The Snowball and the Hill

Discussion in 'Agricultural Matters' started by DrWazzock, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. DrWazzock

    DrWazzock Member

    The more machinery we acquire, the more time is spent moving it around and getting it out. Then we need more sheds and there are more roofs to keep in order.

    We have no more land than we had in the 1960's yet we seem to have much more machinery and double the shed space, for what? Less profit per acre. Certainly yields of grain are double what they used to be but I do wonder if we are making a mistake by trying to do too much ourselves, (we even have our own limespreader) and are burdening ourselves with a huge overhead of underused machinery and storage.

    Maybe time for a rethink and a clear out. We have a small baler and flat eight system, round baler etc but this year it was real food for thought that the neighbour did all our round baling in exchange for taking half our straw and we are both happy.

    We have a plough based system, a min till system and a direct drill. Admittedly they aren't state of the art, but just getting the machine out that you need for the particular conditions can take half a day of moving stuff around as I won't leave anything outside.

    Tired and exasperated with it. Taking the Rams off the direct drill this pm to reseal them. It never ends.

    Not sure what I'm driving at but I think I need to rationalise.
  2. Jesus thought you'd been hacked by Walter p with that title
    caveman, theboytheboy, BDBed and 43 others like this.
  3. Hindsight

    Hindsight Member

    When you have finished come clear out my knicker draw. By the way I thought it was the preserve of WaltP to start cryptic headed titles? Do you intend usurping that position? Just driven back inside from garden by a shower - now that ishas been unusual for a while.
  4. Bob c

    Bob c Member

    must be a wet day , much to think about
    Walterp likes this.
  5. PSQ

    PSQ Member

    Scottish Borders
    It makes sense to get rid of anything not being or unlikely to be used, but as long as every machine is used and useful, then I don't see a problem. I'd be more inclined to raise an eyebrow if you were 'chasing fashion' and replacing your machinery every three years though...
    two-cylinder, Grassman and glasshouse like this.
  6. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    you can't get rid of anything you may need it
  7. Walterp

    Walterp Member

    Answer: the OP has a properly-equipped farm, but is under-staffed - he doesn't need less machinery, he needs more help to operate it.

    For the OP, as for many of us, it is the penultimate stage in the long game of Last Man Standing that UK farms have been playing since 1916.

    The French, with their emphasis on labour units/farm, and co-operative farms and businesses, have grasped this truth long ago.

    I will leave you all to ponder just where, in the last 102 years, the UK grasped the wrong end of the stick. The various reports into the matter (Selborne 1919, Scott 1942, Food From Our Own Resources 1973, etc) all understood this relationship.

    But our culture is no longer able to accommodate what is important, only what is profitable. They are not, always, the same thing. Cf. DEFRA's 'Health And Harmony' 2018 for insights into how the UK has lost this insight completely. Then read WAG's consultation, to see how far down this foolish road DEFRA has already travelled.

    But cheer up - in the end, we all get what we deserve: pretty soon, the UK will be relying more on CAP-subsidised food imported from France because it will be cheaper than non-subsidised domestic produce.

    "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad"

    (Ancient Greek proverb)

    [Love the title, by the way..]
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  8. "That'll come in handy....."
  9. Selectamatic

    Selectamatic Member

    North Wales
    Your like me, I think, a shed full of well kept old kit, nothing works mega hours for a living, but everything does something.

    Driving or using the kit is a very small proportion of owning one, moving it, maintaining, modifying, repairing, servicing all take time, it never ends, there is always something that needs looking at, even if it's just a grease gun pointing at it.

    I have loads of old tractors, and love it, but sometimes wonder if I were a real businessman, they would all be traded in for a fresh one, 100hp, 4WD, that would fit me fine.

    But why? The insurance on them is hardly crippling, the diesel they use is next to nowt, they are fairly relaiable, truth be told, possibly because they do little hours each, than banging hundreds of hours on a single one. Some are going up in value, few are loosing value. Each has a job that it is better at than it's mate. So why just have one?

    The kit I have is much the same, old, but by no means worn out. The standard of work produced by it is as good as if you filled your yard with new kit.

    There is an argument against my way of doing stuff, but there are to many who argue, for the sake of arguing, that if it's not 50kph, massive wheels, twin beacons, Air Con, all that stuff, its scrap. That argument is ballcocks IMO.
    Bill, Dim Reaper, Moorlands and 13 others like this.
  10. David.

    David. Member

    J11 M40
    Although neighbour did straw baling this year, and it suited us both well, would not want to lose flexibility to do our own, you know there are only 5 good hay making days in a normal year.
    Like us you may be trying to do to much yourself, but having contractors comes with a substantial bill, which has to come out of cash flow. Had osr DD last year contract, but I reckon the crop profit went out the gate the day I paid the 25 quid acre bill.
    Not saying contractor was dear, and I was grateful to him, but if flea beetle had crop I was still paying bill.
    With bygone kit like ours, you do the work for diesel price and repairs as far as cash flow is concerned.
    Flat 10, neilo, Smith31 and 3 others like this.
  11. It does once in 20 years :D
    carbonfibre farmer likes this.
  12. Once in 40yrs here......
  13. simmy_bull

    simmy_bull Member

    North Yorkshire
    Build a new monopitch shed very long but not very deep. Build it with 20 ft bays and put two machines side by side per bay with nothing in front of them and from then on getting stuff out will be a pleasure as you won’t have to move anything else to get at it!!

