December 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to the December Edition of my newsletter. Please feel free to reply with a comment. I am always looking to improve on the content for my subscribers.

Also, visit my website to view my listings, search for properties, or to enjoy one of my archived newsletters and stories on Florida History.

Thank you,

The Secret History of the Great Quail Escapade
Possibly it was the altitude. Maybe it was something he ate. Perhaps it was the drinks. More likely it was vintage Jerry Keuper at his eccentric best. Whatever the cause, in the fall of 1972 on a flight between Colombia to Florida, Jerry Keuper hatched one of his zaniest schemes. He decided to launch a quail hatchery at Florida Institute of Technology.

The trip itself had had nothing to do with quail eggs. Florida’s Secretary of State and FIT trustee Tom Adams had invited Keuper and John Miller to accompany him on a series of ambassadorial missions to South America. In the early 1960s, Adams, to the consternation of the U.S. State Department, had forged an international agreement between the state of Florida and the Republic of Colombia. Adams idea was to establish business and academic contacts between South America and Florida. Colombia was his beginning point. FIT would provide the academic connection. That is how Jerry Keuper and John Miller found themselves on a plane coming home from South America.

The trips were successful. Friendships formed; plans were made for future exchange visits. At one of the meals Keuper was surprised to find a bowl of tiny eggs. He was told that they were quail eggs. Ever inquisitive, Keuper began to fire questions. Where had the quails come from? How many eggs did a quail lay in week, a month, a year? How long did quails live? A light bulb went off in Keuper’s head. In 1965 a team of University of Florida researchers had concocted Gatorade which was paying UF huge dividends. Keuper wondered if quail eggs might do the same for Countdown College. Melanie Keuper, who accompanied her father on the trips, recalls that before returning to Florida, her father had found a farm outside of Bogota that raised quails. “We brought the eggs back to Florida in our suitcases.”

That was the beginning of the “Great Quail Escapade.” Keuper’s fascination “with this bite size hors d’ourves that could be eaten with a toothpick” grew in the following weeks. By early December, 300 FIT quails were “laying like mad at the campus hatchery.

FIT Farms, Inc. was ready to begin distribution in time for the 1972 holiday season. Dorothy Chapman, the Brevard Sentinel’s food editor, described FIT Farms’ quail eggs as a “smash hit” on Melbourne’s cocktail party circuit. “Keuper claims,” Chapman reported, “the bitty quail probably holds the world’s poultry records in all departments. The hen will lay an average of 300 eggs a year, almost one a day throughout the year. And,” Keuper added, “it lays the largest egg in relation to its body weight.” Readers were advised that “fresh, mature eggs are being sold at four cents apiece while supplies last” at the campus hatchery.

The quail scheme, however, was not destined for success. Production was not a problem. Marketing was a different matter. Despite FIT Farms, Inc.’s best efforts only a handful of local supermarket managers expressed interest in marketing the speckled product. Keuper was saddened. It had seemed like such a good idea. Not everyone shared his disappointment. Melanie, Keuper’s eighteen year old daughter, was working in the college bookstore when her father drafted her into the quail project. “It was” Melanie Keuper recalls, “a disaster!” Her job was to hard boil the eggs, shell them, and make deviled eggs. It was a time consuming, labor intensive work. Forty years later she still does not eat eggs!

All good things must come to an end. By 1974 Jerry Keuper decided to shutdown FIT Farms, Inc. and close the quail hatchery. Mr. and Mrs. Green cheerfully returned to the cafeteria. Keuper had other ideas. John Evans, a local citrus grower and friend, gave him a flock of peacocks that wandered the campus. Still later, Keuper would acquire the largest herd of long horned rams east if the Mississippi River as part of an experiment seeking to devise a male contraceptive. It is intriguing to think that the university’s motto might have been Ad Astra per Coturnix coturnix with, of course, a dash of scientia and a toothpick. That certainly adds new meaning to — “High Tech with a Human Touch.”

Note: No record is extant of what became of the quails. When asked, one participant said that he was “not sure how the quails were disposed of. We probably ate them.”
Source: News.FIT.EDU
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
Squeeze continues on Florida citrus industry
 Production of Florida oranges is now forecast to be about 17 percent below last season’s output, while the industry has seen a surge in demand linked to people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic and rediscovering breakfast.

An updated forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday reduced by about 2 percent the current growing season forecast for production of oranges and grapefruit, which were already projected to be below the yield from the 2019-2020 growing season.

Still, the Bartow-based Florida Department of Citrus considered the revised forecast a sign the industry is “relatively stable.”

