It's a serious question. If you were to walk out your front door right now, would you be transfixed with the beauty you behold? And if not, then why not?
I mean, what if, every morning when you walked out your front door, you were greeted by a vision of unparalleled beauty? Wouldn't that put a smile on your face? And doesn't that feel good? And isn't it true that scientific studies have determined that, if you live in a beautiful environment, you're much less likely to suffer from common stress? And, of course, we all know stress is unhealthy.
So, clearly, the logical thing to do is to abandon your ugly old lifestyle and move someplace gorgeous, pronto.
Now it just so happens, that, by a remarkable coincidence, we happen to have a particularly gorgeous place for you to consider: Jacks Fork Farmsteads Parcel V: high ground with a breathtaking view, and a broad south-slope ideal for a solar home or vineyard. There’s a small stock pond to water your unicorns, and plenty of pasture for your more terrestrial livestock, be they rabbits or rhinoceri.
It's a place with scenic charm hard to equal anywhere, and we’ll finance your purchase of it with a deal that’s also hard to match: NO down payment and fifteen-year terms, so that it costs you less than a car payment. (Seriously, who else does that?)
The reason I ask is that This Week’s Featured Properties would make either a nice, large hay meadow with frontage on the South Jacks Fork River, or three somewhat smaller hay meadows, also each with frontage on that idyllic stream. That is, they’re all virtually identical, except Parcel C, which has much better access to the creek than the others. They’re all about the same size, 6.05, 5.80, and 5.50 acres respectively. A total of 16.55 ac.
If you’re serious about pasturing animals, starting an orchard/vineyard, or growing crops, each of these mostly open meadow parcels is an ideal empty canvas for your dreams. Each (or all three) has a strip of steep wooded ground alongside the creek, which is about 50 feet of elevation below the meadow.
So… if you have any really close friends with whom you’d like to be even closer, this should do it. Or perhaps you’re one of a set of triplets, all yearning to breathe fresh country air, then clearly, this is the place for you and your entourage. Or, perhaps your family members are oddballs like mine, that is, all still talking to one another in adulthood, if so, this may be the place for the whole bunch of you.
Grid electricity is already in place along the south side of the parcels and the town of Willow Springs, Missouri is only about 11 miles to the south.
This Week's Featured Property has several genuinely important things going for it: first of all, it's covered with big, husky, hardwood timber, all except for a 50-100-foot swath on the east side which is devoted to an electrical utility transfer easement. This property is off-grid (you can't hook up to this transfer line) but having this easement on your property means that the eastern half-acre of the property will always be kept free of brush and trees, courtesy of the power company. I think you'll see that this can be handy for the landowner, especially the absentee owner who needs a place to park, for example, when visiting the property, and who, perhaps, doesn't realize how quickly the brush can grow back.
Then there's the lay of the land: even though the local terrain is quite hilly, the back two acres of this parcel are nearly level with a very, very, gentle southern slope. It wouldn't be difficult to build on any square foot of this property.
Those west two acres are also covered with big oaks and hickories because this property hasn’t been timbered in over 50 years. On the hottest days of the year, you can count on the interior of this parcel being ten degrees cooler than the parking lot at Walmart.
Both Willow Springs and Cabool, Missouri are about 12 miles away.
The Bad News, if you see it as such, is that the access road into this property is almost two miles long and can be challenging in bad weather. You shouldn’t consider this property unless you have a four-wheel drive.
This morning I have a uniquely attractive five-acre parcel of land to tell you about. Unfortunately, for you, there’s quite a lot to tell. So, you may want to find a comfortable chair.
The Saga of Lillium Brook Parcel A
I have been personally acquainted with This Week’s Featured Property—five acres of dense, eastern-red-cedar forest—since it was a meadow. This forest is now so dense that I can only describe the back half of the property from my memory, as the woods are now too thick and I am far too lazy (as well as somewhat of a sissy) to want to thrash my way through it with a machete.
But that’s only part of the story. Years—and I mean years—ago, we sold this property to an old gentleman who built a small cabin on it. Back then, we had most of the same rules regarding the property that we do now, but being naive, in addition to lazy and timid, we didn’t actually make any effort to determine whether our rules were being followed. Dan was friendly and quiet, always paid his bill on time, and when I had occasion to work at that location, we always had a nice chat. So I considered him a friend and wanted to respect his privacy, so I never actually went down to the cabin. This went on for years.
