I’ve reached the age where a lot of my friends are either retiring, contemplating retirement or moving away from where they have lived for most of their life. I’m happy for them, if that’s what they want to do, but I’ve always wondered what would make someone, at the ripe old age of 70, want to pull up stakes and move to someplace where no one knows their name.
With the exception of a few years living in Central Missouri and later, Mississippi, I have spent my entire life in the Ozark hills of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. I’ve been happy here amongst people, who talk like I do and I never really considered moving away from where I’ve always felt most comfortable, but with so many friends moving away, it made me start looking, and I may have found the ideal place for me to retire.
Last week, I received a national magazine that had the rankings of counties all over the country, based on the number of cattle residing in that county. I always thought lived at the epicenter of the beef-cow business, but I have found, among the thousands of counties across this great country, my county ranks 30th in the number of beef cows. Holt County, Neb., ranks first in the nation, with almost twice as many cows as my county. In addition, Holt County has about one-fourth as many people as the county in which I live. Anyone who knows me very well, knows I love cows a lot more than people, so this place in Northern Nebraska seems like it might be Eden for me.
After being made aware of these numbers, I started doing a little online research about this county I have never visited and, quite frankly, had never heard of until last week. It seems that the sparse population of this large county is of the same age demographic as me. In researching it further, it would seem that, politically, the people of Holt County vote the same way I do, and seem to have the same moral and ethical values that I happen to have. Granted, I would have to put a big, red “N” on the back of my truck, along with a sticker that says, Go Huskers, but I could do that easily enough to fit in.
The more I read about this rural, Nebraska county, the more excited I became about the possibilities of this wonderful place, as a cowboy’s retirement dream come true. As I learned about the history, geography, culture and economy of Holt County, Neb., I could actually begin to see me living there….until I got to the part about climate. As I reviewed the average daytime highs and lows for the month of January, I came to a very important and obvious conclusion.
I really love where I live right now.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’