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July 2017

2017 Cow-Calf Producer Conference

Press Release from Auburn University College of Agriculture

Cow-calf producers across the state will gain valuable insight on how to rebuild their herds successfully during the Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences’ 2017 Beef Cattle Conference Saturday, Aug. 12, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Ham Wilson Livestock Arena at 650 S. Donahue Drive in Auburn.

With the theme of "Back to the Basics: Pursuing a Winning Season," the conference will equip cattlemen and cattlewomen with the knowledge and management tools to better their operations in the most critical areas of production.

"Helping producers take advantage of innovations and practical concepts that will significantly improve their operations now and in the future is a key part of our departmental mission," said Auburn Animal Sciences Department Head Wayne Green. "Our faculty, in partnership with Alabama’s beef cattle community, has organized this conference to support the viability and long-term sustainability of animal agriculture.

"Sustaining our livestock and animal industries is crucial, as they contribute substantially to the economy of the state and to the well-being of Alabama citizens."

Featured speakers will be industry thought-leader David Daley, a commercial cattleman and associate dean of the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico; and Gary Morrison of Urner Barry, a New Jersey-based commodity market news reporting service.

Animal Sciences Assistant Professors Paul Dyce, Fernando Biase and Kim Mullenix will report results from and updates on research supported by the College of Agriculture, the Alabama Agriculture Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The three have expertise in reproductive developmental biology in cattle and forage management and supplementation.

In the conference’s morning presentations, key topics will include strategic crossbreeding, new approaches to improving reproductive efficiency, precision management of forage systems and market projections. The afternoon workshop choices will focus on the use of advanced technologies to optimize reproductive success, calving-season preparation, beginning to farm/ranch with a niche in mind, and beef carcass cut-outs and evaluation.

"The 2017 conference is designed to provide members of the beef cattle community a unique opportunity to receive cutting-edge information on topics they consider priorities," said Don Mulvaney, animal sciences associate professor and Beef Cattle Conference chair. "Given the challenges of today’s market conditions, this conference is one that cow-calf producers won’t want to miss."

The conference registration cost is $60 before July 31 and $100 after. It includes a bound departmental report, conference presentation summaries, content for afternoon workshops and lunch. Mulvaney encouraged producers to register early at http://aub.ie/beef because demand is expected to be strong and space is limited.

For more information on the conference, registration, corporate partnerships or youth discounts, contact the Department of Animal Sciences at 334-844-1521.




4-H Extension Corner: Hare Raising Fun

4-H Rabbit Project is growing in popularity across the state.

by Justin Miller

Alabama Cooperative Extension System is always looking to provide more opportunities for youth in the state. In 2014, the 4-H Rabbit Project began as a pilot program under the recommendation of Director Dr. Gary Lemme.

Carla Elston, Extension coordinator for Bullock County, said the program started in three counties in Alabama.

"The 4-H Rabbit Project began as a pilot program in Butler, Cullman and Geneva counties," Elston said. "Dr. Lemme recognized the need to reach an untapped audience of youth. This is an animal project for both those wanting personal pets and those who are looking to establish a profit-based business."

The 4-H Rabbit Project is similar to other state programs such as Chick Chain in the way it is structured. Before receiving the rabbits, the participant and a parent have to attend a mandatory training session. At this meeting, the members receive valuable facts and advice to assist them in preparing for and raising their rabbits. Participants also learn the date for acquiring the rabbits.

The participants usually receive their rabbits in June. Each member is given three weaned rabbits. They keep and care for the rabbits for approximately 14 weeks. At the end of the 14 weeks, the participants choose two rabbits and bring them to a county 4-H Rabbit Show and Sale.

At the show, each member is judged on showmanship as well as their pen of two rabbits. After the show portion, each pen will be sold in an auction. The members have the option to not participate in the sale.

Dr. Brigid Mccrea, an Alabama Extension 4-H youth and development specialist, said the program has grown since the pilot year and continues to teach members about an industry that isn’t well-known.

These rabbits are ready for distribution to 4-H’ers.

"Interest in 4-H Rabbit has grown dramatically over the last few years. There are currently 1,550 participants and potential participants in 33 counties across Alabama," Mccrea said. "In the 4-H Rabbit Project, youth are learning about management of rabbits, either for food or fun."

To create the curriculum for the program, a taskforce was formed to ensure the needs and best management practices were included. The curriculum was loosely based on the 4-H National Curriculum, What’s Hoppening.

When creating the program, the taskforce read publications and 4-H project manuals from across the country to get inspiration for the structure. Each publication provided valuable information and assistance to the preparation of the 4-H Rabbit Manual and Project. This curriculum serves as a guide for the youth involved in the project.

Elston said the rabbit project was started to teach 4-H members how to properly raise rabbits.

"In the program, the members are taught recommended management practices for growing and raising rabbits. We hope the youth will learn to produce healthy rabbits, develop recordkeeping skills, develop an awareness for business management and realize the pride of accomplishment," Elston added.

Mccrea said these types of programs also teach life skills to the participants.

"Programs such as the 4-H Rabbit Project open many doors for participating members," Mccrea said. "The main component of all 4-H animal programs is to teach responsibility and other valuable life skills."

For more information on the 4-H Rabbit Project, visit Alabama Cooperative Extension System online at http://www.aces.edu/4-H-youth/AL4-H/resources/anim....

Justin Miller is a student writer with Extension communications.




A Panorama of Alabama Agriculture

John Augustus Walker’s 1939 Alabama State Fair artwork is on display at the Georgine Clarke Alabama Artists Gallery.

The Alabama State Council on the Arts is currently hosting an exhibition of large paintings by John Augustus Walker that were produced for the 1939 Alabama State Fair.

In the spring of 1939, Posey Oliver Davis, director of Alabama’s Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service, commissioned artist John Augustus Walker to create a comprehensive visual record of the history of farming within our state to be featured at the 1939 Alabama State Fair in Birmingham. Breaking with a tradition of displaying canned goods and record-setting crops, Davis planned to offer something more spectacular that fall, for which Walker’s paintings would be the dramatic centerpiece.

A native of Mobile, Walker had previously painted a series of large murals in Mobile for the Works Progress Administration and came highly recommended by its regional director. Over the next several months, the artist conferred with administrators at the cooperative Extension service on the campus of Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), along with personnel from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Art Project of the WPA, to lay out the themes for the ambitious endeavor. With assistance from fellow Mobile artist Richebourg Gaillard Jr. (1906-2007), Walker produced 10 large tempera paintings on canvas collectively titled the "Historical Panorama of Alabama Agriculture." He installed the brilliantly colored scenes in mural fashion inside a fairground pavilion, with decorative bunting suspended between each panel and draped as garlands from the open ceiling crossbeams. By all accounts, it was a distinctive and popular exhibit.

After their weeklong showing at the State Fair in October 1939, the paintings returned to Auburn where they were placed in storage and all but forgotten until 2006, when the renamed Alabama Cooperative Extension System rediscovered the canvases and featured them during Auburn University’s sesquicentennial celebration. Four years later the Panorama paintings – originally intended for only a short-lived exposition – were treated by an art conservator to ensure their longevity and transferred to the permanent collection of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. Walker’s and Posey’s inventive collaboration can now be studied among related paintings as a striking example of New Deal-era public art.

The Council is pleased to collaborate with the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University to share these works for exhibition as part of the ongoing ALABAMA 200 bicentennial celebration. Nearly 80 years since the Panorama’s initial viewing, we hope Walker’s broad survey of Alabama’s history and culture will continue to inspire both pride and optimism.

The exhibit will be on display in the Georgine Clarke Alabama Artists Gallery through Aug, 9, 2017. The gallery is operated by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The gallery is located on the first floor of the RSA Tower, located in downtown Montgomery at 201 Monroe Street. It can be visited at www.arts.alabama.gov.

For additional information, please contact Elliot A. Knight, Ph.D., at 334-242-4076, ext. 250 or elliot.knight@arts.alabama.gov.




Ag Insight

Trade Issues Loom for Agriculture

The importance of trade to the nation’s agricultural industry has been underlined and placed in bold capital letters with two actions by the new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Within days of taking office, Perdue announced the creation of a new USDA position – undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. Perdue said the new office is designed to recognize the ever-increasing importance of trade to American agriculture.

The new undersecretary will work with the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative to help open up more markets for American products.

Perdue’s views on President Donald Trump’s commitment to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada walks a fine line between those who favor and those who fear the adverse impact a new trade deal could have on agriculture.

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved," Perdue has stated. "As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world."

Income Spent on Food Shows Wide Variation

While U.S. households spend more money on food as their incomes rise, food expenditures represent a smaller portion of income as households allocate additional funds to other goods.

In 2015, U.S. households in the highest income quintile spent an average of $12,350 on food, both from grocery stores and eating out. This spending accounted for 8.7 percent of their incomes.

Middle-income households spent an average of $5,799 on food, or 12.4 percent of their incomes. Although households in the lowest income quintile spent less for food on average – $3,767 in 2015 – their food expenditures accounted for 33 percent of their incomes.

Two years earlier, the lowest income quintile spent 36.2 percent of their incomes on food.

The share of income spent on food depends on several factors, including food prices and incomes. While retail food price inflation was relatively low in 2013, income levels also were lower than in 2015, contributing to the higher percent of income spent on food in 2013 by the lowest income households.

Food expenditures as a share of income could fall in 2016 and 2017 across income levels due to declining retail food prices last year and a continued downward trend for some foods this year.

A Closer Look at American Eating Habits

Data from the Eating and Health Module of the American Time Use Survey provide a snapshot of when Americans eat and drink as their main activity (primary eating and drinking), or when they eat while doing something else (secondary eating).

Over an average day during the study period, 95 percent of people age 15 and older engaged in primary eating and drinking at least once, with an average of 2.1 times.

Americans have two peak times for primary eating and drinking – noon to 12:59 p.m. and 6 to 6:59 p.m.

More Americans make time for dinner than for lunch as a primary activity; 59 percent reported primary eating and drinking between 5 and 7:59 p.m. and 50 percent between 11 a.m. and 1:59 p.m. A third (34 percent) reported eating breakfast as a primary activity between 7 and 9:59 a.m.

Those breakfast skippers – and others – may be grazing throughout the day, as 54 percent ate as a secondary activity at least once during a typical day, with an average of 1.4 times.

From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at least 5 percent of Americans engaged in secondary eating each hour. The top three activities accompanying secondary eating were watching television and movies, paid work and socializing with others.

Chinese Market Again Open to U.S. Beef

The United States and China have reached an agreement on a number of key trade issues, including the return of American beef to the Chinese market after a hiatus that began in 2004.

"This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community and the U.S. economy in general," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, that had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time.

"When the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll want more of it."

Export Sales of Cotton, Almonds Top Domestic Use

The importance of exports to U.S. agriculture is no secret, but two commodities are particularly good examples.

In the case of cotton and almonds, the United States sends more of its product abroad than is consumed domestically. Roughly 75 percent of all U.S. cotton is exported, with the majority going to countries in North and Central America like Canada, Mexico and Nicaragua.

U.S.-produced almonds, grown almost exclusively in California, represent nearly 79 percent of global supply and are naturally shipped worldwide, with 67 percent of production exported.

Rice, soybeans and wheat also depend heavily on export markets as the destination for about half the domestic supply. The wealth of cropland throughout the Midwest and other parts of America gives domestic suppliers the capacity to scale production beyond the needs of the U.S. market, allowing agriculture’s share of the U.S. economy to grow.

Pulse Crop Acreage at Record Levels

Led by expectations of much higher acreage for lentils and chickpeas, aggregate U.S. area planted to pulse (the dry edible seed of a legume plant) crops is projected to reach a record high of over 4.06 million acres this year.

Chickpea-planted area is forecast to rise to nearly 500,000 acres, an increase of over 53 percent compared to the prior year. This production growth is due to its sustained price strength and favorable returns relative to other crops such as wheat and corn.

Lentil-planted area is expected to expand by 13 percent to 1.055 million acres. Within the last 10 years, lentil-planted area has more than tripled, boosted by expanding sales to India and growing domestic consumption, both of which have supported prices and encouraged plantings.

Dry bean area planted, exclusive of garbanzo bean (also known as chickpeas), is projected to record a modest increase, up about 2 percent to 1.368 million acres and just slightly below the 10-year average area planted of 1.415 million acres.

Dry peas are the only pulse crop projected to have fewer acres seeded in 2017.

Contrasting Records for Soybean, Wheat Plantings

The latest projections for crop area plantings in 2017 indicate contrasting records for soybeans and wheat.

Soybean plantings for 2017 are projected to reach 89.5 million acres, a record high. In contrast, forecast wheat plantings of 46.1 million acres would be a record low, if that estimate becomes reality.

Taken together, these planted-area projections indicate many farmers are switching from wheat to soybean production in several key wheat-growing states, including Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

Since 2011, soybean acreage in these seven states has expanded by one-third, while wheat area has contracted. Farmers are likely responding to the higher prices and potential returns associated with soybeans, after multiple years of wheat prices trending lower.

For the 2016/17 marketing year, the projected midpoint season-average, farm-gate price for soybeans was $9.55 per bushel, slightly higher than the 2015/16 average of $8.95 per bushel. The all-wheat price for the 2016/17 marketing year is projected at $3.85 per bushel, more than a dollar below the 2015/16 season-average price and the lowest since 2005/06.




Alabama Is Buzzing

Auburn researchers are studying and promoting Alabama’s native bee populations and their tremendous agricultural value.

by Rebecca Oliver

Dr. Charles Ray, left, and Bashira Chowdhury stand in a garden on the campus of Auburn University displaying bees that can be found across Alabama.

An initiative researching Alabama’s native bee population started by Auburn University researchers has the potential to bring higher profits to Alabama’s farmers.

Pollination ecologists Bashira Chowdhury and Dr. Charles Ray have teamed up to research bees to support Alabama agriculture, biodiversity and human health.

In 2015, Chowdhury was sampling bees in the Arizona desert when she decided to pursue researching bee biodiversity in regions where information was scarce. Chowdhury researched such areas and decided Alabama would be an ideal choice because of the state’s high biodiversity.

After contacting Ray, Chowdhury made the move to Auburn where the two began the initiative to research and promote native pollinators. Chowdhury had previously been studying pollination at the University of California-Davis.

Chowdhury and Ray have been exploring the state looking for native bees and plants over the last year and a half since Chowdhury’s arrival. The initiative has already made important findings. Chowdhury and Ray are using the data they’ve collected to preserve Alabama’s biodiversity and better human well-being.

Chowdury and Ray said there are high-value crops native to North America such as American potato beans and elderberries that can be supported by Alabama’s native pollinators. The current market price for elderberries is $20 per pound. Elderberries are a common ingredient in most fruit juices.

"The United States is actually importing elderberries when farmers could be growing them as an edge crop here and profiting," Ray said.

Chowdhury and Ray agreed that farmers can utilize their nonarable land for these native edge crops.

"Every farm has nonarable land and crops such as these allow those areas to be used when they otherwise wouldn’t be," Ray said. "Alabama is rich in biodiversity so the state supports these pollinators that support plant and animal species. It’s all a part of an ongoing cycle."

Chowdhury and Ray are still in the research phase of the initiative, but said the next step is to tell farmers how to attract native bees to pollinate these high-value native crops. They’ve already visited several farms across the state looking for bees and talking with farmers.

"If you support their environment, the bees will come to you," Chowdhury said. "A lot of people go out and buy honeybees for pollination, but those aren’t always the most suitable pollinator for a specific crop as needs vary."

Chowdhury said a bee native to Alabama is the southeastern blueberry bee. This bee is an ideal pollinator for blueberry bushes and other horticultural crops. Unlike honeybees, most native bees don’t require hives and daily care as they live in underground holes.

"If I had to pick one bee for farmers to know about, it’d be the southeastern blueberry bee," Chowdhury said. "They’re excellent pollinators."

A native Alabama bee finds a flower to his liking.

Chowdhury and Ray said informing those outside their field about the benefits of pollination can be challenging.

"You want your research to actually do something," Chowdhury said. "Oftentimes our work just stays in our little community and it doesn’t get out."

According to Chowdhury, her goal is to allow farmers to produce more per plant.

"Agriculture is going to be shifting from food production to food security," Chowdhury said. "Alabama could be at the forefront of this if there is enough participation."

Chowdhury said, as the population grows, agriculture trends will shift to producing more food per plant in order to reduce the number planted, conserving land.

Chowdhury and Ray will continue their explorations studying the American potato bean more closely in the coming months and promoting an educational event called Bee Auburn that is open to the public.

The team is also working with Auburn University to make the campus bee friendly by creating ideal habitats for native bees. Chowdhury and Ray said the university could serve as an outdoor classroom for consumers.

"This project not only helps farmers but also the health of consumers," Chowdhury said. "By relying on these native pollinators, we’re utilizing resources already present, and that is good for the land and those who depend on it."

Chowdhury and Ray’s initiative is limited to Alabama, but they hope it will spread across the Southeast, making an impact on sustainable agriculture.

"Bees affect so many different things in terms of food security," Chowdhury said. "We want people to see how knowledge about pollination can feed the world."

Rebecca Oliver is a freelance writer from Auburn.



Balin’ Wheat

by Baxter Black, DVM

Glen said J.T. liked old pickups, too. But sometimes they had a mind of their own.

Early one summer morning, J.T. loaded his good dog, Sam, and headed down to the wheat field. It had been cut and he planned on balin’ some wheat straw as long as it still held the dew.

It was a fine, western Kansas mornin’. J.T. made two passes around the wheat field before the sun burned off the moisture. He parked the 930 Case with the New Holland round baler and decided he could make it to Winona just in time for coffee shop communion. He leaped aboard his ‘79 Ford 4-wheel drive and cranked the engine. Unfortunately, it didn’t crank back!

