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January 2016

4-H Extension Corner: Teens Getting Involved for the Future

by Donna Reynolds & Maggie Lawrence

Making good choices is not always easy, and it is a skill young people need help to develop. One Alabama Extension youth effort is helping young people in 18 counties make smart choices about relationships. 4-H Teens Getting Involved for the Future is a community- and school-based, abstinence-only education program that has been reaching Alabama young people for 20 years. Bibb, Clarke, Covington, Fayette, Geneva, Green and Lowndes counties are the newest counties to begin offering 4-H TGIF.

Conducted through Extension’s youth outreach, Alabama 4-H, TGIF is under the leadership of Sheila Weber. Weber took over the leadership of the program just over a year ago. She projects the program will reach more than 6,000 people by the end of fiscal year 2016. Two more counties will be added to the program in 2017.

"My goal is to continue to grow the program and its funding so TGIF can reach more people throughout the state," Weber said. "We hope to build the skills they need to manage the ever-changing pressures they face in today’s world."

Weber added that young people are bombarded on a daily basis by various sources presenting unhealthy behaviors that distort reality. Whether it be messages from television, movies, music, social media, advertising or clothing, it is easy for young people to become desensitized to them.

The Alabama Department of Public Health funds TGIF through its Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program with monies received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

So, how does 4-H TGIF work? The program has three teaching parts – Teen Leaders, youth and parents.

First, outstanding teens in their junior and/or senior year of high school apply for the opportunity to become a Teen Leader. The chosen leaders then complete training before putting their new skills and knowledge to work in a classroom. Teen Leaders then deliver abstinence education programs to sixth-grade participants.

The primary curriculum for TGIF is Managing Pressures Before Marriage. Teen Leaders deliver the curriculum and serve as peer mentors. The emphasis is to help young people develop skills to resist sexual involvement.

The Relationship Smarts program, delivered by a trained 4-H facilitator, is tailored for seventh and eighth graders and consists of five weekly lessons to help young people learn skills needed to make smart relationship choices for now, and in the future.

Bridging the Great Divide is a program for parents who are also led by a trained adult facilitator. This program runs six sessions and focuses on building healthy relationships with teen children. The program provides tools for parents of teens to establish effective communication about healthy relationships, including sensitive topics.

"Teen pregnancy is the No. 1 reason females drop out of school in Alabama. TGIF is helping decrease that number by helping teen girls and boys make healthy personal decisions that affect their lives today and tomorrow," Weber added.

Experts say the best time to reach young people with abstinence training is in the sixth grade or at age 11-12.

It takes two to four Teen Leaders to deliver the programs in each county. Weber calls these leaders the cream of the crop.

"They believe in the TGIF mission and take pride in knowing they are mentoring youngsters. The Teen Leaders also live what they teach serving as an example for the younger teens and giving them the courage to make and stick to their decisions," she said.

"My reason for becoming a Teen Leader is to help my young peers make good life decisions in their school, community and world. One bad decision could make a big difference in their lives," Karleafa Wise added.

Casey Turner became a Teen Leader because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of individuals.

"I understand the actions an individual takes can affect their future and their life goals. I want to influence young teens to make good choices," she said.

Keasha Jones echoes Wise and Turner’s sentiments.

"Being a Teen Leader gives me the opportunity to teach younger teens a better way, to let them know they have someone to look up to and show them a positive way."

Another positive aspect of TGIF is that the Teen Leaders do an annual service project for their communities. Past projects have included canned food drives, recycling projects, school supply drives, diaper drives and volunteering to help with community events. This year, all the counties are partnering with the Alabama Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers to do a statewide community service initiative. 4-H Foundation agents and TGIF agent assistants were given a list of supply needs by the executive directors of county children’s advocacy centers. 4-H and TGIF youth began the statewide community service project by implementing a supply drive to benefit CACs in every county. The supply drive will run for the entire school year.

"It is never too early for young people to learn the importance of giving back to their community and helping others in need," Weber said.

If you are interested in bringing 4-H TGIF to schools in your county, contact Sheila Weber, 4-H TGIF program coordinator, at or give her a call at 334-844-7690 (office) or 334-707-6440 (cell).

Donna Reynolds is the communication editor of news and public affairs with ACES in Auburn.

Maggie Lawrence is the news unit manager for Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

A Few Thoughts on Two Timely Topics

by Stephen Donaldson

As I sit and write this article, it is rainy and dreary outside. It is weather we should be used to during the winter in Alabama. Many weathermen have predicted our winter will be wetter and colder than usual. When this weather hits, it can make winter more challenging than normal. Cold and dry or wet and warm are challenges enough in the South, but add cold and wet together and we are just asking for trouble. While there isn’t much we can do about the weather, proper preparation can surely help.

The problem with a wet and cold combination is that livestock and horses lose body heat much more rapidly when they are wet. Hair, skin and fat serve as insulation for our livestock. When hair and skin are wet, heat more rapidly escapes from their body, thus increasing their need for more supplemental feed. Water is a much more efficient conductor for heat to escape than dry, fluffy hair and skin. Even snow coating the hair of livestock prevents excessive heat loss. So, our typical cold rain can be the most damaging when it comes to the health of our livestock and horses.

Since we have so few days of this type weather, it is impractical to build shelter for our cattle to use during stressful times such as calving. Many operations in the South calve during late January and February to take advantage of the spring grass. Other cattle operations calve in the fall. These fall calving operations are trying to breed cows during the most extreme winter weather.

As you read this, the new year has begun and we are smack dab in the middle of this extreme weather. We hope you prepared and have your livestock in proper condition. But, if you are behind, it’s still not too late. It may be a little more expensive, but there are steps you can take to ensure reaching your production goals. First, strategically locate your livestock in an area that provides them the most protection from the elements. Second, make sure they have plenty of good-quality forage or hay. Ruminants especially generate much of their body heat from the fermentation of this type of supplement. Third, decide on a proper supplement to provide some energy (starch) and plenty of highly digestible fiber. Finally, make sure they have the proper mineral supplementation. Minerals will help the livestock use feedstuffs more efficiently.

Your local Quality Co-op store has products to help you reach your production objectives during these stressful times. Cattle supplements such as Brood Cow Supplement, CPC Grower or CPC Developer would be great options for cattle feed supplementation. Proper minerals and high- and low-moisture tubs are also products that can help.

Complete lines of horse, swine, small ruminant and poultry feed are also available to help any producer through times of stressful weather. It is a time of year to pay attention to the small details that can help pay huge dividends later.

On another note, most of the fall bull sales are over and many producers have new bulls on their farm or ranch. Many of these bulls have been fed heavily to measure growth rate and to help them develop properly. Bulls that have been fed heavily tend to lose significant amounts of weight if they are not maintained properly after the purchase.

Young bulls, under 18 months of age, are still growing and haven’t reached maturity. These animals seem to be the most vulnerable when it comes to weight loss. It is important to provide them with proper nutrition until they are mature. I highly recommend that producers keep feeding these animals until they are mature. Feeding CPC Developer at 2.5 percent of the bull’s body weight will keep him growing and properly developing. These young bulls are a significant investment and the best way to get many years of service is to finish the job the breeders started and develop these animals completely.

Many purebred cattle operations will develop bulls until they are 18-26 months of age before they sell them. These bulls are generally mature, but it is important that they are kept in top shape before being turned in with cows. Bulls with proper body condition are more likely to pass a breeding soundness evaluation and, therefore, settle more cows. For these bulls I would recommend feeding CPC Grower or Developer at 1.5-2.0 percent of their body weight to keep them in proper shape.

I hope during the predicted cold, wet winter that you will maintain your livestock’s nutrition. Remember to pay attention to the small things. Hopefully these little tips will help you maximize the production and profits on your farm or ranch. Don’t forget to take care of those special bull purchases so they can develop and work efficiently for years to come.

Finally, I hope all of y’all have a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Stephen Donaldson is AFC’s animal nutritionist. If I can help any of you, please get in touch with me and let’s succeed together. You can reach me at 256-476-5272 or

A Joyful Transformation

Huntsville Animal Services department is making a difference for area pets.

by Dr. Karen Sheppard

The City of Huntsville’s Animal Services department has experienced a joyful transformation in the past six years, one committed to saving lives and partnering with pet owners in need. Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Tommy Battle, and through the outstanding work of our employees and community volunteers, our live-release rate is anticipated to be 90 percent for the year of 2015 which means nine out of 10 pets got out ALIVE! We would like to be in mid-90s percentage save rate! Every improved percentage point translates into a lot of community support, networking, longer housing, etc.

Our Shelter is responsible for housing all stray and owner-surrendered pets in Huntsville and most of Madison County. For many years, the daunting volume of animals entering our Shelter led to high rates of euthanasia. No more. We have committed to a new mission, dedicated to finding homes or foster families for every healthy, treatable and adoptable pet. In addition, we work proactively with families in need who can no longer care for their pets or who might be experiencing behavior problems with their animals that could be corrected with training and support.

This transformation has been steady and rewarding. We focus on programs and policy changes that create the greatest lifesaving capacities. Our first major shift came in 2008 with the start of a low-income spay-and-neuter assistance program. This investment helped reduce the annual intake from an all-time high of 10,000 dogs and cats to 5,331 in 2014.

A second critical shift occurred after the Shelter brought in Target Zero, a highly regarded animal-service consulting firm, to review every aspect of our operations. Target Zero provides free assistance to open admission, municipal shelters dedicated to life-saving policies and procedures. Their recommended changes have had the greatest lifesaving impact on our Shelter. Highlights include:

- The foster-home program grew by 300 percent, allowing more open kennels in the shelter and reducing shelter disease in our most critical population of puppies and kittens;

- A dynamic photography volunteer team posts pet faces online for the public;

- A lost-and-found application with pet photos and map locations is posted on the Animal Services’ website;

- Dogs diagnosed with the deadly heartworm disease are treated in-house;

- Fees charged to our rescue partners are waived;

- Lives of all healthy cats are saved, even if they are unsocial or feral;

- The Shelter’s dog adoption area grew from 20 to 54 kennels as we learned to "fast track" pets into our adoption program by allowing potential adopters to see more available pets;

- Pet adoption fees are subsidized and lowered to $5-$50 with monthly promotions and specials;

- Large off-site adoption events with outside rescue partners are scheduled regularly;

- All pets being reclaimed by their owners are offered tempting programs to have their pets spayed or neutered prior to leaving the shelter;

- Owners reclaiming their spayed or neutered pets are allowed to reclaim their pets for free, supporting responsible pet ownership;

- People surrendering infant kittens are required to bring the mother into the shelter to be spayed;

- People surrendering any dog, cat, puppy or kitten are asked to foster their own pet until we have an open kennel spot in our adoption program;

- We ask the community to help us save lives when a pet’s future is in danger due to poor behavior, a health issue or simply failure to thrive in a shelter setting; and

- We ask the community to help when we do not have any open kennels for incoming strays.

The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, but challenges remain for us to reach our goal of adopting or fostering every healthy or treatable pet.

We must increase our ability to communicate with citizens if we are going to meet the needs and requests coming in from field-services operations and phone calls. A new volunteer coordinator position has recently been created to help provide additional support. This individual will develop specific programs and train volunteers to improve care to both our human and pet customers.

Another challenge we face is the capacity and design of our Shelter that is inadequate for our programs and the volume of pets about 70 percent of the year. The long-term solution would cost millions for new facilities, but, in the interim, we are working to increase the quality of our housing situation so we are not forced to warehouse pets with inappropriate resources. Our foster families have been instrumental in helping us bridge this gap.

For those passionate about our community’s homeless animals, please visit us at and join our Friends of Animal Services Facebook page. We have information about adopting and fostering or helping the Shelter through monetary donations to our low-income spay/neuter program or by donating supplies such as dog leashes, beach towel-sized fleece blankets for cat and dog bedding, and small bags of puppy and kitten food (Pedigree and Purina). We are always looking for foster homes and we cover the medical costs; the fosters just add the love!

With the help and support of our community partners, Huntsville is on its way to becoming a national leader in the effort to spay/neuter pets and to find loving homes for our homeless animals.

Dr. Karen Sheppard is the director of Huntsville Animal Services.

A Rocky Start

Dr. Rocky Lyons prepares to meet a patient at his medical clinic in Wetumpka.

A traumatic experience in his childhood inspired Martin (Rocky) Lyons’ career in medicine.

by Alvin Benn

Picking a profession can take unexpected twists and turns, but Dr. Martin (Rocky) Lyons Jr.’s selection resulted from a harrowing experience at the bottom of a steep embankment in Marengo County.

It happened in late October 1987 as his mother was driving him home following a Halloween party at a friend’s house.

Rocky was 5 years old and sound asleep in the passenger seat of his mom’s pickup truck when the vehicle struck a deep pothole or rut on a road near Demopolis.

Kelley Parris tried to control the truck, but Rocky’s foot became lodged in the steering wheel and she couldn’t. There was little she could do but hang on, pray and focus on her son.

As the truck began to plummet down the steep slope, she made a split-second decision – covering Rocky’s little body with hers to cushion the collision she knew was coming.

Dr. Mike Coleman, left, Prattville, and Rocky Lyons with perdiz (quail-like birds) in Argentina.

Seconds later, the vehicle stopped flipping over and over, ending upside down at the bottom of the hill.

Parris’s body absorbed the brunt of the crash with her face suffering the most damage. She would undergo extensive reconstructive surgery for a year after she had fully recovered from the accident.

Dr. Reese Holifield provided emergency care that night, needing more than 200 stitches to close Parrish’s facial wounds. He was also worried about the rest of the damage to her body.

Before treatment could start, mother and son had to get to a hospital. Traffic was flying by, drivers unaware of what had happened at the bottom of the hill.

Rocky was fully awake by then, but so shaken that he could not comprehend the meaning of "accident." That was the word his mother used to describe what had just happened.

"I remember Rocky saying ‘Momma, you’re gonna die if I don’t get you to a hospital,’" Parrish recalled.

Their only option was to get to the top of the hill as fast as possible, but that was a tall order for a little boy and his badly injured mother who was crushed inside the truck. Rocky wasn’t hurt at all.

Freeing himself from the wreck, he managed to pull his mother out. It took a while, but not nearly as long as it took the two of them to get to the top of the hill – about two hours as he pushed, shoved and coaxed Kelley not to give up.

Dr. Martin (Rocky) Lyons Jr. with (from left) his wife, Lindsay; daughter, Liv, 3; and mother, Kelley Parris, while celebrating Liv’s 3rd birthday.

They kept going, crawling inch by inch and digging their fingers into the dirt and grass to keep from sliding back down to the bottom. Rocky also began using his favorite story as encouragement for her.

The story was "The Little Engine That Could" and he kept telling his mother she could do it if she just kept repeating "I think I can, I think I can" to herself.

Getting to Whitfield Memorial Hospital after being rescued was a start, but, when Rocky asked that Holifield be called to help his mother, he ran into a problem.

It was after midnight and a nurse told him the doctor was home and couldn’t be disturbed. He kept insisting that Holifield be called "because he knows our family."

Awakened and apprised of what happened, Holifield rushed to the hospital and worked for eight hours. He was able to stabilize her condition so that additional medical efforts could continue in the days ahead.

Holifield, who passed away in 2004, left an indelible mark on Rocky. The doctor’s efforts that night provided the impetus that, one day, would lead him to medical school and a successful family practice today in Wetumpka.

Rocky with two red snappers caught off the coast of Gulf Shores.

It hasn’t taken long for Dr. Lyons to become an important part of the town’s medical community, so much so that one of his casual comments about liking pecan pies resulted in an overwhelming response.

"The first Christmas I was here you couldn’t sit in my office for all the pecan pies I received," he laughed. "I finally quit telling my patients what kind of food I liked."

Hundreds of patients can create busy weeks of intense examinations and treatment for country doctors, so Rocky, 33, relaxes in fields and streams as he hauls out his hunting and fishing gear.

He shot his first deer at a young age as he accompanied his mother into the woods. She’s a crack shot and when they spotted two deer they decided to count to "three" before shooting. Both hit their targets. Although he has several rifles, his hunting preference is a bow and arrow.

