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September 2018

2018 Distinguished Cooperator

Former AFC board member, Larry Bennich, has been recognized for his service to agriculture and the community.

At a recent meeting of the Alabama Council of Cooperatives, Larry Bennich was recognized as the Council’s 2018 Distinguished Cooperator for his service to agriculture and his commitment to the betterment of his county and the State of Alabama.

A retired farmer and AFC board member, Bennich is a native of Morgan County. He has served as a board of directors member for the Morgan County Farmers Cooperative for 44 years and has served as a member of the Alabama AgriBusiness Council board of directors for 15 years.

Larry is committed to his home county and his service as Morgan County Commissioner for nearly 20 years embodies that commitment. A natural leader, he has also served as president of the State Association of County Commissioners for 4 terms and as a member of the National Association of County Commissioners for 15 years.

4-H Extension Corner: The Incredible Journey

The Pickens County 4-H Educational Center 

One volunteer’s vision inspires a community to pitch in and transform a neglected old house into the Pickens County 4-H Educational Center.

by Carolyn Drinkard

The old house had been forgotten for years. Its only occupants were a family of opossums. Each day, as Amanda Newman drove by, something tugged at her heart. A longtime 4-H volunteer, Newman had dreamed of having just one room to hold her 4-H meetings, one room so that she could have a permanent place for her materials. As she passed one day, she felt God lay it on her heart to ask about the old house. She prayed for guidance and approached a Gordo Community area development board member. A few weeks later, her prayers were answered: Her request to use the old house had been granted. Amazingly, one volunteer’s desire would ultimately take the children of Pickens County on an incredible journey, a journey that would bring them home and change their lives forever.

Newman knew her 4-H kids would take ownership of the old place and fix it up. She had no doubt they would rise to this challenge. And that’s just what they did! Beginning with a can of paint and lots of determination, the children went to work. When they did, helpers from all over Pickens County showed up. Even the Fellows Program from the University of Alabama volunteered to be extra hands in the project.
Amanda Newman teaches poultry at the Pickens County 4-H Educational Center. Newman volunteers over 40 hours a week for the children of Pickens County. 
Each day, the interior of the house changed dramatically. With two kitchens, one found new life as an art and gardening area, while the other gained a new face, with commercial equipment purchased from an RC&D grant and other donations. The helpers created areas for yoga, sewing, poultry, livestock and even an AR (Accelerated Reading) Library.

The 4-H members did much more than simply paint and clean the inside, however. The Green Thumb Club (Gardening) landscaped the outside, planting raised-bed community and herb gardens. After a former Reform resident stopped by the home, he donated mulch and supplies for the new beds. He also petitioned his "Class of ‘68" friends to give tools and plants. PECO, a local business, supplied pavers and shrubbery for landscaping. Community flower lovers shared prized annuals and perennials for container gardens. As his project, one Eagle Scout constructed a greenhouse out of old windows found on the property.

Whenever there was a need, there was also an outpouring of community support. Funds arrived to purchase materials for the poultry, horse and livestock clubs. Sewing machines appeared, donated by community members and the Extension Office.

"We were fortunate to have so many outstanding volunteers donate their time, talents, and quite frankly, their financial resources to support this important educational program," stated Patti Fuller, Pickens County Extension Coordinator.

The youth found creative ways to both upcycle and recycle. For example, the cooking club encouraged healthy eating by canning and preserving foods grown right on the property. Members harvested cucumbers to make both sweet and dill pickles, using dill from their herb garden. They made pesto with their basil, coriander from their cilantro seeds and rubs from other dried herbs. Children dried sage and made gift packets to give to each customer who makes a purchase at their annual sweet potato sale in the fall. When a generous donation of blueberries arrived, they made jams and jellies.
Yoga classes are popular with 4-H students. The classes meet both inside and outside. 
Other areas suddenly took on new life, as well. The art room attracted many local artists, who donated their time. One potter even brought his kiln for 4-H members to use. The AR Library grew beyond any expectations with students and community members donating books. Many parents reported that AR points increased after the library opened.

The Leadership and Green Thumb Clubs provided upkeep and maintained the gardens during summer months. The gardens thrived, giving students many hands-on opportunities to share vegetables with shut-ins, senior citizens and anyone else that had a need.

To show the Gordo community their appreciation, 4-H’ers and their parents joined together on National 4-H Day of Service to spruce up the downtown area. They cleaned windows, swept sidewalks, and redid flowerbeds at the Senior Center. Many people spotted the group working and joined in with rakes and blowers.

Every town in Pickens County is now represented in the after-school programs, and the old house has become a beloved community home, proudly bearing the name "4-H Educational Center" with eleven 4-H clubs meeting inside. Rarely does Newman arrive for work that she does not find "blessings" on the porch, blessings like paper towels, material for sewing, AR books or many other goodies.
All of this started with one volunteer, who simply wanted to help children. Her idea sparked a restoration that changed a community.

"Amanda Newman has a heart for youth," stated Chelsey Gann, 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent. "We are a 4-H team, and we work together to create great opportunities for our children. She is the best volunteer in the state!"

Newman takes no credit for her hard work. Instead, she is already thinking of other ways the home might be used for children.

"The kids and the people of Pickens County have far surpassed my expectations," Newman said. "This has been an incredible journey, but we are not finished! "

By joining hands to help children, one community transformed a neglected old house into a home, alive with the voices of heart-happy children, laughing, learning, and living life. In so doing, they found a community hub where they can come together to improve life for all.

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

A Southern Girl Conquers the North

Gettysburg College sophomore Ali Nettles has become a respected student leader on campus.

by Alvin Benn
Selma native Ali Nettles, a sophomore at Gettysburg College, holds a Gettysburg T-shirt on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 
Can a Deep South descendant of the Confederacy find true happiness in a state where the Civil War continues to be studied long after it ended?

You betcha. Not only has Ali Nettles done just that, she’s already a leader at Gettysburg College where she’s made quite a splash in and out of the classroom.

Her contemporaries soon began identifying her as "the girl from Alabama" and warmly received her into their academic ranks

Mention Gettysburg to most students of the Civil War and you’ll find a variety of reasons why it ended the way it did, with so many bodies strewn over a battlefield that was a crucial part of a war that claimed the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers.

For those unfamiliar with the Civil War, Gettysburg was the site of a bloody three-day clash between the North and South in early July of 1863, one that continues to be studied by historians and at military schools.

The war continued two years after the Gettysburg battle and President Lincoln’s brief, historic "Four Score" speech, something that has been etched into America’s conscience.

Ali Nettles, 19, applied to several colleges before selecting Gettysburg College, a relatively small school with 2,600 students. It’s not unusual for her to occasionally find herself discussing "the war" in one of her classes.

The only other Alabama student at Gettysburg College graduated about a year ago, so Ali Nettles has the field to herself when it comes to representing her birth state.

"I’ve always trusted her judgment because I value independent thinking and have tried to let her know my feelings on that subject," said John Nettles, her dad, who beams when his daughter’s achievements are mentioned.

She is majoring in political science and is thinking about possibly going to law school once she gets her bachelor’s degree, but right now, her thoughts are on her sophomore year.

"If law school doesn’t work out, I’m sure something else will come along," she said, a few days ago during an interview with her dad at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library. "What I’d really like to do is move to Washington to possibly work there."

She sailed through her first undergraduate year at Gettysburg, where she became class president, and will take her place in the Student Senate when school resumes in a few days.

Ali is quick to acknowledge the fact that "not many" ran for class president, but is happy to report that she had her share of active support from classmates during her successful campaign for president.

"I came here without connections to anybody, so it meant a lot to me to have made so many good friends," said Ali. "I feel right at home here."

Gettysburg College is a private, four-year liberal arts school founded in 1832, just one year after the University of Alabama was created.
John Nettles and his daughter Ali discuss civil rights events that occurred in Selma. 
"Nettles" is the name of a prominent Alabama family, once guided by Dr. James "Buddy" Nettles. He was an amazing man who not only spent much of his life as a country doctor, he also was a shrewd businessman who founded a communications company.

He did it to help residents living in one of Alabama’s most rural areas and his son continues to carry on in his honor. John Nettles is president of Pine Belt Communications.

Ali is familiar with Selma’s current crime problems and became a victim a few days ago when one or more vandals smashed out one of the windows in her vehicle.

She and friends had just left Selma’s movie theater when the damage was spotted. Gone were a computer and other items, but there was little that could be done. Luckily, no one was injured.

Apprised of what happened, Ali’s dad wasn’t about to blame anyone, but he was well aware of a trend that seems to be increasing across America.

"We don’t have a lock on racial prejudices in the South," her father said. "It’s happening all over the country. If the world would function better than it has, we’d have a lot less trouble. As for me, I try to look beyond the surface."

His views about the state of America today are worth repeating because they are valuable reflections from John Nettles, a man who has been around, someone who operates a successful business and has never forgotten words of wisdom from his late, great father.

Dr. Nettles displayed his community spirit by serving on the state Board of Education, representing the First Congressional District. During that time, he also promoted the development of state teacher colleges.

He had no specialty because he preferred general medicine, most of it in Wilcox County, where he spent 43 years. His territory included Camden, Sweet Water, Nanafalia, Dixons Mill and, of course, Arlington.

Some of Alabama’s rural communities can be difficult to pronounce at times, but the bottom line is easy to understand. Just think about Dr. Nettles and all the good things he did for rural Alabama during his long, productive life.

He died in 1994 at the age of 73. His son and granddaughter are carrying on the good things that Dr. Nettles did for so long.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Ag Insight

USDA Changes Procedures on Releasing Key Reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has implemented new procedures for releasing market-affecting crop and livestock reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) to ensure that everyone has access to the information at the same time.

Under current "lockup" procedures, information is released to the public at 12:00 p.m. (Eastern), though the news media are allowed access approximately 90 minutes earlier, with their reports embargoed until the noon release time.

Prompted by inquiries from the public, USDA examined the procedures and determined that technological advancements have afforded recipients of customized media reports a market advantage not enjoyed by members of the general public.

As a result, as of Aug. 1, USDA began providing media the same access to the NASS and WAOB reports as the public, with the information becoming available to all at 12:00 p.m. on days the reports are released.

It takes USDA data roughly 2 seconds to be transmitted and posted for the public to read. Meanwhile, press organizations have access to high-speed fiber optic lines out of the USDA lockup and advertise paid services to clients that offer "ultra-low latency" data transmission speed.

News media have approximately 90 minutes to distill the reports down to their clients’ needs.

Evidence suggests there is significant trading activity worth millions of dollars in the one- to two-second period immediately following 12:00 p.m., which could not be based on the public reading of USDA data. The inference is that private agents are paying the news agencies for faster data transmission to get a jump on the market.

Continued Downward Trend Predicted
in Net Cash Farm Income

USDA’s Economic Research Service is forecasting net cash farm income in 2018 will be 7 percent below the average from 1970-2016.

Farm sector net cash farm income is a measure of the profitability of farming and hence, the ability of farmers to meet loan obligations, invest in new machinery, remain in production, expand their operations and provide for family living expenses.

Beginning in 2010, inflation-adjusted farm sector net cash income rose to near record highs, peaking in 2012. Much of this growth was due to commodity cash receipts, which increased by $113.2 billion from 2009 to 2014.

Between 2012 and 2016, however, farm sector net cash income fell 33 percent to $97.3 billion. This is the largest multiyear decline since the 1970s in both absolute and percentage terms.

Slowing global demand, a strengthening dollar, and large inventories depressed crop, as well as animal and animal product, prices and contributed to the decline.

Although the decline is large, net cash farm income has returned near levels seen before the record growth from 2010 to 2013 when viewed over a longer time horizon.

Farm Labor Housing Eligibility Changed

USDA has released guidance on changes made to farm labor housing eligibility.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 amended a section of the Housing Act of 1949 to extend the Farm Labor Housing tenant eligibility to agricultural workers legally admitted to the United States and authorized to work in agriculture.

Due to the rule change, domestic farm laborers legally admitted into the country under an H-2A work visa are now eligible for this state-inspected housing.

Noting that seasonal workers coming to the United States do "tremendous work for American agriculture," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said he is pleased that USDA programs now can better assist farmers needing to provide housing for the workers while they’re here.

Burgers for Cookout Costing More

If cheeseburgers are on your Labor Day weekend cookout menu, they will cost you 20 percent more than their inflation-adjusted cost from 20 years ago. And that greater cost is due to higher ground beef prices.

In 2018, the ingredients for a home-prepared, quarter-pound cheeseburger total $1.69, with ground beef making up the largest cost at $0.92. This same cheeseburger would have cost $0.91 to prepare in 1998, the equivalent of $1.40 in 2018 dollars, with ground beef accounting for $0.55 in 2018 dollars.

