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March 2017

2017 Tuskegee University Annual Goat Day

Press Release from Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University Annual Goat Day will be held Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. This year’s Goat Day theme is "Diseases and Parasites in Small Ruminants: Applied Solutions for Producers." The speakers will include Drs. Davis Pugh, Michael Purvis and Dahlia O’Brien.

Pugh is a well-known veterinarian who has many decades of experience with small ruminants. He has received many university and national awards for teaching. He has authored or co-authored over 600 publications and edited three textbooks. Currently, he is the director of the Alabama State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System.

Purvis has over 30 years in private veterinarian practice in medicine and surgery. He is currently working as an Extension veterinarian at Florida A&M University.

O’Brien is an associate professor and small ruminant specialist in cooperative Extension at Virginia State University. She has conducted research on a number of projects including the characterization of anthelmintic resistance in gastrointestinal nematodes of small ruminants, evaluation of natural/alternative dewormers (pumpkin seeds, ginger, garlic, papaya seeds and commercially available herbal wormers) for parasite control and the use of natural breed resistance to reduce internal parasite infections in meat goats.

In addition, Tuskegee University research highlights involving small ruminants will be presented by Dr. Nar Gurung. The roundtable discussion will feature alternative sustainable approaches to disease and parasite control, pasture management and challenges and opportunities in the industry.

After the morning presentations, various field day activities are available to provide a hands-on experience in topics discussed in the morning sessions in addition to access to alternative dewormers and products.

Registration materials may be obtained at For more information contact Gurung at 334-727-8457 or 334-421-8620 or by email at Exhibitors/vendors please contact Ronald Davis at 301-919-8113 or email at

4-H Extension Corner: Taking a Deeper Dive into Aquatic Sciences

Fish Camp participant is looking for macroinvertebrates in an area creek.

ALEARN resources provide more opportunities for teachers and students to experience aquaculture in the classroom.

by Katie Nichols

As needs in the classroom continue to grow and evolve, educators are looking for ways to provide applicable coursework to help students make educated decisions about their futures.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, in partnership with Auburn University, is providing a resource for educators to incorporate aquaculture in the classroom.

ALEARN, short for ALabama Education in aquatic sciences, Aquaculture, Recreational fishing and Natural resources, is a website developed for teachers by Extension and industry professionals. ALEARN’s mission is to provide useful, timely and interesting information about these topics.

Dr. David Cline, an Extension specialist specializing in aquaculture, is one of the driving forces behind ALEARN.

"Aquaculture and aquaponics are used in classrooms across the country to infuse science into agriculture curriculum," Cline said. "Teachers can use aquaculture to teach almost any subject from agriculture, biology, chemistry and math to business, plumbing and carpentry."

Alabama Aquaculture

Alabama’s soil, water and human resources put the state among national leaders in aquaculture enterprises, both in volume and value of products sold.

Twenty-five different species are raised in over 18,000 acres of Alabama ponds and other culture systems. Alabama ranks second nationally with 145 million pounds of channel catfish harvested.

Channel catfish are produced in all counties of the state, but the Black Belt region in west central Alabama is particularly well-suited for commercial aquaculture. The Black Belt’s abundant, high-quality water supply and heavy clay soils are ideal for ponds.

Alabama’s Natural Resources

Alabama is a water-rich state with over 132,000 miles of rivers and streams, 3.6 million acres of wetlands and 560,000 acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

State water resources include springs, swamps, streams, reservoirs, small impoundments, natural ponds, estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico. Alabama ranks second in navigable waterways and sixth in hydropower generation.

Alabama’s abundance of water resources has contributed to Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences program being recognized as a top facility in the world.

Auburn researchers, along with Extension specialists, have collaborated and pooled resources to provide educators with a website packed with information, activities, videos and lesson plans.

Because water resources are used for a variety of things, from drinking to hydroelectric power, irrigation and recreation, making these resources available to educators in the classroom is vital.

Aquaculture-based Educational Resources

Identifying specimens from a macroinvertebrate survey.

Cline said ALEARN provides online resources for teachers looking to implement aquaculture or aquaponics in their classroom. In addition to the online resources, Cline and other Extension specialists guide hands-on workshops for teachers. It is a crash course in aquaculture and aquaponics, and teachers build a small-scale system they can take back to their classroom.

Hundreds of educators from over 25 states have made the trip to Alabama to learn more about aquaculture.

The program also boasts a summer camp for youth.

"Fish Camp is a five-day camp open to students ages 15-18," Cline said. "It is a hands-on, academic camp designed to give students a well-rounded view of what it means to have a job related to fisheries or aquaculture."

Students have an opportunity to get in ponds, seine fish, collect macroinvertebrates to evaluate streams, complete a ropes course, kayak on the Coosa River and fish for a trophy in the research center ponds.

"Aquaculture has created opportunities for many students," Cline said. "One of the things aquaculture is good at is producing more food with less water."

He enjoys getting to open new horizons for students who have interests all across the board, but can find a common interest in aquaculture.

More Information

To register for Fish Camp, visit For more information about aquaculture in the classroom, visit For aquaculture videos on YouTube, To learn more about the teacher workshop, contact Dr. David Cline at

Katie Nichols is in Communications and Marketing with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

A Garden for Giving

An Educator and Political Leader Who Keeps on Growing

Dr. Prince Preyer Jr. looks over the winter garden.

by Robert Spencer

While his hometown is Monroeville, Dr. Prince Preyer Jr. is well-known throughout Madison County as a longtime educator and politician. He served 12 years in secondary education, then came to Alabama A&M University and served from 1970-1990 as a professor and eventually as chairperson for the Department of Agribusiness. As he completed his time at Alabama A&M University, he was elected and served four terms (16 years) as representative for Madison County Commission. After that, he retired from public service where he continued to help others with agriculture interests. This past year he took up residence at Millennium Nursing Home in Huntsville and pursued his passion for gardening while showing other residents how to garden utilizing raised bed gardens for easy access. Preyer keeps on giving.

While serving as county commissioner, Preyer initiated community gardens within his district and made free vegetables available to residents who were willing to pick their own produce. He said this came about as the local public sought assistance with purchases of groceries.

His philosophy was, "If you provide people with groceries one time, they will eat for a meal or two; teach them to grow and harvest food, they will eat for a lifetime."

Making sure people had access to basic vegetables was his passion. Commissioner Bob Harrison has continued with and expanded this project into a whole new level.

The big winter garden with starter trays.

Upon visiting the courtyard of Millennium Nursing Home, you will find three raised bed gardens – two older rectangle shapes and a big square one. Irene McCallie and Margaret Smitherlin are associated with the two older raised beds and Preyer assisted with the design and construction of the newer, square raised-bed garden. Not only did he come up with the concept and design, he also has a canvas template that determines spacing for specific plants and can be rotated to naturally control disease problems.

"I’m always trying to make improvements and strive for efficiencies to accommodate year-round production," he said.

He estimates two 8-by-8 gardens can easily feed a family of four.

He chooses not to use commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Instead he uses livestock manure, organic composting materials, and other vegetable and citrus scraps from the assisted-living facility. He brags about sending soil samples to Auburn University Soil Lab and getting pH results of 7.18, which is very good.

The summer garden has an interior entrance to the facility.

Evelyn Barns, one of the residents, was unable to access the gardens and requested a bird feeder be placed outside the window of her room. Ann Barns, her daughter, accommodated this wish and set up the feeder. Preyer noticed the birds stopped scratching in his gardens for seed and took to the feeders. Therefore, his gardens were more prolific.

This was a learning moment for Preyer.

"I have great respect for Dr. Preyer’s enthusiasm and passion for agriculture and helping others," Ann said.

Within these three gardens, you will find cool-season vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, greens, snow peas, cabbage and lettuce. During the summer, you will find herbs, peppers, okra, tomatoes, squash and zucchini.

While the facility kitchen may not be able to utilize these vegetables (health regulations), the vegetables find their way into the hands of employees, management, and friends and family of the residents. Preyer estimates 75-80 people consume vegetables from these gardens on an annual basis.

The most popular cooked vegetables are fried green tomatoes and fried okra. When asked what motivates him to pursue this endeavor, he said, "The joy on people’s faces and I enjoy gardening."

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

A Labor of Love

Kenneth and Donna Weeks parlay a lifelong fervor for horses into a successful family business.

by Carolyn Drinkard

Kenneth, Donna and Kenzie Weeks live on their farm in Citronelle where Kenneth has built Kenzie her own barn for her five ponies and four horses. He has also built her an arena to exercise and train her horses.

In the January issue of AFC Cooperative Farming News, one article pointed out that the horse industry impact in Alabama now exceeds $2 billion. This comes as no surprise to Donna and Kenneth Weeks, as both have built successful careers in the equine arena. The Weeks have been able to parlay their lifelong fervor for horses into a comfortable living, making every day a labor of love.

The common bond between the couple has been their passion for American Quarter Horses. Donna Dickinson Weeks grew up training and showing her horses, while Kenneth Weeks trained his to race. Long before they met, both were buying and selling Quarter Horses. As fate would have it, Kenneth placed an ad to sell two horses and Donna responded. The rest is history.

By combining their strengths, as well as their passions for horses, the twosome has built a successful business called Wide Open Race Horses. They raise, train, race and market American Quarter Horses. Kenneth has trained racehorses for over 14 years. However, if a horse does not work out on the track, Donna markets that horse to customers all over the world as either a barrel or roping prospect.

Kenneth keeps 75-80 horses, with 40 in training at all times. With help from his five grooms, he follows the schedules of four Louisiana meets that run for three months at a time: Louisiana Downs, in Shreveport; Delta Downs, in Vinton; Evangeline Downs, in Lafayette; and the Fair Grounds, in New Orleans.

Most people are familiar with the excitement of horse racing, but few are aware of the hard work behind that one winning movement. There is never a typical day in the life of a trainer. On Sunday, Kenneth hands out training schedules for each horse; however, he makes daily adjustments, as needed. Keeping the horses in top shape is grueling, and work begins at 4:30 each morning. Each groom is responsible for 10 horses. The horses are put on the hot walker six days a week, unless they are scheduled to be galloped or ponied. Those heading to the track with jockeys or exercise riders must be saddled and ready early. After returning, these horses are mudded, meaning a medicated poultice is applied from above the knees downward to treat joints, swelling or soreness. The grooms also clean stalls, replace bedding, clean hooves, bathe and wipe down the horses, and hay and feed them. Some days include a check-up by the vet, a visit from a farrier or anything else the horse might need. Because each track has a different race time, work schedules vary with the times the horses are on the track.

Kenneth oversees every aspect of the training and upkeep of his horses. He believes that great horses are like people.

"If the horses like their jobs, they’ll be successful," he explained. "We have to keep them happy, and they’ll be successful."

Certainly, his record of wins shows he knows what he’s doing.

Until the younger yearlings are old enough for track life, they are kept at the Weeks’s farm at Sims Chapel, in Washington County. Donna manages this operation with help from three other employees.

"Everything is on a schedule here, too," she stated. "Our feeding times don’t vary by more than five minutes on any given day. Our horses are out six days a week. We have learned that consistency is the best program."

Younger horses usually begin their track training in Shreveport. Donna compared this to kindergarten because it sets the stage for future success. Kenneth and his team usually work with 14 horses a day. He takes them to the track often to familiarize them with other horses, unpredictable noises and busy track life. There is never a shortage of people wanting to ride every day because jockeys are quite competitive, always looking for horses that will become potential winners. Here, the riders work intensely on out-of-gate activities. Even though the younger horses must learn quite a bit, it is during this time that Kenneth gets a real sense of the ones that will make it and those that are not quite suited to become racehorses.

Jockey David Alvarez rides in heavy traffic at the Louisiana Downs track. (Credit: Donna Weeks)

Donna highly praised their grooms and riders.

"Our workers are invaluable," she stated. "They work seven days a week, 10 hours a day, with no holidays. They really do a good job. My husband is very compassionate, and he truly cares about his horses, so his workers have to really love what they do to work for him."

Owners of racehorses expect to win; therefore, they invest their money in the trainer who will get the best results. Trainers not only have to keep the animals in top shape but also have to pick the right race for each horse to run. Kenneth is a respected trainer, who gets results. In five years, he has won the Alabama Futurity at Delta Downs three different times. He was also named the leading trainer at Louisiana Downs in 2016.

Obviously proud of her husband’s accomplishments, Donna added, "Kenneth just has a way with animals, and he really loves working with them. He is one of the hardest-working people I have ever met."

Kenzie Weeks holds Mini Little Lena, a gelding by Smart Little Lena. This horse will be trained as a cutting horse. She loves his gypsy tail hair extensions.

In 2011, life changed for the Weeks family when their daughter Kenzie was born. Kenzie spent her formative years at the tracks, following in her parents’ footsteps. She, too, has developed a deep love for horses, learning to ride and work her own horses at a very young age. Kenzie keeps her five ponies and four horses in her own barn, and she works and trains them in her own arena, both built especially for her by Kenneth. Kenzie is also an avid animal lover, keeping a menagerie of pets, including chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, goats and five pot-bellied pigs.

In 2015, life changed again for the Weeks family, as Kenzie started to school. Donna now stays home to manage their two farms. Kenneth returns each weekend to be with his family and help with farm needs. During summer months or holidays, Donna and Kenzie still visit the tracks to work with Kenneth.

Outside the tracks, the Weeks family has still another enterprise. They run 70 head of Angus and Brahmin cattle on their 27-acre farm outside Citronelle, in Mobile County, and on an additional 50-acre pasture nearby. Donna manages this operation while Kenneth is at the track. She is as comfortable on a tractor as her husband, ferrying round alfalfa or grass bales as well as pallets of feed. She also manages to find time to raise mini Corgi/Aussie puppies that are usually sold before they are born, as these pups are much in demand around both horses and cows.

Donna and Kenneth lead very busy lives, but both see every day as a labor of love. They are especially thankful their daughter can grow up around horses, because they know horses teach life lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else.

Contact Donna and Kenneth Weeks at Wide Open Race Horses on Facebook at

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

New certification cost-share plan for organic producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that starting March 20 organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency offices around the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

Under the new approach, producers will be able to visit local FSA offices to learn how to obtain cost-share reimbursements for up to 75 percent of the expense of organic certification. Officials say producers will have a more uniform, streamlined process nationwide.

The changes are an effort to encourage increased participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and, at the same time, provide more opportunities for organic producers to access a full range of USDA programs.

In the past, state departments of agriculture administered the cost-share programs. States still wanting to administer the program had the opportunity to do so by applying for funding by mid-February.

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for cost share reimbursement.

Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope.

Those wanting to learn more about organic certification cost share should visit or contact a local FSA office by visiting

Canned fruit consumption down, fresh fruit’s market share up

The availability of canned fruit per capita for consumption by U.S. consumers has fallen considerably, but that news may sound worse than it is.

A recent study by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows canned fruit availability has fallen from 25.1 pounds per capita in 1970-74 to 14.2 pounds in the most recent consumption study. At the same time, average consumption of fresh fruit has increased substantially. Fresh fruit availability grew by 34.5 pounds per person and boosted fresh fruit’s market share from 41 to 52 percent.

Canned apple and applesauce availability was 4.1 pounds per person in 2010-14, leading the way in canned fruit. Canned pineapple availability – the second highest – was 3.9 pounds per person. With the exception of olives, per person availability fell for all canned fruit during the study period.

WTO rules for United States in Indonesian dispute

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel has found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Indonesia’s wide-ranging restrictions and prohibitions on horticultural products, animals and animal products.

Working closely with New Zealand as co-complainant, the United States filed the dispute to address Indonesian trade barriers restricting the importation of American fruits and vegetables (such as apples, grapes and potatoes), animal products (such as beef and poultry) and other agricultural products.

The WTO Panel agreed with the United States on 18 of 18 claims that Indonesia is applying import restrictions and prohibitions inconsistent with WTO rules.

Educational attainment shows disparities in rural areas

While educational attainment in rural America has improved over time, rural areas still lag behind urban areas in educational attainment. Moreover, within rural areas, educational attainment varies across racial and ethnic categories.

In general, minority populations within rural areas have relatively less education. About a quarter of adults age 25 and over in the rural black population, 20 percent of Native Americans/Alaska Natives, and almost 40 percent of rural Hispanics had not completed high school or the equivalent in 2015.

These percentages are considerably higher than for rural whites, with 13 percent lacking a high school diploma. Lower attainment levels for minorities may both reflect and contribute to high rates of poverty. Childhood poverty is highly correlated with lower academic success and graduation rates, while lower educational attainment is strongly associated with lower earnings in adulthood.

