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April 2013

In the News

AFC Chief Executive Addresses Record Earnings Streak at 76th Annual Meeting

Roger Pangle, AFC’s new CEO, said AFC’s “guiding vision” has always been “Serving You First.”

400 members and guests attend two-day event

by Al Benn

America’s economy may have had problems the past few years, but Alabama Farmers Cooperative just keeps rolling along, setting financial records as a result of committed leadership on state and local levels.

That was the message of AFC’s Chief Executive Officer Roger Pangle during the 76th annual meeting of an organization that was begun with $1,000 investments by 13 businessmen to create a fertilizer cooperative in the Tennessee Valley.

Those investments have mushroomed into a multi-million dollar operation extending throughout Alabama and that continues to set new bottom-line records, said Pangle.

"AFC is in the midst of historic earnings and the past 6 years are the most profitable years in the company’s 76-year history," Pangle said to an estimated 400 Cooperative members, family members and special guests during the two-day event.

The annual meeting, held Febuary13-14 at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery, featured financial reports by each of AFC’s divisions as well as longevity awards and the naming of Larry Leslie of Cherokee Farmers Cooperative as the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year.

Pangle reported AFC sales for 2012 totaled $464 million, an increase of $13 million over the previous year. He noted that some of the Cooperative’s glittering accomplishments can be attributed to management restructuring.

"Part of our focus the last several years has been to help those member Cooperatives that have struggled to improve their financial health," he said. "This is being accomplished through several different venues."

Those venues have helped streamline operations, leading to increased efficiency and profitability, said Pangle, who became CEO last year, succeeding long-time AFC leader Tommy Paulk who had served for 17 years.

"We’ve assisted several members in restructuring to decrease their leverage and improve their working capital so they could survive," said Pangle, who indicated, at times, AFC management has had to step in and help local operations "close or dissolve their businesses" when "painful decisions" had to be made.

Those instances "have been very few," Pangle said, and "to date, the 13 mergers and restructurings we have assisted with have been a success."

Before the mergers and restructurings were necessary, Pangle said those 13 members had a cumulative loss of $1.4 million at the end of the fiscal year. With AFC’s help, they had a net income of $700,000 – amounting to an improvement of $2.1 million.

As he prepared his annual report, Pangle began to think about the 13 farmers and their $1,000 investments to form the Tennessee Valley Fertilizer Cooperative – something leading to AFC’s creation.

The little cooperative in North Alabama was founded with the "simple mission" of pooling member resources to ensure an adequate supply of fertilizer for their farmers.

"Our Cooperative’s founding purpose was service to you, the members of AFC," Pangle said. "Service was core to our very existence then and service remains core to our existence now because, without you, we have no reason to exist."

Pangle said AFC’s "guiding vision" has always been "Serving You First," adding, in following that pledge, "We honor the original commitment made by our founders and fulfill our mission statement of increasing the long-term value of Alabama farmers to you, our membership."

In his report, AFC Chairman Sam Givhan mentioned the organization’s amazing transformation into one of "the largest, most diverse, privately owned agricultural companies in the Southeast."

"We have managed AFC for the long term, enjoying tremendous success as a result," said Givhan, a successful Dallas County farmer. "But, as you know, this has not come without challenges."

He quickly added, "I am happy to say every facet of our business was able to meet those challenges and continued to advance during 2012."

Givhan had special praise for Pangle, saying his experience as Paulk’s top aide for 16 years "will lead AFC into an even brighter future."

Pangle and Paulk have remained close friends since the change of command and each praises the other for their leadership efforts.

"I never realized all the things Tommy did until he left," Pangle quipped. "In fact, I tell folks that perhaps the smartest one left and left me to do the job of two."

Paulk said he never had any doubts Pangle would do an excellent job as his successor "because he’s always been cool under fire and works well with people."

One of several special guests at the annual meeting was Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell who mentioned America’s "cheap food policy."

"We’ve kept prices low for the public, but that has changed in the past few years with food prices starting to creep up," Parnell said at the first event of the annual meeting. "I think we can wake up, though, and have a big reverse in that policy, even if it may not happen soon."

Parnell also stressed the importance of agriculture, saying it remains Alabama’s leading industry, but he’s worried it is not being portrayed that way to the public.

He said agriculture needs to do a "better job of selling itself" in Alabama and indicated his organization is doing all it can to do just that.

Another special guest at the annual meeting was retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell who was involved in the capture of Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

Using slides to illustrate his presentation, Russell gave his audience a detailed description of how he and other soldiers patiently followed clues leading to the dictator.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

In the News

Ag in the Classroom Applications Due April 15

Teachers from across Alabama gained first-hand knowledge of farming during the Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute June 12-14, 2012, at the Grand National Marriott in Opelika. Participants spent an entire day touring farms and agricultural education centers in Lee County. Following lunch at Lazenby Farms in Auburn, farmer Mitch Lazenby, center, talks about his corn crop with Helen Keller school teacher and Alabama Young Farmers member Rachel Wright, left, and Piedmont Elementary School teacher Rhonda Kirkpatrick.
Below, Frank Randel, center, is a CSA farmer from Auburn.

Teachers seeking new ways to introduce their students to reading, science, math and history can find all that and more at the annual Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute June 4-6 in Birmingham. Educators have until April 15 to apply for the institute.

During the three-day conference, AITC participants learn innovative techniques for integrating agricultural activities into the classroom. Participants tour local farms, speak one-on-one with farmers and gain first-hand insight into producing food and fiber.

"This program is an inspiration for educators who attend," said AITC Chairman Kim Ramsey. "Participants learn about the importance of agriculture in Alabama, and they pass those lessons on to their students. The visits to farms and discovering agriculture teaching resources are eye-opening experiences for teachers."

Faucett-Vestavia Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Hope attended the 2012 institute after seeing a flyer for AITC in the teacher’s lounge.

"I just started thinking I need to learn more about agriculture," Hope said. "The institute really enlightened me on a lot of things. I think everything was my favorite because it is something authentic I never would have gotten by sitting in the classroom."

The program covers language arts, science, social studies and mathematics skills, including those found in the Alabama courses of study and on the Stanford 9 Test. Educators completing the program will return to their classrooms armed with lesson plans, examples of hands-on learning activities and books to help teach students about agriculture.

Todd Jackson, librarian for Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur and 2012 AITC participant, said the resources he got made him feel prepared to start teaching agriculture lessons on the first day of school.

"I’m excited about the box of stuff we’re getting with the books, DVD, lesson plans and PowerPoints," Jackson said. "I like that Ag in the Classroom has done a lot of the legwork for us, and we can modify it for our own school."

Kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers, media specialists, administrators, Extension agents and district conservationists are eligible to attend. AITC fulfills continuing education requirements. Only 95 spots are available, and preference is given to first-time attendees.

Sponsors include the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean Committee, and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Proceeds from the sale of ag tag license plates also benefit the program.

For the registration form, visit There is no fee to apply or attend. Lodging at the Wynfrey Hotel and meals are provided.

For additional information, contact Kim Ramsey at 334-612-5370 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> Applications may be mailed to Kim Ramsey, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191 or faxed to 334-284-3957.

In the News

Alabama Ag Credit Declares Record Patronage to Stockholders

Alabama Ag Credit, a rural lending cooperative serving southern Alabama, recently declared a record $5.6 million cash patronage to its customers. This amount was based on the co-op’s strong 2012 financial results and was approved by the Alabama Ag Credit Board of Directors.

Net income for Alabama Ag Credit grew 15 percent to a record level of $15.1 million. Outstanding loan volume climbed to $695 million. These strong financial results allowed the Board of Directors to distribute the all-cash patronage payout to our borrowers.

This patronage distribution is based on the amount of business a borrower does with the co-op and lowers the borrowers’ net cost of borrowing by 0.85 percent. With this year’s payment, Alabama Ag Credit has returned approximately $49.1 million in cash to our borrowers since 1996. As a cooperative, Alabama Ag Credit is owned by its borrowers/stockholders. When the co-op performs well, it shares its earnings with the stockholders.

"This is a significant financial return to our borrowers," said W. Thomas Dozier III, chairman of the co-op’s member-elected board of directors. "This patronage program is evidence that the cooperative system works and demonstrates our commitment to meeting the mission of enhancing the quality of life for the people of rural Alabama."

A part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, Alabama Ag Credit provides financing for farms, timber and forestry operations, agribusinesses, recreational land and rural homes in 40 counties in southern Alabama. The financing co-op has offices in Demopolis, Dothan, Enterprise, Loxley, Montgomery, Opelika, Selma and Tuscaloosa.

In the News

Alabama Ag: The Impact

Survey Confirms Agriculture’s Importance to State’s Economy

Agriculture and forestry contribute $70.4 billion annually to Alabama’s economy and account for 22 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a study released February 12, 2013.

"The findings from this study are a powerful tool for our industry," said Leigha Cauthen, executive director of the Alabama Agribusiness Council. "This research highlights the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy by providing reliable and credible facts we can use as advocates for the state’s farmers, agribusinesses and rural landowners."

Gov. Robert Bentley, flanked by agricultural leaders from throughout the state, announced the results of the study at a press conference in Montgomery.

The report titled "Economic Impacts of Alabama’s Agricultural, Forestry, and Related Industries" was a collaborative effort of the Agribusiness Council, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University, Alabama Farmers Federation, and other businesses and organizations. It revealed that, in addition to remaining Alabama’s largest economic engine, agriculture and forestry are the state’s second largest employer.

AFC’s CEO Roger Pangle believes the findings of this study need to be made available to everybody in the state.

"The average person doesn’t realize just how important farming and forestry is to our state. The economic impact agriculture has on Alabama is just staggering!" Pangle said.

According to the study, every $1 million in direct sales of Alabama agricultural and timber products generates 10 jobs. Extension System Director Dr. Gary Lemme said the report shows how agricultural research, education and outreach pay dividends for the state.

"Aside from providing a detailed picture of this sector of Alabama’s economy, the study’s findings also underscore the strong case for continued investment in agriculture and forestry," Lemme said.

Timber production and processing lead all farm and forestry sectors in economic impact, generating $21.4 billion annually and employing 122,020 Alabamians. Poultry and eggs top traditional farm commodities in production and processing with $15.1 billion in economic impact and 86,237 jobs.

Alabama’s other top crops, in order of economic impact, are: greenhouse, nursery and floriculture; beef cattle; cotton; and soybean, corn and wheat production.

The study also examined commodities unique to Alabama’s economy including peanuts and catfish. Peanuts contribute $211.4 million annually to Alabama’s economy and 2,046 jobs. Catfish accounts for $158.2 million and 5,829 jobs.

"We produce and process a wide diversity of products that not only are consumed here in Alabama but are exported to every corner of the world," Lemme said.

"The main goal of the study is to demonstrate the enormous and often understated presence of this sector, its enduring influence and, most important of all, its immense potential to all Alabamians and public policy officials."

For additional information, contact Leigha Cauthen, director, Alabama Agribusiness Council, 334-318-5626; Dr. Gary Lemme, director, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 334-844-4444; Dr. Deacue Fields, Extension Economist and associate professor in Auburn University’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, 334-844-4931.

The full report is available at

To view a video highlighting the Economic Impact Study:


In the News

Alabama Agriculture Piques Foreign Interest

Visitors to Alabama who were part of the Cochran Fellowship Program from the Republic of Georgia included Mamuka Merebashvili, director, NGO Agrotechno; Zaal Akhalkatsi, farmer; Otar Sabashvili, owner/director, Agribusiness Management Group; Revaz Janelidze, manager, Greenhouse, Herbia Ltd.; Irakli Merkvilishvili, director, Agro-Com Farmers Service and Consulting Center; George Bulbulashvili, farmer; Nikoloz Gavtadze, production manager, Inagro Ltd.; Goga Turashvili, USAID; and Demna Dzirkvadze, agricultural specialist with USDA and interpreter for the group. The Cochran Fellowship Program provides participants from middle-income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies with high-quality training to improve their local agricultural systems and strengthen and enhance trade links with the United States.

Republic of Georgia Ag Leaders Visit and Study

by Melissa Martin

Alabama farmers routinely share tips, techniques and innovations, but sharing those with farmers who don’t speak English is a rare occurrence. A passion for agriculture helped bridge their communication gap.

Eight delegates from the Republic of Georgia explored a variety of farms and research centers in North Alabama February 5-7, 2013, as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cochran Fellowship Program. Though it’s more than 6,000 miles from their farms in Tbilisi to Auburn, where their journey began, the visitors came hoping to improve their local agricultural systems.

"Like any other country, we encounter problems to solve ... financial, social and agricultural," said USDA representative and native Georgian Demna Dzirkvadze, who also was the translator. "We have comparable mechanization, and we grow some of the things farmers here grow, but we have low productivity and yields. We hope to learn some new techniques to increase yields and profitability. No-till practices seen at [the North Alabama Horticultural Research Center] could be useful in the fields of Tbilisi."

Dzirkvadze noted the Republic of Georgia — located on Russia’s southern border between the Black and Caspian Seas — has liberal regulations compared to the U.S., but said farmers still work hard to produce the best food they can.

"Our families need food for nourishment, just as American families do," Dzirkvadze remarked. "We have less government control, but our practices are safe for our people."

The tour, which began in Auburn, included stops at the Cullman County Extension Office, North Alabama Horticultural Research Center, North Alabama Food Bank and farm tours in New Market, Meridianville, Athens, Bremen, Cullman and Hayden. The farmers also visited the Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama Farmers Cooperative in Decatur and the Birmingham Farmers Market.

Since its inception in 1984, the Cochran Fellowship Program has trained more than 14,300 participants from 123 countries — many of whom visited Alabama. The group was selected to tour Alabama following a competitive bid process initiated by Auburn University.

For more program information, visit

Melissa Martin is with Alfa.

Farm Fresh Memories

Antlers or Attraction, Mass or Magnet Food Plot Nutrition vs. Attraction

Whether your goal is attraction, holding whitetail on your property, providing nutrition for antler growth, helping recoup from rut-related stress, herd health or fawn rearing, variety in a food plot program is a definite key.

by Todd Amenrud

The most asked question people have regarding food plots is, "What should I plant?" Most folks don’t give enough information to answer it properly without a few follow-ups, but an easy way to view it is – "Should I plant for nutrition and antler growth, or strive to attract and hold?"

That question really needs to be answered based upon the management goals of the property owner. Do you want to enhance the health of your whitetail herd and grow big antlers? Or do you want to simply attract deer during the hunting season? Because how you go about implementing a plan and the plants you choose to plant would vary depending on the goal.

What you should select to plant may also depend upon your existing conditions, the location of your property and how much available acreage you have to plant. For instance, have you been experiencing a drought? Geographically, what you plant in Minnesota will often be different from the food plot menu in Texas. In addition to those details, small acreage situations cannot support a multitude of goals. With small acreage, you have to be more specific.

Maybe you see several mature bucks during the summer months, but they all seem to disappear when the season rolls around. If that’s the case, my main goal would be for attraction during the hunting season. Maybe last season, you harvested a 120-inch 5x5 and had it aged only to find out it was a 4-year-old. Some of that could be due to genetics, but, in this case, my main goal would be geared towards antler growth and nutrition.

Property location and how much acreage you’re devoting to food plots must also be considered. In agricultural areas where there is a lot of cash-crop farming of things like corn, soybeans or alfalfa, it may be wise to concentrate on attraction if farming is already supplying a good portion of their diet. Likewise, if you only have a couple acres or less to devote to planting, let’s face it - most managers want to use it for attraction during the hunting season.

Food plot goals, soil quality and the amount of acreage you are able to devote are the three most important factors in deciding what you should plant. With enough acreage, the author wants to “do it all” and provide the ultimate variety.

What you plant in each plot should vary for each end goal. More than likely, the size, location and design of your plots would also be different for attraction as opposed to nutrition. Typically, the larger plots further away from the bedding areas are designated as "feeding plots," where the smaller plots closer to the bedding areas are used for "hunting plots." It’s simply commonsense at work here – your chances for a shot during legal hunting hours are better at a smaller plot closer to their bedding area. Since your chances of killing a deer further away from the bedding area are less, that acreage is usually designated for feeding as many mouths as possible.

You also have to consider what part of the country you are in. For instance, for a nutrition plot in the North, it’s hard to beat a perennial clover plot. But in the South, some areas have a tough time getting perennials to come back because of the dry, hot summertime conditions; so they have to rely on annuals like lablab or deep-rooted perennials like alfalfa or chicory.

It is possible to do both: supply nutrition to help with overall health and antler growth, and have attraction in other areas to help with your harvest goals, viewing opportunities and holding them in the area. In fact, with every property I oversee, I will try to "do it all." Granted, I have enough acreage to play with so I’m not "handcuffed" by limited acreage, but I feel a versatile, all-around approach will show the biggest pay-out.

If your goal is attraction, you want to have a nutritious, palatable food choice for your herd for the entire time frame that you wish to draw them. Actually, I would suggest you provide good choices that will start attracting before you want to hunt the location so the animals are conditioned to showing up to the areas.

If your goal is nutrition, in that case, you want to have a nutritious, palatable food choice for them ALL YEAR LONG. Here again, available acreage must be considered. Do you have enough ground to provide food year-round with your density? If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t strive towards antler growth and nutrition, it just means you have to make the best out of what you have and plant wisely.

For antler growth, so many managers feel it is the most important to have the best food source available for the early stages of antler genesis during spring and summer. Although this is an important time for a buck to really show you what he is capable of producing, good nutrition must be made available all year long. For instance, if during the fall or winter their diet is lacking, when ample nutritious forage does become available during the spring and summer months, they end up playing "catch-up" rather than reaping the rewards.

Timing is everything when it comes to attraction. Certain annual plants such as cereal grains and annual clovers are the most palatable during certain stages of growth. You want to time the planting to reach its peak attraction when you want to hunt the site.

Most whitetail biologists agree that for a buck to really show their maximum set of antlers they will need a consistent food source of at least 16 percent protein. In fact, I would argue that here in the North, if you want to see a noticeable difference in antler growth, late fall and wintertime is the most important time to concentrate on.

Certain plants such as brassicas, clover, various beans and peas do a good job at both attraction and nutrition. Timing and placement would dictate how the cultivars will be used.

Good examples of the types of plants typically found in a nutrition plot are red and white clovers, chicory, alfalfa, lablab, soybeans and cowpeas.

Good cool-season choices are brassicas like rape, radishes, kale and turnips, which give both good energy and protein. Corn, sorghum and milo are not good protein sources, but they will provide needed carbohydrates (energy) and fat. Whitetails are good at breaking down proteins and turning them into energy, so many of the same warm-season choices will remain beneficial most of the year.

Many of the same plants will work well for attraction. Timing is everything when it comes to attraction. Certain annual plants like cereal grains and annual legumes are the most palatable during certain stages of growth. So you want to time the planting to reach its peak of attraction when you want to hunt over it. Good early season choices are perennials such as clovers, alfalfa and chicory switching slowly over to midseason attraction basics such as oats, wheat, triticale, rye and certain brassicas. Throughout the season, you’ll see a switch over to later season magnets such as brassicas, corn and any remaining dried soybeans.

Regardless of your goal, variety is a definite key. During the year, the climate is changing, plants are changing and a whitetail’s needs are changing. You want to make sure you have a food to supply them what they need regardless of the conditions or time of year. You can put equal emphasis on both attraction and nutrition. A good management program probably will stress the importance of both good nutrition to help grow big, healthy whitetails and attraction to help with animal sightings and your harvest goals.

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

Youth Matters

Barrels of Love

Pictured from left are Byron Smith, AFC; Wendy Taylor, Toray; Susana Salcido, AFC; and Jill Jones, AFC, at the conclusion of the 2013 Barrels of Love campaign at the Holiday Inn in Decatur.

Toray Carbon Fibers America and Daikin America spearheaded the first-ever, industry-wide Barrels of Love food drive project to collect non-perishable food to benefit the Committee on Church Cooperation, The Salvation Army and the Backpack Program for Decatur schools which puts food enough for six meals in children’s backpacks at the end of each week. The food for the school system will be stored in CCC’s pantry.

