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“Opal” The Hog Farmer by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Parental Portrait for Christmas

 

Opal

The Hog Farmer

OPAL M DELONG WARREN_resized

 

Opal

Missouri Hillbilly

Opal M. DeLong Warren, would proudly proclaim to someone she had just met, “ I am a Missouri Hillbilly.” Opal may not be The Show Me State’s First Woman Hog Farmer, but, she should certainly be in the rankings as “One Of Missouri’s Most Prolific Women Hog Farmers.” From 1960 until 1982, Opal had 25 sows of the Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc breeds that raised litters of pigs that averaged 12 to 18 pigs per litter. Of the awards that she earned in her lifetime, one of her favorites was the year, the Galena Chapter of the Future Farmers of America presented her with a Chapter Farmer Award.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

In 1960, momma and I moved to a farm in Missouri. Through the years, her herd of hogs would expand to 25 sows of Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc breeds.

 

Our United Nations of Pork would welcome litters of 10 to 18 pigs, running, rooting and squealing over the landscape for 20 years.

 

In the process, the 10 acres of land would come to resemble the lunar landscape thanks to the dedicated snouts of hogs rooting into the soil. The air was always fresh and clean.

 

Of course, when the wind shifted and the aroma of hog manure assaulted your nostrils, people would always reconsider their “Tom Sawyer” and “Little House On The Prairie” philosophies of “Life In The Country.”

 

The Good Ole’ Days Of Pork Production”

 

Hogs always got the “bad publicity” for the smell of livestock manure in the country. Every time people “pushed” to implement “Planning and Zoning” one of the favorite fairy tales that the critics would shout is, “You don’t want your neighbor to put in a ‘hog farm’, next to your property.”

 

The Planning and Zoning argument is silly. If you have a “sensitive nose” – stay the hell away from a farm !

 

Hogs always got the bad publicity. Yet, all farms have barns, barnyards and feed lots. It does not matter if the farm is a dairy farm, a cattle farm, a mule farm, a horse farm, or a horse ranch, livestock takes care of their daily body functions. When the breeze shifts, your nose will notice. Manure is manure and it always smells bad.

 

Nonetheless, the 1960s through the early 1980s were “The Good Ole’ Days Of Pork Production,” when hog buyers through the country would stop by and pay you top dollar for a litter of well-fed feeder pigs ready for market.

 

Lost In Place

 

Green Acres” was one of my favorite television shows as a kid. Eddie Albert played the New York City lawyer, who moves to the “boonies” to live the simple life of a farmer. There was a major element of truth to the script; you really do need “a successful lawyer’s salary if you want to be a farmer in the United States.”

 

Hungarian bombshell actress, Eva Gabor played the role of the New York City socialite wife, who was miserable living out in the “boonies” on a farm. The actresses discontent is another major element of “truth”: rural life is not as convenient as city life.

 

In Galena, Missouri in 2011, the nearest hospital was at least 40 miles away in Springfield, Missouri and Aurora, Missouri. There is also a hospital about 25 miles away in Branson, Missouri. Medical emergencies rely on the ambulances and sometimes medical helicopter flights.

 

The nearest pizza in the rural area around Galena in 2011 was about five miles away at Speedee’s in Galena or 10 miles away in Crane, Missouri.

 

In the rural surroundings of Galena, Missouri, after 8 p.m., you will have to wait to the next day or get in the car and drive to Springfield, Branson West or Branson if you want a pizza, taco or movie.

 

The Biggest Gamblers In The World

 

A curious irony of life in the Midwest is the conservative, religious culture is against “gambling”; yet, farmers are some of the ‘Biggest Gamblers In The World” because nature and weather always seems to be “rigging the deck” against farmers.

 

Everyday is a “Gamble” for a farmer because nature, weather, falling crop and livestock prices can leave a farmer and his or her family homeless in a couple of years.

 

Cash Cows Of Farm Finances

 

ARMCHAIR FARMER Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr._resizedA cow will have one calf a year, while an old sow can have two to three litters a year with the number of pigs ranging from six to 18.

