Sign up for email updates from Cooperative Farming News

Facebook Twitter Instagram
Home > Archives > October 2018

October 2018

2018 Division Awards

4-H Extension Corner: In Grandmother’s Kitchen

Raylen Hodges turns family recipes into cooking competition champions.

by Carolyn Drinkard
Raylen Hodges made her Aunt Rie Rie Cook’s cornbread recipe. This is one that she loves, so she enjoyed making it for the judges. 
Southern cooks have long known that wonderful things happen in their kitchens. Raylen Hodges understands this well. She has grown up cooking with her grandmother, Marilyn Yarbrough. In fact, her grandmother’s kitchen is one of her favorite places to be!

Raylen Hodges may only be 10 years old, but she has already become quite an accomplished cook. Her grandmother has made sure of that! The first meal the two ever cooked together was breakfast, preparing "eggs in a basket." After that, Yarbrough helped Raylen master eggs, bacon and quesadillas. Raylen also learned to bake brownies and cookies, again using favorite family recipes.

When Raylen entered fourth grade at Glencoe Elementary School in 2017, she joined 4-H. Naturally, she chose the cooking and baking project. When school competition time came around, Raylen excitedly entered the baking contests.

"I like sweets," she said, "so I cooked my great-grandmother’s teacake cookies and my great-aunt’s cornbread recipe." Her choices paid off, because she won first place at her school.

After this, Raylen was invited to enter the Etowah County 4-H baked foods contest. She practiced often in her grandmother’s kitchen, using one of their most treasured family favorites, the cornbread recipe.

"We ate her cornbread lots when she was practicing," laughed Marilyn Yarbrough, her grandmother. "This recipe is really like a complete meal, and our whole family likes it. She enjoyed making it for the judges, because she ate this at home and really liked it. She made it so much, she knew it by heart."

At the Etowah County 4-H competition, Raylen baked three different family recipes: teacake cookies, using a recipe that belonged to Cora Hanks, her great-grandmother; a Fresh Apple Caramel Cake and a cornbread recipe, from her great-aunt, Marie "Rie Rie" Cook. She was rewarded with another first place on the county level, also.

One of the judges at this event, Jennifer DeWeese, a local chef, thought the cornbread was so delicious that viewers from the "Talk of Alabama" TV show might enjoy it. Chef DeWeese, a regular on "Talk of Alabama," invited Raylen to the show, where the youngster cooked like a pro, using Dean’s Sausage, the sponsor of the segment.

Jenny Bishop, the 4–H Agent Assistant for Etowah County, has worked with Raylen throughout her 4-H journey. Bishop praised the youngster’s success.

"Raylen’s grandmother helps her so much, and they have a special relationship," said Bishop. "She is a very special child."

The Hodges family wanted Raylen to go even farther with her cornbread cooking, so they entered her in the 22nd National 4-H Cornbread Bake-off, held each April in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. The contest, sponsored by Lodge Cookware, Martha White and others, attracted 4-H youngsters from several states, and Raylen competed among other fourth-graders in her age division.
Raylen was inspired to cook by her grandmother Marilyn Yarbrough. Her grandmother’s kitchen is one of her favorite places to be. 
Over 100 cornbread recipes were submitted, but the judges chose 10, and Raylen’s was one of those selected. The 10 were then separated into two groups, with five cooking at a time before a judge. Each contestant had to use Lodge skillets and Martha White products.

"At first, I was nervous, "Raylen explained. "There were a lot of people there. They had more centers than we had back at home. But after I started cooking, I wasn’t nervous. I knew what to do because I had done it before in my grandmother’s kitchen."

Raylen Hodges was named the National 4-H Cornbread Champion in her division. The 10-year-old, from the Etowah County 4-H Program, won the hearts and taste buds of the judges with her "Tasty Pork, Veggies and Cheese Cornbread," a treasured recipe that her family has used for generations. She brought home $500, a medal, a bag filled with Lodge products, Dollywood tickets and many other gifts. Her grandmother even won a Lodge skillet!

Raylen said she was honored to be the National 4-H Cornbread Champion, but she gave all the credit to her grandmother.

"I learned so much about cooking from her," she said. "I love to cook, but I most like how a meal brings my whole family together to eat. On Sunday after church, my grandmother cooks fresh vegetables for us. I like for all of us to be together. My grandmother has taught me so much. I just like being with her in her kitchen."

Raylen also praised her 4-H experiences, which have taken her on quite an unexpected journey of self-discovery. "I really liked the baking and cooking project," she said, "but the 4-H competitions helped me so much. I am usually shy, but not anymore. I have become more social. I got up in front of so many people at all the contests that now I like being in front of people. I’m not scared anymore."

In fact, Raylen Hodges has now begun to make YouTube videos, hoping to earn enough college money to become a middle school teacher.

With her grandmother’s patient guidance, Raylen Hodges learned to bake a treasured family recipe. She has also won national recognition for her cooking skills. Most important, however, Raylen Hodges has spent precious moments in her grandmother’s kitchen, making memories that will last a lifetime.

Raylen’s Winning Recipe:

Tasty Pork, Veggies and Cheese Cornbread

  • 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Martha White Self-Rising Corn Meal
  • 1/4 cup Martha White Self-Rising Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ham, chopped in small cubes
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces creamed corn
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 10-inch Lodge Cast Iron skillet. In a separate Lodge Iron skillet, brown sausage and onion over high heat, breaking up sausage. Drain and set aside. In bowl, combine 1 cup Martha White cornmeal, 1/4 cup Martha White flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg, 1 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Combine egg mixture with dry ingredients (batter should not be smooth). Add to cornmeal mixture and mix browned sausage with onions, 1/2 cup cubes ham, 1/4 cup chopped green peppers, 2 1/2 ounces creamed corn, 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas. Spread evenly in greased skillet. Bake 30 minutes in 425-degree oven or until top is golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle bacon on top while hot. Serves 6-8.

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at

A Passion for Farming

Alabama Farm of Distinction winner DeLoach Farms is competing for Southeastern Farmer Of The Year.

When John DeLoach travels to the Sunbelt Ag Expo this month to compete for Southeastern Farmer of the Year, he will take a 200-year agricultural heritage, record-setting productivity and a plan for the future.

"What an honor it is to have the opportunity to take care of this land for a lifetime, and what a responsibility it is to pass that on to future generations," said DeLoach, who farms corn, soybeans and wheat with wife Kate and son Jess.

The Shelby County family was named Alabama’s Farm of Distinction in April, earning the right to compete against nine other top farmers for the regional title. DeLoach traces his passion for farming back to his grandparents.

"Before he died, my grandfather gave me a deep appreciation for the land," DeLoach said. "I was 13 when he passed away. Grandma talked about selling the farm, but I told her I’d come every day after school to help. At 16, when I graduated high school, I pretty much took over running the farm."

At that time, the small cattle farm near Vincent had been in the DeLoach family since 1820 and was plagued by erosion and infertility. John and Kate set out to make a life and a living on the land.

"Early in our marriage, we worked round the clock on the farm," recalled Kate.

The young couple began transitioning the farm to row crops in the late ‘90s. They also cleared land, established a 20-acre managed wetland and implemented other soil conservation measures.

"We were broke and didn’t have much equipment," DeLoach said. "The first year I planted corn with a two-row planter. I had a one-row ear snapper and a dump truck I built out of scrap material."

Two decades later, DeLoach Farms is among the most productive in central Alabama. The 1,325-acre spread includes 700 acres of soybeans and 235 acres of corn. This spring, DeLoach exceeded 90 bushels per acre on 200 acres of wheat, which was double cropped with soybeans. He expects this harvest to surpass last year’s 180-bushel corn and 65-bushel soybean yields.

DeLoach credits a willingness to learn for the farm’s success. He plants test plots with seed companies and university researchers and participates in leadership development activities with Alabama Farmers Federation and other groups.

These experiences are shaping the farm’s future. Shelby County is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, so the DeLoaches are looking to diversify. Jess has expressed an interest in beekeeping and agritourism, and this year the family planted a variety of grapes in two test vineyards. They also have chosen a picturesque location for a potential on-farm wedding venue.

"We talk about sustaining agriculture, and we’re probably not going to be able to continue row cropping in Shelby County," DeLoach said. "I’m excited to have Jess here, and he’s really interested in the vineyard and agritourism. There’s a huge learning curve involved, but we’re just going to start small, learn and grow from there."

As Alabama’s Farm of Distinction, the DeLoaches received a John Deere Gator from Ag Pro, SunSouth and TriGreen dealers; an engraved farm sign from Alfa Insurance; a pole barn from Register Barns; and a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative. At the Sunbelt Ag Expo, they’ll also receive $2,500 from Swisher International, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

The Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year will be announced Oct. 16 in Moultrie, Georgia, and receives $15,000 and other prizes.

A Real Hall of Famer

Louretta Wimberly holds a copy of the latest Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame program. 

Louretta Wimberly is recognized for a lifetime of service and dedication to the cause of civil rights.

by Alvin Benn

Mention voting rights to Louretta Wimberly and you’ll get an earful from an outspoken woman who once dug deep into her cash reserves to pay a $9 poll tax.

She came up with the money years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became the law of the land and white registrars did all they could to keep black citizens off the rolls.

Wimberly grew up in a house on the "other side of the tracks," needed every penny she could muster to get through college and begin her teaching career.

She has never forgotten those modest beginnings or her family’s financial plight, but her drive to excel helped to propel her through college, become a registered voter and, one day, establish herself as one of America’s most respected civil rights leaders.

"I was determined to vote and that was that," said Wimberly, a no-nonsense retired educator who is known and admired throughout Alabama for her many accomplishments.

Now, at the age of 85, she can look back on an eventful life that shows no signs of slowing down even if she needs a cane to get around.

When someone needs help, she doesn’t hesitate to step forward to do what she can. Race has never mattered, either.

Feisty is a good word to describe the energetic woman who doesn’t believe in wasting time. She understands her time continues to dwindle and is anxious to accomplish what she can do to meet her latest goals.

She’s been a fighter for equal rights for as long as she can remember, especially during the time when blacks were considered second-class citizens in a segregated society.

"I’ve never been a turn-the-other-cheek kind of person," she said recently. "You hit me and I’m gonna hit you back. My mother taught me at an early age that we’re all made in the image of God and have the same abilities if we just use them."

Segregation tested that "lesson" and, as a young girl, she quickly learned the "ground rules" of Southern society as she grew up.

"When we went into town we were taught how to conduct ourselves," she remembered. "That meant we had to move over and give white people room to get by on the sidewalk."

It was a time when blacks had to drink from "colored" water fountains and could not use restrooms in white-owned stores.

"My friends and I decided one day that we wanted to taste ‘white’ water, so we tried it," she said, with a laugh. "We made sure nobody saw us, of course, but we found that the same pipe carried water to all the water fountains and the taste was the same."

She closely followed changing times as she matured, and Montgomery’s yearlong bus boycott gave her hope that the same thing would happen in Selma.

Voting would turn out to be a different story, however, and it took more time to accomplish much-needed results.

Her family’s good reputation in Selma helped her get her foot in the door at the Dallas County Courthouse and she easily answered the toughest questions white registrars tossed in her direction.

She had already studied Alabama’s Constitution and was ready to recite part of it if asked, but that didn’t happen. Her familial "references" helped, too and since family members were among the most respected residents in town – white as well as black – it certainly helped.

The first time Wimberly was able to vote for governor was in 1958 and she cast her ballot for a man who became a symbol of segregation in Alabama. His name was George Wallace.
"Wallace was a liberal back in those days and I wasn’t going to vote for the other man because he was a segregationist," she said, referring to John Patterson, who defeated Wallace in a bitter election.

Wimberly was such a strong Wallace supporter that she campaigned for him in 1962 when he was finally elected governor.

That changed in a hurry, especially with Wallace’s "segregation forever inaugural speech."
Although she is a loyal Democrat, Wimberly said she avoids straight-ticket voting because "I vote for the person I think will do the best job."

As a young woman she was on a first-name basis with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was no stranger when he arrived in Selma in January 1965 to lead the voting rights movement.
These medallions were presented to “Foot Soldiers For Justice” as awards for their participation in the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. 
"We all knew each other because of family relationships," Wimberly recalled. "That helped because it was as though we were all from the same neighborhood."

Wimberly wasn’t in Selma when "Bloody Sunday" occurred March 7, 1965. She was on her way to a small Florida town where she was a teacher.

She had her car radio on and could hear reports about what was happening on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The closer she got, the angrier she became and wanted to turn around and head back to Selma.

When she called her relatives, they told her to stay where she was and cool down because "they thought I’d be in jail by the time the sun set."

"My mother said it would be too dangerous for me to come back home right then," Wimberly said. "I was angry and upset because they were hurting people and then I remembered that anger doesn’t get you anywhere."

What she did was take an extended leave of absence from her teaching position and stayed in Selma to help with plans for the Selma to Montgomery march.

She said her mother made biscuits for the marchers and she spent much of her time driving protesters back and forth between the two cities.

She met Detroit housewife Viola Liuzzo who did the same thing and was killed the night the march ended when Ku Klux Klansmen shot her on U.S. 80 near Lowndesboro.

When the voting rights movement ended she resumed her teaching duties and launched a personal mission – documenting historic black edifices.

One was Selma’s black First Baptist Church that was all but destroyed by a tornado. The church played an important role in Selma’s voting rights efforts and she wasn’t going to allow it to die.

Wimberly also helped establish the Black Heritage Council, which is an arm of the Alabama Historical Commission and focuses on preservation of African-American historic sites.

As chairwoman of the council, Wimberly worked to nominate the route from Selma to Montgomery as a National Historic Trail.

Frank White, former director of the Alabama State Historical Commission, said Wimberly was a "passionate preservationist" who continues to work to preserve historic sites because they hold special meanings to her.

It dates to her previous involvement in Selma’s teacher movement of the 1960s.

Wimberly has received numerous awards for her humanitarian efforts and they keep her going as time drains her energy at times, but it seems nothing can cause her to completely retire.

"It’s something I’ve been doing for years, documenting the culture of the civil rights movement as well as contributions by Alabama’s black population."

