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April 2018

2018 Alabama Market Hog Show Results

Grand Champion Market HogBreann Noles, pictured above, with Alabama Farmers Federation representative Paul Pinyan, left, and judge Chris Wehmer, from Poseyville, Indiana

Reserve Champion Market Hog Breann Noles

Overall Market Hog, 3rd & 4thTucker Ross

Overall Market Hog, 5thRiley Stephens

A Battle Ahead

Policy expert offers AFC members a glimpse into the probable short-term future of U.S. agriculture.

John Gilliland offered closing remarks at AFC’s annual meeting. Photo credit: Morgan Graham 
by Mary Catherine Gaston

Of his 22 years working in the nation’s capital, John Gilliland told Alabama Farmers Cooperative members during the group’s 81st annual meeting that 2017 was the busiest year he’s experienced in his career. The Pike Road native serves as a consultant with the Washington-based law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he advises clients on matters related to international trade, health care and tax policy.

Drawing from his experience with and knowledge of U.S. trade and agricultural policy, Gilliland offered AFC members a glimpse into how the events of 2016 and ‘17 stand to impact U.S. agriculture in 2018 and beyond. According to Gilliland, farmers should pay close attention to what will be happening in regard to foreign trade, legislation and, in addition to the outcomes of elections in 2018 and 2020, the Congressional redistricting taking place after the 2020 Census.

Trade deals

The Trump administration has made no secret of its aversion to business as usual in Washington, and in no arena is that more obvious than in its attitude toward international trade, Gilliland said. While the trend prior to 2017 had been toward removing barriers to free trade, the current administration seems focused on trade remedies. These remedies are generally designed to protect American businesses from unfair competition caused by foreign companies and governments, but they could also have negative ramifications for U.S. agricultural producers. With much of this work aimed at leveling the playing field with China, Gilliland warned of the possible repercussions America’s farmers could face.

"If we get into a retaliatory relationship with China," he said, "our sorghum farmers, for example, will see difficulties related to Chinese trade actions."

Trump is also pushing a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Though NAFTA has been a success for American agriculture since it went into effect in 1994, Gilliland noted that balancing the needs of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in a rewrite could be challenging. It will be important that a renegotiated NAFTA preserves current market access opportunities for U.S. agriculture exports.

Legislative action

In 2018, farmers, like many Americans, will begin to realize the benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress just before the end of 2017. And while most in the ag sector are happy with the legislation, one last-minute change contained in the bill has private grain buyers up in arms.

The repeal and replacement of Section 199 of the federal tax code, argue those entities, will incentivize sales to cooperatives, directly and negatively impacting private companies.
Section 199 was replaced with language to allow producers who sell their products to cooperatives – instead of private entities – to write off 20 percent of the profit of those sales.

At the time of publication, members of Congress and representatives of cooperatives and private companies were working to draft a fix for the so-called "199A effect." Gilliland noted Congress will have an opportunity to enact that legislation in late March, as a part of an omnibus spending package. However, if Congress misses that opportunity, Gilliland warned it could become increasingly difficult to enact any further changes to the tax code until after the November midterm elections. Likewise, any movement on immigration reform or infrastructure investment legislation will likely be slowed down by the 2018 election.

In the meantime, Gilliland reported work continues on the Farm Bill in both the House and Senate, though progress has been slower than congressional leaders hoped. House leadership remains focused on moving their version by this spring, with the Senate close behind. As with other major legislative initiatives, members of Congress could find their task more difficult as the midterm elections approach. If work on the Farm Bill is not completed by September, an extension of current authority will be needed.

Elections and redistricting

Referring to the election, Gilliland said that if 2018 is a battle for control of Congress expect 2020 to be a war – not only at the national level but the state level as well. Because 2020 is not only a national election year but also a Census year and the Census determines how many members each state can send to Congress, the stakes are unusually high. Additionally, because state legislatures are typically tasked with drawing the boundaries of Congressional districts, competition for seats in state houses will be more intense than usual.

"For some time now, the country’s population has been shifting to the Sun Belt, the ‘red’ states," Gilliland said.

If those majority Republican states pick up Congressional seats as several did following the 2010 count and their state legislatures are also Republican-controlled, the resulting make-up of Congress could be unfortunate for Democrats nationally and could stand to influence America’s agricultural sector for at least another decade.

While the outlook Gilliland presented may have sounded daunting to some, incoming AFC Board Chairman David Womack did not seem fazed by the news.

"Agriculture has always been a challenging line of work," Womack said. "It’s just like any other business – there are ups and downs, and you have to give it your best to make it work."

Mary Catherine Gaston is a freelance writer from Americus, Georgia.

A Record-Breaking Year

AFC’s annual membership meeting celebrated the unprecedented successes of 2017.

AFC President and CEO Rivers Myres addresses members at the 81st Annual Membership Meeting. Photo credit: Morgan Graham 
by Mary Catherine Gaston

AFC President and CEO Rivers Myres kicked off his comments at Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s 81st Annual Membership Meeting by reflecting on how quickly time flies.

"It’s hard to believe this is my fifth annual meeting as your CEO," Myres said. "It seems like every year just keeps getting better."

He stated that AFC’s vision to be the best at what we do is important, but "great vision without great people is irrelevant. This year we not only had a successful year financially, but we also expanded our facilities, improved our processes and, most importantly, we strengthened our relationships with each other."

He added that AFC’s greatest asset is its people.

Myres continued with his message that AFC is building a team not only to win today but to keep AFC strong in the decades ahead. He said that focusing only on the goal to be the best can lead to not taking the time to celebrate the significant accomplishments that occur along the way.

"Our growth – as a team and as individuals – is just as important as the end result we create," he stated.

Myres is focused on creating a winning team built for the long term at AFC.

Myres continued to the operating results from 2017.

"Our Member Cooperatives had another strong year," said Myres, adding that 87 percent of the cooperatives reported a profit from operations in 2017.

"AFC’s Member Cooperatives and operating divisions’ consistent pursuit of excellence played a significant role in AFC’s great year," Myres said.

He further reported that, as a result, AFC was returning $7.1 million in patronage to its Members, an increase of 58 percent over the prior year.

Myres announced the board of directors approved AFC retiring the 1996 equity, returning an additional $3 million to the Members in April 2018.

He closed his remarks by thanking the AFC community: the Members, the employees and the board of directors.

"Thank you for your loyalty, integrity and dependability," he said. "Every day you suit up, show up and give this company all you’ve got. I want you to know how much I respect and appreciate that! I am proud to be your CEO."

Thomas Hallin, AFC’s Secretary, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, presented the report from the audit firm of RSM, Orlando, Florida.

"AFC’s financial position has never been stronger," he reported. "2017 was the seventh most-profitable year in AFC history, despite drought and weather challenges."

Hallin explained that all divisions of AFC were profitable in 2017 – a fact AFC leaders and Members alike should take pride in knowing.

After Hallin’s report, videos featuring the leaders of each AFC’s division gave the membership a more detailed look at the past year.

Among those highlights, Currie Gin processed 46,000 bales of cotton, thanks in part to a rebuilt gin press. The Grain Division completed the expansion at the Florence Grain facility and, more important, returned to profitability. Agri-AFC had a record-breaking year, recording the highest sales and profits in its history while contributing over 70 percent of AFC’s patronage.

2017 saw the completion of SouthFresh Aquaculture’s freezer and chiller projects, bringing that division’s storage capacity to 1.4 million pounds.

Feed, Farm & Home continued to improve the feed mill and their warehouse operations.
Despite a challenging year for a variety of reasons, Bonnie Plants President Stan Cope reported record sales in 2017, along with huge strides in brand awareness brought about in part by the partnership with ScottsMiracle-Gro.

Following the announcement of nominations for the AFC board of directors, Jimmy Newby, Limestone Farmers Co-op, and Brooks Hayes, Headland Peanut Warehouse Co-op, were re-elected to the board by acclamation. Afterward, outgoing Board Chairman Mike Tate thanked AFC members, the board and employees for their contributions to the organization’s success during his tenure.

"It has been an honor to serve as Chairman of Alabama Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors for the past two years," Tate said. "It is evident our members have used the good years of recent memory to prepare their financial house for the downturn in commodity prices. This will ensure their ability to support our farmer-owners during the critical period we now face."

After a question-and-answer panel with AFC senior staff, Tate ceremonially handed the chairman’s gavel to incoming Board Chairman David Womack. Womack announced the 82nd Annual Membership Meeting will held in Montgomery Feb. 6-7, 2019.

Womack, a member of the Atmore Truckers Association, is in his 11th year as an AFC board member.

"It’s a privilege to come into this position on the heels of a year like the one we’ve just had and to be associated with a senior staff like the one we have," Womack said after the meeting. "They truly believe in helping the company and the farmer."

Mary Catherine Gaston in a freelance writer from Americus, Georgia.

A Standard Worthy of Emulation

Orrville Farmers Market sets the standard for community transformation.

Orrville Farmers Market owner Judy McKinney displays some sweet treats at the market. 
by Alvin Benn

When Judy McKinney arrived in Orrville a few years ago, she knew the little Dallas County town had potential and she didn’t waste words or time proving her point.

What caught her attention was a dilapidated building that provided the backdrop for a transformation from hopelessness to profitability.

A farm girl who grew up in Florida, Mc-Kinney had a feeling it could be a successful farmers market if enough people displayed the same determination. They did.

It wasn’t long before little Orrville, population just under 200, had become a destination … an attraction on Alabama’s agricultural map.

In just 18 months, Orrville Farmers Market has spread its wings and established itself as a unique business … a standard worthy of emulation.

"This place wasn’t much more than three walls and a concrete floor, but we’ve turned it into something special," said a smiling McKinney.

Farmers markets in Alabama seem to pop up like kudzu vines during the spring and summer months, but few have made the same impression as the one McKinney has created.

When peach season rolls around, farmers hope they’ll be able to sell everything from their roadside stands. When they can’t, soggy leftovers usually get discarded.

Not so at Orrville Farmers Market. McKinney has perfected a process – an evolution – that finds a way to use everything from harvest to consumption.

Farmers know if they can’t sell everything at the market, they can always sell it to McKinney, who transforms the fruit into the dessert part of meat-and-three luncheons.

"What we’ve been able to do is create a sustainable market, one maximizing opportunities for farmers to sell their products without worrying about waste," McKinney said.

Other castoffs wind up feeding chickens and cows or in a composting or seeding process, she added.

Dallas County Commissioner Larry Nichols is one of McKinney’s biggest supporters.

"The market has been a wonderful blessing for us because it’s increased traffic and that means more revenue for our businesses as well as tax growth," Nichols said.
Judy helps happy customer Danny Terrell after lunch. 
Orrville has never been a blue chip community but proud residents do all they can to keep it above water financially.

The town’s annual tractor show has been known to attract thousands of spectators and is growing as fast as those kudzu vines.

"We had seven or eight successful stores in Orrville at one time, but they dried up and went away over a period of years," Nichols related. "Our young people go to college and decide not to come back home. That’s not good."

Orrville was first known as Orr’s Mills, but made its first appearance on maps in 1853, according to author Stuart Harris in his popular book, "Alabama Place-Names."

The town was named for James Franklin Orr, who bought land in the area in 1842. He developed the land around his commercial cotton gin.

At the height of the recreational boating industry, Orrville was home to Baker-Jewell Inc., a small manufacturing company that produced small fiberglass boats for the recreational market.

Orrville Farmers Market opened for business in 2016 in the heart of the town and sells locally grown, farm-fresh produce; artisan foods; agricultural-based products; and other items.

McKinney currently has 54 chickens and a rooster named "Doodle," short for Cock-a-Doodle-Do. They cluck and prance their way around her property.

She said her chickens are beginning to produce and she’s optimistic there will be lots more because she’s only had Doodle for six months.
Judy McKinney, right, and assistant Kelly McLendon are kept busy welcoming customers throughout the day. 
Assisting McKinney is Kelly McLendon, a Judson College graduate who majored in psychology and religious studies.

Her classroom these days is the farmers market where she puts in long hours if need be. Daily experiences in dealing with the public are invaluable … and having McKinney as a teacher isn’t bad either.

"Judy is one of the hardest working women I know," McLendon said. "She is full of passion and vision, especially when it comes to Orrville where she is helping to generate new life and hope in our town."

It didn’t take employees very long to realize they were working for a winner, but the quick success was a pleasant surprise.

McKinney believes that what she and her staff have created can easily continue to grow in the years to come.

Tim Wood, general manager of Central Alabama Farmers Co-op, feels the same way.
"Judy is creative and tireless," said Wood, whose business is based in Selma. "Most of all, she seems to have new ideas all the time. That’s a big reason why people keep going to their market … to see what she’s got going.

"Mix traditional farming with a dab of American ingenuity and you’ve got Judy McKinney. She’s not afraid to try something different."

Her formative years in agriculture served as outdoor classrooms, not to mention the experiments she and her family tried out to see if they’d work.

"We were interested in master gardening, landscaping and other things," said McKinney, recalling how breakfast and lunch was added at the market. "Many prefer to stay away from fast-food services."

"There was really no place to sit down and eat at first, but it didn’t take long for people to come in for lunch," McLendon explained. "Breakfast is also popular at our market."

McKinney’s food service success has grown to such an extent that it’s not unusual to have up to 150 hungry tourists drop by for lunch.

"We have to put up a tent to accommodate them, but we’re happy to do it," McKinney said. "That shows how fast we’re growing."

In addition to cattle and other livestock, Judy and her husband Erwin remain active in other endeavors. Judy vividly remembers how her family picked apples and turned them into applesauce and tarts.

The couple started a seed company 12 years ago after he noticed some farmers weren’t harvesting seed heads before the hay was cut.

It wasn’t long before their combines were cutting seed heads and, in the process, creating two crops instead of one.

Erwin and Judy were high school sweethearts who are celebrating their silver anniversary this year. They have two sons, Matthew and Cooper.

"They are hard-working, honest, creative, salt-of-the-earth people," Wood said. "Most of all, they are great assets to our state and community."

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

Alabama Farmers Named to Pork Producers Delegate Body

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the appointment of 157 producers and six importers to the 2018 National Pork Producers Delegate Body. Included in the appointments are Tim Donaldson of Cullman and Daniel Tubbs of Oakman.

The National Pork Board and the delegate body were established under the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985.

Soybean Plantings Predicted to Exceed Corn

For the first time, the area of soybeans planted in the United States is expected to exceed the area planted for corn, according to USDA’s recently released agricultural projections through 2027.

The two crops are the most widely produced in the United States, accounting for over half the acres planted.

Explaining the change, USDA notes corn production has benefited from sustained growth in yield per acre, allowing farmers to dedicate less land to corn while maintaining the same output. While soybean yields also have improved, the relative gains are not as large.

As corn yields grow, overall area planted is projected to continue trending lower.

In addition, soybean demand is heavily tied to domestic and international demand for meat because soybean meal is a primary component of animal feeds across species. Rising incomes in many emerging economies have translated to increased meat consumption and international demand for soybeans.

This rising demand is expected to place upward pressure on soybean prices, increase producer return and encourage further plantings.

USDA Webpage Offers Resources for Opioid Crisis

Rural communities looking for information on how to respond to the opioid crisis now have a new webpage from USDA featuring resources to provide assistance.

"While no corner of the country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, small towns and rural places have been particularly hard hit," said Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.

The National Center for Health Statistics estimates over 63,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. Over half those deaths involved opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin.

USDA is working to help rural communities address this national problem at the local level through program investment, strategic partnerships and best practice implementation.

Those interested in more information should go to USDA website and search for USDA Launches Webpage Highlighting Resources to Help Rural Communities.

U.S. Grocery-Store Food Prices Down in 2017

Last year marked the second consecutive year average grocery-store prices have declined.
At-home food prices in 2017 were 0.2 percent lower than 2016, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. The decline followed a larger 1.3 percent drop in 2016 – the first drop in annual grocery-store prices since 1967.

In contrast to falling food prices, overall inflation (prices for all goods and services, including food) rose 1.3 percent in 2016 and 2.1 percent in 2017.

During 2016-17, lower food-at-home prices were driven, in part, by increased domestic production of agricultural commodities such as beef cattle and eggs, lower transportation costs due to lower oil prices and a strong U.S. dollar that can make imported foods less expensive.

Grocery-store price changes can be volatile year to year. However, the 20-year moving average, or average price change for the previous 20 years, has been slowly declining from 4 percent in 1998 to 3.1 percent in 2008 to 2.1 percent in 2017.

U.S. Agency Opens Vietnam Office

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently celebrated the opening of its new office in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The office is expected to play a vital role in helping expand the United States’ $2.5 billion agricultural export market in Vietnam.

"Growing agricultural trade between the United States and Vietnam means new opportunities for American producers," said Greg Ibach, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

"With this increase in trade comes increased pest and disease risk, and our in-country expertise will ensure the safest trade possible, while still providing greater options for U.S. consumers.

"Having an APHIS office in the heart of Hanoi will not only help maintain existing markets, but foster new opportunities for American farmers who set the worldwide standard for food production."

"Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing global markets for U.S. farm and food products,
currently ranking as our 11th-largest customer," said Ted McKinney, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

"The expansion of USDA’s presence in Vietnam is a clear indication of this country’s importance as a U.S. trading partner. The on-the-ground technical expertise of the APHIS team will be an important complement to the trade policy and market development work being done by our Foreign Agricultural Service staff."

