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Early Fall HOWA 2009

Modern-Day Folk Hero

Pennsylvanians find many uses for utility vehicle on two properties

Ron Mabus is a contemporary American folk hero. Like the heroes of the past, Mabus grew up learning about nature, saw the world by spending time in the military and returned to a homestead where he and his wife live off the land.

Mabus grew up an Eagle Scout, spent 23 years in the Army with several overseas tours and, while he currently lives in town, he has 80 acres on the top of a ridge in the Appalachian Mountains near Mifflinburg, Pa. Mabus enjoys hunting and butchering his own meats. He even brews his own beer and ferments his own wine. Rose, his wife of 23 years, is an avid gardener.

"We're losing the art of doing things like building your own cabin," Ron Mabus says. "I'm trying to revive the old ways." The folk heroes of yore relied on their own hand labor and used horses to clear land and plant crops. While Mabus is reviving the tradition of self-sufficiency, he'll readily admit that it's nice to have modern conveniences.

Ron and Rose Mabus

Ron and Rose Mabus depend on their Bobcat utility vehicle, especially the cargo bed, to help with projects on their Pennsylvania acreage.

The power of horses is now harnessed through an engine, and the Bobcat® 2200 utility vehicle they purchased assists them in the contemporary form of frontier living. As their son was preparing to go off to college, the couple realized they would be missing an extra person to help with projects, like skidding logs, which they used to do by hand. Ron Mabus also started to realize that it was easier to do this type of work when he was under 50. Clearly, some help was needed.

Options fit utility vehicle use

During a camping trip with friends, the Mabuses saw a utility vehicle in use and decided they needed one of their own to help with various tasks around their properties to replace manual labor and save them time.

Visiting the Bobcat dealer in Mifflinburg, BS&B Repair, they saw the 2200 and liked how Bobcat offered the utility vehicles with gas or diesel engines. The diesel option was a must-have for them. "Diesel motors are economical. I can run for hours and still have a half-tank of fuel left," Ron says. "They are also durable motors. At 100 hours, a diesel motor is just getting broken in."

One of the popular options for utility vehicles is camouflage. This option is perfect for utility vehicle owners who use their machine when hunting, which Ron does. "Using a utility vehicle when hunting helps when you get a 300-pound white-tailed stag," Ron says. "Putting the deer in the cargo bed is easier than dragging it out, and having the machine lets me go deeper into the woods to hunt."

Of course, driving a utility vehicle in the Appalachian Mountains means going through rough terrain that includes rocks, branches and uneven ground that could damage the underside of the machine. That's why Mabus purchased the optional skid plates for the front, belly and rear of the utility vehicle. These plates protect the engine, transmission, drive shaft, brake lines, frame and other components of the utility vehicle from damage.

Another choice Ron made when purchasing his utility vehicle was what type of tires to put on the machine. Bobcat offers all-terrain tires as standard equipment or mud tires as an option. Ron chose the all-terrain tires because he uses his 2200 on a variety of surfaces, including the grass in his yard and in the mountains. He did consider the mud tires, which provide improved traction in wet conditions, but the all-terrain tires were best suited to his uses. All-terrain tires do less ground disturbance than mud tires as well.

Advantages of the cargo box

One of the reasons they purchased a utility vehicle instead of an all-terrain vehicle is the rear cargo box — a feature the couple uses in almost every outing — from hunting to working on their properties or just taking the dog for a ride.

Bobcat 2200

Ron Mabus takes his Bobcat 2200 utility vehicle off-road for hunting excursions on weekends. Mabus customized his 2200 with an optional camouflaged front cowl.

Transporting materials is the primary use of the cargo bed during Boy Scout trips and camping Ron participates in. He is able to haul wood and cooking equipment that he uses to make food during the outings. "I can set up camp quickly with the 2200," he says. Ron builds trails on his large property, cutting down trees and hauling them away. As the trees are felled, the wood is cut and placed in the bed of the 2200. A pickup truck used to do the hauling, but Mabus says it is easier for the utility vehicle to get to some of the work areas because of its smaller size. "The 2200 can transport anything that I have to move," Ron says.

The powered cargo dump box is standard on most Bobcat utility vehicles, including the 2200, and the Mabuses also use this feature almost every time they operate the 2200. Rose Mabus has six garden beds where she grows vegetables and herbs. In these beds, she uses a combination of mushroom soil and goat manure as fertilizer. Transporting the soil and manure used to be done with a wheelbarrow or garden cart. Now, this work is done by the 2200.

"There's a goat farm in our neighborhood and we drive the 2200 over there to get the manure," she says. "Not only does the 2200 save a lot of time in these projects, it saves on my back." Other projects include hauling a new picnic table, trimming trees and brush and hauling gravel used as the base for new buildings.

"The Bobcat utility vehicle is an extra pair of hands that I don't have, and allows us to do the job of three or four people even though it's just the two of us," Ron Mabus says. "We work smarter because we have the 2200. Whenever we need to transport anything, we use the utility vehicle."

From hunting to maintaining a property, the Mabuses have found that a Bobcat utility vehicle is a time- and labor-saving tool that makes it easier for them to live the type of life they've chosen. Even the folk heroes of the past made efficient use of the tools available to them to maintain their homesteads. The difference today is that one tool — a utility vehicle — is versatile, and does many different tasks, making it the perfect assistant not just for the Mabuses, but for any family with an acreage to care for.

Visit the utility vehicle page to learn more about Bobcat utility vehicles and to build a machine perfectly suited to your property.