Wimberly sees a parallel between what happened in Selma and the founding of America "because the pilgrims came here for freedom."

"It’s as though God has devised a special plan for us," she said. "The movie about Selma couldn’t come at a better time because it reminds us of the importance of our democratic way of life."

Wimberly may be cutting back a bit on her workload, but she has no plans of hanging it up, not with "more to do" if she’s needed.

Alabama hasn’t forgotten her, either, because a few weeks ago she was selected for inclusion in the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. It’s quite an honor and well deserved.

Wimberly and other honorees were honored at an induction ceremony at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery.

The program distributed at the event noted that since her retirement in 1991 she has dedicated her life and work to community service.

Former Selma Mayor George Evans nominated her for inclusion in the Hall of Fame and it was pointed out that she has served as a Red Cross volunteer for veterans and families for more than 10 years.

The Citizens Hall of Honor was created by the Alabama Legislature July 28, 1983, and, in 2008, it became a part of the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor and recognize Alabamians for their outstanding accomplishments, service and contributions in the lives of older Americans.

It’s a requirement that Louretta Wimberly passed with ease.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

A World Class Herb

Cat’s claw has found use in treating many conditions, from arthritis to the immune system.

by Nadine Johnson

Cat’s claw (Una de Gato) is a woody vine which is found in the jungles of Central and South America. It gets this perfect name because of its claw-shaped thorns. I have seen this interesting and very beneficial plant growing in a fellow herbalist’s garden. It seemed to be very much at home growing in an apparently rotting log.

A cousin called me from Goshen. He had attended the wake of a deceased acquaintance. There he saw and chatted with another former schoolmate. This friend was singing the praises of cat’s claw. She had begun to take it for her arthritis. It had provided much relief for her aches and pains.

My research has revealed that at least one laboratory test has determined that it is beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis as well as osteoarthritis. For a period of 24 weeks the patients were given the herb and their condition was monitored closely. There was a marked improvement in their morning stiffness and the number of aching joints.

Soon after talking with my cousin my son and daughter-in-law dropped in. I told them the story. Lynn (my daughter-in-law) replied, "That’s what John Day (John R. M. Day, M.D.) told me to take while I was taking chemotherapy. He said it would prevent my white blood count from dropping which would have prevented treatments for a period. It worked."

Cat’s claw is considered a world class herb. It can boost the immune system at the same time it is relieving aches and pains.

I have mentioned John Day before and here is more about him. He is the son of my longtime employer, Jane M. Day, M.D. John was 3 years old when I became his mother’s office nurse. Long ago I began to consider him "one of my children."

John and I share a strong interest in the use of herbs and other alternatives. He retired from a twenty-year practice of general, vascular and trauma surgery in 2001. He now has a holistic medicine consultation practice in Crestone, Colorado.

Once again, I suggest you consult with your physician before taking alternatives.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 251-644-5473, or by email at

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

USDA Adds New Tools, Resources to Website

Agricultural producers have new resources available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website,, to prepare for and recover from impacts of natural disasters. The site has updated tools and information to help agricultural producers identify the right programs and make decisions for their operations.

New additions to the site include a portal for secure business transactions and a disaster assistance discovery tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs.

The portal is the first edition of a secure dashboard for producers to manage program applications and other USDA documents.

The new resources are in addition to others currently available through the website, including a service center location, information about the new 2017 wildfire and hurricanes indemnity program, the regularly updated blog, and a soil health webpage.

Strong Turkey Exports Expected
This Year With Mexico Volume Up

After dipping in January 2016 to their lowest level since 2010, turkey exports have crept upward with the key recovery happening in Mexico, the largest destination for U.S. turkey shipments.
Although the United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of turkey meat, overseas sales dropped sharply after the 2015 outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. That incident resulted in significant animal losses and the temporary or partial closing of key export markets.

For most of the last decade, more than half of U.S. turkey exports have gone to Mexico, with the share reaching as high as 74 percent of all shipments in July 2014.

As exports have recovered, the share of shipments going to Mexico has generally risen as well, apart from seasonal patterns.

With domestic prices remaining below historical levels and cold storage stocks still high, the export market is expected to remain an attractive option for producers. Exports have averaged 11 percent of production over the last 12 months, up from just under 10 percent in the previous 12-month period.

Annually, exports are expected to grow further in 2018 to 663 million pounds, a 7 percent increase over 2017. But export analysts expect turkey meat exports in 2019 will total 655 million pounds, a 1 percent decline from the strong export totals predicted this year.

Morocco to Allow U.S. Poultry Product Imports

U.S. officials have announced the government of Morocco has agreed to allow commercial imports of U.S. poultry meat and products into that nation for the first time.

The United States is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, with global sales of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year.

Initial estimates indicate Morocco would be a $10 million market, with additional growth over time. Morocco earlier had prohibited imports of U.S. poultry.

Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture worked with the Moroccan government to provide assurances on the safety of U.S. poultry.

Spending Down on Federal Food Programs

Federal spending on 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs totaled $98.6 billion in fiscal 2017, 4 percent less than the previous fiscal year and almost 10 percent less than the historical high of $109.2 billion set in fiscal 2013.

USDA administers the programs that together form a nutritional safety net for millions of children and low-income adults.

Fiscal 2017’s decline likely was due primarily to continued growth in the U.S. economy.
Spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounted for 69 percent of federal food and nutrition assistance spending in fiscal 2017, totaled $68.0 billion, or 4 percent less than in fiscal 2016 and 15 percent less than the historical high of $79.9 billion set in fiscal 2013.

Outlays for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) fell to $5.6 billion in fiscal 2017, 6 percent less than in fiscal 2016.

Spending on the three largest child nutrition programs – the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program – remained about the same.

Loans, Grants Announced for Two Alabama Communities

Two Alabama communities will receive funds from USDA’s rural development for upgrades to water and waste disposal facilities.

The Beulah Utilities District will receive a $1.229 million grant and a $4.42 million loan to replace 8.3 miles of water mains, install two elevated water storage tanks and improve a booster pump station.

The City of Sampson will receive a $935,000 grant and a $1.585 million loan to add 52,500 feet of eight-inch water line and 41,700 feet of six-inch line to connect some 140 homes now on individual wells. The city also will install a new well to meet the increase in demand.

The Alabama grants and loans are part of 103 projects in 35 states in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. The projects total $267 million.

USDA is encouraging rural communities and water districts to apply for loans to rebuild infrastructure. Four billion dollars is available in the program.

Surplus Sugar Stocks Increasing

Favorable growing conditions in South and Southeast Asia have raised global sugar production forecasts for the 2017/18 marketing year, increasing the estimated production surplus for the global sugar market to its highest level in several decades.

Production surplus can be defined as global sugar production minus the amount of sugar consumed each year. A positive production surplus results in rising stocks of sugar held in storage around the world, which puts downward pressure on global sugar prices.

Production in 2018/19 is projected to decrease from the previous year but still be sizable by historical standards due to higher production forecasts for India and Thailand in particular. As a result, supplies are projected to outpace use and increase global stocks-to-use ratios, limiting opportunities for price increases in world sugar futures markets, which have been falling since October 2016.

The average world futures contract price in the April-to-June quarter was 11.91 cents per pound, 21.5 percent lower than the previous year.

Views on Trade Policies Differ Widely

If you want to know the consensus on President Donald Trump’s plan to deal with trade inequities by levying tariffs on various products from China and other nations, be assured you can find viewpoints to match whatever bias you may have on the subject.

A review of news releases, interviews and reports from a variety of sources shows there is no lack of opinions out there.

Not surprisingly, the President is putting his actions in a favorable light with his own statements and those from key officials such as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Republican Members of Congress and some farm organization leaders.

A careful reading of some statements from those outside government suggests those making them wanted to acknowledge the goals of the Administration’s policies without giving them an outright endorsement. Similarly, some farm leaders have expressed thanks for the Administration’s announced $12 billion program to alleviate the impact on producers from retaliatory actions against U.S. farm commodities while also noting their goals are long-term trade agreements and expanded markets.

But there’s the other side, too, with even some conservative news media carrying reports about the crippling effects of trade wars, lost markets and downward pressure on commodity prices. With support from many farm groups, the bipartisan Farmers for Free Trade organization has been actively reporting critical comments and questions raised in the media and by their own members.

The impact of the trade policies on Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Citizen also depends on who’s doing the talking. There are stories about U.S. businesses being revived because tariffs on goods from unfair trading partners have enabled them to compete again. But there also are warnings about higher consumer prices on everything from imported electronics to canned beverages.

Barring a sudden end to the trade dispute, which most observers don’t anticipate, the best measure of public reaction likely will be the results of the November midterm elections.

Bama's Best Fried Chicken

From left are Drew Money, Maricia Brown and Michael Money of the Chicken Shack; Alabama Poultry & Egg Association Associate Director Ray Hilburn; and Alabama Poultry Producers Director Guy Hall. 
by Mary Johns

Every week in the small town of Luverne, 2,000 pounds of chicken are marinated, deep-fried and served up to happy patrons at the Chicken Shack.

The popular poultry purveyor, located along U.S. Highway 331, recently claimed the title of Bama’s Best Fried Chicken in a contest hosted on "Simply Southern TV’s" Facebook page.
"We always knew we had a good product, but we were overwhelmed to see so many people vote for us," said Chicken Shack co-owner Michael Money. "Even people from out of state voted because they stop here on the way to the beach. It seems like once people have tried our chicken, they always come back."

The Chicken Shack has been a Luverne staple since Nick and Dot Nichols opened it in 1968. Henry Money was the restaurant’s second owner before he handed the reins over to his sons, Michael and Drew.

"Since 1968, we’ve used the same marinade and breading for our chicken. It hasn’t let anybody down, so we’re not going to change it," said Drew.

Contest sponsors Alabama Poultry and Egg Association (APEA) and the Alabama Poultry Producers awarded a plaque and $300 in prize money to the Chicken Shack.

"A restaurant that serves a ton of chicken every week is definitely doing something right, and we’re proud to recognize the folks at the Chicken Shack for all the work they do to keep people well-fed with quality meals," said Alabama Poultry Producers Director Guy Hall. "Poultry is an important business in the state. Alabama is second in the nation in producing broiler chickens."

The Chicken Shack beat out seven other restaurants in a bracket-style tournament to claim the title of Bama’s Best Fried Chicken. Finalists were selected through Facebook nominations.

In its three contest matchups, the Chicken Shack racked up nearly 12,000 votes. For comparison, Luverne’s population sits around 2,800 – one of whom is APEA Associate Director Ray Hilburn.

"I’ve been a loyal customer of the Chicken Shack through the years, and I’m very proud of the Money family. They have done so much for the Luverne community," Hilburn said. "We process 21 million chickens a week in Alabama. Poultry is an affordable, healthy product, and no one makes it better than the Chicken Shack."

The Chicken Shack’s hours are 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Guests can dine-in, call-in or order at the walk-up window. The restaurant also caters and has a private dining room for special events.

Watch "Simply Southern TV" show 426 at for a segment on the Chicken Shack.

Mary Johns is co-host of Simply Southern TV.

Bat Guano and Other Stuff

This tiny skipper is coming in for a landing. “I’m a bat!” 

by Herb T. Farmer

Oh, yes. This is the time of year when the air gets a little crisper and the leaves begin to fall; compost heaps begin to grow, and idiot drivers seem to need their medication adjusted!

Yeah, I got t-boned, and I do not mean "had steak for dinner." Seems the driver was more concerned with getting the child to soccer practice on time than getting the child to soccer practice safely.

Oh, there were no injuries to the kid or yours truly, but my truck is bent beyond economical repair and so is the driver’s car with the plastic front end. The inattentive driver got a bloody nose from the air bag being deployed, although my evil twin which lives in my mind wishes he’d done it!

It’s kind of sad to see my old Ford go away. I’m not too keen on buying a new truck. The old one served me just fine since 1996.

Well, speaking of crazy, let’s talk a little bit about fertilizers. I got an email from a reader back in April of this year and he wanted to know my take on bat guano fertilizer. No, I didn’t mean to imply that my reader or his question was crazy. In fact, it is a great question about a very mild organic plant food. Also, I always appreciate my readers and their emails.
“Bat Watching is one of my tiny art collection pieces.” 
I answered his email right away, but I think I should write about it now, especially after being exposed to so many bat guano crazy people lately!

My first experience with bat guano was back in the mid-80s when a friend of mine bought a small container of the fertilizer from an ad he saw in High Times magazine. (Don’t even ask.) It seems that this stuff was harvested from a cave in Middle Tennessee, mixed with leaves and other organic materials and allowed to compost for a few months. My friend and I found the factory (so to speak) and drove up there to meet the fellow. That was so long ago, all I remember about where it was is somewhere in a valley, in the middle of nowhere, on a two-lane highway.

As it turned out, the factory was at a garden shop across the highway from where the fellow harvested the magic mess from the floor of the bat cave.

An interesting guy, he was. He lived in a little cabin behind his store, along with his wife and children. The garden shop was small and sold a wide variety of plants, some that he grew and some that he bought from a wholesale nursery nearby. An interesting, and somewhat frightening, feature at the nursery was that the ceiling in the main part of the building was made from homemade, reinforced lattice and was a floor for part of a loft. In the loft were a couple of cats … Large cats! Yes. The couple had two full-grown mountain lions (Puma concolor) that they raised from cubs.

Finally, the business owner, who was obviously a seasoned stoner and a little bat guano crazy himself, showed us how he mixed his magical fertilizer.

He said he would go into the cave about three times a year to harvest the guano from the floor. Each time he went in he would bring back two five-gallon buckets of the fresh stuff and would make several trips into the tunnels until he had enough buckets to fill his pickup truck bed.

Then he brought the truckload to his backyard where he had a large concrete pad for mixing with the organic matter. He would mix it all up with his tractor, then cover the piles with tarps.

About twice a month, the piles were uncovered, watered for several hours with a sprinkler system and covered again.

