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Early Spring HOWA 2009

Hobby Farmer's Investment Reaps Rewards

Husband and wife minimize labor with a Bobcat compact tractor and implements.

Nestled among towering pine trees in the old Gold Rush area of Brownsville, Calif., are 10 acres that belong to two middle school teachers who are living out their rural lifestyle dream.

Outdoor chores are fun again for Joe and Sally Day-Palmer thanks to their Bobcat compact tractor and implements.

For the past two decades, Joe Palmer and his wife, Sally, have enjoyed living in the country, spending their days teaching middle school students less than 10 minutes from their home, and nights and weekends knocking out chores and enjoying their property.

According to Joe, chores get done a lot easier now at the Palmer homestead with a new Bobcat® compact tractor and an assortment of labor-saving implements. The couple heard about the new tractor line after they attended a home and garden show where a Bobcat tractor was on display. Shortly after they saw the new line, they decided to purchase their own tractor, a front-end loader and some rear implements from Bobcat West in Sacramento.

"Before we had our Bobcat tractor, we did everything by hand with a wheelbarrow and shovel, and it was getting to be too much for us," Joe says. "We selected the Bobcat model because it had lights, an easy-to-use seat belt, and an engine that shuts down when we leave the seat. Our salesman from Bobcat West even came to our home and added a sunshade for us."

Sally appreciates the tractor because it saves her time transporting gardening supplies. "I load supplies from our pickup truck to the tractor's bucket, and then I deliver them to my garden where I can easily unload them," she says.

Rather than manually lift and carry gravel with a wheelbarrow and unload it with a shovel, Joe uses the tractor's bucket to spread gravel over the couple's circular driveway. According to Joe, the bucket comes in handy in the winter when he uses it to plow snow off his driveway. "Sometimes we can get little or no snow, and other times we can get up to four feet. With the Bobcat tractor, I can clear the driveway and plow the snow all the way to the road."

After spending all day in the classroom, Joe enjoys some time behind the wheel of his Bobcat compact tractor.

Bobcat tractor lends a hand with raising cattle

Among the couple's hobbies are raising miniature Angus cattle. This new classification of cattle recognizes the animals in this category if they weigh between 500 to 700 pounds and are no more than 42 inches tall (at the hip), when measured at three years old. (These guidelines are provided by the International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society and Registry, founded by professor Richard Gradwohl.) The Palmers currently have four miniature Angus with two more expected in 2009.

The 20-horsepower tractor has cut back on some of the most strenuous responsibilities for Joe and Sally, including cleaning the cow corral. "Before we bought the tractor, Sally spent up to a week mucking out the corral," he says. "I cleaned it in less than four hours with the tractor.

"We use the tractor to move rocks, lift and carry trees for firewood in the winter and dig postholes — with an auger implement — to put up a cross fence on our property," Joe says. "The box blade implement helped us grade about two acres that we want to landscape for a front and back yard."

Fighting fires before they start

Fires are an ongoing concern for Joe and Sally, living in the foothills and with their close proximity to many of the surrounding forests. Joe clears brush to create firebreaks around his property with the Bobcat tractor when the conditions permit. A spark arrestor muffler is standard equipment on Bobcat compact tractors and is required in California for these types of applications.

"For the amount of land that we have, the tractor is ideal for us," he says. "It does everything we need it to, and more!" While Joe and Sally may not have truck actual gold in the area that once drew hundreds of thousands of forty-niners, they've found something just as important to improve the way of life for the 50-something acreage owners — their Bobcat compact tractor.