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May 2013

Youth Matters

85th Annual Alabama FFA Convention and Career Development Events


Members of the Lawrence County High School Chapter and Advisor Mr. Robby Vinzant proudly display the banners, plaques and awards they received during the 84th Alabama FFA State Convention.

by Luke Knight

The 85th Annual Alabama FFA Convention is rapidly approaching! It seems just like yesterday when my team and I tapped the gavel officially closing the 84th Annual Alabama FFA Convention. The convention will begin on Wednesday, June 5, and conclude on Friday, June 7. Most of the State Career Development Events will be held on June 4 in Auburn. The FFA convention really gets kicked off with an FFA appreciation night at the Montgomery Biscuits baseball game on the evening of June 4with FFA members throwing the opening pitch and singing the national anthem. The convention will be held, for the fourth year, in our capital city at the Montgomery Renaissance and Convention Center. At the convention, you can expect to see lots of Blue Jackets, career development awards and competitions, a huge interactive career show, proficiency awards, a keynote address by the National FFA Southern Region Vice-President Wiley Bailey, motivational keynote addresses, retiring addresses from the 2012-2013 Alabama FFA State Officers, the election of the 2013-2014 Alabama FFA State Officers and much more! FFA members will also be practicing the fourth and final line of the FFA motto, "Living to Serve," as they will help package at least 100,000 meals! These meals will be distributed directly in Alabama and across the United States.


In the closing session of the 84th Annual State FFA Convention, the 2012-2013 State FFA Officers were elected and installed. They are: (from left) Nikki Giba, Cherokee, Sentinel; Luke Knight, Wadley, Reporter; Abby Himburg, Ariton, Treasurer; Lucinda Daughtry, Smiths Station, Secretary; Dawn Turner, Enterprise, Vice President; and Josh Williams, Douglas, President.

As I was writing this article, I fell upon the "Farmer’s Creed." One line says, "I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow man, and by this standard I fear no judgment." As I dig into the meaning of this, I truly believe one of the most important things we were put on this Earth to do was to serve other people just as the farmer serves everyone every day. We, the Alabama FFA Association, are extremely grateful for the service all of our past members, supporters and industry partners did for our association. The time and/or money contributed to our association went a long way to help build a foundation for our members’ future. Without those contributions, the memories I and other members have would not have happened.

Memories are the only thing we as FFA members can bring with us from state convention. The memories I have are because of the great tradition Alabama FFA has been able to pass down from the very first FFA convention to the most recent one. I am one of those people who love tradition. Tradition is what makes an experience twice as fun. The traditions of eating at Dreamland, seeing who can collect the most "stuff" at the career show and going to do something fun as a chapter are memories I will replay in my head for my entire life. Tradition is very important in FFA; it is what keeps the National FFA Organization as the largest youth-led organization in America.

How do we keep tradition alive? We keep it alive by the past members who share the memories of their time in FFA. We keep it alive by the supporters of FFA who take their time to spread the ideas and benefits of FFA to the general public. Finally, we keep tradition alive by the industry partners who see the positive influence of agricultural education and FFA in the lives of students. Without the support of these advocates, FFA could not have developed the way it has in the past 85 years.

In order to keep the tradition alive, the Alabama FFA Association is encouraging all former FFA members, FFA supporters and those who are involved in the agricultural industry to attend the 85th Annual Alabama FFA Convention and State Career Development Events! We also invite you to schedule a visit to tour a CDE to see FFA members in action, practicing the skills they have learned throughout the year.

The theme for this year’s convention is "Grow." As I think of the comparison of FFA and "Grow," it’s more than what our roots of farming are; it’s about where we as an association have been, where we are now and where we are going. For FFA to grow, a "seed" must be planted in people to want to join and be active. The seed comes from the former members, supporters and industry partners. Without the help from these people, FFA would not have been able to grow like it has.

The Alabama FFA State Convention will be host to Career Development Awards, Proficiency Awards, Crime Prevention Awards, the M.K. Heath Animal Health Award, District/State Star Farmer Awards, the Mindy Stringer Memorial Scholarship, National Chapter Awards, the Francis Mizell Memorial Scholarship, leadership workshops and the Future Farmer/Agribusinessman of the Year Award. All plaques, banners, prize money, scholarships, etc. awarded are backed with sponsorship. Without the help of our generous sponsors, we would not be able to participate in the many opportunities available to our FFA members.