At the end of three months he had his final product. He, his wife, and their children all packaged the fertilizer by hand. First it was scooped into a small clear plastic bag, weighed (8 ounces), then placed into colorful boxes. The whole operation, from manufacturing to point of sale, was done right there on his property.
Gulf Fritillary (Agaraulis vanillae). Signs of autumn. 
This was before the current era of asking if it had an organic certification. It didn’t but was. I remember asking him what the NPK value was, and surprisingly, he told me that he had samples tested at the Extension Office. It tested at 8–2–1.

What a hoot! I’m glad I could share that adventure with you. I’ve told about it so many times that most of my friends have heard it at least once.

Let’s have some comfort food this evening!

After supper, after wine, after the radio program goes off and I’m gathering the cats for bedtime, sometimes I want a simple sweet snack.

Tonight it’s "Loaded Cinnamon Toast" with lots of that evil old processed cane sugar! It’s one of my simple pleasures in life.

Two slices of bread; butter one side; sprinkle 1 Tbsp + white sugar on top and dust with cinnamon. Toast in broiler or a toaster oven until the sugar begins to bubble. Eat!
I love this month because, like I’ve been telling y’all since 2011, October offers me a chance to visit my dear lady-Wicca friends and attend their monthly meeting (Third Saturday) of the Women’s Weekend Witches Society (WWWS). That always gets me going! I think I’ll take some popcorn balls to the event!

I hope your October is filled with that kind of enjoyment and friends. Stay away from those batty folks!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at: "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."

Ben Maples Wins Inaugural Forage Spokesperson Contest

Ben Maples 
Ben Maples believes in making the most of forage on his family’s registered Angus farm in Elkmont. An eighth-generation farmer, he knows counting costs and measuring results are key to keeping the farm around for the next generation.

A presentation on how forage fits into his farming operation was something new for Maples, who is Alabama Farmers Federation State Young Farmers committee chairman. However, his effort won first place in the Federation’s inaugural Forage Spokesperson Contest.

"I enjoyed the contest," Maples said. "It made me take another look at how we handle our operation and made me rethink things in a different manner."

During the Federation’s Commodity Producers Conference in August, Maples and other contestants gave 15-minute presentations emphasizing how forage management contributes to their farm objective and marketing. Presentations were followed by a Q&A session with judges and audience members.

Monroe County’s Tim Tucker was runner-up in the contest, and Andy Sumners of Marshall County received honorable mention.

"Knowing how much a forage program costs per acre, what it costs per pound to produce calves, and what the break-even sale price is for cattle are some of the key factors in forage production," Maples said.

In addition to an overview of his forage and cattle businesses, Maples’ presentation emphasized the significance of forage costs in a livestock operation. Controlling costs is especially important during tough marketing times, he said.

As the state winner, Maples won free registration, transportation and lodging for the American Forage and Grassland Council Forage Spokesperson Contest in St. Louis, Missouri. The contest will be in January and attracts entrants throughout the country.

Judges for the Alabama contest were Federation State Hay & Forage Committee Chairman Steve Stroud; Dr. Leanne Dillard, Alabama Cooperative State Extension Forage Specialist; and David Allen, Alabama Farmers Cooperative Livestock Feed Product Specialist.

Stroud said the experience was interesting and educational.

"It was tough to be a judge," he said. "I especially liked the Q&A portion of the contest because everyone was really interested in the different presentations. There were a lot of questions. It was a great learning experience for me and for the audience members, too."

Over 4 million acres are devoted to forage production in Alabama, eclipsing all other crops combined.

Carpenter Claims Excellence in Agriculture Award

Samantha Carpenter of Madison in Limestone County won the Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture contest at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 46th Commodity Producers Conference in Montgomery Aug. 4. Carpenter will receive a zero-turn mower from Dow AgroSciences and a computer package from Valcom/CCS Wireless. From left are Federation President Jimmy Parnell and Carpenter. 
Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s (AFC) Samantha Carpenter claimed the Excellence in Agriculture award in August during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Annual Commodity Conference.

Carpenter, a Madison native, pinpointed several agriculture issues that impact Alabama and how to overcome them. Carpenter deals with these issues firsthand as she serves as AFC’s Digital Media and Public Relations Manager.

"Samantha is an invaluable asset to AFC and its members," said Jim Allen, vice president of advertising." During her six years at AFC, Samantha has worked hard to combat current agriculture issues and place AFC and agriculture in a positive spotlight."

Carpenter competed against six other participants. Excellence in Agriculture participants are involved in agriculture but derive more than half their income off the farm.

Competing in Excellence in Agriculture for two years gave me a better appreciation of Alabama’s agriculture, said Carpenter.

"To compete against some of the best agricultural advocates in the state is humbling," said Carpenter. "Seeing the drive and passion young farmers and professionals have for our industry within the state makes me excited to take that momentum and represent Alabama at the national level."

Carpenter will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Meeting in New Orleans during January.

Chef's Corner:SouthFresh Farms Louisiana Alligator

Pick up or request a bag at your local Co-op.

by Brian Taylor

SouthFresh recently added Louisiana farm-raised alligator meat to its branded seafood portfolio. Alligator meat has become a staple in many Southern- and Cajun-themed restaurants over the past years. Generally, these meats are served fried as an appetizer with a dipping sauce. As Southfresh alligator meat sales continued to grow with an established loyal customer base it was time to create SouthFresh Alligator bag. The eye-catching, bright green background with blue lettering features an image of an alligator seemingly walking across the bag. SouthFresh alligator can be requested for purchase at your local Co-op.


  • Yield: 4- 4oz servings
  • 1 lb SouthFresh Alligator Meat
  • 8 oz Fish Fry, such as Zatarains
  • Oil for frying
Preheat oil to 350o. Prepare alligator by cutting into 1-1½ inch pieces. Place pieces and fish fry in a gallon zip bag and shake well to coat. Dust off excess breading and fry, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown and floating, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.


  • Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 recipe Fried SouthFresh Alligator
  • 1 loaf of French bread, cut into four equal portions and split
  • 6 oz lettuce, shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 oz dill pickle
  • 2 oz mayonnaise (tartar, horseradish, etc. are great too!)
  • Sliced red onion, to taste
Toast French bread and coat with your favorite sauce. Layer other ingredients, topping off with hot, fried alligator.


  • Yield: 4 – 8" servings
  • 1 lb SouthFresh Alligator
  • 3 oz blackening spice, such as Blackened Redfish Magic
  • 1 ea – red, yellow and green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 4 oz red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 ea Jalapeno, diced, if desired (removing the membrane and seeds takes away most of the heat)
  • 8 ea 8" flour Tortillas
  • 8 oz pepperjack or cheddar/jack cheese
  • Pan spray or butter for toasting.
Cut alligator into 1-2 inch pieces and coat well with blackening spice. In a hot pan, sear until the outside has a nice crust and interior is cooked through, roughly 2 minutes per side, remove from pan and reserve. Add onion and peppers to the same pan and cook until softened, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Assemble quesadillas by laying out four tortillas, make a layer using half of the cheese, layer peppers and onions, 4 oz of alligator on each and finish with remaining cheese. Place a tortilla on top and toast in buttered pan or griddle until golden brown on the outside and all cheese is melted, around 4 minutes on a medium low heat.


  • Yield: 6 – 6" skewers (approximately, you can bulk up the veggies to stretch it)
  • 1 lb SouthFresh Alligator, cut into 1½" pieces
  • 1 lb of your favorite veggies (peppers, onions, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.) cut into 1½" pieces
  • 6-8 skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 8 oz marinade (recipe follows)
Alternately place alligator and veggies on skewer. When complete, marinate in refrigerator at least one hour, no more than 24 hours. When ready to cook, remove kabobs and let them come to room temperature. Preheat broiler to 425o or grill to a medium high heat. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until alligator is cooked through.


  • Yield: 8 oz
  • 4 oz olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 1 oz fresh herb of your choice (basil, thyme, oregano, etc.) dry herbs are fine, but cut amount to 1 T total.
  • 1 T Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T honey
Combine well.

Brian Taylor CEC, CCE is the corporate executive chef for SouthFresh Farms.

Corn Time



by John Sims

It’s calf feeding time again! Time to wean and precondition your calves to maximize your gain and profit. In addition to your vaccination protocol, the feed you select to grow your cattle is of the greatest importance. There are many types of feed available, but only one that delivers proven, consistent weight gain and feed efficiency that outperforms commodities. CPC Grower 13R combines convenience, performance, and profitability in the premier calf feeding program in Alabama.

CPC GROWER 13R is a bulk textured feed designed to be fed in a free choice feeder to growing calves from the creep stage (250#), through the preconditioning stage (750#).

  • Feed at a rate of 1.1 to 2.9 pounds per 100 lbs. of body weight per day.
  • 13 percent protein, 3.5 percent fat, 24 percent fiber
  • This feed contains steam flaked corn to maximize the digestible energy.
  • There is effective fiber, to slow down the nutrient passage rate in the rumen and maximize feed efficiency.
  • The correct protein to energy ratio assures your calves will meet their genetic potential for frame and muscle without getting too fleshy.
  • The complete vitamin/mineral package ensures animal health, efficient nutrient utilization and better overall animal performance. Key trace minerals are chelated for better absorption.
  • Rumensin is added for increased weight gain, improved feed efficiency, and to aid in prevention of coccidiosis.
There are many copycat feeds on the market, but only one CPC GROWER 13R that has years of field testing and has proven its performance on thousands of Alabama calves. So, stop by your local Quality Co-op store and ask about CPC GROWER 13R for your farm and prepare to be amazed at what your calves can do.

John Sims is a products specialist for AFC’s Feed, Farm & Home department. He can be contacted at 256-260-3433 or


Extension Agents for Bookkeeping

Farmers see how farm financial reports tell their good or not-so-good story.

by Robert Page

Extension Agents have been helping farmers for a lot of years. Now there are Extension agents who can help teach you how to keep good financial records.

There’s an old saying in business that "what gets measured, gets managed." In order to measure financial and operational farm success, you’ve got to have some kind of records. Unfortunately, many Alabama producers seem to keep financial records with a shoebox full of receipts, bank deposit slips and expenses that they turn over to their accountant at the end of the year to fill out a tax return. In my experience working with farmers, trying to manage a farm using a tax return doesn’t make much sense to me.

Some farmers might say, "I carry all I need to know in my head to manage my farm." Well, that’s fine and good until human nature tells us to forget the bad and only remember the good decisions you made about the farm. Nobody wants to remember the bad decisions that cost money and hurt the farm.

There is a better way. Regional Extension Agents from the Farm and Agribusiness Management team can provide educational programs to help you to set up good records using one of three methods:

  1. Pencil and paper Farm Book
  2. Excel farm records
  3. QuickBooks Pro software
Each bookkeeping method has its strengths and weaknesses. However, all produce financial records that you can use to make informed decisions, rather than relying on your memory only. When human nature wants you to forget some bad decisions, financial records don’t forget.

As Extension Agents, we’re not trying to make farmers into accountants. We are trying to train you or someone in your family as farm bookkeepers. If that’s not an option, we can explain options for hiring an outside bookkeeper/accounting firm to do the books for you at a price you can manage. While most farmers are jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none in many ways, even experienced farmers often decide to use outside help to get something done.

This year, our team has been working with both new and experienced farmers on their books. As any farmer and small-business owner knows, there are two basic financial statements that tell the financial story, for better or worse, on a yearly basis. Those two primary reports are:

  1. Farm Balance Sheet or Net Worth Statement
  2. Farm Income Statement or Profit and Loss Report
We hear stories all the time about farmers sitting down with their loan officer and giving them a tax return as their only financial records. Then the loan officer has to make decisions on loaning the farmer money on incomplete information. Sometimes, the loan officer and farmer have to try to calculate a Balance Sheet and other reports to try to determine whether the farmer can pay back the loan on schedule.

With all the farmers we have worked with this year who were using QuickBooks software, their Balance Sheets and Income Statements had serious bookkeeping mistakes and omissions. As we’ve worked with these farmers, we’ve fixed mistakes and found solutions to their questions. We have found ways to save time on data entry, improve paper and electronic files and produce useful financial reports.

With accurate financial and production records, farmers can see exactly how many bushels of corn and soybeans they sold last year. They can see exactly how much money was spent on propane in the last six months. If they want to compare how much money was made on row crop versus poultry last year, there’s a report for that. If they want to put in a forecast or budget and get actual versus budgeted reports, they can do that. All it takes is training and a commitment to good financial records.

There is a better way to keep financial reports than in your head and in your shoebox. If you and your farm need some help on your books, just call your local Extension office and ask for a Farm & Agribusiness Management Regional Agent to call you to discuss your situation. There’s no cost for this service. We’re just the Extension Agents for Bookkeeping, and we’re here to help Alabama producers.

Robert Page, CPA, REA II, is a regional Extension agent with Farm & Agribusiness Management.

Fall is for Fairs, Festivals and Food Safety

by Angela Treadaway

Fall is just around the corner and communities will soon be offering hayrides, pumpkin picking, fall festivals, craft shows and more. When thinking about these fall activities, many people start to crave iconic fall festival food, such as apple pies, hot spiced cider and pumpkin-flavored everything. I love going to these fall festivals and enjoying the treats, but I wondered about the food safety practices of these types of food establishments and food vendors and how safe their food might be. Many of the vendors often travel throughout the state to these events in trucks or trailers. Think of state and local carnivals that like the state and local fairs too. They have food vendors that travel and should be inspected by the local health department in each spot they stop in for the week.