Today’s higher ground beef prices in grocery stores likely reflect cattle supply disruptions in the early 2000s and early 2010s, resulting in higher-than-average increases in retail ground beef prices during those years. Although U.S. beef production has since increased, prices are slower to retreat at the retail level.

In contrast, efficiencies throughout the food supply chain helped lower prices for the other cheeseburger ingredients. Inflation-adjusted retail bread prices between 1998 and 2018 fell by 2.8 percent, tomato prices by 12.3 percent, lettuce prices by 27.9 percent, and cheddar cheese prices by 5.7 percent.

Programs to Battle Opioid Problem Highlighted in Interactive Map

A new feature on the USDA’s rural opioid misuse webpage enables visitors to use an interactive map to learn about, access or replicate actions rural leaders are taking in small towns across the country to address the opioid epidemic.

The map, which includes prevention, treatment and recovery strategies, can be viewed at

USDA collected model practices displayed on the interactive map from regional opioid misuse roundtables and through the "What’s working in your town?" form on the USDA opioid misuse webpage.

The agency invites others toshare effective actions taken in response to the opioid epidemic in rural communities by filling out the "What’s working in your town?" form.

California Leads Nation in Food, Beverage Processing Plants

Not surprisingly, California leads the nation in its share of the 35,457 food and beverage processing plants located throughout the United States, according to a recent count.

Thanks to its favorable climate for growing a variety of crops and other factors, such as its large ports and other infrastructure, the state had 5,639 food and beverage processing operations, followed by New York’s 2,578 and Texas with 2,252.

These states were also the top three in number of total manufacturing plants and were among the four most populated. California and Texas also ranked among the top four states in agricultural production.

California holds an important national position in several food processing industries, including fruit and vegetables, sugar, wine, and coffee. The state also has numerous dairy processing plants to serve its large population and those of other states.

In New York, bakery manufacturing accounted for the most food and beverage processing plants, followed by wineries and breweries.

Bakery manufacturing and animal slaughter and processing industries accounted for 40 percent of Texan food and beverage processing plants.

Employment at food and beverage processing operations nationwide totaled more than 1.5 million.

Agricultural Free Trade Group Battles Administration’s Tariff Plans

National farm organizations are collaborating in a campaign to inform the public about the impact of steps by the Trump Administration to increase tariffs on goods exported to the United States by a number of other nations.

Among the sponsors of Farmers for Free Trade are the National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, CropLife America and the Farm Bureau.

In a series of television ads, news releases and other communications, the organization describes the broad economic impact the Administration’s trade measures will have. That impact includes not only the loss of U.S. agricultural sales abroad as targeted nations retaliate with higher tariffs on U.S. products but also the loss of jobs in other businesses dependent on the farming industry and overseas sales and higher consumer prices on imported goods.

A number of nations whose products have been targeted with higher tariffs already have announced higher duties on U.S. goods. American farm products are among those that will be hit hard.

Livestock Slaughter Weights Increasing

Regardless of species, livestock and poultry animals are being slaughtered at heavier weights than in the past.

Aside from the availability of relatively cheap feed ingredients (corn/soy) since 2014, improved feed efficiency has contributed to faster growth and higher animal weights.

The longer-term trend marked by sustained growth in dressed (butchered) weights and live weights is due, in large part, to changes in animal genetics through selective breeding and the implementation of modern and improved production systems.

On a dressed-weight basis, cattle have increased 73 pounds on average since 2000, a gain of 10 percent. At the same time, hogs have increased 18 pounds, or 9 percent.

Poultry also has become larger since 2000. On a live-weight basis, turkeys are 5.3 pounds (20.5 percent) larger on average, while broilers are 1.2 pounds (23.9 percent) larger.

Bay Laurel

by Nadine Johnson

Yesterday I made beef stew. The first thing I did after I got the pot out of the pantry was drop a bay leaf in. Gradually, the well-seasoned meat, broth, onions and potatoes were all added. I feel sure my neighbors picked up on the wonderful aroma escaping from my apartment. One son and his wife came to dinner.

Oh, I must tell you also – I put a sour cream pound cake into the oven, which was ready to remove at high noon. We ate it while it was hot. This son had been remembering "hot" cake in his youth and hinting for me to provide another.

But this story is actually about bay or bay leaves. Bay (Laurus nobilis) is an evergreen shrub which can grow into a small tree. I once grew a bay shrub. When I purchased the plant, it was probably six inches from the taproot to the top of the leaves. I kept it in a pot until it was about two feet tall. At that point, I planted it in an area of my yard where it would receive plenty of sunlight but be protected somewhat by other growth in case of severely cold weather. I was warned that these plants are not completely winter-hardy in Alabama.

My plant survived and grew beautifully. The time came for me to move away and leave it. I cut limbs from the tree and hung them to dry. I removed the leaves from the limbs. Those leaves found a home in a large-mouthed gallon jar. Bay leaves will always be on hand when needed for seasoning.

This plant goes by a good many names. Bay laurel, sweet bay, true laurel, Grecian laurel or simply laurel. It is a native of the Mediterranean region. It seems that they have naturalized in California and are sometimes referred to as "California laurel."

A laurel wreath is a symbol of courage, victory and honor. In ancient Greece, bay wreaths were awarded to victors and most often worn on the head.

Bay leaves cannot be digested, therefore they should not be swallowed. It’s advisable to remove bay leaves from cooked foods after using as seasoning. Sometimes an unsuspecting person will chew a leaf and swallow it. This can cause severe health problems.

If anyone is interested in purchasing a bay plant, contact me and I can give you a good source.

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

Co-op Goat Feeds: 16% Goat Pellets and TP Goat Gro

The right feed you need for your bucks, does and kids.

by John Sims

Do you want bigger, healthier, more productive goats? Use Co-op goat feeds and see the difference a quality feed program can make. We offer two main goat feeds: Co-op 16% Goat Pellets and TP Goat Grower. Each of these feeds has complete vitamin and mineral fortification, including ammonium chloride to help reduce urinary calculi.

Co-op 16% Goat Pellets have a high protein level for starting and growing your goats. This product is available with or without Deccox for coccidiosis prevention.

TP Goat Grower has a higher energy level and increased supplementation for growing, breeding, and showing. This feed contains Deccox for the prevention of coccidiosis.

Feed containing Deccox should not be fed to does producing milk for human consumption.

Each of these feeds can be fed at the rate of 1 to 2% of body weight. Always provide fresh clean water and free choice Formax Goat minerals or STIMUL-LYX performance goat tubs.

Stop by your local Quality Co-op store and give your bucks, does, and kids the nutrition they need for outstanding performance. Find your nearest Co-op location at

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

Corn Time



FFA Sentinel: Alabama FFA State Officers Take on Washington, D.C.

by Summer Parker
Alabama state FFA officers meet with Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th congressional district. 
As the newly elected State Officers of the Alabama FFA Association, we had the opportunity to attend the first State Officer Summit, held in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., July 22-26. We started off our week by stopping by the Arlington National Cemetery. At the cemetery, we were able to witness with honor the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While at Arlington we also viewed the eternal flame that stands by John F. Kennedy’s memorial and the 400,000-plus soldiers honored at the cemetery.

The purpose of our trip was not simply to take in the history and historic sites of our capitol. Throughout the week, we attended numerous leadership-training workshops that concentrated on advocacy. The State Officer Summit, hosted by the National FFA Organization, allowed 51 of the 52 state FFA associations to come together and have a voice on Capitol Hill. State Officers from across the nation were sent to put these skills to action; each state was able to speak to several of their congressional representatives.

Andy Chamness, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary, noted, "How many times does a 17-18 year old have the opportunity to meet with congressional leaders and advocate for agriculture? How many students have that confidence and skill set? FFA members do, and that is why American agriculture will stand solid because these young leaders are part of that inspiring task. I am so proud of our six state officers from Alabama and the work they are doing."

As we toured our National Mall, we were given examples of advocates, including: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and the many soldiers who fought throughout history, by having the opportunity to visit iconic monuments such as the World Wars I and II, Korean War, and Vietnam memorials. We also had the honor to visit the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, and Dr. King Memorials as well as see the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.
From left to right, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary Andy Chamness and state officers Summer Parker – Enterprise, President, Matthew Wilson – Horseshoe Bend, Secretary and Maggie Edwards – Woodland, Vice President ,conduct legislative visits at the Capitol. 
The 300 State Officers who attended the summit were fortunate enough to hear from Sonny Perdue, United States Secretary of Agriculture. While visiting, Mr. Perdue spoke to us about the future of agriculture being in good hands. Through this conference, State Officers from all fifty states and Puerto Rico were able to come together for one purpose: to further their knowledge of agriculture through advocacy.

As president and vice-president, Maggie Edwards and I participated in the State Leadership Conference. The purpose of this conference is to educate leadership delegates about the process of delegation. We reviewed the proposals for alterations to our organization, offered to the delegation from state associations and National FFA Staff.

As delegates, we received two extra days of training in order to ensure our knowledge of the proposals, prior to those proposals being discussed and voted on by a larger delegate body at the 91st National FFA Convention. We took part in deciding the committees that will meet at the National Convention and Expo in October. Maggie will be serving as a sentinel on the committee for the evaluation of agricultural opportunities within FFA programs and activities. I have the opportunity and responsibility to serve as chair on the committee to increase and improve the relevancy of FFA alumni and supporters.
The Alabama FFA State Officer team meeting with U.S. Representative for Alabama’s 4th congressional district, Robert Aderholt. Left to right are Treasurer, Ethan Phillips; Secretary, Matthew Wilson; Vice President, Maggie Edwards; U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt; President, Summer Parker; Sentinel, Kalyn Rouseand; Reporter, Preston Hughes. 
As our week ended, the presidents and vice-presidents of all associations represented attended an Alumni and Supporters breakfast at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Gaining this new knowledge makes us confident that we can better our association. The team and I are very grateful for this opportunity to learn and look forward to continuing our year of service and applying our new skills here at home.

While we were continuing our training, the four state officers who were not in this portion of the delegate process, continued their training by attending a briefing from White House Staff in the Executive Building of the White House. Ethan Phillips, State Treasurer, said, "What an honor to be able to be in the White House knowing that the President of the United States is that close." On that particular day the President was meeting just across from where FFA members met with the European Union to discuss issues that directly relate to agriculture. This set of officers also had the opportunity to tour the National Museum of American History and see the Sweet Heart FFA Jacket on display in the Smithsonian.

All six Alabama FFA State Officers, the three District Presidents and one FFA member at large will represent the Alabama Delegation at the 91st National FFA Convention in October, where the delegate work that began here at our summit will be further discussed and voted on by the entire delegate assembly.

To find out more about the National FFA organization or Alabama FFA visit or

Summer Parker is a member of the Enterprise FFA Chapter and is currently serving as the Alabama FFA State President.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

The fig variety (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’), produced tremendously this year. 
by Herb T. Farmer

I know, I know, most of you associate September with fall. But, there are 22¾ days of summer left. It’s still as hot as Hades right now, and the kids started back to school at the beginning of August!

The Autumnal Equinox isn’t until Saturday, September 22 at 8:54 PM. That’s right! Then fall begins with only 7 days, 3 hours and 6 minutes of September left! I’m still trying to figure out why that screwball, Pope Gregory XIII, laid out the Gregorian calendar the way he did.

No matter. I’m too old to fight that dog.

Let’s see here. The fig trees produced bumper crops. I have no explanation for it, except "it’s about time!" There were so many at the beginning of August, I think my friends and neighbors got tired of me giving them away.

Blackberries were the same. Bunches and bunches more than I had time to process, although there will be some fine batches of wine to be bottled in a couple more weeks.

I bought a watermelon from a local popup farmers market back in May. The farmer said he was from Georgia and grew about 2 acres of one type of watermelon. It was a big melon, about 45 pounds. The farmer told me that he didn’t remember which kind it was, but he’d been growing the same type for more than 10 years.

He said he used to grow more varieties back in the day, but he’d gotten too old to pick them and take them to market. He said his grandson used to help him until he went off to college. They would split the profit each year, and that was what paid for part of his education!

There’s a story in all this rambling; just be patient.
While harvesting figs a few weeks ago, I noticed this Eastern Box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) munching on his share of what the birds had knocked from the tree. 
The farmer said the seed for this particular cultivar was never ordered. It was just a seed or a few that ended up in the package with some of the other types he grew. He said his grandson was sure surprised when these long-striped melons kept growing and growing in the middle of the patch.

