The list of equipment needed to manage a horse property is long, and sometimes overwhelming, especially for those just starting out. Not only is new equipment expensive, it is time-consuming to maintain and do upkeep on it plus you need room to store it. Here are some alternatives to buying new equipment and ways to save money, and time, in the process.
For some tools you may decide that for the few times a year you use it, it might make more sense to find a cheaper way to acquire it. Your first option is to buy used. Check out the ag and farming side of life in your neck of the woods—ask around with larger farming operations or keep an eye on Craigslist or the regional ag related newspaper. Equipment classified sections in these kinds of publications are always interesting. Get into the habit of periodically scanning these sources with your equipment shopping list in mind. Check for equipment auctions held at local livestock auction yards. Ask your horse friends or local farmers for the names and location of these places. Also, talk with horse friends and neighbors about the equipment you want -- they may know of a friend-of-a-friend who is getting out of horses or is moving and has farm implements to sell. Keep an eye on the newspaper for listings on estate sales or farm sales.
Farm equipment is often a major investment for a small-property owner.
Renting equipment is another option which can save you the headache of maintenance and storage. Many equipment rental facilities have all sorts of farm implements for rent -- or if they don’t they may be interested in acquiring what you’re interested in, especially if you can make a case for them on usefulness.
Borrowing from friends, neighbors or family is another option. If you don’t like the something for nothing idea, consider a trade or barter approach. Trade something you have in exchange for something you need. For example, trade some of your firewood for the use of a pasture harrow. If you have extra pasture, trade grazing privileges with a neighbor short on pasture for use of their posthole digger and fencing equipment. Or trade a day of your labor for use of the neighbor’s riding mower.
Another option is cooperative purchases. This could be between horsey neighbors or perhaps within a horse club or organization. Issues like maintenance, storage and liability should be worked out and agreed upon beforehand. Examples of cooperative purchases could be a manure spreader or fencing equipment.
If you have a horse club or farming organization you work with perhaps there is an equipment company that would like to make an equipment donation? Or perhaps your club would purchase a piece of equipment then loan it out to members?
Consider building your own. Some implements can be made simply, such as a harrow which can be made from chain link fencing or old bed spring.
Don’t forget the old-fashioned work party idea. Invite your horsey buddies over for a fence-building or pasture renovation project. You supply the food perhaps and they supply different pieces of equipment and labor.
When all else fails, consider hiring. When you consider how much it costs to purchase, maintain and store equipment it might turn out to be cost effective just to hire out. A farmer or other experienced person who has the equipment and expertise to do the work can do so quickly and efficiently. Examples include building fences, mowing pastures and spreading compost. Check with neighbors and horse friends for recommendations and look for ads in your local papers.
Remember, the more useful and easy-to-use your equipment is the more likely you are to accomplish your chores and projects. To expedite the process further plan to keep tools and equipment stored in an area central to your farm and projects.