Looking back

I haven’t heard from everyone in a while.  How are things going?

I had an idea to write down all my memories.  Here are some relating to the farm and cousins.  We had some great times!

I remember when my brother was sick and lying down on the couch downstairs at my parents’ house.  I was upstairs in my room above him, and one of my rocks roll off the balcony and landed on my brother’s head.  Then my dad said, “Zach, get down here!”  I was in TROUBLE.  It was an accident though, and it wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back on it now I really do have to laugh about it.

John would come over to my mom and dad’s house and we would always play against each other on the Super NES playing Mariocart.  We would talk about varous stuff.  I mostly just rambled on and on and annoyed him!  He’d keep coming over though to duke it out.  Red shells were the best!

Dina and I would go on and off trails at the farm looking for a second cave.  One time we found this really big hole in the ground.  It was fall and there were lots of leaves covering the hole.  We would jump into it and try to see where the hole led!  I think I also ran into a tree on purpose and it broke on Dina’s head that day.  Sorry about that!

Ben used to take me to school in his Datson Z.  A lot of times we couldn’t stand each other (of course), but one day I remember Ben telling me that if any of the Juniors or Seniors messed with me, he and Justin Mcgee would beat them up!  I think I actually felt a ‘brotherly bond’ that day!

I was at my parents’ house and Uma was there.  I was around 15 or 16.  I farted really, really loud, and both me and Uma cracked up laughing and couldn’t stop.

Dina, John, and myself were walking to the cave, and I really wanted to eat lunch, mostly because I was thirsty.  Grandma had packed some sandwhiches and grape juice.  For some reason I believed that we were lost, and I totally flipped out and started screaming.  Dina ended up sitting on top of me trying to calm me down.  I think we ate lunch soon after.

I was with the cousins and we were going through the woods on the trail 90s and four wheelers.  We were in a tough place with lots of trees to go around.  Somehow I accidentally got the trail 90 to go on full throttle.  It went crazy!  So did I.  I keep getting told that I fainted just before shouting that grandpa was going to kill me.  I thought I had the situation reasonably under control.  I think either Ben or John were the ones who managed to turn the trail 90 off though.

All of us cousins used to play legos at Grandma and Grandpa’s place.  John would make these huge ships.  One was an ice ship with white and orange colors.  Arun and I would trade lego parts.  He had some tricky bargains!  I would always end up in spaceship battles.   I think the others were in on this too.  Grandpa would try to get us to make medical ships instead of warships with the best of intentions.

You know, I recall Ben and John playing with the pitch fork too!

On snow days the cousins would go sledding at the grandparents’ place.  Afterward we would all go inside and have some of Grandma’s hot chocolate.

I went with Dan and Erin to go see these really fun Ska bands a few times.  Those were the best!

I was jumping on the trampoline with Dan and I bounced him really high and he fell on me really hard!

Dina and I drew some really cool pictures on the chalk board.

When the pond froze at the Grandparents’ place, the cousins would go ice skating.  I liked ice skating alright, but I really enjoyed riding a sled down the bank and trying to run into everyone!  They didn’t really appreciate that though.  Hmm, I wonder why?

Bottle rocket wars took on a life of their own when roman candles and artillery shells got involved.  I got hit in the knee once from John by an artilery shell.  I really scared him because I fell down and he thought I was seriously hurt.

Every time Dan laughed at something, I would always laugh too.  We also had a really cool hand shake.  It went, aaaaiiiiaaaiiiiiaaaa…. buuuuudy!

One time Tyler sneezed on my food and I refused to eat it at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Boy did I sit at that table for a loooong time!

Walnut wars!

Horse riding!  Spider webs and horses.   The horse was unusually calm most the time when I of course freaked out.  Don was a very friendly horse.

At a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s place on the trampoline, Arun would tell us clever stories.

I remember the story book Aunt Libette made long ago.  She had a story describing each of the cousins with pictures.  That was really neat!  I wonder if that’s still around.

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About the Farm

Hi everyone. I am curious about what decisions have been reached concerning the farm. The last I heard there was quite a bit of disagreement and things were going to be re-writtnen. Have there been any new developments? Is there a standing document outlining the plan? Another question I have is what role should the grandkids play in this? I would like to get some perspective on how our parents feel about the part we play, if any, in the decisions that are being made.



