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Dr. Jane M. Day

by Nadine Johnson

In the late summer of 1954, at the age of 23, I became office nurse for Jane M. Day, M.D. At the time I was unaware, but now know, that it was an outstanding opportunity. She was then, and still is today, highly esteemed for her abilities as a physician.

At one time, Reader’s Digest had a monthly column featuring an outstanding person. Each time I read this article, I thought, "I work for mine." Now I’m writing about her.

She was a Montgomery native. She attended Lanier High School, the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa), the University of Alabama Medical School (Birmingham) and the Washington University Medical School (St. Louis). Her internship and residency in internal medicine were at Charity Hospital (New Orleans). She excelled in all her studies.

While at Charity, she met and fell in love with Dr. Robert C. Day, a surgical resident under Dr. Alton Ochsner. They were married and became the parents of three children. (This is a good place to tell you that Robert performed the first spleen removal surgery in Montgomery in 1954. This young patient went on to enjoy a long, healthy life.)

Eventually these two doctors practiced medicine in Montgomery. Recently, I became reacquainted with a lady who became Dr. Jane’s patient shortly after I was employed. This lady, who was then a teenager, was a polio victim.

She said, "Miss Nadine, I find it shocking that she did spinal taps right there in her office."

This was just one of the many medical procedures performed in that office.

When I became her office nurse, penicillin was still "the wonder drug." We used iodine, merthiolate and other of today’s "no-nos" freely. Mercuhydrin was the most commonly administered diuretic. I’m sure the word "generic" was in the dictionary, but it did not apply to medicine at that time.

Many things have changed. There were no disposable syringes and needles in 1954. When a stainless-steel needle became dull, I sharpened it with a hone. We sterilized by boiling or in an autoclave. There were no disposable gloves. Gloves were used, of course, but not like they are today. We were not so afraid of germs. I was exposed to many ailments. However, I do not believe I ever contracted an illness from anyone. Evidently proper hygiene was used.

Dr. Jane’s youngest son was 3 years old when I became her nurse. He has more or less followed in his parents’ footsteps to become John R. M. Day, M.D. Now he has a son who is keeping up the tradition.

John’s interest in healing and the multidimensional nature of our being began when he met Helen Keller at the age of 9. He realized she could psychically see despite her physical blindness. His brief time with Ms. Keller prompted an early curiosity about human intuitive and psychic ability.

John attended Rhodes College (Memphis). Next, he attended Tulane University of Medicine (New Orleans). His education continued. In 2001, he retired from his general and vascular surgery practice at Boulder Medical Center, where he was once "Physician of the Year."

Once John told me, early in his practice as a surgeon, he realized that something was missing. He became convinced that preventive measures were advisable. He found natural health products and methods provided this kind of benefit.

Now he is the general manager of Haelan LifeStream Center in Crestone, Colo. There he practices more than one way of natural healing and prevention. To learn more about him, go online to or call 719-256-5898.

My employment with Dr. Jane ended in 1969 when my husband’s job required we move to the Mobile area. We no longer worked together, but our friendship continued. She was aware of my involvement with herbs and approved. She had formed an interest in herbs, too. On a trip to England, she made a special trip to their famous herb gardens.

Jane M. Day, M.D. (9/6/17-11/11/91) still remains my most outstanding person, and her son has become one of my "children."

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 866-570-7302, or by email at


Farm Bill Pleases Some, Annoys Others

Farmers lose commodity program direct payments and gain risk management tools.

by Jim Erickson

It runs nearly 1,000 pages, has content that pleases some and infuriates others, and comes with an almost a $1 trillion price tag over 10 years.

It’s the Farm Bill, of course, aka the Agricultural Act of 2014. And even though its recent passage by the U.S. Congress and being signed into law by President Obama came more than a year after previous farm legislation expired, the fact such a far-reaching measure received final approval is nothing short of amazing in today’s polarized political environment.

The 2014 Farm Bill includes major changes from past policies. As Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, observed in an online Huffington Post article, "This isn’t your father’s Farm Bill."

For most farmers, the most significant aspect of the new law is that direct payments are repealed in Title 1’s commodity program provisions, said Patrick Westhoff, co-director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. The repeal includes the Average Crop Revenue Election program, counter-cyclical payments and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance payments.

The only exception involves smaller transition payments to cotton for the 2014 crop and further reduced payments under limited conditions in 2015.

New safety net features give farmers access to risk management tools complementing crop insurance and protecting against price, crop and yield losses.

Crop producers have a one-time, irrevocable choice of selecting Price Loss Coverage, county Agricultural Risk Coverage for each type of crop grown, or individual farm Agricultural Risk Coverage applying to the entire farm - not individual crops. The choice applies to all producers on a farm, but, if no choice is made, the Price Loss Coverage option applies by default.

Under PLC, farmers receive payment if the U.S. average market price for the crop year is less than the crop’s reference price. Those prices include $3.70/bu. for corn, $8.40/bu. for soybeans, $20.15/cwt. for other oilseeds, $5.50/bu. for wheat, $535/ton for peanuts, $3.95/bu. for grain sorghum, $2.40/bu. for oats and $4.95/bu. for barley.

County ARC payments apply when actual crop revenue is less than the program’s revenue guarantee for a crop year. Individual farm ARC is based on the average covered commodity experience on the farm.

For both PLC and county ARC, payment acres for a crop are 85 percent of the farm’s base acres for that crop, plus any generic base acres (former cotton base acres) planted to the crop. Individual ARC payment acres are 65 percent of the sum of the farm’s total base acres and any generic base acres planted to covered crops.

The legislation’s commodity title also calls for extending the previous farm bill’s non-recourse marketing loan and loan deficiency program, along with related loan rates. An important exception is cotton, whose loan rate now can vary between 45-52 cents/pound.

For dairy farm operators, the Dairy Product Support, Milk Income Loss Contract, Dairy Export Incentive programs and Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission are repealed, replaced by the new Margin Protection Program.

The new plan is based on the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost for producing one hundredweight of milk, as established by USDA and calculated for a consecutive two-month period. USDA is charged with getting the program up and running no later than Sept. 1 and MILC payments will be available until then.

To receive margin protection payments, dairymen must annually select a coverage level threshold between $4-$8/cwt in 50-cent increments and a percentage of coverage from 25-90 percent in 5 percent increments. Producers pay premiums based on what they select.

The 2014 Farm Bill also establishes a permanent Livestock Indemnity Program for producers who incur losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather or attacks by federally re-introduced predatory animals. The measure also sets up a Livestock Forage Disaster Program providing financial help due to losses from drought or fire.

However, any person or entity with an adjusted gross income of more than $750,000 will be ineligible for payments from Title 1 programs.

Crop insurance basically continues as in previous years, but conservation compliance is required to receive cost sharing for the coverage. Also, producers in the PLC program can purchase a Supplemental Coverage Option with a 65 percent cost share on the premium.

Beginning farmers and ranchers will receive premium assistance 10 percentage points greater than would otherwise be available.

The bill’s conservation title cuts maximum enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program to 24 million acres while adding flexibility for haying and grazing. Also, a new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program will consolidate farm/ranch land and wetland easement programs.

Popular programs to boost agricultural trade such as the Market Access, Foreign Market Development, Food for Peace, Emerging Markets and exports credits (GSM-102) are reauthorized.

One of the more controversial provisions in the new Farm Bill closes a loophole related to how Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program payments affect Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) benefit calculations. And while some sources say this and other SNAP-related provisions aimed at stopping fraud and misuse mean that people will be cut from the program, Stabenow maintains $8 billion in savings are achieved without removing anyone from the program and that all families will get 100 percent of the benefits they are intended to receive.

Regardless of how that plays out, nutrition program expenditures account for 79 percent of authorized Farm Bill outlays during the next 10 years.

Other titles in the legislation deal with: credit; rural development; research, Extension and related programs; forestry; energy; horticulture; and miscellaneous programs.

Food Animal Veterinarians Are Not an Endangered Species

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I have no reason to not believe it when I hear accounts of the growing scarcity of food animal veterinarians. And I am sure some of you producers reading this article have your own story of having to call a veterinarian from two or three counties away when you have veterinary medical needs for your cattle. Over the past several years, conversations have gone on to try to figure out how to fill the void. I am sure the solution is written somewhere in a book entitled "Simple Solutions to Complex Problems." I have just never been able to find that book in the local bookstore. So until we can figure out a way to increase the number of and accessibility to food animal veterinarians, I have some good news. They are not on the endangered species list. There is not some point in the near future when the last food animal practitioner will stand his calf jack in the corner, go home, sit in the rocking chair and the species will then be extinct. This is confirmed every year when I attend the Alabama Food Animal Veterinary Conference.

Sometime during the month of February back in 1992, the first Alabama Veterinary Association Food Animal Veterinary Conference was held at the 4-H Center in Columbiana. This past February, the 23rd Annual Food Animal Veterinary Conference was held. I have only missed one of the conferences since the beginning. Dr. Jim Floyd was the Extension veterinarian for Alabama at the time and had the vision and foresight to organize such a conference for a group of veterinarians who were finding it more difficult to get their required continuing education for the year at one meeting. The trend of veterinarians leaving mixed animal practice to go to strictly small animal practice was reflected in the continuing education subjects offered at many veterinary conferences. The menu was becoming more and more for small animal medicine and the large animal offerings placed a lot of emphasis on equine medicine. Now with 23 conferences behind us, the Alabama Food Animal Veterinary Conference has become something other states are looking to imitate.

The Food Animal Conference has become an institution to itself, with part of the attraction being its location at the 4-H Center. While most veterinary conferences are held at locations like the beach, Birmingham or Huntsville – places the spouses and family have things to do – the 4-H Center is pretty much off the beaten path. In fact, there’s not even a convenience store located close by. A few years ago, it was put to a vote whether the veterinarians wanted to move the conference to a location where there was more outside activity. The vote was overwhelmingly to stay put. So we continue to meet out in the middle of the woods just touching Lay Lake, a place where you have to walk to the top of the hill to get a cell phone signal!

There are certain parts of the format of the program that have made the conference unique. One of those is the annual Downie Award. That takes place on the Saturday night of the weekend meeting right after our traditional steak dinner. The Downie Award is given to the person who tells the funniest story about some job-related misfortune or awkward situation or just out-right wrecks with animals. I have practiced both large and small animal medicine and I can tell you the large animal stories trump my small animal stories 10 to 1. I think it evolves around the fact that food animal veterinarians often leave the controlled environment of their clinic and go out to do their work where the unknown factors can get pretty interesting.

One example of the unknown factors is this: A client calls and says he has a heifer calving. By the way, this is at one o’clock in the morning.

The veterinarian asks the simple question, "Is she up?"

The farmer says, "Yes."

The veterinarian gets up, puts his or her clothes on, and drives 20 miles to deliver the calf. Upon arriving the farmer shines his spotlight on the figure of a cow standing about 300 yards away in a 40-acre pasture.

In some dismay the veterinarian says, "I thought you said she was up."

To that the farmer replies, "She is up. Can’t you see her standing out there? She tried to lay down a couple of times, but we got her up and chased her around a little bit. She hasn’t been back down since we did that."

Maybe you can follow what I am saying. That is not the funny part. That simply sets things to deteriorate into a funny story … maybe not when it was happening, but certainly when it is retold. Anyway, the Downie Awards are worth the cost of registration. There are also practice tips that are shared so each practitioner doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Now let me get back to the conference itself. It has over the years provided your veterinarian with some of the most up-to-date, useful information out there that can be used for you, his or her client, with your bottom line. Topics have covered areas such as increasing reproductive efficiency, nutrition, quality assurance, forages, water quality, and health and disease prevention and treatment. The conference gives me and my federal counterpart an opportunity to update veterinarians on the latest topics such as BSE sampling, animal disease traceability, brucellosis, TB, trichomoniasis and all kinds of things involving regulatory medicine. The occasion to network face-to-face with other food animal veterinarians is, as the commercial says, priceless.

I love food animal veterinarians. They are the salt of the earth. They certainly do not do what they do for the money. It’s more of a higher calling because going out and doing a C-section on an angry sow is just not what most people have in mind when they open the letter that says, "Congratulations, you have been selected to be part of the freshman class beginning next August at Whatever Veterinary College, USA." But when you talk to those guys they have a passion for what they do. That is why they look forward to the sun coming up every day.

Dr. Soren Rodning, our present Extension veterinarian, is now in charge of seeing that the conference continues. Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Carson, from the Auburn Large Animal Clinic, have always played an important part in the success of the meeting. I do believe, though, that the biggest part of the success of the meeting has been the practitioners who continue to attend. I have heard that people at certain times of the year go to Guntersville State Park to see the bald eagles. Along those same lines, food animal veterinarian numbers may be diminishing. They may be more spread out. They may be driving farther to get all the bases covered. But if you want to see that they are not becoming extinct, just come to Columbiana on that weekend in February each year and you can get a close look at a large group of food animal practitioners, a group I am happy to consider myself a part of.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

Good Friday for Planting?

by Tony Glover

I grew up in Alabama and all my life have heard the maxim that we should plant our garden on Good Friday. Some years this is a better idea than others depending on where you live and when Good Friday falls. Good Friday falls on varying dates from March 22 to April 25. When I researched the question, the only Old World reference found about planting on Good Friday was related to planting potatoes. It seems there was great resistance to growing potatoes as a food crop in Ireland because potatoes are not mentioned in the Bible. Due to this concern, it was decided, if they planted them on Good Friday, the potatoes would be blessed and all right to eat. The Irish soon came to depend on potatoes too heavily. This fact, combined with political oppression, led to the potato famine which in turn led to massive starvation and emigration (mostly to the United States).

