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April 2010

Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club is 'America's Oldest'

Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club members are (seated, from left) Enola Bozeman, president; Mary Richards; Eleanor Summerhill, life member; Margaret Baxley; Mary Seymour; Sadie Pugh; (standing) Kizzie May; Dina Mason Moore; Sharon Capps; Marie Allen; Barbara Cox; Patsy Gholston; Ann Daniels, Garden Club of Alabama President; Anne Maxwell; Melanie Short.

by Jaine Treadwell

They came one or two at a time, the ladies of the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club.

Some wore wide-brimmed hats and some wore hats adorned with flowers. Others came simply sharing the pride in the celebration before them.

The members of the Chun-nenuggee Public Garden Club and special guests gathered at Master Rack Lodge near Union Springs in Bullock County on March 11, 2010, to celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the Garden Club. The years alone would be worthy of a celebration, but the years coupled with the fact that the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club is the oldest continuously operating garden club in the United States made the celebration "top of the pot." The term "top of the pot" was used in the early days of the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club to describe the distinguished guests from Montgomery, Mobile, Columbus, Georgia and the Carolinas who attended the gala functions of the club.

Hostesses for the Chunnenugge Public Garden Club’s anniversary celebration were Alice Maxwell (left) and Melanie Short, who dressed appropriately for the occasion.

And, if the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club of 2010 were not "top of the pot," it would be difficult to find a club equaling its proud history.

"The Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club was organized at Chunnenuggee Ridge in Macon County, which is now Bullock County, on March 6, 1847," said Enola Bozeman, club president. "Chunnenuggee comes from an Indian name, Tcha-Na-Naghi, meaning high, long ridge. Settlers from Virginia, Georgia and other states came to the Chunnenuggee Ridge area after the Creek Indians were removed."

The settlers built homes on the high ground of the Chunnenuggee Ridge and grew crops in the lowlands.

"One of the settlers was Dr. Norborne Berkley Powell who came to the ‘Ridge’ in 1838," Bozeman said. "He bought several thousand acres and built his house that was named Old Field."

The area along the Ridge gradually developed and included churches and a female college and a school for boys.

"Dr. Powell developed a flower garden and the women who lived along the Chunnenuggee Ridge also began to have beautiful gardens," said Mary Richards, who gave a history of the club. "Interest in gardening grew and, on March 6, 1847, men and women organized a horticultural society. Their plans were to have exhibits of fruits and vegetables, and a monthly exhibit of flowers."

At its third meeting, the horticultural society passed resolutions to build a public garden on the Chunnenuggee Ridge and to appoint a committee to implement the project. The committee selected a site for the public garden in front of Old Field, Powell’s home, and he deeded the land to the trustees of the society and its successors.

Alice Maxwell served tea to her fellow garden club members in much the manner of "high tea" in old England. Sadie Pugh, left, was graciously served.

The Chunnenuggee Ridge Garden Club grew in membership and with an honorary membership including nurserymen from as far away as New York.

"The members enjoyed many gala events and gave prizes for monthly exhibits of flower arrangements," Richards said. "The club ordered dahlia bulbs in great numbers and committees were organized to supervise the cultivation of strawberries and cotton in the Public Garden."

In 1848, the Chunnenuggee Ridge Public Garden Club held its first May Fair and it was so successful it was held annually until 1860.

The May Fair was a flower festival and was held around the first of May when flowers were in full bloom. Prizes were awarded for flowers and flower arrangements, the best essay on horticulture and even the most skilled in horseback riding.

"The May Fairs were gala events," Richards said. "They attracted visitors from far away. There are reports of visitors arriving by stagecoach and on carriages loaded with carpetbags and hatboxes. Concerts were given by choirs and by young ladies who played the harp and piano."

The grounds of the Public Gardens boasted of summerhouses covered with honeysuckle and roses, "seats in flower retreats" and lush, green stretches of lawn. The Public Gardens were a place of serene beauty.

But then the country went to war, brother against brother, and the gardens fell into ruin during the War Between the States.

Ann Daniels, right, state president of the Alabama Garden Club, and Mary Richards, club member, view historical records of the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club.

Richard said the property was obtained by Janice Turnipseed Ikenberry in the 1920s. The property was planted in pecan trees except for the 90x120-foot plot, which was donated to the Garden Club by Ikenberry and her mother in 1948.

The plot marks the place that was the entrance gate of the gardens and is enclosed by an iron fence and planted with flowering shrubs.

"Mrs. Ikenberry gave the surrounding land to Auburn University and it’s an agricultural experiment station," Bozeman said. "Auburn has leased to the Chunnenuggee Ridge Public Garden Club the fenced area and our hopes are Auburn will lease other land to us so we can bring the land back to what it once was."

The Chunnenuggee Ridge Public Garden Club is a federated Garden Club of Alabama and also a nationally federated garden club. The club has been recognized as a "Club of Distinction" in District VII of the Deep South Region.

The Garden Club of 16 members continues to be very active in the Union Springs area.

The club plants trees, shrubs and wildflowers at sites around the city. They decorate the Episcopal Church, the senior nutrition center and the cabin at City Park with Mother Nature’s offerings. Members decorate windows in town on Veterans Day and for the Field Trials and conduct Arbor Day ceremonies.

The club sponsors essay contests at local schools and arranges visits from Smoky Bear and Woodsy Owl. The club’s Cedar Oak Ranch Project is an outing for fourth graders where they learn about trees and their importance. An annual donation to the local Junior Miss Scholarship Program is another way the club supports the youth of the community.

Alice Maxwell was a hostess for the club’s 163rd celebration.

The club lends its support to the annual May Fair which was revived by the Bullock County Historical Society in May 1980.

The Chunnenuggee Ridge Public Garden Club maintains the club’s Memorial Garden on Peachburg Road, which is the site of the historical marker marking the location of the club’s Public Gardens, honors its founders and recognizing the survival of their interests.

Ann Daniels, president of the Garden Clubs of Alabama, was a special guest at the 163rd anniversary celebration of the Chunnenuggee Public Garden Club.

Daniels told the members she was excited to be a part of such a momentous occasion and they should be very proud of the club’s distinction as "The First Garden Club of America."

"Can you believe it," Daniels said. "One hundred and sixty-three years. That’s incredible for a garden club to be in operation for 163 years. You are to be congratulated."

Daniels challenged the club members to put together a ‘Book of Evidence’ that would include the club records and serve as a validation of all that has been done and will be done.

She also challenged them to celebrate the "Golden Days of Daffodils" by planting the "dils" and to "Beautify Blight" by turning the old and ugly into something beautiful.

Club members are Marie Allen, Margaret Baxley, Enola Bozeman, Sharon Capps, Barbara Cox, Ann Daniels, Faye Gaston, Patsy Gholston, Kizzie May, Nancy May, Ann Maxwell, Dina Mason Moore, Sadie Pugh, Mary Richards, Mary Seymour, Melanie Short and Eleanor Summerhill. Life members are Eleanor Summerhill and Aileen Blow.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.




Corn Time




Cow Pokes





Earl






Egg-Citing Activities Lined Up at the 2010 Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival!


Over 100 live chickens representing 25 different varieties will be on display in cages under a tent at the fairgrounds.

Come strut your stuff at the sixth annual Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival April 10-11, 2010! No eggs-perience required!

Each year, children and adults take part in the many egg-citing contests in hopes of receiving one of the great prizes or for simply a good laugh.

WAAY 31 BBQ Wing Eating Contest: The one with the most bones left on the plate wins the contest, sponsored by John’s Bar-B-Que. Last year’s event produced a tie for first place with 50 wings in five minutes! The contest is scheduled both days of the Festival. Winners on both days receive 31 gift certificates from restaurants in North Alabama!

The Wing Eating Contest is one of the favorites of the Chicken and Egg Festival. Sponsored by John’s Bar-B-Que, it is scheduled for both days of the Festival. There are additional contests for adults and children alike.

NHC Healthcare Hard-boiled Egg Eating Contest: Sponsored by NHC Healthcare, this contest is open to adults 18 years old and older to see who can eat the most hard-boiled eggs in five minutes. Last year’s winner ate 22 eggs in five minutes. The contest takes place both days. First place winners on both days receive $100 with 2nd place receiving $50!

Other contests include an egg toss, Guitar Hero competition, and the WDRM Chicken Clucking Contest.

They will feature a special children’s area providing entertainment for the entire family. Sponsored by Bank Independent, the children’s area will offer activities to spark a child’s imagination like "make-and-take" crafts with Home Depot, storytime with local celebrities and high-energy musical performances.

Mrs. Kate: Headlining the Bank Independent Children’s Coop area is "Mrs. Kate" Carpenter, folksinger, songwriter and storyteller from Callahan, Fla. Using catchy tunes, puppetry, unusual instruments and riveting storytelling, her interaction with the audience is creative and unforgettable. In the past 15 years, Mrs. Kate has recorded eight original CDs and a children’s music video. Her newest CD, ‘Passport to Power,’ is scheduled for release this year. For more information on Mrs. Kate, visit www.mrskate.com.

Award-Winning Tubby and Mala to Perform: Tubby and Mala are a brother-sister team who perform an energetic, entertaining and educational program with live, acoustic, old-time music and dance. They showcase traditional instruments, like the upright bass, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and frailing banjo, and homemade instruments like the spoons, scrub board and washtub bass.

Tubby, an American Indian, is an award-winning buck dancer and flat footer; and Mala is an Alabama Buck Dance champion. They encourage children to sing, dance, play rhythm instruments and join in on the fun.

Festival mascots Nugget, left, and Scramble will be on hand for photographs.

Tubby and Mala won the 2008 group category at Panoply and placed in the Top 25 on the first season of CMT’s CAN YOU DUET. For more information on this energetic duo, visit them on MySpace or YouTube.

Have your photo made with Scramble & Nugget: Children egg-specially love meeting the Festival’s mascots Scramble and Nugget. They will be available both days for photographs. Photo sessions are Saturday, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 4 - 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 - 1 p.m. and 3 - 4 p.m.

And There’s More! Other activities include a tot lot, face painting, egg art, egg refrigerator magnet and coloring.

A variety of craft projects will be available by Home Depot’s Kids Workshop. Put on your orange Home Depot apron and get your free (while supplies last) supply pack for crafts like a birdhouse, sailboat, race car, toolbox, football rack, bank or fire truck.

Three stages will offer a diversity of music to entertain attendees at the sixth annual Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival! The line-up includes local and nationally-renowned artists representing a variety of genres from bluegrass to a combination of blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

High-energy, Southern Rock band Wet Willie will be the headliner performance on the Chicken Stage Saturday night. Over 15 bands will perform during the Festival.

Wet Willie featuring Jimmy Hall: Headlining on the Chicken Stage on Saturday is nationally-known Wet Willie featuring Jimmy Hall, a high-energy blues-rock band best known for their 70s hit "Keep on Smilin’."

15+ Bands to Provide Ongoing Live Music: Also scheduled to appear over the two-day event on the Chicken Stage are Mississippi bluesman Kenny Brown, Soul-hound and Lingo while North Alabama’s Hurricane Creek Bluegrass Band and Kudzu String Band are set to perform on the Walmart Bluegrass Stage.

Additional performers include The Parker Family, Boochie Shepherd, Stanley Adair & Sugar Rush, The Tennessee River Alabama Boys, Brandon McCaghren, Rick Ferrell and Nathan Johnson.

Following their performance on stage, bands will move to the WALW tent to meet with fans and give autographs. Band items, like CDs, t-shirts and posters will be available for purchase.

Make plans now to attend the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival! Admission is only $3 per person and children 5 years old and under are admitted free. Visit www.AlabamaChickenandEggFestival.com for announcements on new entertainment as it is booked!



Elmore Co. Sheep and Goat Expo Attendees Enjoy Wide Variety of Activities


OldeSouth Farm offered Icelandic wool roving, hand spindles, some select raw fleeces and spinning demonstrations at the Elmore County Farmers Federation Sheep and Goat Expo.

by Jane Currid

The Elmore County Farmers Federation Sheep and Goat Expo was an opportunity for family fun and learning on Saturday, March 13, 2010.

Whether seeking advice for their own sheep and goat operations, discovering different aspects of the industries, looking at the best of the breeds, securing a new cheese recipe or tasting a goat burger for the first time, expo and show goers participated in a wide range of activities at the Elmore County Farm Center.

Molly Luster of Wetumpka expressed her enthusiasm for the event.

"My husband and I came out today to gain knowledge of the different types of grooming," Luster said. "Maybe we’ll buy a goat today."

Live music set the tempo for the day’s activities, which included a dairy goat display, a goat and sheep cook-off, a photography contest, a silent auction, demonstrations of sheep-shearing and cheese-making, a forum on industry topics, and the Alabama Youth Born and Bred Market Meat and Breeding Doe Show.

Local farms set up the dairy goat display.

Aric Adams, owner of AA farms in Milbrook, said he wants to see the dairy goat industry gain more recognition and reach its full potential.

An attendee of the Expo admires the display of Spencer’s Farm. Spencer’s Farm offered natural bath and body products made form goats milk for people and pets.

"The dairy goat industry is great for our state and our kids," Adams said. "The industry doesn’t get the attention it needs. It is just as profitable as the meat goat industry. I am grateful to be asked to come out here today."

Sydne Spencer, an owner of Spencer’s Farm Goat Milk Bath and Body Products, demonstrated cheese-making.

"A desire for raw, soft cheese you can make yourself is bringing cheese-making back," Spencer said. "I like doing this demonstration to show people what they can do."

Industry experts held a forum on issues affecting dairy goat operations.

Speakers and topics included Dr. Boyd Brady of Auburn University on dairy goat production, Dr. Darrell Rankins of Auburn on nutrition and feed, Dr. Sandra Solaiman of Tuskeegee University on dairy goats versus meat goats and Robert Spencer of Alabama A&M University Extension on value-added dairy goat opportunities.

Rankins said a forage-based system creates a reliable feeding profile.

"The biggest advantage we have in Alabama is that we can grow cool and warm-season forages," Rankins said.

He stated the energy content of commercial feeds is unknown; finding a correct calcium and phosphorous balance is key to feed selection.

Rankins gave the advice of "take half and leave half" for rotational grazing.

"Rotational grazing is more of an art than a science," Rankins said. "The animals will teach you how."

Solaiman emphasized the commitment and labor involved in running a dairy goat operation.

"You have to have an eye for dairy," Solaiman said. "You must have things under control. Dairy is a life."

Robert Spencer talked about the pros and cons of selling dairy goat products.

"The key to goat milk is fat molecules," Spencer said. "The fat molecules from goat milk are so much more easily absorbed in the digestive system than the fat molecules of cow’s milk."

He indicated a struggle of dairy goat operations is bottling the milk.

"For what it takes to produce these goats, goat milk is not cheap," he continued.

He said cheese is an easier goat dairy product to produce because it does not require the set up of bottled milk.

Youth pet an Icelandic lamb from OldeSouth Farm at the Elmore County Farmers Federation Sheep and Goat Expo held on March 13. The event was an opportunity for family fun and learning.

Spencer gave advice for start-up operations.

"Figure out the challenge of what you are going to do with that milk," Spencer said. "Talk to as many producers as you can —- have goals and aspirations."

In the afternoon, the crowd gathered around the arena to watch the best of the breeds and their handlers compete in the Alabama Youth Born and Bred Market Meat and Breeding Doe Show. The youth handlers showed their goats in the Showmanship, Costume, Youth Market Meat Goats, and Breeding Goat divisions.

Judge Richard Ramsey offered encouragement to the children.

"As you’re getting older, we are expecting better handling, more knowledge and more perfection," Ramsey told the handlers. "Y’all are doing well. Keep studying your anatomy."

Ramsey said he grew up raising animals and believes growing up with animals fosters responsibility in youth.

"I saw a good amount of competition in general today," Ramsey said. "They have a good knowledge-base for their age."

Alabama State Meat Goat and Sheep Producers also sponsored the Elmore County Farmers Federation Sheep and Goat Expo.

Jade Currid is an intern for Alabama Farmers Cooperative.




Establishment of Forage is Critical to Crop Quality


by Dr. Don Ball

Forage plants are most vulnerable to stress during establishment. Consequently, a forage/livestock producer should exercise a higher level of management and more attention to detail during the establishment process than at any other time. Many acres of forage crops are planted in Alabama in the spring, so it’s a good time to review some major considerations.

Crop And Variety Selection- Many failures result from an attempt to grow forages not really well-adapted to a particular site. When uncertain, it makes sense to seek advice from others who have good training and/or experience. Also, once a decision has been made regarding what species will be planted, variety selection can affect yield potential, forage quality and stand persistence. Cutting corners by selecting low-cost seed of inferior varieties is false economy.

Soil Amendments- Even if the soil in a field is well-suited for the crop(s) to be planted, it may be necessary to apply lime to increase soil pH or to apply fertilizer nutrients. The only way to know what needs to be applied is to take a soil test. This should be done several months ahead of planting so any needed lime can be applied and have plenty of time to react.

Seed- Seed should have a high germination level and contain low levels of other crop seed, weed seed and inert matter. Also, since seed are actually tiny, dormant plants, they need to be protected until planted (a rule of thumb is that the temperature in terms of degrees F and the humidity should not add up to more than 100). If legume seed are not pre-inoculated, the inoculants should ideally be stored in a refrigerator until inoculation is done just before planting. Using good quality seed doesn’t guarantee successful establishment, but using poor quality seed practically guarantees failure.

Planting Date- Weather plays a major role in determining the proper time to plant, and there is usually a fairly short period of time during which planting conditions are optimum or near optimum. To miss this period can mean the difference between success and failure. Weather conditions often delay plantings, so it is advisable to plant as early as possible within the recommended period.

Seeding Rate And Depth- Seeding rate recommendations are readily available from universities and commercial seed companies. It is advisable to use at least as much seed as is recommended; perhaps more if planting conditions are less-than-optimum. Planting depth is critical, with planting seed too deeply being the most common reason for poor stands. When planting a small-seeded forage crop like clover with a drill, about 10 percent of the seed should be visible on the soil surface, otherwise much of the seed is probably being planted too deeply.

Seed/Soil Contact- Seed typically have to absorb more water than they weigh, and firm contact with the soil helps ensure this happens. With small-seeded forage crops, a well-prepared, fine seedbed together with use of a cultipacker to firm the seed into the soil facilitate good seed/soil contact. When small-seeded forage crops are planted, the soil should be firm enough before planting that when one walks over it, your shoe heel should not leave an imprint more than ½-inch deep.

Monitor Young Stands- It pays to keep a close eye on a young stand and be ready to treat for weed or insect pests if necessary. When first grazed, the seedlings need to be large enough they will not be seriously damaged by animal hooves and will not be pulled up by the roots when grazed.

Don Ball is an Extension Forage Crop Agronomist with Auburn University.



Ethics Guide True Organic Producers


Lloyd Travern grows organic herbs, succulents and begonias on his Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA.

by H. T. Farmer

The family of farmers and herb growers I meet along my life’s path continues to grow and flourish. Over the years, I have met many growers, some of whom specialize in one type of plant and others who are so diversified in the flora they produce it would take me a year’s worth of writing these little, short articles to tell you about all they grow.

If there’s one thing that stands out to me now when it comes to buying new plants for my edible gardens, it has to be "organically grown." Organically grown is not just a relative-term or catch-phrase, although there was at least one ‘big box’ department store that legally had some of the descriptions altered a few years ago, to better suit their needs in order to more easily fool the consuming public. There are rules set and enforced, but the bottom line is, the grower must be a good steward of the code of ethics of a true organic plant producer.

There’s only one nursery that comes to mind when I think of organically-grown herbs and that is Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, Penn. Lloyd and Candy Traven have built an outstanding reputation over the last 27 or so years as top quality, ethically-motivated organic plant producers. Their farm holds the USDA Organic Certification Seal regulated under the National Organic Program (NOP).

Peace Tree Farm is now the largest producer of organically-grown herbs in North America! They supply other growers with liners and plugs, as well as supplying retail nurseries with finished products ready for sale to the public.

