Have you ever done anything really, truly stupid? Something so patently simpleminded that you wanted to wear a disguise when you leave home?
Personally, I do stupid things in a steady cadence.
Recently, for example, I thought it would be a good thing to do, before moving our bulldozer out of Jacks Fork Farmsteads, if we were to build stock ponds on several of the parcels there. These make the parcels more attractive to you, the land-lusting public, and we can add them for free without raising our prices.
That wasn’t the stupid thing I did, though.
The stupid thing I did was the same stupid thing I am always whining about clients doing. That is, when I went out to instruct our operator on where to dig the ponds, I went to the location without taking a paper map.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
As a result, while my good intentions were to put one pond on Parcel O and one more on Parcel N, my memory of the JFF plat map failed me, and we now have two ponds on Parcel O and no ponds on Parcel N. That’s why it’s good to do your own heavy equipment work in-house: there’s nobody to sue you.
Anyway, Parcel O now enjoys the luxury of two stock ponds to complement its 6.85 acres. Perhaps you could stock the upper pond with fish, and dedicate the lower one to your goats, horses, cattle, porcupines, or whatever. The parcel is mostly pasture on a moist north slope, with a little less than an acre devoted to young timber.
I almost did another stupid thing. I almost forgot to mention the most important part: with an elevation of about 1,300 feet, and much surrounding open land, the south side of Parcel O presents the visitor with a pastoral view down the valley that will make your heart pause.
If you’re looking for a place to keep livestock, or start an orchard or vineyard, this is the place.
I don’t know if you’ve picked up a newspaper lately, but if you do, I’m afraid you’re in for a bit of a shock. You see, historically speaking, things are kind of cruddy.
I know, I didn’t see it coming either.
Chances are, like people all over the world, you’d like to escape the cruddiness and get back to normal. Who’d have ever thought there would be a time when the world’s number one aspiration was normalcy, right?
Well, by yet another remarkable coincidence, I happen to be in the position to offer you a generous helping of normalcy in the form of 2.53 acres, (think of two football fields side by side) that isn’t really any different than it was in 2019. In fact, other than the landline phone and grid electricity, this place hasn’t really changed that much since 1019 either.
The terrain is nearly level throughout the property, which is primarily a dense, shady forest of eastern red cedars. It’s cool in the summer and wind-protected in winter. There’s a driveway from the access road that we’ve covered with a thick layer of crushed limestone. The property fronts on that access road on its south and west sides. The electric line runs along the west boundary as well. Also included is a generous dose of your good health and sanity.
The access road is 2-wheel-drive friendly, but there is a small creek crossing that might raise a worrisome noise when crossed by a particularly long or low vehicle; its flooding might keep you home for a couple of hours every once in a while.
The property is located 3/10ths of a mile from Missouri State Highway 137, and 13 miles to Houston, Missouri—the county seat.
The weather looks good for this weekend, why don’t you drive out and look this place over?
People are always asking me if I have any good advice on the subject of rural land.
Okay, not always, but sometimes.
Definitely more than once.
When that happens, I always wish I could tell them something really profound and useful, but since land has been around for quite a while, it’s hard to come up with something that everyone doesn’t already know. Like for example, the best time to buy land is a long time ago.
You probably already knew that, right?
You likely also know that the best time to sell land for the most money is a long time in the future, but just before the giant asteroid destroys all life on earth. So obviously, if you’re looking to me for amazing new insights, you may want to reconsider.
However, that’s not to say that I don’t occasionally have a coherent (if not particularly amazing) thought and I am now about to bestow one of these semi-precious gems on you, Dear Unsuspecting Reader. It is this: the more you wander over a parcel of woods, i.e. the better you get to know it, the more you’re going to like it.
I mention this because I’ve been wandering all over the woods of our Ozark Divide Properties quite a bit lately, and I’m finding all sorts of interesting/attractive/charming things. Or at least I find them so.