Report shows increased benefits of ethanol in
greenhouse gas measurements

A new report studying the lifecycle greenhouse gas, or GHG, balance of corn ethanol has found that GHG emissions associated with corn-based ethanol in the United States are about 43 percent lower than gasoline when measured on an energy equivalent basis.

Unlike other studies of GHG benefits that relied on forecasts of future ethanol production systems and expected impacts on the farm sector, the latest research reviewed how the industry and farm sectors performed over the past decade in assessing the current GHG profile of corn-based ethanol.

In general, the report provides evidence that corn ethanol can be a GHG-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, while boosting farm economies. The greater lifecycle GHG benefits from corn ethanol are driven by a variety of improvements in ethanol production, from the cornfield to the ethanol refinery.

Farmers are producing corn more efficiently and using conservation practices that reduce GHG emissions, including reduced tillage, cover crops and improved nitrogen management. Corn yields are also improving – a 10 percent increase from 2005 to 2015.

From 2005 to 2015, ethanol production in the United States also increased significantly – from 3.9 billion to 14.8 billion gallons per year. At the same time, advances in ethanol production technologies such as the use of combined heat and power, using landfill gas for energy and co-producing biodiesel helped reduce GHG emissions at ethanol refinery plants.

By 2022, given current trends, the GHG profile of corn-based ethanol is expected to be almost 50 percent lower than gasoline, primarily due to improvements in corn yields, process fuel switching and transportation efficiency.

Wholesale beef prices falling more rapidly than at retail

It’s not news to beef producers but recent data confirm that wholesale beef prices are declining more rapidly than at the retail level.

According to a recent USDA review, the price of choice beef in wholesale and retail markets moved upward in 2014 and most of 2015. Wholesale prices increased from roughly $3 per pound to nearly $4 per pound by mid-2015, while retail prices moved from just over $5 per pound in January 2014 to a peak of $6.41 in June 2015.

Both prices decreased in 2016, with the wholesale price falling below $3 in late 2016. Retail prices also dropped, but at a slower rate. As a result, the ratio of retail to wholesale prices has increased to more than 2:1, 20 percent higher than the ratio in June 2015 when both prices were at their highest.

Eating out spurs growth in chicken consumption

Per person chicken consumption in the United States has more than doubled over the past four decades, and it comes as no surprise that Colonel Sanders, McDonalds and other segments of the away-from-home market have driven much of the increase.

The away-from-home market includes not only fast food operations but also school cafeterias, restaurants with wait staff and other eating-out locations.

The share of total chicken consumption prepared by away-from-home eating-out places rose from 41.9 to 46.4 percent during a recent 15-year period. Loss-adjusted chicken availability per person in the away-from-home market went from 16.8 pounds to the 22.5- to 24.8-pound range during the same period.

In contrast, chicken obtained at grocery stores (the food-at-home market) grew by just 2.6 pounds per person from 23.3 to 25.9 pounds.

The greater growth in chicken consumption away from home is consistent with the introduction of chicken nuggets, chicken strips and grilled chicken sandwiches, and their rising popularity in fast-food and other eating-out places.

Agriculture – The Noblest Endeavor

At the end of the day, it’s all about feeding people.

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I am tremendously blessed. I work at a job that, for the most part, I really enjoy. That in itself is pretty good because a recent CBS news survey found that only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their job. I enjoy the people I interact with. I enjoy being able to use my veterinary medical education. I enjoy being able to use my practice experience on a regular basis to relate what is going on in the real world. And, above everything else, I enjoy being part of agriculture.

The best I can tell, the first jobs available were in agriculture. Cain was a row cropper and Abel was a livestock producer. I guess Adam, their dad, stayed pretty busy naming everything. When you think about it, it would have been hard to tell Abel to go feed the cows if you didn’t know what to call them. Anyway, it is obvious that the things God put in place during and right after creation were extremely important to the success of the human race – and everything else for that matter. I am blessed to be involved with agriculture.

I may have mentioned this before, but I have never been hungry, not really hungry. Of course, I have probably made the statement before that "I am so hungry, I could eat a horse." But I have never experienced hunger the way so much of the world’s population has. I would say that most of you reading this article are just like me. I have talked to people who lived through the Great Depression and told me they may not have had what they wanted to eat but they never went to bed hungry because they were involved in agriculture. It may have been a glass of milk and cornbread, but they were able to eat. I have heard people who were not involved in agriculture tell about their neighbors giving them a sack of potatoes during hard times. Potatoes can be pretty good when that’s all you have. And caring neighbors involved in the production of food during hard times is a good thing, too.

With each generation, we get further away from really appreciating the fact that, although I believe God is intimately involved, food doesn’t just rain down from heaven. The abundance and variety of wholesome, safe, healthy food in the United States is something we pretty much expect. If you have heard me talk anywhere recently, there is a good chance I have made reference to a Whataburger that has opened in my hometown. It stays open 24 hours a day. I am convinced the reason they stay open 24 hours a day is because there are people who will do business with them all day and all night. And it is also because they are able to fill the order at 2:30 a.m. when the person at the drive-thru orders a triple-meat burger and large fries. I do believe abundance has a tendency to breed complacency.

You know, with the internet, there are not a lot of things you can’t find. They may be wrong, but you can find an answer. So you have to be a little discerning when you search for things on the internet. So using some degree of discernment, I believe that close to 780 million people across the world do not have enough to eat to live a healthy life. I also believe there is some accuracy in saying that progress is being made toward reducing world hunger. But I have to wonder if that trend will be sustained as the population continues to grow and farm land worldwide decreases. If you think about it, most housing developments, factories and other urban developments are on land that would have been suitable for farming. There is certainly competition for the land and, once it ceases to be farmland, it will likely never be used for that purpose again.

I have used all of the space on this page so far to tell you why I think agriculture is important and that I feel very fortunate to be just a speck on the radar screen of this enormous industry that feeds people. The employees of the Alabama Department of Agriculture who work under the umbrella of the state veterinarian, along with our federal colleagues, are committed to making sure, when you are the person at the drive-thru at 2:30 a.m. or any other time, the food is there to fill your order.

The mission of our veterinary diagnostic laboratory system is to be able to give producers and their veterinarian information to help optimize livestock production. The meat and poultry inspection program exists to ensure the products offered for public consumption are wholesome, safe and truthfully labelled. The poultry section is dedicated to surveillance for diseases that could diminish, disrupt or even devastate the poultry industry in Alabama. Our animal industry veterinarians and field employees assist producers with a broad spectrum of disease surveillance, environmental issues and anything else dealing with government regulations.

I have always looked at agriculture as the noblest endeavor that exists. To me, feeding people is the most important thing a person can be involved in. It is ironic that we live in a society paying athletes and actors as much in a year as a farmer may make in a lifetime. Yet, in societies where food is scarce, there are no high-paid athletes or actors – maybe not even low-paid actors and athletes. There are people in the world whose main tasks today are to find enough to eat to be able to stay alive or to go out and find enough to eat tomorrow. Being able to check that task off our list allows us to do all the other activities we enjoy. If you are the average cattle producer, meaning you have about 17-20 cows, from those cows you produce about 16-18 calves a year. That means you are in the cattle business, meaning you are actively involved in feeding the world!

Some people look at regulatory veterinary medicine as one of those government jobs that is just another drag on the taxpayer. But my experience and knowledge of the history of regulatory medicine tells me different. As we go down the road and the population continues to grow, I believe all of us who are fortunate enough to make a living in agriculture have a moral obligation to produce the most food we can to make sure everyone at the table gets fed. Whether it is being able to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis, making sure ground beef isn’t contaminated with anything unsafe, vaccinating calves against blackleg, using the best available genetics to optimize feed efficiency or stopping an outbreak of avian influenza, at the end of the day, it’s all about feeding people.

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

Are We in the Good Old Times of Hunting Regulation

Government overreach is the buzzword of today. Is it true?

by Chuck Sykes

Conservation Enforcement Officer Vance Wood shows a group of hunters how to use the Outdoor Alabama app to Game Check deer.

Dec. 30, 2016, marked the last day with Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries for Kevin Dodd, law enforcement chief, who retired after 32 years of service. He took over the chief’s position two months before I started my job. He was labeled "Mr. Delicate" due to his skill of defusing potentially volatile situations both with his staff and with the general public. He has also been able to offer sound advice to me on handling situations in my position. With this being said, when I offered Mr. Delicate the opportunity to express his parting thoughts in my column this month, I was pleased to see he didn’t squander the opportunity with a shot across the bow. He made a direct hit!!

The recent political climate has popularized naysayers and negativity about all things government including the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. Our office frequently fields complaints from various sources claiming doom and despair over the current state of affairs in conservation matters. I recently endured a long-winded tirade from a self-proclaimed deer-management authority. He raved on about overly liberal seasons "causing the demise of white-tailed deer populations," then whined about "ever-increasing numbers of complex rules and restrictions" and eventually finished with how hunting and fishing licenses are simply a "perpetuation of big government bureaucracy. Why don’t y’all do like Florida? They do things better."

I gritted my teeth while reciting Scripture in my head, "Answer not a fool to his own folly lest thou also be like unto him."

Diplomacy won out. He wouldn’t have listened, but he deserved to have it dished back in his lap, anyway.

I’ve taken to comparing memories over the past 32 years to present day, the before and after so to speak. The aforementioned rant sparked a memory of touring a 2,500-acre hunting club in Baldwin County in 1985. A club member proudly pointed out the poster-board harvest tally tacked to the wall of the skinning shed. It showed 83 buck deer, 79 of which were spikes. Doe killers and pedophiles were not allowed membership.

1985 was the era when bait-shop bulletin boards were plastered with Polaroids of hunters proudly displaying bucks taken well before their prime, and the beds of pickup trucks usually revealed several skull caps sporting finger-length antlers. The harvest mantra was, "If I don’t shoot him, someone else will." Unantlered deer were sacred in most parts, reserved only for the derelict, outlaw poachers. The Deer Management Program that came about in the 1980s was widely viewed as heresy, and any biologist or officer preaching the new harvest gospel to include shooting does and not shooting young bucks endured similar accusations about "causing the demise of the deer populations."

Thirty years later, most landowners and deer hunters are better educated on the basics of habitat management and deer harvest strategy, largely due to WFF’s education efforts. Despite the dire predictions of some of the public in the 1980s, deer and turkey have expanded to every county in the state. Social etiquette says not to say, "I told you so." But the WFF Division did tell you so.

Numerous other species of wildlife and fish WFF manages have flourished as well. I am proud that my brother, an avid birder and kayaker, is able to view bald eagle nesting activity on Guntersville reservoir due to WFF eagle hatching programs in the 1990s that re-established active breeding in Alabama. I am pleased to have witnessed the return of annual migrations of manatees to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and that osprey now nest on many state reservoirs. Black bear now appear to be expanding well beyond the small thickets of north Mobile County, where they have struggled for years. Commercial harvest of paddlefish has resumed in waters where they were scarce or absent in the late 1980s. The striped bass-hybrid fishery in nearly every reservoir can be attributed to successful WFF hatchery programs. The naysayers have it wrong. The WFF Division has done pretty well thus far. But government agencies aren’t supposed to brag.

Although these successes resulted from varying degrees of WFF management, all included regulations designed to foster their success and an active law-enforcement program to ensure public compliance. The concern about too many complex rules is nothing new. The WFF Division recognizes that a maze of season restrictions and frivolous rules serves only to discourage newcomers to hunting and, therefore, constantly vets the justification for rules against the public good. The trend has been to encourage landowners and lease holders to make sound management decisions for their individual property needs by allowing as much leash as possible. In recent years, over 50 regulatory restrictions have been simplified, reduced or repealed entirely. These include restrictions against certain archery devices, ammunition types, firearms, firearm suppressors, bag limits and season zones. Want to predator hunt in June? No problem, as we opened the season on fox, bobcat and raccoon. Want to use buckshot outside of dog deer season? Go for it. Trying to recall the three planting zone dates for top-sown wheat for dove fields? Forget about that as there is now one zone for the entire state, and the guidelines for planting are greatly simplified. For those who whine about the complexities of today’s three statewide deer harvest zones, I would invite them to revisit 1985 when some areas had four zones within one county. Maybe the hunters then were better able to decipher the rules?

We arrived at the present state of plentiful wildlife opportunities on the backs of willing, license-buying hunters and anglers from years past. The WFF law enforcement program is 100 percent dependent on these funds, and the steady decline of license sales has resulted in a present force of conservation officers that resembles 1970 levels more so than in 2000. There are more license discounts and exemptions afforded to hunters and anglers today than there were in 1907. Let that soak in for a moment, and then tell me how anyone could reasonably view hunting and fishing licenses as perpetuation of big government bureaucracy?

The attempts to discuss future funding for WFFLE through restructuring basic license exemptions have been unfairly labeled as "more government waste." Given all I’ve observed in my work with WFF for over three decades, I’d call it leadership.

Chuck Sykes is director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Kevin Dodd is a retired chief of law enforcement for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.

Are you ready?

Alabama Extension to Hold Urban Living Expo on Disaster Preparedness March 25

Press Release from Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Natural and man-made disasters have the ability to disrupt lives and, without careful planning, can have adverse effects for years to come. To help individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations to better prepare, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs will hold the Urban Living Expo Saturday, March 25, 2017, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. It will be held at Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University’s Agribition Center located at 4925 Moores Mill Road in Huntsville.

The theme for ULE 2017 is "Plan-Prepare-Practice: Don’t Get Caught Off Guard When Disaster Occurs!" Its primary objectives are to engage the public through interactive displays and to disseminate information across Extension program areas to individuals, families, and local businesses and organizations about disasters. But, more importantly, participants will learn the most effective actions to take to maximize safety and to ensure their needs and the needs of their family members, including pets, are adequately met should disaster strike.

"It is our hope that no one ever encounters a natural or man-made disaster. However, today we must be ready for the unexpected! The goal of ULE is to educate Alabama residents about disaster preparedness resources available across the state, and to encourage individuals and families to develop a disaster plan for themselves, their families and for animals left in their care," said Robert Spencer, event co-chair and urban regional Extension specialist.

Admission is free; however, participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to a local food bank. Free food and door prizes will also be available.

Exhibitors and sponsors are welcome. Exhibitors are asked to pay a set-up fee of $25 or to provide a door prize of equal value. For more information, please contact Robert Spencer at 256-372-4983 or, or visit If you would like to become a sponsor, please contact Dr. Karnita Garner at 256-372-8331 or

Auburn University Agriculture Hall of Honor

New inductees and Pioneer Award recipients are honored.

by Alvin Benn

Three men who made their marks in plant breeding, pork production and soil are the newest inductees in the Auburn University Agriculture Hall of Honor.

Edgar A. "Eddie" Aldridge, L.O. Bishop and Benjamin F. Hajek were honored on Feb. 9, 2017, during a ceremony held at the hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

Also honored during the event were Loren L. Aldridge, Eddie’s late father, and James O. Helms Jr. They received Alabama Agriculture Pioneer Awards.


Eddie Aldridge

Eddie Aldridge

Hard work never intimidated Eddie, whose family included older brother Mac. Their operation included a greenhouse and nursery business in Bessemer.

In 1952, Eddie followed in his dad’s and sibling’s footsteps by enrolling at Auburn University (then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute).

During his freshman year, tragedy struck the Aldridge family when Mac died of a brain tumor. Eddie decided to put college on hold for a while when he joined the Army.

In 1954, after completing military service, Eddie joined his family’s garden shop and nursery business that had become one of America’s first full-scale retail garden centers.

During subsequent years, father and son built their business into a highly successful operation. After Loren’s death, Eddie increased the family business in size and scope to the extent that he was recognized as a pioneer in Alabama’s green industry.

An avid plant breeder, he developed many new cultivars of ornamental plants and shrubs with one emerging as a nationally known oak leaf hydrangea mutation. Patented and known as "Snowflake," it graces gardens and landscapes around the world.

L.O. Bishop

L.O. Bishop

Bishop began farming at the age of 15, after the death of his father, and produced his first full crop in 1954. Since that time, he has had an extensive farming career including no-tilling corn, soybeans and wheat.

Although he now farms over 700 acres of timber and row crops, he is best known as one of Alabama’s leading pork producers.

Bishop began raising hogs about eight years into his farming career and, during the operation’s most successful period, he maintained 200 sows and sold over 4,000 market hogs annually.

In addition to those accomplishments, he is also known for his mouthwatering Bishop’s Barbecue, gaining him praise outside agriculture circles.

In 1966, Bishop and his wife Grace were among the first selected by the Alabama Farm Bureau as Alabama’s Young Farm Family of the Year.

