Let's Talk About Income: Chapter Four


Phil NicholsSeveral months before we made the move from city to country I had my right ankle rebuilt and was laid up for quite a spell. I’m dangerous when there is too much idle time on my hands.

City life was on my hated things list and I wanted a place in the country. My wife and I had actually been looking for rural acreage in and around our home in Bellevue, NE for a couple of years prior to that. Everything was way outside our work-a-day budget. We wanted to stay in the Midwest; the question was where could we afford to be? Back in the days before computer access and cell phones, companies did business with fliers and magazines. I latched onto several of these volumes at our local library and contacted them via snail mail. Missouri, especially the Ozarks region actually had land priced to fit our budget—of course I wouldn’t find out why until many hard licks later.

Thirty-five years old, at the time, and responsible for the well-being of a wife and growing daughter, I didn’t entertain uprooting my city-raised family and dropping them into the wilds lightly. So I did what I always do when confronted with a tough decision—my homework. That included reading everything I could get my hands on concerning actually surviving in the country and formulating a plan.

A prime concern of mine was how to make a living. As it turned out my worries were well founded.

My wife Barb was born in Missouri and spent a good deal of her youth at her folk’s summer place on the Lake of the Ozarks. She had introduced me to that part of the country back during our honeymoon in 1970 and I fell in love with the wooded hills and hollers.

One of my planning fail-safes was to be within commuting distance of a major city—in this case Springfield, Missouri. If we couldn’t find work locally then we would just have to commute. Bearing that in mind we only looked for land within approx. sixty miles of the city. As it turned out, I would end up spending two-and-a-half hours a day for the better part of fifteen years running up and down the highway to work in Springfield. During a number of those years Barb shared the ride and also worked in the city. It was a 110 mile round trip, five days a week.

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