Welcome to The Land Show, our weekly podcast where we discuss anything and everything related to land and investing in land. From farming to hunting, fun seasonal events to wild game recipes, we have a little something for everyone.
The first segment of this week’s edition is transcribed below, or click here to listen to the entire show online or subscribe to the podcast.
Announcer: It’s time for a new edition of The Land Show with Dave and Johnny. On the show today with the guys, Bobby Ray Holmes with Holmestead Farm, Braden Walker and Jeffrey Hardy with Southeastern Land Group, Russ Walters. The guys take a few of your listener questions, and Brian Watts talking timber. So sit on back, relax and enjoy a new edition of The Land Show with Dave and Johnny.
Dave Milton: Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Land Show with Dave and Johnny. I tell you what Johnny, it’s a nice Saturday here in Montgomery, Alabama. It looks like we may have some rough weather coming in this weekend and I sure hope and pray we don’t have anything like we did last weekend in my part of the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in and around Lee County and across the line in Georgia, that was just a monster, monster storm that came through. It took me back to 2011 to what hit Tuscaloosa and other places all over Alabama, it was a real devastating time. We know some families that were impacted. My kids all graduated from Lee Scott Academy there in Auburn and several families impacted and there were some lives lost and it was just a horrible day. I hope and pray we don’t have anything like that for a long time.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. I just bumped into Rich Thomas here in the hallways and Rich was just telling me everybody needs to be weather aware tonight. I’m about to leave here and head up to the Alabama Deer Association annual conference in Birmingham and will be there shaking hands and talking land there today. We do want to encourage everybody to be weather aware. That is one of the things that happens here every spring in Alabama, everybody’s kind of used to that, so we really do want to extend our thoughts and prayers, condolences from The Land Show here to everybody that’s been affected. And then also man, it’s just been … Weather has been crazy all these nights in the 20s the past week. You think your past it when everybody’s out in their flip-flops and then back down in the cold, cold weather for sure.
Dave Milton: Yeah. You and I were talking about the lengths that the peach farmers are having to go to to make it, having to build fires out in the orchards to try to keep the blossoms from all freezing away. It’s just that time of the year, you just don’t know what … It’s a volatile time of the year. It’s a great time of the year but, like I say, we’ve got all these systems and all these alerts, but the folks there in Beauregard that were hit south of Opelika in Lee County, they had about ten minutes.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah.
Dave Milton: Be aware, have a plan. A lot of lives lost. There were a lot of lives saved by people acting quickly that got out of mobile homes quickly and got into some brick structures and were able to survive. Got to have a plan.
Jonathan Goode: When I was in college in Livingston my freshman year, a real small tornado hit the campus there at West Alabama. My roommate and I were out riding bicycles, we didn’t know … We were riding our bikes around the campus and the storm hit, lightning flashed, and we saw the tornado coming over the campus. He made it into a building there and I had enough time to get under a pickup truck. Lightning flashed again, I watched a couple of trees get pulled out of the ground. I will always remember how fast it can happen, just because it’s … It came out of nowhere. We didn’t know there was bad weather but it was a spring situation like this, it can just be on you before you know it Have a good weather radio. I know all the weathermen, meteorologists out there tell people that. My 14-year-old made me go buy one before this last weather event. Do that and just be weather aware and just know that in Alabama in the springtime, this is just part of the deal about being here.
Dave Milton: It is. We have a lot of folks that listen to us throughout the countryside and being out in the country you need to have something on your own farm. You don’t have time to get to a community shelter, you need to … Those shelters, the prices have gone way, way down. They have these prefab shelters and … Just think about it. It’s something we all need to think about.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what man, we definitely have a good show today. I’m excited and you’ve got a great first guest for us here.
Bobby Ray Holmes with Holmestead Farms
Dave Milton: Yeah, Jonathan. I’m really excited. We’ve got a friend of the show here, Mr. Bobby Ray Holmes with Holmestead Farms. He’s right there on the Clay/Talladega line right there in God’s country, close to the Talladega National Forest and all those beautiful mountains that I love close to a little cabin that I have in that area. My wife and I have enjoyed going by there for years. Mr. Bobby Ray has got one of the most interesting and best U-Pick orchard, tree … He does a little bit of everything. Mr. Bobby Ray, how are you doing today?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Well I’m just overworked and underpaid.
Dave Milton: I hear that man.
Jonathan Goode: I like it.
Dave Milton: Listen, you’ve been on the show a few times and our listeners, many are familiar but we’ve got folks all over the state that may not be familiar with you. Tell our listeners how you got started, where you are and just kind of what it is y’all do.