Here are a few things to consider when you are thinking about buying food from any vendor to ensure you are eating safe food:

  • Is the food prepared in front of you? It is good for the food to be prepared in front of the consumer, so they can see that safe and sanitary food handling practices are followed.
  • Is the workspace where the food is prepared clean and tidy? Messy workspaces can cause cross-contamination between foods cooked throughout the day as workers may be more likely to use a surface or utensil that has not been sanitized.
  • Do the employees have a sink to wash their hands? Germs can pass from hands to food. Good hygiene of the employees can prevent any transmission of these germs into food prepared for consumers. If the vendor isn’t in a vehicle, is there a place nearby for the employees to wash their hands?
  • Do the employees use gloves or tongs to prepare and serve the food? This practice prevents any contamination by the food handlers. Food not being handled directly by the employees protects the consumer from any germs and contamination on the employees’ hands.
  • Are different foods prepared in the same area? If they are, there is a possibility of cross-contamination, which can cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Is there a refrigerator to keep raw ingredients? Food sitting out for more than two hours can be filled with harmful bacteria. It is essential for food to be kept in the right containers at the right temperature to keep it safe for consumers to eat.
There are a few questions for consumers to consider for vendors who travel around from one festival to another:

  • Has the vendor been inspected by the health department? If the vendor has been approved there will be a posted permit where the public can see.
  • Is there proof of the recent inspection from the health department attached to the permit? Each vendor is inspected and permitted by the health department to prove that the vendor has fulfilled the minimum requirements to be open for the public to safely consume the food.
  • If a vendor passes all the questions, the food should be safe to enjoy. Enjoy the food at your community’s fall festivals even more by knowing that the food they are serving is the safest it can be.


Do not get tricked by unwanted bacteria that can make you sick. Avoid uninvited bugs that can ruin your party. Here are food safety tips to have a Happy Halloween!

Tips for Parents Before Trick-or-Treating:

  • Children should not snack while out trick-or-treating. Give them a snack or light meal before going out.
  • Tell children not to accept –and, especially, not to eat – anything that is not commercially wrapped.
Trick-or-Treating Food Safety Tips:

  • Trick-or-treaters should wait until they get home and their parents can check their candy before they eat.
  • Discard homemade treats unless they are from someone you know.
  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  • Discard any goodies with open or torn wrapping.
Consider alternative treats to give:

  • packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut butter
  • packaged fruit leather
  • mini boxes of raisins
  • packages of hot chocolate mix
  • microwaveable popcorn
What to serve at a Halloween party:

  • If having food catered, make sure you are working with a reputable caterer and have properly working chafing dishes to keep hot food hot.
  • Keep hot foods hot at a safe temperature of 140o or above.
  • Keep cold foods cold. Make sure there is plenty of room in your refrigerator to store cold food before, during and after the party. The refrigerator should be 40o or cooler to prevent bacterial growth.
  • If the refrigerator is too crowded, store and cool drinks in coolers with ice.
  • If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.
What food to bring to a Halloween party:

  • Keep cold food cold, and hot food hot.
  • Choose simple dishes that can be put in a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packages.
  • Any foods that have been cooked ahead of time and need to be reheated like meatballs and chicken wings need to be heated to 165o in a microwave oven.
  • Fresh vegetables should be washed well before serving.

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.

FFA Sentinel: Hitting the Ground Running

Ariton High School FFA is off to a strong start to the new school year.

by Shelby Windham and Hollie Arnett
FFA cookies are a great way to reach out to new members. 
The Ariton FFA chapter officers and adviser, Shelby Windham, have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming year of fun and educational activities for their members. At the end of July, the officers helped host the eighth annual Ariton FFA Alumni Golf Tournament at Dothan National Golf Club in Dothan, Alabama. Before the tournament, officers sold sponsorships to different businesses for $100 each, which allowed them a sign advertising their businesses throughout the golf course. Participants paid $180 for a three-person scramble team. The Ariton FFA Chapter raised $10,000! The money raised will help to send the officers to the 90th annual Alabama State FFA Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, from June 5 through 8. They will use the remainder of the money to send the officer team to the 91st Annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, from Oct. 23 to 27, 2018.
Ariton FFA golf tournament involves the community in a fun and interactive activity that provides a tremendous fundraising opportunity for the chapter. 
Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last forever and school started back the second week of August. On the third week of school, Aug. 20 through 24, the officers held a recruitment week, also known as a membership drive. On Monday, officers started recruiting. The officer team passed out recruitment fliers and visited with all the seventh-12th-graders during break, paying special attention to the young high-school students. The officers answered questions that potential members had and let them know what they could expect out of the school year if they joined.

The officers gave out Popsicles Tuesday to paid FFA members and encouraged potential members to attend the FFA meeting at 1:30. The officer team held our first chapter meeting of the year, where we introduced the new officers and discussed many of the future activities and fundraisers going on throughout the year, such as mum, fruit and strawberry fundraisers, Sun Belt Ag Expo field trip, Program of Activities (POA) committees, CDEs, LDEs and TDEs, to the 132 potential members present. We also encouraged members to attend the first Ariton FFA Alumni Cookout that was held Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, before our first football game.
Ariton FFA adviosr Shelby Windham poses for a photo with a slice of FFA cake at the alumni cookout. 
Sausage biscuits were given out Wednesday. On Thursday we had a sheet cake made and handed out cake, and Friday we gave out gold and blue leis to follow along with the school spirit day since it was our first home game of the season. At the alumni cookout, we ended up having 26 alumni and 42 current members attend. Hamburgers, hotdogs, sides and desserts were served. It was a blast and it was a great start to the school year.

The Ariton FFA Chapter recruitment week was a great way to start our school year. Over the past couple of years we have only had 65 members in total, but at the end of recruitment week we had 126 paid members. As we reflected on the week together as an officer team, we all concluded that this year is going to be one that we will never forget.

Shelby Windham is the FFA adviser at Ariton High School and Hollie Arnett is a member of Ariton High School FFA.

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin
Parsley makes a good companion for winter flowers. 

Try Parsley for Winter Bedding

Parsley transplants are sold in many garden centers this month. The cold-hardy plants generally make it through winter, providing rich green foliage in flowerbeds and outdoor containers. Cooks often prefer the flat-leaved Italian types for chopping into recipes and selections with curly and extra-curled leaves as a garnish. In the garden, mix them with pansies for a nice touch of color through fall and into spring. Be sure to keep parsley that you are going to eat in areas free of herbicides and other pesticides not labeled for edibles. Fertilize parsley now so that it grows quickly before the weather gets too cold.

Certified Mulch and Soils

Although they may seem similar, all bagged mulches and soils are not the same. Today’s garden mulches and soils are sophisticated blends of natural forest products, other organic materials and special additives. It is impossible to judge a product by its appearance. That is why the Mulch & Soil Council developed a product certification program that includes lab analysis and greenhouse growth testing. Standards prohibit the use of wood treated with the preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in all consumer mulch and soil products. This is because of concern over recycled decks, posts, and other CCA treated products (which contain arsenic) ending up in mulch and soil. Products that pass the review and testing requirements and comply with ongoing audit testing of products at retail earn the badge of the MSC certification for their packaging. Certified mulches and soils are identified by the MSC certification logo on the package and are listed on the MSC website:

Controlling Fire Ants

Fire ants become active again as the weather cools and they forage for food, so this is a perfect time to put out bait to kill any present now. Sprinkle baits throughout the edges of flowerbeds and near places on the lawn where you see new mounds appearing. Remember to scatter bait near piles of compost, leaves, mulch, woodpiles and raised beds – all places that they like. Amdro (hydramethylnon) and Extinguish (hydramethylnon and methoprene) are popular baits but are not approved on food crops. For edibles, use a product that contains spinosad.
American beautyberry is like jewelry for the garden. 

A Surprise Shrub for Fall

Purple berries are a rare thing! Yet there is a shrub with clusters of highly ornamental purple berries that grows wild in Alabama and puts on a big show in the fall. An old-fashioned shrub from the woods that is adaptable to landscapes, American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is sold by the nursery trade as an ornamental and has been selected and hybridized to include several different varieties. Even the "unimproved" ones will stop traffic when covered with clusters of small purple berries this month. After the leaves drop, the berry-laden branches are even showier. American beautyberry needs a place with room to grow to its natural fountain-like form and six-foot or taller height. Pruning to shape the plant will ruin its form and show; prune only by cutting stems at the base of the plant if necessary.
Scillas just get better each year. 

Bulbs Need Some Love

Once upon a time it seemed that every garden included bulbs, but today I see fewer and fewer. It’s easy to bypass dry, brown, onion-like bulbs when plant shopping, but bulbs promise to reward with blooms next spring and hopefully many springs thereafter. Good bulbs come back year after year, always popping up in season like a loyal friend. Among the most dependable spring-blooming bulbs in our area are daffodils and scillas. For a naturalized look, throw the bulbs out by the handful and plant where they land. Both work well at the edge of wooded areas where they get some sunlight.

Squeak in Some Onions

There is still time to set out onions for a harvest of scallions through the winter. Bonnie Plants has onion bunches available now. Most onion bunches available now are long-day types, which means that they will not make big bulbs next spring but do produce plenty of good scallions through winter. For bulbs, buy onion transplants of short-day or day-neutral varieties in cell packs or look for bunches again in late winter, when the short-day and day-neutral varieties are available.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of “The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists” and former garden editor of Southern Living Magazine.

In Praise of Tea Olives

Tea olive in bloom 
I worked at the Extension office located at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG) for several years and I loved to observe the changes throughout the seasons. There was always something beautiful to see but I absolutely loved fall as the weather cooled and the leaves changed colors. My favorite fall experience was enjoying the wonderful fragrance coming from large plantings of tea olive. Tea olives are in the plant genus Osmanthus which comes from the Greek and means "fragrant (osma) flower (anthus)" and it certainly lives up to the name.
Tea olive, as the name indicates, belongs to the Olive Family (Oleaceae) along with numerous jasmines, which are also very fragrant. The usually white blooms are small and not extremely showy. Visitors to the BBG would often come inside to ask the familiar question, "What is that delightful fragrance all throughout the garden?" I was not surprised they could not tell where the fragrance originated because everyone would expect to see a large bloom to match the strong fragrance. Even though individual blooms are small some cultivars have clusters large enough to add some floral interest. Despite the often less-than- showy blooms, tea olives are very nice evergreen shrubs with holly-like foliage that make a wonderful addition to the landscape. You can easily tell hollies and tea olives apart, even when not in bloom, by looking at the leaf arrangement. Hollies have leaves arranged alternately down the stem and tea olives have an opposite arrangement.

There is a large planting of Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandi’ at the BBG that makes a wonderful screen planting that is a pleasure to walk near. The mature height of tea olives may vary from six to 30 feet depending on the species and cultivar. I lived in Mobile in the past where the "fragrant tea olive" Osmanthus fragrans was the most commonly planted species. It is less cold-tolerant but will survive in most of Alabama in a protected microclimate. It would be best to locate this plant on the south or southwest side of a structure. I have a 10-year-old plant in Cullman planted on the less-than-ideal northwest side of the house but very near the house. Much like camellias, the main risk from cold is the rapid freezing and thawing action that is worse with a morning sun exposure. As the name seems to indicate, it is the most fragrant of all the tea olives and therefore may be worth the risk of occasional cold damage. It also has the longest bloom period with blooms possible in every month with the letter "R" included.
Tea olives are quite easy to care for once established. 
In general, all the tea olives will grow in full sun to part shade but in our area, I would suggest a site with a break from the afternoon sun. Once established they are fairly drought-tolerant but they may take a couple of years to become established. Fall is a great time to plant and will require less care than spring or summer plantings, but the risk of cold damage is a little worse if you are in the far northern parts of the state. Choose a well-drained area with slightly acidic soil for best results.

Tea olives are quite easy to care for once established and have very few pest problems. If pest problems do occur, it is probably due to stress from poor soil conditions or drought. Scale insects may flare up from time to time but can be controlled with horticultural oil sprays. Minimal pruning is required unless they get too large for the site you chose. If you do prune them, you may do so from April to May to enjoy the fragrant blooms long as possible. The exception to this rule would be the Delavay tea olive (Osmanthus delavayi) and our native Devilwood (Osmanthus americanus) which bloom in the spring and should be pruned just after blooming like other spring-blooming plants.

Devilwood is the only native tea olive and is native to swamps and stream banks in the southern US including south Alabama. The name comes from the extremely hard wood, which is a "devil" to split and work. The leaves are larger and less holly-like than other tea olives. Like other tea olives, the flowers are quite fragrant, but they occur in early spring on last year’s growth. This native plant is more tolerant of wet soil conditions but is adaptable to most Alabama soils. It would be a great choice for a rain garden because it tolerates frequent flooding and can take the drier times between rain events.

For more information about this group of plants visit:

Tony A. Glover is a County Extension Coordinator in Cullman County.

Mature Buck Frustration in the Whitetail Nation

Some of the decline in whitetail numbers since the year 2000 may be due to the fact that many gamekeepers are now managing their property for quality rather than quantity. (Credit: Tony Campbell) 

Why You Might Not be Seeing Mature Bucks

by Todd Amenrud

Throughout our country, deer herds are in much better shape than a century ago. Although populations have declined since 2001, and we have had some problems recently with EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) and in a few small areas CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease), overall, herds are healthy and the outlook is positive. Despite many more land managers understanding whitetails better (because of outstanding efforts by organizations like the QDMA, the Quality Deer Management Association), there are still a lot of hunters who complain about not seeing mature bucks.

First, let’s be clear about "what is a mature buck." Maturity is when an organism is complete in natural growth or development – the point at which growth of an organism stops. Some think that after one year, since a buck is "sexually mature," it has reached this point, but that is simply incorrect.

Despite what you may have heard, a buck does not reach maturity until it is four years old. That is when its skeletal system is fully formed. It will likely continue to put on muscle and weight and maybe develop a potbelly, but its skeletal system has ceased growing. So why aren’t you seeing more mature bucks?

Buck Gone, Dummy

Now that we understand what we’re shooting for, let’s start with the most obvious reasons most don’t see more mature bucks. This may be a surprise to some but get this: "Dead deer can’t grow to maturity!" They obviously need to be allowed to make it to at least four years old. While education has come a long way, we still see that the greater majority of the bucks killed each fall are yearlings.

Too Many Does?

If you want to see more and bigger bucks, and larger body weights, you probably need to thin your doe population out a bit, possibly a lot. A given piece of land will hold and sustain "X amount" of deer (both bucks and does). Because of the territorial tendencies of whitetails, a large matriarchal society may develop over time. You must also understand that, for there to be "more" mature bucks, there must be additional bucks coming from somewhere, and a crop of new bucks following up in years to come.

