Living Off the Land
By living off the land, one couple's hard work pays off to help make life rewarding.
Bobwhite quail are fun to hunt, and mighty tasty on the dinner table.
In 1949, my husband, Carl, and I decided to move to Arkansas, take life easy, and “live off the land.” We had been operating a flying service in Marysville, Kansas, since the end of the war, and before that Carl had flown B-24s and B-29s for the Air Corps. I was a photographer.
About as close as either of us had come to farming was Carl weeding his dad’s annual spring garden when he was a boy. He figured, however, that anyone intelligent enough to fly bombers and operate airports surely had enough sense to learn how to farm.
We ordered a United Farm Agency catalog, contacted an agent in Hardy, Arkansas, made an appointment to look at some property, and headed south.
Why did we choose this area? Because of the abundance of wild game; Carl loved to hunt and fish.
At the agent’s office, we looked at brochures and discussed available properties. We chose one that, according to Carl, sounded exactly like what we were looking for, then we headed for the country – or, to be more exact, the hills.
Home sweet home
After driving several miles over a rough gravel road, we turned onto a narrow rocky lane. After “hitting bottom” a few times, we rounded a curve and pulled up in front of a small white house sitting on the crest of a hill.
Even in winter, the view was spectacular. Like a painting, the lane continued its winding course down the hill and disappeared into the forest. Beyond, ridge upon ridge of tree-covered mountains blended into the azure-blue sky.
The house, divided equally into four square rooms, was a definite “fixer-upper.” There was no electricity and no well. Outside the back door was a cistern, a work shed with stairs leading to a cellar, and an outhouse – all in need of repair.
A large garden plot, a small chicken house, and a large red barn with a fenced-in corral sat to the west
of the house. The lane to the east led past a small orchard and on to the “bottomland” divided by a clear-water creek.
Though the setting was nice, I thought the place was a little too run-down and remote. After looking everything over, however, Carl said, “It’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the selling point was the abundance of fish in Spring River, just down the hill, and the hundreds of acres of forest, rife with game.
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