The work-from-home trend, along with a belief from many people that a compound found in oranges called hesperidin provides a layer of protection from respiratory illnesses, has driven orange juice to supermarket sales unseen in years.

About 95 percent of Florida’s orange crop, still the largest in the nation, is processed into juice.

For the 2019-2020 season, growers produced enough citrus to fill 67.3 million boxes of oranges, 4.85 million boxes of grapefruit, and 1.02 million boxes with specialty crops.

The updated forecast also projects growers to fill 4.4 million boxes of grapefruit and 1.1 million boxes of specialty crops — mostly tangerines and tangelos. The October forecast had grapefruit at 4.5 million boxes. The specialty crop outlook remained unchanged.

Lightsey Family Ranch Quail Hunts
Located on 2,000 acres of Florida bays, pines, palmettos, and oaks, outside the small town of Lake Placid, the Lightsey Family Ranch boasts some of the best hunting land in south Florida.

Tom Brown. Steve Brown, Rod Hollingsworth and I all had a one-of-a-kind experience a few weeks ago and I highly recommend reaching out to them.

863-464-0268 or visit their website below for more info

The northern bobwhite is known as the “fire bird” because they evolved to live in habitat maintained by frequent, low-intensity fire.

Fast Facts
-Less than 20% live to be a year old.
-Quail form groups called coveys that can be counted to assess population densities.
-Covey calls are a quail’s way of saying an area is occupied.
-Unlike most birds, quail roost on the ground.
Northern bobwhite are native to the southeastern United States, eastern Mexico and the Caribbean. They are found throughout most of Florida except for the lower Keys.
-There are 22 subspecies of northern bobwhite, with two subspecies found in Florida
-Northern bobwhite can reach 9.4 to 11 inches in length and 4.6 to 6.1 ounces of weight.
-Northern bobwhite has black head, white eye line and throat, reddish-brown body, grey markings on the wings, white stripes on the flanks and grey tail. Females are slightly duller in color.
-Northern bobwhite has short, curved bill, chunky, roundish body and short tail.
-Northern bobwhite is active early in the morning and late in the afternoon
-Northern bobwhites are sedentary birds (they do not migrate during the winter).

1,045+ Acre Prime Hunting and Pristine Ranch
26005 Harrison Rd. Myakka City, FL 34251
Located only 20 minutes from Sarasota and I-75 sits this pristine ranch property on the Sarasota/Manatee County line. This ranch offers over 1,045+ acres of beautiful “old Florida” landscape and pastureland. There are endless opportunities for the hunter, rancher and farmer. Its one-of-a-kind lodge boasts 5 bedrooms, a spacious living and dining area, and a beautifully appointed kitchen. This incredible property is encompassed by Oak hammocks, sloughs, and pastureland and is currently used for cattle grazing and bahia sod production. Also included on the property is a large barn with an office/apartment, equipment storage and workshop along with an exceptional set of covered cowpens. The entire property is abundant with deer, Osceola turkeys, wild hogs and other wildlife. With its close proximity to Tampa and the Sarasota/Bradenton area, this ranch is ideal for your rural getaway. Call today for a showing!

MLS: C7433962
Total Acres: 1,045
Listing price: $5,691,000
21 Acres Prime Corner Lot-Lake Suzy/Kings Hwy area
SW Peace River St. #A Arcadia, FL 34269
21+ Acre prime corner located in the Lake Suzy/Kings Highway area of DeSoto County. This property is in the pathway for future development and has a designated future land use for commercial. Located Just 3 miles to Interstate 75 and only minutes away from North Port, Punta Gorda and Fort Myers. Housing developments have already been approved and broken ground nearby. This is a great opportunity for a commercial development.

Total Acres: 21.25 Acres
Listing Price: $1,052,000

272+ Acres Recreational and Hunting Property w/Home
2333 County Rd 731 Venus, FL 33960
GET AWAY FROM IT ALL!!! BRING THE ATV’S….Recreational and Hunting Property. Approximately 267 acres in Highlands County PLUS a spacious 4 bedroom/3 bath single family home on 5 Acres. This land is full of beautiful Oaks, Cabbage Palm Trees, and improved pasture with plenty of deer, turkeys, wild hogs and other wildlife. The home offers over 3,300 sq ft of space. This is a beautiful “old Florida” landscape. Get out of the city and enter your PRIVATE getaway!!! Located less than 90 MINUTES from the east or west coast of Florida.

