The Wood Lot


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Many a mid-Nineteenth Century American homeowner living in a town or village also owned several acres of undeveloped woodland nearby. Wood stoves and fireplaces were a common necessity for keeping warm and for cooking, and before coal became widely available, wood was the fuel of choice. What better way to assure your supply than to own your own wood lot!

So it happened that Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife owned a parcel of land a couple of miles out of Concord on the shore of Walden pond . Our friend Thoreau received Emerson's permission to carry out a small experiment there, and the rest is history.

I never gave that much thought until I accidentally discovered tree farming in Florida . I had just arrived from California and my friend was showing me the sights, like the manatee in the Suwannee River and the alligators in Lake Alice on the University of Florida campus. I was impressed. But I was even more impressed by the miles and miles pine forests lining the highways in every direction. What's this? Oh, they're farms.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm kind of dense on some subjects, but here was an idea that never occurred to me. I looked it up. Sure enough, it's been around for a long time.

The mechanics of tree farming are fairly simple. You buy the land, plant the trees, wait twenty-years or so, harvest the trees, and sell the wood. Of course, you don't have to do the work yourself, although you can. But where's the point?

Well, I've been thinking about Joe Blow's pirate strategy, and I really have to hand it to him for being correct for a good many people in our current scenario, but what about people thinking four or five decades ahead? What is a safe, insurable, inflation proof, maintenance free investment for the near term?

I know people who are asking that question. They have paid off the mortgage, they own gold and guns, they don't trust markets or government, and they have a surplus to put somewhere, but where? I go back to my roots and say, raw land that will grow stuff. Farming is too foreign, too dirty, and too expensive. True. Own the land, lease the rest, split the profit, be sure to sign binding contracts, then turn it all over to a trustee, and forget it. To that argument I would now add the crop: trees.

I personally don't believe the hyperinflation model is in the cards at the moment. If the Fed does achieve global meltdown, then one still has the land. If the land will grow trees, it will also grow food, even if it does mean getting dirty. It's how our ancestors survived.

Thoreau had a handle on this. I wish I'd paid closer attention to it sooner.

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Robert Klassen's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Robert Klassen retired from a career in respiratory therapy, and is the author five books, two of which describe a solution to political government.  Please visit his website.