Hi I’m Mike, when it comes to tools on the
ranch we have plenty, from wrenches and sockets to welders and grinders. But when you are dealing with something the
size of the ranch, more than 7 square miles, with over 25 miles of just fence line, what
quickly becomes one of the most important tools at your disposal is what gives you the
ability to travel from one end to the other, from ravine to hilltop. Today we take a look at our broke down John
Deere gator, we fix it up and hopefully get back to work on our Wyoming life. Welcome back, hope you really did have a great
week and thanks for joining us once again. Please subscribe and come along as we continue
to explore the ranch life and escape the ordinary. Coming to the ranch, I had no idea what to
expect, but after just one day here, and after getting the quick pickup tour from my father
in law Gilbert, it was soon obvious that the ranch covers some ground. At over 5000 acres, we are in charge of more
than 7 square miles. That’s 1/3 the size of Manhattan or more
than 3,000 football fields. I began wondering how you keep track of this
much land, how you made sure that nothing bad was happening over there, or over there. I figured out that you can’t, not really. You cant be everywhere at once. Just over that hill, there may be a coyote,
stalking closer to the cows, or a trespasser, just cutting through trying to get from A
to B. Getting from A to B is a legitimate problem
around here. Enter the John Deere Gator, the broken John
Deere Gator. The Gator is our primary source of transportation
on the ranch. Erin’s Mom bought it in 2011 as a birthday
present for Gilbert, a replacement for his gator cx that he was known to use daily. I think he drove it twice, before parking
it in the shop and climbing back on his little gator. He wasn’t big into change, but he told me
that I could use it and with that he ushered a tool into use that at this point, I’m
not sure the ranch could do without. In the 8 years that the gator has been on
the ranch, it has logged over 10,000 miles, went through multiple sets of tires, fuel
pumps, a starter, shocks, a windshield and even doors. It has been the workhorse of the ranch from
the moment that Gilbert said it was ours to use, and we have almost worked it into the
ground. There are multiple stories surrounding the
gator, from a ranch hand rolling it after goofing off and chasing some antelope into
a ravine, to doors being ripped off and shattered by the wind. We went through a period of time where we
thought either it was cursed or a certain area of the ranch was, because everytime we
drove through this one area it would die and refuse to start again. This gator also took our kids for their very
first real look at the ranch and helped me save many new born calves, who otherwise might
have never lived. This is a 2010 John Deere 825i Gator. Propelling the gator is an 815cc, liquid cooled,
incline 3 cylinder engine that has 4 valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams and electronic
fuel injection. All those fancy words push it up to about
44 miles per hour and kick out 50 horsepower and 47 foot pounds of torque. Ours came with an electric tilt dump bed,
that has a 1,000 lb capacity that has came in handy many times. It also came with a hefty price tag, at right
around 11,000$. At the time, it seemed excessive compared
to the four wheelers we were used to using but over the years we have found that the
price was worth it. Ours was pretty basic, although we have modified
it over the years. We added a spot light to the top to aid during
calving, an after market dome light, and led lights to the front bumper. We have also added a kolpin UTV Gun mount,
allowing us to safely carry rifles within the cab, as predators on the ranch are always
a possibility, from rattlesnakes to badgers to mountain lions. Unfortunately with hard use also comes down
time with the gator. It has been torn apart and rebuilt many times
and right now, its broken completely. The water pump has given up the ghost and
you cant drive it more than about 5 minutes before it overheats, making it utterly useless
on the ranch. With calving coming up, we need the gator,
for the storage and for the capability to transport calves, so we need it fixed. Our new water pump has arrived, and our neighbor
gary has offered the use of his shop to put it in. We could do it here, but Gary has a lift in
his shop that will make the job a lot easier. And luckily Gary’s shop is only about a
half a mile down the highway. I’m not much of a mechanic, and if problems
require diagnostics, I’m not the guy you want working on your stuff, but if we know
what is wrong, like a water pump that is leaking and needs replaced, that I can do. Out with the old, in with the new. We start by removing the four wheel drive
shaft, that’s gonna be in the way. Then we take off the alternator and water
pump belt, along with their pullys. A plastic shield protects the cam shaft belt
and once it, along with its tensioner is gone we can remove the old water pump. After completely cleaning out the old gasket,
we can gather parts to get the new pump in. If you can deal with working in small spaces,
trying to wiggle in bolts that must have been designed by an engineer on the day his wife
left him and his dog died, then you can do this. All it takes is a bit of patience and the
wiliness to not pay a mechanic a hundred dollars per hour. The new gasket is in, and the pump goes on. Followed by the cam belt, the dust cover,
pulleys, belt and eventually the 4 wheel drive shaft that was in the way. We add some new coolant to replace the stuff
we lost and fire it up. And like that…. And like that, we are gone, well not quite. Always leave your neighbors shop cleaner than
when you found it. And make sure you clean your tools, then its
off and back home. Where the gator goes immediately back into
service. Out to check cows that are threatening to
start having cows any day now. True, that without the gator we would find
another way to do things, but given the choice between walking, driving a four wheeler, or
using the gator, I’d take the gator anyday. As long as its running, I’m smiling and
everyone is happy. Thanks for coming along today, a few skinned
knuckles and a bit of grease gets us back up and running again. Hopefully the gator holds out the entire calving
season. A new engine is in its future but that’s
a story for another day, and one were we don’t need it for a while. If you enjoy podcasts, I’d like to invite
you to check out Beyond the ranch, its Erin and my podcast, a look at the behind the scenes
of running a ranch, youtube and marriage and sometimes all three and how they all can be
difficult to manage at times. You can find it on itunes and google play
or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts just by searching Our Wyoming Life. Please take a minute to subscribe to our YouTube
channel we would really appreciate it and I know you will too. Until next time, have a great week and thanks
for joining us in our Wyoming life.