Then one day, Christi brought it to my attention that we hadn’t received a payment from Dan for quite some time, and upon investigation, I discovered that he had just up and left the area without leaving a forwarding address. In cases such as this, we never know exactly what to think. Was Dan hiding out from the Mafia? Had he discovered a septuagenarian romance? I wanted to give him more time to catch up on his payments if he was in dire straits.
We were able to trace him to a trailer park in the southwest, where the trail went cold. I spent a short time imagining perhaps that Dan had contracted a fatal disease and gone off somewhere to die like an old elephant, and because he and I were such good buddies, he was abandoning his considerable equity in the property to me. (I mentioned the naivete right?)
So then, it behooved me to visit the property and discover what I’d inherited. I remembered the parcel as one of the nicer five-acre tracts we’ve ever had: two pretty little creeks, lots of level land at the end of a short, good road near pavement (or if you’re a city person: a long, awful road, miles away from anything). It’s half a mile from Missouri State Highway 137.
First of all, the tiny cedar trees that dotted the meadow in a previous decade were now all about 20 feet tall and spaced so closely that they were shading out the grass. No surprise there; if you don’t mow a field at least annually, it becomes a forest quicker than most folks realize. Then, when I wandered through the darkened path to the cabin, I discovered why Dan had decided to walk away from everything he’d accumulated over the years.
Apparently, Dan had been attempting to corner the market in plastic milk jugs. I’m certain he must have strong teeth and bones, wherever he is, because it appears that he must drink four gallons of milk every day, and when he finishes one, he tosses the empty jug out the window into a pile. What I beheld was, not so much a pile, as a small mountain. Oh, there was other stuff too, lots of other stuff: a couple of dead trucks, a deceased motor scooter, old tires, broken tools, junk of every type and degree, but it was the milk jugs that were seemingly everywhere; like stars in the sky, only closer together. There were truckloads of them. First, we tried picking them up by hand, but at the end of the day, it looked a lot like it did at the beginning of the morning. “What’s the opposite of lactose intolerant?” we wondered, dazed, demoralized, and reeking of soured milk.
So the decision was made to move our bulldozer to the location. First, we bulldozed the cabin and the junk into one mound and burned it. Then, we cleared out an area big enough for a building spot and a large lawn. Next, we picked up the place again and buried everything that wouldn’t burn and covered the resulting bare dirt with Bermuda grass hay, and finally, we seeded the whole thing in clover and fescue, which is just beginning to germinate now.
Between diesel fuel, dumping fees, and labor costs, we spent a few thousand dollars. (Let me add here that our contract now requires you to subscribe to a local trash service if you’re living on the property.)
But! In return, it’s a more attractive parcel than ever and it’s ready for you to move in. We cleared a path to the first creek, trimmed the lower limbs off of several of the trees we left, and we applied four truckloads of crushed rock to the access road.
However, the whole back half of the parcel is currently a mystery. I’ve got some old photos from the late 90s showing the second little creek that runs through that area, and the last time I visited the northwest corner of the property (about forty years ago), I found an old split-rail fence that was ancient back then. See if it’s still there.
A lot of the cedar trees are 8-15 inches in diameter. If you cut the lower limbs off, the results are quite nice, giving a park-like feeling. Or, if you want to just leave them alone, they’ll probably be tall enough that you can walk through them without trimming in another decade or so. Either way you want to go, this is a very pretty, peaceful, end-of-the-road place to live. There’s grid electricity and a nice cleared area for your portable cabin or larger abode.
It’s somewhat rare to find a small parcel with a reliable creek on it, much less two of them, so it will be a while before you’re offered one again.
This Week’s Featured Property has been custom designed for you, provided you’re looking for a pretty place to live almost completely free from the noisome influence of the rest of the world.
We started with a tract that had been almost completely consumed by cedar trees. They were growing so thick that they were limiting the usefulness of the parcel. So, we bulldozed a clearing in the center and put down 400 feet of crushed limestone for a driveway. Now, there’s a nice open area in the center with dense vegetation all around, so your privacy is assured.
There’s also a small creek that runs through the property from south to north. This isn’t a thing you’re going to be swimming or fishing in (unless your expectations are extremely low) but it’s a pretty place to soak your lower extremities, treat your psychosis, and irrigate a garden at the same time.
