Relocating to a rural area can be an exciting time but can also pose new challenges for the urban or suburban log home owner. Depending on your location and your activities, it may make sense to invest in a tractor to get the job done in your new home. We spoke with John Deere’s Dan Paschke, Product Marketing Manager/Utility Tractors, for some ideas on where to start.

Research it on the Web. When researching new tractors there are many places to begin. One good starting point might be an online tractor forum, such as tractorbynet.com, which bills itself as “The World’s Largest Tractor Community.” On the site you can locate forums for visitors based on brand of tractor or specific questions, as well as reviews of specific models. Paschke says many tractor enthusiasts use the site for owner feedback and operation questions. John Deere’s site has a “Small Tractor Analyzer Tool”  that can help to narrow down the type of tractor that would suit your needs. The tool walks you through primary and secondary tasks, how high material might need to be lifted (e.g. dump truck vs. pick-up truck), and how fast you want to accomplish the task based on the acreage involved.

Size it right.
Tractors can handle a lot of work, but making sure your tractor is the right size for the type and speed of work you wish to accomplish is the first step. Paschke says it comes down to size. “All utility tractors essentially can do the same type of work,” he said, “but the size will determine how quickly you can accomplish the task at hand.”  The question you need to ask is how fast you need to do a task. “The bigger, wider tractors can manage bigger wider accessories, such as mowers or graders,” he said. The wider the mower, the more quickly the field will be finished.

Match the tractor to your home and site. Make sure that the tractor you are considering will be able to fit into your utility shed, garage or barn. If your property has tote roads that you’ll be traversing through the woods, don’t buy a tractor that requires you to widen your trail networks. You’re buying it to finish work, not create more work. Also, assess your property’s topography. Is it comprised of flat fields or steep grades? A wider wheel base may work better in steep terrain.

Talk to your neighbors, friends and your local dealers. If you’ve never owned a tractor, you’ll want to amass as much information from people with tractor experience as possible, said Paschke. Talk to your neighbor down the road about his tractor, and find out what they recommend for your needs. The relationship might also come in handy when you need to get pulled out of a mucky spot or need a quick jumpstart. Your tractor and farm equipment dealer will also be a huge source of information for you. “These dealers have been working with farmers for years and understand their products and uses best,” Paschke said. The added benefit of visiting a dealer or two is the opportunity to sit on several models and test-drive them. You may find that what looks good on paper may be too small or too large for your comfort level.

Customize to fit your needs. Once you’ve narrowed down the size of your tractor you can customize it with as many bells and whistles as you like. Today’s tractors are available in models as simple or as luxurious as most autos, but unless you’re a serious farmer logging long hours in your fields you may want to keep it simple. Utility tractors have accessories for just about any job you can imagine. John Deere has made the three point hitching process fast and easy with its iMatch system of Quick Hitch or Auto-Hitch coupling units. These make it easy and safe to swap out any number of accessories for different jobs. Accessories for utility tractors can tackle just about any job you can imagine: mowing, grading, snow removal, garden tilling, earth work, fence work, loading and stone work. One nifty accessory that might come in handy of you experience frequent, prolonged power outages is a Power Take Off (PTO) generator (right), which essentially hooks up to the tractor and provides up to 10,000 watts of power.

Pascke added that it’s so easy now to complete many different tasks with a single utility tractor. And the new models are designed for safety, power and comfort to get the job done.