People who immigrated here brought their traditions with them, but over time some of these traditions have changed. Such is the case here because in the South Easter comes too late (most years) to plant potatoes and it is closer to the time to plant other warm-season vegetables. Therefore, in the southern states, this tradition was transferred to all vegetables and it is considered good luck to plant on Good Friday.

A wiser approach to choosing a time to plant is to consider the soil temperature and the average frost-free date for your area. This year the risk for a frost after Good Friday is relatively low in most of the state because it falls on April 18.

Even though Good Friday will likely be a good date to plant this year, I would suggest you check the soil temperature. The soil temperature needed for warm-season vegetable seed germination is about 70 degrees. However, most experienced gardeners will tell you that okra requires a warmer soil than most vegetables and you may need to wait a few extra days before planting them from seed. You can purchase a soil thermometer to check soil temperatures at your local Quality Co-op store and most good garden centers.

Warm-season vegetable transplants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can be planted before soil temperatures reach the temperature required for germination, but they usually will not grow much until the desired temperature is reached. Using a little complete liquid fertilizer may help get them off to a quicker start.

If you want to start a little early, try planting in raised beds or even on small "hills" covered with plastic several days to warm the soil. Commercial farmers use black plastic, but you can cover with clear plastic which warms the soil even more. Clear plastic covered beds often cause a flush of weed seeds to germinate which can reduce your weed problem later if you can remove them without re-tilling the soil.

For information on soil temperature needs of various vegetables, visit our Extension website at

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

Got Corn?

One of the most important details in producing a good stand of corn by broadcasting is to find a way to cover the seed to the appropriate depth. Harrow drags like these can be purchased in 4-by-6 foot sections. A disk or other types of drags may also work.

Simple Broadcasting Methods for Planting Corn

by Todd Amenrud

Some managers believe there are two things you need if you wish to plant corn on your property – adequate acreage and a corn planter or drill. Au contraire mon frère … although you will need enough acreage to keep up with the amount of pressure your animals are putting on it, you don’t necessarily need a corn planter or drill - corn can simply be broadcasted! Oh, Todd, tell us more!

So let’s begin by talking about the "density to acreage" issue. Corn is not a great yielding crop in comparison to other food plot crops so you will need enough acreage in corn to keep up with the amount of deer, turkeys and other animals feeding on it. This magical number will vary depending upon many factors - your location north to south, quality and amount of native foods, how much total acreage you’re putting into corn, whether or not there is cash-crop corn farming nearby, etc. A 1-acre plot of corn in the northern half of the country or Canada will be ripped out by the roots before it ever has a chance to tassel. You’ll just have to estimate and give it a shot. It’s typically in the corn plots of 2 acres and larger where I begin to have success. I would suggest you plant at least 6-8 total acres in corn in spots where corn farming is prevalent and there to back you up, and at least 10-12 acres in spots where there is no corn in the area.

For an easy wildlife plot, corn and soybeans can be blended together. Isn’t it remarkable that a whitetail can remove every kernel without knocking the cob off the stalk?

OK, you’ve got the acreage, but no corn planter. Worry not. Corn can be broadcast. In fact, other larger seeds not commonly planted this way can also be broadcast. Where normally I like to prepare my seedbed well in advance of planting and prefer a firm, weed-less, flat seedbed, when broadcasting larger seeds such as corn, beans or peas I prefer a somewhat fluffier bed. This way the soil covers the seeds easier. I can manipulate the soil easier if it’s just been worked. In fact, because I will usually be using a Roundup Ready variety of corn, I sometimes won’t initially burn-down the spot first, since I’ll be coming back about 30 days later to apply glyphosate anyhow.

The key to this whole deal is finding a way to bury the correct amount of seeds the appropriate depth. Any type of broadcaster will do as long as it will spread the seeds for you. Since not every seed will be buried at a uniform depth like it would be with a drill, from my experience you want to increase your seed rate approximately 15 percent. Some seeds will be a little deep and some seeds will be a little shallow, but you want the better majority to be in an acceptable germination zone.

Possibly the most important detail is finding an implement that will cover the seeds the appropriate depth with your particular soil type and your specific way of preparing the seedbed. I’ve had success with certain cultipackers, disks, drags and harrows. Experiment.

The rule of thumb when using a disk is to set it at twice the depth you want the seeds planted. So if you have a 1 inch planting depth, set the disk at two inches; for a 1.5 planting depth, set the disk at three inches. Again, not every seed will be perfect, but by increasing your seeding rate 15 percent, the better majority should be. You may have to do some trial and error with your method to fine tune it, but I broadcast plant corn all the time with success.

You really can’t beat the look or yield of a plot done with the proper equipment, and I do use a corn planter from time to time and a drill for planting beans, but my brother-in-law Mike Berggren and I plant our corn and soybeans on our Ontario property this way every year. Being absentee landowners we can only trailer so many vehicles and implements each time we go. I store my equipment at home so we always need to broadcast our corn when we travel there in the spring.

I’ve tried covering the corn seed with a disk, but my preferred method is to use a harrow. Or what I refer to as a harrow – an implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp tines or teeth. I’ve heard it called a "drag" or a "harrow-drag" also, but they’re typically sold in 4-by-6 foot sections. The tines are usually about 8 inches long and angled one way so it can be used in three different ways – aggressive with the teeth angling forward, medium aggressive with the teeth angled back, or completely flipped over so the teeth aren’t engaged at all (so it can be used for planting smaller seeds like clovers and brassicas too).

I occasionally plant a corn/soybean fusion. If you are mixing beans and corn, I’ve messed around with recipes over the years and for an easy no fuss, no mess wildlife plot, mixing them together does work well. The beans affix good nitrogen so you get beautiful green corn that cobs out well. I’ve messed around with ratios of anywhere from about 10-20 percent corn with the rest soybeans. It really depends upon the varieties you choose, but right about in the middle at around 15 percent corn seems to work well.

If you choose to plant your corn separately as I most often do, simply go by the instructions for that specific variety and increase the rate by about 15 percent from the normal drilled rate. I thought of titling this article, "Planting Corn for Dummies," but that would make me a dummy. Anyone with the simple equipment of a broadcaster, sprayer and an ATV can have a corn plot for the wildlife on their property and it’s really easy to 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.

Grant Time

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program applications being accepted

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 these specialty crop block grants through the United States Department of Agriculture is May 16, 2014, 5 p.m. CST.

Specialty crops are defined by the 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, producers, municipalities, state agencies and agricultural nonprofits are all eligible for this grant program provided their proposals meet all the specifications. The USDA-AMS has final approval for projects submitted. The ADAI and a review committee of industry representatives will make the application evaluation review and award recommendations.

The specialty crops block grant is a competitive grant process. The maximum award to any applicant is $25,000 and the minimum is $5,000.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan stated, "The department looks forward to implementing the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program under supervision by the United States Department of Agriculture. We are privileged to be a part of this continued program, which was authorized in the Agriculture Reform, Food & Jobs Act of 2013, also known as the Farm Bill."

Projects cannot begin until the USDA-AMS has made its official award announcement expected by October 2014.

For more detailed information, please visit or contact Hassey Brooks at 334-240-3877. All applicants must complete and submit documentation as related to the newly enacted Alabama Immigration Law. Please visit details.

How's Your Garden?

New tumbling tomatoes such as Cherry Falls and Tumbling Tom are novel items to try in containers and baskets.

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

TomatoesThat Tumble

Breeders have been working on a whole new group of tomatoes made for hanging baskets and spilling over the edge of containers. With names like Tumbling Tom and Cherry Falls, these tomatoes will be easy to recognize. Try some of these pretty cherry tomatoes to add a different twist to containers around your garden. They are spectacular in a large urn or planter. You can mix them with a few flowers or fill the entire vessel pot with just the plant. They won’t be your staple source of cherry tomatoes, but are a fun novelty and a way to add some extra tomato bites in unexpected places.

Easter Liliesfor the Garden

On the day after Easter, florists, grocery stores and garden centers that carry Easter lilies often have out-of-date extras to sell at a markdown. These lilies can be planted in the garden and left to grow into their natural cycle of blooming next year. Plant them at the same depth they are growing in the container (like most transplants). Fertilize with bulb booster and water as you would any other new planting. When the top dies down in the fall, cut the browned tops back just like other lilies. In spring, the new foliage will come up and send up a new bloom in early summer. They won’t bloom in time for Easter, but you’ll have nice, fragrant white summer lilies for years to come.


Every April, the clematis begin blooming on lampposts, fences and trellises throughout the state. Starting clematis vines from crowns sold in tiny little plastic packages sold in late winter and early spring can be tricky because they are so delicate. Now that they are beginning to bloom, look for potted clematis vines with a well-developed root system and full tops you can just transplant to the garden. When the plants are in bloom, you can also choose the color you like the best. Clematis plants like their roots to be kept cool, so mulch the roots or plant them where they can grow under a large stone or other cool item. They also need excellent drainage. Don’t plant in a place that might puddle.

Waiting Out Cold Damage

Did the cycads in your garden turn brown this winter? Did your rosemary freeze back? Are there brown tips on limbs of shrubs? What else looks fried? This is the month when new growth begins and you will see how much damage was really done. You can cut away obvious browned, dead places from plants in question, but some that were killed to the ground may still be alive at the roots and will sprout back in time. For those you will have to wait a little longer. One winter we lost an old camellia to the ground. Because it has such an old, well-established root system, the plant came back quickly from the base and is now up to the eaves of the house. Give heat-loving plants such as lantana until the end of May; woody shrubs killed back to the ground may not show signs of life until sometime this summer. Be patient before digging up plants to instantly replace them. Signs of permanent damage to perennials are usually a mushy plant crown and roots that easily give way if you dig or pull. You can check woody plants by scraping away a spot of brown bark with your fingernail or the edge of a pocket knife to look for a very thin bit of green cambium (the living layer) underneath. Dead wood does not have green cambium and may be dry and brittle, too. Check various places looking for signs of life, especially toward the base of the plant.

This charming bird condominium doubles as a garden ornament.

Bird Condos

This group of stylish birdhouses might inspire you to do something similar in your garden. These have a distinctive French "architectural" style because they are in Quebec, but the same idea can be adapted to any assortment of birdhouses. This base is made of metal, but a wooden post with various length hooks can be used to hang multiple houses in a similar fashion.

Lawns Are Greening Up

Warm-season grasses such as centipede, zoysia, St. Augustine and Bermuda are breaking their dormancy and turning green. This is a signal to fertilize for spring. Don’t over fertilize your lawn. Usually feeding in spring and summer is enough, unless you are maintaining a golf course-quality Bermuda lawn. Centipede doesn’t like much nitrogen and only needs feeding once a year. To turn yellow centipede green, apply chelated iron instead of more nitrogen, which can hurt the grass. Avoid feeding cool-season grasses such as fescue late in the spring. Summer is the season when they struggle and all they want is a little water. You can learn a lot more about the different needs of Alabama lawn grasses from the Alabama Cooperative Extension publications at

Perennial Color

This is a good month to shop for perennials as nurseries and garden centers generally have their largest selections. Try a few new varieties as well as choosing from the tried-and-true purple coneflower, stokesia, rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) and coreopsis for sunny spots. In shade, consider Lenten roses and wildflowers, hostas and ferns. Perennials are great because they live for years, so you only have to groom them and occasionally divide them, but there is no yearly replanting. Fill in with annuals such as the new heat-tolerant varieties of sweet alyssum.

Impatiens Troubles

If you don’t see as many impatiens for sale in garden centers this year, it’s because there is a disease that has been killing plants for the last few years and some growers have been hesitant to produce them. You may see more New Guinea impatiens, which are not susceptible to downy mildew diseases and makes a great substitute. Also, consider fibrous begonias, a fast-growing annual for the shade with plenty of colorful flowers.

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

Keep Easter Simple

by Christy Kirk

When you don’t have a lot of money, certain holidays like Easter can be stressful for parents. How do you reconcile your desire to make your children’s day special with the fact that you don’t have a lot of money to spare? Easter baskets are getting bigger and bigger, and church clothes are getting more expensive … not to mention the chocolate bunnies and Peeps. What do our children really need to be happy? Keeping it simple is usually the best choice. Let me tell you how a few potatoes changed the way I think about what I do for my own children.

Growing up, my sister and I would never have known if our family was struggling financially or not, but through thick or thin my parents were definitely thrifty. We did not always have the most expensive blue jeans or the trendiest tennis shoes, but we never went without food or new school clothes. As children, we also had plenty of toys and games, but one we never had was a Mr. Potato Head. Our Uncle Mike had one at his house, and, of course, when we went to see him Mr. Potato Head got a workout. We shared him nicely, and Mike always made sure we knew to put him away correctly. All his pieces had to be tucked safely inside his bulbous body before we left.

On the way home from Uncle Mike’s house, my sister and I would beg Mom to stop at a store on the way and buy us just one to share. Mom resisted our pleas and, as a parent now, I truly do not know how she resisted. At the time, we were too young to know that she had a point to make about not being able to always get exactly what you want when you want it. Mom offered us a deal. She would stop at the grocery store and get the two biggest potatoes she could find and then each of us would have one of our own to play with.

"Mama, a potato? A real potato?" we moaned.

On one trip from Uncle Mike’s house, she actually pulled into the parking lot of a grocery store threatening to drag us through the aisles to the pile of rough, scruffy potatoes. We didn’t want to play with a real potato. We wanted our mother to pull into the TG&Y and buy us a plastic potato with all the body parts.

For all those years, I thought our mom was so cruel-hearted. Not only were we denied the fun that is Mr. Potato Head, but she expected us to draw faces on a potato, give it a name and play dress up with it. We would never be caught playing "Potato Town" with real potatoes. The horror, we thought. At the time, we didn’t know the first Mr. Potato Heads were just plastic body parts children stuck into actual produce. Our mother wasn’t being cruel, she was being nostalgic!

