Articles, Blog

Farm Without a Tractor?

I don’t plan on getting a tractor
anytime soon and here’s four reasons why oh boy
would you look at that morning cats it was so cold last night I decided to let
the cat stay inside don’t you guys are raring to go outside though right now
I’m hoping to get out to the Ducks just as they’re laying their eggs because
it’s so cold this morning I’m afraid they’re gonna crack I don’t get out
there at just the right time it’s like this delicate balance I’ve gotta strike
between waiting that for them to actually lay the eggs and picking them
up right after they lay they sit there long enough for them to breathe alright
let’s hope you work hydron come on big water let’s go big water
come on water I’m not even going to bother to try to
fill up their pool today because it’s so cold that it’ll probably freeze like
after 20 minutes and so that to me just as important so there is something today
that I want to talk to you guys about related to our farms and our plans for
the farm but getting a lot of the emails and comments on it so figure to be good
to address it it’s one egg right here perfect timing not frozen Oh morning this one is good this is
freshly laid good not such good timing on this one no actually looked pretty happy now they
got some fresh hay fresh water yeah they’re doing pretty good thank God for these are rubber buckets I
don’t know how I would keep these ducks if I didn’t have these rubber things
here so actually before I talk to you guys about the main thing I wanted to
talk about I did want to talk about our scarecrow a little while back I actually
had a contest to help name our scarecrow and I’m pleased to announce that Rosana
is the winner of that contest she has come up with Plain Jane the
Scarecrow and I kind of like it it sort of suits her so congratulations Rosanna I’m gonna
send you an official gold shot farm t-shirt it’s gonna be one of those new
release the quacking editions you guys want to buy one yourself you can in
check check out the link that I have down below but uh congratulations
Rosanna and everybody please meet Plain Jane whoo all right it’s cold and I
gotta make this quick so I’ve been receiving a lot of comments and
questions from you guys about tractors stuff like when are you gonna get a
tractor you should really get a tractor your life would be way easier if you got
a tractor dude why no tractor I always really appreciate when I get comments
and suggestions and feedback from you guys in the comments in fact I find that
some of the best innovations and improvements i’ve made with stuff i’m
doing here on the farm has been a result of comments from you so please don’t
stop giving comments because i’m pushing back on this comment so just know that
but i will say i don’t plan on getting a tractor anytime soon and here’s four
reasons why so reason number one is all about the fact that our farm is not
profitable right now and a tractor is really really expensive they could cost
you for a new one that we’d probably need around here like 40 or 50 thousand
dollars gonna use one for maybe 20 or 30 or I can get a junker for like 10 and
for starters that is not just money I have kicking around in my back pocket
ready to go that would be a significant financial strain and even if I could
cobble together the money necessary to make a down payment that would put an
ongoing financial strain on me for sure and when you look at the profit and loss
statement of our farm right now we ain’t making much money in fact we’re losing
just a little bit of money and and that’s okay when you’re a farm startup
that’s part of the process you got to make investments an infrastructure you
got to give yourself some time to get established that’s part of having a good
business plan but if I think about our ongoing projections and if I think about
where I hope to be this time next year from a financial perspective with the
farm and I think about where I want to be three years from now with the farm a
tractor would completely blow up our P&L statement it would put us in a position
where it would be exceptionally difficult to be financially sustainable
and as you guys know my life’s passion is to try to build a sustainable farm in
Vermont one that is sustainable from an environmental perspective one that’s
sustainable from an emotional perspective and one that’s sustainable
from an economic perspective and my concern is that on our current
trajectory and based on our current plans a tractor and the purchase of the
infrastructure of a tractor wouldn’t be financially sustainable and in fact it
would force us into debt and and we’re really trying to establish our farm
without any debt I’m in the process of rereading The Grapes of Wrath right now
and I read it in high school haven’t touched it in about 20 years and so to
pick that book up and start going through it again it’s kind of amazing to
see some of the the things that I completely overlooked and didn’t really
think about as a high schooler but now that I’m here trying to start my own
farm there’s some exceptionally salient points about the impact that tractors
have on the land as well as the impact that debt has on farmers and I’m really
trying to take those lessons to heart as I start up our farm here in Vermont
reason number two I think that to really have a tractor you need to know how to
manage the tractor and use the tractor and it’s a whole skill set unto itself
and you also need to have a certain level of mechanical prowess I could
probably buy some sort of ancient machine that would require a fair amount
of mechanical work and right now I just lack the skills like you know I have
never been able to change the oil on my car I never was all that adept with
machinery and working on stuff I’m learning and I’m trying to do things
like for example with our ATV I’m trying to do some of the maintenance myself and
it’s going okay and I’m growing but I think that if I were to try to take on
the maintenance of a tractor I would be in way over my head I would spend way
too much time trying to figure out what’s going on and trying to fix what’s
going on or spending way too much money trying to fix what’s going on and it
would become this an amazing emotional drag for me and I don’t think I’d be all
