(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
And snow ... now, Shad can handle snow.
Shad has repurposed a mid-1970s International 815 self-propelled combine into a multi-purpose farm implement and "snow-bine." After Shad's welding and tinkering, the combine -- minus its header and hopper -- can now move big round hay bales, haul things, doze weeds, and, yes, push snow.
Shad bought Don Rockwell's retired International 851 combine at a consignment auction west of the Red Willow Animal Clinic west of McCook in 2006 -- with the idea of turning it into a snow plow.
With his own vision and imagination -- supplemented by those shared by other farmers and ranchers in a "Farm Show" publication -- Shad welded new 3x6-inch iron tubing across the combine's platform-mounting bracket, fashioned a "quick attach" mechanism and mounted the 11-foot snow blade from a state snow plow.
"We've only had two snows worth pushing," Shad said, almost sadly. After one storm last winter, the snow blew into three- to four-foot drifts. "It pushed right through the drifts," Shad said. " ... never bogged down."
Shad uses the blade to work around the farm yard, and dozed yucca plants in a pasture. "It's actually pushed more dirt and weeds than snow," he said.
The quick-attach lets Shad remove the snow plow attachment and attach a frame he designed with two spears to haul big round bales.
By cutting off the combine's auger and hopper, Shad improved visibility. "I know where the rear-end is at all times," he said. Shad told "Farm Show," which featured his loader in its May-June 2012 issue, "It's not as fast as a tractor, but I sit high, and can see all around me."
Shad plans another innovation -- building a light-duty crane out of the combine's grain unloading auger, controlling the swing of the crane from the cab.
The only "new" piece in the combine "snow-bine" project has been the 3x6-inch chunk of iron tubing. All expenses tolled, Shad figures he has "lots of welding rod" but only about $1,200 -- not including labor -- in the project. "It's been a lot cheaper than buying a loader tractor," he chuckled.
Shad Dewey's one of those creative individuals, a visionary, a "Professor Gadget," someone who can "make do with what you've got." He admits his combine/plow has some limitations, "but it's been fun, and it's definitely a conversation piece."