Last fall, Jason and I took our children, Rolley Len and Cason, to the fair in Montgomery. They love to go on all the rides, but we also spend a lot of time in the exhibits. Chickens, rabbits, ducks and livestock always get a lot of attention from our kids every visit. This year the kids discovered a new interactive display with potatoes buried in a sand-filled box. The "potato farmer" asked children to help pick her potatoes and they were super excited to help. There was no prize or reward for finding the most potatoes, but they searched the sand over and over for the little potatoes hiding beneath the sand. Jason and I had to almost drag them away so other kids could search for the spuds.

Watching them play, it hit me that I was proud of Rolley Len and Cason. I was proud because they were not afraid to get dirty, they wanted to be helpful to the "farmer," and they didn’t need a prize to play the game. With plenty of imagination and good will, all they needed were potatoes and sand, and they were happy. In a time when children and teens feel entitled to the best in everything from high-tech phones to big loud trucks, it feels good to know that, at least right now, my children can be happy with just a potato instead of a store bought toy.

In February, Rolley Len said she wanted to make homemade Valentine’s Day cards. I got stickers, glue, markers, scissors and construction paper, and spread it out on her floor. Cason soon joined us to make his own. I watched as they enjoyed making something special for their friends at school. Cason picked out a colored piece of paper for each person by name, had me cut each into a heart, and then he chose a specific sticker for each one. Rolley Len made each Valentine an original work of art with stickers, messages and her artistic flair. Those Valentines they took to school may not have been the neatest or fanciest, but they were absolutely heartfelt.

I know this contentment will not last forever, though. Just last weekend, Pop and Pawpaw Willie took Rolley Len to get a mobile phone. Trust me - it is nothing fancy, but she LOVES having one. Yes, she is only 6 years old, but since Pop and Pawpaw got it for her it is okay. The lady at the phone store took the time to help them carefully enter five of Rolley Len’s grandparents’ phone numbers into her phone. Now she can call them whenever she likes, which is pretty often.

This Easter if you need to keep spending to a minimum, there are a few ways to do it without limiting your family fun. Check calendars of local churches and other organizations for Easter egg hunts. They are almost always free for all the children because the events are sponsored by the membership. One of the biggest in our area is at Kiesel Park in Auburn. The hunt is for children 12 and under, it is free, and open to the public. For more information, visit

Jason and I take the plastic eggs we bring home, and use them for our own hunt at my in-laws’ house on Easter Sunday. Instead of refilling with more candy, we put loose change in the eggs. The kids do not care if it is only a penny or two in each one; they just like to hear them jingle when they pick up the eggs. The Easter Bunny does not leave over-the-top baskets for our children because Rolley Len and Cason will hide and play with the same eggs for a couple of weeks before moving on. We make a big deal of putting the change in their piggy banks, too; so it is also a good way to teach your children that every penny counts.

Whether you go all out for holidays or choose the thriftiest or homemade options, the most important thing you can do is enjoy the time you spend with your children and encourage them to get to know their family. In this issue, I have included some simple and inexpensive recipes for your Easter holiday. I hope your next holiday meal is a special one.

A twist on a Southern specialty

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges in light syrup

1 (8.25-ounce) can crushed pineapple in heavy syrup

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2½ cups frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided

3/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted (optional)

1 (9-ounce) graham cracker crust

Toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)

Drain oranges and pineapple reserving 2 tablespoons pineapple syrup. Gently press oranges and pineapple between paper towels to remove excess juice.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add reserved pineapple syrup and condensed milk. Beat until smooth. Fold in 1½ cups whipped topping. Gently fold in orange pineapple mixture and coconut (if desired). Spoon filling into crust. Cover and freeze until firm.

Let pie stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving. Add whipped topping to top of pie and coconut, if desired.

RAISIN SAUCE for Easter Ham

1½ cups vinegar

1¾ quarts water

3 cups brown sugar

3 Tablespoons mustard

3 Tablespoons flour

1½ cups raisins

Mix dry ingredients. Add raisins, vinegar and water. Cook to a syrup and serve hot over ham. Makes 25 servings.

HAM CROQUETTES (from leftover ham)

2 cups cooked ham, chopped

2 Tablespoons celery, chopped

Nutmeg, to taste

¾ cup fine bread crumbs

1 egg, gently beaten

2 Tablespoons water

Grind ham very fine. Add celery and nutmeg. Mix well. Chill and mold into croquettes. Roll in crumbs then dip into egg and water. Roll again in crumbs. Fry in hot oil 2-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

White sauce

1 cup milk

3 Tablespoons flour

2-3 Tablespoons butter (or margarine)

Soften butter and blend with flour. Add milk and heat slowly. Stir occasionally as it thickens. Bring to a boil until it thickens. Pour over ham croquettes.

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

Letter to the Editor

I would like to respond with a different opinion regarding the "Crack the Whip" article recently published by our former Alabama Wildlife Conservation Director Corky Pugh. In the article, Mr. Pugh suggests that the Conservation Department is being mismanaged by its "gyrations" of changed positions and over regulation such as the game-check system, further suggesting that the hunters, landowners and frontline employees of the Conservation Department are being "cracked" by the new administration. He insinuates that baiting is the real issue being one of the worst changes, and that all of these changed regulations will ultimately hurt Alabama’s hunters and prevent this state from attracting out-of-state hunters.

Change is sometimes necessary. In some cases, change is immediately welcome, and it is my opinion the changes being implemented by the new Conservation Department are good for the hunters and the landowners of Alabama. Why? Because many of the changes being implemented were requested by the hunters and landowners of this state. The new administration is bringing wildlife biologists and technology to the forefront in an effort to be proactive not reactive to many of the problems facing Alabama hunters.

For example, Alabama hunters have been trying for years to have the Conservation Department or the legislature properly define feeding because game wardens were taking different positions on their enforcement not only throughout the state but sometimes even within the same counties. The issue is referred to as "baiting" by the old administration, but is seen by the new administration as one of feeding. Many landowners and hunters like to supplemental feed to enhance wildlife and wildlife habitat on their properties, but not hunt the feed. Under the prior administration, however, landowners were told that if any feed was found on his or her property then no hunting could occur until the last grain was gone, plus a 10-day period, even though hunting was actually occurring hundreds of yards away from the grain. Some game wardens used regulations that said baiting was any "manipulation" of game through feed suggesting, if a game trail led to grain no matter how far away, the hunter could be ticketed. These forces combined to present a field day for game wardens to write tickets to unsuspecting hunters and landowners, many of whom were simply trapping hogs, using supplemental feeding programs and/or running legitimate farming operations. The new administration has sought to simplify this, as other states have done, by being proactive in defining what is acceptable feeding. This change helps, not hinders, the frontline game wardens by more clearly defining what is (and, more importantly, what is not) a game violation. Will this hurt future hunting in Alabama or perhaps fail to lure out-of-state hunters? I would submit that it will actually enhance the hunting as these same types of regulations have been implemented quite successfully in some of the more well-known and sought-after hunting destinations such as Texas, Florida and Canada. Were we correct in the past and everyone else wrong?

With the new changes, we can use feed effectively to trap hogs, which are the most damaging animals ever to be released into the wild when it comes to wildlife habitat. Hogs can have 2.5 litters per year, which simply multiplies habitat problems exponentially as time passes when this state is already facing reduced habitat and declining deer herds. We can also now use supplemental feeding which can, if implemented properly, enhance the quality of our wildlife; all without fear of hunting while trying to manage. Instead of game wardens having to spend time looking for the last piece of grain on the ground, they now are in a position to have more time to work with and assist hunters and landowners with more productive endeavors.

Through better data and studies on deer populations, we now are just beginning to understand the impact of proper predator control such as the issue of bobcats and coyotes. Coyotes can virtually eliminate deer fawn recruitment in certain situations. My Labrador has brought in three dead fawns recently, and he is well fed and has no need to survive in the wild. How many would just a single coyote raising its pups need to survive, not to mention a pack? In certain areas, however, coyotes may be a necessary check and balance on a deer population. Mr. Pugh states we do not need more data, but without proper wildlife biologists and data a hunter or landowner is really (pardon the pun) "shooting in the dark" when it comes to knowing how to properly manage his or her particular property. Again, this is another area where game wardens can be of assistance.

We now have under the new administration wildlife biologists who have the same enforcement training as game wardens, but who are committed to working with landowners and new technology to assess proper wildlife management and game issues - not by making decisions based on what will produce more tickets but based on growing, up-to-date data and proper resources.

We now have an extended hunting season for the southern part of Alabama to take advantage of the peak of the rut, all based upon different weather patterns in those areas. Again, a movement led by hunters.

It appears to me the new administration is listening to the comments and wishes of the real hunters and landowners of this state, and bringing about the appropriate changes to address them. Night hunting, improper dog hunters and poaching issues will always need to be dealt with, and the public still needs that enforcement protection. However, legitimate, honest and good hunters who were being turned into criminals under the former administration due to inconsistent policies, and vague rules and regulations, now have a more clear direction. With the recent changes, hunters and landowners do not have to live in fear of the game warden while trying to properly manage the wildlife and wildlife habitats on their property. Moreover, the department is living up to its name - "Conservation" - by ensuring the proper balance of healthy wildlife to hunt, thereby enhancing and preserving hunting for future generations.

Unfortunately, hunting is a dying sport throughout our country, and the only way to revive it is for parents and children to enjoy the outdoors by having good experiences doing it. I agree with our former Conservation Director that over regulation can hurt the hunting experience, but I believe he fails to see that these new regulations are designed to cure, not create, many of the problems hunters have been dealing with on their front lines. Trust will be what the Conservation Department will earn back instead of what it lacks.

James R. Delaney
Mobile, AL

Like a Straddled Squirrel

by Glenn Crumpler

There is just something unique about the movements of a panicked squirrel and the look on its face just as you watch it disappear under your front bumper. It comes running out onto the highway like a streak of lightning and just as it gets about half way across your lane it just freezes, turns toward your truck and, with a look of complete terror and confusion, it begins to dart to the left and then to the right, back and forth, back and forth, but never seems able to make a decision to go one way or the other until it is too late.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this scenario played out. Sometimes the outcome is better than others, but there is just something about a squirrel’s makeup that gives them the tendency to be indecisive when it is absolutely critical they make a decision. They have plenty of time to make up their mind which way they will go to escape the danger, but their decision not to make a decision, their failure to commit to one direction or the other, leaves them in this helpless predicament. The outcome of the squirrel’s indecisiveness is usually just as catastrophic as making the wrong decision.

Their decision to not make a decision sometimes has consequences beyond the welfare of the squirrel itself. My daddy instilled in me when I was learning how to drive that I should never swerve to avoid hitting an animal. I had better not run over any animal intentionally (unless it was a snake), but I also had better not wreck or cause someone else to wreck just to avoid hitting an animal. I personally know people who have had tragic accidents that caused severe damage and could have killed them or others just because they tried to dodge an indecisive squirrel. The squirrel did not plan to cause an accident that would hurt someone else - it was just jumping around trying to make a decision as to which way to go, but never committed one way or the other. The squirrel’s indecisiveness was not only catastrophic to itself, but caused a chain reaction impacting others and could have caused them great harm.

At some point in our life, we are all just like the squirrel. Death and destruction are surely coming and they are coming fast. We have time now to make a decision, but if we tarry too long it will be too late. Unlike the squirrel, those of us who have been blessed to hear the Good News of what Jesus Christ has done for us have the opportunity and the obligation to make an informed decision as to whether we will choose life or choose death. But, like the squirrel, failure to make a decision is the same as making the wrong one. Frankly, refusing to decide what we will do with Jesus is the exact same as rejecting Him. And like the squirrel, not only does our decision affect our wellbeing and eternal destiny, but it will also affect the decisions of others whether or not it is our intention to do so.

Jesus tells us that He is THE way, THE truth and THE life and that nobody comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) There is absolutely no other way we can be saved. We cannot buy salvation, we cannot earn it and we cannot live good enough that we deserve it! Only when we repent (turn away from our sin and follow Jesus) and put our faith in what He did for us in His substitutionary death and resurrection can we be saved and have eternal life.

He promised that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) There is no sin He will not forgive and no sinner He will not take back, wash clean with His blood and receive as His own, except the sin of rejecting Him. Remember, that failure to make a decision to follow Him is the same as making a decision to reject Him!

Jesus tells us that whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in Him stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18) He tells us, before we make a decision to believe in His saving grace and turn from our sin and follow Him, we are already hell bound and condemned to eternal death. When we make the decision to really believe in Him, we are born again and we are delivered and cleansed from our sin; our hearts, minds and actions are transformed; our condemnation is replaced with forgiveness; and our eternal destiny is changed from Hell to Heaven.

I cannot say it enough - indecisiveness, the failure to totally commit to His Lordship is the exact same as making the decision to reject Him. I think the Rev. Billy Graham explained it best when he said to "believe" in Jesus is to "commit" to Jesus. Belief is not just intellectually acknowledging the facts about Jesus as true, but the turning of our lives over to Him. Jesus has paid the price for our sin debt and He invites us to turn from our sin and follow Him so we can be forgiven, be reconciled to the Holy Father and be filled with the power and the peace of the Holy Spirit, but He always leaves the choice up to us if we will follow Him or reject Him.

Jesus goes on to tell us that He had rather us be either hot or cold because if we are lukewarm, He will vomit us out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:15-17) Just sitting in the middle of the road jumping a little bit this way and a little bit the other way but never making a sold-out decision to completely follow or reject Jesus will surely result in us being road kill! Just going to church, being baptized or confirmed, being spiritual or religious, praying when we have a need and putting something in the offering plate without turning our life completely over to Him and following Him is to be just lukewarm!