According to the campaign coordinator and purchasing coordinator at Toray, Wendy Taylor, "It was the first time so many industries in the area pulled together for such an effort. We had hoped for around 25 companies and 15,000 items. Instead, we ended up with 43 companies participating and nearly 22,000 items plus monetary and gift card donations of about $1,200! A lot of folks worked to make it happen, but none of this would have been possible without the incredible generosity of local industries. It’s just amazing that we got this much for our first time ever!"

Another drive is already in the making for 2014.

Homeplace & Community

Born a Cowgirl

Fayette Countian Wins Breakaway Championship

by Don Linker

Kellie Trull on her first run at the SPFR finals. (Credit: Dennis Burns, Five O’Clock Images)

Kellie Trull and husband Joseph are well known in rodeo and team roping circles in the Southeast and travel to compete in a three-state area including Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. They are also members of the United States Team Roping Championship where they are both headers and compete with other partners including Kellie’s dad Larry Trimm, who is also well known in the area - but that is another story.

Kellie grew up in Fayette County not dreaming of being a cowgirl because she already was one. At the age of 12, she was helping Dad catch unruly cows in pastures all over the area. Kellie’s summer jobs during junior high and high school were working at area livestock auctions. Dad and Mom Sherry have always been supportive.

Kellie Trull with the Ammerman trophy saddle and trophy buckle she won as the SPFR Breakaway Champion. (Credit: Dennis Burns, Five O’Clock Images)

Kellie and sisters Jamie Palmer and Kacy Hill were involved in several activities. Trull related that they were active in 4-H all through school showing dairy cattle and were members of the horse club participating in sponsored equine events. Two years in a row saw Kellie winning the state in Dairy Showmanship and was awarded a trip to the World Dairy Show in Wisconsin, which she declined to take for fear of flying. After graduating from Fayette County High, she attended Bevill State Community College where she attained an associate degree in secondary education.

Team roping came naturally to Kellie because of all the pasture roping she and Larry had done. Competitively, she has team roped about 20 years. A few years ago, when Triple E Rodeo added breakaway roping to their event line-up, Kellie saw a way to add to her love of roping. This event allows Joseph and Kellie to partner, because you see Joseph is the "calf pusher." His job is to make sure the calf gets out clean to insure Kellie gets the best run she can. He often asks about his calf pushing fee which for some reason he never receives, Kellie laughed. Breakaway roping is an event she picked up from watching others and lots of practice. Having never been told the right or wrong way, she just does what works for her.

Competing in around 10 Southeast Professional Rodeo Association rodeos in the 2012 season, Kellie won in Winona, Miss., 3.4 sec; Jasper, 2.7 sec; and Athens, 2.9 sec. Burgess Rodeo Company sponsored a series of three rodeos called the Tres Rios Buckle series at Jasper, Huntsville and Ardmore. She had the best time on three head at these rodeos, winning the series and a Tres Rios trophy buckle and $100 toward her fees at the finals. Trull made the finals in third place in a field of 14 contestants at the Neshoba County Coliseum in Philadelphia, Miss.

Kellie described the finals, "I won the first round with 2.9 seconds and received a trophy buckle from Broken Arrow Silver Company. In the second round, I had trouble, having to rope my calf with my second loop for a time of 15.6 seconds. It came down to the third round, and because Chelsea Brock was winning the average, I had to place in the round and the average to win the year-end title.

Kellie Trull behind the counter at Fayette Farmers Co-op helping a customer.

"Roping before Chelsea, I had one that ran and roped him in 3.8 seconds. Chelsea was next and had tough luck, missing her calf. Tabitha Kiker, who came into the finals in first place, had a smoking run of 2.7 seconds winning the round. This put me third in the round, second in the average and SPFR Breakaway Champion by $84, winning an Ammerman trophy saddle and a trophy buckle.

"As we say in rodeo, every second and every cent counts."

Kelly has a never-quit attitude and credits great friends and supportive family as being instrumental in helping her attain her goals. Joseph, Larry and Sherry Trimm, Jamie Palmer, Kacy Hill and nephews Austin and Caleb Palmer and Braylon Hill all play a part in the realization of her goals, according to Kellie.

By the way, there might be another champion in the making. Braylon won his first dummy roping in February.

Kellie and Joseph Trull with the trophy buckle she won in the first round of the SPFR finals. (Credit: Dennis Burns, Five O’Clock Images)

Another important part of the team is Kellie’s favorite horse, 13-year-old Chigger. She has Larry, who bought the horse, to thank for allowing her to partner with Chigger. She said the way her Dad would sell anything that would make a dollar, she knew she had to invest in Chigger to make sure he would stick around.

Kelly, Chigger and her dedicated husband spend quite a few hours in the practice pen. Joseph pulls the calf sled, purchased from Stuart Mitchell, on the four-wheeler, while Kellie and Chigger practice. Great practice is essential for someone just starting out or needing to work their horse slow.

Of course, as everyone knows, you have to have a day job to pay the bills. Kellie has been the assistant manager/ bookkeeper at Fayette Farmers Cooperative, a branch of AFC, for the past 5 years. She is a valuable part of Manager Lance Ezelle’s top notch team.

Kellie and Joseph feed their performance horses Total Equine and Horizon Horse Minerals purchased from the Co-op and are very pleased with the results. They feel these are an economical, healthy choice for their horses.

Remember your local Quality Co-op is ready to serve you with the things you need for your hobby or business.

You can contact Kellie at the store in Fayette at 205-932-5901 if you have questions about breakaway roping. If you’re interested in rodeos, go to for schedules, contractor lists or to book a rodeo.

Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.

In the News

Courtesy - Respect!!! Or The Lack Thereof …

by Joe Potter

It was Saturday comin’ on 10 in the mornin’ time at The Flat Rock General Store. There was a heavy groupin’ of store regulars so collected round the old, potbellied heater gatherin’ area includin’ Essex, Ms. Ida, the widow Cora, Farlow, Willerdean, "Truth," Bro., S.R., J.R., "Hatch," Dustin, Kamron and Kole. Additional, there was several folk standin’ front-center of Slim at the counter for payin’ purposes.

Just as I maneuvered my bein’ past the folks standin’ t’ward the settin’ area this here prissy, young Miss walked center front of the line, laid a $20 bill on the counter, offered at Slim that she was purchasin’ gasoline and needed it pumped into the red BMW immediately, that she was late for a serious manicure appointment in town.

Here with a near klutziness and whole-mouth drool, "Hatch," J.R., Kamron and Kole all bounced from their perches and near fell over each other as they rushed to pump Missy’s car gas. Course, there was an abundance of full-mouth grins and lots of eye rollin’s from all the other store regulars. Just as Slim’s coarse-mouth voice halted all four young petro-pumpin’ volunteers, he explained to Missy that she would need to herself pump the gasoline and do line standin’ at the rear of all other folk, with the courtesy and respect afforded the line standin’ folk as a necessary kindness t’ward all Flat Rock folk. Here the four young volunteer petro-pumpers returned to their appointed settin’ perches.

At this point, as her eyes were still a rollin’, Ms. Ida offered that, to her, courtesy and respect seemed to be a thing of the past. That the full U.S. of A. was a pure-selfish society. Then she told of her experience just lately at a big store when she asked a store employee for directions to the clear seal bags and was almost run down by the employee’s pricin’ cart as the employee seemed to ignore her request for help.

Then Farlow with his head noddin’ yes offered that in their construction business as they would stop for purchases across our North Alabama area and beyond, most counter folk would reach for your money and never offer a "howdy" or a "thank you for your business" or a "you please come back." Any offer of appreciation, courtesy and respect are forgotten traits.

Bro. followed and with a full-mouth grin suggested it was even a problem for Christian people, as he supplied a hearty laugh and cited his example of dealin’ with a phone order to a Christian supply group and the fact the phone person insisted there was no established account for him as minister at the Flat Rock Baptist Church and proceeded to hang up on him.

Just now Estelle moved to the rear of The Store for a Saturday break from her hair-beautifyin’ factory, picked up on the conversation and Missy still doin’ line standin’ as she proceeded to give her instance of the lack of courtesy or respect. Seems this here well-to-do local lady called for a Friday, 3 p.m. hair-beautifyin’ appointment that Estelle already had booked and this here well-to-do lady requested of Estelle that she cancel the other person’s appointment and give it to her.

Just as Missy had very impatiently moved front-center of the payin’ folk, handed Slim her $20 and rather hastily exited The Flat Rock General Store.

At this point, and after some discouragin’ thoughts and comments on courtesy and respect, the collected folk aimed at disassemblin’ for other duties and obligations.

Me, I was off to collect Lynn, select a grandchild’s ballgame and directed ourselves in that direction. Course, I come on thinkin’ ‘bout all the things my Mother Lizzie Allee Masterson Potter taught me t’ward courtesy and respect. Simple mannerisms such as "yes, mamma," "no, mamma," "please," "thank you," ladies first - old and young, press the elevator button and step back so all those loaded can exit, and so very, very many more simple mannerisms of courtesy and respect. "Thank You" for readin’ Farm Fresh Memories, just now…


Joe Potter, Potter’s Mud Creek Farm is located at 5840 County Road 339 (County Line Road), Russellville, near “Our” Flat Rock, in Lawrence County; email:

Howle's Hints

Don’t Pop the Maypops and Watch the Weather

by John Howle

"When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." Billy Graham

The ground is bursting with new growth, and it’s time to start thinking about what to plant in the garden. You know what grows in your garden is healthy, and you don’t have to search a label for the country of origin. I am convinced you can raise your food cheaper than you can buy it. During my youth, however, I decided growing vegetables to sell was a good way to lose wealth, especially on the small-scale farming operation I was involved in.

My Grandfather allowed my two cousins and me access to about half an acre of a field so we could plant a crop of butterbeans to sell in town because we heard butterbeans sold for a high amount. We spent countless hours plowing with a garden digger, planting, fertilizing, hoeing and pulling weeds till those first beans began to appear. When it came time to harvest, we were in for a rude awakening. It took us an eternity just to pick one bushel of butterbeans. We started early that morning, and by noon, we had picked the field and were ready to go in to town to sell them. We went door-to-door until we sold all those butterbeans except for the last bucket, which we just gave away. Once we split the money three ways, we all three decided it took too long to pick a bushel of butterbeans, especially since they were so flat and stacked so tight together in the bottom of the buckets.

Left, select produce to plant this year that the whole family will enjoy. Above, plant a few rows of field corn and you’ll have plenty of feed for the chickens in the fall.

Crop Choices

If you are planting a garden for the first time, it is critical to get a soil sample to determine if the soil needs conditioning before planting. Otherwise, you can end up wasting your money on seed and fertilizer to no avail. Many times the soil is too acidic and the nutrients stay locked up in the soil particles. Lime, which you can purchase from your local Quality Co-op, unlocks those nutrients and makes them available to the plants.

Decide first what your family likes to eat. We always plant plenty of sweet corn, okra and tomatoes in the spring planting season.

When I’ve picked the last corn, I plow the middles and plant rows of peas. When the peas have been picked, I come back and plant winter greens in the fall. This will give you garden produce for three out of the four seasons of the year.

In addition, you can plant a few rows of field corn, which grow to great heights and, when dried, make great feed for the chickens. I leave the corn on the stalk until fall when the ear droops down. The shuck acts as shingles protecting the ear inside until ready for harvest and to be fed to the animals.

Left, when the weather warms, locate the large, white oak acorn producers for hunting later in the year. Above, this egg-shaped fruit has insides that taste good to humans and wildlife once the exterior turns

Huge White Oaks

Scout your property for the large white oaks on your place because these are areas where you will find deer, turkeys and squirrels in the upcoming fall. Keep your eyes on these trees during the warm months to see which trees are the best producers. Then when fall comes, you’ll know the best places to hunt.

Don’t Pop the Maypops

You know what this means if you live in the country. The maypop is the yellow, edible fruit of the passionflower. When they are growing, they are about the size of an egg and are dark green. When the fruit inside is ready to eat, they will be a pale yellow color. Supposedly, the Spanish explorers discovered the plants in Florida in 1529, and the name passionflower came from the fact they described the blossom as a symbol for "Passion of Christ."

The plant is native to America, but, in Europe, it is commonly used for medicinal purposes in sedatives to treat anxiety and insomnia. Here in Alabama, wildlife love the plant. If you have plenty of these growing in your food plots, simply leave them alone and you will see plenty of wildlife enjoying the ones you don’t eat. The insides taste a little like grapes and the plant is a relative of the papaya plant.

Watch the Weather

This time of year in Alabama, we know the weather can go from fair to furious in a short time. Here are a few weather tips. If there’s dew on the grass, rain won’t come to pass for that day. When small clouds join and thicken, expect rain. Finally, if the smoke from your campfire or chimney hovers low, rain is likely because of the low pressure in the atmosphere. Finally, if it rains before seven, it will clear before 11.

This April, don’t worry about a loss of wealth. Take care of your health, and keep your character intact.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

The Herb Farm

Eat Your Yard

by Herb T. Farmer

You know what really gets me going? It’s reading about and hearing folks talk about some heavy-handed municipality slapping folks and actually fining good citizens for growing their own food in their own yards!

Besides that, some of the people who are complaining to these city officials about seeing a tomato plant next door are poisoning us with all that mess they put on their grass to kill bugs and weeds to make their lawns look a certain shade of green!

Those are the same yahoos who cause water crises by watering their lawns when Mother Nature doesn’t do it for them. If Mother Nature doesn’t keep your lawn alive then, Hey! Maybe you’re not supposed to have a lawn.

For the record, I’m on a rant! It’s no secret I don’t particularly care for turf grass. Most of you know this. Oh, there is a huge demand for those little squares of green. Some communities even require you to have it, mow it, water it and even put chemicals on it to keep it green and to keep certain other plants from growing in it. I guess, if you want to live, then you have to live somewhere. That is not for me.

If I am going to have to maintain something by keeping undesirable plants and bugs out, keeping it well hydrated and keeping it looking attractive, then I want something in return. I want to eat my efforts, or cut them and put them in a vase on my kitchen table, or take a bouquet of flowers and a bag of kale to my neighbor down the road.

Sure, grasses are pretty. I grow lots of ornamental grasses here. I also grow grasses to eat, like corn and lemongrass. The benefits of a turf grass lawn are limited. You can’t let the dogs and cats or human children play on it, if you keep putting chemicals on it. Some people I know don’t even want you to walk on their grass. If it has to be in full sun to flourish, then why not grow food to share with your family and friends?

Last fall, I went into a gated community up near Birmingham to visit an old friend who had moved there from out of state. I could smell the lawn chemicals almost immediately after I passed the guard house. When I got to his street, there were sprinklers going on most of those well-manicured green lawns. It was a hot October afternoon, but that’s not even the right time of day to be watering. We went for a walk around the neighborhood and I noticed on the sidewalks in front of most of the homes, literally hundreds of dead earthworms that had crawled from their homes in the poisoned soil, seeking refuge on the hot sidewalks. There is no excuse for this! Worms are an important factor in having healthy soil for even grass to grow on.

While I’m on the subject of turf grass, let me tell you that I am no fan of golf courses and cemeteries either. I realize they are both high-dollar businesses that attract a lot of people … though some of them are dead.

I don’t play golf, I grow food for fun. I’m not going to be buried on purpose, I want cremation after usable parts are properly distributed. Personally, I think golf courses and cemeteries are gross misuses of earth. Perhaps they should be combined. Does anybody know an avid golfer who would not want to be buried on a golf course? I think not. I have been talking with several friends over the years about developing one as a prototype. Call it "Cemetery Golf – Where the Players Rest." No headstones, just ground level plaques to mark the graves.

But back to what I started with on this rant ….

Last spring, a friend of mine and I were talking about a bush in his front yard he said he was going to dig up. The bush was a quince (Cydonia oblonga). He said it didn’t do anything but flower and make hard, green fruits that he didn’t know were edible. He said he tried to bite one, but it was too hard. He then cut it with a knife, bit into it, and said his whole mouth puckered up. I convinced him to leave it for at least one more season. I taught him how to make jelly out of the ripe fruit and he learned a whole new appreciation for the quince and the shrub will remain a part of his landscape.

Left, showy quince blossoms provide color to a landscape in the late winter to early spring then give way to some yummy fruit. Above, elaeagnus blooms in early autumn and produces fruits in mid-winter.

There are lots of plants that are planted as ornamentals and produce a tasty fruit. Apples, pears, cherries, peaches and citrus trees are in the yards of many homeowners. Elaeagnus, when properly trimmed, will produce fragrant flowers and a tasty fruit.

Wildflowers such as dandelion, henbit and chickweed, when not poisoned, make excellent salad greens to go with your spinach and lettuce. However, some municipalities frown on gardening food.

A few years ago, in the town of Homewood, up near Birmingham, there was a young lady who owned a progressive-type store. She sold locally made clothing, reclaimed vintage dresses and things, candles and locally grown organic produce. It was a popular store in that town. Some of the things she sold were herbs she grew at her home. Well, somebody complained, she got a letter to stop growing food in her yard. She fought it and lost. She was fined, she appealed and lost to the heavy-handed city government. Finally, she was so disgusted with the city she closed her shop and moved to another part of the state.

I read more and more of these sad stories all the time and it makes me angry. I don’t need to be angry. The sun is shining and it’s warm outside. I need to be in the garden. So, in the words of the late Rev. Dr. Eugene Scott, "Play the music!"

Jar on left is quince jelly. Jar on right is rhubarb and Elaeagnus jelly.

Quince Jelly recipe made simple: Use your favorite fruit jelly recipe, only substitute about 4 pounds of fresh, ripe quince (washed, cored, and quartered). It’s worth making.

If you don’t have a favorite fruit jelly recipe and want mine, please email me.

See you in May.

Until then watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water and breathe!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

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

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

Homeplace & Community

Emma is Over the Top

Emma makes the rounds in the pasture wearing her first prosthesis. She has acquired the nickname Derby Donkey for her lightning speed. (Credit: Cece Smith)

Miniature Donkey with Prosthetic Leg Living Life at Lightning Speed

by Jade Currid

Emma the miniature donkey does not know the meaning of the word, "Can’t."

Fun-loving Emma, who proudly dons costumes at times and has acquired the name of Derby Donkey for her display of lightning speed in the pasture, could teach many humans about living life to the absolute fullest.

"Her everyday hijinks keep me entertained," Emma’s owner and Auburn University Veterinary Clinic equine surgeon technician Cece Smith said. "Her personality, on a scale of one to 10, is like a 13-14. She’s over the top."

Born April 24, 2012, Emma entered the world without the ability to use her right hind leg as the result of a flexural limb deformity.

The relationship between owner Cece Smith and Emma is the epitome of love and compassion. (Credit: C. Senger Photography)

"Specifically, a flexural limb deformity is a deformity resulting in the inability of the animal to use that leg effectively," explained Emma’s surgeon Dr. Fred Caldwell, assistant professor in Equine Surgery in Large Animal Teaching Hospital at Auburn. "In the case of Emma, it resulted in her hoof being turned back on itself almost 180 degrees to where she could not bear weight on it."

At two days old and weighing in at 26 pounds, Emma arrived at the Auburn University Large Animal Clinic.

It was not feasible for Emma’s initial owners to care for her, so Cece offered to purchase her and take on her care.

When Emma came into Cece’s life, Cece knew she had to have her.

"Essentially, she’s just a vibrant little thing," Cece said. "Nothing stands in her way and nothing bothers her."

Emma’s pink tutu matches her vivacious personality. (Credit: Cece Smith)

Emma touched the hearts of those working on her case as soon as they met her.

"Personally, it’s been one of those feel-good cases that makes you really value what you do," said Caldwell.

Upon reviewing her options, Caldwell, resident Elizabeth Yorke and Cece decided on a plan to amputate Emma’s leg and fit her with a prosthesis.

"It was one of those things where the decision needed to be made pretty rapidly and we kind of just forged ahead, and it was overall just a good fit for everyone working on Emma," Caldwell said. "Everyone worked well together. We all kind of brought our own strengths to the table for the overall benefit of the patient."

The Hangar Clinic, known for creating a prosthetic tail for Winter the Dolphin, the star of the Disney movie, "Dolphin Tale," assisted with Emma’s case from the very beginning.

Immediately after being contacted, Hangar Clinic representative William Fletcher III did not waste time bringing everything needed to assess Emma’s situation and to proceed with the plan devised for Emma to live a happy, healthy life.

Emma underwent surgery performed by Caldwell and his team at only three days old.

