A Toolcat utility work machine and attachments are just what Joe and Pat Natus need to maintain their Texas property, as well as a ranch with cattle and horses.
Pat and Joe Natus, Kerrville, Texas, with their Toolcat 5600.
Nearly 40 years ago, Joe Natus got his first taste of Bobcat® compact equipment while working on a cattle ranch in Texas. Today, after spending much of his professional career in ranching and construction, he’s semi-retired and pleased with his newest compact equipment purchase — a Toolcat™ utility work machine — that he and his wife, Pat, use at two properties.
Joe and Pat Natus own a home and 12 acres in Kerrville, Texas, in what is commonly referred to as Texas Hill Country. Texas Hill Country has beautiful scenery of green, lush landscapes. Some people claim the area has a European feel to it, due in part to the immigrants who settled here and established wineries and German-style brew houses.
The Natus family maintains a ranch about 130 miles south of Kerrville in LaSalle County, and it is roughly 210 acres. That area is where Joe was born and raised, and the ranch was once managed by his father. He and his wife have registered longhorn cattle and horses at the ranch, and equipment is still a part of his everyday life. “I love my home country down in what we call the brush country in Texas. I’ve ranched and worked with equipment all of my life,” he says.
Joe’s equipment experience is vast. “I’ve helped build interstate highways, and I installed new driveways in subdivisions,” he says. “A lot of contractors wouldn’t take the jobs because the circles were too tight for big machines and there were too many oak trees. My cousin and I installed the driveways, as well as septic systems with a Bobcat skid-steer loader and a backhoe attachment. When construction slowed, I worked in the oil fields. Now, I’m semi-retired and enjoy taking care of our ranch and our 12 acres in Kerrville.
The Toolcat 5600 and a pallet fork are an ideal pair to easily lift, carry and place hay bales for their cattle.
“My first experience with Bobcat equipment was in 1973, which was the first time I’d ever seen or been in one. We had lots of cattle and horse pens that we needed to clean. My boss had big equipment, but we couldn’t get them in some of the pens to clean them out. I could load a 20-yard dump truck faster with that little Bobcat machine. The Bobcat loader made the work so much easier. We could get in places that no other machine could get to.”
Working in comfort
Today, Joe owns a Bobcat loader as well as several compact tractors, yet spends much of his time working on his properties with his new Toolcat 5600 and attachments. Joe calls the machine his “Country Cadillac,” because of its many comfort features.
“My back isn’t the best after all these years of working, driving bulldozers over rocks, and the Toolcat machine is much more comfortable to operate,” says the 64-year-old. “The Toolcat machine is very smooth. To me, it is like a Cadillac — a ‘country Cadillac.’ There are so many things that we can do with it. When we’re on the ranch, we’re running around, and instead of getting in my pickup truck, we can drive the Toolcat 5600.
“It’s so comfortable to use, I don’t get tired. Ever since I saw the first one, it really impressed me, about the way it was designed. I especially like the enclosed cab, two seats and it’s easy to get in and out of. Pat and I like the air-conditioned cab, especially down here in Texas. It gets plenty hot and dusty, and the pollen and cedar down here are terrible. I think that’s one of the best things, having an air-conditioned cab on our Toolcat 5600.”
Pat Natus fills a tire with help from her Toolcat 5600.
Something that attracted Joe to the Toolcat 5600 was its front-mounted attachments. Since he already owned some Bobcat attachments for his skid-steer loader, he could also use some of them with the 5600.
It didn’t take long for Joe to find many uses for the Toolcat machine and attachments. And he says the visibility to the front-mounted attachments makes them easier to operate. “I operate an auger on the front of the Toolcat machine and it’s easy to see where I’m digging. And it’s nice when I’m mowing brush and weeds, because I see what’s in front of me instead of looking backward.”
One of his first projects at his home in Kerrville was rebuilding a road to the house, which he did with a bucket. Then, he cleared and stacked brush with an industrial grapple, and installed a fence with an auger. “I use it anytime I need to load or unload something,” he says. “It’s a real back-saver. It just makes life so much easier.” Joe and Pat own a bale fork that they pair with the Toolcat 5600 at their ranch, moving hay bales for the cattle and horses.
Altogether, Bobcat Company offers more than 40 attachments for its Toolcat machines; many available for rent from a local dealer for occasional use. That’s what Joe intends to do with a rotary cutter for his 5600. “I like knowing that I can rent additional attachments from my dealer, and I can see how they work in case I want to buy them,” he says.
Inside the Toolcat 5600, a joystick for the loader lift arm and attachment controls suits Joe well. “I like where the joystick control is located in the middle because I don’t have to move my arm or reach for the control,” he says. “It’s a natural place for me, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the joystick.”
Pat Natus pulls a planter behind her Toolcat 5600 and trailer hitch.
Joe and Pat purchased their Toolcat 5600 and attachments from Ranchers ATV and Tractor, their nearby Bobcat dealer. Joe had been working with the dealer for a number of years, and noticed a Toolcat machine sitting at the dealership one day when he stopped in for parts for his Bobcat skid-steer loader. Joe went home and told his wife about it, and together they compared the benefits of the 5600 and the 5610. They decided the cargo box on the 5600 would suit them better, and they contacted the dealer to order one.
“I’ve been doing business with Ranchers ATV and Tractor for about five years,” he says. “They’re very knowledgeable and they’re honest. The employees at the store have always treated me well, even before my first purchase. The employees go out of their way to take care of their customers.”
When working conditions require a tight turning radius, Joe simply puts the Toolcat 5600 in all-wheel steer mode for improved maneuverability. “That’s something that I was concerned about, being able to turn as sharp as some other equipment,” he says, “but it has done well, and it indeed has a tight turning radius. It maneuvers great and it doesn’t tear the grass when I turn it.
“I pressed the button to all-wheel steer and showed my 8-year-old grandson how sharp it would turn. He had a big grin on his face and said, ‘cool.’ He thought it steered like a monster truck; he thought it was the neatest thing.”
Joe utilizes the Toolcat 5600’s cargo box to haul firewood, and when he’s at his ranch cleaning pens, he’ll load manure in it. Other times he will carry an air compressor and tool box in the cargo box, or he’ll place his sprayer in the box to spray along his fence lines. When he’s spraying or mowing, Joe uses the cruise control feature, which helps him operate the 5600 at a consistent speed.
Joe has high expectations for his Toolcat 5600, comparing it to the durability he’s grown accustomed to with his previous Bobcat equipment. He says his Toolcat 5600 is as durable as any of the Bobcat skid-steer loaders that he’s owned. One difference is the towing ability of the 5600, particularly when Joe needs to move a trailer.
“I use the Toolcat 5600 and receiver hitch to move a welding trailer and a 16-foot flatbed trailer,” he says. “I’ve hooked up my grain drill to the 5600 and planted with it. That was nice because I could carry a few extra sacks of seed in the cargo box.”
For Joe and Pat Natus, a Toolcat utility work machine and Bobcat attachments are making life much easier and more enjoyable, especially as they transition into retirement, while staying in touch with their roots. “Once I drove it and got used to it,” Joe says, “I learned that it could do so many things. I think if more people drive one and saw what it could do, especially on farms and ranches, they would purchase one. You can buy one machine to do everything.”
Quick attachment changes
One of the many similarities between Bobcat® loaders and Toolcat™ machines is a popular option called the Power Bob-Tach™ attachment mounting system. This feature allows operators, like Joe and Pat Natus, to change non-hydraulic attachments without ever leaving the cab. For example, Joe can easily transition from a Bobcat bucket to a bale fork, which he uses to lift, carry and load hay bales at his ranch.