that successful another thing I’m really striving to do here as I start up the
farm is do it in a way where I’m not burning myself out and I’m not trying to
take on too much at once that’s why we have a very long tail multi-year plan
and adding maintenance of trackers to understanding how to take care of an
orchard or understanding how to raise some ducks or trying to think about some
of the other things that were exploring right now that’s that’s a that’s a tough
row to hoe you know reason number three I did this exercise a little while back
where I sat down and I wrote down a list of all the tasks that I had to do that
we’re gonna require a tractor I mean specifically the things I would need to
do as well as the number of days each year I would need to do them and I’m
talking about the things that you really need to do I’m not talking about the
things where it would be fun to use a tractor or to make my life significantly
easier to use a tractor I’m saying like stuff that you could not do if you did
not have a tractor and that exercise was very helpful because what it got down to
is I realized it there’s probably only about seven or eight days a year that I
need to have a tractor here to do work now this situation might not apply to
everybody for us here in northern Vermont in a really rural agricultural
community I could go within a two mile radius of our farm and find six
different farmers who have large tractors who would either be willing to
loan me their tractor or rent me their tractor or be hired out to come here and
do work on my farm with their tractor and when I looked at
cost of doing something like that and paying people fairly to do that and help
me out versus the annual ownership cost of a tractor it just like doesn’t even
compare it’s a totally different spectrum I would much rather get engaged
with other farmers in my community and leverage their infrastructure and pay
them fairly than have to pay for tractor maintenance pay for the you know cost of
alone on a tractor and and also to think about the depreciation of owning a
tractor like asset on the balance sheet of a business you know just to give you
an example of how this plays out one of the things I’m in the process of doing
right now is I am researching the feasibility of trying to grow I don’t
know about 20 acres of hemp on our upper pasture now that hemp is entirely legal
and the state of Vermont has some great opportunities to support hemp growers
and our soil is an ideal situation for growing hemp so right now I’m exploring
the idea of doing that but the way that I would do it would be you know not
investing in all the infrastructure not buying a lot of stuff as startup costs
what I’m trying to do is actually find a local farmer here who I could partner
with where we would leverage their infrastructure and I provide some
capital for the seed and other things as well as doing the legwork to figure out
what needs to be done and so they have you know large equipment that they use
for growing cow corn for their dairy operations just sort of sitting there a
lot of the time if there’s a way that we could partner together and leverage that
to grow hemp that would just be a tremendous win-win opportunity for
everybody involved and so you know I’m exploring something like that and as I’m
thinking about the business case for an idea like that right now
if I were to add the acquisition cost of a tractor on top of it all it would
totally blow up the business case it wouldn’t make any sense to do so so
looking for that partnership to leverage tractors that are already in the area is
a big part of my strategy and reason number four comes down to this
I don’t think owning a tractor is gonna make me any happier than I am today
there have been times in my life where I would look at the purchase of something
whether it was like oh I need to buy this house I want to buy this camera or
I want to buy this jacket or I should buy this type of car
and I would look at the purchases of these things as a way to improve my life
and make me happy and what I’ve started to come to terms with over the last year
or so is buying that stuff is never gonna make you happy buying that new
thing that would be fun and cool to play with it would be an interesting toy
it’s never gonna fix that thing inside of you that that’s sort of that craving
and longing for happiness and I would worry that I might be buying a tractor
just because I think it would be something that would be fun to have and
it would be something that would make me happy
but when you buy stuff to satisfy that urge it only makes you want to buy more
stuff and it’s this cycle that never ends of desire purchase desire purchase
desire purchase desire purchase and part of what I’m trying to do with my life
right now is break out of that cycle and I feel like maybe denying myself a
tractor might actually help do that a bit and it might make me appreciate what
I’ve got on hand it might make me more resourceful and creative and how I do
things that might require the tractor and it’s gonna make me grow a bit and if
a couple years down the road an opportunity to get a tractor at a really
good price that makes sense for the farm business pops up and falls on my lap I’m
definitely gonna take it it’s not like I’m gonna kick it away it’s not like I
know that if I’m gonna grow this farm and scale it up that I probably won’t
eventually need a tractor but it’s just that I’m not gonna go out there to
satisfy that itch of buying that tractor and you know I’d push anybody out there
who’s watching this video even if you don’t have a farm or no interest in
farming to really think about that when there’s something that you want out
there something people are saying that you should get really challenged the
reason why and push yourself to say you know am I doing this because I think it
makes me happy and if that’s the case you might really want to step back and
think about it because the thing rarely ever makes you happy and that is my rant
on why I’m not getting tractors go watch some other video hit the subscribe
button go about your day and I’ll see you guys here next time on Gold Shaw
Farm where we’re trying to build a farm in Vermont