We also spread grass seed over all the newly-cleared ground, but that hadn’t begun to germinate when we took the photos you’ll see on our website. That seed should be lush, green grass in a few weeks, so remember that when you look at the photos.
Well, let’s see where we stand this morning. The whole west coast is on fire, record numbers of hurricanes are battering the east and south, and the coronavirus has insinuated itself so thoroughly into our society that just about everyone knows someone who’s been affected or infected.
I was just thinking about it all this morning as I was taking a leisurely walk through the sanctuary of my woods. I paused at a hilltop overlook where I could see across the fields and forests to the horizon. The view looked exactly as it always has: no smokestacks, no skyscrapers—just trees and grass. The weather’s been a little weird the last few years, but here it is September and the grass is still green and the streams are, if not overflowing, full of water. When there’s a hurricane in the gulf, we get a few showers a couple of days later; when a wildfire occurs in this region (unless there’s a serious drought going on) living trees do not catch fire.
Now, it’s true that there’s not a lot of culture going on in my forest (we’re not including fungi here) but we can pump in quite a bit of it via satellite. So, when my wife and I “attend” a concert, we can actually hear the music, and when we watch a movie, we don’t need to worry if Typhoid Mary (or COVID Connie) is sitting (hack, cough, wheeze) right behind us.
What I’m getting at is that living in a rural area has always been very safe—particularly a rural area in the center of the country with a mild, four-season climate—but it’s even safer now by tenfold. These days, when one can get virtually anything one wants delivered (even down a long, unpaved driveway like ours); these days when one can work from home and some companies are even asking employees to do so, I just have to wonder… why does anybody still live in the city?
I have a better idea: stop wasting money and endangering your life. Get out of there now.
This Week’s Featured Property is just another way for you to do that, it’s 5.93 acres of south-sloping meadow. You can start a vineyard, or an orchard, or raise miniature zebras. Drill your own well, make your own electricity, and know the satisfaction of owing no bills. As soon as you’ve paid us off, of course.
Perhaps you’re one of those folks who appreciate wildlife and enjoy living in the forest. If so, then today is definitely your day because, today, you are graced with the opportunity to purchase a property where the life is about as wild as anyone could hope for.
That’s right, This Week’s Featured Property is located on a ridge above the famous Bull Shoals Lake. To the knowledgeable fisherman, that means that 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 from the enormous Jones Point Wildlife Management Area wherein you’ll find all manner of Ozarks game animals procreating like flesh was going out of style. In short, of all 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.
However, this property has a lot more going for it than just that. It’s pretty level, for land in the Ozarks at least, and along the back boundary—if it’s been raining fairly recently—you’ll find the tiny trickle of an intermittent stream.
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 tremendous investment for you, assuming you order it before someone else does.
This week, a headline on TIME caught my eye. (I’m still mad at TIME; I subscribed to their print version faithfully ever since I got out of high-school—some of the best years of my life, I might add—then they dumped me like I was chopped liver so they could run off and be on the internet.) I can’t find that headline now, but it was something to the effect of “The Wealthy are Fleeing the Cities.” I skimmed through the article: apparently, large numbers of the well-to-do have determined that they do not wish to die (or worse) from the coronavirus. So their solution is to move to enormous country estates where there are few—if any—other humans.
As I started thinking it over, at first, I wondered, “Why do they only mention the rich?” Aren’t lots of people doing the same thing? Moving to the country I mean, not necessarily to a sprawling ranch or game preserve.
I forgot that banks won’t loan money on acreage unless you put up a really sizable down payment, or if you have so much money in their bank that you don’t really need the loan anyway. Then, when I remembered that, it prompted me to also remember what I do for a living.
What I do for a living is… work with my company to provide space, beauty, privacy, and peace—that is to say, rural land—to just about any adult with a source of income. We can’t help you buy everything from here to the horizon, but when you’re in the middle of five acres of woods in a rural area, it can give you an experience simulating that of owning the entire planet.
Take, for example, This Week’s Featured Property. Are you fairly smart? I ask because you’re going to need to be reasonably intelligent to even find this place. So, when you go to see it, or any of our properties, you should take copies of the maps and directions on our website. And if I were you, I’d print them out at home because internet service out there isn’t perfect and who can read the screen in full sun, anyway?
Also, this is a great property for someone smart who wants to be alone. Settle into this property and you’ll only see the very most dedicated salesmen or missionaries. This fully surveyed 5.51-acre property is covered with quite a pretty collection of oaks and hickories on ground that, while you’d have to say it’s hilly, most of it is still quite level.
