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Enduring Love

A lifelong passion

Trish and Ross Eyre have been together for 36 years, but Trish was not the first. Ross has been in love with Kubota for 42 years. His latest tractor romance is with a Kubota M5-111, but there is no discord in the couple’s marriage because Trish has her own beloved Kubota, an M9540.


Like any love, the devotion to Kubota came about because of good relationships. In 1979 Ross bought their Pukekawa property in north Waikato from his stepfather, Jack Brewster. In that year he also bought his first Kubota tractor, an M7950 4WD, with a front-end loader. It was an exciting start to a new phase in Ross’s life but then Jack died unexpectedly of a heart attack while feeding out (Ross found Jack down the back of the farm and brought his body back to the shed on the tray of the Kubota.)


In those days relations had to pay death duties, and because Ross had bought the farm so recently, the death duties included the property. To make it worse, the property was revalued at more than double the previous amount. Suddenly Ross had a massive bill and a new tractor to pay off, and interest rates were high.


He told the Kubota agent, Herman Gommans from Howe and Western, that Jack had passed away. “They said, ‘You don’t have to start paying for the tractor until you start contracting with it in spring.’ How many firms would do that today?”


Ross has never forgotten that act of kindness, which helped him keep the farm. His appreciation was reinforced by the quality of his new tractor. “That Kubota saved this farm. I worked day and night with that tractor.”


The M7950 worked the farm, it went contracting, and it also was a TV star. Ross and it featured in a 1980s Kubota ad. Its jingle was ‘Over hills, over plains, through the mud and in the rain, your Kubota keeps rolling along…’. It did everything – mowing, cultivating, towing a silage bin, pushing out Barbary hedges, rotary hoeing gardens, and especially ploughing. “I got a contract with Butland Industries, which owned four farms. I ploughed their paddocks to put in crops and that is what saved me,” Ross says.


Like most tractors then, the M7950 had no cab. After 12,000 hours Ross traded in for a Kubota M7030, by which time the dealer was Norwood. Ross did not like the M7030 as much as the M7950 because it was awkward to change the filters.

That problem never reappeared on subsequent models, however. “One thing I love about Kubota is if you tell the hierarchy that you don’t like things, they go away and fix it on the next one,” he says.


Over the years Kubota tractors have been the muscle in his and later his and Trish’s sheep and beef farming operation.

The Pukekawa farm is 300 acres in a mix of flat, rolling and just steep. Since 1999 the couple has run nurse cows with multiple calves.Today they have cut back to 50 cows, but still spend a lot of time in the yards.


Ross bought his Kubota M5-111 in January. It can be specified with cab, of course, but he still likes them without cabs. His reasons have changed, however. He has Parkinson’s disease. Taking Omega 3 and Vitamin E has allowed him to wean off all medications and remain tremor-free, but it is still easier to get in the driver’s seat without a cab. “I find it hard getting in and out of Trish’s tractor and shutting the doors.”


The M5-111 has rollover protection, “with a Fred Flintstone lid”. It also has a flat floor, so there is nothing for him to trip on. It is 103 hp with six gears in three ranges and has a road speed of 40 kph. The creeper gears really are creepers. So far, Ross and Trish have used the M5-111 to pull the mulcher and a scoop, and they really like it for banging in posts.

They can use the creeper gears to back up close to the post, and it is very stable with solid braking. “We have had it on a 45° hillside and it held on brilliantly. It is a really safe tractor to drive,” Ross says. He is also fond of the hydraulics.“The hydraulics are smooth and can lift a lot without jerking. It is brilliant for blade work with really good control.”


There is a lot of work to do in the yards, so manoeuvrability is vital. Ross says the M5-111 can turn really tightly. “It’s brilliant.” It seems odd to be talking about comfort with a cab-less tractor, however for Ross comfort is all about layout. “It is extremely comfortable for me to drive because all the controls – throttle lever, brakes, clutch, forward and reverse shuttle, controls for 4WD and lights, hand brake, and hydraulics – are in the right place. “With Parkinson’s I need comfort. I can rest my arm on the seat rest and work the controls.”


The M5-111 is fuel efficient, and very quiet. “You can barely hear it, even at full revs.” It is fair to say Ross remains devoted to Kubota. “The latest one is brilliant. It is an extremely well-balanced tractor. I wish I had it when I was contracting. Kubota won’t have any trouble selling this one or the cab version.” Trish has had her Kubota M9540 (with cab) for six years. She upgraded from an 8540 model. Before that she had flirted with another brand, but just the once.


“The instrumentation was in the wrong position. I had to reach down low to use the hydraulics and it pulled on my old shoulder injury,” she says. So that diversion was quickly over and she fled back to Kubota. “The hydraulics on the M9540 are mid-back height and handy and easy to work.” It is 95 hp with 18 gears forward and reverse. She mainly uses it with a silage feeder.


“The manoeuvrability is excellent and it is good to drive and comfortable.”  She says the only thing she can complain about is Ross changing the seat height on the rare occasions he drives it.

Each of them also has their own Kubota RTV. Trish has a RTV500 and Ross an RTV-X1120. Trish says hers is the perfect size for moving calves. “It is nimble and quick, it has the perfect speed and turning angle. I can hold a calf on the footplate without the door getting in the way.” Trish carts round her fencing gear in the RTV500 and also uses it for spot spraying weeds with a 200-litre tank on the back. Ross uses his Kubota RTV-X1120 for spot spraying too. The RTVs have made life a lot safer for the couple. If one of them abandons ship abruptly to chase a calf, the RTV rolls to a stop.


Trish says some people think they should retire. “But with Parkinson’s it is important to try and keep active as much as you can for as long as you can. “It is another reason why we have to buy gear to suit the job. Parkinson’s is not the only reason, though. Kubota allows us to keep farming and we like farming.” 


Just 200 metres down the road from Trish and Ross Eyre’s Pukekawa property, lives Ross’s brother John Eyre, an 80-year-old, retired farmer who lives on his family’s two-acre farmhouse estate. For the entirety of his life, John has been deaf. Over the past 10 years, John’s health and mobility has declined. With trouble in both his knees, John has slowly lost the ability to heave his wheelbarrow around his 1.5-acre garden.


“One day John pointed out a Kubota RTV-500 in a local magazine and expressed how he would love a machine like that,” Trish Eyre said. Before purchasing his RTV-500, John had never owned a Kubota machine. Ross and Trish’s tractors were no longer accessible for John, but this RTV offered a low access point, a comfortable seat and the ability to carry load, which meant John could continue spending his days pottering around in his garden. “It’s more than a mobility machine, this machine has allowed John to continue living independently while also having an excellent quality of life.”


John’s RTV500 has meant he is not confined to his four walls but instead spends days outside, tending to his 85-year-old fruit trees and expansive garden. “John’s life would be dramatically different if he didn’t own his Kubota RTV,” Trish Eyre said.


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