Herbs and herbaceous perennials aren’t the only types of plants produced there. Lloyd also grows succulents and,. my favorite, begonias. In fact, Lloyd was a guest on the Martha Stewart Show a few weeks ago teaching Martha how to propagate begonias. To watch the video, Google: "Martha Stewart/Lloyd Traven." It’s the video labeled "Begonias" on the "Taste of South Africa" show.

For years now, I have heard so many folks say it’s too difficult or too expensive to produce herbs through the rules laid out for organic certification. Now when I hear that, I say, "It can be done!"

For more information about Lloyd and Candy Traven and Peace Tree Farm go to peacetreefarm.com.

For more information on organic certification, e-mail me at farmerherb@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

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

If you have any questions about uses for herbs, e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">farmerherb@gmail.com and I’ll tell you all I know. As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using this or any other herbal remedy.




Fascination with Primitive Weapons Led Outdoorsman to Unusual Career



Bobby Nance dressed as a scout during the filming of "The Last of the Mohicans" in 1991.

by Al Benn

Bobby Nance has been fascinated by firearms since he was a kid and got hooked on television episodes about the frontier exploits of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

Millions of American boys couldn’t get enough of the two legendary hunters, trappers and explorers who were portrayed on television by actor Fess Parker during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Nance, now 54, was one of them, but instead of working at a factory, selling insurance or spending 20 years in the military when he got older, he made a career out of his firearm fascination.

He did it by making, repairing and selling "primitive weapons" to eager purchasers —- many of whom share his love of flintlock long rifles like the ones used during Parker’s TV heyday.

His ability as a gunsmith and outdoorsman has also enabled him to branch out as a technical adviser on movie sets from time to time, even donning buckskin outfits just like those worn by Daniel and Davy, way back when.

The highlight for him has been as an assistant technical adviser on the set of the acclaimed 1992 movie, "The Last of The Mohicans."

The movie was a smash hit from its first week when it topped the box office and finished its domestic run with a take of more than $75 million — a sizable sum two decades ago for anything out of Hollywood. It was budgeted at $40 million, so it was easy to see how happy the producers were when the final returns came in.

As assistant technical adviser, it was Nance’s job to make sure the actors knew how to handle weapons of that era including flintlock rifles, tomahawks, knives and war clubs.

He worked closely with the four leading male actors, but wound up on a first-name basis with star Daniel Day-Lewis, who was on his way to becoming one of the most dominant performers in the world.

There are times actors must rely on stunt doubles to do the tricky parts themselves, but Day-Lewis was a method actor who preferred to learn and perform as would the character he was playing.

"Daniel caught on extremely fast," Nance said, as he remembered what it was like during filming near Asheville, N.C., in 1991. "He could use a flintlock rifle with the best of ’em and hit a target 100 yards away almost from the start."

That was evident from the start of the movie when Day-Lewis’ character — "Hawkeye" — stops in his tracks while stalking a deer, aims his long rifle and sends a shot toward the animal — hitting it and providing venison for a frontier family.

"If he didn’t know much about firearms prior to the film, Day-Lewis certainly made it look like he had done it all his life," Nance said.

It was a quick transformation for someone more familiar with life on the British stage and in films made in London than the woods of North Carolina. Nance said Day-Lewis showed he could adapt and adjust to any movie requirements.

"It was amazing how fast he was able to become someone who just about grew up in the woods," said Nance. "He could load and fire quickly and make it appear as though it was second nature to him."

Day-Lewis, who doesn’t make many movies but always shines in those he does, has won two Academy Awards — one for "My Left Foot" before doing "Mohicans" and "There Will be Blood" which he filmed in 2007.

Selma gunsmith Bobby Nance (left) with Academy Award-winner Daniel Day-Lewis on the set of "The Last of The Mohicans" in 1991.

His acting trademark is getting into character and not leaving it until the last frame is shot.
That’s what he did so convincingly in "Mohicans" when he learned how to make a canoe, track animals and skin deer as he hauled a 12-pound flintlock long rifle through the woods. Even during breaks in filming, Day-Lewis maintained his American accent.

It was all part of director Michael Mann’s insistence on backwoods authenticity and it paid off with super reviews by many of the world’s leading critics.

Nance watched him and became more impressed by the day as Day-Lewis transformed himself away from his English-Irish heritage to a frontier warrior in the James Fenimore Cooper classic.

The two men, raised in totally different backgrounds, fashioned a friendship that continues today.

After "Mohicans" wrapped, Nance received a hand-written letter from Day-Lewis who thanked him for his help as a technical adviser in the film.

"I got to know all the top male actors, but Daniel was the only one to stay in touch with me," said Nance. "I had never worked in a movie before, but had heard about all that Hollywood stuff. He wasn’t like that. He was a down-to-earth guy who listened and learned as we taught them how to use firearms and live in the woods."

The "villain" in "Mohicans" was Wes Studi, who became a popular character-actor in the two decades since the movie was completed.

Studi portrayed Magua, an Indian guide who leads an ambush against a column of British soldiers and then is killed by a Mohican warrior who becomes the last of his tribe — hence the title of the book and film.

Nance said the lead actors were taught how to use sharp-edged and blunt weapons like tomahawks, knives and war clubs in addition to long rifles.

"We had Indians from several different tribes work on the movie and they all did well," he said. "I worked on it for about three months in various capacities."

Nance isn’t ashamed to say he dropped out of school in the 7th grade. He eventually got his GED, but his expertise in primitive weaponry amounts to a "doctorate in firearms." His name is known to Hollywood producers and directors looking for someone to hire, if the occasion arises.

It’s been awhile since Nance has served as a technical adviser because his wife isn’t thrilled by the prospect of extended departures from home to work on a movie set.

Nance credits his grandfather, George Nance, with helping him understand long rifles and other weapons used during an era two centuries ago.

"He could relate to what I liked and his help was invaluable," said Nance. "As I grew older, I learned more and more, and it has helped provide a career for me."

Nance worked at Walter Craig and Walker Arms before beginning a relationship with Central Alabama Farmers Co-op.

His main job is to supervise sales at the sporting goods department, but he’s always ready to talk about long rifles and other "primitive" weapons.

Nance has worked at the Co-op for several years, but General Manager Tim Wood only recently became aware of his "entertainment" background.

"I didn’t know he had been involved in active filming until recently when he was interviewed for the documentary," said Wood. "I do know he was in a great movie. I’ve watched ‘Last of the Mohicans’ several times through the years."

Wood’s reference to "documentary" involves a trip Nance made to Columbus, GA, to be interviewed for what will be part of a Blu-Ray version of "Mohicans."

The primary actors, including Day-Lewis, had already been interviewed and those in charge of the documentary wanted to question others involved in the making of a movie that has become a cinematic classic.

Because of the movie’s continuing popularity and the millions being made with DVD transfers, not to mention the relative new technology of Blu-Ray, it wasn’t surprising to learn Michael Mann’s hit would follow the same path.

Nance said it could be another year before it comes out in Blu-Ray and he knows he might wind up on the cutting room floor, "but I’m still looking forward to it."

"It was a long interview, so maybe some of it will be kept in the documentary," said Nance, as he helped a customer examine a handgun in the display case at the Co-op sporting goods section.

Blu-Ray movies usually include a second disc for extra features, often involving personal experiences of cast and crew.

Nance assisted Chief Technical Adviser David Webster on "Mohicans" and has maintained a close friendship with him. He said Webster’s track record is "one of the best in the business and I’m ready to help him anytime he needs me."

When the Blu-Ray version, with its documentary disc, is released to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hit movie, Nance may find himself signing autographs.

If that happens, he just might be signing some of the Blu-Ray DVDs at Central Alabama Farmers Co-op.

And, who knows, he just might bring along his coonskin cap — something he and a lot of American boys still keep close to their hearts from their days of watching Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on television.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Feeding Facts

by Jimmy Hughes

As cattle producers enter the spring, they do so with great anticipation of a successful year. This year though brings about several concerns for beef producers throughout the state. Farmers are, and always will be, concerned about weather conditions that either make a successful or an unsuccessful crop year. As a cattle producer, you have to make tough decisions each year to remain in the cattle business.

What I feel will be the biggest question this spring is: How can I save money without sacrificing performance in my cattle herd? As we look at input cost in a herd, we find producers spend money on fuel, fertilizer, hay production, mineral and vitamin supplementation, parasite control, and feed. When we look at these costs, I am fearful some producers will try to save money based on decreasing or eliminating their mineral and vitamin supplementation program. While this may seem to be a cost-saving measure, this practice could have a detrimental long-term effect on your herd in the area of reproduction and immunity.

Mineral and vitamin supplementation is essential for acceptable performance in cattle. When considering a complete supplement, we must understand what makes up a complete supplementation program. Minerals are broken into two categories: Macro and micro minerals. Macro minerals make up the largest percentage of a mineral supplementation because they also make up the largest percentage of the mineral composition in the animal’s body. The macro minerals are calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium and sulfur. The micro minerals make up the smallest portion of a mineral supplement because they make up the smallest amount in the mineral composition of the animal. Micro minerals are copper, cobalt, zinc, iron, selenium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum and fluorine. Let’s look at the role each of these minerals play, in the overall health and well being of the animal.

Calcium is very important in bone and teeth formation, nerve function and milk production. It is one of the less expensive ingredients in a complete mineral mix. What this means is the higher the calcium level in the mineral, the expected cost of the mineral would be less. Calcium and phosphorus also work hand-in-hand in absorption and utilization. There must be more calcium than phosphorus in the overall diet of the animal or phosphorus will bind calcium making it highly unavailable in the cow’s diet. A good mineral supplement will run between 15 and 18 percent calcium.

Phosphorus is also very important in the formation of bone. It also plays an important role in reproduction and proper cell balance. Phosphorus is an expensive ingredient in most mineral supplements and will be at sub-standard levels in minerals that are lower priced to the producer. Phosphorus levels should run from four to eight percent in good quality supplements.

Sodium is very important as a major cation of extracellular fluid where it is involved in osmotic pressure and acid-base equilibrium; preservation of normal muscle cell irritability; and cell permeability. Salt provides both sodium and chlorine in a mineral supplement. Salt is also relatively inexpensive and should be in the supplement at the rate of 20 to 25 percent.

Chlorine is a major anion involved in osmotic-pressure and acid-base balance along with aiding in the digestion process. Like sodium, chlorine is added to most supplements in the form of salt.

Magnesium is very important as an enzyme activator primarily in the area of energy production. It also plays a key role in the prevention of grass tetney during the spring. Magnesium is an expensive ingredient in the formulation of a mineral supplement. It is also very bitter and, when fed at high levels during non-grass tetney times, can lead to a decrease in consumption leaving your cattle deficient in other minerals. Most minerals will be at least two percent magnesium and up to 14 percent magnesium in high magnesium mineral supplements. Pay extra attention to the magnesium and phosphorus levels in minerals this year. Some mineral companies might sacrifice one of these two minerals in a cost-cutting effort.

Potassium is a major cation of intracellular fluid where it is involved in osmotic pressure and muscle activity.

Sulfur is very essential since it contains amino acids that are the building blocks for protein. Sulfur also plays a key role in tissue respiration and serves as a component of biotin and thiamine.

This is a quick overview of the macro minerals you should be concerned with when selecting the proper mineral supplementation for your cattle.

The micro minerals and their functions are as follows:

Iron is very important in blood formation and cellular respiration.

Copper is very important in hemoglobin synthesis, enzyme systems, and maintenance of nerves and hair pigmentation. Alabama is a copper-deficient area and research is available promoting the increased levels of copper in mineral supplements. I would look at a mineral supplement of at least 1,500 parts per million (ppm) copper.

Zinc is very important in immunity along with hoof integrity. It is also important in the development of bone and hair.

Manganese is utilized as an enzyme activator, growth, reproduction and cholesterol metabolism.

Cobalt is a component of B vitamins and is needed by rumen bacteria for growth and reproductive performance.

Selenium is regulated by the FDA and can only be provided at the rate of three milligrams (mg) per head per day. Any mineral supplement higher than 26 ppm selenium will have a lower consumption rate than those supplying 26 ppm in the total supplement.

Iodine is important in the formation of thyroxin and also very important in immunity.

Molybdenum is important in microbial activity.

Fluorine is important in protecting teeth against decay.

As you can see all of these minerals work together to assure the producer his cattle are performing and reproducing at an adequate level. Cattle deficient in any of these minerals may show signs of depressed immunity, slow reproductive performance, poor milk production and reduced feed efficiency. All of these areas will have a direct impact on the bottom line of your herd. Remember, university research has shown the importance of ALL of these minerals to be included in the diets of cattle at a level meeting the daily requirements of the animal. A supplement not including adequate levels of these minerals will have a direct impact on your cattle herd. It is also important to note that most mineral problems will show up later than sooner, meaning that when you least expect a problem you may find fewer calves in your pasture due to a reproduction problem. So while it might seem this would be an area to potentially save some money this year, it would cost you more in the long run than what small savings you will see.

An example of a good/complete mineral should contain at least 14 percent calcium, four percent phosphorus and no more than 20 percent salt along with adequate levels of the other discussed minerals as well as vitamins A, D and E. A good mineral supplement will also contain highly available sources of these minerals. A mixture of sulfates and oxides along with chelated trace minerals will be more available to your animal assuring utilization by the body. Look at your mineral tag, as phosphorus levels go up, the price of that mineral will be higher as well. Be aware of trace mineral levels as a way to lower the overall cost of a complete mineral. While lower available minerals might be at a lower cost, if the animal can’t utilize them then it does not matter what the cost of the mineral is. As a producer always remember, in the mineral business, if there is a cost difference, there is a quality difference as well. Also remember trace mineral salt will not meet the daily mineral requirements for your cattle other than for sodium and chlorine.

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations when deciding on a complete mineral supplement for your operation. When the proper mineral is selected and offered to your cattle, the cattle will perform at a level up to the standards you are looking for as a producer.

If I can provide more information or provide you some assistance in the decision making process, please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">jimmyh@alafarm.com or (256) 947-7886.

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist. He looks forward to hearing from you or visiting with you in the future.




Franklin Co. Farm Successfully Supplements Bottom Line with Dorpers


Roger and Ladonna Jones Add South African Sheep to Existing Poultry Operation

Roger Jones with granddaughter Whitney and Dorper lamb. Whitney is Grandpa’s little helper.

by Don Linker

Roger and Ladonna Jones of Franklin County live on a small farm about 14 miles west of Russellville, just off of Highway 24 West. For 22 years, Roger worked for St. Gobain in Russellville making a fiberglass component used in the manufacture of roofing shingles. In 2002, the plant was sold and Roger was suddenly out of a job. He and Ladonna had talked about building laying houses and this seemed like a good time to investigate this possibility. They visited area producers who had laying houses and met with Marshall Durbin Poultry Company, based in Delmar, agreeing to build two laying houses with each house to accommodate around 6,000 laying hens and 500 roosters to produce eggs for the company hatchery. Construction of the houses began and Roger was called back to work at St. Gobain as plant operations manager. Upon completion of the buildings, Roger left the plant and they began egg production which is now in its eighth year.

While raising their two children, Cory and Tamira, Roger had looked for enterprises to maximize the use of the land they had and had run a few head of cattle at times. Being on the farm all the time lent time to explore other possibilities to have a supplemental farm income and utilize the grass grown there. Jones thought sheep might fit the bill as a viable secondary enterprise. He began to research sheep breeds and discovered the hair breeds had a lot of possibilities. The breed he settled on was Dorpers, beginning with some full-bloods and purebreds in his herd.

Full-blood means the genetic background can be traced only to sheep imported from South Africa, the country of origin for Dorpers. Purebred means the sheep is upgraded from American stock and is at least 93 percent or 15/16ths Dorper genetics. Upgrading was allowed in order to increase the numbers of Dorper sheep in the United States after South Africa experienced an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease which made importation impossible. The sheep are shown together in the showring with no preference for either designation according to the American Dorper Sheep Breeders Registry. Roger’s herd consists of 10 full-blood and 15 purebred Dorper ewes.

Dorper ewes grazing at the Jones's Five Point Dorpers farm.

Roger, why did you decide to produce Dorpers?

"Dorpers are a meat breed, they don’t have to be sheared (their covering is shed each summer) and require minimal de-worming. The lambs grow well and efficiently produce meat which is succulent and fine-textured without the "mutton taste" of some breeds. The reason they require minimal de-worming is they tolerate a parasite burden, which some breeds cannot. Dorper rams cross well on other breeds and are in demand for this reason," Roger explained.

Jones’ Dorpers are white with black heads, but they can also be completely white. While all traits are the same but color, the two are considered separate breeds.

The Dorper bred to white ewes will yield some spotted offspring, but a White Dorper bred to white ewes will result in white offspring.

At what age can ewe lambs be bred, what is a typical percent lamb crop and what time of the year can you breed them?

"Ewe lambs may cycle at six to eight months, but better conception rates can be achieved by waiting until they are nine to 12 months-of-age. This later breeding will also result in the ewes growing out better. A typical lamb crop will be 150 percent depending on genetics and nutrition. Improving nutrition will result in lambing rates being around 180 percent. Dorper ewes will breed at any time during the year with nutritional level playing a major role in conception rates. Three lamb crops every two years is a common practice," Roger said.

His plan includes producing purebred Dorper rams for the growing commercial market and later to sell a few ewes to seed-stock producers, as well as hitting the showring with granddaughter Whitney doing the handling. Crossing Dorper rams on other breed ewes improves the meat qualities, carcass size and growth rate of lambs produced. Preliminary university trials also indicate improvement in feed efficiency, growth rate and meat quality when crossed on many commercial wool breeds.

Meat scales now weigh live sheep at the Jones Farm.

Even though management practices like de-worming are reduced with Dorpers, efficient working facilities are still needed. Roger has adapted his cattle-working equipment to facilitate handling sheep. A tilt table saves a lot of back strain when it comes to trimming feet, so, with plans from LSU, he built a very efficient tilt table that also can be used to catch sheep for de-worming. A set of scales is a valuable tool in most livestock endeavors, so Roger adapted a set of meat scales to weigh sheep. He weighs his ewes and lambs periodically to monitor maintenance weight on the ewes and growth rate of the lambs. The scales are also important when it is time to de-worm, with them he knows exactly what his animals weigh and does not over or under-medicate.

The Joneses have found a workable addition to their laying operation with the Dorpers and feel they can add more to their bottom line with them than with other livestock.

They keep Whitney, who is now five, while her parents work and she naturally helps with chores on the farm. A farm is a great place for a child to be when growing up because of the learning experiences and chores that instill responsibility. Whitney is already an accomplished egg packager with her grandparent’s supervision and I am sure she will be an accomplished sheep handler when she is old enough for her and Grandpa to venture into the sheep show arena.

If you would like more information about Dorpers, Roger can be reached at (256) 332-9420 or (256) 460-2406 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=Dorpers">rodajo@hughes.net.

Roger relies on Franklin County Co-op for parts to keep their poultry houses in tip-top shape and also animal health and nutrition products for their sheep operation. Your local Quality Co-op is always ready to assist you with any questions you may have as well as stocking the things you need for your farm, home, garden and livestock. If we don’t have what you are looking for, ordering the product for you is usually not a problem. We want to earn your business and will strive to keep it. Check us out at alafarm.com for store locations, our vendors, feed tags and other information.

Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.




Fruit and Vegetable Conference Attracts Alabama Produce Farmers

Don Wambles, Director of the Farmers Market Authority, gives the opening remarks at the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in February at Auburn University.

by Kellie Henderson

With the arrival of spring’s first blooms, many Alabamians are already dreaming of this year’s first vine-ripened tomato or the sugary-goodness of a slice of fresh watermelon. But while many people are waiting and hoping, Alabama’s fruit and vegetable growers have long been planning and preparing to bring consumers the tastiest possible produce from their farms.

"We all know everybody is making more conscious decisions about their food," said David Johnson of Randolph County, President of the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (AFVGA).

"One of our goals as an association is to put the consumer in direct contact with local growers who can tell their customers more about what’s happened to their food and what’s been done to it. There is a demand for that information, along with a desire for fresh, safe, high-quality produce," Johnson explained.