The APHIS Hanoi office will maintain technical working relationships with their Vietnamese counterparts to resolve any concerns associated with the science-based standards both countries employ to prevent the introduction of animal and plant pests and diseases. By doing so quickly and locally, APHIS can help keep trade moving and benefit the producers and economies of both countries.

The opening of the APHIS office comes some 50 years after the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive early in 1968, the major attacks on U.S. military installations, provincial and district capitals, as well as on the major cities of Saigon, Danang and Hue. The two-month-long offensive by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong fighters resulted in defeat for those forces, but it marked the tipping point in how the war ultimately would conclude.

The United States ended its military involvement in Vietnam in 1973. Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975. North and South Vietnam were unified the next year.

SNAP Benefits Go to Changing Demographic Mix

In an average month in fiscal year 2017, USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provided 42.1 million low-income Americans with benefits to purchase food at authorized food stores.

The number of people receiving SNAP benefits has declined by 11.5 percent since the historical high of an average 47.6 million monthly in FY 2013.

In the 2016 FY (the latest year for which demographic data is available), adults age 18-59 accounted for 44.1 percent of participants, children younger than age 5 accounted for 13.4 percent of participants, school-age children accounted for 30.7 percent and the elderly accounted for 11.8 percent.

The composition of SNAP participants, as well as the overall SNAP caseload, can be affected both by changing economic conditions and modifications to program requirements. The composition shifted after the 2007-09 recession, as more working-age adults became eligible for the program and applied for benefits.

Working-age adults’ share of the SNAP caseload increased from 42.1 percent in 2006 to 46.4 percent in 2013, but has declined each year since then.

Winter Wheat Acreage Projected
Lowest in 109 Years

Winter wheat seedings – seeds planted for the next marketing year – are projected to be the lowest in 109 years even though the USDA estimate, based on 82,000 farmer surveys, generally exceeded industry expectations.

Winter wheat seedings for the 2018-19 marketing year are estimated at 32.6 million acres, slightly below the 2017-18 seeding estimate of 32.7 million acres.

In Kansas, the leading winter wheat-producing state, planted area is up 200,000 acres for the 2018 marketing year. Planted area is also up slightly in Texas. Collectively, these gains are not enough to offset the losses elsewhere.

Reduced profitability and agronomic factors reduced winter wheat plantings in Colorado and Oklahoma. These factors included delayed seeding due to a late corn harvest, disease challenges and below-average soil moisture levels.

The current projection for 2018 is less than 1 percent below 2017, but is down 10 percent from 2016.

Hard red winter wheat planted area is projected to be 23.1 million acres, a decline of 2 percent from 2017, while soft red winter planted area is forecast up 4 percent, year-to-year, to nearly 6 million acres.

April Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • If you feel like there won’t be another frost, plant beans, corn, squash and vine crops in late April. Make a second planting within two to three weeks to extend the season. Warmer-weather crops such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers should not be planted until May.
  • If space is limited, consider growing vegetables in containers. Containers also require less time and effort than a larger garden.
  • Sow seeds for cool-season crops including peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets and turnips before the heat of early summer.
  • Be sure to plant enough vegetables for canning and freezing.
  • April is the month for planting summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias, gladiolas and lilies.
  • If you want to relocate daffodils, it is OK to dig them after they have bloomed. Do not remove leaves. Replant them as you would any other transplant and leave the leaves to die down on their own.
  • Move summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlia, lilies and gladiolus outside to their summer locations after all danger of frost has past.
  • Seeds of amaranth, celosia, cosmos, marigold, portulaca, zinnia and other warm-season flowering annuals can be sown directly in their beds.
  • Order sod for installation in mid-April through May.
  • Plant new fruit trees.
  • Plant strawberries, blackberries and other small fruit.
  • Repot houseplants as needed, increase pot size by 1 inch.
  • If you have a pond or pool, set aquatic plants any time after the middle of the month.


  • Test your soil. Retest soil in poorly performing areas or if not tested in the last three to five years.
  • Apply a trowel-full of wood ashes and one of manure or compost (triple these amounts for huge plants) around peonies. Install ringed supports before heavy growth makes the job impossible.
  • As soon as azaleas and camellias have finished flowering, apply an acid fertilizer at the rate recommended. Don’t overfertilize, as azalea roots are near the surface and damage can occur. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
  • Fertilize potted amaryllis and keep it in bright light to encourage new leaves.
  • Give bulbs some food once they finish blooming and allow the foliage to remain until it begins to turn yellow.
  • Start fertilizing roses … they are heavy feeders. Decide on which plan of attack to take. Some gardeners feed every two weeks until August with a liquid fertilizer. However, a lower-maintenance approach is to work a slow-release fertilizer (or compost) around the shrub according to package directions, usually every six weeks or so.
  • A good schedule to follow for fertilizing Bermuda grass, Zoysia and St. Augustine grass is the Major Holidays Rule. Divide the total nitrogen requirement for the year by four. Put down this amount on or near each of the four holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
  • Feed fruit and nut trees and bushes.
  • Fertilize garlic planted last fall as leaves emerge and start growing.
  • Begin summer fertilization of houseplants.


  • Proper tools are needed for pruning, depending on the size and type of plant. Scissors, hedge clippers, pruning shears and loppers are all handy to have for various pruning jobs. For big jobs such as cutting thick tree limbs, a handsaw, reciprocating-type electric saw or even a chain saw may be the tool for the job. Visit your local Quality Co-op for advice.
  • Avoid pruning anything that can’t be reached from the ground. Never prune branches too heavy to handle. Hire a certified and insured tree pruner for high pruning or heavy branches or for any work around power lines.
  • Cut back last year’s growth from perennials.
  • Deadhead spent flower heads on spring-blooming bulbs to direct their energy back to the roots to build vigor for next year.
  • Don’t top crepe myrtles … it makes them look stupid! Topping is not pruning, never top a crepe myrtle or any other tree for that matter!
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, quince and ornamental almond after flowering. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune and avoid excessive cutting, except where necessary to control size.
  • Remove flowers and flower buds on new plants to give plants a chance to be established.
  • Cut all the dead canes in the blackberry patch. The new canes bearing this year’s fruit should have new, swollen buds along the edges.


  • Check hoses; replace washers and correct leaky connections before connecting to water source.
  • Be sure to take a little time to check container plants and those under house eaves and tall evergreens to see if they are getting enough water.
  • Keep transplanted flowers well-watered during dry spells.
  • Do not water lawn unless extremely dry. Early irrigation sets turf up as a high water user in summer.
  • Keep new trees and shrubs watered.
  • As you do spring planting, be sure to plan how you will water this summer. Place those plants requiring the most water closer to the house.
  • Remember the pots planted this spring will need to be watered daily this summer. Consider how much time will be needed for watering each day before planting. Hanging baskets may need to be watered as often as twice a day in the heat of summer.


  • Always read and follow label directions when applying any pesticides! Store garden chemicals safely indoors. Check effective dates and discard outdated ones. Watch for local chemical collections and take old chemicals there.
  • Chances are weeds in beds and other planting areas are already out of control. We have had a perfect mix of rain and warm weather to give them a huge boost! You will always regret not ripping out as many weeds as possible early in the year before they start to reseed and get unmanageable.
  • In the vegetable garden, control weeds and aerate the soil by cultivating between the rows of plants.
  • Mulch before the weeds can get ahead of you. Guesstimate how much you’ll need, and get twice that amount! This way there is plenty on hand for beds and paths. Spring and summer mulch should be 2-3 inches deep and applied a few inches away from foundations, tree trunks and other plants.
  • Keep lawns healthy. A good lawn care program of aerating, dethatching, fertilizing and proper watering will keep your lawn healthy and better able to tolerate some pest problems.
  • There are several excellent products on the market today to control a wide range of lawn weeds. Your local Quality Co-op has the products and the expertise to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood!
  • Early this month, if desired, apply a pre-emergent weed killer to lawns, beds and borders. It will greatly reduce weeds later on. However, it works by preventing seeds from germinating, so don’t apply anywhere you’re planting seeds.
  • If there is moss growing in your lawn, use spring lawn fertilizer with a moss killer included, does both jobs in one easy application.
  • Bait or hand pick snails on an overcast, damp morning. Don’t let them get a foothold on the garden.
  • Check yourself and pets for ticks after every outing. Ticks are active on the first warm day of spring. Use an insect repellent containing Deet on the skin. Apply a repellent with permethrin to clothing. Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in grassy areas or under overhanging branches.
  • Check new, tender growth for aphids. A few can be tolerated, but large numbers should be controlled.
  • It will soon be time for bagworms to attack junipers and other narrow-leafed evergreens. Control measures should be applied while the insects and the bags are about half inch in length.
  • Now is the best time to control tent caterpillars while they are small. These young caterpillars can be controlled safely (without harming beneficial insects) by spraying Bonide Bt Thuricide.
  • Dump standing water and remove anything where rainwater can collect in stagnant pools. Mosquitoes can breed in very small pools of water, even a bottle cap.
  • Japanese beetle traps contain a sex pheromone as a lure and attract more beetles than they actually catch. Hang one in the garden and your plants will become a buffet.
  • Rake away old foliage from iris and dispose of it. Eggs of the iris borer overwinter on the old foliage and you must get rid of the debris now before the eggs hatch.
  • Check vulnerable plants for deer, rabbit and rodent damage and provide protection if needed.
  • Botrytis is a fungal disease that causes blackened spots on buds, leaves and stems of many perennials including peonies. If you noticed this disease on peonies last year, use a fungicide for prevention now.
  • Do not work in the garden when foliage is wet to avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another.
  • If rose’s foliage had black spot last year, begin spraying with a fungicide now.


  • Review entries to your 2017 garden journal. If you don’t have one, start one now.
  • Driving around the neighborhood or visiting a local nursery may give you some great ideas of what you’d like to have blooming in your yard at this time next year.
  • Visit nurseries as they open for inspiration and new plants. Shop for summer bulbs.
  • Always wear gloves to protect your hands. Use eye protection when cutting or chopping, and appropriate ear protection when using any loud power tools. Early injuries mean a delay to an early start.
  • Apply sunscreen and wear hats to limit exposure to the sun. Cooking yourself won’t be a good way to start the season!
  • Check spring equipment – service and/or purchase replacements. Use fresh gas, check and/or replace oil. Clean, sharpen and oil hand tools.
  • Adding sand to improve clay soil drainage doesn’t work. Sand will simply help form an even harder brick, not increase drainage. You need to add organic matter such as peat moss, leaf mold, compost or well-rotted manure.
  • April is a good time to aerate lawns. Most lawns should be aerated every two or three years to alleviate compaction and reduce thatch. Aerating the lawn will also allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil and reduce the need to water during the dryer months ahead. You’ll need to rent a machine that takes out plugs of soil or have a lawn service do it.
  • As mowing becomes necessary, be certain the blade is sharp to prevent tearing the grass tips. A mulching blade will eliminate the need to rake or bag the clippings, prevent thatch buildup and the clippings will provide food for the lawn.
  • Rake back winter mulches. If you use mulch, fluff up what’s there and add more as needed. Remember that mulch surrounds plants, but does not touch the stem or trunk of shrubs and perennials.
  • If you haven’t already, clear lawn and beds of winter debris: branches, leaves and dead plant material.
  • If you receive some mail-order plants or can’t resist the urge to pick up a few perennials before you are ready, make a trench and heel them into the ground in a protected area.
  • Divide late-summer- and fall-blooming perennials. Hostas and daylilies are up and can be divided now.
  • Remove floating row covers from peas early this month. Drive tall, twiggy branches into the ground next to the plants for support.
  • Select new azalea plants while they’re in bloom to make sure the color complements your landscape.
  • Stake tall plants now while they’re small.
  • To make sure the compost is cooking, turn it often and keep it moist (not drenched) or the decomposition will slow down drastically.
  • When danger of frost has passed, uncover strawberry beds and keep them well-watered.
  • Make sure garden beds are not too wet. Soil should crumble instead of forming a ball when squeezed. If it’s been raining and the soil is saturated, postpone gardening for a bit longer.
  • Cultivate to control weeds and grass, to break crusty soil and to provide aeration.
  • Harden off transplants started indoors earlier by gradually exposing young plants to outdoor conditions of wind, sunlight and lower moisture.
  • Harvest asparagus until spear size decreases to the size of a pencil.
  • Herbs are a charming and helpful addition to the garden, both for their culinary uses and their fragrant, attractive presence. Check out Bonnie Plants’ herbs at your local Quality Co-op!
  • Do not move houseplants outside until night temperatures remain over 60 degrees.
  • Remove winter dust from leaves of houseplants by gently rinsing with room-temperature water.
  • Leach excess fertilizers from houseplants’ soil with water.
  • The first hummingbirds begin to appear this month in parts of the state. Clean the feeders and hang them for the early birds.
  • Gather and set out nesting supplies, and clear out and clean birdhouses for new occupants. Clean bird feeders, feed birds regularly and provide fresh water. Clean up spilled seed and empty hulls.

Cattle Essentials

"There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt
to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten." ~ Indira Gandhi

by John Howle
Here are some essentials you should keep on hand when working with cattle: (from left, top) OB chain, large and small bolus delivery tubes, wound spray, Noromycin 300 LA antibiotic, Lintox fly control, (bottom) disposable rubber gloves, nose holder, ear tag applicator and sorting paddle. 
The cow is considered sacred in India. It’s considered taboo for the Hindu to eat beef, but, evidently, buffaloes don’t come under that same protection. The beef industry representatives in India say all their beef comes from buffaloes, according to a recent article in The Atlantic.

There is suspicion, however, that many of their street cows are going into the buffalo beef market. The problem with India-raised cattle centers on available food sources and sanitation. Walk the streets of India and you will find cows wandering down sidewalks, eating garbage out of dumpsters and health conditions that would make American inspectors’ scores below zero.

India has around 115 million buffaloes and, every year, produces about 1.53 million tons of beef that is shipped to 65 countries. The India beef industry says all their beef comes from buffaloes and they tout it as being free-range and not pumped with growth hormones. Regardless of whether that is true or not, if India’s street cows are being mixed in with the free-range buffaloes, then my radar says all their meat is possibly contaminated.

Roughly one fifth of the world’s population resides in India and, from 2014-2015, 194 million people were starving in that country. This was the largest number of starving people in the world, according to a recent United Nations report. Cows are wandering around their city streets being worshipped instead of grilled.

Maybe we should share what the book of Timothy says in the New Testament with them. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." (1 Timothy 4:4, KJB)

All this makes me glad to live in the United States and eating American-raised, real beef.
Noromycin 300 LA is a great, all-round antibiotic to keep on hand for infection protection. 

Bama Beef

Alabama and other Southern states are ideal areas to raise grass-fed cattle. Our long grass-growing season, milder winters and clean water supplies make our cattle some of the healthiest and heartiest in the United States. To keep the cattle healthy and performing at optimum levels, it is essential to have a few basic tools and supplies on hand.

Occasionally, you may have a heifer or cow that has trouble calving. There is a proper way to help deliver a calf using an OB chain when the cow can’t deliver on her own. Simply wrap the chain around the front feet of the calf as it begins to emerge. As you help deliver the calf, make sure not to exert over 125 pounds of downward pressure. Always allow the cow to deliver on her own, unless a few hours have passed with no calving progress.

If a cow has scours or any other malady treatable with pills, invest in a bolus delivery tube, a long tube that aids in inserting the large pills down the throat. Buy a large and small size to accommodate different size pills. Pull the handle back on the bolus, insert the pill in the end, insert into the throat and press the release knob.

It’s a good idea to have a bottle of Noromycin 300 LA antibiotic on hand in case of any infections. Cattle can step on sharp objects, cut themselves and wreak havoc on their health if any infection is not treated quickly. Follow the instructions on the bottle for storage and discard any out-of-date medicine.

When working on cattle, keep some wound spray and plenty of fly insecticide on hand as well as disposable rubber gloves.
The nose holder keeps the animal’s head secure while treating. 

Top Tools

The top two tools for working with cattle are nose holders and an ear tag applicator. Before administering medicine or applying an ear tag, you need to hold the animal’s head securely. A nose holder, also called a nose lead with chain, simply goes into the animal’s nostrils and closes without any pain. They will give you leverage to hold the cow’s head steady for working. Attach a short rope or chain to the nose holder for securing to a nearby post.

Using the ear tag tool, the tag should be attached in the middle third of the ear between the upper and lower ribs of the ear. It’s also a good idea to spray a shot of wound spray around an ear tag application site to prevent infection.

Finally, when you are driving and sorting cattle, a livestock sorting paddle is a handy tool. The paddle has rattles inside it for noise and the bright color can easily be seen by cattle hesitant to move. This paddle basically acts as a long arm to help guide cattle.

For the month of April, it’s also important to keep plenty of mineral salt available to cattle. This salt includes magnesium, calcium and other important micronutrients that guard against grass tetany. During April, the threat is higher because the grass is growing rapidly and not up taking all the nutrients cattle need. It’s important to supplement the cattle with the missing minerals.

If you are new to the cattle business, invest in these basic tools and supplies, and keep them on hand anytime you are working with cattle. Every item mentioned in this article can be purchased from your local Quality Co-op this spring. Stop by and stock up now to keep your herd healthy year-round.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Celebrating 44 Years of Service

Larry Bennich retires from AFC Board of Directors

Larry Bennich 
Larry Bennich’s 44-year tenure as an active member of Alabama Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors concluded at AFC’s 81st Annual Membership Meeting in Montgomery in February.

