This month we interviewed RobertN about his tractors, family, lifestyle and more! Robert lives an abundant life in the heart of the California Gold Country where activities are as numerous as the stars in the sky…
Name: Robert Nielsen (a.k.a. RobertN)
Location: Shingle Springs, Ca; in the heart of the California Gold Country
Post Count: 6,574 (#27 of all-time)
How long have you been a member of TractorByNet.com?
Interesting question. I have been on Tractorbynet since its inception. I was actually here before that, since about 1998, before it became TractorByNet. I found the original site while searching for info on Kubota’s. Back then, it was a Kubota site. I was researching the purchase of a tractor.
Back in those days, there were dozens of members. Literally, just dozens… Replies to questions sometimes took days, not minutes like now. It has been awesome to watch the site evolve into what it is today, with numerous forums and thousands of members. I remember, when Bird only had a hundred or so posts.
What do you like best about TractorByNet.com?
I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge there is on the site. Over the years, I have learned about hydraulics (built my own Tip/tilt), diesels, magnetic cups (Chalkey Cup!), welding, chickens, trailer brakes, garden biology, and numerous other subjects. I also like the fact that it is international. And of course, I like Harv’s Christmas animation. That was my Farmall in there…
What type of tractor do you own?
I currently own a New Holland TC40D. Previously, I had a Kubota B8200, and a Farmall-A.
How long have you owned or operated tractors?
I started with tractors in 1998, after finding that a beat up old riding lawn mower was not the right equipment for my property. After the riding lawn tractor broke down in ’98, a week later I had the Kubota B8200, and was able to do some proper work! A couple of years later, I got the Farmall. Mostly, I used the Farmall for parades; my Cub Scout den at the time won first place in a local Christmas parade for a float that I towed.
What do you enjoy most about tractors?
I enjoy tinkering with them. I built my own TnT for the old Kubota, and rebuilt the top end of the old Farmall. They are fun to operate, and allow us to do a wide variety of tasks. And of course, the occasional joy ride.
How often do you use your tractor?
My wife and I both use the tractor. It is used at least weekly, and frequently more often. The loader gets used most frequently. It is soooo much nicer than a manual loader (wheel barrow!).
Tell us about your property:
We have 5 acres in the heart of the California Gold Country. We are about 15 minutes from Coloma, where the Gold Rush started. The area is oak savanna, with mixed pines. Sometimes it is called the Grey Pine Belt, because the Grey Pine grows throughout the Gold Country. We have two houses. One, for me, my wife, and son. The other is my Mother-In-Law’s “Granny Flat”. We recently added 5Kw of solar to the main house, in addition to solar hot water.
The property is rolling oak woodland, and was mined back in the late 1800’s. There are two sealed mine shafts on the property.
I also use the tractor to care for my parents 8 acres, about 30 miles away.
Tell us about your vehicles:
We typically are driving either the Dodge diesel pickup, or a little PT Cruiser. We use the Dodge to pull a 5th wheel RV, usually to the North California coast. We also ride motorcycles.
Do you have any pets?
We are suckers for furry faces. We have two dogs. One is a shepherd mix rescued from the pound. His name is Hercules, but we also call him “Sir Licksalot” because he has the faster licker in the West. Our other dog is a shy German Shepherd named Xena that we got from a German Shepherd rescue.
Our cat was a rescue too. He had health issues as a kitten. Some type of throat issue. Originally, the vet thought he might only live a year; he is two and a half, and doing great.
We also have half a dozen Barred Rocks hens, for fresh eggs.
What sort of modifications or customization have you done to your tractor?
So far none on this New Holland… I plan to add Tip/Tilt. On the old Kubota, I added a loader, and built my own Tip/tilt. I do plan to add more hooks (previous owner put some on the loader). Eventually I would like a clamshell bucket too.
What sort of tools, attachments or equipment do you use with your tractor on a regular basis?
The TC40D has a factory loader. I also have a 6’ rotary mower, box scraper, post hole auger, and a three point wood splitter. The loader gets the most use, although recently the wood splitter has been getting a good workout.
I have also used various skid-steer and tracked loaders, and a couple backhoes (Kubota L35).
What do you mainly use your tractor for?
The tractor gets the most use with the loader, moving mulch and garden stuff. In the spring it gets a good workout mowing. My 5 acres gets mowed, my parents 8 acres get mowed, and a close friend 46 acres gets fire lines mowed. The scraper gets a workout maintaining the gravel driveway. And… trips to get the mail.
What do you like or dislike about the area you live in?
The area is amazing. You can do anything within about 75 miles. We sail on San Francisco Bay, camp and ski near Lake Tahoe, hunt and fish in the Sierra’s, camp on the rugged northern California coast, pan for gold at the Coloma gold discovery site, backpack in numerous wilderness areas, four-wheel on the infamous Rubicon Trail…
We are right in the heart of the foothill wine country. There are over 100 wineries in the area; The Napa wine country is 1.5 hours away, but we have better wine—Madrona, Windwalker, and Chevalier are really good.
In the spring, you can snow ski on Saturday, and water ski on Sunday. We have varied terrain, as seen at the “Hollywood Railroad”. An hour south of here is an old railroad. It has been used numerous movies and TV shows. Petticoat Junction was filmed there.
And, there is a great 1,000 yard shooting range nearby.
What sort of terrain is common in your area?
Rolling foothills. There was a lot of gold mining in the area. There is gabral rock that is not found anywhere else on earth.
What sort of trees and vegetation are common in your area?
Numerous varieties of oak trees grow here. Also, a number of pine varieties, especially Ponderosa and Grey Pine. We have mixed chaparral, with Buckbrush and Manzanita prevalent. Unfortunately, poison oak also thrives here.
What’s something most TractorByNet members don’t know about you?
Over the last year, my wife and I have been taking sailing lessons on the San Francisco Bay. Our long term goal is to be able to bare boat charter in the Caribbean.
I have 25 years experience in IC failure analysis and Energy Star development, at the company that probably made the CPU in your computer, although most of my experience is in Flash memory. My favorite FA tool is the Photonic Emission Microscope.
I volunteer a lot. I am a Boy Scout Assistant Scoutmaster, Volunteer Firefighter/EMT, and CPR instructor. I am planning free CPR classes for local Girl Scouts and their leaders right now.