Jesus tells us that TODAY is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) What do you do when you find yourself like the straddled squirrel and know you are not where you need to be and you have to make a decision? Do not tarry too long. You have to make a decision and whatever you decide will have life or death consequences - not only for you but also for others. Someone is watching you, especially those who are the closest to you and who look up to you for direction for their lives. The very ones you love the most are likely to follow you wherever you lead them!

Get out of the middle of the road while you have time! Choose life, choose Jesus. Tell all the other "straddled squirrels" you know how they can do the same.

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

Manager of the Year

Rivers Myres, left, AFC’s CEO, presents Perry Catrett, manager of Luverne Cooperative Services, with the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year Award during AFC’s annual meeting in Montgomery.

Luverne Cooperative Services Manager Perry Catrett was recently announced as E. P. Garrett Manager of Year at the annual meeting of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

by Alvin Benn

Perry Catrett has had several jobs through the years, but he’s always returned to farming because it’s been in his blood since the age of 5.

That’s how old he was when he began using his little muscles to toss square bales of hay out of the back of a pickup truck as hungry cattle slowly walked and nibbled behind.

When he wasn’t tending to his family’s small cattle herd in Crenshaw County where he grew up, he earned an agriculture degree from Auburn University, taught school, graded peanuts and was a supervisor at a prison farm.

Always in the back of his mind, however, was his love of farming and he knew, one day, he’d return to it in some capacity for good.

Once that happened, his expertise in all things agriculture landed him his dream job and he would eventually be recognized as the best in Alabama when it came to a certain special designation.

It occurred on the night of Feb. 26, 2014, when his name was announced as the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year during the annual meeting of Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc.

Ashley Catrett is proud of her husband Perry, manager of Luverne Cooperative Services, upon his winning the E.P. Garrett Manager of the Year Award.

Hundreds of farmers and ranchers stood and applauded as a surprised Catrett rose to be recognized. His initial thought was to find a place to hide.

"I had no idea this would happen and I wanted to crawl under the table," he said, during an interview with Cooperative Farming News after he was honored at the annual AFC meeting at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center.

Applauding and beaming with pride was his wife Ashley, who kept the secret of his impending honor for two weeks.

"She never cracked a smile when I looked over at her," said her happy husband. "It had to be hard to keep a secret that long."

When AFC President Rivers Myres began reading about the honoree without mentioning his name, he gradually outlined all the accomplishments that helped him win the coveted honor.

Myres said the winner makes his presence known "not by words, but through a display of work ethic and customer service infused with old-fashioned family values."

"He learned the value of hard work from his parents on their family farm," Myres said. "He refined his work ethic in 1983 as a 15-year-old when he and his mother agreed to maintain the farm following his father’s death."

That was the giveaway clue that sank in for Catrett, but he still found it hard to believe at first. When he came back to earth, he realized that all his hard work during roller coaster times had finally paid off.

"Some things just happen for a reason," he said. "That’s what happened to me and I must admit it was pretty rough at first."

He referred to the pink slip he received 14 years ago at Samson High School in Geneva County where he had been teaching ag science.

The termination wasn’t his fault, but his status as junior instructor in a two-teacher staff during a "reduction in force" period left him with the short straw out in the cold.

He and Ashley were proud parents when Perry learned he had lost his job. Daughter Cassidy was about 3 years old while her sister Cameron was about to be born.

That’s when he went to work grading peanuts for a brief period as he filled out other job applications for something more permanent.

"I was trying to make some diaper money," he said, with a laugh. "As it turned out, I got a pretty good job around that time."

It was for the state Department of Corrections as a cattle supervisor at a prison farm in Atmore. He did it for 2 years, but, once again, wanted to get back to farming.

"I was 32 at the time and had never been on a horse before, but I managed not to fall off," said Catrett, who used four-legged transportation to oversee inmate help at the sprawling cattle facility.

He finally found the stability he was looking for at Luverne Cooperative Services Inc. where he was looking for some fencing supplies.

The manager asked him if he’d be interested in working there and Perry quickly accepted the offer.

He began by handling business at the counter, but it wasn’t long before his management skills were noted at the Co-op where he had been a long-time customer.

He hoped he’d become manager of the business one day and that’s what happened when a vacancy occurred in the management position.

After being hired, Perry underwent a 14-month training program. In 2003, he was named manager of the Co-op.

The Catretts are a busy foursome with Perry managing the store while Ashley works at the central office of the Crenshaw County school system. Their daughters are also busy with their school work as well as showing cattle at competitions around the state. Weekends are hectic as the couple drive the girls to their next event.

Shinglepile Creek Farm is where they live. In addition to a small cattle herd, Perry keeps tabs on their growing timber "crop" on the 160-acre farm that’s named for the creek running through the property.

The Luverne Rotary Club would love to have Perry as its president and he’s not opposed to it, but business comes first and he’s as busy as ever these days.

Rotary is important to Perry and he currently serves on the board of directors. In 2012, he was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow, one of the organization’s highest honors.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

New AFC President Reports on Triumph and Tragedy

Rivers Myres, AFC’s new CEO, noted in his address at the annual meeting that successful organizations are built on solid foundations and led by skillful managers who have a “clear vision of where the company is headed.”

Challenging weather, a gut-wrenching loss, yet robust margins mark AFC’s year.

by Alvin Benn

As 2014 slowly moves toward the midway point, leaders of Alabama Farmers Cooperative can look back on an eventful year just passed, one that brought triumph and tragedy.

It began in splendid shape with robust results, but then "Mother Nature" came calling, sending some of the coldest, wettest weather on record.

Added to that was the shocking news of AFC President Roger Pangle being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - a devastating illness Roger fought with courage until the end. He passed away Dec. 7, 2013.

"While the weather was challenging, Roger’s news was gut-wrenching," said Rivers Myres, who succeeded Pangle following his untimely passing at the age of 64.

In his report to AFC members at February’s 77th annual meeting in Montgomery, Myres noted that successful organizations are built on solid foundations and led by skillful managers who have a "clear vision of where the company is headed.

"However, not until you are tested do you really know if you have these components in place to weather the storm. I believe AFC proved its solid foundation and emerged as a stronger company."

In his presidential report, Myres based his comments on a belief that "companies are more than bricks and mortar" and success is achieved with teamwork, not necessarily on one person’s actions.

"Only together are we able to triumph," he said. "In the end, AFC stood strong through its trials and emerged with new vigor and vision."

It did so, he said, by digging "a little deeper" and drawing "on our inner strength."

As a result, he said, AFC not only prevailed in 2013, it also recorded its third best year in company history.

He said the Grain Division and Bonnie Plants generated record sales in 2013 while Feed, Farm and Home and Currie Gin produced their best financial performances in the past decade. In addition to those gains, SouthFresh - the company he was formerly president of - reported a third consecutive year of profitability.

Add all those gains together and AFC was able to pay $6.9 million in patronage to its members while, at the same time, deciding to retire $2 million in equity certificates.

Those decisions, Myres said, were a clear example that "we realize that paying patronage and retiring equity is vital to our members’ continued success."

AFC’s Secretary-Treasurer Tricia Arnold had good news to report during her appearance at the meeting, saying AFC’s sales in 2013 were $593 million compared to $463 million the previous year.

Arnold said the sales increase was primarily the result of a good year at the Grain Division, followed by Bonnie Plants. She also said all financial goals were met in fiscal 2013, results that "help strengthen the cooperative’s financial condition."

In his report, distributed to members at the annual meeting, Myres discussed his ascension to AFC’s top spot, saying he "hit the ground running" on Jan. 9 when he became president and chief executive officer.

"Even though it has only been seven weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn about all the aspects of AFC," he said, in outlining points to continued success for the organization.

The first, he said, is recognizing that member cooperatives and their farmers "are our owners and customers.

"Your equity dollars fund every salary we pay, every mile we travel, every building we erect and every effort we undertake."

Earning trust and confidence within AFC, he said, go hand-in-hand with transparency and integrity - two vital business ingredients that are "a must."

Prior to the annual reports from AFC leaders and department heads, members heard reports from two nationally known speakers, Charles Connor, president of the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives, and Ken Boothe, Nationwide, whose topic was "Land as Your Legacy."

Myres pledged to enhance already open lines of communication within AFC because it is "vital to that transparency."

A proud 4th generation farmer, Myres recalled how, at harvest time, he would always look for the perfect cotton boll to represent that year’s crop. At times, he said it wasn’t easy to pick the best in the field.

Myres used his personal "search" as a young farmer as an analogy about a man who once served as president and then came back to guide AFC during its time of need last year.

"When it comes to picking the perfect leader for AFC, we had that person for 18 years," said Myres, referring to former President Tommy Paulk. "Thank you Tommy for your tireless years of dedication."

Myres also praised Sam Givhan for his "steady hand" as AFC Chairman of AFC’s Board of Directors. Givhan completed his 2-year term at the annual meeting.

Pangle’s brief but strong leadership was evident throughout the event and Myres said he thought about him as he prepared his speech.

"I will try to honor his legacy," he said, adding, "I can still hear Roger say ‘cut expenses, increase margin and be at work on time.’"

In his report, Givhan left no doubts that Myres will carry on AFC’s winning tradition, saying, "I am looking forward to many great things from AFC in the coming years as Rivers has assembled a talented staff with significant cooperative, management and financial experience."

He signaled out for special praise Al Cheatham as AFC’s new vice president and chief operating officer; and Tricia Arnold in her new position as secretary-treasurer and chief financial officer.

Givhan echoed Myres’ comments about Paulk "for stepping out of retirement to serve as interim CEO at Roger’s request in July 2013."

"(Paulk) was a valuable resource for the staff, providing stability and a comforting presence during Roger’s illness," said the outgoing board chairman.

Givhan also issued a personal "thanks" to AFC staff and employees "for their hard work and dedication," describing them as "our most valuable asset."

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

One Ranch Woman’s Dream

Kathy McCrimmon checks the herd after feeding round bales.

Kathy McCrimmon and her Hawk Hill Farms thrive in the traditionally male-dominated cattle business.

by John Howle

The cattle business can test the fortitude of the toughest man. One woman, however, decided 25 years ago that she could not only survive but thrive in this traditionally male-dominated area.

Kathy McCrimmon lives with her husband Herb, a retired orthopedic surgeon, in Choccolocco, but she runs a 75 cow beef operation entirely on her own in neighboring White Plains. When she went to Ohatchee High School in the mid-1970s, she was a cheerleader and ran track. She says her days of running track helped prepare her for handling the physical demands of the farm.

"I’ve always loved the outdoors," McCrimmon explained. "My dad had a small farm where we owned a horse and raised a head or two of cattle just for eating, and my mother would often go crappie fishing with her girlfriends even in the dead of winter on Ohatchee Creek and the Coosa River.

Kathy McCrimmon with one of her Border Collies in front of some land used as silvopasture where cattle graze in the pines.

"Those early experiences with my parents caused me to always want to be outside in God’s creation. When I got married, we had 10 acres of land that a neighbor farmed a few head of cattle on, and when he sold them, I missed the cattle so bad I bought a few head to put on that small patch of land."

McCrimmon searched for more land to expand her herd, and eventually an old farming homestead came up for sale, and they bought the place in 1994. The place had a small house on it, and she renovated the structure so they could stay there occasionally on the weekends. As for McCrimmon, she’s at the farm every day managing a herd with 75 momma cows, and she named her cattle farm Hawk Hill Farms.

"I’m probably one of the few women who plan and time a family Thanksgiving meal so it will be over in time for me to feed the cows," McCrimmon joked. "My daughter Kelly picks at me saying that I’m the only Mama she knows where she might find a hammer and fence pliers in my purse."

If there were such a title as a Renaissance Ranch Woman, McCrimmon would likely fit that description. Being a doctor’s wife, she has had to attend her share of banquets and social gatherings.

"One time I had to attend a women’s auxiliary function, and when I looked down, I noticed I had cow manure on my high heeled shoes," she said. "I feel a lot more comfortable right here with the cows."

Kathy McCrimmon herds cattle into the catch pen for ear tagging.

If you were to see McCrimmon at a social gathering, you might not think that she’s a skilled rancher. With a natural, olive glow from her Cherokee and Creek Indian family background, and her charm and grace, few would think this woman capable of the tough labor associated with farm work, and fewer would think she runs the operation entirely on her own. She has, however, had to overcome obstacles as a woman in the cattle business.

"The biggest challenge I had to overcome was being taken seriously as a female cattle farmer," McCrimmon recalled. "Asking questions at cattle meetings, trying to back a gooseneck trailer full of cows up to the stockyard loading ramp by myself, and learning that diesel engines are hard to crank in the winter were challenging for me since I had never done any of those things before."

McCrimmon says she relied heavily on her dad Ralph Poe for mechanical advice until he passed away in 2007. In addition, folks at the nearby Calhoun Farmers Co-op in Jacksonville are a big help.

"Tommy Thomas at the Jacksonville Co-op has always been a big help," McCrimmon said. "Even in the beginning when I was starting out, they never made me feel like I was asking a stupid question, but they treated me as an equal and someone who loves agriculture."

Once McCrimmon started expanding her herd, she began attending every class she could about forage and beef management at Auburn. She learned much at the Auburn classes even though she and her husband are big Alabama fans.

Left, A skilled tractor operator now, Kathy McCrimmon learned on her own. Above, McCrimmon makes use of a UTV for smaller chores around the farm and always has one of her Border Collies ready for cattle herding.

"The first bull I bought had to be red because we are Alabama fans," McCrimmon stated. "I bought a Beefmaster so it would be red to match the Crimson Tide, the house and the truck."

