I am so blessed in that I have a wife and sometimes a reluctant family (when they were younger) who allowed my ideas to become real and I would have to admit that Mom and Dad did a lot to encourage me to follow those dreams. So here we go on #2:
I am trying to figure out what year we started THE PUMPKIN PATCH as it was to become known. It must have been about 24 years ago when I purchased a farm west of Edmond on 178th between May and Penn. It was nothing but 80 acres of sunflowers and ragweed but I saw something much bigger, A FARM, but not just any farm. I saw what I called Green Acres Farms. Actually I got that name because my family and especially my wife made fun of me as I would go out after work in my dark suit, white shirt and tie and get on my tractor and start working. Now if you are not old enough to remember the TV series Green Acres with Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert whom always dressed formal, like me, on his farm you should look it up and watch a few of the shows.
We really did not get started with the idea of a pumpkin patch but it was about June 1st when I took over the farm and the only crop I could get planted and harvest that first year was pumpkins. So the entire family got to work including Mom and Dad who now lived in Perkins Oklahoma (long story on how and why they left the Osage for Perkins where Dad carried the mail and Mom opened a TV and appliance store). We plowed and worked about 20 acres and planted it to pumpkins. I researched and laid down drip pipe and used a water well to pump water 7 days a week 24 hours a day through miles and miles of lay flat pipe to reach the drip pipe with drippers every 12 inches. Things went pretty well until around the middle of August when the pumpkin plants were getting pretty big and someone tossed a cigarette out the window placing the entire section on fire. There were no houses within a couple of miles but the flames were extremely high and the fire was hot and fast as it moved south to north. I was on my way back from Kingfisher when I saw a giant amount of smoke in the distance. Naturally I thought it was close to the farm but not the farm. As I got closer and closer I figured it was our place. Fire trucks were everywhere and Wynter and Chase were there driving vehicles off the property (remember Chase was 9 and Wynter was 12).
Well the great thing was it burnt off all the dead grass but it burned down the barn and Ford tractor but the real blessing was the fire jumped right over the plastic pipes (I guess because there was cold water in the pipes) and the water never stopped flowing and NONE of the pumpkin plants were damaged. Our farm made the front page of the Daily Oklahoman and we were famous, the hard way.
Well, when October rolled around we had contacted a few schools and churches to see if they would like to have a field trip to the pumpkin patch where we would tell them how God made provision for us through farming and crops and seeds and hard work. SURPRISE SURPRISE! It went crazy and we had thousands of folks come out to pick pumpkins. In fact we estimated over 25,000 people came the first year. This could be an entire book of stories as we continued over the next 7 years opening our farm to as many as 75,000 folks the last year we were open.
Today the farm is known as Clifford Farms, named after my dad and one of the streets is named Opal Lane. If you know much about me you know most of my companies are named Lane Legacy or Lane Financial or something similar.
In summary we really never made a lot of money but we made a lot of memories and gave a lot of memories as we plowed all the money back into barns and tractors and more farm equipment and trailers for hay rides and then animals and a lot of hired help.
So what do you learn from the Osage?
- If you build it, they will come
- It is not what you get in life but what you give
- If you take a little manure and mix it with a dream you get a great memory
Thanks for your time,
take a look at http://www.lanelegacy.company/