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July 2009

4-H Encourages Playing it Safe

4-H introduces many Alabama young people to the joys of fishing, but activities around the water require extra vigilance. And if that’s a “keeper” we need to get it on ice!

By Amy Payne Burgess

Those of us who work with young people – and who have children ourselves – are worriers. We worry the kids may be in car wrecks on the way to 4-H events. We worry about what bacteria may be growing in the banana pudding at family reunions. We worry mosquito or tick bites may lead to painful illnesses. We worry about sunscreens and playgrounds and bathtubs. Concern comes with responsibility. But we also realize children must develop independence and autonomy, and we can’t hover over them for the rest of their lives.

There is much to be said for the old admonition to "bring up a child in the way that he (or she) should go." Since simply telling a child to "Be careful!" is a waste of breath, we adults should teach sensible safety through the models we set and through the good-sense guidelines we give to children. For example, we know seatbelts prevent critical injuries, but if we don’t wear them ourselves, we are demonstrating a dangerous standard for kids. With kids "do as I say, not as I do" has never carried much weight.

Summer time is not without its own safety issues. Although we in Alabama are blessed to have a long season for outdoor activities, our active lifestyle carries its own special risks. That requires a special vigilance for 4-H leaders, parents and anyone else who has a responsibility for young people.

Riding an ATV requires special equipment and special training. 4-H is a leader in training young people in ATV safety.

Safety on the Road

Alabama has the second-highest rate of fatal crashes involving a teen driver – something that should scare every parent and make them a little angry. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in this age group. In 2004, 4,767 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than other age groups. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

Within the past decade or so, an incredible monster has been unleashed on American drivers: the cell phone. Research shows motorists who talk on handheld or hands-free cellular phones are as impaired as drunken drivers. There are daily news reports of kids causing fatalities because they are on the phone and are not focusing on the task of driving. Again, if it’s okay for Mom to talk (or text!) on the phone, why shouldn’t it be okay for me? Maybe the question should be "If I shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving, then why should Mom or Dad?" If that was the case, there would be more people giving turn signals and fewer people wrecking cars.

Boating Safety

More than 70 million Americans enjoy recreational boating each year. Annual boat registrations have increased steadily from just over 10 million in 1988 to 12.7 million in 2006. During this same time period, boating-related fatalities have decreased, due in part to increased use of life jackets or personal flotation devices.

Young people in 4-H activities are required to wear life jackets – no ifs, ands or buts about it. Every year we see heart-breaking stories of Alabama kids dying in boating accidents. Nine out of ten people who drown are not wearing life jackets, so such loss of life is especially tragic. And the statistics show alcohol involvement is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents, contributing to about one in five reported boating deaths.

Learning to cook the 4-H way means practicing good food safety.

Staying Safe in the Kitchen

Foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Sure, we are made aware of things like Salmonella, Listeria and Toxoplasma when a food processor does something stupid, but there are more illnesses because Granddad didn’t wash his hands before grilling the hamburgers or because little Susie didn’t put the tuna salad back into the refrigerator.

Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling food. Thoroughly wash your countertops, and your pots, pans and utensils. Marinate foods in the refrigerator. Use a meat thermometer. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Safe in Every Season

Safety may not be the first thing on your mind when you, your family and friends head outdoors to swim, picnic or do the wonderful things we all enjoy during summertime. But some things, like good driving techniques and food safety, are important all year long.

Amy Payne Burgess is an 4-H Regional Extension Agent for DeKalb, Marshall and Cherokee Counties.



4th of July Festivities Swell Tiny Community


Frank Carlisle of China Grove was the 2008 4th of July Parade Grand Marshal.

China Grove Parade is a “Step Back in Time” Celebration

By Kellie Henderson

Just a few miles from the roar of summertime traffic racing up and down US Highway 231 lies the tiny Pike County community of China Grove. With a population hovering between 25 and 30, this sleepy stretch of countryside awakens every July 4th for a parade that’s a step back in time.



Clockwise from top left, Butch Royal of Grady waves to the crowd while driving his mules and wagon, one of several mule teams in attendance at the 2008 parade; motorcycle enthusiasts from surrounding counties make a strong showing at the parade, some decorating their rides for the occasion; this 1954 Ford Thunderbird showed off its classy style; and Jaslyn Nichols (left) reaches for another handful of candy to throw to the crowd as Brenda Peacock drives her tiny horse and cart along the parade route.

Those in attendance won't find barricades between the crowd and the actual parade. Indeed, with no official entry required and everyone decked out in red, white and blue, there’s hardly any difference at all between spectators and exhibitors. And people actually still throw candy to children of all ages who come out to celebrate our nation’s independence with family and friends.

Among the many unique entries in the parade is this beautiful wooden boat owned by David and Carol Baker of Montgomery. The boat has made the trip to China Grove several years and is always filled with patriotic children.

And for that one day, the population of China Grove swells exponentially.

"Last year, one estimate put the crowd at 2,800," said Diane LaFountaine who is one of the parade’s originators.

This year’s will be the 10th China Grove 4th of July Parade, an event Diane said began as a kind of joke.

"For the first couple of years, it was just four or five of us with carts and riding mowers parading while four or five other people laughed and shook their heads," Diane explained.

While it may not have grown into the type of production sporting larger-than-life balloons and marching bands, no one should rule them out.

"There’s no way of knowing what all people will bring for the parade," Diane said.

Clockwise from top left, hats and tiaras are common accessories for parade participants, with one little girl sporting a red, white and blue version of Lady Liberty’s crown; one of the quietest entries in last year’s parade was a young girl in her Barbie Jeep, powered by her grandpa; and Comer Phelps drives the tractor pulling members of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.

There are motorcycles, fire engines, and decorated trucks and trailers like one might find in municipal parades, but the list of entries doesn’t stop there by any means. If it walks, cranks or rolls, it just might be in the China Grove 4th of July Parade.

Carts and wagons pulled by all manner of equines as well as go-carts, golf carts, four-wheelers and riding lawnmowers all make their way through the parade route. The same goes for antique tractors, cars and boats. Last year’s parade even included a grandpa-pushed Barbie Jeep and an engine-revving General Lee just like the Duke boys used to drive.

Not only do these riders and wagon show their patriotic colors but the mules sport theirs too.

"One year this guy on a tractor as big as my house joined in the parade and we all thought, ‘Where in the world did that come from?’ When his picture was in the paper’s parade coverage, I heard the guy driving got in a little trouble because he was supposed to be plowing a field nearby with that tractor," Diane laughed.

In addition to the parade itself, visitors to China Grove can take a sip down memory lane at the old store owned by Diane and husband Hank LaFountaine. The couple has plenty of ice-cold, glass-bottle cokes available and checkers set up on the front porch. After the parade, slices of cold watermelon produce dripping chins while the Meeksville Volunteer Fire Department sells plate lunches featuring the special-recipe barbecue of local legend Chicken Harvis. Various church youth groups sell treats like lemonade, popcorn, snow cones and ice cream, too.

"The parade has provided the opportunity for these groups to have successful fundraisers, but we don’t have vendors and the parade itself is not out to make money. That’s not what the day is about. We just want everybody to have fun," Diane said.

And to keep the day fun, Diane reminded parade-goers to bring their lawn chairs, and to keep cool and hydrated. She also suggests arriving well-before the official 10 a.m. start of the parade as the roads will be closed as parade time approaches.

"This year we’re going to have lots of volunteers to help with parking, and we’re changing up the line-up time to 9 a.m. instead of 9:30 because the parade has gotten longer. We just continue to have things in the parade we never thought we’d have," she added.

There are queens of fictitious pageants complete with sashes and tiaras sporting titles reflecting neighboring small communities (like Miss Orion) as well as titles related to favorite pastimes (like Little Miss Shell Cracker and Little Miss Bluegill). Last year’s parade included a bass boat filled with camouflage-clad Vikings. Other parade riders were dressed in every conceivable combination of stars and stripes, and viewers stood to applaud when a single soldier marched down the center of the road presenting Old Glory.

But the magic of this home-spun parade isn’t the crepe paper streamers or the Uncle Sam hats. It’s the atmosphere of kindness surrounding the parade. Country-club matrons and dirt-road cowboys become neighbors as they line up their folding chairs along the shoulder of the road. Viewers who couldn’t find a shady spot to watch the parade are offered sunscreen from the patriotic tote-bags of strangers. As the parade participants toss candy, teens who typically couldn’t be bothered by little kids are scrambling to catch a sucker for a child they’ve just met. People looking for the family they were supposed to meet at the parade run into friends they haven’t seen in years, and they share funny stories about the ways they first found out about the China Grove Parade.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.



A Cinch In Time

By Baxter Black, DVM

Cowboys can be quite creative when hard times cut into the daily operating expenses. Take Roy’s cousin BB. One of BB’s heifers had come off his badlands and crossed onto Roy’s pasture.

On that fateful day, BB had driven his pickup and gooseneck trailer to Roy’s place to pick him up, Roy wasn’t quite ready. His cinch had worn down to two flimsy cords.

"Did you happen to bring an extra cinch?" he asked.

"No," said BB, "But I can make one out of a gunny sack."

He dumped the tire chains out of a greasy tow sack. Roy thought he had been around, but this ingenious thinking was a new wrinkle to him. Roy watched his cousin slip-knot one end through the offside cinch ring, fold the other end over the tongue and through the ring on the left side ring, and then stitch it.

"This baling wire makes good thread," he explained.

Half an hour later they were pushing the heifer back toward BB’s piece of the Pine Ridge Rez.

"Keep her to the badland side," instructed Roy. "Don’t let her get over on the prairie dog side or we’ll lose her!"

Of course, the heifer took off in the direction of the prairie dog town!

"Rope her!" yelled Roy.

BB missed, but Roy was right behind and caught her. She was tied hard and fast!

"See if you can catch the heels," said Roy.

BB missed several times, but in his defense the heifer was windmilling like a carnival ride!

"Hold up," yelled Roy. "Swap horses with me and hold the head. I’ll take your rope and heel her. We’ll tie her down and go get the trailer."

A great plan.

BB eased over and they traded horses. Just about the time Roy started building a loop, the heifer, tired of the harassment, started up BB’s rope!

"Pick up yer slack!" yelled Roy, "Pick up yer slack!"

Too late! The heifer rammed into BB, still on Roy’s horse, more importantly still in Roy’s saddle, bounced off and headed straight away from the scene of the crime!

The gunny sack cinch had slackened considerably. BB reflected later they do stretch for a couple days. When the heifer hit the end of the line, the saddle slicked off right over the horse’s head with BB still in the stirrups! He hit the ground, made a couple bounces, grabbed the horn, lost his stirrups and started spinning like a broken lure in a bass pond as he sailed along behind the galloping heifer! He made one gallant effort to pull himself back in the saddle but stuck his boot toe in a prairie dog hole and was peeled off like a booster rocket from Apollo 13!

Back at the ranch later that evening, BB decided he would discard his patent application for the gunny sack cinch repair kit.

"Probably wise," said Roy, "but it did make a handy sling for your dislocated shoulder."

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



Blount Co. Cotton Farmers “Go Nuts”


Pat Whitley (left) and Jim Miller are standing in between the rows of Miller’s Florida 07 peanuts.

Sand Mountain’s Soil Perfect for Growing Peanuts

By Mary-Glenn Smith

It’s been said "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," but in the case of Blount County cotton farmers Pat Whitley and Jim Miller the tough get "growing."

With cotton mills shutting down all across the country, farmers are looking for alternative methods to make a dollar and stay ahead while battling the economic crisis wearing on American’s day-to-day living.

This year, instead of planting a thousand acres of cotton on his Snead farm, Whitley has tilled up part of the land for a new crop not usually found in the northern part of the state: peanuts.

Whitley is a third-generation cotton farmer and has made a living for himself and his family by working the fields of his family’s farm since he was 18 years old. Whitley, Blount County’s largest cotton producer, also grows soybeans and corn. In addition to his successful row crop operation, he also operates six poultry houses on the 1,100-acre spread.

Back in the fall, Whitley along with fellow cotton farmer, Jim Miller, set out on a mission to find a way to overcome the depressed cotton market. While at the cotton conference in San Antonio, they began discussing the idea of growing peanuts.

"It’s getting harder to compete in the cotton market, so we were trying to find a crop to help us compensate for it," Whitley said.

After talking with a fellow farmer from Escambia County, Whitley and Miller found a company interested in hauling peanuts from North Alabama. In ’84 and ’85, Miller grew peanuts, but found it was too hard to transport them all the way to South Alabama where the peanut dryers were located.

Miller, like Whitley, has been in the farming business most of his life. He began farming in 1964 and has grown mostly cotton, along with soybeans and corn. He has also grown some wheat throughout the years.

Whitley attended various meetings and conferences, and visited other farms throughout the southern part of the state, and decided peanuts would be best suitable for their farming operation.

"Living on Sand Mountain, we have a fine sandy soil which is perfect for growing peanuts," Whitley said.

Alabama ranks third in peanut production among all 50 states. The majority of peanuts are found growing in sandy soils of South Alabama with the counties of Houston, Baldwin, Henry and Geneva ranking at the top of production. It’s rare to find peanuts growing in a county as far north as Blount, but this growing season, thanks to Whitley and Miller’s ambition to prevail in the failing market, passersby will see peanuts popping up in fields along the roadside in the Snead area.

Whitley is growing peanuts for the first time this year on his farm, which has previously been dominated by rows of cotton, to supplement the farm’ income.

"Growing peanuts will also help to rotate the ground for future crops," Whitley added.

Whitley worked May 20-23 planting 140 acres of the high-yielding Florida 07 peanuts on his farm.

"I decided on growing peanuts because our land is in the high nutrient range, due to previous years of using (poultry) litter for fertilizer," Whitley stated. "Therefore, peanuts do not need any additional fertilizer and this helps reduce the cost of planting."

Miller delegated 110.5 acres for peanuts of his 700 acre farm, where rows of cotton, soybeans and grain stood before.

"The soil and the profit potential are similar to cotton," Miller said. "We are not interested in growing grain because we don’t have an irrigation system to support it."

"Like cotton, peanuts can stand dry weather and produce good yields," Miller added.