In the five decades since, he has worked tirelessly as a well-known and respected ambassador of agriculture.

In 2013, the Alabama Farmers Federation recognized Bishop with its Service to Agriculture Award – the highest award bestowed by that organization.

The Bishops still live on the farm where he spent his childhood and began his agriculture career. They have three children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Benjamin Hajek

Benjamin Hajek

For someone born and raised in Texas, Benjamin Hajek has made quite a name for himself in Alabama, thanks to his amazing career at Auburn University.

Hajek’s early years were spent on a farm in southeast Texas before joining the Army in 1950. He returned to his native state after his stint in the military and earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science at Texas A&M University.

Master’s and doctoral degrees followed at Auburn University, where he was an assistant professor of agronomy and soils specializing in soil classification and clay mineralogy.

During that time, he developed a reputation as an outstanding researcher and teacher, not to mention direction of soil judging teams who won unprecedented national championships in Intercollegiate Soils Judging competitions.

Hajek and his wife Rosalie have continued to live in Auburn. They have four sons, who established an endowed scholarship in their dad’s name at the AU College of Agriculture.


Loren Aldridge

Loren Aldridge

A native of Boaz and agricultural graduate of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Loren lettered in football and was described as the most popular student on the campus.

After graduating, he began his career as a vegetable farmer, evolving into a greenhouse and, later, a nursery business.

He founded the Bessemer Floral Company and subsequently became well-known in the nursery and floral industry. At one point, he served as president of the Alabama Florist Association.

In 1971, he and his son, Eddie, were awarded a patent for Hydrangea quercifolia "Snowflake" that ultimately became a popular garden plant around the world.

The plant can be found thriving in New York’s Central Park, the grounds of the White House and in gardens throughout Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

Aldridge died in 1978.

James Helms Jr.

James Helms Jr.

Helms was so patriotic during World War II that he drove the family’s tractor to the U.S. Navy’s recruiting office and signed up to serve his country.

After a tour in the South Pacific, he completed Officer Candidate School. When the war ended, he returned to Auburn to complete his degree in agricultural engineering in 1948.

The Enterprise native taught vocational agriculture to Coffee County veterans before accepting a position at API’s north teaching farm.

In 1962, Helms began what would be a 40-year career in farm equipment sales and, later, joined Ford Motor Company’s Tractor Division near Atlanta.

From there he bought the Montgomery Ford Tractor Co. and, under the business that bore the family’s name, it flourished for the next three decades.

Helms died in 2007.

The Hall of Honor awards program was established in 1984 when the AU Agricultural Alumni Association approved a resolution to recognize living Alabamians who have made significant contributions to the state’s agricultural industry.

In 1995, the Agricultural Pioneer Award was established to posthumously recognize individuals whose lives and work impacted the industry.

The AU College of Agriculture is currently developing plans for a permanent installation in Comer Hall to honor inductees in the Hall of Honor as well as the Pioneer Award.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Cooking With Herbs and Spices

by Angela Treadaway

Spices and herbs have been used in foods for centuries. Spices were once so costly only the wealthy could afford them. In 11th-century Europe, many towns paid their taxes and rents with pepper. The reason for Columbus’ voyage in 1492 was to seek a more direct passage to the rich spices of the Orient.

What’s the difference between a spice and an herb?

  • Herbs are leaves of low-growing shrubs. Examples are parsley, chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, caraway, dill, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage and celery leaves. These can be used fresh or dried. Dried forms may be whole, crushed or ground.
  • Spices come from the bark (cinnamon), root (ginger, onion, garlic), buds (cloves, saffron), seeds (yellow mustard, poppy, sesame), berry (black pepper) or the fruit (allspice, paprika) of tropical plants and trees.
  • Many dehydrated vegetable seasonings are available. These include onion, garlic … and shallots.
  • Seasoning blends are mixtures of spices and herbs.

Reducing Fat, Sugar and Salt Tips

Spices and herbs can help retain flavor in your foods while cutting back on dietary fat, sugar and sodium/salt.

Reducing Fat – Removing a tablespoon of fat removes about 10 grams of fat and 100 calories – an amount that could represent a 10-pound weight loss in a year. The calories in herbs and spices are far less than in breading, batters, gravies, sauces and fried foods.

Reducing Sugar – Reduce or eliminate sugar by using these sweet-tasting spices:

  • Anise
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Mace
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Reducing Salt – Here are some tips when using spices and herbs to help you reduce the salt in foods:

  • Savory flavors and flavors with a bite such as black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander and onion are the most effective in replacing the taste of salt, according to ASTA.
  • Omit the salt when cooking pasta and flavor with basil, oregano, parsley and pepper or use an Italian seasoning blend.
  • Use powdered garlic and onion rather than their salt form. Use half as much of the powdered form.
  • Check labels to see if salt or sodium is listed among the ingredients.

Flavor and Food Combinations

These flavor and food combinations, adapted from information provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (, have the added benefit of making meat, poultry, fish and vegetables tasty without adding salt.

For meat, poultry and fish, try one or more of these combinations:

  • Beef: Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme
  • Lamb: Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint
  • Pork: Garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano
  • Veal: Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano
  • Chicken: Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Fish: Curry powder, dill, dry mustard, marjoram, paprika, pepper

For vegetables, experiment with one or more of these combinations:

  • Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
  • Corn: Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley
  • Green Beans: Dill, curry powder, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme
  • Greens: Onion, pepper
  • Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage
  • Summer Squash: Cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
  • Winter Squash: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion
  • Tomatoes: Basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper

Common Substitutions

General Rules for Amounts

If possible, start with a tested recipe from a reliable source. If you’re creating your own recipe, begin with trying one or two spices or herbs. The amount to add varies with the type of spice or herb, type of recipe and personal preference.

Substitute Equivalent Amounts of Different Forms

What if your recipe calls for fresh herbs and all you have are dried? Here are some approximate amounts of different forms of herbs equivalent to one another:

  • 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs
  • ¼-½ teaspoon ground dried herbs

General Rules for Amounts

If you don’t know how much of a spice or herb to use these recommendations as a good rule of thumb, remember to use more herbs if using a fresh or crumbled dried form.

Begin with ¼ teaspoon of most ground spices or ground dried herbs for these amounts and adjust as needed:

  • Start with 1/8 teaspoon for cayenne pepper and garlic powder.
  • Red pepper intensifies in flavor during cooking; add in small increments.

Doubling a Recipe

  • DO NOT double spices and herbs.
  • Increase amounts by 1½ times.
  • Taste, add more if needed.

When to Add Spices and Herbs

The type of herb and the type of food for which it is used influence the time to add it during food preparation:

  • Adding FRESH herbs during cooking. As a general rule, add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time or just before serving as prolonged heating can cause flavor and aroma losses.
  • Add the more delicate fresh herbs (basil, chives, cilantro, dill leaves, parsley, marjoram and mint) a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle them on the food before it’s served.
  • The less delicate fresh herbs (dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme) can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  • For some foods such as breads, batters, etc., you’ll need to add fresh herbs at the beginning of the cooking process.
  • Adding DRIED herbs and spices during cooking. Follow these tips and techniques for best taste:
  • Whole dried spices and herbs (whole allspice and bay leaves):
  • Release their flavors slower than crumbled or ground ones.
  • Are ideal for dishes cooking an hour or more such as soups and stews.
  • Ground dried spices and herbs:
  • Release their flavor quickly.
  • May taste best in shorter-cooking recipes or added nearer the end of longer-cooking ones.
  • Crumbled dried herbs may differ:
  • Milder herbs such as basil may flavor best added toward the end of cooking.
  • More robust herbs such as thyme can stand longer cooking periods.
  • Freshly grinding spices such as black pepper and nutmeg provide more flavor than buying them already ground. This also applies to using them in uncooked foods.
  • Secure whole spices such as cloves in a tea ball for easy removal at the end of cooking.
  • Warning: Remove bay leaves at the end of cooking. They can be a choking hazard if left in foods and can cause harmful cuts and scratches in your throat and esophagus.


For uncooked foods, add both fresh and dried spices and herbs several hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. For example, think potato salad with fresh versus dried parsley!

For more information on using spices:

Check these websites for more information and recipes using spices and herbs:

American Spice Trade Association,


Penzeys Spices,


** Note: No endorsement of products is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

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.

Corn Time



Feasting on Filler

Well, the hay was free and the cows were fat! The droughts last year threw all kinds of curve balls to the cattle and other agricultural industries. Our mature cows went into the fall in pretty good shape in southeast Alabama. Though we were dry in the spring and early summer, we were blessed to have a lot of big rains in mid-July through August. By mid-September, we were dry enough that we mowed the leftover crabgrass and begin disking the 45 acres where we plant our winter grazing – but when the rain stopped it stopped!

October is typically dry for us, although rains normally return in November and December. We try to get our winter grazing planted at least by early October so we can turn the cattle in on it around Thanksgiving or shortly after. Last year, however, because we were so dry and no rain was in the forecast, we waited until late October to plant – and then we planted in powder knowing the seed would not germinate until we got some moisture. As it turned out, November was just as dry as October and, for over 45 days, the seed just sat in the dust.

Hay was plentiful during the spring and summer, but, as the drought conditions worsened in the fall and winter, supplies began to tighten as cattlemen realized the winter-grazing period, if the seed even came up, would be very limited. Many of our neighbors did not even attempt to plant grazing because it was becoming apparent the available grazing time was not going to pay for the seed and fertilizer cost.

Without the winter grazing, hay and other supplements were going to be needed. Hay (the most common and affordable source of stored, long-stemmed fiber) is the one food source absolutely necessary for cattle when grazing is limited. In a normal year, good quality hay and a liquid or tub protein supplement will keep a mature cow in pretty good shape through the winter, but it was not a normal year!

As I mentioned earlier, when we started feeding hay last fall, our mature cows were in good shape. We first fed our leftover good hay from 2015 and then we fed some 2016 hay a friend had donated to help us out. He told us the hay was low quality and should only be used as filler when he gave it to us; but it looked decent, so we did not pay much attention to his warning.

Once the mature cows started calving in October, they lost a little weight as they normally do, but not enough that I was concerned. During the month of December when Jack started feeding the donated hay, I was busy in the office and rarely went to the back pasture where the mature cows were. Though Jack had expressed his concern over their condition, I assumed they were just a little more thin than normal because average hay and the liquid supplement is normally adequate for cows their age.

In January, I finally got back to the mature cow pasture and could not believe how much weight they had lost. Even the two that still had not calved were thin! Jack had seen them every day, twice a day, all fall and winter and had never let them go without hay. Though he had told me they were getting too thin, I was caught off guard. This hay was not only low quality, but was indeed little more than filler. It was filling their bellies, but was not meeting their nutritional needs, even with the liquid supplement.

As I thought about it, even though the hay was poor quality, there was still something that just did not add up. Even without the winter grazing, feeding low-quality hay with a liquid protein supplement should have kept them in better shape than they were in. A couple of days later, I was going back through my cattle records to see what vaccines and other pharmaceuticals we would need for 2017 when I noticed we had not dewormed the mature herd since May 2016. We had dewormed all the other cattle, but had somehow neglected to treat the mature cows; probably because they were the easiest to maintain and were our last priority. In a normal year, this probably would not have been an issue, but, with a spring drought followed by a very wet summer and then severe fall and winter droughts, everything was different.

When it was wet in the summer, conditions were right for internal parasites to flourish. The cattle had good grazing, so the impact of the parasites on the cows was not noticeable. However, when the drought hit, the cows grazed down to the dirt and picked up every parasite and larva on the ground. Because we did not deal with the worm infestation, what few nutrients the low-quality hay was providing were being negated by the parasites. On good hay, they would have gotten by in better shape, but low-quality intake along with the parasites had very detrimental effects.

It hit me this week about the spiritual parallels to this illustration. I thought about the times in my walk with the Lord that I have found myself spiritually malnourished and unable to help myself. Just like with these cows, the anemia and weakened state usually happened gradually and not because of a sudden, specific sin drastically changing my direction but because I let my guard down on the daily basics required to "stay fresh in Jesus," as my old friend Grady Watson would say. I did not quit eating and I was not idle, I just quit feeding on what provided the nutrition I needed to stay healthy spiritually. When we are spiritually malnourished, it affects all other aspects of our lives: physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. Looking back, I never planned it that way nor would I have ever intentionally allowed it to happen, but when I let what was essential to my spiritual health be replaced with other things (good or bad), I was settling for what was only filler and filler will never sustain us – it just satisfies us for a time.

Most of these times when I found myself spiritually malnourished I was feeding on the work of the Lord instead of the Lord of the work. I was feeding on all the needs around me and around the world, but not on the One who could meet those needs. I was not necessarily feeding on bad things: it is just that I was not feeding on what was needed to keep me spiritually healthy. When we get spiritually malnourished we open the doors for Satan’s temptations and are more susceptible to allowing sin (like the internal parasites in the cattle) to enter our lives. It may or may not be sins of commission (things we do), but it will certainly lead to sins of omission (what we did not do that we should have done). When we get spiritually malnourished and parasite-ridden (anything distracting us from a right relationship with the living Christ), it will always lead to sin and, when we get weak enough, anything can happen no matter who you are and no matter how spiritually strong and healthy you once were!

When we get so busy or distracted that we quit feeding daily on the Word of God and spending the quiet time alone with Him essential to give us the spiritual nutrition and strength we need just to survive, much less to thrive, we are feeding on filler and we will not stay healthy in any aspect of our life. We may get by for a little while, but, eventually, it will catch up with us and we will find ourselves in a spiritual wilderness wondering how we got there! The ONLY way out of the wilderness is confession and repentance, putting Christ back on the throne of our life.

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35 NIV). Why settle for what is just filler with no lasting value and cannot sustain life when we can feast on the Bread of Life? "Let everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear and your soul shall live." (Isaiah 55:1-3a)

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

FFA Sentinel: Our Heroes

Patriotism and civil service have always been a part of FFA.

by Andy Chamness

The Alabama Chapter of the National FFA Organization has supplied leaders since its inception in 1929. Patriotism and civil service have always been a part of FFA, but no time in history was that more apparent than during World War II. Young FFA members committed to service answered the call both on the frontlines of the battlefield and here at home. The U.S. Veteran’s Administration estimates we currently lose 492 WWII veterans per day. As we continue to lose these American heroes, many of which were FFA members, let us take a moment to remember that service was a sacrifice and honor these heroes by sharing just a few of their stories.

FFA chapters throughout Alabama were involved in the war effort. The Alabama Future Farmer magazines during the war years of 1942-45 had articles and other morsels about what FFA members were doing to aid the war cause. What follows are various notes and stories of what FFA chapters were doing to help the Allies win the war, as well as information on former FFA members serving in the Armed Forces. Some of the wordage in this article would not be considered politically correct today, but, during WWII, it was and, when it does appear, it is in quotes.

From the September 1942 issue: "FFA Men in Service. In a recent survey among the FFA chapters of Alabama to determine the number of FFA members in Armed Services (Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, etc.) the following information was revealed: Active members, 542 and associate members, 2,724; giving a total of 3,266 FFA members serving in the Armed Forces."

Private Raymond Ballard of the Rawls FFA Chapter, circa 1942

From November 1942: "Private Raymond Ballard Remains FFA Member. Raymond Ballard, former president of Rawls FFA Chapter now in the Armed Forces, sends his greetings and best wishes to the Chapter together with 50 cents for his dues for next year.

"Raymond was elected president of the Chapter in 1940, and, during his year’s administration, the Chapter was more active and the boys more interested than ever before.

"His leadership ability should make him a good soldier, and with his ideals he should set an example among the boys with whom he serves."

The December 1942 issue reported: "Members of the Red Level FFA Chapter were shocked to hear of the death of their former adviser, Mr. W. C. Smitherman. He was in the Naval Aviation Service and was killed November 7 [1942] while on a regular training flight near Jacksonville, Florida. He had won his wings and commission as Ensign less than a month before.

"Mr. Smitherman had been FFA Adviser at Red Level for three years before he joined the Naval Air Corps in December 1941, and was known by FFA members and advisers in all parts of the state. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Smitherman, Stanton, Alabama."

The February 1943 edition included: "Sailor Enjoys Gift From Lincoln FFA. Playing Santa Claus to all former FFA members now in the Armed Services was part of the activity program of the Lincoln FFA and FHA. The presents ‘hit the spot’ as you can see by the letter received from the 1932 FFA President at Lincoln.