Word has reached me that nowadays there are people who will teach you how to get rich in the real estate market by paying a small fortune. Well, what I mean to say is that, while it's always been the case that you could hire someone to teach you some pretty basic things about real property that most everyone already knows: buy low, sell high, and miraculously find someone else to provide the money. You may not have thought about it much, but you kinda knew that already, right? What’s new is that, in our swell present economy, you can pay up to $35,000 for this information.
So in my ongoing effort to bring Dear Reader any bargain possible, and being an unquestioned authority on such matters, I'm going to give you an excellent bit of information, that you already know, about how to make a wise land purchase. Okay?
Are you ready for it?
Here it is: a property that has some sort of water feature will be more useful, more attractive, and will prove to be an all-around better deal over the long run.
Now be honest, you did know that already, didn't you? You just didn't have one of the World's Foremost Authorities on the subject to validate your knowledge.
Which I just did.
You could pay up to $50,000 for such validation from the Nigerian Prince Institute of Real Estate Studies, but you don't need to, as I've given it to you for free.
It’s been my pleasure.
Now, here's an opportunity for you to apply this knowledge you've struggled so hard to achieve:
This Week's Featured Property has two different water features for you to appreciate. First, it's located on a famous and everlasting limestone aquifer, so you can expect to drill a well and be rewarded with a lifetime supply of cold, clean aqua. Then there's the 1,000-mile shoreline of Bull Shoals Lake just at the bottom of the hill below the parcel. (Okay, technically, the bottom of the hill is about 200 feet below the surface of the lake, but you get my point.) Also, the Jones Point Wildlife Management Area is just a couple of miles through the woods, so, as well as a lake full of fish, the property comes with a world full of wildlife.
The parcel has 138 feet of frontage on the access road and it runs almost 800 feet deep into the Arkansas forest; it's covered with red cedar and oak. The access road has been dedicated to, and accepted by, the county, although that was a long time ago, and they don't maintain it because nobody lives there. While you can find several good building spots, the property is steep in other places, and rocky all over, so if you don't like those aspects, you'll either need a lot of dynamite or a sunny disposition and a willingness to make do. We strongly urge the latter. Grid electricity is only about a quarter-mile away, and we'll give you a Warranty Deed to the property after only six months’ payments. To my knowledge, nobody else does this, which makes it, we think, a pretty good deal. You probably already knew that.
This is without question the Year of the Tiny House. Oh, and that virus-thing, too. It turns out that the virus-thing makes people want to spend less money while putting some distance ‘twixt themselves and the icky outside world.
I was just a sticky-faced little kid when hula-hoops swept through America, but the tiny house movement has that sort of feeling. Well, aside from the fact that hula-hoops were a ridiculous toy designed exclusively for the I’ll-Buy-Anything Generation, whereas tiny houses are the epitome of sensible—dare I say conservative?—thought.
Which I suppose is why we’re seeing so many folks decluttering their lives, downsizing their homes, and disinfecting their environment.
In just a moment, I’m going to give you a link to This Week’s Featured Property which, duh, just happens to be an ideal location to place a portable cabin quickly and easily, but first, there are a few things I’d like to talk about.
Water wells: Just this: they may not cost as much as you think. We’ve seen people spend serious amounts of money on filtration systems or cisterns when a modern drilled well wouldn’t cost that much more. While there are no assurances of what your well will cost until it’s been drilled, of the last ten we’ve seen drilled, eight of them cost between $6,000 and $7,000 each. The two others cost significantly less because of particularly ideal locations. Modern rotary-drilled Ozark wells tap into a massive limestone aquifer, so they will provide a lifetime of clean, cold water for the rest of your life and beyond. Hauling in water as part of your daily lifestyle gets pretty old pretty fast, especially in winter, if that’s all you can afford at first, then so be it, but you’ll be happier, healthier, and cleaner when you install a well.
Trash: Our contract requires that you subscribe to a local trash service before you take up residency on the property. This is going to cost you $20 to $30 per month. This is not something that can be avoided by having a burn barrel. Obviously, metal and glass don’t burn, and dumping it on the property is both a breach of our contract and a violation of Missouri law. In recent years, the state has closed dozens of small municipal dumps and landfills and consolidated them so that even if you wanted to haul your junk to the dump yourself, you’d likely have at least an hour’s drive to do it, and you’d have to pay a tipping fee when you get there. So when you add it all up, the fact that, for a mere twenty or thirty bucks, you can arrange to have a refuse technician arrive at your domicile each week to remove your trash for you will prove to be one of the better bargains in life.