 

In farming, cattle are usually considered as the “Cash Cows of Farm Finances” in raising livestock, but, in southwest Missouri in the 1960s, it was easier to get into hog farming. Hogs provided a stable, consistent revenue stream which allowed a farmer to expand into other areas of livestock production like beef cattle. Momma’s hogs provided the money for her to get a herd of about 50 Black Angus cattle. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

It takes about a year to raise a beef heifer or steer to the size to send to market. It takes a few months to raise a pork litter of pigs to the size to send to market.

 

If you have the land and the money then buy your Stetson, boots, high priced tractors, babe magnet farm pickups, fancy stock trailers and invest in a herd of horses or cattle.

 

If you have a small budget and need to get into livestock farming quickly, buy you a couple of sows, rent you a couple of acres of land away from nosy neighbors and planning and zoning bureaucrats and get into hog farming.

 

Farming is a business like any business with it’s own up and downs. Cattle and horse farming is like trying to build a multinational, global corporation overnight. Hog farming is like realizing you need a small business to build into a global corporation.

 

Momma grew up on a farm, so she knew that hogs is your best overall money-making agricultural investment.

 

Chicken farming and turkey farming makes money, but, there is a sizable investment in building the big, long chicken and turkey houses for poultry. Raccoons, foxes, wolves and snakes love chicken and turkey, perhaps, more than people, so the “hen house” and turkey houses have to be designed to keep out these types of wildlife.

 

Crop farming takes a lot of land and you have to rely on the weather to give you the right amount of rainfall and sunshine at the right time. Weather never cooperates with farmers.

 

Plus crop farming takes several months to get the seeds in the ground up to a harvest height. If the weather doesn’t get you, then, falling prices and insect pests will. After the American Civil War, a small pest,called the “boll weevil” kept cotton crop production down in the south until during the 1980s.

 

Hog farmers usually stand a greater chance of success than other types of farmers based on the investment needed to get up and running and the ability to keep things up and running over time.

 

As you make money, then, you can invest in cattle or crops and consider setting aside your rubber boots for the hand tooled leather cowboy boots to wear to the stockman’s club.

KEROSENE LANTERN 3505 STATE HWY 176 YARD SALE_resized

The Coal Oil Lantern

Farmers in the Missouri Ozarks usually called the lanterns, “coal oil lanterns”, instead of kerosene. In the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, electricity wasn’t always stable, especially when heavy snowfall had tree limbs freezing, breaking off and taking down power lines for two to three days at a time. The lanterns provided light in a hog shed at night, which came in handy when an old sow was giving birth to a litter of pigs. By the mid-1960s, Samuel E. Warren, my father, used his electrician skills to put lights in momma’s hog sheds. Still, we kept a lantern, in the corner of the sheds, just in case the lights went out. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Thank God For Hogs

 

Momma’s hogs put me through grade school, high school and let me chill out in college until I signed up for a military career.  

 

Around 1965, momma got some Black Angus cattle, which made money. But, the real dollars and sense of southwest Missouri farming for our family from the 1960s through 1980 came from the hogs.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, the business woman, knew the secret of financial success is saving and managing your money whether you work in public or are self employed. I should of learned these lessons earlier in life.

 

Perhaps, now, that I have written down these lessons, people will read and understand the common sense Ozarks logic, so that you never go hungry or thirsty and you don’t always have to worry about the roof over your head at night.

 

As long as people enjoy a good steak or a slice of ham, farmers will have jobs. In my country boy opinion, vegans and vegetarians are welcome to their plants and pasture grasses.

 

Keep in mind, though on any farm I live on, “The cattle have first choice at the pasture grasses. The vegans and vegetarians will just have to settle for the blades of grass in my front yard.”

 

And, come breakfast, I usually have a “hankerin’” for some pork chops, ham,sausage,and bacon.

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 20, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Food, Money, Nature, Opinion, Real Estate - Warren Land, Stone County History

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Warren Land Sells !

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Warren

Land

Sells !