Rocky and his mother recall that first successful hunting trip and get a laugh out of it, especially the "count to three" arrangement that had little Rocky exclaiming, "Dad would have shot on two."

Fishing provides another stress reliever for Lyons and he can’t wait to get down to Gulf Shores to see what he can catch.

"I’m president of the Happy Hookers Fishing Club," he said. "We’ve got about 15 members right now, but hope to get more to join us."

Rocky has applied for a tag to become an alligator hunter, but wasn’t successful the times he’s tried. He plans to keep trying.

In the meantime, he and his friends find other venues to hunt and fish. They once flew to Argentina and spent a week in a country called the "Wing Shooting Capital of the World." He said the experience lived up to Argentina’s recreational nickname.

"Those of us who grew up in Gallion spent our free time hunting and fishing," Rocky said about his roots in the little Marengo County community. "We had about 300 head of registered cattle and I was up around 4:30 every morning to feed the calves before I went to school."

When he wasn’t looking after cattle, he was an athlete in high school. He preferred basketball to football – the sport that made his father a household name around Alabama and America.

Marty Lyons Sr. was a defensive end who starred for the University of Alabama on teams that won national championships in the late 1970s. He went from there to the New York Jets where he starred in the same position for more than a decade.

With a thriving practice that keeps him busy throughout the week, Rocky uses outdoor activities as ways to relax and mentally organize his patient load.

He may not be a medical specialist, but he finds general medicine just as rewarding, especially when it comes to helping patients with perplexing problems.

One patient’s concern turned out to be a tongue-twisting muscle weakness that was eventually solved by a specialist. Lyons had researched the situation and sent his patient to an expert.

"Hey doc, you were right,’" the patient told Rocky, who was happy to see that his research had paid off.

"Something like that makes what I do worthwhile."

The traumatic experience nearly 30 years ago provided Rocky with a profession. He first got a bachelor’s degree at Huntingdon College in Montgomery and moved on to UAB in Birmingham where he worked on his medical degree.

Marty and Parrish divorced years before, but continue a close relationship since that time. The two wouldn’t think of missing Rocky’s big moment.

They were in a packed auditorium as each new doctor walked briskly across the stage after they were introduced. Their formal names were used – all but the last one.

"Now … herrree’s Rocky," the announcer said, as Dr. Martin Lyons Jr. proudly walked across the stage with a big smile and a wave to his parents.

Marty was as happy as his namesake that day and stays in touch with Rocky as often as possible.

"No father could be as proud of their son as I am of Rocky," said Marty. "We’re more than father and son. We’re best friends."

Rocky has never forgotten Holifield, not after that night so long ago. He often reflects on it and mentally praises the man who saved his mother’s life.

"Seeing the respect Dr. Holifield received in Demopolis as I was growing up and what he had done for my mother helped me decide on my future," Rocky said. "I knew right then what I wanted to do with my life."

Most careers can’t be complete without a family to make it all worthwhile. In that regard, Rocky once again scores a bullseye.

Lindsay Lyons was attracted to him as he was to her the moment the two got out of their vehicles at Huntingdon College. Both were registering at the same time. Liv Lyons arrived three years ago to make the family complete.

The special relationship between mother and son couldn’t be stronger and they always speak to each other on Halloween – the night they both came close to death in a lonely road in Marengo County.

"It doesn’t have pleasant memories for us, but we talk to each other as many times as possible during the week, especially on the anniversary of what happened," she said. "And, we can’t help but cry."

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

Alabama universities receive USDA grants

Eleven grants to support research, teaching and Extension activities will go to two 1890 historically black land-grant colleges and universities in Alabama through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Overall, 53 grants were awarded totaling more than $18 million.

Fiscal year 2015 grants include:

Teaching - Alabama A&M University, Normal, $150,000; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, $442,731 (3 awards)

Research - Alabama A&M, $1,093,892 (3 awards); Tuskegee, $1,100,000 (2 awards)

Extension – Alabama A&M, $249,963; Tuskegee, $226,869

Survey shows farmland rental trends

According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agriculture Land survey, 354 million acres of farmland in the lower 48 states were rented to farmers by 2.13 million landlords in 2014.

The average amount of land rented out per landlord yields insights into whether rented farmland is concentrated among particular types of landlords. Operator landlords – farm operators who rent land to other farmers – typically rented out more acreage than non-operator landlords.

Among non-operator landlords, the acres held in corporate, trust and other types of non-operator ownership arrangements are more concentrated (proportionately more land in fewer hands) than individual and partnership non-operator landlords.

The median rented acreage for farmers who rent land from others was 111 acres in 2014, larger than the median acreage rented to farmers by each landlord type. This means that most farm operators looking to rent farmland must instead piece together holdings from multiple landlords.

USDA targets new, beginning farm operations

USDA has announced a commitment to prioritize $5.6 billion over the next two years within the department’s programs and services that serve new and beginning farmers and ranchers. A new, tailored web tool designed to connect burgeoning farm entrepreneurs with programs and resources also is available to help them get started.

The new web tool is available at The site was designed based on feedback from new and beginning farmers and ranchers around the country, who cited unfamiliarity with programs and resources as a challenge to starting and expanding their operations.

The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan and obtaining a loan to grow their business and filing taxes as a new small business owner. By answering a series of questions about their operation, farmers can use the site’s "Discovery Tool" to build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs.

Using the new web tool and other outreach activities, and operating within its existing resources, the department has set a new goal of increasing beginning farmer and rancher participation by an additional 6.6 percent across key USDA programs, for a total investment value of approximately $5.6 billion.

Programs were targeted for expanded outreach and commitment based on their impact on expanding opportunity for new and beginning farmers and ranchers, including starting or expanding an operation, developing new markets, supporting more effective farming and conservation practices, and having access to relevant training and education opportunities.

Safety-net payments due to half of farms that signed up

USDA has announced that nearly one half of the 1.7 million farms that signed up for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs will receive safety-net payments for the 2014 crop year.

Unlike the former direct-payments program that paid farmers in good years and bad, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized a safety net protecting producers only when market forces or adverse weather leads to unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues. The ARC/PLC programs primarily allow producers to continue to produce for the market by making payments on a percentage of historical-based production, limiting the impact on production decisions.

Nationwide, 96 percent of soybean farms, 91 percent of corn farms and 66 percent of wheat farms elected the ARC-County coverage option. Ninety-nine percent of long grain rice and peanut farms, and 94 percent of medium grain rice farms elected the PLC option.

Overall, 76 percent of participating farm acres are protected by ARC-County, 23 percent by PLC and 1 percent by ARC-Individual.

Crops receiving assistance include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans and wheat.

DDGS exports on the rise

U.S. exports of distillers dried grains with solubles, a common byproduct of corn ethanol production, have grown from nearly zero in 2005 to as high as 12 million metric tons in the 2013/14 marketing year (September/August), with 10 million metric tons forecast for export in the 2015 marketing year.

The increase in exports reflects the expansion in ethanol production occurring over this same period, rising from just under 4 billion gallons in 2005 to more than 14 billion gallons in 2014. While U.S. corn exports still exceed the volume of DDGS exported, these markets are linked because each ton of corn processed into ethanol produces just under a third of a ton of DDGS.

While ethanol production accounted for 38 percent of U.S. corn use in 2014/15 and exports were less than 14 percent, DDGS exports represent another way that U.S. corn production enters global markets.

Administration promotes Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Obama administration is promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an important step forward for U.S. agriculture.

Officials say the agreement provides new market access across the board for America’s farmers and ranchers by lowering tariffs and eliminating other barriers, and will boost exports and support jobs in our rural economies.

The agreement will advance U.S. economic interests in a critical region accounting for nearly 40 percent of global GDP, the administration said. It will also help the United States respond to the regional and bilateral trade agreements already in place or being negotiated by competitor countries.

The proposed pact will expand U.S. agricultural exports, generate more rural economic activity and support higher-paying American jobs, the administration added.

With opponents saying the agreement will do more harm than good to the U.S. economy, debate in coming weeks on whether or not to approve the measure is expected to be lively.

Fluid milk availability declines as 2 percent ranks first

According to food availability data from USDA’s Economic Research Service, 19.1 gallons of fluid milk were available for each U.S. consumer to drink in 2013, the most recent period for which information is available. The volume is down from a peak of 42.3 gallons in 1945.

Declining per capita milk consumption reflects a variety of factors including competition from soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water and other beverages; generational differences in the frequency of milk drinking; and a more ethnically diverse population, some of whose diets do not normally include fluid milk.

Plain (unflavored) 2 percent milk surpassed plain whole milk in 2005 and became America’s most popular milk. In 2013, plain 2 percent milk accounted for 35 percent of fluid milk availability (6.7 gallons per person), while plain, whole milk availability was 5.2 gallons per person, down from its high of 38 gallons in 1945.

Plain 1 percent milk and skim milk each accounted for 14 percent of fluid milk availability. Flavored milk such as chocolate and strawberry made up 9 percent of fluid milk availability.

After sharp drop, U.S. textile industry showing slight gain

Employment at U.S. textile plants has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the past 20 years as fabric production and apparel manufacturing shifted overseas in search of lower labor and production costs.

Today, more than 60 percent of clothing and other textile products purchased by U.S. consumers is produced outside the United States. However, both the sharp decline in U.S. textile employment and the rise in import share of U.S. fiber consumption began to level off around 2009.

In recent years, the U.S. textile industry – particularly the capital-intensive yarn and fabric production industry – has shown signs of a modest rebound. Cotton consumption by U.S. textile mills in marketing year 2015 (August/July) is forecast at 3.7 million bales, up 3.5 percent from a year ago and 12.1 percent from its 2011 low. In 2014, U.S. textile mill employment also showed its first gain since 1994 - up 0.2 percent.

Back to the Future

Would somebody just give me a piece of paper to hold?

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I grew up in a unique time. I suppose everybody did. But as a 5- or 6-year-old kid, I was not able to appreciate the irony in the proximity of two of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Even though my goal in life was to be a cowboy, I always enjoyed watching "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons." I missed the irony of how one show was someone’s idea of a mixture of modern-day society lived out in the Stone Age. The other show was someone’s imagination of how life would be far into the future. I probably have a little difficulty relating to the Flintstones, although I did once have a car that reminded me a little of the one Fred drove. But I think we are not too far away from the Jetsons in a lot of ways. I feel like, in my 55 years on Earth, I have seen us come from just past Bedrock, home of the Fintstones, to Orbit City, where George Jetson and his family lived.

When I came to work at the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries in the mid-1990s, we were still doing a lot of brucellosis and TB testing. And all of the test results had to be entered into an old USDA prototype of a database and then the papers were stored in filing cabinets. There was a room on the second floor of the Agriculture Department building that probably had 40 of those four-drawer filing cabinets full of test charts. And I recall two very nice ladies, Beverly Downs and Teresa Price, who spent all day, every day, entering test results and filing the paper copies away. I guess it’s just a matter of personalities, but, if I did that all day every day, there is no way I could have been as pleasant as those ladies always were when I was around them.

And then there were the health certificates that were kept in filing cabinets. Remember we work for the government. That stuff about everything in triplicate is pure myth. It is four copies instead of three. Health papers have always required one copy to go with the shipment, one copy to go to the state of destination, one copy to stay in the state of origin and the veterinarian who writes the certificate keeps a copy. So we were filing copies for animals leaving the state and coming into the state. Keeping up with all those paper copies is fairly labor intensive, but it has served us well over the years. That system allowed us to trace diseased and exposed animals at the speed of … well, sometimes not too fast. Nonetheless, we were always able to trace the animals we needed to find and test, quarantine or whatever the situation needed.

Fourteen years ago when I became the State Veterinarian, I had this idea about doing electronic health certificates that could be done on a computer and would do away with some of the mountains of paper. I approached one of the IT (computer section) guys at the Agriculture Department with a sketch of what I had on my mind. He said it would be no problem. So here we are, 14 years later, getting ready to roll that out for everyday use. There are companies that have marketed this type of computer-based health certificates to veterinarians for a few years. I hope to be able to provide that at no cost.

We also have the technology through radio-frequency identification devices such as ear tags that can be read and recorded by an electronic reader and downloaded to a computer with whatever pertinent information needed. Not only do you not need a filing cabinet, since all this information can be filed electronically, you don’t even need a pencil or pen. I often mention that we are raising whole generations of kids who will never know the sound of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. Along that same line of thinking, we are about to bring on a whole generation of veterinarians who cannot relate to cow manure or blood stains on test charts because they will all be done electronically.

Today, most of our diagnostic lab reports are sent electronically by email. We still have issues that sometimes slow our process down due to budget cuts and loss of key personnel. But, when we get the reports, if you have an email address, you won’t have to wait for the U.S. Postal Service. As soon as our labs get the reports ready, they hit "send" on their computer and the report is in your inbox. In addition to this method of information delivery being more efficient, it has saved us a significant amount of money previously used to buy stamps.

When I started at the Department of Agriculture and Industries, I was given a beeper. I knew when it beeped and I saw Dr. Alley’s, Dr. Cheatham’s, Dr. Smith’s or Dr. Wilson’s number on the display, I needed to find the nearest pay phone and call Montgomery to find out what they needed. Can anybody tell me the last time you saw a pay phone?

We used to send out a lot of mail to our field personnel. I think, when I was in the field, most days when I went to the mailbox there was something from the Montgomery office in it. That would be pretty rare nowadays. We send out most of our correspondence as attachments on emails. The beeper and the pay phone have been replaced with cell phones. When I first became the State Veterinarian, I spent a tremendous amount of time on the phone. I am still more than happy to speak to anyone on the phone, but a good bit of that has been replaced with emails and texts. I still refuse to communicate on Facebook and Twitter.

Times have changed. Technological advances demand we get on board to be able to provide the consumer and our export partners with the confidence they require to assure the safety and wholesomeness of the products produced by the agriculture community. And we are making every effort to stay up to date with that technology.

I do, however, believe we are losing something with everything going electronic. I have a friend who lamented to me the other day about our kids and grandkids not going to have those old boxes of pictures every family has tracking their family history of vacations, holidays, graduations, birthday parties, baptisms and all kinds of important stuff caught on Kodak film. I told my friend we just keep all those pictures on jump drives instead of in those bulky boxes. He just stared at me for a few seconds and asked, "And how many jump drives have you lost or misplaced?" Good point. I guess sometimes I would feel better if I just had a piece of paper to hold.

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

Back to the “Olden Days”

It’s time to break out that old cast iron cookware.

by Christy Kirk

When my sister and I were little, one of our favorite things to do was play restaurant using our little play kitchens and all the accessories that came with them. One of the sets of tiny pots and pans looked like cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens. These were the best because, to us, they looked like the skillets and pots used indoors or over an open fire in the "olden days."

Before non-stick, there was cast iron. Our mom had several large and small skillets she used for everything from cornbread and okra to hamburger steak and gravy. While many home cooks have moved on to lighter-weight, dishwasher-safe Teflon or Calphalon, most still have a stash of cast iron, even if it is just for cornbread. They are durable, long lasting, and can and should be handed down for generations.

The first time I cooked on a gas stove as an adult, I was working out of town. I had this cute little skillet that traveled quite well, but it had a wooden handle. I don’t think I have to tell you how that turned out. That little skillet was scarred for the duration of its short lifespan. That would not have happened if I had travelled with one made of cast iron. Sometimes you just don’t need to travel light.

For cooking at the camp, there are many options that will work whether you are using a cook stove or an open fire. But for long-term consistency and reliability, cast iron is the perfect choice. A few weeks ago, Jason cleaned out the cabinets at his family’s hunting camp. Along with dozens of Mason jars and biscuit cutters of all sizes, there were at least half a dozen cast iron skillets, a couple of Dutch ovens and too many cast iron lids to count.

In the winter, our family spends a lot of time in the woods and this year has been no different. We have been using the cast iron for everything from biscuits to wild turkey. Not only is the food good but using them to cook brings back memories for me. I hope Rolley Len and Cason feel the same way about cooking their meals the "old-fashioned way" when they get older.

Both my sister and I agree, we prefer cookware that can go in the dishwasher; but, for certain meals, cast iron is still the best choice. All of the cast iron from the camp inspired me to use them more at home. So, I sought out some family-friendly wild game recipes to cook in one of our cast iron skillets for our next meal.