If you would like to see some of the CDEs in action, please contact Central District FFA Advisor Chris Kennedy at 334-242-9114 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">ckennedy@alsde.edu. For more information about the convention, please visit www.alabamaffa.org. We hope to see you at the 85th Annual Alabama FFA State Convention as we celebrate this year’s theme of "Grow!"

Luke Knight is the Alabama FFA State Reporter from the Wadley FFA Chapter.

On the Edge of Common Sense

A Bull Ballet

by Baxter Black, DVM

Uncle Joe was makin’ his rounds this spring checking the horses and cows to make sure everything had water. When he got to the bull lot, one of his prize young Charolais bulls had managed to crawl through one of the round bale feeders and was lying down happily chewing his cud.

Uncle thought over how to extricate his bull, then went for the tractor. He’d put the round bale in fresh that morning and had not yet cut the twine. It made it easy to lift the bale out of the feeder and set it out of the way. Next, with the lance he tipped the feeder up to let the bull find his way out, BUT … the bull panicked!

In his effort to escape, the bull stuck his head through one of the slots and took off wearing the feeder around his neck! Joe watched the crazed critter stampede through the other young bulls in the lot, who, in turn, went berserk, scattering back and forth as if the iron monster was attacking them!

The saddle horses in the next pen caught the fever and added to the chaos by running around, tails in the air, rollers in their nostrils and fear in their eyes all frightening the bulls who were already scared poopless!

Every now and then, the feeder would dig into the mud so the back would tip up along with the butt end of the bull, whose tail was waving in the air like a loose air pressure hose! Each flip and flop jiggered the gathering crowd. In one final assault, surrounded by 11 testosterone-powered, adrenaline-fueled, thick-headed white bulls, he lead the charge through the metal gate out into the farmyard and right into the machine shed!

In a matter of seconds, all the livestock cleared the area leaving just the barking dogs, Uncle Joe on his tractor and the still struggling, captive bull. Joe called the dogs off and gave the bull five minutes to wiggle during which time he, the bull, managed to back out of the feeder and stumble back into the yard.

After an hour of pushing, sliding, dislocating, cursing, twisting and a couple of "back up and take a run at it" maneuvers, Uncle Joe returned with his welding trailer and removed the stuck-tight round bale feeder … in three pieces.

Men and machinery in a bull ballet … it never ends.

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

Farm & Field

Ag Outlook 2013

USDA Predicts Overall Bright Outlook for 2013 But Sector Differences Likely to Continue

by Jim Erickson

The agricultural outlook for 2013 is bright, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s chief economist Joseph Glauber. But there are many uncertainties that could derail that prediction, just as a similar forecast last year went by the wayside for many producers.

Speaking recently at the USDA’s annual agricultural outlook forum, Glauber noted, despite a historic drought affecting much of U.S. agriculture, farm incomes are near record highs and ag exports are expected to break records again this fiscal year. Farm debt is low relative to assets, and equity and asset values are at record highs, he added.

However, that broad overview belies differences between sectors.

Despite adverse weather, crop producers generally have fared well due to higher prices and crop insurance programs helping offset yield losses, Glauber said. For uninsured producers and those with crops for which insurance is unavailable, 2012’s results were much different. And, for the third time since 2007, livestock, dairy and poultry producers have experienced sharply higher feed costs, with poor pasture conditions this past year and limited safety net programs on which to rely, he observed.

Projections are for a rebound in crop yields in 2013, resulting in record production levels for corn and soybeans and, by autumn, lower prices for most grains and oilseeds, lower feed costs and improved profitability for the livestock, dairy and poultry sectors, Glauber continued.

Among the economist’s key points in his presentation were these:

Exports – U.S. farm exports for fiscal year 2013 are projected at $142 billion; down $3 billion from last November’s forecast, but $6.2 billion above FY 2012 and a record in nominal terms after adjusting for inflation. Ag imports in FY 2013 also are forecast at a record $112.5 billion, leaving an agricultural trade balance of $29.5 billion. While exports to China are expected to be down $1.4 billion from last year’s record of $23.4 billion, that country will be the top market for U.S. farm products for the second straight year.