At the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in February on the Auburn University campus, Johnson welcomed about 140 Alabama produce farmers to a day filled with the latest production and safety information from professors, Extension researchers and specialists, and other agriculture leaders.

Opening remarks made by Don Wambles, Director of the Farmers Market Authority, encouraged growers to remember the importance of marketing their produce.

"Marketing is the other bookend to production agriculture. We have to start to think about things a little differently. We’re not just growing a crop, we’re growing food," he said.

Wambles also stressed the importance of growers using direct marketing to end-consumers or customers through traditional u-pick and roadside stands as well as the booming sectors of Farmer’s Markets and Community Supported Agriculture alliances.

Smaller group sessions for the remainder of the day focused on one of three areas – small fruits, tree fruits or vegetables – with each group hearing from numerous speakers about different crops and practices in that area. Small fruit segments included information on strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and muscadine grapes. Tree fruits presentations were made on apples, satsumas and other citrus fruits, peaches and Oriental persimmons. Vegetable sessions covered foods like tomatoes, peas and asparagus. A presentation was also given on pesticide safety.

Although the fields of expertise ranged from heirloom apples to asparagus, Regional Extension Agent Gary Gray said some of the best information may not have been displayed on a screen or handout.

The opening session of the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Conference was attended by about 140 people.

"The AFVGA has been a strong resource for growers, and these conferences provide the opportunity for producers to meet one another and exchange ideas. Extension plays a large part in providing the latest research to farmers, and we have a good partnership with the AFVGA," he said.

According to AFVGA Executive Secretary Leslie Brasher, the association currently has around 200 members. She added that one of the primary benefits for growers who join the association is up-to-date information on the latest research directly from the researchers themselves in the form of newsletters and conferences.

And Johnson added the organization is not just for farmers with several hundred acres.

"It seems like we’re seeing more people who have retired and are still able to work a small-acreage operation for self-sufficiency and profit. Some people are looking for a way to do something with 30 or 40 acres that won’t break the farm if it doesn’t work," he said.

Brasher said the AFVGA board will soon schedule more meetings and conferences for the year, and the organization is in the process of creating a new online list of member growers.

Many of the presentations given during the February meeting were accompanied by Extension manuals or handouts highlighting pertinent information or additional sources for growers. In addition to this information, AFVGA members in attendance also received a copy of the 2010 Vegetable Production Handbook for the Southeastern U.S. The handbook was compiled by the Southeastern Vegetable Extension Workers and is updated annually.

Gray added that Extension meetings throughout the year are planned in cooperation with the AFVGA, and include new findings as well as tastings of fruits and vegetables grown as a result of studies conducted by Extension researchers and specialists.

"Plans are already underway for the 2010 Farm, Home and Wildlife Expo which will be held the first Saturday in August at the Chilton Research and Extension Center. The event will include variety tasting and information on Extension fruit and vegetable production," Gray said.

For more information on upcoming Extension or Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association events, visit www.aces.edu.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.



How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Flowers for Cutting

Keep fresh flowers on your table all summer — not from the florist, but from your garden. Some flowers are just suited to cut and bring inside. The absolute easiest are tall zinnias like Cut and Come Again, Lilliput and big cactus-flowered types. Another great group for cutting is the branching sunflowers. These are smaller than the giant, single stemmed sunflower; the more you cut the branches the more they bloom. They come in so many colors, not just yellow, but pale yellow, mahogany, bicolor, white and shades in-between. A couple other easy choices include cosmos and tithonia. Occasionally you can find plants for sale, but if you don’t, they are easy from seed. The more you cut these, the more they bloom. Years ago I visited the garden of a lady in Courtland who kept every sort of possible flower and foliage in rows in a garden just for cutting. It was the first cutting garden I had ever seen and the impression still stays with me. It included a number of items that just come back year after year, like hydrangea, gladiolus and crinum. Her cutting garden was the source of flowers for friends and church, too.

Lay a dark tarp over the soil before planting cantaloupe to give them a head start.

Early Cantaloupe and Melons

Consider a dark tarp to warm the soil for your favorite melons to give them a headstart. It also works wonders in helping to keep the weeds out from among the vines once they start to run. Lay a dark tarp over moist, well-prepared soil and cut a planting hole for the plants or seeds. The dark color of the tarp will warm the soil early. Then, as the vines grow, they will shade it by the time the weather gets hot. Melons on a tarp will also be really clean, as will the leaves, which helps prevent diseases. If you can water them with a drip system or a soaker hose laid down under the tarp, all the better. That will really help keep the leaves dry, which helps prevent mildew, one of the most damaging leaf problems on melons. Because cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon really depend on healthy leaves to produce the sugar that gives them a good, sweet taste, healthy foliage is really important. Do everything you can to keep it that way, including planting varieties that are as disease resistant as possible.

Upside-Down Tomatoes

Hanging tomatoes discourage birds and suffer from less disease.

Several years ago a friend of mine tried the idea of growing tomatoes upside-down. He loved it. There are two big benefits: birds found it harder to peck at the fruit because there were no cages to land on and the leaves did not have as many problems with disease, probably because of better air circulation and no soil splashing from the ground. To create the gizmo pictured here, he obviously created a sturdy structure to hang them from first. Each upside-down planter was made from a five-gallon bucket with a two-inch hole in the center for the plant to fit through; a drill with a hole saw bit for installing door handles works perfectly. He then slipped the plant through, leaving the rootball inside and the leafy part of the plant hanging. He cut a coffee filter to slip between the rootball and the bucket to keep any soil from washing out as he filled the bucket with good potting mix. The top of the bucket was open to the air to make it easy to water and fertilize. This type of planting tends to keep the plants from growing as large as they normally do, so it is a good way to try some of those out-of-control tomato varieties that get so tall.

Hibiscus thrives with full sun and a little liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.

Hibiscus Need Full Blazing Sun

One lament I sometimes hear from gardeners who pick up a beautiful hibiscus at the garden center is it did not bloom very well once they got it home. Sometimes the reason for that is simple: not enough sun. This is a plant that absolutely loves full, blazing sun—not partial sun, or sun in the morning or afternoon — it needs the full strength of the sun to bloom well. A little liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks helps, too.

An Herb Garden in a Strawberry Jar

Originally designed to grow clean strawberries, the pockets in a big jar can hold an herb garden at the back door. Mix it up by planting several like sage, thyme, parsley, mint, oregano and rosemary. Save the largest herbs like rosemary, basil and dill for the top. Regular snipping keeps the plants pinched to size so they don’t get too big and dry out quickly. Plant the jar in layers, one at a time, pushing the tops of plants through the pockets from the inside out. Fill as you plant. That’s a lot better than filling the jar and trying to squeeze the plant roots into the hole. Use a premium quality potting soil. Water the top and each pocket with a gentle stream. I love this way to keep a bunch of herbs at my fingertips at the kitchen door.

Borage, A Stunning Blue

Borage not only offers gorgeous blue blooms in spring but is edible, tasting a little like cucumber.

If you like blue flowers, try borage. Borage (Borago officinalis) is an easy annual plant with gorgeous blue blooms in spring attracting bees to the garden. A lot of people include it in the spring garden just for this reason, but the leaves are edible and have a flavor a little like cucumber. Left alone, it will also reseed, but plants may come back from the roots for a year or two. Cooks find many clever ways to use the flowers: on a salad, topping a cupcake or as candied blossoms.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.



Junior Master Gardener Helpers Keep Aldridge Botanical Gardens Looking Good


Each JMGer has a raised bed they are responsible for. The kids have a chance to work in the garden at each meeting.

by Luci Davis

At Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Junior Master Gardeners (JMG) have an important job to do! The JMG Groovy Gardeners and the Wednesday Gardeners are responsible for keeping the field trip garden looking good for the 2,600 elementary school children who come for field trips every year!

The JMG Groovy Gardeners meet on the 2nd Saturday of every month, 12 months a year, and the Wednesday Gardeners meet on Wednesdays twice a month during the school year. At the meetings, the JMG kids come to the garden to learn about soil, compost, insects and how to grow healthy vegetables, fragrant herbs and beautiful flowers. Part of every meeting is spent pulling weeds and making the garden look neat so visitors will have a safe, attractive and interesting place to learn about plants and soil.

Joe is standing by the row of beans that help screen the JMG garden from the nearby neighbors.

The Groovy Gardeners provide a real service for Aldridge Gardens and their reward is more than feeling good about doing something useful; when they go home after meetings, they always carry a bag of fresh picked produce, herbs and flowers!

The 18 girls and boys in the JMG Groovy Gardeners and Wednesday Gardeners range in age from seven to 14 years. Some of them have been gardening since the first JMG class five years ago and some have just joined the group. They try to keep the number of kids at 10 in each group, but it has gone as high as 17! The range of ages and experience is nice because older kids can help the younger ones, and more experienced kids can help the newer ones.

These young organic gardeners plant by the square-foot method which makes it easy to design a garden plan and share space with a friend. Four or five moms, dads or grandparents usually join the kids because they want to learn more about gardening. Some report they have built raised beds at home so the children have a place to practice what they learn at their meetings. There are also reports about how the veggies that go home are cooked. Sometimes they come back to the garden in the form of a gift to share like zucchini bread or sweet potato pie! The kids are also avid plant swappers and have a great time trading plants that "volunteer" in or around their raised beds.

The kids are working on the JMG activity "getting to know" where they learn a little about each other.

Both JMG groups do community service as a part of every meeting. Their job is to keep the area with their raised beds looking neat and attractive because they are part of the Field Trip Garden. More than 2,600 children come through the garden every year for lessons focusing on soils, habitats, plant propagation, trees and garden math. When they walk up the path and enter this site, you can always hear little gasps of amazement and whispers of: "It’s so beautiful."

The Junior Master Gardeners have not only planted seeds to grow plants, they have "planted seeds" to grow future gardeners!

Luci Davis is the State Junior Master Gardener Coordinator. For more information on the program, phone (334) 703-7509.

Zach is planting carrot seeds using the square-foot gardening method. Nathan and Jonathon clean a shovel like all of the other kids participating in all aspects of the garden including cleaning the tools after using them.

Kitchen Food Safety: Bags, Bottles and Beyond

by Angela Treadway

When we think kitchen food safety, the following seven unsafe practices may not come to mind. They should. Do you avoid them? Please do!

1. Using non-food grade materials

Just because a material looks like a suitable food container doesn’t make it safe for food. Four common nonfood grade items we should avoid using include the following:

· Brown paper bags for cooking. Here’s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says about this practice: "Do not use brown paper bags from grocery or other stores for cooking. They are not sanitary, may cause a fire and can emit toxic fumes. Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven.... The ink, glue and recycled materials in paper bags can emit toxic fumes when they are exposed to heat. Instead, use purchased oven cooking bags."

· Garbage cans for cooking. Garbage cans weren’t developed for cooking. It is especially dangerous cooking in galvanized garbage cans as they contain toxic metals that can leach into food.

· Film canisters for food storage. If a product isn’t sold to hold food, don’t use it for this purpose. A commonly used nonfood item is film canisters. Use small food storage containers instead.

· Plastic trash bags for food storage. The use of plastic trash bags for food storage or cooking is not recommended by USDA "....because they are not food grade plastic and chemicals from them may leach into the food." www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/meat_packaging_mater...

2. Reusing one-time-use items

While some items should not be used with foods, others should be used only ONCE and then for their intended purpose. For example, USDA states: "Plastic wrap, foam meat trays, convenience food dishes and egg cartons have been approved for a specific use and should be considered one-time-use packaging. Bacteria from foods these packages once contained may remain on the packaging and thus be able to contaminate foods or even hands if reused." www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/meat_packaging_mater...

Other items developed with the intention of single use include these four articles:

· Single-use plastic water bottles. It is better to buy a reusable water bottle and use it instead of reusing a bottle in which water is sold. The plastic water bottles in which water is sold are intended for single service. They are hard to clean and dry and are not meant for multiple cleanings. They may not hold up under the hot water and cleansing needed to remove lipstick, etc.

· Disposable plastic utensils, cups and containers. This category includes plastic forks, spoons and knives; plastic cups; and containers from cottage cheese, sour cream, chip dip, margarine, milk, etc. These items are not made of materials designed for repeated use or repeated cleaning with hot soap and water. Cups and containers may have edges that curl over and collect bacteria that cannot be cleaned out. These containers are developed for specific types/temperatures of foods and may not stand up to all foods, like high acid and/or hot foods.

· Single-use wooden items. Some wooden food-related items, like Popsicle sticks and shish kabob skewers, are intended for one-time use. If you want to reuse shish kabob sticks, buy the metal ones. Rather than reuse Popsicle sticks, purchase one of the containers for making popsicles that comes with reusable handles. Or, use a new purchased Popsicle stick every time.

· Lids with non-cleanable liners. Glass jars can be cleaned and reused; however you must be careful of reusing the lids. Lids with a non-cleanable liner, like a waxed cardboard liner, should not be re-used.

3. Misusing materials in the microwave

Microwave your food in safe ways using safe containers. USDA advises:

"Microwave food in packaging materials, only if the package directs and then use only one time. Materials suitable for microwaving include oven bags, wax paper and plastic wrap. Do not let the plastic wrap touch the food and do not reuse the wrap.

"Foam insulated trays and plastic wraps on fresh meats in grocery stores are not intended by the manufacturer to be heated and may melt when in contact with hot foods, allowing chemical migration into the food. In addition, chemical migration from packaging material to a food does not necessarily require direct contact. Excessive heat applied to a closed container may drive off chemical gases from the container that can contaminate the enclosed food.

"These types of plastic products should not be used in a microwave oven because they are subjected to heat when thawing or reheating. To avoid a chemical migration problem, remove meats from their packaging."www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Turkey_Alt_Routes

An article on "Plastics and the Microwave" in FDA Consumer magazine stated, "....carryout containers from restaurants and margarine tubs should not be used in the microwave, according to the American Plastics Council. Inappropriate containers may melt or warp, which can increase the likelihood of spills and burns. Also, discard containers that hold prepared microwavable meals after you use them because they are meant for one-time use."

The FDA article cautioned: "Microwave-safe plastic wrap should be placed loosely over food so steam can escape and should not directly touch your food. Some plastic wraps have labels indicating there should be a one-inch or greater space between the plastic and the food during microwave heating."

"Always read directions," advised FDA, "but generally, microwave-safe plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper and white microwave-safe paper towels are safe to use. Covering food helps protect against contamination, keeps moisture in and allows food to cook evenly. Never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers or aluminum foil in the microwave."

4. Using mercury thermometers

Get rid of old mercury thermometers, but don’t just throw them away. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site.

Mercury thermometers are identifiable by the silver bulb at the bottom and silver coloring in the temperature indicator area. Thermometers with a red or blue liquid do NOT contain mercury. The danger is if a mercury thermometer breaks, toxic fumes are released and the mercury contaminates the area in which it is spilled. It’s very difficult — and EXPENSIVE — to effectively clean spilled mercury. Replace these thermometers with non-mercury thermometers.

5. Misusing hard-to-clean items

Today, many families are busy rushing and running. Utensils that once were cleaned thoroughly after each use may get set aside. Cleaning is neglected or delayed. Consider these four items:

· Whisks. When purchasing a metal whisk, some of the easiest ones to clean are stainless steel whisks with their wires attached to the handle with a watertight seal. They don’t rust and food particles don’t get trapped in the handle.

As an aside, a whimsical apron sighted on the Internet identifies the wearer as being involved with "Home Cooked Security" and holding the position of "Director of Whisk Assessment."

· Pastry and basting brushes. Use food grade pastry and basting brushes rather than paint brushes. Paint brushes may not have been treated to be acceptable for food use and/or their design may not be conducive to thorough cleaning.

Avoid cross contamination when using food brushes. For example, don’t baste raw meat and then use the same brush on the cooked meat or another food that will not be cooked. Also, it is a good practice to use a different brush for pastry than the one used for basting meats. Wash brushes in hot soapy water and rinse well after each use or run through the dishwasher, if dishwasher-safe.

· Vegetable brushes. Vegetable brushes are designed for scrubbing hard-surfaced vegetables and fruits, like melons, cucumbers and acorn squash. Clean them thoroughly after each use. The easiest method is to run them through a dishwasher, if they are dishwasher-safe. Otherwise, clean them with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water or run through the dishwasher if dishwasher-safe.

· Sponges. Sponges are hard to keep clean for use on food contact surfaces, like dishes and countertops. Sponges provide an ideal location for bacteria to grow. Bacteria thrive in the warmth, moisture and food collected on sponges.

Sponges should be cleaned and dried after each use and changed frequently. While the recommendation is sometimes made to heat WET sponges in the microwave, the guidelines are not precise and there is a possibility of fire.

Dishcloths are easier to keep clean than sponges and can be purchased very inexpensively. A clean one can be used every time a person does the dishes or wipes the counter. Launder dishcloths in the washing machine in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. Or, use paper towels. A third possibility is to use a combination of paper towels and dishcloths. Some people find it easier to wipe up small spills and clean small areas with a paper towel and to use a dishcloth for cleaning larger areas.

6. Reusing items that should be laundered

Dishcloths and dish towels should be washed after use. Wet or damp dish towels and cloths are ideal environments for bacterial growth. Allow them to air dry before tossing them into a laundry basket. Have a good supply so it is not necessary to re-use them before laundry day.

7. Using damaged items that can’t be cleaned

Cutting boards, whether plastic or wood, should be tossed once they contain deep cuts or grooves that cannot be easily cleaned. Discard damaged wooden and nylon utensils that have cracks or melted surfaces.

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.




Livestock and Learning

by Chuck Hill and Amy Payne Burgess

Ah, spring is in the air in the great state of Alabama! That means we are deep in the heart of the 4-H year. Marion County is having its 4-H Pet Show. A Chicken-Que competition is being held in Lauderdale County. 4-H Club members from around the state will swarm the U. S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville for 4-H Space Day. St. Clair County will host its 4-H Quilt Show. And there will be hundreds of 4-H club members planting gardens and trees, engaging in acts of service, and learning about wildlife habitat, robotics, or the skills of fishing or theatrical improvisation.

For Chelsea Boyd of Cleburne County, there is a clear link between livestock and leadership. Chelsea served on the Alabama 4-H State Council and has had great success in showing swine.

We are also in the midst of our livestock show season. Since 4-H is the youth outreach program of the Land Grant Universities and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we are deeply committed to the USDA’s vision "to lead a rapidly evolving food and agriculture system." Many of our future food scientists, agri-business leaders and agronomists will have had their roots in today’s 4-H.Raising livestock is one of our proudest 4-H traditions. It was established in the early days of 4-H, when the success of young people’s corn, tomato or livestock projects helped determine how well Alabama’s rural farm families ate. Today, 4-H livestock programs are a tremendous tool for teaching the 4-H core values of Belonging,Independence, Generosity and Mastery.

How does participation in a 4-H Livestock Program teach Belonging? Every livestock participant is a member of a 4-H Club with a strong educational component. Livestock participants often belong to a community 4-H club, where club members take part in an array of 4-H projects and activities. Sometimes, they are members of a 4-H livestock club with a very specific focus. As you visit 4-H livestock shows, you also see participants who are members of a larger livestock-raising community, with older Extension staff, community volunteers and family members constantly "looking over their shoulders" with advice and support.

A great 4-H judge engages young people in growing and learning. Brandon Callis of Texas A & M University talks with Aniston Bolding of Chilton County about her choices in raising and showing beef.

Independence is another key aspect of the 4-H learning experience. Sometimes it can be challenging for parents and teachers to let go of our young people, but 4-H is based on "learning by doing." Raising livestock teaches the importance of personal responsibility and the most successful project is not necessarily the one where the young person wins the biggest prize. Our greatest success comes about when a young person learns to make wise choices and learns from his or her mistakes. Young people have lots of options in 4-H and in life, so it is crucial they develop a feeling of control over their own 4-H projects – and their futures.