Let’s say that a doe has one buck-fawn and one doe-fawn. After the fawn’s entire first year, which is spent with the doe, usually at around 18 months old, instincts and social pressure are believed to urge the buck to go seek out a territory a fair distance away from his mother.
On the other hand, the female offspring will usually take up a territory right next to, and typically intertwined with, the doe. So, if you’re not keeping up with your doe harvest, over time you get a big doe matriarchal society that just keeps growing and growing.

When a year-old buck disperses from his natal home range and goes searching for where he will take root and spend the rest of his life, when he comes across your property he may not be able to stay because all of those X’s (living spaces) are filled by the large doe group. To see more and bigger bucks, balancing the ratio and making spaces available for new animals is very important. Just remember, when young bucks are leaving your place, at least a portion of that "crop" is being replaced with dispersing youngsters from other areas.

Whitetail Census

Another commonsensical reason is simple "population demographics." A given population will almost always have fewer animals in older age classes. Regardless of whether hunting is permitted or not, every deer faces a certain risk of death. The longer they live, the more exposed they are to dangers like car/deer collisions, predation and other hunters, just to name a few.

"You can’t stockpile bucks." Even on well-managed properties it’s difficult to maintain a high number of old deer. You must have a consistent crop of two- and three-year-olds "on deck" and stay on top of your doe harvest so you make room for yearlings dispersing from their natal (birth) range to "take root" on your property where you hope they’ll spend the rest of their life.

In addition to "trigger finger management," in order to achieve a high number of mature bucks your habitat must support an even higher number of younger bucks. This places added stress on the rest of the herd and their habitat. You must continuously improve on your food, water and cover conditions.

Social Interface

White-tailed bucks have an intricate social structure that has been fleshed out by Mother Nature over centuries to ensure survival of the fittest. Throughout the summer, bucks are rather docile and can be very social with other bucks, often hanging out together in bachelor groups. They seem to get along great until the days grow shorter and testosterone levels escalate. Then bucks begin sorting out their dominance hierarchy.

It starts with buddy/buddy stuff like posturing, mutual grooming and what seems like friendly behavior, but then evolves into pushing and shoving contests. This behavior actually protects bucks and is designed to reduce more aggressive interactions.

They will continue testing one another, looking for signs of weakness. It’s the simple reality of the more males there are, the more confusing it is to sort everything out. To compound things, you have new yearlings that have dispersed from their natal range wandering through, making things more perplexing.

Simply put, the more mature bucks you have, the more fights you should expect. When breeding-age bucks really do mix it up in "combat" some will die from their injuries or later from energy depletion. So, a certain number of mature bucks are going to die whether you kill them or not.

Pushed Away

"Duh Todd, we already know all that, and do that, but we’re still not seeing mature bucks. We see them on our trail cameras, but never while hunting." Some hunters refuse to admit "they" may be "the problem" themselves.

It’s pretty simple; there is an inverse correlation between hunting pressure and daytime deer activity. Studies have shown: As hunting pressure increases, mature bucks move less during daylight. The more time your hunting party spends hunting, the less likely you are to see deer … especially older bucks. They will change something to avoid making contact with you.

Studies have also shown that mature bucks will learn to avoid known tree-stand locations during daylight. Do you hunt from a big box-blind over a food plot or agricultural field or maybe from a ground blind? Then you’d better hunt it sparingly and only when the conditions favor your success. The solution? Have multiple ambush locations and never "overhunt" them.
Keep in mind, because of numerous reasons there are simply fewer mature bucks than the other members of the herd. Here the author poses with a 6-year-old buck. 

Living Spaces

To make your property more attractive we always concentrate on providing more food so more deer imprint on the spot. Providing more food is a good thing; however, if you "build more restaurants and grocery stores" you must also "build housing." You can have the best food plots in your state, but if you want to attract and hold more deer you must concentrate on all parts of the F+W+C+S (food, water, cover, sanctuary) formula.

Whitetails only spend a small amount of time in a food plot or agricultural field. Their four-chamber stomach is a whitetail’s best defense against predators. It allows them to spend as little time as possible at the food source where they are most vulnerable to predation. They scarf down huge amounts of forage and then can bed down and chew their cud. Whitetails spend considerably more time in bed than they do moving around feeding. So, shouldn’t we also put more emphasis on creating bedding area?

Solving this "bed shortage" can be as simple as leaving an area undisturbed, getting busy with a chain saw and removing some canopy trees, planting some tall grass stands, or doing something a bit more complex like hinge-cutting some areas of pole-size trees.

Choose Your "S-Word"

Sanctuary, security, space, shelter, safe-haven … whatever you want to call it, if you want to hold more deer on your property, especially mature bucks, you must give them a spot where they’re left alone.

You should develop sanctuaries. Try to locate them toward the center of your property, or at least away from roads and neighbors’ eyes. And KEEP OUT! Nobody should ever enter the sanctuary unless you’re doing habitat work or recovering a wounded animal.

Ending With

It all comes down to percentages. Even under the best of circumstances your odds of killing a mature buck are fairly low – they are far more wary than other deer and there are fewer of them. You can push the odds in your favor by minimizing disturbance and maximizing the ability of your property to attract and hold more and older deer.

Todd Amenrud is the director of Public Relations for Mossy Oak BioLogic, Editor-in-chief of Gamekeepers, Farming for Wildlife magazine and a habitat consultant.

More Than Meets the Eye

Daphne Hepstall is an artist who sees unwanted things through understanding eyes.

by Carolyn Drinkard
Daphne works in an area behind her home. She said she loves to work in the outdoors and the sunshine. She sands a piece of furniture before sealing and adding color. 
In the past, woodworking was mostly a male domain; however, a growing number of women are now picking up their chisels and their claw hammers to enjoy this popular craft as both a hobby and a full-time occupation.

Daphne Hepstall is a woodworker, but after hearing this, most either look at her sideways or roll their eyes. This petite young lady is used to such reactions! Hepstall has learned to laugh and let her works tell her story. In fact, one look at her unique creations, and anyone can see why this talented artisan is much more than meets the eye.

Daphne Hepstall is an artist who sees unwanted things through understanding eyes. With a closer look at aged, discarded wood, she uncovers a deeper beauty hidden within. To her, there are never any scrap pieces of wood, only pieces that she has not yet found a way to use. Aged barn boards, old piers or even planks, stripped from crumbling buildings, breathe new life with her touch.

Hepstall believes in preserving the things Mother Nature has given us. When her hands touch scrap wood, the aging fibers become something more than they ever were before. Her pleasure comes in knowing that the old wood never goes away, because someone is still using it after it has found a new purpose.

Merely repurposing wood is not all Hepstall does, however! She has become quite well known for her quaint, and sometimes quirky, embellishments. She collects discarded spark plugs, fire-poker tips, door knobs, hinges, square nails, fence toppers and much more to give each piece a distinctive personality of its own.

"That’s the fun of it," she laughed. "I love being creative and just seeing what I can make!"
Dephne Hepstall keeps a display at her home for drop-in customers. Most of her sales are through social media. 
Her busy hands fashion farmhouse tables, benches, hutches, end tables, beds, headboards, and signs. She loves to refinish older church pews. Recently, she finished one of her favorite things: an old Hoosier cabinet. The wood had been water-damaged, and the vintage piece had seen much better days. Under Hepstall’s touch, however, it took on a proud, new air with its own aura.

Hepstall also builds and refurbishes cabinets, work that is very demanding and detailed. Her intricate glazing techniques require patience and an eye for uniformity. She mixes her own colors, preferring to create a rich dimensional look that is very popular now. The process is slow, because she must work within a short timespan before the paint dries. Each job is unique, with no two ever looking exactly alike, which increases the popularity of her work.

"I hope to have my own shop one day," she stated. "Then the custom cabinetry work will be much easier, because I can build them at home and transport them to other locations." Currently, her workspace is her back porch that has an adjoining deck and a storage house with an attached deck, located behind her home. These areas are filled with projects in one stage of development or another.

Hepstall’s imaginations run the gamut from unconventional to whimsical to rustic to aesthetic. Some of her most requested projects are her pet kennels. She has made them as entry tables, coffee tables, sideboards, and more. She adds tops to small and large wire kennels, making them look like decorative pieces of furniture that fit perfectly into any decor.

India Champion is one of her satisfied customers. "I sent her a picture of what I had in mind for my kennel, and she made it for me," Champion explained. "Daphne is super creative and very talented. She can take an absolute piece of junk and make a beautiful piece of furniture."
Hepstall started her business by redoing her own furniture. "When you don’t have money," she laughed, "you just do it yourself!"

After seeing the results, many of her friends then asked her to refinish their own pieces. She got so many requests that she found little time to do her own. Her work rapidly increased just by word-of-mouth, but once she used social media, the demand skyrocketed! This is when she established her own business, Reborn by Daphne.

Hepstall’s furniture may be in high demand, but her birdhouses are truly her signature pieces.
"My birdhouses have their own personalities," she explained. "No two are ever alike. When I make one, it’s like it is my own baby, so I name each one. I just love to create these."

She first started making smaller birdhouses, using whatever wood she had. Now, she has progressed to taller ones, which she prefers. The birdhouses sell almost as quickly as she can make them. Before Christmas 2017, she put her creations on Facebook and sold 27 immediately. After she loaded some on her truck to show the girls at work, customers saw the truck parked at her job site, pulled into the parking lot and bought all she had, right from the back of her truck! Once, when she ran to a local hardware store to pick up supplies, she had a few samples on the back of her truck. When she parked, she had customers coming over to the truck, asking about her works. Once again, she sold them right from the back of her truck.

Even though Hepstall’s birdhouses are made for feathered friends, most people choose to keep them inside, as rustic decor or accent pieces. Many customers also use them in outdoor eating areas, around pools and even in man cages! Samples of her unique birdhouses can be seen at Gaston’s Grill and Dr. Stoudenmire’s Office in Thomasville and the Lucky Duck Boutique in Jackson. Reborn by Daphne can be found on Facebook.

Hepstall is a single mother, who lives in the small community of Sandflat, just south of Thomasville. She drives an old farm truck, wears work boots and stands about five feet tall. But don’t let her size and beauty fool you! She is a country girl to the core, and she’s extremely proud of it. She knows how to work and prides herself on her independence. She has taught her two children to be self-reliant, to learn by doing and to love the outdoors as much as she does.
"My kids have no Internet or Wi-Fi," Hepstall added. "They love the outdoors, and they stay out in the sunshine helping me. Both know how to work and take care of themselves. They both have excellent work ethics."

Jesse (13) is a dedicated fisherman and hunter. The Hepstall home is near a small pond, and Jesse is often on the banks. He also plays baseball and football at Thomasville High School. Austin (8) attends Thomasville Elementary School. She, too, plays softball and enjoys all sports.

Both Jesse and Austin work with their mother. Jesse cuts wood, measures and uses the circular, band, table and miter saws. He also runs the planer. Jesse said he loved to see dark, dingy boards go through the planer and transform into something beautiful with amazing graining. Austin, on the other hand, has an eye for detail and likes to create, just like her mother. She mixes colors and paints many of the items her mother makes. She especially likes to mix unusual palettes with unexpected color combinations. She has recently started pour painting, using unusual filters for interesting designs.

Hepstall works as a dental assistant and lab technician for Dr. Jeffery Stoudenmire, a local dentist in Thomasville. She and her children are avid animal lovers, who live with five Great Danes and an old bulldog. The dogs are part of the business and lie patiently watching Hepstall and her children as they work.

Day in and day out, Daphne Hepstall reawakens rejected wood. With hard work, stick-to-itiveness and amazing talent, she hews the meaningless into the meaningful and the rejected into the reclaimed, giving birth to much more than meets the eye.

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at

October Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Continue to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Pay attention to the planting depth as listed on the packages.
  • Pot bulbs for indoor forcing.
  • Plant cool-season annuals like sweet peas, pansies and snapdragons – remember to water them regularly while temperatures are still warm.
  • Divide and move perennials.
  • Buy hardy garden mums to plant in well-drained soil in a sunny location; fertilize now, and again in the spring.
  • Fall is a good time to plant your native plants. Fall and winter rains help natives develop good root systems before having to endure a dry summer.
  • Still plenty of time to plant a winter cover crop in empty garden spots to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil as well as providing weed competition and erosion control.
  • Set out strawberry plants.
  • October is a great month to shop for trees and shrubs, as they're showing their true colors at the nursery. Planting can take place now and over the next several months, letting strong, healthy roots develop over the winter.
  • Start a family tradition by planting a tree or shrub in honor of a holiday, birthday or anniversary. While celebrating the special occasion, you can also beautify the landscape around your home.


  • Get your soil analysis done in the fall rather than waiting for the spring.
  • If you’ve gotten your analysis in and it called for lime, put it out now.
  • Limit feeding your houseplants and don’t feed dormant houseplants at all.
  • October is a good time to make an application of a fall- or winter-type lawn fertilizer.


  • October is good for pruning most deciduous trees (trees whose leaves fall off). After the leaves have dropped, pruning is easier, because you can see the "skeleton" of the tree, and they are in a dormancy period. Wait on the Crape Myrtles until March, and roses until February.
  • Stop trimming hedges – the flush of new growth can be killed by freezing weather, which can harm the entire plant.
  • As frost browns perennial foliage, prune it to the ground, except for mums, sedum, ornamental grasses and plants with seeds that you want to leave for birds (such as coneflowers and black-eyed Susans).


  • On a mild day, run your garden hose up over a railing, fence or other structure to remove all the water. Then roll it up and put it away. Empty fountains and drip-irrigation systems while you’re at it.
  • One of the major reasons why some plants do not make it through winter’s cold weather is because the soil is too dry. It is very important to take time and check that all plants have sufficient soil moisture.
  • Check the moisture of plants in dry, sheltered areas such as under eaves and around tall evergreens.


