×

Leyden farmer’s mini-tractors are just the right size

  • Dave Morgan shows off his Italian mini-tractors, with mower and baler.  —Richie Davis photo

  • Dave Morgan of Leyden shows off his Italian mini-tractors and accessories. Recorder Staff/Richie Davis

  • Above and above left: Dave Morgan with his mini-tractors and round bales of hay he hopes to feed his mules in winter. Richie Davis photoS



Recorder Staff
Friday, June 29, 2018

LEYDEN — Some may daydream about retiring to the hills of Tuscany.

But for Dave Morgan, who can hop on his Pasquale or Goldoni tractors or walk behind his Italian-made BCS mini-tractors as he tries taming the “jungle” behind his Greenfield Road house, the appropriate-scale equipment is a dream come true.

“It’s appropriate equipment for my operation,” says Morgan, who’s gotten some funny looks from neighbors and motorists driving by as he’s out with his walk-behind mower, hay rake or baler around his 12-acre property, something he said is “just a little, self-sufficient homestead.”

The former Franklin County Technical School welding and metal fabrication teacher is so at home with his two two-wheeled Italian mini-tractors that he’s just acquired another one.

There’s the blue, 10-horsepower diesel BCS (the initials stand for Camillo Bonetti, Luigi Castoldi and Severino Speroni, who found the manufacturing company) as well as the 13-horsepower, gas-powered version, that help him with the bulk of his work, along with the 21-horsepower Goldoni diesel that pulls his hay wagon. Or there’s the Pasquale with a bucket loader that he uses to lift the round mini bales of hay into the upper hay loft of his 1865 barn.

“This is small, specialty equipment that’s used for small hill farms,” says Morgan, who bought his first used BCS before he moved from South Deerfield nearly four years ago. “It’s an advantage on hilly terrain, because it’s safe and maneuverable, and you can end up using a lot of land that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to maneuver a tractor around.”

The only difference between these and a conventional tractor, he says of the walk-behind tractors, is that it’s slower because of its lower horsepower. It takes a little under an hour to mow an acre of hay, not nearly that long to rake it and maybe an hour and a half to bale it using the “caution yellow” Caeb International Mountain Press.

“You’d be surprised how big a windrow of hay this thing picks,” says Morgan, as he points to the claws that drop down and rotate to collect hay and fills up the bale chamber until an indicator displays how full the rolled-up bale is. Morgan puts the tractor in neutral and squeezes a lever to wrap the round bale in nylon. Weighing under 60 pounds, it pops out through a door.

“Everybody’s thinking it’s going to pop out little ice-cube-size bales,” says Morgan, pointing out the simplicity of the devices — which can be adjusted and disconnected by just pulling out a cotter pin and flipping a lever to connect another piece of equipment in front or behind. Hand brakes for either tractor wheel assist with turning and an added safety feature is that if he lets go of the handle, the tractor simply shuts off.

Morgan is so sold on the Italian mini-tractors, that he’s bought a 10-horsepower diesel tractor with an electric start-er — unlike his smaller BCS, with a rope pull “that’s a bear” to start.

The Italian diesels are no longer being imported, said Morgan, who plans to build a sulky onto the walk-behind mower so that he can ride it down the road at 8 or 9 mph to help out neighbors.

“Sometimes it amazes me what they can do,” says Morgan, who even has a 4-foot rotary broom to sweep snow using the tractors. As he works to fight back “the jungle” around his hillside, the minis let him maneuver around apple trees and blueberry bushes he’s planted without a lot of the danger of driving a heavy tractor around slopes.

“With conventional equipment, I just couldn’t do it, because it’s just too cumbersome,” he says.