"U.S.S. Tenacity, Dec. 29, 1942. Dear friends of FFA and FHA: I received your nice gift several days before Christmas, and you cannot know how much I appreciate it. The items you sent are much needed, and very hard to get; in fact, impossible for weeks at a time. It is inspiring also to be remembered by such a fine group.

"‘I would like to tell you of the life and happenings aboard our ship, but I’m sure you know that is forbidden. Thanks again, and I’m looking forward to thanking each of you personally. Your friend, Sid Kirksey.’"

Wartime Convention, June 1943

From June 1943: "Bill Whitt, chapter president now in the armed service, writes the following V-Mail letter to the Sardis FFA Chapter:

"‘Fellow Members: Let me congratulate you on your fine work. I saw in the Gadsden Times where you had increased your membership. It should be the ambition of each of the Green Hands to keep in mind the motto and how to carry out orders. The things I was taught have helped me lots in the service method of obeying orders. I owe it to the training I received while I was president of our chapter.

"‘You can do your part in winning the war right there in FFA work. All of the former members now in the service are giving the enemies all they can and, believe me, that is plenty, for I have been in there myself.’"

Also from June 1943: "Sgt. Jack Methvin, Future Farmer from Arley, has been on 55 bombing missions against the ‘Japs.’ Jack had 14 months of active duty in the South Pacific as bombardier on a two-motored Mitchell bomber. In spite of many close calls, including a crash landing and the death of many buddies, Jack was not wounded or hurt at all. He was awarded the Silver Star, as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross."

The April 1945 issue had an article sent in by Howard Smith, Pell City Chapter Reporter, on one of its former members in the Navy: "Sailor Appreciates FFA Membership Card.

"The following letter to our chapter gives the experience of Otto Walker, 1942 president of the Pell City FFA Chapter, who is now in the Navy at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

"‘I was undressing one night getting ready to turn in when I happened to remove my Alabama Future Farmer membership card from my billfold. As I did so, several nearby sailors noticed what it was and that started something. As fast as lightning, sailors from Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and several other states that I can’t remember spoke up. From that, we became acquainted and had an old-fashioned FFA meeting in the barracks. I learned an FFA membership card is the key to many doors that otherwise might not be opened to me. I find FFA members everywhere I go.’"

Many former FFA members in Alabama came home to continue their lives. Some continued in agriculture while others chose a different avenue. However, we will never know how many FFA members made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf in WWII. To them, we can never say thanks for what they did nor should we ever forget what they gave. FFA members and advisors from across the state, I encourage you to honor your veterans as part of your chapter’s FFA program of activities. These men and women who sacrifice so much in order that we may live in a nation where we are free to live and work on a good farm or engage in other agricultural pursuits and participate as FFA members in all manner of events and competitions more than deserve our thanks. We live in the greatest nation on Earth. It is because of our veterans and their service to this country that we are free. If you have served or are currently serving, on behalf of all of our FFA chapters and the Alabama FFA Association, I want to thank you for your service, your dedication, your love of country and your sacrifice. May God bless and keep you.

In closing, I would like to share one last story with you. From the April 1945 magazine: "Private Joe Vines.

"The following poem was written by the principal and coach of Pell City High School and dedicated to Private Joe Vines, a Chapter farmer and officer in FFA in 1943. Joe joined the Army after graduation and went to France, where he was killed in action within six months after leaving his group."


He stood by my desk that December day
A stalwart lad, so gently bred
With a soft Southern drawl and hair of red.
We talked of the team the year before,
When Captain he’d been – how we kept up the score.
His girl stood near, his sister wandered in,
His whole life was there in this little group of friends.

Two short months have gone by since he stood by my desk.
His youth with its shining beauty has fled
For his country, his life’s blood he has shed.
Did I imagine that day a look in his eye?
He wanted to live, not to die.
He went as many a lad will go, with courage.
And a wistfulness in his heart for a life he will never know.

I want to give a special thank you to Philip Paramore for his contribution to this article, research, diligence and love of history.

Andy Chamness is the education specialist serving the Central District FFA.

Go Fetch! For an Animal in Need

Crenshaw County Animal Society offers animal lovers many ways to get involved.

by Mary Delph

Pets for adoption can be found on their website, at Go Fetch! Flea Market or on special adoption days at PetSmart.

Mission: Crenshaw County Animal Society is a nonprofit organization made up of citizens who donate their time, talent and other resources in order to provide education and services for people and pets that promote the value of companion animals, create community wellness and enhance lives.

Crenshaw County Animal Society started in early 2013 when Betty Massey and Kimmie Thiem started visiting shelters in the surrounding areas to see how they handled the stray and lost animal population. Both of them were passionate about the stray and lost animal situation in Crenshaw County. They were soon joined by other members who have that same passion for animals.

Exciting things are happening for Crenshaw County Animal Society. 2016 was a great year and 2017 is looking even better!

"We have a 12-kennel foster program," said Beth Rogers, who works to help animals, "but we consistently have about 20 cats and dogs at one time – a litter of kittens or pups would be considered a kennel because we’d keep them together, just like they would be with their mom.

"Some animals come into our program through owner-surrender. The owner fills out a surrender form giving us permission to take the pet(s) and get it (them) any medical care needed.

"We also have stray or abandoned animals in our program. If someone finds one, the person turning it in is also asked to sign a surrender form and provide ID. This helps us return animals to their owners if they’ve been lost or stolen, and it also helps us in recordkeeping."

2016 was a building year for CCAS. One of the first additions we made was a lost-and-found page on Facebook for all Crenshaw County citizens (you can find it under Crenshaw County, AL, Lost & Found Animals). Currently, we have over 800 people who belong to the page. We’ve helped reunite animals and their families in our county and the surrounding areas. CCAS members share the posts on the page to buy-sell-trade sites, vet clinics, shelters, and other lost and found sites.

We opened Go Fetch! Flea Market and More earlier in the year. It is located at 998 S. Forest Avenue in Luverne. It’s set up in a cute building holding all kinds of treasures to look through. Right now, it’s open Friday afternoons and all day Saturdays. It sells a little bit of everything – remember the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Everyone loves to shop with us.

We have some very faithful friends who donate regularly to the market, so new items are available every weekend. Because we’re a non-profit, all donations are tax deductible; we will provide forms to submit with tax paperwork. The proceeds from our sales support our foster program. Anyone who is interested in donating items to sell, or to donate food or pet supplies for our fosters, are welcome to drop them off at the market.

Most weekends, there are at least two or three members who can help answer questions about our programs. Some of our adoptable pets also visit, so you can get to know them. We’ve had several pets adopted through these visits.

We’ve continued the pet foster program started in 2014. We believe in-home fostering is better for animals. They live in our homes with our own pets. They learn how to get along with other animals, as well as people in general. Because we’re around them regularly, we can more easily watch for health problems; we can also learn the little quirks that are part of any animal’s personality. That helps us match our pets with their person. Of course, our animals aren’t placed with their foster until after the mandatory 14-day quarantine and they’ve received any necessary vetting.

We’re also proud to announce that we now have our own transport program, so we can get the animals directly to our rescue partners. We work with several transport companies who move our foster pets to rescue groups throughout the East Coast who help them find the best homes possible, and we’ve added additional rescue partners. Because our county is like many others in the South, we have an overabundance of unwanted animals. It’s not always possible for us to place animals in our area – having partners in other areas makes it easier to help our animals find their forever homes.

We’re looking for 2017 to be a banner year!

Our second annual PAW Poker Run will take place April 22 in Luverne. Last year’s Run was a big success and we plan on it being even bigger and better this year. We’re expecting more bikes, cars and trucks to enter. Last year, the bikers took a couple of hours to ride around the county, draw their cards and play some games. Then they came back to the park to listen to some wonderful speakers, have a delicious lunch and win some door prizes. Besides the obvious support we received from bikers in and around Crenshaw County, one of our pets found their forever home during the event. The poker run is open to all kinds of vehicles, and we welcome everyone to join us for a day of fun! Check our Facebook page for more details or call Beth Rogers at 334-546-8312. Please plan to come join us!

We’ve also got a couple of other surprises in store for later in the year. Be watching our Facebook page for announcements as they come up.

We now have an adoption partner – our pets will now also be available for adoption through PetSmart events. Some of our members will be on-site during these events, along with some of our pets. Potential families can meet the pets. Any pets adopted will get to go to their new homes that day, along with any supplies they need that can be purchased on-site. PetSmart also donates treat bags for pets that are adopted during these events. Participating in this program opens our pets up to even more opportunities to find loving homes.

We’re also working with the Animal Alliance in Montgomery for a low-cost spay/neuter program. We will offer free transport for cats and dogs once a month. We’ll announce the date every month at our market, on our Facebook pages, in the local paper and on the local radio station. We do have some guidelines:

  • You MUST make an appointment with us, and we’ll set it up with Animal Alliance.
  • Cats and dogs must have proof of rabies shot; if not, Animal Alliance will give them one for $8.
  • All paperwork must be completed and turned in the day of the transport. The payment for the procedure must be paid before transport.
  • Cats and dogs must have all fleas removed before transport, by bath or medicine. If not, Animal Alliance will treat for fleas ($8) before the surgery to prevent contamination in the surgical area.
  • We will bring the animals back the same day. Pickup and return will be from Go Fetch!

There are other options besides dropping donations off at Go Fetch!:

  • We accept donations via Paypal; visit us on Facebook (Crenshaw County Animal Society Alabama) and click the Donate button near the top, or you can visit our website ( and click on the Paypal button in the right column.
  • We have an iGive account; as our friends shop online, CCAS gets a percentage of what they spend donated into the iGive ( account.
  • Donations can also be mailed to 374 Bowden Road, ATTN: Betty Massey, Honoraville, AL 36042.

If you have any questions, call us at 334-335-2138 (CCAS) or 334-304-2552 (Go Fetch!).

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

Horizon Equine Supplement

by John Sims

Now is the time to look at your equine vitamin and mineral program. Minerals are inorganic nutrients needed in relatively small quantities by a horse. The essential major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium and sulfur. The essential trace minerals are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, iodine and cobalt.

Trace mineral blocks do not contain sufficient mineral levels to benefit your animal. In horses, calcium helps maintain normal brain and nerve function, and aids in heart, skeletal muscle and intestinal contraction. Phosphorus helps regulate muscle and heart contraction, cell integrity and glucose use. A calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of less than 1:1 can have negative consequences on the skeleton.

Horizon Equine Supplement has a 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorous ratio for proper absorption. The trace minerals zinc, copper and manganese are chelated to ensure maximum absorption and performance. Benefits of this process are improved reproduction efficiency, enhanced immunity and unsurpassed hoof integrity. To further improve hoof health, we add biotin at 40 g/pound; so feeding 4 ounces per day provides 10 mg per animal.

You can provide Horizon Equine Supplement in a free-choice feeder or top dress your feed to ensure proper consumption levels. It comes in a 25-pound bag and is available at all Quality Co-op stores.

It’s time to start giving your horses a complete hoof and health supplement every day.


Calcium (Ca) (Min) 15.00%

Calcium (Ca) (Max) 17.00%

Phosphorus (P) (Min) 8.00%

Salt (NaCl) (Min) 14.00%

Salt (NaCl) (Max) 16.00%

Magnesium (Mg) (Min) 2.00%

Potassium (K) (Min) 1.00%

Cobalt (Co) (Min) 20 ppm

Copper (Cu) (Min) 1,200 ppm

Iodine (I) (Min) 100 ppm

Iron (Fe) (Min) 4,000 ppm

Manganese (Mg) (Min) 3,600 ppm

Selenium (Se) (Min) 26 ppm

Zinc (Zn) (Min) 3,600 ppm

Vitamin A (Min) 250,000 IU/lb

Vitamin D-3 (Min) 25,000 IU/lb

Vitamin E (Min) 200 IU/lb

Biotin (Min) 40 mg/lb

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

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

A Wisteria You Can Live With

American wisteria blooms a little later than the invasive wisterias.

Gardeners love the spring blooms and fragrance of wisteria, but the vine can do much damage, from tearing up the siding on a house to choking out native plants on the roadside. However, there is actually a wisteria that is tamer than Chinese and Japanese wisterias that have escaped into the wild. If you want a wisteria in your garden, choose the native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). The most well-known American variety is Amethyst Falls. Even the native wisteria is a vigorous vine and needs a very sturdy support. A simple lattice structure or lightweight support will not hold it.

Strong Dahlia Stems

Planting dahlias? You can strengthen the stems of the tall, dinner-plate types by adding three tablespoons of triple super phosphate when planting the tubers. In addition, the plants need plenty of sun to grow sturdy; they will be more spindly in the shade. The Karma group of dahlias was bred with strong stems for the cut flower industry. These include Maxime, Melody Swing, Nuit d’Ete, Park Princess and varieties with Karma in the name. Even plants with sturdy stems can get knocked over in rains as their large blooms become heavy when wet. If you are planting a big dahlia variety, drive a stake into the ground so you can later tie the plant to the support.

Hold Your Snapdragons

The snapdragons in your garden might last longer than you think, as many of today’s improved varieties are more heat tolerant than they used to be. After the blooms fade, snip off the flower spike and keep the plants watered and healthy through summer. They might surprise you with more blooms.


Do you know you can grow your own horseradish? The plants are easy to grow and not bothered by pests. When you need a little horseradish, you dig a piece with a root and grate the root. By growing your own, you’ll always have fresh, instead of watching the unused portion of a jar turn brown in the fridge. The plants are perennial, so give them a permanent spot in the garden. They have large upright leaves that grow from ground level at the center of the plant. Plants get about 2-foot tall and equally wide. You can search for pictures of horseradish online of what a patch might look like as the roots spread underground.

Bluebirds appreciate shelter that is suited to them and not as attractive to other birds. (Credit: Moultrie Wingscapes Birdcam)

Encouraging Bluebirds

Once more common than they are today, beautiful, little bluebirds are under pressure from loss of habitat and from non-native birds such as starlings that compete with them for food and shelter. It’s not easy to attract bluebirds because they are very specific about where they live and nest. They prefer lightly populated areas such as the outskirts of a city, a small town or a rural area. The National Bluebird Society website ( has very helpful and clear information on ways to attract and support bluebirds.

Trillium Garden

Trilliums provide a fresh breath on a woodland path.

Native woodland wildflowers offer a great spring surprise when they pop into bloom, reminding us of how pretty an undisturbed forest floor can be. If you have a wooded area on your property, even just a small one, there are native woodland wildflowers you can plant to bring the floor to life. One of the most common wildflowers throughout Alabama is trillium. There are several species that vary in the color of their bloom and also the shape and size of the foliage, but all are a real treat. The one pictured here was photographed growing near a creek in Butler County. However, you don’t have to hunt through the woods to see them. The Huntsville Botanical Garden has a special trillium collection within the Mathews Nature Trail where hundreds of trilliums are on display in the spring ( Because trilliums are a specialty plant, they may not be widely available at a garden center, but you may find them on sale by a local botanical society and Master Gardener group. They are also available by mail order.

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

It’s Stock Show and Rodeo Time

We have spent a lot of time lately discussing the challenges associated with the drought. In fact, I have driven the subject into the ground. Most areas in Alabama have seen rain and some winter annuals are beginning to grow. Hopefully, with continued rain and proper fertilization, pastures can catch up and everyone can proceed with business as usual.

With that said, I would like to focus on a subject that is more light-hearted. This time of year, my thoughts always migrate back to my youth and showing livestock. The Alabama Junior Beef Exposition will be held in conjunction with the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo. The events take place March 16-18 in Montgomery. They are filled with livestock shows, youth and adult rodeos, barrel racing, team roping and a livestock judging contest. I have participated in some of these events. For anyone involved in the livestock industry, there are events anyone would enjoy.

The youth livestock show is a culmination of months of hard work for these cattle exhibitors. This is the grand finale for their steer project and many of the older heifers will end their show careers and be put out to pasture to hopefully raise another champion. These events take hard work if the exhibitor is going to be successful. Much knowledge is gained about feeding and caring for their projects.

Animal selection, feeding, watering and grooming are all involved in steer and heifer projects. These same chores are required of many of the rodeo contestants unless you are a rough-stock contestant, but even then countless hours of training are required to be successful. Most of the contestants are from livestock backgrounds and are involved in caring for animals. Early morning work and long hours accompany those participating in the events of the livestock expo.

The livestock judging competitions are also events laden with work. Viewing countless classes of livestock, evaluating and placing each class, takes skill and precision. Many days when we traveled preparing for a contest, we could evaluate 40-50 classes in a day and give reasons on those classes well into the early morning of the next day. The reasons room is the place that makes a livestock evaluator. The concentration required to present a placing of a class of livestock to a professional is unimaginable. The reasons room is a place that will teach you to organize your thoughts, to be confident, to justify your thoughts and think on your feet.