Increases in export values in FY 2013 will be due primarily to higher commodity prices, and export volumes are expected to decline for many commodities including corn and soybeans. Rice and wheat exports should be exceptions – both projected to be higher in volume and value. Corn sales abroad are projected to be at their lowest volume level since the early 1970s and Brazil likely will overtake this nation as the world’s largest corn exporter.

Crops – Droughts in North America, Southern Europe and the Black Sea region sharply reduced wheat, corn and soybean supplies. Large global supplies should lead to stock rebuilding in 2013-14, but markets will remain volatile until production levels are known with more certainty.

Global cotton stocks are projected at a record high of 82 million bales, up 19 percent from last year. With China expected to hold more than half of world stocks, the cotton outlook will depend on the sustainability of that nation’s policies in the longer run.

High prices will support another year of large plantings for wheat, corn and soybeans with combined acreage for those crops expected to approach or exceed 2012’s 230 million acres. Conservation Reserve program enrollments are down again and have declined 9.7 million acres from the 2007/08 peak.

U.S. Upland cotton acreage is projected at 9.8 million, a decline of 2.3 million acres from 2012. The drop reflects lower expected returns for cotton relative to alternative crops such as corn and soybeans in the Southeast and Delta states.

Weather – Conditions this spring will be especially important in the Great Plains where elevated levels of wheat crop abandonment are expected due to drought’s lingering impact. U.S. wheat production nationally is projected to be 2.1 billion bushels, down 7.4 percent from 2012.

About 57 percent of cotton production is located in areas now in drought condition.

Corn and ethanol – With higher corn prices due to the drought, ethanol production margins tightened considerably this past summer and projected corn use for the biofuel has been reduced to 4.5 million bushels for the 2012/13 marketing year. A record corn crop for 2013/14 should improve ethanol production margins, leading to higher production and an increase in corn use to 4.675 billion bushels.

Grain, oilseed prices – Farm prices for most grain and oilseeds will be lower, reflecting larger domestic and world supplies. Corn prices are forecast to average $4.80/bu. in 2013/14, down 33 percent from the previous year’s record levels, while soybeans are expected to average $10.50/bu., a 27 percent drop.

Cotton prices are expected to increase 3 percent to 73 cents per pound, reflecting tighter domestic supplies.

Livestock, dairy and poultry – Producers faced high feed costs for most of 2012 and high prices are likely to persist through much of 2013 until new crops become available. Productivity gains have offset some of the decline in feed ratios, but tight margins from the second half of 2012 will continue this year.

Cattle and dairy producers also have been hit hard by poor pasture conditions and a poor hay crop. A large liquidation in cattle numbers has pushed the U.S. cattle and calf herd to its lowest level since 1952.

Strong pork and broiler exports helped keep margins higher than they would have been otherwise, but high feed costs have limited hog, poultry and dairy expansion.

Farm income – USDA’s Economic Research Service now is predicting 2012 farm net cash income of $135.6 billion, a record in nominal terms and the highest since 1973 after adjusting for inflation.

As of mid-February, $14.7 billion in indemnity payments had been made to producers suffering 2012 crop or revenue losses. Indemnity payments for 2012 losses could be as high as $17 billion when all claims are settled, a total considerably higher than the record $10.8 billion paid on 2011 crop year losses.

ERS is projecting 2013 net cash income of $123.5 billion, a decline of almost 9 percent.

Youth Matters

Alabama 4-H Dives into Clean Water!


Participants in Auburn University’s Fish Camp search for aquatic insects in Saugahatchee Creek. (Credit: David Cline)

by Mona Scruggs Dominguez

Many people do not realize Alabama is one of the states most blessed when it comes to water resources. In fact, there are 77,000 miles of streams and rivers (a length that could wrap around the Earth three times!). Alabama also has more navigable rivers and more freshwater species than any other state. Because we have so much when it comes to water, it is easy for us to take it for granted. However, we know it is our responsibility as stewards of the Earth to make sure we are not causing damage to our water resources.

Most of us feel it is also our responsibility to instill an appreciation and respect for the environment in the children and youth of our communities. This is accomplished first by setting a good example for them, and also by providing them with opportunities to gain knowledge and an understanding of the way the natural world works. Through this process, we are paving the way for younger generations to learn how to become good decision-makers, leaders and responsible community members who work to protect water and the health of Alabamians.


