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June 2013

Homeplace & Community

A Happy Heart at the Pond


Kim Prince, right, and Chelsea Woodruff. Above, Happy Heart Market.

Kim Prince is an entrepreneur as well as a farmer. She and her sister Konnie Miller own a small organic transition farm "At the Pond Farm LLC" where she grows shitake mushrooms, okra and sunflower seeds. She has also recently opened her own local market "Happy Heart Market" in Hartselle.

Under the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, she and her sister have done an Organic Transition Conservation Activity Plan and put in a high tunnel house. She is currently installing a micro-irrigation system in her tunnel house and heavy-use areas outside her tunnel house.

The Happy Heart Market was inspired about 15 years ago when Kim visited Gatlinburg, Tenn., and saw a "Fresh and Local" market. She decided then she would like to offer "Fresh and Local" produce in Morgan County. Her market currently sells locally grown produce from other producers in Morgan County who have also participated in the EQIP program.





Above clockwise, Happy Heart Market. The high tunnel house was planned and built under EQIP, which is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. NRCS Soil Conservationist John Lyle enjoys shopping in the Happy Heart Market.



Some of the merchandise in her store includes fresh strawberries from Reeves Peach Farm, milk from the only organic dairy farm in Alabama – Working Cow Dairy, Lindsay Farms jams and jellies, and Golden Eagle syrup. She also has art available from local artists.

Check out her website (http://happyheartmarket.com/) for more information or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HappyHeartMarket.

Homeplace & Community

A Practical Way to Save

Preserving Food for Special Diets

by Angela Treadaway


Preserving foods to meet special dietary needs can be done easily in the home. The cost of commercially prepared food suitable for those on special diets is costly because the quantity handled is small and production procedures are slightly different than conventionally canned foods. Preserving food at home can be a practical way to save money if fresh produce and the necessary equipment are available.

Reduced-Salt Diets

Canning

Salt can be safely omitted from home-canned vegetables, meats, poultry and fish. Salt is used as a flavor enhancer rather than a preservative in canning if the recipe calls for only 1-3 teaspoons per pint or quart of food. You still use the same process times as for conventionally canned foods (vegetables, meats, poultry, fish). If using a salt substitute, add it when serving the product; an unpleasant aftertaste can develop from the canning process if a salt substitute is added before canning.

Pickling

Salt concentrations should not be changed in pickle recipes. Reduced-sodium salts such as Lite Salt may be used in quick process pickle recipes. However, the pickles may have a slightly different taste than expected. Never alter salt concentrations or use reduced-sodium salt when making fermented pickles or sauerkraut. Proper fermentation depends on correct proportions of salt and other ingredients.

Reduced-Sodium SlicedSweet Pickles

Brining solution

4 pounds (3- to 4-inch) pickling cucumbers
1 quart distilled white vinegar (5%)
1 Tablespoon canning or pickling salt
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
½ cup sugar

Canning Solution

1 2/3 cups distilled white vinegar (5%)
3 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
2¼ teaspoon celery seed

Yields 4 to 5 pints

Wash cucumbers and cut 1/16 inch off blossom end and discard. Cut cucumbers into ¼-inch slices. Combine all ingredients for canning solution in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep syrup hot until used. In a large kettle, mix the ingredients for brining solution. Add the cut cucumbers, cover and simmer until cucumbers change color from bright to dull green (about 5 to 7 minutes). Drain the cucumber slices. Fill pint jars and cover with hot canning syrup; remove air bubbles, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process pint jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (at altitudes of 1,001-6,000 feet increase process time to 15 minutes).

Freezingvegetables requires no added salt during preparation, making them an excellent choice for reduced sodium diets.

Reduced-Sugar Diets(for a Diabetic Diet)

Granulated table sugar (sucrose) is the most frequently used sweetener in canning and freezing. Sugar helps preserve the color, texture and flavor of the food, but is optional. The sugar in jams and jellies helps the gel to form, increases the flavor and acts as a preservative. Honey, corn syrup and brown sugar can be used as substitutes for granulated sugar; however, these alternatives do not reduce calories and cannot be used for a diabetic diet. For a brochure on making jams and jellies with artificial sweeteners, please call me.

Canning

Fruit can be safely canned without sugar for the diabetic or reduced-calorie diet. Sugar is generally added to canned fruit to improve flavor, help stabilize color and retain the shape of the fruit. Sugar does not act as a preservative in canned fruit. Fruit canned without sugar will be softer than a similar product packed in syrup. Flavor changes and loss of color may also be expected. The fruit still contains natural sugars, which must be considered in the diabetic diet. To can fruit without added sugar, try some of the following options:

Crush or slice some of the fruit and can it in its own juice.

Extract juice from other fruit, preferably from a mild-flavored fruit.

Use water as the packing liquid.

Artificial sweeteners such as saccharine or aspartame should be added just before serving. Bitterness and off-flavors develop when saccharine is used in canning.

Freezing

Fruits can be frozen without added sugar because it is not a preservative. It does, however, help maintain flavor, color and texture. Plan to use frozen fruit within one year for best quality. Serve fruit before it is completely thawed. This is especially important for fruit frozen without sugar. Sugar substitutes may be used in place of sugar. Labels on the products give the equivalents to a standard amount of sugar. Follow the directions to determine the amount of sweetener needed. Artificial sweeteners give a sweet flavor, but do not furnish the beneficial effects of sugar such as thickness of syrup and color protection.

Sulfite-Free Diets

Sulfuring fruits prevents light fruits from darkening and helps retain the nutritive values during drying and storage. Sulfuring fruits before drying is fairly common in commercially dried, light-colored fruits. Sulfuring can be done at home using a sulfur solution or by exposing fruit to fumes from burning sulfur. Sulfur solutions are now banned as a preservative for fresh produce sold in supermarkets or at salad bars in restaurants. Drying fruits at home allows you to eliminate the use of sulfuring agents. Use an alternate method to prevent darkening of fruits such as blanching in steam or syrup, or dipping in an ascorbic acid solution. Sulfuring agents are not used in canning or freezing processes.

For many handouts on food preservation, please visit your local county Extension office or our website www.aces.edu.

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.

Farm & Field

AAMU-SFRC Launches a Farm Incubator Project for Alabama’s Beginning Farmers

The Small Farms Research Center in the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences at Alabama A&M University is proud to announce the award and launching of a USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant for beginning farmers’ and ranchers’ education and training in Alabama. AAMU experts from the Small Farms Research Center, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System will implement this Beginning Farmer and Rancher Project with the goal of establishing targeted and specialized training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives addressing the needs of beginning farmers. The education will be offered through the farm incubator training and web-based resource center approach. The project’s long-term goal is to grow the next generation of farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs who will use the experience, skills and land stewardship to improve and enhance sustainability and productive capacity of farms and ranches.

The Farm Incubator and Web-based Resource Center projectbuilds on AAMU-SFRC’s existing resources, successes and effective partnerships with nonprofits, community-based agricultural organizations and experienced farmers to provide beginning farmers and ranchers with easily accessible tools and practical, experience-based training in farm production, marketing, land management, business planning and financial resources. Through this project, beginning farmers and ranchers will be able to:

1. Establisha web-based resource center at AAMU to develop and implement effective training programs and disseminate educational materials;

2. Explorefarming options, understand the components of a successful farm operation and make decisions about what enterprises best fit their interests;

3. Refineparticipants’ farm interests, understand the requirements and strategies of different, new or alternative farm enterprises, and begin developing plans for assessing resources needed to implement a farm plan;

4.Developspecific farm production and business plans, and obtain needed resources to begin a farm enterprise;

5. Providetargeted technical assistance and outreach training to expand production and access niche markets for specialty crops and small ruminants; and

6. Implementfarm plans, start new or alternative agricultural enterprises and continue as successful beginning farmers, ranchers or entrepreneurs.

Project partners include Tri-State Rabbit Growers Association, Alabama Agricultural Marketing A+ Association, Tune Farm, Rosita’s Farm, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and the Small Farms Research Centerwithin the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences at Alabama A&M University. For more information about the grant visit: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandranc....

The project is currently looking for new or beginning farmers and ranchers throughout the state of Alabama who are interested in gaining a better appreciation of the art and science of farming before they start their own farming operations. A beginning farmer, by definition, refers to an individual who has been engaged in production agriculture or agribusiness for less than 10 years.

If you meet this eligibility criterion and would like to find out more about the project, its services and educational training, please call Project Director Dr. Duncan M. Chembezi or Program Manager Ms. E’licia L. Chaverest at 1-866-858-4970 or 256-372-4970. You may also reach Chembezi and Chaverest by email at duncan.chembezi@aamu.edu and elicia.chaverest@aamu.edu, respectively.

Farm & Field

Alabama BCIF/BCIA Announce Award Winners

Press Release from Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association

The Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Foundation recently awarded a graduate fellowship and two undergraduate scholarships to three outstanding young people at the Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association Annual Meeting and Awards Program held in conjunction with the 70th Annual Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Convention in Birmingham March 23, 2013.


The Alabama BCIF awarded a graduate fellowship to Staci DeGeer, center, of Erie, Kan., a doctoral student at Auburn University. Issac Jones of Centre and Sterling Etheredge of Selma, undergraduate Auburn Animal Science students, were honored and received the 2013 Alabama BCIF Graduate Fellowship and Undergraduate Scholarships.

BCIF Awards

The Alabama BCIF was excited to offer undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in land-grant universities within colleges of agriculture. Alabama BCIF issued the call for interested undergraduate and graduate students to submit an application and supply an official transcript to apply for the offered undergraduate scholarship and graduate fellowship.

The 2013 Alabama BCIF Graduate Fellowship was awarded to Staci DeGeer, a doctoral student in meat science and food safety within the Auburn University Animal Sciences Department, under the direction of Dr. Christy L. Bratcher. A native of Erie, Kan., DeGeer holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Kansas State University in food science and industry. DeGeer’s goals after completion of her doctoral degree are to help shape the future by educating future meat scientists and food safety experts as a college professor and to continue to lead research in food safety to improve our food supply.

Two 2013 Alabama BCIF Undergraduate Scholarships were awarded to Issac Jones and Sterling Etheredge. Jones is an undergraduate student within the Auburn Animal Sciences Department seeking a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Pre-Veterinary Medicine. He is a native of Centre. After completing his degree, he plans to obtain a doctorate of veterinary medicine. Etheredge is an undergraduate student within the Auburn Animal Sciences Department seeking a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is a native of Selma. Her career goals are to own and operate a cow-calf operation and possibly a livestock market. She is active in agricultural leadership, policy and animal welfare, and strives to be a positive voice in the ever-changing agricultural industry.


Jerald Thompson, left, regional Extension agent, presented the 2012 Outstanding Extension Educator Award to Dr. Darrell Rankins Jr. of Auburn University.

2012 OutstandingExtension Educator

The Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association honored Dr. Darrell Rankins Jr. as the 2012 Outstanding Extension Educator during their Annual Meeting and Awards Program held in conjunction with the Convention.

Alabama BCIA honored Rankins with this award for his support and implementation of beef cattle performance programs in Alabama. Rankins serves as a Professor of Ruminant Nutrition and Extension Specialist within the Auburn University Animal Sciences Department.

An Illinois native, Rankins earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science and a Doctorate from New Mexico State University. He began serving the livestock producers in Alabama and the Auburn University Animal Sciences Department in 1989, so he has loaned his knowledge and his frank enthusiasm to livestock producers and Auburn students for 24 years. For the past 20 years, his primary focus area has been to evaluate various by-product feeds for use in Southeastern beef cattle production systems. Currently, efforts have been focused on constructing new cattle backgrounding facilities and implementing new studies at the Auburn University E. V. Smith Research Center. The majority of his research program involves the evaluation of by-product feeds with special emphasis on broiler litter. Currently, research projects are ongoing at the Auburn University Sand Mountain, Wiregrass and Black Belt Research and Extension Centers, and at the E.V. Smith Research Center-Beef Unit. The central theme of his Extension programming is to provide nutritional information to beef cattle producers. Ongoing educational activities include Master Cattleman’s Program, the Alabama Grazing School, the Stocker Cattle Conference and Advanced Beef Cattle Nutrition.


The Spirit of BCIA Award was presented to honor Oneil Smith of Uriah in Monroe County.

Spirit of BCIAAward Recipient

The Spirit of BCIA Award honors the memory of Jamie Cates of Columbiana, past BCIA vice-president, and Jamey Clary of Akron, former Alabama Cooperative Extension agent and BCIA member, and the spirit in which they both actively supported Alabama BCIA. This award recognizes and honors an Alabama BCIA member or members who exemplify the commitment to BCIA performance principles within their own cattle operation and who have also sought to promote the BCIA program to their fellow cattle producers. This spirit of leading by example and the drive to cheerfully help others represents how Cates and Clary both served Alabama BCIA and their fellow cattlemen. Oneil Smith of Uriah in Monroe County was honored with the 2012 Spirit of BCIA Award.

Smith has been involved in the cattle industry since he first showed club calves in 1948 and his steer won grand champion in Monroe County. He became a member of Alabama BCIA in 1970 as a Hereford producer, maintaining his records with BCIA and then the American Hereford Association. After transitioning to commercial production, he began processing records with BCIA in 1991 and is still an active herd today. He has earned numerous BCIA Top Weaning Weight Awards and Gold Star Cow Awards. Smith was also honored by Alabama BCIA as Commercial Producer of the Year in 1996. He has served as a leader on the BCIA Board of Directors as a commercial representative, an officer and as president in 2002. He has actively supported and recruited his fellow cattle producers to maintain cattle records and to take advantage of BCIA opportunities. Through these efforts, he served as a prominent leader of the Southwest Alabama BCIA Heifer Sale.

Smith has held numerous leadership positions in the Monroe County Cattlemen’s Association and is an Honorary Lifetime Director of ACA. He has also served in leadership roles in the Monroe County Farmers’ Federation and the Alabama Farmers’ Federation. He encouraged many young cattlemen through the years with his support and leadership as chairman of the Monroe County 4-H livestock show and through his guidance of leading by example.


The Alabama BCIA honored Harrell Watts Jr. as the 2012 Alabama BCIA Richard Deese Award recipient.

2012 Richard DeeseAward Recipient

The Alabama BCIA honored Harrell Watts Jr. as the 2012 Richard Deese Award recipient.

The Richard Deese Award was established in 1986 to honor Deese, an Extension animal scientist in charge of the BCIA program in the 1970s and early 1980s. The award is presented to individuals who uphold the principles of performance testing and genetic improvement of beef cattle in Alabama. Since 1986, cattle producers, Extension workers and beef industry supporters have received the award.

Watts is a multi-generational farmer and cattle rancher from Sardis in Dallas County. The Watts farm is a family enterprise active in both seedstock and commercial cattle production. He is a pioneer of Simmental genetics and became a member of Alabama BCIA in 1971, serving multiple terms as a director of BCIA. He began participating in Alabama BCIA bull evaluations early in the 1970s, and his seedstock cattle operation, Simmentals of Alabama, has earned many top bull awards both at the Auburn University Bull Test and the West Central Grazing Test. In 1992, Simmentals of Alabama was honored as BCIA Purebred Producer of the Year.

Watts also began processing commercial cattle records with Alabama BCIA in 1993 and remains an active herd today. The commercial cow herd has been honored with earning numerous Alabama BCIA Top Weaning Weight and BCIA Gold Star Cow awards over the years and was again honored in 2012. He holds one of the earliest membership numbers in the American Simmental Association, and began a term as a Trustee on the ASA Board of Directors in 1994. He served as chairman of the Trustees from 1999-2000. During this time, he also served as chairman of the ASA Growth and Development Committee for 4 years. In 2011, he was awarded with the American Simmental Association’s prestigious Golden Book Award, an award recognizing individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of the Simmental breed in the US and throughout the world. Watts is active in both the Dallas County Cattlemen’s Association and the Dallas County Farmers’ Federation, having held many leadership positions.


The Alabama BCIA honored Rosen’s XL Farm, Gordon and Ann Rosen of Tuscaloosa, as the Alabama BCIA Commercial Producer of the Year.

2012 Commercial Producerof the Year

Rosen’s XL Farm of Tuscaloosa, owned by Gordon and Ann Rosen and managed by Miguel Ruiz, was honored as the Alabama BCIA 2012 Commercial Producer of the Year. Gordon Rosen graduated from high school in Fort Sumner, N.M., and, while in Fort Sumner, a friend’s father was manager of the XL Ranch. While on the XL Ranch in the 1930s, a love of ranching and cattle handling was instilled in Rosen. He adopted the XL brand, which he uses today, for his own cattle operation in Tuscaloosa.

Rosen began raising cattle in a modest way in 1968 and acquired more cattle after expanding his acreage by acquiring larger farms. He joined the Alabama BCIA in the late 1990s. The BCIA program provided the basics for recordkeeping and the knowledge to improve the performance and productivity of his cowherd. XL Farm consists of 90 Simmental and Angus-cross cows grazing 340 acres of pasture consisting of Bermuda, bahia and tall fescue grasses and seasonal grazing with planted ryegrass, crimson clover and annual crabgrass. Throughout the year, limit, rotational and strip grazing, and also stockpiling are all utilized to maximize forage resources.

A fall calving season, to capture market advantage for feeder cattle, begins in late September and goes through early December. In the fall of 2012, 82 percent of the cows calved in the first 30 days. Artificial insemination has allowed this higher percentage of the calf crop to be born early in the calving season. This herd’s success was achieved through careful selection of both culling and replacements, extensive use of AI, utilization of a forage-based program and, of course, meticulous recordkeeping. Rosen’s XL Farm has been honored by Alabama BCIA with earning numerous BCIA Gold Star Cow Awards. Rosen’s XL Farm will also be nominated by the Alabama BCIA for the National Beef Improvement Federation’s 2013 Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year Award.

For more information, please contact Michelle Elmore, Alabama BCIF Extension Animal Scientist/Beef Cattle Improvement, at 205-646-0115 or elmormf@auburn.edu.

The Alabama BCIA is a non-profit organization seeking to promote, educate and facilitate the use of performance data, record keeping and marketing opportunities to improve the Alabama cattle industry. Formed in 1964, BCIA currently cooperates with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System of Auburn University under a formal agreement.

The Alabama BCIF is a non-profit foundation established in 2007. Its mission is to educate and facilitate the utilization of performance principles for the cattle industry. It provides a vehicle for individuals to make tax deductible contributions to support beef cattle performance educational programs, research, and activities.

Outdoor Life

Biologists Use Game Cameras to Monitor Wild Turkeys

by Steven W. Barnett

Game cameras have dramatically changed the dynamics of hunting and wildlife viewing in Alabama. When used to complement traditional "on-the-foot" scouting, game cameras offer a never-tiring (with good batteries, of course) wildlife observer 24/7 to capture images of wildlife through motion detection, heat signatures or time-lapse settings. Deer and turkey hunters often use this scouting aide in feeding areas along trails, in strut zones and near scrapes. Hunters and landowners are often surprised by photos of a "trophy animal" they were not aware existed on the property.

This equipment has also proven invaluable in the wildlife research arena. Similar to the benefits game cameras offer hunters, these tools give researchers new insights into wildlife population dynamics, reproduction and behavior, and how these factors are linked to habitat quality. This technology is now being used in Alabama to measure wild turkey production. The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries teamed with the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to employ game cameras and a new standardized methodology to gauge brood-rearing success among other study objectives.

For the study, cameras are placed in likely brood habitat at randomly selected points based on land-cover maps suggesting wild turkey range. All photos of wild turkeys are examined with the emphasis given to the number of hens and poults. The random point selection process allows for a standardization not found in a typical observational survey. The study design also takes into account the habitat features surrounding the camera deployment sites. The survey began in 2006 at the Conecuh National Forest as a pilot study. Since then, the project has expanded to regional applications on public and private lands. Through ongoing design refinement, we eventually hope to develop a standardized method that is reliable, efficient and cost effective to measure wild turkey production over time. At this time, the survey application shows promise, but further research is needed before it is implemented as a statewide survey.

One aspect of the game camera survey gleaned from the preliminary data is the importance of brood habitat. This fact is not new to wild turkey research. As previously stated, the sites sampled in our survey are randomly selected. This results in some sites with suitable brood range generally resulting in more hen and poult photos. Poor brood range usually results in fewer turkey images or images absent of turkeys. So, what is good brood range? Simply put, ideal brood range features a herbaceous (grasses and forbs) ground layer throughout the landscape in open woodland canopies. This grassy component should be managed for the "Goldilocks Effect" - not too thin and not too thick. Turkey broods need to be concealed from predators during daily insect feasts, but not restricted in movements during these foraging excursions. Also, our investigations have suggested, when broods are limited to roads and food plots for travel and bugging sites, the potential for survival may dwindle.

Our photos from cameras located along roads and openings revealed other critters using them for travel corridors as well, namely mammalian predators. Just a few grassy roads and openings may result in predictable ambush points for nest and brood predators. Proper habitat enhancement such as prescribed fire and timber harvests will usually result in fewer nests and broods lost to predators by creating a mosaic of suitable brood range throughout the property (not just in roads and food plots). Habitat management needs to be the focus for improved conditions.

Private landowners can get a feel for conditions for turkey broods on their property by deploying game cameras. The observation period should be from June to August, which coincides with Alabama’s brood season. By using cameras along grassy travel corridors (roads, trails, openings, woodland edges and utility rights-of-way), landowners can view images to sample hen and poult numbers and survival on their property. Landowners should deploy game cameras over several seasons to track trends over time. More importantly, active wild turkey management should already be in place before undertaking this type of survey.

For more information on wild turkey management by setting up a game camera survey, contact Steven W. Barnett, Certified Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, 30571 Five Rivers Boulevard, Spanish Fort, Ala. 36527; phone 251-626-5474.

Steven W. Barnett is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

From Pastor to Pasture

Blackie: One in a Hundred — In More Ways Than One

by Glenn Crumpler

"Blackie," as my grandsons and I called her, was the only Black Pearl pullet in a pen of 100. The other 99 were Golden Nuggets. Although all 100 pullets were hatched and raised together from day one, she really was "one in a 100," but not just because of her color and breeding. She also had a very different personality and responded and interacted with us differently than all the others.

Perhaps it was because she was "different" and was ostracized and harassed by all the other pullets. Perhaps it had something to do with her breeding, but she bonded and interacted with us differently. At every feeding as we scattered the feed, all the other pullets would scramble and fight for the pellets as we slung them out, but Blackie would only follow us, right at our feet, until we led her away and fed her out of our hand. I have raised a lot of chickens in my life, but I have never seen a chicken that seemed to show a sense of gratitude and a desire to show affection like Blackie did. Though she was surrounded by 99 others, it seemed she felt all alone and looked forward to spending time with us as she ate.

I recently read an account recorded in the Gospel of Luke that reminded me of Blackie. It is the story of 10 men with leprosy who shouted out to Jesus as He was walking along the road for his final journey into Jerusalem. These men were desperate and were crying out for Jesus to have mercy and to heal them:

"And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’" (Luke 17:13-19)

It is helpful to study a little bit of the background of this story to understand what was taking place. The symptoms of leprosy range from white patches on the skin to running sores to the loss of the fingers and toes. The physical distress and the emotional response to a future of disease and death were only part of the burden of the leper because people with leprosy cannot hide their disease. For the Hebrews, it was a dreaded malady which rendered its victims not only physically but also ceremonially unclean, unfit to worship God (Lev. 13:3). Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from others so the "clean" members of the community could maintain their status as worshippers.