Starter problems, he knew. It had happened before … something electrical requiring a little short-circuiting wizardry. He raised the hood. Sam lay under the tractor waiting in the shade for his command to "Load up!"

J.T. had no manual choke, so he wedged a shotgun between the seat and the foot feed. Diggin’ through his Snap On hi-tech tool kit, he fished out a fence stay and a pair of pliers. He shorted the faulty electrical connection. The starter kicked over and the engine caught. It was at that moment J.T. realized the ol’ ‘79 was in gear!

It lunged into motion! He slammed the hood and dove out of the way! Out across the wheat field it chugged, pickin’ up speed! Sam came out from under the Case tryin’ to jump in the back, but it was goin’ too fast!

Down through the stubble it rumbled followed by man and dog in hot pursuit! The ol’ pickup displayed an unerring sense of direction and seemed to navigate itself through the bogs, rock piles and round bales. On several occasions when it was slowed by a mud hole or a steep rise, it looked like Sam might catch up. But the pickup had lots of pasture experience and always managed to elude the poor ol’ dog who thought he was bein’ left behind!

Finally, it nose-dived into a washout, knocked the 12 gauge out of position and died of natural causes. J.T. followed the tracks and found it face down up against the bank. Sam was in the back where he belonged, but breathin’ heavy.

J.T. eventually made it to the cafe around noon to tell the story. Everyone said it sure gave new meaning to the term "gunning the engine!"

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.




Bonnie Plants Third-grade Cabbage Program

Pike Liberal School’s Lizzy Steed achieves impressive results.





Lizzy Steed, Troy, is a third-grader at Pike Liberal School. Mrs. Stroud’s class participated in Bonnie Plants’ Third-Grade Cabbage Program. One of the cabbages Lizzy grew weighed 8.7 pounds.

Boozer Farms


Taylor Hatchet and her dad Bobby Boozer.

Good Food, Good Folks

by Herb T. Farmer

As I mentioned in my May column, I took a road trip to visit a couple of farms. I told you about the Wrights at Wright’s Nursery and Greenhouses.

Now, I’ll tell you about the food and folks at Boozer Farms.

I first became acquainted with Boozer Farms two or three years ago when my doctor was away and I got his stand-in instead. Like usual, I interviewed him thoroughly before I accepted his qualifications as being up-to-snuff in my book.

Well, as it turned out, he is my doctor’s best friend and they are both as well-qualified as any medical doctors can be. He’s a good and personable fellow to boot.

During our conversation that day, we somehow got on the subject of growing food, gardening and the like. He told me that his wife owned a farm over in Chilton County. The more we chatted, the more interested I got in his wife’s project.

Lisa Opielinski, Herb’s production assistant, and Taylor Hatchet showing off beautiful kale heads.

I told him I wanted to visit their farm and possibly write a little blip about it in my monthly column. Well, I must say the farm is much more impressive than a blip can express.

Taylor Hatchet is the lovely wife of my doctor’s best friend and the daughter of retired Auburn Extension Specialist Bobby Boozer. What a small world it is indeed.

Hatchet has been associated with agriculture in some form or another most of her life. While still in college, she would haul produce to sell at Auburn. That was back in 2003.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Soil Sciences, and a master’s degree in Plant Pathology, Boozer Farms became her full-time occupation. She took it to full production in 2012.

I have known of Boozer for many years now. Though I had never met him in person until recently, his name would come up often in conversations with some of my other Extension friends. Boozer is certainly a highly respected name amongst the Auburn agriculture community, and it is only fitting he holds the title of production manager at the farm.

Boozer oversees both their 40 acres of sod production, where they produce Bermudagrass, Emerald zoysia and Meyer zoysia grass, as well as the additional 15 acres of fruit and vegetable production.

Rows and rows of strawberries!

The fruit and vegetable production, of course, depends on what is in season. During the course of a year, Boozer Farms produces over 20 types of fruits and vegetables. Some of their produce includes peaches; nectarines; highbush blueberries; Natchez blackberries; La Soda red potatoes; large, sweet yellow onions (similar to Vidalia); lettuces; cabbages; broccoli; cauliflower; radishes; kale; squash; zucchini; eggplant; peas; beans; Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes; Smarty grape tomatoes and two standard types of tomatoes. Oh, and the sweetest strawberries you’ll ever put into your mouth!

Boozer Farms is not a you-pick farm but you are welcome to visit and purchase what is available that day. They are open weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. It’s always best to telephone first in order to make sure they have in stock what you are shopping for. Thursday is the best day to shop at the farm because they are there until about 6 p.m. filling orders for their community supported agriculture.

The Boozer Farms CSA offers several pick-up locations including the farm in Thorsby. Their CSA program is expanding each year and their goal is to add an additional 25 spots each season.

For more information about the freshest produce and fine folks at Boozer Farms, visit their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/BoozerFarms. For information about their CSA, go to http://squareup.com/store/boozer-farms/.

Live © Love © Farm with Boozer Farms at 200 County Rd 242 in Thorsby (35171). You can also contact them at 205-688-6866 or boozerfarms@gmail.com.

All this talk about fruits and veggies has made me hungry!

KALE, BEANS AND ONIONS

In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, put in 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat the bottom. Add enough kale to liberally fill the bottom of the pan and cover. In a small bowl or cup, combine 1½ teaspoons soy sauce with 1 cup water. Add to skillet. Cut half a sweet yellow onion into pieces. Add to skillet and stir; replace cover. After the kale begins to wilt, add green beans to the skillet and cook until desired tenderness.

SAUSAGES, CABBAGE AND KALE

In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, put in 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat the bottom. Place sausages into skillet and cover. Cook until done and remove from skillet. Add enough kale to liberally fill the bottom of the skillet. Cut half a sweet yellow onion into pieces. Add to the skillet. In a small bowl or cup, combine 1½ teaspoons soy sauce to 1 cup water. Add to skillet. Add about 3 cups of coarsely chopped cabbage; cover and cook until desired tenderness.

STRAWBERRY CAKE

1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry Jello
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup coconut oil
4 eggs
½ cup milk
¾ cup mashed strawberries

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans. In a mixing bowl, place all ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is blended. Increase speed to medium and mix for an additional 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the toothpick tester comes out clean.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting and top with fresh strawberries from Boozer Farms. Yum!

Have a happy Independence Day! Get ready to start your fall crops in late August!

I eat my yard! You should eat yours, too!

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

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at farmerherb@gmail.com. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

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

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




Chronicling the Catfish Gold Rush


Mike McCall, author of “Catfish Days – From Belzoni to the Big Apple.”

Mike McCall recounts the history of farm-raised catfish in the South, from the rough-and-tumble early years to the push into the Mississippi Delta and Alabama’s Black Belt.

Book Review

In the second half of the 20th century, eager investors, from city slickers to country folks, and others poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the southern United States to build catfish farms, processing plants and infrastructure.

Likened to the California Gold Rush of a century earlier, raising catfish was seen as a panacea for a down economy – even easy money. Over 180,000 acres of catfish ponds were built and stocked across the South, as an obliging news media served up the feel-good story like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

"Catfish Days" covers the catfish farming industry’s rough-and-tumble early years, before pushing into the rich Mississippi Delta and Alabama’s Black Belt region, and beyond.

Along the way, a colorful cast of characters, celebrities and politicians emerged to bask in the heyday and then quietly slipped away when shiploads of cheap, imported fish from Asia reached U.S. shores to dominate the market. Almost overnight, an industry was in full retreat, taking with it thousands of jobs from the South’s poorest regions. But the strong have survived.

A veteran newspaper reporter and editor, Mike McCall is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has been editor of The Catfish Journal for 27 years. For more information, go to catfishdaysbelzoni.com.




Corn Time





CowPokes






CPC Developer 14R

by John Sims

It’s calf feeding time again! It’s time to wean and precondition calves, develop replacement heifers and grow bulls. In addition to your vaccination protocol, the feed selected to grow your cattle is of the greatest importance. There are many types of feed available, but only one that combines the greatest flexibility, weight gain and feed efficiency into one product with a low-feeding rate.

CPC Developer 14R is a bulk textured feed designed to be hand fed to growing calves, bulls and replacement heifers. Feed CPC Developer along with free-choice hay or grazing to make a complete ration for your cattle. This is a very high-energy feed and should not be fed free choice.

CPC Developer 14R

  • Analysis: 14 percent protein, 3.2 percent fat, 20 percent fiber
  • Feed at a rate of 1-2.5 pounds per 100 pounds of calf’s body weight per day.
  • This feed contains steam-flaked corn to maximize the digestible energy.
  • There is effective fiber to slow down the nutrient passage rate in the rumen and maximize feed efficiency.
  • The complete vitamin/mineral package ensures animal health, efficient nutrient utilization and better overall animal performance. For better absorption, key trace minerals are chelated.
  • Rumensin is added for increased weight gain, improved feed efficiency and to aid in prevention of coccidiosis.

There are many other feeds on the market, but only one CPC Developer 14R with years of field testing and proven performance to its credit. Stop by your local Quality Co-op and ask about CPC Developer 14R for your farm and prepare to be amazed at what your cattle can do.

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




Drop the Device – Escape to the Real World

by John Howle

“I hate to mention age, but I come from an era when we weren’t consumed by technology and television.” ~ Jimmy Buffett

Well, are you ready to become one with your cellphone or computer? Maybe you already are. A recent "60 Minutes" research piece shows that our brains are being hacked by technology companies in order to make us even more attached/addicted to our devices. According to Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager who was interviewed in the piece, "Designers aren’t just programming for consumers, they’re actually programming consumers."

In the "60 Minutes" piece, psychologist Larry Rosen and his team from California State University conducted research showing when people spent time away from their phones, their brain signaled the adrenal gland to produce a burst of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol gives us a burst of adrenaline for the fight or flight response to danger. The person checks their phone to get rid of this feeling of anxiety.

These bursts of cortisol have harmful effects on the body. High levels of cortisol result in weight gain because the body’s metabolism is slowed down and an increased sense of hunger is triggered. Cortisol also results in fatigue, poor memory, depression and a decreased ability to concentrate. According to the research, many of the apps have been developed to prey upon this anxiety. For instance, the app companies might decide to either dump or hold back a lot of likes from other viewers at particular times of the day when you are more vulnerable to how you feel people view you.

Even more disturbing in this investigative piece, it was shown that computer companies are developing apps targeting the base of the brain stem. Ramsay Brown, co-founder of a company called Dopamine Labs (dopamine is the chemical in your brain that affects emotions, movements, and sense of pleasure and pain), said companies such as Snapchat are marketing their products using neuroscience.

"Snapchat knows exactly what you are looking at and meticulously records every behavior you are performing," Brown explained. "They can then hand this information back to NBC, CBS or ABC, and show the TV companies exactly who likes them, when that person clicked and exactly when he or she lost interest."

Current television doesn’t have the technology to do this.

If hacking our brains with apps isn’t enough to be disturbing, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created a 64-channel wearable brain monitor. With this device, the scientists say you can simply think the thoughts you want typed onto the page. The wearable device that looks like a wrestler’s helmet detects electrical and chemical differences in your thoughts and relays that information to the built-in computer.

I do not need to put one of these devices on my head. The researchers would see words and phrases pop onto the screen such as "Why don’t you lab rats go fishing?" "Instead of trying to manipulate our brains, why don’t you develop a baitcaster fishing reel that doesn’t backlash?" or "Have you ever been outside in the sunlight? The vitamin D would help you tremendously."

This July, make sure everyone in your home spends some quality time away from technology. The real world exists outside the computer screen.

Use tin snips and leather gloves to cut out post toppers. You can use tin, aluminum or any sheet metal you have on hand. Aluminum is much easier to cut, however.

Tin Top

Over the years, wooden posts can rot, and the most vulnerable part of the post is the top. This is where the rain seeps in. You can look at old power poles that have been used for fence posts and some of them will be completely rotted out in the center. A great way to preserve the posts is with a tin topping. I use scrap tin, a paper plate and a sharpie to cut circular patterns of tin for the tops of posts. One roofing nail with a rubber washer will hold the post topping in place. For extra insurance, you can squirt a dot of tar on top of the nail head to make sure no moisture gets in after the rubber washer on the nail rots out.

Using a subsoil plow to break up the earth, plow strips through the area you want the pad. A subsoil plow can break through hard-packed clay soil.

Plow the Pads

If you are building a barn or storage shelter, make sure the ground is level. This is called creating a pad. Even if you are not going to pour cement or maybe just lay down a layer of gravel, the ground inside the structure should be level. If you have hard-packed clay soil, you might think the only option is to bring in a bulldozer for cutting the pad. If you have a subsoil plow and a scrape blade, you can do it yourself.

First, cut down with the scrape blade until you can’t remove any more loose soil. Next, attach the subsoil plow and plow in one direction across the pad. Then, change to the scrape blade to remove this excess soil. Plow in a different direction and scrape that soil away. Alternate the subsoil plow and scrape blade until you have the ground at your desired level.

This July, don’t fall victim to brain hacking by apps and computer companies, and don’t practice escapism in the computer world. Instead, if you want to practice escapism, put on some Jimmy Buffett, boil some Alabama Gulf Coast shrimp and eat a cheeseburger in paradise on your back porch.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.



Earl






Fake News is Not Just in Politics

All hunters should take the time to seek the truth before blindly following the crowd.

by Chuck Sykes

During the presidential election of 2016, the term "fake news" came to light. Now you see it everywhere from national to local news. If you think the news is rampant with fake news, just take a look at social media. Over the past several months, different stories concerning some of our regulations have spread like wildfire through social media. This fake news is easy to decipher if someone puts forth just the tiniest bit of effort. Unfortunately, that’s where the breakdown occurs. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Raccoon Hunting Banned in Four Counties

This hoax was circulated throughout social media the first week of May 2017. The news article claimed, "Due to the raccoon population at a substantial decrease, the Alabama State Wildlife board has decided to ban raccoon hunting on private and public lands in the following counties: Randolph, Cleburne, Calhoun and Clay. This also will include a zoned section of the Talladega National Forest. Don’t forget to pick up your new issue of Outdoor Alabama for the 2017-18 game bag book or visit us online."

Let’s pick this apart statement by statement. Does anyone in Alabama think there is a raccoon decline? If so, just ride down any country road and count the number of raccoons that failed their test as a traffic officer. We (Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries) do not feel there is a raccoon decline in any county.

Next, what is the Alabama State Wildlife board? The Conservation Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources based on input from citizens in their respective districts. The CAB meets twice per year to make these recommendations. The final meeting was held March 4, 2017, and a quick review of the minutes will show nothing was discussed about closing the raccoon season in any county.

Finally, every hunter and fisherman in the state knows that seasons and bag limits are printed each year in the Alabama Hunting and Fishing Digest. Outdoor Alabama is the website of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Alabama Hunting and Fishing Digest is a staple of every hunting and fishing camp throughout the state. This Digest has been utilized by hunters and fishermen for decades to keep in touch with all of the seasons and bag and creel limits for the state.

Spot Lighting Legalized for 2017-18 Season

This headline was circulated throughout social media the last week of April 2017, generating quite a few phone calls and emails to our division. Not only is this a detriment to the public trust resource we are charged with managing but it is also an incredible public safety issue. How could anyone actually believe this?

Deer Season Delayed Due to Drought

That was a good one generating tons of calls and emails last fall. For some reason, many hunters assumed that, because they didn’t have food plots to hunt opening day of gun season, the season would be postponed until there was adequate rainfall. I know y’all probably think I’m making some of these up, but I’m not. This actually happened last November.

Baiting Legalized Because of Drought.
Baiting Legalized for High Fences.
Baiting Legalized for Next Season.

The king of fake news topics has to be baiting. Numerous headlines and hoaxes are circulated each year. The three above are just a few of the most recent ones. Let’s look at the first one. Much like the other drought topic, how could anyone really believe this is true? Deer have evolved over generations to be able to handle a wide variety of climatic conditions like droughts or floods. More importantly, it is perfectly legal to supplemental feed 365 days per year. So, why would bait be made legal when supplemental feed is already legal?

The second headline unfortunately gains traction every year, mainly due to many people not understanding the legislative process. In both the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions, a baiting bill has passed the House of Representatives. This always generates quite a bit of chatter on social media with people thinking that is all that has to be completed for the act to become law.

This leads to the final headline. After the bill passes the House, it then moves to the Senate committee. If the bill receives a favorable report in the Senate committee, it will be addressed on the Senate floor. For the past two sessions, the House bill was amended in the Senate committee. The amended bill allowed baiting to occur only inside high fences.

During the 2016 session, the bill never reached the Senate floor for a vote and, therefore, died in the Senate. The same fate appears imminent for the Baiting Bill of 2017 with only a few days left in the session. However, stranger things have happened, so I’ve learned not to count on anything when legislation is concerned.

I want to take a minute to explain the legislative process further, using the Baiting Bill of 2017 as an example. It was introduced into the House and assigned to the Agriculture and Forestry Committee. It passed out of that committee and was placed on a calendar to be discussed and voted on by the entire body of the House. After much deliberation, the Baiting Bill passed the House floor. It was then sent to the Senate and placed in the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee.

The bill was amended and passed out of the Senate committee. It must now be placed on a calendar and voted on by the Senate body. If the bill passes the Senate, because it was amended, it would have to go back to the House for concurrence. If the House doesn’t approve the amendments, the bill will go to a conference committee to see if a consensus can be reached. It’s a long and arduous process.