Bobby Ray Holmes: Well, I bought the property down here in 1988, of course, I was raised … My daddy was a sharecropper down in Coosa County when I was about seven or eight years old and then he went in the produce business so I’ve been with that all my life. I went in the wholesale produce business when I came out of college. I bought this farm in ’88 and I let my boys take Sylacauga Marine and ATV, our business in Sylacauga. They took it over in 2000 and I decided to build me a little old retirement house down here. I went to a … We’re going to plant me some fruit trees and whatever, I went to a meeting that Auburn had down at a farm one day to see how to plant them and how to take care of them. When I got back my wife said, “How did it go?” I said, “Well, it went pretty good.” She said, “What did you learn?” I said, “Well I decided I’m going to put in some U-Pick blueberries down there.” She said, “Well when are you going to do that?” I said, “Well I’ve got a man be here with a bulldozer in the morning.” This was all woods until I put in 50 blueberries and then I decided that wasn’t enough and I put in another hundred and I decided that wasn’t enough so we put in another hundred. then someone from Auburn University come by and said, “Well ain’t nobody got blackberries around here.” I said, “Well, we’ll plant a hundred blackberries.” Then we put in a few raspberries and I said, “Well …” I just kept cleaning up a little more land because it had been clear-cut and it had grown back up for about 20 years so it wasn’t nothing but woods, we didn’t have … Wasn’t but about one acre cleaned up so we had to clean it all up. We’re about to put in a few fruit trees. But anyway, we’d love to have people come see us. We’ve got about 1200 blackberries, we’ve got nearly a thousand blueberries, we’ve got 750 fruit trees, we’ve got everything from Japanese persimmons to Asian pears. We’ve got U-Pick on it, we’ve got 20,000 strawberries in the ground.
Dave Milton: Wow.
Bobby Ray Holmes: We just put 400 tomatoes in the tunnel house about two weeks ago, they’ve already started growing. Of course, the big thing we’ve got going right now is we sell all kind of fruit trees, berry bushes, and we sell some flower trees, shade trees, a little bit of shrubbery, but right now we’re in the middle of our selling season, we’ve been selling a lot of fruit trees. We’ve got some really good prices and all our stuff is from certified nurseries. It ain’t like going to these big box stores where you don’t get … Nobody can tell you when they bloom or what they make or what they do or when they come in or how to plant them, so we try to take care of people on that. We’ve got people who come in from Montgomery and Jasper. I’ve got a boy coming from Gadsden today to get some trees. Love to have people come visit us.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. Well, Mr. Bobby Ray, one thing I can tell about you just talking to you is you’re a man that can make a decision. When it’s time to have the bulldozer come put in some berry bushes you can take that, I like it.
Bobby Ray Holmes: Yeah. I’ve always been one of them people, I believe since 1959 when I come out of college I’ve opened 33 different businesses, seven of them still running.
Jonathan Goode: Oh wow.
Dave Milton: Good gosh.
Bobby Ray Holmes: I sold them to different people who’ve still got them.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. Well, that’s good, you’ve tried a lot of different things for sure. We’ve seen a lot of the blooms and we were just talking about that a second ago that on my drive in this morning I saw some of the peach farmers in Chilton county had built fires in between the trees and in between the rows there in the orchard to try to keep the temperature up. Is it too early to kind of assess what you think the cold weather has done to the peach crop and to the other fruiting trees right now?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Chilton County is a little bit further south than I am and they plant their stuff on the highest land over there, the highest priced property in Chilton County is probably above 700 feet above sea level. What I started this I didn’t have anybody to tell me so I planted some stuff down low, which I shouldn’t have planted. I counted day before yesterday we had I believe 85 plum trees and 115 or 20 peach trees in full bloom and it got every one of them, I’m not going to have any fruit on those. I’ve got some later stuff, but I’m not going to have any fruit on them. When we get down to around 29, 30, 31, 32, got a little bit of wind, you’ll have a 50% survival rate, which is really good because you have to send a lot of that stuff out anyway.
Jonathan Goode: Right.
Bobby Ray Holmes: I’ve been doing this now for eight years. I planted my first stuff in 2008, so nearly ten years, but I’ve never had a cold spell where it was freezing at eight or nine o’clock. Most of the time you get 23 degrees you don’t get it until about maybe three or four or five o’clock in the morning but you don’t have it for three or four hours, but this thing we’ve had the last three nights where it was freezing at nine o’clock at night, that’s like putting them in the deep freeze.
Dave Milton: Oh yeah. That’s too bad. Well, I’ll tell you, I really admire how fast you’ve developed that place. That part of the state, for our listeners, for just a staycation, a little day trip if you’re coming from Birmingham or Montgomery or Huntsville or anywhere around Alabama, there’s so much to do there. You can go see Mr. Bobby Ray and then go up to Mt. Cheaha and have a lunch there, it’s not very far. Go into downtown Sylacauga, there’s a lot of interesting things to see there, a lot of good restaurants. You’ve got DeSoto Caverns close by, you’ve got the old Kymulga Grist Mill there in Talladega County. There’s just a lot to do in that part of the state isn’t there, Mr. Bobby Ray, to kind of tie in and make a fun day.
Bobby Ray Holmes: Yeah, it does. We’ve got clean restrooms, we’ve got rest areas, we’ve got picnic tables and whatever. We have a lot of people come stay all day and we have a lot of people … We have people come all the way from Columbus, Georgia and all the way from Atlanta, Georgia bringing their kids. We have a lot of especially professional people bring their kids and their grandkids down here, let them pick blackberries or blueberries or raspberries or whatever. They say, “I just wanted to bring them down here where they can find out that food don’t come out of the back of Winn-Dixie.”