  1. George Lockett Author

    You can do a lot with an ATV, you may be best investing in attachments for your ATV? Why not do a video on ATV attachments as I am not fully aware of all the possibilities?

  2. Rick Mitchell Author

    All good points. You've obviously thought this through.
    I'd add one more – the decisions made for your farm are yours, not the YT viewers.
    Also, the eyelashes & brows, very Martin Short as Jack Frost. 😎

  3. Tactical Priority Author

    Totally respect what you guys are doing, but I think you will find that having the right machine for the job can never be overestimated. Can you do stuff with your ATV? Sort of but it will be very limited. It simply does not have the weight or power you need to farm and maintain your fields. To be self-sustaining in the Northern Kingdom it is critical to be very efficient. That's where the right equipment comes in. It is also to realize that burn out is way higher when you have to relay on a lot of manual labor. Anyway, if you ever get a tractor, I can show you how to maintain it for free! Peace.

  4. Nicholas Lamphere Author

    Sheesh I need your mindset for my purchases. This actually helped me realize that my thought process is currently in that cycle. I need to rethink some things. BTW kudos to you for staying outside for so long to film this video. Depending on the number of takes I can't imagine how long you were outside for. Be safe this weekend. Not sure how much snow you're expected to get on the east side but here on the west side it is quite significant 10"-12" and with temps getting no higher than 0 it is going to be rough.

  5. Michael Sallee Author

    a tractor is an aid. I remember tales of 1 of my great grandfathers. he wouldn't allow even a mule into a garden he double dug. at 92 he double dug 9 gardens; at 93 he did slow down just 2. a tractor is just a tool, if not needed an excess expense.

  6. Jesse Heaton Author

    Completely understand and agree with your points on not buying a tractor. The only thing I'd recommend, if you're ever ready to buy one, is looking at legacy tractors from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Learning maintenance skills on these older tractors is awesome, because most of them are so simple to work on. You might be able to find one in your price range with good horsepower too. Facebook groups exist where people are looking to sell old tractors for $1000 or less. I bought a Farmall Super M in remarkable condition for $1000 cash and it has been a worthy investment from day one.

  7. Homestead In The Highlands Author

    All good reasons. We need a mini digger but not for enough days a year to warrant buying one, so we are making a list of all the jobs we need it for, work out how many days we need it for and will hire one.

    I will say though, spending time on our 1954 £1000 tractor does make you happy 🤣

  8. Sunshine Farm Author

    Great video Morgan, there are definitely times where I have fallen into that trap of thinking that a certain purchase, which may prove helpful in a lot of scenarios on the farm, will bring me more satisfaction. We’re with you over here in forging ahead without a tractor or any near future plans to purchase one. I appreciate you getting me thinking this morning! -Chris

  9. Joan Smith Author

    I’m glad you let the cats in on such a cold night. Yea, yea, yea, on the tractor. But, don’t you have really big snow storm coming? What is your business plan for snow? I imagine the exercise plan for walking in hip deep snow will get old in a hurry. At least it would for me.

  10. Bettina H. Author

    So glad to see the cats inside,especially since it was so cold. I must have missed that contest, lol. Plain Jane is a great name though! I think you are very wise to defer the idea of a tractor. They are a big expense and if you can not maintain them yourself, then that is an added expense. When the time is right,I am sure you will be able to find a tractor that suits your needs,by waiting you will have a better idea what those needs are.

