CECIL, Ohio — For Mike Todd, excavating jobs used to be only a seasonal endeavor. He doesn’t own a drive-in movie theater, a miniature golf course, or a water park, but for years he had the same enemy as those who do: winter weather.
Mike’s business, Todd Farms and Excavating, has thrived for three decades. The company is located in Cecil, the northwest corner of Ohio. It is only 30-plus miles east of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
However, winters have always been notably difficult. Most farmers dread winter, especially in the Midwest and the northern border states. The climate is harsh and unpredictable. Landscapes are less cooperative. As a result, there are significantly fewer opportunities for work, and cash flow is weaker.
Fortunately for Mike, that has changed in recent years thanks to his purchase of a Fecon BH40 mulching attachment for his Cat 322 excavator and also a Fecon FTX128L forestry mulcher.
Mike had been interested in updating his equipment and checked out some videos on YouTube. He was more than impressed by the Fecon BH40 mulching attachment. One video demonstrated its power and efficiency as it shredded three whole trees in less than 45 seconds.
Fecon, based in Lebanon, Ohio, sold Mike a Bull Hog® mulching attachment. It works quickly and productively and also enjoys a reputation for durability. Now, no matter what season it is, Mike can be open for business.
Mike purchased the Fecon BH40EXC, which is designed for severe duty. It is available in three different rotor styles, each with a 36-inch cutting width. Mike opted for the Depth Control Rotor (DCR) that is fitted with 16 Viking flippable cutting tools.
Ideal for excavators in the 15-45-ton range, the Bull Hog® can operate efficiently with hydraulic flow from 30 to 105 gpm. It can power its way through and shred standing trees, brush, stumps, or whatever else might be in the way.
“They are so far advanced,” said Mike, who has been able to turn his business into a year-round enterprise. At first he used the excavator-mounted Fecon mulching head to clear field lines, fence rows, ditches and other common farm projects.
In addition to keeping branches from scratching a combine or other farm equipment, moving a tree line back farther has positive effects for farmers. “It opens up sunlight to the ground so it dries faster in the spring,” noted Mike. “It increases your productivity along the edge of the field because your crops can grow instead of having the tree suck up all the moisture.”
After working with the Fecon Bull Hog and excavator combination for a while and observing its power, Mike realized he had not tapped the potential of the BH40EXC. There was a diverse range of off-farm projects the Fecon attachment could tackle with ease, especially with the excavator thumb, which simplifies moving logs and debris. Once he started using the Fecon BH40EXC to clear land for other projects, his winter business started escalating with no signs of slowing down.
As noted above, the BH40EXC is not the only Fecon product in Mike’s repertoire. Curious to see what other Fecon equipment could increase his productivity, he began investigating their forestry mulchers.
Mike recalled a job to clear 12 acres of land with trees from 2-15 inches in diameter. He had a skid steer equipped with a mulching head, but he knew it would be slow going. And he had another job, 5 acres, afterward. With winter fast approaching and his soybeans languishing in the fields, Mike knew he needed something more effective. He called his local Fecon dealer, Company Wrench, which brought a Fecon FTX128L to his job site. Although the Fecon FTX128L was about the same size as the other mulching head, within the first 10 minutes of the demonstration Mike could see the Fecon equipment was much more superior. “There’s nothing it can’t handle,” said Mike.
The Fecon FTX128L boasts many features for both productivity and operator comfort. A 128 hp Cummins diesel engine delivers plenty of power while consuming just 3.5 to 4.5 gallons of fuel per hour. The machine generates 60 gpm of hydraulic flow. Coupled with Fecon’s power management system, the FTX128L performs well in tough mulching environments – including cutting and climbing 40-degree slopes.
Steel tracks with 20-inch shoes enable the Fecon forestry mulcher to handle difficult terrain, yet the FTX128L has a light footprint at just 3.8 psi. When asked how it compared to his old skid steer, Mike said, “There is no comparison.”
The FTX128L features a panoramic operator view for production and safety, a view of the back of the mulcher head, and unobstructed rear visibility. A corner door allows easy cab entry while a suspension seat ensures comfort throughout the day.
The Fecon FTX128L is equipped with a universal quick-attach coupler that is compatible with most skid steer attachments, including Mike’s non-Fecon stump grinder. The ability to power multiple attachments makes it even more versatile and profitable.
The Fecon FTX128L has an FGT style rotor that allows Mike to change the teeth to suit the application. Recently he fitted it with cutter teeth in the middle of the rotor and carbide teeth on the outer edges, a combination that provided faster grinding and mulching in heavy material.
Another job site that was mostly overgrown brush, however, was better suited for all carbide teeth. “This is a thicket of mostly 6-inch diameter material and smaller, so we fitted the FTX128 with carbides, and we’ll take it to ground level,” said Mike.
The FTX128L can easily take down and grind small trees, but when it comes to taller and large diameter trees, Mike uses both machines. He uses the excavator to cut off the top of the larger trees, then grinds the trunk to stump level. The FTX128L is used to mulch the top and limbs.
Using both machines in tandem has given Todd Farms and Excavating a onetwo punch that has increased efficiency and enabled the company to take on more work. “We can clear cut anywhere from an acre to two acres a day,” said Mike.
They say, “Be careful what you wish for,” but Mike’s wishful thinking resulted in nothing but benefits for his business. By putting the Fecon BH40EXC and FTX128L to work for him, Mike has been able to defy the winter elements. Todd Farms and Excavating has been able to expand its range of clients, workload, and profits.