Thursday, April 10, 2014

If I had a Little Bulldozer, I Could Move a Little Mountain

One of my favorite tools on the farm is this little bulldozer, it's over 40 years old (EDIT:  somehow I did the math wrong in my head, and it's actually just under 30 years old so it's still almost a youngster), can be cantankerous at times, and is almost completely worn out, but it's a blast to dig with it. 
Believe it or not, this bulldozer was bought on eBay about 7 years ago, shipped to OK from the East Coast, driven off of the trailer, and went to work around the farm.   I've fixed the spillways on three ponds, got it buried in the mud twice (make sure you have a bigger tractor with a big chain if you want to try that), cleared out a few miles of fenceline with it, cleaned up two old oil well sites, and fixed all the terraces on the farm.

Today, I should have been finishing up clearing out that lane (holy cow, I never would have guessed that trees could grow that much in 12-13 years),  but after cutting a pickup load of firewood along with another pile of future bio char, I got distracted by an overwhelming urge to jump on the bulldozer and fix a spot of erosion that has been calling out to be fixed.  

A tornado came though this area about 14 years ago, knocking down a lot of trees and tearing up all the fences.  In this area, the tornado damage was bad enough that a bulldozer was hired to cleanup the fence line (that was before "little bulldozer" had made the trip from the East Coast to the farm), then a few months later, the remaining tornado debris was cleaned up during a tornado cleanup program with a team of bulldozers, trackhoes, and front loaders.  All that equipment got the debris cleaned up in a hurry, but also removed a lot of topsoil, and left some ruts, etc.  

Over the years, this hillside started to have some erosion problems, so I decided to start fixing it.  

I first started along a fence line that runs up a hill.  To get an idea of the slope of the hillside, if you look at the picture you can see the corner posts which has the horizontal brace post installed almost level.

Starting up the Hill, note the Brace Post

Partway up the Hill
While I was smoothing out the ruts along that fence line, I went ahead and fixed the erosion of the entire hillside.  There happened to be some bermuda grass growing in spots, so driving the bulldozer back and forth should have planted enough bermuda to stabilize this hill when it starts growing, but I'll haul a few bales of crabgrass hay to this spot and use the cattle to make sure that I get some grass growing here as quick as possible.
King of the Mountain
Most of the soil around here is some sort of red color, but it really looks red in these pictures.

This little bulldozer cost a little bit more than a new ATV would have cost, but I don't think I could move this much dirt with a ATV or have as much fun running over stuff.   Every time someone comes out to the farm, I always ask them if they want to try driving my bulldozer around a while and I'm always surprised how few take me up on the offer, which usually puzzles me.  

The way I see it, if someone ever offers to let you drive their bulldozer (even if it is old and worn out) take the opportunity. 


  1. I would love to have a bulldozer to play with! When I was growing up on the farm, we just had the front loader of the tractor for dirt work. Then after we grew up and left the farm, I came by for a visit and saw my dad had bought a used earth mover! That thing can really move a lot of dirt though isn't so good with pushing out trees!

    1. Are you talking about a scraper-type of earth mover? You could move enough dirt with one of those things that you could build a lake.

      Or, are you talking about a grader? I'd like to have had a grader for about a week to fix all those the terraces.

    2. I guess I would call it a dirt scraper. It is not self propelled like the ones you see in road construction. It is one that can be pulled with a large tractor. It has two large wheels in the back with the scraper/holding bin in the center that can be height adjusted with hydraulics and a pair of smaller wheels in front. I'm guessing it holds 8 to 10 cubic yards of dirt per load. My dad uses it to fix drainage issues like what you were doing as well as fix terraces. It would dig a pond easy enough if one wanted too but we have plenty of ponds on our farm and no real reason to dig new ones since we don't have livestock.

  2. That bulldozer looks like it would be a lot of fun. I'd ride it if I had the chance! It's so nice to watch the machines do the work.

    I always forget how red the clay is over there.

    1. It's hard to drive that bulldozer around and not have a smile on your face, you can just point it up a steep hill and start climbing. Or, dig a huge hole deep enough to bury it if you wanted.

      It even has a sort-of-almost road gear that can get it going fast enough that it will rattle your bones if you hit a rough spot.

    2. Have you ever seen the Youtube videos of those guys who get on a bull dozer and start getting revenge on their feuding neighbors? I know there is at least two of them out there, perhaps more. I've always thought those guys were having the time of their lives while doing that. I think one committed suicide after he was done and I think the other one just got out and surrendered when he was done but both did lots and lots of damage before then.

    3. I remember seeing news footage of some stolen tanks going down the highway, but I can't say that I've seen anything about someone with a bulldozer going on a rampage.

      I'm more inclined to doing something halfway constructive than vandalizing the neighborhood.

  3. Holy crap! I'd drive it in a heartbeat! I see the guys near our place on theirs all the time...just burning diesel for the most part but it looks like a blast!

    1. I do have to warn you that since Ron responded first about actually driving it if asked he's got dibs on the first spin, so if you happen to show up at the farm on the same day that Ron shows up, you'll have to wait until Ron takes his turn on the bulldozer before you can drive it around. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.

      But, I'm not sure if Ed technically said he'd want to drive it, so if all three of you show up at the same time, we'll probably have to have some sort of arm-wrestling contest or something to figure out who goes first.

    2. All of us together would be a heck of a bunch of fun if I do say so myself!