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Early Spring HOWA 2010

Country Living at Its Finest

A horse enthusiast finds new space for her passion

Nestled in Howell Township, N.J., among towering trees is Hidden Acres farm, a pristine 11-acre property with lush green grass, blooming flowers, and a state-of-the-art horse-riding ring where Karen Bischoff enjoys country living with ample space for her family and three horses.

The area is filled with residents like Bischoff who appreciate everything rural living has to offer, with the amenities of a big city less than an hour away. Mature trees, flower gardens and stables are quite common. Small farms dot the country roads throughout central New Jersey.

Karen Bischoff was previously a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, N.Y. She longed to return to the country, which she did five years ago, resuming a lifestyle she first knew as a small child growing up on a horse farm. "My mother put me on a horse when I was 4," Bischoff says. "I've been riding horses off and on for my entire life."

Room to roam

Karen Bischoff

Karen Bischoff

Prior to moving to Hidden Acres Farm, Bischoff boarded her horses, but now she enjoys their company and rides them as much as she desires. The horses' names are Chili, Winston and Alabama. Chili is the youngest at 12, followed by Winston at 16, and the senior is Alabama, age 29. Bischoff rides Winston five or six days a week in the ring, conveniently located on her property.

Hidden Acres includes Bischoff's residence, a shed, two paddocks and the riding ring, which was built in 2008. She says it took nearly five years to get the property to the shape it's in today. All new fences were built and grass was planted around the residence and shed. "It's a lot of work, but I love it," she says.

Helping her with the property improvements was her longtime partner and friend, Christopher Shinn, who has years of experience operating an assortment of construction equipment and maintaining properties like Bischoff's. The two met each other eight years ago when Bischoff boarded her horses at a farm where Shinn worked.

New tractor purchase

Today the couple share responsibilities on the acreage, including the routine maintenance with the horses and prepping the riding ring. In 2009 they started looking for a new compact tractor to complete the chores more efficiently, especially for Bischoff, who enjoys spending time with her 8-year-old daughter, Anna. Not long after they began looking for a new tractor, they noticed a nearby Bobcat dealership had compact tractors on display in front of the dealership. They stopped at Garden State Bobcat in Freehold, N.J., to get a better look at the new line of Bobcat compact tractors and implements.

Karen Bischoff

Hidden Acres Farm owner Karen Bischoff purchased a Bobcat CT445 to get work done faster and give her more time to enjoy her family and her horses.

They had a good feeling about the Bobcat tractors from the start, and they got their first driving experience when a Bobcat sales specialist brought a CT445 compact tractor to Hidden Acres for a demonstration. "He left the machine with us for a day to see how we liked it," Bischoff says. "It gave us an opportunity to test it and feel more comfortable about selecting the tractor."

"Our major concern was being able to prepare the riding ring with it," Shinn says. The maneuverable CT445 is 69 inches wide and 134 inches long, ideal for working in confined spaces like the ring. "The Bobcat model was a better tractor than some other models we looked at," he says. "For what we got for the money, I thought it was a better deal, and I like the metal on the Bobcat tractors versus plastic on the other brands. Other tractors had less horsepower for the same price, so after we considered everything, we decided the Bobcat model was the one we wanted."

After a day of test driving the new compact tractor and some careful consideration, they decided to purchase the 45-horsepower tractor with a box blade implement, front-end loader and a pallet fork attachment. The front-end loader is helpful in the winter to remove snow from the driveway, while the pallet forks make it simple to move various items on the property.

Exceptional service

Karen Bischoff

Christopher Shinn background) prepares the riding ring at Karen Bischoff's hobby farm in rural New Jersey. The couple finished the ring last year with help from the Bobcat compact tractor.

Both Shinn and Bischoff have been very pleased with the sales staff at the Bobcat dealership and their prompt response to any needs they have with their compact tractor. "We were also interested in another brand, but the service in this area isn't very good, and if you can't get something serviced in a friendly environment, then there's no reason to buy it," Shinn says.

The box blade implement has been extremely helpful to level the riding ring, the outer areas, and do some light grading on the property, according to Shinn. "It's an incredibly comfortable tractor, and I like the hydrostatic transmission with the forward and reverse directions," he says. "The four-wheel drive does a good job in the ring when I'm leveling it."

Changing rear implements is easy on Bobcat compact tractors with telescoping lower links and telescoping sway bars. "I think the Bobcat implement system is superior to any that I've found on other tractors," Shinn says. "Being able to raise and lower the three-point hitch in the back without having to go around to the back of the machine; the arms move in and out so you can adjust it to where it needs to be."

Features like a suspension seat, cruise control and a spark arrestor muffler are standard equipment on the CT445, as well as seven other models from Bobcat. An optional Bob-Tach™ quick attachment mounting system is available for the loader, to easily switch between front-mounted attachments.

The combination of these standard features, superb support from the local Bobcat dealership and salesman, and the versatility of a CT445 led Karen Bischoff to purchase her first Bobcat compact tractor. Now chores get done faster, there's more time for mother-daughter activities and more opportunities to ride her horses.