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Almost eighteen years ago…

It is hard for me to remember back this far.   My mother happened upon this article of grandma and grandpa published in the November 3, 1991 Joplin Globe.  The words are distant to me but I can remember seeing their picture in the paper and being astounded over the fact that my grandparents were so famous.

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Dan’s Thoughts

Goal: My hope is that through open communication and dialogue, a solution that all parties can find acceptable will be reached.  While I realize that the grandchildren are not initially going to be voting stakeholders, I am confident that our input and wishes carry some ancillary influence.  With some luck, our contributions may prove useful in arriving at compromises and mending relationships.  Please understand that these thoughts come from the limited information I have and that I am doing the best I can with what I know. 


Family: Some relationships are strained at this time.  I sincerely hope that those tensions can be dissolved quickly as I value and love each of you.  We are a very diverse group with different interests but many common values.  It would be tragic if we couldn’t all be able to get together as a family as we have done for decades.

The cousins I have talked to agree that we are not going to let loyalties to our parents or our visions of the farm interfere with our bonds or those with aunts and uncles.  I believe and hope that this is universal and that there is reciprocity.


Access: Access by family to the land, trails, ponds, etc. should not be restricted.  We grew up walking and riding horses, four-wheelers and motorcycles up and down every trail and swimming in the ponds.  I do not want to see access to the land by any family members limited.  The two exceptions I see to this are: 1) for the purpose of hunting and 2) access to parts of the farm that have been deeded to individuals. 


Vision: I want to see the place remain much how it was when I was growing up.  There was huge diversity:  Within a few hours, you could find springs, clearings, timber, cliffs, rolling hills, ponds, a cave, historical sites, lizards, a salvage yard to play in and ramps for the four-wheeler.  I think this is one of the best environments to grow up in and I hope that Tobin will be able to share some of these wonders and that it can be preserved for the enjoyment of all of us who love it.


Maintenance: Maintenance of the place made these experiences possible and since I was usually only visiting, I was oblivious to it for the most part.  I remember repairing fence, moving rock, collecting firewood and clearing trails, but most of these activities were behind the scenes to me.  Now that I have a better understanding of what it took to maintain the land, I appreciate it more.

Crystal and I have gone camping at the farm twice since we were married and both times we had to drive the truck to our chosen spot because the trails were not a condition that they could be enjoyed.  Visiting my folks the other day I wanted to take a walk along the east side: it was practically impassible with tall grass/weeds and thorns.  The ponds we used to play in have gotten to the point that they are no longer attractive for swimming in. 

Every year there were hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars in expenses that went into maintaining the place that I simply did not appreciate or recognize growing up.  I do not know exactly what these costs are or how to accurately estimate them, but it is obvious that they are not trivial.  This kind of investment (from somewhere) is necessary if we are going to be able to continue enjoying the farm as we always have and if the fourth generation is going to be given the opportunity to form the same bonds with it that we did. 

How should this maintenance be done?  In a utopia, we would all get out there when we could and make our contributions that way.  Realistically, I see a sort of tragedy of the commons resulting from this approach as the hard work of some would likely not be rewarded with a similar contribution from others and therefore the work would halt and relationships potentially damaged.

The approach that I think would work best is a compensation system where a reasonable wage was paid to those that perform the work.  The operating, maintenance and eventual replacement costs of the equipment also need to be covered by the interested parties as a whole, rather than whoever happens to be on the tractor when the clutch goes out or the tire goes flat.

The work opportunities would be open to anyone in the family.  Even though the wage would not be attractive, I know that in my case it would be much easier to rationalize working on the farm than on projects around my own home if the time was compensated.  Even if I never so much as pick up a rake out there, it would simply not be fair for me to be able to enjoy the fruits someone else’s labor without them being compensated.

Where should the resources to provide for the labor and equipment come from?  It would be unfair to burden only the shareholders with these expenses and for the cousins to also be granted access.  It would also be unfair to burden the cousins equally if we all had different levels of interest and spent different amounts of time at the farm.  I have suggested that rather than being given the 2.5 acres that is being discussed, that the cousins be gifted the option to buy the land at a reasonable rate.  While this would generate a one-time injection of a little cash, it would not sustain the place indefinitely. 

