This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My New Garden Tractor

Okay, so maybe "tractor" is pushing it a bit to describe what it really is, but when combined with "garden", tractor sounds more like what it really is--a garden tractor. Its main function is mowing the lawn so it might best be called, and it is often referred to, as a riding mower. Either way, I can finally say, after of years of wanting one, I have a John Deere tractor in my barn.

At 10' by 12', it isn't much of a barn, but it is as close as I am likely to ever get to a big red barn on a 100 acres of land (I have a 1/3 of an acre). It houses my garden tools, power and otherwise, and even has a bench in it for making repairs. It has electric power and there is water on the corner outside the door. So it is a pretty nice out-building. I stained it and painted the trim a nice forest green after we built it back about 12 years ago.

As for the new tractor? It is a John Deere model D130. No, I didn't spend an additional $1000 to get into the X series. One does need to draw the line somewhere. This model, particularly impressed me when I read the specs about it on-line and went to the local dealer to kick the tires. It has a 22 horse V-Twin engine, much more power than my old Craftsman. The hydrostatic transmission removes the need to stop and shift gears. Just depress the accelerator and away you go. It has a heavy metal front bumper and larger back tires to make going through slippery spots and up hills easier. I can easily check how much fuel I have left on the gauge. Other features include cruise control and a higher back on the seat so no more whiplash in the middle of my back when I take off. I've added a mulching kit to it so I will no longer bag my grass and haul it off to the green dump every week, but rather leave it on the ground to feed the lawn.

And I even like the color!

Initially I went to the local dealer up in Lynden to make my purchase, but I was put off by the salesman who didn't seem interested in whether I bought or not. Plus he had this annoying habit of spinning his keys in a large circle on a key chain I swear was a couple of feet long. I had to keep my eye on his keys to avoid them flying off and hitting me up beside the head. I guess he was hoping I was going to buy a BIG tractor or combine or something. Plus he wanted to charge $75 for delivery. I needed time to think and so the salesman wandered off back inside the store. When I went in to ask to borrow a pen to write some thoughts down, there he was spinning his keys talking to one of the other employees rather than being available for me to ask questions to outside--especially since he obviously didn't have a thing to do.

I called my wife while sitting on the tractor I wanted and we decided (great idea) to think it over. So I drove off with the line of tractors in my rear view mirror.

In the meantime, I called our local Lowe's and asked if they happened to stock the same tractor. They did. "Do you deliver?" "Yes, we do!" "How much?" "It's free!" Hmmmmm!

So, this morning we drove over to Lowe's. I know, I know, what happened to "buy local?" Well, Lowe's was willing to deliver it free AND when I opened a Lowe's account I found I would also get 5% off the purchase price of the tractor (same price as the dealer). It took a little doing but we got it done and for a somewhat less expensive price than buying through the local dealer, who will, down the road, be happy to come do any repairs even if I didn't buy it from them. Buy local is great, but you know, I am really tired of being taken advantage of by local businesses that are unwilling to deal at all. The concept of buy local, but expect to pay more, is okay with me if you are actually getting more for your money--a knowledgeable staff and great service after the sale. All too often, you don't. The local John Deere dealer didn't know anything more than they did at Lowe's and, like Lowe's, the salesman at the local dealer wasn't interested in finding out the answers to any of my questions. So, all things being equal, I'm going with who makes the best deal for me. In this case, Lowe's wins!

The mower will be delivered on Thursday, ready to begin work. My old 2005 Craftsman LT200 is on Craig's List for sale and the new John Deere will take its place out in the old barn.

When it arrives I will register it and wait for the ultimate gift for any John Deere lover--a John Deere hat! With the purchase of a John Deere tractor the new owner traditionally gets a hat which signifies that you are the proud owner of a John Deere tractor. I certainly am.