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 Post subject: tractors and grasses
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:59 am
Posts: 15
Location: Argyle,TEXAS
I own 30+ acres in Ellis county. I converted the land from an agricultural exemption to a wildlife exemption. I will need to do some mowing (and post hole digging and a little earth moving) and was looking for recommendations about the size tractor I'd need and maybe which brand you'd recommend.
Also, I'm trying to identify the various grasses that I have. I'd like to buy a good reference book with color pictures to help me identify them, but the books I've found have drawings, not pictures. Alternately, is that something that a county agent or Texas Parks and Wildlife person could come out and help me with?


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 Post subject: Tractor Recomendations
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:44 pm 
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Location: Oklahoma
For that size acerage, I'd try to find a used Agricultural Tractor in the 40 horspower range. I say Agricultural so you won't confuse it with the small compact tractors available with the same horspower.

Possiblities include:

Massey Ferguson 240 (41 HP)
Ford/New Holland 3930 (45 HP)
John Deere 5200 (45 HP)

All of these models are around 4 - 8 years old and can be found in excellent condition for under 10,000.

All of these will do fine with a 6 foot mower, post hole digger, box blade, etc. Because they are larger than the compacts they will be more stable and heavier in case you decide you'd like a front end loader.


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 Post subject: Re: tractors and grasses
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:03 pm 
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johnrsurvil wrote:
I own 30+ acres in Ellis county. I converted the land from an agricultural exemption to a wildlife exemption. I will need to do some mowing (and post hole digging and a little earth moving) and was looking for recommendations about the size tractor I'd need and maybe which brand you'd recommend.
Also, I'm trying to identify the various grasses that I have. I'd like to buy a good reference book with color pictures to help me identify them, but the books I've found have drawings, not pictures. Alternately, is that something that a county agent or Texas Parks and Wildlife person could come out and help me with?


Just out of curiosity, why do you need to mow, dig posts, and move earth? Are these requirements to get the wildlife exemption? I'm a believer in using livestock for grass and scrub control, electric fences (no post holes), and leaving the earth where it is.

You could get help from an agent but I would call around first. Some of them couldn't find their grass with both hands. :shock::lol::roll: I've had much better luck finding a grad student in forage plants than a real grass savvy county agent. Seems they know corn, cotton, and beef, but not grasses. I would take your forage expert out and take along sample bags so you can collect them and ID them with the bag. Be sure you understand any aspects of toxicity for your plants. Some otherwise excellent forages turn toxic under certain conditions.

Then after your expert talks to you, it would be real interesting for us to see what they suggest you grow out there and how to manage it.

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 Post subject: tractors and grass
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:45 am
Posts: 420
Location: Whitesboro,TX
I have owned 4 different tractors in 26 years. It
is my experience that if you buy a 45 horse
because that is what you need, you will decide
later that tou will need or want a bigger tractor.
The difference between 45 horse and 55 horse
will be about 1200 to 1500 dollars. You will want
to look at new tractor because of the beneficial
tax incentives and ease of financing. Two years
ago I bought a 50 horse Kioti which is a nice
tractor but because of better features, weight,
ease of changing bucket to spear, better seat,
and moveable pto cover and a few other things,
I now have the itch for a 65 horse at the PTO
John Deere. It is true the green paint costs
more but they do have better ideas and are made
better. My wife is not to happy with itch.
Everyone needs to be able to own or borrow a
blade. You can rent a post hole digger for less
than a purchase, (depending on your choice of
corner post you will need to dig or auger in corners
for electric fence). A mower is always necessary
to get rid of weeds instead of using chemicals.
Depending on your choice grasses you will want to
purchase or rent a disc and a harrow is always helpfull.
There isn't isn't anything better than setting on a
tractor for a few hours per week to relax you and
get your mind off the office or what ever you do.
When you get a project done it is great to set on
the tractor for a few minutes and say "A job well
done"
Remember - "Nothing runs like a Deere"
Robert D Bard


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 Post subject: tractors
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 6:26 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 7:33 am
Posts: 764
Location: Plano & land at Dodd City,TEXAS
Here's my 2 'sense' from someone who knows just enough to be dangerous. We have 20 ac (don't live on it-yet) 1/2 is wooded, 1/2 is grass/weeds. Bought a Ford 8N '52, about 20 HP, 5' bush hog, for $2800. Eventually, I'm sure we will want a newer bigger one & if we lived there we would have started w/larger one, I think. Right now this is wonderful. You can't get me to get off the thing. BUT-takes more than 12 hrs to mow the 10 ac of grassy area. So probably w/30ac you should listen to Robt. the Baird & others who know. We have hired someone w/large tractor to clear dead trees, etc, b/c the little 8N is not capable.
Patty