To me, the logical answer is that the land sustain itself through cyclical limited sale of timber.


Continual Improvement: Planting walnut saplings and nurturing their growth has long been a part of the farm.  It would be shameful if these young trees became choked out or impeded by weeds or brush.  I would like to see maintenance and cultivation of these plantings continue and see the tradition of planting walnuts go on. 


Sale of timber: The land has always been referred to as “The Farm” and in my memory it has always been used as such with planting of walnut saplings, harvesting of mature trees and an eye toward continual improvement.  I cannot remember a time when Grandma and Grandpa were not out planting trees in the spring and the family was not out with chainsaws in the fall collecting firewood. 

Timber harvests were also a part of life at the farm and (to my understanding) provided some of the revenue used to maintain and buy the equipment that made the things we enjoyed possible.  I think that we can all agree that at least one of the harvests by an outside contractor created quite an objectionable eyesore; but it is difficult to find the evidence of other cutting efforts.  Even the area that was heavily logged was showing signs of its recovery the last time I visited it (3+ years ago). 

I submit that it is possible to receive a yield from the land without destroying the aspects of it that we value.  I would like to explore what effects having more intense oversight from family member(s) might have in leaving the harvested area in a more acceptable condition.  I am not an expert in this, but believe some solutions are out there if we work to find them.  What if we (not the contractor) brought the logs out by trailer rather than dragging them out?  What if we dedicated (significant) resources to cleanup and restoration of harvested areas?  Hauling off of much of the brush to a central location away from frequently used trails?  Chipping?  Stump grinding?  We may have to try a combination of these measures or another method to minimize the visual impact we would all like to avoid, but I think it is possible.

The costs associated with taxes, insurance, maintenance & improvements are going to be substantial.  Harvesting timber is the only way I see to meet these expenses without an undue financial burden. 


Sustainability: I think concerns about societal sustainability are widespread if not universal within our family.  While it is easy to point out instances of hypocrisy in any of our lives, I think most of us are mindful of our consumption of resources and work to minimize our negative impact on the environment through a variety of means (fuel efficient vehicles, minimizing energy consumption at home, reusing & recycling, etc.).  Despite our efforts, we are still doing our part to consume polluting, finite resources that will undoubtedly lead to a lower standard of living for future generations. 

To me, there is something special about being associated with a sustainably managed tree farm.  While my family and I still have a negative effect on the environment through our day-to-day life, bringing a well managed timber harvest to a local market somewhat offsets that impact. 

I like to show that it can be done.  I’m a big guy and I get around fine in a 45mpg Metro.  We recycle, even though it takes more time than land filling and there is no financial incentive to do so.  As a result, I think Crystal and I have influenced some of the lifestyle habits of our friends.  I look forward to the day when we can put solar on our house (some new products might make that possible sooner than later).  I have a concept for a mild-hybrid system to add to the geo.  Why?  Because I sincerely believe that much of our energy costs are hidden and I want to live as if we (the customer) actually had to pay those additional costs.

The forest provides us with a unique opportunity.  It can either be managed in such a way that resources have to be put into it and it produces almost no yield or it can be managed in such a way that it sustains itself and provides a sustainably managed product.  I promote doing the latter while preserving the aesthetic aspects that we in the family all value. 


Equipment: I do not know who owns what equipment at the farm.  X owns the tractor, Y owns the post-hole digger and Z owns the log splitter.  To me, it makes sense that this equipment be owned and maintained by the corporation and made available to individuals at a reasonable rate.  Frankly, much of the equipment is tired, requires excessive maintenance, creates unnecessary downtime and is unsafe.  I think that replacing or supplementing the farm’s current equipment with newer that will lead to less down-time, less maintenance expense and greater safety just makes sense.  Building a structure to keep this equipment out of the elements and having a written preventative maintenance schedule for each asset would also be of benefit.  Naturally, purchasing and maintaining this equipment means that costs will be incurred, but I think they are justified and can be paid for with relatively small, well-planned sales.