  11. Green Dream Project Author

    That's definitely some good reasons. If you're not ready for one don't get one. I don't think we would need one. There are times it would be useful for sure, but I don't think we would use it regularly enough to need it. A backhoe maybe more important here because we're going to be doing a lot of digging.
    Good discussion.👍

  12. Hey It's a Good Life Author

    I enjoy how you outline what does sustainable mean for you-especially the emotional aspect. I can get excited about things and do things in a way where I sprint and then I'm tired for the marathon… "slow and intentional" are my words for the year in an effort to change this. And I can't believe you mention grapes of wrath! I was thinking about re-reading it in light of my new knowledge and passion for agriculture… might have to find it and dust it off! haha. great video! – Natalie

  13. B Havens Author

    Hemp is such a useful plant, just as a paper alone its such a big conservation plant. oil, textiles, just on and on! Great plan!
    You can also rent a tractor when needed, also if you need a different attachment, what a pain! often it seems like a backhoe is more useful. which again you can rent. Great video! keep em coming!

  14. Theresa Threadgill Author

    Fun watching this morning. Sorry you can't get a tractor yet. Yes it would make a few things easier. But they are very expensive and right now it would be very difficult to make payments. I don't know your situation money wise but going debt free is very good way to go. Good vlog ducks are fun take care be safe!

  15. Rosanna Author

    Good advice, Lot's of people run out to fast and get in debt and then it's that much longer to see a profit. I have had a similar talk with one of my daughters you can't shop to make you happy once you buy that one thing it's something else next week when your unhappy again. YIKES!! –14 your eye lashes are frozen.. I love how you do your videos I enjoy watching.. Your cat helpers are cute.. Thank you for mention on Plain Jane.. 🙂

  16. Lumnah Acres Author

    It must be alot colder over your way! I havent had any eyebrow icicles yet this year! They look good on you. Hope you guys stay safe during this upcoming storm!

  17. Ron Strobel Author

    I would very much like to take your excellent articulation of why to not buy-buy-buy, bottle it up, and liberally sprinkle it on as many folks as I could. I'm thinkin' I would start with every school in the country and work up from there! ~ Kir in Tennessee

  18. Scott Hebert Author

    Aw man I'm so jealous I didn't think of this video idea haha but I am not jealous of the icicles hanging off your eyelashes. Nice vid Morgan!
    Also grapes of wrath is one of my favs. I felt the same way after reading the part about the tractors impact on the land it people becoming more detached

  19. Orchardist’s Daughter Author

    You had me laughing pretty hard… when you started doing what I am going to call “the rubber ducky dish dance”! 😂😂 Great moves! 😂😂
    If you need a tractor, may I suggest that you rent one. You don’t need to do the maintenance and upkeep!

  20. Haywire Homestead Author

    Congratulations Rosanna! We got lucky with our tractor and bought it for a great price from my folks when they were upgrading. They do require a bit of maintenance. I applaud how you have paced yourself on plans with your farm. We did too much too fast and we are having to scramble to catch up.

  21. Alfred Dedam Author

    Frankly, I don't understand why you don't have a going-to-the-mailbox tractor, a back-pasture tractor, and naturally, a Tractor Parade tractor.

  22. Tap o' Noth Farm Author

    Hello from Scotland. Great points. We have never needed a tractor, nor do we have the right type of land or access to move one around. We do have a BCS two wheel tractor though and I wish I had bought it 7 years ago when we first got our farm. Not that it was cheap to buy, but eats a small amount of fuel and we have a trailer which turns the BCS into a four wheeler and helps us a whole bunch with hauling wood, soil etc. But you are so right in waiting until your 'farm' is in business mode.

  23. Maine Girl Genetics Author

    I cook the frozen eggs and feed them back to the chickens, Happy Farming. Hows the compost? Mine is still steaming hot even though it's 10F during the day. I don't have the money for a tractor yet either, old vehicles work well.

  24. Neeraj Sethi Author

    Marie Kondo meets Farmer Morgan. Great way to look at resource availability and overall cost. I really look at both you and Al's set up to get ideas on my future set up. Thanks! and go inside, your eyeballs are going to freeze.

