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Early Fall HOWA 2010

Engineer retires to ranch

Owner keeps Bobcat compact tractor busy around 40-acre spread

Jim Schonaerts on CT335

Jim Schonaerts enjoys living in the wide open spaces of the Texas Hill Country and working around his 40-acre ranch and, although he is retired, it is certain he will never run out of things to do.

Thirty years ago the chemical engineer and his wife, Bobbie, moved to the Texas Gulf Coast where he worked in the petrochemical industry. Soon they began regular trips to the Fredericksburg area an area with a heavy German heritage for annual events such as Oktoberfest. They enjoyed this part of the state so much that they decided this was the perfect place to retire.

"We found a nice wooded tract about five miles from town, had a house and barn built and moved here about 10 years ago," Schonaerts says. "We had the land fenced, purchased a few head of cattle, a couple of horses and began to live the country life."

The area has much to offer rolling limestone hills, crystal clear rivers and streams and abundant hunting and fishing. Fredericksburg is a popular weekend destination for residents of central Texas, especially those from San Antonio and Austin. With a population of about 10,500, it was the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Forces in World War II and is home to the George H. W. Bush gallery at the National Museum of the Pacific War, antique shops and museums.

Outdoor projects

In addition to enjoying the uniqueness of Fredericksburg, the Schonaerts tackled many projects around their property.

Bobbie purchased a 100-year-old barn at a garage sale. They tore it down and used the old wood to build a guest bunkhouse. She also planted a very large organic vegetable garden. "We grow more than we can eat, so we take the remainder to the local food pantry," Jim Schonaerts says.

As members of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Schonaerts were not interested in tilling the land.

"Instead we wanted to leave it in a natural condition, keeping the native grasses and not introducing any invasive species of plants or grasses," he says. "However, there were still some plants we wanted to remove, such as cactus and mesquite. In addition, we had to take out many trees due to disease and wind damage. We replaced them by planting about 30 different native trees."

Tractor purchase

For the first eight years they lived on the ranch, Schonaerts did all this work manually using a chain saw, posthole digger, shovel and a wheelbarrow. "At that point I decided I was getting too old to do this stuff by hand and began to look for a compact tractor," he says.

An advertisement for the Bobcat brand of compact tractors led him to Ranchers ATV and Tractor in Ingram, Texas.

"I had seen Bobcat loaders around chemical plants, so I was somewhat familiar with their excellent reputation, but I did not know much about the compact tractor line," he says. "I liked what I saw, found out the cost was comparable to some used machines from other manufacturers and was very impressed with the dealer's service and support. I did not have any background with compact tractors, so the service aspect was very important to me."

He purchased an equipment package consisting of a CT335, equipped with a front-end loader and bucket, and a 3-point hitch rotary cutter. He later bought an auger attachment. The CT335 is a 38-horsepower tractor with a loader lift capacity of 1,300 pounds.*

"The CT335 has features not available on some competitive machines," he says. "Plus, it seemed more heavy-duty than the others, and ready to work."

And that's exactly what it has done the past two years. "I've worked it hard and often," Schonaerts says.

He's used the CT335 to haul logs for the fireplace, carry off dead trees, install fence posts, clear unwanted brush, grade roads and more.

"I keep coming up with new projects all the time for the compact tractor," Schonaerts says. "There's plenty more to do, and now with the CT335 I can accomplish a lot more, easier and faster. The tractor is very useful throughout the property."

You can read more about Bobcat compact tractors on the tractor page. Build your own with the Build & Quote feature in the buying tools section. You can also request a quote or look for used equipment online.

*Loader lift capacity is measured at 500 mm in front of bucket pin with rear ballast.

Jim Schonaerts

Jim Schonaerts

"The CT335 has features not available on some competitive machines. Plus, it seemed more heavy-duty than the others, and ready to work."

Jim Schonaerts

Fun fact

Oktoberfest is celebrated for 16 days in Munich, Germany, in late September to early October. More than six million people attend the annual event. Food plays an important part in the celebration as attendees enjoy traditional cuisine, such as Schwinsbraten (pork), Knodeln (bread dumplings), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes) and Hendl (chicken).

Bobcat Company reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design, and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation.