Matt Hawkins was built to take on the challenges and triumphs of an acreage. Growing up with an Angus cattle farmer for a grandfather, Matt knows the value of a little grit and a lot of elbow grease.
“I always admired my grandfather’s lifestyle,” Matt says. “His operation is a lot like mine where we’re not farming to make money. It’s a lifestyle choice that’s rubbed off on me, and I’m excited to share it with my children.”
Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Matt and his wife, Ashley, recently packed up their young family and left behind two acres of established property for a five-acre fixer-upper in Frederick, Maryland.
Although this new home features a beautiful house situated on a sprawling landscape, the acreage also includes a dilapidated barn and old fencing in need of repair. Regardless of necessary improvements, Matt says the property is the perfect opportunity for his family to have the homesteading lifestyle they’ve always wanted.
“The people who owned the farm before me didn’t keep up on the maintenance of the barn, the fence or the land,” Matt says. “But it’s just what we need right now. I’ve been rebuilding the fence and the barn so it can accommodate our animals and all we intend to do in the future.”
Finding the Best Small Tractor for a Small Farm
With a growing collection of livestock and double the acreage of his previous property, Matt needed a compact tractor to plow through his list of repairs.
“From the first day we moved here, I knew I was going to need a compact tractor,” Matt says. “I’m 35, and pushing a wheelbarrow around everywhere gets old really quickly.”
When they’re not fixing up their new property, Matt and Ashley both work full-time jobs – he as an electrician and she as an educator. They’re also busy raising three children – ages 2, 5 and 13.
With so much on their plates, the Hawkinses needed an extra pair of hands.
“I shopped around for a long time and did a lot of research,” Matt recalls. “I visited almost every compact tractor dealer out there. When it comes to Bobcat equipment, I learned that I can get more tractor for my money. On top of that, I also have a dealer I can trust.”
Matt walked out of his local dealership, Bobcat of Frederick, confident that a new Bobcat CT2025 was the best compact tractor for their property.
“Being comfortable is incredibly important to me, and I feel very comfortable on my tractor,” Matt says. “It’s easy to use, and I love hydrostatic transmission because I don’t have to keep switching between gears. In the time I’ve used it, I haven’t had one complaint yet.”
Rebuilding With a Bobcat Compact Tractor
Right now, the 25-horsepower CT2025 is the only homesteading equipment on Matt’s acreage. It’s been the game-changer that turns hours of backbreaking repairs into minutes of comfortable operation.
“The tractor has impressed me,” Matt says. “I’m able to remove all the old fence posts and use the 3-point hitch to pull my trailer around and load them all up. Without my compact tractor, it would take me a couple of hours to dig just one post out of the ground, but it does it within minutes. It makes things a lot more comfortable and efficient.”
Using his CT2025 paired with an auger and front-end loader, Matt is able to dig out and replace his old fence posts. He then places new posts into the ground with the help of the front-end loader and covers the base of every post with concrete. Each bag of concrete weighs roughly 80 pounds, so transporting the bags across five acres is much easier thanks to his compact tractor.
On top of his renovations, Matt also raises steers and plans to bring pigs onto the farm, which means even more work clearing the stalls with his CT2025.
“With my compact tractor, I can pull right up to the pen, load the bucket with all the stuff I need to clear out and then take it down to the far end of my property,” Matt says. “There’s no walking or hauling things around with a wheelbarrow.”
When tackling projects on his farm, one feature Matt can’t get enough of is the tractor’s tight turning radius.
“I am so impressed with the way the tractor turns – it turns on a dime,” Matt says. “Whenever I need to bring firewood up to the house, I have to take the compact tractor into the gated area of my property. That means there’s trees, laundry lines and all sorts of obstacles I have to weave through. But no matter what tight spot I put myself in, I’ve never had to do a three-point turn. I’m always able to get in and out without a problem.”
A Family Dedicated to Self-Sufficient Farming
When it’s all said and done, five acres is a lot for one person to manage, but Matt isn’t doing all this work to make a profit. He has a more important goal in mind.
“This is a family operation. We have maybe five steers on the property and a garden, so it’s my goal to get to a point where we never have to pay for food we don’t produce,” Matt says. “I don’t intend to make money farming. I just enjoy this lifestyle, and I want to teach my kids to take pride in being completely independent and self-sufficient.”
To reach his goal of total self-sustainability, Matt plans to extend the versatility of his compact tractor even further.
“I see myself purchasing just about every attachment and implement Bobcat makes,” Matt says. “Looking back on this whole experience, if I could do one thing differently, I would have bought a Bobcat compact tractor a long time ago. I’ve worked hard all my life, and now I have a machine that can do the heavy lifting for me.”