Homesteading: I would love the opportunity to build on the farm.  There has been talk of gifting 1-2.5 acres to each grandchild.  While I appreciate the thought of such a gift, the real value is in being able to build on a larger piece of property whose surrounding’s future we can be certain of and take a role in.  Having the option to purchase the land rather than being awarded it as a gift would ensure that we have a real interest in the place, provide some cash to the corporation and would (in my mind) remove some of the restrictions that I fear would be implied with a “gift.” 

I understand that the restriction of only being to sell within the family has been adopted and I wholeheartedly agree that this restriction is necessary to mitigate risks of losing pieces of the place.

I also understand that a clause that would ban the grandchildren from mortgaging their property has been adopted.  While I respect the spirit and reasoning behind this restriction, I hope that another way of attaining this goal can be found.  The restriction may mean the difference between some of us being able to raise a family on the farm or only being able to retire there.  The cost of clearing land, drilling a well, installing a septic system and building a structure are substantial and a responsibly sized mortgage would likely be a necessary tool for those of us that don’t have $60k+ in cash and equity.

The inner-family-only clause will provide a large disincentive to building a structure that one cannot afford.  Requiring a limit on the debt/equity ratio one could secure, limiting the amount that could be mortgaged, or finding other ways mitigate the risk to a negligible level may be out there.  To me, it is odd to have to justify this, but Crystal and I are only a few years out of school and despite what I feel is an aggressive savings plan, we are not on track to being able to pay cash to build on the farm while maintaining a reasonable reserve for several more years.  I would hate for Tobin to miss enjoying those formative years on the farm due to such restrictions.

A temporary structure could be built or brought in (mobile home) and unsecured financing could be obtained, but I feel that that would create undue costs and resource waste in the form of higher lending rates, unnecessary transportation expenses and redundant systems (ie. mobile home + buried storm shelter when a basement could be built as part of the permanent structure).  Let’s find another way to mitigate this risk in a way that won’t cause unnecessary expense or delay to those of us who are excited to return to the farm.


Conclusion: I hope that this essay is received in the constructive tone that it was intended and that a solution that is satisfactory to all can be found.  I encourage everyone else to use this forum as a means to have your thoughts and concerns accurately put forth.


Thank you, 


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Perspectives for Pottershop

Dan had a great idea about making a boyt.net forum where everyone can express their views on how they see the farm and how they feel about the farm’s future. Currently, three members (Peter, Dave, and Libette) have been working on an operating agreement with Grandpa. It would be great to get some input from everyone else in the family on this, as the cousins are now all grown up.

So, I will go first, and let others give their input if they choose.

The most important debate about the farm is the issue of cutting trees. Should only dying trees be cut to pay for the farm’s taxes, or should there be harvests as well? My view on this is that only old or dying trees should be cut for the sole purpose of paying taxes. Any other cutting should not happen at all, except for maintenance of the trails. Grandpa’s voice has always been heard to the exclusion of Grandma’s voice. Grandma has in the past stopped Grandpa from cutting more than he otherwise would have. It has been made clear that Grandma is against cutting. She has not chosen to express her voice to prevent Grandpa from getting upset. This is unfair, as Grandma is a co-owner of the land. I align my voice with Grandma’s, so that her voice can be heard.

My father is giving my brother and I equal percentage of the vote in the operating agreement. He suggested to Grandpa, Dave, and Libette, that equal voting occur with the other cousins as well, so that everyone in the Boyt family can have a fair voice. This idea was dismissed by Grandpa, Dave, and Libette. I encourage the rest of the cousins to ask their parents about this.

There are cousins who may have not heard any news on the operating agreement with the farm. Among these are possibly Erin, John, and Uma. It would be great to get some input on this from you, whether positive, negative, or neutral.

I hope that everyone can arrive at some sort of compromise or agreement. It would be great to have the farm be a place where the next generation can share some of the same great experiences we cousins had (well, maybe not all the experiences we’ve had, but you get the idea).


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Welcome to Boyt Blogs. Welcome to the Pottershop Hollow community. Please use this space to explore and talk about ideas for Pottershop Hollow and it’s environs.

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