In the early days when McCrimmon needed veterinarian help, she could call on Dr. Tim Lusk, a vet from Piedmont.

"I would call Dr. Lusk, and usually I was in tears because I had a sick calf," McCrimmon said. "Every time he came out to the farm, he turned it into a teaching experience, and that really helped build my confidence."

One of the lessons learned in her early days of cattle farming involved spraying for weeds.

"I thought the thistle and yellow cups growing in the pasture were so pretty that I would leave small sections unsprayed," McCrimmon said. "Local farmers had a good laugh, and the next year I had three times the amount of weeds to spray."

In addition to running her cattle operation, McCrimmon is also a member of the Treasure Forest Association where she practices silvopasture grazing in her planted pines.

"We bring kids in here from White Plains School so they can take a tour of the forest and land practices," McCrimmon said.

In addition, she spends a lot of time with her two grand boys, Colter and Colin, on the farm, which gives her a chance to give them a love for the land.

Because of her livestock and land management, McCrimmon has held the following titles: member of the Calhoun County Soil and Water Conservation District, past president of the local Treasure Forest Association, past regional vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and past president of the Calhoun County Cattlemen’s Association. Among other livestock duties, she likes to garden, bird watch, hike and run.

"Most women would rather go shopping than walk around in the mud during calving season," McCrimmon said. "But I truly enjoy working outside with the cattle because you can really feel close to God out here."

If you would like to find out more about Kathy McCrimmon’s Hawk Hill Farms, she can be reached at

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Peanut People

Pearl Haskew Elementary School Students Learn Small Actions Can Add Up

by Mary Stanford

Pearl Haskew Elementary School located in Irvington in Mobile County welcomed Alabama People Against A Littered State Clean Campus Program to their school. PALS believes schools and students have the greatest single impact on tomorrow’s environment. By teaching children to be good stewards of their environment, we ensure our preservation for the future.

Students at Pearl Haskew Elementary School learn that not littering is something they can do to be good stewards of their environment.

As PALS Clean Campus Educator, I spoke with the students about littering, recycling and their carbon footprint. My message was to think before you let the next piece of litter get out of hand. Remind yourself that not littering may be one small action, but it’s something you can do … and small actions do add up. Students were shown how litter affects wildlife and marine life. The students followed the life of a piece of litter!

PALS is excited about partnering with Pearl Haskew Elementary School and is looking forward to supplying them with all the tools they might need for future projects. PALS is proud to offer the Clean Campus Program to all Alabama school systems. Each participating school can nominate themselves for the State Award to be presented to first, second and third place winners at the Governor’s Awards program in November. The first place school will receive a $1,000 scholarship, 2nd place a $750 scholarship and 3rd place a $500 scholarship. Schools can enter a scrapbook of environmental activities. There is also an annual Poster and Essay Contest with the first place winner receiving $250 and an invitation to the Governor’s Awards.

If you are interested in having PALS come and introduce our Clean Campus Program to your school, please email me at

Mary Stanford is the Clean Campus Coordinator for PALS.

Revived Rabbit Ruse

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

People say the darnedest things. And I guess I’m just a sucker because I believe them. Just the other day my good friend Tracy called and told me a ridiculous story about his neighbors’ rabbits. They weren’t just plain-Jane pets; they were high-priced breeding stock they sold to local students to exhibit in the county livestock show. They had nice rabbit hutches in the back yard and were fed the fanciest feeds and most modern nutritional supplements.

He told me he was shocked and dismayed when he saw one of his big German shepherds tossing the lifeless body of one of those expensive rabbits around in the front yard. He bolted from his pickup and ran out into the yard to verify the ugly truth. Tracy scolded his dog when it looked up at its master, proudly displaying its conquest. The white fur was matted with blood, mud and dog spit.

Tracy glanced around furtively to make sure no one was watching because he had already decided what he must do. The dogs had already slipped into the neighbors’ yard and barked at the rabbits so much that one of them literally died from fright. The neighbors had already warned him and his wife that if they ever caught those dogs in their yard or near the rabbits again, they’d kill them.

He gently picked up the limp body and carried it into the house. He put it in the bathroom sink and carefully shampooed the fur until it was glistening white once more. He took out his wife’s hair dryer and blow dried the rabbit. Just as the sun was going down, he slipped the rabbit inside his jacket and tiptoed across the driveway and into his neighbors’ backyard. He found an empty rabbit hutch and carefully placed the body inside and closed the door. He paused for a moment to admire his work. The animal looked like it was sleeping.

He crept back to his house and breathed an enormous sigh of relief as he closed the back door. He cheerfully ate supper with his wife, watched some TV and went to bed, all without mentioning the disturbing discovery he’d made earlier in the evening nor the unconventional solution he devised.

The next morning, Tracy awoke to the sound of blood curdling screams. They were coming from his neighbors’ house. He rushed out the door and knocked loudly on their back door before bolting into their kitchen. He found the woman still screaming and crying hysterically and trembling violently. Her concerned husband stood by helplessly trying to comfort his frantic wife.

"What happened? What happened?" both men asked simultaneously.

It was a few moments before the woman could stop crying and speak coherently.

"Well," she finally said, "I found Snowball in his cage this morning."

Tracy was confused.

"What’s wrong with that?" he asked innocently.

"He died of natural causes three days ago," she spluttered.

The usual talkative Tracy was speechless. He muttered some lame condolences, but offered no explanation.

Well, when he relayed this incredible story to me, I too was speechless, but only for a moment. Suddenly, something clicked in my menopausal brain. Something about that story was familiar. I put him on hold for a second to research Urban Legends on and found the revived rabbit story. Tracy started snickering when he realized I was onto him.

"Gotcha!" he said, "had ya going for a minute there, didn’t I?"

Man! Did he ever! I’m still plotting a suitable payback ….

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "That Congress ain’t worth a plugged nickel! It looks like if they keep going they’ll end up with most of my paycheck!"

What is a "plugged nickel"?

One source notes, in the early part of last century, the plugs from electrical boxes were the size and shape (although not weight) of a nickel. Though worthless, some vending machines were easily fooled by these plugs.

Another source states that at one time the metals in a U.S. coin were supposed to be more or less equal to their face value, particularly with gold and silver coins. The problem was that the metals used in coins fluctuated, causing the face value to sometimes be higher than what the metals were worth. The United States got around that problem by passing a statute that made coins legal tender. The law also made coins that had been defiled, defaced, drilled or otherwise tampered with to be not legal tender.

Back in the Great Depression consumers had to be careful about the change they received from merchants. This was the case because sometimes you would receive a coin that had been slightly filed down around the edges. Even worse, you could receive a coin that felt fine to the touch, but close visual examination showed it had been drilled in the center and plugged with some other metal, usually lead. A coin so treated was said to be plugged. By law, a plugged nickel was worthless. Banks and stores used to be careful and checked the coins they received, just as they checked for counterfeit bills.

Various versions of the phrase appear in the 1880s. The nickel, being a lower denomination coin, lends itself better than quarters and dimes to a phrase expressing worthlessness. Oddly though, the lowest denomination coin is the cent and the phrase "not worth a plugged cent" doesn’t appear until later. The earliest found for that is 1908. The earliest of any version of the phrase that has been found is from The Daily Nebraska State Journal, September 14, 1883. This indicates the illegitimate nature of plugged coins:

"No," said a Philadelphia conductor, "I never attempt to pass a plugged quarter on a man unless he’s got his Sunday girl with him. Then he’s afraid she’ll think him mean if he gets mad."

Springtime, Small Livestock and Small Spaces

by Robert Spencer

Springtime often brings an increased interest in raising a few small animals in small spaces, a relative term. Sheep and goats are small compared to cattle or horses, yet rather large in comparison to chickens or rabbits. Opinions vary whether any animal weighing over 100 pounds is a large animal; again, that is relative. There is a growing interest in raising chickens for eggs and/or rabbits in small spaces. These same people have no interest in commercial production, they just want to raise a few animals to supplement their food sources and know where their food comes from. Invariably they want to know how much space is required for these endeavors. The answer is it depends on many variables. Space required and space available tends to be an issue. Space for animals, distance from neighbors and nutrition are fundamental; and healthcare and longevity tend to be overlooked until situations develop. The fundamental need is to insure humane conditions for these animals, and long-term satisfaction for the owner.

Laying Hens

Raising chickens for eggs is comparable to raising meat rabbits as far as space, shelter and nutrition. For egg production, chickens will need laying or nest boxes, they can share these about one per two or three birds, these boxes tend to be about 1 cubic foot. Hens also need walking around or grazing space at about 8 cubic feet per bird. If they are frequently moved about in portable housing, a slightly smaller space is adequate. Breed choices will vary depending on preference.

Laying chickens need modest amounts of sunlight, plenty of shade, layer pellets and vegetable scraps, water, places to roost off the ground at night, and protection from predators and other nuisance animals. Free-range chickens are great as long as they do not bother gardens, flowerbeds or other landscaping. Don’t forget, chickens like to scratch the ground and look for bugs; therefore, they can do some serious damage to much valued landscaping or garden space.

The brains of laying hens are photosensitive, sensitive to light. With less than 12 hours of daylight, they are not likely to provide eggs. There are ways to increase amounts of light to encourage egg laying. And, NO, hens do not need a rooster around to lay eggs.

Meat Rabbits

Rabbit production has three basic requirements: rabbits, cages and a building. If you already have a small amount of land and an outbuilding or two, you can easily start to produce with five does (female rabbits) to one buck (male rabbits) and 10 individual cages for less than $500. This includes the purchase of feeders, a water supply, feed and a few other inexpensive items. You may wonder why double the number of cages; rabbits multiply and offspring will need space. Breed choices will vary depending on preference, and ideal-sized meat breeds include New Zealand, Californian, Altec and Harlequin. Smaller breeds tend to be suitable as pets.

A simple, semi-enclosed pole barn can provide adequate housing for rabbit production. An abandoned poultry barn or hog parlor is also suitable, or a small shed will suffice during the beginning stages of rabbit production. A 15-by- 20 shed is a good size to house 15 does and bucks or less. An adult rabbit will need 4.5-6 square feet of space. Raising a few animals in a small facility is ideal for those who do not wish to go commercial. Housing rabbits in cages off the ground is ideal for minimizing encounters with disease and raising an all-natural meat product. Raising rabbits in confined areas on the ground with adequate housing is feasible, but there are health and management challenges. In any of these situations, grain-based feed, hay, water and other supplements are essential for nutrition.

While this article provides a brief overview of small animal production in small spaces there is a wealth of detailed information to be found through your local Extension office,, Internet, library and other forms of media. Whether your interest lies in laying chickens and/or rabbits, any of these endeavors can be implemented with limited resources and small spaces as long as it is kept at a reasonable level and properly managed.

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

Stockyard Idol

Darrell Sanders, second from left, was honored at a Mid State Stockyards event in February. Honoring him were three men he has mentored most of their lives. From left are Scott Garrett, Dick Farrior and Billy Younkin.

Darrell Sanders honored at Mid State Stockyard for service to the industry

by Alvin Benn

Senior citizens may wonder at times if their lives have been worthwhile and if they are leaving behind something of value.

Darrell Sanders doesn’t have to worry about that because his guidance and mentoring have helped produce three sterling success stories - Scott Garrett, Dick Farrior and Billy Younkin.

The three friends are partners at Mid State Stockyards, a business Sanders helped them create a decade ago just off I-65 south of Montgomery.

Darrell Sanders hugs Stacy Casey, left, and Rebecca Loftin who handle administrative duties at the Mid State Stockyards.

To say the three idolize Sanders would be putting it mildly because they view him as a cross between two American legends - actor John Wayne and football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

"He’s been like a father to each of us and has helped us better understand the stockyard business, especially when it comes to buying and selling cattle," Younkin said.

A modest man who likes to spread compliments around to others involved in the same business, Sanders still takes pride in his contributions to the industry.

That’s why the people who know him best got together at the stockyards back in February to honor him and his many contributions to the cattle industry in Alabama.

It was billed as a retirement/appreciation event on an auction day when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of cattle are bought and sold in the main arena.

The entrance to the stockyards was filled with "retirement" signs such as "Gone Fishin’" when Sanders and Cullene, his wife of 50 years, arrived at the facility.

If it was intended to be a surprise party, it was anything but. Word slipped out and the couple had a chance to prepare for the celebration.

Younkin, who also is one of the auctioneers at the stockyards, took time out for a few minutes to salute him. During the proceedings, a plaque was presented to Sanders who shook many hands that day.

It’s unlikely the 74-year-old Sanders will ever retire. He enjoys it too much to rock away his golden years. That’s why his fans added "appreciation" to the invitations to attend the event.

"I’ve been involved with cattle and stockyards for more than 50 years," he said, during an interview with Cooperative Farming News at an appropriate venue - Mid State Stockyards. "I’ve never gotten rich from it, but that never bothered me."

Sanders believes Mid State is the largest stockyard operation in Alabama, selling up to 85,000 head of cattle annually. Garrett, Farrior and Younkin are quick to credit him for his helping hand.

"He’s always guided us the right way, especially helping us to build this business from the ground up," Garrett said. "What he did was put the infrastructure in place. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today."

Born and raised at his family farm near Andalusia in Covington County, Sanders quickly became familiar with row crops, hogs and cattle. He learned from his father Thomas Sanders, who also worked for the U.S. Forestry Service and dabbled in land transactions.

A stroke at the age of 52 sidelined his dad and his son returned home from Troy University and joined his two older brothers to run the farm where the family specialized in row crops. Darrell never took a liking to it, preferring instead to focus on cattle even if he possessed only rudimentary knowledge of that business at the beginning.

"The only thing I knew about cattle when I started was that I liked beef," said Sanders, who eventually did well in accounting and used it later to help him with his own cattle connections.