  • Make sure to check for any critters and pests on houseplants and in their soil before bringing anything inside. You might consider applying an insecticidal soap to the soil to be sure.
  • Dip pruning tools in a bleach/water solution (one-part bleach to three-parts water) if you had fungus issues, otherwise you will still have those issues next season.
  • This is the time when grubs are hatching, and moles are getting active. Treating for grubs now will eliminate future mole infestations.
  • Till the soil to expose any insects who plan to overwinter; this will reduce pest troubles in the spring and summer.
  • Under your fruit trees, rake up fallen fruit and leaves to remove hiding places for pests and diseases. Don’t add to your compost to avoid spreading any problems.
  • When harvest is complete, pull up tomato, squash, pea, bean and other plants. If they’re disease-free, compost them. Otherwise either burn them or discard separately.
  • Cut back Peony to the ground after first frost leaving a 2" stalk and discard. Do not compost your Peonies, because botrytis blight (also called gray mold), a fungal disease that affects peonies, sometimes survives the composting process.
  • Broadleaf turf weeds that make fall growth – including dandelions, field bindweed, chickweed, shepard purse, henbit, ground ivy and violets – can be controlled most effectively anytime in October or early November.
  • Use hardware cloth to wrap around the base of small fruit trees and roses. This will protect them from rodents.
  • Slugs don't slow down as the weather gets cooler; in fact, you'll likely find them at all life stages in October, from eggs to youngsters and adults. Take whatever measures you prefer – salt, slug bait, saucers of beer – to eliminate slugs. It's best to catch them at early stages, to stop the reproduction cycle.
  • Scale insects on broad-leafed evergreens like camellia, gardenia, holly and euonymus can be effectively controlled by spraying with dormant oil. Do not use oil spray if temperature goes above 80 degrees.
  • Check for aphids and caterpillars on fall flowers and leafy vegetables.


  • If you garden you know you must stay abreast of local weather when winter approaches. First frost dates vary widely in Alabama, from Nov. 24 in Fairhope to Oct. 19 in Valley Head.
  • Bring houseplants indoors before the first frost.
  • Cacti and other succulents, such as jade plants and sedums, do best in a sunny south or west window
  • Carefully harvest material for dried arrangements at this time. Choose cockscomb, flowering artemisia, already-mature okra pods, flowering oregano stalks and others to enhance fall and winter bouquets. When using dried flowers with fuzzy seed heads, spray them with hair spray to keep them from shattering.
  • Consider planting serpentine garlic now and use their dried, twisting flower stems in dried arrangements next year.
  • Clean and store your pots. Extreme temperature fluctuations in the coldest part of the winter can result in the death of many a good pot. Empty them, compost the soil, hose them out well, and store them dry in a covered shed or garage.
  • Asparagus top growth should not be removed until foliage yellows. Let foliage stand over winter for insulation and moisture.
  • Before you put away your mower, add a gasoline stabilizer and take it to the shop for any repairs and to have the blade sharpened and balanced.
  • Core aerate turf to reduce soil compaction, improve drainage, break up thatch, and help nutrients move into the soil.
  • This is an ideal time to remove any plant that isn't holding up its end of the bargain. Take out the old, the ugly, the sick, and anything that sucks up more of your life than you want it to take.
  • Get poinsettias and Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti ready for well-timed holiday color. Give them a daily dose of 10 hours of bright daylight and 14 hours of night darkness. Christmas cacti need a cool environment of 50 to 60 degrees F, while poinsettias prefer a warmer 65 to 72 degrees. Let cacti dry out between waterings.
  • Collect pumpkins and winter squash before frost, but when the rind is hard and fully colored. Store in a cool location until ready to use.
  • Holly plants with a heavy set of fruit often suffer a fertilizer deficiency. An application of complete fertilizer late this month can be helpful and provide a head start next spring.
  • If you have saved seeds of your favorite plants, allow them to become air dry, then place them in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Be sure to label each packet carefully. Remember, seed from hybrid plants will seldom resemble the parent plant.
  • Now’s an ideal time to start a compost pile if you don’t already have one. The combination of spent plants from the garden, excess fallen leaves and grass clippings from the final, shorter cut of the season make a perfect compost blend. Be sure to have extra soil available so that each layer of plant material may be covered with several inches of soil. Add about 1 pound of a garden fertilizer or ½ pound of blood meal to each layer of plant material to provide the necessary nitrogen for decomposition. If you really want to get the microbes dancing, add about a cup of granular, feed-grade molasses to each layer! Remember, a soggy compost pile will come to a standstill during the cold of winter. Cover if possible.
  • Think about an electric de-icer for the birdbath.
  • After the first frost, mulch rose plants with compost or leaves to just above the swollen point where the stem joins the rootstock.
  • Before your first frost, allow your green tomatoes to ripen indoors by pulling the whole plant up and hanging it upside down in a dark, cool place. You may still have ripe tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner!
  • Dig up summer bulbs that will not survive very cold weather. Let them dry out for a few days then store away covered in peat moss or vermiculite.
  • Houseplants may need to be repotted, especially your tropicals in outdoor containers. Add new potting mix and increase the pot by one size to keep them happy all winter. This will be the last feeding until March.
  • It is important to harvest your sweet potatoes before any frost or freeze. Watch the weather report and harvest your sweet potatoes when the nighttime temperatures start to dip into the 40s to mid-30s to ensure that none of your crop is lost to frost.
  • Pull up and put away garden stakes and cages.
  • Root crops like carrots, turnips, beets and rutabagas can remain in the garden after a frost and still be removed in good condition later, but get them dug and stored before the winter rains set in.
  • Garden tools add up to a large financial investment. Scrub down, lightly oil and put them away. Boiled linseed and tung oil are probably the best choices for your tools, but you can use whatever you have available. With proper care, quality tools can last you a lifetime.
  • Some greens like kale and collards actually become a bit sweeter with a light frost. Ball cabbages can withstand light frosts, but if outside leaves get damaged or tough, just peel them away. Leaf lettuces, however, cannot handle the frosts.
  • Summer herbs like cilantro/coriander, summer savory, dill, marjoram, sage or basil will not last through the winter, so take cuttings and dry them to use in dishes through the winter.
  • Natural feeds will be getting even scarcer soon. Keep the bird feeders full!

Prepare Fast for Fall

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” ~ Aldo Leopold

by John Howle

The farmer and the hunter understand the harmony between people and land better than anyone. Both groups realize you must put back what you take out. If you continue to deplete the land for crops without putting in fertilizer, lime or seeds, you won’t have crops next year. If you overgraze pastures without allowing the forage to regrow, you will soon be importing all your feed. If you harvest every deer you see, you will soon stop seeing deer. Conservation is common sense mixed with a love of the land and resources it provides. Even if you don’t make your living off the land, you can set your table with healthy produce, livestock meat, and meat from the woods and waters in this state which is rich in natural resources. If we love the land, we will certainly have harmony between residents and resources.
A propane cooker makes a great heat source for canning deer meat. 

Keep the Canner Handy

Don’t put your canner away just yet. Even though you might have all the canned vegetables you need placed neatly in glass jars in your cupboard, keep the canner handy for deer season. A typical pressurized canner will can seven quart jars of food each time you use it. For deer meat, cut the lean meat into 1-inch squares and pack into sterilized canner jars. Add a teaspoon of canning salt to each jar, tighten the rings securing the lids, and place in the canner for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure.

I use a propane cooking stand and grill tank to can foods outdoors or on the porch where you can get an occasional breeze. While you are waiting for the deer meat to cook through the canning process, this is a great opportunity to read the entire AFC Cooperative Farming News, because you will have 90 minutes to spare. Once the deer meat is canned, it should keep for at least two years (no electricity required).

One of my favorite ways to prepare canned deer meat is barbecue. Dump the meat into a saucepan, add a tablespoon each of white vinegar and barbecue sauce, and cook down to a consistency appropriate for barbecue sandwiches. Add some black pepper and sea salt as the barbecue cooks. You’ll end up with tender, barbecue sandwich meat.
Deer will use the same trails even after the white oak acorns are gone. 

Get the Deer

Before you are able to can deer meat, you must harvest a deer first. Be willing to spend some time scouting if you want to harvest a deer. If you just want meat, your chances are much better harvesting a doe. If you want to spend a few hundred dollars on a mounted buck above the fireplace, you might need to spend lots of time scouting and looking through game camera SD cards. Even with this, it also takes considerable luck being in the right place at the right time

First, find the food sources. Look for popular foods such as areas where muscadine fruit grows prolifically, white oak trees produce plenty of acorns, and persimmon trees produce fruit. In late winter, thick honeysuckle growth can also hold deer in the area. Even after these food sources have dwindled for the year, deer are creatures of habit and will often go down the same travel corridors. Food plots also work well to draw and hold deer and other wildlife.

Finally, look for well-used trails and set up downwind of the trail. Along these trails, you will often find scrapes and rubbed trees indicating bucks. Bucks make the scrapes to attract does and challenge other bucks in the area. Even after the white oak acorns have been eaten, deer will keep using these same trails that go past prolific acorn producers.
This forage is palatable to deer and cattle and it produces its own nitrogen. 

Plant Some Clover

Not only will clover draw and hold wildlife, it works great for livestock as well. White clover is a cool-season forage and will grow through hunting season, providing forage for both deer and all other livestock. From a production standpoint, clover fixes nitrogen in the nodules of the root system. The good thing about this is nitrogen becomes available in an organic form and more readily available to any companion crops you might plant with it. White clover is quite palatable to both deer and cattle. If you don’t believe me, chew up a leaf or two and you can taste a sweet, spinach-like taste. Before you chew it up, check the surrounding area for recent cattle evidence first.

Grease Gloves

All farming equipment requires grease and lubricants to perform long term. It’s frustrating to get grease all over your hands and not have a convenient way to clean your hands before driving the tractor or grabbing your drink cup. I buy a pack of the cheap cotton gloves and keep a couple of pairs handy anytime I must hook up to equipment or lubricate fittings. The gloves are handy for cleaning the fitting before you grease them, and you can use them a few times before discarding.

This October keep the harmony going between people and the land they use. Conservation efforts by every individual will make sure future generations can enjoy our resources.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Responsible Ag

Teams Gather for Training in Selma

Applicators with AFC and AGRI-AFC gathered in Selma, AL, for a full day of training. Tim Wood loaned his site at Central Co-op on Aug. 9 with assistance from Bill Morton with Atlantic & Southern Equipment and Russell Gibbs, AGRI-AFC.

In-field training included equipment demonstrations and pan testing. John Thrup, Highway Equipment Company and Joe Dimier, AGCO, lent their time for the field demistrations. Students were able to ask questions and review new equipment provided by Central Agronomy.

Vic Lenkaitis from Nationwide’s Agribusiness Division reviewed regulations, safety concerns and consumer well-being. Items covered included drift, contamination, PPE and documentation. Group activities showed the teams how different areas of the state are affected in diverse ways.

Thank you to all students and instructors that were able to participate. The attendance will help to ensure we can offer the best for our consumers.

Agri-AFC’s Roger Waller Presents at National Agriculture Environmental Health and Safety School

Roger Waller, with AGRI-AFC, spoke at the National Agriculture Environmental Health and Safety School in Bloomington, IL. He presented on Pesticide Repackaging: Lessons We’ve Learned, on Aug. 21, 2018. Attendants included people across the country in all fields of agriculture. Sessions for the school included topics from cybersecurity, Department of Transportation Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Worker Protection Standard.

That Time Again

by Baxter Black, DVM

It’s fall on the cow outfit.

Time to get out the WD 40 and grease up the handles on the squeeze chute. Maybe find the three or four syringes that work, buy some new gaskets and barrels along with a box of needles. Time to look for the ear tagger, nose tongs and dehorning saw. You could stock up on Hot Shot batteries and plastic whips and shovel out the chute floor before it freezes.

That’ll be the easy part of workin’ your cows this fall, the mechanical tasks associated with good management. Yet, laying in wait like the hangover after the night before, is that ominous responsibility that all good cowmen dread… that’s right, boys… the open cow.

You know they are in the bunch. And you can bet your hired help, your neighbors and your family will all be lookin’ over your shoulder anxious to see your decision. They will be full of advice. But, in the end, whether you keep that open cow or not, will be strictly between you and her.

Say she bangs into the chute. Her teeth are good, she’s fat, five years old and just weaned a 550 lb calf. The vet shouts "Open!" The vaccinators are poised waiting for your decision. You rapidly calculate that open cow will bring $880 at the sale Wednesday.

You dither, remembering her first calf. You had to pull it. It was a cold night in February. The two of you spent four hours in the shed getting’ that calf to suck. Once he was goin’, she took’im and never looked back! Dang, you hate to see her go. You bite the bullet … "Cull her!" you say, but you can’t look her in the eye.

In comes a first calf heifer. Sorta thin, not full grown. She’s showin’ some potential but when the preg checker calls out "Open!" you realize she won’t have a calf next spring. If she settles, she’ll wean her second calf 24 months from today. That’s a long time to hold your inventory. "Cull’er," you say. Wow! Yer feelin’ like a business man!

In the last chute load, an old red neck mama comes through. You recognize her. When the boy punches her with the Hot Shot, you wince. Popcorn teeth, hollow flanks and a scruffy tailhead. Her bag hangs like a four dollar drape. She raised a big strappin’ calf this year but it took all she had.

She was in the first bunch of heifers you bought when you took over the ranch 12 years ago. She put you over the fence a time or two but now she doesn’t seem to care. Too old, too wore out. "Open," comes the intrusion.

The silence is heavy. Your eyes travel down her spine and back to her lifeless eyes. "Run’er one more year!" "She’ll die on this place." Nobody says a word.

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television, and also through his books, cds, videos and website,

That's A Colossal Cabbage!

Lindsleigh Carte grows a nearly 32-pound cabbage in the Third Grade Cabbage Plant Growing Contest.

For the 10th year in a row, Farmers Cooperative (North Florida) and Bonnie Plant teamed up for the Third Grade Cabbage Plant Growing Contest. The store staff delivered about 900 plants to the various elementary schools in the area.

The largest cabbage was grown by Lindsleigh Carte and weighed in at a whopping 31.96 pounds! The cabbage is bigger than the lovely young lady who grew it.

Everyone who entered is a winner. You participated, you followed instructions and you grew your own food. That is quite an awesome accomplishment!

