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Early Spring HOWA 2010

Hobby Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Retired nurse enjoys working on property with a Bobcat 2300 utility vehicle

Start with the trees — dogwood, sourwood, blackgum, hickory, sassafras, red maple, oak and several varieties of evergreen. In the fall they burst into multicolor brilliance. Add flowering shrubs that display color rivaling the trees in the fall — azalea, mountain laurel, rhododendron and various wildflowers. Then there is the wildlife, including groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels, bobcats, foxes, opossums, raccoons, whitetail deer and black bears. Finally, more than 100 bird species can be seen during the spring migration season. Now mix in raging rivers and meandering mountain creeks and you have a place many think is paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

"I certainly do," says Scottie Crowder, who owns a hobby farm in the mountains near Austinville, Va.

She grew up on a farm and always wanted to return to rural Virginia. After graduating from Duke University, her career as a nurse anesthetist took her to hospitals in Durham and Mt. Airy, N.C. She retired a year ago after working the last 25 years at the Northern Hospital of Surry County.

"I began looking for a farm about 15 years ago," she recalls. "I went to a lot of auctions and looked at several properties. I was fairly specific as to what kind of a place I wanted — one with water, both flat land and mountains, and a good price. It also had to be fairly close to my home in Mt. Airy."

Crowder found a 67-acre cattle and corn farm located near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, about a 30-minute drive north of Mt. Airy. "It was the closest to perfect I could find," she says.

As she began to plan for retirement, she got serious about purchasing a utility vehicle for use on the farm — both for working and riding around the property.

Scottie Crowder

A Bobcat 3200 utility vehicle was just what Scottie Crowder needed to maintain her property in Virginia.

"My wish list for a utility vehicle included two seats, a cargo box, a blade on the front and the ability to get in and out of easily," Crowder says. "I went to several dealers in the Mt. Airy area looking at equipment — some of them didn't even bother to ask if they could help me. Along the way I remembered I had seen a magazine ad for Bobcat® utility vehicles. I did some research on the Internet and eventually visited Piedmont Bobcat in Kernersville, N.C. Even though the dealership was more than 50 miles away, they treated me very nicely and seemed to have exactly what I was looking for."

Easy attachment changes

What really sold Crowder on the 2300 is the RapidLink™ attachment system. It allows her to position attachments with an easy-to-operate joystick while sitting in the driver's seat. "I can't lift attachments around, so this feature has been great for me," she says.

Although she hires people to do some of the heavier work around the place, Crowder has done many projects herself — using the 2300 — to improve the property.

"It's been very helpful in most of the jobs I've done here, such as fixing up the house; removing debris, rocks and wood; building fences; clearing land and even tearing down an old chicken house.

"The blade does a great job. Being near the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we get a fair amount of snow. I use the 2300 with blade to plow my driveway. It's definitely an all-season machine."

In addition to the house, buildings on the farm include a barn, toolshed and woodshed. There are flower and vegetable gardens and hay fields. Neighbors with livestock cut and bale the hay.

"The gardens — where I grow tulips and mums, along with tomatoes, potatoes, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries — keep me busy much of the year," she says. "I also have apple trees."

When work ends

Even though there is plenty of work around the farm, Crowder makes sure she spends at least half her time in non-work activities. That includes driving her 2300 around the property enjoying the sights and sounds of the mountains. She especially likes following the creek that runs through her property.

"The terrain up on the mountain is rough in some spots, but the 2300 handles it with ease," she says. "The IntelliTrak® traction system automatically switches from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive and back again without me having to do anything. That's a great feature."

Crowder visits her farm two or three times a week, calling it the perfect place to relax. The first thing she does when she arrives at the property is take out her 2300. "There is always work for the utility vehicle, and when I get tired of working I just take it for a ride — it's a great stress reliever."