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Hay making on a budget - sickle bar mower and side discharge rake

 
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Location: Quad CIties Iowa/Illinois
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 I have a small tractor (ford 8N) and a sickle bar mower (John Deere #5, 7') to cut about 80 acres.  I work full time and was thinking about a project to build a self powered sickle mower to mount to the front of the tractor to double the width per pass.  I was thinking a stand-alone motor from a riding lawnmower (~15Hp) could be mounted to power a seven foot sickle.  I'd like to solicit any thoughts about why this is a good or bad idea that anyone might have.  Similarly I have a side discharge hay rake, could a second rake be ganged with the first to make a wide pass.  The rakes would both be ground driven and are pretty light so the 8N should be able to pull them.  I have some budget, general mechanical abilities, and a will-try attitude.  Any Ideas or suggestions are welcome.
 
pollinator
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I'd like to see if it would work!
My mechanical knowledge is limited though.
Could you just tow a larger V rake?
If you have enough horsepower.
 
pollinator
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Disclaimer: I'm not a farmer and am not familiar with farm equipment.

I do have a lot of experience maintaining residential property, making things work, designing, making, installing built-in furniture and custom architectural stuff. I have a lot of experience in construction and mechanical fabrication and customizing cars and trucks.

_All_ my experience and everything I have heard from others says that, as a rule of thumb which almost always proves out,  if you can afford to buy what you need complete, you are almost always bucks ahead IF you consider the time element. And often just going by $$ spent, regardless of time. When you know exactly what you want and can find it on the market, it's very hard to make it cheaper. When getting it done and cranking out product counts and you can find a way to afford  to buy (or sometimes rent) making it yourself usually does not pencil out.

The only guy here that I know who _might_ be able to come out ahead in that game is Travis Johnson. He brings an extraordinary laundry list of skills to his farm and his family has farmed for generations. IOW, unusual qualifications. However, unfortunately, I have not seen him posting for the last few months. He had very serious health problems and possibly that has taken over. You could try a personal message but it may be a long shot.


Regards,
Rufus

 
pollinator
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What is your goals short term and long term?  

Guessing you are baling it.  If so you would likely be far better off finding a swather of some form.  The reason is that when the hay goes thru a conditioner that then spreads it wide again you get 1 to 2 days faster drying time.  If you goal is putting up good hay this is highly advantageous.

With only 80 acres I wouldn't be much concernced with doubling the hay rakes.  Rakes move fast enough there is very little to gain there.
 
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How would you articulate the front mower?
 
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I own no land so take my words with a grain of salt but before putting time into doing something, I'd make sure it would 'pay off'. There are always bottlenecks whenever you have a multi-step process, so step 0 would be identify the bottlenecks, since an improvement there would help the whole process more. If you're just looking to cut down the time taken, then rather than mount a blade in front, mayble look at mounting it double wide. I would think any balancing issues would be worse if mounted front and back, downsides, it might not mow the area under/between the mowers. When I search double bar mowers, that seems to be one of the more popular configurations. Other option would be to cut on the same side, but somehow trail the second mower behind and offset it ~7' so they don't cover the same area. Looks to me the 'Rouse' double bar mower works like that.

For the rake, the missed hay might become a bigger issue if you run two smaller ones versus one larger rake, but thats nothing more than a gut feeling

If you're thinking of doing motor mounting, I'd suggest to check out old Horse Progress Days videos or similar. different situations, but those that work with horses often mount motors to their machinery or forecarts to power them. From what I remember from going ~5 years ago, they look more at the torque than the horsepower of the engine.

Looking at the 8n, it seems pretty small (~22hp). What baler do you run with it?
 
Josh Brueggen
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Lots of good questions here.  I'll try and cover a few.

As for building and modifying equipment, older sickle mowers are cheap compared to newer mowers, like $2-300 vs 5000.  Similarily the side discharge rakes are cheap and simpley, though not as uch cheaper than with the mowers.  The rake modification would be a secondary goal for sure.  My thought on the front mount was that it would be a hard mount to the front axle with provsions to set the height, and probably an on-off control from the seat of the tractor.  For a baler, the 8N will not pull any baler I have ever heard of, I have an older CASE IH 2400 round baler and access to a larger tractor to pull it.  As for swathers (this is the same thing as a hay conditioner correct) those are not very widely used in this area, but hay is often round baled within 2 days of cutting, like cut Friday afternoon, rake and bale on Sunday.  Perhaps that is just because folks are primarily doing "cow hay" nd the rounds generally sit in the fields a few days, at least, more after baling so any risk of hot spots or bale fires is minmal compared to the better quality of hay gained by baling slightly green?
 
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I would suggest trying to talk to some neighbors. It sounds like you have most of the ability to cut and bail the hay your self. It still may be more profitable to talk with a neighbor and ask if you can borrow/rent their equipment rather then building something for your self. Especially if you just need to borrow a mower rather then a tractor and mower. That would very likely be the cheaper way to get the hay done.

I do not have any equipment but I am able to get neighbors to cut and bail my hay for about $1 per small bale. That is a LOT of small bales before reaching $2500.
 
Josh Brueggen
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Bernard Welm wrote:I would suggest trying to talk to some neighbors. It sounds like you have most of the ability to cut and bail the hay your self. It still may be more profitable to talk with a neighbor and ask if you can borrow/rent their equipment rather then building something for your self. Especially if you just need to borrow a mower rather then a tractor and mower. That would very likely be the cheaper way to get the hay done.

I do not have any equipment but I am able to get neighbors to cut and bail my hay for about $1 per small bale. That is a LOT of small bales before reaching $2500.



Right now I have a neighbor who rolls it up on shares for $18 per round, but the local hay price is about $30-35 for rounds, so it is probably not even worth doing other than it helps knock the weeds back to cut it 1-2X per year.

long term the plan is to run cattle, and maybe cut enough hay off of a neighbor on shares for any hay needs I have.  I want to be bringing fertility onto the land, not shipping it off (one bale at a time) at below replacement costs.

 
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