By Jesus’ time, it was evident that lepers were society’s despised outcasts. When a "normal" person approached, they had to shout a warning of "Unclean!" while keeping their mouth covered to prevent spreading the disease. This was a humiliating, lonely, painful and tragic way to spend and end your life. It would not be long before a person’s spirit would be broken, and his self image would deteriorate so that he considered himself unworthy of love or companionship.

Jewish law required those who had been declared "unclean" to present themselves to a priest for an examination to verify they were disease free before they could once again be declared "clean" both physically and religiously. Jesus gave these men nothing except a command to go show themselves to the priests. This must have really confused them. Under the law (Lev. 13), they were to go to the priests only after cleansing. At this point, the lepers were not clean and any presentation to the priests would be a waste of time.

Jesus had not yet healed them when He commanded them to go to the priest, but they trusted Him and went to present themselves. They were still covered with sores and had no feeling in their skin, yet they went and did what Jesus told them to do. He directed them to do what seemed absurd, yet they obeyed. "As they went, they were cleansed." First came obedience — then the miracle!

Note that only one of the men came back to give thanks and to worship Jesus. The story implies he returned as soon as he found himself cleansed — he "turned back" prior to making it to the priest. What did Jesus do? He took on the responsibility of the priest and, based upon the man’s faith, He ceremonially declared the man clean. It would no longer be necessary for the healed leper to go to the priest, because he had just been cleansed by The Priest! To the Samaritan, giving thanks to Jesus was more important than ritual. As a result, not only was he physically cleansed — he was spiritually cleansed. After his encounter with Jesus, he would return to his family and community — but not the same man he was when he left.

Being made whole by our faith in Jesus and what He has done for us is the greatest blessing and privilege we can receive, but with it comes the responsibility and the command to go into all the world and tell others of God’s mercy and grace. We can tell others what God has done for us, praising Him, thanking Him and giving Him the credit for what has happened in our lives.

Blackie was a different kind of bird. The Samaritan was a man different from the others, but both were distinguishable by their expressions of gratitude. Perhaps we too need to "turn back" to God, confessing and turning away from our sin, praising and thanking Him for His mercy and grace by giving Him our hearts and lives. Ten lepers were healed — but only one came back to Jesus and heard the words: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."

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.

Youth Matters

Co-op Assists Ft. Payne Students


Zac McCurdy, Dan Groghan and Angelica Santiago check out some of the plants being grown in the greenhouse this semester.

Garden Plot Becomes Outdoor Science Lab

by Anna Wright

A garden plot, a greenhouse and a mess of new potatoes are satisfying appetites and more at a Fort Payne agriscience class. Dan Groghan, agriscience teacher, is using the time-tested concepts of gardening to help his students understand science through planting, observing and harvesting vegetables.


Rubbermaid storage containers are used as planters in the greenhouse. Students pick 6 types of plants to grow, observe and harvest during the semester.

Three years ago, Groghan was approved to till a 2,025-foot plot of ground behind the football field as a 7th-grade science teacher at Fort Payne Middle School. His reason for such a request was to create an outdoor plant science teaching laboratory. Irish potatoes were the plants to study because everybody likes them and their growth cycle would fit into the semester system.

The following school year, Groghan transferred to Fort Payne High School. There he inherited a greenhouse and an older group of students who would benefit from exposure to this type of hands-on learning experience.

In his class, all students work together to plant, maintain and harvest the crops. For the fall crops, students planted collard greens and then potatoes for the spring crop. Collards and potatoes were chosen because their growth cycle could begin and end within the semester.

DeKalb Farmers Co-op store in Rainsville helped him with seeds for planting in the garden plot and the greenhouse.

In the fall, the turnip green harvest was so successful Groghan and his students were looking for people to take the leafy green vegetables home so they would not go to waste. Many students did not take them home and the reason was they had never tasted them.


A healthy potato plant flourishes in the FPHS greenhouse. These plants give students a hands-on approach to learning about life science.

"I brought several Crock-Pots to school one day and we cooked several different recipes of collards," Groghan said. "We had the students taste the collards and for many it was their first time to taste them."

Almost all the students, surprisingly, decided they did enjoy the taste of the collards. He hopes to try versions of potato soup at the end of the potato harvest in the spring to further develop students’ taste for fresh foods.

"Home gardens don’t exist as much anymore, so the kids are fascinated with the growth process," Groghan explained. "Each time we go out to the garden, the kids are still interested in what the plants are doing."

But still, there was the issue of quality food going to waste. Groghan had two solutions for his problem. Since his students were the caretakers of this garden, he decided to let them make the decision. The options were to sell the food or donate it to a local food bank. Unanimously, the local food bank won out.

In another one of Groghan’s classes, students work in the greenhouse. Once it was cleaned up and organized, another classroom lab opportunity evolved.


Agriscience students at Fort Payne High School plant potato slips in their class’ garden plot. These students are a part of teacher Dan Groghan’s out-door lab experience.

Zac McCurdy is an 11th grader in Groghan’s class who has become more interested in the growth of food since participating in the greenhouse lab work.

"It’s good to learn about the food we eat and it’s satisfying to see it grow," McCurdy said. "It’s good for us (students) to help our community by providing food to the local food shelters."

Angelica Santiago, another student is a 10th grader who enjoys taking care of the hanging baskets of annuals in the greenhouse.

"I love this class," Santiago said. "I thought it was going to be boring to begin with, but now I am always wondering where foods come from when we go to the grocery store."

Her mom grows vegetables at home, but she didn’t become interested in them until this class.

The academic goal of this class is for an outdoor lab experience, but further lessons are being taught: community, charity, food production and hard work. Through projects in the greenhouse, in raised beds and a garden plot, Groghan is taking learning to a different level.

Anna Wright is a freelance writer from Collinsville.

Home Grown Tomatoes

Daylilies, the Perfect Perennial


Such a complex flower, yet so easy to grow.

Over the years, I have collected lots and lots of perennials planted all over the Tomato Tower gardens. They offer color and wildlife shelter in both sunny and shady areas. Some of them are shrubs and some are roots, bulbs, rhizomes and tubers.

One of the most fun plant varieties we always count on for garden color is the daylily collection (Hemerocallis sp.). Maybe that is why folks have labeled it the "Perfect Perennial."

There are literally thousands of cultivars of daylilies today and, depending on the species and cultivar, they have a hardiness range from USDA zones 1 to 11. Mostly, what we grow around here are the ones that are hardy from zones 5a to 10a.

The colors of daylilies cover a wide range. About the only colors not yet found are true white and true blue. Although there are pale creamy daylilies and deep burgundy, red and even purple ones now bred, they still have not found the right combo to make those other colors.


Daylilies come in a wide variety of colors combinations and shapes.

Daylilies are easy to grow and thrive in well-drained, mildly acidic soils (pH 6.0 to 6.5). They require very little fertilizer. Fertilize early in the spring; time release is ideal, with moderate nitrogen and higher phosphorous and potassium.

Daylilies range in height from six inches to nearly five feet tall.

Though drought tolerant, daylilies like a good soaking about once per week during dry spells. Be careful not to over-water. Additionally, you should use water-smart methods of hydration. Avoid overhead watering in the heat of the day because that will cause spotting on the blooms or wilting. Also avoid watering in the late evenings. The best time to water your plants is early in the morning and that applies to most plants. Mulching helps retain moisture and keeps the roots cool. Be sure to keep your daylily beds free of weeds, as they will compete for moisture and could also spread plant pests to your daylilies.

Aphids, beetles, cutworms, slugs, snails, spider mites and thrips can do damage to your daylilies. However, unless there is an infestation, the damage is usually negligible. Also, deer may eat the young flower buds off your plants.


Sunday Gloves




Going Bananas




Rocket City is a 3 foot tall one


Custard Candy


Irish Envy


Siloam Double Classic


Fooled Me

Plant your daylilies in the early spring or fall for the best results. Avoid planting them during the hot summer months.

Daylilies mostly prefer full sun, but some can tolerate partial shade as long as they get at least six hours of sunshine per day.

When searching for the right daylilies for your garden, consider these few things. How tall will they get? Do you want them for a backdrop in your beds or a front border? What colors will best suit your existing landscape? Do you want a re-bloomer? What will the height of the foliage be?

Daylilies form dense clumps and, although not essential, should be divided every few years in order for them to perform their best.

Dividing your daylilies should be done in early fall in order for the plants to become established before the winter sets in. If you live in a part of the country with a hot climate, be sure to trim back the leaves about one-third, so the plants will not require as much moisture. Divide your daylilies by digging up the clumps and separating the crowns. Be careful not to damage the roots in this process. The new plants can then be replanted in another location or shared with your gardening friends.

Some daylilies make great cut flowers. Choose a scape with several buds on it and place in a vase of water. As each blossom fades, remove it and another one will open.


If I had labeled them all when I planted them, then I would have a record of this unknown cultivar.

Finally, on daylilies, please remember to label or map your daylilies so you will always have a reference to their names. Please don’t make the mistake of saying, "Aw, I’ll remember that." You won’t. Trust me.

Month Three. Again, there is no room for a picture of the gourd garden. I will say, though, we have added a new PVC arbor that has been in the box since 1999. We have also planted a variety of beans. Pictures coming soon!

Gardening rocks my world! And daylilies are low maintenance plants that keep producing year-after-year. Go get some today from your local independent garden shop or your local Quality Co-op.

If you have any questions or comments regarding daylilies or other things discussed in this column, email me at kennalan5049@gmail.com.

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From the State Vet's Office

Don’t Let Your Guard Down On Agro-Terrorism

by Dr. Tony Frazier

How many times have we heard or even said that the events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the world as we knew it? Or was it that the world had already changed and the events of 9-11 were just tangible evidence that the world had already changed? Either way, we became acutely aware that there are people in the world who hate the United States and are willing to commit terrorist acts here on our own soil. I suppose that other than a few isolated incidences such as the tennis shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, and a few thwarted attempts to commit terrorist attacks, we may have become a little complacent in the area of vigilance. We often tend to focus on whatever takes up the most time on the evening news or the wall-to-wall, 24-hour-a-day news networks. And for the most part, for the past 10 or so years, that has not been terrorism - until April 15, 2013. On that day, two brothers used homemade bombs to kill three people and injure more than 170 (according to cnn.com). And, as we have learned, the goal of terrorists is to disrupt our daily routines. The casualties are not necessarily their main objectives. I figure, if you can completely shut down a city the size of Boston, you have pretty much disrupted our routine.

In September of 1982, seven people were killed by taking what they thought to be Extra- Strength Tylenol that turned out to be cyanide. I am not sure what the motivation was, but that act had a permanent effect on how over-the-counter medication is sold. Now we have double and even triple tamper-proof packaging. Certainly deeds such as that, 9-11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, have resulted in a change in how we conduct day-to-day life. I hope the Boston Marathon bombings serve to remind us to not let our guard down when we see something unusual and that includes in our farming and animal agriculture activities. I am fairly sure, the farther we drifted from 9-11, an unattended backpack in a crowd of people was nearly of as much concern as it would have been 8 or 10 years ago.

Therefore, I thought it might be appropriate to take this opportunity to remind all of us that agriculture is still considered to be a "soft target" for terrorists. Once in a great while, I hear someone say we shouldn’t write or talk about agro-terrorism because it reminds the potential perpetrators that we are indeed a soft target. That kind of reminds me of a quote from the movie about Johnny Cash, "Walk the Line." Once Johnny Cash was performing at Folsom Prison and the warden asked Johnny not to sing anything that might remind the prisoners they are, in fact, in prison. Johnny looked at the warden and simply asked, "Do you think they forgot?" It’s the same with terrorists. They are not likely looking at the Cooperative Farming News to get ideas concerning what segments of our society to attack. In fact, it has been broadly published, when Al Qaida computers and documents were found in the Afghanistan caves after the war began, agro-terrorism was very much on the minds of the terrorists. So I would ask the rhetorical question, "Do you think they forgot?" I seriously doubt it.

As I said earlier, terrorists’ main goal is to disrupt society. Let me just say that any serious attack on agriculture is a threat to society as a whole. I don’t remember who I heard say, "If there is no agriculture, there is no culture," but it certainly is a true statement. I can do without a television, the Internet, college football and even fishing, but I don’t believe I can go very long without eating. And while I cannot remember specific details, I don’t believe many people were purchasing Extra-Strength Tylenol or most other over-the-counter drugs back in 1982, and that was because of seven deaths. If our food supply were to be the point of a terrorist attack, even if only a small segment were involved, it would dramatically, negatively affect our whole society.

So how are we supposed to remain vigilant? Very simply: pay attention to things that just do not look or seem right. The soldiers conducting convoy missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are trained to look for something that doesn’t seem right, something that doesn’t fit in, something that wasn’t there yesterday. My advice is not much different for agriculture. Pay attention to unfamiliar vehicles that may spend time in the area. If a strange vehicle is parked at your chicken houses or pasture, get a tag number and report it. Be very cautious of visitors you allow onto your farm and keep a visitor log for those who do enter and leave your farm. Use locks and other barriers to limit access to your flocks or herds.

The way animals move here in the United States makes it imperative we recognize and respond to a foreign animal disease as soon as possible. A foreign animal disease is a weapon terrorists might use to disrupt animal agriculture. However, it is also likely a foreign animal disease could be introduced accidentally. Either way, it is critical you report any large die-offs or diseases affecting a large number of the herd. Pay especially close attention to animals with blisters in their mouths or large numbers that become lame or have neurological signs. Report any disease situation that is out of the ordinary to your veterinarian or to my office (334-240-7253). I have often said that if you play the odds, it will not be a foreign animal disease and there will be very minimal disruption to your operation. My concern is that early cases of a foreign animal disease will be shrugged off and it will have spread significantly before we can diagnose it and begin to respond. You, who are the producers involved in animal agriculture, are the "boots on the ground" and our first line of defense when it comes to foreign animal diseases or agro-terrorism. We at the Alabama Department of Agriculture have had exercises with the FBI and local and state law enforcement authorities, but it remains that you, the producer, are the most important piece of the puzzle in stopping agro-terrorism.

I believe, because of what happened at the Boston Marathon, I will likely be more aware of my surroundings the next time I attend a football game or go to some event where there are a lot of people. I would say, because of that event, I would likely keep my eyes open for an unattended package or backpack. I hope what happened in Boston serves to remind us that there are still those, foreign and domestic, who do not like us or what the United States stands for. In that same line of thinking, please do not let your guard down when it comes to agro-terrorism. Protecting the food supply is all of our responsibility.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

From the State Vet's Office

Don’t Let Your Guard Down On Agro-Terrorism

by Dr. Tony Frazier

How many times have we heard or even said that the events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the world as we knew it? Or was it that the world had already changed and the events of 9-11 were just tangible evidence that the world had already changed? Either way, we became acutely aware that there are people in the world who hate the United States and are willing to commit terrorist acts here on our own soil. I suppose that other than a few isolated incidences such as the tennis shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, and a few thwarted attempts to commit terrorist attacks, we may have become a little complacent in the area of vigilance. We often tend to focus on whatever takes up the most time on the evening news or the wall-to-wall, 24-hour-a-day news networks. And for the most part, for the past 10 or so years, that has not been terrorism - until April 15, 2013. On that day, two brothers used homemade bombs to kill three people and injure more than 170 (according to cnn.com). And, as we have learned, the goal of terrorists is to disrupt our daily routines. The casualties are not necessarily their main objectives. I figure, if you can completely shut down a city the size of Boston, you have pretty much disrupted our routine.

In September of 1982, seven people were killed by taking what they thought to be Extra- Strength Tylenol that turned out to be cyanide. I am not sure what the motivation was, but that act had a permanent effect on how over-the-counter medication is sold. Now we have double and even triple tamper-proof packaging. Certainly deeds such as that, 9-11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, have resulted in a change in how we conduct day-to-day life. I hope the Boston Marathon bombings serve to remind us to not let our guard down when we see something unusual and that includes in our farming and animal agriculture activities. I am fairly sure, the farther we drifted from 9-11, an unattended backpack in a crowd of people was nearly of as much concern as it would have been 8 or 10 years ago.

Therefore, I thought it might be appropriate to take this opportunity to remind all of us that agriculture is still considered to be a "soft target" for terrorists. Once in a great while, I hear someone say we shouldn’t write or talk about agro-terrorism because it reminds the potential perpetrators that we are indeed a soft target. That kind of reminds me of a quote from the movie about Johnny Cash, "Walk the Line." Once Johnny Cash was performing at Folsom Prison and the warden asked Johnny not to sing anything that might remind the prisoners they are, in fact, in prison. Johnny looked at the warden and simply asked, "Do you think they forgot?" It’s the same with terrorists. They are not likely looking at the Cooperative Farming News to get ideas concerning what segments of our society to attack. In fact, it has been broadly published, when Al Qaida computers and documents were found in the Afghanistan caves after the war began, agro-terrorism was very much on the minds of the terrorists. So I would ask the rhetorical question, "Do you think they forgot?" I seriously doubt it.

As I said earlier, terrorists’ main goal is to disrupt society. Let me just say that any serious attack on agriculture is a threat to society as a whole. I don’t remember who I heard say, "If there is no agriculture, there is no culture," but it certainly is a true statement. I can do without a television, the Internet, college football and even fishing, but I don’t believe I can go very long without eating. And while I cannot remember specific details, I don’t believe many people were purchasing Extra-Strength Tylenol or most other over-the-counter drugs back in 1982, and that was because of seven deaths. If our food supply were to be the point of a terrorist attack, even if only a small segment were involved, it would dramatically, negatively affect our whole society.

So how are we supposed to remain vigilant? Very simply: pay attention to things that just do not look or seem right. The soldiers conducting convoy missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are trained to look for something that doesn’t seem right, something that doesn’t fit in, something that wasn’t there yesterday. My advice is not much different for agriculture. Pay attention to unfamiliar vehicles that may spend time in the area. If a strange vehicle is parked at your chicken houses or pasture, get a tag number and report it. Be very cautious of visitors you allow onto your farm and keep a visitor log for those who do enter and leave your farm. Use locks and other barriers to limit access to your flocks or herds.

The way animals move here in the United States makes it imperative we recognize and respond to a foreign animal disease as soon as possible. A foreign animal disease is a weapon terrorists might use to disrupt animal agriculture. However, it is also likely a foreign animal disease could be introduced accidentally. Either way, it is critical you report any large die-offs or diseases affecting a large number of the herd. Pay especially close attention to animals with blisters in their mouths or large numbers that become lame or have neurological signs. Report any disease situation that is out of the ordinary to your veterinarian or to my office (334-240-7253). I have often said that if you play the odds, it will not be a foreign animal disease and there will be very minimal disruption to your operation. My concern is that early cases of a foreign animal disease will be shrugged off and it will have spread significantly before we can diagnose it and begin to respond. You, who are the producers involved in animal agriculture, are the "boots on the ground" and our first line of defense when it comes to foreign animal diseases or agro-terrorism. We at the Alabama Department of Agriculture have had exercises with the FBI and local and state law enforcement authorities, but it remains that you, the producer, are the most important piece of the puzzle in stopping agro-terrorism.

I believe, because of what happened at the Boston Marathon, I will likely be more aware of my surroundings the next time I attend a football game or go to some event where there are a lot of people. I would say, because of that event, I would likely keep my eyes open for an unattended package or backpack. I hope what happened in Boston serves to remind us that there are still those, foreign and domestic, who do not like us or what the United States stands for. In that same line of thinking, please do not let your guard down when it comes to agro-terrorism. Protecting the food supply is all of our responsibility.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

Our Outdoor Heritage

Economic Impact of Hunting in Alabama Exceeds $1.8 Billion Annually

by Corky Pugh

According to economist Rob Southwick, Alabama hunters spend twice as much each year as the combined annual revenues of the 10 largest companies in the state. In a 2013 report, "Hunting in America: An Economic Force forConservation," annual retail sales associated with hunting in Alabama are cited as $1,189,125,204 with a multiplier effect of over $1.8 billion. The multiplier effect reflects the total amount of spending that occurs in the economy as a result of hunter spending.

State and local taxes generated by hunting activities in Alabama amount to $104,412,563 a year. None of these tax dollars go to the program of state government responsible for management and protection of wildlife resources. The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division is funded through hunting and fishing license revenues and matching federal funds derived from excise taxes collected at the manufacturers’ level on firearms and ammunition, archery equipment and fishing tackle.

On the national level, hunting is also a huge economic force amounting to a whopping $38.3 billion.

"If hunting were a company, the amount spent by hunters to support their hunting activities would place it number 73 on the Fortune 500 list," Southwick said.

Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, said, "Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country’s outdoor heritage, and they are critically important to our nation’s economy - particularly to the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities."

"In some rural communities, the dollars brought in during hunting seasons alone can be enough to keep small businesses operational for another year," Southwick said.

Florida-based Southwick Associates compiled the report from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Department of the Interior as part of the most recent "National Report of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Associated Recreation." The "National Report" has been issued every 5 years since 1955, and provides a statistically valid snapshot of annual participation and spending.

In spite of the lagging economy, hunter numbers were up 9 percent nationally from 2006 to 2011, and spending grew more than 30 percent. Increased hunter participation has not been reflected in Alabama hunting license sales, however. Until actual license numbers go up, the statistical upturn has no bearing on Alabama’s ability to care for the wildlife resources upon which hunting depends. It is also important to know the only purchases that help pay for wildlife management are firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. These items are taxed at the manufacturers’ level and form the financial underpinnings of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program.

Some have suggested the economic downturn may have actually benefitted hunting participation.

According to Mark Duda of Virginia-based Responsive Management, "One reason might be the number of hunters who work in construction and related trades, the top occupational category for employed hunters. In times of increased housing starts, it may be that a substantial number of hunters will have less free time to go hunting."

Duda further noted the percentage of the population between the ages of 65 and 69 is negatively associated with hunting license sales on the national level.

"The age factor is easily explained: as people age, they are less likely to participate in hunting or have a need to purchase a license," he said.

Alabama law exempts residents over 65 from the requirement of purchasing hunting and fishing licenses.

Alabama enjoys a long-standing, well-deserved reputation as a hunting paradise. Abundant game populations and liberal seasons and limits result in a high level of hunting participation and expenditures. In order to sustain this huge economic engine, Alabama must effectively manage and protect the resource-base upon which hunting depends. Sustaining hunting participation is equally important in paying for keeping Conservation Enforcement Officers and Wildlife Biologists on the ground.

While sound science is critical to managing wildlife resources, collecting data for data’s sake without practical usefulness is ill advised. Research has shown the more hoops hunters have to jump through the lower the level of participation.

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

The Hunting Heritage Foundation is an Alabama non-profit organization established in 2011. To see what HHF stands for, go to the website at huntingheritagefoundation.com. You can write to us at P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">corkypugh@mindspring.com.

The Herb Lady

Elderberry - Herb of the Year

by Nadine Johnson

Since elderberry has been chosen as the "Herb of the Year," I think I should definitely write about it. I wrote about it several years ago; therefore, some of you will possibly say, "I’ve read this before."

"Elder or elderberry is any of a genus of shrubs and small trees of the honeysuckle family, with compound leaves and flat-topped clusters of small white flowers, followed by red or purple berries." That’s what my dictionary has to say about elderberry.