The underlying thought here is that it takes hard work to be successful in any of these endeavors. If you’re willing to put in the work, then it only makes sense to not shortchange yourself on the quality of tools needed for your event. Livestock exhibitors, as well as those using horses in the rodeo events, should always provide the proper nutrition and supplements their animals need. Oh, and stock contractors should definitely provide the proper nutrition for their animal athletes.

It takes many pieces and parts to come together to exhibit a champion animal or have a winning barrel time. Most of the art of putting these pieces together is done behind the scenes and at home. Years of knowledge and work are the glue binding all of the parts and pieces together. If one of these events happens to be your passion, find a person with experience who can help you be successful. Most of them are more than willing to help; in fact, it will probably make their day.

I spent some time last year and wrote about this same subject. It’s an activity that is near and dear to my heart. These livestock events tend to be filled with people of character – the kind of people who make our country great. The events are those that help train children and adults about the art of taking care of God’s animals that provide us food and fiber for our sustenance.

They are all great events that most can enjoy. They are events offering education on nearly every level. If you can, try to attend some of these events. All of the performers love to see a crowd. It makes them feel appreciated and rewards their hard work. If you can, head to Montgomery’s Garret Coliseum and enjoy some of the events of the Southeastern Livestock Exposition.

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

March Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Plant cool-season Bonnie Plants vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, greens, lettuce, etc.
  • Replace spent herbs in your garden with Bonnie plants.
  • Establish or renovate the lawn as needed. Resod or replant with turfgrasses adapted to your part of the state and suited to the planting location (shade or sun).
  • It’s too early to plant Bermudagrass. You would be better off waiting until April.
  • In areas receiving shade where grass is difficult to grow, consider planting a dependable groundcover such as English ivy, Asian jasmine, vinca, hostas or ferns.
  • Divide and transplant ornamental grasses as soon as the soil is workable.
  • Plant tender bulbs such as caladium, dahlia and tuberous begonia after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Beware of closeout sales on bare-root trees and shrubs. The chance of survival is rather low on bare-root plants this late in the season. Your best bet at this time of year is to depend on container-grown or balled-and-burlapped plants for landscape use.
  • Repot houseplants that are pot-bound.


  • FYI: Sulphur, sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, cottonseed meal and leaf mold lower soil pH while lime, ashes of hardwoods, bone meal, crushed marble and crushed oyster shells raise the pH.
  • If your lawn’s soil is acidic, you may need to apply lime. The best way to tell if you need lime is with a soil test that will let you know exactly how much to apply. But if you didn’t get your soil tested in the fall, use the general guideline of 15-20 pounds of lime per 100 square feet of lawn area. Pelletized lime is less messy and easier to apply than the white-powdered kind.
  • Don’t jump the gun and feed your summer lawn too early. In most areas, it’s best to wait another month or two when the grass starts actively growing.
  • Begin fertilizing trees and shrubs once growth starts.
  • Fertilize pecan trees with 1 pound of 10-10-10 + zinc for every inch of trunk thickness.
  • Fertilize roses every four to six weeks from now until September.
  • As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them with azalea-camellia fertilizer. Follow label instructions.
  • Fertilize established perennials as soon as new growth appears.
  • Fertilize pansies.
  • Fertilize bulbs after blooming with bone meal, bulb-boosting fertilizer or compost.
  • In your pond, divide and fertilize water lilies.
  • As soon as your houseplants begin to grow, you can begin a schedule of fertilizing and resume a regular watering schedule.


  • Clean up and prune trees and shrubs broken by winter storms, but hold off on pruning frost and cold damage until growth starts, so you can see what’s able to recover.
  • Continue pruning nonflowering trees and shrubs. You can also prune summer- and fall-flowering trees and shrubs such as crape myrtle and butterfly bush. Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons after they bloom.
  • As soon as the first leaves surface on your butterfly bush, you can pinch them back to spur new growth and bountiful blooms. This may be an April task depending upon how early or late spring is this year.
  • Prune winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) after it blooms or it could get out of control.
  • Hold off on pruning birch, maple, and other bleeding trees until after the leaves develop.
  • The traditional heavy pruning practices for roses are appropriate for hybrid teas, but most antique and shrub roses require less-severe methods. Weak or dead canes should be removed or shortened to healthy tissue any time during the year.
  • Cut back the old leaves on Lenten rose (Hellebores).
  • Don’t remove the foliage on early-blooming bulbs until they turn yellow or brown and fall flat, called ripening. The foliage replenishes the bulb with nutrients needed for next year’s blooms.
  • Pinch back spindly houseplants and root the cuttings.


  • Install drip irrigation and sprinklers to prepare for summer watering.
  • Perform a check on your existing irrigation system to detect any damage. Make repairs and adjust the system.
  • March watering may not be necessary for established lawns. However, lawns started within the last year are especially susceptible to winter desiccation injury and need supplemental cool-weather irrigation.
  • Resume your lawn irrigation schedule as soon as warm-season grass begins to grow.
  • Check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see if they have sufficient moisture.
  • Start watering trees and shrubs planted in the fall as soon as new leaves appear. Newly planted trees and shrubs need supplemental watering for a FULL YEAR to stay healthy.
  • Water all bulbs during times of growth and especially during foliage and bloom development.
  • Carefully increase watering of tender succulents/cacti in preparation for blooming.


  • Follow instructions on pesticide labels carefully.
  • Apply pre-emergent broadleaf herbicides if you didn’t apply them last month. Read the labels carefully and be sure your weeds are listed.
  • Dandelions will begin to make themselves known in your lawn this month; get them now before they make seedheads.
  • Be careful not to get lawn herbicides too close to trees. Weed-and-feed-type fertilizers are notorious for killing young shade trees.
  • If you had a lot of crabgrass last year, you may want to consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. This is most effective when done before the end of March.
  • The most dreaded task of all is weeding, but it is one that really needs to be accomplished before the weeds have a chance to flower and go to seed. Remember, once the weeds go to seed, you can be fighting that weed’s progeny for decades!
  • Gather and dispose of fallen camellia blooms to prevent blight from developing and spreading.
  • You can spray fungicides while the trees are in bloom, but not insecticides. The bees are still pollinating your fruit trees and are susceptible to the sprays.
  • Grubs become active this month and feast on grass before molting. Check with your local Co-op store to learn which treatments work best in your area this time of year.
  • You will start to see more slug activity this month as they become more active. Set out bait.
  • A wide variety of caterpillars may soon begin appearing throughout the landscape and garden. Check tender foliage on such plants as petunias, broccoli, kale, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower.
  • Aphids can become a major early spring insect problem on tender spring foliage. Use an insecticidal soap, Neem Oil Spray or an insecticide such as Malathion or Orthene.
  • Keep up the spray regimen with roses. Orthene and Funginex are the favorites.
  • On houseplants, inspect for insects and diseases such as spider mites and scale. Address problems as soon as you spot them.


  • Start a garden journal. Simply buy a ruled notebook and use it to keep an account of your daily activities.
  • Attend a flower and garden show. You can learn about new plants, garden design and solutions to landscape problems.
  • Remember to rotate the vegetables in the garden to reduce insect and disease problems.
  • Bermuda lawns may benefit from a scalping to remove the tall brown stubble of winter. Scalping is not necessary but can make the grass softer and easier to mow in summer. Gradually lower your mower blade to a final mowing of about 1 inch and remove the clippings. DO NOT scalp other types of grass.
  • Build a cold frame to acclimate seedlings and tender plants to ready them for transplant in April and May.
  • Gently wipe or spray houseplants to remove winter dust. For fuzzy-leaved plants like African violets, gently brush clean with a soft, dry cloth.
  • If you haven’t been monitoring it, turn your compost pile now. Dampen it and begin turning it regularly to get it to heat up so you can enjoy the production of good compost faster. If you haven’t started a compost pile, start one this month using refuse from the garden and, in a few weeks, grass clippings.
  • March 20 marks the Vernal or Spring Equinox, when day and night are the same length. Don’t be fooled by the calendar! Freezing weather can, and often does, persist well past the official start of spring.
  • Observe your lawn and garden during the spring thaw and rains, and address any drainage problems.
  • Prepare beds for planting warm-season flowers and vegetables.
  • Remove any extra winter mulch from perennials gradually now the worst of the freezing weather has passed.
  • Repair and paint fences, trellises, arbor and garden furniture.
  • Spring is a good time to add soil to low areas and to patch bare spots in cool-season lawns. Heavy seed planting is most successful in the fall.
  • Test leftover garden seed for germination. Place 10 seeds between moist paper towels. Keep seeds warm and moist. If fewer than six seeds germinate, buy fresh seed.
  • When a shovelful of soil crumbles in your hands, the soil is considered workable. If it’s still soggy enough that a handful mushes into a ball, you should wait before plowing or digging.
  • Pick a permanent spot for Bonnie herbs in the garden. You’ll be amazed at the variety offered and many of them will come back year after year.
  • Wildflowers will begin blooming this month. Remember, they must be allowed to mature their seeds if you want new plants next year.
  • Clean debris and muck from the water garden and add it to your compost pile.
  • The single best thing you can do to save time and energy in the garden is spread mulch. A 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch will stop many weeds from growing. It also helps the soil stay moist during hot, dry periods this summer.
  • Feed your pond fish when the water temperature hits 50 degrees.
  • Check garden tools and equipment. Clean, sharpen and repair everything before you need it.
  • Have you had the mower tuned up and the blade sharpened? Tarry much longer and you’ll have to wait two weeks to get your machine back.
  • If you don’t have tulips or daffodils blooming because you didn’t plant any last fall, put it in your garden journal to buy some bulbs in the fall.
  • If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of wintered-over plants.
  • Make maintaining your garden easier with raised beds. You can add high-quality soil to solve any problems with clay or sand. And you don’t have to bend down so far to weed, plant or tend to your plants.
  • Clean out, inspect and repair birdhouses for the spring-nesting season.

PALS: Cleaning Up in Colbert County!

Colbert Heights Elementary is ready to do their part.

by Jamie Mitchell

Colbert Heights Elementary in Colbert County is the newest addition to the Clean Campus Program, and they are excited to get started! I recently spoke to over 200 students in third to sixth grades and taught them more about what being a part of the Clean Campus Program means.

The school has already been doing some recycling and is working with the county to expand that program with new recycling bins. In addition to recycling, we discussed many other ways the students can be more environmentally aware. Reducing waste and reusing containers are a couple of methods we went over in the presentation. I showed the students pictures of bookmarks made from empty cereal boxes they could easily make and donate to the local library. The teachers also mentioned doing some campus beautification projects such as planting some new flower beds. We are excited to see what the students of Colbert Heights achieve this year!

The students were also thrilled to hear about the $250 grand prize for the statewide winner of our poster contest. The posters are due April 21, and the theme this year is "See Ya Later, Litter!" We can’t wait to see the posters they create!

We welcome Colbert Heights as they join over 500 other schools of Alabama in the Clean Campus Program.

If a school near you would be interested in joining, please have them call me at 334-263-7737 or email me at to set up a presentation. The Clean Campus Program is FREE to all Alabama public, private and county schools. Schools may also sign up for the Clean Campus Program online at

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Relief for Shingles and Gout

by Nadine Johnson

I attend Sunday school at Eastern Shore Baptist Church in Daphne. We have an excellent teacher. Her method of teaching impresses me highly. In recent days, the topic has been David, which I have enjoyed very much.

Before the lessons begin each Sunday, we have a time for prayer requests and praises. As I hear ailments I want to say, "If you do so and so, it will possibly help your situation." Today, as this took place, an excellent idea came to mind. I can write my thoughts and send them to my friends in emails. Another idea happened as I put my fingers on the keys. This first message to my friends will also be a column for AFC Cooperative Farming News.

Two class members are suffering with gout. I’ve never had gout, but those who have will certainly offer sympathy. Gout is a disease in which defective metabolism of uric acid causes arthritis, especially in the small bones of the feet, causing acute pain. Gout was once thought of as a rich man’s disease. Today, we know it can attack the poorest among us.

I have known more than one person who took concentrated black cherry juice (I stress CONCENTRATED) and experienced much relief from gout. This is available in both liquid and pill form. It appears to me that the liquid form is most effective. You should find this in a health food store. Follow package directions.

Shingles is another painful disease I’ve never experienced. (I have taken the immunization.) Shingles (Herpes zoster) is a viral infection of certain sensory nerves, causing pain and eruption of blisters along the course of the affected nerve.

A young lady developed a rash that she thought was poison ivy. She applied a substance called Itch Nix. (This product is very beneficial for poison oak and poison ivy.) Later, it was determined she actually had shingles. She continued the use of Itch Nix to relieve her pain.

An older woman’s breast was completely covered with shingles. She had been unable to sleep due to the pain for several days. She applied Itch Nix and immediately fell asleep. She told me she was completely relieved.

During my days as an office nurse, I saw many patients with shingles. I think I saw shingles on every part of the body – from head to toe.

Among other things, Itch Nix contains aloe, cloves, camphor, castor oil, echinacea, witch hazel, comfrey and calendula. Itch Nix should also be available at a health food store.

I wish I had known about the use of Itch Nix for shingles when I was an office nurse. The doctor I worked for would have welcomed its use.

I first heard of Itch Nix through my son. He had an itch on his upper right arm. There was no rash; just an itch, 24 hours a day. He tried many remedies. Nothing helped.

"Mother, I can cope with this pretty well in the daytime, but it doesn’t let me sleep at night," he said.

He accidentally saw Itch Nix in a hardware store, bought it and applied it. Ahhhhhhh, relief – blessed relief. There is always a bottle of Itch Nix available in his medicine cabinet.

As always I advise you to check with your doctor before taking alternatives.

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

Responsible Ag

Co-ops in Athens, Enterprise and Elba Achieve Certification

by Sharon Cunningham

Limestone Farmers Co-op in Athens believes in the communication approach and, in achieving the Responsible Ag certification, it paid off greatly. Limestone Farmers Co-op has been serving the Tennessee Valley since 1932. The whole team has worked together and each employee from the front counter and offices to the warehouse is able to take pride in their contributions. This is the attitude that has kept the Co-op going through the many years.

You are able to find anything you may need on the grounds. If you are looking to plant some early-season Bonnie Plants vegetables or carry a pump down to the bottom of the field, they can even set you up with the UTV to carry you and the load to the perfect spot. Stop in whenever you are in the area. They are a little down the road from the old tracks, but they are easy to spot on Highway 31.

Clockwise from top left, Ricky Wilks, general manager, Coffee County – Enterprise; Collin Morris, manager, Coffee County – Elba; Limestone Farmers Co-op, from left to right, Blair Shook, John Curtis (general manager), Jeremy Williams, Britt Christopher, Bart Landtroop and Jeff Wales.

Did you know street signs for Coffee County can be found at Kauai Coffee on Kalaheo, Hawaii? It may be a stretch to say they will travel over 4,500 miles to shop our Co-ops, but they would definitely be greeted with a smile. Ricky Wilks, general manager of Coffee County Farmers Co-op in Enterprise, is sure to help them! They have everything you can think of from plants, crop nutrients, equipment and even the propane those little beans would need to stay toasty during late winter and early spring chilly nights. Coffee County has a diverse agricultural history that still carries on today with fields planted in crops from cotton to peanuts. If you are in the area, stop in and say "Hello!" and make sure to ask for directions to the Boll Weevil Monument, the only known monument to an agricultural pest.

Collin Morris, manager of Coffee Farmers Co-op in Elba, is a little farther down the road. Located just off the main road, you can fill your propane tank or find just about any feed. As they are known to say, "You can find feed for most any animal with four legs, feathers or fur." They also stock mower blades, sprayer equipment, lawn and garden products, cane syrup and much more. Hidden in a corner of the store, you will find some of the most comfortable rockers and be able to watch the local news. Just don’t expect to find any of the guys hanging around. If it is a nice day out, you can only find them in a field.

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

Shed Heads

Shed hunting is a sport in itself.

by Todd Amenrud

Training your dog to find sheds is becoming more popular every year. They can cover significantly more ground, can get into locations we simply cannot and can identify them by smell as well as sight.

Many years ago, while we were spring scouting or turkey hunting and would stumble across a shed antler, most of the time we would admire it and toss it back on the forest floor, whence it came. Then, about 25 years ago, I finally tried finding sheds on purpose, and every year it seems I become a more avid shed hunter. I’m not the only one. People now train their dogs specifically to find sheds, as I did with my yellow lab. There are clubs and organizations devoted to the sport. Shed hunting has become so popular that guided weeklong shed hunts in prime areas can cost you $2,500 or more with food and lodging included. Fear not, sheds can be found in your own hunting area or on public land … for free.