The best advice I can give is not to believe everything your buddy tells you at the hunting camp or what you see on social media. Do a little research on your own before you blindly follow the crowd over the cliff. Using just a little common sense will go a long way. Visit our website, www.outdooralabama.com. I can assure you the correct information can be found there. If all else fails, call the Montgomery office at 334-242-3845. Someone there will be happy to answer your questions.

Chuck Sykes is director of the AlabamaDivision of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.




Fescue Endophyte

Does it negatively impact bull fertility?

by Jackie Nix

SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer pressed blocks provide bulls with essential nutrients, especially copper and zinc, needed on fescue pastures.

Roughly 25 percent of U.S. beef originates from areas where fescue forages are predominant. Losses associated with fescue endophyte are estimated at a whopping $1 billion annually. Within this area of the United States, 95 percent of the calf crop is achieved via natural service, making bull exposure to endophyte toxins a major issue.

We always talk about how the fescue endophyte affects cow fertility, but rarely talk about its negative impact on bulls. Studies have shown that grazing infected fescue forages can reduce sperm quality vs. bulls consuming noninfected forages. Effects range from lowered sperm motility to increases in morphology defects (misshapen spermatozoa) to decreases in prolactin levels (a hormone thought to play a part in male fertility); however, results were inconsistent. The problem is, even if we do breeding soundness exams, we cannot always detect these problems.

So the take-home message is that bulls on fescue forages may be subfertile, even if they pass a BSE. The fescue endophyte impacts semen quality at least some of the time. Given how important your bulls are to your bottom line and economic growth, can you afford to take a chance on their fertility?

Short of removing bulls from fescue pastures or not feeding them fescue hay, what can be done to safeguard their fertility? One way is to combat known nutritional issues found in fescue forages with strategic supplementation.

Research has shown copper levels are lower in endophyte-infected fescue vs. endophyte-free fescue when grown under identical conditions. Additionally, cattle grazing endophyte-infected fescue exhibit decreased copper status as opposed to cattle grazing endophyte-free fescue. However, the magnitude of this decrease was greater than the difference between the forages. What this means, in a nutshell, is the endophyte not only decreases the total amount of copper present in the fescue but also negatively affects bioavailability of copper inside the animal. This makes sense when you consider the typical symptoms for fescue toxicosis closely resemble those for copper deficiency. For all of these reasons, lowered copper status plays a large part in the fescue toxicosis syndrome. Proper supplementation with a high copper supplement can help alleviate some of the fescue toxicity symptoms.

Fescue is an important forage for cattlemen in Alabama, especially in the northern part of the state.

While proper levels of all minerals are important, two key trace minerals with a direct effect on bull fertility are copper and zinc. Bulls deficient in copper may have reduced libido and poor semen quality. If the deficiency is severe, the bull can become sterile due to testicular damage. Zinc nutrition is also vital for development and maintenance of testicular tissue. Research has shown that bulls receiving supplemental zinc produce more and better quality semen than bulls not supplemented. Either organic or inorganic forms of zinc produced positive results in terms of semen volume, sperm concentration, percent live sperm and sperm motility. But it was found that bulls receiving organic zinc displayed higher numbers of sperm per ejaculate and better motility compared to those receiving inorganic zinc sulfate. Additionally, we know the body utilizes copper better in the presence of zinc.

The Sweetlix Solution

SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products have been scientifically formulated to take into account factors associated with the fescue endophyte. Supplement bioavailablity is crucial, especially in areas with high levels of antagonists such as sulfur or iron in soils. For this reason, SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products contain BioPlex, an organic source of copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt; and Sel-Plex, an organic selenium, as well as inorganic sources for optimum bioavailability and performance. SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products also contain FEB-200 to help support overall performance and help cattle attain maximum genetic potential on fescue forages.

SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products have all been designed to deliver enhanced magnesium levels and deliver National Research Council-recommended levels of essential trace minerals. Due to the mineral factors described, these products deliver twice the NRC levels of copper and zinc to help combat issues caused by fescue endophyte and assure bulls get what they need to be productive.

To see full benefit, feed SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products at least 60 days before expected breeding to impact sperm production. (The process of sperm formation and maturation takes 60 days in the bull.) Continue feeding at least through the end of the breeding season.

In summary, the fescue endophyte can affect bull fertility, too. Given the importance of bulls to your future calf crop, can you take the chance of suboptimal fertility decreasing your calving percentage? Cattle producers who utilize fescue pastures and observe rough, discolored hair coats (red tinge on black hair or loss of pigment around the eyes); winter coats that are slow to shed; decreased conception rates; increased days open; hoof problems and/or depressed immunity should consider use of one of the SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer products. Ask for the SWEETLIX Fescue Balancer by name at your local Quality Co-op or visit www.sweetlix.com to learn more about this and other SWEETLIX supplement products for cattle.

BioPlex, Sel-Plex and FEB-200 are registered trademarks of Alltech.

SWEETLIX is a registered trademark of Ridley USA Inc.

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



FFA Sentinel: The Future of Farming

by Andy Chamness

The 2016-2017 State FFA Officer Team are (from left, front) Hanna Black, Arab FFA, reporter; Sierra Goodwin, Danville FFA, president; Becky Hawkins, Eufaula FFA, treasurer; (back) Ethan Mobley, Red Bay FFA, vice president; Torran Smith, Reeltown FFA, sentinel; and Ben Castleberry, Pell City FFA, secretary.

In 1917, the National Vocational Education Act, also known as the Smith-Hughes Act, was passed by the U.S. Congress. Vocational education is an important component of the secondary school program. The Vocational Education Act provided federal aid for the purpose of promoting precollegiate vocational education and training. At the time of its passage, the United States was engaged in World War I. Seeing the need for technical skills, not only to be competitive in the global economy but for military purposes, Hoke Smith and Dudley Hughes set out to write this piece of legislation. This bill was spurred because of the need for the growth of our infrastructure, as well as its influence on the importance of moral, informative, educational vocational work. In other words, it was seen that Americans needed to be educated in the soft skills we hear about so often today; but also in the vocational skills and knowledge that would be needed for the technological growth to come in our nation.

This is not dissimilar to the state of our country today. Career and technical education has been through many metamorphoses, but one thing remains … the development of project-based/experiential learning and the training of young leaders has been a staple of vocational education. Organizations such as the National FFA Organization have taught students the leadership skills to put into practice the hands-on vocational skills needed to grow a nation of competent and experienced leaders. While FFA focuses on agriculture, the lessons learned in the classrooms, labs, shops, greenhouses and events have prepared student members for a multitude of careers and challenges.

Alabama FFA has recently celebrated 89 years of life, with the annual FFA State Convention held this past June. Over 2,000 FFA members and guests descended upon Montgomery’s Renaissance Hotel and Spa to take part in the convention. Knowing agriculture has changed, Alabama FFA has adapted to the changes. New technology in agriculture has asked the questions, "How do we rewrite courses and FFA contests to incorporate emerging technology and precision farming?" and "How, as an organization, do we continue to engage the youth of our state, grow leaders, build communities and strengthen agriculture?"

The answer is threefold. As we move into the technological future, agriculturists must come together in one accord, regardless of commodity groups to defend the industry that gives everyone so much. Agriculture itself must be positively marketed in ways that touch the core of all people. Finally, agriculturists, educators, parents, the agriculture industry and the industrial trades will need to have a strong presence in the global economy with new and technologically savvy employees who have hands-on practical skills and leadership ability. Career and technical educations in our high schools and colleges are the place where this magic happens. Echoing back to the beginnings of what Smith and Hughes envisioned vocational students to be: prepared, experienced and moral leaders of tomorrow. None of this happens without the teachers in the classrooms inspiring students or the agricultural industry partners taking notice of organizations such as FFA and partnering with them to develop curriculum and contests that are industry driven to develop the workforce needed.

The Ranburne FFA Chapter with their first place Livestock Evaluation Banner.

This comes at a price. Not everyone gets rich in this game of life. As a classroom vocational agriculture teacher, agriscience educator, shop teacher or whatever you called me, I reminded my students that everyone who is anyone pays their dues. Not just FFA or shop dues, mind you, but to climb the ladder of personal success you must not be afraid of work, getting your hands dirty or failure. I would then share what Thomas Edison said about the light bulb he invented and his 10,000 failures, but many of you might miss this statement also by Edison, "We often miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." As we continue to navigate this new horizon of agriculture we have to remember our first job is to engage our youth and to market to those individuals the great and most noble profession of farming, ranching and all of agriculture.

I don’t know if Smith and Hughes saw a shining city on a hill or had a vision of grandeur with their legislation, but they definitely saw a bright future. This future is filled with students who have the leadership and vocational skills and knowledge to move this nation and the world forward. FFA is one of those organizations that continues to adapt to the future and promotes those hands-on and leadership skills by creating opportunities for student members. For those partners who made the 89th Alabama FFA Convention a possibility, to those FFA members across our state and to those agriculture teachers who provided an opportunity for those students, we say, "Thank you."

As always, I would like to encourage you to reach out to your local high school FFA chapter and become involved in the work of the organization. Teachers and members meet your community halfway. Reach out to them by inviting them to take part in the great work of your chapters.

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



Fresh Produce

Selecting and Serving It Safely

by Angela Treadaway

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Local farmers markets are popping up everywhere. They have very fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious. However, harmful bacteria may have been in the soil or water where produce grows and can come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, when washed or stored. So always always wash your produce at home under cool, running water before consuming, especially any that will be eaten raw.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called food poisoning. As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Buy Right

You can help keep produce safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store or farmers market.

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting precut produce such as half a watermelon or bagged salad greens, choose only items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.

Store Properly

Proper storage of fresh produce can affect both quality and safety.

  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, lettuce, herbs and mushrooms in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. If you’re not sure whether an item should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
  • Refrigerate all produce purchased precut or peeled to maintain both quality and safety.
  • Keep your refrigerator set at 40 degrees or below. Use a fridge thermometer to check.

Separate for Safety

Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood and from kitchen utensils used for those products. Take these steps to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • If you use plastic or other nonporous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

Prepare Safely

  • When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Rotten-looking produce should be discarded.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or purchased from a grocery store or farmers market. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

What About Prewashed Produce?

Many precut, bagged or packaged produce items such as lettuce are prewashed and ready-to-eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging. If the package indicates that the contents are prewashed and ready-to-eat, you can use the produce without further washing.

  • If you do choose to wash a product marked "prewashed" or "ready-to-eat," be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross contamination.

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.



G Mommas Cookies

The Ingredients for Success

by Alvin Benn

Robert is the founder of G Mommas Cookies.

Business entrepreneurs have unique ways of getting their message across to the public – from study group suggestions to slick jingles and gimmicks.

Robert Armstrong never needed any of those things because his business plan developed in his grandmother’s kitchen.

That’s where her cookies emerged from an overworked oven to produce, as that old saying goes, "something to die for."

G Mommas Southern Style Bite Size Cookies are being gobbled up around the country by hungry fans who can’t seem to get enough of them.

Cracker Barrel, Walmart, World Market and other well-known outlets offer her cookies with "All Natural," "No Preservatives" and "No Fake Stuff" on each bag’s flip side.

Armstrong doesn’t remember when he first tasted one of his grandmother’s chocolate chip delights but it probably was as soon as he had outgrown his crib.

He describes Anice Armstrong as a "true woman of the Deep South" who baked each cookie with careful attention and down-home ingredients that always included plenty of real, as her accent pronounced, "butta."

Her grandson kept thinking that, one day, he might be able to capitalize on her cookies by turning them into a profitable business.

He was so confident and committed to the idea that he came up with a prediction he wanted to share with her.

"I said, ‘Gammy, I’m going to make a million dollars off your cookies,’" he recalled. "She thought it was a funny idea, but didn’t think I could do it."

His grandmother, who died four years ago, worked at the family’s stationery store in downtown Selma and only considered her cookies to be a hobby, a way for her to treat her grandchildren and friends.

Armstrong felt her cookies were more than just the result of her hobby and decided to take a big leap of faith toward national recognition by lining up financial support to get his idea off the ground.

He forged ahead on his own as founder of the company, working long hours late into the night. When the cookies were completed, he took them to retailers.

Growing pressures caused him to take a rest at one point, but he returned fresher than ever to resume his leadership role because his business cards say "Founder."

Robert Armstrong, right, and Phillip Owen promote cookies originally created by Armstrong’s late grandmother.

Created in 2009, the company has only two employees. Assisting Armstrong is Operations Manager Phillip Owen, who also spends long hours doing whatever is necessary to make the company a success.

Cookie manufacturing is a crowded field, what with Keebler and other Wall Street giants leading the way, but Armstrong is happy at the moment to take just little bites out of that big lucrative market.

He’s had his share of sleepless nights at times, especially when he started and faced rejection from bakeries unwilling to back his idea.

"Most wouldn’t even talk to me back then," he said. "They also weren’t going to provide research and development ideas to help me get started."

Little by little, however, his company began to creep up the ladder of success after setbacks that might have had others ready to toss in the towel.

"I’m not a quitter, never have been, but I knew I had to come up with the right kind of bakery to make a lot of cookies at a time," he said.

He found it in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania where a bakery has been turning out Gammy’s little cookies in really big batches – thousands of them at a time.

The name "G Momma" is short for "Gammy Momma" and came about because nobody could seem to pronounce Gammy right.

"They would say ‘Gai Mee’ when the correct way is ‘Gah Mee,’ but that doesn’t really matter if we can convince people to try one of our cookies," he said.

Armstrong has accumulated over 700 accounts nationwide.

"While we’re not on easy street by any means, we’re still doing pretty good right now," he said.

He’s also enough of a realist to not expect the folks at any of the big cookie manufactures to step aside and let his company share the wealth.

The University of Alabama business graduate has accomplished what he set out to do in his first phase – name recognition. Thus was born G Mommas Cookies.

Robert with his grandmother, Anise Armstrong. She was the inspiration for his cookie business.

His grandmother’s recipes for chocolate chip pecan and butterscotch (or buttascotch as it’s spelled on the bag) oatmeal cookies have left a business imprint he hopes will continue to grow each year. Other flavors are in the offing.

Armstrong, 31, knew he had a good thing going because of those memories of family gatherings when he and his cousins grabbed what they could from the holiday table before every cookie was down to the last crumb.

He had been involved in other business-related projects as he grew up, but kept going back to those cookies and that million-dollar prediction of his.

Armstrong was an athlete at Morgan Academy in Selma where he was a linebacker on a championship high school football team, but didn’t let it go to his head because he just wasn’t big enough to move into the collegiate ranks.

Instead, he began to focus on success in the business world and the importance of rural Alabama and farming.

Agriculture has, in one form or another, played a major role in America’s entrepreneurial past, especially the food industry and the farms providing the basics to make dreams come true.

That meant wheat, eggs, butter and many other ingredients needed to produce cookies and other popular food items.

"Consumers are demanding more wholesome foods today," said Armstrong, who points to the ingredients in his cookies as proof you can’t produce more wholesomeness than something with real butta in it.

Aware that the food industry is a cash-sensitive business, Armstrong also knew that building a successful product around his grandmother’s cookie recipes might be a long shot at best.

It would mean competing, even in a modest way, against the big boys of cookie production, but he wasn’t reluctant to give it the old college try.

In that regard, he’s already succeeded in a modest way and has even recorded something significant – a $107,000 grant during the Alabama Launchpad competition.

It was part of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, a program helping aspiring entrepreneurs promote the creation of new jobs.

"It’s important to remember that the money he received by finishing first in competition against others hoping for the same award was a grant, not a loan," said Paavo Hanninen, former director of the Alabama Small Business Development Center Network at the University of Alabama.

Now a business consultant, Hanninen remembers Armstrong as a student in one of his UA classes – someone in his words that was "itching to take an idea and turn it into something important."

It’s been that way since he was a kid with a desire to succeed as he moved toward college and the business world, confident that it would happen one day.

He’s also beating the drums as loud as he can for his hometown to try and erase some of the negatives associated with a community that has taken its lumps because of its voting rights history.

Armstrong’s father is a district court judge in Dallas County and his mother is a court reporter. Courtrooms have pretty much been their second home for many years.

Judge Armstrong and his son have a shared love of the outdoors, especially when it involves building things such as forts in the woods.

"I love to work with my hands and when I can get some wood, rope and whatever else is available in the country it makes my day," said young Armstrong.

His dad knew that and when his son had a birthday coming up one year he presented him with a bucket of nails to help him with his outdoor projects.

Unlike his father whose life has focused on the law, he found that too boring and opted instead for engineering that eventually gave way to a business career.

The judge’s success has been inherited by his son and it came as no surprise that he won the Launchpad competition.

It hasn’t been all that easy for him because of those sleepless nights as he tried to make more than just a dent in the cookie industry.

Perseverance has helped him clear many business hurdles and he eventually found that Pennsylvania bakery to produce all those cookies.

Asked for a grade he’d use for his hard work, Armstrong picks a "B." When he thinks of those hurdles he’s been confronted with and how he’s cleared them, he gives himself a strong "A."

Finding financial support for his business hasn’t been easy, but he knew that would be the case from the start as he tried to make his mark in a very competitive field.

Among his many loyal supporters is Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce.

She even uses Lay’s famous potato chip slogan as a way to honor Robert Armstrong and his late, great grandmother’s kitchen creations.

"They’re so good, you just can’t eat one," she said.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Henna

by Nadine Johnson

Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a flowering plant and the sole species of the Lasonia genus. It is a tropical plant that grows in the tropical climates of Africa, Australia and Asia. (This information was obtained from the internet.)

The word henna first became known to me as a grade-school child. In one of Mother’s monthly magazines, there was a picture of Lucille Ball. I remember it as a pinup-type picture. The accompanying article told that henna was used for her beautiful red hair. This impressed me and stuck in my memory forever.