Alabama Water Watch staffer Eric Reutebuch gets help testing the water’s pH.

For many years, Alabama 4-H has helped to make the connection between kids and nature. 4-H members are taught how to be responsible farmers and producers through Animal Science programs and Junior Master Gardener program. Several programs are specifically focused on natural resources and the environment including Classroom in the Forest, Skins n Skulls and the Coosa River Science School, among others. Thanks to efforts like these, thousands of youth in Alabama have a greater understanding and appreciation of their environment. This year, 4-H has established a new partnership with Alabama Water Watch that will provide additional opportunities for youth to learn about water quality, the aquatic environment and to gain hands-on scientific skills in water monitoring.

Water is life. It is simply logical that we place a great importance on understanding water, how we can protect it, use it wisely and restore waterbodies that are in trouble. In order to achieve any or all of these goals, we need experts such as scientists and engineers, who can search for new technologies and ways of doing things. Equally important are citizens who can make good educated decisions for themselves and their communities regarding water resources.

For more than 20 years, the Alabama Water Watch program has been educating the general public about the importance of water and how each of us can play a role in its protection. By teaching citizens to do simple water tests that produce credible data, AWW has empowered people throughout the state to make a difference in their local communities by teaching others about water quality, working to make improvements to water quality where it is needed and protecting healthy watersheds. As a result, there are nearly 6,000 citizens who have been certified as AWW water monitors, over 800 waterbodies that have been tested by volunteers and over 72,000 AWW water data records to help us know if Alabama’s waters are getting better or worse and why.



Students have fun testing the hardness of a stream.


During the 2013 Extension Youth Day, Mona Dominguez, 4-H/AWW staff, introduces 4-Hers to macro-invertebrates. (Credit: Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Throughout the years many educators have used AWW monitoring techniques and the AWW Aquatic Science curriculum Exploring Alabama’s Living Streams. Educators have collaborated with AWW on various outreach events and projects to bring water science to life for their students. By involving kids in water monitoring activities, an educator can show them that science can be fun, and students can become more confident in their abilities to do science. One study showed that Alabama students who were taught with the EALS curriculum, along with the Classroom in the Forest program, over a 4-year period increased their Stanford Achievement Test scores from 50-70 percent.


Crawfish encounter!

The 4-H/AWW partnership will allow for the development of an official program focused on kids, water quality and water monitoring. Adult AWW volunteers will have the opportunity to share their passion for clean water with 4-H members all over the state, which exemplifies the 4-H vision of having "a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change."

4-H members who participate will have the knowledge, tools and motivation to teach their friends and family about water quality and how they can protect it. They will learn, no matter how young or old we are, we can do something to make a difference! By working through the well-respected Alabama 4-H network including excellent 4-H and Alabama Cooperative Extension System staff and caring adult volunteers, this partnership will have a positive impact on our precious water resources and on Alabama’s most important treasure, our children!

If you would like to learn more, visit www.alabamawaterwatch.org or call the AWW office at 888-844-4785. Sign up for a water monitoring workshop today!

Mona Scruggs Dominguez is with Alabama Water Watch and 4-H & Youth Development of Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University.

In the News

Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Elects


Jimmy Holliman of Dallas County is the new president of Alabama Cattlemen’s Association.

Press Release from Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

Jimmy Holliman of Marion Junction was elected 68th president of Alabama Cattlemen’s Association on March 23 during the annual meeting held at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham. Other officers are Woody Clark, Andalusia, president-elect; Jim Akin, Lexington, vice president; L. D. Fitzpatrick, Hope Hull, treasurer; and Dr. Billy Powell, Montgomery, secretary and executive vice president.

Holliman was raised on a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta. He received a B.S. in Animal Science and a Master’s Degree in Animal Nutrition from Mississippi State University. Holliman has been employed by Auburn University since 1975 where he worked at the Black Belt Research and Extension Center in Marion Junction, serving as director of the station since 1989. He retired on January 31 of this year.

Jimmy started Circle H Cattle Farm in 1982 where he raises some outstanding Black Simmental cattle. He is a member of the Sunshine Farms Bull Sale Group.


From left are the newly elected regional vice presidents for Alabama Cattlemen’s Association: Dr. Terry Slaten, Cullman; Crawford Jones, Prattville; Keith Glover, Greensboro; and Tommy Fuller, Chatom.