Jason and I usually cook meals with very few ingredients, mostly for the sake of time or money. Sometimes I want to make something a little different and use a variety of spices and ingredients. Instead of always relying on modern conveniences such as flavor packages (i.e., prepared taco seasoning or Italian herbs), I like to learn how to make it myself from scratch. I keep a lot of spices in my cabinet I may only use a few times a year, but having them on hand encourages me to try new meals without a lot of fuss.

The Skillet Mexican Cornbread recipe included looked challenging because it had a fairly long list of ingredients, but I already had all the ingredients I needed with only two minor changes. I used a jarred cilantro base I already had in the fridge instead of buying fresh herbs, and I had a 4-ounce can of chilies instead of a 7-ounce one. I was used to the lightweight pans we have at home, so lifting the 14-inch cast iron skillet full of the meat and cornbread to put in the oven without spilling it was the hardest part of the recipe.

Because of the many ingredients, I thought the Skillet Mexican Cornbread would take longer to prepare and started it way before dinner, but it didn’t take long at all - probably 40 minutes from start to finish. It was also hard to believe I used one skillet to prepare all the ingredients on the stove and bake it in the oven.

The boar and turkey recipes have simpler and fewer ingredients, but the cooking time is longer, so be sure to plan ahead to make sure you get the timing right.

This January, whether you are cooking at your hunting camp or in the warmth of your home kitchen, enjoy your cast iron and the memories you create with your family and friends at your next meal.


1½–2 pounds ground deer meat

Skillet Mexican Cornbread With Deer Meat

½ can light beer

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder, if desired

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 (14.5-ounce) can cream style sweet corn

1 (15.25-ounce) can white corn

7 ounces diced green mild chilies

½ cup cilantro (fresh or dried), chopped

2 (8.5-ounce) boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix, plus
package ingredients

2 cups cheddar cheese (or use the Mexican blend), shredded and divided

Butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Brown ground deer meat in a large cast iron skillet. When the meat is halfway browned, add beer, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and, if desired, the chipotle pepper. Once browned, remove from heat and place meat in a bowl.

Add olive oil to skillet and sauté onion and garlic. Add corns, chilies and cilantro to skillet and mix. Remove from heat and add to deer meat. Stir.

In a separate bowl, mix cornbread mix according to the package directions, but do not bake. Spread ¼ of cornbread mixture in bottom of skillet. Add meat and corn mixture. Add 1½ cups cheese to the top of the meat mixture. Add remaining Jiffy mixture.

Put skillet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Rotate skillet a few times during cooking to ensure it browns evenly. Remove from oven and brush butter on top of cornbread. Add remaining cheese and continue to cook in oven until cheese melts. Cover loosely with aluminum foil if needed to keep from over browning. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Pork cuts

Hot sauce


Marinate tenderized pork cuts in a 50-50 mixture of hot sauce and milk. Cook in cast iron pot over low heat for several hours until internal temperature reaches 150° for a large cut. (The temperature will rise in larger cuts as it rests.) Add marinade as needed to keep the pork moist while cooking.


10-12 pound turkey

2 Tablespoons poultry spices

1 pound pork sausage

1 medium onion, diced

6 cups soft bread crumbs

4 slices bacon

Sprinkle turkey with poultry seasoning. Brown crumbled sausage with onion in a deep Dutch oven. Add bread crumbs and mix. Loosely stuff the mixture into the turkey cavity and lace the bird closed. Bake for 3½ hours with the breast side up and bacon across the breast. Cook to an internal temp of 165°. If cooking in an oven, bake at 400° for about 15 minutes per pound.

Note: For a smaller crowd, use turkey breasts or strips and cook in a cast iron skillet instead of a Dutch oven. The turkey can be cooked in the skillet with the bacon and the sausage stuffing served as a side.

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

Cold Weather and Small Farm Animals

by Robert Spencer

During this time of year, we know cold temperatures are inevitable. Extreme cold weather in the northern half of the state can have a detrimental effect on small animal production if there are newborn and very young goats, sheep, rabbits and poultry present. When temperatures drop near or below freezing, these young animals are very vulnerable to hypothermia and can expire. Add in lack of protection from wind, moisture or the cold ground, and conditions are not favorable for survival of newborn and young animals. They are not able to generate sufficient body heat and/or do not have adequate fur or feathers to survive; therefore they need human assistance.

Some simple practices include:

- Housing with at least a roof and three walls,

- Securing animals in barns during nights when temperatures are near or below freezing,

- Size-appropriate wooden boxes or plastic barrels with hay for insulation,

- Putting young with their mother in pens with plenty of hay on the floor,

- Confinement within solid walls or taut tarps to block wind and precipitation, and

- Well-secured and protected heat lamps in extreme situations.

Each farm situation and resources will vary; it is up to each farmer to be innovative and apply what is necessary.

Wooden boxes or plastic barrels to protect newborn and young animals from hypothermia: The boxes need to have a roof or lid, at least three sides and a fourth side with a sufficient-size opening for animals to enter and exit. While a wooden floor can be utilized, it may not allow for drainage (when animals urinate) and, if the floor and animals become wet, the young may become chilled. Try to set and protect the box so larger animals do not climb on the box and startle young animals inside. When using a plastic barrel, it can be stood on end or side and stabilized/secured to avoid rolling or falling over with young animals trapped inside. When stood on end, a hole can be cut along the lower side at the base; when set on the side, a hole can be cut at one end. A plastic barrel will also hold moisture; therefore, it needs to be cleaned as situations warrant.

Regarding use of heat lamps: Trying to protect newborn and young animals from inclement weather is the humane thing to do. And, when using heat lamps, it is imperative to practice farm safety by avoiding the risk of barn fires. Make sure to secure heat lamps so they do not swing in the wind or when curious animals try and paw at them. Make sure bulbs have wire frames and adequate distance so they do not come in contact with walls, structures or hay; this applies to situations with wood, hay or plastic.

Water containers: Those of us who have raised rabbits know about swapping water bottles before they freeze. Water access is essential to keep animals hydrated even in coldest of times. Water lines and nipples will freeze when water inside them drops below freezing. In situations with poultry, water containers should be exchanged as needed (remove them into a warm building during night, replace in morning). There are waterers with a heating element and electrical cord to keep water from freezing. In situations with goats or sheep, the farmer can choose to frequently break ice or use floating heating elements in water troughs. There are also some non-floating heating elements that sit on the bottom of troughs. When using any of these de-icers, make sure they are appropriate for plastic or metal water troughs.

Even in the southern half of the state, hypothermia can be a problem during subfreezing temperatures and inclement weather. However, below-freezing temperatures are not likely to last for more than a few days. The aforementioned practices can be applied and are equally as effective. Be practical, use some commonsense and keep practices affordable.

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

Copper is Key to Cattle Immunity

Figure 2. This calf displays a discolored hair coat – red tinge on the black hair – typical of copper deficiency.

By Jackie Nix

Economic losses due to disease cost cattle producers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Aside from the obvious losses resulting from dead animals and medical costs, there are added losses from a lack of efficiency and productivity. These may manifest in poor feed conversion, sub-optimal weight gains and/or milk production, and increased days open.

It is widely known that trace mineral nutrition directly influences immunity in cattle. Proper mineral supplementation can help enhance an animal’s immunity. A cow’s mineral requirements are influenced by many factors including age, breed, stage of production, presence of antagonists in the diet and level of overall stress. While many trace minerals perform important roles in immune functions, copper stands out as especially important.

Copper and Immune System

Copper is needed for proper immune development including the formation of antibodies and white blood cells in addition to antioxidant enzyme production. Copper-deficient cattle are more susceptible to infections and do not respond as well to vaccinations. In addition, they tend to be less resistant to parasitic challenges. Studies have shown cattle receiving proper copper nutrition tend to be less susceptible to infections and have less severe infections when disease does occur.

Non-specific Immunity

Non-specific immunity refers to the immune functions non-specific in nature. No prior exposure is required for these systems to be effective. The skin, as well as mucus tissues in the respiratory, gastro-intestinal and reproductive tracts, act as non-specific physical barriers. Copper (in addition to zinc) plays an important role in the maintenance of these epithelial tissues. Phagocytic cells that ingest and destroy bacteria and toxins are also components of non-specific immunity. Copper-deficiency has a profound effect on several types of phagocytic cells. Copper deficiency both decreases the number of circulating phagocytic cells and impairs the functioning of those left.

Copper (as well as zinc, selenium, manganese and vitamin E) is also involved in antioxidant activity protecting cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are electrically imbalanced molecules that attack healthy body tissues. Free radicals are the natural by-product of immune responses within the body. Antioxidants act to neutralize free radicals before they can cause damage. The need for antioxidants increases with disease or injuries, and stress of any type. Symptoms of inadequate antioxidant activity include poor stress tolerance, more frequent infections and poor wound healing.

Figure 1. The relationship between mineral status and onset of subclinical and clinical disease symptoms. Based on S. Wikse, 1992. Texas A&M Univ. Beef Cattle Short Course.

Acquired Immunity

Acquired immunity results from interaction with a specific foreign invader (either by natural exposure or vaccination). Foreign molecules (antigens) stimulate the body to produce specific antibodies against the invader. Copper deficiency, in general, reduces the effectiveness of the acquired response. Antibody production is significantly reduced in copper-deficient animals. For this reason, copper nutrition is an essential component for the success of vaccination programs in cattle. Calves may be deficient at levels that affect immunity without displaying clinical signs of deficiency (see Figure 1).

Passive Immunity

The ability to mount an immune response does not develop immediately in newborn animals. Therefore, the calf is dependent on its dam for immune protection. The calf receives antibodies from its mother through colostrum thus conferring what is known as passive immunity. Calves receiving adequate colostrum within the first 24 hours will receive passive immunity benefits for the first three to five weeks of life.

Proper copper nutrition in pregnant cows is critical to the immune health of newborn calves. Research has shown a significant transfer of copper from the dam to the fetus during the last trimester of pregnancy. Calves have a high copper demand during the first few months of life. Newborns are very dependent on copper acquired during the prenatal period since milk is a poor source of copper. Additionally, copper status in the dam is critical to the production of high-quality colostrum. As mentioned previously, copper-deficient animals produce fewer antibodies. Calves born to copper-deficient cows experience increased death losses, reduced growth and poor production efficiency.

Are My Cattle Deficient?

The classic symptom of copper deficiency is a rough, discolored hair coat – red tinge on black hair or loss of pigment around the eyes (see Figure 2 above). Other symptoms include slow shedding winter coats, depressed immunity, decreased conception rates, increased days open and/or hoof problems.

How Can I Provide Needed Copper to My Cattle?

The key to providing adequate copper is to provide YEAR-ROUND access to a self-fed, complete mineral supplement that delivers sufficient copper. All CopperHead supplement products deliver enhanced levels of copperas well as balanced levels of other essential minerals and vitamins. The CopperHead line of mineral supplements contains organic forms of not only copper but also zinc, manganese and cobalt for optimum bioavailability and productivity. SWEETLIX CopperHeadsupplements also have the added advantage of RainBloc for improved resistance to moisture. There are multiple formulations available in the CopperHeadline that are easily interchanged to provide consistent nutrition throughout the year as your cattle’s nutritional needs change. For more information about which specific SWEETLIX CopperHeadproduct may be right for you, please contact your local Quality Co-op.

In summary, copper is essential for the development and maintenance of a healthy immune system. Many cattle show copper-deficiency symptoms including discolored hair coats, slow to shed winter coats, depressed immunity, decreased conception rates, increased days open and/or hoof problems. If your cattle experience any of these symptoms, you should strongly consider use of one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplements to help enhance copper nutrition. Ask for CopperHead by name at your local Quality Co-op or call 1-87SWEETLIX to learn more about these and other SWEETLIX supplement products for cattle.

Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations ( You can contact her at or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about SWEETLIX mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife. References available upon request.

Corn Time


Dean’s Driving School

by Baxter Black, DVM

Dean was in his 80s and still drove his pickup. This concerned his best friend, Jack, who questioned the wisdom of riding with him. Dean based his self-confidence on the fact that he lived in western Kansas where you could drive from Hugoton to Bird City and never see a person wearing a suit and a tie!

Dean was a cattle feeder and planned a trip to Sublett. He invited Jack to go with him. Against his better judgment, Jack agreed. Dean insisted on driving. To the credit of Kansas, the speed limit is high. Twenty miles from home, the truck started shaking. They pulled off on the shoulder and made an inspection. One of the rear tires was low.

On close examination, they found a nail in the tread. These two wise sages pondered whether to try and fix it. That would entail crawling underneath the truck, letting the spare tire down, dragging it out from under the bed, jacking up the vehicle, spinning off the lugs, muscling the LT 265/70R 17 tire, etc., etc., etc.

Dean made an executive decision: don’t pull the nail out, turn around and race back home before the air escapes out of the tire completely. Brilliant! Then have the tire fixed in town. Jack, who was a little younger, took over the driving with Dean’s approval.

They were flying (80 mph) down the long, bare, two-lane road, the tire thumping and shaking the steering wheel as Dean egged Jack on! As you would guess, they attracted the attention of a lonely Kansas State Trooper who turned on his flashing lights and pulled them over. They explained about the tire and their urgency. It fell on deaf ears. He gave Jack a speeding ticket … a hefty ticket for speeding and for driving an unsafe vehicle!

A week went by. Another trip was planned, same destination, same State Trooper. This time Dean was driving. He was made to pull over.

The Trooper recognized the vehicle and the two geezers from the previous week.

"Goin’ a little fast, weren’t you, boys?" he asked.

Dean, no stranger to this setting, said, "Eighty-three, officer, only eight miles an hour over the speed limit. I didn’t have the cruise on, better to pay attention without that automatic stuff. I try to be safe. I can’t remember the last time I got a ticket … I got a good record … etc., etc., etc."

When he stopped to take a breath the officer stepped in, "The speed limit is 65 and I clocked you at 92. And, I gave you a ticket last week for speeding and unsafe driving."

"Uh, you gave HIM a ticket last week," said Dean, pointing at Jack.

The Trooper was examining Dean’s driver’s license.

"You aren’t wearing glasses," he said.

"Well, I was just cleaning them when you flagged me down. That might be why I speeded up, not bein’ able to see the dashboard and all."

Jack said, "Let me trade with him and I’ll drive us. I’m a lot safer."

"I gave YOU a ticket last week for speeding …. Maybe you guys are a bad influence on each other. Did you ever think of that?"

"You are absolutely right, Officer, so if you don’t write him a ticket, I’ll take him home and, just to be fair, I’ll make him pay half of mine!"

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website,

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

by Tony Glover

How many of you were sent to bed or have sent your kids to bed with the little ditty, "Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite"? I heard that all my life and have said the same to my kids never giving a second thought to the possibility that a bed bug may indeed be lurking in our bed. I grew up and have lived most of my life during a time when this pest was all but totally absent from the United States. Unfortunately, now once again we may need to remember the advice of our grandparents to "sleep tight" to avoid being bitten by bed bugs. Our parents and grandparents likely remember the days prior to World War II and the scourge of bed bugs. My mother said it was a nightly ritual to search for and smash as many of these pesky bugs as you could find when she was growing up in the 1930s and ’40s.

Why prior to WWII? Well, after WWII the miracle chemical known as DDT was widely used for the control of bed bugs and dozens of other pests of man and plants. Bed bugs were almost totally eradicated in the United States during the years prior to the elimination of this and other widely used chemicals. The banning of DDT and other chemicals is not likely the sole or even primary reason for the rise in current bed bug problems but was certainly the reason for the original decline of the problem. Bed bugs became resistant to DDT over time and they have become resistant to other chemicals used over the years.

The resurgence of the problem is likely due to several factors other than the demise of DDT. Other reasons include travel to areas where the problem is greater such as Asia, Africa, Mexico, Central and South Americas, and parts of Europe. This fact, plus the immigration of people from areas infested, are very likely reasons for the problem we now see in the United States. Another contributing factor is the reduced use of residual insecticides previously used to control roaches, ants and other household pests. The advent of bait controls for these pests has reduced the need for the harsher chemicals previously used in homes for these other pests.