Spring is a busy time for the farmers; that’s when planting begins and they begin praying the weather will cooperate long enough for them to get the seeds in the ground.

The summer is spent managing the crops. Whitley and Miller work daily to keep the crops clean of weeds and insects.

Then comes the fall —- a time for harvesting. The peanuts will be harvested approximately 145 days from the time they are planted. So in the early days of September to early November, Whitley and Miller are hoping to yield a prosperous crop of peanuts that will bring in the cash.

"We will find a contract buyer to sell the nuts to," Whitley said. "The peanuts will mainly go for the making of candy."

In February, Whitley and Miller partnered up to buy new the equipment necessary for peanut production.

"We bought an inverter. It digs up, shakes and flips over the nuts so the combine can pick them," Whitley described the machine. "We also had to buy a combine. It is different from other combines."

"They are completely different than a grain combine as far as the internal structure," Miller explained. "It has a similar dump basket like a cotton picker, but it’s not like cotton because you can’t auger peanuts."

"I bought the combine and Pat bought the inverter, we are going to swap out using the equipment," Miller added.

If the peanut operation proves to be successful after the harvest, the two are planning on planting peanuts again next year.

"I don’t know if I will plant more than I did this year," Whitley said. "I always make my farm plans in the winter after I have had time to study the previous year."

Mary-Glenn Smith is an AFC intern.



Butler Co. Biomass Fueling Electricity in Europe


Frank Corley has reason smile as debris from a clear-cut patch of forest is chopped up and sprayed into a truck for shipment to Selma where it will be turned into tiny pellets for European markets.

By Alvin Benn

Some call it "biofuel." Others prefer "biodiesel," "biomass" or some other "bio" term to describe a growing trend in America where the search for alternate sources of energy is finally on the front burner.

Butler County forester Frank Corley’s contribution doesn’t involve windmills, tall grass, vegetable oil, animal waste, corn or other possible sources because he’s focusing on what he does best—growing and harvesting trees.

For most of his quarter century in the forest management business, Corley has dealt with the basics of his profession. In the past few years, however, he’s also been concentrating on providing wood chips that will eventually be turned into tiny energy pellets for European markets.

Frank Corley stands in the middle of a clear-cut section of a Butler County forest. His company will soon plant more trees to be harvested in about 12 to 14 years.

The idea is to use the pellets to help displace coal as an energy source in Europe. Anti-coal environmentalists see red every time they think about that form of energy.

While wood pellets may not produce long-term results, Corley believes delivering renewable biomass to local plants to reduce energy costs and improve the environment "is an obtainable solution everyone will buy into."

Corley sees it as the wave of the future as U.S. industrialists and entrepreneurs invest in ideas aimed at solutions to the energy crisis—primarily those not involving foreign oil.

"A wide range of solutions will be tried and a combination of some of them will work long term," said Corley, in "Future Vision," a position paper he wrote to examine America’s energy problems along with possible solutions to them.

Biomass, which is the term Corley likes best, refers to biological material used as fuel or for industrial production. Thanks to Corley’s harvesting efforts, wood pellets are being produced at a plant in Selma and then used to help provide electricity in Europe.

"It is possible, maybe likely, that within the next 10 years, enough consumers of forest energy biomass will emerge to make them the largest consumer of raw forestry material in Alabama," said Corley.

Corley’s company does more than help produce pellets. Thinning stands of trees is also very important to profitability, he said, because removing weaker, smaller trees allows the bigger, healthier ones grow into higher valued products.

Forestry is a demanding business, one encompassing long hours under difficult conditions, but men like Corley love what they do and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

He’s up before the sun on most days and doesn’t get home until it’s setting. During those 14-plus hour days, he’s deep in the woods with his men, supervising, pitching in to help and planning ahead for the next day’s schedule.

A few weeks ago, he was in an area that had been clear-cut, leaving a carpet of chopped trees, branches and leaves all over the place. It wasn’t long before the debris had been shoved into a machine that chopped it all up and sprayed the chips into a tractor-trailer taking it to Dixie Pellets which is located along the Alabama River in Selma.

Most of the pellets are taken by barge to the Port of Mobile for shipment to Europe. Others arrive by 18-wheelers. Each ship heading for Europe carries about 50,000 tons of pellets.

Corley Land Services isn’t just cleaning up after clear-cutting operations. It’s also preparing the area for reforestation to provide more trees for possible pellet production in just over a decade.

On his way to the site, Corley passed by several acres that had been clear cut and left to rot in the sun. It was a mess. Big piles of decaying trees covered part of the area. It might eventually be burned or taken care of by Mother Nature.

That’s one reason the 53-year-old Auburn University (AU) graduate enjoys what he does and isn’t ashamed to call himself a clean-up man.

"You could say I’m taking out the trash," he said, breaking into a big smile as he maneuvered his pickup truck toward the area where clear-cut trees were being fed into a chipping machine. "What we’re doing is important not only for business, but the environment as well."

Corley said clear-cut areas leaving "residual debris" like the one he passed are not unusual in Alabama and other states where forests abound.

He said "whole tree chips" could provide a new outlet for those who own large tracts of forested land. He also was not placing the blame on those who owned the clear-cut area that hadn’t been cleared.

"It’s not that they did a bad job or did not care," he said. "Perhaps the landowner does not care and will not reforest, but in his defense, he is faced with a real expensive mess and probably did not know about whole tree chipping."

If Corley is anything, he’s a realist who knows many of the proposed solutions to the worldwide energy crisis are unlikely to materialize overnight, if at all. That’s why he believes wood is the answer because of its renewable resource advantages.

He said nuclear power plants can take up to two decades or longer to go on-line while converting food to energy "is costly and has already started to demonstrate unexpected negative impacts on our economy."

Corley didn’t mention ethanol and doesn’t have to, not with recent public concerns and doubts about corn and cars.

"Solar and wind will always be around and will work in given situations in limited ways," he said. "After nuclear and food crops, biomass is the next high volume option."

What makes trees so attractive, he said, is the reforestation factor, especially when provided by foresters just like him.

In recent years, Corley has achieved a national reputation for his energy independence efforts and it’s not unusual to see him chatting with foresters and industrial officials who hear about his hard work.

Not long ago, Tommy Tye and Addison Aman of the University of Georgia (UGA) spent several days in the woods, watching Corley’s crew produce wood chips for the Selma plant. They wanted to see how efficient the operation was. It didn’t take them long to reach a positive conclusion.

"He’s got a great reputation," Tye said of Corley. "We’re here to do a time study because we want to see what it costs to run and produce biomass so we can produce energy better and more efficient."

The two UGA representatives said Corley is proving forests can be used to help solve the country’s energy problems along with a side benefit.

"Not only are the wood chips being used for energy production, this is also a clean operation," said Tye. "It’s a synergistic operation that works well for everybody."

Tye also likes the way the area’s wildlife habitat is being protected, especially unpolluted streams.

"You just won’t see a cleaner operation than this one," said Tye. "They’re getting up everything and feeding it into the chipper. So, what you have here is an energy operation leaving behind a clean area."

Corley said there may be other chipper-pellet operations in Alabama "but none can come close to the scale on which we operate here."

He said Georgia is among the biggest biomass-producing states in the country and indicated his operation has achieved its own recognition. He indicated his business ranks among the best in the U.S.

When it comes to forestry experience, Corley would have to be among the best in the business in Alabama. He held several important management positions with Union Camp Corp. and, at one time, was responsible for roads and reforestation on the company’s 250,000-acre Chapman Forest.

Forestry and logging run in his family. He’s the son of a logger and worked his way through Auburn University by operating a small pulpwood operation. He also worked on harvesting research projects at AU.

Auburn continues to hold a special place in Corley’s heart. He serves on three boards at the school and, in 2001, was named alumnus of the year.

Corley and his wife, Susan, who is a third grade teacher, live in Greenville. They have two sons. One, Scott Corley, is a senior majoring in forest engineering at AU. Will Corley is a student at Greenville High School.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Cattleman Answers Call


(From left) Larry Cochran, CCI Board Chairman, and Glenn Crumpler, with Maria Theresa Uranga, owner of a farm in Peru where the CCI team will teach in July.

Glenn Crumpler Combines Passion for Cattle with Ministry

By Grace Smith

The Great Commission: "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘…Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen." — Matthew 28:18-20

Each month while flipping through the Cooperative Farming News(CFN), readers are blessed by the devotion written by Enterprise native Glenn Crumpler. With his encouraging spirit, Glenn uplifts readers by sharing the love of God. Reading his articles, CFN enthusiasts have become acquainted with his monthly devotions, but they may not know how his agricultural ties and passion for cattle production have helped him answer the call of "The Great Commission."




Cow Pokes




David Coggins Uses Bowfishing to Improve Hunting Skills


David Coggins with a large carp he shot on Lake Eufaula.

A growing number of bow hunters are taking up this action-packed sport to keep their bow shooting skills honed year-round

By Ben Norman

As far as most bow hunters are concerned, bow season is over until next year. Bows used for hunting and weekly practice have now been relegated to the closet to wait for another season. But a growing number of bow hunters are discovering bowfishing, an exciting sport that enables bowhunters to keep their shooting skills sharp year-round.

Bowfishing is especially attractive when one looks at the minimal expense required to enjoy the sport. Bowhunters already have the most expensive piece of equipment, the bow. Bowfishermen who stalk lake shores and riverbanks during daylight hours can start enjoying bowfishing by purchasing nothing more than a starter bowfishing kit. The starter kit consists of a fishing arrow, bow reel and line that can be purchased for under $30.

Bowhunters who get bitten by the bowfishing bug usually progress to hunting fish at night from a lighted boat. This is the most exciting and productive way to enjoy this rapidly-growing sport.

Species to Target

Most states restrict the taking of fish with a bow and arrow to non-game species or trash fish. Although regulations vary from state to state, trash fish usually include carp, gar, sucker and catfish. Because they are consistently found in shallow water, gar and carp comprise most of a bowfisherman’s bag.

Coggins with an afternoon “catch” of carp. Behind him is his boat, a wide flat-bottom craft powered by an electric air drive unit.

The European common carp, introduced in this country in the1880s, is the most common carp. They thrive in a variety of water environments and are very tolerant to warm, muddy water conditions. Carp are now one of the most widely-distributed species in the country. Carp are easily identifiable by their heavy body and barbells on both sides of the upper jaw. Color varies from a brassy green to a golden brown with a yellow-white belly.

Other species of carp of interest to bowhunters are the grass carp or white amur, Asian carp, bighead carp and the silver carp. Many biologists are concerned these exotics may have an adverse affect on sport fisheries in the future.

Of these carp, the grass carp is of special interest to bowfishermen. Grass carp are longer and more slender than the common carp and have no barbell on the corners of their mouths. They were introduced in this country in the early 1960s to help control duckweed, green algae and other aquatic plants.

Where legal, grass carp offer the bowfisherman quite a target as 30 to 40-pound fish are common and fish weighing 50 to 60 pounds are frequently taken. Grass carp can be more easily hunted during daylight. Private pond owners often want them removed when they become very large because the amount of vegetation they consume declines. One of the best places to hunt large grass carp is around automatic fish feeders in private ponds. The grass carp is also considered excellent tablefare.

David Coggins (left) and Mylan Beasley with a night’s bag of stingray.

Gars are another favorite target species of bowfisherman. Four species of gar, the long nose, short nose, spotted and alligator gar, are the most common gars bowfishermen will encounter. While the long nose, short nose and spotted gar account for the most gars arrowed, the alligator gar is the prized trophy of the bowfisherman.

Alligator gars are the largest of the gar. It is not uncommon for them to reach six to eight feet in length. The alligator gar tends to stay in deeper, more open water than the other gars. They can be spotted lying near the surface waiting for prey.

Equipment Needed

David Coggins is an accomplished bowhunter and bowfishing guide who began hunting deer with a bow as a teenager. He took up bowfishing to improve his deer stalking and shooting skill.

"I just got tired of shooting targets during the off season and started bowfishing. I started off stalking the banks of small creeks shooting gar and carp. I taped a bow reel on my deer-hunting bow, bought a fishing arrow and some line, and started hunting gar," Coggins explained.

Coggins has used both recurve and compound bows, but prefers the recurve because it is lighter and more conducive to the fast instinctive shooting he does. While some bowfishermen use bow sights, Coggins can get on a fish faster shooting instinctively.

"Beginners should start off using the bow they are familiar with in the 40 to 60 lb. draw weight range. You’ll need to attach a reel to your bow. I use an AMS retriever reel or ‘bottle reel’ loaded with 200 lb. test braided nylon bowfishing line. I also use a Zebco 888 bowfishing reel on one of my bows. Most state laws require you use a solid arrow made of aluminum or fiberglass. I don’t use fletching on my arrows; you don’t need it with a heavy arrow at short range," Coggins said.

Coggins recommended wearing camouflage clothing when stalking stream banks and lakeshores.

"Bowfishing along stream banks and lakeshores is similar to hunting squirrels; you are just watching the water rather than the tree. I wear camo clothing and slow stalk the banks. When I find a likely-looking shallow pool, I take a stand behind a tree at the waters edge and wait. I’ve bagged some big gar and carp this way," Coggins stated.

Bowfishing Boats

While bowfishermen can bag fish by stalking, more action can be had fishing from a shallow draft boat. Coggins said most any small watercraft can be used.

"I’ve fished from most every kind of boat, including canoes, bass boats and custom-made bowfishing boats. A wide, flat-bottom boat powered by an electric trolling motor or air drive unit is best for bowfishing because it allows one to get into the shallow, grassy flats where gar and carp hangout," Coggins said. "Since most bowfishing occurs at night because the fish are not as wary, a light source will be needed. Anything from a coon hunter’s headlamp to a boat lighting system powered by a gasoline generator will work for night time bowfishing.

Coggins bowfishes from a 17-foot-long, 6-foot-wide Carolina Skiff customized for bowfishing.

"I began construction using a basic boat hull powered by a 90 hp outboard. I added an elevated-shooting platform and installed two pedestal seats to shoot from, nine floodlights powered by a gasoline generator and a 14 hp air drive unit. This unit generates enough air propulsion to move the boat slowly across shallow flats," Coggins said.