Bennich was joined by his family at a dinner in his honor held the evening before the annual meeting. Rivers Myres, AFC’s president and CEO, recognized the milestones moments of Bennich’s service.

"Mr. Bennich has served with five CEOs," Myres said. "Since 1974, AFC’s sales have grown from $50 million to $500 million today. We purchased Bonnie Plants in 1975, entered catfish market in 1989 and created Southfresh in 1999, created Cooperative Financial Services in 1993, purchased Currie Gin in 1998, created Agri-AFC in 2003, partnered with ScottsMiracle-Gro in 2016 and purchased Faithway Feed in 2018. The leadership he has provided over the past 44 years and the decisions he made as a director, while challenging, have helped make this company what it is today."

Staff and friends shared stories and extended their gratitude for his contributions to AFC over the years.

"There’s one thing I’ve always respected about you," said Bill Sanders, who has served as an AFC board director alongside Bennich since 1989. "No matter what decision was being made I knew you believed this decision was what was best for this organization – it was what was best for AFC – it was what was best for the people we represent. I think that’s one of the highest qualities we as board members can have."

Bennich received a standing ovation as Chairman Mike Tate presented him a Resolution of Appreciation to be filed in AFC’s permanent records.
Larry Bennich’s family attended the dinner in his honor. From left are Sport and Susan Bennich and their children, Tyler and Chelsea; Larry, Linda and Jill. 
"Therefore Be It Resolved, that on the occasion of his transition from the position of Active Board Director of Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc. to Honorary Board Director of Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc.," Tate read, "this Board of Directors and Membership hereby conveys to Mr. Bennich their appreciation for his forty-four years of distinguished service to the agricultural community at large; and that this Board and Membership does wish for Larry and Linda many more years of good health, happiness and fulfillment in life."

Corn Time


E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year

Marshall Farmers Co-op General Manager Steve Hodges, who has 43 years of service, surprised with award.

by Mary Catherine Gaston
From left, AFC CEO Rivers Myers, Steve Hodges and his wife, Mar. Photo credit: Morgan Graham 
To conclude his report to the 81st annual membership meeting of Alabama Farmers Cooperative in February, CEO Rivers Myres said he looked forward to watching AFC’s team win together. No one exemplifies that team spirit better than Steve Hodges, the 2017 E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year.

Though Hodges, a 43-year employee and current general manager of Marshall Farmers Co-op, was at a loss for words when recognized during the awards banquet, he later spoke about his years with the Co-op and the honor he received.

"I couldn’t have done this by myself," Hodges said. "I have a great board at Marshall and a great bunch of employees who are really dedicated and helped every way possible. I just happened to be the coach of the winning team."

That winning team is one Hodges helped build during two decades as the store’s general manager. In addition to running the Arab location, in 2009, Hodges led the effort to merge with the Cullman store that was then facing closure.

In his introduction of Hodges, Myres highlighted this unique accomplishment and the success Hodges has brought to the merged Co-ops.

"This manager has shown a progressive attitude by working through consolidation of a struggling member into his cooperative and making it a tremendous success," Myres explained before announcing Hodges’ name. "It has become a model for future consolidation."

Hodges began his Co-op career fresh out of the University of North Alabama in AFC’s management trainee program. After spending time in each of the departments in the company’s Decatur headquarters, he went to the Madison County Co-op to work under Frank Hanes, who was then the general manager.

Hodges thanked Hanes, under whom he worked again in the 1980s and ’90s, and whom he looked to for advice and support after Hanes moved into a management services district representative role.

He also gave credit to his wife, Mar, a retired educator who secretly coordinated the attendance of 13 family members to see Hodges take home AFC’s highest honor at the Montgomery event. Not only was Hodges surprised by their presence, he was caught completely off-guard by his selection for the award.

"I honestly didn’t know [Myres] was talking about me until he called my name," Hodges said after the event.

Hodges, who had announced before the meeting that he would retire at the end of 2018, said he was thrilled to be ending his career with AFC on a high note.

"Steve is a Co-op man, and he loves the Co-op," said Ben Haynes, a member of both the Marshall County and AFC boards of directors. "I was really, really proud that he was chosen and I was there to see it because I know how hard he works and how much he cares."

The E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year Award is awarded annually to a manager or general manager of a Quality Co-op based on a number of qualifications, including the store’s performance over the preceding five years. In addition to a cash prize and plaque, the recipient receives the use of a Ford pickup truck for one year.

Mary Catherine Gaston is a freelance writer from Americus, Georgia.


Extension Entomologist Dr. Roy Ledbetter’s Fight Against Boll Weevils in Alabama

by Katie Nichols
boll weevil 
The swath of damage left by the boll weevil is unrivaled by any pest since its arrival in 1910. The boll weevil onslaught came when Alabama’s economy was still reeling in the aftermath of the Civil War.

The weevil entered the United States from Mexico in 1892. The pest spread unabated across the southern United States for the next 30 years.

It wasn’t until the 1970s with the assistance of the federal government that programs were created to bring an end to the boll weevils’ destruction of cotton. Farmers who enjoy a cotton season without boll weevils have the efforts of Dr. Roy Ledbetter – an Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist – to thank.

Ledbetter began his service to Alabama farmers as an agent assistant in Houston County and worked his way to Auburn, serving farmers as an Extension entomologist. Most notably, he was given a special appointment in Washington to work on weevil eradication funding.

Ledbetter said he enjoyed the time in Washington because he was working to assist the producers at home in Alabama.

"Being in Washington was like my work in the field because it was all a service to farmers," Ledbetter said. "I always enjoyed serving others through my work with crop pests. Likewise, I was serving farmers through my special appointment. Farmers were depending on me for assistance and for answers."

During his time on assignment in Washington, Ledbetter developed and implemented a procedure for allotting funding to the states fighting boll weevils
A county agent talks with Barbour County cotton growers in 1926. While most of the effects of the boll weevil infestation were negative, the establishment of a county agent system was beneficial to farmers, then and now. 

Boll Weevil History

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, weevils spread north and east from Texas. As early as 1904, there are records of boll weevil control publications printed by the Alabama Polytechnic Institute’s Agricultural Experiment Station.

The Alabama cotton crop of 1914 produced over 1.7 million bales. The 1914 record still stands as the largest cotton crop ever produced.

1917 was the first year weevils were found statewide. Farmers anticipated the worst. The number of planted acres dropped nearly 1 million acres in comparison to previous years. Cotton bale production declined nearly 70 percent, totaling 515,000 bales.

Surviving the Boll Weevils

One of the ways farmers survived the boll weevil invasion was through crop diversification. After their 1915 disaster, a Coffee County producer planted his entire 125-acre farm in peanuts. This venture proved to be a smart move, as weevils devastated cotton again in 1916.

The boll weevil caused a shift in cotton acreage location from southern counties to more northern areas, including the Tennessee Valley and Sand Mountain. These areas experienced colder winters that seemed to have an impact on the survival of adult weevils hibernating through the winter.
Alabama Extension cotton entomologists have played a vital role in the eradication of the boll weevil. (From right) Dr. Roy Ledbetter is pictured with his predecessor, Dr. Walter Grimes, and the current Extension entomologist, Dr. Ron Smith. 

Ledbetter Leads Way for Eradication in Alabama

As eradication plans were devised and implemented in the 1970s, the federal government began efforts to increase educational awareness of the boll weevil and other cotton pests.

"The boll worm complex was a serious issue for Alabama farmers – and for farmers throughout the southern United States who were growing cotton," Ledbetter said. "The devastation of cotton crops brought about an intense focus, as cotton crops continued to suffer at the hand of the boll worm complex."

Leaving his post in Alabama, Ledbetter headed north and spent part of 1971 in Washington, developing the procedure for the distribution of funds to cotton-producing states.

ACES received over $150,000 in earmarked federal money yearly from 1976 to 2007 as a result of Ledbetter’s efforts. Awarded monies funded and facilitated the hiring of regional entomologists and over 200 college-aged cotton scouts.

Ledbetter said he and his colleagues trained veterinary students, agronomy students, and farmers’ sons and daughters – in addition to farmers and industry personnel – to inspect fields and assess damage on a weekly basis.

"We began the scouting program in counties with strong cotton programs," Ledbetter explained. "Training scouts helped farmers greatly. Students were paid $1 per acre, and scouted 1,200 to 2,000 acres each."

While the program was likely a welcome addition for college students, Ledbetter said the most important aspect was the bit of relief consistent scouting was able to provide in Alabama cotton fields.

Ledbetter Focused on Others

As Ledbetter reflected, he remembered the satisfaction that came as a result of helping others succeed.

"The ability to hire young men and women to work in a pest management program made a difference in the lives of the students, as well as the cotton farmers," he recalled. "The ongoing scouting and working with farmers allowed me to focus on helping both our growers and the young people."

Scouting enabled farmers to cut down on chemical applications – saving money and bringing about a conscientiousness toward environmental surroundings. At the same time, the money farmers spent on scouting allowed students to complete their degrees.

Extension – a Noble Vocation

The eradication of boll weevils brought about major changes in cotton insect management and control in Alabama. The pest’s profound impact on agricultural practices was mostly negative. However, some of the lasting impacts have been positive for Alabama growers. Some of these impacts include diversification of row crop operations, the development of the ACES county agent system, advancements in insect control technology and equipment – including insecticide development and integrated pest management – and the agricultural scouting and private consulting industry.

Like many others with similar professions, Ledbetter enjoyed devoting his life’s work to the success of Alabama’s farmers.

"The ability to make a difference in the lives of Alabama growers was a driving force behind our cotton scouting programs and other agricultural programs," Ledbetter stated. "The people who I served made our work worth it. Extension is a noble vocation."

Katie Nichols is in Communications and Marketing with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

FFA Sentinel: Celebrating the Most Noble Employment

National FFA Week was February 17-24.

by Andy Chamness

National FFA Week, a weeklong tradition started in 1948, runs Saturday to Saturday coinciding with George Washington’s birthday and Presidents’ Day. Think of National FFA Week as homecoming week for FFA members. George Washington’s presence continues to live on as a part of FFA history and ceremony.
FFA members in Chilton County attend a FFA Rally and tour of the Chilton County Research and Experiment Station. 
One of the reasons this particular week was chosen is due to Washington’s legacy as an agriculturist and farmer, not to mention his accomplishments as a patriot and founding father.

This year, FFA week was Feb. 17-24.

As you may know, the National FFA Organization is a youth organization founded by young farmers in 1928 and is so much more today. FFA is an agricultural organization, a leadership organization, a training ground for future agriculturists, a life-skill builder and one of the three key components of the agriculture education. The other two are classroom and laboratory (shop) instruction, and supervised agricultural education projects (work-based, hands-on learning).

FFA chapters all across the nation celebrated FFA week in many different ways. As part of Alabama’s celebration, we were fortunate enough to have the National FFA Eastern Region Vice President Gracie Furnish of Kentucky as well as our local program specialist and National FFA staff member Frank Saldana with us.
We were pleased to have Eastern Region Vice President Gracie Furnish and National FFA staff member Frank Saldana with us for FFA week. 
Hosting this pair was a great experience for me. It reminded me a little of my time as a FFA member. Here you are with two strangers, more or less, and thrown in a car to travel the highways and byways of Alabama. You get to know each other quickly - much like FFA leadership trips and workshops.

During this whirlwind tour, I wanted to introduce our guests to as many FFA members as possible and to show them some Alabama agriculture, without burning anyone out.

After our initial meeting at the Birmingham airport on Monday afternoon, we were off to Lake Guntersville State Park. We arrived and checked into the lodge. We were just in time to catch a beautiful sunset over Lake Guntersville.

In staying at the park with our National FFA guests, I wanted to share a little with them about how great our Alabama state parks are and what a great resource we have. Lake Guntersville State Park did not disappoint.

Leaving early Tuesday morning, we set out for Albertville High School, where we were invited to be a part of the Albertville FFA Teacher Appreciation Breakfast before their FFA Rally began.

The purpose of the FFA rallies was to allow Furnish the opportunity to inspire FFA members by telling her FFA story. She grew up on a diversified farm in Kentucky raising beef cattle and burley tobacco.

The Alabama FFA State Officer Team, along with the North District FFA Officers and 180-plus FFA members from a variety of FFA chapters, was present to hear the great keynote address presented by Furnish. After her remarks, FFA members had the opportunity to visit with her.

It has been 11 years since Alabama has hosted a National FFA officer during National FFA Week. Now, before you say, "Wow, that is a long time," national officers’ visits during FFA weeks are done on a rotational basis of all the states in our region of the nation.

Also noteworthy is that we have the pleasure of having a National FFA officer each year as part of our state convention.

Thank you to FFA officers and advisors from the Albertville chapter for kicking off our trip in such a great fashion.
FFA members attend a FFA Rally at Albertville High School during National FFA Week 
After the rally at Albertville High School, we went to Pell City High School for the afternoon. The Pell City FFA Chapter officers provided a great lunch before Furnish led another great rally with over 100 members and guests.

All along our route, I made it a point to travel through our great little towns in Alabama, highlighting the main streets and Americana as much as possible and sharing a little more about Alabama’s agriculture industry and resources.

Leaving Pell City early Wednesday morning found us in Shelby County at Shelby County High School and meeting with FFA members there.
Our guests had the opportunity to meet with FFA members and students who collaborate with Taziki’s founder Keith Richards and the HOPE (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) program. What a great way to share some of the positive things FFA members and chapters are doing to give back and continue to live to serve.

Continuing south toward our state’s capital, we stopped to look at some of the history of our capital, including some of the historic buildings and monuments representing our diverse culture.

One reason for this stop, besides the rich history of Alabama, was Alabama Farmers Cooperative Annual Membership Meeting. Our very own State FFA Secretary Gracen Sims was the official flag bearer and had the privilege to recite the FFA Creed. The Eufaula FFA Quartet performed the national anthem. We had the opportunity to listen to the keynote address delivered by Inky Johnson.

A special thank you to our friends at AFC for the invitation to be a part of your meeting and for all you do to support FFA and agriculture in Alabama.

Once Montgomery was behind us, we were off to Chilton County, the geographical center of Alabama and one of our leading agricultural counties.

On Thursday morning, we assembled at the Chilton County Research and Experiment Station, where Furnish delivered a great keynote.
Maplesville FFA Chapter presented her with a beautiful FFA checkerboard custom built by the students at Maplesville High School.

Jim Pitts with the experiment station provided the crowd with a tour of the station and did a wonderful job explaining the research and the history of Auburn University, and the existence and importance of the experiment stations.

We had beautiful weather for a day outside and great FFA members and advisors to join us. We give a heartfelt thank you to Joe Dennis and Pitts for arranging this tour.

After we concluded the tour, we went to Montevallo High School and the Central District FFA Mock Interviews. Over 30 FFA members from across the Central District were a part of this practice opportunity. They also had a chance to meet with Furnish and the Central District officers and ask questions about their FFA journey.

Thank you to the Montevallo FFA Alumni and Montevallo FFA Chapter for hosting the event this year.

After a long day, we arrived in Auburn.

Friday morning, we took tours of downtown and the university campus. I explained the significance of the Toomer’s oaks and the rolling of the famous corner, Samford Hall and Ag Hill, and showcased a few of our research farms and units to our guests. Of course, we strolled in front of Jordan-Hare Stadium and back to Toomer’s.
Past, current and future FFA members take part in Reeltown High School’s FFA Farm Day as part of National FFA Week. 
Our week was quickly ending as we departed Auburn University for Reeltown High School FFA and their Farm Day. FFA members at Reeltown present a program to elementary students. The Farm Day displayed what FFA and agriculture have to offer once the students enter seventh grade.

Reeltown FFA members administered the booths and organized the program. Booths included a dairy exhibit, a horse demonstration, cattle exhibits, hunter and outdoor education, welding, poultry and others. What a great opportunity to get to meet the future of FFA.

Agriscience teacher Clint Burgess shared that the chapter vice president, the committee chair for Farm Day, became interested in FFA because of her participation in a Farm Day when she was in elementary school.

What a powerful note to end such a great week.

As I delivered our National FFA guests to the airport, I could not help but think about all of the memories: chapters, towns, schools, Alabama’s agricultural diversity and, most especially, FFA members. What an opportunity for them to meet with a National FFA officer who inspired them to try new things, reach out of their comfort zone and live to serve others.

Thank you to the National FFA Organization for sharing Eastern Region Vice President Gracie Furnish with Alabama FFA.

This National FFA Week adventure also reminded me of Alabama’s wealth of history and culture, and that her people still believe in the future of agriculture … and they still need agriculture.

From the small farms and towns to the biggest of cities, I am grateful for the opportunity to share Alabama and Alabama FFA with our national leaders. I hope each of your FFA members and chapters had a fantastic FFA week.

Andy Chamness is the Central District Specialist with the Alabama FFA Association.

Forage Quality

by Jimmy Parker

Producing quality forages takes careful planning, hard work and some luck, and it is an expensive task. It is not too early to spend time deciding how you will approach the job. In some cases, it is time to start storing next winter’s feed.

February brought unseasonably warm temperatures across most of the state. If you caught a break in the abundant rainfall, you may have taken the opportunity to fertilize the cool-season grasses a bit earlier than most years.

Now, we are five or six weeks out … and guess what? It is time to harvest any forages not heavily grazed.

The problem is that, with typical early April temperatures and moisture levels, it is almost impossible to get the forage dry enough to store as hay. So, what do you do?