American flags at the Main Gate of Warren Land, beside State Highway 176, in southwest Missouri, between Abesville and Galena, in Stone County, Missouri. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
3 WARREN LAND MAIN GATE PHOTO BY SAM  ND40 S7A_sized for Internet

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My Official Date Of Public Release – October 30, 2011

3 WARREN LAND MAIN GATE PHOTO BY SAM  ND40 S7_sized for InternetThree years ago, I asked the question, “Is it possible to sell farm land using the Internet ?”

Now, I have my answer.

No.”

Warren Land, the 70 plus acres of farm land in southwest Missouri, sold in August 2011.

I waited until my birthday, October 30, to answer this question because I wanted to take the time to answer this question based on my experiences.

The Pessimists

The pessimists and naysayers all snickered that our 70 plus acres of farm land would never sell.

Warren Land had traditionally been used as pasture land for breeds of cattle ranging from Black Angus and Polled Herefords to Red Angus. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
WARREN LAND CATTLE IN ONE OF THE PASTURES_DSC_3192_sized for Internet


Childhood Change Inspires Confidence

I was a boy in the early 1960s, when the land in Taney County, known as Branson, was going for about a nickel an acre. The Baldknobbers had just started regular music performances in Branson and Silver Dollar City had just opened their gates. Ideas like “The Nashville of the Ozarks” and a tourist attraction of how people lived in the 1800s had yet to catch on.

As a boy, I had seen the land in neighboring Taney County and I knew the cliffs and bluffs made it

Rock cliff face on Warren Land. Missouri is known as a farming state, but the Show Me State also brings in major revenue in the form of mining. While Stone County has rock cliff and bluff faces, the rock cliff an bluff faces of neighboring Taney County was credited as one of the normal reasons for low real estate prices in the 1960s. The rock bluff in the photograph is located in one of the hollows of the property. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
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difficult for farmers to raise livestock. There were even stories that sometimes a cow would stumble and fall to her death at the bottom of a cliff. I had seen the hills and knew there could be truth in the falling cow stories.

As a youth. I, Michael Cutbirth and Jack Gordon joined the Ozarks Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, which would meet for six months at a time in the Forsyth Masonic Lodge and six months at a time in the Branson Masonic Lodge. In attending these meetings, we had to travel on average about 60 miles round trip from Galena, Missouri to either Forsyth or Branson. Thus, I had a front seat to the changes that happened in rural Stone and Taney counties from the 1960s through the 1970s and had traveled the highways long before the Missouri Department of Transportation began major highway projects to widen the roads, install overpasses or bypasses.

Branson Blossoms

Bulldozers gave Branson a facelift and redesigned the farm terrain to go with the ideas of creative citizens and suddenly unnoticed farm land had a new lease on life. The Plain Jane of Ozarks Real Estate was suddenly the supermodel in training. Of course, the opening of Table Rock Lake also served as a necessary augmentation to boost interest in the local real estate market.

Having witnessed Branson, Missouri blossom, in my lifetime, and go from wall flower to debutante, I didn’t put much faith in the pessimists and naysayers’ warnings. If the forgotten farm land of Taney County could transform into a Midwest mecca of country music, then, Stone County, next door, should also be able to shake off real estate puberty and gain a place in the sun.

Seek Out A Successful Real Estate Agent

The tough decision was to part with land that had been in my family since the mid to late 1940s.

60px-Coat_of_Arms_of_the_PhilippinesMy wife, Christy and I decided to sell the 70 plus acres of farm land in southwest Missouri in an attempt to return to the Republic of the Philippines, where we could be surrounded by her large family.

Once the decision was made, then we decide to look for a real estate agent. Like most people we begin looking at newspapers, browsing the internet and talking to people trying to find a realtor or real estate agency. At the start, it came down to a yellow page in the phone book.

Dismal Real Estate Setting

The October 3, 2007 American Financial Fiasco described as the collapse of “Big Banks on Wall Street” became history, but the effects of that financial catastrophe were still being felt when we decided to try and sell our land. People were complaining that banks weren’t loaning money and so people couldn’t or wouldn’t buy real estate. Even though, we didn’t list our land for sale until 2008, people were still complaining that the banks were not loaning money to people to buy real estate.