After they tasted the watermelon, he said they decided to save some seeds for the following year. After three or four years of growing the same melons from saved seeds, they realized that it must be an heirloom variety and not a hybrid. At that point the farmer decided to name it his "Family Reunion #1" because most of the fruits weighed more than 50 pounds, year after year. He said it was big enough to take to a family reunion and not be embarrassed.

So, here’s the short story. I haven’t grown any kind of melons for a couple of years. However, a watermelon vine popped up (volunteered) just down the hill from my main compost heap. There was certainly more vine than melon, and it only had the one female blossom on it, but the melon I harvested weighed 49 pounds! It was as sweet as could be and, of course, I saved the seed for next year!

The other night, I decided not to cook supper. I just snacked on mixed nuts and an apple.

That didn’t go over well, because I woke up at about 2 a.m. starving! One of my late-night comfort foods, that I have loved since as far back as I can remember, is buttered toast and jelly. So, I cut off a couple of thin slices of a boule that I baked last week, buttered it up and popped it into the toaster oven. When it came out of the oven, I opened a jar of the goodness I created out of all those figs I harvested, fig preserves.

… And all was right with the world.
The Fiery Skippers (Hylephila phyleus) have been in abundance this year. Embrace the pollinators. 
I know I promised you two recipes this month. The above was a recipe for satisfaction.

Lately, I have had a taste (almost craving) for spicy foods. Even with watermelon, salt isn’t enough to satisfy my palate. Have you ever dusted your watermelon with Five-spice powder? Oh, yum! That always gets me going.

Five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, anise seed, fennel seed, cloves and black pepper, all ground to a fine powder. (I usually use cayenne instead of black pepper.) Dust your watermelon with that and the flavor just pops!

Breakfasts around here sometimes, not often nonetheless, don’t include red meat.

Here’s my recipe for a spicy, gluten-free breakfast that’ll open your eyes for sure!
Start with fresh ground, dark (French) roast, 100% Arabica bean coffee. Now, let’s make some Yucatan breakfast tortillas!

Slice and de-seed 4 or 5 large sweet banana peppers. Do the same with 4 or 5 large jalapeño chilis. Now, slice a medium yellow onion and place all the vegetables in a large cast iron skillet set to medium heat. Coat the vegetables with vegetable oil then salt and pepper to taste.

While the vegetables are cooking, cut and dice a large Haas avocado and coat it generously with lime juice. While you’re at it, add about 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the veg in the skillet.

When the vegetables are almost done, add a dollop of unsalted butter and stir the mixture until it is completely coated. Adjust your heat and slide your skillet about halfway off the stove eye. Move all of the vegetables to the off-heat side of the skillet. Raise the heat to medium high and place your corn tortillas on the hot part of the skillet, one at a time to toast them. The skillet will impart the flavors of your vegetables and butter.

Beat eggs one at a time … Yes! Eggs!
This is my version of Yucatan breakfast tortillas.? 
In a second, smaller cast iron skillet, seasoned for egg cooking, preheat to medium-low and add vegetable oil.

Pour egg into skillet and adjust the heat as necessary. You will want your egg to cook like a fluffy omelet without browning it. Flip the egg to finish cooking.

Flip the tortilla to toast the other side, and place a small slice (about ½ Tbs) of cream cheese in the middle. Place the egg on top of the cheese, on the tortilla and then stuff your hand-held breakfast masterpiece with vegetables.

Before adding your next tortilla, drag the vegetables around the skillet to spread the oil-butter combo and keep the surface wet.

Repeat! Serve with diced avocado and sliced tomato. Enjoy!

Got any good hot and spicy recipes to share? Email them to me. I’ll try almost anything once! Got to run! I’m hungry!

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".

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin
Repeat-blooming roses make for a nice addition to your fall garden. 

Second Spring for Roses

Repeat-blooming roses that are looking leafless and ragged here at the end of the season can often be coaxed into a nice fall show with just a little care early this month. Rejuvenate plants by snipping off dead blooms, stems, and seed pods. Give the plant a good shake to make it drop as many diseased leaves as it will, then rake and throw away the old mulch to replace with fresh. Spray thoroughly with Neem oil or other fungicide labeled for mildew and black spot on roses. Fertilize with compost, manure, or a slow-release fertilizer. Water at the ground, not overhead, to avoid wetting foliage beyond what is done naturally by rain and dew. Established, healthy roses will reward you with a nice flush of blooms in October.

Watch for Free Pine Needles

Rake pine needles as soon as they drop to gather clean pine straw before the other trees drop their leaves. Store dry needles in leaf bags that will be ready when you need a good, clean mulch for your shrubs and flowers. Blueberries and azaleas love it.
Fall’s cool weather encourages spring-planted flowers to rebloom. 

Fall Pick-me-up for Flowers

Spring-planted flowers, that come back beautifully as soon as the weather cools, are petunias, geraniums, million bells, Superbells (Calibrachoa) and autumn sage salvia such as Lipstick and Hot Lips. Trim back the tips of the branches and feed them with a little liquid fertilizer to encourage new flowers. Marigolds in the garden may still look good, but if not, give them the same treatment.

Bamboo Edging

Recycle runaway bamboo on your property as stakes, trellises, and even fencing. I saw this small edging idea, and many others, at the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. Pieces of bamboo are cut the desired length and tied together with weatherproof rope. The designs and structures that can be made from bamboo seem endless, from simple bean teepees to solid screening fences. Many of the readers of this publication are good with their hands and could copy just about any picture they see. For endless ideas on how to put to good use any bamboo that is invading your property, search Google images and Pinterest for "bamboo garden structures." There is no shortage of inspiration.
Growing onions requires abundant sun and good drainage. 

Onions for Spring and Fall

Fall is a good time to plant onions. You can start with sets, most of which are long-day onions, to produce a good crop of scallions for winter and spring. For full-sized onion bulbs, start from seeds or transplants. Bonnie seedlings and onion bunches will be available in September. Remember to plant onion transplants shallowly. When planted too deeply they don’t make full-sized bulbs.

Savoy Cabbage

When selecting cabbage transplants for the fall garden, include some of the savoy types for their cold hardiness. Savoy cabbage tends to be the most tolerant of freezing weather of all the heading cabbage. Plants set out may not reach full size before winter, but they will certainly be big enough to eat. Heads that sit out in the garden through frost often taste sweeter, just like collards.
Arum italicum brightens a wooded garden. It works well with the hosta that produces in the summer. 

Italian Arum

This exotic-looking perennial (Arum italicum) offers pretty, evergreen, hosta-like foliage for shady gardens. The dark green leaves marked with white veins brighten the floor of a wooded garden, working in nicely with ferns and many other woodland species. Although tropical-looking, the foliage is very cold-hardy, surprisingly at its peak in winter when it is needed most. As the weather warms, the leaves die back, which is just about the time that hostas can cover the space. Sometimes gardeners plant hostas and arum together so that the plants alternate seasons. In summer, Italian arum produces a showy stalk of orange berries, which can be easily removed if you don’t want it to reseed, or be present among the hostas. All parts of the plants are high in oxalic acid and can be poisonous, so it should not be planted where animals or children would be attracted.

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

It’s Dove Season!

A dove shoot is fun for the whole family and can provide many tasty meals.

by Christy Kirk

Once school has started back, you know what is coming next. Dove season starts this month. By September, daily schedules become set as classwork, homework and after-school activities increase. By the end of the first month of school all of these new responsibilities can be overwhelming. Keeping a predictable routine during the school year is important, but loading up and taking your children to a dove shoot can be a much-needed break for the entire family.

Dove shoots are usually a great choice for young children because even though it is a hunt, they can still be kids and have fun. Of course, Rolley Len and Cason think that the more kids there are, the better. Hours pass quickly while they run around and play with new and old friends, which is great because dove shoots last for hours.

Hunting can take a lot of time and patience, but knowing where your next meal is coming from provides food security. For some people, a dove shoot is just for fun, while others are aiming to put dinner on the table. If you have more than you can use, you can always share with your neighbors or with someone in need.

If you are doing the cooking, remember there are many creative ways to prepare dove breast. Just keep in mind that they are small so make sure you have enough for you and your guests. A serving is between 3 and 8 breasts depending on the appetite.

This dove season try a few of these flavorful recipes below. The recipes are fairly simple and use ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

For dove seasons by zone and bag limits:


  • Washed and dried dove breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon pepper
  • Seasoning salt
  • Flour
  • Oil
Season the breasts to taste with the first four ingredients. Dredge the breasts in flour and fry in a large skillet in hot oil. Serve covered with gravy.
For gravy

  • Dove drippings
  • Flour
  • Water
Add flour and water to the drippings in the skillet. Cook over low heat and stir constantly until it thickens.


  • 6 whole dove breasts, washed and dried
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 1 cup oil
Season dove breasts with salt and pepper an hour before cooking. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika and dredge the breasts. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and brown lightly on all sides. Remove the birds and drain all but about 2 Tablespoons oil. Pour the seasoned flour into the hot skillet and stir over low heat for four minutes until browned. Slowly stir in hot chicken stock and cook a few more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the dove breasts to the gravy, cover, and bake in the oven for one hour or until tender. If the gravy gets too thick, add more heated chicken stock.


  • 4 dove breasts, washed and dried
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • ½ cup beer
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Clove of garlic, minced
  • Dash of MSG, optional
Mix all of the ingredients together except the doves and cook until the mixture begins to boil. Pour the mixture over the dove breasts and marinate at least one hour. Broil or grill the doves, basting frequently with marinade.


  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 small onions, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 25 doves, cleaned
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting your work surface
  • ¾ cup water
Boil chicken broth with celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Add doves and simmer till tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove doves to cool and return broth to a boil. While it boils, lightly flour a work surface. Mix the flour with water and form a ball of dough that isn’t too sticky. Roll dough into a very thin rectangle. Cut the dough into strips using a pizza cutter. As you pick the strips up, stretch them a little to make them thinner. Drop the strips into boiling broth one at a time. Cook for about 20 minutes. Shred the dove meat and when the dumplings are cooked, add the dove meat to broth and salt and pepper to taste.


  • 12 whole doves, washed and dried
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons hot sauce
  • 4 thin slices of jalapenos
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Oil for frying
Halve the birds and remove the breastbone. Soak the halves in buttermilk for 6-10 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the birds from the buttermilk and season well with salt and pepper and dip in flour. Shake off the excess flour and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes. Heat a few inches of oil to 375° in a fryer or large pot. Melt the butter, combine with the honey, garlic and hot sauce in a large bowl. Fry the birds in small batches until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss the birds in the butter mixture, then add the jalapenos and parsley.

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.

Life Underground

Owners of earth-sheltered homes enjoy the benefits of greater energy efficiency. 
by Suzy McCray

How many thousands of children (and adults!) have been fascinated by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of "the House in the Ground" in her book, "On the Banks of Plum Creek."

Commonly used by many settlers out west during that time period, "dugouts" were quick ways for settlers to get their families safe, warm and dry.

As Laura described the tiny home her Pa had traded for, she noted, "The front wall was built of sod. Mr. Hanson had dug out his house, and then had cut long strips of prairie sod and laid them on top of one another, to make the front wall. It was a good, thick wall with not one crack in it. No cold could get through that wall."

And what about that roof!!! The ceiling was made of branches woven together and then with hay piled on top. On top of that was sod.

Laura continued, "They all went up the path and stood on the roof ... no one could have guessed it was a roof. Grass grew on it and waved in the wind just like all the grasses along the creek bank."

The family was snug in that little house (even though cattle hooves often threatened to tumble the roof down upon them!) until Pa was able to build yet another log cabin.

But what memories that little dugout brought!

Then there’s the Hobbit House in J.R.R. Tolkein’s books … the home for thousands of young folks’ minds as they imagined "holing up" snugly away from the world.

But type in "underground house" or "earth-sheltered" or "earth-bermed" house now and you may find that building at least partially underground may not just be something for fairy tales and books!

Every fall there’s folks in Blount County that sponsor a Solar Tour and in addition to a hay-bale house and others, there’s an underground house to tour. And construction makes sense in a lot of ways, not just for us old-school back-to-the-landers.

Mother Earth News notes in an internet article that back in the 1970s, earth-sheltered homes "enjoyed great popularity, thanks in part to the energy crisis resulting from the 1973 oil embargo. Adventurous builders and researchers explored various forms of earth-sheltered building, from underground excavated spaces to surface-level buildings with earth piled in berms against their walls. People searching for alternatives to conventional building showed that sheltering a building with earth could reduce energy costs for both heating and cooling by half or more, at little or no increased expense."

While I’d often thought about that technique and even considered it here on a hillside on the farm, I’d never really been associated with an underground-type house until my husband began the process of selling his.