My herb book refers chiefly to two elderberries. One is European (Sambusus nigra) and the other is American (Sambusus canadensis). There appears to be very little difference in the two varieties. They tend to grow 3-10 feet tall and prefer a swampy habitat, but are often seen along fences and roads in a drier area. They both serve more or less the same useful purposes. It’s not unusual to have a few blooms appear on these plants at any time of the year, but they mainly bloom in the summer and the fruits ripen in the fall.

American elder grows over a large part of the United States. It is a common growth here in Alabama. It is also referred to as black elder, common elder, rob elder, sweet elder and popgun elder. European elder is also called bourtree and pipe tree. Evidence of its cultivation has been found in Stone Age sites in Italy and Switzerland. Probably Adam and Eve found this very useful herb in the Garden of Eden.

The shoots or stacks contain a pithy substance which can be removed leaving a strong hollow tube. Early Greeks used these tubes to make a musical instrument called a sambuke. Possibly elder is the hollowed wooden tube used by the French physician who made the first stethoscope in 1816. Elder might even have been the wooden tube from which the Pied Piper’s pipe was formed.

Through the years, elder has served mankind in many ways and it most likely will do so until the end of time. A few uses include toys, straws, shoemakers’ pegs, butchers’ skewers, weavers’ needles, skin care (lotion) products, dyes and medicines. On market shelves, you’ll find commercially prepared elderberry jams, jellies, teas and wine. These products are very nourishing due to the elder flowers’ and berries’ high content of vitamin A, C and bioflavonoids. (Bioflavonoids are derivatives of a flavone compound that helps maintain the capillary walls, thus reducing the likelihood of hemorrhaging.)

It is said the entire elder plant serves a use in folklore medicine. As a nutritional product it aids in combatting, controlling or preventing a large number of health conditions: allergies, asthma, bronchitis, colds, fevers, hay fever, pneumonia, sinus congestion, infections, rheumatism and bleeding. It is also said to promote perspiration and urine flow, purify the blood and build up the system. It makes a good ointment for burns when mixed with lard or petroleum jelly.

A grouping of elder plants will make interesting as well as useful landscaping shrubs. The berries are one of the easiest to gather. When ripe, they shake easily from their stems. If you only have a few elderberries on hand, they can easily be added to apples or mixed fruits for added flavor in jams, jellies, pies, etc.

There was a bridge-covered creek running through the Pike County farm where I grew up. Beside the bridge, there was a healthy growth of elder which we always referred to as popgun elder. My father made whistles as well as popguns from this plant. Every year, we children each had a newly built popgun when Chinaberries reached maturity. Chinaberries were our ammunition. We waged war until the berries were past their prime.

This is just one of the many plants which Native Americans used extensively and more or less in the same manner as the people of Europe, Asia and Africa, long before white man set foot on this continent.

I find elderberry an excellent choice for 2013’s "Herb of the Year."

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

Youth Matters

Fairfield High Preparatory School Students Consider Carbon Footprints

by Mary Stanford

Fairfield High Preparatory School invited People Against a Littered State to come and speak with their students about how they can become members of the PALS Clean Campus Program. Students were given a short carbon footprint quiz, emphasizing how small or large their personal carbon footprint could be. A carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 an individual generates each year. The average American has a carbon footprint of 20 tons per year. A carbon footprint measures the impact that various day-to-day activities have on the environment.

After students learned their carbon footprints, they realized littering has huge effects on our environment. As we look around our environment, we see plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles, polystyrene containers and cups, plastic, paper and a whole lot of other rubbish littering our streets, our parks, alongside our highways, our neighborhoods, our shopping areas, our rivers and many other places in our environment. The students, along with PALS Clean Campus Program, have joined together in an effort to keep Fairfield High campus a clean and safe environment. PALS gave the school two recycling bins, one for plastic and one for paper. They learned about the recycling codes on the bottom of plastic containers.

#1 - This is polyethylene terephthalate, called PET or PETE. This is often disposable water and soda bottles. It is generally safe, but is porous so bacteria and flavors can accumulate, and it is best not to keep reusing these bottles as containers. This plastic is recyclable.

#2 - This is high-density polyethylene, mostly milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles and butter tubs. It is usually opaque. This plastic is safe, and has low risk of leaching. It also can be recycled.

Students, along with their environmental teacher Lesha Harper, will be entering the PALS Essay Contest which gives $250 to the winner. There is also a PALS State Competition where a $1,000 scholarship is given to the first place winner, $750 to second place and $500 to third place. Scrapbooks are encouraged. All winners are invited to the Governor’s Awards.

PALS is excited to be partnered with Fairfield High Preparatory School and looks forward to working with all schools in Alabama. If you would like to implement an educational program about littering, recycling and carbon footprints, contact Mary Stanford by email at mary@alpals.org.

Mary Stanford is the Clean Campus Coordinator for PALS.

Homeplace & Community

Family Farm and Fleece


Fun and engaging activities were available to Family Farm and Fleece Day attendees.(Credit: Lauren Christopher, Gracelight Photography)

by Jade Currid

Family Farm and Fleece Day, hosted by the Tennessee Valley Women in Agriculture March 30 at the Alabama A&M Agribition Center, offered a myriad of demonstrations, exhibits, classes, workshops and activities complementing each other akin to the multi-colored strands of fiber in a magnificent, woven tapestry and meshed together to show the big picture of agriculture.

The Tennessee Valley Women in Agriculture’s purposes in hosting the event included introducing the public to agriculture, portraying the diversity of agriculture, and promoting local agriculture, said Roo Kline, vice president.
Attendees entered into the magical world of fiber arts and had the opportunity to admire and purchase beautiful, intricate pieces, and learn about the different types of fiber arts and all aspects of their creation.


Fibers used for fiber arts come in a myriad of different colors and textures. (Credit: Lauren Christopher, Gracelight Photography)

As owner of an alpaca fiber studio Moonwood Farm, Kline creates luxurious handcrafted alpaca spinning fibers and embellishments, and her fine work was available for purchase.She co-founded Alpaca Fiber Solutions, Inc. with business partner Elizabeth Taylor to teach alpaca owners what to do with their fiber.

Family Farm and Fleece Day provided invaluable fiber arts skills and knowledge through classes covering knitting for beginners, tri-loom weaving and drop spindling, and through cotton-spinning and historical wool-processing demonstrations.

In the tri-loom weaving class, attendees used a triangular-shaped loom and alpaca yarn to make a tiny shawl with fringe.

The beginning knitting class targeted those who had never knitted before and entailed learning a simple knit and purl stitch.


The beauty of fibers used for fiber arts dazzles the eye. (Credit: Lauren Christopher, Gracelight Photography)

In the drop spindling class, attendees learned how to spin and ply roving to make a yarn.

Another class taught attendees how to make soap using the cold-process method.

Kim Depp, owner of Pawsitive Plantation in Summerville, Ga., showcased her Pygora goats.

"Pygora goats were originally started in 1984," Depp said. "They are a cross between an Angora goat and a Pygmy goat … The idea at the time was to try to make them a shorter (smaller) breed."

The fact that Pygora goats can have three different fiber types ranging from Angora fiber to one as soft as cashmere was not realized in the beginning, Depp expounded. An advantage of owning Pygora goats is they keep the same good quality and softness of their fleece their entire lives. All three fiber types were represented by the three goats of Depp’s exhibit.

Depp has bred sheep and Angora goats for over 20 years, but just started raising Pygora goats over a year ago.

"So this is a new venture for us and we’re just getting our first babies on the ground," she said. "It’s a lot of fun. They are very easy to manage."



Left Clockwise, Pygora goats were part of an exhibit for Family Farm and Fleece Day. Attendees watched educational spinning demonstrations. Cotton bolls in natural white, green and brown were on display. (All Photos: Lauren Christopher, Gracelight Photography)

She knew about the Pygora breed and their exceptional fleece and went looking for the best Pygora goats in the country and had them shipped from a breeder in Oregon.

She said finding the right breed to raise is a matter of trial and error. After 20 years and raising a lot of breeds, she finally found the right breed for her. Her advice for prospective owners is to research as much as possible.


Smiling, beautiful family, Jeffrey and Darlene Nicks and Laila Grier, a young horse-lover, are happy to have their picture taken with the life-size My Little Pony at Family Farm and Fleece Day.

"Keep getting as much information as you can and talk to people, but the bottom line - go with your own gut, what feels right to you."

Depp ventured into spinning and weaving by accident.

"Everything started with one fiber bunny," she said. "I had an Angora bunny almost 25 years ago, and gradually it ended up being all of this. We spin, we weave, we knit - we do it all."

Vicki Ramsey of Huntsville, a member of Tennessee Valley Women in Agriculture who spins, crochets and weaves cotton, educated attendees about cotton and its use in fiber arts with her display.

She has been crocheting as long as she can remember since she learned the skill from her grandmother. In addition, she has been spinning around seven or eight years.

She said some spinners shy away from using cotton because the length of each fiber is so much shorter than wool.

"It’s really not hard to spin, it’s just different," she said. "Nine to 10 plants will provide enough cotton for a year."

Her display highlighted the fact that cotton does come in different colors. The commercial cotton industry has stuck with white because it dyes any color, she explained. She is trying to keep the colored cottons alive, which almost died out at one time. Colored cotton is being produced more due to some good efforts.


Assistant Mayor Rex Reynolds, right, with Lee Bryer and the blue ribbon she won for her peach pie in the pie category of the baking contest and the Mayor’s Choice Ribbon. (Credit: Roo Kline)

She was pleased many children visited her display and started making a connection about where their clothing and food originates, and expressed interest in fiber art.

She touched upon the importance and reward of being involved in fiber arts.

"It’s not practical to think you can clothe yourself, but it is keeping some of the old traditional arts alive and they’re just wonderful to do. There is such a wonderful fiber community, too."

The Rocket City Rabbit Club organized the event’s rabbit show. About 90 individual exhibitors and their families including adults and youth participated.

"In total, close to 1,000 rabbits were judged across all shows," Show Superintendent Kim Ringenbach said. "We had a total of four shows yesterday as typically there is what is called a ‘Double Open, Double Youth Show.’ This means adults and kids can show twice under different judges in the same day."

Twenty-seven different breeds of rabbits were represented in the open shows and 15 were represented in the youth shows.

Rabbit shows are governed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association and "The Standard of Perfection," a book listing all of the specifications for showing rabbits, is published every couple of years with updates, Ringenbach explained.

Nearly 50 breeds of rabbits are accepted and all judged based on their standard.

"The ones who are in the best condition and meet their standard best are chosen, and the top winners may be chosen out of that," she said. "After all the breeds are judged, rabbits who win Best of Breed go up and compete for Best in Show against all of the other breed winners."

The Alabama Sustainability Agriculture Network was represented by its Statewide Coordinator Alice Evans. ASAN is an independent grass-roots network of mostly farmers along with other people who are involved in food-related work such as educators, chefs, consumers and those who work with cooperative extension. ASAN connects people to teach each other and maintains a vision to support family farmers across the state through efforts ranging from on-farm workshops and trainings to social aspects such as creating a community around local food.

Evans was glad to see a lot of families and children attending.

A baking contest and sale was another feature of the day. Lee Bryer won the blue ribbon in the pie category of the baking contest as well as the Mayor’s Choice ribbon.

According to Kline, next year, Family Farm and Fleece Day will be a two-day event with more classes, which will be held for longer durations.

Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.

In the News

Fast Talk Fascination

World Livestock Auctioneer Championship
Set for Montgomery June 12-16

by Margaret Walsh


The Montgomery Stockyards served as host of a qualifying event for the 2010 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

Fast talking, high energy and sheer determination.

That is what the audience has to look forward to at this year’s World Livestock Auctioneer Championship competition.

Thirty-one semi-finalists from across the United States and Canada will converge on Montgomery June 12-16, 2013, to vie for the title of World Champion Auctioneer.

Held in conjunction with the Livestock Marketing Association’s annual convention at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel, the WLAC will be hosted by Montgomery Stockyards.

"[Montgomery Stockyards’] commitment to hosting a first-class competition and their commitment to top notch service for their producer customers made them an obvious pick [to host the WLAC]," said Kristen Parman, LMA’s vice president of membership services.

Since 1963, the WLAC has been held "to spotlight North America’s top livestock auctioneers and to salute their traditionally important role in the competitive livestock marketing process."


Bailey Ballou, Elgin, Okla., was the 2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship and will be present at the 2013 WLAC held June 16.

Semi-finalists have proven themselves in one of the three WLAC qualifying events held in Bristow, Okla.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Davenport, Wash.

Parman said a champion auctioneer "must obviously have a smooth chant and be able to conduct an auction, but his knowledge of the industry he will be representing is critical."

Three of the 31 semi-finalists who will be competing in Montgomery this year are from Alabama.

For Attalla native Jeff Bynum auctioneering has been a passion all of his life.

From the time he was a young boy going to the stockyards with his father, he was always fascinated by the fast-talking man in the cowboy hat.

When Bynum was just 10 years old, he told his father he would be an auctioneer when he grew up.

And since 1992, he has been true to his word.


The Montgomery Stockyards have one of the largest barns in the Eastern United States. It has been pivotal to the success and high standards of cattle trade in Alabama.

Bynum is no stranger to the WLAC as he has been a semi-finalist every year since 2006.

Even when a competition is so close it is "heartbreaking," Bynum repeatedly picks himself up and keeps on competing.

He attributes much of this determination to the people in his life who inspire and motivate him such as 1977 World Champion Bobby Russell and 1988 World Champion Joe Don Pogue.

"Their faith in me was overwhelming and made me not give up on myself," Bynum said. "That and my faith in God have really been my motivation all along."

He sees being a world champion auctioneer as an opportunity to give back to society.

"What’s really on my heart the most … would be to visit the inner-city children," Bynum said.

Becoming a world champion would be the "fulfillment of a lifelong dream," he said.

Like Bynum, semi-finalist Billy Younkin is another competitor who is no stranger to the WLAC.

This will be the seventh year the Cecil native has been in the semi-final competition.

This year, however, is different.

This year, he will have "home-field" advantage.

Younkin remembers going to the Montgomery Stockyard with his grandfather to sell cattle when he was just 5 years old.

For Younkin, winning this year’s WLAC would be "exceptionally emotional."

"So much of my life and my time have been spent there at that facility," Younkin said. "It’d just be icing on the cake to win in Montgomery - that’s home to me."

The opportunity to represent his industry is another strong motivator for Younkin.

He said, because the industry has been so good to him, he wants to give back to it.

To get ready for the WLAC, Younkin is working to stay grounded in his craft.

"The hardest part is keeping your nerves settled," he said. "You just have to remember you’re just going out there to do what you do every day."

This is also the seventh year as a WLAC competitor for Southside resident Brandon Neely.

Neely began auctioneering at Shenandoah Valley Livestock Sales in Harrisonburg, Va., when he was just 15 years old.

When selling, his goal has always been "to stand out - that way people will remember you."

In competitions, Neely constantly reminds himself that this sale is no different than any other.

"The biggest thing [in competitions] is to just be yourself," he said. "Don’t try to be better than yourself or outdo yourself. Just act like you would if you were at a regular sale."

Neely is looking forward to the opportunity to fellowship with other auctioneers throughout the weekend’s events.

He said the competition will just be a part of a great weekend of "co-mingling."

The LMA and Montgomery Stockyards have been working for more than 2 years in preparation for this year’s event.

"This is the Super Bowl or World Series of the auction profession," Parman said. "It’s an event unlike any other you’ll ever experience."

The public will be able to attend the semi-finalists’ interview competition June 14 at 2 p.m.

The WLAC will begin June 15 at 7:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony, and the world champion will be announced at the awards reception at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about the WLAC, visit www.lmaweb.com/WLAC.

Margaret Walsh is a freelance writer from Troy.

Homeplace & Community

Giving Sweet Corn a Whole New Meaning


It is estimated, in the 2000s, about 511 million bushels of corn, or about 4.7 percent of the total U.S. corn crop, had been used to produce high fructose corn syrup.

by Anna Leigh Peek

In the food scene today you hear, read and see a lot about high fructose corn syrup, scientifically known as fructose. It is found in a variety of products on our grocery store shelves including baked goods, cereals, sauces, yogurts and most commonly soft drinks. The general idea floating around seems to be that it is bad for you, but is it?

Until the 1950s, who would have ever thought corn would be considered sweet? Corn is a starch which contains glucose. In 1957, researchers discovered an enzyme called glucose isomerase, which takes the composition of glucose in corn syrup and turns it into fructose. Corn syrup in its original form is not very sweet, less sweet than sucrose (which is like regular table sugar). Sugar has always had policies in the United States - from 1789 to 1930 a total of 30 different acts dealing with sugar were passed. Many of the programs were penned to encourage domestic production of sugar and refining.

According to agriculture economist Max Runge, "In the 1970s, due to high tariffs and quotas, people in the food industry started seeking out additional ways of sweetening."

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the major food users of HFCS include the beverage industry (41 percent), processed food manufacturers (22 percent), cereal and bakery producers (14 percent), multiple-use food manufacturers (12 percent), the dairy industry (9 percent) and the confectionery industry (1 percent).Domestic production of HFCS increased from 2.2 million short tons in 1980 to an average of 9.2 million tons, dry weight, during the 2000s as HFCS replaced more expensively priced sugar in a variety of uses. In 1997, corn used to produce HFCS broke through the 500 million bushel level. It is estimated, in the 2000s, about 511 million bushels of corn, or about 4.7 percent of the total U.S. corn crop, had been used to produce HFCS.

Many argue that HFCS is responsible for our obesity problem.

According to Dr. Leonard Bell, a food science professor at Auburn University, "All the answers are not out there yet; there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other …. There are many different types of sugar out there, lactose is a form of sugar, but it is not very sweet."

When you eat regular table sugar, it is a compound of glucose and fructose. They split apart during digestion and it has the same amount of calories as HFCS. Honey also contains glucose and fructose and is very similar nutritionally, but corn always ends up being the product with the bad reputation. People argue that honey is better because it is "all natural," but high fructose corn syrup is made from corn, a natural-grain product. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and therefore meets the FDA requirements for use of the term "natural."

Dr. Douglas White, professor in Nutrition and Food Science at Auburn University, pointed out that "any carb is glucose." Chemically HFCS is no different than sugar; it contains the same compound and has to be broken down by your body as regular table sugar has to be. The downside to high fructose corn syrup is it is basically empty calories.

We get many of those empty calories from carbonated beverages; he suggests choosing a sweet beverage that you get some nutritional benefit from such as orange juice which contains vitamin C, potassium and calcium. One 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola contains 240 calories and 65 grams of sugar (high fructose corn syrup is used in their United States products). If you have two or three drinks a day, you will be at over half your daily calorie count and over the amount of sugar your daily diet should include.

As with anything, it is all about moderation. Regardless of what your food is sweetened with, sugar should be limited - no matter what form it is in. We have known for years, the more calories you intake and do not burn off the more pounds you are going to put on. Some suggest in the 1970s when we started using HFCS, that is when America’s waistlines began to expand, but by then televisions were also widely used. Our society is not as active as we used to be, but there is no evidence HFCS is to blame for our obesity problems. Research will continue on high fructose corn syrup in order to make sure it does not have a detrimental effect on our body’s metabolic processes. Like with fats, there are many different kinds of sugars out there. Know what your body requires and do not take in more sugar than you should.

Anna Leigh Peek is a freelance writer from Auburn.

For What It's Worth

Goat and Sheep Inventories Continue to Decrease

by Robert Spencer

Goat and sheep numbers within Alabama and the United States have continued to decrease over the past 4 years. While this trend is not occurring in every state, it becomes obvious among many of the states when examining a report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in February 2013. Only 15 states showed increases, which ranged from 1 to 16 percent, and the majority were in the North, Northwest, Midwest and Hawaii with a 56 percent increase (explain that). Mississippi was the only neighboring state to show an increase (four percent), our other neighbors showed decreases. If you take a look at Tables 1 and 2, you can see the trend for Alabama to which I am referring. The decline began after hitting an all-time high in 2008. This trend in Alabama requires particular consideration when NASS tells us the national trend for meat and dairy goats across the U.S is only a two to four percent decreaseover the past few years, and one to two percent decrease of sheep inventories across the U.S.

Table 1: 2007-2011 inventories taken from Alabama Agricultural Statistics 2011 Bulletin 53

Alabama Goat Numbers: Meat & Other (no dairy)

Years Inventories Change % Change

2007 53,000

2008 70,000 17,000 32.08%

2009 65,000 -5,000 - 7.14%

2010 60,000 -5,000 - 7.69%

2011 56,500 -3,500 - 5.83%

2012 42,000 -14,500 -25.66%

Total Changes -11,000 -14.26%

Table 2: 2012 inventories from National Agricultural Statistics Service Report February 1, 2013. (Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture.)

Alabama Goat Numbers: Dairy Only

Years Inventories Change % Change

2007 3,500

2008 4,000 500 32.08%

2009 4,500 500 12.50%

2010 4,200 -300 - 6.67%

2011 4,000 -200 - 4.76%

2012 3,300 -700 -17.50%

Total Changes -200 15.65%

As you can read from the charts, Alabama has experienced a 14.26 percent drop in meat and other inventories over the past 5 years. And dairy goat inventories have decreased 15.65 percent during the same time frame. Of particular concern are the most recent 25.66 percent decrease of meat and other goats this past year, and the 17.50 percent drop in dairy goat numbers! The numbers reveal our inventories have dropped below 2007 numbers. In 2008, Alabama ranked 8th in the country compared to other state goat inventories. When 2012 Ag Census data is released, we are likely to rank significantly lower!

In the March 2012 issue of Goat Rancher, there is an article by renowned goat experts Frank Pinkerton and Ken McMillin pointing out these same trends had become evident to them. Their comments include, "…highs in 2008 to 2012. During this period, total goat numbers declined by 8.2%, while meat goat numbers declined 9.0%. Note the particularly sharp drop, 14.8, percent in numbers of replacement kid goats and also the 7.4 percent drop in kids on hand January 1. We suggest these figures do not show a lack of owner confidence in the future of the goat industry, but rather reflect a drought-induced sell-off in certain states in which kids and old or cull goats were dispatched disproportionately to ‘save’ does in prime production ages …. The widespread droughts in 2011 are thought by some to have precipitated abnormally large movements of slaughter stock to sale, most for slaughter, but some as replacements (to those areas with decent forage prospects)."

I concur with their summarization. However, if you will recall, in most of Alabama, we experienced 3 years of drought in Alabama from 2008-2010, and during the summer of 2012, putting many livestock producers in a bind for available forage and hay. In the past few years, I have noticed an overall decrease in the number of people raising goats. And I have received comments from many existing farmers who also have noticed a decline in fellow goat producers.

So, here is my speculation on the primary reasons this alarming trend is taking place in the small ruminant industry and particularly in Alabama. (1) Five years of insufficient rainfalls, resulting in reduced forage and hay availability, have forced producers (goat, sheep and possibly cattle) to reduce their inventories by selling unusually high numbers of animals to livestock sales facilities. (2) In the past few years, the U.S. experienced a severe recession likely having a negative impact on the ability of many small-scale and limited-resource producers to continue with limited-returns farming endeavors. (3) While mandated utilization and production of ethanol as a fuel supplement may have provided additional markets for corn producers, it took grains out of the mouths of people and livestock causing food and feed prices to rise, especially livestock feed which rose to all-time highs during the past several years, causing reliance upon grain-based feed to become economically unviable. (4) Many of the goat farmers I deal with are retired and choose goats and sheep because they are a smaller form of livestock. In recent times, as they continued to age, many of them have become physically unable to deal with day-to-day tasks and do not wish to risk health complications or injury from raising goats and sheep, despite their enjoyment of the animals. (5) Limited return on investments. Ever-increasing cost of production, limited land and financial resources, and lack of desire to risk losing retirement funds and pensions to a risky venture have a cumulative effect, causing people to re-evaluate their situation, make cost-cutting decisions, and sell their pride and joy. This has to be a tough decision for many, despite 3 years of high prices for meat-age animals. All the prior five reasons are speculation, but all-time high costs of production with limited or no financial return are not a practical form of risk.