Bowfishing Tips and Techniques

Coggins explained the best time to bowfish is early spring until late fall because the fish will be in shallow water during this time. He recommended practicing underwater shots on a submerged archery target to get familiar with the aiming problems caused by light refraction.

"Light refraction can be the most challenging obstacle to beginners ," Coggins said. "Get a good pair of wrap-around, polarized sunglasses and practice shooting at an anchored block of foam. Start out with the block one-foot deep. At one foot, you will need to aim three inches below the target. When you get proficient at one foot, move the block to two-feet deep. You will need to aim six inches under the target at two feet. It’s frustrating at first, but most beginners adjust quickly.

According to Coggins, the best place to look for gar is where the weed line and shallow, open water meet.

"Gar will lie just under the surface waiting on bait fish to swim to them. Look closely, as a lot of gar are mistaken for submerged debris. They also like to lie behind a log or brush pile on the down-current side in a stream," Coggins explained.

Coggins said to look for carp and gar anywhere in shallow water. One day you may do better fishing from a boat, the next day you may do better wading a hard-bottom stream. I’ve had gar swim between my legs while wading.

Carp may be in the grass or out on the bare bottom mudflats in a lake. Also, look closely in any shaded area like under docks and where trees cast a shadow," Coggins recommended.

"Shot placement is not as critical in bowfishing as it is in deer hunting. With modern bowfishing arrows, a solid hit will penetrate and usually hold the fish until you can retrieve it. I use a steady retrieve and try to avoid snags. Arrowed fish are just like hooked ones; they’ll try and wrap the line around a snag if they can.".

If you are growing tired of shooting at targets, consider paying a visit to the local archery shop. They will have all you need to get started, from a complete bowfishing kit to instructional videos. But be warned, this is an addictive sport and many bowfishermen have as much money invested in their custom bowfishing rigs as their bass fishing buddies do in their bass boats.

Ben Norman is a freelance writer from Highland Home.



Earl




Elwyn Williamson Has Caught the Daylily “Bug”


Elwyn Williamson shows the edible parts of the daylily flower, which can be used in salads or fried lightly like squash blossoms.

By Suzy Lowry Geno

Elwyn Williamson didn’t start out to be a daylily farmer.

His career took him down many paths, the most notable was owning an insurance agency in Blount County for more than 42 years.

Along the way, both before and during his insurance days, he owned and operated a rural gas station-country store (when U.S. Highway 231 was the main route from the north through Alabama to Florida!), a florist in the late 1960s and a greenhouse for bedding plants until about ten years ago.

But he kind of caught the daylily "bug" by osmosis. His mother-in-law, Imogene Allman, grew and loved daylilies.

Elwyn and his wife, Fay, began to take vacations all over the United States to tour daylily farms with Imogene and Fay’s dad, Hershel.

"Our vacations began to consist primarily of going to Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida and more to visit daylily farms," Elwyn explained. "So in 1985 I thought, let’s grow some and sell them."

He built "three or four raised beds" in 1985 and "began to sell odds and ends."

Part of the two-room cabin at the Williamson’s daylily farm.

That has grown to about an acre-and-a-half of raised beds, with more than 22,000 plants of 250 varieties.

"Raised beds are just so much easier to prepare the soil and to dig," he said.

While he once sold specific types, he now sells mainly by color, and said he really has enjoyed the process even more since his retirement from the insurance business about 18 months ago.

"You can get plants that are beautiful like the Siloam David Kirchoff for about $150 each. But the ones I sell are mostly about $5 a pot; affordable and beautiful for the home gardener.

"I guess they’re so popular because daylilies will grow just about anywhere," Elwyn explained. "I use a combination of mixed soil, top soil, sand and pine bark. They don’t need a lot of fertility.

Some of Elwyn Williamson’s beds were not fully in bloom at the time of this interview. “They’ll be solid blooms by the time the article comes out,” he noted.

"You don’t want to put too much nitrogen; because, if you do, you’ll have a lot of plant and no flowers. I do use some epsom salts on mine sometimes.

"They usually start blooming in the early spring and keep blooming into the late fall. One stalk can have 30 or more blooms, but you have to remember each bloom lasts for only one day. Hence the name.

"This just kind of started as a hobby, but it has grown."

Elwyn sells mainly from the eight-acre family farm atop Straight Mountain on Daylily Lane, and also wholesales to two or three outlets, including Burris Farm Market in South Alabama where one of his daughters works.

The small farm is a story in itself. Fay was born in 1936 in the tiny two-room cabin situated there. Elwyn and Fay began their family, raising their three children there in the 1950s—without indoor plumbing or running water.

"We were happy as we could be living on $32.75 a week!" Elwyn laughed.

Elwyn tries to maintain the little cabin as best he can but he said he’s gotten behind on its maintenance because Fay has endured several health problems in the past few months, which she has hopefully now overcome.

He hopes she’s soon able to be back at the little farm working in the beds or simply resting in the shade of the huge pecan tree which was planted the year she was born!

Last year Elwyn said he was forced to water the plants every day because of the drought, but this year there has almost been too much rain, causing some of the plants to bud and bloom later than usual. But even those in buckets and baskets usually only need watering every other day during the hottest days of summer.

His favorites include the little yellow Conbella and the Spider varieties.

The scientific name for daylily is hemerocallis and they are members of the herbaceous perennial family according to the website www.daylilies.org.

Their original colors were only yellow, orange and fulvous-red but now you may find any colors, including pastels, but brighter colors are still usually everyone’s favorites.

Most daylilies need little care other than watering after they are planted, but once a bed has been established for a year or so, you may need to divide the plants, which is not complicated, Elwyn stated.

Fall, when the plants have quit flowering, is usually the best time to divide them.

A plant which doesn’t have many flowers and whose green foliage is thinning in the middle usually indicates a clump needing dividing.

Use some sort of garden fork (as opposed to a solid tool like a hoe) and press down in the soil a little away from the clump, then ease the fork under the clump to wrest it from the dirt. Once the clump is lifted out, you can generally see the roots’ divisions and can divide by GENTLY pulling them apart or by using the garden fork.

You then have more plants for additional beds or you can share with friends.

Elwyn said, "It’s not complicated.

"I used to have greenhouses. I’ve always been interested in plants."

Being situated in the heart of Straight Mountain, where tomatoes once were king and one of his nephews now has a wide-ranging tomato and pepper farm, tomatoes were once one of his specialties as well.

"In the greenhouses, I’d start the Goliath, which was bigger than Big Boy and Better Boy, and I sold them for garden use. But I sold the greenhouses about ten years ago to just concentrate on the daylilies," he recalled.

In spite of his owning and operating the insurance company for more than four decades (or maybe BECAUSE of it) Elwyn explained, "I’m an outside person. I just have to be outside!"

Elwyn only gives one caution about daylilies during the summer. "When you do water, make sure you water late in the afternoon, after 5 p.m. is usually better. And make sure you run all the hot water out of your hose before you start watering!"

To contact Elwyn Williamson about daylilies you may phone him at (205) 274-7601 or write him at 255 Lakeshore Circle, Oneonta, AL 35121.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County.



Foreign Animal Disease Awareness

By Dr. Tony Frazier

For the past few years, we have entered into a cooperative agreement with USDA Veterinary Services for Foreign Animal Disease Surveillance.

A cooperative agreement works like this: We (the State Veterinarian and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries) propose a work plan and financial plan, USDA reviews the plans, and either approves them or asks us to make revisions and re-submit. When it is finally approved we follow our work plan and USDA provides the agreed upon financial assistance.

When we began work on this year’s foreign animal surveillance cooperative agreement, we wanted to do something in outreach and education that made a significant impact with livestock and poultry producers across the state. In the first work plan we submitted, we proposed to have four, day-long foreign animal awareness meetings at appropriate locations in the state and invite producers and practicing veterinarians. Lunch would have been provided of course.

However, federal budget cuts caused us to trim down our work plan and budget. We then submitted a plan for only one foreign animal disease producer awareness meeting. When we were asked to make revisions on that work plan, we decided to drop the idea of a meeting and write an article in the Cooperative Farming News. It doesn’t cost us anything, we don’t have to provide lunch and we can reach over 30,000 readers.

(In the spirit of our original intent to have a meeting and provide lunch, you may want to get a sandwich and something to drink. We’ll be right here when you get back.)

As the State Veterinarian, I am often asked to give a presentation concerning foreign animal diseases. That is a request, if at all possible, I will accommodate. Foreign animal disease outbreaks are certainly rare here in the United States. However, they have the potential to cause far more economic damage than a Category 5 hurricane. I generally try to cover three points in my presentations. Those points are recognition, reporting and response. There is a fourth point worth mentioning. That is recovery from a foreign animal disease outbreak. For all practical purposes, it is the first two points, recognition and reporting, that will involve you, the producer. That is where the focus of this article will be.

If you have ever taken any of those self-improvement courses dealing with problem solving, you’ll know the answer to this question. What is the first step in solving a problem? Obviously it is recognizing there is a problem. Problems are sometimes obvious—like getting your leg caught in a bear trap. You need no instructions to recognize you have a problem. On the other hand, some problems are not so obvious and the subtle changes may require a closer look.

· Many foreign animal diseases mimic our "every day" diseases we see in this country on a regular basis. So what are those "red flags" that should raise our alert level? An animal that does not respond to normal treatment would be one of these red flags. African Horse Sickness in its early stages may look like the flu or colic; however, no amount of therapy will change the grave prognosis of this disease.

· Abortions can be caused by more disease entities than I would care to name. In fact, many abortions followed up by laboratory test are not diagnosed. However, abortions are one of the results of many foreign animal diseases.

· Vesicular diseases (diseases causing blisters) are of particular concern to us. The problem is blisters do not remain fluid-filled vesicles for very long. Once the vesicle ruptures and the skin or mucous membrane over the top is gone, the lesion usually looks like an ulcer. Therefore, we are greatly interested in sores in and around the mouth, muzzle, feet and genital areas.

· Large die-offs are usually explainable—at least with some diligent detective work.

· The same consideration is true when a high percentage of a herd or flock becomes sick. On the other hand, foreign animal diseases sometimes cause those same results because our domestic animals have no natural immunity to unfamiliar diseases like those not presently in our country.

· Central nervous system (CNS) signs like incoordination, vocalizing or acting "goofier" than normal may also indicate a foreign animal disease.

If you see any of these signs in your herd or flock, please report them to your local veterinarian, the Federal Area Veterinarian in Charge at (334) 223-7141 or to me, the State Veterinarian, at (334) 240-7253. There is absolutely nothing wrong with reporting any of these warning signs to us only to find out it is not a foreign animal disease. That would be great. I like to compare it to a person with chest pain. He or she may ignore it and be just fine, but on the other hand…….. Ignoring signs of foreign animal diseases may not cause a problem, but it is an issue we cannot afford to be wrong about.




From Your Local Co-op

Goshen Farmers Co-op had a drawing at the end of deer season to give away a muzzleloader. On May 16, Paul Williamson, Co-op employee (right), awarded the muzzleloader to Hannah Sims (center), who is with her father, Ricky Sims.




Goat and Sheep Market Cycles

By Robert Spencer

Upon reviewing a recent sales report (see report) from United States Department of Agriculture/Tennessee Department of Agriculture (USDA/TDA) Dept Ag Market News and being familiar with prices for the past few months, it gives a "snapshot impression" goat and sheep prices are on the decline until late fall. That is to be expected given the time of year. The mad dash to take advantage of good prices is dwindling; just take a look at recent receipts in the report and you will see numbers have dropped from the previous sale. Easter (Christian and Orthodox) along with most ethnic and faith-based holidays are behind us, which decreases demand and price paid. However, we can rely on the fact that from late fall into winter, prices will begin to increase as ethnic and faith-based holidays return to the calendar.

These are normal marketing trends for the goat and sheep industry.

Monday, May 11, 2009
Tennessee Sheep and Goat Auction

Tennessee Livestock Producers Graded Goat and Sheep Sale
Columbia, TN
New Sale Barn
May 8, 2009
(Second and fourth Friday of each month)

Receipts: 776
(518 goats; 258 sheep)
Last Sale: 1,102

Goats sold per hundred weight (cwt) unless otherwise noted, weights - actual or estimated.

Slaughter Classes:
Kids -
Selection 1
25-35 lbs ——————
36-50 lbs 131.00-168.00
51-65 lbs 161.00-166.75
66-80 lbs 135.00-166.00
81-100 lbs 141.00-150.00
Selection 2
25-35 lbs 142.00-145.00
36-50 lbs 120.00-139.50
51-65 lbs 121.00-141.00
66-80 lbs 117.50
81-100 lbs ——————
Selection 3
26-35 lbs 109.00-133.00
36-50 lbs 126.00-138.00
51-65 lbs 122.00-134.00
66-80 lbs ——————
76-85 lbs ——————
Feeders Selection 3
24-40 lbs 100.00-142.00

Yearlings
Selection 2-3
50-70 lbs 91.00-116.00

Bucks/Billies
All Wgts mostly 68.00-80.00

Nannies/Does
All Wgts mostly 45.00-65.50

SHEEP

Slaughter Lambs-Includes all breeds
Choice and Prime 20-40 lbs ——————

Choice and Prime 40-60 lbs 116.00-158.00
Good 105.00-121.00
Choice and Prime 61-80 lbs 111.00-120.00
Slaughter Ewes Utility and Good
All Wgts 35.00-49.00
Slaughter Rams:
All Wgts 34.00-41.00

Source: Tennessee Dept of Ag-USDA Market News; Nashville, TN; Lewis Langell, OIC; (615) 837-5164; www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/nv_ls320.txt

The main reason many refer to USDA/TDA Dept Ag Market News and the Columbia, TN, New Sale Barn is this facility continues to be the premier sale facility for the Southeast U.S. By premier I mean it tends to draw the highest number of animals and bring the best prices year-round; and have for years. Until recently, this facility was located slightly further north and was known as Thompson Station; but they relocated less than a year ago. Yes, I know we are in Alabama and there are numerous livestock sales facilities, but large volume and high prices draw attention.

