Dispatches from a Wannabe Farmer

land photo
A brief respite from de-limbing cedars. March 2014.

Mrs. SMEs and I purchased 20 acres out by Columbia Regional Airport in February 2013. It was about 8 acres of open, weedy, neglected pasture, 8 acres of cedar thickets with some oak and hickory mixed in and a 4.5 acre lake. We’ve been busy clearing cedars, planting nut and fruit trees, stocking the lake (which is brand new) and gradually developing a long-term plan for the property. My dad has found a part-time job as unpaid laborer/chainsaw operator. It’s been equal parts exhaustion and exhilaration and a whole lot of learnin’ to go with it. I’ve spent far more time on the tractor than at the computer blogging, just so you know why the updates are few and far between. The day job hasn’t disappeared, either.

Similar view, July 2014.
Similar view, July 2014.

But because I’m doing most of the work and know myself – non-edible plants around the house get neglected while edibles get daily loving care – this land project is about food too. Planted so far are serviceberry, mulberry, elderberry, pecan, chestnut, hickory, blackberry, grapes, sunchokes, paw paw, hickory, maple, wild plum and more. We’ve stocked the lake with minnows, bluegill, channel catfish and just last week, largemouth bass. Sassafras, hickory, wild garlic, persimmon, wild cherry, autumn olive and other edibles were already present and we’ve had fun trying some of them out (badass wild garlic pesto will be available in April and May…just saying).

The long term plan includes extensive chestnut, apple, pear, peach and more and, eventually, a house, goats, chickens, etc. But for now, it’s about observation, education, planning, recreation and lots and lots of work. But it’s the kind of work you walk away from sore and satisfied, which is more than most of us can say about the work that actually pays the bills.

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

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