Farm trucks come in many different types and sizes. They range from one ton duelly's to 4 cylinder Toyotas. Also carrying the "farm truck" badge you will find many different types of SUV's including the indestructible Jeep. But regardless of what you use as a "farm truck" the purpose of the vehicle remains the same.
Most vehicles don't fall into the "farm truck" category until they are at least 10 years old. There are exceptions, but one would question their authenticity. Part of being a farm truck is acquiring years of character and continually proving to be useful in every situation. The title "Farm Truck" is earned over many years of service. Many times a farm truck will even earn a name as well as a reputation around the farm. The farm truck is where every kid learned to drive as soon as they could reach the pedals. The farm truck is as endearing as it is necessary and we all have one that we love.
At Eden Shale we have a "farm truck" that we love. Her name is Brownie. She is a 1996 Ford F-150. She is equipped with the 300 straight six engine paired to a 5 speed manual transmission. Brownie has limited slip differentials in front and back, so when locked in 4-wheel drive all four wheels are pulling to get you through what ever obstacle lies in front of you. In the five years at Eden Shale she has never gotten stuck.
Greg bought Brownie brand new back in 1996. It served as his primary vehicle for several years pulling a horse trailer and taking care of the general farm chores. Over the course of her life she has acquired 223,000+ hard earned miles. Like most farm trucks, she runs like a top, but don't mistaken that to mean she is fast. Brownie never leaves the farm unless she has to make the 5 mile trip to Southern States to fill up both of her fuel tanks. Comfortable cruising speed is about 45 miles per hour. Anything over that starts to get a little nerve racking as things begin to shimmy and shake. And even if you were brave enough to put her in 5th gear, there would be so much dust and dirt swirling around you probably couldn't see to keep her on the road!
The interior of Brownie is the same color as the outside, dirt brown. It is the perfect color scheme for a farm truck. Dust and dirt blend right in, scratches hardly even show up, and the rust just blends right in. Greg always says there is one rule when riding in Brownie, don't get it dirty...
There are several common items that you will find inside every farm truck. The first thing is a random assortment of tools. There aren't many common chores that a farm truck is always prepared for. Need to rehang a gate-got it. Need to fix some fence-no problem. Clutch go out on the tractor and it needs to be split open and fixed right in the field- yep it can do that too!
A good farm truck also serves as a mobile office. This is a place where many of the farms decisions are made and it will always have at least 6 months of receipts on hand at any given time; pending you didn't use 5th gear as mentioned above...
With so many tools and farm records on board it is important to have a security system to protect it all. Seeing that if you remove the key from the ignition it may never start again so locking the doors is not an option. That is why farm trucks are protected by large intimidating dogs. You have a lot to keep safe, so do not trust it to a yappy lap dog. Brownie uses an 90 lb Great Pyrenees named Allice. We've never lost anything...
The rest of the interior of Brownie is basic farm truck décor. The steering wheel is wrapped in black tape, the headlight knob fell off so the lights are turned on by pulling a zip tie, and the dash has enough dust on it you can barely see the gauges.
Brownie also has some character markings both on the dash and on the head liner. Story goes that when Greg's boys were little they were "helping" him around the farm one day. Greg got out of the truck to shut a gate and when he returned they both had a pair of fencing pliers and were using the hook end to knock holes in the dash and head liner with lasting results.
Brownie's exterior boast of her years of service. The passenger side has two distinguishing dents in the side of the bed which includes the appropriate amount of rust for a 22 year old pickup. The right tail light is now being held in place with duct tape.
The front has its distinguishing marks as well. The bumper hangs low on the drivers side and the passenger headlight is held in place by fencing wire. The grill is busted from a steel post that nearly made its way through the radiator in which the flattened radiator fins are still noticeable.
In the rear you will notice that that tailgate has long since been removed/lost and a rough cut piece of 2x6 is now serving in its absence. Brownie carries all the essential farm truck items: Random pieces of garden hose, cow paddle, pitch fork, empty mineral sacks, a spare tire, and enough baling twine to rehang every gate on the farm. You will also notice that Brownie has a custom made rear bumper. Because nothing says "farm truck" like a 12 inch solid steel bumper.
Brownie is 100% pure farm truck and she spends her days doing farm truck things. Over the past five years we have used her to do numerous things around the farm. She hauls feed to the calves everyday and makes the rounds checking all of the stock.
Below, notice Allice in the back seat and Bob the cow dog in the front.
Brownie has even moved entire herds by herself when we need to get the cows to the barn.