Post amputation, she wore a cast with a metal foot incorporated into it to even out her limbs.

Emma, posing with Aubie and wearing an Auburn-themed prosthetic, is full of spirit.

Her first prosthesis enveloped her entire limb to help offload the surgical site, and she eventually was fitted with one that fit lower on the leg and enabled her to flex her hock as well as move more naturally.

Her prostheses are made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass. These are the same materials used in prostheses by paralympic athletes. It is expected she will have used eight or nine prostheses before she is fully grown.

Caldwell said that larger equids who have an issue not allowing them to bear weight equally on all four limbs are many times euthanized.

Because of her small stature and young age, Emma’s chances for a successful outcome were better.

Any case that comes along like this is a step closer to Emma’s procedure becoming a more viable option for larger equids, said Caldwell.

He wanted to thank everyone who stepped up to the plate and participated in her care and worked hard to save her.

"It’s been a real pleasure working on her case and working with a lot of great, talented colleagues, clinicians, technicians and students at Auburn," he said. "It’s a heartwarming story and I consider myself very fortunate to have been the person in the hospital at the time the call came in."

They all desire that her case will not only benefit other equids but humans as well.

Cece said the Hangar Clinic has used knowledge gained from working with Emma to help human patients and knowledge from working with human patients to help Emma.

It is also a hope that Emma will brighten others’ lives visiting schools, retirement homes and hospitals.

"The way children respond to her really has been amazing," Cece said. "It’s been a big part of making me glad I did this."

Cece touched upon the devotion required in caring for an animal that has had Emma’s type of procedure done.

"It’s a big commitment," she said. "It is definitely something you have to be 100 percent ready to take on and fully commit to, but, like in my case, I’ve just fallen head-over-heels in love with her and not a bit of it is a burden. It is a labor of love, I guess."

Animal caretakers are very special people and Cece is no different. The love and compassion she has shown for Emma could move mountains and the bond between equid and human is strong. Having the privilege of being Emma’s owner has been a rewarding and life enriching experience for her.

Born and reared in Fairhope, Cece grew up spending the weekends on her grandfather’s farm. Her grandfather, who still farms pecans with the help of Cece’s brother, also raised beef cattle back then.

At a young age, Cece fell in love with four-legged creatures with hooves, and her grandfather bought her a pony at age 2.

"He got tired of me waking him up at night to tell him I needed a pony, so one day a pony appeared," Cece fondly remembered.

She also rode eventing horses growing up.

Upon graduating from Auburn University, she entered her position as an equine surgery technician at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. She had managed barns and had a lot of horse experience, and Auburn supplied her with the medical know-how to do her job.

"I’ve been here a little over 3 years and I have refrained from taking home every animal I have seen and I think it was worth it, because, when the right one came along, I was able to take her," Cece said.

Cece has fulfilled a longtime wish with her ownership of Emma.

"I always wanted a female donkey," Cece said. "I just couldn’t realize she was going to be this special."

If you are interested in following Emma’s story, you can visit her on Facebook at Saving Emma and the website

Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.

Homeplace & Community

Experience the Beach

The largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico is ideal if you don’t want to get on a boat.

Gulf State Park is a Great Place to Vacation Without the Crowds Found at Hotels or Condos

by John Howle

Has it been a long winter of feeding cattle, fixing fences, and stretching budgets to cover food, fuel and groceries? Maybe it’s time for a trip to the beach without breaking the bank. When I was 10 years old, my parents, my sister, as well as my uncle, aunt and two cousins took a break from the hayfields and went on a budget trip to the beach.

The eight of us traveled south to the beach in a 1975 Chevy pickup with a camper shell on the bed. This was not an extended or crew cab but a single cab. Three rode up front and the remaining five rode in the non-air-conditioned, pickup bed under the protection of the camper shell and on top of a bed mattress. My uncle was a skilled welder who decided to bring a heavy, steel grill along for the ride (inside the camper.) Every time we rounded a curve, my aunt would stretch out her legs to brace the grill from falling on us in the pickup bed. You’d think on that long ride on a bed mattress, you could get some sleep, but the thought of getting crushed by a 200-pound steel grill did an amazing job of keeping us awake and alert. The only real difference between the hay field and the trip to the beach was the absence of hay in the back of the truck.

Times have changed and, fortunately, modes of transportation and methods of lodging have improved. If you’ve considered a trip to the beach and don’t really want to deal with packed motel rooms and clogged elevators and lobbies, try Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. There are 6,150 acres in this park with two miles of beaches and the largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico.

Playing in the Park

In a nutshell, the park has modern campgrounds, cabins, cottages, back-country trails, 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a 900-acre lake for fishing on Lake Shelby. We had the opportunity to stay at one of the cabins on Lake Shelby, and it was one of the best beach trips I’ve taken.

Clockwise from bottom left, The view from the cabin is Lake Shelby, the beach skyline and the ocean on the other side of the skyline. Roomy cabins and plenty of conveniences make this an ideal place to stay in the park. You are likely to see a gator sunning in Lake Shelby.

You can enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck of the cabin overlooking Lake Shelby and, across the lake, you see the high-rise condominiums lining the beach. The best part of the cabin is you are in the quiet of nature while you sleep or relax and you can take a 1 ½-mile drive and be on the beach. You can view an alligator or two sunning on the surface of the water as you enjoy the view of Lake Shelby.

Late at night while you are relaxing at the cabin, you have to strain to hear the distant sounds of the night life taking place on Orange Beach, and it made me glad we were hearing only the crickets and feeling the soft, salt breeze blowing from the park setting.

If you have kids, they will truly enjoy swimming in the pool, visiting the interactive nature center and walking the piers in search of gators.

The kids have a blast playing on the clean, sandy beaches.

Jake Howle catches a fine red snapper on the fishing trip.

Food for Thought

There are a few food sources you need to visit while you are there. The Original Oyster House ( will give you plenty of seafood choices, but certainly try their namesake, the oysters. Lulu’s at Homeport Marina ( has an open air feel, and you get live entertainment while you eat a cheeseburger in paradise. Lucy Buffett, Jimmy’s little sister, runs this grill, and it’s a great spot to grab a souvenir T-shirt. Sea-N-Suds ( stands on pilings on the beach, and it’s a great place to eat with a close-up view of the Gulf of Mexico.

On your way home, definitely eat at Lamberts in Foley ( This is the home-cooked meal restaurant that throws the rolls at you in addition to playing jokes on the patrons such as pretending to throw a jug of tea in your lap which is actually a fake tea pitcher. You’ll get more than you can eat, and they don’t take credit cards – just cash or a check.

Fine Fishing

Left, Reel Surprise Charters delivers value for the money with fish meat to take home. Above, Just like the hayfield, the salt water can dry you out, and it’s important to stay hydrated even on the water.

You have many options for fishing in Gulf Shores. You can fish from the park pier, on Lake Shelby, in shallow water or go for the big creatures in deep water. For a first-time fishing trip, I would recommend getting on a party boat. It is one of the least expensive ways to fish the deep water, especially if you have younger members in the group. If you charter a large party boat, the larger size vessel can help offset the rocking of the boat and hopefully prevent seasickness.

I found an ideal offshore fishing boat at Sand Roc Cay ( under the helm of Captain Randy and Reel Surprise Charters. The boat we went out on was the Gulf Winds II; it was a 65-foot vessel that did an excellent job of smoothing out the Gulf waters. We caught plenty of red snapper, had knowledgeable and helpful deck hands, and just had an all-around pleasant experience on the big water. For more information, contact Captain Randy’s staff at 251-981-7173.

Experiencing a trip to the beach through Gulf State Park is truly memorable and you won’t break the bank doing it. For more information about Gulf State Park, visit or call 1-800-ALAPARK. Once you get on the ALAPARK website, you can get access to any of the phone numbers and facilities in the Gulf State Park family. Now would be a great time to visit before hay hauling season starts.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Youth Matters

FFA Students Exhibit Prize-Winning Market Hogs

This market hog, brought by Reid McCord from Alexandria in Calhoun County, was named the Grand Champion Market Hog.

by Brittany Hall

Perhaps one of the greatest activities of FFA and 4-H members is in our livestock exhibitions. There are various shows around the state in which students have the opportunity to compete and learn valuable life lessons in the process. Students learn responsibility, hard work, dedication and how to care for animals through participation in livestock shows. Many people do not realize the work involved in raising a quality animal begins months ahead of time and requires dedication from the student each day in order to be successful. Students who have animals that can successfully compete at this level are to be commended for their dedication and accomplishments. Congratulations go to any student who has cared for and/or shown any livestock this year in Alabama.

The time, effort, skill and money going into youth livestock projects across this state is helping to develop the future citizens and leaders. There is no way we can list all of the numerous organizations and individuals who contributed to the Alabama State Youth Market Hog Show without forgetting anyone, but I want to offer a sincere thank you to anyone who gave of their time, talent or resources to provide this opportunity to our youth. This event would not have been possible without the support of the Alabama Pork Producers and numerous county farmers’ federations.

Above, Students guide their hogs around the floor during the Alabama State Youth Market Hog Show. Right, Allison George of Eclectic in Elmore County was awarded Champion in Showmanship.

Recently, the Alabama State Youth Market Hog Show was held January 23, 2013, at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan. The Alabama State Market Hog Show is the "grand finale," giving youth one last opportunity to show off their months of hard work and preparation with their market hog projects. The show was not only open to FFA members but any youth ages 4-19.

Judging the show was Kane Causemaker of Atkinson, Ill. Causemaker was charged with selecting champions in showmanship and market hog divisions. Champion Showman was awarded to Allison George of Eclectic. The Grand Champion Market Hog belonged to Reid McCord from Alexandria while the Reserve Champion Market Hog was bred and owned by the Meadows family of Woodland.

The livestock programs in Alabama promote quality family time, teamwork, research, self-esteem and many other character-building experiences.

"Any time we can get young people interested in agriculture, I think it’s a good thing," said Thomas Andress, chairman of the swine committee for the Alabama Youth Livestock Scholarship Foundation. "If time and energy are spent by the students and parents together, the show pig projects help our kids learn basic life skills that will help them develop into better citizens."

Last, I would like to encourage you to visit a local livestock show to see how proud our youth are of the livestock they have raised and the time they have invested. Every livestock show in Alabama is a great place to see our FFA and 4-H members displaying the fruits of their labors. Livestock shows provide a family-friendly atmosphere, great competition and a great educational experience for anyone who attends. A calendar of upcoming events can be found at

Brittany Hill is Pell City FFA's co-advisor in St. Clair County.

The Magic of Gardening

Fire Ants – 3D: The Invincible Army

Dr. Kathy Flanders, fire ant specialist from Auburn University, will demonstrate proper bait application techniques for homeowners at the fire ant workshop in Hanceville May 14.

by Tony Glover

Earlier in the year I was at home and the kids were searching Netflix for something to watch online and found a video called, "Fire Ants – 3D: The Invincible Army." I thought it was probably a B-movie horror show, but much to my surprise it was a very well-made documentary. The information was informative and the photography was amazing. I know it would even be more visually stunning in 3D. Coincidently, I recently toured Wallace State Community College in Hance-ville and learned about their 3D theatre and all the great work coming out of the Advanced Visualization Center. I contacted that department to discuss the prospect of showing the video in their theatre and conducting a fire ant management workshop in concert with the video. To make a long story short, we were able to work out a free showing of this 3D documentary to be shown on May 14, 2013, at 5 p.m. The fascinating video will be followed by a presentation by Dr. Kathy Flanders, fire ant specialist from Auburn University.

The documentary stated, "For more than 80 years, Solenopsis invicta has been on a ceaseless march across the United States, racking up $6 billion every year in crop damage, equipment repair and pest control. They have conquered more than 320 million acres in 13 states and killed at least 80 people. And the invader is still on the move globally. Now, scientists are cracking the ant’s secrets to success and releasing winged assassins to hunt them down. Stunning 3D macro photography explores the secret world of the fire ant and the cutting-edge research into stopping it."

In addition to the great photography, the documentary was very informative, but did not get into the myriad of control options available to fight this pest. Flanders will add to the program by sharing her knowledge and experience in battling this pest in Alabama. The number of products available to kill fire ants is mind numbing and confusing. Flanders will talk about which ones work best in which situations and how they compare in terms of cost and effectiveness. Every year, she rates the available products and provides a printed list of how they compare against each other. She will also update us on biological control methods and their progress, and dispel some myths about home remedies. Fire ant bait products are very effective and safe when applied correctly. We will move outdoors at the end of the presentation to demonstrate proper bait application techniques for homeowners.

The theatre has limited seating; even though this is a free event, we need you to pre-register to reserve your seat. Contact the Cullman County Extension Office at 256-739-8144 to make your reservation or you may email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> The theatre is located on the campus of Wallace State Community College in Hanceville in the Advanced Visualization Center. To get directions and find the correct building, visit and choose the Advanced Visualization Center.

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

Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Found Cat

Not Worried About Next Meal

by Christy Kirk

I wasn’t sure how long Jason and Rolley Len had been gone, but I knew it was at least two hours. Cason was napping inside as I sat on the porch at the camp. I watched the flames in the 500-gallon propane tank that had been converted into a fire pit. The sun was going down; the air was cooling. The flames were mesmerizing and the sounds of the pond were relaxing. Jason and Rolley Len should be back soon from one of the hunting houses sitting in the middle of a large pasture overlooking a green field.

A marine battery powered the 12-volt light bulbs, but just a few feet from the porch was darkness. I heard coyotes yipping and then bawling from a distance. When the coyotes continued to bray and the camp lights began to dim, I decided to move inside. I checked on Cason, and then started lighting candles in case the lights went out sooner than expected.

The camp sits near Big Swamp Creek in the swamps of rural Macon County and is 10 miles from the nearest house. When we stay there, it always makes me feel like I have gone back to the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder to her "Little House in the Big Woods." It is truly one of the best places we could take our children to learn about the importance of respecting nature and being able to live off the land rather than always relying on grocery stores.

When Jason and I take Rolley Len and Cason to the camp, I always think back to when my sister and I played outside year-round. My sister and I loved the Little House books and television show. Ingalls’ stories taught us a lot, and we loved playing pioneer. One year, we even built a log cabin with other kids in our neighborhood. We made our own thatch from pine needles and red mud, and took great pride in sealing the cracks and spaces between each log. It was only three-foot tall, but it had a door, a "porch" and was pretty cozy inside even when it was raining. Thirty years later, it is the same feeling I have at the hunting camp.

Not long after I went inside, the lights dimmed almost completely. I heard Jason and Rolley Len returning on the four-wheeler, and I thought about how he could tell where to drive in the darkness. Even without the moon and stars shining, he could use the tree lines to direct him. Once they got inside, Jason adjusted the battery and we had light again until bedtime.

We would have chicken wings, turnip greens, peas and cornbread for lunch the next day, so supper would be simple that night. Our New Year’s Eve meal would be hot dogs over the fire with s’mores for dessert. Full and tired we all went to bed early.

The next morning, I was the first to walk outside into the crisp morning. As I walked across the porch to look out across the pond, I heard an odd sound. It was almost like when a new mother thinks she hears a baby crying, but no baby is nearby. The muffled cry was coming from under the porch. The meow of a cat became louder until a young yellow kitty sprung from below onto the porch. I had left the door open, so Jason heard me gasp in surprise. He was as surprised as me that a cat was at the camp. Not only was the camp miles from anywhere and the temperature near freezing but just the night before I had heard the coyotes yelping nearby. How the cat made it through the night was hard to imagine.

The tom decided quickly that he wanted to share our food and shelter rather than make his own way in the woods. He was wild, but his instincts worked. He knew what he needed to do to survive. Like a baby, he curled up in the bed as if he belonged there. Ignorant of his milky moustache, he drank the kids’ cereal milk. With gusto, he attacked the chicken wings at lunch. The rest of the day he played with Rolley Len and Cason gently as though they already knew each other.

It wasn’t easy to get him into the truck for the ride home. The noise scared him and possibly reminded him of how he ended up in the woods. Several times he got spooked, and we almost had to leave him. Finally he settled in and fell asleep in the backseat between Rolley Len and Cason’s car seats.

My cat Charlie had died the year before at the age of 19, so Jason and I were in no hurry to replace him. We didn’t name our new guest for a few days because we thought he might return to wherever he first came from. Also, since he was a tomcat, we knew he might disappear for days or weeks at a time. After it looked like he wanted to stay with us, Rolley Len named him Torrine.

Since then, Torrine has become a welcome part of our family. Watching Rolley Len and Cason play with Torrine is always fun, especially when they chase our sheep through the pasture together. Having him at the house is a daily reminder to be thankful for the all the things we have including our most basic needs. Over the last year and a half, Torrine has survived bad weather and a snake’s bite, but Torrine no longer has to worry about where his next meal will come from or if he will become a coyote’s next meal.

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

Youth Matters

Fun Times with 4-H

The annual Youth Leadership Conference is one of the most popular statewide programs for helping younger people learn about themselves and how to work with others. The “hands-on, minds-on” activities help young people build new skills – and they are fun!

by Chuck Hill

On any day, there are many wonderful things taking place in Alabama 4-H. It may be the individual success of a shy fifth-grader in Limestone County talking in front of a group. There may be a young man in Montgomery who creates a brilliant new chicken recipe. Perhaps it’s a state-wide program teaching youth the importance of civic engagement and responsibility. In looking through our "success stories," here are some examples of the small and large victories taking place in Alabama 4-H every day of every week.

Capturing the Spirit of Leadership

4-H has always offered an array of opportunities for building leadership among older teens. There are national and statewide events where older youth can develop new skills in communications and organization. For younger people, however, the opportunities have been more limited. Several years ago members of the 4-H field staff took it upon themselves to develop a new and unique program to reach young people who were just beginning to explore their potential for leadership.

Every summer, 100 young people ages 9 through 13 gather at the Alabama 4-H Center to learn leadership and teamwork through the Alabama 4-H Youth Leadership Conference. This conference is a collaborative effort of 4-H, County Extension personnel and the Alabama Junior Master Gardener program.

The Youth Leadership Conference allows youth to practice all aspects of the BIG M standard: Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery. This year, the group aided in a special project for the Ronald McDonald House, planted flowers and practiced hands-on communications skills through a 4-H canoeing activity.

Since public speaking and stage presence are such critical aspects of 4-H, young people also did activities from the Ham It Up! arts program. Ham it Up! lets youth think on their feet, improvising a presentation based on goofy props like a rubber chicken or clown glasses. And for those who enjoy sweet things and/or entomology, the Dancing Honey Bees program taught the kids the importance of teamwork – and bees!

For several years, ATV Safety Training has been one of Alabama 4-H’s most popular and successful outdoor programs. Properly used, ATVs are an enjoyable and challenging activity. Improperly used, they are deadly.

Staying Safe Off-Road

From 1982 through 2006, more than 75 children under 16 years of age were killed in ATV accidents in Alabama. From 2007-2010, 73 people were killed in ATV accidents. In Northwest Alabama, all-terrain vehicles are a popular form of recreation for kids. Many ride at high speed in dangerous conditions – with no training and no safety gear.

Through the Alabama Forestry Commission’s Forestry Awareness Week Now program, cooperative Extension offices in Fayette, Lamar and Marion Counties have been able to respond to this very real need. Working with the Forestry Planning Committee in each county, the Forestry Service and groups, they bring sixth graders to visit the forest environment. Youth learn about forest management; forest products, soils and wildlife; and other topics. For the past three years, ATV safety has been identified as an important topic.

This year, under the instruction of Regional Extension Agent Ronni Rena Brasher, more than 600 sixth-grade youth geared-up for an imaginary ride through trails on an ATV. Youth learned what size ATV was appropriate, proper techniques for handling the ATV, and what gear – such as a helmet and chest protector – they would need.

Youth were surprised that most of them were riding ATVs that are too large for them to handle safely – and they should not ride double on a four-wheeler. If one serious injury can be prevented, this training will have had a profound impact.

When 4-H held a Christmas Fashion Show in Birmingham, the event brought out community celebrities and leaders. Even the chief of police came to show his support of the event which was entirely planned and coordinated by young people.

4-H State Council

Perhaps the ultimate honor and responsibility for an Alabama 4-H member is service on the State 4-H Council. These young people exemplify the best and brightest in 4-H. However, it not just an honorary position; it is a position mandating the 4-H commitment to our state, our communities and our world.