Spring 2009 has been an interesting marketing year for the goat and sheep industry. At the sale barns and private treaty sales, we have seen prices-paid rise and sustain higher than average prices. Opinions vary on why these trends of desirable prices have remained on the high-side for longer than normal.

In my opinion, it is a combination of factors. Primarily it can be attributed to the past three years of drought and the fact people made a concerted effort to cull their animals in order to sustain drought-ridden pastures while minimizing feed expenses. It appears the drought is over and normal conditions have returned for livestock production. Pastures are lush, hay is abundant and feed costs are down. Considering USDA Ag Statistics for 2009 show numbers of goats within Alabama have decreased by approximately 10,000 since the 2008 report, you have an economic model for supply, demand and price variation.

The scenario for small ruminant production in 2009 is looking good. I suspect many producers are considering small ruminant production as a viable option this year and retaining replacement animals rather than culling ruthlessly to reduce inventory and feed expenses. The number of goats and sheep destined for the terminal market (through sale barns and to processors) has peaked. With spring, summer and ideal conditions, people are considering farming again. Adding to that, the hoopla over sustained high prices for meat goats and sheep, and we can expect a resurgence of interest in goat production. Also, the fact prices at private treaty sales (show quality animals) are making a "come back" to normal levels; people will begin talking about raising goats again.

We can then expect another simple economic trend: production will increase, demand will remain seasonally consistent, inventories will increase and prices will decrease.

It’s all about trends in agriculture production combined with simple economics. Being knowledgeable of these trends allows the long-term farmer to continue farming despite trends and cycles; lack of knowledge and experience is why short-term farmers tend to appear in good times and disappear in bad times. Anticipating when to increase or decrease production, and when to save for bad times is part of the risk farmers take. Understanding trends in conjunction with long-term planning and setting goals is most likely to insure the sustainability of the sheep and goat industry.

Robert Spencer is a contributing writer from Florence.



Happy Hunting Ground

By Ralph Ricks

Summer is in full swing here in the Deep South and it’s promising to be a hot one. I took my daughter fishing the other day and I have added two very important items to my tackle box: a sling blade and a shotgun. The sling blade is to cut down weeds and tall grass from our favorite fishing holes to make it a less "snake-friendly environment" and the shotgun is in case we fail. I find myself constantly having to remind my 14-year-old daughter to watch out for snakes. As I begin to see more and more children her age, I am convinced children today have no natural fear of snakes. I have come to the conclusion it’s from one of two things, either we live in an increasingly urban society that doesn’t expose its offspring to snakes or the whole television world of animals has convinced our children snakes are nothing to be afraid of now days.

I believe we are each born with an innate dislike of snakes or at least we should be. I say dislike instead of fear because I personally do not fear them, but they do surprise me when I come upon one unexpectedly.

I have heard the low buzz of an Eastern diamondback warning me to stay away and have calmly taken his advice. I have watched what we call a rat snake do some silly things with no fear at all. I stepped on a water moccasin once and still can’t figure out why he didn’t bite me; but he’ll never bite anything again.

My father had a definite absolute, deep and total terror of snakes. His avoidance of them almost ruled his entire life. Dad had a chance to become a pilot in the U.S. Navy and I am convinced he was probably willing until he found out he would have to take survival training and actually kill and eat a snake. That meant actually touching one, and I’ll bet he passed on that career decision.

There is an old family story involving my uncle, dad’s brother-in-law. My uncle was an instructor at a naval aviation survival school in Florida and occasionally he and his fellow instructors would make forays into the local woods to round up snakes to use in their school. One trip, he came home straight from the field. There was some family get-together at my mom and dad’s house, so my uncle came straight there. As he walked up to the front door, my dad noticed he was carrying a burlap bag. Dad knew what that bag meant and he headed out the back door. Sure enough, my uncle had a bag full of snakes and he had brought them with him so they wouldn’t get too hot. My brother tells me this is the only time he saw my dad ready to whup up on my uncle.

Dad was of the opinion there were only four kinds of snakes, "big ones, little ones, live ones and dead ones."

And he was afraid of all four. It didn’t matter they might be good for rodent control, it didn’t matter they might be endangered, it didn’t matter they might have a unique social system and laid golden eggs; they fell into the category of "The Four Kinds of Snakes."

I think dad was so afraid of snakes I only remember actually seeing him kill one. It was a big South Baldwin County diamondback and he ran it over with my mom’s ’74 Impala. He made me get out to see if it was dead.

I think I inherited my feeling about snakes from my grandmother. She had a healthy respect for them, but as long as she had her hoe, she didn’t fear them. She would cross the road to whack a snake with her hoe. She kept her hoe in a particular spot on the carport and there was trouble if you moved it. She wanted to be able to walk out the door and place her hand on it without looking. She was a sight scooting across her yard after one of "The Four."

My brother followed in dad’s footsteps. I won’t even get into some of his antics when a snake is involved, and we’ll just end this part about my brother right here.

My daughter came out of the blue. As I said, she watched too many animal shows where "snakes are fun" and didn’t get many encounters out in the woods where they could scare her. It just drives me crazy that I warn her to watch for snakes when we are fishing and she just seems unconcerned about them. I really get concerned when I think about the fact the main snake she is going to find near a pond is a cottonmouth.

Personally, I also think these "snake wranglers" are nuts.

I feel, as far as snakes are concerned, I am willing to live and let live as long as they stay out of my sight. I do not like close encounters with them, but I won’t run from them either.

Grandmother had her hoe, I have my 12-gauge shotgun and, when I have it, I have no fear.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.



Hay Quality and Horse Nutrition

Evaluating Your Horse’s Nutritional Needs

From Bayer AG 2003

Horses are herbivores by design and foragers by nature. They have evolved to utilize grasses and other forage plants as their primary source of nutrition. Horses are most content when they can nibble almost constantly. Although it’s not always possible to let our domesticated friends graze to their hearts’ content, one way to satisfy their urge to chew and provide essential nutrients is to feed high quality hay.

HAY BASICS

Hay generally falls into one of two categories — grasses or legumes. Horse hay is often a mixture of the two. What is readily available and most cost effective generally depends on the part of the country in which you live.

Hay’s nutritive value and palatability (i.e. how much your horse enjoys eating it) will depend on a number of factors, like:

· Plant Species

· Level of Plant Maturity at Harvest

· Weed Content

· Growing Conditions (rain, weather, insects, disease)

· Curing & Harvesting Conditions

· Soil Conditions and Fertility

· Moisture Content

· Length & Method of Storage

LEGUME HAY

Alfalfa and clover are examples of legumes. Alfalfa is more commonly fed as hay than is clover, although clover may be a component of mixed hay.

Legumes tend to be higher in protein, energy, calcium and vitamin A than grass hays. This concentrated source of energy and protein may be an advantage when fed as part of the ration for young, growing horses, lactating mares and performance athletes.

However, not all horses need the rich levels of nutrients present in premium alfalfa. By buying a lower quality hay (like an early cutting or one harvested in a late stage of plant maturity), or by selecting an alfalfa-grass mix hay, you can get alfalfa’s dietary benefits without supplying excess nutrients that may predispose young horses to problems like developmental bone disease and epiphysitis.

When feeding alfalfa, there is also a need to include a palatable, high phosphorous mineral supplement as part of the ration. Doing so will bring the calcium/phosphorous ratio into a better balance for the horse. This is especially important when feeding young, growing horses. High phosphorous supplements are commercially available just for this reason.

Due to alfalfa’s high mineral content, your horse will likely drink more water when being fed this legume. In turn, your horse’s stall will be wetter and require more care to keep it clean, dry and ammonia-free.

GRASS HAYS

Although grass hay is generally lower in protein and energy, and higher in fiber than legume hay, this is, in part, what makes it a good choice for many adult horses. It can satisfy the horse’s appetite and provide necessary roughage without excess calories and protein.

Good quality grass hay may meet most of the adult horse’s basic nutritional needs. Mature horses require 10-12 percent CP (crude protein) in their diets. Many native or prairie grass hays contain just six to eight percent. A fortified grain concentrate can be used to supplement the ration, increasing its energy, protein, vitamin and mineral content.

Common varieties of grass used for horse hay include:

· Timothy

· Orchard

· Brome

· Fescue

· Prairie or Wild Native

· Oat

· Bermuda

MEETING NUTRITIONAL NEEDS

A horse’s protein and energy requirements will depend on age, stage of development, metabolism and workload. Choosing hay and incorporating it into the ration should be done with the individual’s needs in mind.

Hay alone may not meet the total dietary requirements of young, growing horses or those used for high levels of performance. However, high quality hay may supply ample nutrition for less active adult horses.

A mature horse will eat two to two-and-a-half percent of its body weight a day. For optimum health, nutritionists recommend at least half of this should be roughage like hay. For a 1,000 pound horse, that means at least 10 pounds of hay each day.

EVALUATING HAY

Most people buy hay based on how it looks, smells and feels. These are "qualitative" factors, and they are important. When appraising hay, keep in mind the following points:

It’s what’s inside that counts. Ask that one or several bales be opened so you can evaluate the hay inside the bales. (Do not worry about slight discoloration on the outside, especially in stacked hay).

· Choose hay that is as fine-stemmed, green and leafy as possible, and is soft to the touch.

· Avoid hay that is overcured, excessively sun-bleached, or smells moldy, musty, dusty or fermented.

· Examine the leaves, stems and flowers or seed pods to determine the level of maturity.

· Select hay that has been harvested when the plants are in early bloom (for legumes) or before seed heads have formed in grasses.

· Avoid hay containing significant amounts of weeds, dirt, trash or debris.

· Examine hay for signs of insect infestation or disease. Be especially careful to check for blister beetles in alfalfa. Ask the grower about any potential problems in the region.

· Reject bales that seem excessively heavy for their size or feel warm to the touch. (They may contain excess moisture that could cause mold or, worse, spontaneous combustion.)

· When possible, purchase and feed hay within a year of harvest to preserve its nutritional value.

· Store hay in a dry, sheltered area out of the rain, snow and sun, or cover in the stack to protect it from the elements.

· When buying in quantity, have the hay analyzed by a certified forage laboratory to determine its actual nutrient content.

QUANTITATIVE LABORATORY ANALYSIS

No matter how good hay might look, only through chemical analysis can its actual nutrient value be determined. To test the hay, core samples are taken from a number of bales within a stack and combined. The forage laboratory then determines the following by percentage:

· Dry Matter (DM)

· Crude Protein (CP)

· Crude Fiber (CF)

· Minerals including calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium

CP and CF are key to assessing the hay’s nutritional value. Some labs will break the fiber down into two components — acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) — to better estimate its digestibility.

The forage lab might also recommend testing for other vitamins and minerals. This is a good idea, especially if you live in an area with known deficiencies or toxicities.

FEED WHAT YOU NEED

Remember, horses at different ages and stages of growth, development and activity have different dietary requirements. Consult your veterinarian or a qualified equine nutritionist when formulating your horse’s ration. He or she can help you put together a balanced diet utilizing hay, grain and supplements in a safe, nutritious and cost effective way.




How's Your Garden

A New Life for Tomatoes

This month is often the tipping point for both tomatoes and gardeners. Plants may be just about done in because of diseases and the rigors of fruiting. Gardeners are also done in because of the heat. But, if you get outside early in the morning to beat the heat, you might be able to work your plants just long enough to rejuvenate them. Indeterminate varieties come back to produce well in the fall. In my garden, Early Girl is often the very first and very last tomato harvested. Remove diseased leaves stems, fertilize with a liquid plant food like Bonnie’s Herb and Vegetable Plant Food, and spray the foliage with fungicides like copper soap (copper octanoate), Neem (azadirachtin), potassium bicarbonate or chlorothalonil. There is also time to start a new planting from transplants for a fall harvest if you do so early this month. Look for Early Girl or other varieties that mature in fewer than 60 days.

Iron-Poor Leaves

If your azalea leaves are looking yellow between the veins, they probably need a little iron. Treat the soil around the plants with a little iron sulphate. Sprinkle it over the root zone of the plants, scratch it in gently with a rake and water thoroughly. This product can stain, so keep it off the driveway, walkways or anyplace where you don’t want an iron stain. This also works well on camellias, hollies and gardenias looking typically yellow by this time of the season. It’s also a great pick-me-up for centipede grass.

After taking a summer break, healthy bell pepper plants will surprise you with a bounty of peppers in the fall.

Peppers

Be patient with your bell peppers. Big bell peppers often stop setting fruit at the peak of our summer heat, but as soon as the nights begin to cool a little later this month, they will start fruiting again. If you’ve cared for your plants through the summer, the big bushy plants will soon be full of fruit. Be sure to support individual branches so they don’t break under the weight of their load.

Mattress Springs for a Trellis?

Here is a recycle-reuse idea for an old wire mattress frame. Turn it into a trellis. Use it to grow your sweet peas this fall, your beans next summer or a favorite morning glory.

Recycle an old wire mattress frame for use as a trellis in your garden.

Cover Crops

Fall is a good time to consider a cover crop in your vegetable garden or any planting spot that will be fallow through winter. Even if your garden is full of vegetables for fall, which I hope it will be, you can use cover crops in the walking aisles between planted rows. Grasses like rye add organic matter and break up soil. You can mow when the plants get too tall. Try clover to add nitrogen and organic matter. The selection and management of cover crops in a garden or on a larger scale is both art and science. There is a lot to learn, but the benefits are many: encouraging soil flora, inviting bees and other beneficial insects, breaking up hard soil, adding organic matter, and helping the soil hold moisture and nutrients. A great resource about cover crops and how to use them is the third edition of Managing Cover Crops Profitably, a publication of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (www.sare.org). The printed book costs $19, but you can download it in a .pdf format for free from the website!

Fall Vegetables

August is the time to start planting and planning your cool-season vegetable garden for fall. This includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuces and other salad greens, mustard, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, Swiss chard, turnips, a second planting of summer squash and beans. Spinach, leeks and onions can wait until next month. When selecting varieties for the fall garden, always choose those with the shortest time to maturity to lengthen the time of harvest before cold weather slows growth. This is also a good time to consider a little greenhouse, a cold frame or simple tunnel support for covering plants with plastic or fabric a row cover. This will allow you to harvest cool-season greens all winter long. Check the Alabama Extension website for a nice, easy to follow planting guide (publication #ANR-63) with dates, suggested varieties and other helpful information. It is available from the ACES website at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0063/.

