14
                            totally reasonable. drill seeding is expensive.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Google custom farming rates for your area and you should be able to get an idea of a per acre charge.
                              "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White

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                              • #16
                                To me, the price is irrelevent in this particular situation...

                                I'd be outraged the man showed up to do the work without the estimate. Without him giving an estimate, he's giving himself permission to charge whatever he feels like, since "oh whoops, work is already done!"

                                Granted, I would have stopped him when he called about the grass seed, and demanded an estimate before work continued.

                                I don't feel it's good business practice to behave that way. Asking about how to prep soil is not hiring someone, just like if I called the nursery to ask how to prep soil for roses I plan to buy from them is not asking them to come plant roses in my lawn, nor does it form a contract that forces me to purchase my roses from them.

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                                • #17
                                  Custom work done by our farm is billed at $125 per hour (and goes up as machinery is added) That time starts when the tractor pulls out of our driveway, and ends when it pulls in the driveway.

                                  A two acre plot is a nuisance pain in the ___ FAVOUR he is doing for you. He probably tried to squeeze it in between larger jobs, showing up because he had a few hours before/after another job. You got a fair/cheap price. I would pay the bill in cash, shake his hand, call him a good neighbour, and most of all say a very big Thank You!!

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by mattv View Post
                                    I had our pastures overseeded this spring.

                                    $225/acre -- that included the cost of seed and fertilizer.
                                    Interesting. I spent $650 on seed and fertilizer (but this was a new installation, not an overseed). So I spent $1225 on getting 2 acres of grass. Maybe someone out there can see why I possibly thought it would cost less to create a small pasture. I also live in the Midwest, fwiw (i.e. things are cheaper here generally).

                                    Custom drilling, per the IA university figures for 2013 ranges from $8 to $20/ acre. I had Googled that a long time ago, when I was trying to come up with a guess. Maybe that's why I was surprised. I couldn't find anything on raking. I also didn't know how much raking, since that question wasn't answered.

                                    You can see why I wanted a quote. I really had no idea what to expect, except what I was told by one person, who paid $25 an acre for her 20 acres...which is still less than I paid for two (but I don't know if she had it raked). I didn't know I was having mine raked for sure either...it was one of the things we were going to look at when we met and went over the field. Also, I wasn't the one requiring he look at the land first, that was his idea every time I asked for a price for the work. Even if someone had told me the charge was $125/hr I would have had a ballpark idea.


                                    Whatever. Live and learn. Now I know what it costs. Thanks again for answering.
                                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by PlatinumVt View Post
                                      To me, the price is irrelevent in this particular situation...

                                      I'd be outraged the man showed up to do the work without the estimate. Without him giving an estimate, he's giving himself permission to charge whatever he feels like, since "oh whoops, work is already done!"
                                      Exactly. It's not the price. It's the fact that he treated you with such disrespect through your entire interaction. Putting you off over and over, showing up and going through your garage?!

                                      You asked for an estimate, a perfectly reasonable request. Who hires someone without knowing the cost? Suppose you didn't have enough money to pay him?!

                                      If he's the best and you have to use him, can you have your husband deal with him next time? I have a hard time believing he would treat another man this way. Might be worth it to find out in any event, then you can proceed accordingly.

                                      I hope your pasture turns out extraordinary. That will take some of the sting out of it.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        TTP: I feel your pain! yeah, I agree it sounds like he should have had direct confirmation to go ahead before doing so, and should have given a price up front, but......outside of that point, I will concur that I've found the small acreage spots to be VERY difficult to get these guys interested in in the first place and / or VERY difficult to find the equipment/seeders able to do it! We've had a guy willing to come/do it all, but its only walking it or at the most using a dethatcher kinda method to 'rough it up' to take the seed.....While I appreciate his work (nice guy) I want it SEEDED...not laying on top of the scruff.....too much $$ going out the window (hahaha) without a lot of return..... sigh.
                                        ayrabz
                                        "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                                        --Jimmy Buffett

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