State Council community service projects open the eyes of our youth to existing issues in our communities. More than simply seeing problems, they are charged to seek solutions and institute positive change. State Council is an awesome example of how youth can identify challenges, work in groups to develop ideas, and ultimately deliver results to better the citizens of Alabama.

Every year, Alabama 4-H State Council members take on service projects aimed at providing meaningful assistance to their individual communities. At their July meeting, the 2012-2013 State Council assessed regional and county needs. Putting their heads together, they developed several service project opportunities.

Breaking it down into regional and state activities, the State Council selected to collect items for the Ronald McDonald House, hold clothing and coat drives, arrange peanut butter and canned food drives at grocery stores and schools, collect items for personal hygiene kits and hold a baked food sale benefiting the No Kid Hungry campaign.

State Council representatives worked with county offices to promote these projects. With generous donations from individuals, clubs and schools, the State 4-H Council was able to serve and support others in their community and our state.

Chuck Hill is a 4-H Youth Development Specialist.

Outdoor Life

Greenville High School ROTC Students Partner With PALS

by Mary Stanford

Greenville High ROTC students want to make a difference at their school and in their community.

I spoke to students about the PALS Environmental Education Program, and all the programs they could get involved with at their school and in their community. Students were given boxes for recycling, trash bags for their car, and green wristbands proclaiming PALS motto: "Don’t Drop It On Alabama."

ROTC students were given the opportunity to enter PALS Poster and Essay Contest. The theme for the Contest for 2013 is "What Makes Alabama a Clean and Beautiful State." The first place winner receives $250 and is honored at the annual Governor’s Awards Luncheon.

Another program recognizing schools is the state award for the Alabama Clean Campus. The scholarships are $1,000 for first place, $750 second place and $500 third place.

Students also took advantage of the PALS "Adopt An Area" Program. This area will be important to them personally. PALS will provide them with the tools and incentive to keep their treasured area clean and beautiful for future generations. They were provided with an "Adopt-An-Area" sign. They made a commitment to maintain and keep this area litter free. This is a volunteer program and they pledged their time and efforts to maintain this area.

Alabama PALS looks forward to the opportunity of working with Greenville High School ROTC students in an effort to make Alabama a cleaner and more beautiful state.

If you would like Alabama PALS to come and visit your class, contact me at 334-224-7594 or There is no cost for this program.

Mary Stanford is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Farm & Field

Growers Updated Prior to Planting at Peanut Trade Show

Exhibitors from all aspects of peanut farming were on hand for the benefit of all attendees. (Credit: Monica Carroll)

by Margaret Walsh

Growth was the element that trademarked the Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show held February 7, 2013, in Dothan as it saw its highest attendance since the show’s inception in 2006.

"Focus on the Future" was the theme of the day as more than 650 attendees interacted and networked with approximately 75 exhibitors throughout two buildings representing farming interests from chemicals to equipment sales.

Teresa Mays, communication specialist for the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and trade show coordinator, said the show’s success was largely thanks to the efforts of the 12 volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event a reality.

"We have the growers’ interests at heart," she said. "We like to hear from them, as well about what they’d like to see in the upcoming years."

Farming equipment was a popular draw for visitors at the 2013 Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show. (Credit: Monica Carroll)

The staff’s desire to serve the growers and use suggestions to magnify the quality of the trade show has nurtured its growth from the seven exhibitors it started with 12 years ago to what it is today.

The goal of the AL-FL Peanut Trade Show is to educate growers and help them wisely map out their planting strategy.

"We try to help growers see what is going to be happening in the new year by giving them a chance to learn what’s new as far as peanuts," Mays said. "Getting updated right before planting season helps them be well-prepared for the upcoming seasons."

Held at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, the day began on a relaxed note at 8:30 a.m. as farmers and agricultural personnel browsed the exhibit, learning from and socializing with the various representatives.

During lunch, APPA President Carl Sanders led the organization’s annual meeting as it elected members to its Board of Directors for 3-year terms.

The following members were re-elected: Tom Corcoran, Barbour and Russell counties; Charles Turner, Geneva County; Jimmy Royce Helms, Geneva County; and Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County. New to the board was Billy Hixon, representing Pike and Crenshaw counties.

In line with the day’s future-focused theme, agriculture updates and education composed the afternoon’s breakout sessions. These sessions are especially important for the peanut producers in the crowd.

"Our growers have to take into consideration now what they’re going to be doing as far as planning," Mays said. "They like to know what is going to be down the road for them."

During this time, attendees received a marketing update from National Peanut Research Lab Leader Marshall Lamb. Bob Redding of The Redding Firm in Washington, D.C., also updated growers on legislative issues including the state of the Farm Bill.

A production and seed seminar led by Ricky Hartley, manager of the Golden Peanut Company, wrapped up the day’s guest speakers.

Awarding of door prizes valued at over $25,000 concluded the day’s events.

Randy Griggs, APPA executive director, said the day was a success. While he was pleased with every aspect of the event, one section of the trade show held his attention for a few extra beats.

"To me, the peanut machinery was especially interesting this year," Griggs said. "The show is always good, though, and this year was no different."

Mays attributes the success of the show to cooperation.

"We’ve accomplished great things by working together," she said, referring to the collaborative efforts of the APPA, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, and the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center.

Chris Parker, Mays’ right-hand man and representative of the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, has a unique perspective on the trade show as he is both a volunteer and a grower.

"Having it at this time of year, it’s more of a relaxed time for growers," Parker said. "[This] makes farmers more receptive to take the time to listen to each vendor … and gives you a chance to find ways to make a little extra money or spend money more wisely."

Sanders, also a peanut grower, valued the networking aspect of the trade show.

"You get to meet someone you haven’t met before and learn about the products and services they may be offering," he said.

Despite differing outlooks, each attendee of the 2013 AL-FL Peanut Trade Show walked away from the event more knowledgeable and prepared to face the coming year.

Mays was very pleased with this year’s show and is already anticipating 2014.

"There’s nothing but blue skies ahead for us and we are really looking forward to next year’s events."

To learn more about APPA or how to get involved with next year’s trade show contact Teresa Mays at 334-792-6482.

Maggie Walsh is a freelance writer from Troy.,

Homeplace & Community

Handle Eggs Properly to Prevent Salmonella

by Angela Treadaway

Eggs: You may like them sunny-side up or over easy, but it’s safer to eat eggs that are cooked well. Today, some unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain salmonella bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. To be safe, eggs must be properly handled, refrigerated and cooked.

How does salmonella infect eggs?

Bacteria can be inside an uncracked, whole egg. Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. Salmonella doesn’t make the hen sick. Eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant. The Centers for Disease Control estimates one in every 20,000 eggs are contaminated with salmonella. Persons infected with salmonella may experience diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Who is at risk of illness?

No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milkshakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked.

How do you store shelled eggs?

Store in the refrigerator set at 40 degrees or below. Keep them in their carton and place them inside the refrigerator, not in the door. Don’t wash eggs because you remove the protective mineral oil coating and increase the potential for bacteria on the shell to enter the egg. Use eggs within four to five weeks from the day they are placed in the refrigerator. The "sell-by" date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are safe to use.

How do you safely cook eggs?

Hard-cooked eggs should be safe for everyone to eat. The American Egg Board recommends frying, scrambling or poaching eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm.

Fried eggs — cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, 4 minutes in a covered pan

Scrambled eggs — cook until firm throughout

Poached eggs — 5 minutes over boiling water

Soft-cooked eggs — 7 minutes in the shell in boiling water

Safe vs. unsafe recipes:

Homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently to 160 degrees on a food thermometer

Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites.

Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.

Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites are risky. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream or a whipped topping.

To make a recipe safe that specifies using uncooked eggs, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.

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.

How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Compost Tea

Several years ago, we bought a compost tumbler that has made easy work of turning our green kitchen scraps into a soil amendment. This past season, I noticed extra moisture from inside the tumbler was dripping through, so we started collecting this great compost tea to fertilize our garden, especially the edibles. If you have a tumbler, take a look at what might be dripping from the bottom! It’s a valuable by-product.

Pink Spirea

Most spireas are white and early flowering, but there are a few pink selections really expanding the palette of these shrubs. Pink spirea cultivars such as Anthony Waterer and Goldflame (chartreuse foliage) bloom in late spring or early summer offering nice bouquets of pink blooms on neater, mounding shrubs than the traditional white types whose branches cascade. Consider these in mass in a spot where they will get at least a half day of sun to bring out their blooms.

Left, the by-product from a compost tumbler makes a good fertilizer for the garden. Above, pink spirea have neater, mounding shrubs as opposed to the traditional white types whose branches cascade.

Pencil Boxwood

Containers by the front door always look good when anchored by an evergreen. This tall and narrow pencil boxwood fills the space without getting in the way. The pots are large enough to allow for seasonal color to be planted around the base of the shrub and then replaced as needed. In my experience, boxwood is a great container plant - relatively slow growing and capable of missing a watering without a lot of fuss. I hate to admit that we’ve had a variegated boxwood in a container for five years without repotting and it still looks good. I don’t recommend that kind of neglect, but it is certainly a tribute to the plant. This year it is getting some fresh soil and a larger pot. It has earned it!

Lemongrass is Ornamental, Too

The proliferation of delicious Thai restaurants and cookbooks may prompt you to plant some lemongrass. It is perennial in the southern half of the state and should winter over with some protection in the northern half. We grow ours in a container where it makes a beautiful, wide, wispy plant with a great tropical quality in the summer. In winter, it turns brown and we cut away the browned foliage so it will come back neatly when warm weather arrives in the spring.

Left to right, containers by the front door always look good when anchored by evergreen like these tall, narrow boxwoods. Lemongrass planted in a container makes a beautiful, wide, wispy plant with a tropical quality.

Reasons to Plant Dill

Dill is a popular leafy herb that offers many harvests. The leaves are the uniquely flavored "dill weed" often used in potato salad. The yellow blooms make pretty cut flowers in a vase. The seedpods forming on blooms left on the plant offer well-known flavor to homemade dill pickles. If there is anything left in the garden after all that, the swallowtail butterflies will find it to lay eggs. Just like parsley, it is a favorite of these beautiful native butterflies. That alone might be a good reason to tuck a few plants in your garden!

Roma Tomatoes Make Thick Sauce

A friend of mine who makes tomato sauce had an epiphany one day during a conversation about Roma tomatoes. It turns out her sauce was too runny, but when she learned Roma tomatoes were meatier and contained less moisture than slicing tomatoes, she made the switch to Roma for sauce, and it worked. They much more quickly cooked down nice and thick. If you like making tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce or even ketchup, try growing your own Romas this year. Most are also bred to ripen their fruit within a short time so you can cook up huge batches at once. When the plant finishes producing, pull it up and replace it with a heat set tomato for a late summer slicer.

Handy Garden Bags

Have you discovered the pop-up garden totes to help with messy garden tasks? They collapse for storage and are extremely strong for their light weight. We keep these around for gathering daily trimmings, leaves, weeds and other bits of garden refuse that always seem to be within reach. When you’re looking for something just a little more convenient than a can or wheelbarrow, a collapsible garden bag might be it.

Left to right, dill, like parsley, is a favorite of swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs. Pop-up garden totes are perfect for messy garden tasks.

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

Farm & Field

Kiwi: A Golden Opportunity

Billy Dozier, retired Auburn University horticulture professor, displays the yellow flesh of an AU Golden Sunshine kiwifruit. Dozier led the research project that led to Auburn’s patenting of AU Golden Sunshine and four other kiwifruit varieties.

by Anna Peek

When one thinks of crops Alabama is known for growing, you will be sure to list cotton, soybeans, peanuts, corn, catfish, etc., but, in the upcoming years, you may be able to add kiwis to the list due to a number of new varieties patented by Auburn University. Now-retired Auburn University horticulture professor Dr. Billy Dozier spearheaded the research on kiwis in Alabama starting in 1985 at the Chilton County Agricultural Experiment Station. The varieties have been patented and are now for sale to anyone interested. They are perfect for anyone who wants to try their hand at growing something new or could even turn out to be a high-value specialty crop to the state and the southeastern region.

Kiwifruits are native to China and were originally known as the "Chinese Gooseberry." They were commonly used as an ornamental vine and not as much for their fruit. The vines can reach up to 25 feet, so they are grown on trellises to support the heavy growth. Tips for building structures to support the kiwifruits can be found on Gold Kiwi Group’s website The information found on their page is all based on their research done on the fruits over the last 28 years.

There are several varieties that have been patented. One variety is the green-fleshed, egg-shaped, fuzzy, "traditional" kiwifruit which has more of a sweet, but tangy taste. There are also a few yellow-fleshed varieties called "goldens"; they are slightly different with a sweet taste and a smooth skin. According to Dozier "no one has ever tried one and not liked it. It is not sour but has a sweet tropical flavor."

In the News

Larry Leslie, Co-op Manager of the Year

Larry Leslie, general manager of Cherokee Farmers Co-op, was honored to receive the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year award, but felt it was a reflection of the support of his employees.

by Alvin Benn

Larry Leslie isn’t someone who freezes at the thought of challenges because he thrives on them.

How else can you describe a man who loves to climb some of the highest mountains in the world and does it by taking one step at a time without looking at the summit?

He views business the same way and has succeeded by setting goals and rules to avoid any roadblocks that might be in his way.

Business ventures can have unique challenges, but Leslie has conquered them with ease as general manager of Cherokee Farmers Cooperative.

For the second time during his three-decade-plus career with Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Leslie has been named E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year. It’s a singular achievement and is based on performance, not popularity.

Roger Pangle, AFC’s CEO, left, presented Larry Leslie, general manager of Cherokee Farmers Co-op, with the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year award during AFC’s 2013 Annual Meeting.

He was honored February 13, 2013, by AFC’s Chief Executive Officer Roger Pangle at the organization’s 76th annual meeting held at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery.

"I’ve always pushed myself to reach my goals, my limits," said Leslie, 59, who also was named Manager of the Year in 1987. "I do it by not only setting goals but rules that tie in with them."

Growing up on a farm in the Tennessee Valley region between Guntersville and Scottsboro, Leslie learned all about hard work and responsibility at an early age.

After attending an area junior college, Leslie picked up a business degree at Auburn University and completed a stint in the Army before joining Monsanto, one of America’s largest chemical companies.

It didn’t turn into a career choice, however, because he was searching for something else and opted for a job with AFC as a management trainee. The pay was a lot less, but he could see something special down the road by carving out a career within the big Co-op family.

One of his first jobs was in Jackson County where he was sent to help operate a store and granary in Stevenson. That’s where he quickly learned just how hard managers and staff are expected to work at AFC facilities.

"I was working seven days a week, often 15-16 hours a day," he said. "It came out to about $1.85 an hour, but I wasn’t going to complain because I was learning."

A few months later, he was working at AFC headquarters in Decatur where his accounting skills were put to good use as he learned the ropes of the huge business.

It was a whirlwind training program where he got an understanding of just about every department within the organization. He also spent a few days on the road learning about peanuts at Anderson Peanut Co. and plants at Bonnie Plant Farm’s operation in Union Springs.

Then, in March of 1981, good fortune smiled on him in a big way – an opportunity to go to Cherokee Farmers Co-op where he trained under Phil Phillips.

"I thought I had died and gone to heaven in Centre," he said. "I’ve been there ever since and couldn’t be happier."

Cherokee Farmers Co-op was born in 1933 during one of the worst years of the Great Depression, but members didn’t let it keep them from establishing a farm supply store that could supply their agricultural needs.

Under Leslie’s leadership, Cherokee Co-op has continued to set the pace in the region. Part of that pace was becoming aware of expansion possibilities and it has paid off royally.

In 2010, Cherokee’s board met with AFC representatives and agreed to merge the Piedmont and Jacksonville operations into the Cherokee Cooperative.

Improvements were immediate and, the following year, Cherokee Farmers Co-op invested $1 million on new high-tech fertilizer equipment trucks to meet customer needs.

That substantial investment quickly paid for itself as they experienced sales increased by 100 percent over the previous year.

Leslie likes to point out that his AFC "Manager-of-the-Year" award is but a reflection of the support he has received from his employees at the Centre, Piedmont and Jacksonville stores.

"They all work as a team for one common goal, and that is to serve their customers with the best prices and service possible," Leslie said.

He also extends part of the credit to his board for giving him the opportunity to manage Cherokee Co-op "without any restrictions."

Leslie said the most recent business year included a projected goal of $15 million in sales and, while his operation came close during a difficult economic period, still reached $12.5 million.

The plan for the current year is that same $15 million sales goal and those who know Larry Leslie won’t be a bit surprised if it is reached.

Good health has enabled him to maintain a busy work schedule, not to mention his determination to reach as many mountaintops as he can.

Several have challenged him including Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainer, Mount McKinley and several more. On each occasion, he had reached the top and his goal.

His ultimate personal goal is to take on Mount Everest which is, at 29,000 feet, the tallest summit in the world.

Many have tried and died in their quest to reach the top and Leslie has no intention of trying that. What he’d like to do is just reach the base camp at a "mere" 17,600 feet.

"That’s my goal for Everest," he said, as the annual AFC meeting was wrapping up and he was preparing to head back to Cherokee County. "My strategy has always been to take one step at a time and not to look at the top. I’ve always been successful that way."

Leslie loves wide open spaces and, in addition to mountain climbing, enjoys scuba diving, snow skiing and kayaking. Then, there’s photography. He can’t wait to haul out his camera equipment to record beauty through his lenses.

If he says he’s going to Wyoming, Colorado and other wide open Western states to "hunt," it’s with his cameras, not his rifles.

Retirement is in the offing for Leslie and he has indicated he plans to relocate, possibly to Wyoming.

That may happen in a couple of years or so, but, until then, he’ll be hard at work in Cherokee County where he has established himself as one of Alabama’s leading Co-op managers.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

The Herb Lady

Lecithin for Shingles Suffers

by Nadine Johnson

Every day we learn something new. Sometimes we learn something which certainly should be shared. The words I’m about to write is definitely one of these "must be shared" situations.

I met Elsie Kane, Elberta, shortly after I wrote the column regarding the successful treating of my osteoporosis. Most of my readers know I did this by taking Bone-Up and horsetail.

Elsie also suffers from osteoporosis. She is now taking Bone-Up, horse tail and lecithin. She began taking lecithin in an effort to control the nerve pain in her legs. IT WORKED!! I have written about lecithin and its many health benefits before. Here I’ll only offer a quote from my herb library: "Lecithin builds the nerve sheath surrounding the nerves." This helps to control nerve pain.

Not long ago, Elsie paid me a visit. On this occasion she remarked, "I have had shingles." Here is her story.

In March of 2004, she developed shingles on her right side. (At the time she was under much stress due to her son’s involvement with the Iraq war.) For six weeks she felt as if nails were being driven into her side. After about six weeks, her rash healed, but her pain did not subside. At times she felt as though she was being stung by hundreds of fire ants.

After several years of suffering, she saw a pain management doctor. Prednisone was injected into the affected nerves. The pain subsided somewhat for only about a week. There were also negative side effects from the prednisone.

Next, she saw a dermatologist. This doctor prescribed pain medication which provided temporary relief along with a fear of addiction.

In June of 2012, Elsie began to take lecithin along with her Bone-Up and horsetail. She had heard lecithin might possibly help to relieve the nerve pain in her legs. Soon she saw positive results. Both her leg pain and her shingles pain were much improved. She tested this by not taking her lecithin for several weeks. The pain returned. After resuming the lecithin, her pain subsided.

Elsie told me, "Today I am pain free as long as I take lecithin. I am not on any prescribed medications. I’m just on natural products including multivitamins and lecithin. Nine years ago, I never dreamed I would ever be pain free."

Elsie hopes other sufferers will read this and benefit from her shared story. She and I are both aware there are many, many long-time shingles suffers.

To Elsie I extend my gratitude for sharing her story.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577 or by email at

Homeplace & Community

New Life for Old Timbers at Bear Creek Log Cabins

Randy and Sandy Galloway of Bear Creek Log Cabins stand outside one of the log cabins they restored.

by Anna Wright

Off in the distance of an old homestead is the profile of a dilapidated house with a rusted tin roof and crumbling stone chimney. Cedar trees and brush cover the porch, and the roof has fallen in. For the passerby, it is just an eyesore, but Randy Galloway sees it and his mind begins to race. What is unseen by the average eye is a piece of history from the 1800s preserved in the stacks of timber that built this log cabin home.