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




How's Your Garden?

More Pole Beans

You can get another whole crop of pole beans in the ground for fall picking. Kentucky Wonder, an all-time favorite, starts bearing in about two months, so you can pick through September and October and even into November in South Alabama. Soak the seeds overnight so they will sprout quickly and water the seedbed every day due to the heat. Be on the lookout for Mexican bean beetles, especially on the young plants.

Vitex and Bee Balm Can Bloom Again

Mexican Bean Beetle

If you trim the tips of vitex branches back after they bloom, they will bloom again. The second bloom will be just in time for the hummingbird migration in late summer and early fall. If you don’t have a pole pruner to reach up into the tree, that might be reason enough to get one. Bee balm (Monarda) is another plant that will bloom again if you remove the old blooms after they fade. This one you can do with hand pruners. Just clip off the blossoms after they fade.

Are You a Fan of Ladybugs?

Over the past 20 years, several native ladybug species once very common are harder to find. At the same time, several imported species of ladybugs have increased in numbers and range, often replacing the natives. Scientists are studying this phenomenon trying to understand this shift and what impact it will have. Will the exotic species help control pests as well as the native ones always have? Part of the effort is engaging people around the country to photograph ladybugs they see in their gardens and sending pictures to Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug project. (Hint: Cool the ladybug in your fridge to slow it down for photography.) You can learn more about it at Cornell’s Lost Ladybug Project webpage:http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/icb344/LostLadybugProject.htm.

Grow your own bay tree.

Exotic Bay Tree

Do you cook with bay leaves? If so, there is a way to create your own continual supply—grow it at home. The bay we use for seasoning, Laurus nobilis, is hardy outdoors in South Alabama, where it can grow into a tall shrub. Elsewhere, you can grow it in a container to move to the garage or indoors for winter. The evergreen leaves are very dark green and beautiful. It will take sun to partial shade.

Give Knockouts a Boost, Too

Knockout roses bloom with little care

Seems like everything appreciates a little help in summer, including Knockout roses. Your Knockouts will bloom well without a lot of fuss, but they will bloom better with a little water and fertilizer about now. You can also trim the tops of the plants to encourage new growth on which the buds will set.

You’ll Either Love It or Think It’s Foolish

This door to a wooded path in the garden of a well-known Philadelphia garden designer adds a touch of whimsy and color in an expansive garden including wooded trails. The frame sits on a concrete base to keep if from rotting and is anchored by metal posts hidden in the sides. Wonder how many of these I’ll be seeing in the future?

A whimsical door to the garden.

Help Reblooming Daylilies Along

If you own Stella d’Oro and other reblooming daylilies, you must give them some extra water and fertilizer to see them bloom well again. Use a liquid plant food in a hose-end sprayer or sprinkle them with a slow-release granular fertilizer. Daylilies are rugged plants, but the reblooming hybrids have a hunger for more water and fertilizer than the old-fashioned types. Summer is a good time to mark daylilies if you need to move colors around in the garden. As long as you keep them watered, you can even dig and divide them now.

Trellis cucumbers to avoid mildew.

Another Crop of Cucumbers?

If you’re cucumber plants have given out, you can start seeds again for a late summer and fall crop. They will sprout up quickly in the warm soil —- just keep it moist. Grow them on a trellis to give the leaves better air circulation to keep them dry and avoid mildew.

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




Independence Day Ought Nine in Flat Rock...

Individuals, Independence and Culturedness…

By Joe Potter

It was Thursday in the near early mornin’ when Slim rang me on my cellular phone. I hadn’t hardly had time to wash the Wednesday night sleepy from my right eye. Seems Slim had concerns ‘bout celebratin’ Independence Day ought nine down to Flat Rock. Through our phone talkin’, he further carried personal concerns ‘bout USA Independence Day and abuse of USA freedoms by individuals. Slim personally notin’ there are just too many folk overdoing and misusin’ USA freedoms.

Then he let loose ramblin’ on, way back, ‘bout, there’s, furthermore, when, people forget, before, why I remember when, overall, personally, more often than not, the pure reality, of life, beyond today, after all.... His comments were directed t’ward all folk in general, but it was all a landin’ straight at my end of our conversation.

I tried to offer back to Slim that individuals were all different in personality, by both thinkin’ and actin’ based on their particular way of bein’ cultured. I further stated people are cultured by association, based on region, then family, friends, church, work, etc., etc. and so on.

I offered myself as an example of individual culturedness—

I’M SOUTHERN AND
A COUNTRY BOY TOO!!!

I love Bishop’s
pulled pork bar-b-que.

Even swam in a creek
not so clear and blue.

I like my tea cold
and with sugar too.

Hand picked cotton
in the morning dew.

Hauled and carried hay,
not one bale but two.

Drove a tractor,
seems like since I was two.

Marveled at the crops as they grew.

Love chicken, Southern fried, grilled or in stew.

Held a hen egg warm and fresh,
so very new.

Thanked God often for what I do.

Thought if city folks only knew.

Backed a four-wheel wagon,
like my Daddy taught me to.

Worked on the farm
with a sometimes motley crew.

Drank Coke, R.C. and Mt. Dew,
even ate a moon pie or two.

Held a baby calf still warm,
wet and just brand new.

Watched and taught
my two sons farming
as they grew.

Picked cucumbers brand new,
before they graded number two.

Shot bobwhite quail
from the point of ole Sally too.

Drank gallons of farm fresh milk.
It is great on the rocks;
that’s with ice, I guess you knew.

Always enjoyed an orange sunset and sky of blue.

Split kindling in the winter
when there was nothing else to do.

I was country before country grew.

Even wanted to be President
a time or two.

Drank fresh-squeezed lemonade
as the summer brew.

Eat fried catfish whole or in filets, did you?

Love to hunt, but fishing
is not something
I really like to do.

Loved to eat, but love to play sports
more than anybody knew.

Been a Braves fan
when there were only a few.

Believe the Bible,
God’s Word to be true.

A gentleman who treats people “nice,” both old
and new, like my mother taught me to.

On the farm there was usually plenty to do —-
however, I did have time to date a pretty girl or two.

Actually played basketball
in high top canvas tennis shoes.

Been in mischief only to get home and find out
my parents already knew.

Witnessed the sow give birth
and watched as her litter grew.

Even welded on scrap iron,
never nothing new.

After the farm work was through, my Dad and I
would ride our horses an hour or two.

Skipped rocks across the pond
a time or two.

Shot a red rubber flip,
my Dad and I made brand new.

Was always totally amazed at the geese
and the formation they flew.

Experienced fire as it grew
from the single match I threw.

Graduated college like my parents
encouraged me to do.

Yes, I am Southern and a country boy, too.
Farming is something I am very proud
I got to do.

I finished off the examplin’ to Slim of my independence and culturedness. My phone was a carryin’ overheatin’ symptoms as was the redness of my right ear. So I offered to conclude our talkin’ of the fullness of folks individualness, independence and culturedness durin’ noontime eatin’ down to the Flat Rock General Store.

Slim agreed and furthered offered all The Store regulars had to carry out their own individual Independence Day responsibilities for a celebratin’ July 4th ought nine.

Kick back, celebrate with family and friends, do the "que," make some homemade ice cream, play whiffle ball with the kids and remember to Thank God often for all those individuals who have and do afford us so many USA freedoms.

REMEMBER YOUR HERITAGE!!!
ALWAYS, THINK GOOD MEMORIES!!!

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



More Plants For the Lepidoptera

Caterpillars on Achillea

By Kenn Alan

Last month I called your attention to the plant, Dutchman’s pipe or Aristolochia, and the butterfly, Pipevine swallowtail or Battus. I promised to offer you some ideas for other plants to attract butterflies to your garden as well.

Butterflies love flowers, but to attract a lot of them, you should start by planting some plants the butterflies lay eggs on and the caterpillars eat. Plant some herbs! You may already have some herbs planted that I will suggest here. Be sure to plant some extras for the caterpillars!

Dill, parsley and fennel are very common plants to host swallowtail larvae. Grow parsnips, carrots, celery, anise, cilantro, caraway, lovage and a host of other plants from the Apiaceae family to attract the butterfly females. Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) is another attractive herb/wildflower in the family Apiaceae favored by certain types of skippers, swallowtails, metalmarks and checkers.

Viburnums, spiraeas, dogwood trees, hollyhocks, cosmos and common milkweed are other good host plants to grow as butterfly food.

Once you have planted the herbs mentioned and the caterpillars have started to munch on the leaves and stems, let the plants grow to maturity. As the larvae devour the foliage on the herbs, the plants will consider this as a good pruning and should bounce back with vigor. Let the herbs bolt (go to seed) and the seeds drop for another crop.

Don’t forget the flowers for the adult butterflies and moths. Butterfly bush, butterfly weed, asters, Joe Pye weed, coreopsis and coneflowers are all favorites of the butterflies.

Standards in the garden, like marigolds, hydrangeas and, my favorite, zinnias complete a list of common flowers that not only attract the colorful pollinators, but make great cut flowers as well.

Don’t worry about planting the seeds so late this summer. Certain plants won’t emerge until next spring, but others will come up right away. Although the Apiaceae like carrots, parsnips and celery won’t produce a root or stalk big enough for you to eat this year, they will make forage for the caterpillars now.

Next month we’ll take a look at begonia propagation. E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">kennalan@hgtradio.net if you need further information on flowers for your butterfly garden.

Friend me at
www.MySpace.com/homegrowntomatoes1 and go to www.HGTradio.net to listen live and access the new podcasts coming soon!

I hope you will all tune in each Saturday from 8-10 a.m. for Home Grown Tomatoes. If you are not in the local coverage area, then tune in on the Internet by going to http://hgtradio.net and follow the links to listen live!




News from your AFC Family

Mattie Wisener Gets an Early Start at Life on the Farm

Nothing like starting them out at an early age with life on the farm. This is Mattie, her cat “Tiny” and her chickens. Got to love them. Mattie is the daughter of Chris, AFC Salesman, and Tarron Wisener.





News From Your Local Co-op

Hannah Sims Wins Muzzleloader in Goshen Co-op Drawing

Goshen Farmers Co-op had a drawing at the end of deer season to give away a muzzleloader. On May 16, Paul Williamson, Co-op employee (right), awarded the muzzleloader to Hannah Sims (center), who is with her father, Ricky Sims.




Peanut People




Pick it ... and splendor of a fresh harvest will last a moment.... Preserve it ... and splendor is yours all year round

By Angela Treadaway

Gardeners throughout time have relished the fruits of their labor. Kneeling in dirt and picking through weeds is well worth a bite of your own luscious, ruby-red tomato or crispy cucumber. So why enjoy the splendor of your garden for only a few months out of every year? Preserving is a great way to get the home gardener through the winter months until next year’s planting. Not only is it rewarding to open a jar of your own home-grown produce, but the economical and nutritional benefits are obvious.

The art of preserving food has existed since the beginning of civilization and has been vital to survival all throughout history. Every culture has utilized one or more methods to maintain fresh food. Often the methods used were dictated by the climate and conditions in which people lived. Foods were preserved in times of abundance to prepare for the desperately lean times that would surely lie ahead. As a result, many innovative techniques and advancements in food preservation were made during these extremely lean times.

While we may not face the harsh living conditions of our forefathers, we have inherited from them a desire for fresh, wholesome food. It’s no coincidence; however, we are facing some tough economic times, and to save money on food dollars, the lost art of preserving is being rediscovered. Not only can preserving foods save money, it can be incredibly rewarding to place food on the table you have grown and preserved yourself. Or better yet, to share with friends and family. And knowing exactly what goes in or, more importantly, what is not going into our preserved goods gives an added measure of control. This way you are deciding what you and your family will eat.

How does preserving work?

Fresh food is perishable for several reasons. Because of its high water content, an increased growth of undesirable microorganisms, an increased activity of food enzymes, increased reactions with oxygen and adverse effects from moisture-loss all result in the breakdown and spoilage of food. The process of preserving slows down or stops the activity of microorganisms and enzymes keeping food fresh and safe to consume.

Each method of preserving comes with its own set of benefits. Dabble in the different types – canning, drying, freezing, pickling, salting or fermenting – to discover which suits and works best for you. Equipment for preserving food can range from simple and costing almost nothing all the way to complex and costing as much as you’re willing to spend. However, pressure canners and water bath canners will probably only need to be purchased one time or may even be inherited from our mothers or grandmothers. They will last for years if taken care of properly, kept up-to-date and clean. You need to have your dial-gauge pressure canner checked once a year for accuracy by the Extension Service to make sure it is registering the correct amount of weight to preserve safely.

Safety is essential when undergoing any preserving endeavor. Preserving methods have strict guidelines that must be followed and require you follow instructions exactly or dangerous results can occur. Be sure to check with your local county Extension office for recipes or look for recipes online from the National Home Food Preservation website which is operated by Georgia Extension through a grant from USDA. It is very important to follow these recipes because deadly bacteria called "botulism" can be lurking in your unopened pressure-canned vegetables if not canned properly.

Always choose food of the highest quality when preserving. Choose food free of bruises, discoloration and defects. Preserve as quickly as possible after harvesting - preferably within 12 hours. Wash and scrub food thoroughly before processing and always maintain proper sanitation to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Canning is not the only way to preserve the freshness of homegrown vegetables; freezing is another great economical and easy way to preserve. Look for an article next month on freezing.

When storing preserved foods, be sure to clearly label the foods you have preserved both with contents and date preserved. Preserved food will not last forever. It is important to know when your product’s shelf life has expired and when foods should be discarded. You can find this out from your local county Extension office. Labeling also helps to keep current when rotating your preserved food supply.

If you would like to learn more about preserving your own foods at home, whether you grow your own or you purchase from a local farmers market, call your local county Extension office for home food preservation questions. To find out when we might be holding a home food preservation workshop in your area, call Angela Treadaway, Regional Extension in Food Safety/Preservation/Preparation, at (205) 410-3696.

Beyond the hustle and bustle of daily life, far away from crowded supermarkets and over-processed foods, there is a place where purity remains: the garden.