Option one is to just wait until the weather warms up enough to dry the hay. Option two is to cut the grass and hope you can get enough good drying hours to get it baled. Option three is to cut and wrap the forage as haylage.

Option one has been the most common and is safer in some ways. However, as we look at growth patterns and what happens as a plant matures, there are some issues with this approach. As the plant matures, it loses nutritive value. It becomes older, tougher, less digestible and less palatable.
Figure 1. 
Figure 1 shows what a section of grass cells might look like at a good maturity. Figure 2 shows what they will look like a month from now when many of us try to cut our ryegrass or fescue for hay.

The dark green lines represent the cell walls, made up of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. It is somewhat digestible, but relatively low in protein and energy, and too much will severely limit how much an animal can eat and digest.

The lighter green centers are the cells’ content that breaks down to the protein, sugar, starch, vitamins and minerals. In other words, the center portion is what we are primarily looking for in high-quality hay. Once the plant gets really mature (Figure 2), the percentage of fiber goes way up and the percentage of the more valuable protein and energy goes way down.
Figure 2. 
You may harvest more tons per acre, but not more value. If you wait until the plant is too mature, you will need to make more trips to the local feed store this coming winter.

Option two is a gamble. If you can get the grass cut while it is young and high quality and get it dried in a timely manner without getting it rained on multiple times, you have a good quality hay that both your cattle and checkbook will appreciate come winter.

If you cut it and it lies through a number of rains, you will lose a high percentage of the tonnage and an even higher percentage of the quality.

Each producer must weigh the risk versus the reward of this option.

Option three is to wrap the forage as haylage. For many producers, this is impossible at this time. But, if you or someone you know can bale wet grass and wrap it, you can add tremendous value to the forage by harvesting it at the proper maturity.

Good haylage cut at the appropriate time and stored correctly will be more nutritious than the hay in option one, and far less of a gamble than the hay in option two. Haylage gives you, the producer, a far better chance to get forages harvested with maximum tonnage without sacrificing quality.

You become a little less reliant on the weather forecast and can manage your forage program in a way benefiting your bottom line from all sides. Cutting, baling, hauling hay to the barn and then hauling it back to the cattle next winter is costly, especially if half is indigestible.

At any rate, if you got fertilizer out early, it is time to make a decision on how to handle the harvest and storage of the first cutting. I think most producers realize there is value in storing and feeding a quality product, but many will "kick the can down the road" and chose to let the forage get too mature. Experienced producers also realize that trying to store hay this early in the year is typically a high-risk task. And last, few of us have the equipment to produce haylage.

So, which will you choose?

Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

Game Check, Year Two … What Did We Learn?

Did we learn anything about deer and deer hunters?

by Chuck Sykes

Year two of mandatory Game Check is in the books. In the 2016-2017 season, we experienced a record-breaking drought, hot weather and a bumper acorn crop, all of which we suspected contributed to the reported low harvest. The 2017-2018 deer season couldn’t have had better weather as far as I’m concerned. Rain fell at the proper time to get food plots established and most of the state experienced cold weather during a major portion of deer season. So, what’s the excuse going to be this year?

Our reported harvest declined from 82,414 to 75,874. I can only come up with two reasons why the Game Check numbers were lower: Hunters are simply not taking time to Game Check their harvests or our hunters actually killed fewer deer. Personally, I find it hard to believe hunters killed fewer deer this year than last. On the other hand, I harvested fewer deer this year as compared to last and that can be attributed to pure laziness. I saw and had the opportunity to harvest more deer, but chose not to take them because of demands on my time after the hunt.

As we have done in the past with the Game Check system, we take constructive criticism from our staff as well as the public and make changes whenever possible. A couple of issues arose with the Outdoor Alabama app this year. When developing the app, one of the main boxes the hunter had to check was the ability to enter data without cell service. As with most innovative technology, little unpredictable quirks within the system appeared over time.

One such issue I encountered was that error messages would appear when trying to enter a harvest in areas with weak cell service. If I had no service or good service, no error messages would appear. But, if I was in an area with a weak signal, the app wouldn’t work. It took quite some time to figure out that if I simply put the phone into airplane mode I could enter the data and the app would accept it. When I took the phone off airplane mode, the data was recorded and my confirmation number was sent as soon as a good connection was established.

Several other minor issues were detected that helped us conclude we needed our own application. That would allow us to immediately address issues and not have to wait on someone else to do so. Beginning in May of this year (after spring 2018 turkey season and before red snapper season), we will launch the newest version of the Outdoor Alabama app. This version will be compatible with iPhone, Android and Google phones, unlike the current version. By introducing this new app, we feel we can offer a better product to our hunters and, if issues arise, be much more responsive. Hunters will have ample opportunities to install this new app before next deer season.

I would like to thank the hunters who did participate in Game Check this year. We know it is a big step to take, but it will be worth it for the overall health of our deer herd and the management of one of our most precious natural resources. As we have said all along, we are not going to make knee-jerk reactions and initiate changes based on one year of data. This is going to be a long-term process. Trend data must be established before any changes are implemented.

Although it’s only been two years, we are seeing some possible trends emerge. The top three counties are remaining constant. That is a positive trend. On the negative side, hunters are reporting less each year and are recording more bucks than does.

Now, the question is what can we do with this data?

Even though we increased law enforcement efforts on the Harvest Record/Game Check regulation (over 200 citations and 300 warnings), reporting was down. How can we further address the suspected lack of compliance?

Should we conduct more compliance-check roadblocks working in conjunction with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and local sheriffs’ offices? Do we wait at the gates of major hunting clubs for members to leave? Do we start checking processing facilities and taxidermists?

I know when I kill a buck in Illinois, I must report the deer and get a confirmation number. When I take the head to the taxidermist and the carcass to a processor, they both must take down my license information as well as my confirmation numbers. That last question should send all the conspiracy theorists and government overreach folks into orbit! But, we are merely looking for ways to increase compliance.

Let’s play devil’s advocate so you can better understand how important accurate data are to proper management. Let’s suppose, with the data received, compliance is approximately 70 percent versus the 30 percent we think we are experiencing. If so, that data may mean our deer numbers aren’t as strong as we’ve been thinking. It may indicate we should lower the antlerless bag limit because more bucks are being reported than does. Perhaps we should shorten the season length to reduce the pressure on the resource and make our law-enforcement efforts more effective?

I’d say, once you pick yourself up off the floor, I now have your attention. As you can see, for WFF to do our job as managers of the state’s resources, we must have accurate data. We need our hunters to be part of the equation and assist us in collecting this data to be able to better manage some of our most-treasured natural resources.

The WFF staff has traveled the state conducting seminars, worked booths at deer shows, placed radio advertisements, taken out magazine advertisements, conducted radio and TV interviews, and numerous other outreach efforts attempting to educate Alabama’s hunters on the importance of their participation in Game Check.

What else can we do? We welcome all legitimate suggestions.

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

Gout – OUCH!

by Nadine Johnson

A good many of my friends are hobbling around and grunting due to the pain of gout. It seems to be a very good subject for a column. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced this health problem myself, but someday I might.

Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood, tissue and urine, and too much yeast fungus in the bowel from our diet.

Someone much smarter than I am has given me some tips on the control of this painful malady. I’m going to share them.

I suggest you get on a proper diet and stick to it. Avoid all red meat, chicken, mushrooms, alcohol, beans (except green beans), peas, spinach, sugar or flour products. Eat lots of cherries and strawberries, also watermelon when available. Take wild black cherry juice concentrate regularly. (I have never seen this in a grocery store but it can be found in most herb shops.)

Take pau d’arco. It will rid your body of unhealthy fungus. I’ve written about this wonderful herb before. The tree grows in South America. No unhealthy fungus, etc., is found near it.

Take probiotics (this is the good bacteria that are very necessary for a healthy colon.)

You might add food enzymes that will aid in proper digestion. Hopefully, you are already taking a good multiple vitamin. Extra vitamin C is needed and can be obtained by taking rosehips.

Juniper berries, safflowers and bayberry are all useful for gout control.

Here is my favorite gout story to tell:

Richard, my husband, and I moved back to Goshen (our hometown) in 1990. We had been there a short time when we engaged a pruning service to remove a pecan tree limb. The "Boss" stood talking with Richard while his employees did the job. I walked up to hear him tell this tale.

A few years earlier he had suffered from gout. He could not walk or work. His doctor’s prescription helped, but just didn’t give proper relief. He crawled to the bathroom. He met some lady who suggested he take bayberry (also called wax myrtle). He did so and was much improved by doing so. He was happy to once again live an ordinary life.

This man did not know me and had no idea I was "The Herb Lady."

"Do you know what this plant looks like?" I asked.

"No," he replied.

"Come to my backyard herb garden and I will show you one," I said.

His curiosity prompted him to ask how I knew this. I explained that I was an herbalist.

Bayberry (Myrica cerifera), or wax myrtle if you prefer, is a native plant that has come out of the woods and into our yards as shrubbery. According to "North American Wildlife" by Readers Digest, bayberry grows in the coastal states from Texas to New England. It is easy to spot as I travel the roads because the leaves on the tips of the limbs have a slightly golden color. This is more noticeable in the winter time.

Bayberry is an excellent insect repellent. By adding the leaves to your dog’s bed, fleas will be deterred and your pet will say, "Thank you."
In the 30s and 40s, no self-respecting family allowed grass to grow in their yards. Instead, they swept their yards regularly with brush-brooms. These brooms were made from either dogwood or bayberry sprigs. Several carefully selected sprigs were tied together with pre-used haywire. (Recycling is by no means a new concept.)

The limbs of bayberry bear a bumper crop of berries each year. From these berries, wax is obtained for candles. Today, we simply buy the candles, but there was a time when we made our own. To do this, bayberry limbs were broken into small links and stuffed in a large pot. The pot was filled with water. A fire was lit and the contents boiled. While still hot, the debris was dipped and discarded. The next morning, solid wax floated on top of the water and was ready to be used for candles. This was done during cold weather, of course.

If I should develop gout, I plan to take bayberry along with the other nutrients mentioned.

Check with your doctor before taking alternatives.

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

Help! I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up!

by Glenn Crumpler

While walking through a friend’s sheep pasture many years ago, I came across a strange sight – but one I have always remembered. Most all the sheep looked to be in pretty good shape … some better than others, but they all looked healthy. As I walked and examined them one by one, some movement in the distance caught my attention. I crossed over the terrace to get a better view of what I had seen. I found a really nice ewe on her side, gasping for air and frantically kicking her legs. My first thought was that she was lambing (in birthing labor), but further investigation ruled that out.

About that time, the owner arrived and thanked me for finding his cast sheep! I had never heard that word before in this context.

"What do you mean by ‘cast’?" I asked.

"Well, this is one of the most frequent things you really have to look for when you have sheep," he explained, "especially fat ones, ones getting close to lambing and ones carrying a heavy load of wool like this one.

"Often times the heavy, fat sheep will lie down in some little hollow or depression in the ground. It may roll on its side slightly to stretch out and get comfortable. Eventually, the center of gravity in its body shifts so it turns on its back so far its feet no longer touch the ground. This causes the sheep to panic and it begins to paw frantically. This usually only makes the problem worse because it will roll even further onto its back. Now it is cast and virtually impossible for it to get back on its feet without assistance.

"As it lies there struggling, gases begin to build up in the rumen. As these gases expand, they tend to slow down and eventually cut off the blood flow to the legs. In hot weather, a cast sheep can die in just a few hours. In cool or rainy weather, it may live in this condition for several days. If you do not arrive on the scene within a relatively short period of time, the sheep will die.

"This is why, with sheep, you must always keep an accurate count. If one is missing, you can find the cast sheep before it dies or is killed by a predator."

Knowing any cast sheep is helpless, close to death and vulnerable to attack, makes the whole problem a very serious concern for the owner.
As I write this article, I have just finished preaching my fourth funeral within a two-week period, the first one being my Mama’s. At some point in these services, and in most Christian funerals, the 23rd Psalm is read or at least referred to during the service or at the graveside. Even to those who are deeply rooted in the Christian faith, this verse often brings a sense of calm, hope and assurance more than any other verse.

One thing we learn from the life of King David, who wrote the Psalm, is that he is very experientially familiar with all the characteristics of sheep and what it means to be a good shepherd. He also knows the difference between a good shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep, and a hired hand, who does not love the sheep and will run away when danger approaches and leave the vulnerable sheep to fend for themselves.
In the 23rd Psalm, we also see David knows by experience the hope of a cast sheep who belongs to THE Good Shepherd!

In Psalm 42:11, King David cried out, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope thou in God ...." (American Standard Version) He was using terms he knew from years of being both a good shepherd and a vulnerable sheep to describe his own personal condition and feelings when he found himself completely cast and unable to help himself.

Though he finds himself cast, he knows that his Shepherd is indeed a Good Shepherd who knows exactly what He is doing. When a good shepherd searches for and finds a cast sheep, he lifts it to its feet. Then straddling the sheep with his legs, holds it erect, rubbing its limbs to restore the circulation to its legs. This often takes a significant amount of time and work. When the sheep finally starts to walk again, it often stumbles and staggers around only to collapse into a heap once more. Little by little, the once-cast sheep will regain its equilibrium until it can once again begin to walk steadily, being completely restored and brought back into the fellowship of the flock and the presence and care of the Shepherd. David knows from experience that the Good Shepherd to whom he belongs will not give up on him (the lost or cast sheep) until He has found him and restored him.

There is something intimately personal, tender and loving, but also intensely riddled with danger, in this picture. On one hand, there is the cast sheep, so utterly immobilized and completely helpless – though strong, healthy and flourishing. On the other hand, there is the attentive shepherd, quick and anxious to come to its rescue – ever patient, tender, helpful and merciful. He comes to us quietly, gently and reassuringly – no matter when, where or how many times we may be cast down. Psalm 56:13 is good commentary on this concept. "For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" (New King James Version)

If we are honest, most of us born-again Christians – though we belong to Christ, our Lord, and we desire to do His will and be led by Him – occasionally find ourselves cast down for one reason or another. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (New American Standard 1977) Sometimes it is when we are most assured of ourselves that we stumble and fall. When we appear and believe we are flourishing in our faith and beyond the risk of stumbling, it is often then we find ourselves in a cast-down situation – utterly frustrated, discouraged, depressed and feeling like a failure – unable to pick ourselves up.

Like sheep, sometimes we become cast because we are looking for a soft spot, an easy place, where there is no hardship or risk and no need for endurance or self-discipline. Like the rich young ruler in Scripture, we think we are safe when we are on the verge of being cast down. In this case, the Good Shepherd may move us to a new pasture where things are not as easy and we are less likely to become cast. This too will be for our good.

A second reason we may become cast is just because we are carrying around too much wool. We may be clinging to the accumulation of things and the pursuit of earthly desires and pleasures that weigh, drag and hold us down. In this case, the Good Shepherd may have to shear us to free and keep us from becoming cast by the weight of our own self-centeredness.

Sheep do not enjoy the shearing process. They kick and struggle, getting a few scrapes and cuts. It is also a lot of work for the shepherd, but occasionally it must be done. This is usually not a pleasant process but it sure brings relief when we are free from all the worries.

Another reason is because our fleece gets burdened down by mud, manure, burrs and other debris. This is when we succumb to our temptations and fall into willful sin. This may be the easiest to see, but it is often the most hurtful and the hardest to overcome. But even then, the Good Shepherd will take us in hand and apply the cutting edge of His sword – the Word of God – that pierces our soul, brings us to repentance and frees us from the sin that weighs us down. This too can be unpleasant, but what a restoration!

Many people have the misconception that when a child of God falls, frustrated, helpless and in a spiritual dilemma, God becomes disgusted, angry and fed up. The fact is that this is not accurate. We see God’s heart in this matter when we realize He sent Jesus to be our Shepherd. He has the same identical concern and compassion a good shepherd has for a cast sheep. He comes quickly and eagerly, ready to help, to forgive, to save and to restore. All we have to do is surrender and cooperate in His restoration process.

This is why David said in Psalm 23, "The Lord is MY shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake ...." David knew what it was to be cast and what it was to be restored by the Good Shepherd! He learned his Shepherd would always be looking out for him. If ever he fell, the Good Shepherd would seek him out to restore him. All he had to do and all we have to do is cooperate with our Shepherd and allow Him to do in our lives whatever He needs to do so we can be fully restored in our relationship with Him, with others and even with ourselves.

The Lord – He is my Shepherd!

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

How Safe Is Your Garden Headquarters?

It’s a good idea to keep a corrosion resistant box handy to always have a place to toss dead batteries. A word of caution! Place a strip of electrical tape across the contacts of 9-volt batteries to keep them from causing a fire! 
How many of you remembered to perform your Vernal Equinox checklist of chores?

Well, I forgot to do the main things on my list this year, replacing all the 9-volt batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Batteries should be changed annually with fresh ones in smoke detectors that should be replaced every 10 years.

The best time to change batteries is when you spring forward into daylight saving time. If you are like me, you are rushing around with a programmable timer before you go to bed on the Saturday night before the time change. My clock and watch adjustment ritual takes about an hour to complete even though my house is relatively small because I have so many timepieces in each room.

As I work one end of the hall (the one with the bedrooms), I replace the battery in the smoke alarm. On the other end of the house (galley kitchen, parlor, dining room), I service the other alarm. Then I can make my way down to the basement and on to the workshop to complete the ritual.

Always remember: change time, service alarms! What is an easy way to remember the 10-year alarm replacement mark? Easy peasy! You should do it the same year as the U.S. Census.