    Consider carefully what you might be able to get a contractor to do cost effectively. I’d suggest line spreading been a prime example. Quoted per tonne spread surely you’d hardly notice the “hire element” of the machinery and it wouldnt cost you much more than doing it yourselves by the time you’ve had it tipped up and spent a day or days spreading it?
  14. DrWazzock

    DrWazzock Member

    If I sell the kit it will be mostly go for just over scrap price and I won't be able to replace it.

    If I had staff, I'm not sure it would be up to increased usage for say contracting, nor would modern staff be that keen to drive it. We used to have 4 people doing the harvesting and Autumn cultivations now myself and my brother part time as he is busy with the sheep.

    It does feel like the end of an era. We will carry on till we retire, cash flow permitting, then that will be it.

    It doesn't feel progressive any more. It feels like living in a time warp, a hang over from the 1970's with a legacy of old kit and buildings. I am not really complaining so much as making an observation. Others have expanded their acreage through FBT's and have borrowed immensely to modernise. They are busier than I am. I tried a bit of that a few years back but the rents and the wear and tear on the machinery didn't really warrant the meagre returns so I drew my horns in and haven't regretted it financially.

    Hitch the plough on and round we go through another year.

    I think I need a massive tidy up. Managed to saw up a wood pile before harvest so now have a couple of trailers of logs ..... in the shed.

    Yes we do miss the folk that used to be around the place spreading the workload, doing all the odd jobs. The roof valley needs replacing.

    The grain store is 250 years old though was reroofed sixty years ago. That roof is about knackered. I built a new modern shed (on a shoestring) to takeover as the grain store but it's full,of machinery. There isn't really the money there to knock down the old granary and put a single span over it. It's all wooden bins, floors, conveyor tunnels and elevators on their last legs, though is still useable. Just passes quality assurance but probably not for much longer. Takes me a week to clean it all out.

    Yes it needs a serious rethink. We still grow all our own animal feed and do our own mill and mixing. We have a full set of potato growing and grading kit. Still grow sugar beet with all the kit that entails. Grow cereals, keep cattle and sheep. Some mornings it's difficult to know which way to turn first. We even had one milk cow until not so long ago.

    Dad was asleep in his chair all day every Sunday when we were kids. No wonder.

    Yet I dare say a large arable could take this on and not really notice it, so it's self inflicted really isn't it?

    But the for time being it seems worth preserving. As it's still on balance more pleasure than pain....just.
  15. DrWazzock

    DrWazzock Member

    Fully agree about the monopitch open sided "waggon sheds" as we call them. A far more efficient machinery store than a 60 X 80 shed.

    Careful thought and planning saves years of aggravation.
    unlacedgecko and Walterp like this.
  16. having more staff maybe not the answer. they wont like faffing with moving kit around yards to get to a baler at the back of the shed. they'll want to turn up 7.30 Monday and bale with the most modern cleanest thing there is. the OP (like me) will still be the only person who knows how to extract that certain piece of equipment safely from the shed and accordingly will have spent all Sunday PM taking rams off to re-seal or fetching out the baler so new staff don't kill themselves on Monday. yes I agree, it never ends.
    neilo and DrWazzock like this.
  17. 7610 super q

    7610 super q Member

    I've gone from having all the kit to do everything, to using contractors for a lot of the work.
    I'm now completely uncompetitive when it comes to selling my produce.
    I think I need to buy my own gear again, and conveniently ignore what it costs, to remain in the game.:whistle:

    A drum mower used to be £1200, Haybob £1500, round baler £6k

    Now, a mower costs £8k ?, tedder £5k, rake £10k ?, baler £20k ?

    Something wrong somewhere.
    Bill the Bass likes this.
  18. 7610 super q

    7610 super q Member

    Oh, and my machinery shed is 300' long, and only 25' wide.
    I'm something of an expert at moving stuff about......:LOL:
  19. DrWazzock

    DrWazzock Member

    I think the potato kit can go.

    Maybe the small bale kit as well. Then when people ring up wanting a bit doing we can say we haven't got it, rather than getting sucked in to charity work. Small bales can be handy though and most more profitable to sell than rounds. Kit takes up a lot of room, especially flat eight sledge and lister elevator.

    We had toyed with the idea of a bale bandit to go all mechanised handling but £68000 just can't be justified. This illustrates the problem. The existing kit is tiresome and outdated but the step up to the next level is prohibitively expensive so we are stuck at this level, or we just get out.
  20. simmy_bull

    simmy_bull Member

    North Yorkshire
    Can’t you open up the long side?
    Bill the Bass and spin cycle like this.

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