Jim’s Alabama land legacy is a testament to the enduring bond between a landowner and his cherished property. His journey is interwoven with memorable events, remarkable friendships, and a steadfast commitment to preserving Alabama’s natural beauty for generations to come. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my friend Jim Main. This is the conclusion of our interview and perhaps my favorite part. Enjoy.
An Alabama Land Legacy of Memories
John: What’s a memorable story that comes to mind?
Jim: You know, if I shared one about one of my children or grandchildren, the others might get their feelings hurt. Here’s a story that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Some years ago, during hunting season, I had about 30 or 40 of my friends over for a barbecue. I hired a band from North Carolina to perform.
They wanted to go hunting, and I agreed to let them hunt if they would also do a concert and a gospel performance for my mama at the Baptist Church. The band came and performed as if they were a famous group. I had also invited the Governor of Alabama, who loved to sing. During the band performance, the Governor decided to join the band on stage.
However, since the band was from out of state, they had no idea he was the governor. He stepped up on the porch stage, grabbed the microphone, and started singing. Immediately, the lead singer took the microphone away from him and said, “Buddy, we don’t need your help. Go back and sit down.”
The crowd erupted in laughter, and it didn’t stop for the next two songs.
John: Now you’re good friends with two governors and have worked with two others. Can you tell us which governor took the stage?
Jim: He wouldn’t mind. I’ll say this much: He was a non-drinker who liked to sing.
It did embarrass him, and his security detail nearly fell on the floor laughing.
John: That’s a great memory!
A Friend and Family Share Their Land Legacy Wisdom
Jim: Also, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Bo Torbert, was a great friend of mine. He had a place near our property.
Bo was enthusiastic about the farm because of his knowledge of hardwood trees. He walked around the property and identified all the trees in the front and backyard around the cabin. Amazingly, every hardwood tree indigenous to this state area could be found in either the front or backyard.
He also bought me a book that helped identify trees based on their leaves, fruits, nuts, and bark.
John: Speaking of hardwoods, you should consider having your granddaughter create a scrapbook with the leaves taped in and labeled with the tree names. It would be a beautiful collection of leaves from the hardwoods on your property, and she seems interested in forestry.
Jim: My granddaughter, who is legally blind, is working for the Alabama Forestry Commission this summer. They’ve taught her about pine beetles, how to measure tree growth, how to plot areas, measure them over five years, and then come back to measure again.
Consequently, we acquired two other properties in 2017, and we’ve begun the necessary work on those. One of her summer projects as an intern with the Alabama Forestry Commission is to develop a management plan for the two new properties.
Jim’s Alabama Land Legacy to Future Generations
John: That’s impressive. I can tell you’re proud of your grandchildren. How do you feel about continuing the family tradition and allowing your children and grandchildren to own the farm in the future?
Jim: My children or grandchildren will not have the option to sell the farm. I don’t want them to argue over it. The farm will be placed in a trust that can’t be terminated until 70 years after my youngest grandson’s passing. When any disagreements arise, I’ll have been gone for a long time. Furthermore, my youngest grandchild is only 11.
John: Being a lawyer, I’m sure you researched the best way to handle the trust.
Jim: I set aside money in the trust to cover taxes, insurance, and minimal upkeep. Additionally, every time they harvest timber, they must replenish it to the original amount before distributing any money.
John: What a wonderful way to leave your land legacy for future generations to enjoy and financially benefit from for generations.
Wisdom to Create Your Own Land Legacy
John: What advice would you give to a new landowner?
Jim: This is what I would recommend.
1. Create a Plan
Create it and follow it. In other words, don’t try to do everything at one time. Brian Agnew at Alabama Forestry developed a 10-year plan for my timberland. The plan was meant to be completed in yearly increments, but I was impatient and did it all in the first year.
After 12 years, I had 500 acres of trees ready for harvest, but the cost of harvesting so many trees at once was a problem. In one year, I had an overwhelming income. For someone starting out, staging your processes and harvesting periodically could lead to a consistent income over a 50-year period.
So, get a plan from someone like your forestry expert on the John Hall and Company team and stick to it.
2. Tour Other Properties
Visit other landowners and learn from them. Often, I spent time with my friend Jerry Kaiser, who experimented with various techniques, and I learned from his experiences. Generally, I spend time with friends who own properties around Union Springs and learn from them.
3. Make Use of Resources
Use available resources. The Alabama Wildlife Federation has a helpful book called “Managing Wildlife” that offers guidance on planting different summer and winter food plots for ducks, turkeys, quail, and deer. Another recommendation is the Alabama Wildlife Federation, which has two wildlife biologists on staff who can provide a free wildlife plan.
In addition, the Alabama Forestry Commission offers free advice on managing timber, and the Alabama Extension Service provides a wealth of resources for land and wildlife management.
Furthermore, all these resources are invaluable. I encourage new landowners to keep learning and experimenting. Landownership is a wonderful journey for yourself and those with you who share your land legacy.
John: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and for sharing your experiences and insights. We greatly value having a satisfied customer like you at John Hall Company. I can’t thank you enough for allowing us to help you find your property and for your referrals over the years. Your support is immensely appreciated.
(I could not find Jim’s book online for sale. I would like to add that here.)