Other items on your checklist should include replacing HVAC filters according to the manufacturer’s specifications and placing a quarter cup chlorine bleach in HVAC condensate pump basin every two months to prevent algae buildup and permanent failure. Semiannually, clean the clothes dryer exhaust hose and vent. If you cook every day like I do, clean the stove cooktop exhaust filter monthly. If you fry a lot of meals, it may need a weekly cleaning.

Springtime is spring cleaning time! More and more cities and counties offer free hazardous-waste disposal services during April. Some counties offer free dump weekends, as well. Take advantage of these opportunities to get rid of unwanted lawn chemicals and fertilizers, petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, old medicines and unneeded prescriptions, questionable ammo (might have been exposed to water or high humidity), tires, car batteries, 9-volt batteries you just removed from smoke detectors and other dry cell batteries, light bulbs, compact fluorescent lights, fluorescent tubes, CRT monitors and TVs, etc.

Make sure to check with your local collection point to find out what kinds of materials they will accept.

Moving right along, now … I love the early spring! Everything just popped up, then along came the frost. No worries though. I had not yet planted most of the tenders that would have been affected.

There were lots of cilantro volunteers this year. So many that I didn’t bother covering them when the frost was forecasted. Pretty cold-hardy, they were. Just the other day, I went out to the cilantro bed with the intention of moving a few to a different location and the deer had given them all a nonselective pruning job! (All the way to the ground … nothing but short, green nubs!)

The deer also ate my hostas early this year, so they should come back bushier than ever! That really got me going!

Okay. Let me get calmed down and relax with a blood pressure pill and a glass of wine. (Please, don’t tell my doctor.)

I promised you two recipes this month. The first one was an experiment on comfort food from March while I was recovering from minor surgery.
Chicken Potpie! It’s one of my simple pleasures in life. Sorry, but it didn’t last long enough to get a picture of the inner goodness … perhaps next time. 
How about a fairly easy chicken potpie? It can be done in a couple of hours, but it’s much better if you start preparations in advance.

I start with a rotisserie chicken ($5 at Costco, ready to eat). Enjoy it with vegetables for a couple of meals, but be sure to strip the meat from the bones before serving because you will need them for part of the potpie and nobody wants a pregnawed chicken bone!

On the day before preparing the pie, remove the biggest portion of remaining meat from the bones, discarding all the skin. Place bones and remaining attached scraps of meat into a stockpot and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for one hour. Allow it to cool on the stovetop. When cooled enough to handle, strip remaining meat bits from the bones. Strain the stock into another pot and skim any fat that rises (there shouldn’t be much).

Remove bones, gristle and fatty parts. Put the meat aside for now. Cut the saved portions of chicken into 1-inch chunks. Place with set-aside meat.

Frozen vegetables have come a long way in my lifetime. I use one package Publix-brand Japanese mix frozen vegetables. Place the veggies in a casserole dish with 1 cup of your chicken stock. Cover and microwave until steamed.

Cook about ½ cup of white rice.

Coarsely slice 4-5 medium-size fresh white mushrooms.

Now let’s build the pie!

In a 2-liter casserole dish, mix 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup sour cream, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup cooked rice, drained and steamed vegetable mix, and all the chicken.
Add your favorite poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste. Give it a quick stir. Cover with 1 sheet of puff pastry, folding the corners back toward the middle. Dock the pastry sheet with a knife to vent. Bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let rest for 15 minutes before devouring … uh, serving.
Chicken fried Mongolian beef! I forgot to mention that this dish is served over rice or potatoes. 
Still hungry? How about chicken fried Mongolian beef with rice?

Thinly slice a 2- to 3-pound USDA Choice rump roast. Liberally coat with Adolph’s meat tenderizer. Place it in a dish and cover with buttermilk. Mix enough self-rising flour with cornstarch to make a dredge. Add salt and black pepper, to taste.

Slice 1 medium yellow onion and 1 large green bell pepper. Mix a 50/50 solution of soy sauce and water, ½ cup of each should be sufficient. Add ¼ cup of sugar and mix thoroughly.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and add toasted sesame oil. Dredge the roast slices in flour mix until completely coated. Place slices in the hot oil. Brown both sides. Remove from pan and place on a plate. Do not put on cooling rack or paper towels. You will use that moisture. Put the onion and bell pepper into the pan with 5-6 whole dried Thai chili peppers for heat. Add soy sauce mixture. Sauté until firm, but done. Place meat back into the pan. To thicken the liquid, add ¼ cup of liquid from the pan into a heat-resistant measuring cup. Add a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix thoroughly. Add to the pan. Let simmer until done. Eat! Enjoy!

Gotta run. I’m hungry! Let me hear from you.

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin
Cherry tomatoes are the easiest tomato plants to grow, but they will need staking. 

The Easiest Tomatoes

For gardeners happy with bite-sized fruit, cherry tomatoes are hard to beat through rain, heat and humidity. Due to their small size, they are sweeter because their sugar is more concentrated than in larger tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes generally grow fast and keep producing. They often just outgrow the environmental problems that can plague other tomatoes, especially by midsummer.

Husky Cherry Red is a beautiful, sturdy plant that doesn’t run out of control. A fun twist on cherry tomatoes is to grow Tumbling Tom that can cascade over the edge of a big urn or even a garden wall. Other popular cherry types such as Sun Gold, Sun Sugar, Sweet 100, Black Cherry, Chocolate Sprinkles, Sweet Million and Red or Yellow Pear need a tall stake or cage to keep the rambling vines off the ground.

Blooms That Say Good Morning

For the price of a packet of seeds, a gardener can cover a fence with yards and yards of weaving, blooming morning glory vines. Talk about a quick and beautiful way to cover some wire! Packets of seeds are easy to find at your local Quality Co-op or any place that sells flower seeds. Two seeds planted 6 inches apart side by side will easily cover 10-15 feet of fencing with beautiful blooms.

The hard seed will germinate quicker if you scratch them with a metal file or emery board and soak them overnight.

If the ground is too rich or moist, they may not bloom. The plants are so happy they just grow foliage. In this case, you can try growing the vine in a very large nursery container with the bottom cut out. Fill it with a mix of half potting soil and half sand, so the roots start out in soil that is not too rich.

The night-blooming morning glory, Moon Vine, lights up the night with a reflection of ambient night light and a wonderful fragrance. It also attracts hawk moths that are beautiful to watch, but beware because they are the adults of tomato and tobacco hornworms – if you are growing either of these.

Keep morning glories out of reach of livestock because the foliage and seeds can make them sick.
A mix of striking foliage is a way to help ward off a rainy season. 

Foliage for Summer Color

Did your garden flowers melt out in all the rain last year? If that makes you shy about planting a flowerbed again, this year try some tougher foliage! The plant industry is continually introducing beautiful varieties with leaves so colorful and bright they can be even showier than flowers and usually stand up better to rainy weather.

Sweet potato vines, coleus, purple heart, Persian shield, purple fountain grass, ornamental peppers and colorful oxalis such as Iron Cross are a few of the easy-to-grow options. Coleus offers an especially wide range of colors from orange, lime green, purple, burgundy and variegated combos.
Alabama azalea looks and smells wonderful. 

Alabama Azalea

After noticing the growing void of flowering shrubs in our landscapes, I am on a mission to highlight more shrubs offering colorful blooms. These bring a much welcomed and colorful complement to the growing number of evergreens in our landscapes.

Alabama azalea (Rhododendron alabamense) is an azalea native to north and central Alabama and other Piedmont areas of the Southeast. Alabama azalea blooms in early spring, just as the new foliage appears. It offers early pollen to the native bees and a wonderful fragrance for its gardener.

However, beware that all parts of the plant are poisonous – not that it would taste good or you would want to eat it!

It spreads by underground runners, slowly forming a nice thicket if planted in an area where deer don’t browse.

When our plant died back in the drought of 2007, we thought it was lost. However, as you can see, it came back strong from the underground runners.

Nice Idea for Shady Patio

A friend who is a potted-plant guru had this pretty combo of houseplants gracing a wall under the cover of a patio roof. Just combination of shade-loving houseplants will work for this by following the "thriller, filler, spiller" rule … showy, thriller plants for accent; filler plants to fill out the center; and trailing plants to spill over the edge.

In this container, the thriller is pink bromeliad, fillers are small ferns and syngonium, and the spiller is a variegated vinca.

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

In the Water, the Lions’ Den or Doing Battle?

Although Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed on one of those final mornings, Peter did not lose his faith and helped establish the early church. 
by Suzy Lowry Geno

Are you sinking in the water or back in the boat today?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question since my December 2017 article, "I’m Out of the Boat."

Some folks laugh as they ask.

Others are entirely serious as they know some of the details of our spiritual struggles during the past few months.

When we studied 1 Peter at our church and reviewed the Matthew 14:22-34 recounting of how Peter saw Jesus walking toward them ON THE WATER and how Peter slipped from the boat and walked toward Him on the water, too ... we saw he only stayed on top while he kept his eyes on Jesus!

Oh, how I could identify with that – and evidently so could many of you because that has been one of the most commented-on articles I’ve ever written!

I’ve analyzed, questioned and tried to figure things out for myself … and I started sinking just as Peter did!

I forget too quickly how God continually stands by me through all my storms and I have only to look to Him!

In our study – and in my life – I’ve learned "true believers KNOW WHO to turn to when we sink."

As we’ve continued on our journey, we’ve turned to Jesus and found out amazing things.
I’ve read through the Bible several times through the years, either straight through or in one of those plans where you read some in the Old Testament, the New Testament and a Psalm or Proverb every day.

But it’s amazing then to read over a verse or verses and suddenly realize what they are actually saying and talking about! Even after having read them over and over.

Just about every kid who has ever gone to Sunday school knows the stories about Daniel: how he survived the hungry lions’ den; how he ate only God-approved food, defying the king and still being healthy; and how his three friends came out of the fiery furnace – not even smelling like smoke!

But a couple of weeks ago I learned something about Daniel that made him as real to me as Peter AND showed me some things about spiritual warfare that are scary and encouraging at the same time.

Daniel prayed for three weeks seeking an answer to a heavy burden. He didn’t recite a memorized poem and get on with his life. Many times he was lying flat on the ground, begging for God’s answers.

We’ve prayed and many tears were shed as we waited. We’ve thrown ourselves at the Master’s feet.

While God has blessed us mightily, one answer still has not come.

An angel explained it all to Daniel. God heard his request on the very first day, but a mighty battle between demons and angels ensued. Only when the strongest angel prevailed was the good angel allowed to take the answer to Daniel.

I’m just a simple, gray-haired homesteader, as most of you know, and no great theologian, but I see Daniel’s faithfulness in prayer and God’s mercy linked together … and the answer came!

Just like the persistent widow in Luke 18 kept coming before the judge for an answer and relief from her problems, we have to keep praying – sometimes for a long time – before our battle has been won.

As I said, I’m no great theologian, but I see a great battle going on over our lives because the forces of evil in this world know that when God breaks through there is no stopping Him – or us!

We have to keep our spiritual armor on, polished up and strengthened by the Word of God all the time to withstand the fiery darts of Satan!

Folks, this isn’t just a fairy tale! Read the newspaper, look at Facebook, watch one of the cable news channels or just look at your own personal life!

I lost my mama, my mother-in-law, my husband, my brother-in-law and the beloved uncle who raised my husband, as well as another aunt and uncle, ALL DURING A SIX YEAR TIME SPAN! I’ve faced health issues, financial traumas, heartaches ....

I can show you where those demons chased me around and even put some pretty-big dents in my armor, BUT we’re still trusting God!

When you see me on the farm or shopping at the Co-op, or you can even send me an email, it’s all right to ask if I’m in the water, the boat or that fire with Daniel’s friends because this little, simple homesteader can tell you the only thing for certain in this life – God is still the answer!

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer living on a small homestead in Blount County. She can be reached through Facebook or her website at

It's All Relevant

by Robert Spencer

In last month’s article, I shared some statistics on Alabama meat goat inventories for the past decade and recognized the overall trend decreasing.

Afterward, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to investigate trends with Alabama beef cattle inventories for the same time frame. Then I decided to compare the two numerically and with a chart.

It turned out to be a very enlightening experience as I had no idea there was such a vast difference in species inventories. The other interesting aspect was trying to find consistency in the information from different sources. Most of my information came from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service. The old adage of "check sources and check again" provided some trivial discrepancies.

Over the years, I would like to think I have become a little wiser and noticed that groups of people tend to get caught up in their own interests with disregard to other interests. I would speculate that if we added Alabama poultry inventories to these charts it would show their numbers are greater than beef cattle. After all, economically, the poultry industry is the largest livestock sector in the state.

And there are the pygmy varieties of goats. Years ago, because of their small stature, I would make jests about pygmy goats and Nigerian and Nubian dairy goats. It turned out the joke was on me because both have really gained in popularity among small households with livestock interests.
It makes sense because they don’t take up much space, consume less and, for a family of two to four, produce sufficient quantities of milk on a daily basis. While the larger dairy goat breeds can produce at least half a gallon of milk per day, how many families can consume that much on a daily basis?

Let’s take time to appreciate diversity among our livestock interests and have an appreciation for unique individuals with small-scale farming operations and self-sustaining interests, and the large-scale operations providing food for thousands of people on a daily basis.

I hope you find the statistics and chart as interesting as I did.

Robert Spencer is interim facilities manager for Alabama A&M’s Agribition Center. You can contact him at

Learning Fish and Wildlife Management for a Good Cause

The Boy Scouts of America are holding a workshop to benefit lake management at Camp ALAFLO.

by Richard J. Woddham

The Boy Scouts of America are facilitating a Fish and Wildlife Management Workshop April 28 at Camp ALAFLO. The purpose of the workshop is to raise money to maintain the 55-acre lake at Camp ALAFLO and to educate the public and Boy Scouts in how to manage ponds, lakes, fish and the wildlife of Alabama so everyone will benefit from recreational fishing and spending quality time with their families.

To provide this education, we have secured expert guest speakers from around Alabama: Dr. Rusty Wright, associate professor from Auburn University and fisheries Extension specialist, "Managing Ponds for Fishing"; Bence Carter, regional Extension agent, "Controlling Aquatic Plants in Your Pond"; Richard Tharp, furbearer biologist with Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries District 4 Division, "Wildlife Nuisance Control (Otters, Beavers, Birds, etc.)"; and Kevin Rhoades, owner/operator of Southern Aquatics Pond Management, "Advanced Pond Management, Forage and Stocking Techniques for Trophy Fish."

During registration from 8:30-9 a.m., there will be an opportunity to identify aquatic plants and get water samples tested. After lunch, there will also be a questions and answers session.

To help with the cost of maintaining our lake and the expenses of the workshop, we are asking for sponsors. There are two levels of sponsorship: Supporting Sponsor, $100, and Lead Sponsor, $500. Of course, any amount you can donate will gladly be accepted and your donation is tax deductible. All the proceeds from the educational workshop go to the Boy Scouts to maintain the lake. Please make your check payable to Boy Scouts of America and indicate the donation is for the Fish and Wildlife Management Workshop. Mail it to Boy Scouts of America, Camp ALAFLO, 1687 Coffee County Road 156 (Boy Scout Road), New Brockton, AL 36351.

Attendance fee for the workshop is $10 (includes lunch), payable at the door. Anyone interested in attending should pre-register at 334-389-1563.

Please help the Boy Scouts make this workshop a great success.

Richard J. Woodham is a member of the Properties Committee, Camp ALAFLO Lake Team. He can be reached at 334-389-1563.


by Baxter Black, DVM

To supplement farm income, some get their wives jobs in town. Others expand their hobbies, i.e., making saddles, braiding horsehair or running for county commissioner. Some, in desperation, get a real estate license!

I chose the conservative, low-risk venture of making a home video! After considering several subjects, "Documentary of the Brucellosis Eradication Program 1936-92," "The Hatch Act: a Review" and "Fasciola Hepatica: Peril of Fluke?" I decided to use some of my poems and invent Cowboy Poetry MTV! I would invite my cowboy friends and we would act out each poem.

Included in the video was "THE CULL," a poem in which a young vet and an experienced cowman argue the merits of keeping or culling a cow. The cow described in the poem was definitely beyond "one more year"!

I sent a copy to Hank at the sale barn in Willcox and asked him to find me this cow. I called three days before I had the big shoot scheduled. He said he had the cow. I reminded him that I’d encouraged him to buy two or three so I could cast just the right cow for the starring role.

"Don’t worry, I’ve got the cow!" he said.

He was right ... she cost 60 bucks!

I got her home and ran her in the chute to examine her. I was lucky to have my old pardner, Jake, who had a supporting role, to help me. She was in fair condition and had only the lower corner incisors left. There was a healed lump at the angle of her jaw, her left horn curled back into the side of her head and the right horn swooped out gracefully to the northeast. She looked like she was directing traffic! But the reason she was at the sale barn, headed to the rendering plant, was her right eye. Cancer had enucleated it and the orbital area was the size of a small cantaloupe!

Jake and I cleaned, packed and dressed the eye. No Shut-Eye Patch would cover it. I thought a big cartoon X made of black duct tape might make the defect more presentable.

Then Jake said, "I know what’ll work ... a bra!"

The next thing I knew we were in the lingerie section of the local farmer supply store.

"What size, you reckon?" I asked.

"Well, you’ve been washing it for two days. Hold out yer hand!" he replied.