Working for Kennett-Murray Co. provided details when it came to working with cattle and those memories have never left him.

"We’d work late at night sorting and shipping cattle all over the country," he recalled about those days back in the mid-1960s. "It was hard work at a time when there were stockyards everywhere in Alabama. Now, most of them are gone. We don’t have many left."

Working at Hooper Stockyards provided even more lessons for Sanders. Driving long distances was part of the job and it wasn’t unusual for him to put up to 1,500 miles a week behind the wheel.

"I worked across north Alabama and into Georgia and Florida when I had to," said Sanders, who didn’t have to be reminded about row crops back at his family farm.

He didn’t want to go back to that. Cattle became his life instead and during the past half century he hasn’t had many, if any, regrets attached to them.

"What I’ve liked best about being involved with cattle all these years is the fact it’s an honorable business," he said. "A man’s word was all you needed back then."

What he detests is favoritism in any form, especially at stockyards where he would see it happen at times.

"I’ve never tried to help one cattleman over another," he said. "You treat a man with one head the same as somebody with 100 head. You don’t move a man to the head of the line at the stockyards because you happen to like him."

Avoiding favoritism was just one of many lessons Sanders taught Garrett, Farrior and Younkin when the Mid State Stockyards was born 10 years ago.

"I’ll do anything in the world for those boys," said Sanders, who is also quick to brag about the couple’s two children and twin grandchildren. "I tell people they’re my adopted sons and I really feel that way about them."

The three Mid State partners have never called him by just his first name. It’s always "Mr. Darrell" and the respect they have for him is evident whenever they speak to him.

Being raised during another time in America taught Sanders lessons he was happy to pass along to Garrett, Farrior and Younkin.

"He still has that work ethic that people of his generation had," Younkin said. "He’s always going to be on time and when he tells you he’ll do a job, he’ll do it better than anybody else."

Although Sanders has never become a partner in the stockyards, he has worked as hard as anyone in making it a success.

"He knows the nuts and bolts of what makes a stockyards successful, and his accounting experience has always been invaluable to us," Younkin said.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Talkin’ Turkey

Pike County Cattlemen hosted their first annual Wild Turkey Expo in February and plan to improve the event in 2015.

by Jaine Treadwell

When Ed Whatley went to bed on a late-February Saturday night, he couldn’t go to sleep for all the purring, drumming and cackling echoing in his head. It was almost deafening.

But the turkey calls were music to his ears.

Whatley, Pike County Cattlemen’s Association executive director, was experiencing a sleepless night in the best kind of way. The Pike County Cattlemen had, only hours before, put the stamp of success on the inaugural Wild Turkey Expo at Cattleman Park in rural Pike County.

Garry Vines of Chilton County knows how to call turkeys. He holds the state record for turkey spur length. Vines demonstrated his technique at his booth.

A little more than a week later on March 3, 2014, the Cattlemen’s board of directors voted to not only make the Wild Turkey Expo an annual event but to expand the Expo.

"We learned a lot," Whatley said. "We learned things we need to improve on and things we need to do differently or not at all. But the main thing we learned is that there’s a lot of interest in wild turkey hunting and the potential to make the Wild Turkey Expo a big, big event is there. And, we believe we can do just that. We’ve got the facility. We’ve got a great location and, with a year to plan, we can bring turkey hunters and outdoorsmen from all around the Southeast to the Pike County Cattlemen’s Wild Turkey Expo."

The Pike County Cattlemen have never backed away from a challenge. In fact, they go out looking for challenges.

Eighteen years ago, the Cattlemen believed they could build a complex that would include an indoor facility that would seat 1,100 and a covered, lighted, outdoor rodeo arena that would accommodate 3,000 and rival any in the state. The Cattlemen believed they could raise the money on their own and then raise the roof(s). And, they did.

Cattleman Park hosts the annual Pike County Cattlemen’s PCA Rodeo and is the site of the Pike County Steer and Heifer show and other rodeo events. The indoor facility is available for rent and is the site of a variety of events from Mardi Gras Galas to gospel singings and wedding receptions.

"We knew we could sponsor a Wild Turkey Expo, we just had to figure out a way to get it done in short order," Whatley said.

Ed McCormick of Enterprise won the bow-shooting contest at the Wild Turkey Expo using a hunting bow with a 64-pound pull. The arrow travels at 352 feet per second. McCormick has been shooting for about 30 years. He no longer hunts with a gun, only a bow. He hunts deer and turkeys, but will also take aim on wild hogs.

And the Cattlemen were cautioned, "It takes a lot of time." The Cattlemen accepted the caution as a challenge.

"The board of directors sat down in January 2014 with some local men who know turkey hunting - a crafter of turkey calls, a retired game warden and a bow hunter - and, when the meeting ended, we were in," Whatley said. "We knew that time was short, but we wanted to go ahead and sponsor an event we could learn from and build on."

Whatley said the Cattlemen were surprised at the interest generated by the first-time Expo.

"We had a lot of interest in the turkey calling contest," he said. "It was a nationally sanctioned contest and the callers could earn points toward the National Turkey Calling Contest. Vendors selling turkey calls, guns, knives … all kinds of outdoor equipment reserved booths. We were off to a good start."

In addition to the turkey calling contests and vendor booths, the Cattlemen’s Wild Turkey Expo featured bow shooting competitions for adults and youths, BB gun shooting for the kids, a cooking demonstration and the Cattlemen’s popular concession stand.

"We had 13 callers to enter the competition," Whatley said. "We had callers from Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. We had 25 vendors and between 600 and 700 people come through the door. We came out in the black so we made a little money and we learned a lot that will help us in planning for our 2nd Annual Pike County Cattlemen’s Association Wild Turkey Expo."

Left to right, thirteen callers from four states entered the turkey calling contest at the Wild Turkey Expo sponsored by the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association on Feb. 22 at Cattleman Park in Pike County. Brandon Sims of Vancleave, Miss., entered the nationally sanctioned turkey calling contest. The winners in the four divisions were “Jimbo” Lindsey, Anniston, Professional Friction; Jarred Lowe, Georgiana, Professional Open; Hayden Crowe, Heflin, Hunter; and Hunter Duncan, Ramer, Youth. Hunter Duncan participated in his first turkey calling contest, mainly for fun, but it’s good to win, too.

The first thing in the Cattleman’s playbook is to start getting word about the Wild Turkey Expo out in the fall.

"We could have had a lot more vendors and big name manufacturers, but they told us they needed four months to prepare; so this time we’ll get off to an early and fast start," Whatley said. "We’re going to really put a lot of planning into the turkey calling competition and get a lot of publicity out early on that. We want to expand our vendor booths to include a lot of different outdoor items, maybe even wildlife art. The cooking demonstration will be at a booth and there will be items to sample all day."

The contests and competitions will be expanded and will include archery clubs at area schools.

"We’re going to really publicize the Wild Turkey Expo as a family event," Whatley said. "We’ll have something for everybody."

The Cattlemen are about 99 percent sure the 2nd Annual Wild Turkey Expo will be a two-day event.

"This year, the Expo was from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and that was too long," Whatley said. "We’ll be looking at maybe a Friday night and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. or maybe Saturday and Sunday afternoon. We’ll get the details figured out and we’ll use what we learned this year to make the 2015 Wild Turkey Expo bigger and better, and still leave room to cackle about it."

Cattleman Park is located on U.S. Highway 231 south of Troy. For more information about events at Cattleman Park or the 2015 Wild Turkey Expo, contact Ed Whatley at 334-566-0892 or visit the Cattlemen’s website at

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

Tetney Tips; Property Protection; and Warm Rocks

by John Howle

"Do not corner something that is meaner than you."– Old Farmer’s Advice

Spending my life around farming has always provided me with a layer of insulation against the hustle and bustle of modern life, and the tribulations of our technical age. Taking a slow walk through a docile herd of cattle helps me to remember we can do things without iPads, iPhones and computers.

Every once in a while growing up on a farm, there would be some excitement that served as a diversion from the usually peace-filled, routine work of the farm. That break usually came when we would round up livestock to be wormed or sold. My grandfather had purchased a couple of Angus cows that were anything but docile. The old rules about approaching the cow from the shoulder to turn her in the right direction meant nothing to these rebellious newcomers who seemed to be intent on pinning the first upright mammal they found to the wall of the catch pen fence.

Granddad always administered the worming medicine because he was the best at judging weight. The amount of squeezing clicks on the caulking gun that delivered the medicine into the mouth would be determined by the cow’s weight. Every now and then, a seasoned, veteran cow would come through the head chute with a memory and spit out some of the wormer only to have to be re-administered.

We had wormed all the cattle except for these two miscreants. One of them had already put on a show of running head first into the high-quality hog wire (field fence) we purchased from the Co-op, only to be bounced backwards on her haunches. By now, she was truly enraged. She absolutely refused to be corralled into the catch pen. After a few minutes of agitation, the cow caught me in her sights, shook her head savagely and started running straight in my direction.

Avoid grass tetney this spring by supplying your herd with minerals containing magnesium from your local Quality Co-op.

God often provides for us in our darkest hour, and he did that day. Right at my feet laid a lightered pine, creosote post. Grabbing the post, I held it in my hands ready to hit a home run.

Just at collision time, I scored a knockout blow, her front feet buckled, and she lay motionless. I thought the worst and was thinking about how I could come up with money to pay my grandfather for the dead cow.

He said, "Well, while she’s down, let’s just go ahead and worm her."

After the worming caulk was applied into the back of her lifeless throat, she began to move and sway. Everyone backed up as she came to life. Once on her feet, she zeroed in on me again. In the early stages of her charge, however, I ran the opposite way and cleared the fence by swinging over a fence post. My 14-year-old brain told me not to tempt fate a second time.

Don’t Tempt Grass Tetney

One of the easiest diseases to prevent is grass tetney. By simply providing magnesium either in mineral or block to the cattle, you can avoid costly health problems in your herd. This time of year when the forage is growing rapidly, the plants may not be able to absorb enough of the trace minerals from the soil. One of the most dangerous deficiencies is magnesium. Your local Quality Co-op is the best place to seek advice on providing minerals to your herd. It can be made available is loose or block form as a part of a comprehensive salt and mineral plan.

Let the general public know your land is not open to the public by putting up a gate and posted sign. It’s easier to prevent trespassing where there are posted signs.

Protect Your Property

If you have timberland you like to hunt, chances are, uninvited guests might like to hunt the property when you are not around. If you do no more than put up a cattle gate, a posted sign and a few strands of barbed wire at the entrance, you are at least letting people know that this land is not open to the public for hunting. In addition to protecting your interests and avoiding liabilities, if you have the land posted, you have a much stronger argument when there is a case for trespassing.

Warm Rocks

The next time you go camping, look for a spot with a rock backdrop. With your back or sleeping bag against the rocks, the fire on the outside will slowly heat the rocks like a convection oven. Since the rocks hold the heat, more heat is trapped when the nighttime temperatures dip this time of year. The fire will also keep the cold air drafted on the outside of the fire to the opposite side than the rocks.

Warm Season Wildlife Plantings

The warmer weather gives us an urge to get out and plow up gardens and food plots. On a typical managed area, food plots should make up 1-2 percent of the total property. If you’ve soil tested the area and made the amendments, a typical food plot should be long and narrow, preferably with a bend or curve. This shape gives the animals a sense of protection when foraging.

The whole idea of a food plot is to provide supplemental feeding which helps hold wildlife in the area year-round. Plant half your plots in warm-season plantings this time of year, and hold the other half for cool-season plantings in early fall.

This April, when you are working around the farm, make sure you don’t corner something that is meaner than you.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Thanks For Your Service

(From left) AFC’s Chairman of the Board Sam Givhan and CEO Rivers Myres presented Service Awards to Alabama Farmers Cooperative employees at the annual meeting in Montgomery.

35 Years of Service

Mitchell Cooper, AFC Management Services John Gamble, vice president of AFC Grain Division
Lamar Stone, general manager of Altha Farmers Co-op Wayne Ward, manager of Pike Farmers Co-op
25 Years of Service
Cindy Potts, AFC Main Office Beth Turner, AFC Computer Services and Eddie Curl, manager of Farmers Cooperative Inc., Madison, Fla.

15 and 20 Years of Service

For 15 years, not pictured, Tommy Thomas, manager of Calhoun Farmers Co-op, Jacksonville.

For 20 years, Stacy Dawson, AFC Feed, Farm & Home Division. Larry Murphy, manager of Lauderdale County Co-op, Elgin
10 Years of Service
Left to right, Celena Cole Lann, manager of Limestone Farmers Co-op, Giles County; Ronny Neely, general manager of DeKalb Farmers Co-op; not pictured, James Lynn, manager of Altha Farmers Co-op, Blountstown and David Riggs, AFC Feed, Farm & Home Division
5 years of Service
Jamie Griffin, manager of Mid-State Farmers Co-op Byron Smith, AFC Management Services Not pictured, John Trawick, manager of Central Alabama Farmers

The Co-op Pantry

This month we are thrilled to have Mrs. Dorothy Murray as our cook of the month. She has lived a fascinating life and we appreciate her sharing with us this month.

"I come from a loving family where our faith and our love for food played a large part. My mother’s parents came from parts of Mississippi settled in Mobile. My father, being a preacher’s kid, travelled with his parents all over Mississippi and Alabama, also settled in Mobile where my parents met, married and began their family.

"As kids, we didn’t have computers and there were only three channels on the TV, so we played outside in the sunshine riding bikes, swinging on swing sets or just playing in the good ole dirt. I remember often helping in the family garden and a lot of times not by choice. Whether it was driving the tractor for my father, planting seeds by hand or picking vegetables, my family knew how to cook Southern food. There is just nothing like homegrown veggies!