The main road that runs through the ODP is literally ancient. Since it follows the highest ridge(s) of the Ozark Mountains, it’s been around as long as anyone can remember, but as far as I can tell, no-one has lived there since the 19th century. What that means is that the clues of this past habitation tend to be subtle, long-lasting things like hand-dug wells, old stone foundations, and lots of old-time garden flowers like blackberry lilies and periwinkle growing where some pioneer wife set out a few in the effort to brighten the homestead.
When we were designing the layout of these parcels, Parcel E, This Week’s Featured Property, was just a square on the map to me, but in the process of building a 2-wheel-drivable, crushed-limestone driveway into the back-center of the property, I discovered several charming curiosities. Nothing earth-shaking, you understand, just interesting. Like the boulder I found back in the woods; it’s as big as a small car in an area of mostly gravel and slightly larger stones. Then there are the crude beginnings of a rock wall making what we real-estate whizzes call a “forty corner”, apparently to mark the corner of the forty acres to the west of this parcel. Those old-timers may have known a lot of things we don’t know today, but they didn’t know much about GPS surveying, because our survey shows the whole wall and corner are well inside the boundary of this parcel.
Another thing I discovered is that, if it’s been raining pretty recently, there’s a nice little stream of water flowing out of the ground that, while it’s flowing at all, is literally at the very headwaters of the Big Piney River.
Parcel E is the largest parcel at Ozark Divide at 9.09 acres. Here you will have about as much environmentally clean privacy—not to mention serenity, peace, and quiet—as most folks have ever known.
This week I had an appointment that necessitated my leaving our forest for a day in the city; this was the first time I’ve been out since the beginning of March. Coronavirus notwithstanding, that isn’t so very different from my normal, somewhat introverted lifestyle. Since the advent of Amazon and Netflix, I find there is less reason to go anywhere requiring clothing than ever.
To be honest, going to town was sort of a let-down. The things I like most about the city—restaurants and theatres—no longer seemed safe, and a great many of the things I especially don’t like, such as banking, interaction with government entities, and earning a living, can now be handled online.
Here at home, this has been a particularly beautiful spring with all the usual flora and fauna on display, so I haven’t missed being honked at, jostled against, or coughed upon nearly so much as one might suppose.
Now, I’m not telling you all this self-satisfied prattle just to be annoying. Rather, I’d like to help you too, find a quiet, beautiful place where you can live in safety and serenity.
By a remarkable coincidence, we just happen to have a parcel of land for sale where you can do just that. It’s one of our lowest-priced parcels, so you’ll have more of your nest egg available to finance a home*.
(*DISCLAIMER: By “home” I mean a weather-proof structure, a water source that won’t kill you, and a composting toilet or septic tank. Alas, you are going to need more than just a tent and a canteen to live successfully on your own land—whether this parcel or any other. If your resources add up to approximately zero, please, even though you can probably afford this parcel anyway, please understand that what seemed to you a perfectly reasonable idea while you are still residing in your city apartment or park bench, will leave you baking/freezing, dirty, sick, and covered with ticks in actual practice.)
Perhaps you’ve noticed that suddenly, lots of people are working at home. I can offer a little advice on this subject because I stopped going to the office about twenty-five years ago. I live 18 miles from town, so when I made the move, I immediately began saving money on fuel, tires, repairs, etc., but that was only the beginning.
When I kept an office in town, people would just wander in unannounced, see me at my desk, and assume I wasn’t doing anything and that I needed to be entertained with clever observations about the weather. Now, my “workstation” is a nice, quiet, former bedroom upstairs where I have two large windows overlooking verdant Ozark meadows. Now, I only waste time when *I* want to.
Working at home has set me free. I’d recommend it to anyone. Like you, for example. Because if YOU were to start working at home, then you could live anywhere you want to. So… is where you’re living now where you actually, really, truly want to be?
I noticed that when the pandemic lockdowns began, Home Depot was doing brisk business (or so I’m told). That suggests to me that perhaps a lot of people were just realizing how lacking their homes were if they actually had to spend time in them. It’s one thing if you decide you need another bathroom, but what if you decide you want to add a forest and maybe a small stream to your backyard?