MLS: C7432000
Total Acres: 272
Listing price: $1,500,000
5.5 Commercial Acres Punta Gorda
3200 Cooper St. Punta Gorda, FL 33950
5.5 Acres of Commercial Land on Cooper St with visibility of US 41/Tamiami Trail. This property is zoned Industrial General and is located adjacent to a City of Punta Gorda facility. Zoning allows for a multitude of options such as distribution center, boat/trailer sales-storage and more! Great access to downtown Punta Gorda, US41, Interstate 75 and Charlotte County Airport.

MLS: C7427738
Total Acres: 5.5
Listed Price: $375,000
30+ Acres Kings Hwy Corridor
SW Hwy 760 #D Arcadia, FL 34266
Secluded 30 + Acre wooded property just off Kings Hwy in Desoto County.. A perfect place for a private getaway cabin or your next home. Located in the much sought after Kings Highway (State Road 769) area with quick access to Port Charlotte, Interstate 75, or to the downtown Arcadia area. Sarasota and Gulf Beaches are just an hour away. CALL TODAY!

Total Acres: 30.90

MLS: C7431376

Listing Price: $415,000
250+ Acres Hwy 31
SE Hwy 31 Arcadia, FL 34266
250+ Acres on Hwy 31 with LOADS OF POTENTIAL and over 3,000ft of Hwy 31 frontage. Possible residential development opportunity with public water and sewer connections already in place nearby. This property is currently zoned PUD with a future land use of Urban Center. ONLY 5 minutes to Publix and Walmart off Hwy 70, 25 minutes to Babcock Ranch, and less than 30 minutes to I-75 or Florida’s West coast.

MLS: C7432151      
Total Acres: 250 Acres   
Sold Price: $1,400,o00  
22+ Acres Pastureland
SW Reynolds St. Arcadia, FL 34266
Beautiful 22+/- Acres of well-maintained pasture land with sprawling oaks. This property would make an incredible homesite with plenty of room for a barn and pond. It is zoned A-5. Bring your cattle, horses, or other livestock and enjoy this peaceful piece of land. Call today for a showing!

MLS: C7429697

Total Acres: 22.06

Listing Price: $278,000

50+ Acres Subdivided 10 Acre Tracts
3100 Martin Lane Arcadia, FL 34266
50 Acres already subdivided into Five-10 Acres tracts. A perfect piece of land for multiple family members to build. This property is located within minutes to Kings Hwy with convenient access to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and Arcadia. Don’t miss this opportunity! *Seller financing may be available

Total Acres: 50
MLS: C7430693
Listing Price: $650,000
5 and 10 Acre Parcels in Charlotte Park
8292 Holmes Blvd. Punta Gorda, FL 33982
8264 Duffie Dr. Punta Gorda, FL 33982
5 & 10 Acres Shovel-Ready in growing Charlotte County Airport Park. Bring your business! Infrastructures in place such as city water/sewer and storm water retention. ECAP Zoning (Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park) allows for a multitude of Industrial, Commercial, and Office uses. 10 Acre property has ~670’ of road frontage on the front and ~670’ of road frontage on back, can be divided. Less than 1 mile to Interstate 75 at Exit 161 and sits adjacent to Punta Gorda Airport.

8292 Holmes Blvd.
Total Acres: 5
MLS: C7427867
List price: $382,000

8264 Duffie Dr.
Total Acres: 10
MLS: C7427835
List Price: $763,000
About Walt Bethel
Walt Bethel is a fifth generation Floridian, born and raised in Arcadia, with a vast knowledge of all areas of Florida Real Estate and an ardent appreciation for Florida history.  
The purchase and development of his first orange grove when he was just sixteen years old fueled Walt's passion for real estate.  
Since then, he has bought, owned, and sold a wide variety of properties throughout a successful business career. His investments have included acreage, agricultural properties, residential homes, condos, and commercial properties. 
Walt's marketing and sales experience was cultivated over time at his family's business, Bethel Farms, where he marketed, managed, and sold products to "Big Box" retailers across the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
From an early age, Walt's dad instilled in him the values to work hard and always have a goal, to look for a better way of doing things, and to constantly improve on them.  
The daily implementation of these principles, coupled with his enjoyment of networking with new people and his experience in business, sales, and marketing, have contributed to Walt's success as a Realtor.
Walt has served on various boards and committees throughout the years. He has coached and actively supports local youth athletic programs and leagues. 
He and his wife Jill, also a fourth generation Floridian, reside in Punta Gorda. They have two children, a daughter Peyton and a son Truman.
Walt Bethel | RE/MAX Harbor Realty| 863.990.1748 ||