It would be easy for some people to exclude the 4-H value of Generosity from livestock competition. It’s true, champion livestock often bring a significant price, but the true value of 4-H competition is in learning to play fair, to follow the rules, to work well with others, and to be honest and honorable. Personal generosity comes when an older youth guides a younger child or a farm family shares its enthusiasm for livestock with kids who have never had a chance to be around cows, horses or goats.

Tanner Jones of Tuscaloosa County with Black Betty at the 2009 Alabama State 4-H Show. Betty is a rescue horse. Tanner learned about caring for a sick horse and transforming her into a great and healthy animal.

The degree of Mastery which young people develop goes beyond their education about swine or sheep. Through 4-H Animal Science Projects, young people learn time management, focus, and to set and achieve goals. We believe 4-H Mastery is not something done toyoung people or even done for young people, but it is a process in which they are fully involved.

Are you enthusiastic about animal sciences – or photography – or gardening? Call your county Alabama Cooperative Extension Office and offer to share your enthusiasm with young people in 4-H. It will make you and your community a better place!

Notes: First, in Alabama, most shows are limited to 4-H or FFA members. The comments in this document relate to the potential exhibitor being a 4-H or FFA member. The next thing recommended is to attend a livestock or horse show, and truly watch the work and effort needed to make the exhibition of livestock/horses a worthwhile and rewarding experience for exhibitor and parent/guardian. Make friends with exhibitors and visit their show animal facilities on their farm/ranch.

The next issue to address is what the exhibitor learns from showing livestock or horses. The life skills learned as a result of any 4-H or FFA livestock/horse project are many and varied. High on the list is decision-making. One must realize the decisions of animal selection, feeding and care of the project animal, and dedication to the project can be paramount to the success in the showring. Other life skills developed as a result of animal projects are responsibility, animal care, management and knowledge, money and time management, as well as goal-setting and leadership skills.

Alabama has a multitude of opportunities to exhibit most species of animals. There is considerable variation within the various species, in terms of opportunities. The three major events are the Alabama National Fair, held annually in October; the Alabama Junior Livestock Expo, held annually in March in conjunction with the SLE rodeo and hosted by the Southeastern Livestock Expo; and State 4-H Horse Show, held annually in July. All three events are held in Montgomery. In addition, there are a number of county and "regional" state fairs, "jackpot" type shows and stand-alone shows held throughout the year.

Livestock shows have animal conformation classes where the judge evaluates form and function of the animal as it relates to the industry. Market animals are evaluated on their desirability of producing a high-quality, edible food product, i.e., meat. Breeding animals are evaluated as replacement animals for the breeding herd. Livestock shows often have a "showmanship" class where the exhibitor is evaluated by the judge on the ability to handle, manage and control the exhibited animal, as well as mannerisms and courtesies displayed in the showring.

Horse shows have conformation classes as well as performance classes, where the judge evaluates suitability of the ridden horse. Horse shows often have a "showmanship" class where the exhibitor (on-foot) is evaluated by the judge on the ability to handle, manage and control the exhibited horse, as well as mannerisms and courtesies displayed in the showring or arena. In "horsemanship," the mounted exhibitor is evaluated by the judge on the ability to handle, manage and control their mount.

Chuck Hill is the 4-H Youth Development Specialist.

Amy Payne Burgess is a 4-H Regional Extension Agent in Northeast Alabama. She may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">burgeap@auburn.edu.




Mid-State Farmers Co-op Celebrates Opening of New Lawn Mower Shop

Noticing a need in the Columbiana area, Mid-State Farmers Cooperative manager Chris Duke decided to open a lawn mower shop in his store. Bobby Lucas (pictured), the mechanic for the shop, said they opened in January and have already seen a great deal of business.

by Grace Smith

Mid-State Farmers Co-op’s Customer Appreciation Day was a great day for the store to promote its new lawn mower shop. Noticing a need for such a service in the area, Manager Chris Duke decided to move forward with his decision to open the lawn mower shop within his store.

"The lawn mower shop ties in with what we’re already doing," Duke said. We sell a lot of grass seed, fertilizer and pre-emergent, so our customers were already coming into the store to buy these products. But they had nowhere to get their lawnmowers serviced. We’re tying all these products and services into one package so they won’t have to go anywhere else. They can even buy their equipment here."

The shop opened January 5, and Duke has a well-experienced repairman in Bobby Lucas who, like Duke, realized the need for this service in the Columbiana area.

"We had several customers coming into the store requesting this type service," Lucas said. "We don’t have a shop in the area, so we’re providing a shop with dependable service to our customers.

And Lucas noted the customers seem to be happy with the shop.

"So far the customers we’ve serviced have been really happy," Lucas said. "And we’ve got a lot of customers tell us they’re planning to bring their stuff in soon."

Although their primary service is for lawn mowers, the shop isn’t just for mowers.

"We’ve worked on small tractors, 4-wheelers, weed eaters, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, go-carts, manure spreaders, John Deere Gators and just about anything you can use on a farm," Lucas said.

Lucas said they can service most anything up to a 35 horsepower tractor.

With spring just on the horizon, Lucas is already busy and expects to get even busier.

"Right now I’m getting something pretty much everyday or every other day," Lucas said. "When spring hits, we’ll probably have to hire another mechanic. I look for it to grow to the point we have to build another building before long."

Some services at the shop include blade sharpening, engine rebuilds, belt repairs, welding on the machines, oil changes, tune-ups and general service.

Lucas’s qualifications include certification in every field on mowers — Kawasaki, Kohler, MTD, Honda, Tecumseh.

Mid-State Farmers Co-op has also recently hired a new salesperson for the lawn mower shop. Joyce Falkner joined the Co-op team in March and is handling parts sales. She also handles over-the-counter parts sales. Soon, they will be selling parts over the store’s Facebook website.

Lucas is excited about getting the shop running and thankful to be apart of the Mid-State Farmers Cooperative team.

"I’m looking forward to the growth [of the shop]," he said. "I’m glad they brought me aboard. We’re like one big happy family; I couldn’t ask for a better place to work."

Grace Smith is an associate editor for AFC Cooperative Farming News.





Mid-State Farmers Co-op's Customer Appreciation Day a Success

Guests to Customer Appreciation Day listened attentively as Amanda Griffith presented the mobile dairy demonstration which provided them with a great opportunity to learn more about dairy cattle as well as how their milk is produced and marketed.

by Grace Smith

Mid-State Farmers Co-op found a great way to say "thank you" to their customers this year. On February 25, 2010, the balloon-lined fence row led faithful patrons and new customers to the Columbiana store for its Customer Appreciation Day. Co-op members and visitors alike were greeted by a number of interesting exhibits and activities.

One exhibit that was hard to miss was the Mobile Dairy Classroom complete with a live Holstein cow to demonstrate milking techniques. Onlookers were able to learn where their milk comes from and how it gets to consumers.

During Mid-State Farmers Cooperative’s Customer Appreciation Day, professional Labrador trainers from Puddle Duck Labs conducted retrieving demonstrations fashioned after duck hunts with the anxious, but obedient, labs on hand.

Another exciting exhibit was Puddle Duck Labs. Periodically during the four-hour event, professional Labrador trainers from Puddle Duck Labs would conduct retrieving demonstrations fashioned after duck hunts with the anxious, but obedient, labs on hand.

Other "live" exhibits included goats from two local farms and show heifers on loan from a local FFA member. SPORTMIX® pet food, Hustler Lawnmowers, Rainbow Fertilizer, AFC Feed Division, and Baby G Arts and Crafts completed the list of exhibitors for the Customer Appreciation Day, which Manager Chris Duke plans to make an annual event.

Store Manager Chris Duke took his son to see the show cattle on hand for the Day. The calves belong to local FFA members and were exhibited in the Southeastern Livestock Exposition just two weeks after the event.

"We wanted to do something for the customers to say ‘thank you,’" Duke said. "We haven’t had an event like this in several years, so we decided to have one. We thought it would be a good idea to tie the event in with the rodeo and make it an annual event."

Mid-State Farmers Co-op is a sponsor of the town’s long standing annual rodeo organized by the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association. According to Duke, the rodeo is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year.

Duke considered the Customer Appreciation Day a success and noted that over 250 attended the fun-filled event. He also mentioned those in attendance seemed to enjoy the day’s events. But he noted the event wasn’t just a success for the attendees; it was beneficial for the business of the store as well.

"Everyone had a good time socializing and visiting, and we had a good day in sales for us as well," Duke said.

The success of the event gives promise of making the Customer Appreciation Day not only an annual event, but one Duke plans to expand next year.

"We had a lot of people tell us how much they enjoyed it, and they wanted to do it again and make it bigger," Duke said. "A lot of people want us to bring more animals next year. I think they’d like to see some horses, so maybe next year we’ll add some pony rides. There have been other requests for chickens, so we may have them too."

Duke said it’s beneficial for the customers to gain more insight into where their food comes from and develop a deeper knowledge of the animals.

"Live" exhibits at Customer Appreciation Day were popular stops for adults and children.

"There were a lot of educational opportunities there for the customers being able to see the dairy cow and goats," Duke said. "It was very informational and a great way for us to say ‘thank you.’"

Duke also noted the event gave him and his staff the chance to learn about the interests of his patrons as well, providing the employees of Mid-State a chance to better serve their customers.

"The Customer Appreciation Day provided us with feedback on what people are interested in," he said. "We had a lot of people mention they’d like to see chickens and horses, so that lets us know there may an interest in folks getting into those hobbies."

Duke was sure to note how thankful he was for folks coming out to take part in the Customer Appreciation Day and making the event such a big success. He specifically thanked Mid-State Farmers Co-op’s Assistant Manager Jamie Griffin for his hard work in planning the event and Efco Power Equipment for its sponsorship of the Customer Appreciation Day and Rodeo.

Grace Smith is an associate editor for AFC Cooperative Farming News.




Miz Chicken



Above, Miz Chicken in her younger days, along with a showy rooster. At right, Miz Chicken today.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

Yesterday I took advantage of the beautiful sunny day to do as many outdoor chores as possible. And as I completed each task, my faithful pet was by my side.

No, it wasn’t my beautiful little Eskimo Spitz (she was too busy guarding "her" goats); it was an eight-year-old hen that we simply call Miz Chicken.

I know commercial chicken house owners with thousands of birds will scoff at this article, but for the small, family farmer like me, chickens can provide the best eggs you’ve ever tasted for your breakfast table with comic entertainment as an "added value crop" you probably don’t anticipate.

Some of the Golden Comets and Jasper the Rooster.

I will explain the wonderful dual-chicken enclosure serving our farm and our family’s garden for years, in just a moment.

But the majority of our chickens are free-range now, and some take "free-range" to an all new meaning.

To be what many would consider an "elderly" chicken in chicken years, Miz Chicken doesn’t seem to miss a beat.

Not only did she follow as I sweatingly shoveled two wagon loads of composted chicken poop yesterday, she then carefully appraised each and every limb I cut from two small trees I was pruning.

As I exhaustedly went inside the house to shower, I figured Miz Chicken would hunker down in the shade for some much needed rest.

A little later, I discovered instead she’d waddled to my son’s house on the farm to oversee my daughter-in-law as she worked in her greenhouse!

Miz Chicken greets each and EVERY visitor to my farm, tilting her head from side to side in a comical, inquisitive gaze.

A "real" farmer would likely have already culled her because her egg-laying days are long behind her. But look what they would have missed!

My laying hens work extremely hard. They not only provide huge brown eggs for my extended family’s needs, they lay enough for me to sell which brings visitors here who often also buy my goat milk soap or other items.

Baby chicks under a heat lamp.

But even if you don’t have any commercial aspirations at all, chickens can provide their healthy eggs, fantastic compost and fascinating entertainment for your family.

It hasn’t been many years ago when every small farm had a flock of chickens to provide for their needs. The three years we lived in town when I was a pre-teen I was awakened every morning by the rooster belonging to our neighbor who lived up the hill.

Now, so many larger farmers concentrate on a single crop or two that for a long time the backyard flock seemed to go by the wayside. But it hasn’t disappeared.

Last spring there were so many new folks buying baby chicks that many of the nation’s largest hatcheries had waiting lists.

Even just two or three hens can supply a modern-day family with all the eggs they need.

And keeping chickens is not complicated. If you start them out right, they pretty much take care of themselves.

My first coop was simply a shed built on the side of an existing outbuilding, with a square chicken run which not only had chicken wire on the sides but also stretched over the top to ward off predators.

Roy Geno, several years ago, building the chicken coop which had fenced areas on either side.

When I decided to expand my chicken numbers a couple of years later, I borrowed a chapter from one of my favorite BACKWOODS HOME magazine writers, John Silveira.

His engineer-father always searched for better and more efficient ways to do anything around their home so he came up with a way to take care of his chickens, garden and even his compost pile.

He built a small coop in the middle with fenced enclosures on each side.

The first year, chickens had the run of the east side and the west side access door remained closed. The next spring, the chickens moved to the west side and his father tilled the soil and planted the family garden on the well-fertilized east side. Each year the chickens and garden alternate sides.

The great thing about that plan is you can build the coop and the adjacent side yards ANY size to fit your needs. If you have just a few chickens and want only a small garden, build each area small.

(You can read John’s article in the 8th BWH anthology on page 73 or link to my article about building the coop at www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/geno0704.html.)

I had such HUGE cabbages from that initial garden I would have won a Bonnie Plant youth contest if I were younger!

I knew NOTHING about chickens when I began, so the late Jerry Sterling, former Blount County Co-op manager, recommended I get Golden Comets as my first breed because they were hardy chickens and good layers.

Also called sex-link chickens (because hatcheries can tell by their colors whether they’re male or female), you can order them through many Co-ops or through national hatchers. I’ve since expanded and also have some of just about every other breed, but the determined Golden Comets remain the best and most reliable layers on the farm, with personality to boot — like Miz Chicken!

My chickens now free-range so they graze on pasture, eating bugs and anything else in their paths before they return to the safety of their coops at night. They also eat laying egg ration pellets and occasionally crumbles bought at our local Co-op store.

Even though they free-range, they lay in their nesting boxes because I always keep them contained in the coops for a couple of days when they move from their original heat lamp box on the back porch to the coop when they are fully feathered.

Even many towns and cities now allow small backyard flocks (usually only if you DON’T have roosters to disturb the neighbors!) and in many other cities groups are advocating allowing hens as "pets."

My farm-raised husband always told me I’d know when a hen laid her first egg because of her special "I am happy" cackling song. And he was right.

My mama told me you’d have thought I’d laid that first egg myself those many years ago.

So if you want to have farm-fresh, healthy eggs available right outside your doorsteps, and want your kids and grandkids to know the joy of retrieving a warm, fresh egg from directly under "the source," get at least a trio of happy chickens.

But I warn you, chickens can be addictive!

Suzy Lowry Geno is a Blount County writer who can be reached through her website: www.suzysfarm.com.




Museum Preserves Blount Springs-Bangor Cave Memories


Blount County Memorial Museum Curator Amy Rhudy with several of the museum’s historical and genealogical reference books.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

A wise man once said, "You can’t see where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been."

Folks in Blount County don’t have that "directional problem" thanks to the efforts of the Blount Historical Society, past and present, in their establishment and maintaining of the Blount County Memorial Museum.

Exhibits on the Champion Mine, L&N Railroad and the once-gilded-magnificence of the Blount Springs-Bangor Cave area are interspersed with items like a walking spinning wheel; folk art pottery from Selfville’s Bobby Gaither; old hand fans from no-longer-existing businesses like Hood Store, Brown Furniture and Copeland Oil; a bottle tree; former long-time Oneonta Mayor and businessman Jack Fendley’s extensive photography collection; and an exhibit dedicated to the county’s men and women who are serving or have served in the military.

There’s also a bench from the original Blount County Courthouse donated by George and Jo Ann McCay and a hand-embroidered quilt made by the late Hazel Keene Bryant of Blountsville, who was instrumental in forming Blount’s Quilter’s Guild.

Curator Amy Rhudy explained the Blount Springs-Bangor Cave exhibit is probably one of the most visited and examined at the museum.

In the mid to late 1800s and into the early 1900s, Blount Springs was known worldwide for its spa and huge hotel where folks came to heal from various diseases while sipping the tonic spring waters from cobalt blue bottles.

Wealthy from Birmingham also came to the more than 100-room hotel for dances and other recreations and many owned huge antebellum homes in the area where they often summered away from the city’s heat.

Nearby Bangor Cave was another tourist stop, where politicians made lengthy speeches on the Fourth of July, huge outdoor dances were held to live music from a band in the pavilion and candle-lit tours of the cave were held.

During the 20s and 30s, Bangor Cave was a "speakeasy" with gambling including slot machines and casino tables!

June Reid points out photographs of her family’s Blount Springs General Store at the popular Blount Springs-Bangor Cave exhibit showing old glass bottles from the spa and photos of the hotels, cave and gambling casinos!

Hayden residents June and Thomas Reid grew up in the early 1900s when stories of the area’s glory still abounded. Her parents ran the biggest general store in the area with the post office located inside. Thomas remembered his father setting up the pins in the Blount Springs bowling alley!

Recently, reviewing the photos and other Blount Springs artifacts at the museum, they reminisced about the stories they’d heard, including one of a young relative who was told never to linger when he delivered groceries to the Bangor Cave Club. The young man couldn’t resist one time and slid a nickel into a slot machine as he passed —- but his presence wasn’t easy to overlook because his one nickel hit the jackpot and coins began spewing onto the floor!

The Champion Mine exhibit, donated permanently by mine owner descendent Van Gunter, is equally popular with photographs of equipment and employees, and samples of the many types of ore.

Champion Mine is an integral part of Blount County’s history and the display, donated to the Museum by mine owner descendant Van Guner, features many photographs and ore samples.

John Hanby discovered the county’s rich ore deposits in 1817, the year before Blount County was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislation (making Blount County a "county older than the state" according to a nearby historical marker in front of the courthouse).

The ore mines were named "Champion" in 1882 by Henry DeBardeleben and James Sloss who brought the L&N Railroad to the county to transport the ores. Since the railroad came through Oneonta, the county seat was moved from Blountsville to Oneonta in 1889.

The majority of the ore was mined by Shook and Fletcher from 1925 to 1967 from the Taits Gap and Champion Mines, and shipped to Woodward, Sloss Furnace in Birmingham and Republic in Gadsden.

Those interested in their family histories said the small museum is a "mine in itself" as it has a computer system (purchased from a grant obtained in part through the assistance of Probate Judge/County Commission Chairman David Standridge and County Administrator Ralph Mitchell) to help them trace their ancestry.

On a recent visit, Oneonta resident Larry Brewer said the system "blows your mind!" Amy helped him trace his family back to 1760 when his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Lewis Brewer, was born in England.

There are currently also more than 500 books on individual family genealogy (like those of the Murphree and Bynum families linked throughout the county’s history), more than 1,000 family files, and numerous videos which Amy is compiling of interviews with U.S. veterans and others.

A grant for four additional computers is in the works.

As agriculture has played and continues to play such an integral part in the area, the museum has featured a dairy farm exhibit by Dr. Jack Avery, different types of motors collected by Billy Mack Eller, antique farm tools and more.

Korean War veteran and Pine Mountain resident Eugene Horsley looks over some of the military display at the Blount County Memorial Museum.

Jo Akeman was on the original Historical Society Board instrumental in forming the museum in 1970 and remains on that board today along with Jane Wright, Stan Burnette, Rosie Woodard, Beverley Mize and Historical Society President Stanley Moss.

Jane feels one of the most important aspects of the building was when alumni of Howard College in Birmingham bought bricks when that college was demolished in East Lake for its move to Lakeshore Drive (it is now Samford University).

"The college was selling the bricks and alumni would buy 25 to 50 and would have them around their homes, some using them in patios and barbecues, that sort of thing," Mrs. Akeman remembered. "We asked them to donate the brick and many alumni did, donating them a few at a time."

School children also gave small donations, but the foundation for the museum’s original funds was $2,500 raised throughout the 1950s and 1960s to build some type of permanent remembrance for the county’s veterans. Blount County has long been proud of the service of its men and women, with Blount’s Kelly Ingram being listed as the first official casualty of World War I.

