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Discussion Starter #1
Is there any room for a small timer in this forum? I've been reading a lot in here over the last few days, great stuff, but the posters all seem to be huge operators.

I'm looking for advice on how to grow and how to get there. I'm a part time farmer with about 250 acres under management. I'm starting to take the farm over from Dad, and in the meantime my sister (only other child) wants "bought out". My first "major" investment personally to the farm was a 4420 combine, 4 row corn head, 13ft platform. It is a "corn-bean-grain" combine according to the book and labeling, and I've already used it for all 3. It had 2000 engine hours on it, no idea about sep hrs. I've had some repair issues, but not bad yet. I'm located North of what might be called mid-Michigan. If you get your butt in the field and not get stuck, you can grow 95 day corn. I went this route with the combine to chase the ethanol induced corn prices.

What are the thoughts on this machine? How do you guys decide on debt load for new land, or should I just rent? I'm hoping to maybe get a land contract with a balloon payment so I can start paying small amounts, and hopefully build up some operating funds, then have a down payment to finance the land conventionally.

Any thoughts on growth rate, machinery advice, etc. would help. I'm in the market for a 4wd (fwa) All around work horse tractor for tillage and corn chopping.
 

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Hi,

Welcome to the board
Glad to see another new farmer!

Not all of us are 'huge' operators (I guess that depends on your definition of the word), heck I'm just another little guy with 1,400 acres...

I inherited the farm, just like you did, from my parents. It was a bit rushed, and caught me un-prepared, which I did pay for - you shouldn't have that problem though, I would imagine


If you're just starting, and don't have the $$$ to put on the table for land, it's best to rent in my humble opinion. You don't have a huge investment, and you will have cash-flow at the end of the year to use on other things - like machinery, buildings, bins, etc. Buying land is more cost-effective if you're looking towards the future though.


Can't tell you much about a 4420, as I'm an MF-860 man, so a JD fella will have to chime in on that one



As for machinery, this is an issue of discussion with all of us - in my mind, when you're starting out, it's best to buy older (10 year old - 15 year old) machinery, it costs less and performs well for it's cost. You can always 'flip' it for newer equipment once you get your farm established


Bankers usually look for a 30-70 split between Debt and your Worth.


Regards,
Christian
 

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Hi Tbone95
Welcome to the site. Lots of us small guys here.
Just south of you in Ohio. Approx. same acerage. Hope all works out for you in farming. 4400 series are good machines.
E mail me if you ever want to alk.
ken
 

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the one thing to remember is that no one no's there limatations better than you .renting is probaly the smartest thing to do dont try to be bigger than your neighbors. as far as the combine goes i have run a 4420 for about 10 years now. around 250 acres per year a combination of corn ,beans ,oats and barley . it may not be the fastest thing but it is reliable. if you have any mechanical ability you can fix any thing on it .mine has 2200 hours and is still going strong if i was to upgrade it would be a 6620 with a hydro but i would keep my headers because of my small fields.ther is nothing wrong with older machinery if it has been maintained and serviced properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies so far. Sorry for jumping to conclusions on no small guys, just see lots of posts about guys 350hp tractors being too small.

Running that 4420 puts a nice smile on my face. What a sweet sounding engine! Our last combine was a 40EB! Before that a 25 pull type, so it's quite a change. I too am half on the look out for a nice 6620 to get the hydro and hopefully rear wheel assist.

Rumor has it there is a farmer retiring in a couple of years that would open up 70 acres practically next door to me, 40 he owns and 30 he rents form next door neighbor. That would be a nice increase to me, and nice square tiled fields.

Ken, I'll email you in a little while. Seriously considering an upgrade to tractor and tillage, just need to not have a drought this year!

Got some pics of the 40EB just before it was sold if anybody wants a look. Interesting, for an EB it did a good clean job on oats.
 

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Our family had a 4400, gas engine, same heads as yours .Motor blew one day went to the wreckers and had it up and running next I really enjoyed running that thing! I swear it will go through more mud than the 1620 caseih that replaced it! nice and light the 4400. & if does get stuck small tractor pulling at an angle on the rear end and you back running again. Sorry I did not answer the other ?s. But I love your choice for first combine!!
 

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Welcome, Tbone95! Of course any and all farmers [and their combines] are welcome here, regardless of size.


I'm also an 860 owner, but after 27 years, the machine does not seem even nearly as big as it once did.
I think John Deere 4400's are also very nice, and they are still reasonably popular in the Republic County, Kansas area, too.


Somewhere is a thread started by one of our Canadian neighbors whose father runs a cherry 4400 with some rather fancy gadgets like a yield monitor. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks.
 

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Quote:Thanks for the replies so far. Sorry for jumping to conclusions on no small guys, just see lots of posts about guys 350hp tractors being too small.

Its all about soil types, lol....i know our 360HP deere doesn't seem big enough when your chiseling ground that seems as hard as a diamond.