We chose a 38D and took it home. My wife cut off and discarded the unneeded cup. Our purchase fit perfectly! The shoulder strap went over the longhorn and the back strap coursed above the good eye like a pirate patch underneath the jaw.

She played her part beyond expectations. I took her back to the sale barn, the Maidenform still stuck firmly in place. She went through the auction ring with a note thanking Hank for his cattle buying skill, recounting her new status as a star and charging the new owner to treat her with kindness.
She goes by the name Lorraine.

She brought $25. So much for my cowsmetology.

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,


by John Sims

There are two new products I want to spotlight this month. Your local Quality Co-op is now handling NON-GMO feeds: All Stock and Layer Pellet.

Homestead Feed All Stock

All Stock NON-GMO is a pelleted feed with 14 percent protein, 3 percent fat and 20 percent fiber. It is fortified with minerals and vitamins, including B vitamins. It is a good choice for feeding cattle, sheep, goats and horses. This allows you to buy one NON-GMO product for multiple species.

Homestead Feed Layer Pellet

This NON-GMO laying pellet is 16 percent protein, 3 percent fat and 5 percent fiber. It is fortified with the key amino acids lysine and methionine, as well as vitamins and minerals essential for egg production.

If you are looking for high-quality, NON-GMO feeds for your livestock, visit your local Quality Co-op and pick some up. As these are new products, your Co-op may not have them in inventory yet, but can order either of them for you.

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

Old McDougall Had a Farm …

Burdette McDougall buys feed from Farmers Cooperative Market in Leroy and proudly wears their cap. 
by Carolyn Drinkard

Do you remember singing the popular nursery rhyme about Old MacDonald and all of his farm animals? Historians tell us the original version spoke of a farmer named MacDougal, who lived on a farm in Ohio. As years passed, the name changed to "MacDonald," but the message stayed the same: farm animals bring happiness to their owners.

Ironically, in lower Clarke County, there is another farmer, also named McDougall, whose story parallels the timeless children’s song in a most delightful way. Burdette and Joyce McDougall live on Regal Hill Farm with a merry menagerie that fills their days with happiness and purpose.

Burdette grew up on a dairy farm in Fulton, New York, the heart of the Snowbelt. After he married Joyce, his high school sweetheart, the McDougalls lived on a small farm. Their children were active in 4-H, so the entire family loved and cared for many animals.

In 1979, life changed for the McDougalls. Burdette worked for Cives Steel Company and the company was looking for someone to go south to teach workers. Burdette was offered the job of field liaison in Mobile, right after Hurricane Frederick had hit the area.

Upon arriving, Burdette remembered calling Joyce to announce that there was "no snow down here!" Joyce came after the school year ended in 1980, bringing their son and four daughters. For almost 30 years, the family lived in a quiet subdivision in the city.

Burdette’s work took him all over the country. During his time off, he would hunt along the Tombigbee River in Jackson, about 50 miles north of Mobile.

When Burdette decided to retire, he and Joyce considered moving to Colorado. However, they changed their minds when they thought about the Colorado snow. Instead, McDougall asked his close friend, Larry Jones, to help him find some retirement property near Jackson.

In 2010, the McDougalls moved to a 100-acre tract in Rockville and lived in their hunting trailer for almost four years. This small community is southwest of Jackson and less than an hour from their children in Mobile. The Rockville area reminded the McDougalls of their childhood homes in Upper New York, with small farms, large tracts of timber and much logging.
Joyce and Burdette McDougall lived in Mobile in a subdivision for 30 years before coming to Regal Hill Farm in Rockville. Here they have found their little corner of paradise. 
After leaving New York, the McDougalls had decided they would never have any more farm animals. However, with their new property and extra time on their hands, the two longed for farm life with animals they could care for. They soon added "a few animals, just to have something to do," as Burdette explained it. First, they bought goats, convinced the animals could clear the undergrowth on their property. They discovered, however, that they would need fences to keep the animals corralled.

"I had never built fences before," Burdette explained, "and I had never put up net wire, but Joyce and I did it."

As time passed, the McDougalls realized how much they had missed their farm life and their animals. They added just a few more animals, naming each one as it became a part of their growing family.

Joyce has always had a deep love for chickens. When she decided to get just a few, she discovered many fancy chickens she wanted to add to her flock. Soon, Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, Silkies, Polish and several kinds of English sex-link crosses had found homes on the McDougall farm. Joyce definitely has a way with chickens, as all are gentle and contented.
Joyce McDougall holds Ruby, her prized Jubilee hen. Joyce has all kinds of breeds and said she wanted lots of fancy chickens. 
"I don’t know a lot about chickens," she stated, "but I just do what I think is best for them."

Joyce then decided to add guineas, ducks and geese. A visit with her flock reveals some members ambling from pen to pen, singing contentedly in the clamor of clucks, honks or quacks, just like the nursery rhyme. If a stranger comes down the lane, the atmosphere changes as the guineas alert the whole farm with squawks, chi-chis and pot-racks.

The McDougalls built all the pens, coops and runs themselves. Joyce cleans all these areas and gathers eggs that she sells or gives to friends and neighbors.

Burdette stays busy with his goats, hogs and cows. He saw his few Boer goats multiply rapidly. One goat, named Trump, is a special favorite.

"The mother had triplets," Joyce said. "She would not accept this little fellow. We had to milk her and bottle feed the baby. He never grew like the others, but he has become a part of our family. Trump will always stay here on the farm."

The McDougalls have now added some Nubian goats to their herd.

Both Joyce and Burdette told numerous stories of sleepless nights in the barn, birthing or tending to sickly animals.

Burdette’s cows graze contentedly next to the goat pasture. He has Angus, Hereford, Beefmaster and Red Angus. Like every other animal on the farm, the cows are gentle pets and come to Burdette’s call.

He purchases feed from Farmers Cooperative Market in Leroy and hay from a local supplier. He sells his calves at stockyards in Lucedale or Meridian, Mississippi. He plans to increase his flock of gentle giants.

The McDougalls’ farm is in a sparsely populated area of rural Clarke County, where many predators abound. Burdette keeps two donkeys to control these pests. To hear his explanation of how Thelma Joe and Ellie Mae train all the other farm animals is quite entertaining.

"When my donkeys bray," he explained, "them cows know to get in a huddle in the corner of the pasture. Sometimes, the new calves don’t listen. They have to be taught a good lesson before they’ll mind. I’ve seen them donkeys scold the calves and butt them to get them to obey. The calves run and get under their mothers. When the donkeys bray again, all is clear. Every animal here understands them and obeys. At first, I had a hard time understanding it. It was the darndest thing I’d ever seen!"

From left, the McDougalls swapped some goats for these pigs that they will feed out and slaughter for food. The McDougalls raise Boer goats, which have a gentle nature. They built all the pens and feeding areas themselves.
Burdette also credits his donkeys with bringing cats to the farm. One day, after hearing the donkeys bray, Burdette checked and discovered a tiny kitten that he brought into his barn and fed. It wasn’t long before other stray cats showed up. Today, he thinks he has five cats on the farm, but he’s not sure. All are welcomed, as the cats keep his feed protected from mice and his yard free of snakes.

In 2014, the McDougalls built their dream home on the third highest hill in Clarke County. They named their place Regal Hill Farm, named after Regal, an abandoned dog owned by their friend, Larry Jones.

"I kept Regal during the day while Larry worked at his insurance business," Burdette said. "I got real attached to Regal and he followed me everywhere.

"Well, one day, we were hunting and a snake bit Regal. I took him to the vet, but he didn’t make it.

"Larry, his nephew and I buried him right here on our property. We all cried like babies. I built Regal his own cross and I go see his grave every day. Regal was real special to me!"

Jones soothed Burdette’s loss by finding two puppies. Jones named his pup Skillet and Burdette named his Jack. The two dogs visit often and enjoy long romps together on Regal Hill Farm.

"Burdette is a gentle, good man who would help anybody," Jones said. "If he tells you a chicken dips snuff, look under its wing for the box!"

Reconnecting to farm life and taking care of their animals have brought Burdette and Joyce McDougall happiness beyond measure.

"Regal Hill Farm is for our pleasure," Burdette added. "The kids and grandkids love it. They come up and spend time with all the animals. Our farm gives us something to get up for and do every day from dusk to dark!"


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

PALS: Rehobeth Elementary Beta Club – Making a Difference in Houston County

by Jamie Mitchell

The Rehobeth Elementary School Junior Beta Club has signed on to be a part of the Clean Campus Program! This impressive group of fourth- and fifth-graders works all year long to not only have academic excellence but also have community involvement and extracurricular excellence, as well. The Clean Campus Program is proud to partner with this group of over 60 scholars!

I recently had the opportunity to visit with these students and got to see firsthand how they work together to prepare for their Beta Club conferences, as well as brainstorm for new ways to help in the community. These students are already having regular campus cleanups and, now, plan to do more around the school to encourage the antilitter movement on campus. They plan to make recycled bookmarks for their local library from cereal and snack boxes, and several students also plan on entering our upcoming poster contest!

At the direction of Junior Beta Club sponsor Holly Seales, these students are making a huge difference in Houston County!

Our youth really are the future of the beauty of Alabama. I speak to thousands of students each year through the Clean Campus Program, but it is still only a fraction of the youth in our great state. If a school near you would like to participate in our antilitter movement, please have them email me at or call 334-224-7594.

One of the most wonderful things about the Clean Campus Program is that it is FREE to all Alabama public and private schools thanks to ALFA and Alabama Farmers Cooperative! The Alabama PALS Clean Campus Program really is a win-win for Alabama communities. Won’t you join us?

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Perspective Drives Performance

Former college football star Inky Johnson kicked off AFC’s membership meeting with a personal story of triumph over tragedy.

Inky Johnson 
by Mary Catherine Gaston

Inky Johnson was at the height of his college football career at the University of Tennessee when, Sept. 9, 2006, a freak injury occurred during a routine tackle, leaving him partially paralyzed and bleeding internally. Though emergency surgery would save his life, he would never regain the use of his right arm. His days as a star athlete were over, just as he was preparing to be a first-round NFL draft pick.

Fast forward nearly 12 years, and though the physical evidence of that day’s tragedy remains, Johnson asserts that he is a stronger person today than he ever could have been if life had gone the way he had planned since he was a boy.

Growing up in inner-city Atlanta, Johnson and his family of 14 lived in a two-bedroom home. He recalls sleeping on the floor – never having a bed of his own until he moved into a dormitory at UT, where his athletic skills earned him a scholarship. Football was his way out, and he was the first person in his family to attend college.

During his third year as a Volunteer, on schedule to graduate early and begin a lucrative professional career, Johnson sustained the injury that altered his life forever. Though it meant no more football, the event became a springboard to a new, different future. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he went on to obtain a master’s degree in Sports Psychology.

Today, he uses his experience and his education to help others. In addition to working with the homeless in downtown Atlanta, Johnson travels the country, sharing his story as a motivational speaker. Addressing the 81st annual meeting of Alabama Farmers Cooperative in February, Johnson challenged AFC members to take a page from his playbook when they deal with life’s challenges.

"Remember, perspective drives performance," Johnson said, adding he would not go back and prevent his injury even if he could. "People don’t burn out because of what they do; they burn out because they forget why they’re doing what they’re doing."

It’s a truth Ben Haynes of Marshall Farmers Cooperative said applies perfectly to AFC, an organization he’s helped lead as a board member since 2014.

"Inky talked about not losing sight of the purpose behind what we do. That’s very applicable to each of us as individuals, but also as a company," Haynes said. "The Co-op was started to provide a service and that service is the ‘why.’ That can’t get lost in the balance sheet or income statement – why we do what we do is something separating us from everyone else."

Haynes pointed to the service of individuals such as Larry Bennich, who recently retired from AFC’s board after 44 years, and Steve Hodges, recipient of the 2017 E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year Award, who will retire this year after 43 years with AFC and Member Cooperatives.
"To me, both of those men exemplify what this year’s annual meeting was about – it’s not fertilizer, plants or seed, it’s people," Haynes stated.

Using a metaphor familiar to the agricultural crowd, Johnson closed by encouraging his listeners to judge each day not by the harvest they reap but by the seeds they sow.

"You can add value to every situation and every life you come in contact with," he said, "as long as you live for others and are selfless instead of selfish."

Mary Catherine Gaston is a freelance writer from Americus, Georgia

Rick Hendricks Joins AFC Board of Directors

A third-generation farmer from Jay, Florida, Rick operates a family-run cotton, peanut and cattle farm on 2,500 acres.

From left, Rush, Nina, Rick, Tessa and Brandt Hendricks. 
by Rebecca Oliver

Richard "Rick" Hendricks recently accepted a position on Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s Board of Directors. He was installed at the August 2017 board meeting.

Rick, 59, is a native of Jay, Florida, located just 5 miles south of the Alabama state line. He is a third-generation farmer and attended Livingston University, now the University of West Alabama, where he had some playing time as a freshman team quarterback.

The 2,500-acre family farm produces peanuts, cotton and commercial cattle. He utilizes a three-year crop rotation with cotton being grown for two years followed by peanuts. The commercial cattle operation consists of 250 brood cows fed hay that is produced on the farm.

Rick’s grandfather, Barnett Hendricks, began the family farm on 40 acres after moving from Allgood, where the family home was located. Barnett passed away when Rick’s father, B.D., was only 17.

B.D. started farming part time after marrying Virginia in 1954 and over time expanded the acreage to 2,500. While the farm has always grown peanuts, it converted from soybean to cotton production in the 1980s.
Rick said his father confronted him about the future of the farm when he left for college.

"He had my sister and me in mind to one day take over what he was building here," Rick said.

Rick’s father passed away in 2017. Virginia is 82 and the beloved family matriarch. She worked as a bookkeeper at a local bank for 20 years, and is still involved in bookkeeping on the farm.

"She might outlive me," Rick said.

Rick returned to the family farm and married Nina, a registered nurse who teaches health vocational classes at Jay High School. Together they have three children: Brandt, 29, who played baseball at the University of Alabama and has a MBA in Finance; Rush, 27, who played football at the University of South Alabama and has a doctorate in Physical Therapy; and Tessa, 24, who graduated with a Communications degree from the University of Alabama and works for an investment firm in New York City.

Brandt and two of his cousins, Tanner, 25, and Todd, 24, are daily partners on the farm.

Rick said he doesn’t have any hobbies outside of family and farming.

"With two boys playing college sports, we traveled so much I didn’t have time to do much else besides farm," he said.

Rick’s parents were named the Farm Family of the Year for Santa Rosa County [Florida] in 1983. Rick and his family received the same honor in in 2015.

Rick also serves on Jay Peanut Farmers Co-op’s board and as a trustee at Jay United Methodist Church.

Rebecca Oliver is a freelance writer from Auburn.
Above, an aerial shot shows the expanse of Hendricks’ farm. Below, cotton is harvested at the Hendricks farm. 

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Ol’ Luke’s little Chihuahua ran up raisin’ such a ruckus at that blue tick that the hound dawg was buffaloed and ran off!

Why is a dog being compared to a bison?

Being "buffaloed" is "to be puzzled or baffled"; "confused"; "mystified." It can also be used to mean "to be impressed or intimidated by a display of power, importance, etc.; especially by means of mere bluff."

There is no found origin for this phrase. There are several possibilities - the way a buffalo herd defends itself, how an individual buffalo bluffs its enemies, the way buffalo were hunted.

The buffalo is a powerful animal, and a herd of them of them thundering across the Great Plains must have been pretty intimidating. So it’s not hard to see how this sense of "to frighten or intimidate" of the word arose.

There could be another possibility; one of the definitions of buffalo is "to cow." The English word "cow" meaning "intimidate" is unrelated to the bovine. It first appeared in the 16th century and comes from an Old Norse word meaning "to oppress," but it sounds and looks the same as the name of the animal. It is conceivable the name of another kind of bovine was substituted for the verb "cow" by people who knew that word.

Buffalo meant "confuse" as well as "intimidate" in late 19th-century America:

"The Sioux had your wagontrain surrounded and your soldiers buffaloed." (Remington, Ermine, 1902)

A 1922 citation explained, "From the insensate milling of frightened bison came that picturesque Range word ‘buffaloed,’ as a slangy synonym for mentally confused." (Rollins, Cowboy)

Although the senses of "frighten" and "confuse" are not that far apart, they appear to come from two vastly different images of the buffalo: the powerful and potentially dangerous animals stampeding across the plains and the terrified, captured herd milling about in confusion.

Squirrel for Supper

Squirrel hunting is fun for kids and can provide for some great family meals.

by Christy Kirk
(From left) Cason, Jason and Len Kirk, and George Whitaker with Molly after a successful squirrel hunt. 
The dog’s name was Molly. She wasn’t a hound. Molly was a Mountain Cur. Going on smell, sight and winding, she would lead Cason and my family to nests of squirrels throughout the woods.

Molly would tree a squirrel and then the hunters would shake the vines vigorously. If that didn’t work, a large limb was used to hit the tree, causing vibrations to go up to the nest. After that, it was up to the squirrel to cooperate and Cason to have good aim.

Cason has been hunting with his Daddy many times, but this squirrel hunt was different. This trip was special because it was Cason`s first time hunting with his own gun.

Just before his eighth birthday this past February, Cason started asking when he could get a gun of his own. For his birthday, Jason gave him a .22 rifle. Cason was so proud and excited. However, before taking his .22 to the woods, he got another surprise: a .410 with a long history.

After squirrel hunting all day, Cason came back to the house beaming and exclaimed, "Mama, I shot the .410 that was Paw Paw Willie’s, and I got three squirrels!"