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 Post subject: tractors and grasses
PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 11:21 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:45 am
Posts: 420
Location: Whitesboro,TX
The sad thing about your old Ford tractor, is that
I remember when my uncle got a new used Ford
(it was used but new to us) tractor like you described.
I also remember using a team of mules to haul
in hay, and my uncle modified a horse drawn rake
(metal wheels) to pull behind the tractor and I sat
on it and kicked the lever at just the right time to
make a wind row.
I really don't think of it as the "Good old days". I
like today better, and I like that we know that
chemicals are not the answer to farming.
Robert D Bard


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 Post subject: tractors
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:16 am 
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Location: Plano & land at Dodd City,TEXAS
Robt-
Great memories! I'm going to have to figure out how to sit behind our 'red belly' & spray molasses & humates on at least 4 ac. Don't think the plastic gallon sprayer will get it.
Patty

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 Post subject: Re: tractors and grasses
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 8:25 am 
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Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:41 pm
Posts: 24
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johnrsurvil wrote:
I own 30+ acres in Ellis county. I converted the land from an agricultural exemption to a wildlife exemption.

We've got 8 acres right "next door" to you, in Kaufman county. There's a 9 acre lot next to us that's been undisturbed for about 10 years, and the mesquite is giving way to some actual diversity.

We've considered buying it and leaving it as a natural buffer. Is an area that size too small for a wildlife exemption? What all is involved? Can we still use the land for recreational purposes -- let the kids camp out, ride a horse down a designated trail, etc?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:07 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2003 11:08 am
Posts: 118
Location: Ladonia
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/conserve/pr ... ural_land/


Try that site to find out about the wildlife exemption.
Hope that helps

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:44 am 
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Location: ,
carhoods wrote:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/conserve/private_lands/agricultural_land/


Try that site to find out about the wildlife exemption.
Hope that helps

Great information, enough to keep me from getting any work done at the office for several days. :? I wonder how folks in Ellis or Kaufman Counties would be able to take advantage of the program, though? It appears designed as a way to restore wildlife habitat, but we don't seem to have much to offer. This is from Appendix X, "TEXAS WILDSCAPES Native Plant List - Blackland Prairie":

Quote:
The Blackland prairies are today almost entirely brought under the plow, with only 5,000 acres of the original 12 million remaining. For this reason, many authorities believe that the Blackland Prairies represent some of the rarest landscapes in Texas.

Like many of the prairie communities comprising the Great Plains of North America, the Blackland Prairies harbor few rare plants or animals. What is so special and unique about this ecosystem today, are the grassland communities themselves.


Since I don't think 9 acres is going to be enough land to protect, say, a huntable quantity of deer, I guess we'll just have to enjoy it at full price.

I wonder how they got the number "5,000 acres of the original 12 million"? There's 39,000 acres in Oklahoma at this preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma. If those 5,000 acres are in Texas, I wonder where they're at?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2004 9:35 am
Posts: 78
Location: Bartonville,TX
RobertB wrote:
Since I don't think 9 acres is going to be enough land to protect, say, a huntable quantity of deer, I guess we'll just have to enjoy it at full price.


Does the Wildlife Exemption have to be limited to large animals? What about birds? I'm hoping I can work toward having my 4 acres meet the regulations!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2003 11:08 am
Posts: 118
Location: Ladonia
I think you would have to have more than 4 or 9 acres to get the status as it goes by percentages and most counties make you have at least 10 acres to get the ag exemption. If you could get neighbors to make up a bigger land block then it might work for you. We are now on our 47 acres up between commerce and ladonia. A neighbor next to us is wildlife exempt and he is on 27 acres with no intention of building. We are trying really hard to get his 27 acres and make it all wildlife refuge minus 10 acres for our ag use. You need to talk to the state and your regional biologist. They can probably clear it all up for you and all of us. I am happy paying 90.00 for our 47 acres at this time. Beats 5,000.00 that we were paying in rockwall for a postage stamp lot and house.

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 Post subject: Tractor buying.
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2004 7:40 am 
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Posts: 12
We've drifted a bit from johnrsurvil original question. I'm somewhat new to this also, 6 years. When I first started looking for tractors I was confused also. I did not find a book with pictures and Info. I did find a tractor "Blue Book" that I've since given away. It was good in that it gave specs. I had to order it on line.