You may be wondering how you can avoid these undesirable hitchhikers from a trip because you may in fact unknowingly bring them back in your luggage or clothing. One way to avoid this happening is to inspect your hotel room for these small creatures and don’t stay in an infested hotel room. Don’t assume the critters are only in the cheap hotels. Bed bugs have been found in the nicest hotels, especially in the areas of the world mentioned earlier but more and more here in the United States. First, look for rusty spots on the mattress cover, the bed frame and especially behind the headboard. Try sliding the headboard off, completely remove it and check that area well because it is a great hiding place seldom disturbed in hotels. Also, look at the bedside furniture carefully for these same rusty spots or for the bed bug itself. The insect is about a quarter-inch long and half that wide and reddish brown.

Prevention is the best way to control this pest because, once it has infested your home, it can be extremely difficult to eliminate. If you suspect you were exposed to them on a trip, you should launder clothes in very hot water and dry on the hottest dryer heat setting. Alternatively, you could place clothes in a freezer for several days. If your house becomes infested, you should consult with a pest control company immediately.

Bed bugs seem to bring out a primal fear because they feed on humans by sucking their blood. However, they are not known to transmit any human diseases but the bite, although not painful, can be irritating or may even cause an unpleasant allergic reaction on the skin. If you notice a small oval lump or welt the morning after sleeping in a hotel, you may want to do a more thorough inspection if possible. Mosquito or flea bites may be mistaken for bed bug bites. Mosquitoes may bite anywhere skin is exposed, but fleas generally bite near your ankles. Bed bugs, on the other hand, will bite on areas exposed during sleep time such as arms, legs, face, neck or shoulders. Vampires also like the neck area so look to see if there is one or two puncture wounds (just kidding). Lastly, "sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite" is still good advice.

For more information visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website at and search by the key words bed bugs. Another very good resource can be found at

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


End of an Era: Family Says Goodbye

John Dick Barr III outside his family’s former dairy barn.

The closing of Tioga Dairy marks a change in the family’s 66-year history, a sad day for all.

by Jaine Treadwell

John Dick Barr Jr. didn’t say he cried at the last milking at Tioga Dairy in Banks Oct. 23, 2015.

"Teared up," he said, as if that’s not crying. "Just teared up."

After 66 years as a family dairy business in Pike County, Dick and Jean Barr and their son, John Dick, sold their 140 dairy cows and loaded them onto trucks bound for Tennessee.

"It was a sad day," Dick said. "A real sad day."

His wife nodded in agreement.

The couple didn’t go over to the dairy barn that day. It would have been too emotional to see 66 years fade into the distance.

Four generations of the Barr family in the 1950s or early ’60s inside the dairy barn.

The man who had worked for Tioga Dairy for many years cried all day as one cow after the other was bid farewell.

"If I had been there, I would have cried, too," Dick said. "It was just a sad day for all of us. The dairy was gone and so was our way of life. The dairy business was a tough way to make a living at times. But, you’re not ever going to get rich milking cows. Just staying in business is all the success you get in the dairy business."

But Dick and Jean didn’t go into the dairy business thinking they were going to get rich. They went into milking cows for the love of the animals and for the love of family.

"Tioga Dairy began on a cold, windy day."

That’s how the story began when Dick, Jean and John Dick sat down at the couple’s home in the Banks community to remember when the dream was a reality and the end was nowhere in sight.

and Jean, his wife of 68 years, were sad over the closing of the dairy, but happy to now have more time together.

Dick and Jean Williams met when they were students at Oberlin College in Ohio. She was the "cutest little girl" he had ever seen and she was rather impressed with the handsome, young Marine, but Uncle Sam wanted him in China. So, it was not until the Marine returned to Oberlin College that he won the heart of the "cute little girl." They were married in her hometown of Troy, Penn., in 1947.

Dick was enrolled at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in Auburn and his plans were to go into some field of agriculture, but the calling was not behind a mule and a plow.

"My family was in the dairy business and Dick appreciated the way the family worked together on the dairy farm," Jean said. "He wanted that kind of life for us."

Dick had been impressed by the way his wife’s family worked together and the close bond of the farm family.

"I got to thinking about it and I wanted that kind of family relationship," Dick said. "I loved animals and the dairy business offered me the kind of life I wanted for me, Jean and our children."

Dick, laughingly, said if he had given more thought to cows having to be milked morning and night, 365 days a year, he might have put his hand to the plow.

"Cows don’t take holidays and they don’t go on vacations," he said. "But, I wouldn’t give anything for the life we’ve had."

When Dick graduated from API, his dad, John Dick Barr Sr., gave him a milk cow. And, with that one milk cow on a cold windy day in 1949, Dick and Jean officially opened Tioga Dairy, named for her home county in Pennsylvania.

"I tied the cow to a pecan tree out in the yard and milked her, and that’s how we got started," Dick said. "I got a quart of milk a day and Macy Ree Warr, there in Banks, was my one customer. Every day, I’d deliver a quart of milk to her on my bicycle and I got 20 cents a day."

Twice a day, every day, Dick tied the cow to the pecan tree, milked her and then put her back into the barn until dawn cracked once again.

"People started hearing that I was selling milk. Soon they started ordering and I had to buy another cow," Dick said. "Then, I got up to five cows and soon I was hand-milking 19 cows by myself, morning and night. But the Korean War started and I was called back into the Marines."

Fortunately for the Barrs, his sister, Wilda, had gotten married to an Auburn graduate, Norval Steele, and he agreed to take care of the Tioga Dairy while Dick was away serving his country.

"I might still be hand-milking if Norval hadn’t taken over the dairy," Dick laughed. "When I got home, he had bought milking machines. They didn’t do too bad of a job."

Dick was a serious dairyman. He bought two heifers, Jean and Louise, and began his own dairy herd.

His milk delivery business extended into Troy and he ran house-to-house routes for several years.

He delivered milk right to the door in quart bottles and it was a Mayberry kind of life except for the 4 a.m. and late-afternoon milkings.

"I enjoyed my milk routes, but it got where, being a small dairy, we couldn’t compete with those large dairies," Dick explained. "And, we couldn’t offer our customers buttermilk and butter. So we contracted with a processing plant and got off the road."

Dick and John Dick ran the dairy and Jean taught music and voice lessons at Troy State University.

"In the dairy business, you have to have a second income," she said.

Jean often came for the afternoon milkings, as did their daughter, Suzanne Clemmons. One hundred and forty cows were being milked and the ladies had their favorite cows, the ones with personality. The dairy business was good and the end was not yet in sight.

Then, health problems dictated that Dick leave the milking to his son and so it was until 2015 when the Barrs saw the handwriting on the wall.

"I can remember when you couldn’t ride a few miles without seeing a dairy here in Pike County, but no more," Dick said. "There’s only one dairy left in the county now. And, I was sad to see ours go."

The dairy was a common interest for the Barr family for 66 years. John Dick knew he would be the last of the dairy farmers in the family.

"None of the grandchildren were interested in the dairy," he said. "But Suzanne and I both appreciate having grown up on a small dairy farm. It’s been a way of life for our parents and for us. It was a sad day, and a lonesome one, when that last load of cows pulled away at sunset. I knew it was the end of something. It was the end of a way of life for my family and I teared up."

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

From Left to Right

Buddy Bice prepares to draw his bow.

Buddy Bice overcame significant challenges to become one of Birmingham’s most respected bow specialists.

by Cindy Boyd

Buddy Bice bought his first bow from a pawn shop. His friends would get a jump-start on the hunting season over the rifle hunters.

"Who wouldn’t want to get some extra hunting days in?" he thought.

So, Bice practiced with his pawn-shop bow until he felt confident enough to take it to the woods. He wasn’t fortunate enough to shoot a deer his first season, but he didn’t get discouraged. The next season, he got his first kill, a doe. His love of bowhunting began. Bice realized, in shooting a bow instead of a gun, he could hunt more wooded areas, kill a deer in a 45-50 yard range and hunt for a longer season.

Bice began shooting Dot tournaments and became a bow-shooting enthusiast.

Buddy Bice’s left-handed writing may be a little messy. But how many men really care about their handwriting?

While shooting in tournaments, Bice began to notice a slight tremor he had in his right hand was becoming worse. These tremors had started in high school, but what teenage boy cares about his handwriting? The shaking was bad enough that he wasn’t confident in shooting his bow. Now that the tremors were affecting something he did care about, Bice decided to see a doctor.

The neurosurgeon scheduled MRIs and CAT scans. They couldn’t find anything. It was while Bice was having an x-ray that the technician found a small brain tumor at the base of Bice’s brain at his spinal column. The doctor determined that it was a slow-growing tumor and the location could be causing the tremors in his hand. There was also concern that as the tumor grew it could attach itself to the spinal column.

Bice was referred to a group of doctors who were more skilled in removing tumors in such a delicate location. He was told there were no guarantees. The outcome could be worse-case scenario or a successful removal that would also stop the tremors he was experiencing. Either way, he opted for the surgery and hoped for the best.

When Bice woke up from the surgery, his left foot and left hand had no feeling. He was 28 years old and found he couldn’t walk nor had any use of his left hand. He spent three months in the University of Alabama in Birmingham Spain Rehabilitation Center working harder than he ever had in his life. With the Center’s caring help and Bice’s determination, he was able to walk again and regain feeling in his hand.

Bice had always been active in sports. He was right-handed, but a bit ambidextrous, too. In baseball, he would bat right-handed, but he threw left-handed. He still played a little softball after school, but he knew he would have to give that up now. Sometimes, his left leg would buckle and his right hand still had the tremors. He also figured his bow hunting days would be over along with his tournament shooting.

However, you would just have to know Bice.

"Well, God gave me two arms," he thought.

So, guess where Bice went ... back to where he started the first time – the pawn shop. Instead of buying a left-handed bow, this time he got himself a right-handed bow. He got a cheap one with low poundage and started practicing.

He recalled that it was actually comical at first. His instinct was the opposite of what he was trying to get his hands to do. It was confusing his brain. But, as he persistently kept shooting, it started to become more natural. He went two seasons of just practicing. It took two years for him to become confident enough to shoot his bow to make a humane kill.

Bice is now a well-respected bow specialist in the Birmingham area. He became so inquisitive over the function and mechanisms on his bow that he would take it apart and then take it to a bow specialist to have it put back together. When he did this, he would ask questions and learn more about the workings of a bow. The more he learned, the better he got at making adjustments and repairs himself. It seems his determination and good-natured personality have helped him accomplish and master many things in his life.

So for you bow hunters, bow enthusiasts and bow beginners, Bice has a little advice for you. When asked the No. 1 reason someone brings in a bow for repair ... you guessed it, dry firing the bow (loosing of the string without ammunition). Whether the dirty deed was done by the owner or a friend, dry firing is dangerous and damaging. All the energy is stored in the limbs and in the string. Dry firing can bust the limbs and warp the cam. It can also break the strings and cables along with damaging any accessories that have been added.

Bice also recommends checking your bow before each hunt. Make sure everything is tight. Also, check your arrows. Look for hairline fractures and splits in the nock area. If the nock isn’t tight or if there is a fracture, the arrow can break when shot and come back into your hand. He said this happens more often than you think. Carbon fibers can shoot back into your hand causing severe damage and injury. If you hunt while it is damp outside or misty, make sure to wax the strings before storing your bow.

Speaking of bow storage, have a good case to transport and store your bow. When storing your bow in the off-season, do not put your bow in the attic or the trunk of your car. The tension of the bow will stretch with heat causing it to lose poundage and the bow can become out of time. Heat can de-laminate the limbs and cause internal fractures that can’t be seen. Do keep your bow in the case.

There are some pets that just love to chew on bow strings when a bow is kept under a bed or on the floor with no case.

He also recommends a lock for your bow. Locks are an inexpensive safety precaution, some costing around $2.50.

When waxing the bow’s strings, don’t use a heavy glob. Use a piece of leather and rub fast so the wax heats up and goes into the string. If your strings start fuzzing, this is common and not an immediate repair. A bow string is usually made of 24 strands. Twelve are twisted together in one direction and 12 are twisted in the opposite direction. Then the two are twisted together. If a single strand breaks, it can cause an unbalanced weak spot.

Bice also recommends lots of practice for a new bow owner. Get to know your bow well and make sure, when you head to the woods, that you are capable of making a humane kill. For an adolescent, make sure the bow fits the child. There are so many great youth bows available. Brands and types of bows are the preference of the shooter.

Remember too, in the State of Alabama, the minimum requirement is 35 pounds. If you are hunting out of state, always check the requirements. Also, some of the wildlife management areas only allow bow hunting or limited times for rifle shooting.

There is a lot more to Bice’s story. Yes, he was also a master jeweler. He learned how to write left-handed, too! It’s still a little messy, but what man cares about his handwriting, right?

Cindy Boyd is a freelance writer from Montevallo.

High Tech or Low Tech

Asberry Lowry and his wife Louvicey

We’ll all still find a way to keep in touch.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

This morning was like most other mornings. I fed and watered all the animals, showered, then grabbed breakfast and turned on the computer to check my email and go on Facebook.

That’s much different than two or three decades ago.

Then we completed morning chores while listening to local radio. And when I was growing up, my breakfast was ALWAYS accompanied by local radio WCRL streaming from mama’s little beige-and-turquoise plastic radio on the kitchen counter.

Then local radio broadcast who died (and the funeral arrangements) (and usually even whose mama, grandpa or grandson that person happened to be and maybe even the cause of death!), who had a birthday that day AND the next day, who was admitted to the local hospital and who’d had a baby during the night!

Now local radio still broadcasts the deaths and on into the hour birthdays after "celebrity" birthdays, but the radio station would be sued beyond belief if they reported now about hospitalizations and more!

Another great source of local news just a few years ago in rural areas was the local community columns in the weekly newspapers.

We laugh now when we look back and see where "Frances Smith got a new refrigerator last week" or "Vennie Inmon received a LONG DISTANCE phone call from her daughter in Michigan!" Seems like nothing to us now, but if you were living in those times you’d rejoice with Frances because the rural electric lines hadn’t been extended to her house where she could get a refrigerator until that spring. AND the Inmons were scared (that it might be bad news), but delighted if it was good news when the telephone brought a long distance call from the daughter in Michigan or the one in Fayette because the usual mode of communication for them back then was penny postcards on that my Granny wrote with a stubby, yellow pencil!

And what about reading about the Johnson family "motoring to the Gulf Coast" last week! Before interstates and more reliable cars and tires, that was a major vacation and everybody was envious, but they shared in the joy as they read many of the details of that beach trip in their local newspaper.

The Prickett’s dairy’s unusual large quantity of milk that week, who brought in the first, red, ripe tomato to the newspaper office or who later brought in the largest pumpkin or watermelon (with photos duly recording the events) were big news that almost everybody liked to see or read about.

My birth even made the FRONT page of the local newspaper when I was born in 1952. Somewhere here there is a clipping showing that "Paul and Inez Lowry were the proud parents of a new baby girl" born at one of the tiny local hospitals that itself is no longer in existence.

I also have a clipping of when my great-grandfather, A.S. Lowry, died. It was also on the front page complete with photo and doesn’t sound anything like the obituaries of today:

"On March 1, 1922, the death angel visited our midst and claimed the spirit of Uncle Asberry Lowry. He was born in Etowah County January 27, 1851, and moved to Blount County when he was 19 years old.

"For more than two years he had been in declining health, but hopefully and cheerfully he made a brave, but losing, fight against disease and finally the tired, suffering body fell into decay while the spirit returned to God who gave it.

"Uncle Az, as many were pleased to call him, was a good citizen, companion, father and neighbor and indeed one of God’s noblemen − both loyal to God and his church − having been a member of the Missionary Baptist Church for 50 years.

"He was honored by his brethren and trusted by all who knew him. Relatives and friends mourn his passing away, but since he lived and died in the swelling triumph of faith, we press on up the glorious path ...."

The obituary goes on to tell of him marrying my Great-Grandma at the age of 24 and lists their nine children, one of whom was my grandpa.

It also states that his funeral was held at his home, three miles east of Oneonta, very near the place my little homestead now sits!

You don’t read too many obituaries like that these days! But those old obituaries contained news about the person who died and their families!

