We've found a spot that should be just perfect and we're closing soon!
Our new farm is located in eastern Atoka County, Oklahoma. It's 160 acres; a two mile walk to go around the perimeter.
This piece of land is the only one we looked at that meets all of our 8 criteria. The scenes here are beautiful!. With 120 ft of elevation change and hills in three corners, there are many places where you can't see off of this property (a real plus if a housing development moves in next door sometime during the next 50 years). The watershed starts on this piece of land, with a number of springs. The abundant Native American artifacts we've seen unearthed in the eroded cow paths, which date back as far as 7,000 years, show that this has been a good spot to live for a long time. We'd hoped to find a place where we could plant a number of diverse types of Choctaw traditional food plants. However, this land already has a number of them growing on it! Hundreds of persimmon trees, hickory trees, lambsquarter, poke, arrowhead tuber, fox grape, and muscadine, the list goes on and the plant diversity is really impressive.
As would be expected for almost any piece of land, we're going to have to have to remove and rebuild the corral and fences so that they're bison-friendly. The only real drawback, one common to most pasture land in southeastern Oklahoma, is that this tract has been horrifically overgrazed for years. The soils have been damaged. Fixing that in order to boost grass production for the buffalo is going to take a lot of effort, but in so-doing, we'll heal a beautiful piece of land, and trap literally tons of human-produced CO2 in our soil.
Our purchase is being funded through the Farm Service Agency (highly recommended for its low interest loans), Farm Credit, and a personal loan. In securing these loans, it helped tremendously that we had a detailed business plan in hand. In hind sight, for the aspiring farmer, we recommend being proactive in working with the the Farm Service Agency. At the end of the entire process, which can involve months of back-and-forth negotiations between real estate agents, if the Farm Service Agency appraiser thinks the land is worth less than the agreed upon price, the deal is off!
We've nearly made it through the whole process, and what started as a dream and then transformed into a plan on paper is about to become a reality on the ground!
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Into Thin Air
October 16, 2019
Choctaw Food: Remembering the Land, Rekindling Ancient Knowledge