To get a good idea of a variety of tractors, go to some used tractor dealers, leave your check book at home. TNT tractors on US 80 in Sunnyvale usually has some variety, as does Southwest Auction in Howe. The auction is on the second Wednesday of each month. Nov 10 is the next one. They also sell equipment/implements. Go up a day or two before if you like and just walk around. Be careful, as my neighbor says, "This is where everyone brings their junk they don't want to warranty."

Ag Power(JD Dealer) does sell some of their trade ins at Howe. I've bought some real deals and some junk.

To be overwhelmed go to Brinkley Auction in Idabel, OK.

If possible, take your neighbor that's farmed for the last 40 years. He'll also tell you about how the ______ always went out on this particular model.

Dallas Morning News Classifieds, under Farm Equipment is a good source.

Good luck, Russ

http://www.southwestauction.com/

http://www.brinkleyauctions.com/

http://www.tnt-tractor.com/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 9:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:59 am
Posts: 15
Location: Argyle,TEXAS
Thanks for all the valuable input. I can offer some feedback and then let everybody laugh at what I've now done! In Ellis county, you must have at least 16 (maybe it's 16.7) acres to qualify for a wildlife exemption. I believe that it must currently have an ag exemption and have been actively worked for 5 of the last 7 years. The good part is that you keep the low valuation on the land. The bad part is you lose your tax exemption. The land nearby is being developed at a rapid rate so the wildlife exemption outweighed the loss of sales tax relief. You can talk to your county people about all this but I used and highly recommend "Plateau Integrated Land and Wildlife Mgmt Co.". They know all the various county rules so can tell you right away if you qualify. I then paid them to visit my property and prepare the management plan (with my input). Someone asked about managing for birds and smaller critters vs large mammals. That's precisely what I wanted: small mammals, reptiles, butterflies, birds, etc. The people at Plateau understand the system. The state and county want to see people manage for game animals-doves, quail, turkey, ducks, etc. What was pointed out for me is that if you manage your land for those kinds of animals, you'll get all the other ones along with it!
Part of the plan can utilize occasional grazing to reduce built-up plant matter or prescribed burning or mowing. I don't currently live on my property and do not have electricity there yet so using animals and electric fences is not practical. Also, I don't like the lack of selectivity of grazing animals. I've planted many trees and shrubs in various areas of the property and need to protect them until they are large enough to take care of themselves. I've already had a beaver chew down about 10 saplings I planted near a lake.
So, what about the tractor? Since I've never owned one I did not want to take a chance on inheriting someone elses problem. Thus, a new tractor was the choice. I decided to use a dealer close to my land for obvious reasons. So I wound up with a 30 Hp Kubota. I'm sure that down the road I'll wish for a larger tractor-but keep in mind that I'm not using the tractor for just a whole lot. Mostly edge mowing, mowing in strips that I can then come back and use plastic to kill bermuda and then replant in native grasses, and I got a 300# spreader so I can spread dry molasses. With the front end loader I'll be able to carry rocks to create small walls (habitat for those reptiles) and also put some rocks in piles along the lake since I'm trying to re-establish populations of crawfish. With a post hole digger I'm intending to put up large poles for bathouses and also some raptor boxes.
Basically, I just want a refuge for critters but for the wildlife exemption, you have to continuously work at it and keep good records of what you've done. I'll be happy to share any more information on any of this.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 9:26 am 
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johnrsurvil wrote:
Thanks for all the valuable input. I can offer some feedback and then let everybody laugh at what I've now done! In Ellis county, you must have at least 16 (maybe it's 16.7) acres to qualify for a wildlife exemption. I believe that it must currently have an ag exemption and have been actively worked for 5 of the last 7 years.

Here's my concern (as mentioned in the other thread): the land next door has been completely unmanaged for about 10 years, and if anyone's been paying attention, it's surely lost its ag exemption. It's already in a restored natural state.

So if I were the owner of the land, I'd have to put it *back* into ag use, get the exemption, and *then* wait another decade for the diversity to return? It seems to me that the authors of the law completely ignored the possibility that there are some spaces in Texas that aren't under the plow (or the cow).

Fortunately, it's a moot point for me... even if you combined the neighboring land with our own, you'd barely have 15 usable acres... and we still have our horses to consider.


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