Nearly three decades after Great-Grandpa Asberry died, the community, and many others like it, had a new way of keeping up with the news: the party-line telephone!

Even when I was a teenager in the 1960s, we still shared the phone line with eight other families! It seemed each community had at least one person − usually a lady who had too much time on her hands − who "listened in" to everybody else’s business. Then she took it upon herself to spread the news − good or bad − to everybody she came in contact with!

My mama and daddy applied for and received a private phone line in the late 1960s after a then-boyfriend and I made up outrageous stories and talked about them on the phone knowing they would be broadcast throughout the community!

The very first phones (right before my time) were even more suited for "news broadcasting" as all calls went through a central switchboard in Oneonta manned by a couple of ladies working shifts (think Lily Tomlin on the old "Laugh In" TV show of the 1960s, "one ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingys"). Everybody’s phone rang when anyone received a call, maybe one ring for you or two for your neighbor and you were SUPPOSED to only pick up when you heard your particular ring.

But if you knew a neighbor was in ill health, expecting a baby or they were expecting some other important news such as news of someone away in the Service, everybody else on the line would wait a second then quietly lift their receivers to hear the news as well.

And if it was really important news such as someone had been killed in the war or someone’s house was on fire, the Central Operator might ring up EVERYBODY and tell them what had happened so they could help their neighbors!

An old hymn book includes an old gospel song that youngsters who are used to cell phones and instant messages wouldn’t even understand. It’s called "The Royal Telephone," with words and music by F. M. Lehman, and notes: "Central’s never ‘busy,’ always on the line; You may hear from Heaven, almost any time .... There will be no charges, telephone is free, It was built for service, just for you and me; There will be no waiting on this royal line, Telephone to glory always answers just in time."

So when you’re on Facebook or other social media and lamenting that you don’t want to read what somebody cooked for dinner that night or where they went that afternoon, just bear with them.

I can hear from my great-nephew who is a second lieutenant in the Army instantly no matter where he is in the world. Likewise, I can keep up with my kids and grandkids (and my GREAT-grandson) even though there may be many miles between us!

I do think we may have lost something from communication and news sharing in the "old days," but knowing instantly when I need to pray for someone or rejoicing the MINUTE they come out of a successful surgery kind of balances that scale!!!

And that’s why practically everyone who’s striving to lead a very simple life, even those completely off the grid, usually first thing hook up a solar panel or some other alternate power source, so they can connect to the Internet!

Suzy Lowry Geno lives a simple life at Old Field Farm in Blount County. She can be reached through her website at

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chapman

Good Tools Make Work Easier

When it comes to digging, pruning and other garden chores, it pays to buy the best tool you can possibly afford (or wait until you can) because a good tool will do a lot of the work for you. On the other hand, a poor-quality tool will wear you out. Some of the basics are bypass pruners with sharp, replaceable blades; a heavy duty, solid-shank spade with a good perch for the foot (makes it easier to dig a hole), a rubber no-kink hose (saves lots of aggravation), a big trowel and a small trowel with a metal blade and comfortable handle (makes planting easy), and a water breaker wand for the end of the hose (makes it easy to reach). If you are digging up old shrubs, get a long-blade sharpshooter shovel, also called a transplanting spade, to dig deeper. I also like a little hand-held rake for easy cleaning up in beds when I’m down on my hands and knees. If you are only going to have one rake, consider an adjustable aluminum one that will adjust the width of the sweep to make it easy to rake in tight places. Finally, for heavy work, get a sturdy wheelbarrow for hauling plants, soil, compost and stones, and a hand truck. If you use gloves, consider vinyl-coated, stretch gloves because they are multipurpose and have a good grip. They’re even washable, but drip-dry only! All of these make great housewarming gifts for young couples, too.

This short log fence becomes a landscape feature along a path in the woods.

Log Fences are Beautiful

Sometimes a structure such as a short log fence serves as an ornamental focal point in a wide-open woodland landscape. A fence made of logs is a natural because it’s in the vernacular material of the woods, yet the classic cross design provides a touch of style. Such a structure also provides a sense of scale, which is especially nice if you have a path that goes by it, and adds a cultivated touch with a few wildflowers planted around it.

Pots of Daffodils Can Go Outside

After the blooms fade on those delightful, bright little pots of daffodils sold at this time of year, move the plants outdoors immediately. By transplanting to the ground while they are still vigorous, they have a chance of coming back to bloom in your garden next spring and for many springs afterward! Like other daffodils, these like sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Adding a little bone meal or bulb-booster fertilizer to the ground when you plant them will also help.

Winter Color Medley

The container plantings at The Summit shopping center in Birmingham are always a great living display of how pretty pots can look through winter. There are a number of hardy annuals, herbs and succulents cold-hardy enough to make it through our mild Alabama winters. Although now is not the time to plant, it is the time to observe, even take pictures of impressive containers for reference next fall when it is time to plant. The container picture here includes snapdragon, rosemary, curly parsley, viola, dusty miller and Angelina sedum. If the weather drops into the teens, it helps to protect the plants with a frost cloth to protect them from damage so the container continues to look good after the cold spell passes.

This mature Kousa dogwood at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., has developed a beautiful bark pattern.

Winter Brings Out the Best of Bark

Now is the time to really appreciate the intricacies of the bark of many trees and shrubs making a beautiful contribution to the winter landscape. In the woods, the flaky-bark natives such as oakleaf hydrangea, hawthorn, sycamore, shagbark hickory, white oak and river birch are easy to spot. These also have a place in the landscape, although sycamore, shagbark hickory, American beech and river birch need to be off to themselves on large properties, not in small urban gardens, because of their litter. Oakleaf hydrangea and hawthorn are good choices for the landscape. Other good choices with interesting colored bark include red selections of Japanese maple, ornamental cherries such as Yoshino, Kousa dogwood, lacebark elm and many varieties of crape myrtle, and the green stems of Japanese kerria. After their leaves drop in the fall, these plants expose a beautiful infrastructure of trunks, limbs and stems with unique colors or textures that become a winter-landscape feature. Make some room in your garden for things like this that are different in each season, giving a sometimes all-evergreen landscape some winter flair.

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

Improve Your Venison Cooking

by Angela Treadaway

Deer season is well under way and many spouses who have never cooked it have lots of questions about how to prepare it to remove the gamey taste. If processed and prepared properly, deer meat tastes just as good as any other meat and, in most cases, is much healthier because it is much leaner. Wild animals such as deer that are constantly on the move and never feed under artificial conditions have meat with a higher ratio of protein to fat than domestic animals; for example, you may see venison with some distinct fat layering, but never see it marbled with fat.

Apart from the favorable ratio of protein to fat in the meat of game animals, it also contains certain necessary minerals, in fairly generous amounts. All the red meats are good sources of phosphorus and iron (but not of calcium). Of the 15 different minerals required for human nutrition, most game meat (notably venison) contains sodium, potassium and magnesium, as well as traces of calcium, cobalt, zinc, manganese and aluminum.

What the hunter does with the meat he has bagged is another question, and not too infrequently the answer to that question creates a bad image for game meat. Immediate and proper handling of the kill is most important in not only how the meat will taste but also how the non-hunters of the family will react to it.

Aside from proper techniques of handling, cleanliness is important, from both the practical and psychological viewpoint. A perennial complaint from the female non-hunter, who is ultimately asked to cook the meat, is about the careless manner in which the animal was handled, transported and processed. Once you understand this attitude, it is not difficult to understand why so much excellent food has gone to waste, just because the cook was unwilling to work with it.

Finally, the cook should understand that the meat from all species of wild animals does not taste the same. Some animals such as deer, caribou, elk and moose are somewhat similar to beef in their taste, texture and cooking requirements. Others such as beaver and bear are more similar to pork. The flavor of game meat can even vary within a species, depending upon the age of the animals, the type of diet it lived on and – to perhaps belabor a point – how it was handled after being killed. After processing it properly, it’s up to the cook to cook it properly.


Here are some hints to make your next venison meal as delicious as it should be:

  • Older deer will likely be drier and tougher than younger deer. Cooking methods can be varied accordingly.
  • You can make almost any meat tender by cooking it in some water over very low heat until it is done. High heat toughens meat and may dry it out.
  • Soaking meat in salt, vinegar and water for several hours will remove the gamey taste.
  • To season venison, various combi- nations of marjoram, thyme, pars- ley, garlic or onions may be used.
  • Marinades tenderize and enhance – and may disguise – game flavors. The following five suggestions can be used as marinades:
  • Vinegar, wine or wine vinegar (to cover a roast or steak);
  • French or Italian salad dressing;
  • Tomato sauce, undiluted tomato soup, tomato juice (the acid of the juice has a tenderizing effect on the meat);
  • Pickle, orange, lemon or grape fruit juice; or
  • Juniper berries can be used in small amounts in marinades. Just make sure you know how to cor- rectly identify the juniper berry.
  • Always start out with the more sim- ple recipes until you have mastered them, then move onto more com- plex recipes.
  • To moisten the meat because it is so lean, you could use one of the following:
  • Bacon slices (wrapped around the meat before cooking);
  • Light cooking oil (take a brush and brush it lightly over whole surface); or
  • Other additives that can be used to enhance the flavor are: salt, pepper, onion, celery, vinegar, soy and/or Worcestershire.

For more answers concerning cooking of venison or other wild game, please contact your local county Extension office or me at 205-669-6763 or 410-3696.

Venison Chili

2 pounds ground venison

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 package chili seasoning

1 bottle chili sauce

2 (16-ounce) cans pinto or kidney beans

2 (16-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

Season and cook meat with salt and pepper in a skillet with a little vegetable or olive oil. Pour meat in crock pot. Add other ingredients and mix. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.

Venison Steak and Onions

Venison steak, sliced into thin strips

¼ cup oil

½ cup onions, chopped

1¼ cups water

1 Tablespoon beef or chicken bouillon granules

1 can mushrooms, drained

1 Tablespoon flour

¾ cup water

Brown steak in hot oil. Combine onions, water and bouillon in a saucepan and boil until onions are tender. Pour over meat. Simmer till meat is done. Add mushrooms and heat. Combine flour and water and add to mixture. Cook until it thickens. Serve over egg noodles.

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.

Investing in the Future

Kay Larrimore, left, coordinates the Work-Based Learning program. She works with Candace Coston to record Candace’s work hours for the week.

Thomasville community supports successful Work-Based Learning Program.

by Carolyn Drinkard

When the economy took a downturn in 2008, most Alabama schools had difficulties finding jobs for students in their Work-Based Learning programs. This was not the case, however, in Thomasville, a community of less than 5,000 people. Even through the uncertainties of the recession, businesses in this community stepped forth to offer jobs to students.

The Work-Based Learning curriculum connects what students learn in the classroom with real-life job experiences. Students participate in either paid apprenticeships or unpaid internships. The school and the employer work together to plan work-based experiences associated with the student’s career objectives. The students are then mentored and supervised by both the employer and the WBL teacher.

Students gain a greater understanding of the workplace experience while observing professionals who mentor and model successful strategies and behaviors. Their work experiences encourage tolerance, respect and understanding among all groups. Students are also able to develop a network of professional contacts who could potentially help them with future employment.

Thomasville Healthcare and Rehab Center employs many WBL students. Their residents relate to the teens and bond with them. Quatez Austin delivers linens to the residents and brings a smile every day.

The benefits of the program have been measured in a rise in both attendance and graduation rates among WBL participants. Although Thomasville proudly boasts a 95 percent graduation rate, school officials quickly pointed out that they will not be satisfied until all students graduate prepared for college or a career.

Thomasville High School has seen demand for the popular program grow each year and, in 2015, placements are at an all-time high. Local employers have learned that WBL students are good investments. These students not only have the practical skills employers are seeking, but they also possess the soft skills that make a good employee. This relationship has benefitted both the community and the schools. Students in WBL pumped over half-a-million dollars into Thomasville’s local economy last year. In addition, the success of the program has led employers and community members to have greater trust and confidence in Thomasville’s schools.

"The Work-Based Learning program is an example of what makes Thomasville great," said Chuck Alford, principal at THS. "The cooperative effort between school and community affords our students work experiences and training that will benefit them long after their high school days."

Gina Wilson, director of Thomasville’s Public Library, agreed. Three of her recent workers found jobs at major university libraries. The students all told Wilson their work experiences in Thomasville’s library prepared them for working in a college environment.

Recently, representatives from Golden Dragon Copper met with Thomasville city school officials to set the foundation for a WBL internship with their company. (From left) Randall Fullington, Career Tech Director; Chuck Alford, Thomasville High School principal; Kay Larrimore, WBL Coordinator; Sheldon Day, Mayor of Thomasville; KC Pang, Director of HR & Corporate Affairs at Golden Dragon; Latoya Dixon, employee relations/benefits coordinator at Golden Dragon; and Dr. Vic Adkison, superintendent of Thomasville City Schools.

"We have loved each student who has worked here," Wilson said. "They bring a fresh perspective to our staff. Also, our customers enjoy seeing those THS shirts here in the library. I would encourage any employer to use these students."

Ernest Curry of Walgreens said his participation in the program has been a positive experience.

"This program has been a God-send for our business. The quality of students we get is very high. Our customers know these kids, and they have relationships with them and support them. I feel like we’re working with the community to mold the future of these youngsters, and this is what our country needs to do!" he stated.

Curry said the program has helped him to develop a larger pool of good employees while motivating his current employees.

Mayor Sheldon Day sees the program as a model for a community working together.

"Employers realized our schools ‘wanted’ their input on how to better prepare our children for the workplace and their future careers. Thomasville’s WBL program is a wonderful example of cooperation and collaboration to develop a ‘win-win’ for our students and our local businesses," Day said.

The success of the program continues to attract even more businesses. Recently, representatives from the Golden Dragon Copper plant approached city school officials about starting a student intern program.

Scott Lewis, president and general manager of Lewis Pest Control, has been a part of the WBL program since its beginning. Lewis pointed out that for this partnership to work it must be beneficial to both parties.

"It has been easy for us to get extra help while helping the kids get the credits needed to graduate. The kids are an asset to my business. They are prepared, and they do a good job."

Lewis pointed out that one of the former WBL students is now a fulltime employee who has moved up to work in one of his other businesses.

"There are so many great employers in Thomasville, who, along with our hard-working students, have made this program a success," explained Kay Larrimore, who coordinates the program. "The students do what they are supposed to, and they work very hard. I have to say that the businesses in our community and our students are the keys to the success of Thomasville High School’s Work-Based Learning program."

The Work-Based Learning program is an investment in the future with mutual benefits for everyone involved.

"We are so excited to give these students the opportunity to participate in this Career Tech program," Alford added. "Our community works with us to make sure all of our students graduate and are prepared for life."

For more information about this program, call Kay Larrimore at 334-636-4451.

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She may be contacted at

January Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • A live Christmas tree should be planted as soon as possible. Do not leave the root ball exposed to freezing temperatures after removing the tree from the house.
  • Do your research; just because a plant looks good in a catalog doesn’t mean it will survive in your area.
  • Do you have daffodils that you forgot to plant in December? If so, plant them as soon as possible. As long as the bulbs are still firm, they are good and they will come up in the spring – they may not bloom like they would if planted earlier, but they will be there for following years.
  • If you want to force some bulbs to bloom for a little indoor color in early spring, plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc. in pots indoors now.
  • Repot any indoor, pot-bound plants.
  • This is a good time to move plants, especially roses.
  • This is also an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs. The ground can be very wet in January, but, if you can find a dry time to do it, get them in the ground. The roots will begin to grow during the remainder of the winter and they will get a head start on the stressful heat and drought of summer.
  • When Bonnie onion and cabbage transplants are available at the Co-op, plant them in the garden beneath a row cover.
  • Leaf lettuces and other salad greens can be planted beginning in mid-January through March. They will need the protection of row cover or a sheet on extremely cold nights, but a fresh harvest for the dinner salad makes it well worth the effort.
  • Sow wildflower seeds.


  • Add cooled fireplace ashes to your compost pile (in moderation).
  • Do not feed houseplants in January. Give them a rest.
  • Feed winter-blooming pansies with a bloom-boosting fertilizer.
  • Have your soil tested to determine if supplements are needed.
  • If your winter vegetables are looking yellow, add some nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Fertilize asparagus beds in late January.
  • Don’t fertilize newly planted trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground toward the end of the month. Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer according to label directions, or apply a light dusting of compost.