Thanks to Pauline Cogdill, Liveoak, for getting the information and photograph.

The Co-op Pantry

by Mary Delph and Jena Klein

We have a double treat this month, Raylen Hodges, our National 4-H Cornbread Champion and her prize-winning cornbread, and her grandmother, Marilyn Yarbrough, our cook of the month!

Marilyn Yarbrough comes from a long line of good cooks. Her mother, Cora Hanks, prepared three big meals a day for a family of seven girls and one boy.

"She always had a full meal with both biscuits and cornbread," said Yarbrough. "She never used a recipe. She just used what she had at home and put together good hearty meals."

The family raised what they ate. They always had homegrown vegetables. They also had chickens, and when her mother wanted to serve this meat, they went into the yard and killed one. She remembered how good the fried chicken tasted, even for breakfast. The family also raised hogs, so they had plenty of pork for meals.

The family went to the store only for staples, like flour, meal, sugar and vanilla. Yarbrough’s mother always had something sweet after a meal, even if it was peaches that she had canned. Yarbrough has continued this same tradition with her family.

"Mama could just mix up what she had and make a meal. She made up a lot as she went along. I remember her chocolate gravy. It was always so good!"

Yarbrough recalled that her mother had the talent of "stretching" things, so that there would be enough for all. "She could take a can of salmon and make it go for all of us to have some," Yarbrough remembered.

In her community, Cora Hanks was known always to have something on her stove. "You never left her house without eating something," Yarbrough laughed. "It may be simple stuff, or what was available, but it sure was good."

"She used to have the Home Economics Extension meeting at her house," Yarbrough remembered. "She would get a box of graham crackers and melt colored marshmallows between them, and all the ladies would rave about how good they were!"

Cora Hanks never spent a lot on snacks as we do today. The biggest treat for her children was peanut butter. "I can still remember how good that peanut butter was," Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough recalled another tradition that has changed today. "When we had company, the men would eat first, then the children and then finally, us women. We all used to hope there would be a chicken wing left when we got to the table!" she laughed. There always seemed to be enough, even when more "company" would show up.

Cora Hanks never used recipes, but later in her life, she found one recipe that she especially liked. Yarbrough could remember her mother only using this one recipe for Watergate Salad. She took it to all the church socials. Not having recipes was a problem when the family wanted to publish their own cookbook. Fortunately, they were able to sit with their mother and come up with amounts and ingredients for the best-loved favorites. This book is cherished by all who knew Cora Hanks.

"When I think of Mama, I think of food and family," said Yarbrough. "That’s what I’ve tried to bring to my home. And now, my granddaughter, Raylen, has followed the tradition of making good, simple food, with all the family eating together and making good memories. She loves to cook, just like Mama did. Now, she will tell her grandchildren about all the fun she and I had in the kitchen together, and the family tradition will live on!" Make sure you read Raylen’s story in the 4-H Extension Corner.

Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator. You may email her at


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 heaping T. cocoa
  • 2 heaping T. flour
  • 2 cups water
  • Margarine
In large skillet, mix sugar, cocoa and flour. Mix until blended very well. Slowly add water, stirring as you go. Cook over medium high heat, until thickens into "gravy." Add margarine to taste. Pour over hot biscuits and dig in! Great over mayonnaise biscuits Try it as a nice surprise one morning.
Marilyn Sue Hanks Yarbrough


  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 level teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups plain flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
  • 1 pound raisins, cover with water overnight and cook almost dry
  • 4 Tablespoon melted margarine
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)
Add soda to applesauce and sugar; whip. Apples will turn dark. Then add spices and salt. Stir. Add flour gradually, then raisins, oleo and nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9" x 13" pan or tube pan. Bake 1 hour at 350o.

Sara Hanks McDaniel


  • 1 large bag frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 small carton sour cream
  • ½ cup melted butter**
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • Topping:
  • 2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
  • 1 cup melted butter
Thaw potatoes and mix all above ingredients. Put into greased 9" x 13" baking dish. Mix together the Ritz crackers and butter; place on top of the potato mixture. Bake at 325o for about an hour or until golden brown and bubbly.

**The secret flavor is the butter. If you cut down on the butter, it will not be as good.

Marilyn Sue Hanks Yarbrough


  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 T. butter
Put ½ cup sugar in small iron skillet. Let melt and brown. Add hot water and let melt. Add milk, 1 cup sugar, butter and egg yolks. Mix flour in water to make thin paste and add to mixture. Cook until thick. Add vanilla. Pour into baked pie shell.

For meringue beat 3 egg whites, add 6 T. sugar, 1 tsp cornstarch until stiff. Cover pie with meringue and brown in moderate oven.

Judy Hanks Strawn


  • 1 cup flour (self-rising)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon mayonnaise
Mix together with spoon in small bowl. Spoon into greased muffin tin. Bake in 400o preheated oven for about 10-20 minutes, or until light golden brown. (makes 6)

Marilyn Sue Hanks Yarbrough


  • 16 ounces can crushed pineapple
  • Small package instant pistachio pudding (sugar free or fat free)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 12 to 16-ounce nondairy whipped topping, thawed (fat free)
  • 1 to 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut and some cherries if desired.
In a large bowl, mix pineapple and the juice. Gently stir in the dry pudding mix. Let stand for about 3 minutes. Add nuts (and coconut or cherries) if you desire and fold into mixture. Fold in whipped topping and marshmallows. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Should serve 12 or more.

Betty Patterson Countryman


  • 1 (15 ounce) can pink salmon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup flour
Open a can of salmon; pour the juice into a measuring cup and set aside. Dump the drained salmon in a mixing bowl. Drop in one egg. Use a fork to break the salmon up really good. When it’s gummy, add the sifted flour. Stir in the flour thoroughly with fork. This mixture will be really thick; don’t worry, it’s supposed to be that way.

Take ¼ cup of the salmon juice and add the baking powder; beat with a fork. It’s going to foam. Good; it’s supposed to. (If it doesn’t foam, it isn’t good). Pour mixture into salmon; mix again with a fork. It will be really thin; that’s the secret. Cook in deep fryer. You don’t have to turn them; they will float on top and they are done in a few seconds.

Marilyn Sue Hanks


  • ¼ cup margarine
  • 6 medium onions sliced
  • 3-pound boneless chuck, cut in 1” cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) can mushrooms, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 (10½-ounce) cans beef broth
  • 1 ½ cups Burgundy cooking wine
In heavy pan sauté onions in margarine; add meat and brown on all sides. Add flour, salt, marjoram, thyme and pepper, stirring until smooth. Add ½ cup wine and ½ cup beef broth. Cover and simmer 2 ½ hours. Add mushrooms and continue cooking another hour. Check beef and gradually add the remaining wine and broth. Serve over noodles or rice.

Marilyn Sue Yarbrough

The Harvest Won’t Wait

by Glenn Crumpler

As I write this, I have just returned from three weeks of following up on our current partnership ministries in the Middle East that began several years ago with the unprecedented Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis. I also spent a week conducting strategic and secret meetings in another Middle Eastern country where we have not previously had feet on the ground, trying to establish new partnerships and strategies for reaching their tens of millions of unreached people with the Good News and the hope found only in Jesus Christ.

This country is one where terrorism is still very much an ongoing and resurging threat and where the U.S. has already spent billions of dollars and sacrificed so many lives of our fighting men and women in battles against the various terror groups and the atrocities they commit.

As of 2016, the U.S. has suffered almost 4,500 casualties (KIAs – killed in action) and 32,000 (WIAs – wounded in action) in this country in attempts to protect and liberate the people from the hands of these horrific and ruthless terror groups. Estimates are that over 500,000 civilians have lost their lives in this country. Several million others are now living in refugee camps (seeking refuge in other countries) or as IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples, living in refugee camps within their own country because their cities and villages have been destroyed, their way of life lost, and it is unsafe for them to return).

Similarly, in April of this year, Syria, a neighboring country, passed Law #10 of 2018 which requires all property owners to present documentation of rightful ownership of their residences, businesses, farms, etc., within a 30-day period or forfeit the right of ownership. This poses a very significant obstacle and just adds to the level of "hopelessness" among the estimated 11,000,000 Syrians who are either refugees or IDPs and who do not have the required documentation, the money, or the freedom to return to their communities to prove ownership. In essence, and by design, these displaced people will forever be displaced and without hope of returning to their old way of life or being reunited with family and friends.

This same hopelessness is what we see in so many of the war-torn and/or poverty-stricken countries around the world – most of whom live in what is referred to in Christian missions lingo as the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is the area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator in the Eastern Hemisphere, covering North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This window encompasses 74 countries, many of which have, with the world’s greatest physical and spiritual needs, most of the world’s unreached peoples and most of the governments that oppose Christianity.

Though this window incorporates only 1/3 of earth’s land base, 2/3 of the world’s population live there. In areas of the 10/40 window, there is only one missionary for every 1 million people.

Some of the problems in the 10/40 window are starvation, disease, economic disaster, religious persecution, government and political breakdown, and insufficient living conditions. But far above all of these is the need for the Gospel of Christ.

Hopelessness can easily be overlooked by those of us who have never experienced it, but it is a debilitating and overwhelming reality for majority of the world’s population! When we look at the sheer hopelessness experienced by so many in the world today from a Kingdom perspective, it is evident that the Lord is using this opportunity to open the hearts of so many people who are desperately seeking any good news of hope and peace to hold on to; especially a hope and peace that are eternal and life-changing.

Not only has God used these horrific atrocities to open the hearts of the suffering, He has used them to open doors for the Church to share the Good News of the love and the hope of Jesus Christ among these people. The governments of these nations may be closed to the Gospel, but government cannot stop the power of the Gospel among those whose hearts are now open and searching desperately for what only Jesus can give – provided the Church is willing to send and to go and make Him known!

These doors are open now, but they will not be open forever. Now is the time for the Church to wake up and to unite and break ground that is fallow, to sow the seed of the Gospel among the unreached, to nurture the sprouts that come forth, and to harvest the crop of souls before the harvest is lost!

The doors are open right now in some of the hardest-to-reach places on the earth and the harvest is ripe and ready, yet for the most part, the Church is somehow absent, busy doing church instead of being the Church to a lost and dying world!

Most believers spend their entire lives talking about the harvest – like a labor crew trying to gather a harvest while sitting in a barn. We go to the barn (our churches) each Sunday morning and study bigger and better methods of agriculture (the spiritual harvest). We sharpen our harvesting sickles and we go home. We come back that night to study better methods of agriculture, sharpen our sickles and go home again. We are back for a midweek meeting to learn bigger and better methods, sharpen our sickles and return home. We do this week after week until the weeks turn into months and months into years, yet few, if anyone, ever goes out into the fields to gather the harvest.

Talking about the spiritual harvest is not enough. We must all become involved in the actual harvesting process. This does not mean everyone is to leave their jobs, seek financial support from others, and travel to other nations as preachers of the Gospel. But every believer is to be plugged in and involved in some significant way in the worldwide harvest. For some, most of their time will be spent in the fields that are right outside the doors of their home: in their school, on their job and in their local community. Still, we all must be diligent to not become so localized that we neglect being actively involved in our greater mission of reaching the entire world.

Every born-again Christian has the responsibility to be actively involved in the work of the harvest in ways that are strategic, intentional and effective in reaching the uttermost parts of the world. I once heard someone say: "The greatest enemy of God’s best, is something else that is good." The enemy may not tempt us to rob a bank or commit murder, but he will distract us from doing God’s will by tempting us do something else that is good!

If the enemy can convince the Church to narrow our focus to just trying to reach our own communities, while only throwing a token toward the unreached world, he will have accomplished his purposes. If not my church, then who will take the life-changing, soul-saving Gospel message of Jesus Christ to the more than 4 billion people living in the 10/40 Window where 85 percent of the poorest of the poor live and where 90 percent of the people are unreached with the Gospel message?

For us to do the will of God, we must have vision to see the world through the eyes of God. God’s purpose is salvation for the world. Because this is His purpose, it must become our purpose. We must make His global cause our priority. Until we receive vision of the spiritual harvest fields, we will never fully understand our role in the Kingdom of God that gives purpose and direction to our lives. The vision of spiritual harvest should be central to our lives, but, looking at statistics and the vast number of the unreached, for most it must be only a minor concern.

We tend to talk about the things we love or that affect our lives directly. We talk about our husband or wife, our children, friends, politics, finances, business, hobbies and sports. But how often do we think or talk about lost souls? How much concern do we give each day to the multitudes still waiting in the gap; the spiritual harvest perishing in the fields?

When God’s eyes behold the nations of the world, He sees a spiritual harvest perishing because of the lack of harvesters. Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38)
There are many needs in the world including hunger, poverty, sickness, homelessness, terrorism and social injustice. Mission work involves all levels of human need but spiritual harvesting, the winning of lost men and women to Jesus Christ, must be as important to us as it is to God – or our priorities as Christians are out of order! God’s purpose is for the Church to make known throughout the world His plan of redemption through His son Jesus.

There are approximately 3.2 billion people representing over 7,000 people groups yet to be reached with the Gospel. There are over 2,000 languages for which there is no translation of God’s Word. For every 10,000 villages in India, 9,950 have no Christian witness. In Iraq the total Christian population is estimated to be less than one-half of 1 percent! In the 10/40 Window where Cattle For Christ is working, 90 percent are unreached.

If the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission and reap the spiritual harvest, we first need to repent, and get out of our cultural, theological and denominational ruts. Some will be called to leave their jobs to be full-time missionaries, but all are called to make sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with all the world their mission and life purpose.

Wherever it goes, whether to the most advanced universities of the world or to the poor and uneducated, the Gospel has the same effect: It transforms lives as people are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

We are going! Will you help send us?

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 334-333-4400 (mobile) or

The Root of All Things Feed Part 4: Vitamins

by Jimmy Parker

As we work through the six classes of nutrients, it is time to talk about vitamins. Vitamins are a group of complex organic compounds that are essential for multiple processes in the body. Oddly enough, vitamins were the last of the nutrient classes to be scientifically recognized. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that they were recognized and named. They were first called "accessory food factors" in 1906 and then finally named the much catchier word "vitamin" sometime after 1912.