Holliman is widely known as a local, state and national leader in the beef cattle industry. He has served as director of the Dallas County Cattlemen’s Association for 35 years, serving as president in 2003. He is currently president of the Dallas County Farmers Federation.

Holliman served as a regional vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and as president of the Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He was president of the Alabama Purebred Breeds Council in 1990-1992.

Holliman has been an officer in the Alabama Simmental Association and serves as trustee for the American Simmental Association. In 2004-2005, Holliman was elected president of the Beef Improvement Federation, an international organization promoting the use of performance evaluation. He has been involved with BIF since 1998. He serves on the Policy Division Board of Directors for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Holliman has received numerous awards for his service to the beef cattle industry.

He and his wife Kathleen enjoy living on their farm where they raised a son Brett, who is now married to Mary Ellen and lives in Austin, Texas. They are active members of the Marion Junction Baptist Church where he serves as deacon.

Four cattlemen and local industry leaders were also elected to serve as state regionals vice president during the 70th annual meeting. They will serve a 3-year term of office. They are Tommy Fuller of Chatom, Keith Glover of Greensboro, Crawford Jones of Prattville and Dr. Terry Slaten of Cullman.

Fuller has been active in the livestock industry and Alabama Cattlemen’s Association for four decades. He grew up in Alexander City and received a B.S in Agricultural Economics and a Master’s Degree in Animal Science from Auburn University.

He worked in the county Extension office in Washington County from 1969-1995 where he served as the livestock agent and later as county Extension coordinator. Following retirement, he works with the Turner Law Firm in Chatom.

Fuller is active in the SLE, the Alabama Stock Horse Association and Washington County Cattlemen’s Association, where he has served in all officer levels and has been secretary for 20 years. He also served as president of the American Stock Horse Association.

Fuller is active in the Chatom United Methodist Church, Friends of the Washington County Library, National Wild Turkey Federation, NRA and Masonic Lodge.

Glover grew up on a farm in Greensboro where he graduated from Greensboro High School. He attended Auburn University before returning to the family farm. Glover began fulltime farming in 1980 where he raised dairy and beef cattle, catfish and row crops. In 1996, he sold the dairy herd and went into a stocker operation. He also became manager of Glover Farms Inc. Both operations included 1,500-2,000 head of stockers and 250 brood cows. Today he just runs stocker cattle.

He has been president of the Hale County Cattlemen’s Association and chairman of the County Farmers Federation. He has served 5 years on the State Alfa Beef Committee. Glover is past chairman of the Hale County Soil and Water Conservation Board.

Keith and his wife Brenda were selected as Outstanding Farm Family by Alfa in 1993 and Outstanding Young Jersey Dairyman by the American Jersey Cattle Association.

He serves on the Board of Directors at the Citizens Bank. A member of the Greensboro United Methodist Church, he and Brenda, a regional Extension agent, have three children: Dr. Olivia Helms, a veterinarian in Kansas; Anna, a junior at Auburn; and John, a freshman at Auburn.

Jones grew up on the Wadsworth Brothers farm in Prattville where he attended Prattville High School. He graduated from Auburn with a degree in Animal Science in 1994.

Following graduation, he worked with Con Agra Feeds, Greenway Technologies and Guaranty Technologies until 2005 when he went to work with Home Place Partners. He is co-owner and operator of Jones Brothers Farms where he and his brother Cooper run 250 head of commercial cows and have 900 acres of cotton, 150 acres of small grain and 750 acres of hay land for custom and their own use.

Jones is active with the Prattville United Methodist Church and Prattville Kiwanis Club. He was president of the Autauga County Cattlemen’s Association and serves on the board of directors.

He and his wife Marsha have two children: Emeline, 11, and Fletcher, 7. Crawford is the grandson of past ACA president and longtime-treasurer Ed Wadsworth.

Slaten grew up in rural Morgan County in the Eva Community. In high school, he was active in 4-H with projects such as public speaking, livestock judging and raising livestock. He was the state 4-H Boy’s Leadership winner in 1976. Terry received a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in 1984. He practiced veterinary medicine in Montana and Mississippi before going to work for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In May of 2003, Slaten had been an Associate State Veterinarian for 9 years and for the past 1 ½ years has been director of the State Diagnostic Lab in Hanceville.