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.




Plantain


Plantago major plantain

By H. T. Farmer

I have seen this plant growing on the side of the road for years. I thought it was a weed. It grows in areas of my yard not designated for weeds! I am referring to plantain.

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a Native American medicine man who taught me about the benefits of certain herbs growing wild in Alabama. He also taught me how to appreciate nature’s bounty and conserve the plants I harvest. He gave me an example of how easy it is to be greedy with things that are free and grow freely in nature. The example he used was the plantain.

Plantago Lanceolata plantain

We walked my property and counted the plantain plants that were easily identifiable. There were only 37 plants here then. We then estimated how many plants it would take for me, personally, to use for food and medicine. If I had not taken his advice and initiated a good-steward wildcrafting program, my source for these plants would have been depleted in one growing season. (We will discuss herb wildcrafting methods and philosophy in next month’s article.)

Plantain: Two species of plantain are prominent in natural production in Alabama. Both are valuable herbs as they are edible and medicinal.

Common plantain (Plantago major) is believed to be one of the first non-native plants introduced by the Europeans. When the leaves are chilled, though a little tough, they add an interesting texture and flavor to salads. The flavor is somewhat similar to Arugula with a spinach aftertaste. Other common names for this variety are broadleaf plantain, roundleaf plantain and white man’s foot.

English plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is used primarily for herbal teas, poultices and salves. All parts of the plant are usable for these products. Other common names for this variety are narrowleaf plantain and ribwort plantain.

To make a poultice and a salve: Chop one pound of plantain (roots, seeds, leaves), place in boiler and add one cup of vegetable shortening and cook over medium-low heat until plant is the consistency of cooked spinach. Allow to cool and use this as a poultice on cuts, scrapes, stings and insect bites. To make a salve, strain while hot. Allow salve to cool and use on burns, rashes and as an anti-wrinkle night cream. (I have never tried the latter, but know someone who has.)

Both species have astringent properties.

E-mail me at farmerherb@gmail.com if you have any questions about plantain, or where to find the herbs or seeds to grow your own. As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using this or any other herbal remedy. Thanks for reading!




Red Clover is Dependable, Easy, Productive and Should Be Better Utilized

By Dr. Don Ball

There is increased interest in growing forage legumes, and many livestock producers are considering their legume species options. Decisions as to which legume to plant may be affected by objectives as well as soil types, sites and grass species present. Regardless, one forage legume that is widely adapted in Alabama, dependable, easy to grow and quite productive is not planted nearly to the extent it should be. That legume is red clover.

Despite its name, red clover blooms are actually closer to lavender or reddish-purple in color. Red clover should not be confused with crimson clover, which has a much brighter crimson-colored bloom. Crimson clover blooms in early spring (late March to mid-May depending on location within the state) and is an annual that can only come back from seed. Red clover is a biennial that can live for two years when planted in a suitable site and managed properly. Red clover normally doesn’t begin blooming until late April, but may continue to bloom in spring and even summer.

Red clover can be grown on many soil types in Alabama as long as the soil pH is around 6.0 to 6.5, the soil is relatively fertile and a reasonable amount of soil moisture is present during the growing season. It is well-adapted to many heavy soils like in the Black Belt, Piedmont and Tennessee Valley areas of Alabama and to moist bottom fields in other parts.Red clover will usually live for two years in the Black Belt and in North Alabama, but in Coastal Plain soils in South Alabama it normally acts like an annual, regardless of management.

Red clover is usually grown as a companion species to a perennial grass, particularly tall fescue, orchardgrass or dallisgrass. However, because of its upright growth habit it can be used as a companion legume in a johnsongrass hayfield. It is also sometimes grown with ryegrass or small grain, especially when these forages are being grown for hay or silage. It is not as grazing-tolerant as white clover, so should be rotationally grazed to allow plants some rest and to favor good regrowth.

The wide adaptation and excellent seedling vigor of red clover makes it one of the easiest clovers to establish. In general, rates of six to 12 pounds of seed per acre are recommended, and the ideal seeding depth is about one-quarter inch. Most seed of red clover is pre-inoculated. It is often drilled into an existing killed or weakened grass sod. Good seed-soil contact helps ensure establishment, so use of a cultipacker should follow broadcast seeding on a prepared seedbed.

Red clover is most commonly planted in autumn in Alabama. However, when planted into an existing sod in the fall, it is important to be certain the cricket population is not high, otherwise the seedling clover plants may be destroyed. Treatment with an insecticide may be needed if there is a high cricket population present.

Late winter plantings also may be successful, particularly in North Alabama. Whether planted in spring or fall, success is unlikely if the clover is planted into a thick, vigorous perennial grass sod. In order to obtain a clover stand in a thick sod, the grass should be severely suppressed by either strip-spraying an herbicide or by tillage. If there is only a thin stand of grass present it may be possible to obtain a stand by grazing the grass closely and broadcasting red clover seed, especially if a drag harrow or similar tool is used to scratch the soil.

Red clover has much to offer. It has the longest growing season of any clover grown in Alabama and typically yields more than any other clover. When adequate moisture and nutrients are present it will often make substantial growth even in June and July. The seed are large enough to easily drill into an existing grass sod and seedling vigor is good, so plants establish easily. Once established, its upright growth habit enables it to compete with grasses better than most clovers. It is a particularly good legume companion species in fields to be cut for hay or in rotationally grazed pastures where late spring and summer growth is desired. This clover is a work horse and it needs to be used more widely.

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




Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: Ol’ Joe Bob hadn’t had a drink in 10 years, but when his rabbit dog Blue up and died, he fell off the wagon.

What does drinking have to do with "falling off of a wagon"?

The phrase "falling off of the wagon" is used when one resumes an addictive/compulsive behavior they are trying to control. Originally referred only to drinking, "falling off the wagon" is now used in reference to all sorts of things including drugs, smoking, overeating, eating certain foods, etc.

It originated with a fixture of America’s past, the water wagon. Before roads were routinely paved, municipalities would dispatch horse-drawn water wagons to spray the streets in order to prevent the clouds of dust traffic would otherwise cause. Anyone who had sworn abstinence from alcohol (and would presumably be drinking largely water from then on) was said to have "climbed aboard the water wagon," later shortened to "on the wagon."




Sparks Announces Alternative Fuels Partnership with ASU and Montgomery Public Schools

(From left) State Representative John Knight, Commissioner Ron Sparks, State Representative Thad McClammy, ASU President Dr. William Harris and Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Clay Slagle.

Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Ron Sparks along with State Representatives John Knight and Thad McClammy, Alabama State University (ASU) President Dr. William Harris and Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Clay Slagle announced a three-way partnership regarding the establishment of a "Save the Environment" program, which will produce biodiesel from recycled cooking oils for use in MPS busses and other diesel-powered equipment.

ASU’s role will be to provide the technical assistance, training and scientific study of emissions and fuel efficiency; structure an alternative fuels internship program to assist in the operation of the program and in the collection of data for further scientific study; implement programs to inform its students and the public on ways to improve the environment; and to apply for appropriate federal funds and/or grants to further the goals of the project.

MPS will provide used cooking oil from its schools as feedstock and will provide vehicles for scientific study, and ADAI will manufacture the biodiesel at its fuel facility in Montgomery.

"This is just another step in becoming less dependent on foreign oils," stated Sparks. "We opened this biodiesel refinery last year and have been making biodiesel for the City of Montgomery ever since. With this new partnership with Alabama State University and the Montgomery Public School System, we are taking the next step in helping to solve our nation’s energy problems."

The cost of making biodiesel is about 70 cents per gallon. Currently diesel is averaging $2.25 per gallon which results in a $1.55 per gallon savings. This time last year diesel was averaging $4 per gallon.



The Co-op Pantry

Teresa McDonald said she’s one of only a few Alabama Cooperative Extension coordinators to spend an entire career in one county.

"I’ve been with the Extension Service since 1976. I started as a 4-H Coordinator, worked in Family and Consumer Sciences and became Colbert County Coordinator in 1992," McDonald said.

Originally from Lawrence County, McDonald didn’t have to cook growing up, but learned an appreciation for creative cooking early in her life.

"I have seven siblings, so with the eight of us and Mom and Dad, we were a household of ten. We all had duties, but cooking wasn’t one of mine. I watched my mom and two aunts who were knowledgeable about home economics, and both my grandmothers were the type of ladies who could make delicious food out of practically nothing," she said.

And that culinary ingenuity is something McDonald embraces on the job and in her personal life.

"They tease me sometimes at work about keeping all the little food odds and ends and freezing them, but you stick back a chicken breast here and some vegetables there and it adds up. Combined with a little rice and condensed soup, that’s a casserole," she explained.

She went on to say that’s what many consumers are looking for in food preparation.

"It’s something natural to me to take on-hand ingredients to make a meal that’s good and nutritious, but quick and easy as well. And that’s what people want," she added.

McDonald added people often get tired of the same old recipes, so she enjoys sharing new twists on classic foods.

"I like that creative side of cooking. Using common foods in a different form keeps food interesting," said McDonald who includes recipes and cooking tips in her Home Economics Newsletter.

"Some people say the recipes are the first thing they look for when their newsletter arrives, but I also include educational content like food safety and preservation information," she said.

According to McDonald, this time of year she often turns her efforts to helping people figure out the best use for the bounty home gardens produce.

"Freezing some things is as easy as washing and cutting with a paring knife before sealing in a plastic bag. We recently had an open question-and-answer day on food preservation to help people take advantage of abundant, affordable summertime produce. One lady in particular was overwhelmed with just the vegetables friends were giving her, so we are glad to help people make the most of their food," McDonald said.

The recipes she shares below include some she’s used for her home economics newsletter and others she’s prepared as the guest chef at her local farmers market.

"Almost everybody has squash and tomatoes to use during the summer, so Impossible Garden Pie is a great use for those vegetables, and the Squash Casserole is a very simple recipe even for beginner cooks," she said.

She also provides some delicious ways to beat the heat with three different recipes for homemade ice cream.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.

Herb Butter

Soften one-half stick butter (preferably unsalted). Add one tablespoon finely minced fresh herb or ½ teaspoon dried herb. Cream together, adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Use on hot breads, vegetables, baked potatoes, etc. Herbs to consider: basil, tarragon, thyme, chives, dill, parsley, marjoram or rosemary.

Savory Chicken Bake

1½ chickens, cut into parts
Salt and pepper
1 stick margarine, melted
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (4 or 8 oz) can or jar of mushrooms
½ cup onion, diced
Almonds (optional)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

Salt and pepper chicken to taste and arrange in a large baking dish. Add all remaining ingredients to butter. Pour over chicken then cover chicken with foil. Bake at 350o for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown, basting frequently with sauce. Serve over cooked rice.

Spiced Tea

2 Tablespoons whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
3½ cups sugar
1 quart water
1 quart strongly brewed tea
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
Juice of 3 lemons
3 quarts boiling water

Simmer cloves, cinnamon and sugar in 1 quart water for 5 minutes. Combine with remaining ingredients. Serve hot.

Herb Crusted Pork Sirloin

2 to 2½ pounds pork loin
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon commercial seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 325o. Coat loin with olive oil. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt, pepper and seasoning blend gently patting onto meat to form a light crust. Roast in oven 2½ to 3 hours or until a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the roast reaches 160o. Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Mint Tea

Put 2 cups fresh mint leaves into a gallon jar. Pour 1 gallon boiling water over mint; add 1 cup sugar. Let steep for 4 hours. Spearmint is a good mint to use for tea and adding lemon balm is a nice extra.

Hot Chicken or Turkey Salad

¾ cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups celery, chopped
3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, diced
1 (4 oz) package shredded cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs (3 to 4 slices)
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350o about 1 hour before serving. In a 1½ quart casserole dish, stir together first seven ingredients and half of cheese. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients and bake 3 to 5 minutes longer. Serves 6.

Squash Casserole

¼ cup (½ stick) margarine, melted
2 cups cooked squash
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cornbread, crumbled
1 medium onion, chopped

Melt margarine in baking dish. Place all other ingredients in a mixing bowl and add margarine. Mix well and return to baking dish. Bake at 350ofor 25 to 30 minutes.

Variation: Substitute 1 packet cornbread stuffing mix for the 2 cups crumbled cornbread, then add 1/4 to 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms. Bake as directed.

Saltless Seasoning Mix

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground celery seed

Cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

Impossible Garden Pie

2 cups zucchini, quartered and sliced
1½ cups tomato, diced
1 cup onion
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups milk
1 (5 or 6 oz) package biscuit mix
3 eggs
¼ cup cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400o. Lightly grease a 7 by 11-inch glass or ceramic dish.
Layer zucchini, tomatoes and onion into dish. Sprinkle with parmesan and pepper. Combine milk, biscuit mix, eggs and cheese in a separate bowl. Beat until smooth and pour over vegetables. Bake about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Homemade Low-fat Ice Cream

3 cups sugar
1 carton egg substitute (equal to 4 eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt substitute
2 (12 oz) cans light evaporated milk
Skim milk

Combine all ingredients except skim milk. Mix well. Pour into a 1-gallon ice cream maker and fill to line with skim milk. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

All Shook Up Vanilla Ice Cream

Pint plastic bag
½ cup milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Gallon plastic bag
Ice
6 Tablespoons salt

In the pint bag mix milk, sugar and vanilla. Seal. Fill the gallon bag half full of ice and add salt. Place pint bag into ice and seal gallon bag.

Shake about 5 minutes or until mixture reaches ice cream consistency. Remove the small bag from the ice and wipe clean. Open pint bag and dig in.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

6 cups fresh peaches, pureed
3 cups sugar
4 cups half and half
Puree fresh peaches in a blender or food processor. Mix thoroughly with sugar and cream. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions.

Note: This ice cream does not keep well in the freezer.



The FFA Sentinel

By Philip Paramore

As previous Sentinel articles have stated, Alabama FFA was going through changes in the 1970s as was the rest of the country. In its 47th year, a new state advisor was named and FFA was also celebrating America’s 200th birthday. This month’s article will feature the 1975-76 school year. Historical events in this school year included Bill Gates, in a letter to Paul Allen, using the name "Micro-soft" (for microcomputer software) for the first time. Microsoft became a registered trademark in November 1976. The Toronto Blue Jays were created in March 1976 and the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association agreed on the ABA-NBA merger.