Henna is used primarily for the art of tattoos, nails, skin, hair and fabrics. An ink is made for these various uses. Tattooing has been practiced since Neolithic times, dating back to 3100 B.C. Many people cover most of their bodies with this art. Most tattooing is done with an ink made from henna.

I was always glad that my husband survived World War II in the Navy without acquiring a tattoo. I do have a granddaughter with a tiny butterfly on her hip.

I have a Sunday school member who has beautiful, hennaed red hair. She has medical problems preventing her attendance at church every week. When she is present, she sits in front of me. While I listen to the teacher, I enjoy looking at that lovely red hair. Not once in seven years have I seen a single bit of discolored root showing. This is proof again that NOTHING will prevent a woman from keeping her beauty parlor appointment. One day I shared the following story with her and we had a good laugh.

Once during my office nurse days (this was long ago), I answered the telephone.

A lady said, "Nadine, I have just got to see Dr. Jane today. I am very, very sick."

I would never turn a person that sick down; therefore, I answered, "Well, we don’t have a single appointment open, but come in around 10 o’clock and we will work you in as soon as possible."

We hung up the phone and I went on with my duties. The phone rang again.

I answered and heard the same very sick lady say, "Oh, Nadine, I can’t come in today. I have an appointment with my beautician!"

That’s proof a woman will not let hell, high water or threatened death prevent a date with their stylist.

An ink is created from henna for the creation of tattoos and other projects. This brings me to a few remarks about ink. There probably will not be a single person reading these words who will not use ink during the day. We take it for granted without ever wondering what it is made from or who created it. I believe you will all join me in being thankful it was created.

I do not believe I have ever used henna in any way unless it was in ink. I seldom, but occasionally, read my horoscope. Once I read, "Sagittarians always have very simple hairdos." That’s me. I make salon appointments for early in the week and early in the day. I usually walk in, get in my operator’s chair, exchange a few pleasant words, pay my bill and say goodbye. This might take 15 minutes. I leave feeling beautiful.

I am not surprised to learn that henna has some medicinal value. However, I have never seen it in alternatives or heard of anyone who had experienced its use.

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




How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

This looks like a yellow jacket, but it is a friendly hoverfly that feeds on aphids, whiteflies and several other garden pests.

Friendly Flower Flies

There is a small fly in gardens that might be easily mistaken for a yellow jacket, wasp or bee. It buzzes around very fast, but if you are still you might get a close look at one when it rests. They are also called hoverflies because of how they hover in midair and even fly backwards. This is a family of flies that vary slightly in shape and size (¼-¾ inch long). Most are black or brown with bands of yellow on their bodies. You can distinguish them from bees, wasps and yellow jackets because they have only two wings pointing out to the side of their body when at rest, like airplane wings. Bees and wasps have four wings pointing toward the back of their bodies when at rest. A friend to gardeners, they lay eggs that hatch into green, sluglike larva that munch on pesky aphids and thrips on the underside of leaves. Welcome these insects as they can help keep your vegetables, fruits and flowers nearly pest free. Encourage them by planting lots of small flowers with nectar and pollen. Once they take up residence in a spot, they can produce up to seven generations a year. Although some species have special flower preferences, they generally prefer yellow and white flowers. I see them on the parsley and cilantro blooms in my garden in midspring.

The light pink of magic lily softens the blazes of summer.

Grandma’s Magic Lily

Magic lilies (Lycoris squamigera) are antique plants, often part of an old garden for as many years as you can remember, but rarely do you see these in new landscapes. That’s because it takes time and patience to raise a magic lily. Sometimes bulbs produce leaves a year or two before one sees any blossoms. If you have access to any of these from the garden of a friend, you might get a head start by being able to dig a big bulb and lots of roots with it. About this time of year, the leaves of magic lily are dying back; shortly afterward the blooms appear. Magic lilies also go by two other names: surprise lily and naked lady. You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood when word gets out that there are naked ladies in your garden! Now as the foliage dies down is a good time to dig new ones from the garden of a friend to plant in your garden, or if you have the patience look for mail-order sources that will ship at this time of year.

A Doughnut for Mosquitoes

Are there hidden spots around your house where mosquitoes can breed? Even water-filled saucers underneath plants can be a place for mosquitoes to breed. However, there is no need to give up simple garden pleasures such as a birdbath or a small water garden. Easy-to-use Mosquito Dunks provide organic control of mosquito larvae for a month. All you have to do is put a dunk or a piece of one in the water. Look for Mosquito Dunks at your Quality Co-op or favorite store where insect control products are sold.

Hardy hibiscus steal the show in a summer flower border.

A Hibiscus That Keeps on Giving

Hardy hibiscus is a cold-hardy, perennial relative of the much-beloved tropical hibiscus, but with bigger blooms. While big-leafed and tropical-looking, you would not expect them to be drought tolerant, but they are. Even if the tops wilt in dry weather, it seems that the roots are tough enough to survive so the plant returns the next spring. In bloom now, hardy hibiscus varieties are sold in pots in garden centers offering a good selection of perennials. Plants vary from 3-6 feet tall, depending on variety. Flower colors are typically white or shades of red and pink. Some varieties also have bronze foliage. Shop around for the varieties and you will find some with blooms nearly a foot wide, making this one of the largest of all perennial flowers. Plants bloom though the summer and then are killed back by frost. Cut back the dead tops in winter, but do not disturb the roots so the plants can come back again when the weather warms in the spring.


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



July Lawn and Garden Checklist

PLANT

  • Plant these vegetables no later than July 20 to allow time to mature before frost: tomatoes, okra, corn, pole beans, lima beans, cucumbers, squash and snap beans. Watch new seedlings for insect damage and don’t let them dry out in the scorching heat!
  • Early in the month, plant heat-resistant flowers such as coleus, hibiscus, portulaca, marigold, cleome, globe amaranth, salvia, celosia, zinnia, periwinkle, petunia, cosmos, sunflowers and ageratum.
  • Grass is often hard to establish under trees due to shade and roots; plant a ground cover instead.
  • Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden.
  • Sow Halloween pumpkins by the first of the month.

FERTILIZE

  • Feed summer vegetable plantings monthly with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Use calcium nitrate on tomato plants to help remedy bouts of blossom-end rot.
  • Do not fertilize cool-season grasses until September.
  • Regreen yellow lawns with an iron or minor-nutrient feeding.
  • Check azaleas and camellias for iron chlorosis (pale green leaves, darker green veins). If necessary, use copper or iron chelate.
  • Do not apply fertilizers to trees and shrubs after July 4. Fertilizing late may cause lush growth that is apt to be killed in winter.
  • Fertilize container plants every two weeks with a water-soluble solution.

PRUNE

  • Prune blackberries after harvest.
  • Give fruit trees light trimmings as needed to direct growth.
  • Always be on the lookout for dead, damaged or diseased wood in trees and shrubs, and keep pruned as discovered.
  • Do not prune azaleas and rhododendrons after the second week of July for they soon will begin setting their buds for next year’s blooms.
  • Discontinue pinching chrysanthemums after the first week of the month so they will be able to develop flower buds for the fall. To promote trophy-size flowers, allow only one or two main shoots to develop.
  • Annual flowers that tend to get very tall can be cut back at least half to one-third to get them back in bounds. Some to cut back are cleome, cosmos, orange cosmos and zinnias.
  • Deadhead the developing seed pods from your rhododendrons and azaleas to improve next year’s bloom. Be careful not to damage next year’s buds that may be hidden just below the pod.
  • If needed, cut up to a third off tomato plants to keep them from overwhelming their posts or cages. Leave some leaves to protect against sunburn.
  • Prune climbing roses and rambler roses after bloom.
  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade.
  • Trim fruit trees of water sprouts. These are the stems growing straight up from the limbs. Also, remove suckers growing from the base of trees.

WATER

  • Irrigation is your single biggest garden responsibility this month. The amount of water your garden will need is going to depend on the weather conditions in your area, but it needs at least an inch of water per week. The primary rule of summer watering is to water thoroughly and deeply each time and to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Deep watering will allow the plant’s roots to grow deeper, where they are less likely to dry out, as well as the added benefit of anchoring the plant into the ground better. Light, surface watering actually wastes water because the water never actually reaches the root zone of the plant and the moisture rapidly evaporates from the top inch of soil.
  • Early morning irrigation when the air is calm and evaporation minimal allows turf to dry before nightfall and will reduce the chance of disease.
  • Install microsprinklers to conserve water in the vegetable garden.
  • This is a really bad time to plant trees and shrubs, but, if forced to do so, soak the rootball of new woody plants in a bucket until no air bubbles come to the surface, dig the planting hole, fill with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole, fill with soil, firm gently and water well. This will give the plant a huge advantage over one planted with a dry rootball in a dry hole and watered only on the surface.
  • Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years in lawns or areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them. This must be kept clear or grass will prevent essential moisture getting through. Mulching with bark or compost will help. Give them a good soaking once or twice a week, or whenever the soil feels a bit dry to the touch.
  • Be sure to make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden while you are on vacation.
  • Add 2-3 inches of mulch around woody plants and in beds to retain water.
  • Keep cucumbers well-watered. Drought conditions will cause bitter fruit.
  • Keep lawns mowed to 3 inches tall to protect it from summer heat and to lower the amount of water it requires.
  • Provide water in the garden for the birds, especially during dry weather.

PEST CONTROL

  • Read label directions carefully.
  • Protect honeybees. If you must use an insecticide (even organic), spray late in the evening when few bees are active.
  • If you are finding blossom-end rot on tomatoes or other vegetables, you may not be paying enough attention to watering. Other than doing your soil test to make sure there is adequate calcium in the soil, allowing plants to get too drought stressed between waterings is the most common cause of this discouraging malady.
  • Till and mulch soil to conserve moisture for germination of fall crops and to help reduce the nematode population in the soil.
  • Clean harvested vegetable rows immediately to prevent insect and disease buildup.
  • Cover vacant garden soil with clear plastic for eight weeks to bake out pests (solarization).
  • Learn to identify lawn weeds and use appropriate controls.
  • Chinch bugs and sod webworms are now affecting lawns; treat as needed.
  • Resume peach and apple tree sprays after harvest.
  • Inspect needled evergreens now for bagworms. If possible, remove them by hand. In early July, you can still control them with organic Bacillus thuringiensis spray. By late July, stronger insecticides will be needed. In August, the caterpillars enter the pupal phase and are not affected by insecticides.
  • Look for Japanese beetles, aphids, spider mites and the dreadful thrips. Insecticidal soap can be a cure for the later, but the beetles need the stronger stuff.
  • Control mosquitoes by eliminating all sources of stagnant water or using Mosquito Dunks.
  • Prevent rose diseases with a fungicide spray program
  • Apply second spray to trunks of peach trees for peach borers.
  • Be alert to slug and snail damage. These creatures will be hiding during the heat of the day, but will come out in the cool morning and evening hours or after a rain. Seek and destroy ALL slugs and their eggs! Go to your local Co-op store for prevention and eradication ideas.
  • Cover grape clusters loosely with paper sacks to provide some protection from marauding birds.
  • Fall webworms begin nest building near the ends of branches of infested trees. Prune off webs. Spray if defoliation becomes severe.
  • Keep weeds from making seeds now. This will mean less weeding next year.
  • Monitor lawns for newly hatched white grubs. If damage is occurring, apply appropriate controls.
  • Spray hollies for leaf miner control.
  • With humidity and moisture comes prime powdery mildew season. To prevent this fungus from spreading, give plants and garden beds a good soaking at ground level. Try not to get water from the hose on the leaves of plants.

ODD JOBS

  • Gardening in July will have you dripping sweat, and swearing off gardening forever if you don’t do it the right time of the day. Garden during the early hours and late afternoons and early evenings.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. Hydration is key to keeping from having a heat-related illness. An 8-ounce bottle of water an hour when outside will be effective.
  • Wear SPF 50 sunscreen when expecting to be outside for long periods of time. Sunburn is a stress on your body and it can cause enough pain to keep you inside for a very long time.
  • Maintain a 3-4-inch mulch layer around trees and shrubs to protect them from mower and weed whacker damage. Don’t place the mulch too close to the trunk.
  • Bats help control mosquitoes; attract these friendly mammals with bat houses.
  • Low areas in the lawn may be gradually filled with shallow applications of good top soil. Avoid temptation to apply a layer of sandy loam over the entire lawn area just because your neighbor does.
  • Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears or a knife that will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a larger, absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket of water to the garden for collecting flowers rather than a cutting basket.
  • If you go on vacation, be sure to make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden.
  • Don’t wait until autumn to harvest your herbs. Snip them now at their peak of perfection then dry or freeze them.
  • Turn the compost pile every other week. More often if you’re constantly adding new material. Water when needed.
  • Use easy-to-maintain container gardens as accents for entrances, porches and patios.
  • Check garden centers for markdowns on remaining plants
  • Check your garden daily and harvest, harvest, harvest. Don’t let those precious vegetables rot on the vines or fall to the ground.
  • Verbenas, euonymus, fig, hydrangea, pachysandra and climbing roses are some of plants that will root fairly quickly by layering them into the warm soil. Fasten a section of the stem containing one or more eyes down onto cultivated soil with a horseshoe-shaped piece of wire (or a brick) and cover it with additional soil. By summer’s end, the stem should be rooted sufficiently to sever it from the parent plant and replant into another area of the garden.
  • Give support to climbing flowering vines that may have outgrown the trellis you planted them with.
  • Harvest onions and garlic when the tops turn brown.
  • How about some tips on mowing: (1) Use a sharp blade. (2) Clear your lawn of any obstacles. Running over trash or rocks is unsafe, will dull the blade and leaves a mess. (3) Mow around the edges of the lawn first to leave enough room to turn the mower around as you mow the middle. (4) Mow in straight lines. This will make your lawn look like it was mowed professionally. (5) Overlap the cut lines by 1-2 inches to ensure grass pressed down by mower tires is indeed cut. (6) Trim the edges with a string trimmer. (7) Alternate the mowing patterns so your lawn gets cut evenly throughout the month. (8) Don’t go too long between cuttings! The longer you wait to mow, the longer it will take to get the job done when you finally get around to it. (9) Raise the height of the mower deck. Cutting the grass too short will damage the lawn and cause it to dry out.
  • Mulch perennials and new trees with a layer of compost topped with bark mulch.
  • Replace mulch from areas it has been kicked around or blown away.
  • Rule of thumb for perennials: If it is a spring-blooming perennial, divide and transplant in fall; if it is a fall-blooming perennial, divide and transplant in spring.
  • Keep bird feeders and baths clean. In addition to their sounds and beauty, many birds eat insect pests and should be encouraged to hang around.


Just Enough

by Suzy Lowry Geno

I feel so cherished and so loved.

Kevin Ferrill has a servant’s heart and wants to help everyone around him.

He wants to support me. He wants to get a job tending animals and give me half his weekly salary because he worries about me.

He has a servant’s heart and it’s not surprising that he has already been a missionary, seriously telling others in Nicaragua about the Lord and even giving his testimony in church and having it translated for the Spanish-speaking congregation there as he spoke.

But I have to explain to Kevin that I have all I need because the Lord always provides just enough.

Kevin, now the ripe old age of 10, was adopted by Laine and Rob Ferrill in February 2010 and had heart surgery to implant a shunt to help his pulmonary hypertension in April after they got home from China.

"He’s a walking miracle with his heart condition," Laine explained. "He only has one working ventricle! Typically children like Kevin who have lived with lower oxygen have a lot of learning delays, but Kevin’s cardiologist is always amazed at how smart Kevin is – even with the low oxygen level getting to his brain! It can only be the Lord!"

Kevin’s surgeon was Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Robb Romp and his surgery was conducted at University Hospital in Birmingham.

But at first I didn’t know all that about Kevin. I just knew his family (made up of many birth and adopted children of all ages) moved about a mile down the road from me last year from their previous home in St. Clair County and I enjoyed seeing them all each week at church.

Kevin and I have always been able to carry on long conversations about many interesting things such as a mama cat that presented the family with kittens, the baby chicks his family has started out in their spare bedroom and their friend’s seven cows that currently roam their pasture.

While Kevin was in Nicaragua with a mission team (including his parents) in February of this year, his testimony included how he had been adopted from China by the Ferrills, but that his most important adoption was when Jesus became his Savior.

His wisdom in the rest of his testimony is astounding. So I know he will be able to understand that, while I appreciate so much his offer of help, he needs to continue studying as he grows older because God always takes care of me by providing just enough.

I’m not a great theologian. The readers of this regular column know me as a chubby, gray-haired homesteader who enjoys living the simple life. I’ve always been a prepper in some ways and I just enjoy living back to the land.

But this theory of just enough continues to pop up in my life.

Bill Brinkworth wrote an article in the "Bible View" email devotional where he explained the ideas of just enough.

He explained, after the Israelites complained (forgetting they had been treated badly as slaves and how God had delivered them), God answered their pleas by providing manna every day for them to eat. They had just enough for every man, woman and child. If they didn’t trust God and tried to hoard the food until the next day, it became a stinking mess riddled with worms!

However, on the day before the Sabbath when folks weren’t supposed to work, they were given enough manna for two days ... and it lasted fine for that second day!

All through the Bible and through history we see the theory of just enough played out perfectly.

Joseph, after being sold as a slave, was put into an unlikely position of leadership so he could provide food for his family when famine struck their homeland.

A widow had a barrel of meal and a container of oil that miraculously refilled every day providing just enough food for her and the prophet Elijah!

But some of you may already be pooh-poohing, saying, "Well, that was in olden times."

