I bet a lot of you are thinking, "Does this guy know his seasons? It's only March." The reason I think of fall now is because it is a time-sensitive part of the year when winter pasture needs to be established, fertilizer put out, stockers processed, etc.
How many times have you set a date to start planting and forgotten about that breakdown you had at the end of last year's planting season that you intended to fix? When that date came, you had to order the part and wait a week past your scheduled start date and missed that good rain. Not only is this a good time of year to think about your fall equipment repair needs, but it's a good time, in general, to get everything up in good shape for the spring and summer. Robert Carpenter is the "equipment coordinator" for the farms here at the Noble Research Institute, and he does an excellent job keeping all our equipment in service. Typically, he gets everything that needs major attention in the farm shop during January and February and gets them repaired. In this article, I will go over a basic checklist of things we try to look at during this time of year.
The majority of farm equipment has wheel bearings that need to be packed - examples include the livestock trailer, baler, front of tractor, drill discs, plows, etc. The last time you were on the side of the road you were probably saying, "I thought I packed those just last year."
Have you checked the belts and pins on your round baler? It is recommended that the pins be replaced every 150 to 200 bales, or you take a chance of rolling up one of those $75 belts in a bale.
Have you checked the floors on the trailers you own? There is nothing worse than having livestock or equipment fall though the floor of a trailer. There are some great plastic products on the market today for lifetime floor replacement; it costs a little more but is well worth the expense.
Check for any lubrication points that are not taking grease, and replace those that are not.
How many lights are out and light plugs pulled off your trailer? We have all been guilty of pulling a trailer after dark without tail lights working, but it is a really dangerous thing to do, especially when you are pulling a heavy load after dark at a slow rate of speed. It doesn't take long for someone to hit you from behind when they are traveling 65 MPH and you are at 35 MPH - they don't see you until it's to late.
Check the tires on the equipment and vehicles that will be used most. Old weathered and cracked tires on a trailer or truck can give you trouble when the summer season really gets those roads cooking.
As far as our tractors and 4-wheeler fleet go, we service them according to the factory recommended specs. If you do not have a manual to a piece of equipment, one can generally be purchased at a dealer of that specific brand of machinery. I would also recommend keeping a maintenance log, even if it's in a spiral notebook, to refer back to when you have a question about the last time a piece of equipment was serviced. Remember the old commercial that said, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later?" Well, I believe that to be very true when it comes to servicing equipment.