Like all farm trucks Brownie does her share of fencing, and clearing fields after each storm.
Brownie serves as a ladder when putting up the shade structures in the spring and taking them down in the fall.
The first three years we operated the farm we only had one tractor. That meant that Greg used Brownie to rake hay while I operated the baler. It was not the ideal situation but she got the job done.
Because of the high amounts of wind we get at Eden Shale Farm, we had to rehang our farm sign once after a big storm. Brownie was there for the job.
Brownie has also attended numerous farm meetings, tours, and field days that were held at the farm.
As hard working and dependable as they are, farm trucks do break down from time to time. However, a farm truck doesn't go to the shop the first time something breaks. Instead you start a list of things that need fixed, and once the list gets so long you finally have to load her on a trailer to get her to the shop because she simple won't go no more.
But don't be alarmed, a farm truck will always find a way to get back to the job at hand taking care of the important work on the farm no matter what you throw at them, and for that we love our "Farm Trucks".
Please share your favorite farm truck stories, make and model, or photo in the comments.
Due to the current extreme cold that we have been experiencing in Kentucky for the past several weeks I have received a lot of questions as to how the tire water tanks are performing.
First of all, YES, the tire water tanks do freeze. If someone tells you the tires do not freeze they are probably trying to sell you a tire water tank. Having said that, the tires do freeze less that a traditional concrete or plastic water tank. The rubber is about 6-8 inches thick and acts as an insulator. The tires also hold a large volume of water which takes longer to cool down and therefore is slower to form ice.
You may also recall that we have used a product at the farm called shade balls. These are softball size plastic balls that are half filled with water so that they float about half submerged on the surface of the water. We use the shade balls to shade the water in the summer to keep the water cooler and prevent algae growth in the tanks. They work extremely well for this purpose. The entire surface of the tire is covered with shade balls and the cows simply push them down and out of the way to get a drink of water.
The first winter we experimented with using the shade balls during cold weather. We ended up with mixed reviews. The shade balls did help keep the tanks from freezing a little bit. They cut down on the surface area of the exposed water and served as protection from the wind. They seemed to help prevent freezing with temperatures getting down into the low 20's. If the tank did form a little bit of ice the shade balls helped to thaw the ice if the sun came out at all. The black balls absorbed the solar radiation and the tanks thawed out before the temps rose 32 degrees. Below are pictures of the same tire tank with a small amount of ice around the shade balls.
If you look close around each shade ball you can see it is beginning to thaw the ice. The black balls are absorbing the sunlight and transferring that solar energy to the ice to cause it to begin thawing.
As the temperature drops below 20 degrees the shade balls begin to get in the way. As the ice gets thicker the balls are not enough to thaw the ice anymore. At that point we have to chop the ice from the tire, and the shade balls are in the way to do so. So we now remove the shade balls from the tanks once temperatures start to dip into the teens.
In the extreme cold weather that we have had recently the tires are freezing each day. We chop the ice off to give the cattle access to water, but by the next day the ice has to be removed again. The picture below is of the tire waterer at the calving barn. This tank has 13 head of mature cows using it. The night before the temperature was down to 0 and the night before that was recorded at -6. As you can see the tank had about two inches of ice on it.
The next tank is at the bull barn and has 30 replacement heifers on it. This tank had approximately the same amount of ice as the first one at roughly 2 inches.
The spring that we developed last summer has been working well. It is set up so that the water from the spring flows continually into the tire tank and then out the overflow at the top and back to the creek. The continual flow of this tire tank has kept it from freezing completely. We have not removed the ice from this tank all winter. As you can see in the pictures the ice is of varying thicknesses and is still open where the inlet flow is disturbing the surface of the water and around the outlet pipe where water is moving. Although the opening is small, it is still enough that a cow can get a drink of water.
This tank shows that it doesn't take much of a disturbance to keep the ice from forming on the surface. We are currently working with Dr. Higgins at University of Kentucky to demonstrate options for keeping the tire tanks thawed during the winter. I will keep the blog updated with what works and what doesn't as we progress forward. For now, stay safe out there as you tend to your livestock during this harsh time of year.
Hello, my name is Dan Miller and I work for the Kentucky Beef Network. KBN took over operation of the Eden Shale Farm in April of 2013. We are using the 961 acre farm as a demonstration and learning center for beef cattle producers. This blog serves as a place to document daily farm activity and host discussions about the demonstrations being implemented. I hope you find this information useful and that you come visit us at Eden Shale Farm.