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, Cooper Holmes with Southeastern Land Group, Pam Swanner from Alabama Black Belt Adventures, Randall Upchurch with your farmland report, Brian Watts with your Timber Talk segment and, of course, the Wild Man himself, Tim Baker, with your wildlife update. 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, it’s a beautiful Saturday here in Montgomery, Alabama and Johnny B., I sure am glad to see the warm weather and glad to see your smiling face on this Saturday morning.
Jonathan Goode: Well, it’s good to be with you, my friend. Glad to be here and survive another week and do another great show today.
Dave Milton: Yeah. I’ll tell you what man, this is the last weekend of small game hunting and I’ve been trying so hard to get a group of some of the young people in my family, nieces and nephews, and go chase some squirrels and rabbits. I just don’t think we’re going to make it this year. But I’ll tell you, with young folks don’t neglect that, you folks that like to hunt. Get out, even in the public lands. People don’t hunt squirrels like they used to. The national forests are full of squirrels, not so much rabbits in most places you normally have to find farm fields, but this is the last weekend for that so don’t miss the opportunity.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. It’ bound to have been a good season if you’re into that because I’ve seen so many squirrels and then rabbits, this year the rabbits have been everywhere, fence lines and thickets and … I don’t know, it just seems like they had good recruitment for rabbits.
Dave Milton: They did. Rabbits and turkey and quail had good years and everybody has their various theories of why and I don’t really know why, but I think it’s pretty well a fact throughout Alabama that the recruitment rate has been great. Turkey, I’ve seen so many young turkeys, it should be a good turkey season coming up.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. I’m looking forward to that. We’re just less than two weeks away right now so it is coming on. I’m not a good turkey hunter, I’ll be the first to admit it, but doggone it is fun. I’m looking forward to getting over to your deer camp, that place over there is loaded with birds.
Dave Milton: Yeah. We’re fortunate, our camp is right there on the Tallapoosa River close to the Randolph/Chambers County line outside of Wadley and we’re one of the … Randolph County is one of the few counties that actually has a fall turkey season, we’ve got a lot of turkey. It seemed like our numbers were down over the last few years, but this year I noticed during deer season they were way up. My last deer hunt there I didn’t see any deer but I saw about 40 turkeys, so that excited me.
Jonathan Goode: Oh wow. Man, I hope they’re hanging out there. This is a great time to be out looking at land, I’ve really enjoyed it. Dave, I went all the way to the Homochitto National Forest this past week. And West Mississippi, almost to the Louisiana line looking at a tract. One of the things I enjoyed, I pulled that Polaris Ranger 600 miles back and forth over here and I enjoyed seeing just the rural countryside. If you enjoy land, taking a long ride like that and seeing all the different types of geology and rivers and those sorts of things it’s really neat to do, but one of the things that impressed me is I just realized how blessed we are. Timber markets are down in a lot of the parts of Mississippi, there’s a lot of negative news in a lot of the things happening over there, but we’re so blessed with these new mills coming in, demand for timber in Alabama. I was meeting with one of our big institutional clients this past week, they were talking about timber sales across the board were down in Mississippi and Alabama is just blessed with a really good strong land market. Around the nation we’re blessed with that. Taking that long trip was just another reason to count all the blessings and the good things we’ve got going on.
Dave Milton: That’s true. The institutions all want to own land in Alabama with our low tax base and our good markets. And, of course, it’s extremely variable depending on the classes and the types. There are certain parts of the state that have better hardwood markets generally. Certain parts of the state have had better pine markets. Certain parts … It really has to do with mills. It is variable but generally speaking, wherever you live in Alabama, at least a couple of the types of the timber classes that are there, there’s a good market for it. Maybe not all of them, but there are some good markets in your market and there are some weak markets too. That’s what you need to talk to the timber sales division with Southeastern Land Group to kind of discover what you have.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. We really are blessed, especially central and south in the state, those markets are awesome. That northwest corner of the state has had a struggle but there’s a lot of opportunity. We’ve got good soils and low prices and low taxes and it’s just a good place to be investing land.
