Living Off the Land

By living off the land, one couple's hard work pays off to help make life rewarding.

| May/June 2011

Bobwhite Quail

Bobwhite quail are fun to hunt, and mighty tasty on the dinner table. Tietz

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.

Hazel Carter
1/18/2013 9:57:35 PM

I am so envious! The idea of living of the land came to me too late in life. At 80 yrs. of age it's pretty much out of the question for a single woman. Maybe in my next reincarnation? My son is so stressed-out because the bad economy has really affected his business. His wife lost her job and isn't terribly skilled, so hasn't found anything but fast food joints. She has back problems so long periods of being on her feet isn't an option. My son loves the idea of "living off the grid." I'm going to share this article with him.

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9/22/2012 6:39:30 AM

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Sara Haynes
9/12/2012 9:15:17 AM

Thank you for the reply! New Mexico sounds like an amazing place to have a farm, I've always loved the scenery of the Southwest and have been looking at land in Arizona. I've been wavering on this decision, but now I think I can do it with a lot of hard work. The best of luck to you and your wife on your wonderful new journey, God bless, and thank you so much for the uplifting reply; it was sorely needed. :)

Charles Walter
9/10/2012 7:57:33 PM

HI Sara, go for it! My wife and I have started a small farm with what little time we have. She works full time plus some and I am in nursing school. Our greatest challenge (besides time) is water. We live on the shoulder of a mounain range in central NM in the middle of deserts. Some years we get 20 inches of rain/snow, this year we have only had about 6. So grey water and rain collection are the foundation of what we are doing. It seems like we have barely started after a year and a half, but with school almost over we are goint to make a good run at it. Do lots of research, and spend time talking to and reading about like minded people. Smile at the naysayers and pessimists, and chase your dreams. I am 51 and wish I had found the desire and forsight to plan at 21 years old. I always wanted to, but always thought I'd have time "Later". I'll leave you with an old Irish Proverb I found a couple of years ago, "you can't plow a filed by turning it over in your mind". Be blessed. Charles

Sara Haynes
9/9/2012 10:13:17 AM

Oh, I want to do this so bad. I'm 21 years old and only lived in cities so far, but this has been my dream for so many years... Thank you so much for this article, it was exactly what I was looking for! So glad to know that this is possible even in the 21st century!

Farmer Di
8/16/2011 9:15:25 AM

We made a move to live this life in April. We're doing our best to live off the land, but on only five acres. We do broilers, layers, and vegetables, but don't have an orchard in place, and hard to do fields of wheat on five acres with no tractor. Maybe next year! But the cost of electricity adds another $150 a month, not to mention gas for the equipment and occasional trips to town. Health insurance is another consideration, as even with the highest ratings with high deductibles, it costs a pretty penny. Our property abounds with chicory, and what the author calls "poke sallat" is, as far as I understand, another name for the very common "poke weed!" Poke weed leaves, when picked very young at the right time, can indeed be nutritious and tasty. However, all other parts of the plant--stems, roots, berries--are toxic, and the mature leaves are also toxic. So caution and the eye of an experienced gatherer are needed.

8/9/2011 6:34:49 AM

Thank you for sharing this story. It is nice to hear that others have the same vision to "live off the land" and have succeeded. I hope this story will inspire more people to be self sufficient.

5/7/2011 5:37:11 PM

I loved this 'story'. I'm still hoping to be you someday. Thanks for the inspiration.

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