Brinkworth went on to tell in his article how in the past 30-plus years there have been thousands of just enoughs in his family’s lives! While they always tried to live frugally and make the most of their resources, they needed to paint their house. Paint that was just enough to cover the house and in the color they’d wished for suddenly appeared! Then there were clothes donated to their family that were exactly the right size and style, although the donors couldn’t have known that.

"We quickly learned it was not coincidence, it was by God’s provision," he explained.

Readers have seen similar things in my own life and farm.

I sure don’t believe in a name-it-or-claim-it-gospel, or the prosperity gospel as some expound. Some of them say, if you live right, have faith and pray just right, you will be blessed in everything you do and never have money worries, sickness or any other problems. That sounds wonderful, BUT the devil has too big a foothold in this old world to let that happen. But I do believe God is still in control and sometimes He uses things, large and small, to remind us of that!

I believe what Paul repeatedly said in the New Testament about working with your own hands to provide for yourself and how those who are able to work and don’t shouldn’t eat. I also think that sometimes our best efforts are honored in miraculous ways!

I’ve told before of my son Nathan being 2 years old and needing caps on all his teeth just days after our house had burned and just weeks after my husband Roy had returned to work because of a foot injury that almost took his life.

The pediatric dentist had figured and scratched his head and wrote down the exact amount of Roy’s profit-sharing check nestled uncashed in my purse that no one had seen!

Or how I had to take one math class in college and had to pass it with at least a C to maintain my scholarship. How I struggled all quarter and still just had a 70 average ... how I needed at least a 70 on my final to pass ... how the teacher’s red pencil slashed my test as I watched him grade it ... and how he added up my total with me watching ... to exactly 70! No more and no less. Just enough to let me keep my scholarship!

How I was a young, frightened, single mama way before Roy came into our lives and had to take 2-year-old Jannea to the old Carraway Methodist Hospital in Birmingham because she was a sickly baby.

Thankfully, they were able to get her feeling better, but, before I could get out of there, I had to go to the cage of the grumpy woman in the billing department.

Finally she adjusted her glasses and growled that her bill would be $45 and I had to pay before I left.

I knew I’d had a 10 and five ones in my pocket when I left home (I think I charged a grand total of 75 cents for each piano lesson I taught then). But mama had stuffed some bills into my pocket as I rushed out the door after leaving my older daughter with her and daddy.

I reached in and gingerly pulled out the 10 and the ones. Beside my crumbled bills were a neatly folded 20 and another 10. I had EXACTLY $45!

Like author Brinkworth, I can recount numerous other times when God has shown me He is watching out for me, usually with just enough.

While I likely will never have my farm fenced-in completely with lots of Pygora goats, miniature Babydoll sheep and alpacas munching on the grass, I am content with the homestead and goats and other critters God has blessed me with.

So Kevin, I tell you in this article, and I’ll tell you again in person the next time I see you, "Your offer to help me blesses my soul in ways you will never know until you are old like me! But you don’t have to worry. In this simple life, I have just enough."

Suzy Lowry Geno enjoys a simple life on her Blount County homestead and can be reached on Facebook or through her website www.taitsgapstore.com.




Keys to Controlling Poison Ivy

Eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

by Tony Glover

If you are a fan of Batman comics, you may be aware of a beautiful-but-deadly eco-terrorist character named Poison Ivy. Talking to a rose she said, "They can bury me in the ground, as deep as they like. But I’ll grow back. We always grow back." That sounds like what I heard from a client who called just as I sat down to write this article. She said, "We have tried everything, but it always grows back." I could hear the frustration in her voice and I have felt the frustration myself in my own landscape.

Let’s take it step by step. The first step is to identify the plant. Eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a woody perennial vine with compound leaves occurring in sets of three (trifoliate). We like to remind people of the simple rhyme "leaves of three, let it be." It’s a fun way to teach children what not to touch. The edges of the leaves can be quite variable. They may be smooth, wavy, lobed or toothed, and could even resemble oak leaves. Also, the leaves are alternate, unlike a look-a-like plant, boxelder seedlings that are oppositely arranged. Poison ivy is fast growing and propagates easily by underground rhizomes and seeds. The seed may also be spread by birds and animals that eat the small fruit. As the vines grow, they will attach to trees and structures with their hairy, aerial roots along the stems. A close relative, poison oak grows more like a shrub and can be up to 6 feet tall. It does not climb, and leaflets appear thicker, dull green, and often lobed or may have coarsely serrated leaves.

All parts of the poison ivy and poison oak plants are poisonous because of the irritating oil – urushiol, a colorless or light-yellow oil found in the leaves, stems and roots. The plant’s oil content is at its highest in the spring; this is when we should be extra careful when around poison ivy. Because the urushiol oil can remain active for months, even on dead plants and roots, it will remain active on tools, clothing and the fur of pets. We must also take protective precautions when working to control poison ivy. Therefore, everything that comes in contact with any part of the plant’s oil should be cleaned carefully. If you are extremely sensitive, the oil should be washed from the skin within 10 minutes of exposure using running water and soap that does not contain oil, as these types of soap may actually spread the poison ivy oil and make it worse. If you are less sensitive to the irritation of the urushiol oil, you may have up to four hours to wash it off. After this length of time, it is very difficult to remove with soap and water.

Poison ivy can get started in the home landscape from a seed dropped by a bird and can quickly become a problem. Poison ivy can be difficult to control when it grows in shrubs, ground covers and lawns. For minor infestations, small plants may be dug up or repetitively cut back to the ground. Start cutting them back in early spring, about the time you first start to notice the leaves emerging. Paint or dab on to the fresh cut the chemical glyphosate to provide better control. Inspect the area about every two weeks and, if you see new plants emerging or any green growth, repeat the process. Eventually they will starve to death or the chemical will kill the plant. If this is the route you plan to take, be sure to protect yourself from coming in contact with the oil. Wear long sleeves, long pants and protective gloves. Always launder these protective clothes separately from your regular laundry. When you pull up or dig out poison ivy, do not burn it because the irritant may be transmitted by the smoke and you could even breathe it in. Also, do not mow or weed eat poison ivy because harmful particles may become airborne.

If you plan to eradicate poison ivy chemically, care must be taken not to allow any of the herbicide to touch the foliage, stems or trunks of desirable plants. If the bark of ornamentals and other desirable plants is thin, the herbicide may move through the bark into the plant and result in death or severe injury. Although care must be taken to protect desirable plant foliage when applying to poison ivy, glyphosate is probably the safest herbicide to use in the home landscape as it is less likely to move through the soil and be absorbed by roots and injure existing woody ornamentals. Glyphosate works best when applied at the correct time, between two weeks before and two weeks after full bloom (early summer). If poison ivy is coming up in the lawn you can control it with the typical post-emergent herbicides containing 2,4-D and dicamba. Another commonly used herbicide for poison ivy control is triclopyr that is more effective if you miss the window of opportunity with glyphosate and are treating later in the year. However, this chemical can have up to several months of soil activity that could harm other nearby landscape plants. Therefore, as always with any chemical application, take safety precautions and follow label directions.

The key to control is being persistent, vigilant and diligent, just like Batman is against his villain. Be on the alert and know that poison ivy cannot be eradicated … and it will come back.

To learn more, visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website, www.aces.edu, and search for ANR-1460. If you have any other questions about poison ivy or the eradication of it, please call your local Extension office found at the same website.


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



Mega Cabbages

Ed Scrushy trusts Bonnie Plants for colossal heads.

Ed Scrushy, Ramer, showed off these cabbages he grew on his family farm at Pike Farmers Co-op in Troy. He plants 40 or so cabbages each year. These are Bonnie Plants Mega Cabbages and one weighed in at 20 pounds.




New Farmers Workshop

Students learn the keys to success in farming.

by Maureen Drost

Anthony McCarthy, standing in brown jacket, loan chief for the USDA Farm Service Agency, addressed the students on the agency’s assets and the number of loans granted. Over 50 percent of recent loans were awarded to minorities.

Students at a recent Alabama A&M workshop for new farmers learned more than a dozen keys to success in farming. Tips such as choosing something you love to work at and persevering, keeping good records and capitalizing on those things you can control were presented.

As moderator for the workshop, E’licia Chaverest, who is assistant director of the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University, presented the steps for success.

"Do your homework on requirements and regulations … for entering certain markets," she told the group. "Follow demand-driven production. … Stay involved and keep informed. You need to change with emerging trends."

Presentations at the two-day workshop in May started with a basic discussion on personal budgeting. Dorothy Brandon, who works for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said she likes to use the words "spending plan" in place of the word "budget" that often has a negative connotation. A spending plan should include goals, wants, needs and values.

Smart financial goals have a time frame, she told the group. One example, "I will save $500 for my child’s graduation fees within the next six months."

Brandon gave an overview of such basic information as having an emergency fund to cover three to six months of routine expenses and the maximum percentages of each month’s spending plan to use on housing and transportation.

The next presenter, Robert Page, discussed simple business plans. For 10 years, he’s been an auditor for large, commercial farmers, including those who raise and sell poultry.

He presented three exercises to see if participants really knew where they were financially.

He told them that there’s nothing wrong with pencil-and-paper calculations when you’re starting a small business.

Farmers experience a lot of pressure. Poultry producers, for example, must know there’s a 15-degree range where temperatures have to stay or they may lose 2,000-3,000 birds. All poultry farmers need a backup electrical system.

Every farmer of a certain size should have a line of credit from a bank in the form of a 12-month operating loan.

"If you’ve inherited 10-15 acres of land," he said, "don’t quit your day job."

E’licia Chaverest, front left, assistant director of the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University, was the moderator for the Risk Management and Financial Literacy Workshop. Twelve students participated in the workshop.

As an example, he discussed livestock farming, saying that "the livestock industry in Alabama is being run largely by part-time farmers – people with second jobs."

In a later presentation, Page led a hands-on class in the computer lab on QuickBooks.

"QuickBooks is the most popular business software in the country," he said.

It’s a computerized checkbook. The cost to buy QuickBooks Pro at a chain, business-supply store is about $175.

Norm Davis, the first of three lenders speaking to the group, discussed TruFunds Financial Services in Birmingham where he is vice president and managing director. One aim of the company is to increase the number of successful minority- and women-owned businesses.

Ralph Stewart of Alabama Farm Credit said the agency is a locally owned farmers cooperative serving 27 North Alabama counties, with headquarters in Cullman. Loan decisions are made locally for small farmers, beginning farmers in business 10 years or less, and farmers ages 35 years old and younger. Stewart grew up in agriculture and worked in the middle 1990s as a University of Tennessee Extension Agent.

Alabama Farm Credit offers a variety of lending terms – operating loans for 12-18 months, revolving, intermediate and home loans, and farm and construction loans.

Anthony McCarthy spoke for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Over 50 percent of their loans go to minorities and the goal of receiving loans from the agency is to graduate. Their goal is for you to (eventually) be able to get loans from commercial lenders.

When visiting the agency’s office, it’s better if you come in as a distressed borrower than a delinquent borrower.

LaTricia Shobert, of Partnership for Families, Children and Adults in Chattanooga, talked about credit worthiness. She outlined some tips about credit reporting, including names of the credit reporting bureaus, using www.annualcreditreport.com to check reports three times a year and how to earn an optimum credit score.

Chaverest said marketing for the beginning farmer encompasses a variety of strategies. It includes everything from word of mouth and local connections to farmers markets and roadside markets. In small communities such as Tuskegee and Selma, newspaper ads can be effective. Focusing on value-added agriculture and using social media such as Facebook and websites are important.

Thinking outside the box, she said, is paramount.

Maureen Drost is a freelance writer who lives in Huntsville and is a retired newspaper journalist.



Pampered Pets

Greenwood Groomers Enjoy a Growing Business

by Carolyn Drinkard

Brandy Champion, left, trained her mother, Peggy Boyette, to groom. The two have over 33 years of experience.

Pet grooming is a business that has grown rapidly in the past 20 years. Owners choose their groomers much like they do their veterinarians. They look for experienced, compassionate individuals who love animals and will take care of their pets.

Brandy Champion and Peggy Boyette are groomers who work in a small business, located in the Greenwood Community between Thomasville and Grove Hill. They provide a valuable service to the people in this area, one that both humans and non-humans appreciate.

Grooming in a rural area is different from grooming in a city. Champion should know; she has done both. She has been a groomer for 17 years. In 2001, Champion opened her own business, just outside Thomasville, calling it Brandy’s Pampered Pets. For many years, it was the largest pet facility in Clarke County. She groomed, boarded and bred dogs with the help of her mother, Peggy Boyette, who apprenticed under Champion.

After Champion moved to Gulf Shores in 2014 to work with a larger firm, Boyette relocated the business to the small, farming community of Greenwood. She bought a comfortable trailer, fitted it with grooming facilities and renamed the business, Pampered Pets. Boyette trained her niece, Renee Gates, and the two ran the successful business. In 2017, Champion returned to help them.

At Pampered Pets, the ladies offer baths, haircuts, ear plucking and grooming of anal glands. They paint toenails, put bows in hair and give each pet its own bandana.

"Grooming not only makes a pet look, feel and smell better," Champion explained, "it also helps to improve their health. People love their babies and want the best for them."

The groomers have alerted owners to potential problems such as ticks, fleas or parasites. They have also identified eye, ear and teeth problems, and made owners aware of inflammation or infections hidden by a dog’s thick hair.

After grooming, Zoey, left, and Bella pose for the camera.

Pet grooming is a very physical job.

"People may think we play with dogs all day, but, when an animal gets a haircut, it moves all the time. We also have to hold them up to get their legs. Some of our customers may weigh over 100 pounds. We have to be patient and compassionate, because we never want to hurt them."

Bites, scratches and nips are hazards of the job. In their experience, both groomers have found that smaller dogs are more likely to bite than larger ones. Champion said dachshunds had bitten her more, while more Shih Tzus have nipped Boyette. Both have worked with many pit bulls, but neither has ever had a problem with this breed.

With over 33 years of experience between them, the groomers have learned how to handle temperamental pooches.

"Dogs are really funny about their feet," Champion explained. "Feet are the hardest parts to do."

Unlike customers in larger cities, rural owners typically do not bring their babies in on a regular schedule. For example, working and hunting dogs do not come in as often as other pets. One of their customers brings in his Great Pyrenees each May. The owner knows his dog’s time away from the flock could spell disaster for young lambs, as this area has many coyotes and bobcats. The groomers work to get the dog out as quickly as possible and back on the job. Another owner brings all of his hunting dogs for baths, haircuts and nail clipping after hunting season ends each year. Many other hunters bring their pooches twice a year, to rid them of fleas and ticks picked up in the woods.

Both Champion and Boyette have had some interesting experiences while grooming. Champion told about working with a pooch that had previously been hit by a car. The owners did not take it to the vet, thinking it was not hurt badly. As Champion clipped through the dog’s matted hair, one of the dog’s legs fell out.

"I was literally terrified," she stated. "I had never seen anything like this before!"

The leg had apparently been injured in the accident and later detached into the matted hair. The area had already healed, and the dog had adjusted to using three legs.

Boyette told about grooming one very matted dog. As she came down with her clippers, maggots fell out all over her hand. Unknown to the owner, the animal had an infected area on its hip that needed immediate medical attention.

On a good day, the groomers typically work with 12 dogs. They are busier in the summer than in winter, but their schedules vary each day. In this area, many dogs are outies, outside pooches that roam around more and get dirtier.

Both groomers have special connections to animals. Champion has five dogs of her own; Boyette has three outside pooches. It is not unusual, however, for both ladies to find boxes of puppies or strays on the steps of their business. Boyette said they work many hours to find owners for these puppies.

Boyette is well-known for her rescue work. She has saved raccoons, possums, armadillos and even deer. She told the story of a forester who brought her a tiny fawn that had been caught in a controlled burn. The baby’s three hooves had been burned off, and she was unable to stand. Boyette fed and nursed the fawn for weeks, taking it in a basket to work so she could feed it on a regular schedule. After the orphaned deer regained her health, Boyette released her into the woods.

(From left) Groomers Renee, Brandy and Peggy have over 35 years of experience among them. All three love animals and pamper the many pets who visit.

Boyette told another story of a customer who was willing to rescue an abandoned dog found in the middle of a road.

"The malnourished dog was so weak and matted that it could not even use the bathroom," she said sadly. "I groomed him, and that man with a big heart tried to find the owner. When he could not find anyone, he took the dog to his forever home. He still brings him in for grooming. Their relationship is just so special. It was meant to be."

The groomers feel blessed to groom service dogs. The bond between the owners and these dogs is truly touching. Champion told about a Mastiff that protected its elderly owner, who had seizures.

"The dog was bigger than the owner," Champion said. "She was fiercely protective of her master. However, the dog was very loving and just incredible."

All breeds of dogs come to Pampered Pets. One of their cutest customers is Precious, a little Sheltie, groomed to look like a lion. Perhaps their most unusual customer is a Pyrenees/dachshund mix that looks like a Pyrenees with short dachshund legs.

"We never know what’s going to come in," Boyette said. "That’s why this job is so interesting."

Pampered Pets has many faithful clients who drive as far as 50 miles to bring their dogs. Many say they would not take their pets anywhere else. Champion and Boyette love their customers and appreciate their loyalty.

"At the end of the day, I look at the dogs," Champion said. "They are so cute. It makes me feel good to do what their owners want. That is the real pleasure."

Pampered Pets is located at 25 Baughville Drive in Grove Hill.

Their hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They have plenty of convenient parking. For an appointment, call 334-830-0521 or 334-830-0523. You can also look for them on Facebook.

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at drinkardcarolyn@gmail.com.