The .410 first belonged to his great-grandfather Willie Kirk, who later passed it down to his son Len, who passed it on to my husband Jason.

"It was Daddy’s, but now it’s mine!" he said.

I don’t know which he was more proud of, being able to hit three squirrels or the honor of inheriting a family heirloom.

Cason isn’t only interested in hunting – he is also thinking about what he might be able to bring to the table for our next meal. Because of his interest in cooking, it won’t be long before he starts trying to put his own spin on some of the family recipes such as squirrel dumplings.
If your own children are starting to bring dinner home from the hunt, here are a few recipes for you and your children to try. Two are definitely easy enough for someone of Cason’s age to prepare, but the rack of squirrel has multiple steps and probably needs an adult in the kitchen.


  • 6 squirrel loins
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons squirrel fat, divided
  • ¼ cup carrots, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • Fresh mushrooms, sliced, to taste (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic, fresh and chopped or minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay (alternatives to wine: chicken broth or white grape juice with 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • Dried mushrooms, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Season squirrel with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon squirrel fat. Sear each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove meat from pan.

Return pan to heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon fat. Lower heat to medium. Add carrots, onions and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes or until vegetables soften. Add fresh mushrooms and garlic. Allow to cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove pan from heat and deglaze with wine. Return to heat and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes more or until wine is nearly reduced. Add chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, mustard and dried mushrooms. Stir. Add squirrel back to pan. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 90-120 minutes or until tender. Remove meat and allow to rest.

In pan, add cream. Bring to a simmer. Reduce by about ¼ cup and season to taste.
Pour sauce over squirrel when ready to serve.


  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups soft breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Water
  • 2-3 pounds of squirrels, skinned and cleaned, heart and liver reserved (1 serves 2 people)
  • Butter, oil or fat, for rubbing
  • Flour, for gravy
In a pan over medium heat, sauté onions in butter until lightly browned. Add breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Mix well.

In a saucepan, add water, heart and liver. Boil until tender. Chop heart and liver fine. Add to stuffing mixture. Mix. Add some water from heart and liver broth to moisten.

Rub squirrels with butter, oil or fat before cooking. Stuff with stuffing mixture. Sew opening and tie legs together to close body.

In a roaster, place squirrels on sides. Roast at 450° for 15 minutes. Turn once and baste frequently with melted butter or drippings. Reduce heat to 350° and continue cooking 1¼-1½ hours, basting every 15 minutes.

After cooking is complete, make a paste from a little flour and cold water. Add to drippings to make gravy.


  • 3 grey or fox squirrels
  • ½ cup flour, reserve 1 Tablespoon
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Biscuit crust rounds
Lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce, to taste (optional)
Skin, clean and disjoint squirrels. Roll in flour. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Sauté squirrel until brown. Add water, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Lay biscuit crust on squirrel. Re-cover. Let boil for 15 minutes more. Remove squirrel and crust from saucepan. In small bowl, blend 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add to saucepan, mixing well. Pour over squirrel and crusts. Add lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce.

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

Taking a Shot at This Year’s Crop Outlook

by Jessica Kelton

So, three economists are out hunting one morning when a big buck walks into view. The first economist takes a shot, but it sails by 10 yards to the right. The deer looks up, but doesn’t run off. The second economist gets a shot off that misses 10 yards to the left. They all cheer while the third economist yells, "We got ‘em! We got ‘em!" Now, I love a good economist joke, especially because there always seems to be a tiny shred of truth to them.

While there are a lot of trends and historical references to help predict what might happen with crop prices, there are also a ton of unknowns we never see coming. Sometimes, getting close to the mark is just as much of a win as actually hitting it.

One thing we definitely know is that corn prices are lower than we’d like to see and probably aren’t climbing back to equal those of a few years ago any time soon. (Although some catastrophic event could have changed everything by the time you read this.) Across the United States, corn acres in 2017 were slightly down from 2016, but there was record-high production per acre in several states adding to the already burdened ending stocks.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s February production numbers showed increased corn exports because of weather issues in other parts of the world and the weak dollar … but don’t get too excited. We still have more stock on hand going into the 2018 season than a year ago and corn acreage is expected to be similar to last year’s. So, don’t plan for maintained prices above $4 any time soon.

Soybean prices, too, have seen better days. Last year’s harvested soybean acres were almost 7 million more than 2016 with good yield adding to stocks on hand. As of February, soybean exports were lower, mainly due to Brazil’s increased supply taking a share of the export market. Going into 2018 with a large carry-over, projected planted acres will be just as high as or higher than 2017. Heavy competition for exports doesn’t bode well for soybean prices moving much off last year’s prices, even with global demand growing.

As for peanuts, 2017 had record production in the United States with increased acres and average yield over 400 pounds higher per acre than 2016. This production has put a strain on storage capacity and contract prices even with increased use, both domestic and with exports. There are several factors that could affect the peanut acres this year, particularly trade agreements with our neighbors to the north and south as well as China. For 2018, contract prices are already lower than last year, and a substantial drop in exports would be more bad news.

However, let’s not get so caught up in watching how trade deals play out that we miss the other big player: cotton.

Cotton, where do I start? It’s been as unpredictable as my daughter’s mood swings. Every month, I’ve watched USDA adjust the ending stocks by a pretty substantial amount. In January, exports were projected up and stocks were lowered. Then the February report comes out and stocks have been adjusted back up due to lagging exports and lower world consumption.

With stocks doubling 2016 levels, you’d expect the market to respond with lower prices. Yet prices are better now than last year. So there’s more than numbers driving the price. To name a few factors: speculation over quality; China’s gap in production and use, and how it will be filled; and synthetic-fiber production costs.

Heading into the 2018 season, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but still a lot of interest in cotton. Projections for planted acres were 12.5 million to 13 million acres. And these projections were before the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made seed cotton a covered commodity and removed the generic base.

Will we see more cotton acres now? Could more acres, and production, push prices down? And how many of those peanut acres will be returned to cotton? Will this help peanut prices? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.

How does 2018 play out for commodity prices?

The only thing we know for sure is, across the board, prices aren’t where we need them to be. Any change from that, for better or worse, is just a guess. Hopefully, an educated guess, but subject to error nonetheless. And, let’s face it, economists will celebrate if reality is anywhere near what is predicted because close is all we can really aim for.

Jessica Kelton is a regional farm and agribusiness management agent for ACES.

Thanks for your service!

Each year at AFC’s Annual Meeting, Co-op members and AFC employees are recognized for their years of service with Certificate of Service awards. The awards were presented by Mike Tate, Chairman of AFC’s Board of Directors, left, and CEO Rivers Myres, right.

40 Years – Ricky Wilks – general manager of Coffee Co. Farmers Co-op, Janice Moran – AFC Benefits Manager (not pictured)

30 Years – Vanessa Chandler – AFC 401k Administrator and Payroll Manager, Steve Lann – general manager of Marion Co. Co-op, Aaron Lynch – AFC Management Services Representative, Steve Moore – AFC VP Animal Health (not pictured)

25 Years – Todd Smith – manager of Hartford Farmers Co-op

20 Years – Keith Griffin – general manager of Madison Co. Co-op

15 Years – Perry Catrett – manager of Luverne Co-op Services, Danny Dewrell – manager of Goshen Farmers

Co-op, James Fudge – AFC VP Management Services, Brian Keith – manager of Cullman Farmers Co-op,

Tricia Arnold – AFC Secretary/Treasurer & SVP - Finance (not pictured), Karen Linker – AFC Human

Resources Dept. (not pictured)

10 Years – Jo Ann Fuller – AFC Assistant Secretary-Treasurer & Director of Financial Reporting

5 Years – Brandon Bledsoe – manager of Opp’s Co-op, Samantha Carpenter – AFC Public Relations; Seth Eubanks – manager of Cherokee Farmers Co-op, Colin Morris – manager of Coffee Co. Farmers Co-op, Elba
Ricky Wilks 
Aaron Lynch 
Perry Cattrett  
Brian Keith  
Samantha Carpenter  
Vanessa Chandler 
Todd Smith 
Danny Dewrell  
Jo Ann Fuller  
Seth Eubanks  
Steve Lann  
Keith Griffin  
James Fudge 
Brandon Bledsoe  
Colin Morris  
At the 2017 AFC Company Christmas party, employees were recognized for their years of service. They are pictured, from left, holding their Certificate of Service awards, with CEO Rivers Myres, far right.
Jimmy Powers 
Jena Klein 
Michael Evans; David Collins 
35 years – Terry “Bo” Rouse – AFC Grain Dept. (not pictured)
30 Years – Jimmy Powers – AFC Farm & Home Dept., John Toon – AFC Feed Dept. (not pictured)
20 Years – Jena Klein – AFC Risk Management Dept.
5 years – Michael Evans – AFC Feed Dept., David Collins – AFC Grain Dept
10 years – Jacqueline Hamm – AFC Accounting Services, Linda Howard – AFC Computer Services,
Christopher Pepper – AFC Feed Dept., Josh Rowland – AFC Computer Services, Tara Newman – AFC Computer Services, Eric Wright – AFC Computer Services (not pictured)

The Co-op Pantry

by Mary Delph and Jena Klein

Wow! It is spring already, and Easter and April Fool’s Day are here.

The days are getting longer and pollen is flying. But the trees and flowers that give me the sniffles are so beautiful. Everything is green with new growth and those lovely flowers are popping up everywhere.

I think April is my favorite month of the year, it makes me feel alive and like I have a new beginning to everything.

This month we are featuring broccoli, carrots, crawfish and garlic. Some of these are labor-intensive and some are so easy a child can prepare them. I hope you enjoy the ones I picked.

Please take time to get outside and look at the beautiful scenery as often as you can.
~ Mary

For May, we will be featuring asparagus, barbecue, beef, egg, hummus, salsa, shrimp, strawberries and tuna; ones for salads and making hummus or salsa.

June’s recipes will feature cucumber, dairy, lettuce and seafood; and making donuts.

We are always interested in anyone who would be willing to be interviewed and share some of her … or his … favorite recipes with us. Contact us if you are interested.

We would love to hear from you … for recipes or to be our feature cook. Make those recipes bloom!

Oh, just a word of warning … Easter is on the first day of April. Make sure your Easter eggs come from the Easter Bunny and not some prankster!
~ Editor


Yield: 12 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) unsliced French bread
In a large bowl, combine oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and gently toss. Sprinkle with cheese. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cut bread into 24 slices. Toast under broiler until lightly browned. Top with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ cup + 1 teaspoon white sugar, divided
  • 1¼ cups warm water (110°)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (more will be needed)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (more will be needed)
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt, for topping
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, ½ cup sugar and salt. Make a well in center. Add oil and yeast mixture. Mix. Form into dough. If mixture is dry, add 1-2 more tablespoons of water.

Knead dough until smooth, about 7-8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough into bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450°. Grease 2 baking sheets.

In a large, flat container, dissolve baking soda in hot water. Set aside.

When dough has risen, turn onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. After all are shaped, dip each into baking soda solution. Place on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake about 8 minutes, until browned.


  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients until combined.

Note: This is good for pork, chicken, beef and salmon.


  • 2¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 48 almonds
Heat oven to 325°.

Into a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in lard until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg and almond extract. Mix well.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheet, place 2 inches apart. Put an almond on top of each. Press down to slightly flatten.

Bake 15-18 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

Note from Mary: You may substitute butter or margarine for the lard, it will still taste good.


  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well-chilled
  • 10-12 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into small pieces
In large bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed just until stiff peaks form.

In double boiler or in bowl set over saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Pour chocolate into whipped cream. Fold chocolate into cream (do not over mix; mixture can have a few streaks). Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.


  • 1 (29-ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
  • 5 slices white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into 4 strips
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup margarine, melted
Heat oven to 350°. Into bottom of buttered, 9-inch square baking dish, place peaches. Place bread strips on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, flour, egg and margarine. Pour over bread. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown.


  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) package uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ pound Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup margarine
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In a large pot, pour enough water to cook pasta. Add small amount of salt. Bring to boil. Add pasta. Cook 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Stir in mushrooms. Cook 1 minute. Remove from saucepan and set aside.

In same saucepan, melt margarine. Mix in flour, garlic and basil. Gradually mix in milk until thickened. Gradually add 1 cup cheese, stirring until melted. Remove saucepan from heat. Add pasta, mushrooms, spinach and soy sauce.

Transfer to prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly brown.


  • 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups steamed greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)
  • 16 ounces tofu (or meat of choice), cubed
  • Oil, optional
  • 6 tortillas
  • 2 cups brown rice, prepared by package directions
  • ½ cup cilantro pesto sauce*
Steam broccoli. Set aside. Lightly steam greens, just until starting to wilt. Steam tofu or sauté in a little bit of oil if desired. Steam tortillas.

In rice bowls, place equal amounts of greens, tofu/meat and rice. Roll tortillas and place one on each bowl. In small bowls, pour pesto sauce.

Declare to everyone at the table, “Soylent Green is for people!”

Note from Mary: If you are as old as I am, you remember the movie. Make sure you don't offend any guests if you don't think they see the humor.

* You should be able to find it already made at a grocery store with a deli.
Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator. You may email her at

The Dilemma Next Door

Managing Small Parcels for Trophy Bucks

by Todd Amenrud
Most people who own small parcels will use their available acreage to plant food plots to attract deer during hunting season. This may be the easiest tactic, but will probably also give you the most bang for your buck (pun intended). 
With a small property (less than 40 acres), can you influence whitetail management or make hunting better? I have received many communications from beginner whitetail managers who have small properties – some maybe 20 acres or less. Is it worth it to manage these small tracts? Can you have an influence over buck size, herd dynamics and hunting opportunities? Absolutely! Below is why and how ….

With a much larger parcel, it is easier to control many aspects of your management efforts and better influence others, especially the harvest portion of the equation. Even if you aren’t practicing other Quality Deer Management principles, selective harvest will still have a huge influence. Killing the right deer and removing the correct amount of animals are both essential for numerous reasons.

Whitetails jump fences and we have no control over our fellow citizens. If you aren’t working with your neighbors, you can imagine herd management could compound into what seems a wearisome, unachievable task. However, you should always strive to achieve a balance in the local herd.

The premise of most herd management scenarios is simple – let small bucks live to maturity (5 years old) and harvest an acceptable number of female deer to keep the herd density at healthy, stress-free levels. But if your neighbors are killing the small bucks and they aren’t helping with the doe harvest, it can become very frustrating.

I often hear, "I shot the buck because he was going to jump the fence. If he hops the fence, my neighbor is just going to shoot him anyhow."

I promise you, if you have that rationalization of "having to kill a buck before your neighbor does," you will NEVER make hunting any better for ANYONE, including yourself. You must set goals, stick to them and not worry about what your neighbors do.

Create a plan and lead by example! This is how big buck hot spots come to be. Look at what the Drurys or Dr. Grant Woods have done in Missouri, or what the Lakoskys and Kiskys have done in Iowa. I know they own farms larger than we’re talking about, but even with a small parcel, if you stick to this aspiration, you will in all likelihood see noticeable results in only a year or two!

If your neighbors are hunters and not incredibly stupid, they will realize a sound management philosophy will pay huge dividends. Talk to your neighbors and, again, lead by example!

By employing sound management philosophies, you can have a titanic influence over your whitetail herd and hunting. Whitetails are homebodies. What you do "here" has an influence over every animal whose home range encompasses "here."

Once adult whitetails choose where they will reside (after their first year spent with their mother), hardly will they ever roam too far from that spot.

Males will typically settle in a home range a fair distance from where they were born – not always, but most often they will. Their journey to find an adult home range may be only a mile or two or possibly 50 or 60 miles away from where they were born. This depends upon many factors such as the type of terrain and habitat, densities at various locations, age structure, buck-to-doe ratios and other factors.

Females will typically settle in an adult home range very near to and usually intertwined with their mothers’. This is why doe harvest is so important. A given piece of land will hold only a certain number of deer. If you remove one doe, there’s a 50/50 chance the space will be filled by another doe. So you need to remove more does than you may think for the chance that a buck might move in to fill that spot.

Bucks may wander for a longer period before they find a place where they will become established and spend the rest of their life. Typically, this happens between the age of 12 and 18 months, but it can take longer. If they have their basic needs met and aren’t molested, they will likely reside in the same place the rest of their life. Core areas within their home range will change seasonally to meet their needs, but to a whitetail it’s home sweet home – they are there to stay.

Because whitetails live in a defined area, what you do even in a small area will influence all of the whitetails whose home territories include that spot. If their home ranges happen to consist of your property, you have an effect on their health, growth possibilities and how often they frequent your parcel. The further you move away from your property the less influence your management decisions have.

Basic management strategy tells us to let bucks live to maturity and harvest enough does so the territorial tendencies of whitetails don’t make it virtually impossible for other bucks to move into your area. Let’s put the two concerns in layman’s terms: "Dead deer don’t grow" and "if all of the rooms are full, he’s going to live somewhere else." Making smart harvest decisions are vital to small acreage success.

Serious hunters know about the "Food, Water, Cover, Sanctuary" formula. All parts of the recipe are very important. So which should you start with? It depends upon what you already have, what your property’s strong suits are and what your neighbors’ have to offer.

With small parcels, it can be difficult (to absolutely impossible) to provide all the elements needed to consistently produce trophy bucks. If you know whitetails are using your property for at least a portion of their needs, you must take into consideration the entire surrounding area. Learn your property’s strong suits and weaknesses. You have to do the best with what you have and the herd will undoubtedly have to borrow or share some of your neighbors’ resources. You need to manage your property to mesh with the surrounding area.