The reasons why searching for shed antlers is so popular are easy to see. It’s the perfect way to extend your interest in whitetails, it’s a way to get some exercise and take a jab at cabin fever, it’s a great family-participation sport, and it can be a good way to learn something that may help you get closer to a mature buck the next hunting season. Not to mention that antlers can bring in a little extra cash. Pet stores sell 6- to 8-inch sections of antler for $5-$15 each (retail cost).

Shed hunting is also valuable for helping formulate management decisions such as which bucks to harvest and which ones need another year or two to mature. It helps you identify bucks that have survived the season. Along with trail cameras, finding sheds also helps in estimating the buck population and their ages.

Searching and finding sheds is kind of like catch-and-release deer hunting. It’s a challenge to understand the life and movements of a specific buck. When I find a shed, I feel like I may be one step closer. I get more excited, though, to know his rack will likely be more impressive next year, with greater mass, longer beams, maybe extra points, but usually in the same basic form.

A great story for bigger – better next year is Stephen Tucker, who killed the Sumner County, Tennessee, buck that has been getting so much attention recently … and rightly so. I spoke with this young gentleman at the recent ATA Show, in Indianapolis, and actually got to hold the massive rack, said to score 313 2/8" gross and 308 3/8" net.

"I have the sheds from this buck from the year before," Tucker said, "and he was just an average 5x5."

The buck has 47 scoreable points and was harvested with a muzzleloader on Nov. 7.

My main reason for going on these searches is to learn more about my hunting area and the patterns of the animals. Finding shed antlers can make you a better hunter by showing you which areas mature animals utilize. Late winter through spring is a valuable time for seeking out the travel patterns of mature bucks. Take note where the shed was and try to pinpoint whether it was a travel corridor, a bedding area, a spot only used for wintering or a spot providing food for the period.


When should you begin? On a lease I used to have in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, I’ve seen bucks drop their antlers as early as late December. This is very unusual, however. Most deer hold their racks through January and begin to drop during February and March. Around my home in Minnesota, it’s usually the second week in March when most bucks go bald. If you wait too long to start searching, however, weeds and grasses will start to grow and make the antlers more difficult to spot. Mice and chipmunks may also gnaw on them to obtain calcium and phosphorous.

While deer may shed both of their antlers within minutes, even seconds of each other in the same spot, this is the exception rather than the rule. Once, while walking a tract I used to hunt in Manitoba, I found a matching pair of 5x5 sheds stuck upside-down, side by side in the snow. It was like the buck stuck his head in the snow and placed them there for safekeeping. Sometimes you’ll discover just one and never retrieve the other side. In other cases, you may find it, but far away from the other half. More often than not, however, the match is somewhere in the area.


It’s possible to find a few sheds by just taking a random walk, but you’re better off to focus your efforts. Instead, begin searching areas where you’ve seen deer during the winter before or, better yet, where you’ve seen some recently.

Prime locations will be winter food sources, swamps with conifer trees for thermal cover and heavy cover adjacent to leftover agricultural crops. Thick stands of conifers, south- and southwest-facing slopes and benches, freshly logged areas, and ravines and stream bottoms offering some protection from cold winter winds are all good bets for shed hunting. Also, check fence crossings and narrow gullies or creeks where an animal might jump across and jar the antler loose as it lands on the other side.

Stephen Tucker killed this potential new world record (313 2/8” gross) this past fall. He was mobbed; so this photo was all I could get, but what he said was very enlightening. “I have the sheds from this buck from the year before and he was just an average 5x5.” QDM works and finding sheds can put you closer!


Always bring binoculars – they can save a lot of leg-work. If you see something that looks like an antler far away, you can often cut down excess walking by examining it through your optics. Set up a grid, but concentrate on the spots where there has clearly been more activity … read the sign.

Also, always bring kids! Most youngsters love to hunt for sheds if given the opportunity, so bring your kids or a neighborhood youngster – the more eyes the better for this task. To them, it’s like hide-and-seek or a mystery to solve.

As I mentioned earlier, many are training dogs to find the sheds for them. They can cover so much more ground than we can, they can get into areas humans simply cannot and, besides being able to recognize antlers by sight, they can smell them!

My advice if you wish to train your own dog is to get them started young. Have small sheds they can chew on and play with as soon as you bring them home. I chose to have some professional help and guidance from Tom Dokken’s Oak Ridge Kennels. They got my Annabell started and gave me the necessary advice to hone her skills after the initial introduction.

I also believe in some of Dokken’s training tools. To begin, I think I’ve watched and read every one of Mr. Dokken’s DVDs and books – he is simply my go-to source for anything regarding dogs. They have wonderful visual antler decoys, so the dog gets used to recognizing the shape of a shed. I also use their Rack Wax.

Make sure to store the sheds you use for training outside. I always wipe the shed clean after every use with Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer Gold to make it as odor free as possible and only touch it while wearing rubber gloves. Once clean, before using it in the field for training, I put on a small amount of the Rack Wax on the shed in several spots. With a nose that keen, I really can’t tell you if the process takes away any smell that may be on the antler from a person gripping it or the dog mouthing it, but I know this process worked for me. I was SO proud when she found and retrieved her first shed in the wild. It was just a small forkie, but we treated it like a side from a Boone & Crockett head.

Even if you make it a fun, social event, don’t forget to keep the dual purpose of post-season scouting and learning about the animals in mind as you search. By also being on the lookout for rub lines, scrapes, trails, transition corridors and beds as you walk through their turf, you’ll find key pieces of information that can make you a more knowledgeable and successful hunter the next fall.

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Ol’ Tom really liked the new girl who moved to town and started at his school. He sat cattycornered behind her in homeroom and showed his affection for her by hitting her in the back of the head with spitballs."

What is a cattycorner?

The word was originally catercorner or catercornered. The cater is an Anglicization of the French quatre, or four, and catercornered originally just meant four-cornered. To specify that something is catercorner across from something else is to stress the diagonal axis of an imaginary box, as opposed to saying "directly across" or just "across."

According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, catercorner first appeared around 1883 in the South, and originally meant askew or out of line. The "diagonally across" meaning soon took over, however, as did the transition from cater to catty. Linguists call this process "folk etymology" – people replacing an unfamiliar element in a word or phrase (cater) with a familiar one (catty or kitty). Cattycorner has remained purely an Americanism.

The Co-op Pantry

by Samantha Carpenter

Hey, everyone. We are going to try some changes to the Co-op Pantry. If you are interested in being our featured cook, you can still contact me. When we don’t have a cook, we are going to use recipes based on ingredients recognized by the National Month. The foods we will be featuring for April are soyfood, garlic and grilled cheese; and for May will be barbecue, egg, hamburger, salad and strawberries.

Samantha Carpenter, our social media specialist, is going to be helping me.

We are also going to feature at least one healthy/healthier recipe each month. Jena Klein will be taking care of them.

Please send your recipes to Samantha at, Jena at or me at So get them started rolling in!

Thank you, Mary

March is National Peanut Month and National Sauce Month. We chose recipes from our second cookbook, "Southern And Then Some More," to highlight these occasions, as we will each month. We’re also going to include at least one healthy recipe per month, beginning this month with Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars. Enjoy and Happy Cooking!


4½ cups Rice Chex
4½ cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cheez-It Crackers
1 cup tiny twist pretzels
1 cup peanuts or mixed nuts

½ cup (1 stick) butter
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons seasoning salt
¾ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

In a large bowl with lid, combine all dry ingredients. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add remainder of sauce ingredients to butter. Stir. Pour over dry ingredients. Place lid on dry ingredient bowl and toss until well-coated. Pour mixture into 9x13 pan or cookie sheet and bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once mix has cooked, put onto paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Contributed by Kim Ramsey


Cooking spray or oil
1 cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ stick butter
1 inch square paraffin
1½ cups peanuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare a cookie sheet with cooking spray or oil (it needs to be well-coated). In a microwave-safe dish, mix sugar, syrup and butter. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir in the paraffin and, as it melts, stir in peanuts. Mix well. Microwave for 5 minutes. Check. Microwave 4 minutes more. DO NOT stir at any time when checking. Remove dish from microwave. Add baking soda and vanilla. Quickly stir and pour onto prepared cookie sheet. Cool and then break into pieces.

Contributed by Barbara Turner Bishop


2 pound round steak
1 package dry onion soup mix
¾ cup water
1 (10¾ ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

Cut steak into 5-6 serving size pieces. In a bowl, mix dry onion soup mix, water and mushroom soup. In a crockpot, place steak pieces. Pour soup mixture over steak. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Great served with creamed potatoes.

Contributed by Martha Nelson


1 quart mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons salt
6 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons black pepper
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons sugar

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer or in a blender until well-blended, and salt and sugar are melted. Put in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Note: This is good with smoked chicken.


5 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons, squeezed and save lemons
¼ cup salt

In a large pot, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Use to baste meat often.

Contributed by Barbara Turner Bishop


½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup tomato ketchup
1½ teaspoons molasses
½ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1½ Tablespoons capers, drained
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons Creole mustard
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon paprika

In blender or the small bowl of a food processor, combine ingredients. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


Makes: 1 pint

1 cup clarified butter (about 2½ sticks before clarifying)
4 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 small lemon), divided
1 Tablespoon cold water
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper (or a dash of Tabasco sauce), to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat an inch or two of water. Clarified butter should be warm, but not hot.

In a glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum), combine the egg yolks and cold water. Whisk for a minute or two, until mixture is light and foamy. Whisk in a couple of drops of lemon juice.

Water in saucepan should have begun to simmer. Set bowl with egg mixture directly atop saucepan of simmering water. (Water itself should not come in contact with bottom of bowl.) Whisk eggs for a minute or two, until they’re slightly thickened.

Remove bowl from heat and begin adding butter; slowly at first, a few drops at a time, while whisking constantly. If you add it too quickly, emulsion will break.

Continue beating in butter. As sauce thickens, you can gradually increase rate at which you add it, but, at first, slower is better.

After adding all the butter, whisk in remaining lemon juice and season with Kosher salt and cayenne pepper/Tabasco sauce. Finished hollandaise sauce will have a smooth, firm consistency. If it’s too thick, adjust consistency by whisking in a few drops of warm water.

It’s best to serve hollandaise right away. You can hold it for about an hour or so, provided it’s kept warm. After two hours, though, you should toss it -- both for quality and safety reasons.


½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup water
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup bell pepper, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard or 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon mild chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)

In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add remaining ingredients (vinegar last), reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes. You can puree this sauce to make it smoother.

March Healthy Recipe

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 large egg, room temperature
2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 8x8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, coconut sugar, honey, egg, coconut oil and vanilla until fully combined. Add oats, flour, salt, baking soda. Mix until combined. Fold chocolate chips into the batter. Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 12-20 minutes, or until the top is set and lightly golden brown. Allow to cool in pan. Cut into bars.

Note: Leftover bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Samantha Carpenter is AFC’s social media specialist.

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

The Knotty Truth Behind Baling Twine

Figure 2. UV stabilizer and colorants are added.

by Tim Lucier and Robert Hardy

Long before you enter your local Quality Co-op store in the early spring to purchase your baling twine needs, the process had to be started months beforehand. Buyers have to purchase the products months in advance to fulfill your needs; manufacturers have to forecast the resin markets and purchase raw goods cheaply to be competitive in the market. Then production has to happen in time to fill the orders to meet the needs for farmers across the country. This is just a small step in the process to bale the hay you produce for your animals’ needs.

There are three major types of baling products available at your local Quality Co-op: poly twine, sisal twine and net wrap. This month we will discuss the process to get the poly twine to you, from the raw resin brought to the plant to the finished product in your hands. You just might be surprised at how long a process it really is.

We are by no means journalists, but please give us the opportunity to fill you in on a very interesting trip we had to Clearfield, Utah, and a tour of the Tytan plant that produces approximately 35 percent of the poly product for the North American market. This plant runs year-round on 24-hour shifts to provide the products for their customers’ needs with the highest-quality standards that are being checked continuously.

Top to bottom, Figure 3. On the extrusion line, resin is pressed into sheet. Figure 5. Sheet is slit to specification. Figure 6. Poly twine is plied together and rolled onto spools.

The process begins with the purchase and shipment of raw 100 percent virgin polypropylene pellets from Texas and brought to Clearfield by railcar (Fig. 1). These railcars hold approximately 190,000 pounds of product. The plant can process a railcar full of resin every two days. The two main twines produced are monofilament and slit film for the twine production.

The process starts by melting each raw resin pellet into a liquid state. A UV stabilizer and colorants are added to the run (Fig. 2), based on production specifications. It then moves to an extruding line where it is pressed into sheets of colored polypropylene ranging from widths of 12 to 48 inches (Fig. 3 and 4). Once cooled, it is slit (Fig. 5), depending on the finished product’s specifications. At this point, it is twisted and plied together and rolled onto spools (Fig. 6) to continue on to the next step. The plant pulls multiple samples from every batch of product run to test the tensile strength requirements printed on the labels (Fig. 7). After this step, it is sent to a set of machines that winds it onto the bobbin (Fig. 8) you use on your baling equipment. Each bobbin takes about three hours to produce. The extruded film process is the primary method of manufacturing used in the production of baling twine. A variety of colors are available; however, the most common throughout the country are burnt orange, yellow, black and blue.

The process for the monofilament twine is much the same, but, instead of sheets of plastic, it is made into a continuous filament. The monofilament is mainly used in round-bale twine production. We were able to see the machine that produced the monofilament in operation; it was amazing to watch. The liquid resin is sent through a die that makes thousands of threads at one time. The poly resin was stretched as it cooled in a water bath and wrapped on large spools and tested thoroughly to meet the tensile-strength specs. This process provides the ability to offer twines of multicolored strands twisted together such as red and white or black and yellow. Any color combination can be produced in the monofilament or tape products as long as the minimum purchase requirements are fulfilled.

Most domestic manufacturers prefer to produce the heavier twines as more pounds per hour ran off the machines, meaning higher revenues and lower costs. Most of the thin twines such as 20/110 for round bales are made in Portugal because it is more cost effective to ship the lighter product over greater distance.

The products made at the Tytan plant are of the highest quality due to the stringent quality standards each batch must meet. We were very impressed by this production facility and are happy to bring the Tytan family of products to you as a Co-op patron.

Next month look for more knotty news on the Tytan net wrap and sisal baling products for your future needs.

Tim Lucier and Robert Hardy are sales reps for AFC Farm & Home division.

Things Aren’t What They Seem

by Baxter Black

  • If you see an Indian dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably a cowboy.
  • If you see a cowboy dressed like an Indian, he’s probably a country music singer.
  • If you see an Indian dressed like an Indian, he’s probably an entertainer.
  • If you see a country music singer dressed like an Indian, he’s probably an actor.
  • If you see an actor dressed like a country music singer, he’s probably lip syncing.
  • If you see a cowboy with a briefcase, he’s probably a salesman.
  • If you see a salesman dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably a realtor.
  • If you see a golfer dressed like a farmer, he’s probably a salesman.
  • If you see a farmer dressed like a salesman, he’s probably a golfer.
  • If you see a farmer dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably on vacation.
  • If you see a roper dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably a header.
  • If you see a roper dressed like a prisoner, he’s probably a heeler.
  • If you see a heeler dressed like a header, he’s probably out on parole.
  • If you see a cowboy with creased jeans, he probably doesn’t ride a horse for a living.
  • If you see a lawman dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably the sheriff.
  • If you see a cowboy dressed like a lawman, yer probably in Wyoming or Mississippi.
  • If you see a sheriff in your rear view mirror, yer probably in trouble.
  • If you see a movie star dressed like a cowboy, he’s probably Hopalong Cassidy.
  • If you see Hopalong wearing Bermuda shorts, he’s probably at a Celebrity Golf Tournament.
  • If you see a cowboy dressed like Hoppy, he’s probably a cowboy poet.

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,

Tough Decisions

by John Howle

"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an
unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." ~ Harry S. Truman

He may have only been 5 feet 8 inches tall, but Harry Truman certainly did big things. He had courage and determination to do the job at hand. He was Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president, but he unexpectedly took the helm of the presidency after Roosevelt’s death during the last months of World War II. After giving the go ahead for the dropping of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Truman showed that he was willing to make the tough calls necessary to ultimately save thousands of American lives. Truman served as president from 1945-1953, and his toughest decision resulted in the forced surrender of the Japanese, effectively ending World War II.