Dave Milton: It is. You’ve got a broad swath of sort of southwest to west central Alabama, basically from south of Tuscaloosa all the way down and over to about Greenville and that area, Evergreen. There’s just a broad swath there of a really strong wood basket. Probably number two would be where the office is, right there sort of east central, there’s a broad swath there too that’s pretty close. But those two just have lots of different mills, lots of different options and a lot of institutional holdings in those areas too.
Cooper Holmes and the Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. We’re fortunate that we live in a state where there is a landowner ethic. Our first guest understands all about that. Right now we’re going to go over to my neck of the woods, Perry County. A good friend of mine, Cooper Holmes, is there. Cooper, how are you my friend?
Cooper Holmes: Doing fine. How are y’all doing today?
Jonathan Goode: Good, buddy. Good. Welcome to The Land Show. Dave and I are glad to have you on. We want to be the first to welcome and make the formal announcement, we’re pleased that you’re coming on board with our Southeastern Land Group team as a newly licensed agent, so welcome aboard my friend.
Cooper Holmes: I appreciate it. I really appreciate the opportunity and look forward to working with y’all. I’m really excited about it.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. I think you’ll do a great job. We were just talking before you came on that land ownership is a big ethic, a big value of a lot of folks in our state and that’s certainly been true of your family, hasn’t it?
Cooper Holmes: It has been. Yeah, our family, we’ve been here since 1819 on the same property. We’ve been diversified over the 200 years of farming so I guess that’s sort of why we’re still in business. We’ve been able to change as times have changed and just very fortunate and lucky to be a part of the family tradition and it being taken care of and passed down from generation to generation.
Dave Milton: Wow, this is a bicentennial celebration, man. That’s incredible.
Cooper Holmes: It is. We’re celebrating with the state of Alabama this year. We’re really excited about that.
Jonathan Goode: I would like to see … I don’t know … Knowing your parents, they probably have it somewhere, but I would like to see the patent, the original deed from the state, I’m sure your family probably has that somewhere, I’d like to see that.
Cooper Holmes: We do. It’s actually in the general store and it came through the Land Grant office at Old Cahaba actually.
Jonathan Goode: Okay. Very cool.
Cooper Holmes: It’s the original 80-acre deed to the farm. We have that on show when people come tour the farm. We have about 20 historic buildings, some dating back to 1820s. The general store, the old cotton gin, smokehouse. I just walk the grounds with tourists and tell them the different parts of the farm and how we’ve evolved in agriculture over 200 years and just share how we’ve … If you keep a roof and a foundation on a building it’ll last forever. We’ve tried to do that and hopefully we’ll continue to be able to do so for the next generation.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. That is one neat thing. Your family has done a good job of making that history available and accessible to people there at the Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation in the small community of Folsom. I know y’all used to in years past had a festival called Fall in Folsom and then recently you started a new venture with Airbnb there making one of the homes on the old plantation available, is that right?
Cooper Holmes: That’s right, yeah. It’s just an old 1830s home that’s right there around all of the buildings and everything. Put it on Airbnb this past month and have my first guest coming Saturday so I’ve been in a frantic trying to get everything ready these past couple of days. But it’s coming together and I’m excited about it, I really am.
Jonathan Goode: That is a neat venture. For some of our listeners, and I have to admit, I’m only 42 but I’m way behind the times on this. I wasn’t familiar with Airbnb until about a year or two ago. Explain the concept of Airbnb and what that is.