  • Grapes should be cut back to the main structure of the plant, leaving two buds per side shoot as a general rule.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses, as well as liriope and mondo grass, before spring growth begins.
  • Hold off on pruning spring-flowering shrubs until after they bloom.
  • Now that you can see problems with deciduous trees and shrubs, it’s time to prune. Always make clean cuts at a branch collar.
  • This is a good time to contact an arborist to do tree work. Business can be slower and therefore prices better this time of year.
  • Berry brambles need to be cut back, spent canes removed and new sucker growth controlled.


  • Continue to fill humidity trays to keep plants like African violets and orchids from succumbing to the dry air.
  • Make sure your water for houseplants is room temperature. Water less than you would when plants are growing actively. In the winter, houseplants need less water.
  • Water outdoor plants in the absence of rain, and especially when freezing weather is expected. Well-hydrated plants are more likely to survive severe temperatures.
  • Be sure to keep an eye on all newly planted items through the winter to ensure they get enough water. An inch a week should be the goal.


  • This is a good time to eliminate slugs. Every one left to roam the garden will produce 200 offspring this spring, summer and fall. In addition, the offspring will also produce young. So you can make a major reduction in the slug population in your garden by eliminating them now.
  • If you have bugs or diseases in your garden and you want to get a head start, apply dormant oil (also known as horticultural oil) especially to roses, broadleaf evergreens and fruit trees. The oils are effective and ecologically friendly. They work by smothering the insects hiding for the winter. Do not apply when temperatures are below freezing and apply when temperatures will be above freezing for at least 24 hours.
  • Apply post-emergence weed control to actively growing broadleaf weeds. Read label instructions.
  • Rake fallen rose leaves and discard them as many disease organisms persist through the winter. Covering them up with new mulch will not solve your disease problems.
  • Check for animal damage on your plants, you might need to apply more repellent.


  • Start a gardening journal or blog. Good recordkeeping is essential. A journal can be very rewarding and full of useful information in the future. If you’d rather do it online and publicly, start a blog. Take photos of everything. In years to come, you will look at your older photos and be amazed at how things have changed!
  • Build fences and walkways, and install trellises and structures before the vines start growing.
  • Clean and sharpen tools during days you can’t play in the soil.
  • Clean out birdhouses and/or put up new ones. Bluebirds, martins and some other songbirds start scouting for spring nest boxes in February.
  • Clean up planting beds and reapply mulch.
  • Give extra protection to houseplants on chilly nights by closing drapes and making sure plants don’t touch cold glass.
  • Houseplants can become susceptible to spider mites around this time of year. You can deter them by spritzing the leaves with water.
  • If the soil dries out enough to work, prepare a spot for the late February planting of peas and kale. Also, if the soil isn’t too wet, fall-planted cover crops can be turned under.
  • Inspect and repair leaky or water-damaged sheds, porches and garden structures.
  • Inspect stored fruits and vegetables such as apples and potatoes for decay. Throw away any that look spoiled and increase air circulation to reduce further damage.
  • It’s not too early to force flowering quince and forsythia branches. Cut sprays at varying lengths, mash the ends with a hammer and submerge in a tub of cool water for several hours or overnight. Then arrange in a vase and place in a bright, but cool, window.
  • Keep houseplants clean by gently wiping or rinsing.
  • Light or lack thereof can be a problem for plants this time of year. Supplement natural light with grow lights or move plants to a south- or west-facing window.
  • Remember not to walk or drive on frozen grass.
  • Rework your garden design. Study those seed catalogues and garden articles to plan your next gardening season.
  • Suet is a high-energy food for birds during the winter. See your local Co-op store for their selection.
  • Turn houseplants every two weeks for balanced foliage as they seek sunlight.
  • Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation.
  • Inspect stakes and wires on newly planted trees to make sure they are still straight and not damaging the bark.
  • Could the wheelbarrow, garden wagon or hand trucks use a fresh coat of paint?
  • If you heat with wood, keep a pot of water on the stove. The added moisture will be healthier for you as well as your houseplants.
  • To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel-wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
  • Check with your county Extension agent to see when the next Master Gardener’s class is offered. They’re a fine group of people who want to spread the love of gardening to anyone who’ll listen … and you will have to look long and hard before you find a better organization in which to invest your time.

Living in Alabama Rocks!

This calamondin orange tree has had blooms and/or fruit on it for nearly three straight years!

by Herb T. Farmer

Happy New Year!

2016 promises to bring some excitement to the old Herb Farmer. I spent the last week of 2015 reviewing seed orders from holidays past and the successes and failures of what I planted then.

Remember, a few years ago I promised to start keeping a better journal so I could keep up with what works and what doesn’t work in the field. In the journal, I keep detailed data on weather information, both from NOAA and from my personal weather station. I also keep notes on who dropped by that day and a brief note on our main topic of conversation.

The journal has become a helpful tool for me. I write down the times I take which medicines, exactly what I eat and drink, how many miles that I walk, and my blood pressure and glucose numbers.

Back to the seeds: Some of the herbs and vegetables I grow here perform better than others, so it’s important to keep up with what I plant. I like to plant a variety of most crops.

Someone once asked me how many different kind of herbs I grew. I told him about 125. Sounds like a bunch until you count them. There were about 16 varieties of thyme, nine types of rosemary, six types of culinary salvia, six of lavender and at least six types of basil. Then there are at least 50 one-offs and about 20 or 30 two-offs that I grow. It really isn’t much when you add it all up.

I placed my early seed order about two weeks ago and have a secondary order ready to place now. In about three or four weeks, the plug trays will be filled with soil and most of the seeds will be sown on Groundhog Day next month.

The smell of the greenhouse really gets me going this time of year. There’s just nothing like it. It’s nice to go into the greenhouse and enjoy a cocktail in the evening when it’s 30 degrees outside. Or, in the morning with a cup of coffee and a scone is a fine way to start the day.

When the temperatures drop to below tropical tolerance, plants come into the greenhouse and into the main house. Large philodendrons and container citrus trees are placed into the greenhouse with the ferns. Other plants, like sansevierias, pipers, jades and kalanchoes move into the house. Oh! Let’s not forget the begonias!

Satsumas! Delicious!

Some of the factors about fall and winter in Alabama that make the season tolerable are the citrus season, all the pretty plants jammed into suitable places and creating a pseudo-jungle, and also enjoying my cats’ company as we warm ourselves in the greenhouse. (They like to be in there with me.)

Fall and winter also means Alabama satsumas are in season! There’s nothing tastier than a sweet, succulent, nearly seedless Alabama satsuma. Yum! Don’t know what a satsuma is? Google it. It’s a mandarin orange and Alabama is the third largest producer in the United States of these delicious fruits.

A buddy of mine commutes to Fairhope almost weekly. When the satsumas are in season, he brings my orders directly from the farm (Harrison Farms). I usually buy several 10-pound bags each trip. They make great gifts for children and adults alike. Next time you go to a dinner party, don’t just take a bottle of wine. Take a sack of satsumas!

Kalanchoes are budding out and getting ready for their winter display of beautiful orange/red tubular blooms.

Life’s full of little surprises and sometimes they are fun and exciting. It’s especially nice to see garden surprises this time of year. For example, back in the late summer, I misplaced my giant red mustard seeds. Right now there’s a huge patch of giant red mustard growing wild in a part of my back yard. I have no idea how it got there, but the crop is for sure the result of the lost bottle of mustard seeds. I guess I’ll have some going to seed before spring planting time.

I have two very large sasanquas (Camelia sasanqua) growing near the small tool shed. The other day while I was raking leaves, I noticed I have a bunch of young seedlings that look to be at least a year old. I don’t know how I missed them last year, but, this month, they are getting potted up. When they bloom, I’ll know what color they’ll be. Maybe there will be a new cultivar or two.

Okay folks; don’t sweat the cold because spring’s just around the corner!

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

Lung Support

by Nadine Johnson

Recently, a distant Dalton relative paid me a visit. He was here to discuss genealogy. However, when he learned I am an herbalist, he was very impressed. We enjoyed both topics of conversation.

This young man had recently returned from a rather long stay in China. He told how Chinese Traditional Medicine is common practice there. But at the same time modern medicine is available to the people.

In my experience, Chinese remedies are very effective for whatever ailment they are recommended for.

Nell kept being constantly bothered by a bit of congestion in her chest and head. She had no temperature. This congestion hampered the activities of a very active woman.

Nell heard about a product referred to as simply Lung Support. She began to take it and gained almost immediate relief. Mucus was expelled. Her chest and sinuses were "opened up" and she began to breathe more freely. She continues to take this with only positive results.

Lung Support is a Chinese remedy containing an long list of herbs – most of which are "Greek" to me – Astragalus root, aster root, qingiiao root, platycodon root, anemarrhena rhizome, bupleurum root, lycium fruit, ophiopogon root tuber, ginseng root, tang-kuei root, atractylodes rhizome, blue citrus peel, citrus peel, schizandra fruit, typhonium rhizome and licorice root.

Research reveals that the origins of Chinese herbalism are unknown. However, it is thought to go back to 3400 B.C. (at least). We are blessed that much of their knowledge is shared with us.

Frankly, it is my opinion that the use of herbal remedies goes back to the Garden of Eden.

As usual, I advise you to check with your physician before taking herbal remedies.

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

New Year Tax Tips for Farm Finances

by John Howle

"For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." – Winston Churchill

January heralds new beginnings for the farm. Even though the landscapes of pastures and fields are gray, cold and drab, we know in a few months these same fields will come alive with spring growth, spring calves and new opportunities. It is a time of winter feeding, but it’s also an exciting time for planning the new year. Plans include what to plant in the spring, how to organize the upcoming spring calving season and how to manage upkeep of the farm. But wait! Before we get too excited about the future, we have to examine the past in terms of our finances for the upcoming tax season.

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets," Will Rogers said.

Even though the thought of your hard-earned tax money going to ridiculous government waste may frustrate you, maybe a few tips on farm recordkeeping can take some of the sting out of tax season.

Barry Kennedy, right, discusses farm loan application projections with Thomas Carroll, senior lending officer for Vantage Bank of Albertville.

Barry Kennedy is a CPA and vice president of CK Business Solutions in Albertville. Kennedy’s company has provided accounting, tax and consulting services for over 40 years in the Southeast, and he says the biggest challenge a farm-owner taxpayer faces is maintaining adequate documentation of expenses.

"Interestingly, there are still many farmers who prefer to deal in cash and for some reason, when we pay cash, invoices and receipts have a tendency to disappear," Kennedy said. "When it comes to supporting a tax deduction, the taxpayer should, at a minimum, retain invoices or cash register receipts that specifically identify each of the items purchased as well as the method of payment by the tax payer."

Kennedy stressed the importance of selecting a reputable accountant when it comes to dealing with your farm-account matters.

"Does the professional have experience in your particular product such as cattle, poultry or produce and how many years of experience does the professional have in your farm product arena?" Kennedy advised. "You can also check with your state’s accountancy board to determine if the CPA’s license is valid and in good standing."

Accounting professionals like Kennedy can be a farmer’s best financial friend for more than just tax-time farm accounting.

"A reputable accountant can help the farmer decide whether to buy or lease land; help with tax, estate and gift planning; cash flow modeling; financing option evaluations; and product profitability analysis," Kennedy said. "In addition, we can help with business plan preparations and deciding on whether to incorporate or not."

Don’t Mix the Money

To avoid confusion in personal finances, Kennedy advised setting up a separate account for the farm.

"I’m a big advocate of separating any business venture’s activity from a taxpayer’s routine personal expenses by opening a separate business account," Kennedy stated. "This coupled with a complementary accounting-software application serves the taxpayer as another means of properly accumulating the income and expenses associated with the farming operation."

Download and print a copy of the Schedule F Form 1040 for help categorizing farming income and expense.

Savvy Software

CK Business Solutions has QuickBooks Pro advisors on staff, but there are several quality software programs available to farm producers.

"Properly utilized, software accumulates and tracks income and expenses and can provide the business owner with data to make timely, informed business decisions," Kennedy said. "You can manage what you can measure, and software assists the business owner with that financial information."

Many helpful tips for farm recordkeeping during the year can be found through the IRS website in publication 225, "Farmer’s Tax Guide." It is available in print or online at This publication outlines the records that should be kept during the year and makes end-of-year accounting much easier.

Most questions arise around the topic of deductions. "From a general prospective, a taxpayer should consider a reasonable farm expense as one that is both ordinary and necessary," Kennedy provided. "An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry, and a necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business."

Always keep up with the dates of farm income and expense so you can refer to them later. In this entry of your recordkeeping, include what you bought or sold as well as the quantity bought and the dollar amount. Finally, download and print off a Form 1040 Schedule F (Profit or Loss from Farming) sheet. This can assist you with categorizing expenses in a consistent format for the IRS. When tax time rolls around, you can then have an organized accounting of all your income and expenses on the farm.

Good recordkeeping allows you to spend more time planning for the future year instead of scrambling to sort out the past. Keeping records throughout the year can be tedious, but you’ll be thankful when it’s time to file.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Pals: Enthusiasm for the Environment

Hamilton High School students are ready to recycle and reuse.

by Jamie Mitchell

The Environmental Club at Hamilton High School in Marion County recently invited me to come speak at their monthly meeting. Science teacher Kacy Cobb also serves at the club’s sponsor and was excited for me to come and share ideas with how the Environmental Club could make a difference in their community.

The group consisted of ninth through 12th graders who were very enthusiastic about finding ways they could be more environmentally friendly. We discussed having regular campus-wide cleanups as well as planning community cleanups in Hamilton. Recycling isn’t currently available near their school, so they were interested in speaking to local officials to try to have recycling come to their area.

We also discussed ways they could reuse materials and maybe even work with their local elementary schools to do a reused-materials project together.

Also, the Clean Campus Program is changing our essay competition in the spring to a reused-materials art project contest. The students were very excited about this upcoming competition!

Finally, I encouraged them to adopt their school through our Adopt-An-Area program in order to publicly proclaim their commitment to the Clean Campus Program.

I can’t wait to follow the progress at Hamilton High School to see what the future holds for them!

If a school near you would like to hear more about the Alabama PALS Clean Campus Program, I would love to provide it with more information. I can personally come to help them get a program started! Just have them give me a call at 334-263-7737 or send me an email at

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Picture Contest: Old & New

Alabama Farmers Cooperative conducted a photograph contest titled Picture Contest: Old & New that concluded November 20, 2015. The high-resolution images submitted were of the past and present of our Quality Co-op family.

There were seven categories with the winner of each receiving $100. Thank you for all who participated and congratulations to our winners.

Farmers & Customers: Candy Teague

Crops & Gardens: Ethan Jones

Co-op Stores & Buildings: DeAnna Turner

Livestock & Animals: Spencer Callahan

Instrumental People: Kristina Garrett

Granaries & Fertilizer: K. Bragg

Equipment & Vehicles: Casey Knight

Simply Southern, The Second Season

It’s been a year since Alabama Farmers Cooperative and the Alabama Farmers Federation launched their new television show, "Simply Southern." The second season and all-new episodes begin January 3!

"Simply Southern" introduces you to the very stuff that makes the South the place we call home: a place steeped in time-tested tradition, family values and lifestyles. It is television families can sit down and enjoy together as they see the many wonderful people, places and activities Alabama and surrounding states have to offer.

Left, “Simply Southern Television Show” gets ready for its second season. The staff members are (from left) Samantha Carpenter, social media and reporter; Mike Moody, art director; Jim Allen, executive director, co-host and reporter; Sidney Phelps, reporter; Kevin Worthington, director and reporter; Mary Johnson, co-host and reporter; Matt Wilson, producer; and Jeff Helms, executive producer. A few scenes from the upcoming season of “Simply Southern.” Above, scenes from the upcoming season.