Randy and Sandy Galloway of Bear Creek Log Cabins located in the community of Dogtown in DeKalb County are taking log cabins built in the late 1800s and preserving their history by restoring them. Each cabin is gently taken down, moved, rebuilt on their farm and rented out to the public. Their business is an American dream - find a way to make what you love into a career.

Since 1998, they have restored five log cabins. Each cabin has been rebuilt to their original charm and beauty. Logs, window placement, floors, lofts and stone fireplaces give the cozy pioneer feeling. Wood salvaged from the deconstruction is used to add more charm in each cabin. Modern amenities of kitchens, bathrooms, television, washer and dryer, electricity and private hot tubs bring the cabins to the current century. Their goal with each cabin is to create "authentic log cabins with modern day conveniences."

Stone fireplaces add to the appeal of the log cabins. Period decor is found throughout the region, further adding to the charm of these cabins.

Growing up in Fort Payne, Randy first began his interest with log cabins while watching the television show, "Grizzly Adams."

"I like the history of the cabins," Randy explained. "I have always just been fascinated by the craftsmanship and art that is in each one."

Seeing the mountain man’s log cabin home and watching him survive in the woods resonated deep within him.

As an adult, he began working for NucorSteele in Fort Payne. Then with a wife and daughter, he still couldn’t escape the log cabin obsession that ran through his blood. Thankful for such a good job, he was now able to see his dream come to realization. He began looking for a cabin to move to his farm to have as a type of getaway. The first cabin came from an old community of Trinity between Collinsville and Fort Payne on County Road 51.

The first step was to clean out over a century’s worth of debris. With help from Sandy, John Blake Peek and Billy Kirby, slowly but surely the plan began to take shape. Once each log was taken down and loaded onto a truck, Randy would transport it to his farm and begin the restoring process. The logs were then unloaded one-by-one and the puzzle pieces began to take shape. Relying on notes and photos from the deconstruction process, each log was then reassembled in the correct order just as it was in the late 1800s. This first cabin took about three years, and a steep learning curve.

Friends and family were impressed by the end result of their first log cabin. Someone mentioned they should rent the cabin out.

"We thought, ‘Who would want to rent this?’" Sandy said.

They became friends with a cabin rental business in Mentone, who guided the Galloways with the first steps in renting. Their suggestions were to add a hot tub and list with the DeKalb Tourist Association.

pictures from one of the first restoration processes. It took the Galloways three years to restore the first cabin and one year for each cabin afterwards.

Cabin #1 was the very first cabin the Galloways restored.

Since then, each cabin has paid for the next cabin through rentals. Open throughout the year, the Galloways keep a steady fill of guests each week.

"This was not our plan, it was God’s plan," Sandy said. "God opened the doors for us to be able to do what we love and share it with others."

Randy and Sandy are the sole employees. They clean, cut grass, make reservations and maintain the grounds themselves.

All the cabins are rebuilt with the original logs used in the homes’ first construction. Often log cabin rentals and homes are constructed from kits. Bear Creek Log Cabins are genuine pieces of history built by hands of those pioneers from years past.

When the first cabin was originally built, logs were cut and hewed by hand. Each log has a dovetail notch cut out of the ends, which matches to another log forming an angle. This attention to detail used in the building of these cabins is fascinating. The synchronized logs soon made the four exterior corners of the house.

The Galloways have completed this task four more times. All of the cabins at Bear Creek were found within a 30 mile radius and built pre-Civil War times.

Each log used in each cabin has a character all of its own. For instance, Cabin #1 has a copper bath tub used by the first family who build it. The type of architecture called a dog trot makes Cabin #3 unique. Every cabin does have one recognizable feature, a whiskey barrel sink in each bathroom and a hot tub located on a private patio.

A quick flip through one of the guest books in each cabin gives personal accounts of the enjoyment of each customer. Towns are listed from Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Chattanooga, Louisiana and Mississippi. Many notes are from first-time guests, and others are from those who book with the Galloways year after year.

Bear Creek Log Cabins is located on a 196 acre farm on Lookout Mountain. Their property also backs up to the Little River Canyon National Preserve, which customers have access to.

"We have never had an agenda," Randy remarked. "We will just enjoy what we have now until another project comes our way. We want our guests to step back in time and spend a perfect getaway in an authentic American pioneer cabin and journey back to a slower pace and simpler way of life."

For more information, contact them at or 256-845-2584.

Anna Wright is a freelance writer from Collinsville.

Feeding Facts

Now is Time to Consider Feed-Through Fly Control

by Jimmy Hughes

As winter winds down and spring begins to show, I hope your livestock have come through the cold weather in good body condition with calves on the ground and grass starting to grow in your pastures. It is also the time of the year to strongly consider a feed-through fly control program for your operation.

There are several reasons to consider a fly control program and there are effective feed products that can be used to help control these external parasites. There are a variety of flies we see each season that can be a severe nuisance to cattle. Whether it’s face flies, houseflies, horseflies or horn flies, they all can cause problems in your herd. There are several issues related to a lack of a consistent fly control program.

The first issue is related to the spread of disease. Large numbers of flies play a role in the spread of such conditions as pinkeye and eye worms. Pinkeye is a severe problem each year in the late spring and summer as grasses mature and eyes start to get infected. The flies then light on the eyes of cows and carry the disease to other cows in the herd. This can lead to eye cancer or the loss of the eye as well as causing the producer to have to catch the infected animals to implement a treatment program. Another problem flies can cause is in the development of eye worms that will also lead to severe eye lesions.

Another issue flies can cause is in reduced grazing times. The more the flies congregate on the cattle the more they will cause cattle to bunch up to help combat them. This will lead to the cows not grazing; therefore, reducing milk production and weight loss. There are several reliable studies showing, in severe infestations, calves will see a reduction of one-half pound per day in daily gain.

The production of milk is related directly to the amount of blood flow going through the cow’s udder system. The greater the amount of blood flow, the larger the amount of milk produced by the cow. The more milk produced by the cow means heavier weaned calves at sale time. Studies have shown a reduction of 10 to 20 percent in milk in cattle suffering from a large number of flies. Adult flies will consume 20 to 40 blood meals per day. In a heavy infestation, this would lead to a loss of over a gallon of blood per day.

While there are a variety of flies that will attack cattle, the two most common are face flies and horn flies. The horn fly is considered to cause the single most expensive loss to cattle producers each year. Horn flies cost the cattle industry over $876 million in losses each year. Horn flies increase heart rate, body temperature, increase water intake and increase protein requirements for cattle. They also carry staph, a major cause of mastitis which can lead to udder damage and bad quarters on cattle. This is in addition to the reduced grazing time and interrupted grazing patterns. Horn flies are small black flies about one-half the size of house flies. Horn flies are often mistaken for immature houseflies because of their reduced size. Both sexes of horn flies are blood feeders and stay on cattle day and night. They will leave their host and lay eggs in fresh manure and have a short life span of 15 to 20 days. Research also indicates that numbers exceeding 200 will have an economic impact on the producer; in heavy infestations, it’s not unusual to see upwards of 3,000 flies on a single animal.

Now that you can see the economic loss to the cattle industry directly related to fly control, what products are available to help control these pests? We offer two products in minerals, tubs or that can be mixed in with feed that have shown favorable reduction in the number of flies on an animal. Rabon and methoprene are the two products we have available for your fly control program. Rabon is a nontoxic oral larvicide safe for all cattle and horses with no meat withdrawal required at slaughter. Rabon goes through the digestive tract intact and works in the cows’ manure. It is effective in the control of house, face, horn and horseflies, and works by killing the larvae in the manure before they develop into adult flies. Rabon has no effect on adult flies and is only effective on fecal flies. In Alabama, we have seen reduced fly control on farms using Rabon over a period of years, leading us to consider the possibility of resistance to Rabon. The most effective program using Rabon is when the producer treats all cows until the first killing frost along with a good sanitation program to prevent the possibility of flies laying eggs in areas other than fresh manure. Also, if you have a large number of flies already on the cows, you should either control them by other methods or understand visual signs of fly control will take at least 14 days.

The second product available in loose minerals, tubs or as an ingredient is methoprene. Methoprene was discovered in the 1960s and is classified as an insect growth regulator. In 2003, EPA considered this product safe for cattle in all stages of production. Methoprene is not labeled for horses and should not be fed to any equine species. It is labeled for horn fly control only and has a very small intake level of only 1.13 mg/cwt/day. Methoprene works in a similar fashion as Rabon. It is readily eaten by cattle, efficiently spread throughout the manure and is very effective in controlling horn flies with no documented cases of resistance. Methoprene is also dung beetle friendly. Dung beetles are insects that consume and break down manure in pastures.

The cost of an effective fly control program is minimum - less than 20 cents per head per day. With cattle prices near record levels and looking to continue that trend throughout 2013, the additional weight gain on your calves will more than pay for the fly control by giving you an additional $40 per calf above fly control cost at sale time. This does not even take into account the added benefits of less stress and spread of disease along with more effective grazing.

Rabon and methoprene are available in a loose mineral while methoprene is also available in our STIMU-LYX Supplement Tubs. It is our opinion you get more consistent intake when using the tubs over the loose mineral. The consistent intake of fly control products will lead to more consistent control of the fly population. Both the tubs and loose minerals will also provide a good mineral and vitamin package required by cattle for immunity, growth and reproductive performance.

In conclusion, flies cost the cattle industry over $1 billion per year in weight loss and the spread of disease. There are effective products available that will greatly reduce the effects flies can have on your herd and pocketbook when implemented properly. Start your fly control program at least 25 days prior to fly season, feed the product consistently from beginning until the first killing frost, and make sure to have the product available to your complete herd.

Also remember, if you have neighbors with cattle in close proximity to yours, they must also implement a fly control program for greatest results. The need for fly control in the Southeast is great and your local Quality Co-op will have these products available along with other fly control measures for your consideration. If I can help answer any question or be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at 256-947-7886 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

Youth Matters

Partnership Creates Opportunities for Military Kids

Bridgett Helms, 4-H county agent for Jefferson County, at a JMG/OMK Day Camp at Oak Mountain State Park. She is teaching the military youth how to make plant people. Below, Jason Powell, Petals from the Past owner, demonstrates seed planting for the military youth during the JMG Day Camp.

by Luci Davis

In Alabama, Junior Master Gardener has partnered with Operation: Military Kids to provide Junior Master Gardener Day Camps and other programming opportunities. Operation Military Kids is a national program administered through 4-H in every state, and provides educational programs to help youth understand the unique challenges of a loved one being deployed. One of the unique challenges JMG and OMK strive to overcome is to identify and serve the military youth in Alabama. In Alabama, with its large number of active-duty, guard and reservists, OMK is a much-needed program for children on the state’s military posts as well as throughout Alabama’s counties. OMK is reaching out with a campaign to find Alabama’s military youth and connect them with their communities to give them a sense of caring support and relationship.

One way OMK and JMG work to do this is through the JMG Day Camp. The Day Camps introduce JMG and 4-H activities to youth and provide an opportunity for the youth in military families to interact and build relationships with one another. This past year OMK partnered with Petals from the Past to host the first JMG Day Camp in 2012. This was a day filled with learning about gardening, wildlife, food safety and nutrition. Josine Walter, 4-H regional Extension agent, remarked that a lot of fun was had while the children were involved in many different learning experiences.

Jason Powell, Petals from the Past owner, demonstrates seed planting for the military youth during the JMG Day Camp.

Fort Rucker hosted a JMG Day Camp in July this summer. This Day Camp was held on post for the youth participating in the summer program with the Child, Youth and School Services. The youth participated in JMG activities allowing them to learn about gardening and germinating seeds in their classroom. This opportunity has pushed the post to include a garden for the children to use as an outdoor classroom.

The final camp for the JMG/OMK partnership was a weeklong Healthy Living Camp at the Alabama 4-H Nature Center last July. Thirty-five youth participated in learning about gardening through the JMG program. Youth also participated in several activities from the 4-H Health Rocks curriculum like the Spiral of Addiction activity. They talked about stress and how it affects you and ways to cope with or prevent stress. The kids made stress balls they took home to remind them how to handle their stress. This was a very important activity for military children because they often feel the family’s stress when a parent is deployed. They also talked about tobacco and smoking and the different chemicals in a cigarette and how they can affect your body. Joy Maxwell, 4-H regional Extension agent for Shelby and Bibb counties, shared Mr. Gross Mouth with children. Maxwell mentioned how Mr. Gross Mouth describes how smoking can affect your mouth, throat, lungs and overall health. She also brought some phlegm and tar and talked about how it affects your lungs and health. Overall the children had a great time gardening and learning about living a healthier lifestyle.

Izette Mcneally, 4-H regional Extension agent for Jefferson and Walker counties, leads a group of military youth on a walk through the 4-H center. This was part of the JMG Healthy Living Camp in July.

JMG also partners with the 4-H Military Partnership. The Alabama 4-H Military Partnership works to expand youth development opportunities for Alabama’s military youth on the three Army installations, one Air Force base and through the National Guard headquarters. JMG helps the 4-H Military Partnership to promote resiliency through Horticultural Therapy to youth living on base. Horticulture Therapy is recognized as a practical and viable treatment with wide-ranging benefits for people in therapeutic, vocational and wellness programs. It can aid as a way to help relieve strains and stressors caused by the uncertainties of military life. The gardens at each military installation focus on building personal pride and teaching the youth to work together as a team.

The three Army installations - Redstone Arsenal, Anniston Army Depot and Fort Rucker - all incorporate gardening and JMG into their curriculum through the Child, Youth and School Service programs on base. The youth on Redstone Arsenal have planted a pizza garden the past two summers and plan to continue this summer. The adults leading this group have all been trained to use the JMG curriculum and plan to continue their JMG 4-H club. The Anniston Army Depot has been an active JMG club for over 4 years. This year they are planning a butterfly garden to help children get outside and get their hands in the dirt. Fort Rucker is just beginning their JMG 4-H experience. They are currently planning a garden and a program to include gardening in their summer activities. Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base is also gardening with their children on base. In January, Gunter AFB hosted a JMG Certification Training for their staff and is very excited about partnering with the MAFB Greenhouse and Nursery Manager to support the JMG program and youth development in their military youth.

In Alabama, JMG has shown its support for Alabama’s military kids year-round. One of the special times the programs show support is during April. April has been proclaimed Month of the Military Child since 2009 by the governor holding office. Each year, the Operation: Military Kids program and 4-H Military Partnership work to promote a Purple Up! day nationwide. Purple Up! is a day for everyone to wear purple to show their support for the sacrifices military youth make. Purple symbolizes all branches of the military – combining Army Green, Coast Guard Blue, Air Force Blue, Marine Red and Navy Blue. This year, the event falls on Monday, April 15. Both JMG and OMK are working together to find Alabama’s military youth through outreach and Day Camp support. Watch the roadways this spring for our 4-H and OMK billboards. We hope to bring awareness to our military youth and our programs through this campaign.

On the Edge of Common Sense

Pegasus Flies Again

by Baxter Black, DVM

It was a peaceful Utah winter morning. Levi stood next to his bedroom window and pulled back the shade. He squinted as his eyes took in the brilliance of a new day. Fresh snow lay like a blanket over the corrals, the meadows and the mountains beyond. Puffy little cotton ball clouds clung to the peaks like chimney smoke. The sky-blue background made it look like God had decorated Heaven’s wall with ceramic tiles.

As if on cue, at the far end of the loading alley, Levi saw a vision. A reflection of a fairy tale illustration from his childhood; it was Pegasus the flying white stallion thundering down the alley, snow billowing behind him and his wings spread as if to mount to the sky!

"Holy Nephi!" Levi yelled at himself!

In seconds, the vision took shape. It was not Pegasus … it was his $3,500, comin’-2, cream-colored with a white blaze, newly purchased, future sire Quarter Horse colt!

What appeared to be wings was actually a shiny galvanized corral gate. Positioned in its exact center was the head of the wild-eyed colt! Levi’s adrenalized dilated pupils noted the colt’s trajectory was so center-fire that neither end of the 8’ gate was touching the alley boards!

The colt swung into an opening of an adjacent pen full of ranch horses. They broke apart like a hand grenade going off! Those that didn’t go straight up went out the other side crumpling a second gate into tin foil! It took Levi 3 minutes and 26 seconds to dress, call the hired man and reach the pen. The colt had one more trick. He made a pass toward the broken gate, somehow stepped on his galvanized necklace, did a tuck-and-roll flip flop, popped out of the noose and landed on his back, unharmed, to everyone’s relief!

Reminiscing with his wife later at breakfast, Levi said, "I’m not sure what we’d have done if he hadn’t pulled himself loose."

"You could have roped him," she said.

"I doubt it," he said.

"Sure you could. You’ve got a shiny buckle there on the dresser that says you won the Big Loop in Jordan Valley. If that’s not a test of your big loopin’, I don’t know what is!"

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,

Homeplace & Community

Pieces of History

Mack Holmes, vice president of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama’s board of directors, collects quilts and had about 10 in the show. This one is the Quaker Oaks quilt backed with flour sacks from the mill in Ohio.

Quilts and Stories Shared at Pioneer Museum Show

by Jaine Treadwell

The stories spun like webs as visitors to the Pieces of History Quilt Show strolled down memory lane among the 200 quilts on display.

"When I was a little girl, my job at quilting bees was to sit under the quilt and push the needles back up," said Evelyn Williams. "The ladies would sometimes forget I was under there and I heard things little ears were not supposed to hear. Under the quilt frame is where I learned about the birds and the bees."

The Pieces of History Quilt Show is a biennial event at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama in Troy. It traditionally opens on March 1 and closes on March 31.

Kari Barley, museum director, said the quilt show features a variety of quilts, from the string and patchwork quilts of the late 1700s to the beautifully appliquéd quilts made "just yesterday."

The Feather quilt (hanging far right), dating back to 1775, is the oldest one in the museum's permanent collection. The quilting frame is used by the Pioneer Quilters.

"We invite people to bring their quilts to be displayed and encourage them to provide us with as much information as possible about their quilts," Barley said. "Visitors to the show enjoy reading the quilt notes. Those who are not too familiar with the history of quilting and have limited knowledge of quilt patterns gain a lot of knowledge about the art of quilting."

For those who are quilters and appreciate the art, the quilt notes encourage them to tell their stories.

Barley said, as visitors view the display of quilts - old and new, they are curious about the patterns, the materials and the history of the quilts.

"They say, ‘Can you tell me ….’ and, hopefully, we can," Barley said. "The Pioneer Quilters, who quilt at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama each week, are very knowledgeable about quilting and the history of the art."

The Friendship quilt was popular when communities quilted for a specific purpose such as a fundraiser. The quilters included their names as part of the design.

Barley said quilting has always been "art." It just was not recognized as such.

"Back during the pioneer days, quilts were a necessity," she said. "They kept the families warm – relatively warm – on cold winter nights. Quilts were used as pallets for the children while their parents worked the fields and during all-day church services."

Barley said young women quilted a wedding quilt for their hope chests.

Burial quilts were often packed away in a trunk to be used at the passing of the patriarch or matriarch of the family. Sometimes a corpse would be buried wrapped in the burial quilt. Other times, the burial quilts would be packed away in a trunk and preserved as a way to remember the dead and celebrate their lives.

Barley said, because quilts were used in everyday life, they weren’t considered art, although they were the creative work of the pioneer women.

"We look forward to the Pieces of History Quilt Show because it gives people a chance to share their quilts and their stories with others," Barley said. "But, the Pioneer Museum of Alabama has a large collection of quilts on display throughout the year. At the museum, we look at quilts in a deeper sense, not just as quilts."

Barley said quilts "piece" the histories of families, of people and of places.

"Back in pioneer days, quilts were made of scraps of clothes, feed sacks and other ‘scrap’ material. Just any material that was available," she said. "So some quilts tell family stories while others tell stories of a community or a time."

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama has more than 100 quilts in its permanent collection that dates back to 1775.

"The 1775 Feather quilt is our oldest and most prized quilt," Barley said. "It is very special because we know the story behind it. The quilt belonged to the grandmother of a Mrs. Sam Passmore. The quilt was made in South Carolina and brought to Monticello in Pike County in 1850."