Vitamins are classified into two subgroups. There are fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and water-soluble vitamins (all the Bs and C). All animals, including humans, need some of all of them pretty much every day. The fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed and stored with fat. The water-soluble vitamins are rapidly absorbed but are not stored in any appreciable capacity. Any extra water-soluble vitamins will be excreted through the urinary tract.

Fat-soluble vitamins have many functions. Vitamin A is important for bone formation, vision and growth. Vitamin D is also important in bone formation and plays an integral role in calcium and phosphorus metabolism. A deficiency of Vitamin D will cause rickets. Vitamin E is important in muscle function and reproduction and requires adequate selenium levels to be utilized. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting.

In most cases we supplement vitamins A and E in all livestock. Vitamin D is supplemented in hogs and poultry, and it is important to keep in mind that vitamin D comes in two forms; one form is much more available for poultry. Ruminants housed outside tend to produce enough vitamin D to meet their minimum needs. On a side note, closely-shorn sheep tend to have vitamin D levels two to three times higher than unshorn sheep. Vitamin K is provided by natural sources and is not added to diets in most situations, especially in ruminant animals.

Water-soluble vitamins also are important for many metabolic processes. The B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, folacin, choline, biotin and cyanocobalamin [B12]) and vitamin C generally are not added to ruminant diets. Some are added to equine and monogastric diets at different times to enhance production.

Thiamine (B1) is rarely deficient in livestock diets but can cause anorexia and emaciation if it is deficient. It is important for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Riboflavin (B2) is important in metabolism and found in forages, meats and some grain byproducts. It is commonly mildly deficient in poultry and swine diets and can lead to skin problems in most livestock and feet problems in poultry. Pantothenic acid is generally adequate in ruminants and slightly deficient in swine and poultry diets because of low content in grains. Deficiencies can also cause dermatitis and lack of coordination.

Niacin, like the others, is needed for everyday metabolic processes in the body and is rarely deficient in normal circumstances. In those rare cases of deficiency, you find dementia, dermatitis and diarrhea. Pyridoxine (B6) is needed for protein metabolism and red blood cell formation.

Deficiencies are rare in most livestock. Deficiency and overdose can cause convulsion and hyperirritability. Folacin is nontoxic and unlikely to be deficient in livestock. It is closely related to B12 metabolism. Choline is important in nerve function, reproduction and lactation. Choline deficiency symptoms are not normally noticed but in many cases an increase in production is seen when choline is added.

Biotin is normally available in adequate amounts from normal diets. It is often added to enhance hoof and hair quality in horses and other animals. B12 is generally adequate in livestock diets other than some grain-based swine diets. Deficiencies can cause reduced growth, anemia and neurological disturbances. B12 has been used to stimulate appetite in stressed animals. Vitamin C is very rarely a problem with livestock but in the rare instances of deficiency, anemia, slow healing, swollen joints and hemorrhaging can be seen.

From a production standpoint, we normally do one of two things where vitamins are concerned. We either basically ignore them or we add more than we really need. I would say that vitamin nutrition is a complex issue, and unless your animals are being fed unusual feeds their vitamin needs will be met by feeding normal well-balanced feeds and following standard management practices. There are some exceptions like adding biotin supplements to the diet of a horse with known hoof issues or a B-complex to a stressed animal that needs just a little more help to stimulate appetite.

Feeding large amounts of vitamins won’t cause tremendous harm in most cases (it can in a few), but it is expensive. As mentioned earlier, water-soluble vitamins are not well stored and extra vitamins are excreted through the urinary system. They tend to make expensive urine if overfed.

Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

Toilet Paper

Sixty-five or seventy years ago the Sears Roebuck catalog provided plenty of outhouse material to meet the needs of a family with nine children. Pictured is Joe Dickerson of Lauderdale County. 
by Suzy McCray

"I remember erasing and erasing so you couldn’t ever see that it had been on that grocery list," she explained.

And what were those dreaded words that she shouldn’t have mentioned?

Toilet Paper!

It may sound funny now but 65 or 70 years ago there was an entirely different meaning.
Her mother had simply explained, "Your daddy works too hard for us to spend money on that!"
Sears Roebuck provided two hefty catalogs every year, plenty to fill the outhouse needs of a family with nine children ... and if they were to run out there were always soft leaves growing abundantly in the rural Alabama countryside.

Don’t get me wrong. Cleanliness was next to Godliness and those children were always spic and span. But there was just no use wasting money when the daddy in the family worked so hard not only on the farm raising cattle, chickens and so much more, but worked a full-time outside job as a carpenter building houses.

There was just something different about the work ethic then that you don’t see a lot of times today. True, there’s lots of folks who spend way more than 40 hours on their jobs, oftentimes working in offices in other cities so their homes are basically just way stops where they come home to sleep at night. In wintertime often leaving before daybreak and returning home after darkness has already fallen.

But why are we working those many many hours?

We have to have our cell phones (not just for mom and dad but for each child), fancy vehicles (for every member of the family of driving age); computer-controlled heating and air units that mean the inside of those homes (that we often don’t get to enjoy except when we are sleeping) is so climate-controlled we don’t know the difference between winter and summer; huge day care costs for those children who aren’t old enough to fend for themselves; cable or satellite TV; tablets and computers for each family member (and the subsequent internet high-costs); somebody to come and mow and manicure our lawns because we’re not here enough to do that task ourselves and the children are too busy with school activities; computerized washers and dryers that will do practically everything except fold the clothes and place them neatly back into the closets ... because we surely wouldn’t have time to hang them on the line ... even if our neighborhood rules would ALLOW a clothesline in our backyard ... the list goes on and on and on...certainly too many expenses to worry about the simple cost of a roll of toilet paper. ...

Most of my readers know I’ve enjoyed a "simple" life for many years, primarily by choice but also because of money issues.

I’ve heated with wood, not had a clothes dryer except the solar one stretching across the backyard, not had air conditioning, worked at home (even though that was always reflected in lower salaries) ... but I’ve worked long and hard days ... and that has been GOOD for me, not just mentally but also for my physical health.

I can’t think of a more refreshing feeling than bringing in sheets off the clothesline and placing them back on the bed, showering after a hard day’s labor on the farm, and then stretching out on those sheets for a peaceful night’s sleep.

And I ALWAYS enjoyed the look on an Alabama Power employee’s face when they started telling ways to cut energy consumption, and almost always started out by telling ways of "adjusting your thermostat up or down" to make it a little hotter or cooler in your home to save on energy ... and me simply saying, "I don’t have a thermostat."

After they got over that shock, they’d usually say, well you can save money by "only running your dishwasher when it’s full" and "not overloading your clothes dryer." Their shock would continue when I’d say that I don’t have a dishwasher or a dryer either.

But I can’t continue all those wicked ways.

Two weeks ago, we had central heat and air installed in our house. And I admit I’m enjoying it immensely! (We’re also insulating this 50-plus-year-old house like crazy to cut down on heating and cooling costs and that thermostat WILL be kept on levels to help control that bill. ...

I don’t want and don’t believe I’ll ever have or need a dishwasher.

But even though my clothesline will remain stretched across my backyard for use almost every day, husband is pretty sure there will be a clothes dryer in our future as well to use when it’s raining or cold since we’ll no longer have the wood-burning heater to dry clothes by during those days. ...

I’ve basically heated with wood since 1978. The past several years there has been no other source of heat in my house but the wood burner. So, this is another major adjustment to me.
But as we’re getting "just a tad" older, we’re making adjustments that will allow us to continue to live on this farm in comfort.

This morning in Sunday School, Bro. Wayne Brannon taught on 2 Corinthians where Paul tells that church to share their abundance with others who were not quite as blessed during that time. But Paul also stressed that God understood when folks are in need and don’t have anything to give.

Bro. Wayne talked about having "just enough," and it seems that is how I’ve always been blessed until this point in my life.

Most of you readers know 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 are some of my favorite verses, where Paul tells us to work with our hands, lead quiet lives and mind our own business.

Paul always worked as a tent maker throughout his missionary journeys – not so he could buy the fanciest chariot in the Middle East, purchase the finest racing stallion, or wear the most regal purple robes – he did that work so that he could pay his own way, would be a good example to other believers, and so he would not be dependent on anyone but the Lord.

So, while I am now being extremely blessed, my husband and I – and me especially – want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of what is really important.

And what’s important is not about working an extra job or extra hours to buy the latest computerized gadget or the newest big Dodge pickup with a Hemi engine ... we must keep our priorities in order, working enough to pay our bills and having money enough to help others through our church BUT also managing our TIME while not at work so that we can physically be there to help others when there’s a need, even if it’s just an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

I think about that faithful man, whose wife loved him enough to stress to her nine children that their daddy worked so hard and faithfully that even the waste of buying toilet paper was too much.

And I’ll think about what his daughter said about erasing that paper till she almost made a hole in it because she loved her daddy that much.

Toilet paper. Such a simple thing. But even toilet paper can make you stop and think. ...

Suzy McCray is a freelance writer who lives on a Blount County homestead. She can be reached on Facebook or by email at

What You Need to Know About Anaplasmosis

by Dr. Tony Frazier

Obviously, what you should know about anaplasmosis may vary depending on your proximity to the cattle business. I believe that if you are a cattle producer, you should have a basic understanding of the disease. If you are pretty much on the other end of the spectrum and only eat beef, you should know that anaplasmosis is not a food-safety issue. It can infect some wild ruminants, but generally does not cause disease.

If you do not have cows but have friends who own cattle, I suggest you go ahead and read the article. That way, when your cattle-producing friends make some statement like, "I have had a few abortions in my cow herd and the normal causes have all come up negative."

Then you can interject, "Have you tested for anaplasmosis?"

When they raise their eyebrows and ask how you know that, you just smile and say, "Well, I read Dr. Frazier’s articles. Don’t you?"

Anaplasmosis marginale is a special kind of bacteria known as a rickettsia. Rickettsia cause human diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. The organism manages to get into the red blood cell, causing significant damage to the cell. The number of red blood cells doubles about every 48 hours. As the cells become damaged, the body takes them out of circulation. Eventually, after two to six weeks of this, the body is not able to keep replacing the red cells that are destroyed and the cow becomes anemic. At this point the anemia may become so severe, so rapidly, the cow may die within a few days.

Anaplasmosis has been relatively common in many of the Gulf Coastal states for a long time. In the past few years, the disease has become more common in areas of Central and North Alabama. I have friends who have practiced in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi who tell me that their clients are familiar enough with the disease that they call and say, "Hey, Doc, I need you to come out to my place. I’ve got another one of those anaplaz cows."

Now I will say that a client diagnosing anaplasmosis is not very scientific. But, if the disease is advanced enough, it is likely that someone who has seen this disease would recognize it if it shows up again. In the advanced stages of the disease, cows usually tend to be somewhat aggressive.
The textbooks describe these cows as "hyperexcitable." I like to describe them as trying to get into your back pocket. Along with that, depending on the duration of the disease, their mucous membranes may be a bit yellow or icteric. If you put the behavior and the yellow mucous membranes together in the late summer or fall of the year, chances are good that you may have anaplasmosis. Now I don’t want you diagnosing something like that yourself. If you’ve got a cow that’s sick, you need to put down whatever you are doing and call the veterinarian.

The reason for late summer through fall incidence of the disease is that the main source of transmission from animal to animal is insects, mainly horseflies. But the disease can also be spread by certain ticks. The organism can also be spread by using the same needle to vaccinate or treat, dehorning equipment, tattoo pliers or castrating equipment. The occasional winter outbreak is likely caused by contaminated needles.

One of the aggravating problems with anaplasmosis is the development of carrier animals. Not every cow that gets sick with this disease will develop clinical symptoms like those we just discussed. Some may become infected and just become poor doers. They lose weight and their reproductive system may pretty much shut down. Others may be able to become pregnant but lose the calf in the later stages of pregnancy (refer to paragraphs 2-4). It can be difficult to get it out of a herd once it is introduced.

Back when I was in practice, anaplasmosis did not seem to be terribly prevalent, especially in North Alabama where I began practicing. So, it wasn’t high on the list of causes for cows to abort. We are now seeing an increasing trend of cows that seem reasonably healthy and abort and test positive for anaplasmosis.

A real train wreck that we sometimes hear about occurs when cattle that have never been exposed to the organism are introduced into a herd that has carriers. In such cases up to 50 percent of the susceptible cattle may die. And those that do not die may have an extremely long convalescent period.

An interesting fact that I found out while doing some research for this article had to do with the infected cow’s plane of nutrition. It seems that cattle that are on a lower plane of nutrition to begin with have less severe clinical disease that those on a normal level of nutrition. This has been seen when susceptible cattle are introduced to carriers in feed lots and develop the acute form of the disease.

If there is any positive aspect of anaplasmosis, I guess that it would be that it is treatable, even when the cow seems to have one or two hooves in the grave. If she has three hooves in the grave she probably won’t make it. But you can treat a sick cow with long-acting tetracycline, and she will often respond. As I mentioned a good bit earlier, anemia, from the destruction of infected red blood cells, is what causes all the clinical signs in cattle. Sometimes the blood can be so thin that it looks more like cherry Kool-Aid than blood. Anyway, some cattle may need a blood transfusion along with the tetracycline if their red cell count gets too low.

There is also a vaccine available that is mostly used in herds that are known to have anaplasmosis. And while anaplasmosis is not a regulated disease, I must approve all animal vaccines used in Alabama. There used to be a commercial pharmaceutical company that produced the vaccine. I don’t know why they stopped producing it. Now the only vaccine available is from a laboratory at Louisiana State University. I have approved that vaccine to be used through licensed veterinarians.

So, you now have a working knowledge of anaplasmosis. Many of you reading this article have already had run-ins with the disease. For other cattle producers, it is something you should be familiar with. And if you are ever on the game show, "Jeopardy," and the opportunity arises, you won’t hesitate to jump in there and say, "Alex, give me anaplasmosis for $600."

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama. You can contact him at 334-240-7253.

Back to
Tickets & Deals