That spacious three-bedroom home was built in 1968 by a man who dug into a bank and built away!

From the roadway in front, the house looked like a conventional stick-built brick home. Even folks from our church who had visited regularly (often at night) didn’t realize the home was partially underground!

Mack bought the home in 1976 and lived there until last year. It was a spacious, three-bedroom home, with a partially underground, huge covered patio as well as a partially underground three-bay workshop.

Since he had originally bought the home with owner financing, we had no idea the hurdles the new buyer and we would have to jump in order for that new young man to qualify for a conventional loan.

While the Department of Energy touts the marvels of underground, earth-sheltered, and earth-bermed homes as bastions of energy savings (and they are!), getting that loan proved to be the proverbial threading a camel through a needle’s eye ... although it was accomplished!
So here’s some advantages and disadvantages if you want to build or buy such a home!
The walls of Mack’s house are 10-inch concrete block, with one-inch rebar through those blocks every seven to eight feet and the blocks then filled with concrete. The floors are concrete slab on which was originally tile and later carpet and ceramic tile, but which the new owner plans to cover with laminate flooring.

The windows across the sides and back are 2 feet by 4 feet and are situated right under the roofline, with the earth up to those windows on the outside on the sides and back.
The front opens up to a spacious, approximately 8 by 20-foot sun porch and the front bedroom and living room feature conventional full-sized windows.

The house had no central heat and air for the first decade or so that Mack lived there, relying instead on the natural coolness of the home (and fans) during the summer and a wood-burning heater in the winter.

The roof sits just above ground level. Unlike the dugout in Laura’s story, this house has a regular rafter roof (see photos) which were originally shingles but which were replaced by a metal roof less than five years ago.

Mack laughs and notes the first couple of years friends and family from far and near found it convenient to visit whenever tornadoes were in the forecast!

The home required little upkeep and kept his energy costs way down.

He had planned to live there the rest of his life. But sometimes life takes turns we don’t anticipate, so the house was put up for sale.

Lots of folks were interested, but one young man in particular fell for the house the first time he toured it. And the loan process began!

While he had already been approved for the amount of the home’s purchase, governmental regulations began to surface one at a time! Although the house is in an unincorporated area of our county, most building codes and regulations still had to be adhered to.
These windows were initially too high off the floor for government regulations requiring safe escape in case of fire.  
One of the main sticking points was the location of the two back bedroom’s windows. According to governmental regulations, the windows were too high off the floor for safe escape in case of fire. That problem was eventually handled, but that’s something you need to be aware of if you are buying or building such a home!

Also, underwriters and lenders require that appraisers produce several "comps" – similar homes in your area and county, that have recently sold, and that are approximately the same age and same size.

Hum ... well it’s not like Blount is a haven for underground homes even though there is one just about 200 yards from the house that was just sold! It appears that once someone buys or builds an underground or earth-sheltered home, they don’t ever want to move ... they’re pretty happy right there! So finding comparable homes that had been sold was just another hurdle, that was also later overcome.

(Somehow they wouldn’t let us use one I found on the internet. Known as "The Burrow," in Canterbury, Great Britain, it sold in 2007 for $2 million! It featured five bedrooms and was designed by Patrick Kennedy Sanigar, who then decided to build an entire village of earth-sheltered homes!)

Mother Earth News reminds us that a common misconception is that earth is a great insulator. "In fact, earth is a poor insulator, even more so if it’s wet. However, earth is a good capacitor that can absorb and store heat; its excellent thermal mass" storing not only warmth but coolness, which Mother Earth News notes is simply "heat at a lower temperature."

Wikipedia on the internet notes that such underground or earth-sheltered homes’ aim is "not to live under or in the ground, but WITH IT," using the ground as kind of an insulating blanket.

So would I build an underground house if I ever had to leave our current ranch-style house? We might. But if you make that decision, first see what building codes and regulations are in your area. Then ask yourself if you have the money on hand to build or buy what you want or if you’re going to have to finance at least part of it.

Find those folks hosting the Solar Tour in Blount County and go look at those houses. Ask a million questions and then ask some more.

And if you get it built and are enjoying its snugness, be prepared for lots of visitors during tornado season!

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

Making Lamar County Litter-Free

by Jamie Mitchell

Lamar County is working hard to educate their youth on litter control! I recently visited Lamar County Intermediate School and Sulligent School to present my anti-litter program to its students. In addition to my efforts, a team of volunteers has visited Sulligent Elementary School and Vernon Elementary School to continue spreading the word!

Jeanne Thornton, a local resident of Lamar County, put together the team of volunteers that has become the "litter presenters" for the county. Judge Dale McGee, Rita Wilson, and Frances Beasley are the other members of the team helping to make Lamar County litter-free. These volunteers have shown how to use bags, provided by PALS to pick up litter in the community, done presentations, and read books to the students, all to help eliminate litter in their county.

Please contact me if your local school would like to schedule a presentation or if you would like to present something to your local school or club. I may be reached by email at or by phone at (334) 224-7594. Schools may sign up for the Clean Campus Program online at One of the most wonderful things about the Clean Campus Program is that it is FREE to all Alabama Public and Private Schools, thanks to ALFA and the Alabama Farmer’s Cooperative.

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Predator Friendly

by Baxter Black, DVM

A concept in protecting coyotes has been introduced by a group of Montana animal rights disciples: Predator Friendly Wool. They proposed to develop a market for wool raised on ranches where sheep are not protected from predators. The sheep raisers who do not practice predator control are to be paid a bonus on their wool. They propose to sell Predator Friendly Wool products through boutiques.Well, all I can say is HALLELUJAH! When was the last time anybody wanted to help sheep people? The government took away wool subsidies, eco-freaks wear petrochemical derivatives and cowboys won’t eat sheep. Suddenly, from out of left field we have concerned citizens with expendable income willing to buy and wear wool items. The hitch is that the sheep ranchers must help feed the coyotes, wolves, bears, lions, eagles, wild dogs, carnivorous poachers and mutton-loving piranha.

How can we go wrong? We’ll get national promotion. We can reduce costs by laying off herders and border collies. Park the camp wagons, use the carbine guns as planters, sell the mules. And all for the price of a few baby lambs and old ewes.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And if the idea works it may spread to other areas. Inner cities, for instance. They suffer from a terrible image problem. The streets are unsafe; tourism is nil; budgets are always in the red. How about Predator Friendly Neighborhoods?

Any community that did not discourage muggers, burglars, murderers, arsonists, purse snatchers and other assorted predators would be given increased federal dollars.

Police expenses would be cut drastically. Courts would close at noon. Lawyers would desert the community. Tours could be scheduled that allowed sensitive patrons to see predators in their natural habitat rolling winos, mugging passers-by, selling drugs and stealing cars. And all in an environment nationally advertised as Predator Friendly.

And just like the Predator Friendly Wool program, the new Predator Friendly Neighborhood plan could all be accomplished simply by sacrificing a few more sheep.

Or, how ‘bout new election laws where presidents and politicians were elected for life? A Predator Friendly Congress, unaccountable to any voter.
Ah, my imagination ran away with me. But the sheep business needs a shot in the arm and the trade-off, though distasteful, is well worth considering. I guess my hesitation is the calling we have chosen.

Ezekiel 34:8: "...and my flock became prey to every beast of the field because there was no shepherd..."

We are the shepherds.

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,

Preparing Your Lawn for the Fall and Winter

It’s nearly time to spend your weekend doing something other than mowing.

by Tony Glover
This year was the year of lawn mower trouble for me. For years, I have borrowed my mom’s nice riding mower. I would mow her lawn and then mow mine. It died a painful death, and she contracted with someone to keep her lawn cut, and I was relegated back to my push mower, which also died after a few uses. These trials reminded me again why I have a love-hate relationship with lawn grass. I am thinking about two options for the future. One, put a fence around the lawn and get a flock of sheep or goats. This one is only a real option if my wife leaves me. Two, put a fence around the lawn and get a lawn-mowing robot. My wife thinks this is crazy, but she would not leave me over it.

Thankfully, fall is approaching, and I will not have to decide for a while. I know it is still hot outside, but fall will be here before you know it. The daylight hours are already shortening, and you may be like me in hoping you can put the lawn mower away in a few weeks. As fall approaches, it is a great time to prepare your lawn for winter and even for next year’s lawn health.

Most Bermuda, St. Augustine, Centipede and Zoysia lawns have already started to slow their growth for this season, or they will do so very soon. Hopefully, you stopped fertilizing in early August, and the lush green color is beginning to fade as the turf prepares for dormancy in the late fall and winter. As the nitrogen fertilizer is used up, our nighttime temperatures start to cool, and soil temperatures drop, you should see growth of these turf types drastically slow down and eventually stop.
Regional Extension Agent Tim Crow says, "The first frost brings an end to a lot of those resilient weeds that troubled us for most of the summer months, such as crabgrass, spurges, nutgrass, and Virginia buttonweed. A new set of problems await. As soil temperatures change and lower, a batch of winter weeds are ready to germinate. Fall pre-emergent herbicides are imperative to protect our lawns from unsightly winter annual weeds."

He goes on to explain "with any good management program, a strong healthy stand of turf is the best defense for nuisance weeds. The months of September and early October are ideal for getting pre-emergent herbicides down to control most of these winter weeds. For the most part, soil temperatures have not dropped to the point that weeds, such as annual blue grass, henbit, or hairy bittercrest, have started to germinate. To complement a healthy stand of turf, a few good products to control these and other winter weeds are pendimethalin, prodiamine, and atrazine. Most of these products need to be watered in for maximum protection, so if rain isn’t in the near forecast, provide adequate water through irrigation or manual watering to activate these products. Also, carefully check the label to see if the product you are looking at can be used on the grass you have."
Fall is also a good time to soil test your lawn to determine current nutrient levels and future nutrient needs. Go by your local County Extension office for a soil test box and instructions for testing. The soil test will determine the pH, which is a critical factor when trying to establish or maintain healthy turf. Most warm season grasses except Centipede prefer a pH of around 6 or 7. Centipede prefers pH that is a little lower and prefers less fertilizer.

Tim Crow also advises you to monitor the turf throughout the fall and winter months for any weeds that escaped pre-emergent herbicide applications. While pre-emergent herbicides are very good at limiting weeds, there are always chances for escapes, from things such as applicator error, poor drainage areas, thin turf, or poor edging with herbicides. Monitor the turf throughout the winter months and make spot applications of post-emergent herbicides for weeds that germinate. Most winter weeds can be maintained with a 3- or 4-way selective herbicide that your local Farmers Coop store will stock. Again, check the label to see if your grass tolerates the herbicide you have chosen.

Fall is also a good time to do a little maintenance on your mowing equipment. If it needs some repair work, most shops are not as busy in the fall and get increasingly busy as spring approaches. In my case, I need to start thinking about whether to choose low tech or high tech lawn maintenance for next year.

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

Rainfall Index Insurance for Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage

What is it and how can I enroll?

by Brittney Goodrich

The Rainfall Index insurance program for Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (RI-PRF) has been available for livestock producers in Alabama since its pilot run in 2009. In 2017, roughly 121,097 acres were insured in this program throughout the state of Alabama, representing 5.3% of Alabama’s pastureland. Alabama has some of the lowest participation rates in the country, despite its large reliance on grazing for livestock production. With the current subsidies involved with RI-PRF, average returns per acre in Alabama have been positive most years over the 2009-2017 period. So why are our RI-PRF participation rates so low? I attribute this to lack of awareness (or perhaps skepticism) of the program. This article provides an overview of the RI-PRF program and useful references if you would like to implement it as a risk management tool in your operation. (I will also note that a similar program exists for Alabama honey producers called the Apiculture Pilot Insurance Program. I will not discuss it here, but a reference is provided at the end of the article.)

RI-PRF is meant to insure livestock producers against lower than average rainfall which could decrease forage production, and ultimately would increase livestock feeding costs. This program covers perennial pasture, rangeland or forage so acreage that is only in annual forage is not covered by this insurance.

RI-PRF is index insurance, meaning policies are not based on actual forage yields. Payments and coverage are based on a grid system, where grids cover an area of 0.25 degrees latitude by 0.25 degrees longitude (roughly 12 miles by 12 miles in Alabama). A policy is based on the specific grid in which pastureland is located. Rainfall index values are calculated by a weighted average of nearby National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather stations, and are reported in relation to historical average rainfall in that grid.