Now, if you try to add a few acres to your lot in a modern suburban subdivision, you’re going to run into all sorts of problems with that from both the city and your neighbors. Suffice it to say, converting a city lot into vast acreage is a challenge that most of us aren’t quite up to.
However, DID YOU KNOW that adding everything you have now to your own personal forest is, relatively speaking, a piece of cake.
Likewise, BUYING a personal forest is about as simple as getting up off your credit card and making the first installment. Here’s an excellent example of a forest you can buy right now:
This Week's Featured Property is located on a ridge above the famous Bull Shoals Lake, meaning there are enough fish at the bottom of the hill to feed an army in perpetuity. But that's only the beginning. This remote area is only two and a half miles, through nearly uninhabited woods, from the enormous Jones Point Wildlife Management Area. In short, of all of the abundant fauna on all of our properties, this is the location where you're certain to encounter the largest variety of wild Animalia.
So... whether you're into photographing the unsullied beauties of nature, or blowing their brains out, there's something here for you.
This property has a lot more going for it than just that though. It's pretty level—by Ozark standards, at least—and along the back boundary, you'll find the tiny trickle of an intermittent stream if it's been raining fairly recently. I’ll bet your current backyard doesn’t feature one of those.
Plus, as previously mentioned, Bull Shoals Lake's 1,000-mile shoreline is at the bottom of the hill surrounded by U.S. Government land. In fact, there's a lot of National Forest and National Park Service land in this neighborhood, which is about 13 miles south of Theodosia, Missouri.
Even though the county road comes this far back, and electricity runs along the county road, this is one of the most remote areas left around the lake. It would make a much nicer place to live and work than 99% of the world’s population enjoys.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve wasted several fortunes in my life. Ever since I was a little kid, back when comic books advertised x-ray glasses and whoopee cushions for simple-minded little monsters such as myself, I’ve been shelling out perfectly good money for trash that I would eventually toss out, too embarrassed to admit that I’d ever bought such worthless refuse in my life. Now, inevitably, it has come to the point where, thanks to the Miracle of the Internet, I’m now blowing through funds to purchase stuff I can’t even touch, taste, or tickle.
I became aware of this recently when it finally dawned on Olga and myself, that we would have a much larger house—or at least a lot more living space—if we simply gave away a LOT of our stuff. And I don’t mean good stuff—we’re not joining a cult or anything—I’m just talking about the tons and tons, (perhaps acres and acres) of perfectly useless rubbish that we’ve been holding onto for decades, not because we had any need for any of that junk, but because someone once placed a price on this detritus, and we were gullible enough to pay that price.
Now all that stuff has an effective value of zero, so I count us as lucky in that we were able to hornswoggle our friends and family into taking so much of it.
But you know, I’m not one of those people who gets depressed thinking about how much cash I’ve wasted in the past because I recognize that virtually everything you buy loses value, even big-ticket items.
Sure, a 1946 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, if it’s been carefully and expensively curated over the decades, will be worth a lot more than the few thousand dollars it cost new, but a. you didn’t buy one of those, and b. even if you had, and you used it in the manner that most automobiles are actually used for, it’s current value would be given in so many cents per ton.
Luckily, there is one exception to this rule, and that’s land. Leave it alone for a few decades and it will be worth more—probably a great deal more—than you paid. I bought the land I live on now in 1977, so when I think about what it cost back then, I don’t worry so much about what I spent on eight-track tapes.
You, too, can enjoy this sort of annoying self-satisfaction, but you gotta do it as I did: buy it before you get a lot older.
It just works better that way.
And a good way that you can do that without taking a second or third job, is to let us finance you for 15 years. This Week’s Featured Property would make a good place to start. It’s ready to accept a small cabin, it gives you over eight acres of woods to wander in, and you don’t need a four-wheel-drive to get to it.