Economies-of-scale production for larger goat and sheep operations are less likely to be as risky. Those smaller operations that continue farming because they enjoy the animals are understood. Those who recognize their situation and are not willing to risk losing their farm or financial resources are to be respected for making the appropriate decision!

References:

Alabama Agricultural Statistics 2011/Bulletin 53

http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/She...

http://mlppubsonline.com/display_article.php?id=981717&_width=

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

The Herb Farm

Herbs For Container Farming


Sweet Italian mammoth basil, thyme, pineapple mint and stevia

by Herb T. Farmer

Recently, a friend of mine asked me if I would help her and her aunt learn about growing herbs and how to cook with them. I agreed and drove over to a little town near Snowden to meet with them and make some suggestions on where to get started.

Jeannie and her Aunt Bettina (pronounced – bett-nah) met me off the main highway and I followed them to their house out in the middle of acres of a pine tree forest. They own and live on the property and co-op the pine forest with a timber company. Anyway, they have a nice home with six acres of the prettiest flatland I think I have ever seen.

They are both retired and raise chickens for the organic yard egg trade. There is a small vegetable garden where they grow tomatoes, hot peppers, bell peppers and watermelons for trade. But they wanted to try something different. They wanted to raise enough fresh herbs for their personal use instead of traveling to Montgomery every week to buy them.


Save your paper egg cartons and use them to start seeds in. Separate cells and plant directly into the garden.

Here’s what we did.

They had a plethora of terra cotta pots and a good active compost pile, several bales of Fafard #2 potting mix and a collection of seeds from their winter order.

I brought a few of my favorite culinary herbs I like to grow with me.

First of all, we assessed what all we had to plant then decided where it was all going to go.

There was plenty of room to grow everything in the vegetable garden, but the ladies wanted it close enough to the house where they could enjoy watching it grow. I guess they got inspired, or something, the last time they came over to my house, because they liked the idea of growing edibles in the flower beds.

We rigged up a cold frame from old window sashes and doors in their side yard, ran a heavy-gauge, all-weather extension cord to it from the house and laid in a few strands of old Christmas lights.


Rosemary, golden lemon thyme and garden sage were among the herbs that perform well in containers.

After that, we mixed up some seed starting soil and filled up a few paper egg cartons to start the seeds in. We planted the seeds and put the cartons onto some thin plywood scrap sheets and placed them on top of the lights. The lights generate enough heat to keep the seedling cartons warm without being a fire hazard. They are indoor/outdoor lights and the paper doesn’t come in contact with them.

For the herb plants I brought, it was decided to grow most of them in containers. We mixed a good draining potting mix from the Fafard #2 and some composted pine bark soil conditioner and filled about 30 large (10" and 12") terra cotta pots.

We planted English thyme, golden lemon thyme and silver thyme into a few 6" pots. After that, we potted basil, stevia, garden sage and rosemary in some of the larger pots.

They had some raised-basket planters on 4 x 4 posts that were mostly empty, so we potted them with mints (chocolate and pineapple). Among other herb plants we potted that day were lemon verbena, pineapple sage, lemon balm and savory.

Overall, we had a fun day catching up on the past couple of years since we had seen each other. We talked about everything but politics and religions and belly laughed at those yard chickens of theirs. After we got all of the plants and seeds potted, it was time for me to show them some of my food prep tricks that incorporate herbs.

It was back in early March when I visited them, so the weather was still a little cool. I brought a head of cabbage and a few grocery store production tomatoes with me and we all went inside to gather round the kitchen table.


Snack on chocolate mint leaves and stevia leaves together for a zero calorie delight that tastes like a thin mint candy.

Bettina had roasted a chicken with some carrots and boiled some red potatoes for German potato salad earlier that day. Jeannie cut up the cabbage to make coleslaw while I sliced the tomatoes in half for roasting. (Production tomatoes are generally hard and flavorless to me.) I then chopped up some lemon thyme, basil and stevia.

Bettina used the finely chopped lemon thyme in the potato salad. I drizzled some olive oil on the tomatoes, added salt, black pepper and chopped basil, then popped them into the oven to roast until the skins began to slide down the side. I made the coleslaw using the chopped stevia as a sweetening agent instead of sugar (sweeten to taste).

Cornbread and iced tea topped off our little feast and we all over-ate. But the best part was Bettina’s gluten-free adaptation to her grandmother’s sweet pumpkin strudel. I’ll have to get that recipe and share with you!

The point of this story is that sometimes we have to take a break from our own lives at home and share ourselves with others. It’s the best part of living and it certainly gets me going!

We’ll see you in June with more herbs and fun.

Until then 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.

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

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

How's Your Garden?


Hosta makes a surprisingly good potted plant for shade.

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Garden Art in Huntsville

This summer at the Huntsville Botanical Garden you can enjoy whimsical artwork made from "found" metal pieces such as shovels, rototiller blades, springs and tools. The pieces are welded into objects such as dogs, cats, flowers, time machines, Jack and the Beanstalk, and more, each with a little story. Roam the garden and enjoy the 30-plus pieces of this artwork by Wade Wharton through Friday, October 31.

Hosta as a Houseplant

Although hostas are typically grown in the ground, did you know they make a very nice, low-maintenance potted plant? Rugged, shade tolerant and drought resistant, these perennial plants work well in pots from the time when the leaves appear in spring until fall when the leaves die back. Hostas are quite cold tolerant, so you can just move the container to a spot in the garden out of sight for the winter and pull it back out in spring. I have had one in a pot for several years. The one pictured here was photographed on a screened porch, but containers like this may be placed anywhere in a shady spot of the garden.


Mandevilla vines are a quick way to add lots of color and height to a container planting.

Tropical Flowers Thrive Now

Now is the time to pick up great, full-sized, tropical plants in full bloom for your garden. Hibiscus; allamanda; mandevilla; plumeria tree; yesterday, today and tomorrow; plumbago and ixora are a few generally sold in three to five-gallon containers ready to provide instant color for your patio. The trick to most flowering tropicals is that they love sun, heat and humidity. Fertilize regularly, but don’t over feed them to the point where leaves appear at the expense of blooms. A little timed-release fertilizer mixed into the soil at planting time should last most of the summer, or feed with a liquid plant food every couple of weeks.

Flea Beetles

This time of year flea beetles are often found making lots of holes in eggplant leaves, which are easily identified by their shot-hole appearance. They also attack peppers and tomatoes, but eggplants are their first choice. These pests are called flea beetles because they resemble fleas - they’re black, tiny (one-sixteenth of an inch) and jump like fleas. If your plants are large, they can tolerate a good bit of damage to the leaves without affecting production, but the beetles can kill small plants. Often gardeners tend to ignore flea beetles, especially since they don’t attack the fruit. However, be aware that they do overwinter in the garden or nearby, because they are likely to return next year when they are most damaging to the small plants. During the cool season, they also attack mustard, turnips, spinach and cabbage. In this case, they are much more damaging because the edible part of the plant is affected. They are especially menacing to tiny potato sprouts. To kill flea beetles, look for an insecticide labeled for flea beetles on vegetables and spray the leaves including the underside thoroughly.



A tell-tale sign of flea beetles feeding is shot-hole damage to the leaves of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes in the summer garden.


Dragon Wing begonia has quickly become a summer favorite because it is beautiful and tough.

Begonias Never Quit


Impatiens continue to be summer favorites.

There has been so much breeding done with begonias over the last few years that gardeners have choices for sun, shade, baskets, edging and containers. Now is a good time to put together a large planting mixing the foliage and blooms of begonias with colorful tropicals in pots or in the ground. Begonias are great plants for summer in this area and chances are you can still easily find them for sale at your favorite garden center. Just read the tag carefully so you will know which type you are buying. Is it mounding or cascading? Tall or short? Does it need shade or will it grow in sun? Give your selection a good home, water and feed it regularly, and you will be pleased.

Impatiens Love Summer

Summer is a time when you may find lots of baskets of impatiens for sale. One popular new series Fanfare can tolerate two to three hours of sun without damage. Although impatiens need more water than many other flowers, they are forgiving if you miss a watering and let them wilt. Unless thirsty past their permanent-wilting point, they usually perk back up within a few hours. Chances are you’ve seen this! Just don’t make it a habit. Pick up a basket of impatiens for a quick spot of color in your garden or a container. You can slip big plants from their baskets into the ground for an instant landscape show.

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

Simple Times

I Was Wrong


Mama Easter-egg hen and her baby chicks

by Suzy Lowry Geno

I told my friends, "If Roy’s PET scan comes back clear, you will likely see me on tonight’s news because I will be running around all over downtown Birmingham shouting and praising God like an old-timey country preacher."

(Most of you who know me personally, or have read about our journeys during the past few years, know the physical and mental agonies we struggled through and the way my own personal faith was tested by fire throughout those times.

This will likely be my last article here about those struggles as we approach the 1-year anniversary of Roy’s death in August. But it has been a journey that has cemented my faith in God and my true realization that this country must return to its roots of the simple life or we will all fall.)

Going back to that PET scan day … Roy had undergone a grueling regimen of daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy that had zapped his strength for months.

We often had to leave our rural home before daylight to reach the hospital and clinic so there were many times I fed and watered my animals with the aid of a flashlight hoping no more snakes were tracking my movements! Twelve or 14 hours later, we’d return home. He’d collapse in his recliner or later on his hospital bed, and I’d check on the animals and shut the chickens back inside, once again with the aid of a flashlight.

This would be the second PET scan … one scheduled six weeks after the first rounds of extensive treatment. I was praying for a HUGE miracle. I was not ready to let my husband of 34 years leave this Earth. Thus the statement of how I’d be reacting like the old timers at many church services of old before too many of us became staid in our pews and afraid to let our emotions show and flow.

There’s no doubt in my mind I would have indeed been "shouting from the mountaintops" if that test had come back showing the cancer was GONE.

But, as I drove down Birmingham’s First Avenue, just as we came off the viaduct and waiting to turn left to go toward Kirklin Clinic, God spoke to me in my heart just as plainly as if He had been sitting between Roy and me.

The simple message was that I should be willing to praise God ALL the time no matter what the tests results were because we had already been blessed beyond measure in our lives ….

I didn’t say anything to Roy about what I’d "heard." But I was thoroughly chastised. And I won’t ever forget that lesson ….

It’s a religious debate that goes back as far as Job in olden times:

Why do good people suffer? Why do so many bad things happen in this life?

Why are some people miraculously healed when others who appear to have even more faith, suffer and die?

Several years ago my cousin’s beautiful young wife was in the last throes of cancer. She had been before the church and many prayers, public and private, were said daily on her behalf. But she was dying a painful death and leaving a young son and loving husband behind.

How do you explain that?

Or walk the halls of any children’s hospital or see the commercials on TV of little ones suffering from cancer.

Surely that can’t be the result of a loving and merciful God ….

I don’t know the answers. Just like thousands before me haven’t known them.

After that PET scan did not show the cancer gone, there were more months of treatment. Finally, Roy said "enough is enough" and we stayed home with no more trips to Birmingham.

He died in our living room in his hospital bed, quietly after a gallant fight.

Several other tragedies happened that same week to my little family.

I have a degree in religion. I don’t have any answers.

But I CAN tell you what I KNOW.

God has walked with me EVERY step of this way.

I do know this Earth was not intended to be a place of sorrow … man brought that on himself.

You can argue theologies and religion and doctrines from now until doomsday and you’ll never figure it out either. I don’t care if you read all the Holy books of the world in their original languages and have diplomas covering your walls.

Some would even argue that all the trials, tribulations and tragedies of this world prove there is no God.

I am a simple woman trying her best to live a simple life.

But I can tell you definitely there is a God.

The week I am writing this I traveled to St. Clair County to write an article about the archery shop in the Co-op there. They still had a few day-old baby chicks.

I had an Easter-egg hen still setting on eggs in my carport that I knew were not going to hatch. I brought five little day old chicks home and placed them in a box with that young hen.

She immediately began clucking to them, and snuggling them beneath her wings. The baby chicks seemed to sigh together, "At last, we are home," as they snuggled beneath her feathers.

There’s a Scripture talking about God spreading His love out and sheltering us as a hen protects her babies.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even understand a lot of the questions. But this I know. I am sheltered and protected with God’s love just as those tiny chicks are loved by their adoptive mama hen. We may walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but, in the long run, it will not matter because traveling through that valley is the way we reach the mountain top.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer living on a small farm in Blount County and can be reached through her website at www.suzysfarm.com.

Youth Matters

Judging the Land


Members of the Winfield City High School FFA Land Judging team look over material in preparation for the national competition in Oklahoma City. Shown are (clockwise, from bottom left) Daniel Chism, Cody Roberts, Jake Dozier, ag teacher Adam Aldridge and Jake Elkins.

Winfield FFA Team Advances to National Competition

by Susie Sims

Months of practice and study have paid off for members of the Winfield FFA Land Judging team. They recently won the Alabama state competition and earned the title "State Champs."

Members of the championship team are Cody Roberts (sophomore), Daniel Chism (junior), Jake Dozier (junior) and Jake Elkins (sophomore).

The team is directed by ag teacher Adam Aldridge.

To qualify for the trip to Oklahoma City for the national event, the Winfield team first had to compete at the county and district levels. Top finishes allowed the team to advance to the state level, where it won first place.

Competition is fierce, said Aldridge, noting his team won the state championship by only one point. The state competition was held March 15 in Wetumpka.


Winfield City High School ag teacher Adam Aldridge is currently working on his PhD from Auburn University. He is affectionately known by his students as “Dr. Dirt.”

Aldridge said he began working with his students to prepare for land judging competitions as soon as school began last August. What started out as an entire class was whittled down to four boys in time for local contests that began in October.

"I was able to see who was truly interested in the competition," Aldridge recalled. "These boys knew their material right away."

How Do You Judge Land?

When the team begins its preparations for the competition, the first item on the long list is to study "the packet." The packet contains all the basic information the team will need to make its determinations during the competitions.

At its most basic, the competition is designed to teach students how to assess the highest and best use for land. Aldridge said during his competition days he was told a student in land judging would never buy a bad piece of property.

Several components make up the criteria for judging the best use of a parcel of land.

"In land judging, you’ve got to determine several factors such as soil texture, soil depth, slope, erosion and permeability," Aldridge explained. "Once these are established, you can use that information to determine the major limiting factors of a piece of land. You determine its land class. More or less you are determining what is the best use for a piece of property."

In Alabama competitions, recommended land treatments include cropland, pastureland, forestland and homesite. The national contest includes only the cropland and pastureland categories.

The team basically had to learn new criteria for the national event because all of the standards are different. For example, the numbers defining gently sloping land in Alabama are different from the numbers used in Oklahoma. The boys had to memorize the new rules and definitions.


Land Judging teams cannot use devices to determine the slope of the land. Shown practicing for the national contest are (from left) Cody Roberts, Daniel Chism, Jake Elkins and Jake Dozier as ag teacher Adam Aldridge looks on.

Certain factors are provided for the teams during a competition such as the soil test results. Stakes will be set up so team members can determine the slope of the land. They are also provided with samples of topsoil and subsoil so they can ascertain the soil texture.

Lessons Learned

"It’s very fun to see the pieces come together," Chism said. "It’s kind of like a puzzle. Once you’ve gotten all the little pieces together, you see the big picture - what the land is worth, how it needs to be used."

Roberts, who plays for the Pirates, looks at the competition like it is a game.

"It’s like baseball. Just go out there, do your best and try to win," he said.

They all agree they have spent too much time preparing for the competition to not take it seriously.

Going to the national competition is a bittersweet moment for the young team. According to the rules, once you compete in the national contest you aren’t allowed to return in the same event.

The boys admitted they were anxious during the countdown to the top team in the state competition. But concern turned to confidence the closer the announcer got to the top of the list.

Twelve teams competed at the state level. The announcer started at 10th place and worked toward first. Roberts said that at about number 5, he had decided they might just win it all.

Aldridge acknowledged the boys were downplaying their excitement at winning the championship.

"They were ecstatic," he recalled. "They worked really hard and they were able to stay focused."

Dozier’s celebration after winning the state championship will be remembered by his teammates for a long time to come. The others kid him about falling to ground and rolling around in the excitement.

Most of the boys have other activities to keep them busy when they’re not preparing for land judging events.

Chism plays football, is a member of the student council and an officer in the Key Club.

Elkins plays football, baseball and basketball, and Roberts is on the baseball team.

If you are interested in Land Judging or assisting a team, please contact your local FFA chapter.

Susie Sims is a freelance writer from Haleyville.

Youth Matters

Judson Equine Student Awarded Internship


Judson College equine student Olivia Breimhorst, Gardendale, was awarded a summer internship with Dr. Jud Easterwood of the Easterwood Equine Hospital in Calera. The internship begins July 1. Breimhorst is a 2010 graduate of Gardendale High School and the daughter of Sharon Rogers of Gardendale.

Lawn and Garden Checklist

June Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist

PLANT

Continue planting warm-season vegetables. Beans, peas, squash, corn and cucumbers can be seeded through July, so plant succession crops.

Most varieties of pumpkins should be planted in June for harvest in October.

Daffodil clusters should be divided every 3 years to ensure good blooming. Dig the clumps, remove the yellowed leaves, and replant the bulbs just as you would in the fall.

Gladiola corms can still be planted for successive blooms.

Irises and daylilies can be divided even while in bloom. This is useful if you need to keep flower colors separated. Remove any remaining flowers, cut leaves half way back and replant the divisions as soon as possible.

It is hard to pull out the pansies when they are in full bloom, but they will soon fade out in the summer heat; so it is best to go ahead and replace them with summer bloomers if you want color in that location all summer.

Plant annual flowers in tubs or large containers for the porch or terrace. Make sure there are holes in the container’s bottom to provide good drainage.

Plant hydrangeas where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

When you buy container-grown nursery stock trees or shrubs, check the root ball and make sure it is not bound too tightly. A mass of circling roots will stay that way even after it is planted in the ground.

This is a good time to repot houseplants if you have not done so.

FERTILIZE

Check vegetable plant foliage for signs of nutrient deficiency. Contact your Co-op store for advice.

Vegetable garden plants, other than legumes such as beans, lentils, peas and peanuts need a regular supply of nitrogen fertilizer beginning five or six weeks after planting.

Give container gardens a weekly feeding or use a slow-release fertilizer as instructed on the label.

Fertilize flowering shrubs like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias soon after they have finished flowering with a rhododendron- or evergreen-type fertilizer. Water thoroughly after application.

Fertilize roses after each flush of flowers.

Do not fertilize fescue lawns until September.

Fertilize your lawn with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Feed water lilies and other aquatic plants in home water gardens.

PRUNE

If your tomato plants are staked, not caged, pinch out suckers.

Groom roses to remove old flower heads and weak stems.

Pinching, in the horticulture world, refers to a specific type of pruning. Two plants commonly pinched are chrysanthemums and basil. When the plant is small, just pinch out the tip of each stem. This tissue will be soft, so you can remove it easily just using your fingers. Continue to do this as the plant grows. Pinching forces the plants into a more bushy shape. For mums this results in a stockier plant with more flowers. Stop pinching mums the first of July. In the case of basil, it produces more branches with more leaves for harvesting and tends to delay flowering somewhat.

Pinch back any annuals, fuchsias, geraniums, cosmos, or any other plants that might be getting a little leggy. Do the same for tall-growing, fall-blooming perennials such as asters, monarda and helianthus.

Spend some time in the flower garden removing spent blooms. "Deadheading" will encourage some perennials to rebloom and keep annuals blooming all summer.

Hurricane season begins June 1; it’s not too late to have your trees checked and trimmed.

You can save yourself some pruning next winter by removing water sprouts from fruit trees now.

If you want to prune or shear your evergreens, do so as soon as the new growth starts to turn a darker green.

Groom hanging baskets by removing old flowers and lanky shoots.

WATER

When possible, water early in the morning, rather than in the heat of the day or in the evening.

Adding mulch to flower beds and around garden plants will help garden soil retain moisture during the summer months.

Fix leaky hoses.

Check irrigation systems for broken sprinklers.

Trim limbs and remove weeds that may be interfering with sprinkler operation.

Keep an eye on soil moisture. Vegetable gardens need one inch of water each week. When soaking rains skip your neighborhood, water slowly and deeply to encourage roots to travel away from the hot ground surface. This also reduces runoff and moistens the soil several inches down. To slow evaporation, water early in the morning when temperatures are lower and the air is still.

Check potted plants daily; they dry out quickly in the heat. Frequent watering leaches nutrients from potting soil, requiring more frequent applications of fertilizer.

Consider adding rain barrels or cisterns to capture and store water for the dry times. Your cooperative Extension service office has details on this and other irrigation ideas.

PEST CONTROL

Identify problems before acting, and opt for the least toxic approach. Cultural, physical and biological controls are the cornerstones of a sustainable pest management program. Use chemical controls only after you identify a pest problem and carefully read the pesticide label. Pay attention to the number of days to wait before harvest and to the crops and pests on the label.

Be alert to slug and snail damage ... seek and destroy ALL slugs!

Put a couple of drops of mineral oil on corn silks within a week after they appear to prevent corn earworm

To protect bees that pollinate many of our crop plants, spray pesticides in the evening after bees have returned to their hives.

Check your roses for mildew, aphid, black-spot or other disease problems or insect infestations, and, if they appear, take steps to control them right away.

Aerate and immediately water lawns that are compacted, hard to wet or have nematode problems.

Bats can be an effective way to control insects. One big brown bat can eat 3,000-7,000 insects each night. Attract bats by building and placing bat houses in your yard.

Common garden chores during the summer involve trying to combat the local wildlife population. Rabbits enjoy salad greens and tomatoes, birds will devour your fruit and deer may nibble on everything they find. You may need to erect rabbit and deer fences around your garden, and drape bird netting around the fruit and berry bushes.

Birds will generally not be scared away by scarecrows. Instead, try tying pieces of glass, colored cloth or tin to loose strings so the wind can blow them and clash them together. Random motion is the key to alarming the birds away from the garden.

Avoid blossom-end rot in tomatoes, peppers, squash and watermelons by maintaining uniform soil moisture. See your local Co-op store for possible calcium application recommendations.

Weeds can make this time of year feel more like a burden than a blessing. But, if you let up even a little bit at this point, the weeds will take over. Pulling new weeds daily or, at least, weekly is the easiest way to deal with this chore.

ODD JOBS

Remember to keep a record in your garden journal of what is planted where and what varieties you grew. You will want this information next year for garden rotation and to remember what vegetable varieties you liked — or did not like.

Work around the humidity (early a.m., late afternoon/evening)

Involve the kids or grandkids in growing vegetables. It’s fun. It’s easy and it builds kids’ enthusiasm for gardening and eating healthy — because they tend to eat what they grow!

