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Early Fall HOWA 2009

Farming in the City

Acclaimed farriers enjoy life with their new Bobcat compact tractor

Bruce Hague

Acclaimed farrier Bruce Hague demonstrates the horseshoe changing process. Pictured behind Bruce is the family's blacksmith shop.

Country living in the city is possible in Abbotsford, B.C., which is home to more than 100,000 residents and a substantial farming community. The northwest section of the city, which includes the historic village of Bradner, is almost entirely rural. There are small hobby farms and commercial enterprises side by side.

Flowers are a major crop in the area — especially daffodils and tulips — a legacy of the Dutch farmers who helped bring agriculture to the lower Fraser Valley. There are plenty of other types of farming operations as well, including poultry, dairy, beef, mink, blueberries, mushrooms and trees.

And there is also a large horse population, which is good news for champion horseshoer Bruce Hague.

"This is one of the densest horse populations in North America," Bruce says. "There are more horses here now than when they were used for work years ago." Hague and his wife, Michelle — both experienced farriers — have three sons and live on a 5-acre farm. Together they operate North Bradner Farrier Service. As professional farriers, the couple provides horseshoe and blacksmithing services to clients throughout the center of the valley.

Blacksmith shop

The farrier service includes hoof trimming and shoeing — a specialized craft that dates back to colonial America. Some clients have one or two horses, while others have dozens. After graduating from high school, Bruce Hague went to Kwantlen College where he studied to be a professional farrier. As a college student he also took his first trip to Great Britain to participate in international competition. "That was a big deal for a 21-year-old," he recalls. "I was sold on a career as a farrier after that."

Since then, he has been involved in horseshoeing contests throughout the world, both as a contestant — where he's won several national and international competitions — and as a judge. The Hagues have three of their own horses — a 13-year-old, a 4-year-old and a yearling. Michelle rides the older horse in three-day competitive events — a series of athletic challenges testing the all-around ability of both the horse and rider. The three phases are dressage (performing a series of predetermined movements to demonstrate the relaxation, suppleness and obedience of the horse); cross country (a series of banks, ditches, water jumps and solid fences in natural terrain to test the jumping ability and courage of the horse and rider); and stadium jumping (evaluating the horse's obedience to negotiate a course of show jumps). "She plans to bring the 4-year-old into competition following the older horse," Bruce says. "The yearling, from a very expensive jumping and racing breed, will be the best of them all. That horse will get started in events in 2010 and we expect great things."

Time for a tractor

Last year the Hagues decided chores around the farm would be easier and get completed more regularly if they had a compact tractor. After visiting farms throughout the valley for 26 years while doing his job, he was very familiar with all equipment options.

Bobcat CT230

A Bobcat CT230 compact tractor and implements save Bruce and Michelle Hague time and enable them to relax on their property or work in their blacksmith shop.

"I knew Bobcatฎ skid-steer loaders were very popular and had a good reputation for reliability, versatility and parts availability," Bruce says. "I started seeing people switching to Bobcat compact tractors and they all seemed really satisfied. The Bobcat brand offers many more options than other models, so when I began to look for a tractor, I went straight to my local Bobcat dealer, Bobcat Country Sales in Abbotsford."

The Hagues purchased a Bobcat CT230 — a 30-horsepower model they figured would be big enough to handle chores around the farm, including moving manure and clearing snow. Previously, a neighbor brought over his Bobcat skid-steer loader and attachments and helped with these jobs.

"I'm very pleased with what the compact tractor can do," Bruce says. "Every two weeks or so, I use it to clean up manure and turn over piles for composting. It works great. I also use it for cultivating the fields where I grow grass for the horses. I've rented implements such as the tine rake, auger and box blade for special projects. The tractor saves a lot of labor, lifting and carrying bales of hay. It is one versatile machine."

Last winter, a lot of heavy, wet snow challenged the tractor. "We have a long driveway and a large parking area," Bruce says. "The traction of the CT230 is so good that I didn't even have to put chains on it. I used the bucket to push snow and to dump it into high piles."

He gives the Bobcat tractor high marks for having easy-to-operate controls and for being very comfortable, well-built and simple to maintain. "I never owned a compact tractor before, or a Bobcat product," he says. "It's more than lived up to Bobcat standards and exceeded my expectations."

Bobcat CT230 with front-end loader

Bruce no longer waits for neighbors to help complete routine chores on his acreage. A front-end loader with bucket attachment on his Bobcat CT230 easily lifts and carries materials, such as manure and snow.

Bruce and Michelle Hague enjoy everything that living in the country has to offer them, with the luxury of a big city and its amenities not far away. And with their Bobcat compact tractor, the couple can spend less time working and take more pleasure in their acreage.

Read more about the benefits of Bobcat compact tractors, check specifications and watch videos of the tractors in action on the compact tractor page.