As we all know, spring has long been considered the ideal time to prepare for a summer filled with activity. For many people, classic “spring cleaning” might involve tidying up their houses, cleaning out their closets and similar tasks, but on farms, spring cleaning comprises primarily outdoor work. As soon as the weather gets nice, there’s a lot to be done: cleaning up trees and branches that have fallen during the winter, preparing the fields and gardens for growing crops, and—as important as anything—making sure that farm equipment is working and ready for another year of service.
During the summer months, when there’s lots to be done and the days seem to fly by at an unbelievable pace, it can be hard to stop and find the time for routine equipment maintenance, which is why spring is the perfect time to both literally and figuratively “clean” your equipment and make sure everything is in perfect working order.
1. Get Up-to-Date On Oil Changes
We all know that cars need oil to keep them running smoothly, and farm equipment like tractors, ATVs, and other motorized equipment are no different. Routine oil changes are needed to ensure that the engines run efficiently and don’t develop problems, but fortunately, changing oil isn’t very complicated. Check your vehicle’s manual to see how often the oil needs to be changed—for instance, it might be once a year or after 50 hours of use—and follow the instructions to drain the oil from the engine (be careful not to spill it!) and replace with an appropriate amount of oil marked for use in engines of that size and type.
You may also need to change your vehicle’s oil filter, but this is also fairly simple. After ordering a replacement filter designed for your engine, drain the oil from the engine and follow the instructions to remove the old filter and install the new one. You might need to tightly secure the filter in place to prevent it from leaking oil. Once the new filter is in place, fill the engine back up with oil, and you should be good to go.
2. Don’t Forget Air Filters!
Many engines have air filters to prevent small particles from getting inside and clogging the engine, but these filters eventually get clogged with dust, making it harder for the engine to breath air, which is necessary to keep them running. As a result, air filters will need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. Consult your vehicle’s manual for advice on how often to check the air filter.
3. Check Tire Air Pressure
It’s not uncommon for the tires on vehicles, including tractors, trailers and wagons, to lose pressure during the winter and be low on air come spring. Checking the air pressure and adding more as needed will keep your vehicles in working order and ensure that they’re safe to use. While you’re at it, give the tires a good visual inspection to look for weak or deteriorating areas—over time, the tires can degrade and will eventually need to be replaced.
4. Don’t Overlook Non-Motorized Equipment
While it’s only natural that your motorized equipment will receive much of your spring-cleaning attention, you shouldn’t overlook your non-motorized (but equally essential) equipment. Give larger machines like haybines or mowers an inspection or even a quick test run to be sure that they’re ready for another year of service—after all, you don’t want to discover on the day that you’re going to cut hay that your haybine suffered damage during the winter.
Also, don’t forget about the simplest pieces of equipment like shovels, rakes and other hand tools. Take an inventory of your supplies, and see if you need to repair anything or purchase new items. Is that broken shovel handle replaceable, or will you need a new one before you start putting in the garden? If any items are missing, try to think where you last used them. Did you use the pitchfork to spread a little manure at the top of the hill field, or did you lend it to your neighbor and he forgot to return it?
Spring cleaning on a farm requires a lot of time and effort—much more than cleaning a closet—but the satisfaction of having all your equipment ready for the coming summer makes it more than worthwhile.