While there have been many governors and other political figures who have visited the museum through the years, probably the visitor who caused the most "stir," according to Mrs. Akeman, was when Nancy Reagan visited in 1976 during a bicentennial campaign trip through Alabama for her husband’s first run for national office.

While Mrs. Akeman is especially proud of the exhibits of the county’s history, she also enjoys the rotating exhibits of those who are currently making history. After reading about Blountsville-area resident Brad Martin’s chainsaw carvings in a previous AFC Cooperative Farming News, Mrs. Akeman suggested and Amy followed through on having several of Martin’s sculptures on temporary display. These include a full-size cowboy now standing in the window.

Folk art pottery by Selfville resident Bobby Gaither.

Amy explained several programs will be held throughout the summer, like those in the past concerning local storytelling and local art. A free genealogy class will be held in July.

The Blount County Co-op will once again be donating flowers for the beds out front.

Mrs. Akeman explained the museum shows off the best of Blount’s past and present. "It’s just nice to share what you have with others because they enjoy it so much."

Mrs. Akeman, other board members and the public said the most special part of the museum is not really old at all: its curator Amy Rhudy, who is now serving her tenth year and who has moved the museum into an even more hospitable source of family and area information.

Located on a side street of the Courthouse Square in Oneonta, the museum is currently open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more details on any of the programs, phone (205) 625-6905 or contactarhudy@co.blount.al.us.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County. You can reach her at www.suzysfarm.com.



Peanut People




Pike Co. 4-H Agent Tammy Powell Retiring After 25 Years

Of the many 4-H collectibles Tammy Powell has, one of her favorites is this Garfield, one of the few things former 4-Her Jim Davis used his famous cat to support.

by Kellie Henderson

"What I hope is that I’ve taught by example, not just by talking or lecture," said Tammy Powell of the 25 years she spent as the 4-H Agent for Pike County before retiring in March of 2010.

"I have always felt things are never coincidental —we are in certain places at certain times for a reason. I hope that I have fulfilled my ‘reason,’" Powell said.

And for countless young people in Pike County, Tammy Powell has been a reason for them to try harder, learn more and excel beyond what they might have ever imagined.

"One of the best things about the 4-H program is the projects and activities are a true family affair, you can see a child work together with the family to develop a work ethic that will take people very far, maybe further now than ever before. We all have to be involved in teaching that," she said.

A strong work ethic and family support were things Powell learned as a child through her own experience as a 4-Her.

"Mama was a 4-H leader 37 of the 40 years she taught, so she was naturally a big proponent of 4-H. My first project was the Junior Baked Foods competition and, back then, everyone had to make the same recipe for the first round of competition. That particular year, we were all given a brownie recipe to prepare. I was still young enough that someone had to help me take them out of the oven, and they were awful.

"We had used an off-brand of brown sugar, and thought that might be the problem. Now this was before stores were open much at night, but my Daddy drove from Wicksburg to Dothan and brought back a better brand of brown sugar, and I tried again. By example, he taught me to work until I got things right, and I’ve tried to do that with our kids here in Pike County," Powell explained.

Powell has special memories attached to the many accolades and mementos she received over the course of her 33-year-career with the Cooperative Extension Service.

Powell also said the Junior Baked Foods Contest has continued to be one of her favorite events throughout her time as a 4-H agent.

"It’s one of the most fun things we do. Families have to get involved when kids use the oven to test recipes and shop for ingredients, and a person who learns to cook never has to go hungry," she said.

Another of Powell’s favorite 4-H events is the Public Speaking competition.

"It’s one of the best things we do. It encourages people to do research, formulate their thoughts, learn how to present themselves and ultimately to evaluate their efforts, all skills that are so important in life for students and adults," she explained.

"I enjoy all the competitions though," she continued. "But not because they are pitted against each other. It is amazing to watch young people do things they didn’t real ize they could do and to see them surprise themselves with their own accomplishments."

And Powell has taken pleasure in the accomplishments, big and small, of countless 4-Hers from Pike County and beyond.

"4-H camp has always been special to me for that reason. For some kids, it’s their first experience away from home. Spending that first night away without calling home is becoming harder and harder in the age of cell phones. But keeping them busy or just being there with a little ginger ale or Pepto Bismol for a late night stomach ache goes a long way, and, if you can get them through that first night, they’ve accomplished something they can feel good about," Powell said.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.



Planting, and Living, By the Moon Signs…

Roy’s Grandma Annie Houtten (above) con-sulted her Almanac almost every day.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

Her best pair of scissors and the Old Farmer’s Almanac always hung on a nail on the wall by my husband’s Granny’s rocking chair.

The little book was thinner and its pages weren’t glossy, but, in the late 1940s, it was vital to know when was the best time to plant in the hard-scrabble Morgan County dirt, when it was best to butcher or castrate hogs, and even when fence posts could be set firmly and steadily.

"Planting by the Moon" or "working by the seasons" wasn’t then just folklore or superstitions. It was as calculated and carefully followed then as any modern science is now where GPS guide farmers in planting seed or distributing fertilizer.

The Farmer’s Almanac and Granny’s scissors now hang on a nail by MY chair.

While many now scoff at the notion of planting by the moon’s signs, even those who are laughingly most skeptical seem to always have several remembered stories of how their grandparents or great-grandparents wouldn’t sow or reap unless "the signs were right" —- and how their crops always seemed to match their faith.

As I’ve strived to go back to a more simple way of living on my little farm, it’s hard to believe the way practiced by my grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents right here on this patch of earth wasn’t based on some sort of truth.

I’ve tried to do a good bit of Internet research, but it always sounded too complicated. Only when I bought the 2010 Old Farmer’s Almanac from the counter at the Blount County Co-op earlier this year did it all begin to make sense.

Haskal Adamson planted seeds on Good Friday.

I still don’t understand it all, but I have a feeling my education on this subject is really just in its infancy!

Ebell Mountain farmer Haskal Adamson, who is known far and wide for his strawberries, superb Blount County tomatoes and his huge annual crop of gourds, doesn’t really follow the "signs" now.

"But my granddaddies followed them religiously," Haskal explained. "Grandaddy, Wes Adamson, said to never, ever plant beans when the sign was in the flower of the hand. He said you’d have a lot of good-looking plants with a lot of flowers but no beans. He always planted when the signs were right and he was one of the best bean farmers on Straight Mountain.

"But, then again, my daddy never fooled with the signs and we grew a lot of beans, too."

But even Haskal bows to one area of the season’s signs.

"I always do my planting on Good Friday," he explained. "I’ve never known them to get killed if seeds are planted on Good Friday. Now if you set out plants, they might get killed by frost, but by the time seeds are up, they’re safe."

Haskal planted beans, squash and more on Good Friday this year, even though it seemed too early for many.

"Easter is different every year. It goes by the phases and Good Friday changes every year, but I’ve never known planting on Good Friday to fail," Haskal said.

Broccoli planted two weeks earlier (left) and broccoli planted according to the correct “Moon Sign” are of equal size.

I had earlier tried a little experiment myself. Because of family obligations and the rainy, cold weather, I didn’t set out my broccoli plants as early as usual, and then just put some small plants in the kitchen garden one day when it was dry enough to dig nine small holes. I later consulted my Almanac and discovered March 24th was the last date to get them set out correctly, so in the ground went nine more plants that had been grown here from seed.

It may not be a scientific study, but less than a month later, the seed-started plants have caught up and are as big and as healthy-looking as the earlier starter plants.

Another farmer friend related to me how the signs can help in caring for livestock. As a child his father was castrating the family hogs. One bled to death and another was near death. His Grandfather arrived, grabbed the old Almanac, and told him he was doing the cutting on the wrong day.

The father stopped and waited for another week, castrated on the specified day and had no more trouble.

The way I understand it (as explained by www.gardeningbythemoon.com) the moon has four phases or quarters, each lasting about seven days.

That website explains, "The first two quarters are during the waxing or increasing light, between the new and the full moon. The third and fourth quarters are after the full moon when the light is waning, or decreasing."

The original FOXFIRE book, published in 1968, notes the phases of the moon are combined with the astronomical signs governing that day, to indicate when things should and should not be done.

Plants yielding above the ground should be planted during the increase or "growing" of the moon, and root crops planted during the decrease or waning.

A small regional book, "Seems Like I Done It This-A-Way," by former home economics teacher Cleo Stiles of Oklahoma, in 1980, not only provided planting instructions but noted, "most harvesting should be done when the moon is growing older….it will keep better."

Mrs. Stiles also noted that if you cut your hair during the moon’s decrease "it won’t grow back as fast."

My Farmer’s Almanac gives the best dates for all sorts of things in addition to plants, including the best times to wean livestock (and human babies!), when to begin diets to lose weight, when to breed animals, when to slaughter livestock and when to have dental work.

There’s even a chart showing how to have bigger and healthier chickens! A special calendar lets you count back the days so you can make sure a hen is "setting" on fertile eggs 21 days so the chicks will be hatched under a "waxing Moon, in the fruitful signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces."

Articles even show Colonial women utilized the signs when making soap, but I have yet to find which sign is the best for that!

Charts utilizing the "signs" go back as far as 1300 B.C. And many old timers, including those in the Foxfire book, quote Genesis 1:14 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 as how this is all "Biblical" and not superstitious.

I wish I could turn back time and talk to husband-Roy’s Granny and his Uncle Claude about all this for just one afternoon!

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County and can be contacted through her website at www.suzysfarm.com.



Preaching to the Choir

by Robert Spencer

The content of this article is "preaching to the choir," but I want to take time to acknowledge farmers who get out and work in adverse weather conditions. By the time you read this article it will be April, we should be well into spring-like weather and the bitter cold temperatures of this past winter will be long forgotten. I find it fascinating how easily we forget the temperature extremes of winter and summer. I expect the winter of 2009/10 will have set some records, between numerous snowstorms and below-average temperatures. All in all, we saw more snow than normal and extended periods when temperatures hovered around or below freezing. There were a few times this year when snow was falling across much of the U.S. Many of you will remember our Nation’s Capitol received so much snow they had to shut down for a week.

Within Alabama, depending on tracking sources and what part of the state you live in, the number of snow days ranged from two to 12 days. Snow days being defined on the Internet as: "days when accumulation of wintery precipitation is so significant it causes the closing of schools, businesses and organizations." This year even places like Mobile and Northern Florida saw snow and it shut things down. Truly amazing!

I spent many mornings and afternoons breaking ice in water troughs for my goats and horses. The one thing I learned about breaking ice is when it refreezes over night it becomes thicker and more difficult to break than the first attempt. It was amazing how thick the ice would get and impossible to break. I found it to be easier on me if I would remove some of the big pieces of ice and discard them onto the ground. The topic with many clients this year was the number of times they had to break the ice for their livestock in order to allow access to water. Then there were the discussions about de-icers, whether they are the floating type or rest on the bottom of a watering trough they require electricity. I have several types of the de-icers, but never remember to place them in the tanks until the ice on the water is too thick. And, I tend to have concerns about running extension cords across my barn to the water troughs, too easy for a short or a fire to occur.

You think it’s tough for large livestock, try raising rabbits. Whether utilizing an automated watering system or water bottles, the water lines or bottles will freeze and burst. When using water bottles, the option is to take them inside before they freeze, take them back out for short periods of time, then bring them back in. Another option is to use water bowls, but they too freeze easily or are spilled by the rabbits. This situation, along with several other labor intensive issues, is what led me to disengage myself from the rabbit business.

Then there are some farmers who rely on well water. Been there, done that! Despite best attempts to insulate the pump house and install heat lamps, when temperatures remain well below freezing for several days the water lines are susceptible to freezing and then take days to thaw. Following a thaw, one has to assess what water lines and equipment may have broken when the frozen water expanded. During this entire time, the livestock and household may go days without water. Repairing water lines is never an enjoyable task, let alone when temperatures hover near freezing.

Enough about water; during these adverse conditions, livestock are likely to require hay and possibly feed to give them the ability to generate sufficient body heat and maintain body condition. Moving large round bales of hay on a tractor without a cab is a very cold task, but the animals must receive adequate nutrition. If your pastures were like mine this winter, there was little forage for the horses and goats to graze, hay and grain feed were a necessity.

There are hardly ever ideal conditions to make repairs (fencing, electrical, plumbing, etc.), but the cold of winter avails the worst conditions. Cold fingers and ears, and wet clothes and wet feet make life miserable when making repairs.

All the aforementioned are things farmers are well aware of and deal with without much complaining; it is just another task they readily accept. But, many new farmers and the general public are unaware of such challenges farmers face when weather conditions take a turn for the worst. With each year I continue to farm on a small scale, my appreciation for farmers continues to grow.

Robert Spencer is a contributing writer from Florence.




Rock and a Hard Place

by Baxter Black, DVM

It happened to Brett, a country boy in college on a rodeo scholarship. His folks sent him off to college in a well-used 3/4-ton pickup with mud and snows and a grill that looked like the gate on a Russian prison, a 16’ stock trailer the color of camouflage, and an antique gas-stingy hatchback coupe.

The story began one early chilly morning when ‘Marilyn,’ as he affectionately named the hatchback, wouldn’t start. When this happened back at the ranch, they would push Marilyn up into the back of the stock trailer and haul her to the mechanic 18 miles away in Mountain Home. Not having a push tractor there on campus, Brett strategically placed the opened trailer at the foot of a steep grade next to the sidewalk. He set up two stout board ramps and walked back up the hill to get Marilyn.

The campus seemed deserted, Brett observed, as he pushed Marilyn over the edge, jumped in and coasted down the hill. He hit the ramp tracks and loaded the projectile on the trailer with less than six inches of clearance!

"Step One!" he said, much satisfied.

It was then that Step Two reared its ugly head. On the ranch they never needed to actually sit behind the wheel to load her, he remembered…too late! There was no way to get the door open. There was no space through the window against the solid-sided trailer.

"The hatchback!" he thought, hope in his heart.

He could see the empty street behind him through the back window. Over he climbed, only to find it would not open!

As the day warmed, people began appearing. He heard children talking to a mom nearby.

"Hey, Lady," Brett whispered, trying not to scare her.

No response.

"Hey, Lady!" he said, raising his voice.

The mom looked around, grabbed her kids and hurried away from the menacing voice. For 45 minutes, Brett tried to catch the attention of passersby. He whistled, banged on the trailer, and rocked Marilyn. Finally, by plastering himself against the hatchback window and flailing like a shipwrecked sailor, he caught the attention of a bicycling journalism major.

She agreed to get help if Brett agreed to let her film his plight and do an interview first. He was cornered and acquiesced. The article was titled, "Carpooling, the Cowboy Way!"

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, www.baxterblack.com.



Scout Now for Next Year's Trophy


Not only are minerals important during the last stages of antler-genesis like this buck here, but they play a huge role during early spring before their antlers even start to grow. Unlike humans, whitetail bucks can store needed antler-growing nutrients and release them when needed.

by Todd Amenrud


With deer season closed, many hunters don’t think about visiting the whitetail woods again until the following hunting season. These hunters don’t know what they’re missing. Much can be absorbed by observing movements and habits all year long, but the time from January through May can be especially important for several reasons.

Late winter and early spring are my favorite times to go through my spots with a fine-toothed comb. Even the property’s sanctuaries are fair game for a little peek to make sure everything is "tuned properly." I can now go through the areas I was afraid of spooking deer in during the season. If you bump a buck now, he has months to go back about his daily routine. Scouting this time of year is important if you wish to consistently harvest mature bucks, or if you are serious about managing your whitetail herd.

February through April is filled with general scouting and shed hunting. Some areas whitetails inhabit year around, and other territories they move out of, and into "yards" or wintering areas. This is especially prevalent in the North, but even here in the South, for food or preferred cover, whitetail can move a fair distance to find what they need. For this one reason, I don’t put a lot of confidence into a pair of sheds leading me to a buck the following season. The buck that owned the antler you found might be living ten miles away during hunting season. Then again, if you’re in an area whitetail live the year through, it is possible to learn a lot. I do, however, chronicle the data of the sheds - estimated age and antler score are recorded. This is one indicator telling me whether or not my management programs are working.

Some people go absolutely bonkers for shed hunting. Most of the time, I just go for the purpose of scouting and, if I happen to run across a shed, that’s a bonus. It has become so popular some people have started training dogs specifically for finding shed antlers. I’m not that into it, but I can say shed hunting is a great way to get your family involved more in the outdoors. It’s like "CSI" (Cast Shed Investigators) when I take my daughters. We treat it like a game and it gets them outdoors. They have better eyes than I have and they’ve already learned to look for the subtle signs that an antler might be present, like just the tips being exposed through the leaves.

Recording information of the shed antlers you find can tell you a lot about how well your management practices are working.

Trail cameras are still very useful after the season has closed. During the colder winter temperatures I use a small, rechargeable 12-volt battery in my trail cameras, rather than the AA, D or C sized batteries I normally use - if the camera is set up for this option. This saves me hundreds of dollars on batteries. Cameras are especially important to me this time of year, so I can learn for sure which bucks made it through the season, where I need to concentrate my efforts and what management decisions need to be implemented.

March through May is my favorite time to do "fine-tooth comb"-type scouting. I want to learn every little detail now, so closer to the season I don’t have to put pressure on the spot. With the foliage off many of the trees, rubs you’ve never seen before start to pop out at you. I do put a lot of confidence in these. Travel routes, direction of travel and size of buck can be told. You have to hope the buck will be back the following season. But at least most of this sign is made during the hunting season. Your trail cameras can give you proof of whether or not he’s made it through the season.

Even though the season has ended, I still rely heavily on glassing. I don’t like to put pressure on my food plots at night by using a spotlight, so I use my Night Search night vision. With a little moonlight, often just a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will work just fine. Some would argue, "Their antlers have dropped, how do you tell what you’re looking at – is it a buck or a doe?" These are usually the same people who still harvest year-old basket-racks each year. When you see the body of a mature buck that’s three-years-old or older, there’s normally no mistaking it. There can be exceptions to the rule, but, for the most part, you know a "shooter buck" whether he’s carrying antlers or not. After many hours observing whitetail, you can begin to tell the difference between bucks and does just by the way they walk, run, stand or act around other deer.

Whitetail definitely don’t move as much during the winter months, but their stomach and their need for food will still make them travel and, if you plan it right, you can learn a lot. If you anticipate the weather changes or wait until bad weather breaks, it sometimes seems like the "whitetail flood gates" have opened. Just before or just after a major storm, when we get a warm up after several days of severe cold temperatures or after a long period of harsh winds are good times to make a stake out near a food source.

Major trails can stick out like a sore thumb this time of year. And even though it is possible to find good spots in major funnels, access trails to bedding areas and other possible situations whitetail may use the following season, most of my ambush sites are created during the late summer and early fall, or shortly before I hunt an area.

During late winter and spring, as I said, I don’t worry as much about spooking the animals. But on the other hand, why let them know you’ve been there if you don’t have to? I always take the same precautions, as far as scent elimination goes, for scouting as I do for hunting, even this time of year. Rubber boots, trapper’s gloves and Scent Killer are my most important scouting tools. Not only do we have to pay attention to the odors we carry on us, but also the ones we may leave behind.

In February and March, it’s time to get those mineral sites freshened up with a new BioRock. Bucks will need the important bone-growing ingredients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and sulfur contained in the rock. And, as opposed to humans, whitetail bucks will actually store these nutrients and then release them when their antlers start to grow. These mineral sites can be a great place to get numerous trail camera photos of specific deer.

Just before and during the actual hunting season, I back off of an area and try to be especially stealthy. If you have a good understanding of a region from your winter/spring scouting, why spook a potential trophy? I’m sure you’ll find scouting during this time of the year will help you line things up for next year’s whitetail season.

Todd Amenrud is the Director of Public Relations, Territory Manager & Habitat Consultant for BioLogic.



Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "That Vern must have a date with Clara tonight. He’s cleaned his pick-up spick and span!"

Where does the phrase "spick and span" come from?