Almost all vegetables are best when harvested early in the morning. Overnight, vegetables regain moisture they lost during the day and starches formed during the day may be converted to sugars during the evening. Vegetable quality is highest at the moment of harvest and begins to decrease rapidly afterwards.

Continue thinning your vegetable seedlings to provide ample room for growth.

Frequent picking is essential for prolonging the vegetable harvest. A plant’s goal is to reproduce; therefore, if its fruit are allowed to fully mature on the plant, there is no reason for it to continue flowering, which means fruit production will halt.

If you suspect bees haven’t found your tomato plants, pollinate the blossoms yourself. Do this by gently tapping the open blossom with a pencil. For maximum effectiveness, do it three days in a row.

Keep the bird feeder full and make sure they have fresh water.

Mound the soil up around the lower two-thirds of your potato plants. It does no harm to the plant if the soil covers the stem and leaves.

Stop harvesting asparagus now that spears are becoming thin. Give the bed an application of fertilizer and allow the fern-like fronds to grow.

There are several indicators for ripeness of watermelon. The vine tendril closest to the fruit dies and turns brown when ready to harvest. Also, the underside of the fruit will turn from white to yellow. Finally, thumping a ripe melon should give a dull thud as opposed to a ringing, metallic sound when immature.

Use both hands to pick peas, beans and cucumbers to prevent breaking stems.

Make sure your climbing roses are securely tied into position.

Stake tall flowers to keep them from blowing over in the wind. With new plantings, add a stake to each planting hole as you’re transplanting, and tie the stem loosely to the stake as the plant grows.

Start a water garden.

Some herbs such as basil and parsley are good additions to the vegetable garden. Others prefer drier conditions and little fertilizer. Herbs from the Mediterranean region such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, dill and oregano will have greater concentrations of essential oils if given lots of sun, very well-drained soil, and very little fertilizer.

The best time to harvest most herbs is just before flowering, when the leaves contain the maximum essential oils.

Mow frequently enough to remove no more than one-third of the blade at a time.

Mow St. Augustine and zoysia at three inches, leaving enough blade to shade the soil and conserve moisture.

Don’t bag or rake grass clippings; let them lie on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil.

Replace constantly declining turf in dense shade with a mulch or ground cover.

Don’t let the compost heap or bins dry out completely or it will not "cook." Turning the compost pile to aerate it will also hasten decomposition.

Mulch around woody plants after cleaning away weeds and grass, but don’t pile thick mulch up against trunks. Two-inch depth is plenty, starting several inches or so away from trunks.

This is a good time to take cuttings to propagate many shrubs. Most stems would be classified as semi-hardwood cuttings in June and July.

To get the color of crape myrtle you want, you should purchase a containerized plant now while it is in bloom in the nursery.

Adjust ties on trees and shrubs to prevent girdling of stems.

Build, repair or paint trellises, arbors and lawn furniture.

Change the oil and air filter in gas-powered equipment as instructed in manuals.

Edge beds to make a clean line and define them, and keep edges clean with regular fine-tuning with grass shears. A well-cut edge makes a big difference.

Ethanol-enriched gases have a shorter storage life; buy smaller quantities or add a stabilizer.

Before pouring gasoline into the fuel tank of your lawn mower, garden tiller or other garden equipment, be sure to turn off the engine and allow it to cool for at least five minutes.

Keep the mower blade at the highest level recommended for your lawn type. Sharpen mower blades frequently.

Change the water in your bird bath regularly. Standing water may become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.

The Business of Farming

Keeping Records on Family-Owned Timber

by Robert Page

Many small farmers and homeowners own small parcels of timber on their land. After the April 2011 tornados, hundreds of acres of timber were blown down. A significant amount of this timber was harvested and sold. As economists, we received numerous questions asking how these timber sales were supposed to be reported on individual tax returns. Our answer generally was "It depends."

Woodland property may be taxed under one of three tax classifications:

Personal property,

Investment (income-producing) property or

Business property.

These classifications depend on how you use your timberland, the reason you purchased the land and what activities happen on your timberland. Since so many of the questions we received after the tornadoes were from homeowners, small landowners and farmers, we will focus in this article on their needs. If you are in the commercial timber business, there are many publications specific to your needs.

Normally, the first question from farmers and small landowners is "Where do I report the sale of timber?" Generally speaking, gains from sale of personal property are taxed as capital gains like stock sales.

The next question generally is "What is my basis (cost) in this timber?" Taxpayers don’t want to pay taxes on the gross dollar amount of the timber sale if there are costs they can deduct from the sale.

To determine the cost of your timber, you need to know the planting costs, maintenance costs and costs associated with cutting your timber. Here are a couple of questions any farmer or small landowner should consider discussing with your tax advisor.

First, let’s consider the cost of the timber when you first became the landowner.

When did you inherit or purchase the timber? How many years ago was this?

Is the timber part of a farm or a separate plot of land?

In either situation, was there an appraisal done on the value of the timber when you inherited or purchased the property?

Next, let’s consider the costs of planting and maintaining your timber.

For farmers, were any of the costs associated with timber deducted on prior year tax returns? Timber planting costs include site preparation, seedlings, consulting forester’s fees and others. Timber maintenance costs include a wide variety of potential costs including tree trimming and other costs incurred in keeping your timberland in good shape.

Unfortunately, many small farmers and landowners cannot answer these questions due to poor records. If they spent $10,000 in planting costs 15 years ago, they either no longer have the documentation to prove the expenditure or to determine whether this $10,000 was previously deducted on their tax return in prior years.

Our best recommendation for these types of questions is to begin a diary or journal for your small timber holdings. Use this diary to write down everything you have done to your timber holdings. If you spent money, make a note of how much, the reason for the expenditure and the vendor you paid. If you have more than one plot of timber land, note which parcel the money was spent on. Also, make a note whether this expense was deducted on a tax return and what year.

Over time, this journal or diary will become more and more valuable to you. Take pictures or draw maps of your plot and tape them in your journal or diary over the years. A simple journal or diary like this could have saved farmers and small landowners significant taxes since the April 2011 tornado.

Finally, it will be time to harvest and sell your timber because (a) you want to or (b) because you have to due to storm, fire or tornado damage. This journal will help determine your investments or costs in your timber that have not previously been reported on a tax return. These costs may have been incurred over 5-25 years.

In addition to prior year costs, you have current year timber costs. You will have the costs associated with cutting and selling your timber in the current tax year. Putting these prior year and current tax year costs together will form your cost basis for your timber sales.

Timber can be considered as a long-term investment or simply as a cost to improve the look of your farm or personal property. In either case, make sure your records are adequate.

For additional information on timber sales, we invite you to visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s website at www.aces.edu and type "timber sales" in the search window. There are many excellent articles on ACES’s website that you may find interesting. A little research and a talk with your tax advisor this year may save you thousands of dollars in taxes for future timber sales.

For more information about farm management and financial analysis, please contact your County Extension Coordinator or an Extension Specialist: North Alabama: Holt Hardin, 256-574-2143 or Robert Page, 256-528-7133; Central Alabama: Jamie Yeager, 334-624-4016; Southwest Alabama: Steve Brown, 251-867-7760.

The Business of Farming

Keeping Records on Family-Owned Timber

by Robert Page

Many small farmers and homeowners own small parcels of timber on their land. After the April 2011 tornados, hundreds of acres of timber were blown down. A significant amount of this timber was harvested and sold. As economists, we received numerous questions asking how these timber sales were supposed to be reported on individual tax returns. Our answer generally was "It depends."

Woodland property may be taxed under one of three tax classifications:

Personal property,

Investment (income-producing) property or

Business property.

These classifications depend on how you use your timberland, the reason you purchased the land and what activities happen on your timberland. Since so many of the questions we received after the tornadoes were from homeowners, small landowners and farmers, we will focus in this article on their needs. If you are in the commercial timber business, there are many publications specific to your needs.

Normally, the first question from farmers and small landowners is "Where do I report the sale of timber?" Generally speaking, gains from sale of personal property are taxed as capital gains like stock sales.

The next question generally is "What is my basis (cost) in this timber?" Taxpayers don’t want to pay taxes on the gross dollar amount of the timber sale if there are costs they can deduct from the sale.

To determine the cost of your timber, you need to know the planting costs, maintenance costs and costs associated with cutting your timber. Here are a couple of questions any farmer or small landowner should consider discussing with your tax advisor.

First, let’s consider the cost of the timber when you first became the landowner.

When did you inherit or purchase the timber? How many years ago was this?

Is the timber part of a farm or a separate plot of land?

In either situation, was there an appraisal done on the value of the timber when you inherited or purchased the property?

Next, let’s consider the costs of planting and maintaining your timber.

For farmers, were any of the costs associated with timber deducted on prior year tax returns? Timber planting costs include site preparation, seedlings, consulting forester’s fees and others. Timber maintenance costs include a wide variety of potential costs including tree trimming and other costs incurred in keeping your timberland in good shape.

Unfortunately, many small farmers and landowners cannot answer these questions due to poor records. If they spent $10,000 in planting costs 15 years ago, they either no longer have the documentation to prove the expenditure or to determine whether this $10,000 was previously deducted on their tax return in prior years.

Our best recommendation for these types of questions is to begin a diary or journal for your small timber holdings. Use this diary to write down everything you have done to your timber holdings. If you spent money, make a note of how much, the reason for the expenditure and the vendor you paid. If you have more than one plot of timber land, note which parcel the money was spent on. Also, make a note whether this expense was deducted on a tax return and what year.

Over time, this journal or diary will become more and more valuable to you. Take pictures or draw maps of your plot and tape them in your journal or diary over the years. A simple journal or diary like this could have saved farmers and small landowners significant taxes since the April 2011 tornado.

Finally, it will be time to harvest and sell your timber because (a) you want to or (b) because you have to due to storm, fire or tornado damage. This journal will help determine your investments or costs in your timber that have not previously been reported on a tax return. These costs may have been incurred over 5-25 years.

In addition to prior year costs, you have current year timber costs. You will have the costs associated with cutting and selling your timber in the current tax year. Putting these prior year and current tax year costs together will form your cost basis for your timber sales.

Timber can be considered as a long-term investment or simply as a cost to improve the look of your farm or personal property. In either case, make sure your records are adequate.

For additional information on timber sales, we invite you to visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s website at www.aces.edu and type "timber sales" in the search window. There are many excellent articles on ACES’s website that you may find interesting. A little research and a talk with your tax advisor this year may save you thousands of dollars in taxes for future timber sales.

For more information about farm management and financial analysis, please contact your County Extension Coordinator or an Extension Specialist: North Alabama: Holt Hardin, 256-574-2143 or Robert Page, 256-528-7133; Central Alabama: Jamie Yeager, 334-624-4016; Southwest Alabama: Steve Brown, 251-867-7760.

Homeplace & Community

Lizzie Stewart


Lizzie Stewart, who died July 20, 1887, received a beautiful, six-foot granite monument placed at the head of her grave May 5, 2012. On the front is the story of her strength and survival during the Civil War.

Wife, Mother, Prisoner, Survivor

by Greg Starnes

Lizzie Stewart was an ordinary woman who happened to get caught up in the maelstrom of the enormous conflict known as the Civil War. The wife of a millworker, she was left alone to raise five children when her husband volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. Charged with treason by Union soldiers for working in the mill, she nevertheless became a pillar of strength for her children, keeping them together and alive against incredible odds.

Born December 3, 1835, Charlotte Elizabeth "Lizzie" Russell married Walter Washington Stewart on August 10, 1851. A decade later, Walter had risen to the position of boss at the New Manchester Manufacturing Company mill, and the couple had welcomed five children ? three girls and two boys ? into the world. The Stewart family was firmly settled and content in the little town of New Manchester, Ga., located along the banks of Sweetwater Creek in Campbell (now Douglas) County, until war disrupted their lives.

Georgia was the fifth state to secede from the Union, and Walter enlisted in Company K of the 41st Georgia Infantry. The superintendents at the mill made the fateful decision to convert operations from civilian to military and began producing uniforms and tents from high-quality osnaburg for the Southern army. Made from Sea Island cotton, osnaburg is a fabric that is lighter than canvas, but heavier than linen.

As the war dragged into the summer of 1864, Walter had survived the pitched battles of Perryville, Chickasaw Bayou, Champion?s Hill, Missionary Ridge, Rocky Face Ridge, and Resaca and New Hope Church plus the sieges of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Meanwhile, Lizzie had taken a job as bookkeeper at the mill. She was now an official employee of the Confederate government.

On the morning of July 2, 1864, a scant six weeks after the youngest Stewart child had died, Union cavalry under the command of Brigadier General George Stoneman arrived in New Manchester. With orders from Major General William T. Sherman, they charged the entire town, mainly women, children and men exempt from military service due to their specialized manufacturing skills, with treason for producing cloth for the Confederacy. The next day, they were loaded onto springless and seatless wagons and sent to Marietta to await rail shipment to Louisville, Ky. When they arrived at that location, the men and women were housed in separate prisons with the children being allowed to stay with their mothers.

Walter was captured while on picket duty outside Atlanta on August 3, 1864, and ironically sent north to Louisville on the same Western & Atlantic rail line the rest of his family had traversed a month earlier. One of the Stewart daughters recognized her father as he and about a dozen other Southern soldiers were being unceremoniously paraded around town as "fresh fish" ? a derogatory phrase for new captives. Lizzie and the four surviving children were granted a brief family reunion with him before he was sent on to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio.

Fearing disease, Lizzie signed the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. She and the children were released from prison, and they were able to rent a room in a boarding house with money Lizzie earned by once again being employed as a bookkeeper. She also enrolled the children in school.

Walter did not return to Louisville until the summer of 1865, and it was autumn before the Stewart family made their way back to Georgia. On the train ride home, daughter Synthia Catherine showed Walter her Bible a Union cavalryman had tried to steal from her. Her loud and vehement protest had caused an officer to retrieve it and give it back to her. Walter let the Holy Word fall open on his lap and read aloud from Deuteronomy 3 about how God had provided manna for the Israelites when they sojourned in the desert. He and Lizzie assured the children that, even though they were going through many trials, the Lord would also care for them.

When the Stewarts got to their house, they needed every ounce of their faith. It had been ransacked, and even the shade trees and bushes had been cut down. Nevertheless, Lizzie had been wise enough to carefully conceal a suit of Walter?s clothes, the family silverware and other valuables in a hollow tree and stump before the family had been forcibly removed. A quick scavenger hunt into the woods behind the house produced the valuables, and the Stewarts had received their first miracle.

Still, with no work available nearby, Walter had to walk 25 miles to Atlanta to find employment. Once again Lizzie was left alone for weeks at a time to deal with chores and raising the children. On top of that, the weather was miserable. But, in the spring of 1866, a bigger miracle occurred. After an especially dreary winter, little green shoots began to spring up all over the Stewart property. It was strawberries ? thousands of them. Strawberry manna!

The Stewarts were able to sell the produce, and that money, coupled with what Walter was earning, allowed them to get back on their feet. The family moved to Atlanta, and eventually settled in the Colbran community atop Lookout Mountain in DeKalb County.

Lizzie died July 20, 1887, at the age of 51. For 125 years, her grave was marked with only a small sandstone rock. However, on May 5, 2012, several historians and preservationists from Alabama and Georgia, along with Stewart family descendants, gathered at Mount Vernon Cemetery and unveiled a beautiful, six-foot-tall granite monument at the head of her grave. The incredible story of Lizzie?s strength and survival is inscribed on the front. It is the first of its kind in the world to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of a female refugee prisoner of war from New Manchester, Ga.

Sources of information:
"North Across The River" by Ruth Beaumont Cook
"Georgia Confederate 7000" by Gary Ray Goodson, Sr.
Time Life Books "Echoes of Glory"
"New Manchester Girl" ? audio recording by Cathy Kaemmerlen
Stewart Family File at Sweetwater Creek Conservation Park

Greg Starnes is a freelance writer from Fort Payne.

Outdoor Life

Managing Woodlands and Wildlife in Challenging Times


Alabama has a vast 22.6 million acres of forestland, producing almost $1.7 billion in forest products. Timber is vitally important to Alabama’s economic success.

by Emily McLaughlin

Bright and early on April 18, 2013, a crowd of wildlife lovers gathered at Saloom Properties in Evergreen to discuss just how they can manage their timber in such tough economic times. Saloom Properties was a 2010 National Outstanding Tree Farm, where attendees of this event were able to enjoy a tour of the 1,762 acres on the back of a truck-drawn trailer. A host of expert speakers from a variety of agencies and the professional forestry community passed on their knowledge and experience through outdoor demonstrations including those from The Longleaf Alliance. They were there to help attendees understand the economic importance of Alabama’s forests and provide meaningful demonstrations of the latest advances made in the longleaf industry. The tour included four educational stops with three speakers appearing at each site.


Above, Saloom Properties in Evergreen hosted the 2013 Conecuh County Forest Field Day. Their theme was “Managing Woodlands and Wildlife in Challenging Times.” Below, a tree clearing demonstration was part of 2013 Conecuh County Forest Field Day.

At the first stop, Dana Johnson of Auburn discussed the destruction caused by overpopulation of wild hogs threatening not only pocketbooks but also the health of our forests. Being a trap expert, he travels the country helping landowners rid themselves of hogs, coyotes, beavers and even big cats.

"Pigs are not smart animals," Johnson stated. "But they can be trained like dogs, and soon you can trap every pig you need to on your property."

Johnson showed onlookers what can be done to capture animals that have become nuisances to landowners including a beaver trap demonstration. Next door to Johnson on the same stop was a demonstration showcasing pine bailing boxes and tools used to clear forest floors.

The next stop was in a sprawling pine tree field that took a 15-minute bus ride and another ride on the trailers to reach. The speakers covered various areas of longleaf care and food plot management to keep pine and wildlife in healthy order.

"Ragweed can be used as a natural food plot and everything from deer to quail loves it. And it’s usually free," one speaker noted.

Prescribed burning was another hot topic the speakers touched on. Over the last half of the century, prescribed burning has declined and our woodlands are suffering. Pinelands are being taken over by hardwoods blocking out too much sun trying to reach the forest floor, thus causing certain species of plants and animals to be driven out. Prescribed fire helps decrease the chance of this happening, keeping the pinelands healthy and the wildlife sheltered. It is an essential management tool in Southern pine forests that improves hunting, keeps brush down to grant better access to the forest and clears land for farming.





From left clockwise, Dana Johnson, Auburn, discussed the destruction caused by overpopulation of wild hogs and showed how to capture animals that have become nuisances to landowners. Johnson demonstrated how to set a coyote trap. Johnson showed how to use a beaver trap.



The third stop included two members of The Longleaf Alliance, Mark Hainds and Ad Platt, with guest Brent Shaver of The Nature Conservancy. The mission of The Longleaf Alliance is to ensure a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem through partnerships, landowner assistance, and science-based education and outreach. Mark Hainds discussed the various reasons landowners should be concerned about their pines.


Ad Platt explained the mission of The Longleaf Alliance is to ensure a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem through partnerships, landowner assistance, and science-based education and outreach.


Mark Hainds, The Longleaf Alliance, discussed the various reasons landowners should be concerned about their pines.

"Pine straw sells for around $100 to $200 an acre per year," he said. "Harvesting pine straw is just as economically important to the state as harvesting timber."

Those owning pine forests were encouraged to start harvesting the abundant pine straw produced each year. Hainds also told attendees, when harvesting pine straw, leave some behind to provide nourishment to the forest floor.

"There has been a decline of longleaf pine over 90 million acres throughout the South," Shaver stated. "Twenty-nine animal species on the endangered list are native to longleaf pine forests. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation for biodiversity."

Taking care of our forests is crucially important.

Stop number four was the vendor exhibit. Several vendors from various companies gathered to discuss with attendees the work being done in the pine industry and for wildlife conservation including the Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, and the Alabama Forestry Commission.




Left, Brent Shaver, Nature Conservancy, speaks on the importance of pine forests to the local wildlife. Above, speakers demonstrate how to use a pine bailing box.

The largest wood supplying region in the United States is the South. Alabama has a vast 22.6 million acres of forestland, producing almost $1.7 billion in forest products. Timber is vitally important to Alabama’s economic success. Every two out of three acres is covered with trees! Without proper management of our forests, Alabama’s economy would suffer. In 2002, total employment in timber-based manufacturing jobs in Alabama was 34,656. In 2001, Alabama was ranked fifth in the nation with almost $800 million in hunting-related retail sales. Our beautiful forests have so much to offer, not just in lumber and paper products but recreational benefits as well such as fishing, hunting and camping.

The field day was an excellent opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts including hunters, landowners and foresters interested in managing timber and wildlife to learn more about how this booming industry works.

For more on overpopulation and trap assistance, contact Dana Johnson atauburnwildlife@bellsouth.net.

For more on The Longleaf Alliance, contact Robert Abernethy, president, at robert@longleafalliance.org.

Emily McLaughlin is a freelance writer from Uriah.

Farm & Field

New ACA President is a Cow Man Through and Through


Jimmy Holliman of Dallas County is spending the year as president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association.

Jimmy Holliman’s Cattle Career Has Not Gone Unnoticed

by Alvin Benn

The year was 1975 and Jimmy Holliman was finally finished with college and looking for a job - all he needed to do was find one with a good future.

Then, it happened. Walking down a hallway at Mississippi State University, he saw something on a bulletin board that caught his eye.


Jimmy Holliman holds up son Bret’s helmet and photo. Bret played for the Auburn Tigers several years ago.

Auburn University was looking for someone for AU’s Black Belt Research and Extension Center in the tiny Dallas County community of Marion Junction.

Holliman didn’t waste time and called the number on the bulletin board note. A meeting was scheduled and he was soon on his way to Auburn where he was interviewed.

"I already had some offers in Mississippi to go into the packing business, but it wasn’t what I had in mind," Holliman said. "I didn’t want to go into the cotton business either. Loud noises from cotton gins were enough to motivate me to stay at Mississippi State to get my master’s."

After he finished answering questions, Holliman told his interviewer he’d think about the Black Belt job and be in touch. Halfway home, he knew what he had to do. He stopped, called back and took it. That was 38 years ago.

"My starting salary was $11,500 a year which wasn’t bad back in 1975," said Holliman, 61. "I had asked for $12,000, but they were furnishing me a house and a truck so I wasn’t about to argue over $500."


ACA President Jimmy Holliman makes sure his cattle are well fed at the family ranch in Marion Junction.

For someone raised in the Mississippi Delta town of Itta Bena and who had only been in Alabama once, it didn’t take long for him to become accustomed to his new surroundings at Marion Junction.

His bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and master’s in Animal Nutrition provided him with the perfect academic background. After 14 years at the experiment station, he became director of the facility.

Holliman also found time to create his own cattle operation. He called it the Circle H Cattle Farm and his specialty was the Black Simmental breed.

Combine the state job and cattle operation and you’ve got a very busy man. His hard work has not gone unnoticed either. Mention Jimmy Holliman in agricultural circles and you’ll get rave reviews.

For 35 years, he served as a leader of the Dallas County Cattlemen’s Association and, at one point, was president. At the moment, he is president of the Dallas County Farmers Federation.

His most impressive honor occurred earlier this year when he became the 68th president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association.

"Jimmy’s a cow man through and through," said Tim Wood, general manager of Central Alabama Farmers Co-op in nearby Selma. "His knowledge of cattle is unsurpassed in this part of the country."

