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Early Spring HOWA 2011

Glad to be back in the country

Texas couple returns to rural setting and begins working on a "lifetime" of projects

Moving to a home with acreage in south Texas enabled David Howard and his wife, Carol, to return to the rural lifestyle they enjoy, have the space they need to do the things they want to do and, as he says, "have enough projects to last a lifetime."

David Howard finds many uses for his compact tractor

Texas homeowner David Howard finds many uses for his Bobcat compact tractor, such as moving firewood.

For the Howards, both of whom are retired from the medical profession, this is the second time they have lived in the country. They had 12 acres, then moved into the town of Kerrville, Texas, for 10 years before moving to their current home three years ago.

"It's only a mile from where we lived in Kerrville, but we were happy to get back on some acreage," Howard says. "We really enjoy the outdoors and the opportunity to do so much around this property."

His and her hobbies

In addition to the house, there is a building that is used for two of their hobbies — ceramics and woodworking. The front portion has ceramic tools, a wheel and kiln for turning out pots and other items. The back of the building is used for woodworking, mostly small projects such as making bird houses. Both activities are enjoyed by the Howards' 13 grandchildren.

While the entire property is surrounded by a fence, the back portion has an intricate layout of chain-link fences because a previous owner raised several different types of animals.

Initially the Howards spent much of their time remodeling the house. Once that was under control they turned their attention to the remainder of the 5-acre property.

"There was so much to do outside that we never seemed to make a lot of progress," Howard says. "My wife finally told me I needed a tractor so I would no longer have an excuse for not getting things done."

Howard previously owned a tractor when he lived in the country 13 years ago and had some ideas of what he wanted.

"The structure of the tractor and the cost were important," he says. "I wanted to buy from a local dealer that could provide good service. A friend suggested I check out the Bobcat brand. At the time I did not associate Bobcat with compact tractors, but was aware of their long history of building quality loaders."

He visited Ranchers ATV and Tractor, the Bobcat® compact tractor dealer in Kerrville, and liked what he saw. The 27-horsepower CT225 was the right size and he was impressed with the sturdy construction, specifically the thickness of the metal. "Other tractors I looked at had more plastic; the Bobcat tractor was very solid," he says.

A Bobcat compact tractor is just what David Howard and his wife needed to maintain their rural property

A Bobcat compact tractor is just what David Howard and his wife needed to maintain their rural property.

More standard features

The CT225 comes with many standard features ? some only available as options on other tractors ? that include a tilt steering wheel, suspension seat, retractable seat belt, slip-resistant rubber-coated pedals and rubber mats, cup holder and cruise control.

Since purchasing the compact tractor in the fall of 2009, Howard has used it regularly to improve the property. A new front yard was installed, and the CT225 with front-end loader leveled the area and built berms. It was also used to build a road.

The tractor helped install a ¾-acre garden and will help build a pond that will be stocked with fish.

Using the 3-point rotary cutter implement on the compact tractor enables Howard to quickly and easily cut the tough grass and brush in the back of the property.

Future fruit tree orchard

One of the fenced-in areas in the backyard is home to a 1½-acre orchard. Planting for up to 100 trees — apple, pecan, peach, pear and apricot — began early this year. A rented auger attachment on the tractor makes planting easy, says Howard. "There is no way we could put in and maintain an orchard of this size without a tractor. In addition to installation, the tractor will be used to cultivate and mow between the rows of trees."

He expects to harvest a good crop of produce in two or three years and plans to donate a portion to local charities.

The Howards are looking forward to what they can do with the property in the coming years.

"We will do things at our convenience," he says. "We are in no hurry. Whatever we do to the property will be done because we enjoy working outdoors and making changes.

"I don't know how we could live on this property without a tractor," he says. "In some ways, it's just as valuable as a car — you just don't think about how much you need it. For example, last fall I had to bring in some soil for a flower bed and I got out my wheelbarrow. Then I stopped and said, ‘Wait a minute; I have a tractor.' Sometimes I forget about how useful it is."