Farming Without a Pickup Truck

My first truck was a basic Ford F150. I bought it used from my father-in-law when I was just getting started in the building trades around 30 years ago. It had a standard transmission so I had to learn to use the clutch and shift gears.

I loved that truck and remember thinking to myself that I would always drive a pickup. I saw pickup trucks as essential vehicles, not only for a carpenters but for anyone who lives in the country, especially farmers. I’ve never known a farmer that didn’t own a pickup.

I drove that first truck until it was well-rusted and mechanically worn out, or so I thought. I ended up selling it to a guy in my town who drove by and saw the vehicle parked in my side yard with no license plates. He did some engine work on it himself and drove it another two years. I admire guys who can do that with a rundown machine.

There would be more trucks: a Chevy S10 and then a Ford Ranger (which I flipped over and wrecked on a patch of black ice one winter morning). Then I bought another Ford F150 (again with a standard transmission, of course).

That second F150 would be my last truck. I drove it until it rusted out so badly that it wouldn’t pass inspection. The motor still started and ran great, and the heater was awesome, even with the cab so ventilated with rust-holes. I ended up giving that truck to a homesteading friend with some acreage. It was a good field truck for a year or so.

Since I was no longer doing carpentry work I couldn’t justify owning a truck any longer. I bought a SUV because it would transport the whole family and get me to work in the morning over unplowed winter roads. For hauling, I bought a 4ft by 8ft trailer and put a hitch on the SUV.

The SUV was a gas guzzler. I got rid of it a year ago and bought a fuel-efficient Honda Accord. It will pull the same 4ft by 8ft trailer and we use it all the time around here. It’s not nearly as nice as a pickup but it is economical and practical.

I have related all of this as the lead-in to something remarkable that a friend of mine recently told me.

My friend is an organic farmer with 200 acres. He owns the land on both sides of a rural road for a mile-long stretch. His home and barns are near the center of the property. There are fields and woods and a stream flowing through the property. It is a beautiful farm and well cared for.

My firend the organic farmer told me that his father bought the land that makes up his farm back in the 1940s. He actually purchased four adjoining farms over a period of time to get the 200-acre parcel. His father farmed the land his whole life and left it to his son when he died a couple years ago.

My friend, a man now in his 60’s, farms the land his father left him and here is the remarkable thing: My friend’s father never owned a pickup truck all the years he farmed.

How in the world can a farmer farm without a pickup? Well, my friend says his father was very thrifty and never saw the need for a pickup. He was able to utilize the family’s one car (a big sedan) for his farm needs. On occasion, he was known to transport a calf in the trunk. Larger farm supply needs were delivered by a local farm supplier.

This man’s father farmed for decades without a pickup truck.

I am not relating this story to say that farmer’s do not need pickup trucks. My point is that I think there are a lot of things in our lives that we assume we must have, but we really don't. This story challenges me to take a closer look at things that I've always thought were a necessity. Are they really?


Ian said...

The reason I'm writing is because I am a big fan of farmers' blogs, and I got frustrated at spending too much time trying to find good ones and then forgetting to bookmark them.

So, I've started

The idea is simple. I ask farm bloggers I like to recommend bloggers they like; I then write to those that they have recommended, as I am writing to you, and ask you to send me a brief description of your blog, and the farm blogs that you recommend.

You were recommended by Steve at Church Farm View.

I've put a link to you on

All I ask is that you send me a brief email to info AT with a few words about your farm, your blog AND your own favorite farmers' blogs.

I then make a brief posting, add your recommendations, contact the blogs you recommend, and so it goes.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,

Anonymous said...

In keeping with things we think we need I would like to add land, or rather lots of it. We have started growing lettuce VERY intensively on roughly 5000square feet.It is going so well I am considering quitting my construction job next spring. How does this apply? I thought I NEEDED at least ten acres to make a living farming.I was wrong.Some things you would of course but other things no. Plus, The Lord blessed me with this land and I feel blessed/challenged to make it work with what I have. I love reading your thoughts and look foward to your next whizbang book!
Dave in GA

Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying reading your blog for quite some time now but never posted. I just wanted to comment on this article however because I agree with the point you are trying to make wholeheartedly. There are a lot of things in life we may think we need, but with a little thought and perseverance we can live an enjoyable, prosperous life without them.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Lynn Bartlett said...

Hi Herrick,
You are right about thinking some things necessary when they really aren't. We did go for 3-1/2 years on this homestead without a pick-up truck. I still can't believe what we've hauled in our old station wagon and 4 x 8 utility trailer. This spring my brother gave the boys a 1979 Ford F150; the body is in terrible shape, but it had only 50,000 actual miles on it. Now we can't imagine what we did without it! Of course we know we can, since we did up until it was given to us.

brierrabbit said...

You have made a great point. I own a ford focus, and pull an old trailer made out of a early 70's era Datsun small truck. My small car can pretty easily pull it, even with a load of brush. I have pulled full loads of compost. I live in the Ozarks, so hills are a matter of course. Yet the car does pretty well, provided you understand it's limits. But, I can unhook it, and then have my car, and it's fuel efficiency back again. I have the only $75 dollar trailer in Missouri, I think. If you talk to old timers, you find out that many of them had no truck. they often had a trailer instead. It's a more versatile solution.

Narrow Gate Farmer said...

Our topic in community group at church yesterday was about blessings and how they are perceived. The discussion ultimately came around to needs and wants, and how this is the barometer that main stream America uses to determine how a person is blessed.

I am blessed to have Christ as my Savior, because I truly did need him. I am blessed with a loving wife and three tremendous children who love their family. I am blessed to have found the agrarian lifestyle.

I wanted a 4 wheel drive pick-up to use on the farm. I blessed myself with one 3 years ago by paying $5600, (on my Home Equity line of credit). I just e-mailed Herrick about the need to find organic grain suppliers in Michigan. Maybe what I need to do is sell the pick-up, utilize the trailer I paid $150 cash for 5 years ago. Then maybe what I need to do is by some used equipment from my pick-up sale to grow my own organic grains on part of my 20 acres of land that the Lord blessed me with 21 years ago! Thanks Herrick!!

Anonymous said...

I always thought a truck would be a most useful vehicle on our homestead but found that I can haul everything I need with my big Chevy van and sometimes a trailer. The bonus is that all five kids are usually with me and they wouldn't all fit (legally) in a truck. In one trip we can fit 3 bales of hay/straw and a couple bags of concrete in the back, as well as a couple 50 lb bags of critter feed and groceries for ourselves in the side door, piled around the kids. Having such a long vehicle I can fit some lumber in by sliding it down the middle between the seats. We haul scrap and larger loads of lumber with my folks' 16' trailer. With baby #6 on the way we're looking at a 15 passenger van that we'd take the back seat out of and then be able to haul tons more goodies. My husband drives his Honda Accord back and forth to work and we take turns using it to run any errands that don't involve hay, straw, or lumber (but one of us has to stay with some of the kids). Guess we don't need a truck after all. Good post as usual, friend. Good post.

Tovah said...

Hi Kaleesha,

With baby #8 on the way, we just moved up to a bigger van. We wanted a 15 pass., but what we found instead was a 12 pass w/an extended body. It's just perfect. There's plenty of cargo room and seating for 12. Plus, we don't have to figure out where to store the extra bench.

Andy said...

I think this is where they say - necessity is the mother of invention...
It's easy to get comfortable with things you have - it's empowering to become comfortable with out those things.
Visit us at Bluebird Meadow Farms

Joseph said...

Whenever a need presents itself we look to the Amish and go from there.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks Everyone for such thought-provoking and inspiring responses to this post!

Dave in GA-
I think my next Whizbang book should be how to make a living with salad greens on 5,000 square feet of land, by Dave in GA! :-)

I've posted THIS ESSAY for you Dave.

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