The story is that the grandmother stood wrapped in the quilt as her family watched from the road as the Indians were being driven by soldiers to Oklahoma.

"We have quilts with many different patterns and some of the patterns are nearly 200 years old," Barley said. "We have quilts made from many different materials – flour sacks, chicken feed sacks. We have one quilt made from sacks from the old Standard Chemical Company here in Troy."

The museum’s quilt collection includes quilts that are very fragile and, therefore, displayed in glass cases.

The Pioneer Museum also has samples of a large number of quilt patterns.

"The samples are a good way for people to identify the patterns in their old quilts," Barley said. "Our quilters are here every Thursday and visitors are welcome to visit with them and join the quilting bee if they would like.

"The Pioneer Museum Quilters are very knowledgeable and enjoy sharing what they know about the history of quilting and the art of quilting. They also enjoy sharing their stories and hearing the stories the visitors have to tell."

The museum also has spinning and weaving displays and demonstrations upon request and during all museum special events.

"Our museum docents can take you from the cotton to the cloth," Barley said. "It’s a very interesting process and one people find fascinating."

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is located on U.S. Highway 231 North in Troy. The museum is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is charged.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

For What It's Worth

Provide Your Animals a Quality of Life

by Robert Spencer

Whether it is pets in the form of cats and dogs (including livestock guardian dogs), or livestock in the form of cattle, goats and sheep, they all have some basic needs; what some might choose to call "animal welfare." Owners and potential owners of these animals have obligations to be knowledgeable and pertinent in serving these needs. With ownership there is an "assumed" relationship between owners and animals necessitating certain responsibilities, somewhat of a relationship. These commitments should include addressing the basic nutrition, shelter, health management and other appropriate care as necessary. It is important to recognize there may be situations when outside resources are needed to assist in these areas and there are relevant information and services available. We can better grasp this concept of animal welfare by taking a look at relevant animal populations, situations and general guidelines for appropriate care.

When it comes to dogs and cats, The Humane Society of the United States has posted the following data from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey:


There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States

Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog

Most owners (60 percent) own one dog

Twenty-eight percent of owners own two dogs


There are approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the United States

Thirty-three percent of U.S. households own at least one cat

Fifty-two percent of owners own more than one cat

On average, owners have two cats (2.2)

On a state level (Alabama), when it comes to livestock such as goats, sheep and cattle, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Services Ag Census accumulates data on a scheduled basis. With that data, the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service has provided statistics for the Alabama Farmers Federation showing the following:

Sheep & Goats

Alabama has about 11,500 sheep on about 445 farms

Alabama’s goat population is near 39,800 head on approximately 2,259 farmsCattle


Alabama has approximately 1.32 million head of beef cattle and calves

There are approximately 27,000 beef cattle farms

Within each species of animal there tend to be some basic needs under the categories of adequate nutrition, fundamental health management, adequate shelter, and other appropriate care including grooming, exercise and adequate space. Due to space and time limitations, we will not go into specifics; there is an abundance of information available from various resources.

Adequate nutrition - All animals have nutrient needs requiring sufficient nutrition to meet appropriate needs at various stages of development, age and utility. Don’t forget ready access to clean water, an essential part of nutrition that tends to be overlooked.

Health management – Animals tend to require some type of healthcare at some stage in their lives. This may come in the form of preventative maintenance through vaccinations, health assessment and treatment by a veterinarian or farm manager which may include situations with internal and external parasites, and pre- and post-natal care for producing animals. Consulting with fellow producers and other trained experts on health management issues is common, free and acceptable for simple problems. However, when it comes to serious health issues necessitating specific medicines, a well-established relationship with a licensed veterinarian is essential to minimizing mistakes and liabilities, and maximizing food safety!

Shelter – While domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are likely to require better quality protection than guardian animals and livestock, they all require protection from extreme environmental conditions to some extent. Pets are expected to be provided more extensive quality housing, whether they are indoor or outdoor pets. All livestock tends to need basic protection from continuous sun through some form of shade; rain and wind generally does not bother cattle so shelter is minimal; sheep and goats require more protective shelter such as a three-sided pole barn that basically keeps the sun, wind and rain off them.

Other Appropriate Care – Cats and dogs have more needs in this area than livestock. There may be things such as scheduled trips to vets, spaying or neutering, and grooming such as brushing fur/hair and trimming of nails. Cattle are lower maintenance in this area. Goat and sheep require monitoring for internal and external parasites (can’t say this enough), possible hoof trimming, etc. Nothing beats a working relationship with a licensed veterinarian to calm worried concerns in this area.

The quality level of animal welfare a person is willing to provide is a personal decision that tends to be based on situations and financial resources. Situations and choices will vary. There may be certain instances when this becomes a challenge and requires making a decision whether to take appropriate action, or seek the help of others; there are services, agencies and organizations willing to help. Detrimental economic, physical and environmental situations can unexpectedly evolve leaving animals and their owners in bad situations where the animals are malnourished, inadequately cared for or neglected in some form. These days, there are many forms of media able to quickly gather and release video or articles regarding bad situations with pets and livestock; being vulnerable to this type of exposure is not a good form of notoriety.

Having an understanding of the various factors including numbers, situations and appropriate care makes animal welfare a more relevant term. Call it moral, ethical, humane treatment, or animal welfare, but, when a person takes ownership of an animal, he or she should be aware of the basic animal needs and be willing to meet those needs through proper health management, nutrition, shelter, care and commitment. Is it easy? No. But the first step is to realize with ownership comes responsibility and willingness to make that commitment for as long as you are capable and willing; and, when not, take responsible action. What it comes down to is this: If you want your animals to have a healthy, vibrant and productive quality of life, then you must be willing to make the commitment and accept responsibilities!

Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Our Outdoor Heritage


Turkey hunting can bridge the generational gap between experienced and novice. (Credit: Mitchell Marks)

by Corky Pugh

Purists, or those who believe their way is superior to all others, were the subject of part of an article published by Jim Casada in a recent edition of Turkey & Turkey Hunting. Casada is the consummate turkey hunter, the classic example of the turkey hunters’ turkey hunter. His knowledge and experience are broad and deep, and he is well respected as a writer and turkey hunting authority.

Recounting the details of a memorable hunt half dozing in the warmth of late afternoon, spotting an approaching turkey, and deciding not to call, Casada wrote:

"I had picked out the spot for a shot, although the gobbler must have taken at least 15 minutes to reach it. Twice, he stopped and stared, in that alert, upright position so typical of turkeys, for several minutes, but there was never any of the popping wings or nervousness associated with a bird about to leave. Finally, the longbeard reached the pre-determined spot for the moment of truth. I offered one muted cluck, and when his head went up, I squeezed the trigger.

"Condemn me or look on me in disdain if you wish, but I acknowledge with pride that the turkey that flopped at my feet a few moments later didn’t fit the strutting, earth-shaking gobbling, put-on-a-show scenario that’s too often depicted as the only way to go. I regularly hear hunters offering thoughts like, ‘I only shoot gobblers that are 3 years of age or older,’ ‘Unless I’ve called him and he gobbles coming in, I’m not going to shoot’ or ‘I won’t pull the trigger unless it’s an old, hook-spurred bird.’ Well, pardon my bluntness, but to me that’s about 40 percent blarney, 40 percent malarkey and 15 percent B.S. I’ll be generous and leave 5 percent for those who actually find such thinking viable. For me, any mature gobbler fairly hunted and cleanly killed is a trophy and triumph. I’ll worry about such things as weight, beard length and spur size when I have my foot on his neck.

"In this case, a bird I had in essence ambushed — the cluck to make him raise his head was the only call he likely heard, because when I first saw him, it had been 20 minutes since my last series of yelps — turned out to be the finest Eastern I’ve ever killed: two beards totaling 19 inches and perfectly matched spurs just longer than 1 5/8 inches. It was a magic moment for me, and I’d argue it involved more than blind luck. I had studied the lay of the land, chosen an appropriate setup, played my cards right in terms of resisting the urge to call too much, picked the right place to take the shot and executed the shot appropriately. In short, I’m proud of the turkey despite the hunt failing to satisfy any of the parameters with which purists ostensibly burden themselves and turkey hunters. In truth, I think much of it is fluff, and that being said, I’ll get off my soapbox. As long as it is legal, ethical and you are comfortable with the way you hunt, to me it’s all right."

For those who have read "Turkey Hunting — A One Man Game" by Ken Morgan, the focus on stealth and woodsmanship is a familiar theme. Serious turkey hunters know calling is only one small element of success. Besides all that, one has to wonder how purists handle the reality that a very high percentage of the mature turkeys killed are subdominant gobblers which slip in quietly, often appearing at some odd angle to the last audible gobble, causing the hunter to wonder why the turkey hooked way around. These are the turkeys Tom Kelly dubbed "walk-ons." Tom has also observed that we run a lot of turkeys off over-calling, and that one of the most important things to know is when to shut up.

Thankfully, purists are far from a majority of hunters, but there is a disturbingly growing population of hunters who seriously want to impose their own set of arbitrary criteria on everybody else. Dangerously, some push for laws and regulations to try to force their wishes on the rest of us. This is where purists start to bleed over into being zealots, those convinced they are on some lofty mission to save the rest of us from ourselves.

Not uncommonly, these self-proclaimed visionaries characterize their wishes as "good conservation." Biology and sound science are thrown out the window, right along with any concern whatsoever for what may be in the best overall long-term best interest of the most people.

Having previously served as Director of Alabama’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division for 12 ½ years, I can unequivocally say purists and zealots are a far greater threat to hunting than all the anti-hunters on Earth. Sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes driven by self-serving motives, they push for regulations to suit their own wishes, everybody else be damned. Left unchecked, this narrower and narrower tunnel bodes poorly for hunting and fishing.

Some people, bless their hearts, think more restrictive rules are in- and of-themselves good conservation. In many cases, nothing could be further from the truth. A fishing-related example would be unnecessary catch and release. Although catch and release has its place as a fisheries management tool, it is not a universally beneficial practice. In fact, the primary problem in managing bass-bluegill fisheries in ponds and lakes is getting people to keep enough bass. Bass-crowded fish populations abound, yet many anglers are convinced the appropriate thing to do is return bass to the water.

And probably the most powerful psychological force at play is they sure as hell don’t want anybody else to keep and eat the fish they just put back.

For more on Jim Casada go to

Corky Pugh is the executive director of the Hunting Heritage Foundation.

The Hunting Heritage Foundation is an Alabama non-profit organization established in 2011. To see what HHF stands for, go to the website at You can write to us at P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

Through the Fence

Radical Relief

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

Relief comes in many ways and is best when it’s immediate. There used to be a television commercial for an antacid product that had a catchy jingle, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz; oh, what a relief it is." It showed a man overeating rich foods who was feeling bloated and sick. But he smiled as he dropped the white tablets into a glass of water. He waited for the effervescent bubbles to subside before drinking the concoction, anticipating a quick end to his indigestion.

When my grandfather was a little boy growing up in the piney woods of East Texas, he employed a radical solution to some severe and unanticipated pain. He and his older brother Ben decided they should catch a bird and keep it for a pet. Ben was about 8 and my granddad Henry was 4. Ben had seen some older boys fashion a small snare out of wire called a "figure four" because of the shape. The boys scavenged some wire they found in a shed, and discussed the perfect bait and placement of the trap.

They shaped it and baited it with some suet. They set it out in the woods between their house and the school. When Ben left for school that morning, he admonished his younger brother not to tamper with the trap or even check it until he got home that afternoon.

But as the day waxed long, Henry’s curiosity overcame him. He thought he’d just go out and check to see if they had been successful. Sure enough, as Henry approached the spot, he spied a brilliant flash of red plumage. He was thrilled to see a male cardinal trapped in the wire contraption. He remembered his brother’s warning, but it was not sufficient to restrain him. He knelt down in the grass to get a closer look at their prey. The temptation was just too great.

He worked his small hand into the trap slowly. He gingerly wrapped his fingers around the bird and started easing it back out. When he did, something unexpected happened. The bird used his only defense, his sharp, seed-splitting beak. It began pecking furiously at the tender flesh that grasped it. Henry was shocked by the sudden pain and the regret of having fiddled with the snare. Of course, the obvious solution was simply to open his hand and let the bird go. But that kind of rational solution didn’t occur to him in that desperate moment. As the pain intensified, the boy panicked. Not seeing any relief in sight, he did the only thing he could think of. He leaned over and bit the bird’s head off.

Even though he was thankful the incessant pecking had ended, young Henry was appalled at his actions. He spat out tiny red feathers and blood as he dropped the lifeless bird into the grass. He knew his brother would be furious. He might even exact a worse punishment when he found out the trap had been sprung. But he would have to worry about that later. At that moment, all he could think about was fleeing the scene and running into his mother’s arms.

When he got home, the blood on his hand had dried, but it already was red and swollen. His mama hugged him to her ample bosom, cleaned his wounds and washed his tear-stained face.

"Mama, Ben’s gonna kill me," he whined.

He proceeded to tell her the whole sad saga of the bird in the trap and of his brother’s stern warnings. His mother reassured the boy she wouldn’t let his older brother hurt him.

When Ben got home, he was indeed very upset. All he wanted was for his little brother not to mess up his plans for getting a pet. Their mother explained that birds are wild creatures and needed the freedom to soar through the air as they were intended to do. But Ben continued sulking until the next afternoon, when his dad brought home a new puppy.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at

Homeplace & Community

Red Eagle An Alabama Legend

by Emily McLaughlin

Many Creek Indians of Red Eagle’s day were mestizo, or persons of European and American Indian ancestry, including Red Eagle. Born William Weatherford to Scottish trader Charles Weatherford and Creek princess Sehoy Tate Weatherford, his war name was Hopnicafutsahia, "Truth Teller," but he was commonly referred to as Lamochattee, "Red Eagle." However, Weatherford, who would play an important part in Alabama history, was only one-eighth Creek Indian; but in the Creek nation, descent was determined by the mother, and his white father was of no concern to them.

The date of birth on his marker is 1765, but there is some debate over when he was actually born. Red Eagle had three wives, marrying first Mary Moniac around 1797, then Sopathe Thlanie in 1804, and lastly Mary Stiggins in 1817. He had many children.

Conflicts over land were common as white settlers moved into Creek territory. The Creek Nation became divided between those who thought cooperation with whites was best, and the more militant Indians who thought the whites were slowly taking their lands. Those who feared losing more land were called Red Sticks, meaning they supplied warriors. On August 30, 1813, Red Eagle and his band of Red Sticks attacked Fort Mims. At the time, the fort was little more than a flimsy stockade built around the home of Samuel Mims, who had given shelter to settlers seeking refuge from the threat of Creek attacks. The battle only raged for about four hours and became known as the Fort Mims Massacre. Red Eagle was known to have grieved after the attack where 500 white settlers – men, women and children - and several hundred Creek Indian Warriors were killed. The rest of the country was horrorstruck with the news.

Chief Weatherford in Andrew Jackson’s tent. This nineteenth-century engraving depicts the well-known moment after the Creek War (1813-14) when Red Stick Chief William Weatherford, aka Red Eagle, initiated his alliance with Andrew Jackson.

After the gruesome attack on Fort Mims, General Andrew Jackson dispatched a force of 500 troops under his lieutenant John Coffee to the Creek village of Tallushatchee in what is now Calhoun County. This battle even included the legendary Davy Crockett! There Coffee’s troops slew 180 Creek warriors, only losing five troopers in the process. No sooner had Coffee returned, however, that word was received of Red Eagle and a thousand of his warriors attacking Talladega, just 30 miles to the south. Jackson headed to Talladega with 1,200 infantry and 800 cavalry. Jackson surrounded Talladega, but Red Eagle and 700 of his warriors escaped, leaving 300 of his people dead and Talladega saved. The American losses were less severe with 15 dead and 85 wounded.

On December 23, 1813, General William Claiborne was able to surprise Red Eagle in the village of Oconochaca. This was the Battle of Holy Ground in current day Lowndes County where Red Eagle escaped capture yet again, and was said to have jumped from a bluff into the Alabama River while on horseback.

On March 17, 1814, during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County, Red Eagle and the Creeks’ power fell when their losses far outweighed those of General Andrew Jackson. The Indians had attempted to attack in three places simultaneously, but one of the forces failed to emerge and Jackson was barely able to hold them off. He retreated, but was able to rally his troops and push the Indians out. When the dust had settled, it was discovered Red Eagle had been absent from the battle. Jackson asked the Indians to find Red Eagle and turn him in, but Jackson was surprised when the Chief rode into his camp at Fort Jackson to formally surrender.

William “Red Eagle” Weatherford, who played an important part in Alabama history, is buried beside his beloved mother, Sehoy Tate Weatherford, Princess of the Creek Indian Nation, below Little River in north Baldwin County.

Weatherford said to him, "My warriors no longer hear my voice. Their bones are at Talladega, Tallushatchee and Tohopeka …. I now ask for peace for my nation, and for myself."

Jackson was filled with sympathy and admiration for the Chief, and pardoned Red Eagle. Many were angry with Red Eagle and told Jackson to kill him, but instead Jackson protected him saying, "Any man who would kill a man as brave as this would rob the dead!"

Once Weatherford was pardoned and sent to a safe place by Jackson, he became a prominent citizen and wealthy planter in Monroe County. After the war, Jackson had forced the Indians to cede 8 million acres of prime Alabama land to the government, and then ordered them removed to Oklahoma. Weatherford and his family were excluded from the Indian removal that came to be known as the infamous "Trail of Tears."

William Weatherford died at the age of 60 on March 9, 1824, reportedly of pneumonia, and was buried beside his beloved mother below Little River in north Baldwin County a few miles north of Fort Mims. The park is off State 59 near Chrysler on County Road 84. Turn onto Dixie Landing Road, then onto TJ Earle Road – signs are posted with arrows pointing the way!

Dixie Landing Café would make a great restaurant stop after touring the small park (open Friday-Sunday). There are also a boat launch and swimming spots located nearby.

Emily McLaughlin is a freelance writer from Uriah.

In the News

Service Awards Presented at AFC Annual Meeting

AFC’s CEO Roger Pangle presented Service Awards at the annual meeting in Montgomery.

Roger Pangle presents Wayne Holt with a plaque in recognition of his 40 years of service to Alabama Farmers Cooperatice.

35 years – Janice Moran, AFC, Risk Manager

30 years – Susan Parker, AFC, Director of Lawn & Garden

25 years – Steve Lann, general manager of Marion County Co-op; Vanessa Chandler, AFC, 401k Administrator; Steve Moore, AFC Vice President of Feed, Farm & Home Division; Aaron Lynch, AFC, Management Services Representative

20 years – Todd Smith, manager of Hartford Farmers Co-op

15 years – Jimmy Hughes, AFC Animal Nutritionist; Keith Griffin, general manager of Madison County Co-op (not pictured)

10 years – Karen Linker, manager of Franklin County Co-op; Tricia Arnold, AFC, Cooperate Controller and Assistant Treasurer; James Fudge, AFC, Vice President of Management Services; Perry Catrett, manager of Luverne Cooperative Services; Chris Casey, manager of Jay Peanut Farmers Co-op (not pictured)

5 years – Jo Ann Fuller, AFC, Assistant Cooperate Controller

Product Spotlight

Shaver Post Drivers

by John Sims

Shaver is a leading manufacturer of professional grade post drivers. Shaver’s post drivers are engineered for the most demanding jobs, from tough soil conditions to tricky side hills and have the ability to drive a wide variety of post types. Shaver gives you a choice of drivers to fit your operation. Choose between skid steer-mounted drivers, trailer-mounted drivers or tractor-mounted drivers.

On tractor-mounted drivers, you have a choice between front- and rear-mounted models. You can choose from three driver models based on the power you need and the types of posts you plan to install. The HD-8 model has 30,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a10-foot post up to 7 1/8 inches in diameter. The HD-10 model has 71,500-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 8 ¾ inches in diameter. The HD-12 model has 100,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 10 7/8 inches in diameter (even railroad ties). These drivers can be adjusted for any angle you need to drive posts on slopes. You can choose between hydraulic- or manual-angle adjustments.

Regardless of which model you choose, you can be assured you’ll get the quality that professionals have come to rely on from a Shaver post driver. These products provide you with the power, simplicity and speed needed to make fence building easy.

