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Early Spring HOWA 2009

Staking a Claim

Mary Mielke has been instrumental in building her family's dream home outside Houston.

Mary Mielke has always wanted a piece of land. She's a country girl at heart, was born and raised in Georgia, and lived around the farmlands of Dodge City, Kan., before she settled in Houston, Texas, nearly 28 years ago. The call to the country has always pulled at her. Mary likes gardening, fishing and riding horses occasionally, and she has always wanted to tend some land with compact equipment.

Toolcat 5610

With a combination bucket, the Toolcat 5610 utility work machine grabs, lifts and carries debris on the Mielke acreage in Texas.

You can't be a country girl if you don't have an independent, do-it-yourself spirit, and that's exactly what defines Mary Mielke. In 2003, Mary and her husband, Ted, who is a master plumber, started Trademark Plumbing Inc. The company is now one of the 10 largest new residential construction plumbing contractors in the Houston, Texas, area. Ted is president and Mary is vice president and chief financial officer. When something needs to be done for the company, Mary does it. That's why she's in the process of getting her plumbing license.

When something needs to be done on the land they purchased four years ago, Mary does that too.

Clearing the way

The land they bought is in the Spring Creek Ranch subdivision in Hockley, Texas. It's close enough to the Houston metropolitan area, but certainly has a country feel. The subdivision caters to horse owners, and while Mary doesn't have plans to own horses, there are plenty of other ways she is going to enjoy her claim on country living. The couple's dream home, a pool, a lake stocked with fish and an organic farm are all part of Mary's master plan for her ideal lifestyle on the property.

To get there, Mary started from square one. "There was nothing out there but woods and water when we bought the property," she says.

Hiring someone to clear the land for the house was not desirable, because it's not quite as fulfilling. With a compact tractor, a friend and some other tools, Mary spent two years clearing land so the home construction could begin. Over the last year, the house has been constructed and Mary and her husband are preparing to move in soon.

Mielke home

Ted and Mary Mielke look forward to the day when they can enjoy their new home and surrounding property.

Building a dream home

For the most part, the couple handled the construction of the home on their own. Mary admits that even though they are plumbing contractors and have plenty of experience around new home construction, building their own home has proved to be a bigger task than she initially thought and they have hired contractors to assist them.

The overall vision for the house belongs to Mary and her husband jointly. She says that she wants the house to have a "vacation" feel to it, which is why each bedroom has a bathroom for privacy. The back of the house has many windows to enjoy the view of the woods, lake and sunsets. "It's gorgeous out there," she says.

Help wanted

Mary and Ted purchased more land adjacent to their property and now have 23 acres. A larger area — and the plans for the future — meant additional equipment would be needed. Mary and her husband have two grown children and two grandchildren who frequently come to the property to help out. With these considerations, Mary searched for a type of machine that could transport more than one person.

She started believing that she would purchase a utility vehicle, but a trip to Bobcat of Houston changed her plans. There, she saw the Toolcat™ 5610 utility work machine. "It was love at first sight," she says.

The Toolcat 5610 is a one-of-a-kind machine that combines the benefits of a loader, utility vehicle and compact tractor into one machine. The front-end loader can be used with more than 40 attachments to perform a variety of tasks, and the enclosed cab carries two people. The rear of the machine can be equipped with a hydraulic power take-off, a three-point hitch for Category 1 implements, and/or rear remote hydraulics.

Ted and Mary Mielke

The attachment versatility of the Toolcat 5610 made it easy for Ted and Mary Mielke to upgrade from a tractor.

An attachment (on the front) and implement (on the rear) can be attached to the machine at the same time and used alternately as needed. For example, Mary could use a grapple attachment on the front to haul logs and other debris and have a three-point mower mounted on the rear of the machine to cut grass. Both of these tasks are performed without wasting time returning to the barn and switching between attachments and implements.

There are a number of features on the Toolcat 5610 that immediately caught her eye. The enclosed cab sold her because the land is filled with moccasin and copperhead snakes. She says the enclosed cab gives her a sense of security that she doesn't have when working in the open air on a compact tractor. Mary has three-point box blades that she has used on the tractor to grade her land. The box blades and the other implements Mary owns can be used on the Toolcat 5610 as well.

Before she bought this land, Mary did not have any experience operating equipment. While she has logged many hours on a compact tractor, she says learning to use the Toolcat 5610 was intuitive because — like a tractor — the utility work machine has a steering wheel and foot pedals. The experience is similar to driving a car.

As a novice to this type of equipment, Mary has had to learn how to hook up implements and attachments. Another selling point of the Toolcat 5610 was the Power Bob-Tach™ attachment mounting system, which makes it possible to change between non-hydraulic powered attachments without having to leave the cab. "The Power Bob-Tach makes changing attachments easy," she says.

One of the attachments that Mary bought for her Toolcat 5610 is the Brushcat™ rotary cutter. While Mary spent two years clearing land for the house, she says the rotary cutter helps her clear other areas more quickly than before. "I'm clearing out areas in the woods that have never seen sunlight," she says.

Mary is the primary operator of the equipment around the property. "I change my own oil, check my own hydraulics and tighten my own bolts," she says.

As Mary settles into making the land her home, one of the best things about living there will be the sense of accomplishment she gets from transforming and maintaining the property. This is what makes living on her own piece of land so attractive. "When you're running your own company, it's just one project after another, and you never get that feeling that it's all done, because it never is," Mary says. "When you're clearing land or mowing grass with the Toolcat 5610, you can look behind you and everything looks nice and pretty. It gives me a nice sense of completion."

For more information on Toolcat utility work machines, visit the Toolcat page.