Linda started her online business, the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm, as a joke. It was 1994 and she wanted to teach herself how to design a website. Since she lived on the prairie in southwest Kansas, where rolling tumbleweeds are sometimes the only dynamic feature of an endless flat horizon, she invented a farm that sold tumbleweeds, listing prices at $15 for a small one, $20 for a medium and $25 for large.
Lucky for her, some people didn’t get the joke. People emailed the site wanting to buy them. But even then Linda doubted she would be able to spin this straw into gold. “When I got an order I was just amazed,” she says, sitting on the porch of her home in Garden City, Kansas. “And each order I got, I thought it would probably be the last order. I remember thinking they would probably get them and send them back immediately as soon as they find out what they are.”
But that didn't happen. In fact, the orders just kept coming -- an average of 15 per week. Though she’s coy about her annual income from tumbleweed wrangling, she says it is over $40,000 a year. Not bad for a bunch of dead, dried-up weeds. Who buys them? Well, says Katz, rocket scientists, for one. NASA purchased tumbleweeds when they were designing their Mars Tumbleweed rover. “And if you go to their site on the NASA site to the tumbleweed rover, and you go to their links, they say that they only buy their tumbleweeds from Prairie Tumbleweed Farm,” Katz says proudly.