It’s a strange expression, isn’t it? People have been playing about with it for several hundred years, and the words on which it was based have long since gone out of the language.

The oldest form seems to have been spann-nyr, which is Old Norse for a fresh chip of wood, one just carved from timber by the woodman’s axe, so the very epitome of something new. (Nyr is our modern new, while spann is a chip, the source of our spoon, an implement originally always made from wood, so wooden spoon is a retronym.) By about 1300, the Old Norse phrase had started to appear in English in the form span-new, a form lasting into the nineteenth century.

This evolved by the 16th century into an elaborated form similar to the modern one: spick and span new, still with the old sense of something so new as to be pristine and unused. Spick here is a nail or spike. This form seems to have been inspired by a Dutch expression, spiksplinternieuw, which referred to a ship freshly built, so with all-new nails and timber. It is first found in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives in 1579, "They were all in goodly gilt armours, and brave purple cassocks apon [upon] them, spicke, and spanne newe."
By the middle of the following century, it had been shortened to our modern spick and span. It had also shifted sense to our current one, for something so neat and clean it looks new and unused. Samuel Pepys is the first recorded user, in his diary for 15 November 1665: "My Lady Batten walking through the dirty lane with new spicke and span white shoes."

In modern times, it was borrowed in the United States by Proctor and Gamble as a trademark for a household cleaning product, Spic and Span.

Source: World Wide Words (www.worldwidewords.org)



The Co-op Pantry


Remember food before people calculated calories on their cell phones? Remember black skillets shiny-slick from years of frying all manner of meats, vegetables and extra-crispy fried cornbread? What about having a big plate of fried chicken and three kinds of salads for lunch with a cold glass of sweet tea, and maybe a slice of fresh, baked-from-scratch pie? Now imagine a family restaurant out in the country where lunch and dinner are still that way.

People in south Montgomery County and the surrounding areas are still enjoying such delicious food at Red’s Little School House Restaurant where this month the Deese family is celebrating 25 years of making their home-style food available to friends old and new.

"This restaurant is like a member of our family. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine I’d ever feel this way, but the thought of Red’s not being here is just too weird for me," said Raeanne Sprenger Culver, who now handles much of the day-to-day operations for the restaurant bearing the name of her grandfather, Red Deese.

"Red’s opened in May of 1985. I was eight at the time and the waitresses then had two uniforms: one a blue dress zipping up the front and the other was basically a shirt version of the same thing with matching pants. Well, I used to wear Mama’s shirt as my dress, and who knows what that looked like, but I wanted to be a part of it all," Raeanne recalled.

Raeanne’s mother’s exuberance and her grandparents’ cooking was such an explosive combination it almost took on a life of its own from the very beginning.

"Mama was working at the Shell gas station and they were cooking a little barbecue to sell there, and one day a man tells her he wants 100 plates of food like he just ate for an event the next month. Mama never batted an eye and told him yes, and she’d never catered anything in her life," said Raeanne of the first catering job her mother worked.

That one plate of barbecue grew into a catering business and eventually became Red’s Little School House Restaurant.

"I remember when this was a boarded-up, old, one-room building that Mama talked my Paw-Paw into buying. At that time, Paw-Paw would get up early in the morning to do the farm work, come in for a shower before he went to the country club where he was a barber all day, eat supper and then work evenings on renovating the building that would become the restaurant. That schoolhouse was built in 1910, so the original structure is 100 years old this year, too," Raeanne recounted.

Even though the restaurant is typically closed on Mondays, Red’s Little School House is planning a 25th anniversary celebration at 5 p.m. on May 3 for the customers who’ve become like family, former employees and, of course, Red and his daughter Debbie Deese who still owns the restaurant.

"Mama still comes in to make pies in the mornings, cooks steaks on the weekends and does the catering. I’m so glad she and Paw-Paw still greet people here, because we do have a lot of customers who come to see them," Raeanne explained.

Raeanne plans to dust off tons of old photographs and other mementos from the past 25 years for the celebration and hopes many of the restaurant’s former employees will be part of the day.

"This has always been a family business, and so many people who’ve worked here and still work here are like family. Ms. Debra Walters has been here at least 20 years and cooks all our casseroles and vegetables just like my Maw-Maw made them. And Martha Brown is here every shift, every day we’re open. My husband Kelly jokes Ms. Martha loves this restaurant so much she puts her own money in the register when no one’s looking. We’ve had and continue to have wonderful people working with us," Raeanne said.

The following recipes are taken from the Red’s Little School House Country Cookbook, which is not at all the exact-measurement and precise-temperature recipes of today’s culinary texts. More like an in-kitchen lesson from a great country cook, the basic recipes for vegetables and fried chicken are an introduction to sublime Southern cooking, while Apple Cheese Casserole, Mustard Sauce and Pecan Pie have long been treasured staples at Red’s. For more information on Red’s, visit them online at www.redslittleschoolhouse.com.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.

MUSTARD SAUCE

1 quart mustard
1½ cups Worcestershire
sauce
2 cups sugar
¾ apple cider vinegar

Stir all ingredients together to combine.

Note: Red’s serves this dipping sauce with their chicken strips.

SLAW

2 quarts cabbage,
finely chopped
1 cup sweet pickle relish
1 Tablespoon tarragon
vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons of salt
Mayonnaise

Combine cabbage, relish, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add mayonnaise until creamy. Keep refrigerated.


BOILING VEGETABLES

Put some water in a boiler; add a little salt and a little grease. The best grease is bacon drippings, but you can use Wesson or Crisco, lard, salt pork, streak of lean, etc. If you are concerned about cholesterol, use olive oil. If you are watching your sodium, omit the salt and grease and use 1 or 2 chicken bouillon cubes. When times are good, the family boils a little ham in with the salt and grease.

When it boils a while, add your vegetables. Some of the vegetables common at Red’s are butter beans, whole okra pods, green beans, turnip greens, collards, cabbage, all kinds of peas, yellow squash (not so much water for squash), rutabagas, turnip roots, and the list goes on and on.

For 4 to 12 servings, cooking times is from 30 minutes to an hour. Turnip greens and collards take a little longer, and larger amounts take a little longer. For instance: a 15 gallon pot of peas takes from 2 to 3 hours at Red’s.

SQUASH DRESSING

Only fresh squash is good with this recipe.

3 cups yellow squash, grated
1 onion, grated
2 eggs
1 stick oleo, melted
½ cup self-rising flour
½ cup self-rising corn meal
½ cup milk
Dash each of sage, salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients. Put in greased casserole dish and cook at 350o until almost firm.

BAKED CORN WITH SOUR CREAM

2 Tablespoons oleo
2 Tablespoons onion,
chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 (12 oz) cans whole
kernel corn
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Saute onions in oleo. Blend in flour and salt. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in sour cream and mix together with all other ingredients. Bake in a greased casserole dish for 30 minutes at 350o.

APPLE CHEESE CASSEROLE

1½ pounds Velveeta
at room temperature
4 cups sugar
¾ cup oleo, melted
3 cups flour
2 cups milk
2 (16 oz) cans apples,
drained

Combine first five ingredients together until smooth. Stir in drained apples and put mixture in a greased casserole dish. Cook at 300o until firm and brown.

PERFECT RICE, EVERY TIME

Follow directions on the package of plain white rice, but add a tad more water than they say. Get water boiling and then, stir in rice. Stir a minute. When it starts to boil, throw a lid on it. Reduce heat to low and look at the clock. Do not uncover for 20 minutes. Time to serve!

RED’S FRIED CHICKEN

Everybody brags on our fried chicken. The recipe is simple, but we cut our own chicken. The most important step is to wash the pieces and, when you finish, wash it again. Next, lightly salt each piece and put it in a large bowl. Now, pour buttermilk over it. (Let it sit while you are doing other stuff.)

You can deep fry, or if you don’t have a lot of oil, you can turn it over in less grease, but make sure the grease will come at least half way up on the chicken. Don’t turn your oil on high; turn it to medium or less and let it slowly heat up.

Combine flour, black pepper and Lawry’s seasoning salt. Shake some of the buttermilk off each piece of chicken and dunk in seasoned flour, then place in the skillet. That’s all.

To test for doneness, stick a knife to the bone. If juice is pink, it’s not done. If juice is clear, it’s done. This takes about 20 minutes.

FRIED PORK CHOPS

Cut away fat and season chops. Batter can be meal, salt and pepper or flour, garlic powder and pepper. Heat ¾ inch of oil in a skillet. Lightly batter chops and put in skillet on medium to medium-high heat. Brown completely and turn only once. Pork chops need to be crispy.

PECAN PIE

Every time you add something, stir some more.

2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
½ stick oleo, melted
½ cup light Karo syrup
¾ cup pecans, chopped
Uncooked pie shell

Preheat oven to 450o. Mix eggs, sugar, flour, oleo, syrup and pecans.

Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350o and cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer. Pie is done when it’s a tad wobbly in the center, but not liquidy.

Happy
Mother's Day




The Co-op Pantry


I never dreamed in my whole life it’d be like this," Gail Buttram said of her life on her family farm in the Geraldine community in DeKalb County.

And while Gail dearly loves living near her three sons, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, she said the traveling she and her husband Waymon have done because of their farming has been spectacular.

"We’ve been on wonderful ag trips to Ireland, Canada, the Caribbean and all over the United States, and it’s amazing to think farming organizations have given us these kinds of opportunities," she added.

Married for more than 50 years, she and Waymon were high school sweethearts.

"I grew up in Henagar, which didn’t have a high school, so in the tenth grade, we had to start taking the bus to school in Sylvania, where Waymon lived," she recounted.

"When we married, we lived on a 10-acre farm in Sylvania where Waymon had two laying hen houses. I went to work in the Burlington Mill in Scottsboro where they started employees at 75 cents an hour," she said.

"Waymon’s dad knew the people who wanted to sell this nearly 100-acre farm in Geraldine. I had saved money for my husband to build me a brick house, and I did get that brick house, it was just a few years later," she said of their move to Geraldine where they began the family farm that’s still there 50 years later.

Gail said, once they had begun farming there, her cooking became more hectic than it had been.

"When I was taking care of our first two sons and helping Waymon with the chicken houses, he never knew from one day to the next what he’d be eating, but he always liked it," she said.

And years later, Gail’s family still gives her dishes rave reviews.

"I enjoy feeding them all at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandkids just die for my cooking, and my kids love my cooking, too. My daughters-in-law will bring a few dishes to our holiday meals to help me with the cooking, and I appreciate that," Gail added.

Waymon currently serves as board president for DeKalb Farmers Co-op and has long been active in Farmers Federation.

"Waymon believes in supporting the Co-op stores, and he’s proud to be affiliated with them," said Gail.

Gail credited her mother with inspiring her to become a great cook, and said she’s not the only one who feels that way.

"Mother was a fabulous cook, but Waymon thought she was the best cook he’d ever known," said Gail.

Many of the recipes Gail shares with Pantry readers this month are her own original creations, while others are favorites among her family and friends.

"I’ve made the Canned Vegetable Soup for years and years, so much I know it by heart. And I make the Green Bean and Corn Casserole all the time for church or to take to a neighbor, and it’s great," Gail said.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2½ cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350o. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Finely-chop drained artichoke hearts. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle on remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Canned Vegetable Soup

6 pounds boneless chicken breasts, diced
Olive oil
2 gallons tomato juice
16 ears of corn
1 quart of water
½ cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
¼ cup salt
1 bunch carrots, chopped
4 onions, chopped
4 green bell peppers, chopped
2 hot peppers
1 cup butter beans

Sauté diced chicken in olive oil. Divide evenly among 8 quart jars. Combine other ingredients in a large pot. Ladle mixture into jars and seal. Place jars in a pressure cooker and process for 30 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Note: Boneless beef or pork may be substituted for chicken.


Sausage Quiche

1 unbaked deep-dish pie crust
1 pound pork sausage
4 eggs
6 ounces (1/2 a large can) evaporated milk
Salt to taste
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown and drain sausage. Place in the bottom of pie crust. In a mixing bowl, blend eggs, milk and salt with an electric mixer. Stir in cheese and pour over sausage. Bake at 350o for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Green Bean and Corn Casserole

1 (28 oz) can French-cut green beans, drained
1 (11 oz) can shoe-peg corn
1 onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of celery soup
1 stick butter, melted
½ box Cheeze-Its, crushed

Stir together first six ingredients and place in a casserole dish coated with non-stick spray. Toss butter with crackers and sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350o for 35 min

Cream Potatoes

6 potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 stick of butter
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Peel and dice potatoes. Place in a boiler and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Drain off liquid and place potatoes in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add sour cream and butter. Cream with an electric mixer. Fold in bacon before serving. utes.

Potato Salad

6 potatoes
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons mayonnaise

Peel and dice potatoes. Place in a boiler and cover with water. Bring to a boil and add salt; cook until potatoes are tender. Drain off liquid and cool potatoes.

Mix vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Fold into cooled potatoes. Keep refrigerated.

Mexican Cornbread

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup pepper-Jack cheese, grated
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 eggs
1 (14 oz) can cream-style corn
1 (11 oz) can shoe-peg corn, drained
1 cup sour cream
1 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained

In a large bowl, combine meal, flour, cheeses, onion and peppers. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish coated with non-stick spray. Bake at 350o for 50 minutes or until baked.

Butterfinger Cake

1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 large container Cool Whip
1 bottle caramel-flavored syrup
2 large Butterfinger candy bars, crushed
1 cup pecans, chopped

Prepare cake mix according to package instructions and bake as directed in greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Cool.

Poke holes in the top of the cake and pour on half of caramel syrup. Cover with Cool Whip. Stir pecans into remaining caramel syrup and drizzle over Cool Whip. Sprinkle on candy pieces. Chill before serving.

Cool Whip Lemon Pie

1 (6 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 (10 oz) Cool Whip
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 graham cracker crumb crust

Mix first three ingredients well. Pour into pie crust and chill.

Creamy Banana Pudding

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups cold water
1 (3 ½ oz) instant pudding and pie filling
2 cups Cool Whip
36 vanilla wafers
3 bananas, sliced

In a large mixing bowl, combine condensed milk and water. Add pudding mix and beat until blended. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. Spoon 1 cup pudding mixture into a 2½-quart round glass serving bowl. Top with 1/3 each vanilla wafers, sliced bananas and pudding. Repeat layers twice more, ending with pudding mixture. Cover and chill thoroughly.



The Egg Man of Helicon

What do you do if you are too young for a part time job?
This young entrepreneur started his own egg business.


A smiling Jermey May shows off the end product of his business.


by Ben Norman

Jermey May wanted a job after school to have a little spending money, but at only eleven years old he just couldn’t find anyone to hire him. His dad, James, explained to Jermey that few people want the liability of hiring someone so young, and there are labor laws that could apply. Jermey accepted dad’s explanation but didn’t give up on the idea of earning spending money.

One night at dinner, James was telling the family how his grandmother once sold eggs to help supplement the family income when times were hard. When she had more eggs than she could sell, she bartered with the local rolling store for flour, meal, salt, etc. That’s when Jermey’s eyes flew open.

"That’s it," said Jermey. "I can get me some layers and sell eggs. I can feed the hens and gather eggs before and after school."

James and Carolyn, Jermey’s mom, talked about it and decided it was a viable idea. Even big brother James Jr. volunteered to help out when he could. The next step was acquiring some chicks for potential layers.




The FFA Sentinel

by Philip Paramore

Technology is a wonderful tool. In some regards, computers have made life and business easier, and in some regards, when there is no electricity or available computer, it can make life difficult. From this writer’s perspective, life was simpler and not as complicated when computers were not around. As recorded in past Sentinel articles, if it were not for the written records much of the history about the Alabama FFA Association would be lost. As evident, the easiest way to preserve events before computers was to save what is now referred to as a "hard copy."

From 1929 when FFA began in Alabama to today, there is available written history about FFA in our great state. Many articles of interest about planting kudzu, setting of pines and bicolor lespedeza seedlings, rat killings, post treating plants, members supporting the "war effort" (World War II) and educational tours are available for review.

When this writer taught at Kinston, he was told stories by the retired "vocational agriculture" teacher Fred Wood, who taught there from 1944-76, about educational tours the chapter would take every other year. This month’s article features reports submitted to the Alabama FFA Association by various chapters on tours taken during the summer of 1947 and published in the September 1947 issue of The Alabama Future Farmer magazine.

Summer Tours

Here’s a short story on FFA tours reported. In most cases the FFA chapter paid all the expenses.

Bay Minette – John Jones, reporter, said they took their annual camping trip early in the summer. Sports enjoyed were deep sea fishing, swimming, boat riding and softball. Good record music and a movie completed the entertainment.

Belgreen – 24 Future Farmers headed South July 7 and kept going until they reached the Gulf. They spent four days there, with Gulf State Park as headquarters. Riding the waves, motor boat riding in inland lakes and a trip to old Fort Morgan took up the time. Then they traveled back by Pensacola. The group stopped at our State Capitol and met Mr. Haynes, Franklin County representative, and went in to see Governor Folsom and sat in his chair. In Birmingham, they saw the iron man.

Cedar Bluff – 18 FFAers took a four-day trip to the Tennessee Valley in July. There were two reasons for the trip: (1) to compare cotton farming at home with livestock farming in TVA near Knoxville and (2) see Norris Dam, have a good time and catch some fish.

"Everyone was nice to us," reported Charles Clayton.

The conclusion seemed to be they were doing better farming on poorer soils than in the Cedar Bluff Community.

Centre – Went to Atlanta was and saw Grant Park. Spent first night at Jacksonville, FL. Toured old St. Augustine and continued on to Daytona Beach. Spent three days there. Jack Fortenberry said they "saw all there was to see there." (That’s hard to believe!) They saw the sights at Silver Springs and headed toward home. Spent last night at Albany, GA. Jack said they all enjoyed the trip.

Fairhope – Enjoyed a three-day camping and fishing trip at old Fort Morgan.

Sidney Lanier – 24 FFAers and Adviser E.P. Gieger made the longest reported tour this summer. Here are a few high spots of the 2,650-mile tour. Farming in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia was noticed. Tobacco farms and curing barns were most interesting. Two days and nights were spent in New York City seeing the sights. A night at Coney Island beat such sights as Radio City and Statue of Liberty. They entered Canada at Niagara Falls. Went to London and Windsor, Canada. In Detroit, they saw a Ford made in 58 minutes. Also saw the first Ford and many other old cars. They then traveled down through the Corn Belt into the blue grass country. They saw the famous Kentucky Derby Race Track and visited Mammoth Cave. They also saw fine farming land in Tennessee and North Alabama, and headed back to Montgomery after 14 days.

Straughn – Took a four-day tour to Florida. Their main stops were Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Orlando and Silver Springs.

Stevenson – Carried their own food and did cooking on three-day camping trip near Huntsville.

Falkville Chartered a bus for the trip to Montgomery, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Pensacola, FL. They enjoyed swimming in the Gulf and deep-sea fishing. Eats were carried from home and all did some cooking. Howell Hogan said expenses were paid by FFA chapter. They had fed out and sold a fat steer at the Birmingham Stock Show.

Florala – In spite of seasickness, the deep-sea fishing trip was a success. Kenneth Matthews caught the biggest one, an eight-and-a-half-pound red snapper. Mr. Guthery, adviser, was next with a six-pound grouper. In all, about 200 pounds of fish were caught – other than those that got away. (Ed Note-I’m just passing on these fish stories as sent in by Ned Perry, chapter reporter. He didn’t send any pictures and I wasn’t there!)

Geneva – The group enjoyed a three-day camping trip at Phillips Inlet in June. The chapter paid expenses and committees looked after the work.

Goshen – The group took a tour of Experiment Station at Auburn where they saw grazing crops, an artificial insemination plant, forestry plots and fertilizer tests.

Greenville – The best short, short-story sent in was the one from Lewis Crenshal, reporter, and Adviser K.V. Reagan. They said, "We left de tails (of de fishes) on the coast!"

Hartselle – 16 FFAers headed South August 4th. They noticed different types of soil and farming. The group spent two days at Pensacola Beach, in the city and on the docks. One pair of shoes was lost, but that didn’t stop the sightseeing. They stopped by State Capitol at Montgomery on their trip back.

