acres a year. Today they have nearly 500 acres of pine plantation. Most of it is shortleaf, Missouri’s native pine. They also planted wildlife-habitat bundles from the state forest nursery.
Five hundred acres of trees is a lot to care for when you already have a full-time job. Pine plantations are deliberately overstocked to allow for losses to disease, insects and weather. Periodic thinning is needed to prevent overcrowding and promote good growth. Just as planting trees was never Hinds’ top priority, neither was thinning.
“We always had all kinds of things to do beside thin our pines,” says Hinds. The exception was one stand of trees where he thinned according to the Conservation Department’s recommendations. “A year later I went back and measured the circumference of them. It was astonishing the growth they had put on,” says Hinds. That experience prompted him to hire a professional logger to thin some of his pines.
Although Hinds hasn’t always been methodical about thinning, he achieved the same result by selling some young trees for use as poles. The remaining trees now are 1.5 to 2 feet in diameter. Hinds’ son Kelly set up a small sawmill at the farm and has produced enough lumber to build a home, a hunting cabin and a big pole barn. His father’s pride in that accomplishment is apparent as he shows off the buildings.
Another unforeseen benefit is improved wildlife habitat. Deer and turkey got hunted out during the Great Depression, but they are plentiful again today, thanks to reintroduction efforts by MDC and Hinds’ habitat restoration.
A Community Effort
Like Hinds, Meert was looking for a way to employ an unused resource—youthful energy. He worked for Boeing in St. Louis. His wife, Eileen, had her hands full too, raising six children. But in their spare time they threw themselves into establishing a tree nursery.
“We had to do something to pay for 28 years of college education. I had four weeks’ vacation a year, and every weekend, every vacation we spent here playing in the dirt. We’re still working night and day at it,” he says with a smile.
Their nursery now covers 160 acres in southern Jefferson County. It is a patchwork of Scotch pine, spruce, fir, dogwood, redbud, oaks and other trees stitched together with 100 miles of water pipe and drip-irrigation line. The air was heavy with the scent of pine