“We had always come to this area for Bennett Spring State Park. I used to be an avid fisherman, but it was more a get-away weekend place,” Bob Hall said, explaining their move from Edwardsville, Ill. Now married 30 years, Bob and Nancy Hall came to live in Laclede County after the tragic loss of their young son, Andrew, to kidney disease.
Andrew passed away on May 5, 1999. Because of all the medical issues they had been dealing with, Bob and Nancy hadn’t been to Bennett Spring that year. Bob said, “Memorial Day weekend we were making our first trip. We had a mobile home at Circle J campground, and when we came by, there was a for sale sign on what they called ‘Rainbow Ranch’.”
Nancy saw the sign and while Bob was fishing the next morning she made an appointment for them to meet with the realtor and see the ranch.
“Obviously at that point I was doing whatever she wanted just because of all the emotional swings with the loss of our son,” Bob explained.
Once they looked at the ranch, a vision began to form. They closed on the property in September 1999 and moved to their newly acquired ranch just out of Lebanon, Mo. Nancy immediately went to work transforming the ranch into a Bed and Breakfast.
“When we bought that farm, it was 85 acres and the house,” Bob said, and explained, “That’s how I eventually got into the cattle business, buying a few cows here and there.”
In 2005 they purchased the farm across the road. Bob said when they bought the farm, “the house had no appraised value. It was basically the property we were buying, which was 143 acres.”
The old farmhouse, built around 1910, proved to be quite a project. Bob said he has often joked that they should have had a controlled burn. But after extensive work, the house was in beautiful condition, and in 2006 the Halls moved in.
That’s when Bob really started getting into the cattle. “Originally I thought I’d be in the registered Limousin business, but that’s too much,” Bob said. “If you’re not one of the big boys, you’re going to lose your shirt in it, and I didn’t know any better. So now I’m strictly a commercial cow farmer. I look forward to the day when I can do it full-time.”
For now, Bob still works in the commercial printing business. He has worked in that business for 32 years and loves it, but said, “I get the best enjoyment when I’m on my tractor, or driving out looking at my cows, or working the cattle.” He called it “stress-relieving work.”
The house was not the only thing that needed work at the farm, Bob realized, as he expanded his cattle herd. The farm had been leased and used, but not maintained. “When I bought the farm it was in really bad shape,” Bob said, and he discovered he was “a perfect candidate for the government’s Intensive Grazing Program.” He attended a two-day class and qualified for the program. He now does rotational grazing and has plenty of grass.
Because the soil was in such poor condition and the plant life was marginal, at best, the farm also qualified for an over seeding program. First Bob had to bring the soil up to the proper pH level, which required 178,000 pounds of lime. Then he over seeded it with clover.
“The farmhouse is one thing, but what I’ve been doing to the property is another,” Bob observed. He added, “Quite frankly, I need to get a few more cows, because it could handle at least 10 more easily.”
Currently, Bob has 30 cows, a bull, and “a bunch of calves that are ready to be shipped.” His cattle are Angus, Limousin and crosses between the two.
When it comes to calving, Bob prefers half his cows calve in the spring and half in the fall. His herd is growing slowly but surely. He has kept a lot of his own heifers.
The farm, as well as Nancy’s restaurant and catering business in Lebanon, are named after their late son. The restaurant is called A Taste of Andy’s. The farm has been dubbed ‘Andy’s Acres.’
While Bob has made many improvements, he still has “fences to build and 22 acres of woods to clean out. There’s always something to do on the farm.”


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