Planning for machinery and implement use can be easily forgotten when purchasing a hobby farm. Unless one is mechanically minded or relatively wealthy, issues related to purchasing and maintenance of required machinery should be taken very seriously. Second-hand machinery may appeal price wise, but can be more costly in the long run if mechanics need to travel a long distance in order to repair or service machines. Health and safety issues can also arise if machinery is not well maintained.
In many cases it is much more economical to hire a contractor for tasks such as earthmoving or cultivation, rather than try to do it yourself with inadequate equipment. The type of hobby farming will also have a great bearing on the range of machines required.
Weed control and removal of undergrowth in bushfire prone areas will require mowing or slashing equipment. Sheep, cattle or goats will do most of the weed control work, however, they require constant attention. This aspect of farming is appealing, but is often not practical when the owner does not live on the farm.
Sowing crops will require at the least the machinery to cultivate, fertilize and carry out harvesting. Contractors may be the best option here as the tasks are seasonal and may only be needed once in a year. A reliable vehicle will be needed if the farm is isolated and the ability to pass over rough unsealed roads may also be required.
A comprehensive range of small implements will be needed for small everyday tasks. These will also need to be maintained and housed. Such hand tools as post-hole diggers, sprayers, spades and secateurs should be kept clean and away from the elements if they are to have a long life.
If the farm is located in an isolated area, theft of machinery and livestock can be a concern. Items that can be easily dismantled and removed, such as pumps and pipes, will often be a target for thieves.
The range of available machinery is endless and only limited by one’s imagination and budget. Farming journals are usually crammed with advertisements, innovations and specials. Should you be unable to resist a bargain at a clearing sale or farming field day, make provisions for sheds in order to house these items.
Special care should be devoted to the maintenance of safety equipment. Spraying masks and protective clothing will be required when toxic chemicals are used. Regular checks and maintenance of all equipment is advised in order to reduce the risk of accidents. A carefree attitude towards the operation of equipment and machinery may result in an injury that will force the owner to leave the farm. Keeping this in mind, a good insurance policy should also be investigated.
Without care and planning, an idyllic dream can easily turn into a nightmare, greatly affecting one’s health as well as the bank balance!