Hosted by Mary Johnson and Jim Allen, each 30-minute episode contains different segments illustrating different aspects of life in the Southeast. One focuses on unique or special places and events around the region. Another segment will take a look at rural youth with reporter Samantha Carpenter. In a third segment, Kevin Worthington shows us the many contributions agriculture makes to our lives and economy. And to top it off, Sidney Phelps with Bonnie Plants brings you a very popular segment on gardening.

To our current audience, thank you so much for making "Simply Southern" a mainstay of your Sunday mornings! To those of you not familiar with the show, we look forward to having you with us this year! If you want to see what the show’s about or if you missed an episode go to and click on Season 1.

We’re always looking for informative, refreshing, upbeat and unique stories our viewers will enjoy. So, if you have an idea for a show, let us know about it. Then don’t be surprised if we show up in your neck of the woods!

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "It was obvious Delores had gotten too big for her britches when she won the spellin’ bee at school and thought she was smarter than everybody else."

What does winning a contest have to do with the size of clothing?

"Too big for your breeches" or "too big for your britches" is a phrase that means a person is conceited or has too high opinion of him/herself.

It is first found in print in "An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East," 1835, written by Davy Crockett:

"I myself was one of the first to fire a gun under Andrew Jackson. I helped to give him all his glory. But I liked him well once: but when a man gets too big for his breeches, I say, Good bye."

Those of a certain age will probably best recall Davy Crockett as "the king of the wild frontier" from the 1950s television show and put him in the same category as fictional folk heroes like the Cisco Kid and the Lone Ranger. Crockett was, however, a real-life U.S. politician who represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A later alternative version of the phrase – "too big for his boots" – is found in both the United States and the United Kingdom from the 1860s onwards and may have originated in either place. The first example found comes from the pen of the Scots writer Laurence Lockhart in the novel "Doubles and Quits" that was serialized in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1868:

"I could scarcely repress an exclamation of wrath and disgust when I saw him lolling familiarly in my arm-chair. He was getting too big for his boots; and then his abominable tobacco and whisky – faugh! It was insufferable."

Stop Looking at Antlers to Judge a Buck!

Can you tell how old this buck is without seeing his antlers?

How does a landowner or hunting club set rules for buck harvest to promote quality deer management?

by Chuck Sykes

Two months ago, I wrote about the hardships the Wildlife and Fisheries Division and the Conservation Department as a whole have faced over the past few years with monetary transfers to the General Fund Budget. Last month, I wrote about more political issues concerning public hunting land in Alabama. I need a break from policy and political issues. I used to have a fun job where I discussed land management and wildlife-related topics. So, this month I’m stepping away from the political issues and putting my biologist hat on to write this article.

Some of the most frequently asked questions I hear around the hunting camp are "What bucks do we need to shoot in order to reach our goal of quality deer management?" and "Shouldn’t we kill those cull bucks with one good and one bad antler?" Of course, there are many more questions, but these two arise during every discussion around deer camp. I wrote on the topic of "cull bucks" in the February 2015 issue, so I will leave that topic out of this discussion for the most part and simply focus on what bucks to shoot for quality deer management.

Top left, this yearling buck looks like a doe with antlers. Slender neck, baby face, streamlined body, long legs and thin antlers are all characteristics to look for. Bottom left, This buck has a slightly thicker body than the yearling. However, he still looks long legged, has very little muscle tone, neck is similar width to the face and still has relatively thin antlers. Top right, this buck has the appearance of a finely tuned athlete. Good muscle tone throughout the body, legs and shoulders have definition, neck is wider than the face, especially during the rut, and antlers are getting heavier. Bottom right, for the purposes of this article, I am not going to distinguish between 4-year-old and older bucks. These bucks are mature and appear to be short legged due to well-defined shoulders, stomach and waist. There is no distinction between the neck and body, and the antlers are considerably more massive.

The single most important trait to consider when setting buck harvest criteria is AGE. I don’t care what a buck looks like; DO NOT shoot him until he is at least 3 years old. Keep in mind that a 3-year-old buck has only reached approximately 75 percent of his potential. The excuse of "I can’t tell how old they are" doesn’t hold water. Deer, just like people, exhibit certain physical characteristics that will make their age apparent to the hunter who pays attention.

With trail camera technology available to most hunters, aging deer on the hoof is much easier than in the past. The key is not to obsess on a buck’s antlers. Look at body characteristics to determine age. One of the greatest benefits in using trail cameras to inventory bucks is that they take away the element of surprise in many cases. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to hunters who have experienced severe cases of ground shrinkage when they approach a downed buck. The adrenaline rush and excitement of the hunt (glimpsing a buck chasing a doe) can in many cases make bucks look larger than they actually are. By spending time reviewing trail camera images of deer on your property, even a fleeting glimpse of a deer may jog a recollection of which deer it is and prevent an accidental harvest from occurring.

Here is the best way to set buck harvest criteria for your property:

Utilize trail cameras to inventory the bucks on your property.

Place the bucks into groups based on body characteristics.

Select the group of bucks that best represents the middle-age (3-year-old) category.

Set harvest restrictions to protect the younger bucks (yearling and 2-year-old age classes. Weight, antler circumference or main beam length are good indi- cators). Do not set point restrictions; they are only short-term fixes!

To carry the quality management plan to the next level, only harvest mature (4-year-old or older) bucks.

For more information on how to set up harvest restrictions for quality deer management or any wildlife management questions, contact the WFF office in your district and ask to speak with the technical assistance biologist.

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

Tank De-Icers

10 qt. heated flat-back bucket

by John Sims

Winter is here and in full swing. If you’re getting tired of breaking ice or trying to thaw out the water source for your livestock, your local Quality Co-op has several solutions. Each type of de-icer is designed to warm the water just enough to help prevent freezing, not make the water hot.

Heated buckets come in either 9 quart (473938) or 16 gallon (473937) sizes.

Heated flat-back buckets come in either 10 quart (473940) or 5 gallon (473939) sizes.

Drain plug de-icers fit a ¾" drain hole (470904) or a Rubbermaid tank (474901).

For open water troughs, we offer a floating tank de-icer (470903). We even have a pail de-icer (476205).

However you provide water to your livestock, let us help you keep it flowing this winter.

Check out the following products at your local Quality Co-op:

Drain plug de-icer

• 470904 #2002DP universal drain plug de-icer

1500W 120volts

Over-temperature protection

Universal fit for ¾" or larger

Adjustable standoffs prevents element fromcontacting tanks

• 470901 #15DP drain plug de-icer

1500W 120volts

Over-temperature protection

Safe for Rubbermaid tanks

Thermostatically controlled

• 476205 #250D pail de-icer

200W 120volt

Pails, pans & bird baths

Adjustable mounting clamp

Floating tank de-icer

• 470903 #7521 floating tank de-icer

1500W 120volts

Over-temperature protection

Stainless steel element

Float in plastic housing and will not sink over time

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

The Co-op Pantry

I hope your new year is off to a great start! January is always the month when we make resolutions that we break in a week’s time, especially the dieting ones. So my only commitment this year is to love my family and friends. I am going to make a conscious effort to be nicer, kinder and spend as much time with them as possible.

I lost so many friends last year, and some of them were quite young. There is no age on death. From the child lost to cancer and people close to me being diagnosed with cancer, some who have passed away and the rest fighting the good fight. An old high school friend had a son who survived several tours in the Middle East and came home and died in an a stupid, unnecessary traffic accident. So, if you feel you must make a resolution, love the ones close to you, get your medical check-ups – they are your best defense, drive defensively, eat properly, exercise and stick around to read the Pantry each month!

One way I show my love for people is through food; so this month we are going to look at some delightful and colorful recipes to give to your family and friends. All these recipes can be adjusted to the season of the year or the occasion. Red, green and gold bows and ribbons for Christmas, pretty pastels for Easter, vibrant colors for summer, and autumn colors for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Use your imagination on decorating. Don’t forget to attach the recipe on a pretty card to those that will need preparing!

These recipes or ideas are not original to me, I have been given the recipe or have received them as a gift.

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


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup candy-coated dark or milk chocolate pieces

½ cup flaked coconut

½ cup honey-roasted peanuts or chopped pecans

Layer ingredients in a 1-quart glass jar, 32-ounce canister or container with a tight-fitting lid, adding each one at a time in order listed. Tap jar gently on the counter to settle each layer before adding the next.

Give as a gift (or store the layered jar of cookie ingredients at room temperature up to 1 month) and attach a recipe card with the following instructions:

½ cup butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in jar contents until combined.

Drop by 2-Tablespoon portions or by using a medium cookie scoop 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Lightly press down to flatten.

Bake at 350° about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Makes 20 cookies.

Note: Layers of flour, brown sugar, coconut, chocolate pieces and peanuts appeal to the baker who receives this gift in a jar. Include a cookie scoop for an added touch.


1½ cups dehydrated mixed vegetables

1 ounce (1/4 cup) dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)

2 Tablespoons instant chicken bouillon granules

1 Tablespoon dried minced onion

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

1-2 teaspoons Mexican, fajita, Jamaican jerk or Cajun seasoning

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

½-¾ teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper, cayenne pepper or ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

½ cup dried pinto beans

½ cup dried red kidney or black beans or dry cranberry beans

½ cup dried navy beans or dry Great Northern beans

Corn chips

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

For seasoning mix, in a small plastic bag, combine first nine ingredients. Seal; set aside.

For soup mix, layer in a 1-quart glass jar, 32-ounce canister or container with a tight-fitting lid the beans in order listed. Tap jar gently on the counter to settle each layer before adding the next. Place bag of seasoning mix in jar. Cover the jar.

Give as a gift (or store the layered jar of soup ingredients at room temperature up to 1 month) and attach a recipe card with the following instructions:

Before using, remove seasoning mix; set aside.

Rinse beans. In a large saucepan, combine beans and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans.

In the same saucepan, combine beans, 6 cups fresh water and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer covered for 1¼-1½ hours or until beans are tender. Be sure to discard bay leaves.

This can also be prepared in a crockpot! Rinse beans. Place in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 4 cups cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Rinse and drain beans. Transfer beans to a 3½- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add 6 cups fresh water and seasoning mix. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8-10 hours or on high heat setting for 4-5 hours. Again, discard bay leaves. Stir before serving.

Serve soup topped with corn chips. If you like, sprinkle each serving with cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Note: This Spicy Three-Bean Soup makes a fantastic dinner in a jar! Include a package of corn chips and you have given someone a meal.


2 cups regular rolled oats

½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped, or almonds, slivered

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash ground allspice or nutmeg

Dash salt

¼ cup butter

2 Tablespoons honey

½ cup dried fruit (such as raisins, golden raisins, currants, tart red cherries, blueberries, cranberries, snipped apricots, snipped apples and/ or snipped dates) (optional)

Lightly grease a 15x10x1 baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat butter and honey over medium heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the oats mixture; toss to coat. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake at 300° for 15-20 minutes or until light brown, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove from oven. If you like, stir in dried fruit.

Spread granola on a large piece of foil to cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days (or place in freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months).

Note: You can eat this as cereal with milk, add to a parfait or just put in a Ziploc bag and munch.

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! Any featured cooks during 2016 will receive a free copy of our new cookbook. - Mary


Really delicious bark depends on good chocolate, so buy the best you can afford. Use about a pound of dark, milk or white chocolate. Please don’t use chips, they just won’t work for this recipe.

Finely chop the chocolate and melt it in a microwave or double-boiler. For best results, consider tempering, a controlled melting method that yields "snappier" bark and helps ward off bloom (a beige residue that often appears on chocolate). Spread chocolate on parchment paper or waxed paper and top as desired. Let bark set up in a cool room (or, in a pinch, in the fridge). Break or chop into bite-size pieces, stealing a few morsels for sampling, of course. Some toppings to consider are toasted shredded coconut, toasted slivered almonds and sea salt, or caramel nibs, all of these you can find in most grocers’ baking aisles.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1½ cups mashed banana (4 to 5 medium)

1 cup sugar

½ cup cooking oil or melted butter

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and ½ inch up the sides of one 9x5x3 pan or two 7½x3½x2 loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, banana, sugar and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 55-60 minutes for single pan or 40-45 minutes for loaf pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan(s) on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan(s). Cool completely on rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Note: Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger flavor this moist banana bread. Make banana bread when your bananas get brown polka dots on them.


6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces
20-24 plastic spoons
6 ounces white baking bar

In a heavy saucepan, heat chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until it begins to melt. Immediately remove from heat; stir until smooth. Dip half of the spoons into chocolate, tapping handle of each spoon against side of pan to remove excess chocolate. Place spoons on waxed paper; refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow chocolate to set.

In a heavy saucepan, heat baking bar over low heat, stirring constantly until it begins to melt. Immediately remove from heat; stir until smooth. Dip remaining spoons into the baking bar, tapping handle of each spoon against side of pan to remove excess. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

Place the remaining melted white baking bar in a small, self-sealing heavy plastic bag. Using scissors, make a small opening at one bottom corner of the bag; drizzle one or both sides of the chocolate-coated spoons.

Do the same with remaining chocolate and drizzle on white baking bar-coated spoons.

Refrigerate spoons for 30 minutes to allow drizzle to set. Wrap each spoon separately and store in cool, dry place for 2-3 weeks.

Note: A nifty way to give this as a gift is to find a pretty teacup and saucer, and small and medium clear cellophane bags. Place the number of spoons you wish to give in the small bag and tie with colorful ribbon. Place the wrapped spoons in the cup and saucer and place in the medium bag with a bow or ribbon. Attach whatever you wish in the way of decorations or a personally made gift card.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon dried cilantro or parsley
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8x4x2 loaf pan. Place first 6 ingredients in a bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese. In a bowl, combine milk and egg. Add to crumb mixture all at once. Stir quickly with a fork to moisten. Spread in prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto wire rack; cool completely. Makes 12 servings.

Note: The basic mix (first 6 ingredients) can be mixed ahead and stored up to 1 month. When you’re ready to bake the bread, add fresh herbs and cheddar cheese for a flavor-packed option.


2¼ cups white sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
½ cup pecans, chopped
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Pour sugar into a clean, dry 1-quart jar. Press down firmly. Add cocoa and press down firmly. Pour in pecans, making sure pecans are evenly layered in the jar. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Pour into the jar and cover. Attach the directions to the jar:

Brownie mix
¾ cup butter or margarine, softened
4 eggs, beaten

Empty mix into large bowl. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add butter/margarine and eggs. Mix until completely blended. Spread batter onto lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pan and cut into 2-inch squares.

The Endgame

Just because there may be snow on the ground and the calendar says December or January doesn’t mean rut activity is finished. Bucks are still ready to breed at the first sign of a hot doe. (Credit: Critterbiz)

Tactics for Late Season Bucks

by Todd Amenrud

The flurry of peak rut may be over, but bucks are still ready to breed at the drop of a hat. Any sign of a receptive doe can encourage them to go berserk again. In some areas not all the does get successfully bred the first try or, for that matter, the second time. Some people call it a secondary rut. It’s a fact; sometimes a few does will make it through a couple of estrus cycles before being effectively bred. This often happens in areas where there are too many does.

If there’s snow during this time, their food sources become limited as well. All the chlorophyll has dropped from the plants, crops have been harvested, food is harder for them to come by and preferred food sources become much easier to locate. With snow, tracks are much easier to see and favorite travel routes become obvious.

After all the does are bred, whitetails will start re-creating their social structures. The bucks start to tolerate each other more and the does start to socialize in their doe/fawn family groups. Alpha-grandmother does slowly start to become the dominant deer in the area again. Many times, if the snow is early enough, you can catch them going into their winter patterns while there’s still time left in the season.

On the other hand, sometimes they’ll totally vacate an area for one that will sustain them during the harsh months ahead, often referred to as deer yards. Look for areas with conifer trees and thicker brush to protect them from the elements and plenty of browse species. They are usually easier to predict in their winter patterns. That is why, either way, late season is my favorite time to hunt.

Some hunters feel that all their scouting was done earlier in the year and now is time to hunt and reap the rewards. While I somewhat agree, I put in just as much time scouting during late season as I do any other time of the year. Things are changing dramatically in the whitetail’s world during December and January, and it’s important you stay on top of the changes.