"There was many a time I joined my mother and grandmother to pick blackberries along the fence line. It must have been a sight with a sock with the toe cut out on one hand due to the briars and a stick in the other hand to scare off snakes. However, I think I was more afraid of snakes then they were of me! But, oh, how we loved blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

"Before I graduated from Theodore High School, I joined the work force out in the world working at Grant’s Department Store in Tillman’s Corner. Right before I graduated, I went to work in the office of Foster’s Appliance in Mobile. After turning 20, I married and worked at Foster’s until my first child was born. I then became a fulltime mom and a part-time seamstress.

"God blessed me with two awesome children. My daughter Meredith lives in north Alabama with her husband David and my three wonderful grandchildren, 13-year-old Brittney, 6-year-old Kaitlyn and 4-year-old Zane. My son James presently lives in Mobile and is busy with his new job and girlfriend.

"In 2004, God again blessed me when I met and married my best friend David Murray, who has been a United Methodist minister in the Alabama-West Florida Conference for the past 30 years. When David and I married, I also acquired two wonderful stepsons, Jonathan who lives close to us in Dothan and Taylor who lives and works in Arizona.

"We have moved around a bit, but are presently serving at two small churches in southeast Alabama. We now live in Kinston and my husband presently serves as pastor at Kinston UMC and also at Memorial UMC in Opp. Being a minister’s wife, there are several opportunities to share my love of cooking with others around me. We have monthly Sunday lunches and 5th Sunday ‘Gatherings’ where our church, along with other small Methodist churches in our area, come together for worship and fellowship. You know there is something about Southern Christian people, we love to fellowship and love to eat!

"I come from a long line of quilt makers and it was only natural that I learned to sew at the early age of 10. I have recently started doing embroidery, monogramming and sewing with the hopes of one day owning my own business as my husband approaches the time of retirement.

"Between keeping up with my husband’s busy schedule, our children and grandchildren living five hours away, my mother and family still living in Mobile, and my sewing projects, I don’t get to try too many new recipes. However, I hope your readers enjoy some of our favorites.

"Thank you for allowing me this opportunity of sharing a little of our family and a few of our recipes. I pray that God will bless you and yours as He has blessed our family and by His grace guides us each step of the way toward the future."

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


1 jar pizza sauce, any style
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) bag mozzarella cheese, grated

Place cream cheese in bottom of a 2-quart microwave dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds. With the bottom part of a large spoon, spread melted cheese out some to cover bottom of dish. Spread pizza sauce over cheese, but don’t mix. Top with mozzarella cheese. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until the cheese on top is melted through. Serve with corn chips/scoops.

Note: You can add chopped pepperoni and/or sausage or any pizza toppings to the sauce to give it an added kick, but will make dip heavier. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.


4 chicken breasts, parboiled, cooled and shredded
1 heaping Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon dill pickle relish
¼ cup mayonnaise (may have to add extra if salad is too dry)
5 boiled eggs, grated
½ teaspoon paprika
¾-1 teaspoon celery salt
¾ teaspoon onion salt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix together and chill. Serve on split crescent rolls or in a serving dish with crackers.


1 small onion, diced
1 stick butter, divided
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 can chicken broth
4-5 large potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (divided)
10 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled (divided)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup

Sauté onion in a little butter. Set aside. Melt butter in deep pot on stove, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add in milk and cook on medium heat until thick and smooth, stir to prevent sticking (very important). Add other ingredients saving ½ of the cheese and some of bacon to top soup before serving. Cook until heated through or can place in crockpot on low. Add extra milk if too thick.

Note: Serve topped with chopped green onions, sour cream, cheese and bacon bits.

(by Laverne Day)

Water, divided
Shrimp seasoning
3 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1½ Tablespoons & ¾ cup cooking oil (separate)
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups okra, chopped
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
¼ cup green onions, chopped
¼ cup of parsley, chopped
2 cans picked crab meat
Salt & pepper, to taste
Seafood filé powder

Place entire bag of shrimp seasoning (Shrimp Boil comes in a box with a little bag of seasonings in it) in a pot of water - enough to cover shrimp. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp. Boil about 5 minutes, turn burner off and let shrimp sit in water for another 5 minutes. The longer it sits, the stronger the seasoning will be in the shrimp. Drain & cool. Break shrimp up if not very small in size. Set aside.

In large skillet with 1½ tablespoons cooking oil, sauté onion, celery, pepper and okra for 15 minutes. In large cook pot, make roux by adding flour to ¾ cup hot cooking oil, cooking until a rich brown color, stirring occasionally as it will burn easily. Turn burner off and cool. Add 1 gallon water and Worcestershire sauce, cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add other ingredients, except shrimp, to roux mixture and cook slowly for about 2 hours. Add salt, pepper and a dash of filé powder into the pot 3-5 minutes before gumbo is finished. Add shrimp the last 10 minutes of cooking or will be tough. Serve over rice with crackers.

Note: This has been a big family favorite for many years! As a child, I remember going crabbing with my parents and grandparents. My mom would boil the crabs in seasoned water and then add the crab bodies to the gumbo when the shrimp were added. They were messy to eat, but a lot of fun and tasted so good with the creamy taste of the gumbo on them.


1½ pounds hamburger meat
1 onion, chopped
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes, medium
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes, hot
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans
1 can kidney beans (can leave out if you want fewer beans)
½-1 can refried beans (to tighten taste)
1-2 packages taco seasoning mix
1 can Mexicorn, Southwestern style
Salt & pepper, to taste
Dash of red pepper & chili powder

Sauté onion and add hamburger, cook meat until completely done. Drain if need be. Add all ingredients to large crockpot. Can add chicken broth if desired lighter soup. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Note: Can use ground turkey for a lighter soup. I cook this a lot of times in a large stock pot on top of the stove and let simmer for a couple of hours.

(by Laverne Day)

1½-2 pounds squash, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 small package chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 9x13-inch casserole dish by rubbing the bottom with a little butter (not the melted butter) or spray with butter-flavored Pam. Cook squash and onion until tender, drain well and mash. Add sour cream, soup, water chestnuts, salt and pepper. Set aside. Mix stuffing mix and butter. Place ½ in bottom of prepared pan. Spoon squash mixture over stuffing mix. Top with remaining stuffing mix. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Note: Even if you don’t like squash, you will like this recipe.


3 cups sweet potatoes, sliced and boiled in water, drained and mashed
1 cup sugar (or ½ cup Baking Splenda)
½ cup butter
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten well
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients and pour into rectangle casserole dish. Prepare topping and dot on top of potato mixture.

1 cup light brown sugar (or ½ cup Splenda brown sugar)
½ cup flour
1/3 cup butter, softened but not melted
1 cup pecans, chopped

Mix brown sugar, flour and butter together with fork. Once mixed and creamy, stir in pecans. This mixture will be thick and you will have to use your hands to put on top of potatoes. Topping will spread out to cover top of potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes.

Note: The pecans on top take on the taste of toasted pecans. Very good!


1 pound dry lima beans, cooked and seasoned
1 pound hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 box cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup & 1 Tablespoon milk
1 Tablespoon butter

Sauté onion in butter, add hamburger and cook until meat completely done. Drain and place in bottom of prepared 9x13-inch casserole dish or pan. If beans are soupy, drain some of the liquid. Pour beans over hamburger. Spread tomato sauce over lima beans. To cornbread mix, add egg, then milk. Pour over of tomato sauce. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until cornbread is browned.

Note: Can also use pinto beans or navy beans. This makes a great all-in-one dish and warms up great for leftovers. I call this “The Country Man’s Pizza”!


4 chicken breast, skinless, boiled & cooled (save 1 cup broth)
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoon butter
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drain most of juice
1 can chopped chilies
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 heaping Tablespoon sour cream
Salt & pepper, to taste
Shredded cheese
1 package small flour tortillas, torn into pieces

Shred chicken or cut into cubes and set aside. Sauté onion in butter in medium size skillet. When onions are transparent, add Rotel, chilies, soup, sour cream and chicken broth (from boiling the chicken). Place a large spoonful of sauce in bottom of prepared 9x13-inch casserole dish or pan and spread around bottom. Add chicken, salt & pepper to sauce in skillet. Turn heat off. Layer in dish on top of spoonful of sauce, tortilla pieces, chicken mixture until finished. Put remaining sauce on top. Top with cheese and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until cheese on top is cooked.


1 onion, sliced
1 (4-6 pound) pork roast (size to fit in crockpot)
1 package onion/mushroom soup mix
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 can tomato soup

Spread onion in bottom of crockpot. Add pork roast. Pour soup mix, seasonings and tomato soup over roast. DO NOT ADD ANY WATER! Cover and cook on low for -8 hours. (I would put this on Saturday night before going to bed and cook until after church on Sunday. I would open about an hour before serving and with a turkey baster remove some of the juice which makes a good gravy. This is why you do not add any water.) It is excellent to add large bits of carrots and quartered potatoes around roast while cooking. The tomato soup gives the vegetables a sweet cheesy taste.


2 pounds hamburger
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 medium can tomato puree
1 can water
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (12-ounce) package wide noodles

In a large skillet, sauté hamburger with bell pepper and onion until done. Add tomato puree and water. Simmer for about 1 hour. Cook and drain noodles. In large greased casserole dish, layer noodles and hamburger mix and repeat. Top with cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese melts, about 30 minutes. Good with garlic bread and green salad.

Note: We are not sure where this recipe came from, but it has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember!


1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup light corn syrup or Blackburn’s syrup (whatever you prefer)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecans, chopped (or a little more)
1 unbaked pie shell

Mix first 6 ingredients with hand mixer. Stir in pecans. Fill unbaked pie shell. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes and then turn oven down to 250° and bake for 1 hour until center is set.

Note: This time helps to cook pie without over cooking the crust.


1 package chocolate almond bark or white chocolate almond bark
1 jar unsalted peanuts (salted can be used if unsalted unavailable)
1 package miniature marshmallows

Have wax paper ready for candy.

Place almond bark in deep microwave safe bowl. Cook on high in microwave at 1 minute intervals, stirring in between. As soon as completely melted, stir in peanuts and marshmallows until mixed, but not until marshmallows are melted. Immediately spoon mixture onto wax paper by teaspoon. Let cool and store in air-tight container.

Note: Everyone loves this and I always have to keep the ingredients in the pantry. You can also mix in miniature M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces. I personally love the Reese’s Pieces added! My son prefers the whilte almond bark, but calls it “Snowman Poop.”

Note from Mary: My teen daughter and her BFF thought this was the coolest things they had ever heard of. It is delicious!

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

The End

Strand Theater closed its doors in early November 2013.

Atmore’s Strand Theater closes its doors after 84 years. A local group is working to acquire and save the historic building.

by Emily McLaughlin

A historic downtown landmark now sits empty for the first time in 84 years, as Atmore’s Strand Theater closed its doors in early November 2013. The word "Closed" is now up in place of the usual new release titles on the theater’s marquee, and all posters have been removed from their frames. The last film to be shown at the theater was "Free Birds."

Strand owner Wayne Kelley said it was a difficult decision to shut the doors. His family has operated the theater for nearly 30 years.

Strand Theater in 1936

"I just can’t afford to keep it open. If I had kept it open for another six months, and business didn’t turn around at all, I probably would have had to have filed bankruptcy. That’s how bad it was. It was definitely a business decision more than a heart decision," said Kelley, who has owned the business for almost 11 years.

Kelley has either worked there or owned it since he was 14 years old, making the decision an even harder one. He said his uncle ran the theater for 13 years before his ownership, and a cousin owned it before his uncle.

Longtime Atmore residents say the theater likely originally opened in 1929. Kelley said he has been trying to come up with ways to keep the business open, like showing cheaper second-run movies, but none of those options were cost efficient.

"Everything that I looked into, even the most minimum option would have been at least fifty thousand dollars," he said. "It’s just not possible to do it anymore."

Kelley is still making payments on the building, and will continue to do so for another 3 years. He is unsure what the future may hold for the location, but knows that many Atmore residents feel like a part of their past is going away.

"I was actually walking through Walmart in Bay Minette the other day and I saw a girl who I graduated from school with," Kelley said. "She told me she started crying because she drove by the theater and saw the ‘closed’ sign. I know there are people who have lived here their whole lives and have always gone to movies there. It’s sad and it’s hard; it really is."

A group of concerned Atmore citizens is working hard to make sure the final curtain doesn’t close on one of the state’s oldest movie theaters.

The non-profit "Pride of Atmore" civic group was formed in December 2013 and is currently seeking its status as a 501(c)(3) organization. While the overall focus of the group is to increase civic pride in and around the Atmore area, the group’s immediate goal is to raise funds to acquire the recently closed Strand Theater.

Sheryl Vickery, executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Strand had been the longest continually operating movie theater in the state of Alabama.

"I know there’s a way that the theater could be used again," she said. "You’d probably have to step out of the box and try and look at it in a different way. I know people might see it as ‘another empty building downtown,’ but it’s just a bump in the road and I know there will be a great new use for it."

Nancy Helton, a member of Pride of Atmore’s board of directors, said it is important to preserve a part of the city’s history.

"We need to save the history of what the Strand brought to Atmore," she said. "It’s a big part of downtown and we want to have pride in our city’s history."

Circulating right now to help save the Strand is the idea to re-establish some of the theater’s past events, such as "Hot Seat" night.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, "Hot Seat" night was very popular on the weekends. If you were in a numbered seat and they called your number, you won a prize. The theatre would be packed with patrons hoping to be in a "Hot Seat." The winners could receive free meals from local restaurants, bags of groceries, free dry cleaning, free milk shakes or fountain soda drinks from local drug stores, and sometimes even clothing from local dry goods merchants. In those days, patrons could go to the theater with only a quarter to be used for a 10-cent movie ticket, five-cent bag of popcorn and a 10-cent milk shake.