Lots of smaller guys on here...we're sitting at a "medium" for our area 1400acres, like most we could use more. Just a matter of playing the waiting game for farmers to retire since the younger generation has mainly moved out and doesn't wanna farm...i just happen to have all the time in the world since im almost 20, lol.
 

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Welcome aboard!

We farm about the same acres with a 6620 and we love it. Small family farm, so we have mostly older equipment but it's all paid for.

Our's has been pretty reliable and is still low hours so I'm not sure what to look for other than keep it clean, especially under the cab.

One thing to watch for on the platform though, depending on what model it is. If it has rollers on the left side of the reel, watch for wear on the cast ring inside the reel. If the (when) one of the rollers seize up it eats up the ring. If it wears enough the reel could fall off.

Didn't happen to mine, it was getting close though, but it did to someone else on the board.

Other than that, good luck. They're solid machines, not as fast as a new one but it'll do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Combiness, you've got to be a fascinating woman.

Clean under the cab, OK so what exactly do you mean. Where the debris builds up on top of the feeder house and such? Another combine specific question, how imortant is the curtain inside between where the blower air comes in and the seives start. I'm thinking that helps prevent grain from blowing over the chaffers. So you have to slow the fan down, so you likely to get more crap in the tailings elevator??? Anyway, there isn't much left of mine...
 

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Land prices are too high to buy right now. They will eventually come down. Save your money now and then you'll have a nice down payment when they do.
 

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Yup, between the feeder house and the cab. A lot of trash tends to build up there, good place to start a fire.

As to the curtain I'm not sure what you mean. I'll have to take a look and see if I can figure it out on the machine. I couldn't tell from the drawings on jdparts.com.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
snj,

I'm sure I'm calling it the wrong exact thing in combine lingo world. But if you take one of the square inspection covers off right in the middle of the machine, there's one on each side of mine, and look towards the rear, there's a drape/curtain/canvas hanging from the top across the, uh tunnel? Check your's out, maybe it's wore out too and you didn't know and it didn't matter!

redsteel, I think you're right about land prices, though the owner is known to be a little money hungry, might not be patient enough to rent to me. It would be hard to refuse since it's so close by, if he'd work with me at all.

ebert, 1400 acres would qualify as huge in my neck of the woods, but I understand what you're saying in your area. We do have one huge company farm around here that would qualify as huge anywhere, but 1000 acre crop guys are big here, and there's some big dairy farms maybe 800 - 1000. We're a little too far north for crops, but we do it anyway. Soil varies a LOT!
 

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^^ hard to consider yourself tiny compared to the average....

everybody has a big time guy in their county...ours luckily just lives in our county and pretty much owns the county next to us. He said he doesn't wanna piss of his neighbors is why, lol.

If the average is 800, your a large farmer factory...nuff said.

Considering the upper for my area of the county is 3,000, we're in the middle, and there aren't too many guys with 3 digit acreage around us anymore. My neighbor has 4 kids, the 2 sons both wanna farm...but i don't think its gonna get any easier for them to get into it when they only own about 80acres, and farm a total of less than 400.

One of our local big timers, who was caught in the elevator problem we had early fall 07 is goin under next month. He had retirements to pay for, contracts that weren't paid, buildings that weren't paid, etc. It's like christmas in feb! Lotta people are eyeing the auction to buy the land around their houses he got.
 

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Let me talk about the 4420. We ran 4400's back in the day, then a 4400 and 4420, then 4420 and 6620 then now the 9000's. The combine operators that have never run anything but big machines think they are super operators: they needed to run a 4400 in green stemmed beans, vines, a few weeds before the advent of roundup ready technology and such. Alot of us are spoiled to the capabilities of our super powered combines of the day but I feel I am a much more competent operator in tough conditions and also better able to set my machine because of what I learned sitting on a 44.

Also, I have seen a 4420 with the tires deflated cruise right around an 8820II 4x4 on tracks in the mud. They are not machines made to be pushed and go to the field with the mindset of cutting a load or two of beans and not 100 ac a day.

We always ran 215 heads until the 216's came out and carried 5 38" rows. I always felt the 213 was a better match but it straddles 3 38" rows. Nonetheless, have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, sounds like I'm doing OK on my choice of combine to most of you! Like the pictures of the 4420 above. My corn head looks a little straighter, but my unloading auger is probably the next thing to be redone. It pushed the bearing out of the end, it's patched and functional, but not great.

Worst repair was the chaffer frame. $1200 part! Ouch! I'd seen the patch the guy had on it, so I knew I had it coming, but he assured me he'd fixed it a long time ago and I wouldn't have trouble. I didn't believe it and took the combine anyway 'cuz the rest looked good. His patch was using sheet metal screws for Pete's sake. But, it broke in another spot instead!

So, the unloading auger seems wore, like too small diameter to where the tube doesn't want to come up on the driver. What's the best way to fix this? New auger flighting? An insert in the bottom end of the outer housing? I just wrap a string around it to lift it up, swing it in place, and pull the string out. Had to have a long enough string to reach the swing out valve in the cab!

Any thoughts on my worn out canvas inside?
 
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