How Granster got his groove back

(l to r) two generation Belarus family picture;Belarus 525, Belarus 925

I made a change for he better this Spring. It did not involve weight loss, finances or personal growth, all good ideas but efforts I will leave to others for now. I needed something to get me back in the groove when I do farm work, so recently, I did something much more satisfying personal growth, I purchased another tractor.

This spring I considered how my farm work would be easier with another tractor. This is a big consideration as I try to adhere to the motto that; “steel doesn’t make money, cattle do.” My ideal is to own as little equipment as possible, so purchasing another tractor was almost heretical. I wanted a tractor without a cab that had good power and maybe front wheel assist. I also wanted to spend almost no money. The reason I wanted to go cabless is that its easier for me to see and get into tight spaces without the protection of a cab. I like a front wheel assist tractor when I get into the mud, and spending little money to acquire a tractor such as this is obvious.

I like Belarus tractors. I own a pretty decent one with a nice cab and loader and it has worked well for me. People who’ve never owned a Belarus view me from the front slope of their own nose, however fellow Belarus owners know that it’s a good tractor. My brother, David, says they are basically 1970’s technology but that they’re a pretty solid tractor.

I owned an older Belarus prior to my current tractor. I sold it to Bryan Steiger a few years ago and he used it mostly to cut crp. I’d sold the old tractor because I purchased my current one and I thought it bad to have extra tractor iron sitting around doing nothing. That Belarus had no cab and it was cheap. It also had basically a new front wheel-assist axle and was nearby and so would require no hauling.

I have felt like there was just something missing from our farm this year. I knew there was an element that could make a big difference and would really help us hit stride. It was all so obvious but it never hit me, kind of like growing up next to the woman you’ll eventually marry but never paying her any notice; the Belarus was that missing element. I called Bryan and he sold it back to me. The Belarus used to leak oil (no tractor is perfect) and those were not included in the deal as Bryan had fixed them.

It all kind of made sense, Bryan Steiger is the son of one of the people who made the original Steiger tractor. The Steiger was always known as an economical, powerful and dependable tractor. Like many farmers, I had gone to the Steiger yard in need of something to help me work better, and left with exactly what I need. I just hope a little of that Steiger tractor pride rubbed off on my little Belarus. It will help me with those who still look down their nose at a tractor that just plain works, and helps me work better.

(the following is an answer to a recent email)

I recently received a reader’s email concerned about my use of pressure-treated wood in a garden box. Most pressure treated wood included arsenic prior to its ban by the Enviromental Protection Agency in 2005. Previously, the substance CCA had caused some concern that it would leach into plants grown within its confines, such as a raised garden bed. For the last several years, pressure treated wood has employed a different treatment called ICQ, and the EPA limits CCA-treated sales to building wood foundations that come into direct contact with soil. I remember hearing about the change in treatment chemicals about 5 years ago and so had checked several college and agricultural extension websites to see what works for building a raised bed. The following is a statement on that I felt was fair and accurate and summed up both sides of using pressure-treated wood in a raised garden. The following is from the Oregon State Extension website:

"Many people wonder about the safety of using pressure treated wood
raised garden beds to grow vegetables or fruits. A study conducted by
University of Minnesota found that vegetable crops grown in
CCA-framed garden beds can accumulate arsenic from treated wood, but
based on U.S. Public Health Standards, these vegetables WOULD BE SAFE
for human consumption. To be on the safe side, you can line garden
beds made of CCA-treated wood with plastic sheeting on the base and
sides of the bed to separate the wood from the soil."

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