Before taking on their current 5-acre property, Jamie and Brian Olsen were living in a quaint suburb wedged between rows of neighbors who were a little too close for comfort. Craving the freedom Brian experienced as a child, the two began looking for more property off the beaten path.
“The home we bought in 2017 was cookie cutter nice,” Jamie says. “But Brian grew up in the country, and we wanted the same thing for our kids. We needed more room to explore our own interests and teach our kids the value of a self-sufficient lifestyle.”
That’s when they discovered their current property: a 5-acre patch of paradise tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. Determined to make their dream a reality, the Olsens bought the land, sold their house and packed what they could into the modern travel trailer that they’re calling home while building roots in their new Oregon oasis.
“The kids love our current lifestyle,” Jamie says. “They think we’re on one big camping trip. We currently have the trailer parked on our property while we’re busy building our new home. We have no power beyond our generator, a great view of the mountains and land that goes on for miles. We love it out here.”
Taking on an Acreage With a Compact Tractor and a Compact Excavator
With five undeveloped acres to manage and a house to build, the Olsens knew they’d need the right equipment to get them out of their trailer and into the home of their dreams. Enter the Bobcat CT2035 compact tractor and the E35 R-Series compact excavator.
“Right now we have to drive to and from the well whenever we want water. There are no established water lines on the property,” Brian says. “We also have to install our septic system, trench for utility lines and prep the ground for the house – the E35 is perfect for all of that. We decided to buy rather than rent, because I didn’t want to go back and forth renting the machine when I’m working full time. In the long run, this saves us time and money, because I also have the opportunity to start up an excavating business with it sometime down the road.”
When it came to managing a variety of unique projects across multiple acres of land, the Bobcat compact tractor was just what they were looking for.
“I’m a real numbers guy, so I’m always looking at reviews and comparing specifications,” Brian says. “I was looking for a compact tractor that wasn’t too big – because we don’t have a huge acreage – and something that wasn’t too small. I also needed something that could lift the most for its weight class. After comparing all those things, I felt like the Bobcat compact tractor was right up there at the top.”
With a hydrostatic transmission, the tractor allows them to seamlessly navigate the densely wooded area surrounding their home and easily clear three acres of brush from their property.
“It just made more sense for us to go with a hydrostatic transmission, because we don’t have to worry about changing gears,” Brian says. “It’s a lot easier to maneuver. I know plenty of people who wished they had hydrostatic transmissions because they’re just so easy to use. A manual transmission might offer more pulling power, but that’s not really what we’re doing with these small farm tractors.” After loading up on multiple compact tractor implements and attachments, including a front-end loader, rotary cutter, pallet fork and box blade, the Olsens are more prepared than ever before to take on their acreage work.
A Homesteading Family That’s All About Building Roots
While their kids think this is all one big camping trip, Brian and Jamie want them to know how much love, sweat and effort went into building their childhood home. That’s when Jamie got the idea of using their Building Roots Instagram profile and YouTube channel to keep their family in the loop on all of their home-building adventures.
“Building Roots really started out as being just for us and our family,” Jamie says. “We wanted a way for our kids to look back and see what it took to build this home for them. We’re not professionals, but over the months more and more people have shown some interest in what we’re doing. Our thought process is that if one person can look at our content and it helps them or inspires them then we think that’s really cool.”
And while they have a long way to go, Jamie and Brian are already accomplishing the goal they set out to achieve: building a better life for their children.
“I think there’s a lot of traditions that we’ve lost throughout the years as people,” Brian says. “Obviously technology is great – I even work for a technology company – but I think the best way to make my kids capable is to give them hands-on experience. Encouraging them to get outside helps them respect nature a little more than if they’re just watching TV. If you’re outside and experiencing these things, you can understand why we need to preserve it. That feels really important for us to teach our kids.”
Wondering which compact tractor is the right fit for your acreage? Answer these six simple questions to find the best option for you.