The cattle business back in the Mississippi town where he grew up is all but gone, said Holliman, who indicated, at last count, "Only one cattle herd is left in the county."

With his retirement from the experiment station on February 1, Holliman could focus his attention on his cattle operation and that often meant traveling long distances in search of the perfect bull or cow.

Billy Powell, executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, has been a Holliman admirer ever since he met him 30 years ago.

"Jimmy is an expert when it comes to the purebred industry and genetic improvement," Powell said. "He is a valuable asset to the association and a good friend of mine."

If there is one breed Holliman excels in, it’s the Simmental. He and Harrell Watts, another Dallas County Simmental cattleman, have carved out national reputations. Both have served on national Simmental boards.

Watts calls his friend "a man of great integrity. If he tells you something, you can count on it."

The two men frequently travel to cattle sales and they’ll never forget the time they and two other friends went to Oklahoma one day in quest of the perfect Simmental.

"We pooled our resources and came up with $20,000," Watts recalled. "We took along two bales of hay because we were sure we’d get the animal we wanted."

Turns out that as soon as the four got settled at the sale and indicated how much they were prepared to spend, a man sitting in front of them turned and said he had brought along $25,000 and that was that.

"We just knew we were going to get that cow," said Watts, with a big laugh. "We did end up getting another one, but it was a long trip for us back to Alabama."

Holliman and Watts have played major roles in promoting the Simmental breed and have been honored numerous times for their efforts.

ACA presidents usually have a goal to achieve when they assume office and Holliman’s goal is to increase membership in the organization. The current total has dropped to about 11,000 and his goal is to increase it to 12,500 by the time he leaves office.

In order to do that, he expects to spend a lot of time on the road attending ACA annual meetings in counties around the state as well as other events to try and get across the importance of more members.

"The high point in our group was about 17,000 back in the 1990s, but we’ve dropped way down since that time," he said. "Cattlemen only have to pay $30 a year in dues. It’s a lot higher than that in other states."

Alabama may be known for cotton and winning college football teams, but it also has a lot of cattle grazing in pastures around the state. The total is 1.2 million head now - second only to broilers as far as agricultural products are concerned.

Jimmy and Kathleen Holliman both grew up in Itta Bena. She also attended Mississippi State University and was a roommate of Jimmy’s sister.

They were married a week before they moved to Alabama. Kathleen is a department chair at Wallace State Community College where she directs the school’s business education program in Selma.

Their son Bret and his wife Mary Ellen live in Austin, Texas, where he is a mathematical statistician with the National Agricultural Statistics Service and she works at the State Department of Agriculture.

Bret Holliman was a safety for the Auburn Tigers and his parents made sure they were on hand to cheer for him and his team at nearly every one of his college games.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Howle's Hints

On-the-Go Auto Care Under Pressure? Keep Your Cool


Darrell Hammond, center, gives assignments for the day’s work.

by John Howle

"You might be a redneck if you have a rag for a gas cap." – Jeff Foxworthy

These days, there are plenty of us trying to get more miles out of older vehicles. When you look at the price tags on new vehicles, you can justify spending more on repairs, and using the money you save for filling the tank with fuel that continues to rise in cost. To reduce the cost of repairs, a little on-the-go maintenance will have you logging in plenty of problem-free miles.

Darrell Hammond, automotive service technician instructor with the Cleburne County Career Technical School, has worked as a certified mechanic since the early 1980s and has taught students the skills in transportation repair for 19 years. He says there are two things many people overlook that can cost them money down the road.

"Most people do a good job of keeping the oil and other fluids changed and inspected regularly, but the tire air pressure and engine coolant are two things that get overlooked and can cost money later on," Hammond stated.

Tires Under Pressure

"To find the correct air pressure for your tires, look inside the door on the driver’s side and you will see the manufacturer’s recommendations for air pressure and tire size," Hammond said.

Hammond said on pickups, people drive them most of the time with no load in the back. If your air pressure is as high in the back as it is in the front where the load of the motor is located, the back tires with a higher inflation can cause them to round out like a basketball resulting in less tread in the middle of the tires.


Brady Whittle, junior, checks the oil level.

"Having incorrect tire pressure can cause excessive tire wear, reduced fuel economy, alignment problems and safety issues," Hammond explained. "The new vehicles have federally mandated tire monitor systems, but, with the older ones, you have to check and inflate the tires to specification yourself."

Hammond said to keep the tire pressure in the range of the manufacturer’s specifications if you are keeping the original tires from the factory or replacing the tires with the same as the originals. If you put multi-ply, heavy-duty tires on your vehicle such as E-load rated, you can then adjust the tire pressure to the higher amount recommended on the heavy-duty tires. Typically, the heavy duty tires will have a stiffer, bumpier ride when not under a load.

Keep Your Cool and Change the Coolant

"The coolant and cooling systems need to be maintained regularly," Hammond added. "The cooling systems should be flushed and new coolant added every 3 years for the vehicle to give problem-free performance."

Hammond said the older coolant can become very acidic and deteriorate the seals, gaskets and hoses.

"When the coolant gets old, we see the engine deteriorate from the inside," Hammond stated. "You should also flush and fill your tractors with new coolant every 3 years as well."

Some Flattery for Your Battery

The battery is one of those parts of the vehicle you don’t think about until your truck won’t crank. Keeping the terminals clean and free of corrosion will prevent you from having to get out the jumper cables and hoping a kind soul will give you a jump.

"If your battery terminals aren’t clean and tight, you can have electrical problems, low voltage and cranking problems," Hammond said. "Clean the terminals with a battery brush and apply battery corrosion spray to the outside of the terminals to prevent build up."











From left, Darrell Hammond inspects plug wires that junior Austin Jordan removed. this is a battery brush used to clean battery terminals. Austin Jordan, and Brady Whittle replace plugs and wires.



Hammond’s facility is a fully operational automotive department with multiple bays. His students are bused in each day from the two surrounding high schools: Cleburne County High School and Ranburne High School. Hammond’s school is one of many in Alabama meeting the needs of an economy thirsty for skilled and highly trained workers.

We all bemoan the fact that America doesn’t seem to "make" or "manufacture" things anymore. We simply print money to satisfy the bills. Programs like Hammond’s automotive class are working to bring America back to a producer status instead of a printer status.

Hammond has worked with students to get them prepared for jobs using hands-on skills.

"I teach the kids the skills so they can go into transportation repair and maintenance," Hammond explained. "College is not for everyone, but these kids can go into highly specialized fields allowing them to make good money and do what they love."

During the interview for this article, the students replaced the spark plugs and plug wires on a 2002 Chevy truck, and I was truly impressed with their work. Once the students arrived on their bus, they went to their specific areas, some did paperwork, some took care of invoicing, and the rest actually completed the mechanical work on the vehicle.

This career technical school in Cleburne County is much like many other schools in that there is a renewed push to train for a workforce young people who actually have skills where they can be successful on the job. There is also a campaign with spokesman Mike Rowe from the "Dirty Jobs" television show who encourages youth to enter skilled fields. Visit www.gobuildalabama.com for more information on skilled positions in the state.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

In the News

Pickens County Ranch Named Alabama Farm of Distinction


Annie and Mike Dee, seated, accepted the 2013 Alabama Farm of Distinction award on behalf of their family and Dee River Ranch. Sponsors standing are (from left) Jim Allen, Alabama Farmers Cooperative; Lester Killebrew, SunSouth John Deere dealer; Lynne Morton and Jay Hamlett, TriGreen Equipment; and Jimmy Parnell, Alabama Farmers Federation.

by Jeff Helms

A Pickens County beef, grain and soybean farm was named Alabama’s 2013 Farm of Distinction April 11 at the Alabama Farm-City Awards in Birmingham.

Owned and operated by President Annie Dee, her brother and Farm Manager Mike Dee and their 10 siblings, Dee River Ranch is recognized throughout the country for innovation. From precision technology and the on-farm production of biofuels to electronic animal identification and computerized irrigation systems, the Dees use their 10,000-acre farm to develop practices benefiting their family and community.

"We raise approximately 4,000 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans and have around a thousand head of commercial Brahman-Angus crossed cattle," Mike said. "It’s a wonderful place where we live and farm. We’re blessed to be right here and excited about the farm we have."

As the winner, the Dees received more than $14,000 in prizes including an engraved farm sign from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance; a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and Snead Ag Supply dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative and a $2,500 cash award from Swisher International. The Dees will represent Alabama in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., October 15-17.

By embracing new technology, the Dees are redefining "sustainable agriculture."

"Sustainability is what we live for," Mike said. "We would never do anything that would hurt this soil. We want to keep farming not just the next 3 or 4 years; we’re talking about the next three or four generations that we want to make a living off this land, improve this land and have our lives right here. We live here, we work here, and this is our life."

The Dees’ most recent investment in their farm’s future is an irrigation system including a 115-acre reservoir and computerized pumping stations.

"Irrigation is not going to make a crop on its own, but irrigation is like an insurance policy," he said. "It will help a crop survive if we manage it right, and it will make a good crop better."

Other Alabama Farm of Distinction finalists received engraved walnut plaques and $250 gift certificates from the Alabama Farmers Cooperative. They were Ray and Delle Bean of Del-Ray Ranch in Calhoun County, Joe and Patty Lambrecht of Oakview Farms in Elmore County, and James and Joan Malone of Southern Heritage Land and Livestock Co. of Mobile County.

The winner was selected by a panel of agricultural experts who judged the farms on environmental stewardship, overall appearance, accomplishments, efficiency and leadership of the farm owners.

Observed the week before Thanksgiving, Farm-City Week began in 1955 as a way to foster cooperation and understanding between farmers and their city neighbors.

Youth Matters

Quality Co-ops Sponsor Cowkids 4 Christ Rodeos


Jessica Andrews of Arlington, Ga., and Grey Wells of Cottonwood took home first place in the Junior Team Roping at the April 27 Cowkids for Christ.

Cowkids 4 Christ held its first rodeo of the season on Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Newville at Tumbleweed Ranch. There were over 120 youth ages 4-18 participating! For many participants this was there very first rodeo ever! The spectator crowd was GREAT! Balkum Baptist Church provided concessions with some delicious grilled burgers, hot dogs and barbeque sandwiches.

The smaller kids, 4-6, entered events such as muttin’ bustin’, sheep scramble, dummy roping and dummy goat tying! If you have never witnessed these events, you really must come to one!

There were also events for the Pee-Wee division, 7-10. The live goat tying was a blast; the dummy roping competition was close; the calf scramble, pole bending and barrel racing were great; and most exciting was the calf riding.

For the junior and senior groups, events included goat tying, steer undecorating, pole bending, barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping and the junior/senior bull riding. Grey Wells of Cottonwood took home first place with his partner Jessica Andrews from Arlington, Ga., in the Junior Team Roping.

Cowkids 4 Christ rodeo members are competing for trophies to be awarded at every rodeo for every event. The season will end in October and one boy and one girl from every event will be awarded a trophy buckle based on highest points for the season.

If you have a youth ages 4-18 who would like to participate, please "LIKE" Cowkids 4 Christ on Facebook to receive updates and member information.

Feeding Facts

Reducing Overall Costs

by Jimmy Hughes

I hope the timing on this article finds you with plenty of grass and a good first cutting of hay in the barn. I also hope the record cattle prices we are experiencing will continue into the fall for all cattle producers. With higher input costs taking a lot of profits out of record cattle prices, producers must still do as much as possible to control costs.

There are several factors you can consider to help reduce overall cost. As a producer, always remember your greatest expense will be the nutrition program at your operation. While most often we as producers look for the cheapest feed or mineral on a per-bag or -ton price, we also need to look at other ways we can save money. I always encourage producers to look at how much a product costs on a per head or per pound of gain basis. When we do this, most often we find the better feeds and better minerals that are research and performance proven will be our most cost-effective program to implement.

As a producer, I am sure you realize hay production is a great expense. With that said, I would consider hay quality and how that hay is stored. University research has proven hay stored outside unprotected can lose up to 30 percent of its nutrient value when compared to hay stored in a barn. Hay stored under a cover or net wrapped will also maintain much more nutrient quality over that stored outside.

I say all this to encourage you to look at your hay storage options. With high input costs, hay is the most expensive product you produce. Any opportunity to reduce the loss of nutrients, as well as volume of hay, will pay dividends this fall. If you are currently storing your hay outside, I would look into constructing a storage facility of some type to store your hay. Low interest loans are available for hay storage facility construction and, with the cost of hay and feed along with the hay saved by storing in a closed facility, the savings will pay for the cost of the facility in a very short time. The improved nutrient quality of the hay will also reduce the amount of feed needed for winter supplementation saving even more money.

Another consideration when growing or buying hay is a good fertilization program. High-quality hay will greatly reduce the need for feed supplementation in the winter, allowing you to reduce cost and to more easily maintain body condition.

Another consideration is the possibility to purchase or book your feed and mineral needs for the coming feed season. In most cases, ingredients will hit a low price at some point during the summer. When the market hits this point, it would be an excellent time to purchase or book your feed needs.

Just as in hay facilities, money is available for the construction of commodity sheds to allow a producer to store truckloads of feed ingredients in a dry place when the market normally is at its lowest point. I would encourage you to contact your local farm agency or Extension agent if you have any interest in participating in one of these loan programs.

Another program available is low interest loans for the construction of cattle handling facilities. I realize smaller producers in Alabama do not have the needed facilities to work cattle or wean calves in a safe, efficient manner. This program will afford producers the opportunity to construct such facilities with a low interest note and yearly terms.

While building storage facilities and working facilities may not seem like you are saving money, long term their construction will more than pay for themselves in a shorter window than you might assume. Also, with the construction of handling facilities, producers can consider the option of preconditioning calves as well as implementing a vaccination program to lead to better reproductive performance and less open cows at calving time.

I would also encourage you to look at feeds in a different light as well. Does the feed offer advantages through ingredients or other additives? Is it consistent? Is it from a company that stands behind its product? At Alabama Farmers Cooperative, we have developed a complete line of feeds containing quality, consistent ingredients as well as proprietary products that research has proven to be effective in improving digestibility, increasing milk, reducing cost per pound of gain, and improving feed efficiency and reproductive performance in cattle.

The first component contained in all Formax feeds is Mintrex Chelated Mineral Technology. These trace minerals are bound to the amino acid methionine improving the bioavailability of the mineral allowing for more efficient utilization and absorption of the trace minerals most associated with immunity, hoof integrity and reproductive efficiency. Methionine is also the most limiting amino acid in cattle and its addition will help cattle to utilize protein more effectively.

Another component in all Formax feeds is GHP2. This is a blend of proprietary products designed to provide the animal with nutrition to address the everyday challenges it faces. It is a unique blend shown to support gut health and the immune system, assist with pathogen inhibition and to help the animal deal with mycotoxin challenges. University studies have shown over 70 percent of hay samples have some level of mycotoxins directly impacting intake and digestibility making the inclusion of GHP2 important in the diet of cattle. GHP2 will prevent pathogenic bacteria from colonizing and decrease the effects of mycotoxin challenges while also providing a direct fed microbial to optimize digestion and promote health and microflora balance.

Formax Textured Beef Feeds as well as textured bulk feed contain steam-flaked corn. The steam-flake process consistently increases the proportion of starch digestion in the rumen and total starch digestibility. The addition of steam-flaked corn should improve feed efficiency and milk production through increased starch utilization while being cost effective. The steam-flake process also allows less corn to be added to the diet which in turns helps maintain proper pH for forage utilization.

As you can see, we at Alabama Farmers Cooperative continually search for economical ways to improve our feeds offered to producers. The addition of Mintrex, GHP2 and steam-flaked corn are just other ways we have met this goal. The addition of these three products should improve performance, increase feed digestibility and improve immune response while increasing reproductive performance in your herd.

If you have any questions concerning feed or minerals or other related topics, please feel free to contact me at 256-947-7886 or jimmyh@alafarm.com.

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Sharing Food Shows You Care


Taco Pizza

by Christy Kirk

We all find ourselves in unexpected or complicated situations throughout our lives. Sometimes it will be a health concern, other times it might be financial, but the conditions we face are not always bad. Even good news can bring big changes to our lives. Over the last few months friends and family have had life-changing circumstances: babies have been born, cancer treatments have been endured and accidents have happened. These families had their life’s routines interrupted. Suddenly, we realize decisions must be made, alternate plans must be prepared and lives must be adjusted. People who are used to being self-sufficient find themselves in a position where they gladly appreciate and accept help.

The things that cause a person to pause his or her life occur for different reasons. In a moment of crisis, it can be hard to tell if what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle is temporary or terminal. For better or worse, we all face our own tough situations. While we address challenges in our own lives, many of us try to also help our friends and family through their personal situations. When a friend or family member is in need of special care, one of the most natural reactions people have is to take food to that person and their family.

Sharing food you make in your own kitchen is a very personal way to show you care. When Jason and I take a dish, we cook enough for us, too, and that saves time and money. It also means we make meals we and the kids both like. I adjust the spices or sauce for varied tastes, but overall the recipes stay the same as what we eat at home.

One of my favorite one-dish meals is a deep-dish taco pizza we make with ground deer meat instead of beef. It is great for busy families because the recipe is so simple, and you can even make it a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator until dinner time. The Italian turkey recipe is especially good for taking to friends and family because, like most tomato-based dishes, any leftovers will taste even better reheated the next day.

Offering food to someone during a busy or difficult time helps someone without making them feel dependent. If you have friends or family members who have had their routines interrupted by the unexpected twists and turns of life, be ready to lend a hand by preparing their next meal for them. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say to people who have just lost their job or are facing a long-term illness, so let a gesture of caring and generosity speak for you.

Taco Pizza

1 pound ground deer meat (fat added) (you can also substitute ground beef)
¾ cup onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomato with green chilies, drained
1 packet taco seasoning (less if you use ground beef)
1 can refrigerated pizza crust dough (original)
1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425°. Brown meat and onion in a large skillet (drain if needed). Stir in tomatoes and seasoning, cook over medium-high heat until heated through. Coat a 13x9-inch (thinner crust) or 11x7-inch (thicker crust) baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust dough and press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the dish. Spoon meat mixture over pizza dough. Bake for 12 minutes. Top with cheese and bake for 5-6 minutes. Cheese should be melted and crust browned. Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream, salsa and/or Catalina dressing.

Italian Turkey with Linguine and Zucchini

Turkey

1 pound turkey, cut into chunks (or 4 4-ounce skinless boneless chicken thighs)
1 Tablespoon dried (or 2 Table- spoons fresh) basil, chopped
2 (14-15-ounce) cans diced toma- toes with peppers, undrained

Coat turkey with cooking spray and sprinkle with basil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add turkey. Cook 6-10 minutes until browned, stirring to make sure it heats through. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir or turn the turkey occasionally. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until turkey is done and tomato mixture has thickened some; stir often.

Boil water for pasta. Add 8 ounces of dry pasta to yield 4 cups cooked. Boil to desired tenderness.

Zucchini

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 2-inch strips
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, zucchini, lemon juice and Greek seasoning. Sauté 6-7 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

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

Homeplace & Community

Southern Hospitality


The Heart of Dixie Trail Ride features 1,500 acres ideal for trail riding 365 days a year.

Makes Heart of Dixie Among America’s Best Trail Rides

by Jaine Treadwell

When Tom Seay says the Heart of Dixie Trail Ride is one of the best in America, that really means something.

Seay, RFD-TV "Best of America by Horseback" host and board chairman, has a trail riding resume almost as long as his ride across America - from Savannah, Ga., to San Diego, Calif. If that doesn’t say enough about his "credentials," then tack on a ride from Canada to Mexico and hundreds of miles as a trail guide; that might bring some understanding of Seay’s knowledge of the "Best of America by Horseback."

Seay was back at the Heart of Dixie Trail Ride April 13 and 14. He said, without any reservations, the Pike County trail ride is one of the best in the country.


Tom Seay, host of RFD-TV “Best of America by Horseback,” said, without any reservations, the Pike County trail ride at Heart of Dixie is one of the best in the country.

"I rarely go to the same place twice and this is the only one that I’ve come back to do a second show," said Seay as he sat enjoying a breeze that often accompanies a late spring afternoon in rural Alabama. "I can’t think of a state where the people are as warm and as friendly. You can’t find hospitality like this, people like this and a place like this just anywhere."

Seay said there’s a kinship among the people of Alabama that is warmly extended to visitors.

"Coming to Alabama is like going home. You won’t find better people or prettier scenery or have a better time than right here," he added.

Seay and his TV crew were in Pike County as part of the 10thanniversary celebration for the Heart of Dixie Trail Ride that Richard and Pam Dunn opened in 2003, kind of on a hoof and a promise.

"I’d been in the cattle business and it wasn’t doing anything," Dunn said. "I had to find something else to do. I’d been around horses all my life. I enjoyed riding and had ridden a lot of trails. But there weren’t many places to ride around here. Pam and I knew a lot of people who enjoyed riding and we were all going off to other places to ride. We had property that would be ideal for trail riding, so Pam and I decided to give it a try. We’ve made it 10 years now and we hope to be around for a while."

The Heart of Dixie Trail Ride features 1,500 acres ideal for trail riding 365 days a year.

"Eighty-five percent of the acreage is wooded, so the trails are shaded when they need to be," Dunn said. "Along the trails, we’ve planted pines and hardwoods. The Conecuh River runs through the property. We have a pond and open spaces, and there are all kinds of wildlife to enjoy along the trails including wild turkeys and deer. "




Below, hungry campers crowd around the campfire while RFD-TV’s Don Shields cooks. Left, Shields shared his cooking skills and recipes for campfire cooking. His corn on the cob was one of the foods those at the Heart of Dixie Trail Ride enjoyed eating.






In addition to campsites with full hookups, the trail riding facility has small cabins for sleeping and one large cabin with a kitchen and full bath. The camp also has a swimming pool and a recreation area for summer fun.

"We have horse accommodations including stalls, paddocks and pickets," Dunn said. "When you come to the Heart of Dixie we treat you real good. We hope the people who ride with us come first for the hospitality and then for the beauty of Alabama."

The Heart of Dixie Trail Ride is open year-round for those who want to ride on their own. Several times a year, the Dunns host organized rides and people come from the North, South, East and West.


For those not as comfortable riding trails, there is an enclosed arena.

"We are located in an area where there aren’t as many places to ride as there are in Tennessee and Kentucky," Dunn said. "People are looking for good places to ride and we believe we have one of the best."

Seay agreed. That’s why he was back to help the Dunns celebrate 10 years in business and counting. About 90 riders were there to celebrate the milestone occasion.

RFD-TV’s Don Shields and Dave Robart were also along for the "ride."

Shields drew a crowd around the campfire where he was "making" appetizers by the iron pot full.

Shields cooked corn on the cob and shared his secrets for success, even down to the lemon juice he used to give the corn a distinctive and lip-licking goodness. He cooked shrimp over the fire in a special sauce that is one of those recipes "you’ve gotta be there to get."


Dave Robart, RFD-TV, conducted a horsemanship clinic at the arena.

While Shields was cooking over the campfire and hungry campers were crowded around, another group of riders was crowded around Robart as he conducted a horsemanship clinic at the arena.

"There’s a lot to do on an organized trail ride, but the focus is still the ride," Dunn said.

And, when the sun dropped from view, riders who still have a little get up and go like to sit back and listen to Seay’s stories of trail rides far and near.