To participate in RI-PRF, producers make a number of decisions:

  • Insured Acres: Number of acres to be insured
  • Intended Use: Haying or Grazing
  • If Intended Use is Haying:
  • Irrigation Practice: Irrigated or Non-irrigated
  • Organic Practice: Organic certified, Organic transitional or Not organic
  • Coverage Level: 70, 75, 80, 85, or 90%
  • Productivity Factor: 60-150%
  • Two-month Index Interval and Percentages of Value
Figure 1: Percentage of RI-PRF enrolled Alabama pastureland acreage in 2017 by two-month interval (Source: USDA RMA Summary of Business Reports and Data, 2017) 
The crux of the RI-PRF insurance lies in the choices of coverage level and two-month intervals. Producers must choose two-month intervals in which they want to insure against low rainfall. Two-month intervals run from January-February to November-December, and a participant cannot choose overlapping intervals, i.e., March-April and April-May. The participant must also place a percentage of value into each chosen interval. The percentage of value would likely reflect the ranking of which month intervals matter most for forage production. Figure 1 displays the percentage of Alabama enrolled acreage in each two-month interval in 2017. The most popular intervals were January-February, March-April and September-October.

The coverage level chosen determines the percentage of average historical rainfall at which insurance coverage kicks in. For example, if a participant chooses 90% coverage and January-February and March-April intervals, an indemnity would be paid if the rainfall index in either January-February or March-April falls below 90% of its historical average. There are different subsidy levels depending on the coverage level. Subsidy levels range from 51-59%, with the lowest coverage level (70%) receiving the highest subsidy level (59%).

The choices of intended use, irrigation practice, organic practice and productivity factor reflect the practices a producer uses and influence the dollar amount of protection received per acre. County base values are calculated by USDA RMA and reflect forage yields and the prices of alternative feed when forage production is decreased. Participants can update the county base values to better reflect the values in their own operation by adjusting the productivity factor. Irrigated hay production often has a lower value than non-irrigated, because hay production would not be lost so producers are compensated only for the cost of irrigating. Additionally, the intended use of grazing receives a lower base value than haying.
Figure 2: Per Acre Premium for Alabama pastureland enrolled in RI-PRF in 2017 by choice of two-month interval (Source: USDA RMA Summary of Business Reports and Data, 2017) 
The insurance premiums vary depending on the per-acre value, month intervals and coverage levels chosen. As seen in figure 2, on average in 2017 the interval September-October had the highest premium per acre across both grazing and haying acreage, while the February-March interval had the lowest per-acre premium. There are trade-offs with choosing the per-acre value and coverage levels. The higher the coverage level, the higher the cost of the insurance but the higher the chance of a collected indemnity. Similarly, the higher the per-acre insured amount, the higher the cost of the insurance but also the higher the indemnity amount paid out with low rainfall.

Table 1 shows an example: a 2018 policy option for an Alabama hay producer in Geneva County. USDA RMA provides a useful online decision tool that producers can access to find their grid, explore policy options and costs, and plot out historical rainfall indices and policy outcomes. RI-PRF insurance can be purchased by any authorized crop insurance agent. The enrollment deadline for 2019 RI-PRF is November 15, 2018, and the premium payment deadline is September 1, 2019.
Table 1: Example 2018 RI-PRF Policy (green-colored boxes represent producer inputs) 
As far as I can tell, RI-PRF seems to be a promising tool for livestock producers, especially at current subsidy levels. I encourage you to look into RI-PRF as a potential risk management strategy in your operation.

Additional Resources:

Brittney Goodrich is Extension Specialist, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology with Auburn University

September Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • As the weather cools, perennials that have overgrown their space or become crowded should be dug and divided or moved to a new area of the garden. Perennials include daylily, Shasta daisy, Stokes’s aster, purple coneflower and many more
  • At the end of the month sow seeds of radishes, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, kale, and other leafy crops that like autumn’s cool weather.
  • Start planting autumn onion sets.
  • Fall is an excellent time to shop for plants, trees and shrubs. Fall planting encourages good root development, allowing the plants to get established before spring. Keep well-watered, if there isn’t sufficient rain.
  • Pansies, ornamental kale/cabbage and fall-blooming chrysanthemums can be planted now to give a little color to the garden when summer flowers have faded away.
  • Plant hyacinth and amaryllis bulbs for forcing, to ensure a crowd of colorful blooms at Christmas. Perfect for a homemade Christmas present!
  • Plant perennial seeds.
  • Plant trees and shrubs. Keep well-watered, if there isn’t sufficient rain.
  • Pot up some spring-flowering bulbs for indoor color during the winter. Store the pots in a cool, dark place, until new growth emerges from the soil, and then move them to a bright window.
  • Scatter the seeds of wildflowers in rows or in open beds this month so that the young seedlings will be ready to be transplanted into their permanent spot next spring.
  • September is one of the best months of the entire year for seeding or sodding new coo season lawns.
  • September is the month to plant or transplant peonies. Plant the peony "eye" at ground level.
  • Start planting spring-flowering bulbs late in the month. Select healthy, disease-free bulbs. Add bone meal or bulb fertilizer into the planting hole as you prepare the soil.
  • Try autumn-sowing hardy annuals for bigger plants next year.
  • Choose and plant trees and shrubs with edible berries to provide meals for wildlife or select for bright splashes of fall foliage.
  • For an abundant tulip display, place 10 to 20 bulbs in a hole one foot in diameter; plant so that the bulbs aren’t touching.


  • Stop fertilizing your trees and flowering shrubs to allow this year’s growth to harden off before winter.
  • When beans and peas finish cropping simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.
  • You can feed your lawn with an autumn fertilizer rich in potassium and low in nitrogen.
  • Fertilize coleus and caladiums with ammonium sulfate at the rate of l/3 to l/2 pound per 100 square feet of bed area and water thoroughly if they are to remain lush and attractive until late fall.


  • Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs.
  • Pinch off any young tomatoes that are too small to ripen. Pinch out suckers if you have not already done so. This will channel energy into ripening remaining mature, full-sized fruits.
  • Pinch growing tips of gourds and pumpkins once adequate fruit set has occurred to redirect energy from the vines into fruit ripening.
  • Help your pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween by removing any leaves shadowing the fruits.
  • Keep deadheading annuals and perennials to extend their performance.
  • On your fall indeterminate tomato plants, it’s important to pinch out suckers, if you haven’t already done so. This will concentrate the plant’s energy into producing ripe fruits.


  • Now is a good time to think about putting in a drip irrigation system if you don’t already have one.
  • Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions.
  • Some vegetables such as cucumbers or eggplants become bitter if underwatered during peak growing times.
  • Keep your camellias and rhododendrons well-watered at this time of year to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.
  • September is normally a dry month in the South so trees and shrubs need your help. Proof of this is last fall’s record drought in the Southeast that killed a lot of plants we had assumed were drought-resistant. In dry weather, soak the roots of trees and shrubs – especially newly-planted ones – at least once a week using a hose, not a sprinkler system designed to water grass. If a tree or shrub looks wilted in early morning, it needs watering immediately.


  • Use insecticides wisely. Apply the proper product (insecticides or fungicides) just when and where needed and use dosages according to the package directions.
  • Attack those weeds! Commercial herbicides are particularly effective this time of year, as weeds are storing up nutrients in their roots and quickly absorb the herbicide where it counts.
  • One last effort at weeding will help to improve the appearance of your garden throughout the winter. Do not compost those invasive weeds – mulberry weed, nutsedge, gripeweed or little mimosa.
  • Continue to watch for insect, slug and snail, or disease damage throughout the garden, and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
  • Dispose of any diseased or infested plant debris by putting it in a garbage container to be disposed of by the city/county to avoid overwintering the problem.
  • One last effort at weeding will help to improve the appearance of your garden throughout the winter.
  • Slugs are particularly active in September – apply slug bait, diatomaceous earth, or other slug-control products during this time. Slugs lay clusters of eggs about the size of a small BB. Look under stones, boards, and around the edge of your lawn for these colorless eggs and destroy any you find.
  • Tidy up your strawberry plants and clear away any used straw, as this will harbor pests and diseases over winter.
  • If you have a St. Augustine lawn, be on the lookout for chinch bugs and apply control, the sooner the better.
  • Continue a disease-spray schedule on roses, as blackspot and mildew can be extremely damaging in September and October. Ferti-lome Systemic Fungicide II or Spectracide Immunox Multi-Purpose Fungicide used every 7 to 14 days, will usually give excellent control.


  • Use your garden journal. Record planting dates for seeds and plants, transplanting dates, source and cost for plants and seeds, any guarantees or warranties, photos, drawings, weather particulars such as rainfall, frost dates, etc., plant characteristics, date of germination, date they emerge in spring, appearance of blooms, date of harvest (for vegetables) or cut flowers taken, date and type of fertilizer or other chemicals applied (and to which plants)… anything you want to note. You’ll be amazed at what this tool will be worth in years to come.
  • Photograph your gardens and containers for a record of the year’s triumphs and frustrations.
  • Harvest herbs for freezing and drying in late morning after the dew dries on the leaves. Flavors are most concentrated just before plants bloom.
  • Look for paw paws ripening in the woods now.
  • Build compost bins in preparation for all the fallen leaves and dead plant material which you’ll be collecting over the coming months. Autumn leaves make a great addition to compost bins and are ideal for making leaf mold.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be checked regularly for ripeness. A little practice and experience will tell you when your produce is at its peak of flavor, and that is when it should be harvested.
  • Give the compost a turn.
  • If the lawn needs thatching, it can be done during the early fall.
  • If you have clay soil, now is the best time to improve it before it becomes too wet by incorporating organic matter.
  • Keep fruits picked as they ripen.
  • Keep harvesting crops. If you have a glut of fruit and veg try freezing, drying, pickling, and storing so that you can benefit from them later on.
  • Mark your perennials with permanent tags or stakes, or create a map showing their locations so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season. This will help you to avoid accidentally digging up something you intended to keep when you work in the garden this fall and next spring.
  • Once the tops of onions have withered, the bulbs should be lifted and dried in a warm, dry, sunny location for about 10 days. Then they should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • Order your strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries since these plants are best planted during their dormant season.
  • To test when apples are ripe gently lift them in the palm of your hand or give them a gentle pull – they should come away.
  • Place pumpkins and squashes on a piece of slate or wood to raise them off the wet soil and prevent rotting.
  • Sow green manures such as mustard, clover and rye grass on uncultivated areas to improve soil and keep weeds down over winter.
  • Start fall clean-up in the flower beds, cutting back anything that has finished blooming or is diseased.
  • Start the autumn cleanup. Remove any old crops that have finished and clear away weeds to leave your plot clean and tidy for the winter.
  • Start winterizing your water garden.
  • The birds will soon begin their winter migrations. Give them a helping hand by providing them with some food and water for their long journey. Keep your bird bath clean and full, set up your seed feeders for the winter and refill your hummingbird feeders until the end of the month, at least, longer if you see migrants using the feeder. No one likes to travel on an empty stomach.

Snakes Alive!

Larry Hubbard holds two snakes: a black pine snake and an albino rat snake. Both are nonpoisonous and quite common in this area. 

Snake enthusiast Larry Hubbard is out to change negative attitudes about reptiles.

by Carolyn Drinkard

Lewis Grizzard once wrote that there was only one kind of snake: "the dreaded copper-headed water rattler." Southwest Alabamians have a similar take. When we see a snake, our brains scream, "Timber-headed diamond-back water rattlers!" In fact, most people believe that the only good snake is a dead snake.

Larry Hubbard is out to stop this hysteria. Hubbard is a self-taught enthusiast who has been on a lifelong, personal mission to educate everyone and change long-held negative attitudes, old wives’ tales and myths about snakes.

Hubbard grew up in Chatom in Washington County. As a child, he loved to catch snakes! He sold his treasures to Joe Woodie Thompson, who owned a small zoo in town. Even though Thompson gave Hubbard his first snake-catching kit, Thompson felt personally responsible when young Hubbard started to catch water moccasins.

"Lots of my getting started was mischief," he laughed. "I loved to play jokes on others, and snakes gave me some great opportunities! That was the fun part."

Hubbard moved away for a short while, but he never lost his love of reptiles. After coming back home, Janie Jordan, one of his former elementary teachers, invited him to speak to her class about something she knew he loved: snakes and turtles.

"The first time I walked into that classroom, I held a bag with a wiggling snake inside, " he smiled. "I knew I had the kids’ attention from then on."

Tyler Brooks was brave enough to wear this albino rat snake necklace. Tyler was one of many sixth-grade students who visited the FAWN seminars. 
After this, another teacher invited him to speak. The invitations continued, and soon, Hubbard said he woke up, and people were calling him "the snake man."

"It amazes me how little people know about the diversity we have in this area," he explained. "Alabama has an abundance of reptiles, and I want to make kids aware of what we have."