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. Well, that makes a big difference. Well, Mr. Bobby Ray, you’ve been doing this now you said for eight years there, you’ve had that farm a lot longer than that. What is it … You said you’d done 30 some-odd different businesses, what is it about the farming and the fruit stand that seems to have made you want to stick with it? What is it about working the land that you enjoy so much?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Well like I told you, I started off … My dad had a … We were sharecroppers down in Coosa County and he opened up a curb market when I was six years old and we kept farming until I was about nine or ten years old. It was in my blood and then he had that curb market so I was raised in a curb market. We had a big curb market back then. People bought a lot of produce and stuff, they canned a lot. They didn’t have any freezers and they didn’t have all the prepared food in grocery stores and they didn’t have frozen foods in grocery stores, a lot of people didn’t even have refrigerators. That was in my blood and I just got started. I’ve always had a garden all my life, I’ve always had a big garden. I just went back to my roots, I guess you could say.
Dave Milton: Mr. Bobby, the last time I was out there I went into your little store there and your various buildings and you’ve got so many neat things. You’ve got your honey from your own bees and ciders and juices and jellies and jams, peanut brittle and just the chocolates, you’ve got so much for people to enjoy. And your website is fantastic I was checking you out, holmesteadfarm.com. Y’all have really developed over the years. Anything I’m forgetting that we want to let the folks all over Alabama know today?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Well, we do citrus trees so like I told you we sell trees too. Other than that …
Dave Milton: Yeah. You got a big sale going on right now, don’t you? Big sale.
Bobby Ray Holmes: Oh yeah, we’ve got a big sale. We’ve got three people out here buying trees right now. I’ve got people … In fact, I just had a boy call me from Montgomery a few minutes ago wanting to know … We’ve got a special where we do two peaches, two pears, two plums, two apples and two figs for $145, tax and all, and we let them mix them up.
Jonathan Goode: Wow.
Bobby Ray Holmes: I had a fellow from Montgomery call me a while ago and said, “I’ll be up there in a little bit to get me two of them deals.”
Dave Milton: That’s a deal.
Jonathan Goode: That is. That’s great. That’s something my wife and I have enjoyed on the little place where we live. We like to plant trees like that and I love … We did ours four years ago, we got our first fruit this past season and I love those Japanese persimmons, those things are great. How many of those trees to you have?
Bobby Ray Holmes: We’ve got 55.
Jonathan Goode: Oh wow. That stuff is good. Well y’all have a lot of great stuff there. Mr. Bobby Ray, if somebody wants to come by, how do they find you? Where do they go to your stand?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Well, they go to our website, holmesteadfarm.com and it gives them our address. We’re on 6582 County Road Seven over here right … We back up to the national forest, my property backs up to the national forest. We’ve got a real nice drive over here through the national forest. We’d love to have people come over to visit us and see what we’ve got here.
Dave Milton: Yeah, Mr. Bobby Ray. Your number, you want to give out a telephone number too for folks to call you?
Bobby Ray Holmes: Yes. It’s on my website 256-404-4316. Just tell everybody that’s a cell phone number. I’m different than everybody else, I give everybody that comes and buys trees, we give them our cell phone number and I tell them, I say, “When you get home if you don’t know how to plant them or you need some help or you need to know how to spray them when you get through.” I put my phone number out there to everybody and tell them you’re more than welcome to call me, we’ll give you any information you need.
Dave Milton: That’s a successful businessman right there. Service all the way, service before the sale, service after the sale. I like it. Holmesteadfarm.com, that’s Holmes with an ‘L’. Mr. Bobby Ray, I look forward to coming by and seeing you and taking advantage of this sale. We’ll be seeing you soon, my friend.
Bobby Ray Holmes: Come on by. We’ll feed you something while you’re here.
Dave Milton: Sounds good.
Bobby Ray Holmes: All right. Thank y’all. We appreciate you calling.
Jonathan Goode: Well Dave, I appreciate you having Mr. Bobby Ray Holmes on. He’s an interesting fellow and that … I’d just like to go sit down with him and listen to him talk about life and business and all he’s done over there.
Dave Milton: Well you like to turkey hunt so you and I, we’re not in the shape to turkey hunt in those mountains where he lives there.
Jonathan Goode: Right.
Dave Milton: There’s a lot of turkeys where my camp is up there but you’ve got to want to kill them real bad. Maybe we’ll go on a little fishing trip over there on the Talladega Creek one day and then go see … I think we’d be more cut out for that than chasing those turkeys.
Jonathan Goode: You don’t have any flat part to your land over there?
Dave Milton: I don’t. There is no … Where my cabin is there’s a grade to everything so it’s … It’s beautiful, but you’re going to get in shape walking around there.
Jonathan Goode: That’s right, you’ve got the views. That’s the land that comes with the views over there. Well y’all, thanks for tuning in to Mr. Bobby Ray there. Stay with us, we’re going to come back for more of The Land Show with Dave and Johnny.