On larger properties, you don’t want your herd to hop the fence for anything. With small acreage, you can bet they most definitely will be crossing your border. You need to have at least some part of the formula on your side of the fence to keep them coming back, but be imaginative and let your herd use your neighbor’s resources to your benefit.

Managers of small properties will most often be lacking the space necessary to house many whitetails. Because of both biological and social carrying capacities, you just can’t fit that many animals into a small area without putting major stress upon them or having degradation of the habitat.
Here’s the author with a buck that came from a property only 20 acres in size. I believe, whether you have 10 acres or 10,000, you can have a huge influence over the whitetail herd and your hunting. 
Densities vary widely throughout the Midwest – anywhere from five or six and up to over 50 animals per square mile. As an example, we’ll use the generous estimate of 30 deer per square mile. That means with 640 acres in a square mile and 30 deer in that square mile, your 20 acres is likely to hold one whitetail. If you do things right, you most certainly can hold more … but you can see my point. Are you better off devoting ground to bedding or to feeding?

It’s also a fact that all small properties are not created equal. Because of certain characteristics, or combination of characteristics, there’s no doubt that particular small parcels are much more appealing to whitetails than surrounding acreage – a property with something uniquely appealing that whitetails love, crave, have to have, or have to use. Recognize these unique features and get the most out of them.

More than likely on small parcels, the one part of the formula that’s easiest for a property owner to deal with is food. It’s also where you will likely see the biggest impact. Attraction during hunting season is the food plot goal of most, but on small parcels you probably don’t have enough acreage to attract deer all season long. You may have to be very selective about what you plant. You want the food plot crop to reach its peak attraction when you hunt the site.

With small parcels, your neighbors can be a key to how good your hunting will be. People working together can accomplish so much more than those who butt heads.

Whitetail management cooperatives are becoming more and more popular. If you get five to 10 property owners with 20- to 40-acre parcels, you can have your own whitetail Mecca if you do things right. The best option is to always work with your neighbors rather than competing against them. It is amazing what like-minded land managers can do.

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.

The Great Tomato Debate

Sliced tomato with Italian dressing 
by Tony Glover

About this time of year every year, the debate over which tomato is the best to plant starts to rage. In true county agent fashion, I usually answer that question about the same as all others I receive … it depends. In most cases, that is both a safe and correct answer. However, I do not leave you hanging. I try to find out what your situation and goals are for your tomato crop.

For instance, I am frequently asked my opinion of heirloom tomatoes. In general, I have found this topic is confusing to gardeners and deserves some attention and explanation. Some people appear to be working under an erroneous assumption about what an "heirloom tomato" is. I will attempt to clarify as much as possible, but definitions vary from place to place.

First, heirloom tomato is not a single variety of tomato you can go to your local store and ask for by that name alone. Second, the term "heirloom tomato" is used to describe a number of varieties whose seeds have been passed down from generation to generation all over the world. Most people say the variety must be over 50 years old and a nonhybrid to be called heirloom.

Heirloom tomatoes have become more popular as people seek out better and unique flavors. On the down side, they have very little disease resistance and many of them have poor tolerance to heat and high humidity. That means you should expect smaller crops compared to the huge size of the plants and fruit.

I asked a Cullman County farmer, Trent Boyd, who grows many heirloom varieties for his advice.

"I like Brandywine Sudduth, Cherokee Purple and Azoychka," he replied. "The heirlooms as a rule do not set fruit well in extremely hot weather so try to start from transplants as early as the weather allows."
Cluster tomato 
Another consideration for gardeners is the size of the tomato plants. Most of the heirlooms and many of the older hybrids such as Better Boy, Early Girl, Bonnie Original and Beefmaster are indeterminate plants. This simply means the tomato continues to grow taller and set more fruit as long as the plant is healthy. In contrast, determinate plants reach a certain height and stop growing. The crop is concentrated into a shorter period. Most commercial varieties and a few home garden varieties are this type. One very popular determinate variety is Celebrity.

In general, the hybrids have better disease resistance than the heirlooms. In addition, some varieties have been bred for tolerance to higher temperatures that is very important for midseason and later plantings. A few of these heat-tolerant varieties are Solar Fire, Summer Set, Heatmaster and Florida 91.

In the past, most pest resistance was focused on soil-borne diseases, nematode and tobacco mosaic virus resistance. The newer varieties have all of that plus some even have resistance to foliar diseases such as early and late blight and tomato spotted wilt virus. This is a big plus for our climate, especially the early blight tolerance and TSWV resistance. Amelia and Talladega both have resistance to TSWV as well as many other pests, and they taste very good. For early and late blight tolerance and resistance, you might try Defiant (I tried it last year – they were small, but tasted good), Mountain Merit, Mountain Fresh Plus, Mountain Supreme, Mountain Magic (large cherry-type) and Plum Regal (Roma-type).

There are literally hundreds of tomato varieties in these categories and there are hundreds more … grape, cherry, colored and plum-type tomatoes. I hope you can see that the best tomato really does depend on many factors.

Regardless of which ones you grow, it is highly likely they will taste better than anything you have tasted since last summer.

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

Understanding DOT Regulations for Farmers

ADOT Officer Jason Guthrie clarifies some misunderstood DOT farming regulations. 

Elberta Farmers Co-op holds a special forum to discuss an often-misunderstood subject.

by Sharon Cunningham

Elberta Farmers Co-op held a special night for farmers and the community to learn more about DOT regulations and how they apply to various types of farming. The meeting introduced items being brought to light again since the law was reformed in the 1980s.

Alabama Department of Transportation Officer Jason Guthrie clarified some items such as the weight of vehicles, certifications that may be needed, crossing state lines and when you may not be able to use the farmer exemption.

After talking, he opened the meeting for questions. This allowed for a unique discussion offering a better understanding of an often-misunderstood section of our state’s law.
Farmers and community members attend a meeting at Elberta Farmers Co-op to learn more about DOT regulations and how they apply to them. 
Guthrie would like for all farmers to understand the law and its exemptions. Some of these are:

  • Often a farmer does not need a CDL, but a health card is required for any vehicle over 10,000 pounds.
  • If hauling a hazardous material, you may need more certification.
  • The correct farm tag is required for your vehicle and you must understand what uses the tag allows.
  • Crossing a state line requires you to understand that state’s Federal Regulations.
As a reminder from all Quality Co-ops, if you have any questions about the road rights of a farmer, please ask.

Sharon Cunningham is EHS coordinator for AFC. If you have any questions about the Responsible AG program or would like to learn how to join, you can contact her at

USDA Report: Record-High Corn, Soybean Yields in Alabama

by Debra Davis

Record yields for state soybean and corn farmers in 2017, combined with higher yields for cotton and peanuts, increased the value of Alabama crops by nearly $100 million over 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Alabama’s 11-percent increase in crop values bucks a national trend, where American farmers typically saw a slight decrease in the value of last year’s crops. Alabama’s crop value increased for soybeans, corn, cotton, hay and peanuts in 2017, while winter wheat and cottonseed experienced slight declines.

"The increase is good news for Alabama farmers, but it’s important to remember production costs for farmers also rose," said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Soybean, Cotton and Wheat & Feed Grain Divisions Director Carla Hornady. "Farmers experienced lower prices for their crops in 2017, so they needed increased yields to overcome higher input costs for seed, fertilizer, equipment and labor."

She added that farmers invested in research with their checkoff dollars to help produce higher yields and control input costs.

A record-high yield of 46 bushels per acre for Alabama soybeans increased production by 21 percent in 2017, raising the crop’s value by nearly $26.5 million – from $129 million in 2016 to $155.5 million.

Record-high yields of 167 bushels per acre for Alabama corn in 2017 totaled 39.2 million bushels, up 4 percent over the previous year. Likewise, the crop’s value jumped $20 million, from $137 million in 2016 to nearly $157 million.

Alabama farmers planted 435,000 acres of cotton last year, about 90,000 more than 2016. Production jumped by 810,000 bales, up 15 percent from 2016. The value of the state’s cotton crop increased as well, from nearly $241 million in 2016 to $266 million.

Farmers harvested 704 million pounds of Alabama peanuts last year, up 14 percent from 2016. That increased the crop’s value by nearly $34 million – from about $122 million in 2016 to $156 million.

Alabama’s hay production also contributed to the state’s increased crops value. Hay values jumped by nearly $21 million from $187 million in 2016 to $208 million.

In addition to favorable weather for much of the state last year, on-farm investments such as irrigation, improved seed varieties, new planting practices and soil analysis helped farmers increase their income, Hornady said.

For more information about Alabama crops, visit USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Debra Davis is the publications director for Alfa.

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Applications Being Accepted

Press release from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is accepting grant applications for projects enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops in foreign and domestic markets. The application deadline for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture is April 20, 2018, 5 p.m.

Specialty crops are defined by USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture (including maple syrup and honey) and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Commodity groups, agricultural organizations, colleges and universities, municipalities, state agencies and agricultural nonprofits are all eligible for this grant program, provided their proposals meet all the program specifications. ADAI and a review committee of industry representatives will make application evaluation reviews and award recommendations to USDA. USDA has final approval for projects submitted.

The SCBGP is a competitive grant process. The maximum award to any applicant is $25,000; the minimum, $5,000.

"The department looks forward to implementing the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and we are privileged to be a part of this successful program," said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. "It provides an opportunity to expand the specialty crop industry in Alabama. I invite all who qualify to apply."

Projects cannot begin until official agreements are signed, expected October 2018.

For more detailed information, please visit or contact Johnny Blackmon at 334-240-7257.

What Gardeners Should Know About Organic Insecticides

Insect pests never rest, so when it comes to selecting the correct insecticide, neither should you!

by Ayanava Majumdar

Organic insecticides are critical tools to insect control, especially in the hot and humid South where insect pests never seem to rest. Even in the dead of winter, insect pests such as the yellowmargined leaf beetle can be active in the soil on a warm, winter day (just look under some turnip plants and other host plants for deep-brown larvae that may be in the ground). In most cases, vegetable plants should be protected early in the season with a variety of integrated, pest management tactics. Insecticides are the last resort for pest management in a sustainable system. With latest advances in IPM technologies, there are several types of organic insecticides to choose from – namely, physical desiccants, contact and stomach poisons, and products with volatile action. Here is a brief description of modes of action and usage tips:

  • Kaolin clay and diatomaceous earth are natural desiccants and abrasives readily available at your local Quality Co-op and other retailers. These products form a layer over the plant parts that confuses insects or abrades their exoskeleton making them vulnerable. These insecticides should be reapplied after a heavy rainfall or periodically to protect new plant growth.
  • A large majority of garden insecticides, organic or conventional, are contact poisons, meaning they have to be applied timely when the target insect is most active and in the right dosage. Common organic contact insecticides include vegetable and horticultural oils; botanical insecticides such as neem, natural pyrethrin and Chenopodium ambrosioides; and microbial extracts such as spinosad. Spinosad-based products are good for quick kill of caterpillars and small pests in organic situations. Many of the paraffinic oil-containing products (Suffoil-X, TriTek) can slow down small insect pests to prevent an outbreak. Do not overuse spinosad- and pyrethroid-based products to prevent insecticide resistance.
Urban Garden IPM Toolkit (available at many local Quality Co-ops) 
  • There are also some beneficial fungi that infect insects. They are available in products including Botanigard and Botanigard Maxx, Mycotrol-O, BioCeres (all containing Beaveria bassiana), PFR-97 containing Isaria fumosorosea, etc. They act by piercing the exoskeleton of insects and then causing septicemia.
  • Gardeners will recognize Bacillus thuringiensis as a commonly available product with product names such as Thuricide, Monterey B.t., Agree, etc. Bt is actually a stomach poison specific to caterpillars. When using Bt, spray timely on small caterpillars and spray thoroughly many times till the pest population crashes.
  • Some insecticides are volatiles, meaning they deter insects by their strong smell; thereby masking plant cues. Unfortunately, these products may not last very long in poor weather conditions. Some gardeners make their own formulations using mixtures of garlic, chilies and herbs that may give the same effect. Garlic Barrier and Cinnamite are some commercial formulations available by online purchase.
  • We highly recommend contacting your local Quality Co-op for product support and consultation. Some of the Co-ops can also provide you a copy of the new Urban Garden IPM Toolkit for beginning farmers or gardeners. Some excellent online vendors for organic insecticides include Arbico Organics, Garden Alive, Forestry Distributing, Do-My-Own and Amazon.
  • For further information, do not forget to visit the Alabama Vegetable IPM website ( or directly contact a commercial horticulture regional Extension agent.

Home and Urban Garden IPM Toolkit is Now Available!

A brand-new Urban Farm IPM Toolkit is now available for urban farmers and community gardeners. This slide chart has both conventional and organic insecticide listings for nearly 20 different crops.

Auburn University also has a listing of common insect pests with images that may help when scouting garden vegetables. Email to get your copy.

Ayanava Majumdar is an entomologist with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

What You Should Know About Chronic Wasting Disease

by Dr. Tony Frazier
New testing equipment for CWD diagnosis has been received at the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries diagnostic lab. 
A recent case of Chronic Wasting Disease in a free-ranging white-tailed deer in west Mississippi prompted me to write this article.

CWD is a malady found in cervids (deer, elk, moose) that is caused by a prion. We don’t write about prion diseases a lot because there are a limited number of those diseases. However, when a prion disease does infect an animal, that animal needs to get its affairs in order. It is most likely going to die. There is no vaccine or treatment for these diseases. Most infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. A few diseases caused by prions are bovine spongiform encephalopathy, scrapie in sheep, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and CWD in deer.

A prion is a misfolded protein that usually affects the brain. Most prion diseases are spread by other animals consuming tissues or fluids from an infected animal, but the diseases can occur spontaneously when the offending protein gets folded wrong (whatever that means). The good news is that these prion diseases are usually pretty species specific (they do not usually jump from one species to another) and they do not spread quickly like fire on a dry sage grass field.

Since I have been employed by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, we have been involved in surveillance programs for BSE, scrapie and CWD. We have been working with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to conduct CWD testing on deer since 2002. This ongoing surveillance program has tested hunter-harvested deer, captive deer and suspect animals.

For a lot of years, the samples were tested at our diagnostic lab. However, the equipment became outdated, inoperable and just too expensive to replace. When we were no longer able to do in-house testing at our laboratory, we sent samples to an approved out-of-state lab.
Recently, through our partnership with ADCNR, we have worked to get new testing
equipment. We now have that new equipment and dedicated personnel for CWD testing. We are waiting for the equipment to be validated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Veterinary Services Laboratory. These tests are performed on brain tissue and lymph nodes. There is no test for CWD that can be done on a live animal.

CWD affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose and other cervids. Because it affects the brain, there are neurological signs such as incoordination. The deer are often emaciated or excessively thin. And, although we have never had a deer test positive for CWD in Alabama, we recommend hunters not harvest deer exhibiting abnormal behavior or that do not appear to be in good health. We request you contact a local game warden if, while hunting or any other time of the year, you see a deer acting strangely. Also, we recommend you contact them if you harvest a deer that appears normal, but you find the internal organs do not look exactly right when you dress the deer.

There is an old saying that goes, "If you don’t want to find something, don’t look for it." There may be some truth to that, but eventually it will come back to bite you. Diseases have a funny way of flying under the radar if you aren’t looking for them. Then, when the disease gets picked up on the radar, it is much more difficult to deal with than if it were detected close to its introduction.

Closing out 2017, there were 186 counties in 22 states that had reported CWD in free-ranging deer. During February, a positive case was reported in extreme west-central Mississippi, now making the count 187 counties in 23 states. A 4½-year-old buck died and tested positive, being the first positive case in Mississippi. Before then, northern Arkansas was the closest cases of CWD to Alabama. We always felt like we had a pretty good buffer, but, with a positive case in Mississippi, it makes us slightly less comfortable.

Prion diseases do not drift on the wind or attach to people’s shoes or truck tires. If Alabama gets a case of CWD, it will be because it came from an infected deer or infected tissue from a cervid. ADCNR has tightened regulations now to prevent hunters from bringing back whole carcasses or anything containing brain or spinal cord from out of state. The meat must be deboned. There are some regulations applying to the cape and antlers. These regulations apply to whitetails, mule deer, elk and moose.

If you are going hunting out of state, go to ADCNR’s website or call their wildlife division to get the actual regulation. If you get in trouble, don’t go telling them Dr. Frazier said this would be OK.

After the Mississippi deer was reported positive, there were some not-exactly correct news reports. I believe reporters do their best, but they are incorrect when they indicate our cattle may be in danger because of CWD. In fact, it is completely incorrect. There are no cases confirming CWD affecting humans or cattle. There are some studies indicating some subhuman primates – monkeys and such – could be susceptible to CWD. And, again, that is not proven, just a suggested possibility. So, I guess, if I had a subhuman primate, I probably wouldn’t feed it deer, elk or moose meat. But on second thought, I won’t own a subhuman primate in the first place.

Finally, I want to re-emphasize that we are testing for CWD and our ability to test continues to get better and faster. We just want you to be educated about the disease. If I had my druthers, I would druther we just keep our surveillance program going and continue to report all results as negative. However, if that is not the case, I feel very comfortable our colleagues at ADCNR have a response plan to minimize damage to our deer population and the hunting industry.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call me.

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

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