Responsible Ag

Goshen and Cherokee Co-ops achieve certification.

by Sharon Cunningham

Goshen Farmers Co-op Manager Danny Dewrell, right, and Wayne Byrd are working to keep their Co-op a staple for Goshen.

Goshen Farmers Co-op is a big store in this little town. Located in Pike County, Danny Dewrell is the manager of this one-stop-has-it-all location. The friendly spot is in the center of the town. The lot where the building is located also houses everything from the local gas station, tire shop, bulk feed and seed, to the local bank! If you are local and need that hard-to-find belt or part, don’t worry; they can get it for you or even a brand new Hustler mower.

Dewrell has spent many years in the Co-op system. He worked at Opp’s Co-op and moved to Goshen Farmers to become the manager, with his wife and young daughter’s support. He has helped this small Co-op grow and function as a staple for the town. If you are looking for the perfect drive through the country, stop by and say hello.

Cherokee Farmers Co-op’s staff is there to help you. From left are John Tucker, Nate Mitchel, General Manager Andrew Dempsey, Steve Williams, Tony Megnin, Manager Seth Eubanks, James Emanuel, Junior Tucker and Austin Andrewes.

Centre welcomes the newest Responsible Ag members for the area, Cherokee Farmers Co-op. Centre is located on Highway 411 and surrounded by Weiss Lake and the Coosa River. Over the last few years the Co-op has seen many changes including combining with Calhoun Farmers Coop to serve eastern Alabama. General Manager Andrew Dempsey is proud of all of his groups. He encourages them to stay up to date and safe.

Cherokee Farmers Co-op’s Manager Seth Eubanks has worked tirelessly to guarantee his group is in top shape. At any time, you can see him or one of his staff on equipment heading out to ensure the job is done. The pride the staff has in their Co-op is evident when looking at the equipment and services. No matter what, when you walk through the doors, there will always be someone to greet you with a smile. Eubanks and his group can help you with just about anything in the field you may need. Whether it is prepping the ground, strengthening the crops or plotting for next year, let this hard-working group give you a hand.

Sharon Cunningham is EH&S Coordinator for AFC and Agri-AFC. If you have any questions about the Responsible AG program or the audit portion, contact her at 256-303-4071 or sharon.cunningham@alafarm.com. If you are a manager who has received certification and has not had your picture in our magazine, please let Sharon know. Everyone is working hard, let us share your success.




Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Dang, Cletus! Them folks is the upper crust ‘round these parts. They don’t want nuttin’ to do with a poor boy like you!"

Why would somebody be called part of a loaf of bread?

Upper crust means aristocratic or society superior. It is one of those phrases people, and especially those people who make a living as tour guides, will gladly explain the etymology of. Advance within 20 yards of any English manor house with medieval kitchens and you can’t avoid hearing that the "upper crust was the superior, unburnt part of a loaf that was served to the gentry." Nice idea, but that’s all it is, an idea. It may be true, but there’s no documentary evidence to support it. This piece of folk wisdom is part of the collection of twaddle that has done more to spread false phrase etymologies than anything else. This is circulated by email on the internet, under the name of "Life in the 1500s." For those who persist in believing the above story, its place on that list of falsehoods isn’t exactly encouraging; but let’s not judge a book by its cover and look at the evidence.

As I’ve said, there’s no real evidence in favor of the "top-of-the-bread" derivation. The nearest we can come to that is the earliest known example of the term in print that does make an oblique connection between the top part of a loaf and the nobility. This is from John Russell’s "The Boke of Nurture, Folowyng Englondis Gise," circa 1460:

"Kutt ye vpper crust for youre souerayne." (That is: "Cut the upper crust [of the loaf] for your sovereign.")

There’s a wide gulf between that citation and the idea that only the aristocracy were given the upper crust of loaves to eat.

The term "upper crust" didn’t in fact come to be used figuratively to refer to the aristocracy until the 19th century. The earliest citation I can find of the term with that meaning is in "Slang: A Dictionary of the Turf," by John Badcock, 1823:

"Upper-crust – One who lords it over others, such as Mister Upper-crust."

The term had previously been used to refer to the outer crust of the Earth’s surface and, more frequently, a person’s head or hat. That latter one was still in use when the aristocracy meaning was coined, as is shown by this entry from an edition of "Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," published in the same year as the above reference, 1823:

"... but to hear it from the chaffer [mouth] of a rough and ready costard-monger, ogling his POLL from her walker [feet] to her upper crust [head]."

Incidentally, costard-monger was the earlier name for costermonger – a street trader who sells greengrocery from a stall or barrow. A costard was the 14th century name for a type of large, ribbed apple and later came to be the name given to apples in general. A costard-monger was initially an apple-seller.

The "Earth’s surface" and "head/hat" meanings connect "upper crust" with "top" and there’s every reason to believe that our present application of the term to members of society is another use of that same metaphor. The connection between the upper crust of society and the upper crust of loaves of bread is fanciful.




Spying for Wildlife’s Sake

Using Trail Cameras as a Management Tool

Most hunters use their trail cameras as a means to gather intelligence to learn buck behavior so they can try to foretell their movement. However, trail cameras may possibly be the most significant tool a gamekeeper has to help them manage their property effectively.

by Todd Amenrud

It’s time to get those trail cameras going. Antlers have grown enough so we can now distinguish individual bucks and next month is the perfect time to get your cameras working for you. If you’re looking for a close encounter with a mature buck or are interested in managing your property for a healthy balance, trail cameras may be the most valuable tools you have.

Trail cameras can provide the intelligence needed to move in close enough to harvest a mature buck. However, they will also supply you with the information necessary to make sound management decisions. If managing your property is your objective, trail cameras will help you learn the density, buck to doe ratio and get a good guess on the age structure of the herd. This, in turn, will give you what you need to know to make numerous management decisions, especially those trigger-finger management decisions – how many deer need to be harvested and which ones?

This simple formula below is widely used for determining a ballpark buck to doe ratio in a given area – I think I first stole it from the QDMA, but I’ve seen it elsewhere. You must use multiple camera locations and run the cameras for a period of one to two weeks in each spot. If you only have one camera, run it for a week or two and move it at least two hundred yards to a new location. Keep your cameras moving! The more data collected the more accurate the results will be.

  • By July, antler growth should be far enough along so you can distinguish individual bucks.
    Total pictures of bucks = X
  • Total pictures of unique bucks = Y
  • Total pictures of adult does = Z (not fawns)
  • Doe multiplier = B

Y ÷ X = A

A x Z = B

Y ÷ B = buck to doe ratio

Example #1

  • 56 pictures of bucks with 12 being unique

12 ÷ 56 = 0.2142

  • 200 pictures of adult does without counting fawns

0.2142 x 200 = 42

  • This means there are 12 bucks for every 42 does. The exact ratio would be 12:42. Your buck to doe ratio would be roughly 1:4.

Example #2

  • 1,178 pictures of bucks with 17 being unique

17 ÷ 1,178 = 0.0144

  • 2,368 pictures of adult does

0.0144 x 2,368 = 34

  • There are 17 bucks for every 34 does. The ratio would be 17:34. You could claim a buck to doe ratio of a little better than 1:2.

Mississippi State University researchers developed and refined an infrared-camera survey technique that can provide an accurate assessment of your local deer population with a surprisingly small investment in time and equipment.

If you have only one camera per 100 acres, that will be sufficient. For optimum results you should conduct two surveys – one just before hunting season and another just after. Established feeding stations will be your best tactic. Prebait each site for at least five days and try to include enough food to last throughout the survey period. You don’t want to disturb the site during the survey if you can help it.

Divide your property into blocks approximately 100 acres in size. Place one camera in each block. Don’t worry about including areas not ordinarily utilized by whitetails. As an example, there’s no need to run a camera in the middle of an open field. Short survey periods of five to 10 days are adequate, but you’ll attain greater accuracy running each site for 10 days to two weeks. If you only have one camera, run it for about 10 days in one location, while in the meantime you prime (prebait) the next location in the subsequent 100-acre block.

Make sure the cameras are set up to stamp the correct date and time. And just as you would with any camera setup, point the camera to avoid backlighting and clear all vegetation from the detection zone to prevent false events.

After the survey is complete, compile all of your photographs and count the number of bucks, does and fawns. For bucks, count the total number of bucks in all photos, including all repeats. You will also need to know the actual number of unique bucks. So I don’t have to go through the images an extra time to count individuals, I usually keep a running tally as I count the total number of bucks.

The easiest way to distinguish an individual buck is by using antler characteristics such as number of points, abnormal points, tine length, spread and other distinguishable antler distinctiveness; however, body characteristics will also help once you get used to looking at countless whitetails. The result is your buck population.

For does and fawns, count the total number of does and exclude any deer from the survey that you cannot identify. This is valuable information. In addition to the buck to doe ratio, once you look at thousands of photos and become skilled at identifying certain characteristics, you can even age the bucks and then rank them by age class to determine age structure. In fact, you can often get good enough at reading whitetails to be able to tell the difference between individual does. Repeating this survey over numerous consecutive seasons allows you to study trends that can be more valuable than an actual population estimate for any given year.

Speaking of cameras, now land managers are beginning to use UAVs or drones with cameras on them to get a bird’s-eye view of their property from above. Ethically, I would never think of using one for hunting, but I have to admit I can see some management applications. I believe they should be illegal for hunting, but they could be useful for monitoring crops, showing others stand locations, property boundaries or other property features without physically disturbing the area, or could be very helpful in locating a downed animal. We’re going to have to deal with crafting new laws so these tools cannot be misused, but are not illegal to use for common sense operations.

Develop a system for filing your photos. To really effectively manage a property, you must be good at keeping records. Nowadays, one property manager on a 500-acre parcel can go through 200,000 images or more in one season. Whether you categorize the files by date, place where the camera was located, the specific buck you’re after or some other system, it’s important to find a way to organize the images so you can find them when you need to recap.

Trail camera photos are one of the primary ways to learn what’s happening on your property. They help gather information on mature bucks, document trends over the years and there is no better way to determine density, buck to doe ratio or age structure of the herd.

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



Strategies for Summer

Preparing for Higher Temperatures and Seasonal Parasites

by Robert Spencer

By the time you read this article, it will be early summer, hay will have been cut once or twice, and barber pole (Haemonchus contortus) worms will be very prevalent. The other two things we can expect are temperatures getting hotter and the frequency of rainfall will diminish. I encourage you to develop a strategy or checklist to help take care of your animals for the remainder of summer and into fall and winter.

Hay

  • Keep stocking rates reasonable. If there is a drought, you should not be feeding hay until late fall into winter.
  • If your stocking rates are excessive, cull now. In case of another drought, you will need pastures with abundant forages!
  • Start buying hay now for fall through winter and into early spring.
  • Estimate stocking rate for fall through spring.
  • Estimate animals will consume 2-4 percent of their body weight in forages, hay and feed.
  • Estimate how much hay is needed, start buying and put it in storage.
  • It is better to have hay remaining next spring than to attempt to purchase any in late winter.

Barber Pole Worms

  • Gastrointestinal parasites are a threat to goats’ and sheep’s health from spring through fall!
  • Make sure your animals have access to plenty of quality nutrition that includes minerals.
  • Make sure they are in good body condition to give them vigor.
  • Body Condition Scores – 1, emaciated; 5, obese; shoot for a 3-4
  • Check random or specific animals every two to four weeks for anemia levels using a FAMACHA chart as a diagnostic tool. The chart that matches eyelid color to anemia levels is an indicator of parasite burden.
  • FAMACHA scores – 1, the best; 5, anemic; ideal range, 1-3
  • Treat only the animals showing threat of anemia.
  • Utilize fecal egg counts to determine infestation of gastrointestinal parasites and to conduct pre and post counts to verify effectiveness of dewormers.
  • Cull animals with recurring parasite infestation or anemia.

    Left to right, square bales stored in a dry location and out of sunlight will suffice for supplemental nutrition for several years. Round bales kept in a dry location, but exposed to some sunlight, will suffice for supplemental nutrition for one to two years.


Temperatures and Direct Sun

  • While we cannot control the environment, you can provide the animals with continuous access to water and shade.
  • Make sure all animals always have access to fresh water.
  • Make sure all animals have access to shade trees and semi-open shelters or structures.
  • While it is rare for goats or hair sheep to experience heat stress, shade and water are significant preventive measures.

Drought

  • Again, this is a situation we have no control over and can only initiate precautionary efforts.
  • Have a contingency plan including continuous access to water and shade for livestock, hay inventories, practical stocking rates and rotational grazing.
  • Cull animals.
  • By September, you may need a plan to overseed or re-establish pastures that may have been diminished by drought.

If you need help with FAMACHA and fecal-egg counts, contact your local Extension office and ask to be put in contact with a relevant Extension expert. Or, contact a local veterinarian and ask for assistance. This checklist will not address all potential issues but it is a good start on precautionary efforts to address major threats to your animals’ health and your investment. My goal is for your animals to remain healthy and productive, and to minimize stress on you and your finances.

Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. You can contact him at rds0002@Auburn.edu.




The Co-op Pantry


by Mary Delph and Jena Klein

Happy Independence Day, everyone!! I am going to try and keep this short and sweet so we have more room for recipes – LOL!! We drew this month’s recipes from ones you have sent to us, from our two cookbooks – "Southern & Then Some" and "Southern & Then Some More" – this magazine’s Co-op Pantry and our archives. Wow, so many fantastic recipes and so many, many great cooks!!

The national foods we will feature for August recipes are goat cheese, kiwifruit (it’s not national, but we love them anyway), lemon, mustard, oyster, panini, peach, watermelon and zucchini. The ones for September are biscuit, breakfast, chicken, honey, mushroom, organic harvest, potato, rice (including wild), whole grains, waffle, bacon, coconut, coffee, guacamole, linguini, acorn squash, ethnic foods, peas and goose. Whew, that’s a lot of different foods. You are sure to have a recipe with at least one of them. Keep those recipes coming – we love getting them!!

We are still looking for cooks to feature. (Their recipes don’t have to be foods of the month.) Don’t be shy – our next cook could be YOU!! Let us know if you are interested!!

Happy Fourth of July and enjoy trying these recipes!

Rainbow Ice Creams

Makes: 1½ quarts
1 (serving size) package fruit-flavored jello, any flavor*
½ cup boiling water
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (1 pint) half & half or liquid coffee creamer
2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream, unwhipped
1 cup fruit, pureed or mashed, optional
Food coloring, optional

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into ice cream freezer container. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze leftovers.

*Flavor Suggestions
Lime-flavored jello: Add 2 tablespoons lime juice from concentrate
Lemon-flavored jello: Add 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
Orange-flavored jello: Add 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Note: I love ice cream and love this recipe!! So much fun and so many flavor combinations!!!

Jena Klein

Homemade Fruit Ice Cream

1 can condensed milk
1 pint whipping cream, whipped
3 cups sweetened pureed fruit, your choice*
½ gallon milk
2 cups sugar

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Pour into ice cream freezer and freeze.
*Strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach, etc.

Glenda Knighten

Dill Pickles

Cucumbers
1 quart vinegar
2 quarts water
1 cup salt
Dill, to taste
Garlic, to taste

Wash cucumbers thoroughly and place in very hot water. In a large pot, boil vinegar, water and salt for 2 minutes. Drain hot water from cucumbers. Put cucumbers in sterile jars with dill and garlic. Pour boiling solution over cucumbers and seal immediately. Open in 2 to 4 weeks.

Aaron Lynch

White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake

2½ cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1½ Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
9-inch spring-form pan
2 cups white chocolate chips
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (¼-ounce) package unflavored powdered gelatin
2/3 cup water
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 pint fresh blueberries

In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1½ tablespoons sugar. Press evenly into bottom of spring-form pan.

In a large microwavable bowl, place white chocolate. In microwave, melt in 30-second intervals, stirring well between each heating. When smooth, add cream cheese. Mix well with electric mixer. Add milk and beat until smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine gelatin and water. Allow to set for 1 minute. Gently heat on stovetop stove until gelatin is dissolved, constantly stirring. Stir gelatin into cream cheese mix until well-combined. Fold in heavy cream.

In a small bowl, pour 3 cups of batter. (This will be used for a white layer.)

Take a little less than a pint of blueberries (save some for top of cheesecake) and blend in a blender with 1 teaspoon sugar to make a puree. Stir puree into batter and mix vigorously until white streaks disappear. Pour onto graham cracker crust. Gently shake pan until batter is smooth and even.

Put in freezer for about 20 minutes. When no longer liquid but has a matte-appearance, it is ready.

While waiting for freezer mix to set up, occasionally stir white batter.

When freezer pie is set, pour reserved white batter on top of blueberry layer and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

To unmold, run a knife along edge of cheesecake and pop spring-form pan open. Remove cheesecake from mold and top with fresh blueberries.

Sharon Cunningham

Blueberry Monkey Bread

Servings: 8-10
Bread
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
4 (10-ounce) packages buttermilk biscuits
1¼ cups fresh blueberries
Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
10 Tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bundt pan.

In gallon resealable ziplock bag, mix sugar and cinnamon. Cut biscuits into quarters. Place a few pieces in bag. Shake to coat. Remove and continue with remaining pieces until all are coated.

In pan, arrange about ¼ of pieces and ¼ of blueberries in an even layer. Place berries between biscuit pieces, creating a mosaic effect. Repeat 3 more times, covering berries of one layer with biscuits in the next layer, being careful to avoid columns of berries.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, margarine, vanilla, cinnamon and blueberries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and margarine is melted. Pour over biscuits in Bundt pan.

Bake for 65 minutes or until done. Cool for 10 minutes. Invert on a plate.

Nancy Trepanier

Baked Beans

1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
3 cans pork and beans
½ cup brown sugar
½ bottle catsup
3 Tablespoons dry mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a pan, cook first 3 ingredients together and drain. In a casserole dish, combine meat mixture and rest of ingredients. Mix well. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes.