Kinston – The group took a 12-day tour of Eastern U.S. and Canada. Points of interest were Great Smoky Mountains; Mammoth Cave; Washington, DC; New York; homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Robert E. Lee, James Monroe and James K. Polk; battlefields of Revolutionary War and Civil War; and, of course, Niagara Falls. Adviser F.W. Wood said all the boys were impressed with the friendliness of the Canadians. Principal E.C. Nevin and Coach Swain made the trip, too.

Lexington – The group made local project tours in planning supervised farming programs.

Marbury – The students and advisor took a seven-day trip to Gulf State Park and caught plenty of fish. All meals were cooked by the boys. They took sight-seeing trips to Mobile and Pensacola, and had planned on a deep-sea fishing trip, but it was called off after some of the fellows got seasick in Mobile Bay!

Pleasant Home – The first stop (and probably best stop) of their trip was the State Capitol in Montgomery. They visited Kilby Prison and spent a night at Noccalula Falls near Gadsden. They commented that it was a pretty place, but the rocks made hard beds. They went atop Lookout Mountain. Coming back, they stopped at Guntersville Dam and saw several TVA projects. They spent two days here fishing and sunning, and spent the last night at Piedmont with Mrs. Adderhold, our adviser’s mother.

Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.



The FFA Sentinel

by Philip Paramore

In the foyer of the Agriscience Education Field Office at Auburn is the Alabama FFA Association’s charter certificate. It is dated December 10, 1929, and was signed by the National FFA President, Wade Turner of North Carolina. The National FFA Executive Secretary Henry Groseclose also signed the certificate. Alabama was the 36th state to receive a charter from the National FFA Association. The National FFA Association officially changed its name in 1988 to the National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity in the industry of agriculture.

R. E. Cammack served as the first advisor for the Alabama FFA Association and the first FFA Executive Secretary was C.L. Scarborough. Mickey Humphries is the current State Advisor. He served as State Vice President in 1963-64 and was from the Reeltown Chapter (Tallapoosa County). The present FFA Executive Secretary is Jacob Davis.

From the first state FFA officer team in 1929-30 to the current state FFA officer team, there have been approximately 475 young men and women who have served the Alabama FFA Association and its members. From 1929 to 1969, Alabama FFA, like the national organization, was a boys-only organization. Girls were allowed to join FFA in 1969.

From its inception in 1929 until 1944, there were only five state officers serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and reporter. In 1944-45 and 1945-46, there was a sixth state officer: sentinel. In 1946-47, the state office of sentinel was discontinued until the 1965-66 school year.

(According to H. N. Lewis, long-time state staff member and former FFA Executive Secretary, the reason there were five state officers was because there were five FFA districts. Thus each district had a state officer. In 1944, when there were six state officers, one district had two officers. Because of the rift between some of the people in the districts, it went back to five officers in 1946.)

Of the 289 chapters in the Alabama FFA Association, 198 or roughly 69 percent have had at least one state officer. From chapters with a single officer to chapters that have had nine state officers, the state association has had a successful 80 plus years. From available records, there has been one state officer who died while in office: Spencer Means, Eutaw Chapter, in 1973-74. And there have been a few resignations as well. One resignation, published in the March 1944 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Secretary was James Paul Wilson of Lexington who was drafted by the army in 1944. Another resignation, published in the March 1945 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Reporter Dan Powell, Jr., of the Leroy Chapter because he was joining the navy.

Ninety or 45 percent of the 198 chapters have had one state officer. Ten chapters have had a president; 22 have had a vice president; 14 have had a secretary; 17 have had a treasurer; 17 have had a reporter; and 10 have had a sentinel. (Remember these numbers include 1929 until present and sentinel election did not occur on a regular basis until 1965.) Be mindful, however, some of these chapters no longer exist, because of school closings, school consolidation and the like.

Forty-seven or 24 percent of the chapters have had two officers in various combinations. Three chapters have had a president and vice president; three chapters have had a president and secretary; seven chapters have had a president and treasurer; four chapters have had a president and reporter; and none have had the combination of president and sentinel.

Two chapters have had a vice president and secretary; none have had a vice president and treasurer; two chapters have had a vice president and reporter; and two chapters have had a vice president and sentinel.

One chapter has had two secretaries; two chapters have had a secretary and treasurer; three chapters have had a secretary and reporter; and three chapters have had a secretary and sentinel.

Three chapters have had two treasurers; two chapters have had a treasurer and a reporter; and one chapter has had a treasurer and a sentinel.

One chapter has had two reporters; four chapters have had a reporter and sentinel; and one chapter has had two sentinels.

Twenty-five chapters have had three state officers in various combinations as well. Three chapters have had two presidents and one vice president; two chapters have had two presidents and a treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two vice presidents; two chapters have had a president, treasurer and reporter; one chapter has had a president, secretary and treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two reporters; one chapter has had a president and two treasurers; one chapter has had a president, vice president and treasurer; and one chapter has had a president and two reporters.

Also in this combination are chapters who have had one vice president, treasurer and sentinel; one vice president, secretary and treasurer; vice president, secretary and reporter; vice president, treasurer and reporter; three secretaries; two secretaries and a treasurer; two reporters and a sentinel; two vice presidents and a reporter; and two secretaries and a vice president.

The stakes rise with chapters that have had four state officers or more. Eleven chapters have had four state officers: Arab – president, reporter and two treasurers; Eclectic (Elmore County) – president and three vice presidents; Elba – one each secretary, treasurer, reporter and sentinel; Eutaw – two vice presidents and two treasurers; Fairhope – treasurer, reporter and two sentinels; Geneva – president, vice president and two secretaries; Gordo – one each vice president, secretary, reporter and sentinel; G. W. Long – three vice presidents and one reporter; Marion – two vice presidents and a secretary and reporter; McAdory – two reporters and a secretary and sentinel; and Notasulga – two secretaries and a treasurer and sentinel.

Nine chapters have had five state officers. The numbers show that the more state officers a chapter has had, the more likely it is for it to have had at least one president. Auburn has had two presidents (three, if you count the same member who served back-to-back years) as well as one vice president, secretary and reporter. Cherokee has had one president, two vice presidents, a secretary and treasurer. Evergreen has had two vice presidents, two secretaries and a reporter. Holtville has had three presidents, a treasurer and sentinel. Kinston has had a president, vice president, secretary and two treasurers; Orrville had a president, two vice presidents and a secretary and treasurer. Ramer had a vice president, secretary and two reporters. Rogersville has had two vice presidents, a treasurer, reporter and sentinel. Sand Rock has had two presidents, a secretary and two sentinels.

Four chapters have had six state officers. Citronelle has had a president, three reporters, a secretary and sentinel. Gaston has had two presidents, three treasurers and a secretary. Red Bay has had two each of vice president, secretary and reporter. Jacksonville has had three presidents, two secretaries and a vice president.

Three chapters have had seven state officers. Falkville has had three presidents, two secretaries, and a vice president and treasurer. Leroy has had four reporters, two treasurers and a sentinel. Marbury has had two presidents, two sentinels and a vice president, secretary and treasurer.

Three chapters have had eight state officers. Enterprise has had two reporters, treasurers and sentinels, and a vice president and secretary. Geraldine has had four secretaries, two vice presidents, and a treasurer and reporter. Wetumpka has had four presidents, two vice presidents, and a secretary and reporter.

Four chapters have had nine state officers. Billingsley has had a president, vice president, two treasurers and four secretaries. Isabella has had a president, treasurer and sentinel, two secretaries and four reporters. Woodland has had three presidents, two vice presidents, three treasurers and a reporter. W.S. Neal has had a president, three vice presidents, a treasurer and four sentinels.

Auburn, Falkville and Gaston are the only chapters to have presidents in back-to-back years. Twelve chapters have had at least two presidents. The Auburn, Holtville, Falkville, Jacksonville and Woodland chapters have had three state presidents. The Wetumpka Chapter has had four state presidents, which is the most presidents from any chapter.

Earnest Thornhill of the Holtville Chapter served as treasurer in 1931-32 and as president in 1932-33. Pete Turnham of the Milltown Chapter served as treasurer in the school years 1936-37 and 1937-38. Joe Bill Knowles of the Headland Chapter served as secretary in 1938-39 and president in 1939-40. L.C. Fitzpatrick of the Gaylesville Chapter served as reporter in 1939-40 and president in 1940-41. Edsel Thomaston of the Kinston Chapter, after military duty in World War II, served as president in 1946-47. He was also married the year he served.

There are probably other officers who served in World War II and were elected as state officers. There are several officers who had a brother and/or sister to serve as state officers, like the Salmon brothers from the Auburn Chapter, the Clary brothers from the Akron Chapter, the Baker brothers from the Eutaw Chapter, the Butts sisters from the Leroy Chapter, the Jones’ brother and sister from the Billingsley Chapter, and the Bailey brothers from the Sand Rock Chapter.

If all these officers were placed in the three districts known today (North, Central and South), percentage wise it is about even. The North District has a slight edge with 37 percent of the officers, because it has more chapters and members. The Central District has had 33 percent of the officers and the South District has had 30 percent of the officers.

Alabama has had 13 national officers. Six served as State President, two as State Vice President, three as State Secretary and one as State Treasurer. Two of the 13 served as National Secretary and the other 11 served as Southern Region Vice President. Two chapters have had two national officers: Clements and Falkville. The Falkville Chapter had officers serve back-to-back as national officers. Three of the national officers were the only state officer from their chapter. Two of the national officers were from chapters that have had nine state officers. In the mid-1990s for three consecutive years, Alabama had a national officer. Four of Alabama’s national officers have been female. The first national officer from Alabama served in 1938-39 and the last served in 2006-07.

Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.




The FFA Sentinel

by Philip Paramore

In the foyer of the Agriscience Education Field Office at Auburn is the Alabama FFA Association’s charter certificate. It is dated December 10, 1929, and was signed by the National FFA President, Wade Turner of North Carolina. The National FFA Executive Secretary Henry Groseclose also signed the certificate. Alabama was the 36th state to receive a charter from the National FFA Association. The National FFA Association officially changed its name in 1988 to the National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity in the industry of agriculture.

R. E. Cammack served as the first advisor for the Alabama FFA Association and the first FFA Executive Secretary was C.L. Scarborough. Mickey Humphries is the current State Advisor. He served as State Vice President in 1963-64 and was from the Reeltown Chapter (Tallapoosa County). The present FFA Executive Secretary is Jacob Davis.

From the first state FFA officer team in 1929-30 to the current state FFA officer team, there have been approximately 475 young men and women who have served the Alabama FFA Association and its members. From 1929 to 1969, Alabama FFA, like the national organization, was a boys-only organization. Girls were allowed to join FFA in 1969.

From its inception in 1929 until 1944, there were only five state officers serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and reporter. In 1944-45 and 1945-46, there was a sixth state officer: sentinel. In 1946-47, the state office of sentinel was discontinued until the 1965-66 school year.

(According to H. N. Lewis, long-time state staff member and former FFA Executive Secretary, the reason there were five state officers was because there were five FFA districts. Thus each district had a state officer. In 1944, when there were six state officers, one district had two officers. Because of the rift between some of the people in the districts, it went back to five officers in 1946.)

Of the 289 chapters in the Alabama FFA Association, 198 or roughly 69 percent have had at least one state officer. From chapters with a single officer to chapters that have had nine state officers, the state association has had a successful 80 plus years. From available records, there has been one state officer who died while in office: Spencer Means, Eutaw Chapter, in 1973-74. And there have been a few resignations as well. One resignation, published in the March 1944 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Secretary was James Paul Wilson of Lexington who was drafted by the army in 1944. Another resignation, published in the March 1945 Alabama Future Farmer magazine, of State Reporter Dan Powell, Jr., of the Leroy Chapter because he was joining the navy.

Ninety or 45 percent of the 198 chapters have had one state officer. Ten chapters have had a president; 22 have had a vice president; 14 have had a secretary; 17 have had a treasurer; 17 have had a reporter; and 10 have had a sentinel. (Remember these numbers include 1929 until present and sentinel election did not occur on a regular basis until 1965.) Be mindful, however, some of these chapters no longer exist, because of school closings, school consolidation and the like.

Forty-seven or 24 percent of the chapters have had two officers in various combinations. Three chapters have had a president and vice president; three chapters have had a president and secretary; seven chapters have had a president and treasurer; four chapters have had a president and reporter; and none have had the combination of president and sentinel.

Two chapters have had a vice president and secretary; none have had a vice president and treasurer; two chapters have had a vice president and reporter; and two chapters have had a vice president and sentinel.

One chapter has had two secretaries; two chapters have had a secretary and treasurer; three chapters have had a secretary and reporter; and three chapters have had a secretary and sentinel.

Three chapters have had two treasurers; two chapters have had a treasurer and a reporter; and one chapter has had a treasurer and a sentinel.

One chapter has had two reporters; four chapters have had a reporter and sentinel; and one chapter has had two sentinels.

Twenty-five chapters have had three state officers in various combinations as well. Three chapters have had two presidents and one vice president; two chapters have had two presidents and a treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two vice presidents; two chapters have had a president, treasurer and reporter; one chapter has had a president, secretary and treasurer; one chapter has had a president and two reporters; one chapter has had a president and two treasurers; one chapter has had a president, vice president and treasurer; and one chapter has had a president and two reporters.

Also in this combination are chapters who have had one vice president, treasurer and sentinel; one vice president, secretary and treasurer; vice president, secretary and reporter; vice president, treasurer and reporter; three secretaries; two secretaries and a treasurer; two reporters and a sentinel; two vice presidents and a reporter; and two secretaries and a vice president.

The stakes rise with chapters that have had four state officers or more. Eleven chapters have had four state officers: Arab – president, reporter and two treasurers; Eclectic (Elmore County) – president and three vice presidents; Elba – one each secretary, treasurer, reporter and sentinel; Eutaw – two vice presidents and two treasurers; Fairhope – treasurer, reporter and two sentinels; Geneva – president, vice president and two secretaries; Gordo – one each vice president, secretary, reporter and sentinel; G. W. Long – three vice presidents and one reporter; Marion – two vice presidents and a secretary and reporter; McAdory – two reporters and a secretary and sentinel; and Notasulga – two secretaries and a treasurer and sentinel.

Nine chapters have had five state officers. The numbers show that the more state officers a chapter has had, the more likely it is for it to have had at least one president. Auburn has had two presidents (three, if you count the same member who served back-to-back years) as well as one vice president, secretary and reporter. Cherokee has had one president, two vice presidents, a secretary and treasurer. Evergreen has had two vice presidents, two secretaries and a reporter. Holtville has had three presidents, a treasurer and sentinel. Kinston has had a president, vice president, secretary and two treasurers; Orrville had a president, two vice presidents and a secretary and treasurer. Ramer had a vice president, secretary and two reporters. Rogersville has had two vice presidents, a treasurer, reporter and sentinel. Sand Rock has had two presidents, a secretary and two sentinels.

Four chapters have had six state officers. Citronelle has had a president, three reporters, a secretary and sentinel. Gaston has had two presidents, three treasurers and a secretary. Red Bay has had two each of vice president, secretary and reporter. Jacksonville has had three presidents, two secretaries and a vice president.

Three chapters have had seven state officers. Falkville has had three presidents, two secretaries, and a vice president and treasurer. Leroy has had four reporters, two treasurers and a sentinel. Marbury has had two presidents, two sentinels and a vice president, secretary and treasurer.

Three chapters have had eight state officers. Enterprise has had two reporters, treasurers and sentinels, and a vice president and secretary. Geraldine has had four secretaries, two vice presidents, and a treasurer and reporter. Wetumpka has had four presidents, two vice presidents, and a secretary and reporter.

Four chapters have had nine state officers. Billingsley has had a president, vice president, two treasurers and four secretaries. Isabella has had a president, treasurer and sentinel, two secretaries and four reporters. Woodland has had three presidents, two vice presidents, three treasurers and a reporter. W.S. Neal has had a president, three vice presidents, a treasurer and four sentinels.

Auburn, Falkville and Gaston are the only chapters to have presidents in back-to-back years. Twelve chapters have had at least two presidents. The Auburn, Holtville, Falkville, Jacksonville and Woodland chapters have had three state presidents. The Wetumpka Chapter has had four state presidents, which is the most presidents from any chapter.

Earnest Thornhill of the Holtville Chapter served as treasurer in 1931-32 and as president in 1932-33. Pete Turnham of the Milltown Chapter served as treasurer in the school years 1936-37 and 1937-38. Joe Bill Knowles of the Headland Chapter served as secretary in 1938-39 and president in 1939-40. L.C. Fitzpatrick of the Gaylesville Chapter served as reporter in 1939-40 and president in 1940-41. Edsel Thomaston of the Kinston Chapter, after military duty in World War II, served as president in 1946-47. He was also married the year he served.

There are probably other officers who served in World War II and were elected as state officers. There are several officers who had a brother and/or sister to serve as state officers, like the Salmon brothers from the Auburn Chapter, the Clary brothers from the Akron Chapter, the Baker brothers from the Eutaw Chapter, the Butts sisters from the Leroy Chapter, the Jones’ brother and sister from the Billingsley Chapter, and the Bailey brothers from the Sand Rock Chapter.

If all these officers were placed in the three districts known today (North, Central and South), percentage wise it is about even. The North District has a slight edge with 37 percent of the officers, because it has more chapters and members. The Central District has had 33 percent of the officers and the South District has had 30 percent of the officers.

Alabama has had 13 national officers. Six served as State President, two as State Vice President, three as State Secretary and one as State Treasurer. Two of the 13 served as National Secretary and the other 11 served as Southern Region Vice President. Two chapters have had two national officers: Clements and Falkville. The Falkville Chapter had officers serve back-to-back as national officers. Three of the national officers were the only state officer from their chapter. Two of the national officers were from chapters that have had nine state officers. In the mid-1990s for three consecutive years, Alabama had a national officer. Four of Alabama’s national officers have been female. The first national officer from Alabama served in 1938-39 and the last served in 2006-07.

Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.




Which Fruit-Bearing Plants Need a Pollinator?

Some "Learn and Serve Program" students from the Judy Jester Learning Center in Moulton recently pruned and planted peach trees at Larry LouAllen’s farm. The program incorporates hands-on learning with community service in horticulture. It is operated in conjunction with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Urban Affairs & New Nontraditional Programs division of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

by Jerry A. Chenault


Fruit plants (except strawberries) are best planted in December through February…and strawberries in March and April. But if you’re still wondering about planting fruit and which ones need a pollinator (a cross-pollinator variety), this article’s for you!

I don’t know how many times a year I get asked about which plants (fruits) require a pollinator, but I’ll guarantee it’s a lot of times. That’s why I think the pollination chart below is so handy. You might want to save it for future reference. (Note: Plants marked with an * are not recommended for North Alabama due to winter hardiness problems.)

