New moneymaking machine?

LAKE ALMA, Saskatchewan -- Hey, what's that huge, gray behemoth in Wayne Hagen's farmyard? Well, Hagen acknowledges, it isn't any ordinary farm diversification project.

LAKE ALMA, Saskatchewan -- Hey, what's that huge, gray behemoth in Wayne Hagen's farmyard? Well, Hagen acknowledges, it isn't any ordinary farm diversification project.

"The neighbors think I'm crazy -- or at least it keeps them wondering about me," Hagen says, laughing.

He's hoping this 1949-era rock crusher that he bought a couple of months ago will be a moneymaker -- another bit extra, to help get the kids through school.

Hagen, 55, and his wife, Delores, have three children, ages 21 to 25. He describes his farm as "diversified and getting more so." He runs a grain farm and has cattle and a small welding shop. He has 300 acres seeded acres on his farm -- all durum this year -- but owns a total of four quarters. He runs about 70 head of beef cows -- a Charolais-Red Angus commercial herd.

Cattle income has been tenuous because of current market conditions.


"Really, things haven't been good since BSE," he says.

BSE is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, which has been upsetting the Canadian market since it was discovered in the country in May 2003.

"Last year was much worse than the worst year with the BSE," Hagen says of the cattle income.

He's been increasing efforts in nonfarm work for the past several years.

The welding shop called Hagen Manufacturing, is especially well known for turning out ornate steel yard signs for farmers and other commercial clients. He also sells plans and tools for making shop tools -- mostly sheet metal and auto body tools.

Crushing rocks

Gravel is another diversification hope.

In the hills of southeast Saskatchewan, there are good gravel deposits spread around, but rural municipalities and highway departments to the north and east don't have as much.


"The market for gravel is better than it has been in the past," Hagen says.

He has gravel on a couple of his quarters, but to make it marketable, it has to be crushed.

"We were hiring people to come in and crush it before, and I decided I'd upgrade it by crushing it myself."

Like many things these days, Hagen found that the Internet was a good place to look for a rock crusher.

He found this Cedar Rapids brand machine in Forks, Wash., about 1,300 miles away, and rang up the owner, a construction company that had outgrown the machine.

"I guess you'd say I bought it, sight unseen," Hagen says. The crusher is an entirely self-contained unit that came out in the post-World War II era. "It was a good-sized one for that day and age, but is probably small now."


The crusher is powered by a diesel engine, so it's all belt-driven. A radial stacker is powered by an electric generator, and can stack 10,000 yards without moving.


He hired a truck to get it. It arrived in September, and he took a couple of months to recondition it. He paid about $60,000 to get it into his yard, and rebuilt it for about $2,000 and "quite a bit of time."

Hagen rebuilt plates that were worn and changed the fluids and replaced worn parts, and then repainted it. Finished with the project, he crushed a few hundred yards. He's putting a shaft monitor in it so there is an automatic shut-down, to make it easier to watch.

He plans to use it just on his own land.

"I have more work on my own land than that machine can keep up with," he says.

It can handle up to 10-inch rocks. The rocks move on a conveyor to the top of the machine and then through a screen and are sized out. The larger ones go through the "jaw-crusher," and the smaller ones go through a roll crusher, and are recycled through the screen until they're small enough to go through to a pile of finished gravel. The machine is provided with a radial stacker, which puts 10,000 yards in one swing.

"I was peaking out at about 50 yards an hour, when I was testing it in the fall here," he says.

Good enough, he says.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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