Marjorie H. Stroud

Block Party Baked Beans

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of tomato soup (do not dilute!)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
½ cup ketchup
1 (16-ounce) can cut green beans, drained
1 (17-ounce) can lima beans, drained
1 (15½-ounce) can wax beans, drained
1 (15–16-ounce) can chili beans, undrained
1 (16-ounce) can pork & beans, undrained
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard

In a Dutch oven, brown beef over medium/high heat. Drain fat. Add onion and celery. Cook until tender. Stir in soup, tomato paste and ketchup. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour or cook in a large crockpot.

Note: I prefer a crockpot, especially when it is for a get-together. We love this dish and have made it for a long time!!

Martha McCaleb

Lasagna

1 pound hamburger
4 large cans tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons basil
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped small onion
1 can chopped mushrooms
1 box lasagna noodles, cooked by package directions
Cheese
1 egg
1 (12-ounce) container cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large pot, cook hamburger. Drain. Add tomato sauce, basil, garlic salt, green pepper, onion and mushrooms. Simmer for 3 hours. In a lasagna pan, layer sauce mixture with noodles and cheese. In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese. Spread over sauce mixture. Continue layering, ending with sauce on top. (This will keep the noodles from drying out.) Bake for 1 hour.

Note: You can make this the night before and freeze until you want to bake it. This is REAL GOOD!!

Rhonda Baldwin

Fried Beets

1 bunch beets
Water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Butter

Cut greens off beets. In a large saucepan of water, boil beets until done. (Should be tender when you stick a fork in them.) Shuck beets. (Skins should now remove easily.) In a fry pan, melt butter. Slice beets into butter. Season with salt and pepper. Fry until heated through.

Jena Klein

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Parchment paper
2 9-inch cake pans
Butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2½ cups cake flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup full-fat sour cream
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries, if using frozen, do not thaw first
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Garnish
½ cup raspberry preserves
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut out two 9-inch round segments of parchment paper to line cake pans. Spray each pan generously - sides and bottom - with nonstick cooking spray. Place parchment paper circles in bottom of pans and spray again. (It's important to make sure every bit of pans and papers are sprayed so cakes don't get stuck.) Set pans aside.

In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), combine butter, sugars, lemon zest and extract, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (don't skimp on time here!). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well to evenly combine ingredients. Add dry mixture into wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until everything is just barely combined. (You should still see some lumps and dry streaks.) Turn mixer off. Add milk, sour cream and lemon juice, Use a rubber spatula to fold ingredients into mixture, stirring until everything is incorporated (be sure not to overmix). Set aside.

In another bowl, gently toss raspberries with flour. Add raspberries and any remaining flour to batter. Fold in by hand, using a rubber spatula, until just combined. (Again, be sure not to overmix! Overmixing is very easy to do, and will result in a dry, dense cake.)

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tops are firm and slightly golden, and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist (but not wet) crumbs clinging to it.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before gently running a knife around the edges to loosen any stuck bits. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make frosting.

When the cakes have completely cooled, place one round on a cake stand or large plate. Spread top and sides evenly with frosting. Top with raspberry preserves. Don't worry if they mix together a little. Gently place other cake round on top of frosted one and press down very lightly to seal together. Place semi-frosted cake in the fridge for 20 minutes. Continue frosting cake, using a thin spatula, offset spatula or whatever you have that works best, until top and sides of cake are evenly frosted. Place cake back in fridge for another 20 minutes before decorating.

Note: I love decorating this cake with fresh raspberries and thin lemon slices, but feel free to decorate according to your own tastes. The frosted cake will stay fresh, covered and stored in the refrigerator, for 3 days. Simply take it out of the fridge an hour or two before serving so it can come to room temperature.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 block (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, a little softer than room temperature
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, a little softer than room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, more if needed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sour cream

In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), beat cream cheese and butter on medium-speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in confectioners' sugar. Add lemon zest, juice and extract; and salt. Beat until combined. Increase speed back to medium and mix until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream. Continue beating until very light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. (If it seems too thin, add a little more confectioners' sugar, starting with 1 tablespoon at a time. If it seems too thick, add in a little more sour cream, starting 1 tablespoon at a time.)

Blanches's Sweet Dill Pickles

Cucumbers
1-2 hot peppers per jar
2 garlic buttons per jar
2 dill sprigs per jar
1½ cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 cups water
2 heaping Tablespoons salt

Wash cucumbers. Cut in pickle size, lengthwise. In each jar, place peppers, garlic, dill and cucumbers; packing tight. In a large pot, make a solution of vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Heat to boiling. Pour over cucumbers and seal jars. Place jars in water bath canner. Boil for 10 minutes to be ensure a good seal. (THIS IS A MUST.) Ready to eat in about 2 to 3 weeks. They are better if refrigerated before using.

Barbara C. Johnson


July Healthy Recipe
Roasted Beet Hummus

Medium beet
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1½ cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice or 1 large lemon juiced
¼ cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons (30-45 ml) water
Dash ground paprika, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut leaves off beet. Do not cut root tip of beet until after roasting. (This maintains juices and flavor in beet.) Scrub lightly. Wrap in tin foil and place in oven for 1 hour or until skewer pierces beet easily.
In food processor, add remaining ingredients. Blend until desired consistency.
As hummus is blending, allow beet to cool until it can be handled. Rinse beet under cold water to easily remove beet skin. Cut off root tip. Cut into large pieces and add to food processor. Blend until fully incorporated.
Chill beet hummus and serve with sliced veggies or crackers!
Note from Jena: I love, love, love this recipe!! Not only is it healthy and good for you but it tastes delicious!! The bright pink/purple color gives pop to any food setting. It can be used as a spread on crackers or served as a dip for vegetables or chips. Again, not only the taste but the bright color makes this a fantastic addition to any meal!!

Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at maryd@alafarm.com. Jena Klein is with the AFC Wellness Program.

We are looking for cooks of all ages, cooking traditions and skill levels to feature in this column. We want to hear from those in Alabama as well as our out-of-state readers. The simple requirements for being a featured cook are to love to cook (and eat) and to share your story with us. Get those recipes coming! Any featured cooks during 2017 will receive a free copy of our cookbook.

-- Mary & Jena



The Romance of the Unusual

Step inside the enchanting beauty of Jasmine Hill Gardens and Fitzpatrick Cottage.

by Jade Currid

Delightful statues and flowers appeal to visitors of all ages at Jasmine Hill Gardens.

The mesmerizing lull of Ernest Hemingway’s quote, "Live a full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual," aptly depicts the noble lives led by Southern visionaries Benjamin and Mary Fitzpatrick, whose vivid world teemed with impeccable charm and grace, friendship, culture, world travels, Grecian and Roman art, horticulture and an insatiable intellectual curiosity, as well as the cornerstones of their profound legacy, Jasmine Hill Gardens and the Fitzpatrick Cottage.

The aforementioned Hemingway quote also correlates with the essence of a Sunday in the South. I believe Sundays in the South are filled with more magic, possibility, wonder and adventure than most dare to dream.

On Sunday, March 28, the type of day perfect for an afternoon stroll or a drive in the country, I ventured along a picturesque route to Jasmine Hill Gardens, a Southern mecca that has captivated minds worldwide with its wonders, for a highly anticipated and rare event – a tour of the Fitzpatrick Cottage.

On a typical visit to Jasmine Hill Gardens, visitors transcend time through a Grecian- and Roman-inspired portal bursting with enchanted beauty tenderly cultivated by diligent and loving green thumbs and witness such architectural feats as the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the ruins of the Temple of Hera.

It is not unusual for intrigued visitors to peek into the windows of the normally closed 1830s-era resident cottage with the nostalgic hope of catching a glimpse of the life Ben and Mary once lived.

Jim Inscoe, who owns Jasmine Hill Gardens with his wife Elmore, sits at a vintage table in the Fitzpatrick Cottage.

Little did I know that, on the day I took the Fitzpatrick Cottage tour, I would stumble upon one of the greatest love stories I have personally encountered; a love so seemingly simple and pure, yet as stirring as the sweet scent of the iconic jasmines adored by the Fitzpatricks.

Enclosed in a frame, smack-dab on the right side of the wall in the inviting cottage foyer entrance scrawled in old-fashioned pretty cursive on stationery inscribed with Ben Fitzpatrick’s signature logo of a huntsman surrounded by his two loyal hounds under two trees, gently rests the best love letter I have ever read.

Dated Nov. 12, 1965, the letter reads:

"To my sweetheart of 80 years:

You see, I remember when you were born across the street cause I was 2 years old and you just a little old girl baby. There was a lot of commotion and excitement about your entry into our neighborhood. Then I watched you grow tall, and most divinely fair and we married.

Since then, you have been My Guiding Star for Fifty-Eight Blessed Years.

Love, Ben"

Once inside the cottage, my curious sense of wonder and desire to learn more whisked me literally off my feet onto a seat at a comfortingly familiar, understated, round, vintage table on flooring purposely painted the blue of the Aegean Sea, where I drank coke kindly poured on top of just the right amount of ice in a humble plastic cup provided by my new acquaintance, Jim Inscoe, who owns Jasmine Hill Gardens and the Fitzpatrick Cottage with his lovely wife Elmore. Eagerly, I picked up fascinating tidbits of information about Greek history, art and anecdotes about Ben and Mary.

"They loved the Aegean Sea," Inscoe explained. "They always thought the Aegean Sea was a pretty blue, so they painted the floors blue to remind them of it. They painted the walls white because all the houses are whitewashed on the coastline of the Aegean Islands."

Ben married his childhood sweetheart, the former Mary Johnson Mapes, a schoolteacher, in 1907 after graduating from Yale, where he studied Greek Mythology and History.

When visitors gaze upon the interior of the Fitzpatrick Cottage, they imagine the charm-filled lives the Fitzpatricks enjoyed.

The couple sold their line of mercantile stores in 1927 before making the land they developed into Jasmine Hill Gardens their home. Many of their relatives came to live with them during the Great Depression.

"If any neighbor couldn’t make it (during the Great Depression), he would buy their house or their land if it adjoined his; so he was able to assemble a nice farm," Inscoe said.

The Fitzpatricks traveled to Greece 22 times to select the perfect pieces of art and statues for Jasmine Hill Gardens. They studied at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and participated in archaeological digs.

"People always said they were not fancy people at all. They were very down-to-earth in the way they dressed, in the way they were friendly with people and didn’t put on any of the airs," he relayed. "They were not fancy people at all. They just liked to mingle and be friendly with everybody. They always invited people to come in and see the garden as it was being built."

When it came to the rich botanical aspect of their property, Mary cultivated what she called a "grandmother’s garden."

"In a grandmother’s garden, people feel free to touch the plants and other things there," Inscoe explained. "Most public gardens in the country are more of a display garden. They’ve got flowers blooming and put them on display.

"She wanted the grandmother’s feel, more of an informal look, and you feel comfortable touching the plants and everything."

While still at the table, Inscoe pointed to some of the vegetation outside.

"You see the longleaf pines on that walk?" he asked. "Ben planted those pines for a purpose. In Olympia, when there’s the slightest breeze blowing, you hear a ‘whoooosh,’ a whoosh sort of sound running through the area. Mediterranean pines are shorter and their needles are short. It doesn’t take much breeze to make that whooshing sound. He planted the longleaf pines thinking he would get that same sound here with the temple of ruins and create the same atmosphere. As big as they are now, it takes a pretty strong breeze. There’s enough breeze today to be able to hear it."

Inscoe reminisced on meeting Mary.

"The way I met her was going through the garden," he recalled. "She came out and introduced herself and we started talking. On a later visit, she invited us in to have a Coca Cola with her."

Inscoe served as caretaker for Jasmine Hill Gardens before becoming the owner.

"I grew up on a farm, so I knew something about growing plants," he said. "When I was a teenager, I made my spending money by growing plants. I sold them to nurseries on a wholesale basis for them to sell. That was in the days before we had plastic pots for plants. We grew them in the ground; then had to dig them and put them in burlap to take to the nursery. There was a lot of work involved."

Among the stories Inscoe imparted was an anecdote concerning Mary and a grape arbor.

Jim Inscoe imparts knowledge about a flower of the snapdragon variety. He demonstrates how snapdragons reveal a tiny dragon face upon closer inspection.

"There was a very overgrown grape arbor and it needed attention. She asked, ‘What do you think we should do with our grape arbor?’ I replied, ‘I know nothing about grapes. I’ll contact the Horticulture School at Auburn and see what they recommend.’"

An Auburn University professor offered to take on the grape arbor as a classroom project to teach his students how to properly prune grapes.

Inscoe informed Mary of the Auburn professor’s offer, yet for weeks she continued to ask his opinion on what they should do with the grape arbor.

Until one day, she finally said, "I know you think I’m crazy because I’ve asked you over and over what we should do with the grape arbor, but you haven’t given me the right answer yet."

Long story short, Mary firmly believed they should remove the grape arbor.

"She said, ‘We came here the first time in February and all the Carolina jessamine was blooming up in the trees. It was so pretty that we named it Jasmine Hill and it needs to become a Carolina jessamine garden,’" Inscoe relayed. "So that afternoon, those grapes were pulled up with a tractor. We found Carolina jasmine to put in there. It covered the hill pretty well. The weird thing about it is that, the winter before she died, we had really cold weather and it didn’t bloom in February the way it was supposed to. In October, it went into full bloom when she died, and we were able to cover her casket with Carolina jessamine from the farm."

Jasmine Hill Gardens is located on U.S. Route 231 near Wetumpka, north of Montgomery. Their address is 3001 Jasmine Hill Rd, Wetumpka, AL 36093. They are open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.; an admission fee is charged. For more information, you can contact them at 334-567-6463 or visit their website, www.jasminehill.org.

Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.



Today Is the Day

by Glenn Crumpler

This condition is not an everyday occurrence but it does happen from time to time and usually has a detrimental effect of some kind on the cow’s health and her ability to rebreed in a timely manner. Potential causes, as well as recommended treatment options, have changed through the years and disagreement on what to do when this situation arises still exists from veterinarian to veterinarian or from rancher to rancher, depending on their past experiences.

In my own experiences, I have tried some of all of the recommended treatment options from the most conservative (doing nothing) to the most advanced (invasive manual removal) and still do not know which one is the most effective and beneficial for the cow.

A few months ago, Cattle for Christ received a donation of 12 mature, registered Angus cows from a breeder in Colorado bred to calve March to May 2017. The first seven cows calved just fine, cleaned up within a few minutes, consumed their afterbirth and went right to work raising their babies without any complications. This eighth cow to calve, however, had an udder like a Holstein! She literally had to step around her udder when she walked. Jack and I saw her calving early one morning while we were moving some hay. The delivery did not seem difficult or too lengthy, but we noticed later that afternoon that she was still walking around all bowed up and seemed to be trying to pass another calf. She would take a few steps and then stop, bow up and strain with all her might.

It was pretty obvious that, because her calf was pretty good size and her body cavity was a more normal shape, she was not trying to have another calf but was still trying to pass her afterbirth. This process of passing the afterbirth (when the calf’s side of the placenta separates from the mother’s side and passes out the birth canal) usually happens within 30 minutes to 12 hours after calving. When the calf is still in the womb, the placenta is attached to the mother’s uterus through a series of buttons called cotyledons. It is through these connections that the essential elements for life (oxygen, blood sugar, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, etc.) are passed to the developing calf. If these buttons detach before calving time, the calf will be stillborn. However, if they do not detach and allow the placenta (afterbirth) to pass from the cow within 24 hours post calving, the condition is called a retained placenta, which is what was going on with this cow.

Treatment options vary. Some recommend that, if the cow has not cleaned up after 24 hours, you need to manually go in and pull the afterbirth out by hand, administer antibiotics and flush with a disinfectant. Others say just pull out or clip off what you see hanging out of the vulva and leave the rest without penetrating the cow – administering antibiotics only if fever persists. Others recommend just doing nothing and let the cow pass it on her own after it basically rots (usually happens within 11-21 days). All of these options can cause delayed rebreeding and possibly increase the chances of abortion in subsequent pregnancies, but most agree that the more aggressive the treatment option the more serious the side effects. On this particular cow, three days after calving, Jack and I decided to just pull out what we could from what was hanging out, administer some antibiotic to fight infection and gave her some Lutalyse (a hormone that could help her release and pass the afterbirth). I did go slightly inside the vulva and could feel the cotyledon buttons, but, because the cervix was already closing up and due to the bleeding already present, I decided not to try to extract the afterbirth by hand.

For days, this cow just moped around. Though she continued to eat and drink, she lost weight and just looked bad for a couple of weeks. Though I never saw the afterbirth, while I was spreading fertilizer a couple of weeks later, I am sure that I got a whiff of what she had recently passed somewhere in the pasture. I did not see it and did not have time to look for it but I feel sure that is what I must have smelled. Only time will tell how this affects her rebreeding and her future in our herd.

During my Scripture readings, I reflected on this example of the cow with the retained placenta and all the crud, rot and infection she carried around for so many days. I thought about all the pain, discomfort and detrimental effects it had on her for many days, but that could also affect her in the future. If she does not heal up and rebreed to fulfill her purposes in our herd, she has no future except to be culled and eventually slaughtered.