Hubbard works for WoodmenLife, but on the side, he takes any opportunity to educate students on the different kinds of snakes and turtles in Southwest Alabama. Each year, he partners with USDA and the Washington County Extension Service at the Forestry Awareness Week Now (FAWN). Here, sixth-grade students spend a day learning about natural resources and environmental issues. Hubbard sets up his tents and talks about the 50 different kinds of snakes in this area. Only six are venomous, but most kids have been taught to fear all snakes. When students get to touch non-venomous snakes, they experience a different mindset, which, hopefully, will change some negative attitudes.

"I love the educational part," he explained. "I like to teach and explain about snakes. There are so many misconceptions out there."

Hubbard personally does not keep snakes. When he needs specimens for his seminars, he puts out the word on Facebook, and his friends step forward to help. After he finishes his seminars, he releases all of the reptiles in a safe space.

Hubbard has many amusing stories about his adventures with snakes. His folksy, down-home delivery makes his tales even more appealing. Once, after being invited to speak to a local daycare, he caught six young specimens and placed them in an aquarium. A friend, wishing to help, brought a king snake and placed him in the aquarium with the others. When Larry got home, the king snake had eaten all the others. Even worse, the king snake died a few hours later! Hubbard had to reschedule his appearance.

Kim and Larry Hubbard raised their three children to understand and appreciate beneficial snakes. The Hubbard children always had hognose snakes for pets. They also helped their father catch and identify snakes for his presentations.

Hubbard told one story about his daughter, Hannah, who had a special "friend" that she called Clarence. Once when the family got to a football game, Hannah announced that she had Clarence in her purse. The Hubbards tried to explain that Clarence couldn’t go to the football game, because he would frighten all the people, and they might run out of the stadium. Unfazed, young Hannah announced, "We could run with everybody else, couldn’t we?"

Around Southwest Alabama, Hubbard is the one to call if you have a snake problem. In fact, he gets many "911 calls."

"Husbands call because the wife finds a snake skin in the house, and she wants to move!" he laughed. "I go over and search, but that snake is long gone. It still makes the wife feel better. Most of these snakes are harmless, but when people get excited, they identify all snakes as rattlesnakes. Most are harmless rat snakes."
Larry’s son, John Raleigh, often helped his father release captured gators and snakes. John Raleigh is now a nurse and lives in Mobile, so he has very little time to capture reptiles. 
When the Hubbard kids were younger, they would ride along when Larry got a call for help. As the family made their way to the destination, the kids would hum the "Batman" theme song. Dad’s "911 calls" were real adventures for the Hubbard children.

In recent years, Hubbard may have slowed down a bit, but his enthusiasm has never waned. In fact, he has been doing his educational programs for so long that many of the students he once taught are now adults who help him. He regularly appears as the resident "snake expert" on the popular "Gettin’ Outdoors Show" with Big Daddy Lawler.

"Larry Hubbard has a very unique and convincing way of explaining why you should not fear but respect snakes," Lawler stated. "I was one of those who, all my life, was deathly afraid of snakes and thought you should kill every one you saw. After attending Larry’s seminars and having him on my radio show, Larry totally changed my attitude and fear of snakes."

That’s just what Hubbard wants to do: change the perception that snakes are evil and deceptive. He is puzzled by why people have such phobias of snakes.

"I’ve spent years trying to figure out why people react as they do," Hubbard explained. "I have always been fascinated by people’s reactions to snakes. I think some folks just seem to have a natural fear. Maybe that’s because of Genesis 3: 14-15."
Alyiah Byrd, a 6th grader from Leroy High School, overcame her fear and held this albino pine snake at the FAWN exhibition. 
Snakes are not the only reptiles that interest Hubbard, however. In years past, game wardens would call Hubbard to capture and relocate nuisance alligators. Through the years, he has also relocated many gators for the City of Chatom. Now, the law has changed, and only those with a nuisance control license can remove gators.

Turtles also capture Hubbard’s imagination. At his presentations, he usually has seven or eight, which he passes around for children to touch. He works to help children have a better understanding of the value of turtles to the environment.

"Most kids think every turtle is a snapping turtle," he laughed. "But out of 40 species in this area, only two are snapping turtles."

Hubbard believes that his years of hands-on activities may have made a little headway toward changing some negative attitudes. He thinks fewer children now accept "old wives’ tales" than they did twenty years ago. In addition, he has sensed greater understanding, acceptance and empathy toward reptiles. He attributes this to more children using the Internet to allay misinformation.

"Everybody’s scared of what they don’t understand," Hubbard explained. "Kids should know what kind of reptiles we have here, and then, they have no reason to be afraid!"

Larry Hubbard has never killed a snake, unless there was imminent danger to humans or pets. Instead, he has spent his life helping others appreciate the world we all live in. A passionate conservationist and environmentalist, he believes that all species share this earth, all have purpose and all have worth.

"Just remember," he added, "that old snake is as afraid of you, as you are of him. He is doing his job, trying to survive, just like you and me!"

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: ‘At first I thought I just wasn’t runnin’ across Jeb in town. Now, I seriously think tha boy’s givin’ me the cold shoulder!’

This man was given a "cold shoulder" of what?

‘Cold shoulder is someone showing a display of coldness or indifference, intended to wound.

The origin of this expression which is often repeated is that visitors to a house who were welcome were given a hot meal but those who weren’t were offered only "cold shoulder of mutton." This is repeated in several etymological texts, including Hendrickson’s usually reliable ‘Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins.’ There’s no evidence to support this view, though, and it appears to be an example of folk etymology.

The first reference to the phrase in print is in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Antiquary,’ 1816: "The Countess’s dislike didna gang farther at first than just showing o’ the cauld shouther."

The phrase began appearing in print frequently after the 1820s and Dickens used it in 1840 in ‘The Old Curiosity Shop.’ By that time it had migrated across the Atlantic and appears there in a "letter to the editor" in the New England newspaper The Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, June 1839:

‘ ... eminent individuals and his cabinet advisers turned "the cold shoulder" to their ambassador, for his independent act upon this occasion.’

All in all, there is little reason to explain the derivation of "cold shoulder" as anything other than a description of aloofness and disdain, and the source of it as Sir Walter Scott.

Tailgating Time!

Football season means it’s time to gather with friends and family and cheer our teams on to victory. But don’t overlook the importance of food safety at your gridiron get-together.

by Angela Treadaway

With the arrival of fall comes football season. What’s more fun than gathering with friends for a tailgating party?

However, don’t let cooler weather fool you into thinking you don’t need to consider the possibility of food-borne bacteria spoiling your party. Be proactive and follow a few simple procedures for safe food handling – then you’ll be sure to go home healthy from a fun day with friends.

Before, during and after preparing your food, be sure you wash your hands, lathering them with warm soap and scrubbing for a full 20 seconds. Set up a large drink container with a spigot as your water source.

Include moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for guests to use.

Keep two separate insulated coolers: one for drinks and one for food. This will keep your food well chilled since the drink cooler is likely to be opened more frequently. Place coolers in the shade and cover them with blankets to help hold in the cold temperature.

Place cold and frozen foods into coolers. Don’t assume your cooler can chill foods adequately if the food is at room temperature prior to packing.
Pack foods in reverse order so that the last ones packed will be the first ones used, allowing food at the bottom to stay chilled longer.

Meat and other similar raw foods should be packed in sealed plastic bags or containers in a chilled, insulated cooler. This will prevent contamination of other foods from leaking juices. Store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods.

Take meat out of the cooler just in time to place on the grill. Never place cooked meat, fish or poultry back in the container that the raw meat, fish or poultry was in. Use a clean pair of tongs and a clean plastic plate or platter when removing the cooked items from the grill. When marinating meat, fish or poultry, discard the leftover marinade after you place the items on the grill. Never use this marinade on the cooked item.

Use a meat thermometer to judge the safe internal temperature of meat and poultry over 2 inches thick (145° or higher for steaks and chops and 155° for ground meat, 165° or higher for poultry). For meat or poultry less than 2 inches thick, look for clear juices as signs of being done.

Use separate cutting boards to prevent cross contamination of raw and cooked foods. Wipe them clean with paper towels at the barbecue and toss them in your dishwasher to sanitize when you return home.

Perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, sandwiches with mayonnaise and salads, should not be kept at temperatures above 40° for more than two hours. When the outside temperature is 90° or higher, food should be left out for no longer than one hour.

If deli or takeout foods such as fried chicken, potato salad or coleslaw are on the menu, make sure they are eaten within two hours of pickup.

Hot food should be kept at 140° or hotter until served. Try wrapping your hot casserole or other item in several layers of aluminum wrap, followed by newspapers and a towel.

Cover all food with plastic wrap, aluminum foil or lids, or keep foods and supplies in their original packaging to prevent contamination.

If you’re not sure if food is still safe to eat, resort to the rule, "When in doubt, throw it out."

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.

The Co-op Pantry

by Mary Delph and Jena Klein

September is a lovely month in Alabama; usually the temperatures have started to moderate. Fruit and veggies are still available to grow or buy: corn, tomatoes, squash, beans, okra, muscadines, cantaloupes and grapes, to name a few. There also may be some blackberries left, if you know where some bushes are. Green beans, onions, pears and pumpkins are getting pretty. The last of the summer squash have appeared.

Summer is ending and Autumn will be here by month’s end. There are many more things that come to mind when Autumn starts. It is a season of change that happens in between summer and winter. It is the season that is in between both where it isn’t too hot or cold and this is probably why most people enjoy this season.

It is time to start thinking about heartier foods for the autumn season. Our foods for October are: National Pumpkin Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookbook Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month and National Seafood Month.

Last but certainly not least, among the many foods we celebrate, September is National Honey Month. I have included a couple of special recipes which contain honey.

I hope you enjoy preparing and eating these recipes!


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chicken grill seasoning (your favorite)
  • 1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili pepper powder
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Heat gas or charcoal grill. Between pieces of waxed paper, place each chicken breast smooth side down; gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick. Brush both sides of chicken with oil.

In small bowl, mix grill seasoning, brown sugar and chili pepper powder; sprinkle on both sides of chicken.

Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 5 to 6 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat remaining ingredients with wire whisk until blended. Drizzle mayonnaise mixture on 4 serving plates. Top with chicken.

Note from Mary: Easy and delicious.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ lbs. pork tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 slices bacon (recommend using regular, NOT thick sliced)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, for serving
  • Meat thermometer
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
Set aside 2 T of the pomegranate juice. Combine the remaining pomegranate juice and honey in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the glaze to cool and thicken while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, to your preference. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Place the pork in the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove to a cutting board.

Use the 2 Tablespoons pomegranate juice to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom, then remove the pan from heat.

Wrap the bacon slices around the pork, overlapping them so the ends stay secure. Place the pork tenderloin back in the skillet. Pour the glaze over the pork, using a brush to make sure it's thoroughly covered. Place the pork in the oven and roast uncovered, brushing the pork with pan juices every 10 minutes. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 145°.

Remove the pork from the oven and glaze again. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then glaze a final time and serve.

Note from Mary: The glaze left in the pan is great over green beans.


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon red cooking wine
  • 1 Tablespoon teriyaki sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir mushrooms, garlic, cooking wine, teriyaki sauce, garlic salt, and black pepper in the hot oil and butter until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 more minutes.

Note from Mary: This makes a great side with beef, pork or chicken main dishes.


  • 2 cups chopped papaya, frozen
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple, frozen
  • 1 cup chopped peeled ripe peaches, frozen (1 large)
  • 3/4 cup peach nectar
  • 3/4 cup rice milk
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Dash of sea salt
Place all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Serve immediately.


  • 8 slices lean bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cups potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 medium)
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (very important)
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Sauté bacon, celery and onion in a deep saucepan. Add potatoes, water, salt, pepper and celery salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Mash lightly, leave about 1/4 whole. Add milk, Worcestershire sauce and parsley. Bring to a boil and serve hot.


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a baking dish.

In a medium bowl whisk together honey, mustard, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Toss chicken in the sauce to coat and place in your prepared dish. Pour remaining sauce over the chicken. Bake for 30 minutes, turn chicken over and bake another 10 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with rice or noodles and your favorite veggies.
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

The Root of All Things Feed, Part 3: Fat

by Jimmy Parker

We have discussed two individual nutrients in some detail – protein and carbohydrates. Both are required to be on the tags when you purchase feed. They are listed as protein and crude fiber. The third nutrient that is required by law to be on a feed tag is fat, so it makes sense to me to go over that next.