One of the early jobs held by Truman before he went into politics was farming. Hailing from Missouri, he was always known as a plain-spoken guy who called things as he saw them. He served in World War I as an artillery commander.

As he entered politics as a county judge and, campaigning vigorously wherever he went, continued to the senate, he would often bring up his war record.

As FDR’s vice president, Truman was pretty much kept in the dark about matters concerning the workings of WWII. After FDR died, Truman quickly schooled himself about the wars in Europe and Asia and the secretive Manhattan Project, the program centered around the design of the A-bomb. In the 1948 presidential election, Thomas Dewey was expected to win, and the Chicago Daily Tribune erroneously ran the front-page headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman." Once Truman won, he famously held that newspaper containing the mistaken headlines for all the media to see.

March Warmup

As you feed the cattle or set out on early season turkey hunts, the weather can continue to be quite chilly. One of the greatest inventions, in my opinion, is the body warmers with an adhesive backing. These Hot Hands products have a peel-off sticky back that allows you to attach the body warmer to the center of your back under your coat. This product claims to provide 12 hours of heat, but, typically, you’ll only need it in the cold, early morning hours. Not only does the product put off plenty of heat during the cold weather, the heat on your back just makes you feel good.

Stealthy Stalking

If the tom you are calling is gobbling, use his gobbles to pinpoint his location and close the distance; especially if you have hilly terrain working in your favor.

This March presents the beginning of turkey season in Alabama. One great thing about gobblers is they will often gobble. If you have a tom willing to set off an occasional gobble, use this opportunity to get a little closer to the bird. If you hear a gobbler in the distance, close the distance as much as possible without spooking the bird; especially if hilly terrain can be used in your favor. Every time you hear a gobble, get a little closer if you can do it without being seen. If possible, set up your location at the same elevation or higher than the bird. Once you are in position, sit completely still and only call to him softly and seldom so he will close the distance.

Turkey Temptations

I remember when I first started hunting turkeys on our family farm. Some of the early seasons would go by and I would be lucky if I heard one gobbler. We worked hard to control coyote populations, and we would often avoid the temptation to take a tom if he appeared to be the only one on the farm. This past fall and winter, I counted one flock numbering close to 30 birds. With proper predator control, it is a satisfying feeling to see young flocks of poults turn into mature flocks of hens and gobblers. If you are just beginning to manage turkeys on your property, avoid the temptations for a one-time harvest if you want to build flock numbers.

Spring Spray

Spraying thistle in the rosette stage allows for a better kill, and the bolt hasn’t sprung up with the seedhead on it.

This March brings plenty of early spring grass growth to the pastures. Unfortunately, it also brings plenty of weed growth. Various species of thistle also thrive this time of year. If you want to get a head start on weed control, ride around the pastures with a hand-held spray tank or ATV sprayer, and spot spray the early growth of thistle before it hits the bolt stage. While the weed is in the rosette stage, applications of herbicide are more effective, especially when the weed is actively growing because of spring rains.

Each of us faces tough decisions in our lives. Hopefully, none of us will face a decision with such gravity as Truman when he decided to give the green light for dropping the A-bomb on Japan. Years of debate followed that decision on whether the morality was right or wrong. No doubt, hundreds of thousands of Japanese died, but many of the generals who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II agreed that possibly millions of American lives were saved by not continuing the war. This March, make your decisions based on courage, imagination and determination.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Trouble with your Leyland cypress?

Consider some alternative screen plants for your landscape.

by Tony Glover

A healthy Leyland cypress.

I have been around the horticulture world long enough to see once highly praised landscape plants become a curse word to both pathologist and horticulturist. Some of these has-beens include Chinese privet, Bradford pear, red tip photinia and, more recently, Leyland cypress.

Over the past 10 years or so, I have seen a great increase in the following question regarding this last plant and that is, "Why is my Leyland cypress turning brown?"

Leyland cypress became very popular as a screen plant because it is a relatively inexpensive, fast-growing, thick conifer. When I moved to my current home in 1998, this plant was being highly touted as the near-perfect, quick screen that was tough as nails. Too much praise should have been my tipoff to avoid this plant, but I planted a row of them to screen an unwanted view. I planted them at the recommended 12-feet-apart spacing that is probably twice as far apart as what I typically see in most home and commercial landscapes. It is not too unusual for me to see them as close as 4 feet apart. The close spacing is a big part of the problem. My hedge looked really good for about 10 years; then I started to see some limbs dying as the plants grew together. I knew by this time that they were susceptible to diseases and insect pests. I took out every other plant so they are now spaced 24 feet apart and within a few years they filled the space between very well and they are doing quite well. I have never treated them for any pest and have never given them supplemental water since the year after planting.

My personal experience tells me that they are in fact nice screen plants as long as they have well-drained, but not droughty, soil, and they are given adequate space to grow. Remember, these plants can get huge and are really too big for most residential situations as a screen. In my situation, where I have plenty of space, they serve the purpose I needed them for. A more appropriate use for landscape purposes would be as a specimen plant, but give it lots of elbow room because it can easily reach over 70 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

For those who have already planted a screen planting of Leyland cypress, you need to be aware of their most common problems. They are susceptible to fungal-incited canker and dieback diseases, including Seiridium canker and Botryosphaeria canker, not to mention bagworms, scale and mite problems that may become an issue.

Seiridium canker is becoming a serious problem for Leyland cypress. This disease may kill young shoots, older branches and, in some cases, entire trees. Bleeding cankers are often observed on the trunks of infected trees. Trees stressed by transplant shock, drought and/or high or low temperature may be more likely to be infected by this disease.

A Leyland cypress affected by seiridium canker.

Botryosphaeria canker is usually found on established Leyland cypress. Branch dieback is often the first symptom observed on diseased cypress. Again, bleeding cankers may be observed on the trunk of infected trees, but is much more common with Seiridium canker. This fungus, like many other fungi that cause cankers, is opportunistic and attacks plants weakened by drought stress, site problems, crowding, pruning wounds, insect damage or construction damage. Even though drought conditions can exacerbate this disease, the problem can also be worsened by poorly drained soils.

"These canker diseases have similar symptoms of scattered dead branches throughout the canopy," Dr. Jim Jacobi, Extension plant pathologist, said. "However, lately Botryosphaeria canker is the more common of the two canker diseases of established Leyland cypress. Last year’s late-season dry weather will likely greatly increase problems with canker diseases. Planting in good, well-drained soil, mulching and watering during dry weather are the key factors to growing healthy Leyland cypress, but proper spacing is also critical. Fungicides are of little help with these diseases."

For detailed information on diseases of Leyland Cypress, check out the Extension publication at this web address,

If you have not planted Leyland cypress already, you may want to consider some alternative screen plants. Some good screening plants for the Southeast include many hollies, viburnums, "Little Gem" magnolia, wax myrtle, Illicium, osmanthus, camellias, red cedar, Cryptomeria, columnar junipers and Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae. This last plant is often touted as a great substitute for Leyland cypress because it is similar in growth habit, appearance and size, but it can be planted too closely causing problems down the road as well. In general, all conifers need good air (space for air to flow all around) and soil drainage. Always check that the particular plant you choose is suited to the sun, soil and moisture conditions at your site, and that its ultimate size is acceptable.

What I usually encourage homeowners to do if space allows is to create a mixed shrub borders with a variety of different species. This practice can reduce the potential for diseases and insects becoming a severe problem, as can happen when only one plant is used. For best appearance in a mixed border, stagger odd-numbered groups of shrubs and trees with a variety of texture and shape, and plan for ultimate size when placing them. Plant tall plants toward the rear and come forward with successively smaller species.

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

UWA Rodeo: Doing Something That Matters

by Johnnie Aycock

University of West Alabama folks have for years told anyone who would listen, "There’s Something About This Place." They believed it and lived it, even before it became the official slogan of the university.

What makes UWA special? Some can click off a list as long as your arm. Others say it’s simply a feeling.

Then there are those who point in one direction, toward one particular program, that they believe makes UWA special.

Gus Maraman is a UWA sophomore from Andalusia who participates in calf roping and steer wrestling events. The University of West Alabama is the annual host to some of the top male and female rodeo participants in the Ozark Region each fall in Livingston at the UWA Tiger Wrangler Rodeo, attended by hundreds of fans from throughout the Southeast and Midwest.

That program is intercollegiate rodeo. The UWA Rodeo Team competes in the Ozark Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

UWA is currently the only institution of higher learning in Alabama offering student-athletes the opportunity to compete in intercollegiate rodeo, and, over the years, the Tiger Wranglers have continued to make UWA proud.

"UWA is the only school in Alabama with a college rodeo team," said Tiger Wrangler Head Coach Alex Caudle. "Since 2013, our recruiting numbers have drastically increased since then. For example, in 2013, there were 10 students on our team. Today, there are 32."

Caudle was a member of the UWA Rodeo Team from 2007-2011, where he was a College Nationals Finals Rodeo qualifier and the Ozark Region Reserve Champion tie-down roper in 2010. In 2012, Caudle was the International Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Rookie of the Year in tie-down roping.

Established in 1995 under the direction of UWA President Don Hines, Director of Athletics Dee Outlaw and Coach David Rickman, the fledgling Tiger Wrangler program consisted of 22 student-athletes, 17 of which were men.

By April 1998, UWA was winning rodeos. Before too long, the Tiger Wranglers were advancing to regional showdowns and to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. UWA rodeo has been represented at the CNFR for the last 12 years, including four Tigers in June 2016.

Zachary Wilson, a senior on the 2016 team, won the 2013 national championship in tie-down roping. With a 9.9 in the final round, Wilson posted an average of 38.1 and scored 185 points to become UWA’s first national champion since the 1971 football team.

Blair Bullock, of Branson, Florida, and a member of the UWA Tiger Wranglers Rodeo Team, is one of the nation’s top female breakaway ropers.

Since the inception of rodeo on the UWA campus, the Tiger women have won the Ozark Region Championship five times. The men have been runner-up three times.

The Tiger Wranglers generally participate in 10 rodeos each year, five in the fall and five during the spring semester.

Every fall, the Tiger Wranglers host the UWA College Rodeo Showdown. Teams from all over the Ozark Region make their way to Livingston for the event, including hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls.

The annual Rodeo Showdown takes place at the Don C. Hines Rodeo Complex Arena, built, thanks in a large part, to boosters donating around $60,000 about the time of the program’s inception.

While there is indeed "Something About This Place," the current UWA slogan, "Do Something That Matters," is coming to fruition with the pending development of the Black Belt Regional Arena to be located on the UWA campus.

The proposed multipurpose arena will not only enhance possibilities to grow UWA Rodeo but will also expand, enhance and support agri-business and agri-tourism, and equine and related educational programs in the Black Belt region.

"Our home rodeo is our biggest fundraiser and the biggest event on campus each year," said Caudle, who earned 2015 NIRA Ozark Region Coach of the Year honors. "Folks in the community and the region really come out and support us.

"The rodeo costs about $25,000 to host and sponsorships we sell get great exposure in nice weather. If our rodeo falls on a wet, nasty weekend and without a covered arena, we compete in the mud.

"On a wet weekend, no one comes to watch and the sponsors don’t get the best bang for their advertising dollars. With a covered arena, everyone would still come and enjoy the action, and our advertisers get their money’s worth."

The proposed 76,000 square foot Black Belt Regional Arena is expected not only to be a boon for Caudle’s program but for the entire Black Belt region. Nineteen Alabama counties comprise the Black Belt that is not only perfect for crops but also for livestock and equine endeavors.

With that in mind, a venue benefiting all possible constituents while continuing to bolster the success of the Tiger Wranglers Rodeo Program, is indeed "Doing Something That Matters."

For additional information, contact Johnnie Aycock at 205-652-9332 or 205-765-9332.

Johnnie Aycock is Special Assistant to the President, University of West Alabama.

Vapor Wake Dogs

An Auburn program has developed a new breed of explosive detection.

by Maureen Drost

Many people know service dogs play an abundance of roles. Roles such as aiding those with disabilities, visiting senior citizens in nursing homes and looking in on children in hospitals.

What people may not be familiar with are Vapor Wake dogs developed by researchers and trainers through a program at Auburn University.

These canines are bred and trained to be the most sophisticated ever in detecting explosive devices through their keen sense of smell.

Vapor Wake dogs are trained in various environments. This canine is at the Auburn University student center. They can screen hundreds of people at a time.

The research leading to today’s Vapor Wake technology arose out of a practical need, said Dr. Paul Waggoner. He is one of the heads of Canine Performance Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University and one of a team of Auburn officials who created the technology.

"We’re primarily a research and development program," Waggoner said.

Amtrak officials contacted the CPS program, said Waggoner, about a concern for greater security along its routes. They needed dogs to screen large numbers of riders without interrupting the flow of the crowd.

Waggoner and his team began developing the Vapor Wake technology in 2005. A patent was granted two years ago.

In an article for the spring 2016 issue of the "Auburn Veterinarian," Waggoner said this program is part of Auburn’s land-grant mission to foster economic development in Alabama and improve people’s lives around the state and the country.

Today, about 150 dogs and their handlers work with not only Amtrak but also the New York Police Department, Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority, the Disney Co., the Mall of America, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Texas Rangers and the Arlington (Texas) Fire Department among others.

According to the same story, the NYPD graduated a class of eight Vapor Wake dogs and their handlers just one day after the March 22, 2016, bombings in Brussels where 32 were killed and over 300 hurt.

That graduation was ironic in light of the Belgium crisis, said NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton, because one of America’s frontline defenses against terrorism is the Vapor Wake technology the dogs and their handlers are trained in. James Waters, the chief of NYPD’s counterterrorism unit, said the dogs outperform people and machines.

AMK9 now holds the commercial license for the dogs, and they’re responsible for conducting the training of the animals. The licensing agreement was made in 2013, and it was the largest commercial agreement ever for Auburn University.

According to AMK9 officials, traditional security dogs are trained to screen people one-on-one. Vapor Wake dogs can screen hundreds of people at a time as they go through an entrance by sampling the heat plumes left behind in their wake.

A second difference concerns the way the animals approach detection. Traditional security dogs are trained to hunt for stationery objects, while Vapor Wake dogs pay attention to the odor itself. They can continuously sample the air for an explosive target then locate the source while the target is moving.

Sporting breeds such as the Labrador Retriever are the preferred canines for the program.

Jeannie Brock holds a newborn puppy. Auburn University’s College of Veterinary School and the Canine Performance Sciences program collaborate to breed future Vapor Wake dogs. The program has received breeding stock from as far away as Australia.

"They are one of the few remaining dogs that are used for working," Waggoner said. "Also they are perceived by the public as friendlier than some other breeds.

"We use them because they are specifically good at using their noses. They’re independent … and trained to be very focused and less interested in people.

"Work begins even when they’re very small puppies. When they’re a little older, (they play) games where they use their noses. (As adults the dogs undergo) formal training for 10-12 weeks, then 6-8 weeks with a handler.

"We have a breeding program. We cooperate with the College of Veterinary Medicine."

CPS has been one of three recipients of Australian breeding stock.

"There are certain characteristics we specifically breed for. … The aim is to produce a better and better dog for (Vapor Wake) purposes – dogs that can detect hazardous materials, explosives and drugs.

"To work in these environments, the dog has to be able to focus amid clutter and noise.

"The use of dogs for detection is not a static capability. … We’re continuing to work with AMK9 and get feedback from the field. … (The program works) to fill in the gaps."

Canine work in bio-security may be on the horizon. It’s been shown that dogs can identify viruses and detect cancer.

The program began in 1990 as a research program. It is one of only two programs fully focused on working dogs at a veterinary school. Being at Auburn, Waggoner said, gives CPS researchers scientific resources that have no equal.

Maureen Drost is a freelance writer who lives in Huntsville and is a former newspaper reporter.

Veterinary Feed Directive Rules Are Here!

Before you can purchase a medicated feed or supplement, you will need to know the steps.

by Jackie Nix

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past year, you’ve probably heard about the Veterinary Feed Directive rules. These rules became effective Jan. 1, 2017. Some of you may have gone to your local feed store to purchase a medicated feed or medicated supplement only to be told they could not sell it to you without your VFD paperwork.

Table 1. Drugs affected by VFD rules

Because VFDs are new for most everyone (veterinarians included!), let’s review what is involved in obtaining a VFD.

First, if you need a VFD medicated feed for treatment or prevention in your herd, you need to contact your veterinarian. (See Table 1 for a list of drugs requiring VFDs after Jan. 1, 2017.) Depending upon the situation, your veterinarian may need to make a farm visit to examine the animals.

