When it comes to buying equipment, I try to purchase what I need without overspending. I don’t typically opt for the latest and greatest. I lean toward equipment that does the job without introducing unnecessary bells and whistles.
This approach usually pays off. But once in a while I think to myself, “That bell or whistle would have really made a difference.” That’s why I’m here to tell you if you’re using a snow blower attachment on a tractor or UTV, you might want to consider getting an enclosed cab as well.
When I acquired a used garden tractor with a snow blower last fall, it didn’t come with a cab, and I didn’t think one would be necessary. Having used a self-propelled, walk-behind snow blower for years, I wasn’t afraid of a little snow blowing back in my face. Sure, it can be a bit unpleasant but surely not enough to warrant the cost of a cab.
In the end, I was surprised by a couple of key differences.
- A 4-foot, tractor-mounted snow blower clears twice as much snow in a single pass as a 2-foot, self-propelled snow blower. This means twice as much snow comes out the discharge chute. Twice as much snow can blow back at you, because it seems like with any wind at all, snow finds a way to blow back at you.
- Operating a self-propelled snow blower can be strenuous, especially if the snow is deep. So you tend to stay warm from the exercise even if temperatures are chilly. No such exercise warmth is gained when driving around on a tractor or UTV. The experience feels colder even when you’re suitably dressed for the weather. Cold winds (and getting snow blown on you) only make matters worse.
- On my snow-blowing tractor, the gas gauge is displayed on an LCD panel. As snow blows back across the tractor, the LCD panel gets covered with snow and then fogs up to the point where I can’t read any of the information. I can only hope I put in enough gas to accomplish the job.
Why It Matters
None of these obstacles are especially bothersome if you’re clearing only a small amount of snow. But if you’ve purchased a snow blower attachment for a tractor or UTV, then you’re probably dealing with lots of snow. And if you’re reading this column, you’re probably a farmer who needs to clear a variety of farm roads and farm paths, which can easily take an hour or two if you’re thorough.
Such is my situation. Each significant snowstorm leads to hours of snow blowing. Since I’m not interested in frostbite, I have to perform the snow blowing in chunks to avoid growing too cold from a combination of sedentary driving and snow blowing back on me.
Don’t get me wrong, on the whole I’m thrilled with the performance of my tractor-mounted snow blower. And spring is almost here, so I should be able to enjoy warmer temperatures for the few snow-blowing sessions that remain.
But I can’t help but think how a cab would alleviate all of the issues I listed above. It would block the snow and wind from reaching me, leading to a warmer drive (especially if the cab were heated). And by blocking out the snow, the LCD gas gauge would remain viewable no matter how long I’m out and about.
In short, I’m starting to think a cab for my snow-blowing tractor would be worth the investment. Call it a bell or a whistle, but I may have to do some shopping before next winter.