Country living: Two tractors are better than one

My first John Deere tractor

When we bought the homestead we negotiated a 1969 John Deere 1020 tractor in the deal. It’s big, weighs a lot, and has a powerful bucket. When we bought it I didn’t even know if it was diesel or gas and hadn’t even ran it, just trusted the sellers that it ran and the PTO (power take off) was live. After we moved in it took awhile for me to get to evaluating it. It fired up as advertised, and the hydraulics and PTO worked, but it needed some work. The hydraulics were leaking from below the levers and the muffler needed to be patched and better attached to the exhaust manifold. Rather than buy a new muffler I just patched it with some Permatex 80333 Muffler and Tailpipe Putty. For the hydraulics, I removed the parts that were leaking and took it to my local NAPA dealer. We live in farm country and they have an extensive selection of hydraulic parts. I got the pieces I needed (after 2 trips) and got it repaired. I changed the oil and filter, cleaned the air filter, and made sure the hydraulic oil was at the right level.

How to approach mowing 8 acres?

We have a ~7 acre pasture and about an acre of lawn. Initially I thought about buying a bush hog mower to tow behind the John Deere for the pasture and started shopping for one. They range in price but I quickly realized I could spend alot on attachments for the John Deere. In the meantime I bought a lawn tractor to mow the area around the house, and decided to think about a bush hog for the John Deere.

The lawn tractor
Lawn tractor for country living
The homestead workhorse

After doing some research I decided to buy a Husqvarna with a 48 inch deck, and found the prices on mowers direct were reasonable. I went with the 23 hp Briggs and Stratton engine, model YTH23V48. It has a cutting deck with 3 blades, and electric PTO engagement. The 48 inch has been the perfect size for us. It’s small enough to fit almost all the small areas in our yard, but still wide enough that mowing does not take too long. It’s been very durable, and after 6 years we still haven’t had to replace a belt. We use it for mowing and for towing a 15 gallon 12V powered sprayer for weeds.

Which tractor to use to mow the 7 acre pasture?

The first year we mowed the pasture with the 48” Husqvarna with the deck at the highest setting. We did it at the end of the season when the pasture was yellow and dried out to reduce wear and tear on the tractor. It works fine but we don’t mow it all in one day. I was still thinking about getting a 72” bush hog for the John Deere, but that would mean putting alot more hours on it. I delayed buying the bush hog and again cut the pasture at the end of the year with the lawn tractor. Having had some time to think about it, I decided to not buy an attachment for the Deere. It’s an old tractor (1969) and if I start putting a lot of hours on it, I should expect some expensive maintenance costs. I can do most of the maintenance on the lawn tractor myself. If it wears out after 10 years, replacing it every ten years would probably be cheaper than maintaining the John Deere. To date I have done all the maintenance for both tractors myself.

Maintenance to date (2011-2017)
John Deere 1020 Husqvarna YTH23V48
Repair hydraulics Change oil and filter
Replace fuel filter Change air filter and fuel filter
Change oil and filter Replace spark plugs
Replace fuel pump Adjust valves
Replace battery Replace battery
Replace seat Replace valve cover gasket
Repair carburetor leak Replace wheel/fix flats
  Sharpen mower blades
What we use the John Deere for
Large tractor for big jobs like spreading manure. Country living
Spreading manure in the pasture

The major use for the Deere is dealing with horse manure. About three times a year we run it for 2h to spread manure from the corral on the pasture. We also use it for the odd large job like; pulling out a dead shrub, pulling a dead branch out of a tree, moving some earth around for landscaping. So I estimate we only use it about 8h a year. But we put about 40h per year on the lawn tractor. To me this the economical way to do it, put the hours on the tractor with the low maintenance costs, and reserve the big tractor for the big jobs.

Country living. Horse property needs a tractor
Gotta keep the corral clean for this guy
Why even mow the pasture?

Mowing the pasture once a year in the Fall knocks back the weeds, and allows me to see for spot weed spraying. It also allows the owls and hawks to come in and knock down the rodents.

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