Once your veterinarian has determined a VFD drug is warranted, he/she will fill out a VFD form (see Figure 1 for an example) to authorize use for your animals.

This form will contain full contact information for both the veterinarian and the producer. It will also indicate the drug, drug level in the product and drug delivery, as well as the drug claim. Most drug manufacturers have streamlined this process by creating VFD forms that already have this information prefilled and the veterinarian only needs to check the correct box(es). Please be advised that your veterinarian can only issue VFDs based on legal drug claims approved by FDA. For instance, your veterinarian cannot issue a VFD for treatment of foot rot with chlortetracycline.

The VFD will also be specific as to the duration of treatment and the group of animals being treated. If you have multiple groups of cattle in multiple locations, you will likely need multiple VFDs specific to each group.

The veterinarian will also indicate if the producer may use this VFD drug in combination with other approved drugs.

Figure 1. Sample VFD form

Finally, the veterinarian will indicate the date of VFD issuance and will set an expiration date, not to exceed six months from the date of issuance.

This form may be filled out in hard-copy form or electronically. Your veterinarian will issue you a copy and will need to send a copy to your feed dealer/manufacturer. Your local feed dealer cannot sell you the VFD feed or supplement without the possession of the VFD form. Failure to have this form at the time of order will result in delays in obtaining your medicated feed or supplement. The dealer must have the actual copy of the VFD paperwork in hand and cannot place an order or manufacture feed based on the promise of a VFD coming soon.

The VFD form will need to be retained for two years by the veterinarian, producer and the feed dealer and/or manufacturer. This form needs to be produced upon request in the event of an FDA inspection.

In summary, if you have regularly used drugs in the past that are now classified as VFD drugs, please be mindful of the extra steps and extra time involved in obtaining those medicated feeds and/or supplements now and plan accordingly. Don’t get caught with your pants down by not having the proper VFD paperwork when you need it. Once you obtain properly completed VFD forms from your veterinarian, you must keep these in your records for two years from the date of issuance and be capable of producing them upon inspection.

If you have additional questions about VFDs or the VFD process, visit Kansas State’s free educational module at or FDA’s site at DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm071807.htm. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact your local veterinarian, feed dealer or Ridley Block Operations representative and we will help guide you as best as we can.

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

When Thoughts Turn to Hushpuppies and Slaw

There’s more than one way to skin a catfish.

by Christy Kirk

A few years ago, I was looking out the kitchen window at the pond down where the trees and rocks make a good hiding spot for ducks, tadpoles and snakes. I could see something glistening and shiny in the foliage moving straight up and down. Rolley Len had been down there earlier. I tried to figure out what it was. I guessed it wasn’t a snake because of the motion. But I still wanted to know what it was, so I headed down the hill to check it out.

As I walked down the gravel driveway, I saw Rolley Len next to the fence with a fishing pole in her hands. She didn’t hear me coming because she was engrossed in what she was doing. As I got closer, the shiny object once again began gliding up toward the tops of the trees and back down again. Then I heard her little voice say, "Fish going up. Fish going down." Sure enough, there was her little bait fish on the line stuck on a tree limb way up in the air.

Rolley Len had baited her own hook and, although she was quite short, somehow she cast the line into a very tall tree. Since then, both Rolley Len and Cason have gotten better at casting and they still love to fish almost as much as they love to eat it.

As the winter-hunting seasons end, there is always a little sadness, but it really doesn’t last too long because, as March approaches, they know it is time to catch some catfish whether with limb lines or poles. They start collecting Catawba worms and catching bait fish from the pond to prepare to catch their next meal.

And when they start fishing for catfish, they want to cook everything they catch as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how few or how many they catch; if it comes home with them, they want it fried up for supper with hushpuppies and slaw.

We usually eat them fried whole or filleted, but catfish are also delicious pan-seared. Sometimes people say catfish doesn’t have much of a taste if it isn’t battered and deep-fried, but here are a few recipes to try that are definitely not short on taste. Not only are they kid-friendly, they are all good with slaw whether it is on the side or piled on top of the catfish fillets. The next time you bring home a mess of fish, give one of these recipes a try.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon jalapeño, chopped
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1½ cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 ounce chopped Italian olives (such as Mezzetta), if desired
4 (about 4 ounces each) catfish fillets

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, jalapeño and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. In separate bowl, combine peas, tomatoes, onion, parsley and olives. Add oil mixture to pea mixture and toss. Let stand at least 10 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining oil.

Pat catfish dry. Sprinkle with remaining salt and black pepper. Place fillets in pan and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes with a fork. Serve pea relish on the side or spoon some over each fillet once plated.

Note: The relish in this recipe can also be used to top side dishes of greens or peas to add extra flavor.


1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 Tablespoons onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup Thai chile sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
Cooking spray
4 Hoagie rolls, split and toasted
2 cups shredded cabbage (Chinese napa, if available), divided

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat sesame oil. Add onion and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Add hoisin sauce, peanut butter, lime juice and sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

Prepare grill or broiler. In a large zip-top plastic baggie, combine chile sauce and garlic. Add catfish, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Remove fish from marinade and discard marinade. Place fish on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Cook 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Spread about 1 tablespoon sauce on bottom of each hoagie roll. Place about ½ cup cabbage on each roll, then a fillet and top of roll.


1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon paprika
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
1 Tablespoon butter
4 8-inch flour tortillas

In a shallow dish, combine flour and next 7 ingredients. Dredge fish fillets in flour mixture. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add fillets, sauté 5 minutes. Turn fillets and cook for 4 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork.

In a separate skillet over medium heat, warm tortillas. Turn after 3-4 minutes and heat 2-3 more minutes. Add butter to sides of tortillas before heating if desired. Cut each fillet lengthwise into 4 pieces. Place 4 pieces in each tortilla. Top with slaw (recipe provided) and roll up.


3½ cups red or green cabbage, thinly sliced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1½ Tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Note: Homemade slaw dressing is always better than store-bought bottles. Start with this combination and adjust according to your taste.

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

You Call That Religion?

by Herb T. Farmer

Cameo basil is a low-growing, container variety.

Ever since I can remember, there was something about March that signaled the endorphins in our brains to start our bodies digging in the dirt, preparing planting beds, sowing seeds and the like. Maybe it is just the sunlight in the sky getting longer through the day or the scent of freshly crushed green plants beneath our feet – like a wino craves a drink after getting a whiff of isopropyl alcohol.

Maybe the reason we start to think about this ritual is simply because we have been taught over the years that it is the right thing to do. Brainwashed, we are. It has become a religion; a cult, if you will, pulling us to the light and compelling us to disrupt what Mother Nature has so meticulously left her mark on. With blistering and callused hands, we don boots and gloves to serve the needs of our souls.

How many of you are ready? How many of you are ready to admit your sins of visual, selfish pleasures? How many of you are ready to realize you have been the victim of evil; the torturer under the influence of the cult of soil poisoning, water-wasting turfgrass farmers?

Let me tell you folks, it’s time for you to WAKE UP! I believe you are ready. I believe you are ready to make a difference. I believe you are ready to show the rest of the world how we should all live our lives in harmony with nature. Yes, my friends, I do believe you are ready.

I believe you are ready to STOP pouring your money down the drain. I believe you are ready to take yourselves and your yards to the Promised Land. The land where all of your efforts to grow plants in order to have a showplace lawn will not be in vain; the land where you are not growing pretentious green turf to tease the world, only to block anyone from treading your lushness, the land where you will truly reap benefits from what you sow – that is the goal, my friends. The golden goal is to be free and plant the plants that feed us. Plant the plants that nurture us. Plant the plants that nurture our mother, Mother Earth, for the Promised Land is truly in your own yard.

Hear my words, my friends. Feel the movement. I implore you to let me proselytize you. I am not the only evangelist out here. I know there are many of you. You are just waiting …waiting on someone to speak up! Let us all work together. We can accomplish so much good in this world. Together, we can fight evil and show the world we know the great plan. We are ready.

Use your favorite pancake mix. Use buttermilk and a little sour cream for extra flaky cakes. Use a teaspoon of vanilla extract for a flavor boost. Drop pecan halves into your cakes before you turn them. Serve with berries, butter and local honey or syrup.

You know, I told you a story a few years ago about walking down the sidewalks of a gated community and I noticed hundreds of earthworms that had crawled from their home soil to the sidewalks to die. They had done this because the contracted lawn service companies had sprayed the grasses and shrubbery with poisons. That really gets me going when I think about how wasteful and mindless it is to just to have a patch of useless green over their dirt when they could grow food that is much less expense to maintain. Are those types of people stupid or lazy? Maybe we should show them a better way through door-to-door education. I’m ready and willing to do it. Are you ready? I believe you are.

Let’s live by example. It is not going to be easy. We have to change our rituals so they become habits. We must interplant edibles among our ornamentals. We must keep our properties clean and neat. We must keep the curb appeal so others won’t turn up their noses at what we preach. We should share our bounty with our neighbors.

It is important to plant at least one thing in your yard that is edible. If you have a small lot, then plant a tomato or pepper plant in a pot. You can plant some basil or chives to use in your kitchen. Use thyme or marjoram as border plants along sidewalks or driveways. Plant flowers to share, too. Zinnias make great cut flowers and birds, bees and butterflies love them as well. Besides, fresh flowers on the table make for a great setting for a meal. That’s one of my simple pleasures in life.

Hotcakes on the griddle, to be served with homegrown tomatoes. Mm-mm!

Starting right now, please help me show the rest of the world that we can all live a better life if we simply start growing plants that feed us. Thank you all for your support in this important effort. If you want to find out more about how you can eat your yard, please email me. I will be happy to help.

My name is Herb Farmer and I Eat My Yard (!

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

“Blooms of Old Cahaba”

Shared stories from the Old South, passed down from many generations of family and friends.

"Blooms of Old Cahaba: Stories from the Old South" is a compilation of six years of research and was inspired by the Givhan family history and Cahaba, the first capital of Alabama and one of the greatest lost jewels of the Old South. From the years of flourishing, before the Civil War, affluent Cahaba was widely celebrated all over the world for its rich bounty and the finest cotton land know to civilized man.

"Blooms of Old Cahaba" consists of something for everyone – stories from the Old South, passed down from many generations of family and friends, and told as correctly as can be for hearsay through the years. The book also contains excerpts from the diary of a Civil War soldier who was fighting in Wilson’s Raid in Selma while writing his story – a firsthand account and much more.

Readers will understand how history affects the current generation through the eyes of a young man leaving his childhood for college, but not before he comprehends his past.

"Blooms of Old Cahaba" holds many documents and artifacts including diaries and wills, awards and commendations of the Givhan family from the early 1800s, and includes many other historical documents and fact, all rolled together in an intriguing novel that takes readers time-traveling from before the Civil War into modern day.

"Blooms of Old Cahaba" is available at Amazon,

About the Authors

John B. Givhan is a soldier, rancher, lawyer and a published author. His last novel, "Rice and Cotton, South Vietnam and South Alabama," can be purchased on Amazon. He graduated from Marion Military Institute, Auburn University and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He practiced law for 24 years. He owned and operated Jacob’s Manor Ranch, neighboring Safford, Dallas County. Givhan was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with Nine Oak Leaf Clusters and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for his helicopter pilot combat service in the Vietnam War. He was also honored by Alabama Governor George C. Wallace for extraordinary heroism and service to his state and nation.

J. Cooper is a published writer in many venues of advertising and communications, producing articles for magazines, newsletters and newspapers. Her last novel, "Designs in the Sand," is available on Amazon. In addition to creating and owning several businesses, she has held various positions in nonprofits such as Montgomery Lions Club, where she managed the coordination of the nationally televised Blue-Gray All Star Football Classic for sight charities; executive director of the Arthritis Foundation, Southeast Chapter; and AED and membership director of the Southeast Alabama Council of Girl Scouts. Cooper also has a passion for painting and photography, and her work can be viewed at

“You Better Grab a Hoe”

by Suzy Lowry Geno

If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,
Better think before you ask, cause the Lord is more than show,
If you want the Lord to help you, be aware of what you say.
Cause He may walk in wearing overalls
And need your help today.

If you pray for the hungry, you better gas up your stove,
Better scrounge up some vegetables, multiply some loaves,
Intentions good won’t feed them, kind words won’t satisfy,
When the Lord walks in with His apron on
Will you be there to peel and fry?

If you pray for the lonely, you better gas up your car,
Cause the Lord may want to hitch a ride, to places near and far.
Excuses give no comfort, no they won’t do at all,
If you decide to stay at home, when the Lord wants to make a call.

If we pray for each other, we better unlock our doors,
Better open up our hearts, and love a little more,
For whatever we do to the least of these, we do also unto Him.
When the Lord wants to give His children a hug
Will you put your arms around them?

If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,
Better think before you ask, cause the Lord is more than show,
If you want the Lord to help you, be aware of what you say,
Cause He may walk in wearing overalls
And need your help today!

This song, by J. Robert "Bob" Bentley, has inspired thousands since the Blount County attorney wrote it in 1990.

Darline Kandalec hoeing her strawberries and squash while sitting in her wheelchair.

"I was inspired by an old gentleman in overalls who began a talk on Christian actions with the line, ‘If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,’ Bentley explained. "I wrote the whole song while he was giving his 25-minute talk."

Bentley, whose family owned the local Oneonta radio station from its beginnings in the early 1950s to just a few years ago, recorded the song on a CD played not only on that station but throughout the nation. It’s still a favorite in his home church and throughout a wide circle of folks.

The upbeat message certainly has a serious meaning, not only about being willing to help others, but about having faith AND helping oneself.

My neighbor, Dewey Johnson, said it reminded him of a story his father used to tell about an entire church who met to pray for rain during an awful drought. Only one man brought an umbrella. It was easy to see whose faith was strongest!

Darline Box Kandalec doesn’t really know Bentley, other than in the ways folks in a rural county know about one another. But she still has a copy of his CD in her Susan Moore-area home.

But Kandalec does more than listen to the words occasionally ... she could literally be that person in overalls grabbing up her hoe!

Although, at the time of this writing, she had just undergone her 17th surgery in the past three years (and has endured over 50 surgeries in her lifetime for various health problems), she is not one to wallow in self-pity.

She has raised much of the food she and husband Joe eat. Drivers by may be surprised to see a woman in a wheelchair energetically hoeing her strawberry and squash plants or standing above the wheelchair, braced on a walker, trying to reach the hottest red peppers growing on a plant well above her head!

"I hope people riding by and seeing me out here sometimes can forget about their own difficulties and can be empowered to do more things for themselves," Kandalec explained. "What I’m able to do, what abilities I have, come from my God on High.

Joe Kandalec helps with the harvesting.

"I want to give people hope. You can’t have a pity party."

Kandalec lost her mother shortly before Christmas, but she strives to emulate her mother’s work ethic and get-by attitude. She has worked hard to get her Yankee husband Joe to enjoy many Southern dishes he’d probably never even thought about, and she delights in growing peppers so hot they test even his iron mettle!

In a Dec. 1 social-media post, she explained what a typical day in her house was like when she’s feeling like getting things done.

"A few days back, I picked my pepper plants clean of those the cold had not harmed or I hadn’t let dry on the vines that I plan to use for seeds. I had two of these plastic dish pans full of peppers and several hot varieties.

"Tonight, I canned Joe seven jars of salsa. My canning times were always with my mother until she was no longer able to do it. I think I would make her proud of this. I still have half a basin of mixed peppers in the refrigerator.

"The jars have all been sealed, the kitchen cleaned up, and my pressure canner cleaned up and put back up. This stuff SURELY will make this man with the iron stomach have some tears streaming from his eyes ... but he still won’t be able to get enough of it!"

But while the Kandalecs have eaten of their bounty all summer and fall (there were winter crops of big-headed cabbage, broccoli, kale and more growing in January!!!), and Darline had put up much more by freezing or canning, she has even bigger hopes for the future.

A neighbor has said he will till a spot on his bigger acreage for a small community garden.

"We have to get back to neighbor helping neighbor," Kandalec explained. "If we could all work together in our little neighborhood here and grow some things others really need, it would help out some. Everybody needs a little help every now and then.

"And I plan to expand what I’m growing right here as well."

She credited her lush plants to composted chicken manure Joe hauled back to their home in five-gallon buckets from a friend’s farm. But she also credits God’s Grace and a lot of hard work for the balance.

The former longtime bookkeeper, talented singer and pianist doesn’t think her lifestyle of hard work and good eatin’ are anything special.

"We just try to use what the Good Lord gives us and give the credit to Him."

Suzy Lowry Geno lives on a small homestead in Blount County and can be reached through Facebook or by emailing

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