It’s something you won’t be tossing away in a few years. You’ll thank me someday.
I wish you could all be here at my place. Springtime in the Ozarks is as beautiful as this mortal coil provides. May is the month when Mother Nature gets flirtatious, and this year has been a stunning example. All of her bulbs are in blossom, all of her songbirds are singing in tune, and procreation is running rampant. I’m pretty certain that if birds had pornography, this is what it would look like.
This year, we’ve been seeing an unprecedented number of humans making new nests in the country as well. Over the decades, we’ve seen about everything you could imagine, including one family who decided that they could go through the winter in a “house” that they constructed entirely of those inch-thick, 4x8 sheets of Styrofoam glued together. Remarkably, the house made it through even a pretty heavy rain, but the family didn’t stick it out much beyond the first frost.
Don’t do that.
But I digress.
As I was saying, we’ve been helping people move to their properties for forty-odd years now, and we have some advice to give about how to do it in a hurry. Right now, there’s a small horde of people moving out of densely inhabited areas and into tiny cottages in the Ozark forest.
There’s no reason why a tiny home can’t be as comfortable as a larger one (unless you’re pretty darned large yourself) but most humans require a bit more than just a room in the woods. Luckily for you, you’ve been born into a time when providing the luxuries that everyone considers necessities has never been easier.
Take septic systems; in the past, those folks who wanted to differentiate themselves from wildlife had to install an in-ground septic system of the sort that typically costs a few thousand dollars and a day or two’s machine work (as well as despoiling the croquet court). Nowadays, you can meet state environmental standards with much, much less danger to the groundwater by spending a few hundred dollars on a composting toilet.
Avoiding a regular flush toilet system will save enormous amounts of water, but when you start carrying every drop of aqua you need for drinking, bathing, cleaning, laundry, and watering the garden you’ll quickly realize that a drilled well is worth whatever it costs. It may not be something you can afford at first, but you’ll be healthier, happier, and cleaner when you get one. A realistic value cannot be placed on cold, clean, clear tap water on demand. Thankfully, this is not an environment where you can drive a pipe into the sand, or mud, and get a piddling source of contaminated groundwater. Here in the Ozarks, well water is found stored in limestone, 80 feet or more below grade. It’s cleaner water than the stuff you buy in plastic bottles, and there’s a never-ending supply of it under your feet.
The last major concern is getting rid of your trash. Again, you are in luck, because these days, almost every neighborhood has small companies (or larger ones) that will pick up your trash and take it to the landfill. There are at least four reasons why you want to use the landfill rather than just letting trash accumulate.
1. It’s the environmentally acceptable thing to do.
2. Besides scattering it all over your own property, the wind will blow your trash onto other people’s property, especially after the raccoons have slashed your flimsy trash bags to shreds.
3. Piles of trash attract diseases, insects, rodents, and larger wildlife, like raccoons, opossums, and bears.
4. Our contract requires it.
Finally, not everyone is cut out for a life of peace, beauty, cleanliness, and good health, but if you think that maybe, just maybe, you would make the cut, here’ s a little extracurricular reading on the subject:
Okay, at this point, I’m going to have to get candid with you: This Week’s Featured Property WAS going to be one of our small parcels that permits most any kind of buildings. Unfortunately, just as we had collected all the photos, maps, and details to make web pages to get that property ready to be featured, someone up and bought it out from under us. As a result, it only now occurs to me that, having written all of the above for this week’s newsletter, we have picked a replacement property to feature which does not permit the sorts of buildings I just spent the last six or seven hundred words yammering about. Well, this is kind of embarrassing, but since no clothing was removed and the police were not summoned, it’s not humiliating enough to make us work up a third feature property at this late date.
SO… if you’d like to see a large number of properties appropriate for your tiny home, use this link to OzarkLand.com.