Septic: About the only way for you to have toilet facilities for your tiny home from Day 1 is to use a commercial composting toilet. They’re not free, but this will be the cheapest legal solution as well as the most environmentally correct.
Animals: Don’t leave anything edible outside ever. When deciding what is edible, consider this: I once bought a new tractor seat and foolishly left it on my back porch overnight. In the morning, I found that raccoons had been attracted by all that new-stuff smell (did you know that they use peanuts in producing some plastics?) so they took their razor-sharp claws and teeth and took a few bites out. Actually, they took several bites, apparently not certain whether they thought it was quite to their liking or not. By the time they decided that tractor seats weren’t going to be the next food fad, they’d torn it up pretty badly. If you leave your trash bags outside, animals will spread them all over your yard just to get at a candy wrapper; that’s what they do for a living; they’re animals. Until opossums start driving Ubers, you have to take them into consideration.
Well, okay, there are a lot of other ways you can mess up, but that should handle it until next week’s lecture. So… let’s move on to the perfect place to put a tiny home that I promised you. It’s level, it already has grid electricity, and it’s only about 40 miles from Springfield, a cosmopolitan small city of about 160,000 people, and about 6 miles from Grovespring, and little village where you can stock up on white bread and chicken pellets.
This Week’s Featured Property is dedicated to residents of the American suburbs, and to their escape.
Perhaps you’re one of these suburbanites; you can tell if you have a quarter-acre square of grass on which you lavish fertilizer, water, and sweat, only to maintain a constantly growing crop for which you have no plan or purpose except to cut it down.
Over, and over, and over.
Maybe you’ve also got a privacy fence so you don’t have to look at the people on either side that you refer to as “neighbors”, you know, the ones you decided to move next door to. After all, fences make good neighbors and are a far better solution than wearing a bag over your head.
Well, except for when one of them gets out his lawnmower/weed eater/leaf blower/teenager, then a bag (and perhaps a couple of pillows) might seem quite appropriate.
Did you know that you can choose to be a conscientious objector to the War on Grass? You can, all you need to do is rebel by ditching your flat, soul-less quarter-acre of zoysia and upgrading to five acres of wild Ozark Mountain terrain: towering oak trees, dramatic topography, and all the privacy and beauty you’ll find this side of Valhalla.
In the bargain, you’ll find a lake and marina in the neighborhood, as well as lots of government land to wander over. Ditch your lawnmower for an outboard motor.
Well, this has been as weird a year as I can remember. We’ve been preaching the virtues of escaping the city to the clean, safe, and quiet countryside for forty years now, but we didn’t really grasp exactly how many of disgruntled urbanites there were out there until the pandemic began.
Or maybe the coronavirus is causing some folks to rethink why they want to live in a city at all, so that, the idea of living in the country is a relatively new one to them. I’ve always had the big-city apartment dweller in mind when I write this newsletter, but I never realized how completely clueless some folks are about living where there’s no pavement.
So if you’re thinking of escaping your ultra-urban confines, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind:
A couple of months ago, I got a call from one of our recent clients asking if I could meet him at his property. “No problem,” I said, “you’re only a few miles away.” I left right away, but when I got there, I could see that what he’d wanted to talk to me about was his campfire. I knew that because the local volunteer fire department was spread out all over the property putting out the wildfire that was now burning over about three acres. I guess when he called me, he was thinking I might be of some help. (How wonderfully naive of him!) If you want to camp on your property, bring a camp stove or a hibachi.
Out in the woods, there are lots of little furry creatures (and a few scaly ones) called “animals.” These animals don’t act anything like Lassie, so they won’t come when you call them, in fact, you probably won’t see them at all, but when your new seedlings are dug up overnight, or your plastic garbage bag has been shredded and scattered all over the woods, that’s not people doing that, honey, that’s animals. DO NOT call the sheriff.
If we say a property requires you to have four-wheel-drive, you may actually discover that your two-wheel-drive will access the property, because we like to give conservative answers, but please keep in mind that the part that we think may require four-wheel-drive may be the hill leading OUT of the property.