Fat is one of the most often discussed nutrients in human nutrition, and most people have a clear opinion on fat and whether they want it in their diets or try to avoid it like the plague. In human nutrition, the discussion gets pretty deep, and fat sources and types of fats and oils are debated in great detail. Should it be saturated fats or unsaturated, or how much of each. What is the source of the fat? Etc. etc. etc. While these are important factors in human nutrition and are becoming widely discussed in pet foods, these finer details have not come to the front of the discussion in livestock nutrition yet, and generally, we will stick to the basics in this article.

Fats serve several purposes in the body, and we all (farm animals and humans both) have a need for a certain amount of fat. Fats serve as a carrier for fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D and E) and are a significant source of energy in some diets. With that said, it is important to realize that there are over twice as many calories in a gram of fat as there is in a gram of carbohydrates. So, it is a much more concentrated source of energy and can add to weight gain much faster. That can be a good thing in a thin horse but not so much in a middle-aged nutritionist. The point is that fat is an important part of every diet but needs to be dealt with in a manner to add value and not create other issues.

When we look solely at livestock, we again break it down to monogastric animals (pigs, chickens and, in terms of fat digestion, horses can be shoved into this part of the discussion) and ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats). Monogastric animals can handle a significantly higher level of dietary fat than ruminants and while it is often an expensive source of calories, there are a number of times that it can be useful in feed for higher-producing animals. Most poultry feeds are not terribly high in fat and generally there is not a reason to really make higher fat feeds, unless it is a show bird that needs an extra shine to its feathers or a bird that is being exercised and conditioned for other reasons. In swine, there are a few instances where the extra calories are needed, such as a lactating sow with a large litter or a thin animal that needs to gain weight quickly.

On a side note, I would say that finishing swine feeds are one of the most critical places in animal agriculture to make sure the mixture of fat is correct. Fat is what gives meat flavor, and it is essential to have the correct mix to have a good flavored meat. The fat profile in the pig itself changes with whatever they are being fed and it is a fairly quick process. You can taste changes in three to six weeks and have a complete turn over in a few months. So strongly-favored fats like fish oil should be avoided at these stages. The ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats in a pig’s diet will also change the hardness of the fat and if the unsaturated fats make up too much of the diet, the fat will be soft and generally unacceptable to the consumer. Some grain byproducts such as Dried Distillers Grains can lead to this if fed heavily in the later stages of swine finishing.

In horses, three to four percent fat is a fairly normal level for general maintenance and in harder working horses we often see five to six or seven percent fat. With a horse’s relatively small stomach, a higher level of fat makes sense in many situations where more calories are needed. Fats will provide a tremendous amount of energy and take up less gut space and I have seen a newer trend to greatly increase the fat levels in some horse feeds. Fat levels as high as ten and twelve percent are becoming more popular and more available. I am sure that there are some horses that truly need a high level to maintain themselves in a hard-working environment, but before you transition your horse to one with that level I would recommend that you consult someone with a background in equine nutrition, and make sure that someone isn’t named Dr. Google.

Ruminants have a bit more trouble handling fatty diets, and while fats are a tremendous source of energy, they have to be limited in these feeds. Generally speaking, four to five percent of the diet is all that a ruminant can tolerate without causing problems. I am sure that there are exceptions, but none come to mind right now. Keep in mind that ruminants are designed to consume and break down carbohydrates and that whatever enters a ruminant’s stomach is usually broken down by the different bacteria in there. Few of those bacteria are particularly good at utilizing fats, and in most cases, high levels of fat coat the fiber that the majority of the bacteria feed on and make that fiber much less digestible. This, in turn, inhibits the energy production as a whole and makes the animal less efficient.

In summary, fats are important in all animals. Monogastric animals utilize them best and are much more flexible on the amounts that can be added. Ruminants need some fat but care must be taken not to overdo fat levels, and cause more problems than are fixed. Feed them where you need them, and keep in mind that if a little is good, a lot isn’t necessarily better.

Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

The Sweet Scoop on Honey

These tips for using honey in your cooking will make you the “bee’s knees” in the kitchen.

by Angela Treadaway

Honey can add a unique flavor to foods for variety. It also makes baked products more moist when used in baking. The color and flavor of honey depend on the type of blossom from which the bees get their nectar. Honey is produced in most countries, and every state in the U.S. For a description of some of the most common types of honey and suppliers you can visit, the National Honey Board website.

Honey can be used as a glaze, sweetener for fresh fruit, to make honey mustard, on baked goods, and many other ways. However, unless a recipe for baked products is designed for honey, some adaptations need to be made when substituting honey for sugar. For best results, use recipes developed for using honey. When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. With a little experimentation, honey can replace all the sugar in some recipes. When baking with honey, remember the following:

  • Reduce any liquid called for by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25° to prevent over-browning.
  • A 12-ounce jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.
  • When measuring honey, coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil before adding the honey. The honey will slide right out.
When storing honey here are some helpful hints:

  • Store honey at room temperature – your kitchen counter or pantry shelf is ideal.
  • Storing honey in the refrigerator accelerates the honey’s crystallization. Crystallization is the natural process in which liquid in honey becomes solid.
  • If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or, place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.
Honey is sometimes considered a health food, so let’s look at some of the facts and myths about honey. Honey has been touted as being more nutritious than sugar or having special medical properties. According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, "Ounce for ounce, the nutrient content of honey and table sugar is about the same."

Honey does have antioxidants, but not in as high quantities as fruits and vegetables, and honey would not be consumed in the same quantity as fruits and vegetables. However, darker-colored honey contains more antioxidants than lighter-colored varieties.

There are several home remedies for colds, arthritis, and wound healing that use honey, but how effective they are has not been documented. Although various studies on specific health benefits of honey are ongoing or have been done, honey should never be given to children less than one year of age. Honey may contain botulism spores that will not harm adults due to the high acid environment in their stomachs, but can cause botulism poisoning in children less than one year of age.


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup honey (or 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons milk with 1 teaspoon baking soda added to it
  • 1 cup nuts or raisins (optional)
Cream together sugar (if used) and shortening. Add eggs, honey, milk and soda. Mix. Add flour, mix again. Stir in oats and nuts or raisins. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

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.

What You Need to Know About CWD Before You Hunt

Regarding CWD, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure!

by Chuck Sykes
With hunting season beginning in many western states this month, there are some very important things you need to know about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) before you head out hunting. CWD was first recognized as a disease syndrome in 1967 in a captive mule deer research facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is a fatal neurological disease of caribou, deer, elk, and moose that has been classified in the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

These diseases are believed to be the result of infectious, self-propagating "prion" proteins. Infectious prions are normal cell proteins that mutate in such a way that they cause disease. Although considerable research by wildlife health officials is ongoing, the overall biological and epidemiological understanding of CWD remains poor. Chronic wasting disease is closely related to TSEs in other species, including Scrapie in sheep, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans.

CWD attacks the central nervous system of the deer and presents symptoms including extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, odd behavior, and poor coordination. The disease is infectious, communicable and 100% fatal. CWD is insidious and has a prolonged incubation period. Many symptoms do not manifest for at least two years or longer. There is no live animal test, and you can’t look at physical symptoms to determine if a deer has CWD. Diagnosis can only be made by post-mortem testing of specific portions of the animal’s brain (i.e., obex) or lymph node tissue from the throat (i.e., medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes).

Uninfected deer can be exposed to CWD through two primary sources: 1) CWD-infected deer, and 2) CWD-contaminated environment. Once CWD arrives, it does not go away. The prions that cause the disease can persist in the environment for years. No effective way exists to sanitize infected facilities, soil, etc.

Since it is not endemic to Alabama, the most likely route for CWD to arrive here is through movement of live deer or certain deer parts from areas where CWD does occur. Alabama is being proactive in an attempt to preserve the hunting traditions we enjoy and prevent the transmission of CWD into our state. WFF has taken measures to decrease the likelihood of this happening. It has been illegal to import live deer into Alabama since the early 1970’s, and a regulation banning the importation of body parts most likely to carry the infectious prions (i.e., large bones, spinal cord, and brain) from CWD-positive states was put in place in 2016.
CWD attacks the central nervous system of the deer and presents symptoms including extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, odd behavior, and poor coordination. 
This carcass importation regulation was revised to include all states, not just CWD-positive states, during the March 2018 meeting of the Conservation Advisory Board. That means it is now unlawful for persons to bring deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses, hides, or antlers into Alabama from any state, territory, or province unless all meat has been deboned and skull plates and hides have been completely cleaned of all brain and spinal cord tissue.

WFF recently took another progressive step with the purchase of equipment, housed at the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) diagnostic lab at Auburn University, capable of screening 90 samples per batch for CWD. Prior to this, WFF or ADAI staff took samples and sent them to a laboratory in another state for CWD testing. This process was costly and extremely time-consuming, with some sample results taking more than three months to arrive back in Alabama. The partnership with ADAI will allow CWD samples to be tested much more efficiently both in timing and cost.

To date, WFF has tested more than 8,000 deer statewide and CWD has not been detected in Alabama. It has been diagnosed in free-ranging and/or captive cervids in 25 states and 2 Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. CWD also has been detected in South Korea (elk) and Norway (reindeer and moose).

The economic impact of CWD is immense. In an attempt to locate the origin of the disease, states where CWD-positive animals have been found must resort to sampling wild and farmed herds in the region where the initial CWD-positive was found. This sampling attempts to determine the extent of the infection rate within the CWD-positive zone. Wisconsin became a CWD-positive state in 2002. In the next five fiscal years, four state agencies spent $32.3 million to address the disease and monitor its spread, both in the wild and among farm-raised deer, with the majority of the funds, $26.8 million, coming from the Wisconsin DNR.

As you can imagine, the financial impact resulting from the loss of hunters and hunting-related activities in the years following a CWD-positive test can also put a tremendous strain on already-limited budgets. The detection of CWD can be financially devastating for state wildlife agencies.

Not only is deer hunting a time-honored tradition and a way of life for many Alabama residents, it is also a huge economic engine for the state as a whole. More than $1.8 billion is spent on deer hunting in Alabama each year. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to protect one of our most precious natural resources.

WFF can’t do this alone. This isn’t a high fence vs. no fence, captive-deer breeder vs. free-range hunter, dog hunter vs. stalk hunter, or even hunter vs. non-hunter issue. This is an Alabama issue. Every person in the state needs to participate. Please help keep Alabama CWD-free by following the regulations that prohibit the importation of live deer and certain deer parts into Alabama. Even if you don’t hunt, you can help by watching our roadways and reporting any suspicious behavior that could threaten our Alabama deer herd and our hunting heritage. You can inform us of your concerns through the website at or by calling Operation Game Watch at 1-800-272-GAME (4263) 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Chuck Sykes is director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

What's in a name?

by Glenn Crumpler

I recently had a friend bring something to my attention that brought up another question that I have often been unsure, or at least uncomfortable addressing. It all started when Lisa and I decided recently to buy our first horse that we have owned since our grandchildren have come along. We had owned a little un-broken stud pony for a short period of time when our own children were smaller. This was a gift from one of our dear friends, the late Mr. Charles Tice, who gave us the pony to surprise our children one Christmas when they wanted one and we could not afford to buy one. He also assured us that when we no longer needed the pony (which would be after only a few months of getting bucked off) that he would take the pony back home with him and everyone would be happy. In the rare case that we actually "broke" the little stud, he would also geld him for us and let us keep the little saddle that came along with the pony.

The second horse we owned was a real sweetheart, dead broke, Tennessee Walker/Quarter Horse cross that we bought for our daughter while we were living in Kentucky going to seminary. Like her mother at that age, Ashley, who was in junior high school, just had to have a horse. It was all she dreamed about. So, after dealing with a lot of "questionable" horse traders without any success, one of our neighbors found Buddy for us. He was a really beautiful and sweet gelding who had spent most of his life with a child on his back. His only vice was that as soon as Ashley got on him, all he wanted to do was graze with the bit in his mouth. Lisa and I could ride him fine, but when Ashley got on him, Buddy just assumed he had permission to not listen and to do what he wanted to do, which was graze. Ashley was too scared to bump him to get his attention, and she was not strong enough to pull his head back up, so she just sat on him while he ate.

The horse we just bought, 20 years after Buddy, is a 19-year-old Quarter Horse who is just as sweet as he is beautiful. The lady who owned Sonny for 15 years before we bought him raised him right. He is healthy, sound, athletic, but still as child-safe as a horse can be. Another friend and cutting horse trainer, Chris Cain, found Sonny for us and assured us that he was the horse we needed for beginning riders. He would also be a good starter horse for learning and developing roping skills. When our older grandsons are ready to upgrade to a younger and faster horse, Sonny will still be just what we need for the younger grandchildren.

