When we first moved to this farm in 1970, the first thing my Dad did was trade his ancient diesel Mercedes sedan (it was not a luxurious car, trust me) for a pickup truck. A turquoise, 1963 GMC 1/2 ton to be precise, long stick shift out of the floor, bench seat with some foam missing from the middle. That truck worked hard for us. In the days before seat belts, you could get 4 small kids and a mum in the cab, and a paddle boat, a dog, kickboards, flippers, and more in the back for a trip to the beach. Three kids, a parent and three bikes in the back, no problem. You could haul a ton of hay. If you put the panels in, you could haul a couple of pigs (if you could get them up the ramp). Loads of sawdust, gravel, lumber, firewood, feed, you name it, that truck had carried it.
Fast forward a few decades, and here I am back on the farm. My needs for transport haven’t changed a lot: trips to the beach, to school, to the feedstore, kids, dogs, hay – not pigs yet, but definitely chickens. Oh, and I need to commute to work, about 24 km one way. So here’s my work horse:
Sleek styling, huh? This versatile vehicle features space for 2 adults, 2 teens and a dog. Check out the extended cab, with doors:
If you skip putting teenagers in here, you can fit two bales of shavings. Or a dog and 1 bale. The blue towel is an extra option. This is also the place to carry chickens (in crates). Next, take a look at the cargo capacity of this baby:
You’re looking at 4 bags of feed in there, plus other…er…stuff. Easily takes 6 bags (short distance, no hills, please), or a bale of hay. That’s the dog that loves to ride in the cab, window down, tongue out – like all farm dogs.
Features not shown include the manual windows (no more getting trapped by your electronic on board computer system), the sturdy vinyl seats, ideal for the rugged wear and tear of farm and family life. One seatback in the “extended cab” area of the vehicle will fold down so you can extend your cargo space for those longer awkwardly shaped things like fenceposts, rolls of chicken wire and yes, bikes (well, 1 bike). Oh, and I get great gas mileage (do not ask me why Canadians say mileage when we buy the gas in litres and measure distance in km – it’s wierd and illogical and I’ll post about that another time).
Here she is in all her glory, my 2002 Toyota Echo:
I dream sometimes about a 1/2 ton, long box, single cab, bench seat, automatic (that long stick shift was a pain to change up with), pre 1980 Chevy (white if possible), thinking of all the great loads I could carry that my present workhorse can’t handle…but frankly, the few needs that have arisen of that kind have been handled easily by hiring a friend with a 3/4 ton GMC longbox, 1984, 4 WD (2 tone, blue/white). Yes, I’ve studied truck ads a little bit. He hauls our broilers to the processor an hour away, for the price of 1 chicken and a tank of gas – which costs about $100. And that’s the crux of the matter right there, because I only need him for that run 2 or 3 times a year, to the tune of max $300 plus chicken. But my little Echo only costs $100 to run for an entire month – all over town, back and forth on all the daily stuff that farming and kids require. That trip to and from the processor in my car would move the gas needle less than a quarter tank.
What I’m saying here is: you don’t need a fancy dually one tonner extended cab to farm. You really don’t. It will just cost you a bunch of money better spent on something else, and you’ll burn unnecessary amounts of fossil fuel that the world can’t afford. As a matter of fact, think twice about that John Deere tractor that you think you need too. I’m not saying trucks and tractors aren’t useful, or that you won’t need them in your farming life, but I am saying to start out, you don’t need to own them. When you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll have a better idea of what you need out of a vehicle or in the way of farm machinery. I was just reading the other day about a well known grass farmer, Greg Judy, who runs upward of 320 head of cattle and sheep on 900 acres with a pickup truck and a 4 wheeler. Not because he can’t afford more, but because that’s all he needs.
I can see a need for us to own a truck in the next five years. We’ll likely be down to one kid at home by then, reducing the need for a lot of seating, as well as a lot of mileage for school and activities. We will probably have livestock besides chickens by then, and the ability to transport more than one bale of hay at a time will be handy. Towing capacity for pulling an eggmobile is something we are mulling over. So while we make do with what we have, and we do just fine, I can still go ahead and dream.