Find Your Land’s Selling Points

A butterfly lands on a wild flower on Warren Land. Selling farm land is never easy because there is an emotional investment in the land. Thus, you should work to be objective and be honest about the land’s strengths and weaknesses. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
WARREN LAND_ BUTTERFLY LANDS ON A WILD FLOWER_DSC_3201_sized for Internet

Be honest with yourself about the land. I grew up playing in the hills and hollers of Warren Land, so I knew I had an emotional investment in the property.

This white steer calf is symbolic of generation of cattle born and raised on Warren Land in southwest Missouri. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
6 WARREN LAND STEER STARE PHOTO BY SAM ND80 1_sized for Internet

But, what would a buyer want in the land ?

Goldie and Sarge play around the main farm pond on Warren Land. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
WARREN LAND_DOGS PLAY IN THE MAIN FARM POND ON WARREN LAND_A018_sized for Internet

There is one big pond and two small ponds on the property.

There were no phone lines or electric lines

This small farm pond lies hidden in a holler on Warren Land and serves as a source of water for cattle and wildlife. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
WARREN LAND A0221A_sized for Internet

on the property.

Several acres at the back of the property had been used to raise tomatoes commercially for about three years in the 1970s. In the 1960s through the 1980s, The Christmas Tree On The Stone County Courthouse Lawn either came from Warren Land or the adjoining DeLong Land – cedar trees love the soil of DeLong Land and Warren Land.

In 2010, about 17 deers were taken during the deer hunting season in Stone County and based on what hunters told me, basically, 10 of those deers had been taken on Warren Land.

From the 1980s through the 1990s, my mother had also let hunters hunt wild turkeys on Warren Land.

Hidden Spring on DeLong Land. DeLong Land and Warren Land have available water sources. Both DeLong or Warren Land was used to supply The Christmas Tree for the Stone County Courthouse Lawn from the 1960s through the 1990s. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
Hidden Spring on DeLong Land Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_sized for Internet
Warren Land contains a multitude of walnut, black and white oak trees that were cut over the years to sell as lumber. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
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Every three or four years from the 1980s through 2003, my mother, would contact a local logger and allow them to go in and cut down trees.

This skidder pulls logs over the terrain of Warren Land. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
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Logs from Warren Land were destined to be milled as lumber. One log was selected for a local wood sculptor. Another log reportedly was selected to be shipped to China to be used for a dining table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
WARREN LAND_0014 LOGGING 2_sized for Internet

Thinning out trees allows young ones the chance to grow. The last time walnut logs were taken off Warren Land, one was selected to reportedly be sent to China to be used to build a dining table.

There are some crude All Terrain Vehicle trails on Warren Land. There were four gates on Warren Land and three of those gates opened out on to the main highway: State Highway 176.

The Choice Of The Wrong Realtors

At least, a local real estate agency should seem like a good idea because they know the local area and should be familiar with the local property. I made all the wrong decisions in selecting a real estate agent. It was little comfort that I picked the first agency out of the yellow pages of the telephone book.

I should have realized that the selected agency was perhaps, too close, to Table Rock Lake, which should of suggested that they are probably more interested in selling lake front property than farm land.

Although the first real estate agents smiled when I told them about the history of the land and how tomatoes had been raised there and logs were cut for building and furniture; I should of realized that the realtors seem more interested in selling residential or commercially developed land or lake front property than farm land.

I also should have realized that when everyone starts singing the same song – I should listen to who is singing the song and how often they sing it. The realtors gave me the classic Top Ten response of the day about, “You do realize that in this economy property is not selling.”

I heard the song and dance about property not selling so often it should have been one of Billboard’s “Top Ten.”

The first real estate agency produced no results.

My Own Real Estate Initiative

You Can’t Sell Anything If You Don’t Tell People. The first realtors put up three signs around the property and they posted a small photo on their Internet page. Time passes and the realtors don’t call us to tell us of any offers. The phone does not ring.

I take my Nikon camera across the road and spend several days off and on shooting photos of the property. Then, I burn the photos to a CD. I thought outside the box, so I went on line and searched out the addresses of companies that I thought might be interested in using the property to build a warehouse or for other development.