Technically, Sonny is Grandmama’s horse (Lisa’s), so that all the grandchildren who want to ride him can, but they all claim that Sonny is their horse. For someone who said they would never own another horse (because I am and have always been scared of them due to bad childhood experiences), if the last two weeks are any indication, one horse will not be enough! Y’all pray for me!

Those who know me have to be asking the question: "What is Glenn doing buying a horse?" Well, Lord knows I have asked myself that same question a few times, but here is what it boils down to: First of all, the farm life is just a good environment to raise children. It provides so many opportunities to teach them about the God of creation, about God’s magnificence and power, to teach them about His love, care, and provision for His creation – especially for them as His children. It teaches them patience, discipline and endurance. They learn that they have to get back up when they fall or get thrown off. It provides opportunities to teach them good work ethics and to be responsible and respectful. It also puts them around other children and families who are learning and teaching the same values and principles.

Now I know we do not necessarily need a horse to do that, we could show cattle, chickens, goats or some of the other farm animals we have, but since I am gone much of the time and since Lisa knows and loves horses, a horse just seemed to be a good fit and something that could be done when I am not available.

Another reason I wanted to give them this opportunity (especially the two older ones that live nearby) was to get them involved in something besides travel ball. One plays travel baseball and the other travel soccer. There is nothing wrong with either sport (though I don’t understand soccer); there is a problem when they are on the ball field (or anywhere else) two to four Sundays out of the month instead of being involved in a church and growing in their knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ and His Word. Not only are they at the ballpark on Sundays, so are their families. Even Lisa and I have traveled a couple of Sundays to watch them play and it goes against everything in me. I do not want my grandchildren or any other child to grow up thinking that ballgames, horses or anything else is more important than their relationship with Jesus Christ and their obedience to His Word in shaping their lives and transforming the lives of others.

I know that many will make the argument that they can worship God while just experiencing nature whether it be in the pasture, in a deer stand, on a lake, on a ball field, or at home in their recliner, etc ... , and that is absolutely true. But, the Bible does teach us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together as the Church, as the Body of Christ, because we all need it! We all need individual and corporate Bible study, discipleship training, prayer, worship, encouragement, accountability and like-minded fellowship. Even if there is a time when we do not feel that we need it ourselves, someone else needs it from us!

Even more importantly, a lost and dying world needs the Church and the message of hope and salvation that only the Church can offer through the Good News of Jesus Christ. Individuals and institutions cannot give what they do not have. Only Christians who have experienced and possess the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, salvation and the forgiveness that comes through relationship with and faith in Jesus Christ can offer Him to someone else. When Christians come together for that purpose, we are being the Church.

On the flipside, I also know that just going to church, being baptized, teaching, preaching, singing, speaking in tongues, mouthing the right words, toting a Bible and going through the motions does not make one a Christian any more than sleeping in the garage will make them a Cadillac. However, it is very difficult to survive on junk food or in solitude and still be healthy – whether it be physically, spiritually or emotionally.

The Lord knows that there is too much of this going on in the churches today. It is so easy to go to church, though fewer and fewer in our culture are even doing that. However, it is quite another thing to ‘be the Church’ where we are pointing and leading others to faith in Jesus Christ, where we are loving, caring for, and meeting the real needs of others wherever they are, and where our lives are light in a dark, fearful and dying world (not just our own congregations or communities).

Going to church does not cost us anything but a couple of hours of our time, but most will not even give that on a regular basis. Living for Jesus may cost us everything that we think we have, but in reality, we gain everything in the Kingdom and all that belongs to the King we serve. He gives us Himself, His power, His presence, His peace, His love, His affection, His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace, and the salvation and eternal life that He purchased for us through His life, death and resurrection. When He returns, He will give us a new body that will never die and a new heaven and new earth on which to dwell that will be greater than anything we have ever seen, heard about or been able to imagine.

This brings me back to the first sentence of this article where I mentioned a comment that a friend made when we purchased our horse Sonny. He said: "Since you have a horse, you now have a ranch where before you just had a cattle farm."

Whether you call it a ranch or a cattle farm often has to do with where you live, but I have always been a little embarrassed when someone else asked me where our ranch was, because I always thought of a ranch as being much larger than our operation, and a place where horses were used to work the cattle. We bred 135 head this year at our Alabama-based Cattle For Christ farm. We bred 11 head at our Texas-based Cattle for Christ ranch!

Whether we call it a cattle ranch or a cattle farm, we are still raising the highest quality cattle the best we can, though the number of acres, quantities of cattle, types of working facilities, and management practices may vary. There are, however, cattle ranches and farms that carry the name but have little interest or investment in reproduction.

I believe the same is true for churches. Those who are actively reproducing, leading new believers to faith in Jesus Christ and who are diligently impacting ‘the world’ with the Gospel message are being the Church. The others, well they just dress the part and have church. Let’s not let that happen or continue to happen. It is high time for the Church to ‘be the Church’ in this dark world!

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

Working with Livestock Markets

As Times Keep Changing

by Dr. Tony Frazier

The local livestock markets play a significant role in the beef industry here in Alabama. Maybe significant is too mild an adjective to describe the role of the local stockyard in the Alabama beef industry. Maybe the adjective should lean more toward critical. While marketing of beef cattle over the years has seen some changes, the majority, about 85 percent, of our beef cattle make a trip to the local stockyard before going on to their next stop. Whether it be staying in the Southeast on stocker operations, going to the Midwest to be put on grazing, going to cull cow processing or even going back into a breeding herd somewhere, most Alabama cattle make a stop at the local stockyard first.

I remember as a little kid going to the sales with my grandmother. For some reason, one of the memories that stands out in my mind was a big mule in the back of a pickup truck with sideboards. In fact, most of the cattle transported there back in the day came in trucks with sideboards. I guess the animals just knew it was best not to try to jump out because I suspect a lot of them could have just hopped out and been gone if they really tried. (I wonder if there are some younger people reading this that don’t know what I am talking about when I mention sideboards.)

When I was in private practice, I was a stockyard vet, primarily taking blood samples to test for brucellosis. But like all stockyard vets, I did the pregnancy checking and some vaccinating and a little of just whatever they needed a veterinarian to do. That was where I met Ben Rigsby, the USDA employee who tested the blood and did other regulatory stuff. Ben and I became good friends and I would probably say that is what sparked my interest in regulatory veterinary medicine.

I say all of that just to emphasize that I was pretty familiar with stockyards when I went to work as a Veterinary Medical Officer and later State Veterinarian. Hopefully, that has made working with them a little easier. To hear some people talk, you might get the idea that those of us in the regulatory business are adversaries of the owners of the stockyard. I understand that perspective. But that is just not how it is.

The problem that stockyards have is that they are strategically positioned to play a vital role in many of the issues that the beef industry faces. And while there are times when both sides sort of jockey for position over some things, there are two unarguable facts in my mind. First, both we, the regulators, and the stockyards, the regulated, want the best for the beef industry in Alabama. And, second, our regulatory and surveillance programs would have never succeeded without the support of the markets.

Many of you reading this may not remember a time when brucellosis was a disease that existed in Alabama. But many of you do remember a disease that caused abortions, weak calves, and infertility, not to mention the farmers who were infected from handling contaminated material from the infected cows. You remember having to have cattle tested to go to other states to show or to sales. You also know that without the testing that was done at the stockyards, we would probably not be brucellosis-free today. Now bear in mind that these markets didn’t have a choice, but they bought into the program and supported it. That is why Alabama is brucellosis-free today. I realize that there was some, even at times a lot, of aggravation that accompanied testing cattle at the markets. Every time you run an animal through a chute there are risks of injury. The stockyards were also required to present the cattle for testing. That usually tied up an employee, so there was a cost to the stockyards as there is with most regulations. Yet, in the end, the livestock markets supported the program because it was best for the Alabama beef industry.

The success of the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) surveillance program has worked because of support from the markets. There have been two positive cases of BSE in Alabama. When we have needed to trace cattle back to the farm of origin, the stockyards have been more than cooperative in allowing us to research sale records that sometimes went back a few years. Again, making records available to regulatory officials for such tracing is a regulation that the markets live with. But I want to make it clear that the market owners could make it difficult to accomplish our tasks if they wanted to. But, again, they understand what is best for the Alabama beef industry.

For the past several years, the livestock markets and the regulatory officials have agreed that we need some type of disease traceability system that would allow us to respond rapidly if there were to be an outbreak of a disease, like foot-and-mouth disease. We have been fortunate that while we wade through the details of such a program, we have not had to deal with a devastating disease. We cannot just continue to whistle as we walk past the cemetery, hoping nothing bad will happen. I saw something somewhere lately that drives home that point. It said, "Hope Is Not a Plan."

I recently met with the Alabama Livestock Marketing Association to continue to work out the kinks in our plan for disease traceability. I am concerned about coming up with a workable plan to trace diseased or exposed animals, quickly and as accurately as possible, to their farm of origin or to where they went after leaving the auction. They are concerned about doing what is best for the beef industry in Alabama, while at the same time not wanting to be stuck with a large price tag for implementing the program. I am also concerned that we do not unduly saddle the markets with all of the costs of complying with traceability regulations. The costs of implementing our livestock traceability program will need to be spread out to the federal and state governments and the industry. So, while we know where we want to go, we continue to work and dialogue on how to get to our destination.

I appreciate the fact that the markets have always been willing to work with me on regulatory issues. Some of my State Veterinarian colleagues in other states do not have the good working relationship with the markets that I believe I do. I never know what issues or disease outbreaks may be out there on the horizon. I do know this, though: When the Alabama Livestock Markets have needed to, they have stepped up to the plate and have done what was best for their customers, the beef producers. I think we are able to work together because we share that same goal.

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

“Remember in September”

“I can’t explain 9/11, except the evil of man.” ~Billy Graham

by John Howle

For the years before 9/11, many of us would think of September as the beginning of hunting season, football season, and the approaching fall. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the first thoughts we have are what happened on that day. Even today, simply mentioning 9/11 is all that is needed to spark conversation on what went down that day in America and the incredible loss of life suffered.

The website gives an accurate account of the events of that day:

"On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush."

As Billy Graham explained above, sometimes the only explanation is the evil in man. Proverbs 28 gives some examples of characteristics of evil. The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely. Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

All Strung Up

Sometimes you need a heavy-duty wire to hang a large picture frame or a deer mount. Guitar strings, especially the larger 4th, 5th, and 6th strings, make ideal wire for hanging larger objects on your wall. Simply weave the wire through the eye hooks, and hang the item on a strong screw or nail.
This September, whether you are trail riding, camping, or hunting, use these precautions to stay tick-free. 

Tricks to Prevent Ticks

September is a great time to be outdoors, whether you are hunting, fishing, hiking, trail riding with your horse, camping, or gardening. With the great times, however, come cautions. Ticks are quite active this time of year, and precautions are necessary. I’ve already heard of a case of Lyme disease in my area this year.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the best precaution is treating your clothes with products that contain permethrin. You can spray the permethrin on boots, clothes and camping gear; you should be protected through several washings. You can also spray products with DEET on your clothing, as well. One trick I use is to spray my hat with a DEET product and wear a bandana sprayed with DEET around my neck.

The CDC says not to use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. If you have come in from camping or hunting, wash your clothes in hot water and tumble dry on high heat. Cold and medium water will not kill ticks. Finally, shower after coming in to wash off any unattached tick and do a full body check.

If you have a tick attached to your body, use blunt-tip tweezers to remove the tick, pinching as close to the skin as possible, pulling the tick straight out. DO NOT apply a hot match head, alcohol, or Vaseline to the tick to make them remove themselves. They will often regurgitate harmful germs if you try this.

Spent Shotgun Shells

Maybe after your opening day dove shoot, you had plenty of spent shotgun shells left over. When you look at the brass of the shell, you might be thinking, "Is there a way I can repurpose these shells for something else?" Well, here’s a couple of tips on what you can do with some of those used shotgun shells.

The brass of a shotgun shell makes a cool, rustic-looking drawer pull or cabinet knob. First, remove the spent primer, cut the plastic off in front of the brass, and attach the brass casing to the wood with a wood screw through the primer hole.

You can also use spent shotgun shells to make a match safe. A 16-gauge spent shotgun shell slides snugly into a 12-gauge shell. This will hold plenty of strike-anywhere matches and can easily be carried in your pocket. Make sure the ambient moisture of the room you are placing the matches in is dry. This way, the match heads last longer without deterioration due to moisture.

This September as you reflect on 9/11, don’t dwell on the evil in the world, but rest your thoughts on the one who brings peace and prosperity. I leave you with this quote. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

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