The Missouri Conservation Department informs us that black bears and mountain lions do actually exist in the Ozarks, but our staff are all life-long residents and we’ve never seen either one in the flesh. SO… while it’s entirely possible that you saw one in your driveway on your first night in the woods, try to remember that it isn’t very likely.
Ticks to not jump out of trees to attack you, so do NOT cut down trees to get rid of ticks. Besides voiding your contract, this will cause more ticks, not less, as they will find themselves to you from tall grass.
I could go on and on, but I have a point to make: if you’ve spent your life in urban environs, then you’ll be safer in the forest than anywhere else you’ve ever lived, and that was abundantly true even before the coronavirus.
This Week’s Featured Property is safely near the end of its access road. It’s safe, has a clearing to locate your tiny home in, and plenty of level ground for a garden.
There's something mysterious, hypnotic even, about the way that living things are attracted to water.
Wildebeests, for example, have been known to walk through drought for five days to reach water. There's no way of knowing if they are willing to make such a long trek in order to enjoy the calm and serenity, indeed the natural beauty, associated with a body of water, or if they just do it because not doing it would involve dying of thirst. Either way, you can certainly see their point: whether you're drinking it or wallowing in it, water is good stuff to have.
For those among us who are not wildebeests: finding something to drink is not such a problem for us as evidenced by the police blotter for last weekend, but we're still magnetically drawn to oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. That's why—perhaps you've noticed—properties offered for sale that include a natural water source can tend to be a bit on the pricy side.
Now you're probably thinking, "Drat Neil! I'm not a wildebeest, but I get paid like one, how will I ever afford a babbling brook of my own while remaining on this mortal coil?
I'm glad I asked me that, because there actually are a couple of things you can do to alleviate this problem. One, you can buy property sold and financed by us, thus avoiding sales commissions, closing costs, higher interest rates, and punishingly high down payments. The other thing you can do is buy one of our parcels which is more remote with fewer amenities like grid electricity.
By a remarkable coincidence, we happen to have two such parcels to choose from: Parcels 3 and 5 at Cherry Creek.
Both parcels are about a mile back from pavement on a long, hilly road that requires 4WD, and the electric grid, while progressing slowly, is still about a quarter-mile away.
Both parcels are covered with mature hardwood timber and have frontage on a tiny little creek quietly babbling along in a lush, verdant hollow. Both have a combination of level and sloping ground. One parcel contains the remnants of someone's failed attempt to build something useful without spending any money or doing a lot of work. It's all wood and will rot down soon enough.
These properties are located about 22 miles south of Rolla, Missouri and the back gate at Fort Leonard Wood is about 20 miles (twice that to the front gate).
We picked Saffron Mountain Parcel GG as This Week's Featured Property because nobody wants it, and we're not trying to sell it.
Perhaps it would be good for me to explain a bit.
The vast majority of the property we sell is quiet, backwoodsy, small-farmy kinds of stuff, whereas SM-GG is right on a highway—a scenic route which draws teeming throngs of tourists all year round and only a bit over a mile from the city limits of Eminence, Missouri: a quaint, old-fashioned small town that was deemed "Missouri's Top Outdoor Outpost"(whatever that means) and one of the top 50 outdoor sports towns in America, by Sports Afield magazine.
In short, Parcel GG would make a fantastic business location, but, like I say, that's not the really the sort of thing our clientele is interested in.
There's also the fact that most of the parcel is quite steep, and right up against the highway, so if you DID wish to install a business, and take advantage of the stunning view, you'd have to provide a lot—and I mean A LOT—of fill dirt to do so.
And that's why we hardly ever advertise this property, and why hardly anyone ever shows much interest in it.
We figure someday somebody will want to build a Pizza Hut or something hanging over that steep slope, or maybe they'll use it for a water-slide, and when they do, we're ready to deal. Or maybe we'll sell it to the Missouri Department of Conservation that owns all the adjoining land to the south.
But every so often, as is the case now, when we need a little extra time to prepare some of our new properties for sale, we focus on Saffron Mountain Parcel GG. Because, who knows… some of you out there might want to locate a home in the dense woods at the back of the parcel. You'd be hidden from the rest of the world, yet within walking distance of a great, touristy little town, and there's lots of potential for a roadside stand here.
So whaddaya think? Could you find happiness with this unusual property?
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 when buying land 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.