Alabama FFA’s new state advisor was J. C. Hollis. Hollis, the sixth state advisor, replaced retiring State Advisor H.W. Green according to the Fall 1975 Alabama FFA Reporter, known hereafter as the Reporter. Hollis’ most recent assignment was the Northeast District Supervisor. A native of Lamar County, Hollis completed high school at Sulligent. He obtained a BS degree from Mississippi State and a MS from Auburn University. At the time of his appointment as state advisor, Hollis had 26 years experience in agricultural education.

In his opening address as stated in the Fall 1975 Reporter, Hollis said, "I challenge you to be your very best, for your biggest challenge lies within yourselves – to develop your potential to the fullest. One writer expressed it this way: ‘A bell is not a bell until it is rung, a song is not a song until it is sung.’ Similarly, you are not a true and loyal FFA member until you have developed your entire potential in preparing to live and serve your purpose. You can be bigger! I’m confident you will be."

In the same issue of the Reporter, retiring State Advisor H.W. Green was commended for his years of service to agricultural education and FFA in Alabama.

"The success of the FFA Chapter rests largely with the qualities of leadership of the advisor. As we look forward to the leadership of our new state advisor, one cannot fail to note the leadership qualities of our retiring advisor, Mr. H.W. Green.

"With his childhood years spent on a farm in Lauderdale County, Mr. Green soon began to practice leadership by never criticizing, condemning or complaining. Honest and sincere appreciation is given freely by Mr. Green. One is in his presence only a few minutes when a ‘thank you’ is expressed.

"Mr. Green is a good listener. He encourages others to talk about themselves, thus his circle of friendship widens quickly. Our present-day FFA advisors will surely find the tools of success in studying the leadership qualities of our retiring state advisor.

"The local chapter begs for generous amounts of dedication, hard work, sincerity and loyal devotion to duty. Mr. Advisor, these qualities are found in the footsteps of H.W. Green."

A picture celebrating the marriage of two former FFA members and chapter officers from the Arab Chapter was also showcased. Dennis Barcliff took Kathy Bailey for his bride. Kathy was one of the first two girls enrolled in agriscience education at Arab High School. According to this issue, Debra Bailey, Arab FFA Reporter for 1975-76, was the maid of honor, and James Barcliff, State Star Farmer for 1975, was the best man.

The state officers were elected for the 1975-76 school year which included Bill Gibson of the Curry Chapter as president, Gary Mitchell of the Weogufka Chapter as first vice president, Dennis Adams of the W.S. Neal Chapter as second vice president, Franklin Dawson of the Florala Chapter as secretary, Eric Summerford of the Falkville Chapter as treasurer, Ronnie Day of the Pisgah Chapter as Reporter and Tom Cardwell of the Notasulga Chapter as sentinel.

Winners from the 1975 State Contests and Awards were spotlighted. Contests winners included public speaking, Eddie Blizzard, Scottsboro Chapter; string band, Goodwater Chapter; dairy judging, Billingsley Chapter; livestock judging, Susan Moore Chapter; land judging, Wetumpka Chapter; quartet, Crossville Chapter; ag mechanics, Rogersville Chapter; forestry judging, Wetumpka Chapter; ornamental horticulture, Huntsville AVC Chapter; farm woodland, Millry Chapter; chapter safety, Scottsboro Chapter; and chapter contest, Chelsea Chapter.

Proficiency winners were Norman Woerner of the Foley Chapter, crop production; Rex Grace of the Reform Chapter, dairy production; William B. McGee of the Carrollton Chapter, livestock production; Cecil Burney of the Chelsea Chapter, beef production; Robert Earl Green of the Milltown Chapter, swine production; Barry Hooten of the Fairview Chapter, poultry production; Eddie Blizzard of the Scottsboro Chapter, placement in agricultural production; Lewis Tapley of the Hackneyville Chapter, ag mechanics; Michael Ray Rains of the Attalla Chapter, ag electrification; Greg Hanson of the Enterprise Chapter, ag processing; Glenda B. Yarbrough of the Bay Minette Chapter, ornamental horticulture; Richard K. Haynes of the Section Chapter, soil and water management; Elton Bouldin of the Crossville Chapter, fish and wildlife management; Richard Grimes of the Centre Chapter, farm and homestead improvement; and Mickael Mordecai of the Reform Chapter, forest management.

At the 1975 National Convention, Eddie Blizzard of the Scottsboro Chapter went on to win the public speaking contest as well as being the national winner in the Placement in Agricultural Production Proficiency Award. He was the first double first-place winner Alabama has had at the National Convention. Elton Bouldin of the Crossville Chapter was also elected a national officer and was the fourth national officer from Alabama.

The Winter 1976 Reporter was declared the Bicentennial Issue and featured a road of progress for 200 years as well as historical events relating to the National and State FFA.

Editor Frank Killough said, "This issue features a trail of progress in which the milestones of FFA and youth progress are depicted.

"Future Farmers, you can be proud of your heritage! The price for your freedom today was paid by men and women with determination. Determination to clear a wilderness with one hand and fight off hostile elements with another. Determination to fight the British to win independence and gain for you the right to free speech and religion. Determination to produce food in abundance with new machines and new ideas.

"Now, Future Farmers – the road ahead is to be carved by your hands. From the men and future farmers of the past, you have inherited the finest of mechanized equipment, the best in health and recreational facilities. You enjoy the comforts of a nation with the highest standard of living known in recorded history.

"Okay, FFA’ers – shoulder the tools to carve a road of tomorrow. It’s not going to be easy! It never has been easy. No one envies your task. Yet no one can carve a road of tomorrow except the youth of today.

"So get going – build it strong, fill it with milestones of new and higher records for your future!"

One interesting tidbit of information in this issue of the Reporter was Alabama ended the 1974-75 school year with 27,873 members. Also, Mrs. Mary George Jordan Waite, President of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Centre, was the first lady to become a member of the National FFA Foundation.

And finally, in the minutes of the 1976 State FFA Convention, 736 advisors and members registered from 358 chapters. During this period in Alabama there were 368 chapters, giving a 97 percent chapter attendance ratio at the State FFA Convention!

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



Time to trellis those spring veggies

By Terry Kelley

The seeds have come up, the gnats are out in full force and the garden is growing. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Well, not exactly. It’s time now to trellis some of those veggies you planted.

Trellising gets the plant and fruit off of the ground, making way for better quality fruit and less disease. It also helps to maintain order in the garden and makes harvesting easier.

For tomatoes, some people simply use wire cages to put over the plants. The plants grow and are supported by the cages. Another method is to drive a one-inch square, four-foot stake into the ground by each plant and tie the plant to the stake.

If you have a long row of tomatoes, you can set a large post at each end of the row and again about every 20 feet within it. Attach a wire across the top of the posts and about four inches above the ground. Use twine to tie each plant to the wires for support.

Peppers can be staked as well. Using similar one-inch square stakes, place them about every fourth plant with twine running from stake to stake. Start the first twine four inches above the ground.

As the peppers grow, put another string about every four inches above the first. Start with the first stake and go on one side of the plants. Then go around the next stake and so on. When you get to the last stake, come back down the other side of the plants to box the plants in and keep them from falling over.

Cucumbers also grow better when trellised. You can use four-foot fencing wire and some posts to build a temporary fence beside the cucumber row. Then just train the vines up on the fence as they grow. You’ll find and pick your cukes easier.

Eggplant can also be staked. Tomato stakes or rebar, a common steel bar used to reinforce concrete, can be placed next to each eggplant. Then secure the plant.

Be careful not to cut into plants as you tie them with twine. But keep the twine tight enough to support the plants.

Trellising is one chore that should be done fairly soon after plants are established.

Don’t forget to scout for insects and disease problems, too. Keep your weeds in check and water as needed. A gardener’s work is never quite done. But doing chores when needed will help you relax and enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer a little more.




Tiny livestock provide big dividends!


Judy Smith and two of this spring’s Nigerian Dwarf Dairy kids at Little Star Goat Ranch.

By Suzy Lowry Geno

"There’s nothing like ’em!"

That’s the way St. Clair resident Judy Smith talked about the herd of tiny Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats (NG) that dance, tiptoe, scamper and bounce around her farm.

"When I first saw them they truly captured my heart," she said.

But it’s not just their playfulness and happy countenance that grabbed Judy’s imagination. Nigerian Dwarf goats and their pygmy counterparts are proving to be dependable milk-producing goats on small homesteads across the country.

Trends at all the majority of the country’s chicken hatcheries this spring saw a huge increase in the demand for baby chicks, and more and more folks are thinking in the "self-reliant" vein because of the nation’s economy, the terrorist threat and simply because many folks have seen the aftermath of events like Hurricane Katrina and what happens when folks weren’t prepared to help their own families and neighbors.

Freida Burdette and one of the kids born this year at her HorseNAround Farm.

They realize government intervention might be late in coming if a natural disaster strikes (and, in some instances, might not come at all!).

Just as many of our grandparents kept their root cellars and pantries full facing the uncertainties of winter, many folks now-a-days know their own disaster like hour cuts at work or even loosing their job completely is a possibility.

Judy said, "The problem is now few people don’t know how to produce their own food. A lot of the people would actually starve to death if they had to produce their own."

"But we don’t usually have huge families like in the past," Judy explained. "Most of us don’t need a milk cow that gives gallons of milk a day. Families are just not what they used to be. A family now can get by happily on a quart or a quart-and-a-half of goat milk a day if they have two or three children. And if they want more for butter or cheese, they can have two little does in rotation. But one little doe will usually provide all you need for meals and cooking."

One of Judy Smith’s kids enjoys climbing in the older barn on their St. Clair farm.

Judy explained the NG milk "is much sweeter because it’s so high in butterfat." Goat milk is also known for helping those with severe allergies and intolerance to other types of milk.

Judy (who works as an insurance agent when she’s not a goat surrogate mom!) and her husband Van have had goats for about 20 years, at first keeping them as companions for their horses and to keep weeds down in the pastures.

Now in her 50s, Judy realized hoof trimming and other chores with the bigger Boers and Nubians was becoming increasingly harder. The smaller goats ease that problem!

NG does usually stand between 17 and 19 inches at the withers, bucks 18 to 20.

Judy said, "Living with goats of any breed is a wonderful experience but living with Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats is sure to keep you smiling, laughing and wondering how you lived without them!

Nigerian Dwarf goat kids come in all color varieties.

"We have fallen in love with these little goats. They come in many beautiful colors, with brown and the most deep, brilliant blue eyes. They are very small, they give lots of wonderful sweet milk and they give the best kisses!

"Each one has his or her own magical personality; you are spellbound before you know it. They are truly beautiful animals. Watching them play is a pleasure."

The Smiths’ plan to show some of their goats in 2010 and their goats will be registered either with the American Goat Society or the American Dairy Goat Association.

Freida Burdette, who raises Paint Horses on her HorseNAround Farm near the Blount-Cullman County line with husband Mark, has also fallen under the little goats’ spells, raising pygmies and NGs.

"I originally bought two six-month-old does just for pets in 1998. When people came to buy horses they would see them and ask if we sold pygmy goats. So after several years we decided to get our own buck and give it a try.

"In the beginning we had one buck and five does. Then we added to our does and started selling goats in 2005 and we’ve been selling and adding to our herd ever since," Freida explained.

Freida said the smaller goats are easier to work with and people seem to like that aspect as most have smaller farms or homesteads.

"They’re so friendly, cute, loving, easy to work with and so very entertaining to watch. You can even train them. We’ve even had a lady to buy one that stays in the house, goes to Pet Smart on a lead, and goes to the horse shows and has a small pen to play in at the shows!"

Currently Freida has 19 registered Pygmies and Nigerian Dwarfs after selling the majority of this year’s new kids.

"We have sold and bought to be able to have a better bloodline so it will help us with our breeding program," she explained.

Nigerian Dwarfs are a little more square-bodied than their close cousins the pygmies, but through the years many folks have mixed and interchanged the two.

History says the small goats were originally from Africa and were brought to America on ships bringing large cats to zoos. The little goats were used as food for the big cats on the cross-ocean voyage! But the little ones that survived soon became favorites and were soon being shipped to zoos to be displayed themselves.

Only in the last 20 to 30 years have the smaller goats become more popular on homesteads and farms. The smaller size means, in addition to being easier to care for, they can be kept on smaller pastures and require less feed than their bigger counterparts. They are also much easier to contain. Although they’re mischievous, they’ll fit on just about any size property.

You do have to especially watch their diets since urinary problems can especially devastate wethers. In fact, I’ve lost a new NG herd buck this spring to that problem even though he was not a wether.

Working with a vet knowledgeable about goats, especially the small goats, is vital. Having a home library of goat information helps as well. The Internet also provides several links to "Help" websites and people who gladly answer your goat questions.

"Helping somebody be just a little more self-sufficient with a couple of these little goats is really rewarding," Judy explained.

For more information on Judy or Freida’s farms, or on the smaller goats, you can visit:
www.littlestargoatranch.com; www.horsenaroundfarm.com; www.americangoatsociety.com; the American Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Association
www.andda.org or the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association www.ndga.org; and www.dairygoatjournal.com.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County.



Watering Lawns the Right Way

How much water does a lawn need? In general, cool-season grasses need about one to one-and-a-half inches of water per week to maintain green color and active growth. It will naturally slow down in growth and may go dormant in hot weather. Factors like the soil, weather and management practices all have a role in water needs of lawns. Here are a few general rules to follow:

• Decide before summer to either water lawns consistently as needed throughout the season, or let lawns go dormant as conditions turn warm and dry. Do not rotate back and forth. In other words, don’t let the grass turn totally brown, apply enough water to green it up and then let the grass go dormant again, as breaking dormancy actually drains large amounts of food reserves from the plant.

• When is it time to water? The first few warm days of summer does not automatically mean to water lawns. In fact, allowing lawns to start to go under mild drought-stress actually increases rooting. Watch for footprinting, footprints remaining on the lawn after walking across it (instead of leaf blades bouncing back up). Grasses also tend to turn darker in color as they go under drought-stress. Sampling the root zone soil could be another option.