Contact your local Quality Co-op store for pricing and delivery of your new Shaver post driver. While you are there, pick up all of your posts, wire and fencing supplies.

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact me

John Sims is an AFC products specialist.

Shaver is a leading manufacturer of professional grade post drivers. Shaver’s post drivers are engineered for the most demanding jobs, from tough soil conditions to tricky side hills and have the ability to drive a wide variety of post types. Shaver gives you a choice of drivers to fit your operation. Choose between skid steer-mounted drivers, trailer-mounted drivers or tractor-mounted drivers.
On tractor-mounted drivers, you have a choice between front- and rear-mounted models. You can choose from three driver models based on the power you need and the types of posts you plan to install. The HD-8 model has 30,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a10-foot post up to 7 1/8 inches in diameter. The HD-10 model has 71,500-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 8 ¾ inches in diameter. The HD-12 model has 100,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 10 7/8 inches in diameter (even railroad ties). These drivers can be adjusted for any angle you need to drive posts on slopes. You can choose between hydraulic- or manual-angle adjustments.
Regardless of which model you choose, you can be assured you’ll get the quality that professionals have come to rely on from a Shaver post driver. These products provide you with the power, simplicity and speed needed to make fence building easy.
Contact your local Quality Co-op store for pricing and delivery of your new Shaver post driver. While you are there, pick up all of your posts, wire and fencing supplies.
If you have any questions or need assistance, contact me at n

John Sims is an AFC products specialist.

Homeplace & Community

Sitting Empty

Laney Grocery in Massey

The Closing of the Small Country Stores

by Keith Johnson

As you drive across rural America today one of the things you may notice is the number of small country stores sitting empty, no longer serving their communities.

One of these small stores sits in Massey, a small community in the southern part of Morgan County. Residents of the area still bemoan the closing of the little store that for so many years served them not only as a place to purchase gas and food but also as a hub of the community where neighbors could sit and visit. If no one was there when you first arrived, all you had to do was wait a short time and an old friend would come through. If time permitted, a lively conversation would ensue about the price of cotton or cattle, the health of another neighbor or a new job.

A closed country store in the Battleground community on Corn Road in Cullman County.

When the elementary school in Massey was closed during the consolidation craze of the 1960s, the store became the only place left where the entire community came together, since the people attended several different churches. It was the nerve center of the community where people got not only bread and milk but precious information about the community.

If residents heard an ambulance, calls quickly came into the store to find out who was hurt or sick. In a matter of minutes, someone at the store knew what had happened and the information was relayed out. If help was needed, it was usually organized at the store.

Oscar and Audie Thomason, who ran the store longer than anyone else, also had a one chair barbershop. That barber chair in front of the picture window was everyone’s favorite seat if no one was getting a haircut.

Kids rode their bikes for miles to get an ice cold soft drink on hot summer days. Workers stopped by to get a quick lunch of hoop cheese, bologna and crackers. Avid readers met the bookmobile once a month to get a fresh supply of reading material. Families came during the heat of the day to get a break from chopping cotton before returning to the fields. Farmers came in to cash a check so they could pay the crews of teenage boys who helped them haul their hay to the barn. The school bus even let the high school kids off at the store so they could get a Pepsi with peanuts in it while the driver went to pick up the elementary kids and then picked them up again on the way back.

Anders Grocery on Nanceford Road outside of Hartselle.

Funny stories were told and elaborate practical jokes were pulled. A great deal of wisdom was imparted from one generation to the next and more than one romance began there that ended in marriage and family.

The store kept long hours, but was sure to close if the Methodist Church across the street had a funeral out of sympathy for the mourning family. Everyone understood. It was just expected.

These little family-run stores that were once so ubiquitous are now rare and becoming more so each year. Part of the reason is, of course, people are more willing to drive 10 miles each way to town and give their money to the bigger stores. But there is much more to the story than that.

Endless government regulations that have crushed other small businesses have hit small groceries, too. To give one example, some of the older underground gas tanks were known to be leaking fuel into the groundwater supply. In order to fix the problem, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered nearly all of the old tanks to be removed and replaced or the stores would face fines of up to $11,000 per day whether or not a store’s tanks were leaking. A fund was set up to help defray the cost of removing the tanks, but the tanks and pumps required to replace the old ones often cost more than the store’s building and land. With profit margins already very thin, thousands of the little stores were forced to close, leaving communities without a store in their area.

The effect of the shutting of these businesses was devastating. The owners’ businesses were destroyed. Their customers had to waste time and money to drive many more miles to purchase the necessities. This created more traffic and wear on the roads, and, ironically, more pollution was created by the increase in the driving that resulted.

Needless to say, the people actually affected by these regulations were never consulted about what they wanted, but they were the ones who paid the vast majority of the economic and environmental costs. There is no way to calculate the social costs.

Meanwhile, the well-paid bureaucrats and politicians in Washington go on blissfully unaware of the law of unintended consequences and unaffected by their own actions.

Keith Johnson is a freelance writer from Morgan County.

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Once Toby learned his route, delivering papers became easy as pie."

What does pie have to do with a paper route?

"Easy as pie" means a task does not require much labor or effort.

But pies aren’t especially easy to make. The easiness comes with the eating - at least that was the view in 19th century America where this phrase was coined. There are various mid-19th century United States citations, whilst not using "as easy as pie" verbatim, pointing to "pie" being used to denote pleasantry and ease. "Pie" in this sense is archetypally American, as American as apple pie in fact. The usage first comes in the phrase "as nice as pie," as found here in "Which: Right or Left?" in 1855:

"For nearly a week afterwards, the domestics observed significantly to each other, that Miss Isabella was as ‘nice as pie!’"

Mark Twain frequently used just "pie" to mean pleasant or accommodating: "In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," 1884:

"You’re always as polite as pie to them."

"So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice ... and was just old pie to him, so to speak."

Pie was also used at that time for something that was easy to accomplish; for example, in The U.S. magazine Sporting Life, May 1886:

"As for stealing second and third, it’s like eating pie."

"Pie in the sky," also an American phrase from around the same time, refers to "pie" as something pleasant we are promised we will eventually receive.

The earliest example of the actual phrase "as easy as pie" I can find comes from the Rhode Island newspaper The Newport Mercury, June 1887, in a comic story about two down-and-outs in New York:

"You see veuever I goes I takes away mit me a silverspoon or a knife or somethings, an’ I gets two or three dollars for them. It’s easy as pie. Vy don’t you try it?"

Pie seems to rank right up there with cake in the U.S. lexicon of ease and pleasantry – "a piece of cake," "take the cake" and "cake-walk" are all American phrases from the 19th century.

Farm & Field

Spring Small Ruminant Prices for 2014

by Robert Spencer

Anyone who has studied goat and sheep prices knows there are certain seasonal price trends. There are two verifiable market trends: (1) Early spring (February and March) when prices tend to be highest while May through October prices tend to be lowest, and prices follow a rising trend from November into early spring. (2) Ideal market weights tend to include ranges from 40-80 pounds. For the past few years, peak market prices for premium grade (#1) animals in early spring have exceeded $2 per pound (live weight) for young animals in the previously mentioned weight ranges. The primary variables relevant to goat and sheep production include average daily gains for individual young livestock, ideal breeding time frames, and when to take animals to market. A plan including simple recordkeeping, an ideal quality nutrition plan, and flexibility in delivering groups of animals to convenient sales facilities can reduce these risks. All it takes to "cash-in" on maximum potential market prices is management and planning.

Average daily gain is probably the biggest variable, but can easily be calculated by documenting and tracking birth weight, and 30-, 60- and 90-day weigh-in for individual or groups of animals. Simple documentation and knowing ADGs will provide the ability to project when animals should reach ideal target weights and be ready for market. Take a look at the tables to gain a better perspective on how varying ADGs can influence the length of time necessary to achieve ideal market weights. Higher ADGs result in shorter time frames to achieve ideal market weight which means less inputs (feeds and medicines). While genetics has an influence on individual performance trends, tracking individual performances can lead to an effective culling program for low-performance animals. Simple documentation and calculation provide control that reduces risk and provides indicators on when to market groups of animals based on performance, and which poor performers need culling.

The provision or lack of a quality nutrient program determines whether animals achieve their full potential growth or not. Provision of year-round quality forages (yes, it is possible) and minerals with supplementation of quality hay and grain-based feeds will benefit your animals and greatly enhance their abilities to achieve their full potential performance. Quality forages and minerals are essential, provision of supplemental quality hay and grain-based feeds for adults at appropriate times (prior to breeding and during lactation) will enhance their productivity. This applies to young animals and includes the need for a creep feeder, allowing them continuous access to grain-based feeds to satisfy their additional nutrient requirements! And, don’t forget, continuous access to fresh water for all animals!

Good health also plays a role in animals achieving their full potential and the provision of ideal nutrition, minerals and a good health management plan help deal with problems such as coccidia, stomach worms and other less likely health issues. Culling animals with sets of ongoing health problems will reduce stress (financial, mental and emotional) on you and reduce the potential of infestation to remaining animals.

Understanding the need for a reproductive management program operating within a futuristic view is essential to knowing when to allow your animals to breed. Awareness of ADG and a five-month gestation time frame for small ruminants is essential to knowing ideal breeding times so young are at ideal target weights next spring. If you will look at the table which addresses these two factors, you will gain a better perspective on why early to late summer is an ideal time to allow your animals to breed. For example, assuming a newborn will weigh eight pounds at birth, gain half-a-pound per day and allowing five months for gestation indicates the animal will be at 52 pounds (desirable market weight) within a combined total of eight months. If the middle of March is your targeted month for delivering animals to market, then your animals should be breeding in June.

Other variables to consider: Sheep tend to have a slightly quicker grow-out rate than goats, and transportation results in shrinkage (weight loss of bodily fluids, perspiration and frequent urination from stress) that could range from 2-20 percent of body weight, and male animals tend to grow-out moderately quicker than females. An animal leaving your farm weighing 50 pounds and riding for two hours could weigh 45 pounds when arriving at the market scales (10 percent weight loss). Knowing these variables and planning for them reduces risks associated with production and marketing. The only variable you are never likely to have any control over is the number of goats and sheep delivered to a livestock sales facility. When supply is down, then prices are up; supply is up, prices drop. Supply, demand and prices, all simple economics; it’s an ongoing saga faced by all types of farmers.

While there are no guarantees on what market prices will be for 2014, you now have a better idea how to more effectively take control of a reproduction plan that can be expected to achieve maximum, seasonal prices. Given the price history of the past 3 years, knowing inventories for goats and sheep have continued to decline for the same years, and knowing there is a seasonal demand for goats and sheep during early spring should indicate projections of $2+ per pound can be expected for next year. Decreasing supply and stable or increasing demand resulting in stable or increasing prices are a simple economic concept involving supply and demand. Study the two tables and you will have a better idea of suitable reproductive planning time frames, anticipated market delivery dates for groups based on ADGs, and, with an increased awareness of other variables, you now have a better grasp of developing a reproductive and marketing plan.

There is a famous quote, "People don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan." That is so true in many cases such as planning for next year’s prime livestock markets. Prices and trends have been documented, reports and articles written, and all indicates seasonal goat and sheep market prices tend to hit a consistent premium February through March and sometimes early April, depending on when Easter falls. And these same resources show ideal market weights range from 50-80 pounds (live weight). The two biggest variable concerns for a producer will be (1) ADG for individual animals, and (2) calendar dates for reproduction plans whereby sets of animals should be implemented approximately 8-10 months in advance. Farm production of any type tends to be a risky venture, but we know certain trends and indicators have been studied and consistently occur, especially in the case of seasonal goat and sheep prices.

Why not benefit from knowing spring prices tend to be a premium, and implement a reproduction plan now that targets spring small ruminant prices for 2014?

Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Farm & Field

Stop Foot Rot

by Jackie Nix

As I sit writing this, February is on track for record rainfall. The recent heavy rains have created a problem we haven’t seen in awhile – standing water. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, cattle have to stand in this water. As a result, we see more cases of foot rot and lame cattle. Lame cows won’t graze and thus won’t make enough milk for calves, and lame calves won’t graze either resulting in further reduced weight gains. Lame bulls will not travel to seek out females in heat, meaning more open cows at the end of breeding season.

Why Does Wet Weather Cause More Foot Rot?

Foot rot is caused by anaerobic bacteria that cannot penetrate intact healthy hoof tissue. However, when cattle continually stand in water and mud, their hooves soften, just like your fingernails after a long bath. Softened hooves are less impervious to punctures and abrasions, thus giving the foot rot bacterium a route into the hoof. Therefore we see more foot rot in herds exposed to long periods of wet weather.

Signs of Foot Rot

Foot rot is first characterized by swelling between the toes. Eventually the skin splits open to reveal necrotic, foul-smelling tissue. The affected foot will be warm to the touch. Cattle often run a temperature and appear lethargic. The initial reddening of the skin is sometimes known as foot scald. If left untreated, the infection may progress up the foot into the joints, tendons and bone. If this occurs, the animal rarely recovers.

Other conditions causing lameness are often misdiagnosed as foot rot. These include sole ulcers and abscesses, sole abrasions, cuts, punctures and laminitis. Cattle grazing endophyte-infected fescue pastures that have developed fescue toxicity experience a loss of blood circulation to the feet causing lameness and are sometimes misdiagnosed as having foot rot. For these reasons, it is important to examine the affected animal(s) closely to confirm the problem is in fact foot rot.


Contagious foot rot is mainly spread by infected animals. The bacterium travels from the infected animal to the soil to non-infected animals. These bacteria can survive in the soil 1-10 months and even longer within the hoof tissues. Problems are usually introduced into a "clean" herd by purchasing an infected animal, mixing "clean" animals with infected animals or by using a facility (such as salebarn) after infected animals. Humans can also spread the disease on their boots or vehicles.


Do not purchase animals from herds showing signs of lameness. Always quarantine new animals (from any source) before introducing them into your herd. If you observe signs of lameness, clean and examine the foot to establish if you are dealing with foot rot. In mild cases, topical application of zinc sulfate solutions or other acceptable treatments may be all that is necessary. In severe cases, antibiotics may be in order. Consult your local veterinarian for more information about diagnosis and treatment. Cattle displaying chronic foot rot symptoms should be culled, as they will act as a reservoir for the foot rot organism for the entire herd.

Management practices helping reduce hoof damage can help to reduce the incidence of foot rot in your herd. Maintain good drainage in and around watering and feeding areas. You may also think about placing concrete pads in these areas to reduce the amount of mud. Do not utilize sharp gravel in travel lanes. Proper mineral nutrition, especially zinc and copper, can also help to improve hoof integrity and strength, and reduce the incidences of foot rot.

Role of Zinc and Copper in Hoof Integrity

Zinc is critical in maintaining hoof tissues including, but not limited to, stimulating growth, production of keratin (the part that makes the hoof hard), improved wound healing and improved cellular integrity. Zinc-deficient cattle exhibit increased claw and hoof disorders as well as skin disorders and poor wound healing. Improved zinc nutrition has been proven to improve hoof health in deficient animals.

Copper is required for healthy claw horn tissue as well. Copper deficiency decreases the structural strength of hoof tissue. Copper deficiency also results in decreased immunity, infertility and decreased growth.

Natural deficiencies in Alabama soils as well as high levels of antagonists make proper supplementation of zinc and copper extremely important. Cattle producers who have observed lameness in their cattle should consider use of one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplement products.

All CopperHead supplement products deliver enhanced levels of copper and zinc, as well as other essential minerals and vitamins. The CopperHead line of mineral supplements contains organic forms of zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt for optimum bioavailability. Sweetlix CopperHead supplements also have the added advantage of RainBloc for improved resistance to moisture.

In summary, incidences of foot rot increase during prolonged wet weather. There are many management practices you can employ to reduce foot rot on your farm. Included among these is proper supplementation of zinc and copper. Many Alabama cattle show deficiency symptoms including discolored hair coats, slow to shed winter coats, depressed immunity, decreased conception rates, increased days open and hoof problems. If your cattle experience any of these symptoms, you should use of one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplements to help enhance copper and zinc nutrition. Ask for CopperHead by name at your local Quality Co-op, call 1-87SWEETLIX or visit to learn more about these and other SWEETLIX supplement products for cattle.

Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations ( You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about the Sweetlix line of mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife.

From Pastor to Pasture

The Co-op Pantry

When Karen Linker, manager of Franklin County Co-op, suggested I feature Mrs. Barbara Turner Bishop as my cook of the month, I was excited and after talking with her, I became ecstatic. As well as being one of the best cooks in the state, Barbara has led an incredible life.

Barbara was born in Tuscaloosa, but her father felt his family would do much better being raised on a farm, so at the age of 5, she and her family moved to Franklin County. Barbara grew up well and truly a country girl. Her family grew their own vegetables, and had fruit trees and grapes. In addition, they also raised cows, pigs and chickens.

"I helped slaughter the chickens and beef, but usually didn’t have to help with the hogs," Barbara stated.

If this was not enough, she also helped chop cotton and pick it. She recounted how they also grew sugar cane and harvested it to make their own sorghum molasses.

Barbara graduated from high school at Phil Campbell and graduated from North West Junior College in 1968. She originally wanted to become a teacher, but a gentleman named William Bishop instead talked her into becoming his wife. They have now been married for 43 years!

Barbara related how she worked as a shipper and then as a secretary at Haleyville Textile until her son William Jr. was born. After William Jr. started school Barbara worked as a substitute teacher. William Jr. is now the director of the Center of Technology at Haleyville High School and his lovely wife Leah Hardin Bishop is a special education teacher at Lynn Elementary. William and Leah have two daughters, Aleah and Allie.

Both Barbara’s mother and grandmother taught her to sew and cook at a young age. Her family canned or froze everything from the bountiful produce of their farm. The one exception to this was dried pinto beans – which her father refused to eat. She told the hilarious story of the first time she tried to prepare pinto beans for her new husband and, never having cooked them before, failed to wash them. It was a disaster!

Two of her favorite cooking shows are "The Barefoot Contessa" and "Paula Deen." She also enjoys collecting recipes from Southern Living and Alabama Living. This busy lady also contributes recipes for fundraising cookbooks.

Sourdough Bread

Both Barbara and William are active in their community in a variety of ways. She is secretary of Seekers of the Past, a support group for the Franklin County Archives. She is also a member of the New Hope United Methodist Church and is an active member of their Homemakers Club which supports Hospice, St. Jude’s, The Shriners Hospital, and makes baby blankets for hospitals and throws for nursing homes. A special ministry is making blankets to be carried in police cars for children who have to be removed from dangerous situations. The Bishops are active at the Union Community Saddle Club. He is their secretary/treasurer. She is the secretary for the Oak Grove Cemetery Board.

I am so appreciative Barbara has allowed us a glimpse of her life and has also shared some of her favorite recipes with us this month. Thank you, Barbara!

Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her


1½ cups peanuts
1 cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ stick butter
1 inch square paraffin
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a microwave-safe dish, microwave the sugar, syrup and butter for 3 minutes on high. Stir in the paraffin and as it melts, stir in the peanuts. Mix well and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Check then microwave for 4 minutes more. DO NOT stir at any time when checking. Remove the dish from the microwave. Add the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly stir and pour onto a greased cookie sheet. Cool and then break into pieces.
Note: You may substitute 2 cups of pecans if you do not like or are allergic to peanuts.


1 head lettuce
2 cups cauliflower flowers
2 cups broccoli flowers
2 cups sweet English peas, frozen
1 cup green onions
5 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
2 cups mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sugar
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Layer first six ingredients in listed order starting with the lettuce. Put last three ingredients on the salad in listed order. Refrigerate and let sit for at least 8 hours. Mix all the ingredients together before serving. This will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.


1 large head cabbage
1 cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Grate entire cabbage and place in a glass bowl. In a stainless steel pan, heat sugar, white vinegar and salt until it comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and immediately pour over the cabbage. Use a stainless steel or wooden spoon to stir the cabbage mixture. Press the cabbage down to where all the cabbage is in the liquid. Put in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight before serving.


1 can French-style green beans, drained
1 (12-ounce) can shoe peg corn
¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
8 ounces sour cream
½ cup celery, chopped
1 can cream celery soup
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 stick butter
½ cup pecans, chopped
1½ cups cheese crackers

Layer green beans and corn in 2-quart casserole. Mix bell pepper, onion, sour cream, celery and soup. Pour over beans and corn. Mix cheese, butter and pecans. Crush crackers and spread over the top of the casserole. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350°.