Late season is a great time to intercept bucks cruising for that last receptive doe. Estrus scents like Special Golden Estrus or breeding scents like Active Scrape can work well during this period. A couple years ago I was fortunate enough to harvest a nice 6x5 during December by placing out four scent wicks soaked with Special Golden Estrus. Once he got about 70 yards downwind of the scent, he came right in with his nose waving in the air.

Although there are many scent scenarios you can create, during late season your application methods are a bit more limited. In deep snow, scent trails are more difficult to create. Just simply luring deer from downwind with scent-soaked wicks is a simple method to use. Place out your wicks at your maximum confident shooting range crosswind from your position so you’ll lure in deer from downwind before they get straight downwind from you.

Most hunters put away their Magnum Scrape Drippers because they will freeze … and that’s true if you have freezing temperatures and you still hang them in the shade. However, if you hang them directly where they will receive the daytime sun, the dark dripper cover and black dripper hose absorbs the heat from the sun and will continue to drip even with nighttime highs in the 20s. Just make sure to leave plenty of space in the dripper’s bottle – DON’T fill it up. About two ounces is the most I would suggest during late season. A Magnum Dripper really increases your available tactics for late season.

Decoys are another tool I enjoy deploying during the 11th hour. Since throughout this time, whitetails are trying to increase their weight and fat reserves to help them through the dead of winter, they spend a lot of their time putting on the feed bag. Thus we often end up hunting their food sources such as a plot of brassicas or agricultural field. This makes the perfect situation to use a decoy. The purpose of a decoy is to be seen, and food plots and other open areas with long lines of sight provide the perfect opportunity.

Mature bucks will often swing downwind of their supposed motionless, herd companion before closing the distance; so I will sometimes use scent around the decoy to help seal the deal. Some Golden Buck or Golden Doe, depending upon the scenario you’re presenting, can be a big confidence builder. I will occasionally use a small buck standing over a bedded doe, resembling a buck chasing a doe and they’ve taken a breather for a minute. Some Special Golden Estrus on a Key Wick in close proximity to the doe decoy can be the last thing your buck smells.

Don’t put the scent directly on the decoy; put it on a wick and place it in close propinquity. Otherwise, you have to scrub down your decoy every time you use it because it smells like last week’s pee. Keep the decoy as scent-free as possible and place your scent on a wick; it’s much easier.

This time is special to me – the last gun hunter has passed through, the crops are down and many times there’s a blanket of snow covering the ground. The foliage is off the trees, deer are re-creating their social structures and tracks are easy to pick up in the snow. Late season can be the time to catch up with a true wall hanger.

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

The FFA Sentinel: Amplifying Agriculture

Over 65,000 FFA members, advisors, supporters and guests were in attendance at the 88th National FFA Convention.

FFA members attend 88th National Convention.

by Ethan Mobley

The National FFA Organization was formed in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928. Thirty-three farm boys met at the Baltimore Hotel to form the Future Farmers of America, as it was then named. Since then all 50 states along with its two territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have been chartered into the organization. An emblem with five distinctive symbols and a blue corduroy jacket have become synonymous with leadership, growth and success through the organization. Alabama received its charter in 1929 and became the 36th state to receive one. Since then we have grown into a successful state association producing thousands of leaders and agriculturalists. The Alabama FFA sent a total of 798 students to the 88thNational FFA Convention this year, held in Louisville, Ky., October 28-31 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

The theme of this year’s convention was "Amplify." FFA members from around the country were treated to amazingly talented and gifted national band and chorus performances, and speakers who challenged all FFA members, advisors and guests to amplify themselves. Motivational speakers such as Rick Rigsby, Brad Montague and Amberley Snyder entertained as well as inspired FFA members to greatness and to never give up. Our National FFA Officer Team also inspired us during their retiring officer addresses. Outside of the sessions, many other opportunities for FFA members could be found as Louisville became a sea of blue and gold.

The 88th National FFA Convention celebrated the 50th anniversary of the merger of the New Farmers of America and the Future Farmers of America.

One of the largest attractions at the convention is the National FFA Exposition. The attraction draws exhibits from many agricultural industries and FFA supporters across the globe. The exposition center was blanketed in blue jackets, many with the large yellow letters of Alabama written across the back. Enjoying exhibits was a great way for all FFA members and guests to learn about career success. Next door, performing at the food court, was the national talent show. This has always been a huge entertainment and competition at the National Convention. The Red Bay Chapter string band represented the Alabama FFA and performed throughout the convention and around Louisville to audiences of thousands.

Career Development Events are another way for active FFA members to express themselves and grow. Alabama FFA competed in a number of events. The first place competitor (or team) from each state competed in the various National CDEs to create a silver-lining experience for each competitor. These events were complemented by the many other opportunities our organization has to offer. One of these opportunities is the Supervised Agricultural Experience participated in by thousands of students nationwide. These agricultural experiences, taking place outside of the classroom, were rewarded with Proficiency awards along with the National Star Farmer award for the best of the best.

The National FFA Organization remains the largest student-led agricultural organization due to the fact that its governing body is comprised of students. This governing body is made up of 475 delegates representing members from each of the 52 associations. Alabama’s representation is comprised of the Alabama FFA state officer team, three Alabama district presidents and two Alabama FFA members-at-large. At the 88th National FFA Convention, there was quite a bit of business to debate. Two amendments to the FFA constitution were proposed. The first was to limit the number of delegates to 30 per state. States with fewer than 30 delegates would not be affected, but those with more would be limited. The second item of business was to add a process of ratifying constitutional amendments. This amendment would implement a majority vote of state associations after an amendment had already been passed by two-thirds of the delegate body. An amendment failing the original two-thirds vote would not be voted upon by state associations. The two amendments both failed to pass when voted upon by the delegate body. The delegates from Alabama and many neighboring associations were in favor of the results. Other delegate committees, each with representation from Alabama, discussed and debated their issue and the results were presented at the National Convention. The other "hot topic" was the clarification of official dress.

Our Alabama delegates represented our state well and we appreciate their diligence and service to make the National FFA Organization the premier, youth-leadership organization in the country.

The 88th National FFA Convention was also a milestone as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the merger of the FFA and the NFA. NFA stands for the New Farmers of America. The NFA was a youth agricultural organization formed less than a decade after the formation of the FFA by African-American boys in Tuskegee and was based on the same founding principles as the New Farmers of Virginia, the basis of what is now the National FFA Organization. Before the merger of the NFA and FFA in 1965, the NFA had been chartered in 13 states. What an honor it was to hear from two former NFA members who had a part in the merger of the two organizations.

The 88th National FFA Convention was a one-of-a-kind experience for each of the 65,000-plus members who attended. It was an inspiring, enjoyable and rewarding time for so many of us.

If you are an FFA member, advisor or friend of the FFA and have never experienced your state or the National Convention, I encourage you to take the opportunity to see how FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Ethan Mobley of the Red Bay FFA Chapter is proudly serving as the 2015-2016 North District FFA Vice President and served as a delegate-at-large representing Alabama’s FFA membership at the 88th National FFA Convention.

Time to Choose

by Glenn Crumpler

Green grass, trees, running water, toilet seats, clean bathrooms, showers, drinkable water, washers and dryers, dependable electricity, sewage systems, air conditioning, heating, a home, bed mattresses, blankets, refrigeration, stoves, privately owned vehicles, private property, money in the bank, a job, a garden, medical and dental care, general anesthesia, playgrounds, parks, a yard, toys, hobbies, clothing, personal privacy, police protection, public services, personal freedoms, a safe and clean food supply, firewood, warning labels, safety regulations, freedom of speech, gun ownership, lakes, farms, livestock, machinery, automation, good highways, nice hotels, a general feeling of safety and security, grocery stores, eyeglasses, toiletries, ice, pest control, clean rivers and streams, safe schools for our children, school buses, literacy, a society where most people are friendly and considerate, kind or friendly words, nice buildings, civil engineering, the freedom to vote and have a voice in our government, technology, a clean environment, street lights, window blinds, door locks, department stores, fast food restaurants, safe public transportation, power tools, access to God’s Word, churches and freedom to worship, the knowledge of God’s love and grace ... and the list goes on and on and on of things I have enjoyed, but taken for granted, most of my life!!

Go back over this random list one at a time and add to it as you will. Consider what your life, the life of your family and our society would be like without them if they suddenly ceased to exist.

For two weeks in September, I worked in the Amazonian region of Peru and, for the whole month of October, I served in two Middle Eastern countries. While I was in there, these are just a few of the things I really missed and could not wait to get home to enjoy again!

I know I am spoiled and I did struggle from time to time because I did not have access to these things. I also struggled because I knew the people I was working with would likely never have access to them, nor will most of the people in the world for that matter. As Americans, we are indeed a blessed people!

However, if we are honest, it is easy for us to believe that we as Americans are entitled to or deserving of all these things. We generally are a people with a strong work ethic. Many in our country who have served in the armed forces and other public service roles have sacrificed much and many have paid the ultimate price for us to enjoy these possessions, opportunities and freedoms. We are the most generous nation on Earth. We are historically a God-fearing people. We value our own freedom, and we encourage and even expect other nations to make these freedoms, opportunities and services available to their own people. I believe in all the things we do to help make these possessions and opportunities available, but I also realize our efforts alone do not produce them or necessarily make us deserving! There are people in many nations who do hard manual labor every day. Many are very religious and fight and die in wars for what they believe, yet they do not enjoy the blessings we enjoy.

I believe we as a nation are blessed by God and have experienced His Grace in ways that few, if any other nations, have ever experienced. We only have to look at the history of the nation of Israel to see what happens when God chooses to bless a nation, to provide for a nation and to fight for a nation to see the difference He alone makes. Israel experienced God’s blessing, provision and protection in ways that are truly miraculous and of Biblical proportions!

We need only to focus on the 40-year period from the end of their enslavement by the Egyptians to the time they took possession of the Promised Land to see how their blessings and successes were a direct result of God’s grace. When they could do nothing for themselves, God did for them, whether it was manna from Heaven when they were hungry, water from the rock to quench their thirst, or clothes and shoes that never wore out and that they did not outgrow for 40 years! However, when they became proud and trusted in their own self-sufficiency – God allowed them to see the futility of their own effort! When God fought for them, their small army defeated heavily fortified cities and enemies that outnumbered them multiple times, many times without ever having to use their weapons – yet when they became proud and self-sufficient, they were routed by small, insignificant armies that were just a fraction of their size and might! When God was with them, they flourished and no one could touch them. When they rebelled against God or stepped outside His will and outside the conditions of His blessings, they failed and suffered miserably.

We are indeed a nation of people that are who we are, and who enjoy all that we enjoy, because the God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things has plans for our nation and has chosen to bless us! If Israel, God’s chosen people, could not and cannot succeed without God’s blessing and grace, we nor any other nation should expect anything different.

Scripture tells us that "unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalms 127:1 NIV) We cannot succeed by our military strength, wisdom or hard work alone. If God does not act on our behalf, we will not succeed or survive as a nation.

In Acts 17:26, we read, "From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." We had no input as to when or where we are born! It is nothing but the grace and the will of God that we were born American and enjoy all the blessings God has bestowed upon us as a nation. We and/or our children could have been born as a starving child in Africa or a refugee of a war-torn country. The Bible also tells us, "To whom much has been given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48) With God’s blessings and the opportunities that result comes the responsibility to use those gifts to bless others for His sake.

We are indeed a blessed people, but we have been blessed not because of who we are, but because of His grace and His plans for who He wants us to become! Scripture makes it clear that our blessings are, however, conditional. If we continue to turn our backs on Him and reject Him, and if we continue to be disobedient to His Word, He will give us over to our own desires and our end will come. Without Him, we will become just another story of a once-great nation that is no more!

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." God’s promises are true. We still have hope, but time is indeed short! We must repent and turn back to God with our whole hearts if we are to continue to enjoy His blessings and His grace, and if we are to continue to thrive and exist as a nation. The choice, however, is ours! "Choose this day who you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

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

What’s in Your Wallet?

by Corky Pugh

You can tell a lot about someone by what they have in their wallet or purse. The popular credit card commercial with the line "What’s in your wallet?" has capitalized on this truth and made the saying commonplace.

When my grandfather died, his personal belongings were placed in a tidy, white, cardboard box at the hospital. Preserved in a cedar chest with other sentimental family items and opened many years later, his pocket contents are now displayed in a shadow box over the door at the hunting camp.

Granddaddy’s pocket watch is a vestige of the generation before wristwatches. He never saw a cellphone.

The old Barlow knife had been honed so much that the blades no longer bear their original shape but now appear more like spikes.

And the last plug of Brown’s Mule chewing tobacco that the bigger of the blades cut is right beside the knife. Lord knows, the man loved chewing tobacco, his only vice.

The keyring holds only a key to the 1954 Chevrolet he drove. He came from a generation who saw no need for house keys.

Some loose change, a stub of a wooden pencil, a plastic comb and Granddaddy’s wallet rounded out the contents of his pockets.

The items in the wallet are the most revealing of the man.

The State of Alabama driver’s license bears his name, date of birth, physical description and address. At 85, he was 5 feet 10 inches tall, 135 pounds – fit by general standards. Brown hair, not gray. Brown eyes, but glasses needed to drive.

He had witnessed the advent of driver’s licenses. As Tom Kelly so aptly put it in "Dealer’s Choice," "This state, God love it, did not even require a driver’s license until 1936, and at that time anybody who was already driving went down to the courthouse and bought one. The horse was a substitute for the feet and the automobile was simply the logical improvement of the horse. The thought that any government official, be he national, state or local, would comment on your ability to use any of these conveniences, was foreign. The fact that such people might actually attempt to regulate that use was absolutely inconceivable."

Born in 1884, Martin Newell Barnes saw a world of change during his eight-plus decade lifetime. He lived and witnessed an era of improved land-management practices that converted worn-out, gullied hills and ravines into productive forestland. He witnessed the dramatic decline of quail following the conversion of patch farms into large-scale agriculture and forested acres.

He saw the early years of restoration of deer and turkey populations from the very beginning. And he would be utterly amazed at the relative abundance of most game animals today.

There are several small school pictures of his only grandson, proudly displayed in the clear plastic dividers of the wallet. The skinny, blond kid now bears a strong resemblance to his grandfather in physical appearance and personality.

Granddaddy’s 1968-1969 Alabama hunting license is there. He believed in abiding by the law, and felt strongly about wildlife conservation. A resident hunting license cost $3 plus an issuance fee of 15 cents back then. The senior over-65 license issued to Alabama residents was 25 cents plus a 15 cent issuance fee.

The seasons and limits and other hunting and fishing regulations for that year were printed on both sides of a single 5.5-by-8.5 inch sheet of paper, and the man carried the document in his wallet for ready reference. One wonders why, because he knew the regulations by heart – eight squirrels a day, eight rabbits a day and ten quail.

The regulations allowed for taking deer and turkeys, but they were so scarce the likelihood of seeing one was slim to nil.

There are two hunting permits. One is handwritten – "M. N. Barnes and party have permission to hunt on my lands. (signed) M. M. Kennedy." My first squirrel was killed scampering across a limb of a big shagbark hickory on this property, and I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday.

The other is a printed permit for open-permit paper company land. This was in the day and age before the leasing of hunting rights began, and anybody could get a free permit to hunt on thousands of acres of land.

Because hunting privileges had little economic value attached, most everybody just went hunting wherever they liked, and ignored or didn’t even know about the legal requirement for a written permit. But M. N. Barnes apparently was concerned enough about the matter to obtain written permission.

Also of particular note was a seed list, neatly written with the short pencil that had been sharpened with the Barlow knife.

The list contained purple hull peas, speckled butterbeans, squash, corn, snap beans … all the man’s favorite foods. Regrettably, his grandson did not inherit his green thumb.

M. N. Barnes grew a garden every year – not a small garden. Usually a couple of acres, enough that he paid his friend Sandy Clausell to break it up with a mule and plow.

Self-sufficiency was important to Granddaddy. He came up hard, made a way for himself and his family, and lived within his means. Although store-bought provisions were certainly a daily part of his life, he never turned loose of the notion that one should be able to grow and kill what they ate.

What’s in your wallet?

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

The Hunting Heritage Foundation is an Alabama non-profit organization established in 2011. To see what HHF stands for, go to the website at You can write to us at P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or email

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