Home schooling is huge here and you should be able to find a group. My son is grown but I think the homeschoolers get together for school outings sports etc., If you don't want to home school, they have great private schools too.
If you are looking for land, it's all gone close to Springfield. At least for a reasonable price. South of Springfield is more hilly and pretty I think. North of town is starting to be the plains. I guess it depends on what you like. South of town is Ozark and Nixa, both of which have grown and almost become one with Springfield. That means if you want a few acres and chickens you will have to keep driving. Sparta, Clever, Billings, Highlandville are a few options if you hurry. If you are willing to drive 45 minutes to an hour then your options open up. I drive an hour to work one way but it's well worth it to live where I do. We have our animals, the beautiful hills and streams, no traffic, no noise other than the animals, and we are surrounded by nature. If you don't have to work in Springfield (say work from home on a computer or are retired) then Ozark county is still very rural and inexpensive and it is so beautiful. On the map, Gainsville would be the nearest town. As for winters, I'm sure it's all relative. We were caught in the blizzard coming back from Denver last year after visiting the National Stock show. I never want to do that again. We do have 4 distinct seasons and each is wonderful in it's own way. Murders, it's almost always a domestic thing and I guess people get mad everywhere. There is an element in some of the outter areas of people with, how should I say, different opinions. They may be running from the law, running from the blacks, running from the space ships, I don't know. But usually, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. Sometimes they end up killing each other after a hard night of drinking. But, your average citizen is usually not at risk.