1 quart mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons salt
6 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons black pepper
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons sugar

Mix all with an electric mixer or in a blender until blended well and salt and sugar are melted. Put in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Note: This is very good with smoked chicken.


1½ cups cornmeal
1 cup onion, chopped
3 teaspoons sugar
½ cup oil
1 bag grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream corn
4 eggs, well beaten
1 can chopped green chilies
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients except ½ the bag of cheese and ½ the melted butter. Pour ½ of the cornbread mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the other half of the cheese over the mixture. Pour in the rest of the cornbread mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. After cooking, pour the remaining butter over the bread and let it cool a little. This is good both warm and cold.


1 package dry yeast
1½ cups warm water, divided
¾ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons instant potato flakes

Only use glass bowls and wooden mixing spoons. Mix yeast with ½ cup of water. Combine the sugar with remaining water and potato flakes. Stir. Loosely cover with plastic wrap with a couple of holes punched in it. Let it stand all day. Refrigerate that night.


¾ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons instant potatoes
1 cup of warm water

Regulate starter every 3-5 days. Remove from refrigerator. Add sugar, instant potatoes and water to starter. Mix well and let stand out of refrigerator all day. Remove 1 cup to use in making bread and return the rest to the refrigerator to continue use as starter. Keep covered. If you are not making bread after each feeding, throw or give away.


1 cup sourdough starter
½ cup sugar
1½ cups warm water
½ cup corn oil, plus more for coating
6 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon salt

Evening: Place starter in large bowl. Add sugar, water, corn oil, flour and salt. Make into stiff batter. Divide into 3 portions or 4 smaller ones. Roll in corn oil. Put all portions into a larger greased bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter overnight to rise.

Next morning: Punch down with fists. Divide into 3 or 4 parts. Knead each part on a floured surface. Put into greased loaf pans, preferably glass pans. Brush with corn oil. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let stand for 8-12 hours.Evening: Bake on bottom oven rack at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!


Boston butt roast
Bad Byron’s Butt Rub

Double a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to cover roast completely. Lay foil in a roasting pan and place roast on foil. Completely coat roast with Rub. Turn oven on to broil and put roast in oven. Leave for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the roast with the foil so it will not lose any of its steam or juices. Cook at 225° for hour per pound of roast. (Example: If roast weighs 5 pounds, roast it for 5-6 hours.) Let roast rest for 30 minutes after removing from oven. Then open and pull the meat.


¾ cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup milk
1½ pounds ground beef
½ pound ground pork
2 eggs, beaten
½ onion, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon sage
¼ teaspoon pepper
Chili sauce

Soak bread crumbs in milk. Add remaining ingredients except chili sauce. Mix well. Pack into an 8½ X 4½ X 2½ loaf pan to shape. Invert on a shallow baking pan. Score the loaf diagonally with a kitchen knife. Bake in a moderate oven at 350° for 1 hour. Fill scored marks with chili sauce and bake an additional 15 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.


1 box lemon supreme cake mix
5 eggs
¾ cup oil
1 (3-ounce) box lime Jell-O
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
6 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Mix all ingredients with electric mixer. Place wax paper in two 8- or 9-inch layer pans. Pour into pans. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. After removing cake layers from oven, drizzle with a mixture of lime juice and confectioners’ sugar while still in pans. Leave in pans to cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove and finishing cooling on greased wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
¾ stick butter

Mix everything with an electric mixer until nice and creamy. Ice cake. Very good!


1 large can crushed pineapple
3 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 box yellow cake mix
1½ sticks butter, melted
1 cup pecans, chopped

Mix pineapple, blueberries and sugar. Spread in glass baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix over mixture. Sprinkle pecan over cake mix. Pour butter on top. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes.


2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 sticks butter
5 eggs
½ teaspoon walnut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup black walnuts, crushed

Cream butter and sugar well. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Fold in flour. Add flavorings. Dust black walnuts lightly with flour and fold into the batter. Bake in tube pan at 300° for 1 hour or until done.

I am looking for cooks of all ages, cooking traditions and skill levels to feature in this column. I want to hear from those in Alabama as well as our out-of-state readers. The simple requirements for being a featured cook are to love to cook (and eat) and to share your story with us. Get those recipes coming! Email me at -- Mary

From the State Vet's Office

The Tip of the Iceberg

Johne’s and Other Smoldering Diseases

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I don’t think about Johne’s Disease (pronounced yo-nees) very often. A few years ago, I paid a lot of attention to it when the USDA Veterinary Services began the Voluntary Johne’s Disease Control Program. Because the disease accounted for an estimated loss of $200 to $250 million dollars annually to the United States dairy industry, an aggressive attempt was made to try to reduce the prevalence and the economic loss caused by the disease. A 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System study showed about 68 percent of U.S. dairies were infected with the organism Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, the causative agent of Johne’s Disease. Research shows only about 8 percent of beef herds are infected by the organism.

I suppose you could say that since we are not a dairy state but most of our cattle reside in beef herds, Johne’s Disease should not be much of a concern to us. But consider that in 2012, we had over 21,000 farms in Alabama with beef cattle, meaning close to 1,700 farms with the organism on the farm. And while we have a small number of dairy farms in the state, they certainly play an important role in animal agriculture in Alabama. By the way, did I ever mention I used to wish I had a small dairy farm to teach my kids most of what they needed to know about life?

I do recall from my days in private practice that Johne’s is a problem in some beef herds. Sometimes I would get that call from a producer who had previously dealt with the disease. "Hey, Doc, I think I may have another one of those Johne’s cows." Those producers had learned the young to middle-aged cow that developed a case of diarrhea that would not respond to treatment and caused significant loss of body condition likely had Johne’s disease. They had seen it before. Those producers had learned the disease was something they had gotten with a cow purchased from somewhere else. They also knew the organism, once on the farm, is pretty much hard to get rid of without a great deal of effort. And even then, control rather than eradication may be the goal.

Unfortunately, many of the producers who have the organism in their herds are not aware of the disease unless they have one of those cows I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The Voluntary Johne’s Disease Control Program was only funded for a brief period. However, during that brief period of 3-4 years, a handful of veterinarians in Alabama carried the ball a little farther down the field by working with herd owners to complete Johne’s Disease risk assessments and develop Johne’s Disease control plans. The USDA program also helped us to fund laboratory support for diagnostic equipment and supplies. When the USDA needed to make budget cuts, the funding to states for the Voluntary Johne’s Disease Control Program dried up … and, for the most part, participation in the program was not far behind.

The problem with diseases like Johne’s, BVD and other diseases that tend to get into a herd and smolder is you can’t usually walk out into the herd and identify the animals affected by the disease. Often the animals are affected in such subtle ways the producer doesn’t really notice he is literally being robbed. A cow may produce a calf every year that makes it to weaning. But with a closer look, that cow’s calf is always in the lower ten percent of the herd when it comes to weaning weight. Also, it is likely there is at least a handful, if not more, of cows infected; those silent losses really add up. Those cows that develop nonresponsive diarrhea and begin to lose body condition are only the tip of the iceberg. When you think of the tip of the iceberg or the portion visible out of the water, it is usually only a small fraction of the whole iceberg. The same is true with Johne’s Disease. Most of the loss caused by the disease may not be obvious to the casual observer.

Let’s do a little hypothetical calculating to see what kind of negative economic impact may be caused by Johne’s Disease. This will be on the conservative side. Let’s say a producer with 30 brood cows has Johne’s in the herd. About every 3-5 years, a young to middle-aged cow, right after calving, develops intermittent, explosive diarrhea. The producer gives two rounds of dewormer costing about $8 each. The diarrhea continues and the cow loses weight, not to mention the calf lags behind the rest of the herd. The producer calls the veterinarian, who suspects Johne’s Disease. The cow is treated for diarrhea and tested for Johne’s Disease at a cost of $65, assuming the cow was taken to the veterinary clinic and there is no charge for a farm call. At weaning, the calf weighs 70 pounds less than the herd average. If we figure only $1.50 per pound for the calf, that is a loss of $105. Then the producer loses the brood cow that would have normally brought $600 as a healthy cull. These figures approach $800. This loss represents the tip of the iceberg. The part of the iceberg hidden under the surface is the 10 brood cows in the herd that have the disease without the obvious outward signs. Those ten cows have calves in the bottom half of weaning weights for the herd. In fact, their calves are off by 60 pounds. At our hypothetical $1.50 a pound, that is an additional loss of $900 a year that is not really obvious.

One other concern related to Johne’s Disease is that some states have regulations that do not allow Johne’s Disease-positive cattle to move into their state. I occasionally receive a call into my office from a producer, often purebred or seed stock producer, who has become aware they have Johne’s in their herd when a preshipment test has been reported negative.

Most beef producers are not affected by Johne’s Disease. I have often said, if you roll the dice, Johne’s Disease will never be a problem in your herd. However, if you always roll the dice, every time you toss the dice, your chances of rolling snake eyes increase. The implementation of prudent purchasing and management practices certainly stacks the deck in your favor when it comes to Johne’s Disease. Let me encourage you to contact your local veterinarian or to contact me if you have questions or concerns about Johne’s Disease.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

Home Grown Tomatoes

Those Pesky Pests are Peeving My Pets!

by Kenn Alan

Ah, spring. It is like a breath of fresh air compared to those old cold months we have to tolerate just to get back here. The air is warm, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing.

But, wait! What is that on the underside of my gardenia leaves? Holy-moly! What happened to my Meyer lemon trees during the cold weather? And, are those aphids on my cilantro?

Spring brings beauty, but it also brings bugs and that, well, that just bugs me!

I don’t mind bending over to pull a few under-desired volunteer nuisances (weeds) because it’s exercise and it also gives me an opportunity to see my little baby plants as they begin to mature.

Battling bugs is my least favorite part of gardening, especially since I don’t like to use non-organic chemical pesticides.

Here, we will take a look at some of the problems I am experiencing in the Tomato Tower gardens, how you can detect the same problems in your garden and how you can remedy the situation as quickly and easily as possible. (Yeah, right!)

Clockwise from top left, tobacco horn worm with beneficial parasitoid wasp cocoons attached. Sometimes the bad guys help us out. Here is a yellow jacket feeding on a tomato hornworm. Cutworms feed at night and hide in ground litter under the plants by day.

The sooner you detect a pest problem, the better. It is much easier to fight a few insects on your plants than wait until there is an infestation, because these little buggers multiply fast and often.

Walk through your garden at least once per week and actually look at the leaves, stems, fruits and flowers. Turn the leaves over and look for bugs living and feeding there. That is a common place for some insects to hide.

Whitefly damage on Meyer lemon.

If you see edges of leaves or ends of stems that have been chewed on, then look for caterpillars and other biting pests. Tomato and pepper plants attract sphinx moth larvae like hornworms and such. They make great fish bait, but they can also devour your plants in a matter of days.

Watch for the signs. If you find a large hornworm, you have not been checking your plants often enough. Look for the droppings on the ground around the plants or on the leaves underneath the chewed leaves and stems. The droppings will be pellets, dark green to black in color and vary in size according to the size of the caterpillar.

The best method of organic control for hornworms is to pick them off by hand and feed them to the songbirds. The little horn on the caterpillar, contrary to popular belief, is not a stinger. It is merely a façade designed to fool you into believing it can hurt you.

This year has been a tough year for flea beetle damage. These are little jumping beetles that bite holes and leave shot hole damage in seedlings and otherwise immature plants. Insecticides containing carbaryl (Sevin) are effective in controlling flea beetles, as well as other biting insects. It is important to know what you are combating before you apply the chemicals. Carbaryl is also extremely dangerous to bees.

Whitefly infestations can cause severe damage to plants. Watch for the signs. As you walk through your garden, brush your hands across the tops of the plants and watch for the tiny whiteflies to ascend. They live and work their damage on the undersides of plant leaves.

Whiteflies have piercing-sucking mouthparts and can be controlled with regular treatments of insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils containing neem. Also, certain flowers can be interplanted with vegetables offering whitefly-deterring benefits. Nasturtiums, for example, are thought to provide root chemicals deterring whitefly, and the flowers are edible! Zinnias, bee balm and other mints attract natural predators of whiteflies.

There are over 4 thousand known species of aphids and many of them are agricultural threats. Like whiteflies, aphids have a piercing-sucking mouthpart. They feed on the sap of the plants and excrete their honeydew which has its own negative issues for plants. The honeydew can cause sooty mold, mildew and it also attracts certain ants that will actually protect the aphids from natural predators.

Aphids can be controlled with neem, Safer soap and other organic horticultural chemicals.

As you can see, aphids come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Scale is a problem on certain ornamental shrubbery, but can also attack ferns and trees. Although scales have the same type of mouthparts as aphids and whiteflies, some types of these creatures are more difficult to combat with insecticidal soaps. Neem and other types of horticultural oils work well. Just remember to use them, and all other chemicals, according to the manufacturer’s labels.

Don’t get bugged this spring!

Month Two. There wasn’t room for a picture of the gourd garden this month, so here’s a short list of what I planted: dipper and birdhouse gourds; luffa gourds; Lakota squash; acorn squash; emerald and golden zucchini; and three varieties of pumpkins.

Left to right, scale infestation on undersides of gardenia leaves. The Cloudless Sulfur butterfly larvae (Phoebis sennae) feeds primarily on the legume senna.

It’s vinally beginning to look like a garden! I promise pictures next month.

If you have any questions or comments regarding things discussed in this column, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

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Outdoor Life

Wild Hogs Problem Worldwide

An oasis near Ait Mansour, Morocco, one of three wild boar control sites for the project. This oasis is approximately 8 miles long and 150 yards across. It is estimated there are between 8 and 15 wild boar living in this oasis. The typical Moroccan landscape is arid. With wild hogs destroying not only native vegetation but also cultivated areas, they are endangering families who rely on their farms and gardens for human sustenance as well as national importance in the form of exports.

AU Professor Travels to Morocco to Find Solutions

by Alvin Benn

An Auburn University professor has become involved in a project to help Morocco find a solution to its wild hog problem.

If that sounds a bit "far"-fetched, it is, but only in distance. The dilemma is real and Professor Steve Ditchkoff hasn’t taken his assignment lightly.

He’s traveled thousands of miles in the past year on a pilot study focusing on the north African nation and its wild hog problem. A report on Ditchkoff’s findings is expected to be released soon.

How did an AU professor wind up so far from home on a hog-related mission that could have far-reaching worldwide ramifications?

Wild hogs are not only a problem in Morocco, they have been a problem around the world for centuries. These hogs were found at Fort Benning.

The reason is an $80,000 grant the Moroccan government issued to Ditchkoff and his team to hopefully find a way to control wild hogs that have been eating their way across the country.

Other educational entities applied for the same grant, but Ditchkoff’s bid was the one Moroccan officials liked the best and he was off and running – better yet, flying since he’s spent a lot of time in airports and in the air during the past year.

"Wild hogs have been a problem around the world for centuries," Ditchkoff said during an interview at his office in the AU School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. "That includes our country."

Call them hogs, call them pigs, call them boars – the problem is pretty much the same as they scavenge their way through farms, gardens and other terrain where they root up grass, roots or whatever else pleases them.

"It’s been shown they cause $1.5 billion in damages in the U.S. each year and it’s a significant underestimation," Ditchkoff said. "In Morocco, it’s become such a problem that the government offered the grant that’s funding our study."

Dr. Steve Ditchkoff from Auburn University in a dry river bed near Tafraout, Morocco.

He said his hog project isn’t aimed at eradication because there are so many, it would seem an unlikely remedy. Instead, he said, it’s to give Moroccans a tool that can be effective in reducing hog damage in agricultural areas.

That’s the main objective – controlling animals that can weigh up to 200 pounds and become eating machines. Basically, it’s a matter of "you name it, they eat it."

It might be a garden where carrots, onions and other vegetables are grown along with figs and dates. Or, it could be some other area where other sources of nourishment are consumed by the huge hogs.

The wild hog problem has reached a point where it’s endangering families who rely on their farms and gardens for human sustenance as well as national importance in the form of exports, said Ditchkoff.

"Wild hogs aren’t just putting a dent in family profits, it’s also created a situation where family survival could be at stake," he explained.

Morocco is about 98 percent Muslim, so there is no way the population could "eat" its way out of the problem since pork products are verboten in the Islamic nation.

Ditchkoff said many farms in Morocco are comprised of only two or three acres "and there are parts of the country that are much closer to subsistence agriculture, so this is impacting not just income, but the ability to feed the family and entire villages."

Auburn University research technician Brian Williams checking a trail camera at one of the trap sites in the Ameln Valley near Tafraout, Morocco.

In the United States, farms generally are much larger than those in Morocco, but the wild hog program is said to have reached near epidemic proportions in some parts of the country.

Alabama is no exception. It is estimated wild hogs caused an estimated $44 million in damages in 2009.

Since his arrival on campus, Ditchkoff has become a William and Fay Ireland Endowed Distinguished Professor in Wildlife Science. It’s a long, much-deserved title for the teacher-researcher who has become a world traveler as well as an ambassador of good will for the university.

Considered America’s leading expert on wild hogs, Ditchkoff went to Morocco more than a year ago to speak at an international summit conference on the problem.

The trail camera is used to monitor whether all the wild boar are entering the trap. The trap will not be set until they have documented if all of the wild boar in the sounder at this site have entered the trap regularly. This is done to maximize the probability of capturing all of the wild boar at one time. Top left, wild boar in a trap in Morocco. The wild hog project isn’t aimed at eradication because there are so many; instead, it’s to give Moroccans a tool that can be effective in reducing hog damage in agricultural areas.

Mention Morocco to most American movie buffs and they’ll think of Casablanca, the city where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman made "Casablanca" one of the most popular films in history.

During an interview with AFC Cooperative Farming News, Ditchkoff indicated one potential solution to the dilemma is capturing, not killing, the hogs.

Rob Holtfreter, one of Ditchkoff’s graduate students, came up with a trapping method being used in Morocco and is closely watched.

Ditchkoff said the method involves removing as many breeding females as possible; that is important because sows can repopulate an area in less than two years.

Although wild hogs don’t propagate quite as fast as rabbits, the gestation period is relatively short when compared with other animals.

Working with Ditchkoff on the project is Mark Smith, a specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System as well as an associate professor in the AU School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

"There’s no silver bullet to solve this problem right now," said Smith, as he prepared to leave on yet another trip to Morocco in mid-February. "One possibility is to actively manage the hog population in Morocco to a level where crops are at least protected from them to a degree."

Smith said there are so many wild hogs in the world that hunting and trapping won’t be the answer because "there’s not enough hunting to put much of a dent in their population."

He added one aim of the project is to develop a training video and manual to help Moroccans learn at least how to deal with the hog problem to keep it from overrunning the country.

"This is a great opportunity for us," said Smith. "Steve and I viewed our involvement in the project as a no-brainer. It’s given us a chance to branch out and become involved internationally."

Next year, the two scientists are looking forward to an International Wild Pig Conference in Montgomery, an event to be hosted by Mississippi State University’s College of Forest Resources and the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

A statement issued by those involved in the conference said damage caused by wild hogs "is one of the greatest concerns to wildlife biologists and managers today.

"Wild pigs have the potential to cause ecological and economical destruction far surpassed by any other invasive exotic vertebrate," according to organizers of the event.

Several solutions have been suggested as a result of the problem including hunting, trapping and poisoning, even the reintroduction of jackals into the Moroccan countryside.

"Elimination of jackals there has been a major contributor to the situation we’re faced with because they have been the primary predators of wild hogs," Ditchkoff stated.

He said those who raise sheep and goats in Morocco were killing the jackals and that’s been one of the reasons for the explosion of wild hogs.

Ditchkoff has daily reminders of the world’s wild hog problem in his AU office. They are skulls that once belonged to the animals before they were dispatched. Some came from Fort Benning, the sprawling Army base just across the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

Wild hogs have become an international problem in recent years, stretching around the globe as far away from Morocco as Australia.

That’s why Ditchkoff’s pilot study is so important. He knows a lot is riding on his findings and suggestions on how best to deal with the growing problem.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

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