  25. Jim's In Town Gardening Author

    Great way of thinking. In the last 14- 15 years, my wife and I have been paying off all debts. Once this house is paid for we will not have any loans. We have not used credit cards for about 10 years. It can be done, but you have to budget and stick to that budget.
    Good video and hopefully many caught on.

  26. Dars HayFarmer14 Author

    I love duck eggs soo yummy!! Such a good video!! We started into farming 6 years ago for us it included hay. So for us a tractor is very important. I won't go into detail but basically my husband is a college graduate mechanic it was his contribution to helping the family as a 5th generation farmer. We recently purchased 2 tractors to rebuild example one is Model A John Deere.. we are talking don't run but soo cheap didn't create debt. Plus over time we can get them going again as we can without creating debt. We have the ability to rebuild them so it works for us. For the past 6 years we have leased and borrowed neighbors and family equipment. The best part is we know for us newer isn't better we can't repair all the electrical stuff without $$$ so we will stay antique. The best equipment and most reliable has been the older equipment. We can maintain the only downside is getting creative and finding parts once in a while.

  27. Yb Family Farm Author

    You don’t need a tractor to plant that upper field. Just host a couple music festivals on a rainy weekend and things will get planted for you!

  28. Holly Croft Author

    Ugh, Morgan! Now I feel like I should give Steinbeck another chance. I tried again with Billy Budd a few years ago, and that was a disaster. Then again, I reread The Scarlet Letter in college after hating it in high school and loved it. Maybe this experience will be more Hawthorne, less Melville…

  29. Chick-a-Woof Ranch Author

    You are spot on with every point! We've been "homesteading" without a tractor for 8 years now and we could have used a tractor a few times but it just didn't make sense. I got a comment on our last video asking why i didn't use my tractor to pull a fence post out of the ground. I think the guy missed the whole point to the video. I built a tool (for free) that would do the same thing a tractor would do… for free! Besides there was no way to get a tractor into that area anyway. You may "want" a tractor but do you "need" a tractor?

  30. Natacha Yearwood Author

    I think it's a great plan. One thing that I'm learning in planning our land is, we cant try to do what other people are doing or we will go bankrupt before we even start! Always do what is right for you and your farm. Sometimes bartering or paying for services temporarily is better for you and your neighbors than going into debt for something that will gather dust most days. Great video!

  31. Dennis Mott Author

    😂🤣 I do not like to shovel SNOW so a tractor would be a must; this is another reason why I came back to Texas from New England.

  32. Dyana Mullican Author

    Do not get into debt. You want to be independent. We do not even have a credit card. buy what you can and do without if you cannot buy it.

  33. Marvin Kitfox Author

    -14? in freezenheit, i mean Fahrenheit? Brr!

    And one can visibly see the frost on you face grow as you are talking to us. wow.

  34. Brandon Olson Author

    At times, your eyelashes looked as though they were about to break off in the severity of the cold weather! :O Love your videos! Please keep them coming! 😀

  35. Everett Arthur Author

    Buy a Massie Ferguson 35. Any years from 1950's through the 90s. Cost between 3k to 7k. You dont need a 50k tractor to farm. Maintenance cost… LOL I owned a 1957 model for 20 years. Spark plugs, wires, and oil changes are about the only cost involved. Tractors let you do more work faster. YOu dont realize right now what you "Can" use one for that you "could" do faster.

  36. Joe Malone Author

    Hi I’m new here. Washington farm guy. Question? Why not put the ducks in the barn where it may be less windy, maybe warmer, water and food convenient, and it’s a barn.

  37. Farmall Lover Author

    Nice video. These are all interesting points. As long as you have anything figured out with your farm you don’t really need one. If your going to be growing your farm at some point you might need one. If you come to the point where you need one I recommend a farmall m. They go from 1000 to 5000. It depends on what you get. I just found your channel and I hope to see the farm grow and become very successful for you and your family.

  38. kbrowne10 Author

    I have a small tractor. I bought a new Yanmar with a loader. It costed way less than the hernia operation i had in 2013. Just sayin'.

  39. Robert Orr Author

    Well thought out rationale…….. Unless someone is practically giving away a tractor…….. At some point you will need a tractor…….At some point you will need a tractor….. Good luck finding that decision point!

  40. Jill Madigan Author

    Thank you for framing your wants as an'itch'. That puts some, perhaps many, or even most, of my acquisition desires into perspective. Great observation!


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