Pollination and Fruiting Characteristics of Fruit Types

Fruit Type Characteristic Description

TREE FRUIT

Apple Cross-pollinating Plant two or more varieties of each type for
cross-pollination. Golden Delicious varieties tend to be
at least partially self-fruitful when planted alone.
Pear Cross-pollinating Use a second variety every two to four rows. Plant only
two to three rows of the same variety.
Asian pear Cross-pollinating Some varieties appear partially self-fruitful, but a
minimum of two varieties should be used.
Peach Self-fruiting
Nectarine Self-fruiting
Quince Self-fruiting
Plum Cross-pollinating Plant two or more varieties of each type for cross-
pollination. Exceptions to this general rule are Methley,
Homeside & AU Producer plums, which are generally
self-fruitful.
* Cherry, sweet Cross-pollinating Sweet cherries are not recommended in Alabama
because of freeze problems. Pollination requirements
are also very exacting.
Cherry, sour Self-fruiting
* Oriental persimmon, Self-fruiting
astringent
* Oriental persimmon, Self-fruiting or
non-astringent Cross-pollinating
* Pomegranate Self-fruiting
Fig, common Self-fruiting

SMALL FRUIT
Bunch grape Self-fruiting (American or American/European types)
Muscadine grape, Self-fruiting
perfect-flowered
Muscadine grape, Cross-pollinating Female muscadine grape varieties must be female
planted with perfect types for cropping.
Blackberry Self-fruiting
Raspberry Self-fruiting
Blueberry, rabbiteye, Cross-pollinating Two or more varieties of the same type, like rabbiteye,
highbush, & southern must be planted for highbush cross-pollination.
Rabbiteye blueberries generally fruit best when a
varietal sequence of two to one is used across the
plantings, like two rows of Tifblue and one row of
Premier. Highbush blueberry varieties are more
self-fruitful but usually benefit from interplanting two or
more varieties.
Strawberry Self-fruiting A few of the varieties available, like Apollo require cross-
pollination

SUBTROPICAL & EXOTIC FRUIT
* Satsuma Self-fruiting
* Kumquat Self-fruiting
* Meyer lemon Self-fruiting
Kiwifruit Cross-pollinating Kiwifruit have male and female varieties that must be
interplanted to ensure cropping. One male is used for
every five to ten female plants.
* Feijoa Cross-pollinating

Jerry A. Chenault is an Urban Regional Extension Agent with The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, New & Nontraditional Programs division.



Wild Ginger in Your Backyard


Wild ginger

by Kenn Alan

One of the least noticed native plants in the wild Alabama outdoors is the "Little Brown Jug" or "Wild Ginger" (Hexastylis arifolia).

Wild ginger is an evergreen perennial herb living in the heavily shaded woodland forest floor, underneath the leaf litter and other organic matter. It goes unnoticed because it is usually covered, all but the leaves.

It is the Aristolochiaceae Family, which makes it a cousin to "Black Pepper" (Piper nigrum) and the "Dutchman’s Pipevine" or Aristolochia genus.

Wild ginger is not botanically related to the common spice "ginger" or "ginger root" (Zingiber officinale) but the aromatic roots can be used as an ingredient in Asian cuisine.

The plant will grow between six to 12 inches tall with double the spread. The leaves emerge in pairs and are heart-shaped and somewhat mottled with variegations in pale green to almost purple in some cases. The single leaves are between two and four inches long and at the end of a four to ten inch stem.

Now for the exciting part of this plant…. The blooms on the wild ginger are not particularly showy. In fact, the blooms are usually completely covered with leaf litter. But, when you find the leaves this time of year then you can usually uncover the blooms by gently removing the surrounding organic matter. There, at the base of the emerging leaf stems, is a small, one to three-inch bloom. It has three sepals, is golden-brown to reddish-purple in color and is bottle-shaped. Hence the name, "Little Brown Jug."

Single plantings are not necessarily very exciting to look at, but in mass arrangements, these little beauties make a great shade-garden ground cover. Last year, I moved several plants from an undeveloped part of the property to a shaded bed a little closer to the Tomato Tower. They are beautiful and blooming right now.

The Little Brown Jugs can be purchased from a few online nurseries. They can also be propagated by taking rhizome cuttings in the early spring. Sexual propagation can be a little more difficult as the seed has a double-dormant embryo and must be stratified for two years before it will germinate. Stratification by means other than natural lends to limited germination.

Wild ginger is pollinated by ants and other crawling creatures. Its enemies are snails and slugs. The plant prefers slightly acidic, loamy soil. It likes moist conditions, but needs a well-drained medium to survive. Oh! Did I mention that it’s deer resistant?

So the next time you’re hiking in our state parks or woods, take notice of this little wildflower and enjoy its beauty.

E-mail me at kennalan@hgtradio.net if you would like to know where to order the Little Brown Jugs for your shade garden.

Become a fan of Home Grown Tomatoes on Facebook and keep up with the latest news! Sign up for our newsletter by e-mailing Home Grown Tomatoes at HGTradio@gmail.com. Put "newsletter" in the subject line.

I hope you will all tune in each Saturday from 8 until 8:30 a.m. CDT for Home Grown Tomatoes. If you are not in the local coverage area, then tune in on the Internet by going to http://hgtradio.net and follow the links to listen live!




AFC Cooperative News Writers Garner Awards at NCFC Information Fair



Several of Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc., board members were able to attend the NCFC Annual Meeting to accept the awards. Pictured from left are Lawrence Smith, Sam Givhan, David Womack, Bill Sanders, Jimmy Newby, Ken Walls and Ted Tindal.

Every year the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) has a Cooperative Information Fair. The purpose of the NCFC Cooperative Information Fair is to encourage cooperatives to improve the techniques by which they promote their businesses, inform their members and disseminate information to the general public.

Fair judges provide entrants with a numerical and written evaluation of their communication efforts. They confirm what entrants are doing well and suggest ways to improve. These professional critiques are the most beneficial part of the fair competition.

Winning entries in each class of the 2009 Information Fair were displayed at the NCFC Annual Meeting held February 3-5, 2010, at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara, Cal.

AFC Cooperative Farming News placed in the following classes: Class #5 – Membership Newspaper, 2nd place; Class #10 – Feature Article, 3rd place for Jaine Treadwell’s article on ‘Goshen’s William Sanders Expands His Horizons on Israeli Kibbutz;’ Class #11 – News Story, 1st place for Mary-Glenn Smith’s article on ‘Coon Dog Memorial Final Resting Place for Hunters’ Faithful Canine Companions’ and Class #12 – Column, 1st place for Suzy Geno Lowry’s Simple Times column titled ‘The Right to Dry.’



Barn Burning Has Unexpected Outcome

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

Marrying into my family was probably a bit intimidating for my husband. He had heard about them for years through our mutual friend who eventually introduced us. To most of the people who knew my father, he was truly "larger than life." He was a successful entrepreneur as a tire dealer in downtown Dallas, a pioneering Charolais cattle breeder when that business was in its infancy and later as a residential land developer. Despite all that, his kindness and generosity, particularly on an anonymous basis, endeared him to all who knew him. Any young man would want to do everything just right after he had married this imposing character’s youngest daughter.

But that desire seemed doomed one weekend about a month after we married. My parents were out of town for a few days and we decided to clean up around one of my dad’s barns and burn some old pallets stacked nearby. One thing we failed to take into consideration was how close the barn was to the trash pile we’d be burning. But that little detail was overlooked in our youthful zeal to finish the job.

We worked for an hour, dragging feed bags and scrap lumber to the heap of old pallets that had once supported a barn full of hay bales. When we were satisfied all burnable trash had been rounded up, we sprinkled on an ample dose of diesel. We didn’t notice the wind had picked up, so we tossed the match.

It didn’t take long before the ten-foot mound was engulfed in flames. We were watching the flames, when we realized that maybe the pile was a little too close to the barn. We also noticed the wind was whipping the flames dangerously close to the structure. Normally, that would not have been a big deal, since the barn was all metal, but my dad had finished out a small office and an apartment in the front of the building with traditional wood and drywall construction.

We didn’t say anything to each other right then, but we were both really nervous about the proximity of the fire and about the showers of sparks and burning debris being carried by the January winds. Suddenly, the office window burst and the curtains were set on fire. Black smoke started billowing out of the sheetrock walls.

In those days, cell phones were unheard of and we didn’t feel we should leave to drive to a neighbor’s to use a phone. So we just stood there helplessly and watched the flames consuming my dad’s office in horror.

Thankfully, the puffs of smoke had been noticed in the nearby town. In a few moments, the local volunteer fire department’s trucks rolled through the gate to our rescue. Soon the flames were extinguished. The barn was intact, but the interior rooms were soggy, smoldering ruins. We thanked the firemen for their help and then turned to each other and voiced the obvious question: How in the world were we going to break this news to my parents?

We had to wait a couple of days, fretting over the wording, until they returned. There was no delicate way to say we’d almost burned the barn down. With no excuses, but with lots of regret and humility, my new husband told my parents what had happened.

We waited anxiously for the inevitable fallout. Instead, my dad just started grinning. Confused by this unexpected reaction, my husband asked him what was so amusing.

"I have maintained the insurance on that barn for the last few years, even though I no longer use that office and apartment. You’ve just done me a tremendous favor!" he told us.

Our immense relief was palpable. My dad just laughed and slapped my husband on the back and assured him he had nothing to worry about. In that moment, their special relationship was cemented.

I’m sorry they only had another couple of years to enjoy it.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">lisa25@centex.net.




Boot Camp: Pick a Style That Meets All Your Needs

by John Howle

"There is good news from Washington today. Congress is deadlocked and can’t act." — Will Rogers

When government happenings get you frustrated, do what I do. Wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, go out on the porch, take a deep breath, look around at the chickens or the backyard garden, and pretend there is no government. Just pretend all you see while looking around is all there is.

If you see elected officials dodging questions or excusing their dishonesty by saying, "This is the only way we can get things done," just pretend they are only actors on TV. Once you’ve completed this process, you are now ready to face a productive day of work, most likely without the help of stimulus packages and bailouts. Ah, but I digress. Let’s talk about getting comfortable, functional clothing for work.

Work Wear

Most work wear around the farm consists of jeans that are comfortable yet sturdy enough to handle the rigors of jobs ranging from hay hauling to putting up a barbed wire fences. Most likely, the pants will have a hammer loop or a pliers pocket. The shirt should have pockets and be comfortable yet durable. Head gear is typically a cap or Western style hat to shade the eyes and face during the summer, and hold heat during the winter.

Ariat® carries a line of Heritage Ropers made of leather in multiple color choices.

However, the most important consideration is the footwear. After all, the feet are the part of the body staying in contact with the ground most of the time. Western-style, slip-on boots are probably the most popular style of footwear. They are quick to get on and off, and they provide protection above the ankles for briars, barbed wire and snakes. In addition, they allow the wearer the opportunity to reflect a bit of cowboy heritage and rugged individualism that made this country great.

Ropers for Rompin’

What do you do if you have a "town job" and you want to dress in a way reflecting your cowboy heritage, and you don’t want to violate the dress code of your employment? Whether you are wearing boots for function or fashion, the slip-on roper style is a versatile boot that can fit in at the office or the barn.

Ariat® makes a line of Heritage Ropers with the comfortable, low-profile roper heel. The real bonus is real leather. The boots have a full-grain leather foot and shaft as well as leather lining. The Duratread™ outsole provides a cushioned step, and there is little tracking in of dirt because of the tread.

Ropers go well with jeans and casual pants (top). If you want to carry your cowboy heritage to the office, ropers are the best choice for style and comfort.

What makes these boots stand out is what Ariat® calls the ATS Technology in the footbed and outsole. The layered system of a gel-cushion insole, composite fiber-forked shank as opposed to steel, and the Duratread™ outsole are designed to reduce foot fatigue and stress in the feet, lower legs and back.

The Heritage Ropers come in nine different color choices for men and four color choices for women. They are ideal compliments to jeans, dress pants, khakis or even a suit. For more information on the Ariat® Heritage Ropers, visit them online at www.ariat.com. Many of our local Co-ops carry these boots. If your local Co-op doesn’t have Ariat® in stock, ask them about ordering.

Getting Fit

Wearing ropers or, for that matter, any slip-on boot takes some getting used to if all you’ve ever worn was tie up boots or tennis shoes. I’ve always been accustomed to seeing country music legends on stage wearing cowboy boots. However, when Billy Ray Cyrus came on the scene dancing on stage with tennis shoes, it absolutely broke my "Achy Breaky Heart."

To get the right fit on boots, first, wear the same type socks you will wear while wearing boots. On Western boots, there should be a slight slip on the heel when the boots are new, and the sole is stiff. In time, most of this slippage will disappear as the leather softens, and the boots become broken in. You have to have slight slippage to get a proper fit.

Try on the boots you intend to purchase in the afternoon since your feet are slightly larger at this time. The ball of your foot should be at the widest part of the boot sole. This determines the rest of the toe fit and prevents the toes from touching the end of the boot. If the ball of your foot sits too far forward, your toes will be crowded into the toe box.

Have your feet measured every year or so because shoe size can change slightly year to year. If your foot is narrow, you might consider ordering a ½ size smaller or put a sole insert into the boot if narrow boots are not in stock. If your foot is wider than normal, you may have to go up in boot size to accommodate the extra width.

Socks made of cotton are the most popular on the market, however, they do little to absorb moisture and keep your feet dry and warm. Boot socks are designed to stay over the calf and absorb moisture keeping the feet warm and dry all day.

Beware of Bargains

A quality pair of leather boots should be looked at as an investment and, with proper care, should last for years. Beware of imitations that look like leather. Some of these boots even feel like leather, but you will soon discover you get what you pay for. I once purchased a pair of these boots. I like to refer to them as pleather. They appeared to be a combination of a leather look made out of a plastic-type material. After wearing the boots for a day, I noticed an alarming odor smelling much like a combination of burned rice and rubber.

After that, I decided to spend a little more money and have a quality pair of leather boots that would last for years. Once broken in, a good pair of leather boots wears almost like an extra skin.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.



Bro. -- To the Flat Rock General Store Regulars...

An Easter Sermon to Remember...

by Joe Potter


It was Wednesday in the mid-mornin’ when I walked through the old double-front doors of The Flat Rock General Store. There was a bundle bustin’ bunch of The Store regulars congregated near the old potbellied heater.

There set Slim, in his old recliner, peekin’ out from b’hind the counter.

Essex, Ms. Ida, the widow Cora, Farlow, Willerdean, "Truth," Estelle, my Daddy "Pop" C.C., Bro., S.R., J.R., "Hatch," Heath, Dustin, and Mr. All Night Music Man himself, Harley Hood, were also gathered. There was other folk who had showed up for learnin’ and studyin’ state and community affairs like: my buddy Roland Gargis, Mr. L.O. Bishop, Wilton Fortenberry and, from all way over cross the big old Tennessee River, my friend and tire man, Mr. Jim Humphries. Additional, there were a few other curious money payin’ customers.

Bro. had the floor and was a passin’ out flyers promotin’ the comin’ close community Easter sunrise service and Easter Sunday service down to the Baptist Church. Course, all this would be followed by a noon day church fellowship eatin’, and he noted all comers was invited to stay for the consumin’ of some mouth-waterin’, fine country vittles.

He had Estelle to pencil down along the rear wall b’hind the old potbellied heater on white butcher paper in red marker —- "HAPPY EASTER, YA’LL COME…" Sunday, April 4th. I was a glancin’ over the flyer and it carried these words "Possible sermon titles."

There were some oddly worded titles so placed:

Easter, not just for bunnies and hidin’eggs…

The "Cross," more than a lucky charm…

My outfit’s new, yours too…

Easter, a good time to go to church, there’s no major sportin’ conflicts…

Get the salt shaker, there’s plenty of hard boiled eggs...

Below there on the flyer it said, "You’re all invited, please come, learn my true sermon title and hear the real message." Then there was a long blank line along the bottom. Alongside were the written words, "You’re welcome to pencil down your own sermon title." I scribbled in: Heaven after earth, is the place for me….

’Bout this here moment, a passerby rushed in and expressed with some seriousness there was a black-smoke fire a blazin’ pure straight arrow west t’ward Russellville. At this here point, all the assembled crowd dismantled rather swiftly. As I exited for lookin’ purposes, I could hear a fire truck’s siren a soundin’ in the air. I stepped back inside, offered my good-bye howdys to Slim and Essex, and headed for my pickup with my intentions bein’ to go check see if the fire was a burnin’ brush pile or some other unintended burnin’.

I wish for each Farm Fresh Memories reader —- a proper titled, 30-minute Easter sermon, health, happiness and "Heaven after Earth"….

HAPPY EASTER!!!
Remember Your Heritage!!!
Always, Think Good Memories!!!

Joe Potter is a former vocational agriculture teacher, FFA advisor and retired county agent (Colbert County).



BSE Testing in Alabama Takes a Break

by Dr. Tony Frazier

In my column last month I discussed risk management. If any of you need to, you can go dig last month’s AFC Cooperative Farming News from the garbage and review the article. For the rest of you, I will give a brief review. Managing risk simply involves identifying hazards, evaluating the seriousness of the risk and then implementing steps to reduce risks to acceptable levels. It turns out the BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) surveillance program is at a point where we are evaluating exactly where we are and what is the exact role that testing serves in the complexity of dealing with a disease that has almost become extinct. The risks have certainly been reduced.

BSE has affected the beef industry sort of like falling off a cliff. It was kind of gradual on the way down; then all at once hit the ground. BSE barely made a ripple in the water in 1986 when the disease was first recognized in England. However, by 1993, the number of cases peaked in the United Kingdom at about 1,000 new cases a week. Eventually, there were around 184,000 cases from 35,000 farms in the U.K. By that time, the United States had implemented some regulations that kept the disease from becoming an issue here. Mainly, the United States banned live cattle from any country that had BSE in their cattle. The disease was on the radar screen, but was not much of an issue here.

In 1996, the England Ministry of Health made the statement that there was a casual link between the human disease variant CJD (vCJD) and BSE. Along with that announcement, there was speculation there would be tens of thousands of cases of vCJD in the next decade or two. We are about a decade and a half down the road from that announcement and the number of human vCJD cases was less than 200 a couple of years ago. I can’t find any extremely recent data on the numbers, but I doubt it is over 200. Nonetheless, BSE became a media disease taking on a life of its own.

The United States also began testing for the disease: 5,000 samples in 2001, 12,500 in 2002 and 20,000 in 2003. As we entered the last quarter of 2003, we planned to increase testing to 40,000 samples from what were considered to be true target animals in 2004. Target animals were considered to be those showing signs that could be consistent with BSE. In Alabama, we planned to participate in the surveillance program by encouraging producers to call us if they had a target animal (those down, disabled, with incoordination, staggering, wasting or dead of an unknown cause) that died on the farm. A Harvard University study showed, if we tested 40,000 target animals, we could have a 95 percent confidence level, if the disease was out there, we would find it.

On December 23, 2003, a Holstein from a dairy in the state of Washington tested positive. Even though the cow originated from Canada, many countries closed their borders to our cattle and beef. Never mind the cow was Canadian born, we suffered the effects of her residing here at the time of her demise. In my mind December 23, was a pivotal date in the history of the beef industry. Much like the cyanide in the Tylenol capsules in 1982 forever impacted the way over-the-counter drugs are packaged, after December 23, BSE will always be addressed in the way beef cattle are raised and beef is processed.

First, firewalls were put into place to reduce to near zero the possibility the infective agent could be passed on to consumers or to other cattle. Specified risk material (SRM) like brain, spinal cord, eyes and other bovine parts where the infective agent may be found are completely removed from the food chain. In cattle over 30 months, the entire spinal column including the vertebrae is removed. Think you can get a T-bone steak from a bovine over 30 months old? You can’t. There was also the discontinuation of using any ruminant by-products in ruminant feed.

The second move that followed shortly was to begin the Intensified BSE Testing Program in the early spring of 2004. In that program, we were to test 268,000 target animals for BSE. And, according to the folks at Harvard, we could have a 99 percent level of confidence that if there were BSE positive cows out there, we would find them. Sure enough, we did find two cows that were native United States residents. There was the one in Texas that hit the news about June of 2004 and the anonymous red cow from Alabama in March of 2006. Now, after more than three quarters of a million have been tested, there have only been those two.

So we have come to a point where we are taking a pause to evaluate what we need out of the surveillance program. How many target animals do we really need to test? The removal of SRMs has served to keep the food supply safe. The sampling will be continued for the purpose of making sure that if the disease is still out there, we will find it. Since about mid-February, we have taken a time-out and are not presently collecting brain samples. The program will probably start back in the future, but may have a smaller goal. We will likely need to continue to sample target animals to assure our own consumers and our trade partners we are making sure our beef products are safe. It is because of the participation and cooperation of the Alabama beef producers and the practicing veterinarians this program has been a success. I want to thank you for helping the program succeed to this point. As soon as we get word from the folks at USDA as to how the BSE testing will go forward, we will let you know.

As always we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian or our office if you have cattle showing any central nervous signs. Presently there is no funding to help with carcass disposal, but you need to rule out diseases like rabies or preventable diseases.




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