• In general, water as infrequently as possible. Water thoroughly so moisture gets down to the depth of the roots. Exceptions to this general rule would be for newly-seeded lawns where the surface needs to stay moist, newly-sodded lawns not yet rooted into the soil of the site or when summer patch disease is a problem. Otherwise, avoid frequent waterings that promote shallower root systems and weeds (e.g., crabgrass).

• Given a choice, water early in the day when lawns are normally wet from dew. Avoid midday due to evaporation and at night due to potential increased chances of some diseases.

• Spread the water uniformly across the lawn. Sprinklers vary in distribution patterns and require spray overlap for uniform coverage. Placing coffee cans or similar straight-sided containers on the lawn can help measure water application rates. Avoid flooding areas or missing other spots. On heavy clay soils and slopes, watch for excessive runoff; it may be necessary to apply the water in two applications to assure it soaks in.

• To help conserve water use, mow higher, avoid excess nitrogen as warm weather approaches, limit traffic over the lawn, improve turf rooting, control thatch and soil compaction, and avoid pesticide use on drought-stressed lawns.




When the Temperature is High, Go Fishing in July


Scenes like this are good for the soul.

By John Howle

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes, it does a body good to turn off the evening news, reflect and relax. Two of the best ways to do this is through fishing and camping. Neither activity requires much capital, but both give high returns on piece-of-mind.

Frugal Fishing

Sometimes we get swept up in the latest fishing gadgets and high tech rods and reels. Trips to the sporting goods store can quickly burn up a paycheck. With nothing more than a cane pole, length of fishing string and a hook, you can catch an easy stringer of fish from the river, pond and creek banks.

Using cane poles requires a bit a preplanning. It’s best to cut the poles a few weeks in advance of your fishing trip so they have a chance to cure and stiffen. Select canes larger in diameter, and check them for weak spots, rotting or cracks before use.

Tie a length of fishing line at least as long as the pole to the end of the pole. The hook size of number two should be sufficient to hold the bait and the fish biting it. The tackle used is generally live bait ranging from minnows and crickets to worms and grubs.

Short cane poles make ideal set hook rods.

When a fish does take the bait, catching is simply a matter of lifting the tip of the cane pole and keeping tension on the line while working the fish toward the bank. Line of at least 12 pounds test should be sufficient to handle most bank fishing situations. A long-handled net is also convenient for getting the fish to the bank before it gets away.

Shorter lengths of cane poles work great for putting out set hooks. This is a type of fishing where the angler in the boat or canoe travels up or down a river sticking short cane poles rigged with a hook and bait into the banks of the creek or river. This can be done at the beginning of a campout and, after the set hooks are visited later that evening, chances are you will have enough fish to fry around the campfire.

With the spring and early summer rains we have had in Alabama, fishing rivers and creeks by boat or canoe should be productive. When set-hooking, be sure to remove all cane pole rigs from the waterway afterwards and check the local fishing regulations of your county before setting out.

Cost Saving Campouts

Fish and other meats as well as vegetables can be cooked in foil.

Just like fishing, camping has its share of expensive gadgets. I prefer to go natural and non-expensive when I take to the woods. It’s amazing how many items you can cook with nothing but aluminum foil.

For game fish, simply remove the scales, head and entrails, and wrap it in foil with your choice of seasonings. Baked potatoes, carrots, onions and other side dishes can be prepared in the same manner. One common campout dish prepared with foil simply involves placing meat like hamburger or chicken into the foil with potatoes, carrots, onions and sometimes short ears of corn. Simply wrap this combination completely in aluminum foil and cook in the coals or near the flame of the campfire. Recently, I ate at a Cracker Barrel restaurant and saw this same dish on the menu.

If aluminum foil makes you feel like you don’t have enough gear, simply bring a seasoned skillet and small bottle of cooking oil. Fish, potatoes and eggs can easily be prepared if the skillet is simply placed on hot coals. For scrambled eggs, crack the eggs and pour them into plastic bottles before the campout. When you are ready to cook the eggs, just pour out the desired amount of egg whites and yolks from the jar. This prevents one cracked egg from ruining your gear.

A skillet and cooking oil can prepare almost anything around the fire.

A large tarp and nylon rope works for a makeshift tent. A nylon rope can be stretched between two trees to serve as a rafter. Fold the tarp over the rope creating a triangle. Simply use the grommet holes as securing points to keep the floor and sides in place.

For those who like to sleep off the ground, the bed of a pickup provides a higher level of security. In the event of a nighttime shower, the tarp provides protection from the rain. Make a T-shaped rig using a couple of sapling poles. Lay it over the pickup bed to serve as a rib underneath the tarp to shed water. Lay the "T" over the rear of the bed and you can still close and open the tailgate. The tarp can be secured to the bottom sides of the truck.

Campfire

The campfire is the focal point of any camp out. An ideal fire ring can be made out of the rim off the wheel of a semi-truck. This provides a level top which is convenient for laying a grill grate down. This makes cooking over an open fire much easier.

Hickory wood makes ideal cooking flavor for meats and vegetables. You can buy bags of hickory chips, wood or charcoal, but I prefer to cut my own hickory and allow it to season for a while. The dry hickory burns faster and more intensely, but you can add green, uncured hickory for slow cooking or smoking. With nothing more than a discarded grill grate, you can cook virtually anything over an open fire.

If you are using large rocks as a border for your campfire, make a keyhole fire. This is basically the traditional fire circle with an adjoining smaller circle. This allows you to pull coals from the large fire ring into the smaller one. Over the coals, you can heat water for coffee or fry eggs.

This July, take a break from hauling hay, fence mending and garden work so you can realize fishing isn’t always about catching fish.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.



Will Hay Alone Meet the Winter-Feed Needs for your Brood Cows?


By Jimmy Hughes

From time to time, I write an article similar to previous articles as a reminder, if your operation depends on hay, you need to know your hay’s quality. Most first cuttings of hay this spring were late due to heavy rains in April and May. This has lead to a mature hay crop that, while plentiful, may not be of the quality most producers would think. Cattle, horses, goats and sheep are designed to utilize forage as the base of their nutritional program.

The ability to take this forage and turn it into a useable product is what makes the ruminant’s digestive system so unique. Alabama producers have the ability, with normal rainfall, to produce more than an adequate amount of forage for their operation. This combination is what makes animal production so popular throughout the Southeast. This abundance of forage can give producers a false sense of security as they try to meet the nutritional needs of their animals.

When determining feed needs, producers need to know what they have and what they need to meet the nutritional requirements of their animals. If utilizing forage as the base of your feeding program, you must know the quality of that forage. This is very important when your hay crop is over-mature at cutting since the nutritional value of the hay is highly reduced.

This can easily be done by pulling a hay sample from each cutting and sending it to a forage-testing lab for analysis. You will need to randomly select samples from throughout your hay crop and request a basic hay sample. Your county Extension agent or your local Quality Co-op can assist you in selecting a forage lab. This will provide you with the protein, energy and fiber values of your hay. With this information in hand, you are now ready to determine your supplemental feeding needs for the winter. Part of the equation is best answered by determining the nutritional requirements of your herd. This is done by determining the stage of production your herd will be in during the feeding period and the nutritional requirements of the animal at that stage of production. Will you have cow/calf pairs (small calves, large calves), bred cows, bred heifers or a combination of cows in a different stage of production? Having a combination is the most difficult to plan because each stage has different nutritional needs. Remember, if you do have a number of cows in different stages of production, you must feed for the cows with the greatest nutritional needs (cow with large calf) so these cows can reach desired production and reproductive performance. The nutritional requirements of cows, along with horses, goats and sheep, can be found on the Internet, from your county Extension agent or I will be more than happy to provide you with the information.

After determining your hay quality and stage of production of your cattle, you will know determine if hay alone will meet your winter-feeding needs. The average quality hay in Alabama will be: 8.0 percent protein, 46 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) as a measure of energy, .29 percent calcium and .20 percent phosphorus. A 1,100-pound cow will consume an average of 2.5-3.0 percent of her body weight in hay on a winter day. That will mean a cow can consume around 27.5 pounds of hay a day. That 27.5 pounds of hay will provide her 2.2 pounds of protein (pounds of hay X percent of protein), 12.6 pounds of TDN (pounds of hay X percent of TDN), .08 pounds of calcium (pounds of hay X percent of calcium) and .055 pounds of phosphorus (pounds of hay X percent of phosphorus). The average 1,100-pound cow with a fall-born calf has a daily requirement of 2.5 pounds of protein, 15 pounds of TDN, .90 pounds of calcium and .60 pounds of phosphorus. A growing bred heifer will have similar nutrient requirements because of the need for growth, but will intake less hay due to the animal’s size and capacity to hold large amounts of forage. A bred cow in good condition will require 2 pounds of protein, 11 pounds of TDN, .60 pounds of calcium and .40 pounds of phosphorus to meet her daily nutritional requirements. A producer must also take into account these requirements will increase during extreme weather conditions of below-freezing temperatures, rain, snow/ice or wind.

While it may seem early to be talking about hay quality, if producers will determine the nutritional value of their hay at an earlier time, this will allow them to look at cost-effective supplementation programs to help balance their forage needs. This should be done now, because this is usually the time of the year when you can book or purchase products at the best possible price.

As you can see, average quality hay will not meet the nutrient requirements of your cattle. If your hay is above average, you can reduce the need for additional supplementation, but the need for a complete mineral and vitamin program still exists. Trace mineral salt will only meet the cow’s requirement for salt and will leave her lacking in minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, iron, and vitamins A, D and E. This can lead to reproductive failures and immunity deficiencies.

It is always recommended to provide a complete mineral and vitamin mix on a free-choice basis for your cattle. A high-quality mineral supplement will only cost pennies more per-head, per-day and the benefits will far outweigh this additional cost. Now you have determined the quality of your hay and the requirements of your cattle, you must select a supplement based on cattle requirements, convenience, quality, cost and performance.

Next month, as we get a better idea of winter feed prices, we will look at selecting the best supplement for your operation.

If I can be of any assistance in helping you put together your feeding program, please feel free to contact me at (256) 947-7886 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">jimmyh@alafarm.com.

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist. If you would like to contact him, please feel free to call at (256) 9477-7886 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">jimmyh@alafarm.com. I look forward to hearing from you or visiting with you in the future.




You Can Take the Scare Out of Lawn Care

By Jerry A. Chenault

If your lawn is like most, it probably looks pretty right now … pretty awful that is. Weeds everywhere; blotchy grass…it probably doesn’t look too hot. But you can conquer this shabby lawn problem and make your lawn look sharp. How? I’m glad you asked.

Let’s start with fertilizer. Bermudagrass is one of the most common types of grass in our area. It needs to be fertilized about four times a year using a rate of one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Nitrogen is the first number on the fertilizer bag. For example, 8-8-8 has a first digit of 8, meaning it has 8 percent nitrogen. 21-7-14 is 21percent nitrogen. To figure one pound of actual nitrogen for 1,000 square feet you must divide 100 by the nitrogen (N) percentage. For example, 100 divided by eight (as in 8-8-8) is 12.5. Therefore, if you were using 8-8-8, you would need to put out 12.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet to get the right amount of nitrogen. To figure your lawn’s square feet simply multiply length times width.

It would be much easier and better for your lawn to use a turf fertilizer containing 50 percent slow-release nitrogen. This type of fertilizer has a high nitrogen percentage (like 24-6-12, 21-7-14, etc.) and a low phosphorus percentage. Phosphorus is not needed in large amounts by turf. The slow-release nitrogen is released gradually over time giving slow, even growth instead of the very fast growth urea or ammonium nitrate produces. I like my grass green and healthy, but I don’t want to mow every three days.

Fescue, another common grass type, is a cool-season grass and doesn’t need to be fed during the summer. Being a cool-season grass, it does its main growing in spring and fall. Fertilize fescue March 1, September 15 and November 15. And remember 8-8-8 is cheap but may not be best for your lawn. The elegant zoysiagrass is fertilized May 1, July 1 and September 1. Zoysia grows slower than Bermuda and doesn’t "eat" as much fertilizer.

If you have the "stepchild of grasses" – centipede — on your lawn, you need fertilizer only once or twice per year – May 1 and/or September 1. Centipede also prefers a slightly acid soil with a pH of 5.0 – 5.5 and therefore almost will never need lime. The only way to really know if your soil needs lime is to soil test.

It is a little bit late to put out pre-emergence crab grass control, since April 1 is the recommended time to apply it. However, if you want to use a fertilizer with a pre-emergence herbicide mixed in, you can as early as mid-March. These prevent goose grass and crab grass, and should be applied before crab grass germinates. If you have fescue grass, you will definitely need to apply a pre-emergence crab grass control. Fescue, being the loose and open grass it is, will allow crab grass to keep germinating throughout the summer. So go ahead and put out this control, if you have fescue.

If you don’t have fescue and you do have a crab grass problem, try MSMA. This is a post-emergent herbicide that can be applied at any time of the season (except to centipede). Wait until the weeds are up, then spray twice about 10 – 14 days apart.

If you have the headaches of wild onions, clover and dandelions, you’ll probably want to use a selective systemic herbicide for broadleaf weeds. Be sure to read and go by the label directions.

An easy way to make a big difference in the appearance of your lawn is to mow it at the correct height. Mowing at the wrong height can weaken your grass causing an invasion of weeds or a scalped look. With Bermudagrass, one inch is the preferred height. Dr. David Han of Auburn University finds cutting Bermuda too low as one of the most common mistakes made in lawn care. Frequent mowing at the correct height reduces disease risks and keeps your grass looking excellent.

The proper height for fescue is no less than two inches and no more than three-inches tall. Fescue is a bunching grass and needs this taller height because it doesn’t have an underground or surface root system for storing energy like Bermuda. Centipede height should be one-and-a-half inches as should zoysiagrass. St. Augustine is cut at two-inches high.

So there you have it. All you need to know and do to have a super-looking lawn – nutrition, correct pH (from your soil test report), weed control and correct mowing height. The only thing left is summer rain (or watering) and someone to do the work.

Jerry A. Chenault is an Urban Regional Extension Agent.



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