farm tractor how to

Alrighty, I grew up on a small farm and want to raise my two boys in that same kind of environment. I’ve got the land and the desire, and a new-used tractor. The problem is Mr. Rainy Sr. (my Dad) farmed the REALLY old fashioned way - with a horse and plow. So I have zero experience with tractors. My only tractor mentor (my father-in-law) lives so far away I can’t tap him as a resource very often.

I’ve been searching Amazon and the web for basic tractor 101 type videos / books, etc. But to little avail. Anyone have any firsthand knowledge of a good video series / books I can buy to give me a good overview of what I’m doing. My father-in-law thinks I’m far too concerned for my own good, but I really prefer the whole master/apprentice relationship when working with stuff that can squish / mangle me.

I know its an off the wall question, but any help would be appreciated.


Try the web site of the manufacturer of your tractor. They may have a manual or even videos online (we got a video when we bought our lawn tractor).

Ah, problem number 1…its a 25 year old tractor; Ford 2810, and apparently Ford doesn’t do tractors anymore.

There’s an operator’s manual you can buy here for $30:

Looks like it’s for the '84-'85 years.

There’s a service manual there too - kinda expensive (and large!).

Holy crap! 2000+ pages and 200 bucks!!! I know I’m not mechanically inclined enough to need that, but the owners manual would be handy. Thanks.

Still looking for a video on general small tractor operation.

Can you drive a stick?

Looks like a nice little tractor. I have an Allis Chalmers 5015. Looks a little smaller than the 2810. Mine is a 4x4 deisel with a bucket and box scraper.

What are you going to use it for? I use mine for just about everything. Basically, It’s like having 5 guys with shovels and wheel barrows that will work all day for 10 bucks.

I spread gravel, move dirt and snow, push/pull just about every thing. I loaned it to my brother in Denver for the summer. Hes’ moved about 4 tandum loads of dirt with it from the front of the house to raise his back yard. It ain’t fast, but it sure beats the alternative.

I sort of miss it. I need it back here this summer for sure.

How familiar are you with it? Can you at least start it and drive around? Farm tractors are basic after you know what the controls do, which are mostly unlabeled. You are right in wanting to master the machine, they certainly can be dangerous. The first rule of thumb is to always make sure all the gearshifts are in neutral and the brake is set before you get off the machine. Just one foot caught under a moving tire can keep you from escaping. That has happened to many people after they got off after thinking it was in gear. Like I said, if you tell us what you would like to know more about we can probably tell you how to do it. For instance, do you know how to hook up a PTO attachment and use it?

Same as what your Dad did except you get to ride… :wink:

Implements and their use and planting and stuff depends on what you want to farm. ( lose money on. ) Real easy to do dat.

Just do a garden ( regular little one ) and mow and move dirt and pull stuff with tractor.

If you need more than a Mantis™, you are farming too big…


What exactly do you want to know? Operating a tractor isn’t exactly rocket science, and most of the principles aren’t all that different from any other motor vehicle with a manual transmission. Hand throttle, manual fuel cutoff, seperate brakes for each of the rear wheels, these things aren’t found in cars, but they’re not really the sorts of things that require lengthy training. Well, okay, a new tractor will have a pretty funky transmission compared to anything you’ve seen in a car, but this Ford looks to have a pretty basic 2-range 4-speed gearbox.

One thing you do want to be careful around, though, is the PTO. Do not go anywhere near a PTO shaft when it’s engaged. I suspect that getting wrapped around a PTO shaft has got to rank near the top of the common farm accidents list, and it’s the sort of thing that results in amputations. Just remember that the full power of the tractor is involved in turning that thing, and your arm isn’t going to even slow it down much. I’m not saying you need to be paranoid about it. Just respect it. Most all of the farm accidents I’ve heard of result from guys not respecting the power and hence potential danger of machines. Like that guy nearby that last fall spent an entire night stuck halfway into a combine pickup because he didn’t disengage the drive before he tried to unplug the machine. The whole night, stuck there with the engine roaring and the machine doing it’s level best to suck his arms through a 1 inch slot. Gives me the willies just thinking about it, but goddam is that stupid (and yet, at the same time, I know exactly why he did it.)

There’s a book called “The Contrary Farmer” by Gene Logsdon, which is a pretty good resource if you’re interested in small scale farming anyway … but from memory there’s a chapter in there on tractors.

As I recall, the best advice was somewhere along the lines of, “find a local who knows about tractors and ask them”, but there’s a bit more than that.

My copy is pretty old, so you might need to look for it second hand … or maybe not … here’s the book, and chapter 9 is on cottage mechanics.

There is also a section on farming with horses if you’d like to give it a go … apparently horse-power is making a comeback. I know of one commercial potato farm in Victoria (Australia, not Canada) which uses horses.

And in the US as well it seems:

And here’s the small tractor FAQ:

A bit of Googling reveals: “your first tractor”: and part two

And there was a Usenet board out there somewhere called something like rec.rural or alt.rural, which is probably now on Google groups, which which would an excellent resource, if a little touchy.

I had a quick look, it’s misc.rural and this is the search for tractor:

There’s a lot of tractors there. :slight_smile:

I think if you use Google to good effect with terms like “small farm”, farmlet, “small acreage”, you’ll find a lot of advice.

Good luck … I moved onto twenty acres in a small rural town, from the big city three years ago, and I still think it’s the best decision I ever made.

Sorry for the long absence, a new baby (Rainy JR number 2) and a holiday weekend made for a very screwed up schedule.

To answer the most asked question about my intended uses;

  1. boxscrape - I’ve got a 1/4 mile long gravel drive that is mine to maintain, I’m getting better at doing that, but I’d like to be able to maintain the ditches with the tractor, which I hear is possible with a scrape blade which allows you to set different angles. Advice appreciated.

  2. bushhogging - The new pasture land needs cut to keep the unwanted weeds from going to seed so my grass has a chance. Here is where I get really nervous driving the tractor. It doesn’t have a RPS (rollbar) and I don’t have a good feel for how much slope is too much. I know you need to cut up and down instead of across the steep stuff, but my paranoia acts up something fierce as I ride across the uneven pasture. Do I just have to do this enough not to constantly be figuring which side to jump off of?

  3. That driveway again…I think I need a sickle mower to be able to keep the side of the drive mowed down because most of it drops off, or slopes sharply up just beyond the wheel tracks, so my pull-behind bushhog is useless there…wish I had seen a sickle mower before I bought my second hand bushhog…or do I need both, the BH for the tough stuff and the sickle for the driveway sides…and NO I don’t intend to mess with hay

  4. hauling things behind the tractor…I can see about a billion uses for a wagon to move stuff around the place, but here comes another paranoia, the old overturn. I have no idea just how “stuck” you have to get a tractor before this becomes a threat, how quick does it happen, once the front end bucks up is there anything you can do to stop the roll? throw in the clutch?

See it is a bunch of little things that I just never learned as a kid since my Dad was into horse plowing. I know it sounds like I’m a big pansy about this, but I prefer to be somewhat familiar with operational limits of machinery, then I feel a whole lot better about things. Kind of like in flying lessons when they make you put the plane into a stall and then recover so you know how it feels and what to do.

Oh yeah and hooking and unhooking implements has got to be easier than what I’ve done so far. I whole lot of prying and straining and lifting by hand to get things lined up – which worked (nothing broke, may not have been right) but was like carrying a refrigerator up a flight of stairs by myself. Strategies for changing implements would definitely save me a hernia.

Again, sorry so long to get back to this thread.


Rainy, just email me when you get the chance. If you’re close enough, I’ll come to you and help you out with this stuff.