Wal-Mart, Google, Yahoo, Paramount, and Walt Disney Pictures were some of the corporate entities that I thought might be seeking a location in the Midwest and rural land to develop for their own concerns. Then, I mailed out around 40 CDs.

I got a nice letter from Walt Disney Pictures that thanked me for thinking of them.

None of the other businesses bothered to respond.

My idea may have been a long shot, but when you consider the foundation stone was laid for the White House in Washington D.C., the original property was reported to be a swamp, so prime real estate is not always a consideration for building. Since Warren Land, already had a history of being successful agricultural land, why couldn’t it be used as a shooting location for movies made in the Midwest or as a warehouse facility for a corporation ?

The first real estate agency produced no results.

My Next Bad Decision – The Second Realtor

My next bad decision was to go with a national real estate agency. Again, the realtor sang the old, “real estate really isn’t moving in this economy. And, it will probably be a year or two, at least, before we see any property start to move” song. The realtor posted a small photo of the land on their Internet website.

Time passes and I called the realtor a couple of times. By the second time, I had called the realtor, the person talked “down to me.” Country boy that I am, it did not set well with me that the person’s tone of voice sounded like a school teacher scolding me.

The year passes.. The national real estate agency gave us no results. National advertising on television, in newspapers, on billboards and on the Internet should never be confused with the success of the realtor. I was glad to be rid of them.

Low Opinion Of Realtors

By the third year, my opinion of American Real Estate Agents ranked right down in the gutter with national Republican political candidates, the American Republican party, in general, and poisonous snakes in the Ozarks, in particular. I have no use for snakes, very little use for Republicans and American realtors overall were quickly battling in my mind for a spot between the snakes and Republicans.

Still, I believed what my mother had told me that land is an investment.

The Right Realtor

By the third year, Donna, my cousin, asked if we really wanted to sell the land. I told her yes. Then, she said, I have the name of a real estate agent for you. Donna looked me in the eyes and said, “If you really want to sell the land, call Katie. If the land can be sold, Katie can sell it.” I made the phone call.

When Christy and I began we knew nothing about realtors or real estate agencies. Three years later, Christy and I were being to feel like Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents responsible for doing in-depth sensitive personal background checks. We were to the point that we didn’t want smiles, promises and the standard catch phrases. We wanted to find a realtor that wanted to make a sale.

This time we knew the questions to ask and we expected honest answers. We didn’t want to hear the old, “Woe Is Me This Is A Bad Economy,” song. We didn’t want to hear the old, “American Banks Are Afraid To Loan Money To Buy Land” song.

Katie Philipps, our realtor, called us with two different offers within about a month. In three months, Katie had us a buyer ready to buy the land. Thus, the 70 plus acres of Warren Land in southwest Missouri sold. We found the right realtor.

The Sign Of The Right Realtor To Sell Warren Land. Among my initiatives to try and sell the farm land, I cleared away sections of tall grass on the highway embankment and tried to landscape a noticeable space to draw attention to the real estate signs from three different realtors in three years. This sign proved to be the right sign of the right realtor. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.
The Right Realtor Sign_sized for Internet

Epilogue

The naysayers were wrong.

The pessimists were wrong.

No, I don’t believe in 2011 the Internet is a good choice at this time to sell farm land.

Blackberries begin to ripen in a psture of Warren Land that was used to raise acres of commercially -grown tomatoes in the 1970s. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If you talk to a realtor, who gives you the “Gloom and Doom” song about “this is a bad economy to try and sell land in” – then, you should seriously consider looking for another realtor. In 2011, it maybe a “bad economy,” but times change and sooner or later people will start buying land again.

While Warren Land – proper- the 70 plus acres sold, the Warrens still live on the few acres of Warren Land across State Highway 176.

Open Air Photography Studio - One added benefit of Warren Land through the years was Warren Land always provided a variety of natural settings for photography. Whether the goal was to shoot landscape, livestock, wild life, wild flowers or bring a prop into nature Warren Land always proved to be the Ultimate Open Air Photography Studio. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The moral to the story is if you have farm land to sell : talk to people and get yourself a good real estate agent if you want to sell your farm land.

Sam

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