But if you’d like to see a neat little property you can camp on until you build a log (or native stone) home on it and a fantastic place to take the family outdoors, This Week’s Featured Property is Clearwater Mountain Parcel W. A nice collection of pines and oaks within a short, easy walk of Clearwater Lake, the Webb Creek Marina, Webb Creek Park, and thousands of acres of government land surrounding the lake. The walk back uphill to the parcel isn’t quite so easy, but it’s just as short. A paltry $232 per month will make it yours.
So… civilization was great, and then it tried to kill you, right? Well, as I’ve been preaching for the last several decades, nature is a better place to live in than civilization anyway. That was true before the most catastrophic thing that’s ever happened in any living person’s lifetime happened, so it’s undoubtedly true now.
Looking for social distancing? How about locating yourself in the middle of twelve acres looking out over the rural Ozark Mountains, which are absolutely stunningly beautiful this time of year?
The best way to describe this parcel is to say that it’s about as close to being a southwestern mesa as anything you’re likely to find in the Ozarks.
To begin with, the property is 12.52 acres, and of that, just a shade less than five acres is open meadow, level as a tabletop. This meadow area is on the same level as the access road, on the property’s south side, but all around it, the land slopes down sharply to the north, east, and west. On the west side, there’s a narrow little hollow filled with large black walnut trees, and on the east side, there’s a small spring branch. The walnuts are easily accessible on the open ground, the spring branch less so, being on steeper terrain.
If it were me, I’d probably want to locate my home in the walnut hollow; it’s very private, and out of the winter winds with plenty of summer shade. However, it also has an intermittent stream when it’s been raining hard, so one would want to avoid that. Either there, or I’d pick the northwest corner of the property which is a nice long way from the access road, and which has a nice view of the Jacks Fork River year-round, and shade from the afternoon sun.
Here’s a place with enough room to raise or rear any plant or animal you desire. It’s already supporting walnuts and squirrels.
This place is at the very back of JFF, so you won’t have a lot of traffic passing by, but you’ll have a mile-long unpaved access road from the highway, including a low-water creek crossing.
Why don’t you drive out and take a look? You can (and should) print out our maps and driving directions from our website, so you won’t need to meet with anyone.
I hate to start a letter apologizing for something, but these are unusual times.
We’re sorry (with certain qualifications) that properties are selling faster than we can keep up with. We’ve had an unprecedented number of sales in the last three weeks and that may make it LOOK like we’re running out of inventory. We aren’t. In addition to what you see on our pages, we have several other properties waiting for cleaning, title work, and/or road repair.
So… if you’re so finicky and hard to please that none of the magnificent properties currently on our web site will sate your ravenous lust for Mother Earth, we ask for your patience. Please make certain that you stay subscribed to this newsletter, and we will make you aware of each of these new parcels the very nanosecond they become available (or the following Friday, at any rate).
This Week’s Featured Property has been awarded the coveted Easiest Rural Property to Transition to After Living in the Suburbs All Your Life Award by the Global Board of International Experts (me), in recognition of the fact that it combines all the splendors of nature in the beautiful Bull Shoals Lake region with frontage on a county-maintained road and grid electricity.
Whiteoak Shores Parcel D is a 2.6-acre tract of oaks and cedars above Bull Shoals Lake in western Ozark County, Missouri. It’s a great place to build and will make a really convenient place from which to experience the Ozarks because, in the dramatic hills and valleys of this part of the country, traffic moves pretty slowly, so, being fairly close to things is a benefit. Besides being a mere 44 miles from the bright lights of Branson, this property is only 5.4 miles from the Peel Ferry which takes Highway 125 into Arkansas, and 7 miles from the hamlet of Protem, Missouri.
The parcel has grid electricity and frontage on Pine Hollow Road which is maintained by Ozark County, and it’s been fully surveyed and staked. The terrain varies from fairly level in the south and west to rugged and dramatic in the northeast corner which is in a narrow hollow leading down to the lakeshore.
The “neighborhood”, that is, this peninsula of the lake, is 99% woods, but there is just a handful—missing a finger or two—of middle-class homes, mostly built in the last 20 years.