He tells about the year 1995 when he rode 3,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific in 4.5 months. He just might tell about tying up in Plains, Ga., to attend Sunday school taught by former president Jimmy Carter.

Seay talked about some of his favorite places – Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains and National Forest, the Heartland of America, Maine and Alabama, of course.

He talked about his connection with the riders on his trails and about how he answers all emails sent to him personally. He praised the staff of the "Best of America by Horseback" as the best any producer could hope to have.

Seay has owned three cable companies. He has hosted, directed and produced television programs and is a fulltime Virginia farmer.

But there’s no place he would rather be than "back in the saddle again" and riding the best trails in America.

The key to Seay’s success as a trail master has little to do with him, he said.

"It’s not about me," he said. "It’s all about the location and the people. All about places like Alabama and people like Richard and Pam Dunn and the greatest staff in the world."

For more information about the Heart of Dixie Trail Ride, call 334-670-0005.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE:"Y’all bear with me. If I’d knowed I was drivin’, I’d have laid off that last couple o’ sips of lightnin’!"

How is the word "bear" to be interpreted here?

"Bear with me" is an American English phrase that is a request for forbearance or patience. It could also be seen as a warning that something might not be as good as expected.

William Shakespeare (1564? – 1616) uses the phrase very often, e.g:

• Julius Caesar: "Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar."

• Richard III: "My Lord of York will still be cross in talk: Uncle, your grace knows how to bear with him."

• King Lear: "You must bear with me: Pray you now, forget and forgive."

• As You Like It, in which he puns on it. Celia says, "I pray you, bear with me, I cannot go no further." Touchstone replies, "For my part, I had rather bear with [put up with] you than bear [carry] you."

Shakespeare certainly didn’t invent it; it was clearly a standard part of Elizabethan speech. It’s quite possible, though, that it was the frequent occurrence of it in his plays that kept it familiar and current. Otherwise, it might simply have fallen out of use.

phrases.org

Outdoor Life

St. Clair Farmers Co-op Hits the Target with New Archery Shop


Robert Golden, Randy McKee and Chris Duke in the new archery shop at St. Clair Farmers Co-op’s Pell City store.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

It’s been said that to be a good hunter you must have patience, knowledge and good tools.

While they can’t help you with that first ideal, the guys at the St. Clair Farmers Co-op in Pell City can give you a major advantage in the knowledge and tools category!

Chris Duke, manager; Randy McKee, assistant manager; and Robert Golden, employee, are all bow hunters and that has transitioned into the trio opening what may be the only separate archery shop positioned WITHIN a Co-op store in Alabama.

"We’re all deer hunters and some of us bow fish and turkey hunt," Duke explained. "But we all shoot just for the fun of it as well."

Duke cites the popularity of the extremely family-oriented TV show Duck Dynasty as illustrating how families can be involved with not only hunting but all things involved in the sport.


Randy McKee takes aim by the shooting house. St. Clair Farmers Co-op in Pell City not only sells the shooting houses but he builds the bases for them.

Duke’s wife Sandy has been bow hunting about 2 years (and now shoots with pink arrows!). Their son Triston, now 9, has been shooting since he was 4 or 5. (Daughter Shelby, a recent graduate of Pell City High School doesn’t have as much time to concentrate on shooting now since she’s just been awarded a full scholarship to Southern Union College in arts and music).

Golden’s son Aidan, 10, has also been shooting for a couple of years.

While Duke also hunts deer using a Weatherly Magnum 257 and sometimes even a muzzle loader, "Using a bow is just more challenging. It requires more skill. It’s just a little more sporting," he explained.

Since the Co-op is situated right on Logan Martin Lake, bow hunting fish has also become popular in the area.

"It has to be a non-game fish like carp, catfish or drum," Golden explained.

With Ashville, Pell City and Odenville High Schools now all fielding archery teams and with no other archery store in the area, the guys at the Co-op said they felt it was just a good fit for them to step up and provide archery services.

Duke worked odd jobs to buy his first Hoyt bow at the age of 16. He and his cousin Rodney Duke shot a lot and since Rodney used a Hoyt bow and explained they made only good quality bows, "that’s what I had to get." Chris still has that bow.


Robert Golden’s 10-year-old son Aidan has been shooting for a couple of years.

So Hoyt was at the top of the list when the guys started discussing the archery store about a year ago. They planned for about six months; then had to go through about a six-month session with the Co-op waiting to be approved a Hoyt dealer.

"They stay on top of the newest in technology all the time," Duke explained.

Earl Hoyt Jr. and Earl Hoyt Sr. began the Hoyt Archery Company in 1942 after the elder Hoyt had been creating specialized archery equipment since the early 1930s. According to the company’s website (www.Hoyt.com) the company really "made a name for themselves" by creating pistol grips for archery bows in 1956. Torque stabilizers followed in 1961.

Among the company’s many "firsts" are the deflex-reflex recurve design for bows and the first bow equipped with a stabilizer mount. They were also the first company to use composites in their bows.

Since archery became an official Olympic sport in 1972, more gold medalists have won using Hoyt bows than all other brands of archery bows combined and the same holds true for most other major national and worldwide archery competitions!

New customers at the Co-op shop are taken through every part of buying the perfect bow as the bows are fitted to each person.

"We start out seeing how many pounds the person can pull back. Then we see how long the drawing length is. Then we try to fit a bow that is best-suited for that man, woman, boy or girl," Duke explained. (There are smaller bows for kids!)

"We then take them out to the shooting range (located toward the side of the shop) and let them shoot it to make sure it’s a good fit and that they feel comfortable," Duke continued.


Compound bows can be as simple or as “decked out” as you’d like them. Here, Robert Golden works on a Hoyt bow.

Golden helps in fine-tuning the arrow rest, sights and finding where the peep site needs to be.

Only after all that careful scrutiny and help does the customer usually take the bow home.

Golden has truly become the store’s "bow tech," utilizing specialized Hoyt equipment to personalize and outfit bows, and to repair bows.

The store sells all sorts of deer seed and minerals for customers, and, with the addition of the archery shop, even more hunting help is available.

There are Tommy Wilcox Game Face turkey calls, Flex-tone turkey and deer calls, and Charlie-O’s deer scent.

A new line of Canyon coolers is great for time in the woods or on a boat as well!

There’s even special goat milk soap for hunters to wear: some is not scented and some body lotions and butters with intriguing real-to-life scents such as "dirt" and "pine" by Earthstone Soap Company.

Attractive, sturdy, hunting houses are available for sale with custom-built decks and platforms designed and built by McKee!

Hoyt compound bows and recurve bows can be as simple or as "decked out" as you’d like them to be according to your needs and budget.


Robert Golden and Randy McKee check the target in the store’s outside shooting area.

"One thing I hear a lot of people say is archery is a sport where you can take the whole family and it doesn’t really cost that much after you buy the initial equipment. With shooting, you can shoot 20 to 30 times and you’ve likely spent $40 on ammunition. With archery you can shoot maybe 1,000 times and may have spent only $10," Duke stated.

The St. Clair Pell City store will have a booth at the 30th Annual World Deer Expo at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center July 19-21. Promoter Bob Coker calls it "the largest deer hunting expo in the world."

"We want to show all the latest things we have in the store," Duke explained. "We’ve been listening to our customers and the community, and I think we’re really filling a need."

St. Clair Farmers Co-op in Pell City is located at 210 Hardwick Road. If you’re traveling on Interstate 20, get off at the Riverside exit 162, turn back toward downtown Pell City, hit Highway 78 until you find Hardwick Road on the right.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer who lives in Blount County and can be reached through her website at www.suzysfarm.com.

Product Spotlight

Stargro Program

by Jimmy Hughes

CPC is a family-owned company based in Kentucky that backgrounds over 100,000 calves a year. CPC has used a variety of rations in this process. After many years of research trials, along with the help of some of the nation’s top nutritionists, they have put together a program to help producers realize greater profits with a tested and proven program.

Cattle going through the Stargro Program typically overall become healthy with excellent growth and offer maximum profits to producers. The Stargro Program also provides producers with improved marketing potential because of the reliability and profitability of animals on this program.

The program combines a vaccination, feed and block supplementation program to create a good straight animal with the right amount of flesh, and will offer the proper environment for continued growth and performance at the feedlot level. It is also designed to be fed with little or no hay supplementation that would be very favorable in a year with reduced hay production. We are now into our fourth year of using this program in Alabama and we continue to see amazing results from growth and cost standpoints.

If you are preconditioning calves, developing heifers or bulls, or looking for a high-quality, effective creep feed, then lean on our experience with over 100,000 calves a year.

Give me a call at 256-947-7886 and I will be glad to talk with you about your current feeding program as well as the Stargro Program.


Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

Through the Fence

Sunrise Bath

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

The poet Longfellow once quipped, "Into every life some rain must fall." However, in our part of the world, it just doesn’t happen often enough to suit us. Even with all the natural resources in Texas, water is perhaps our most precious commodity. The possibility of rain is always a popular topic of conversation as is the ubiquitous question, "How much rain did y’all get?" Since moving to the arid Texas Hill Country over 15 years ago, it seems that no one ever receives just the right amount of water.

Not only are there not many well-timed rains, much of the soil in our county doesn’t hold water. We had several dry ponds on the property where we used to live. And the only time they were full was the week or so after a flood. Afterwards, all that precious moisture would percolate through the rocky soil into the shallow water table. There it would stay just long enough for the cedars and mesquite trees to soak it up.

There is not much underground water here to be found at any depth. On our farm, we had a slow-flowing well that only produced three or four gallons a minute. It was pumped into a huge, concrete cistern behind the house supplying our personal needs and one water trough. The other well, equally shallow and slow flowing was located halfway back of the 160 acres and was pumped by an old squeaky windmill. Thankfully, there was always plenty of wind, and it filled troughs for our cows and goats, and the dozens of deer passing through on their daily wanderings.

But since water was such a valued commodity, one of our worst fears was running out of it. The cardinal sin was to leave the water hose running and drain the cistern - which happened more than once during our time there. And, Murphy’s Law being what it is, the incident would always occur at an inopportune time. On one memorable occasion, I had come back in the house one warm Saturday evening after putting up the chickens, bottle feeding the calves and feeding the dogs. I was hot and tired, and still had to finish the kitchen, bathe my three young children and get them ready for bed. After I finished, I was just too exhausted to get in the shower. I washed my face and hands and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

When I awoke the next morning, I made a terrible discovery. Although no one confessed, someone had left the water on all night. Not only were we out of water, there was the distinct possibility the pump would be burned out. We’d have to wait for Jeff, our local well repairman, to make room on his crowded schedule to fix it before we could begin to replenish our supply.

It was about 6:30 a.m. and I needed to start getting ready for church. In addition to being a stay-at-home mother and homeschooling our children, I taught an adult Sunday school class along with my husband. So skipping church wasn’t an option. However, neither was going without a bath. The house was still quiet, and the usual Sunday morning flurry of activity had not yet begun. I made a cup of coffee and sat on the back porch to ponder my dilemma. Then I had a flash of brilliance - the kids’ blue plastic swimming pool was full of water … probably why the hose had been left on. It would serve as a suitable bathtub.

I grabbed a towel, soap and some shampoo. I had to skim a handful of dead grasshoppers and moths off the surface, but otherwise the water seemed fairly clean. I slipped out of my nightie and into the tepid water, knowing the chances of being spotted by a passing vehicle were almost nil at that hour. I bathed and rinsed as best I could and enjoyed the tranquil moment of solitude. At that point in my childrearing career, those quiet moments were rare. I really enjoyed my "al fresco" bath at sunrise. I briefly considered making it a habit.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at lisa25@centex.net.

Farm & Field

Teen Tech on Today’s Farms


The best time to photograph your livestock for recordkeeping is when you are working them. Just add the photo to your regimen of worming, ear tagging and weighing.

by John Howle

As a high school English teacher, I see technology being used every day. Our school even has a new policy called "BYOT." This acronym stands for "bring your own technology." The students are allowed to use their cell phones to research topics and have quick access to information at their fingertips.

This sounds good, but plenty of days I find myself in the middle of settling a dispute started on social media online Friday night and ended up at school on Monday morning. I could only shake my head and say to the students, "When will you folks stop arguing with each other on ‘My Face’ and ‘Space Book?’" Of course, the students only responded with "OMG, you make me LOL."

Whether it’s people posting harmful things about the high school prom or who someone just started dating, misuse of technology can cause strife and sometimes fights — and that’s just the parents (LOL). Today’s technology has to be used with discretion, but it can also be used to help the farm run more efficiently.

Using the iPhone and Photo Technology

Making use of modern technology can truly help with recordkeeping. Using nothing more than a digital camera or your cell phone can aid in making photo records of your equipment and livestock. For instance, a lightning strike could take six of your best cattle in one strike. Having a photo record of the cattle can aid in getting reimbursements from the insurance company if you have a coverage policy, or you might be able to get disaster aid from the Farm Services Agency.

In addition, if theft occurs on your property, having photo records of your inventory and tools along with models and serial numbers can make tracking and retrieving your stolen goods much easier. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it could also be worth thousands of dollars if it helps you get your tractor, garden tiller or other farm equipment back.










Clockwise from left, this app gives the user instant access to the week’s cattle prices across the state. This handy app shows how to tie common knots with animated, 3-D images. Check out the weed identification app the next time you are walking the pastures.



If you are taking photo records of your livestock for your digital files, the most convenient time to do this is when you are actually working with the animals. Placing a numbered ear tag on each animal at the time of birth with a photo helps in keeping records for each animal at day one. Another opportunity to place ear tags is when you are worming or weighing animals. Many of the ear tag packs you can purchase come with consecutive, ascending numbers.

Using Apps is a Snap


Banker Art Stevens demonstrates some computer programs designed to keep accurate records with farm accounting to an Alabama farmer. Computer technology such as “EasyKeeper Herd Manager” can help with keeping up with weaning and worming dates. Having your records on a computer in the form of digital files makes them easier to keep up with.

You can’t use the word "application" anymore when it comes to downloading applications for your iPhone. If you say application instead of "app," you run the risk of sounding "un-cool" around the techno savvy. There are, however, many useful "apps" you can use to help in your farming operation.

One of my favorite iPhone apps is "Cattle Talk Mobile." It allows the user to select your state and get an instant daily auction summary for cattle. This will be a cattle report just like you would see from a computer screen, but the best part is you can download the reports anywhere any time.

Distance tools can also be downloaded onto your phone allowing you the ability to walk your property dropping pins and mapping out the perimeter of your land. This is useful when calculating acreage. You would use this when determining how many tons per acre for lime or fertilizer, or ordering grass seed to plant.

Download "Mapquest" to your phone and when you are driving two counties over to buy a bull or looking for a sale barn in North Alabama, you won’t waste fuel because you will have free, turn-by-turn directions to your destination.

If you download the app "Spray Lite," you can get help with calibrating your chemical sprayer. This can save lots of money when you have to invest in expensive herbicides or liquid fertilizer. Like many other programs, you can download the free version, but you will need to pay a fee to get the version with more options.

Here is a list of other free apps for use around the farm:

"How to Tie Knots" - This app shows how to tie common knots with animated, 3-D images. This is especially handy when securing a load on your truck or pulling a calf out of a ditch with a rope.

"ID Weeds" - This is a handy app for identifying weeds that can cause problems in your pasture. Even if you don’t know the name of the weed, you can type the plant’s attributes into the system, and it will help you determine what weed you have. This comes in handy when determining whether to use a broad-spectrum herbicide or broadleaf killer.

Computer Programs

Keeping up with the inventory of livestock, the breeding dates and health information is a challenge if you are doing it with the old pen and paper method. There are many products available to help with the tracking of livestock, their health and sales. One such product is the EasyKeeper Herd Manager (www.easykeeper.net).

Dave Benjamin, the company’s vice president of Business Development, said his company’s program can ultimately add value to the animals because of the time saved and the accuracy of record keeping.

"The program allows you to upload photos of each individual animal in the herd, document birth and vaccination dates, and all herd health records," Benjamin said. "On the dashboard, reminders are generated when it is time to conduct such tasks as worming, what is overdue, what is due and what needs to be done in the future."

Currently, the Easykeeper program is just for the goat herd, and the yearly subscription fee ranges from $14.99 to $19.99. According to Benjamin, future plans are to expand the capabilities to all other livestock species.

"You can actually use this program with cattle, but the verbiage is targeted to goat terminology," Benjamin explained. "You can try a 30-day trial at no obligation and no credit card is required."

This June, turn some of that "teenage technology" into profit on your farm. You will LOL all the way to the bank. By the way, OMG stands for "oh, my gosh," and LOL is "laugh out loud."

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Youth Matters

The 4-H Coosa River Science School: At the Heart of Hands-On Learning


The Department of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind Division participants and counselors enjoy some hands-on time during their Raptor Trek program at the 4-H Center in April 2013.

by Becky Collier

Since 1994, the Alabama 4-H Center has provided environmental and natural resource education through the Coosa River Science School. The Science School is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to excite Alabama youth about the natural world through hands-on experiences. Approximately 4,000 participants each year travel to the Science School and enjoy their choice of more than 30 science, outdoor and adventure-based programs. Public, private and homeschool groups of any age are welcome! Each group attends with a different set of goals in mind. Some schools bring their students with a focus on science-based learning just before state testing begins in the spring – other groups may choose to come within the first month of school as a unique opportunity for their students and teachers to get to know each other in a different setting. Whatever the reason, the Science School is an awesome opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, get connected with the natural world and see Alabama for its rich biodiversity.


Becky Collier, Program Coordinator for the 4-H Center, asks young students from Calera Elementary where they think an owl’s ears are located during their “Super Science Day” Raptor Trek program.

In addition to their work at the Alabama 4-H Youth Development Center in Columbiana, the Science School expanded their participant base in 2008 with the introduction of a live animal outreach program. Since that time, more than 100,000 additional people from across the Southeastern United States have enjoyed Raptor Trek and Herp Journey presentations across Alabama. School, libraries, festivals and special events – the staff of the Science School will travel to any corner of our state to spread the word about conservation and the important role reptiles and raptors play in our state!

Raptor Trek is Alabama’s premiere birds of prey experience. Audiences are never disappointed in this opportunity to view incredible raptors up-close and may even be treated to someone getting dinner or making some flights! The Science School houses nine owls, four hawks, two falcons, one kite and an American Bald Eagle on the 4-H Center property. All of these animals are not releasable into the wild and have a story to teach us about care for the environment.






Clockwise from left, a student from Great Oak Academy looks on as Aaron Baughman, a Coosa River Science School instructor, identifies her find during their Lake Living program. A third-grade student at Tuscaloosa Magnet School meets Cuper, an Eastern box turtle, during their March 2013 Herp Journey Outreach program. A third-grader from Pickens Academy shows off his finds during Lake Living class at the 4-H Center. A student from WJ Carroll Elementary School illustrates the Science School’s definition of “hands-on” learning during her Lake Living program at the Science School.

Sequoia, for example, is a red-tailed hawk that was imprinted illegally by humans back in 2008. Those who had Sequoia were likely not intending harm, but the first few weeks of a raptor’s life are when they decide where to look for food. If that lesson leads to the answer of "human" rather than hunting, a raptor will never "un-learn" this lesson and likely become a nuisance animal – going after chickens, colliding with cars and windows, and ultimately hurting itself or a human in its quest for a meal. Red-tailed hawks, while quite common, also serve an extremely important role in the ecosystem. They are able to take down venomous snakes and help control populations of rodents and small mammals that can potentially carry deadly diseases which may be transmitted to livestock, pets or even humans. We need to keep our wild animals "wild" in Alabama. Sequoia has no physical abnormalities, but will be in captivity for the rest of his life because he lacks any healthy fear of humans.



Counterclockwise from right, students from Moody Middle School take a break from the Giant Swing to “pose” for the camera. A fourth-grade student from Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools considers her options as she prepares to build a fire during her “Survivor: CRSS” program at the Science School. Phoenix, a 2-year-old Harris’s hawk, enjoys some afternoon sunshine and exercise with Sunny Cooper, a Coosa River Science School instructor.



We can all help by keeping the environment clean and free of litter, not interfering with wildlife and calling professionals if you feel an animal is in danger or injured. Leave things as you find them and let nature run its course as much as possible.

The Science School’s second outreach program Herp Journey is an opportunity to enjoy Alabama’s native reptiles and amphibians! The purpose of this program is to help debunk many myths about these animals including snakes to spread the word about Alabama’s incredible biodiversity (did you know Alabama has more freshwater turtles than ANY other state?!?), and to provide a hands-on opportunity to meet some of our backyard neighbors in a safe setting. The 4-H Center houses about 60 native and non-native species of "herps" used for programs both on and off the property. A traditional program includes a frog, a toad, a salamander, turtles, lizards, snakes and an American alligator. Young and old alike delight in this program and revel in the opportunity to see these animals in such a fascinating light.

Whether you come to the Science School or the Science School comes to you, it is a visit you will not soon forget. Maps, bugs, a climbing wall or live animals – there is something for everyone! Above all else, get outside, enjoy and be proud of all Alabama has to offer!

To learn more about program opportunities or to schedule a field trip for your group, please visit our website at www.CoosaRiverScienceSchool.org or contact the Program Coordinator Becky Collier at src0008@aces.edu or 205-669-4241, ext. 612. To learn more about our work and to read testimonials of those who have attended please visit our Facebook page atwww.Facebook.com/CoosaRiverScienceSchool.

Becky Collier is the Alabama 4-H Center Program Coordinator.

Homeplace & Community

The Bowl Man of Franklin County


Paul Bowl-ing with his creations.

Turning Unusual Woods into Works of Art

by Don Linker

On a cold, rainy morning the first part of April, I spent an enjoyable visit with Paul Bowling in his woodworking shop just off Highway 24 east of Russellville in Franklin County. Woodworking, making bowls to be precise, is just one of his hobbies. He also loves to hunt, fish and "keeping the roads packed," according to his daughter.

Bowling was born March 27, 1932, to Edgar and Pauline Bowling, the 10th of 12 children. He served 2 years in the Army and was awarded outstanding trainee from the 761st tank battalion. On March 27, 1954, he and Doris Ann Gaston were married. They had three children: Paula Hooker, Garry Bowling and Lori Penick, who have blessed them with six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Bowling is a member of Tharptown Baptist Church, belongs to 388 Newburg Masonic Lodge and played church league softball for several years. He is a farmer and became an ironworker in 1951 from which he retired in 1994. During that period, Paul worked for Southern Construction, TVA, the Labor Department and Reynolds Alloys. Some of the jobs he was involved with were the Tenn-Tom Waterway, paper mill at Butler, Austin High School in Decatur, training towers at Redstone Arsenal and Ford Motor Company in Muscle Shoals. His last employer was Reynolds Alloys in Sheffield.



From left, sanding is the most time-consuming part of the process of creating a bowl or tray; Hercules (tooth, alligator) wood.

Upon retirement, Bowling started making bowls in 1995 to fill in the time when he wasn’t fishing, hunting or packing the roads. Even on these trips, he was searching for different wood to make into bowls. Since then, his bowls have found their way into nearly every state in the union and France, Canada and Germany that he knows for sure.


Boxed elder bowl.

