Scottish Borders farmer and contractor Daniel Freeland-Cook is the latest to let us brevet around his machinery shed.
Cliftoncote Farm, Yetholm, Scottish Borders.
Farming: 1,700ha over five units on rented tenancies and contract farming agreements.
Livestock: 3,800 ewes (closed flock), 6,000 lambs finished, 100 suckler cows (closed herd) calves mostly sold at one year old.
Arable: 30ha of winter crops grown with a further 40ha of fodder crops and 40ha grass reseeded annually.
Contracting: Over 600ha of grass made into a mixture of silage and hay.
Other: Seasonal grass reseeding and fertiliser spreading, silage operations, summer ploughing, chicken muck spreading, ground works, forestry, road work, ponds and drainage, straw baling and haulage, snow clearance, holiday cottages and horse livery.
Staff: Mostly family ran with me, my brother and wife, parents and one full-time tractor man. We also have seasonal lambing staff and tractor drivers hired in at peak times. A trainee shepherd at college is also on the books.
In the shed
Tractors: Three John Deere 6930s – two are filled with loaders.
Handlers & diggers: JCB 160 excavator, JCB 3CX, JD 3215 forklift (hired).
Baler: Claas 385 Variant Crop Cutter.
Wrapper : McHale trailed twin satellite.
Rake: Claas 8m twin-rotor.
Tedder: Claas 8m six-rotor.
Mowers: John Deere push/pull mounted 20ft.
Plough: Kverneland 5F.
Drill: 3m Kuhn combination.
Main trailers: Chieftain 32ft low loader, Stewart 15t dump trailer, Marshall 11t monocoque, 30ft Agrimac 30ft stock box with hydraulic decks.
ATVs: Three Yamaha 550s (one on tracks), Honda foreman 450.
More from our What’s in Your Shed series
How loyal are you to individual brands?
On the tractor front it has been John Deere for the past 20 years. Prior to that my father ran County and Same tractors. Diggers have always been JCB. My first was a 1965 JCB 4C cabriolet – the previous owner removed the cab.
Who is you favourite dealer?
For the past 15 years we’ve sourced most of our machines from W. M. Dodds, Jedburgh and Scot JCB in Alnwick. Thomas Sherriff of Coldstream has also stepped up the mark lately and Rickerby of Cornhill has always been very reliable.
Favourite piece of kit?
Probably the 360 excavator. It weighs in at 20t with the extra fabrications and is strong as an ox. Whatever mess you get yourself into you can usually get yourself out in one piece. Apart from peat bogs that is – I nearly lost it when it was only one week old. The rake has also speeded up silage operations.
Least favourite piece of kit?
That’s got to be the trailed wrapper. I avoid it like the plague. My older brother (the sheep man) is the only person to be shown how to use it years ago. Or our milk machine for the pet lambs is also very temperamental.
A 15t Stewart dump trailer. It is tremendous. We specced it up with big boots and air /ABS braking to save scrubbing the expensive tyres. Every trailer these days should have wide, hardwearing tyres – our fields have benefitted massively. We also bought a tracked quad recently.
Oldest piece of machinery still at work?
Probably our 10t Marston dump trailer. It’s on its third set of rims/tyres due to the tyre availability and has been overhauled twice. It’s well over 25 years old. We also run a D-reg Land Rover on a galvanised chassis that’s used daily.
How long do you keep your machines?
Years ago there were no real replacement plans. Now because the front line machines clock up a lot more hours they get changed every three to four years. We have a 5,000-hour warranty on tractors but that soon runs out. They are usually well into their second set of tyres before we move them on.
What’s next on your wish list?
Next on our shopping list is a bat-wing topper. We have hired toppers in for years but feel the annual costs of hire would be better spent on a new machine. We find we only have time to top grass when it’s lashing down with rain and most toppers are already out on hire.
Most embarrassing machinery mistake?
Runaway round bales on our steep slopes do tend to keep the locals amused. My brother once had a side door come open on the stock box whilst moving hoggs from grass parks. That wasn’t so good. I also lost a load of straw in the middle of the local village.
Most awkward grease nipple?
Our last mower, a centre-pivot John Deere 730, was a dog to grease up.
What’s your best invention?
I fabricated a hydraulic bucket thumb with the help of a local engineer (Eric Paxton) a few years ago. It stays on the underside of the excavator dipper and can be used with any bucket. Its main use is for forestry work and placing riprap stones to reinforce banks. The quad bike ramps we built over fence lines also make life much easier.
What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?
Probably the compressor. With the amount of quads and quad trailers about the place there is always one with a soft tyre. Also the tractor man (Peter) he fixes everything we break.
Do you buy second hand?
We used to buy everything second-hand but due to having a larger workload and contracting commitments we cannot afford the downtime with breakdowns. The last thing we bought second-hand was a bedding machine.
Favourite job/ least favourite job?
I do enjoy mowing grass although I am usually the rake man. Building ponds and forestry roads are also up there. Least favourite job is clipping sheep as I am not flexible and young enough anymore. I do however love dipping them (payback time). Snow ploughing is also pretty cool.
What’s your everyday transport?
Currently a Mitsubishi Shogun short wheelbase – it’s a bit soft and plastic mind. A Land Rover will probably succeed it. Before that I had an old Isuzu Trooper which was bombproof. It lasted 200,000 miles.
Best tractor you’ve ever had?
I loved our JD 3050 20 years ago. It was a pocket rocket with a lovely sound. They don’t make them like that anymore. I also had a turbocharged 6520 but it was too powerful for its weight and used to bounce.
Biggest machinery bargain?
A one-year-old, 8m Claas rake that we managed to get on Ebay for £5,000.
Biggest myth to do with machinery?
You don’t need to change a head gasket on a 6930 and it only takes an hour to steam clean a stock trailer.
What would you buy if you won the lottery?
A new cattle crush. We had to cut the last one up as we got a bull stuck in it. A Range Rover, big square baler, John Deere 4955, two massive sheds with concrete floors and 1,000 acres of grade one arable ground. Apart from that not much, maybe GPS and auto steer for the wife’s hoover.
Any machinery toys/ classics lurking in the shed?
A Morooka tracked 6t dumper – it will go anywhere, albeit slowly. Also our Honda Foreman 450 which just refuses to die.
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