Pride of Atmore’s executive director is Bub Gideons and Helton is joined on the board by fellow directors Sheryl Vickery, Nancy Karrick, Christopher Rowland and Leigh Ann Rowland.

While the group is still in its early stages of organization, they have already taken proactive steps toward acquiring the Strand. Founding board members have reached out to several local preservation groups in the area, including those who played a part in preserving old theaters in Mobile and similar cities. The group is also seeking grant funding and similar financial assistance, and is planning local fundraisers in the coming months. They were recently featured on WKRG News 5.

If you would like to help, call the Pride of Atmore at 359-6523, or find the group on Facebook.

Emily McLaughlin is a freelance writer from Uriah.

The FFA Sentinel: Ignite a Passion for Ag

FFA member Seth Freeman shares about the many possibilities of the FFA.

by Clint Burgess

Each year, FFA chapters around the country celebrate National FFA Week. This tradition began in 1947 when the National FFA Board of Directors designated George Washington’s birthday as National FFA Week in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. The theme for this year’s FFA week was "Ignite" and it began February 15 and culminated February 22.

The students at Reeltown High School in Notasulga, ignited by their passion for agriculture, celebrated FFA week with Farm Day.

Farm Day is an annual event capping off National FFA week and is greatly anticipated by the students, faculty and community. This unique event gives elementary students and members of the community a chance to get up close and personal with animals such as cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits and cattle dogs. The day also includes an opportunity for everyone to explore farm equipment such as tractors, hay balers and mowers, and discover how they make growing and producing food easier and more efficient. Farming isn’t the only agricultural area in focus at Farm Day; forestry, welding, carpentry and agricultural mechanics are also on display and represented by students at the exhibits. The high school agriscience students and FFA members get a chance to demonstrate the skills obtained in the agriscience classroom and laboratory. Farm Day also presents a recruiting opportunity for incoming elementary students and encourages them to join FFA by showcasing what agriscience can offer while preparing them for future careers.

Eighth-grade FFA member Thomas Motes proudly shares a Farm Day veteran with students, a White Leghorn named “KFC.”

The high school students organized stations for the elementary students to tour. Visitors were led through the exhibits with each station highlighting a different theme. Tractors were brought in by students and Sun South of Auburn, a local sponsor. SunSouth supplies a new riding lawn mower and tractor each year that is used at the County Level Junior Compact Safe Tractor Driving and Safe Tractor Driving County FFA Career Development Events contests. These contests are held in conjunction with Farm Day each year. Participating at the event were students from Dadeville High School, Horseshoe Bend High School and Reeltown High School. The winner from each event advanced to the Central District FFA Eliminations to be held at Jefferson State Community College April 11.

When asked what Farm Day meant to them, Reeltown FFA Vice President and Central District FFA Secretary C.J. Short said, "Farm Day is an important event for our chapter. We use it to enlighten elementary students and our community in the hopes they will one day pursue a career in the field of agriculture. With a growing population worldwide, farmers and others in agriculture face a major problem. The projected numbers of our population are rising exponentially and, within the next 40 years, farmers will need to double their current yield in order to produce enough food to meet the demand. Farm Day allows us to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in agriculture. My advisor once told me the best way to establish a future in agriculture was to retain, recruit and train young adults whether it is on the farm or teaching in the classroom. That’s why Farm Day is so important; not only for us as members but for the future of agriculture."

Reeltown FFA Parliamentarian Bradley Cantrell added, "In my years of being in FFA, I have participated in many Farm Day events. Mr. Burgess, our chapter advisor, along with my fellow FFA members work diligently to make Farm Day exciting for our younger students. What we try to do is allow the elementary students an opportunity to see what we do in the FFA, as well as agriculture, and how rewarding it can be. We never have enough time to demonstrate all of what FFA has to offer, but we strive to spread the idea of what we do, in hopes the younger students will see our passion and seek to attain a love of agriculture as our advisors have nurtured in us. Without Farm Day, we feel many students would go through their lives never knowing the importance of agriculture. Using Farm Day, we hope to spread the word of how vital agriculture is to the world. With a strong faith in agriculture, we will be able to educate people in the significance agriculture plays in our day-to-day lives."

From an advisor’s standpoint, Farm Day at Reeltown could very well be the most important event hosted by the FFA chapter. Every year gets better than the last, due to the passion of the students and what this day represents. Not only does it give our members the chance to branch out to the younger students, it also gives them the chance to show off the skills obtained in the agriscience class and through each student’s supervised agricultural experience. I believe every chapter can benefit from events such as National FFA Week and those students may bridge the gap between elementary students and their FFA chapter. After all, the students are our future and the sooner we can spark their interest the better.

Clint Burgess is the FFA advisor/Agriscience teacher at Reeltown High School in Tallapoosa County, AL.

Three New Members to the Alabama Agricultural Hall of Honor

Auburn University Agricultural Alumni Association President Sutton Gibbs, left, and Auburn College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor, right, stand with the three 2014 inductees into the association’s Alabama Agricultural Hall of Honor, including, from left, Lester Killebrew of Abbeville, Albert McDonald of Huntsville and Jimmy Sanford of Prattville. The three were inducted during a Feb. 13 ceremony at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National. Killebrew, inductee in the agribusiness category, is chairman of SunSouth LLC, Henry Farm Center Inc. and ValCom Wireless and CSS Technology Centers; McDonald, a cotton farmer and former Alabama state senator and Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, was the education/government honoree; and Sanford, cotton producer, chairman of HOME Place Farms LLC and Auburn Board of Trustees member, was honored in the production sector. Also during the ceremony, the association presented posthumous Agricultural Pioneer Awards to the families of the late James Collins of Cusseta, a successful cattleman and a leader in the state’s beef industry, and the late Dale King of Opelika, an Auburn Department of Poultry Science head, professor, researcher and poultry industry innovator. The Auburn Ag Alumni Association established the Hall of Honor in 1985 to pay tribute to individuals who have made significant contributions to Alabama’s agricultural industry.

Turn Green Grass into Greenbacks

Rumensin may be a producer’s best choice this spring for maximizing weight gain in stocker cattle operation

by Jackie Nix

With calf prices at near-record highs, it makes more sense than ever to utilize Rumensin to maximize weight gains on high-quality small grain forages this spring. Rumensinmakes additional energy available to the animal through manipulation of rumen fermentation. Based on research growth trials, it can be calculated that the additional energy derived from feeding 200 mg of Rumensin daily to growing calves is equivalent to the energy derived from roughly 1 lb. of corn. With so many Rumensin supplement options available, why are SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks the best option for Alabama stocker cattle operators wishing to feed Rumensin?

No Added Protein & Energy

The protein and energy levels in small grain forages grown in Alabama are typically adequate to meet a stocker calf’s needs, so paying for extra protein and energy in the form of a medicated feed mixture is a waste. Plus, the microbes digesting grains compete for space and resources in the rumen with the microbes digesting forages. So why feed a grain mixture when we are trying to enhance the population of fiber-digesting microbes in the rumen?

Consistent Intake

Additionally, supplement intake is more consistent with SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks than with a medicated feed mixture where intake is based on dominance rank and bunk space. Highly palatable SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks are designed to consistently attract calves even under lush growing conditions; however, calves will not over-consume blocks. Maintenance merely involves keeping the proper number of blocks available to the calves at all times.

Calves typically gain 0.20-0.25 additional pounds per day* as compared to calves receiving no Rumensin. Calves will regularly consume 3.2-8 oz. of the SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Block per head per day depending upon bodyweight. This consistent intake means that input costs are known, thus allowing the stocker cattle operator to accurately estimate operating costs and determine breakeven costs. The average cost** for SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks is $0.14 per head per day. Use of SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks results in an extra profit of $0.19-$0.27 per head per day on these stocker calves, assuming that the value of the extra gain is $1.65 per pound.

All-in-One Mineral Nutrition

Minerals and vitamins are a very small and yet extremely important part of cattle nutrition. Minerals and vitamins play vital roles in growth, immunity and reproduction. Inadequate intake of any of the essential minerals and vitamins results in reduced feed intake, decreased average daily gains, inefficient feed conversion, poor immunity and decreased reproductive performance. The result is cattle that don’t grow or reproduce as quickly or efficiently as they could. SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks deliver full NRC-recommended levels of essential minerals and vitamins in addition to Rumensin. You need only provide this one block to meet all of their supplemental needs.


SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks offer ease of use that other supplements do not. These weather-resistant blocks can be placed directly on the ground where desired, eliminating the need for bunks or special feeders. Due to their convenient size, they are ideal for rotational pasture situations and can be easily moved when the cattle move.

In conclusion, lightweight stocker calves have the ability to convert cheap forages into rapid gain. Use of Rumensin will increase the amount of energy available to the calves through manipulation of ruminal fermentation, thus resulting in increased weight gain and feed efficiency. Research has shown that stocker cattle gain an additional 0.2-0.25 lb.* per head daily on average compared to stocker cattle that receive no Rumensin. The SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Block is an economical, convenient method to deliver Rumensin as well as essential minerals and vitamins to stocker calves under pasture conditions. SWEETLIX Rumensin Pressed Blocks pay for themselves in terms of increased gain and feed efficiency. For more information about these supplement blocks and how they can benefit your stocker operation, contact your local Quality Co-op, visit or call 1-87SWEETLIX. Also "like" us on Facebook for the latest updates.

Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations. You can contact her at jackie.nix@ridleyinc.comor 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about the SWEETLIX line of mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep, poultry and wildlife.

*While these results are typical, individual weight gains may be more or less than that stated due to differences in cattle types, environment, management practices, etc.
**Costs will vary according to average intake rate as well as location. These costs are based on 4 oz. intake per head per day.
Rumensin® is a registered trademark of Elanco Animal Health, Indianapolis, Ind.

You Like Ginger?

What am I? Last month’s answer was “Black Krim” tomato seed.

by Herb T. Farmer

You just never know where the inspiration for an article will come from. Okay. So, my brain might just have a few twisted wires in it, but that helps keep me interested in you and other aspects of life.

Recalling a short conversation regarding candy …

I was standing outside a service station over in the next town on a warm day last month. When a friend of mine stopped in to get his tires checked. We started talking about assorted stuff while we libated over cups of cold water from the water bubbler.

He fumbled around his shirt pocket and asked me, "You like ginger?"

I replied, "Yeah. She’s cute when you get her tipsy."

Okay. It’s me with my mouth that usually gets me into trouble. My friend opened up a tin of ginger flavored Altoids and offered me one.

That flavor got me going about the spice that some folks overlook when it comes to cooking and baking.

Who knew that ginger would become a breath freshener?

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is actually a root or rhizome from the family Zingiberaceae which includes several other healthy and flavorful spices. Cardamom, galangal and turmeric are close cousins to ginger and are also used in herbal medicines.

Ginger is used to treat motion sickness, seasickness, nausea due to pregnancy, upset stomach, joint pain from osteoarthritis and some studies show ginger has blood-thinning capabilities and may lower cholesterol. Surprise! It is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

I have been using ginger for years in my herbal teas. Steep your favorite tea with a half teaspoon of finely chopped ginger root. Be sure to peel the root first as the outer portion is a bit bitter with limited flavor.

For lemon-ginger tea, I chop the root, and add some lemon zest and parched yaupon leaves. I place them into a small bag that I made from cheesecloth. I then pound the bag with the flat side of a meat mallet. Steep in a cup of boiling water then add honey to sweeten. It’s a tasty, healthy tea with a caffeine kick!

Ginger is found in all kinds of confectionaries.

Add finely minced ginger to your next batch of kimchi. It also adds a spicy kick to homebrewed ales and other beers.

A seasonal celebration using ginger is the making of houses from gingerbread. Ginger snaps are cookies made with the spice. Ginger crackers, ginger cake, ginger ale (not the beer, but the soda) and ginger fish on rice or noodles are common culinary delights made with the spice.

Growing ginger in Alabama and Tennessee can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. The plant is hardy from zone 8b south (or north, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere). I grow mine in containers and keep them in a coldframe during cold snaps.

Grow ginger in well-drained soil with a pH range from 6.1-6.5 (mildly acidic). Water regularly, but do not overwater. They grow well in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.

The plants grow two to three feet tall, and, although they are rhizomatous and grow fairly shallow compared to other plants, treat them like a sweet potato. When considering what size pot to grow them in, the bigger the better. If you are in a region where it will grow in the ground, be sure to keep it contained. Ginger has been known to get out of hand in Southern landscapes.

The blooms of ginger are quite noticeable, turning from white to pinkish-purple buds to yellow or chartreuse blossoms.

My ginger roots produce less than I consume on a regular basis, so I buy lots from the market when I go. I keep lots of fresh on hand, but also freeze some for when my supply runs dry.

Slice ginger to about 1/16” or less for Ginger Chips.

To freeze your fresh ginger, peel it and mince or grate it. Then use a tablespoon, or something with a measurable rounded scoop shape, to place it in shapes onto a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Freeze solid and then place the ginger into a freezer bag.

How about a recipe?

Ginger chips!

Peel ginger root and slice it with the grain (like a radish). Make the slices thin (about 1/16"). Heat a skillet with a shallow amount of olive oil to about 325 degrees.

Dust your ginger chips with either tapioca starch or cornstarch and fry. Don’t put too many chips into the oil at once. You want them to lie flat in the oil and not be stacked. Turn them once and remove when golden brown. Place them on a draining rack and add either salt and pepper, or salt and sugar to taste.

Let me know how you use ginger. Send me some recipes!

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

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.

Who knew that ginger would become a breath freshener?

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