Cooper Holmes: Yeah. Basically, it’s a website for travelers. If you want to go, say you’re going from Chicago to the beach and you want to just make some stops along the way to some unique, interesting places, you can go on Airbnb as you planned out your route, you can type in the towns you’re going through and just sort of figure out what kind of stay that you want to … A home or apartment or whatever you want to stay at. It’s just an easy way for people to find places to stay on one website and sort of plan out their route. I’m new at it too so I’m learning as I go, but I’m working with some other people throughout the Black Belt that have started Airbnbs. One in Selma is Woolworth Lofts. They’re doing great business right now. A lot of tourists coming from Montgomery to see the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. They stay in her lofts so we’re trying to keep them in the Black Belt. Come over to Marion and stay with me and then to Greensboro to a little Airbnb called Historic Home on Main Street. Holly Ellis is doing that, she’s a native of Greensboro and she started a company called Black Belt and Main where she is putting murals up in these small Black Belt towns to help promote tourism. People will come and they’ll take an Instagram picture in front of the mural. She’s put it on T-shirts and selling those in different locations, so she’s doing a lot to promote the area. Another guy over in Eutaw at Everhope Plantation is someone we’re working with too. We sort of have a group of Airbnbs working together and just trying to promote this area, the Black Belt and beyond.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. You can really get a good sense of the Black Belt if you go from Selma to Eutaw. I know you had mentioned to me in conversation that a lot of folks make that pilgrimage on over to New Orleans and this is a way for folks to see a part of the country that they would not be able to experience otherwise. I can say just personally from coming to the house where you’re hosting this Airbnb, you’ve put on some pretty good crawfish festivals there and crawfish boils there in the past. It is a really nice place and for somebody looking to come out of a city and to do something different, do a little farm stay and to really get a good sense of what it was like on the Black Belt 200 years ago, that’s a great opportunity isn’t it?
Cooper Holmes: It is. Yeah, it’s a unique place that it’s got a lot of character, it’s an old home and we’ve tried to throw in some newer stuff to it too, so it’s a good mix. It’s been fun and I look forward to seeing it grow and meeting people from all over, that’s what I like to do. I like to meet people and tell people about the area and hopefully they’ll stay and buy some land.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah, for sure.
Dave Milton: You know, Cooper you and Jonathan probably take it for granted because y’all live over there in that part of the state, but it’s interesting just here in the state of Alabama just the diversity in the way the land looks and the way the Black Belt’s so different-looking than where I live in the Piedmont. I’ll tell you, to me one thing that’s fascinating to me every time I go to your part of the state is just the town of Marion and the history there and the old Antebellum homes that were spared during the Civil War and how many of them are intact. The history of the town was an educational mecca. People think about Alabama and Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Auburn, that was nothing before the Civil War, it was Marion. There was, I think, four universities there.
Cooper Holmes: Yeah, that’s correct.
Dave Milton: That was the place to be and there’s so much history. I remember being, when I first met Dr. Potts there with Judson College, he would show me all the relics and the Civil War history and where a union bayonet had gone through a table or something or stabbed a picture …A portrait.
Jonathan Goode: A portrait on the wall, yeah.
Dave Milton: But just so much history there. There seems like there’s a small group of people trying to sort of restore some of that and promote that.
Cooper Holmes: There is. A big part of that too … We’re so fortunate and lucky to have Marion Institute and Judson College still in Marion, two colleges. Judson was 1838, MI was 1842. That’s another unique thing about Marion is the diversity of the people because you have teachers and faculty that have traveled the world, military that’s been stationed all over the world and a lot of them stay and retire in Marion. It’s just a really diverse, small little town.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. You don’t go anywhere in the Southeast where somebody doesn’t have a sister or a mother or an aunt that didn’t go to Judson College, somebody has a connection. Marion Military Institute, you’d be totally amazed at who has come through MMI in the past. I was riding to Mississippi the other day with a gentleman that I had never met for the first time and he started telling me about his connections to the town of Marion and how he had relatives that went to MI there and Judson. You’re just going to meet somebody that has a connection. You had the Lincoln Normal College there. A lot of folks don’t know that Samford University was founded out of Marion, the old Howard College there before it became MMI. And then in Greensboro right there Southern University that ended up becoming Birmingham Southern came out of Greensboro. A lot of good things right in your little area right there, Cooper.
Cooper Holmes: Oh, definitely. Like you mentioned Lincoln Normal School, Alabama State University in Montgomery originated from Marion. Like you said, it’s called the college city.
