We started with an old, used lawn tractor and several years ago graduated to a John Deere L118 lawn tractor. This tractor was our "bush hog" for many years, cutting grass and brush where no tractor belongs, but it has performed magnificently and we hope to get many more years of service out of it (it currently has over 100 hours). This is one tool that, while you may not need one, it sure comes in handy.
We currently have over 20 acres, with several acres in pasture where we grow volunteer hay. Initially we had a neighbor who was cutting the hay for their cattle. This saved us money as we did not have to clear the pasture and saved them money as they did not have to buy as much hay. When they moved we realized that we would have to arrange to cut the pasture so that it did not turn back to brush. About 4 years ago we made our biggest farm investment by purchasing a John Deere 5103 tractor, along with a bucket, bush hog, and box blade. Unless you have a large acreage farm, this is most likely a piece of equipment that you would be better off not purchasing. They must be maintained whether you use them or not. Up until recently we have only been using the tractor to cut the pasture once a year and the tractor has less then 75 hours on it; however, it has already been used more in the past several months as we prepare to start actual farm operations.
Recently we made another major purchase. We purchased a Cub Cadet RT65 208cc Dual Direction Tiller. While we plan to till conservatively, we have several acres that will take years to prepare before we can change our tilling practices. While we do not plan to be a no-till operation, we do plan to only till as necessary. Most farms will most likely need the use of a tiller at least occasionally. It will most likely be more financially beneficial to rent a tiller each season, or, if you must have one, watch the garage sales.
Our RT 65 Tiller
We have had a utility trailer for many years and it is now coming in handy on the farm. In the past, we have primarily used the trailer to transport the L118 lawn tractor into town to mow some investment property the family has there, as well as to bring wood and other supplies home when necessary. Now we are using the trailer to transport the tiller to the pasture. Another tool that most small acreage/backyard farms will not need.
Barns. Yes, barns come in handy. Unless you are into wood working, or perform your own mechanical work, you only need a small barn, or shed. It is recommended that even the small acreage/backyard farmer have a large shed or small barn. While a garage will work, a shed or small barn not only provides that "farmer" feeling, but also provides a place to safely store farm equipment, supplies, and other items related to farming. We have a larger shed (or small barn if you wish) as well as a large (30 X 40) barn. Both are used for storage of household items as well as farm equipment and supplies.
Small Barn - This is the largest you will most likely need, at least to start.
This is our big barn. Probably not needed unless you have a lot of items to store, enjoy wood working, or perform your own mechanical work.
We also have the usual assortment of shovels, rakes, hoes, clippers, etc. but will need to purchase more (either as replacements or as additional items). We also hope to get a chipper in the next year as we have a lot of wood and can use the chips.
Again, do not go overboard with your equipment purchases. The only way your small acreage or backyard farm will be profitable (or even save money) is if you do not spend money unnecessarily. If we were planning on running a small acreage or backyard farm, we would not have needed many of the items we have (large tractor, large barn, etc.). We have made a decision that we want to be able to provide assistance and support for those interested in small acreage or back yard farming and can do more if we have the equipment that will allow us to expand quickly.
We are ready to start farming. Next - what we are doing to get started.