The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Rethinking the ATV

ATV hauling

Over supper on Friday, Mark apologized for being a bit surly when the time came to load up the ATV and send it home.  The trouble wasn't what I thought (that he'd had a long day and didn't appreciate working after hours).  Instead, he told me he'd fallen a bit in love and wasn't ready to see her go.

Ramp into truck

I should have known something was going on earlier in the week when I caught Mark patting the hunk of metal fondly as he filled up the tank.  "Good girl," he said under his breath.  Then, catching my eye, he tried to turn the praise over to Lucy.

Backing an ATV up a ramp

I've been adamantly anti-ATV in the past, mostly because of the damage I've seen when recreational riders tear up the woods.  But after days of hauling this week when the floodplain was pretty soggy, I have to say that Mark is starting to change my mind.  I'm willing to admit that I was wrong when I said the golf cart is lighter on the ground than a four-wheeler.  Under Mark's steady hand, the ATV acts like a tractor, creeping across wet terrain and only leaving tread marks rather than ruts.

Loading up an ATV

Does this mean Mark's going to get an ATV to dote on in the near future?  The jury's still out.  I suspect the decision will depend on a lot of factors like whether the golf cart batteries are salvageable and whether her dunking and extended sit in the floodplain ruined other parts of the electrical apparatus.  But the option has finally made its way to the negotiating table, right along with pigs.

Our chicken waterer is the safe and clean way to water chicks from day 1.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

... are all about compromise and lifting up and supporting the other. Glad to see you and Mark nurturing each other's wants, even if they're not easy to accept right away!
Comment by Seth, the Philly Marriage Counselor (Not really) Mon Mar 18 10:46:40 2013
Best thing I ever did was get a quad.We have 45 acres situated in the middle of wilderness and there is no way we could work or get around without it.We fabbed racks fore and aft that hold chainsaws,gas cans,orchard ladders,construction tools, just everything you can think of.I can skid 10ft logs with ease if the ground is hard, if its soft I can do the same with a "skid sled" that fits under the front nose of log.I can load all the racks with firewood whenever I'm cruising around or I can hook up the trailer and really go to town if I need to haul more.We always try to be good stewards of the land and with care it doesn't tear things up in the least. Life in the country is physically taxing enough as it is, why not let a quad help save your body as much as possible.This last winter when we had all the snow the quad was the only way we could get around for several weeks.If you want Mark to have a perpetual Buddha-like grin on his face when he is working in the woods get him a quad.PS ours is a 4x4 Honda Rancher 420ccr.Bob.
Comment by bob Mon Mar 18 11:34:22 2013
I vote to let Mark keep the quad.Better than a golf cart for work.
Comment by Anonymous Mon Mar 18 12:21:54 2013
I had a good chuckle over this post. My hubby recently bought a new Honda. He'd been looking at them for a very long time, but he's really careful about spending money and was concerned that I wouldn't be able to see the need for this expense. I think he was shocked when I didn't put up a fight at all. We don't indulge on big ticket items very often, but we're not getting any younger and he insisted that it would be a big help packing out deer and hauling firewood. It's proved to be a great tool and will definitely save your back. It's gets around in tough terrain much better than a golf cart. He doesn't tear the ground up since he generally drives around like the old man he is, but he certainly has a much younger smile when he's on it. For that reason alone it's probably worth every penny it cost. Unless Mark is going to go bonkers and rip up the old homestead in dare devil fashion I'll bet an ATV would be a big help with hauling around the farm.
Comment by Tee Mon Mar 18 13:43:49 2013

Darn it! You're all on Mark's side.... :-)

Nevertheless, I appreciate the comments (and especially Seth's by-line. :-) )

Comment by anna Mon Mar 18 15:42:11 2013

Located in The East, where most electric power is generated from coal, the ecological impact of running an electric cart may actually be greater than that fom running the ATV with ICE.

Consider one or two mini-horses, easily trained to drive, to do your hauling. (It takes about 10 minutes to teach them to be led while hauling.) They are cheap to feed (free if you have your own small pasture; about 5 bucks a week each if you have to buy hay)and return a good deal of the feed as fertilizing manure. They're never hard to start even on the coldest morning. And the enjoyment factor is priceless.

Comment by doc Mon Mar 18 21:09:18 2013

My vote is a yes yes yes. Mom

Comment by roseanell Mon Mar 18 21:50:38 2013
I know exactly how Mark feels... my Father in law has been loaning me his Honda Rancher to do some work and it's a handy piece of equipment for hauling things.
Comment by Phil Mon Mar 18 22:58:42 2013

An ATV will probably be lighter than a golf cart, and the tires are bigger too. So it will generate less contact pressure on the ground. It also probably has more ground clearance and being an off-road vehicle is designed to ford streams.

If you charge the golf cart from the grid, the milage of both (converted to the original fossil fuel) is probably in the same order of magnitude.

For both golf carts and ATVs, newer models will probably get better milage than older ones.

For an ATV, fuel injection (EFI) will be more fuel efficient than a carburetor. Liquid cooling is better than air cooled for a relatively slow moving vehicle.

I'm not sure as to wether a half-automatic (centrifucal clutch with foot operated gearbox) would give better milage than a fully automatic (CVT-type) transmission. A CVT has more internal losses but it tends to keep the engine running in its power band. And it is probably easier to drive.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Mar 19 03:12:09 2013
I forgot to mention when I saw you two the other day that it looked like Mark was having way too much fun with the ATV. ;) But in all seriousness, I think that any tool used incorrectly will cause unintended damage -- like the torn up landscape you mentioned. I also remember reading that you're more comfortable on the electric golf cart than an ATV, so a tool that can't be used by both of you would have less value in the long run. If you decide that you'd like to learn how to ride an ATV, Justin said he'd be happy to show you. I say this because I know that receiving instruction from a spouse can sometimes end in frustration for everyone, so learning from a friend might take some of the pressure off. Plus an ATV has a two-fold advantage: not only is it downright useful, it's also a lot of fun! (That's not to say that golf carts aren't fun -- Justin and I have secretly spun donuts in a golf cart back in our golfing days, but a golf cart can't get you up to the top of the mountain either when one isn't the mood for a strenuous hike. ;) )
Comment by mitsy Thu Mar 21 12:22:05 2013

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.