I realize there are no perfect analogies that play out to the end but as I was reading in the book of Hebrews I had many reflections about my own life relating to this experience with the cow. I thought about the things I carry around inside me every day that do not need to be there and are only causing me harm, yet they still remain where they no longer belong. I thought of the sins I am aware of in my life that, though I have confessed them, I still seem to want to hold on to (whether they be sins of commission, things that I do that I should not do, or sins of omission, when I do not do what I know I should do). I thought of the guilt I often carry around (whatever is causing it or whoever is the accuser). Sometimes I feel guilty because I am tempted, yet Scripture teaches that temptation in itself is not sin but how we respond to it is! (Jesus was tempted in every way, yet was without sin!) Sometimes I feel guilty about a sin I have confessed to God and have been able to turn and walk away from, and that God has already forgiven, but I still struggle with trying to forgive myself. I thought of the burden I often carry around of not being able to do with my own strength what in reality only God can do – yet I strive still trying to do it on my own. Even if I remember to ask God for direction and intervention, I am most often too impatient and/or unwilling to wait for Him to act and accomplish His perfect will in and through my life. I often wear myself out fighting battles that are His alone to fight and where all He has asked me to do is wait for and trust in Him to accomplish in His timing.

I used the first person in all of my thoughts because these are things the Holy Spirit is showing me about myself. However, my guess is that you face many of the same struggles for we are all sinners, whether we are unbelievers, new believers or have walked with the Lord for a long time, as I have. The difference between believers and nonbelievers is not only the hope believers have in Christ to be forgiven and delivered from sin in this life but also the eternal hope of being cleansed from our sinful nature and made like Him when this life is over. On that day, all believers will forever be alive with Him in a Heaven He has prepared for all who trust in Him.

My reading in Hebrews reminded me that Jesus is the perfect High Priest who once-and-for-all made atonement for my sin and for yours through His suffering, death and resurrection. His sacrifice and shedding of blood is not a temporary event that just covers our sin but it washes our sin away making us absolutely clean and without blemish in His sight. He is faithful and merciful – yet He is just! Because He Himself has suffered and been tempted in every way, He is able to help us when we are tempted. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

We do not need to carry around all the sin, guilt, shame and decay inside ourselves that wear us down when we can be cleansed, set free and made whole by putting our hope and faith in Christ and what He has done for us. "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion," (Hebrews 3:15) but confess and turn away from sin, accept His grace (God’s undeserved merit and favor toward you) and you shall be saved!

Tomorrow is not promised but today, no matter what you have done or not done if you sense the guilt of your sin, He is calling out to you and is willing to forgive your sin and cleanse you from everything separating you from Him and His best for your life. Do not harden your heart in rebellion by ignoring His voice. Invite Him to forgive you, to save you and to be the Lord of your life, and He will do all that today!

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




Tremendous Tabasco

Bonnie Plants + Scotts Miracle-Gro

Last year, Patsy Tutt, Montgomery, planted a tabasco pepper in her flower bed filled with Scotts Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. The pepper grew to be 7-foot tall. "This is living proof that Bonnie Plants and Miracle-Gro equal success," Patsy said.



What Does Chocolate Have to Do With My Job?

by Dr. Tony Frazier

The first official meeting I attended as state veterinarian was the U.S. Animal Health Association meeting October 2001. The meeting was in Hershey, Pennsylvania. USAHA is a very active organization that mostly includes state and federal animal health officials and industry organizations such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, the National Livestock Marketing Association and many others. During those meetings, we spend long hours helping to shape animal health regulations and recommendations for how we would respond to certain disease outbreaks. That was the year foot-and-mouth disease was ravaging the United Kingdom and we were looking closely at how we might respond if that disease were to make it to the United States.

Another memorable aspect of that trip was that, since we were not that far past 9-11, there was U.S. military personnel patrolling the airports … with M16s. That was pretty surreal. If you flew anywhere during the early post 9-11 days, you know what I am talking about. It was kind of eerie.

During the time I was in Hershey, I did take the time to tour the Hershey Chocolate factory. In my mind, it is one of the truly great places in our country. It is part of what makes America great, not only because of the candy that comes out of Hershey but also because of the history of how the business was built by Milton Hershey. I remember one story the tour guide shared with our group. It seems the candy factory was the primary employer in the town. One day a construction company was working on some land when Mr. Hershey came by to check on the project. The construction company had brought one of the early steam shovels in to be used on the project. The project manager boasted to Mr. Hershey that the steam shovel could take the place of 40 men. Upon hearing that, Mr. Hershey instructed the contractor to remove the steam shovel from his property. He didn’t want a machine taking jobs away from 40 men. So the contractor removed the steam shovel and hired more men.

The reason I related that story is because the other day I was thinking there are people who work with me who do the work of 40 people. These are administrative assistants whose names are never mentioned. You will never know who they are unless you call my office, the poultry office or meat inspection. I don’t know if they do the work of 40 other workers but they work very hard and deal with a ton of paperwork that comes with the territory of working in a government regulatory agency. And while computers have made some of the paper trail easier to negotiate, automation often brings its own set of tasks making the job more difficult and, oddly enough, time consuming.

In my opinion, these ladies’ jobs are just as important as mine. I have often used the illustration of a duck swimming on a pond. You see the duck serenely moving along on the surface of the water, but, underneath the surface, the duck’s legs and feet are working like crazy. Although I wouldn’t say that, when you see me doing my job, it appears to be very serene, I will say that behind the scenes these administrative assistants are working like crazy.

Although I wouldn’t say the administrative support assistants who work with me could take the place of a steam shovel, they do a great deal of work that cannot be done by a computer. Not only that but they deal with the public on a daily basis. And while most of the people they deal with are extremely nice, there is a small fraction of the public who believe the government is the source of all the ills of society from their sciatica to the dogs next door getting into their garbage. They deal with those folks as pleasantly as possible and often put fires out just by being courteous and accommodating. And what may be the most challenging: They have to deal with me. I suppose that could be a full-time job by itself.

Anyway, I want to take this opportunity to recognize these ladies for the hard work they do. Dynetta Burton manages all outgoing health certificates and the regulatory disease database for diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis, and enters them into USA Herds, the software system we use. Sharon Davis manages the entire scrapie program and all incoming health certificates, and then enters all that into USA Herds. Barbara Loveless manages the entire poultry program that, in a poultry state such as Alabama, is a huge task. Lynn Blue manages the entire meat inspection program. Back when I began working with the State Department of Agriculture and Industries there were two meat inspection administrative assistants. Now with one, the work has not diminished but increased. Jordan Barrett is my personal assistant. If the only thing she did was to keep me pointed in the right direction, she would have done a good day’s work. She keeps up with my calendar of activities, makes travel arrangements and is the first person most people speak to when they are trying to get in touch with me. But she also manages the cooperative agreement process. That is a program where USDA gives the state money and we write a work plan and budget, then assure them we are doing what we say we will do – another full-time job in some states. She manages the chronic wasting disease program for cervid breeders. She also works entering data into USA Herds.

These ladies are knowledgeable and professional. They speak daily with people who want to know what the requirements are to ship a pet lizard from Texas to Alabama to why their chicken died to why there is a dead blackbird on their front porch. Wow, they really do a great deal of work for Alabama taxpayers, who pay their salary. I am happy to report to you that they more than earn their pay. Beyond that, maybe I should buy them some Hershey’s Chocolate to show them how much I appreciate them.

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




What Does the Weather Look Like This Week?

Planning and preparation are critical to maintaining sustainability in an unpredictable agricultural environment.

by Ken Kelley

Have you looked at the weather forecast this week? Weather is usually the first thing folks in agriculture talk about when they see another producer. The second question to follow the weather discussion is inevitably tied to current prices. If you hang around folks in agriculture for very long, you will begin noticing these two issues pop up on a regular basis. There is a very good reason why this is the case … namely because producers have little control over these two major aspects of sustainability in agriculture.

Everybody’s definition of sustainability is different. Some demand a certain level of net profitability, while others look for a certain return on investment. Many others are just looking to pay cash expenses.

My definition of sustainability is making enough money to continue doing what you are doing. No matter your personal definition of sustainability, there is a point where any producer will have to stop farming if they do not either begin to make (more) money or if they continue to lose money. This point is often tied to some type of weather phenomena or to commodity market prices. Sometimes it is both.

We had this very example last year. Alabama cattle producers found themselves in the crunch of low commodity prices (leading to a budget that made it look very hard for the average cattle producer to break even) and a drought that decimated pastures and hayfields. Producers in some of the worst drought-stricken parts of the state were forced to either buy expensive feed – adding to an already negative return on their cattle – or liquidate part of or the entire herd. This led to some scrambling by producers as they sought information and options for handling this difficult situation.

What can producers do to help prepare for these types of situations? We cannot control the weather and, for the most part, we cannot control prices. Producers can control planning and preparation. Weather and prices are no different from other unexpected difficulties (such as divorce, sickness, etc.) that will inevitably affect many farms. The key to surviving (remember my definition of sustainability) is being prepared for as many scenarios as possible. All producers should know where they want to go with their operation, where they are with their operation and how to get out of their operation.

This type of planning is usually not at the forefront of many ag producers’ minds. In fact, many of us enjoy agriculture because it allows us to get away from computers, pencils and cubicles, and get our hands dirty. Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, are also a little intimidated by the idea of business planning, evaluation and exit strategies. However, business planning is not necessarily complicated and is absolutely required to ensure we survive all of the little bumps in the road we will encounter as agricultural producers.

The first step is to have a business plan. There are many types of formats producers can use to make a business plan. There are numerous websites with good, cost-free example templates or you can make your own. The key is to be thorough in your planning. Write down your business structure. Many agricultural producers fall under either a sole proprietorship or partnership by default simply because they did not decide ahead of time to form some other type of business entity. Your business planning should include investigating the legal and fiscal ramifications of sole proprietorships and partnerships, and the legal and fiscal opportunities you can take advantage of through other business structures.

Write down what you plan to produce and be specific – for example, "I am going to produce 650 pounds of feeder calves per brood cow per year"; not: "I’m gonna raise calves to sell." Write down where and to whom you plan to market your product. Write down short-term attainable goals. Where do you want to be in six months, one year or five years? Write down contingency plans for difficulties such as drought, flood, hurricane, prices and other factors. Finally, make a budget. There are numerous budgets available from reputable sites to help you determine whether you have the opportunity to make money in your chosen commodity.

The next step is to evaluate where you are. Business evaluation starts with good financial and production records. Again, they don’t have to be fancy but they do need to be thorough. Create a balance sheet every year. It tells you how much you have and how much you owe. A balance sheet gives a good idea of where you are currently. Producers should consider a more detailed analysis every year. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System Farm and Agribusiness Management team offers producers an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a free farm analysis program with the FinPack program. It is confidential, free and gives a very detailed picture of whether you actually grew your wealth over the past year or if you just have a hobby.

The last thing producers ever consider is an exit strategy. However, we will all exit our business at some point. Some will retire, some will transition to the next generation, some will realize their profit point and sell out … and some will be forced to liquidate to pay debts. No matter what your situation, you will need an exit strategy. This can include a strategy to re-enter your specific commodity as some cattlemen in the earlier example chose to do.

The ACES Farm and Agribusiness Management team can assist you in business planning, business analysis and developing an exit strategy for your business. Contact your regional Extension agent for more information.

Ken Kelley is a regional farm and agribusiness management agent for Alabama Cooperative Extension System.




Wild Turkey on the Grill

A Versatile and Healthy Alternative

by Christy Kirk

One of our favorite family meals of summer is savory, sticky, salty ribs cooking on the grill with thick, saucy baked beans and a deep pan of Creole-seasoned zucchini and squash on the side. We also add potato salad, corn on the cob and barbecue bread to the spread. This traditional seasonal feast definitely never goes unappreciated, but switching up the menu to add a little taste and nutritional variety can keep things interesting as you grill your way through the summer.

According to many sources, hamburgers are the longstanding, all-time favorite food to grill, but there are so many other choices such as Boston butts, steaks, fish and beer-can chicken. Because grilling is a key component of many of our meals from spring break to Labor Day, we use all kinds of proteins; but one food we don’t usually put on the grill is turkey. Turkey is really very versatile and can be a healthy grilling choice for your next meal.

Wild turkey is naturally low in calories and fat, and high in protein.

If you have a whole wild turkey from last season, you may want to put the whole bird on the grill like you would a chicken. You can do this, but timing your grilling to your expected mealtime is key. Grilling a whole turkey of 10-16 pounds can take two to three hours, depending on the size of the bird, and don’t forget to consider thawing time.

To speed cooking time, you can try spatchcocking your whole turkey. Spatchcocking is a technique that involves splitting open the bird, removing the backbone and flattening it. It’s similar to butterflying a steak and ensures a faster cooking time and thorough cooking. Butterflying a steak can lead to toughness, but your turkey can remain tender and moist if you brine, butter or otherwise baste it before grilling.

A quicker option for grilled wild turkey is using tenderloin in strips or medallions instead of cooking the entire bird. You can use them in some of the same ways you would use chicken or beef strips or chunks on the grill. Freezing the breast in strips will save time and effort at later mealtimes.

Wild turkey is naturally low in calories and fat, and high in protein. There are many ways to add flavor while still keeping it healthy.

These grilled turkey recipes focus on delicious flavors that will add variety to your summer menus. But if burgers are still your family’s favorite, you can always make a turkey burger starting with the base recipe below and adding your favorite ingredients to the mix.

TURKEY BURGERS

2 pounds ground wild turkey
1 large egg, at room temperature
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Add-ins:
1 serrano or other hot green chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

In a bowl, combine turkey and egg, using your hands to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Add additional ingredients as desired. Use your hands to mix well and blend. Season again with salt and pepper. Shape into patties of your desired thickness.

Brush olive oil on both sides of patties. Place on grill and cook for 6 minutes. Turn and grill for another 5 minutes or until desired doneness (thicker will take a little longer).

TURKEY TERIYAKI

¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar or honey
Minced ginger, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1½ pounds turkey breast tenderloin, cut into 2-inch strips or chunks
½ pound mushrooms
4 green onions, cut in about 2-inch pieces
Metal or wooden skewers

Preheat covered grill to medium-hot heat.

In a 2-quart glass dish, combine soy sauce, sugar/honey, ginger, garlic and oil. Add turkey and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes, but you can also marinate overnight. Remove turkey from marinade and discard marinade. Thread turkey onto skewers alternating with the mushrooms and green onions.

Place on grill and close cover. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until turkey is cooked through.

Note: If using bamboo or wooden kebab skewers, soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning.

TURKEY BURRITOS

1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1½-2 pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into ½-inch cubes
Avocado Corn Salsa (recipe included)
Metal or wooden skewers
Lime wedges
Flour tortillas
Sour cream and diced tomatoes, for garnish and to taste

Preheat covered grill to medium heat.

In a cup or small bowl, combine cumin, chili powder and salt. Place turkey cubes in a large plastic zip bag. Pour dry rub over turkey and shake to coat thoroughly. Let turkey sit while making salsa.

Rolley Len assists with salad prep.

Thread turkey onto skewers. Place skewers on grill and close cover. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through, turning once. Remove skewers from grill and squeeze lime wedges onto meat. Brush each side of tortillas lightly with water and place on grill; heat 10-15 seconds on each side. Put tortilla on a plate and top with turkey, salsa, sour cream and tomatoes.

Note: If using bamboo or wooden kebab skewers soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning.

AVOCADO CORN SALSA

2 small to medium ripe avocados, finely chopped
1 cup cooked fresh corn or thawed frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Chopped cilantro, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons lime juice
½-1 teaspoon hot green chili pepper, minced
½ teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, gently stir all ingredients, adjusting flavors to taste as you mix. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

JERK TURKEY SALAD

Jerk Turkey Salad

6-8 ounces turkey breast tenderloin (2-3 servings)
1½ teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
4 cups mixed salad greens
¾ cup cucumber, sliced and peeled
2/3 cup chopped pineapple
2/3 cup quartered strawberries or whole raspberries
Sliced celery, to taste
1 green onion, sliced
¼ cup lime juice
3 Tablespoons honey

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Rub turkey with jerk seasoning. Place turkey directly on the grill for 15-20 minutes or until turkey is cooked through and juices run clear. Turn once during cooking. Remove from grill and let cool.

Cut turkey into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, put greens, cucumber, pineapple, berries, celery, green onion and turkey. Toss to mix. In a small bowl, combine lime juice and honey. Pour over salad and toss. Serve.

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



Young Artists Clean Up!

PALS Poster and Recycled Art Contest

by Jamie Mitchell

Each year, the Alabama PALS Clean Campus Program invites students to participate in our Poster & Recycled Art Contests. Entries begin pouring in from around the state every April, and I never envy the judges who have to choose just a handful of winners. The poster theme this year was "See Ya Later, Litter," and the recycled art theme was "Rethink Litter."

We literally received entries from Mobile to Madison and from Tuscaloosa to Phenix City! These students work so hard on their posters and recycled art pieces! The first-place winner in each category will receive $250 with the runners-up each receiving a plaque. All winners get recognized at the Annual Alabama PALS Governor’s Awards in November.

The first-place winners this year were: Isabella Abrahamson, Bear Exploration Center, Montgomery County (K-3rd Poster Category); Cade Fisher, Hubbertville School, Fayette County (4th-6th Poster Category); and Breanna Grubb, Brookwood High School, Tuscaloosa County (7th-12th Recycled Art Category).

Isabella Abrahamson’s first-place winning entry in the K-3rd Poster Category.

Breanna Grubb’s first-place winning entry in the 7th-12th Recycled Art Category.

Cade Fisher’s first-place winning entry in the 4th-6th Poster Category.

Would you like more information about Alabama PALS or the Clean Campus Program? Please visit our website at www.alpals.org to learn more about our organization and how you can become a member. The Clean Campus Program is FREE to all Alabama public, private and county schools. Schools may also sign up for the Clean Campus Program online or by calling 334-263-7737.

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.



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