Jonathan Goode: That’s right. A lot of good stuff there. I’m excited for you with your Airbnb and I’m also excited with you coming on with Southeastern Land Group because I think it will help us … I mean, your family has extensive background in timber, also in cattle and then some of your relatives there with catfish and so you’ve been exposed to a lot. You were a farm manager for a large organic farm there and so I just think you’re going to bring a lot of experience into the land brokerage part of it and really kind of expand our reach over into some areas we’ve not really had a presence as much as we should have in Marengo County and Choctaw and Hale and Greene and Sumter. I’m excited because you’re going to help us expand a little farther west toward the Mississippi line over there.
Cooper Holmes: I look forward to it. I’m really excited. Y’all are a great group of people. I look forward to meeting everybody in the group and I’m just really excited and think we can expose more people to the Black Belt.
Jonathan Goode: Absolutely. I’m excited about having another ambassador for our region over there. Cooper, if somebody wants to get information about how they can do an Airbnb stay with you there at your plantation, how do they do that?
Cooper Holmes: They go to Airbnb.com and in the search area you can put Marion, Alabama and my Airbnb will come up or you can type in Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation B&B and that’ll take you directly to the link. There are several pictures of the house and then of the farm as well, and just a little information about the area. It tells you exactly how to book it and everything. It’s pretty easy.
Jonathan Goode: It’s a great venue and that’ll be a good experience when you do the Discover Alabama’s Black Belt tour, so check those things out on Airbnb. Cooper, thank you so much for being on the show today, buddy.
Cooper Holmes: Hey, thank you. I appreciate it. I’m going to plug one more thing. We’ve got a Canebrake Homecoming, it’s a tour of homes in five Black Belt counties: Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry and Sumter, March 23rd and 24th is the first weekend and March 29th through the 31st is the second weekend. You can find that information at canebrakehomecoming.com.
Jonathan Goode: Yeah. So many folks, you think about the Black Belt but folks don’t think about our region used to be called the Canebrake Region down there and that’s another interesting part of the state, but that sounds like a great tour. This will be mostly historic homes?
Cooper Holmes: It’s mostly historic homes. Our farm is actually open as well and there’s some churches as well, so it’s a good mix of things. There are also events on the Fridays and Saturday nights of the two weekends and you can find more information on that website. It’ll be a great way for somebody to travel through the Black Belt and get a great feel of the area.
Jonathan Goode: Here’s what I’m going to promote. I think a lot of our lady listeners, and some of our men listeners will enjoy seeing the historic homes, but men if you want an excuse to eat some good food, you bring your wives down and start in Sumter County and go east from there, but go to the Touch of Home Bakery there and it’s a Mennonite bakery there in Livingston.
Cooper Holmes: Oh yeah.
Jonathan Goode: That place is amazing. Eat that for lunch, eat it breakfast or lunch, and then wind up in Faunsdale. Either at lunchtime or at dinner time.
Cooper Holmes: Oh yeah.
Jonathan Goode: And eat at the Faunsdale Bar & Grill and have the crawfish there or eat a steak or whatever you want to do, but I judge the culture by the food that’s available and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll love seeing the architecture and the homes and all those things, but get a taste of the Black Belt you go to Touch of Home in Livingston and then you go to the Faunsdale Bar & Grill or any of those other good stops along the way and they can get a good sense of what’s happening down here, can’t they Cooper?
Cooper Holmes: That’s right. I went to Faunsdale Friday night and had their, I think it’s called 1974 and it’s a blackened catfish with crawfish étouffée on top of it, golly it was good.
Jonathan Goode: That sounds good. Well that’s the show today, boys.
Dave Milton: Head to Faunsdale.
Jonathan Goode: That’s right, we’ll be there soon. Cooper, thanks so much for being on the show my friend.
Cooper Holmes: Hey, thank y’all. Y’all take care.
Jonathan Goode: Well Dave, I hope you can manage the rest of the show by yourself. I’m headed to Faunsdale right now to eat some crawfish. Y’all stay with us. We’re going to take a quick break and we’ll be back for more of The Land Show with Dave and Johnny.