The bowls are beautiful works of art made with loving care, each one different and unique. Worm-eaten maple, walnut, boxed elder, pecan, hickory, bodock (Osage orange), hackberry and cedar are some of the woods he uses to make bowls. He is always looking for different materials for bowls and dough trays. One such wood is the Hercules tree, which he came upon while deer hunting near Aliceville. The Hercules tree has bark like teeth, hence it is also called the tooth tree or alligator tree. According to Bowling, the bark from this tree was also used for toothaches. He is not sure what he will make from this wood, maybe a candle holder. My favorite bowls were made from boxed elder with the red, white, and blue colors in the wood.

Bowling relates that it takes about a day to form, hollow out and sand a bowl with the dough trays taking a bit longer. The bowls are turned on a lathe, while the dough trays are done with a side grinder using a special blade (has chainsaw teeth) and hand sander. The bowls and dough trays are marketed at art festivals in Mississippi and Alabama with prices running from $25-$60 each. He will also make bowls from others’ wood and do special orders.

He will be attending the following festivals: West Point, Miss., Art Festival (the Saturday before Labor Day); Sulligent Art Festival; Hamilton Art Festival; Sweet Potato Festival in Vardaman, Miss.; and Hackelburg Art Festival May 3. He will have around 60 bowls and dough trays at each one of these festivals.




A sample, above, of some of Paul Bowling’s bowls. These are made from worm-eaten maple, walnut and boxed elder. Left, Paul Bowling shapes a dough tray with a side grinder.

You can call Bowling at 256-332-2715 to order bowls or to get festival dates so you can visit in person and look at his works.

Bowling is 81 years young and very active, spending a lot of time pursuing his hobbies and is also very active in the county. He loves to visit with people and share a funny story. I am fortunate to have met him and blessed to call him my friend. He shops at Franklin County Co-op for his farming needs and any related information he may need. Remember to shop at your local Quality Co-op, we appreciate your business and will serve you first.

Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.

Homeplace & Community

The Co-op Pantry


Renee Garlen, far right, and husband Richard with their five grandchildren, Braeden, Caleb, Austin, Savannah and Ender.

Renee Garlen, of Elkton, Tenn., is a wonderful lady who came to my deliverance this month when my intended Cook of the Month became ill and I needed someone to rescue me. Her story is fascinating, so sit back and enjoy!

Renee was raised on a rural cattle, corn and cotton farm in South Alabama. She was taught to cook by her grandmother. She was 8 years old when she began caring and cooking for one sibling and five younger cousins during the summer days. It was her responsibility to manage the house and the large family garden during the day. There was always something cooking on the stove.

At daylight, they would all go to the field and work. Her parents then would go to work in Montgomery where her mom worked for the Alabama State Conservation Department and her dad worked for a steel company. When her parents arrived home, they would be in the field working until after dark. Renee then came to the house and cooked for an average of 15 people for the evening meal. Renee’s mother and father died when she was 18 and 21, respectively. She continued to raise her younger sister until she finished high school and started Auburn University in Montgomery. Renee related that her sister is an even better cook and baker than she is.

This experience of caregiver and cook instilled in her a work ethic and attitude she can do and cook anything. Her passion is to ensure NO one ever goes hungry who she comes in contact with.

Renee enjoys the Cooking Channel, Rachel Ray and The Chew. She, her husband Richard and a close friend (Donna) are always on the hunt for an interesting recipe and will glean them from any magazine they can find. Renee still has her mother’s cookbooks with her and her mom’s notes of what to add or subtract to make it sumptuous.

In addition to being an absolutely terrific cook, Renee shared with me that she and Richard both love to cook, both have been U.M.C. ministers for 12 years and both attend college full time! Renee at the University of Southern California working on a Masters in Social Work, and Richard is attending Martin Methodist College pursuing a B.S. in Psychology and Counseling. Renee is also the proud mom of four sons, Josh (Amanda), an Alabama Policeman and Firefighter; Seth (Christina), lives in Florida and is in the U.S. Navy; Broc (Paige), works in computer software; and Blake (Taylor), also in Alabama Law Enforcement. Renee and Richard also have grandchildren: Braeden, 4; Caleb, 1; Austin, 5; Savannah, 3; and Ender, 1.

Thanks more than you will ever know for being willing to share, in what was literally a few minutes, your life and your recipes. You put Superwoman to shame with all the things you do in your life!

Note from Renee & Richard Garlen, "We take great honor in the Blessings the Lord has given us and our family."

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

CAKE BATTER BLONDIES OR CUPCAKES

1 box yellow cake mix
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
¼ cup sprinkles
½ cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine cake mix and sprinkles in a large bowl. Mix in oil and egg. Add milk slowly, just until the batter is combined – you want it to remain as dense as possible. Place batter in a greased 8×8 pan or 8-inch cake pan, or cupcake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or just until the edges turn golden.
Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting because the center needs to set. You might think it’s not fully done because the center will still be quite gooey upon first exiting the oven!

EASY BERRY COBBLER

2 (12-ouce) bags frozen mixed berries
or frozen fruit
1 box yellow cake mix (no pudding mix)
1 can Sprite or Sierra Mist (clear soda)

Place frozen berries/fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Add dry cake mix on top.
Pour soda slowly over cake mix. DO NOT stir the cake mix and the soda - this will give you a “crust.” Bake 350° for 45-50 min. Serves 16. Yummy cobbler.

FRENCH TOAST BREAKFAST

1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup butter
1 cup maple syrup
1 loaf French bread, sliced
5 eggs, beaten
1½ cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups pecans, chopped

Garnish: powdered sugar, maple syrup

Melt brown sugar, butter and syrup in 9x13 greased baking pan. Arrange bread slices over mixture and set aside. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and nuts. Pour over bread, coating all slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Uncover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 6-8 servings.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

1 (8-inch) baked pie crust
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) whipped topping (use instead of milk in the pudding)

Mix sugar and peanut butter until crumbly. Pour ¾ of crumbs on pie crust, bottom and sides. Mix pudding and whipped topping as directed. Pour on pie crust. Let set. Spread pudding mix on top. Sprinkle with rest of crumbs. Cool well and serve.

PILLSBURY CRESCENT ROLL TACO BAKE

2 tubes crescent rolls
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 packet taco seasoning
1½ cups cheddar cheese, grated
Lettuce, shredded
1 or 2 tomatoes, diced (depending on size)
½ small can olives, sliced (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Avocado, sliced (optional)

Lay out the two tubes of crescent pastry, thick sides in. Use some of the left over crescent rolls to make the center a bit thicker. Brown beef and add taco seasoning. Lay beef in a circle inside of crescent rolls. Add cheese to the top. Pull over crescent rolls and tuck them in under meat and cheese. Follow cook time on the pack of crescent rolls!

Add cheese, lettuce, tomato, black olives, sour cream or whatever you desire for your tacos, in the middle.

Note from Mary: Too delicious! I made a pig of myself. Renee said this is her favorite recipe.

On the Edge of Common Sense

The Faces of the Cattle Business

by Baxter Black, DVM

The cattle business today has evolved into several distinct segments. Each draws certain people whose personality, skill and savvy make them best suited to that segment.

We’ll start with the purebred breeders, the architects who design prototypes for the industry. They are academic minded. They steep themselves in statistics, and fiddle with and refine genetics in an effort to define subjective traits, objectively. Not unlike ancient mariners drawing and redrawing the constellations in the night sky.

The next segment is the commercial cow/calf operator. They are the bedrock of the industry; the worker on the assembly line. They produce our product, beef, from scratch just as a welder builds a bumper guard, a cook bakes an apple pie and an artist paints a picture. They think in terms of generations (both human and bovine), take the good with the bad and have a loyalty to the land. You rarely hear them say, "I’m just ranchin’ to make enough money to buy the car dealership downtown!"

The grower, segment three, takes calves once they’ve been weaned and keeps them until they are big enough to go to the feedlot. These grower calves come from a wide variety of sources: farms, ranches, sale barns, dairies, dog pounds, traders and team ropers! It is a hands-on, intensive, frustrating, demanding job. It’s equivalent to teaching kindergarten through third grade - lots of babysitting. Economically, it’s like buying used cars and trying to make them re-saleable!

Segment four is the feedlot. This is where we take a new car off the showroom floor and turn it into a NASCAR Sprint contender! Today, average daily gain, conversion, genetics, fixed expenses, health problems, purchase price, feed price and sale date are predictable within reason. However, predicting the market, the sale price 120 days later, is like rolling the dice! Those who call themselves cattle feeders could easily be wildcatters in the oil business, prospectors, explorers, crap shooters, test pilots, magicians’ assistants, circus acrobats, punt returners or Wall Street speculators. They thrive on risk. If you guaranteed them a 20 percent profit on a truckload of steers, they’d hold out for 25!

And the final segment in our cattle business is the packinghouse where live cattle are turned into beef. Very little is known about this curious group of men. They sequester themselves in ritualistic confines, not unlike the Dalai Lama or Idi Amin where they chant and mutter phrases like "yellow sheet," "on the rail" and "triple grande no foam latte." To all of us who have provided every animal that has entered into their castle-like facility, they are as mysterious as the Vatican. We are only aware of their presence when we see a white puff of smoke and the phone rings … offering less!

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.

Youth Matters

The FFA Sentinel: Do What You Love! Start Teaching Ag Now!


Jena Perry, agriscience instructor at Southern Choctaw High School in Choctaw County, is helping students in the construction of an advanced woodworking project.

by Chris Kennedy

Many of you can easily think back to great memories from your time in "ag." I quickly think back to the moment I realized, "This isn’t like my other classes." In agriscience, I got to do things, use my hands, apply math and science, and even learned how to use shop tools the right way.

I love when people ask me, "Why did you become an ag teacher?" My family has always been involved in agriculture, especially forestry. I always planned to work in the "log woods."

When I entered the agriscience classroom in seventh grade at Brantley High School in Crenshaw County, I was not motivated by anything school offered me. I lacked social skills. I was only interested in football and the latest, greatest video games of the time such as Mario Brothers. I believe my ag teacher Mark Andrews saw something in me no one else had. He invited me to join the forestry team when I was only in the seventh grade.


Merrell Warren, agri-science instructor at Smiths Station Freshmen Center in Lee County, is showing students the correct way to drive a nail.

I was excited to start learning more about forestry. I remember how much I enjoyed riding in the back of the old, brown Toyota truck, trying to keep my books out of the rust holes in the bed and wiggling the battery cable each time we needed to leave. I remember feeling like I finally found something I truly belonged to.

While I thought I was learning tree identification and timber cruising, I transformed from the shy, seventh-grade kid to a mature, responsible young adult. I quickly began to try harder and realized, just maybe, there was a purpose for the academic classes, too.

I realized the best way to change lives and to make a small impact on society is in the agriscience classroom! I loved sharing my passion for agriculture with young people and, above all, watching students make the same transition I made.

I know you may be thinking teaching agriscience sounds great, but "I’m not going back to school, so how can I teach ag?" Here are the answers to just a few common questions we often hear.

Did you know someone with a B.S. degree or higher in an agricultural-related field can teach agriscience?

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you can start teaching agriscience education. This is a great option for anyone who may be having difficulty finding a job in industry, someone wanting to have more time with their children or someone wanting to take advantage of the many benefits offered to agriscience teachers.

How do I get certified?

Option 1: A bachelor’s degree in Agriscience Education (Traditional Route)

Option 2: Alternative Baccalaureate Certification - If you have a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you may be eligible to begin teaching this year while meeting a few other requirements.

Option 3: Agriculture Praxis II - If you are certified as a teacher in another subject area, you may be able to get certified in Agriscience Education by successfully passing a Praxis II examination.

Is there a job opening?

This is an important question for anyone deciding which career to pursue. Please investigate potential job openings before pursuing a career. Currently there is a large national shortage of agricultural educators. It is estimated there will be hundreds of unfilled positions across the United States this year. In Alabama, a majority of agriscience teachers are eligible to retire today. We will need many agriculture teachers across Alabama. There is a great chance there will be an opening near you.

How much does it pay?

Alabama offers agriculture teachers a competitive salary with that of many agricultural industry professions. Alabama has a minimum salary matrix used by many school systems. This matrix is based on a 187-day contract. Many agriscience teachers are paid additional days of work during the summer months by their school system. We also offer a competitive grant that agriscience teachers can apply for to be paid to work extra in the summer months. A new teacher in their first year with a bachelor’s degree would earn $36,144 for a 187-day contract. Teacher salaries continue to rise for degrees, years of experience and days worked. A 12-month agriscience teacher with a master’s degree and 21 years of experience could earn $66,309 per year!

What are the benefits?
Teaching comes with a multitude of benefits. Some of those are:

Competitive salary

Affordable health and dental insurance

Following school calendar similar to your children

Alabama retirement system

Impacting lives

Never having the same day twice

Teaching what you love!

For more information:

For more information about teaching agriscience, please visit www.alabamaffa.org and http://www.naae.org/teachag/. Talking to the local agriscience teacher in your community could also provide you with some insight to the profession. You may also contact the State Agriscience Staff at 334-242-9114 or by emailing me at ckennedy@alsde.edu with any questions.

Chris Kennedy is a Central District Specialist Alabama FFA Association and Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.

The Magic of Gardening

The June Bugs are a Coming

by Tony Glover

When I started working for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System about 30 years ago, I got questions every year about this time with folks concerned about June beetles. The question would go something like this, "My yard has been invaded by flying green bugs that buzz around my kids and pets and I am concerned about one of them being bitten or stung." I don’t get this question in north Alabama as much as I did years ago and I am curious to know if you still see this pest in your yard.

June beetles, or as I called them growing up June bugs, have been somewhat overshadowed in the northern half of the state by the more recent arrival of the dreaded Japanese beetles. For those who are south of the Japanese beetle line, you should count your blessings. June beetles are a still a problem in some areas, but they occur in much smaller numbers than Japanese beetles.

Green June beetles are velvet green with orange or rust stripes along the outer margins of the wing covers. The beetles are about one inch in length and about twice as large as their more destructive relative the Japanese beetle. Peak flights for this insect start in late June and will continue another couple weeks.

The adults out buzzing around in your yard are probably seeking a mate or there is a good food source they are attracted to. The adults primarily feed on over-ripe fruit, but sometimes will feed on leaves of peach trees. Arnold Caylor, director of the Horticulture Research Station in Cullman, said they are a major pest on the earlier-ripening grapes.

Since they do have chewing mouthparts it is possible to be bitten by them, but they don’t have a stinger. Even though they seem aggressive while buzzing around, and I have been scared out of my wits when disturbing a group of them while picking peaches, I have never been bitten by them.

After mating, the females will complete their lifecycle and lay eggs for a new generation. The eggs will develop into grubs that will develop and overwinter in the soil. These grubs are different from most grub species in the Southeast in that they come out of the ground at night and move from one place to another. Even more unusual, they crawl on their backs when moving. When disturbed, the grubs curl up into a C-shape - much like my teenage girls do when I ask them to wash the dishes.

The adults can cause damage to the turf while nesting, but it is normally not severe enough to treat with an insecticide. The grubs can actually be beneficial in the turf because small populations of them will aerate the soil while tunneling. However, large populations can cause excessive tunneling causing the grass roots to dry out and die in patches. If control of grubs appears warranted, do so in August and September when the grubs are small, close to the surface and more susceptible to pesticides. Most recommended pesticides work best after irrigation or a soaking rain.

I am not sure how widespread this problem is in recent years because we get so many more calls about the Japanese beetle which causes much more damage to ornamental plants. Normally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to what one or two folks say about pest numbers, but if one of the people is your mother you better listen. In this case, while visiting my mother, she asked me, "Do you know where all the June bugs have gone?" To which I responded, "No – but if you hum a few bars I may be able to pick it up." After I picked myself up and brushed off a little, I asked her what she meant and she swears she has not seen any June bugs since the Japanese beetles arrived a few years back. I think they are just not as noticeable in light of the larger populations of their Japanese cousin. However, I would be interested to know if anyone else has observed a decline in June beetles around your home in the last few years. I also wonder if they are a worse problem where the Japanese beetle has not invaded in the southern half of the state. Send me an email with your observations to satisfy mine and my mother’s curiosity.

You may drop me a note or a question at gloveta@aces.edu. For more information and control options, visit our website atwww.aces.edu and go to the publications area. We have two relevant publications you may want to read: "Biology and Control of the Green June Beetle" and "Controlling White Grubs on Lawns and Turf."

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

Farm Fresh Memories

THE STORIES MY DADDY “POP” C.C. CORBETT CALVIN POTTER TOLD ‘BOUT ALL ‘EM WERE TRUE, HE ACTUAL LIVED ‘EM…

by Joe Potter

It’s Wednesday comin’ on 1:30 in the afternoon at The Flat Rock General Store. The lunch-eatin’ crowd was disassemblin’ for afternoon duties and obligations.

The topical discussins’ over lunch were magnitudinal and variable. J.R.’s new Mossy Oak camo fishin’ rod, official horseshoe-pitchin’ distances, "Hatch’s" new Redtick Coonhound puppy, the music man himself Mr. Harley Hood’s weekend musical gig out to the East Franklin Senior Center, Estelle’s hair-beautifyin’ factory’s new hot wax system, USA safety/protection, and, lastly, Bro. was passin’ out flyers ‘bout the Father’s Day program down to the Baptist church.

I exited The Store and settled in my pickup and directed it pure-arrow east facin’ Hatton to check on our small herd of Belted Galloway cattle. Here I come on thinkin’ of the stories and memories of my Daddy "Pop" C.C. He laughed about ‘em all and with 12 brothers these were his versions:

There’s the one ‘bout the rabbit-huntin’ rifle that had to have a rubber band to fire it against the shell.

His sister Helen havin’ Daddy hook the John Deere tractor to the washin’ machine with the pulley belt so she could wash clothes.

There was the day "Pop" and his brother Claude was playin’ cowboys and Indians and just as Claude stuck his head around the tree he caught an arrow with a sharpened nail in the corner of his eye.

The day "Pop" was workin’ two young horses to a section harrow, they ran away and he took a harrow tooth through the calf of his leg. That scar always showed.

Then there’s the one about haulin’ the cotton bales to Hamilton to get an extra cent a pound. As owner of the truck, "Pop" made more money than the farmers he hauled the cotton for.

After several whippin’s, Daddy "Pop" whispered in the horse’s ear and told him if he didn’t pull the ground slide there would be another whippin’ and the horse gingerly moved off with the slide.

"Pop" told one about havin’ the windows up at the Flatwoods house and the black panther cat that actually walked through the bedroom and there were footprints on their bed the next mornin’.

One day I asked my Daddy how far did he go in school and he said he finished the eighth grade at C.C. Smith. Then he laughed and explained he actually went one day in the ninth grade in his brother Elvert’s place.

Daddy "Pop" realized, when growin’ up, they were poor. He carried his lunch in a molasses pail, he slept between feather beds to stay warm. There were cracks in the walls of the house. But Daddy said they never went hungry. Papa, his daddy, always fattened hogs and they had plenty to eat - sometimes hog meat three times a day. He always talked ‘bout his mother’s canned sausage and the smokehouse-cured meat.

Wow!!! The memories and the lessons I learned from my Daddy "Pop" C. C.

Happy Father’s Day to all Daddys, young and old!

Remember your heritage!
Always, Think Good Memories!!!

Joe Potter, Potter’s Mud Creek Farm is located at 5840 County Road 339 (County Line Road), Russellville, near “Our” Flat Rock, in Lawrence County; email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> joepotter50@msn.com.

Farm & Field

Urinary Stones in Goats

A Herd Problem, but Wethers at Higher Risk

by Jackie Nix

Urinary stones can be a problem in male goats, especially wethers. The reason wethers are especially at risk is the urethra is usually smaller in wethers than in intact bucks. Does can also get urinary stones, but these usually pass without notice. It is important to note that presence of urinary stones is a "herd problem" rather than a problem with an individual when all are fed the same ration. As such, you should strive to take a holistic approach in prevention and treatment.

Why Stones Form

Urinary stones are ultimately caused by an improper diet. Diets with excess in phosphorus and/or calcium are the most common cause. The "typical" goat affected is a show wether or pet that has been castrated at an early age and fed a high-grain diet with nearly a 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio or a diet high in magnesium. Even though wethers are at greatest risk, stones occur in intact males, too. Inadequate water intake exacerbates stone formation.

Prevention

The key to prevention is a properly balanced diet. An ideal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is 2:1 to 2.5:1 in a typical goat diet. Avoid too much grain or alfalfa hay. This is not to say that these feedstuffs are "bad" or can never be fed. Under correct management, these feedstuffs can be effectively utilized to maximize production and maintain healthy animals. However, as with all things, you need to know what you are doing in order to avoid problems. Grains are high in phosphorus relative to calcium, thus upsetting the optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio discussed above. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and magnesium, which can also upset the balance. As a rule, grass hay or grass-mix hays are nutritionally adequate for most goats.

Those who choose to feed alfalfa or grains should "balance" the ration, making any necessary adjustments to avoid complications such as urinary stones, rumen acidosis, over-eating disease and others.

Novice goat owners who do not know how to "balance" their ration should utilize a commercial feed from a trusted manufacturer to avoid problems. These feeds will be properly balanced and will have specific feeding directions. Please note that feed should be actually weighed at least once to get a good estimate on proper portions. (Don’t rely on fluid ounce readings on measuring cups since solids have different densities than liquids. Also, don’t rely on the listed weight on a coffee can since feeds and coffee have different densities.) Additionally, most reputable feed companies will have a nutritionist available to answer product questions.

It is also key to always provide plenty of clean, fresh water. Check water tubs often for fecal contamination, debris, freezing (in winter) or any other factor that would reduce water intake.

Mineral supplements can help correct mild imbalances. For grass or grain-based diets it is important to provide a complete mineral supplement with more calcium than phosphorus. A 2-to-1 calcium to phosphorus ratio is preferable in many cases. The SWEETLIXMeat Maker line of goat supplement products offers several supplements with a proper 2:1 ratio, such as the 16:8 Meat MakerGoat Mineral, 16:8 Meat Maker with Rumensin, Meat MakerRoughage Balancer Tub or the Meat Maker20% Pressed Block. For alfalfa-based diets, SWEETLIX offers the Caprine Magnum-Milk Mineral that has a 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio to help offset the higher calcium levels in alfalfa.

Treatment

If you suspect urinary stones, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid costly complications. If urination is totally blocked, the prognosis is not good, even with surgery. Many goat producers use a feed additive (ammonium chloride or potassium chloride) to help acidify the urine. These additives make the crystallized stones more soluble so the goat may be more likely to pass them. This treatment is preferable for early intervention (while the goat is still urinating readily). However, these additives will do nothing to remedy the underlying mineral imbalance that caused stones in the first place. Be sure to make dietary adjustments to correct imbalances to properly "treat" urinary stones for the long run.

In conclusion, urinary stones can be a problem in male goats. Urinary stones are caused by mineral imbalances. Improper feeding is a primary cause of urinary stones. Therefore, goat owners should have an understanding of the overall calcium to phosphorus ratio in their goats’ ration. Contact your Quality Co-op feed representative for recommendations on the use of Co-op goat feed products. Mineral supplements should be used to help prevent mineral imbalances or correct slight imbalances. SWEETLIX offers several Meat Maker products that will not only provide the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus but also the necessary vitamins and minerals goats need to maximize productivity and perform up to genetic potential. Please visit the SWEETLIX website at www.sweetlix.comto learn more about these supplement products.

Jackie Nix is a nutritionist for Ridley Block Operations. You can contact her at www.sweetlix.com or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about the SWEETLIX line of mineral and protein supplements for goats, cattle, horses, sheep and wildlife.

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