Slaten enjoys re-establishing his Grandpa’s farm and has been involved in the cattle industry his entire career. He is former president of the Cullman Lions Club, and former president of the North Alabama Veterinary Medical Association. He served as president of the Cullman County Cattlemen’s Association where he led them to becoming the largest county chapter in the country at 727. He also served as regional vice president.

Slaten is a Sunday school teacher and deacon at the Seventh Street Baptist Preservation Church in Cullman. Terry is married to Lana, who served as president of the State and National CattleWomen’s Association. They have a son Gus.

The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association is a service-based, non-profit organization founded in 1944 and headquartered on Capitol Hill in Montgomery. Producer and member driven, the ACA’s mission is to enhance the business climate of the state’s beef cattle industry, promoting a positive image while educating consumers that beef is a safe, wholesome, nutritious and convenient food product. The Association has county chapters in all 67 counties and represents 11,500 members statewide.

Outdoor Life

Alabamian Named NWTF National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year


Darin Clifton has been named 2013 NWTF National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Enforcement Officer Darin Clifton has been named the 2013 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Clifton received the award during the organization’s national convention in Nashville February 16. This is the second year in a row a Conservation Enforcement Officer from Alabama has won the award. Bryan Fisher received the award in 2012.

Clifton began his career with WFF in 1995. During the 2012 spring turkey season, Clifton made several arrests for turkey hunting violations including two suspects arrested for numerous violations on Alabama’s Special Youth Turkey Hunt, and several other suspects for hunting violations on the Sam Murphy Wildlife Management Area in Lamar County where he is assigned.

WFF District I Law Enforcement Captain Johnny Johnson nominated Clifton for the award citing his character, professionalism and work ethic.

"Darin has one of the best attitudes towards the profession of any officer I’ve had the pleasure of working with," Johnson said. "He consistently goes above and beyond what is required of him. For example, Darin volunteered countless hours in the recovery efforts following the tornados that devastated Alabama in 2011."

Kevin Dodd, WFF law enforcement chief, echoed Johnson’s praise of Clifton.

"Officer Clifton is well established in the community as is evident in the effectiveness of his work," Dodd said. "We are exceptionally proud of him receiving this award, especially considering the multitude of excellent candidates from other states."

Clifton is a certified hunter education instructor with an FBI Firearms Instructor Certification, and promotes hunting and fishing to youth at local schools and at speaking engagements to various groups including local Boy Scout troops.

In addition to his WFF duties, Clifton frequently serves in outreach programs such as the NWTF’s Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship (JAKES) and Women in the Outdoors (BOWS) as well as the National Archery in the Schools Program. He also participates in various youth hunts and fishing events, and assists in events for people with disabilities.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

Homeplace & Community

Auburn Ag Week 2013:


Michelle Bufkin, College of Agriculture student, gets a picture made with Aubie.

by Anna Leigh Peek

Auburn University started with humble beginnings in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, but, after the Civil War, ,\struggled financially. The Methodist church transferred legal control of the college to the state in 1872, which made Auburn the first land-grant college in the South to be established separately from the state university. At this point, it became known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.

The decision for it to become a state institution allowed the college to receive benefits from the Morrill Act. A land-grant college or university is one designated by its state legislature or congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The original mission of a land-grant school as set forth in the Morrill Act was to teach agriculture, military tactics and the mechanical arts along with classical studies so people of the working class could obtain a liberal, but practical education. Today, 157 years after its founding, Auburn University is continuing to do just that.

Auburn is often referred to as the "Cow College" and many of today’s students take pride in the agricultural heritage at Auburn.

Garrett Dixon, a senior in Animal Science, thinks of it this way, "A lot of people, even some administrators here at Auburn, view the term ‘Cow College’ as a derogatory term. However, I feel being a ‘Cow College’ is one of the things that makes Auburn a great place to attend. American agriculture faces the tremendous challenge of doubling the world’s food supply by 2050 in order to continue feeding the world. Auburn University along with other ‘Cow Colleges’ will play a pivotal role in preparing future generations of agriculturalists to efficiently grow and market their crops


Above, students from across the college met one evening to paint billboards to place around campus and around town. Right, a future animal science student and her family at the Auburn vs. Alabama baseball game at Ag in the Park.

"What many people across Auburn’s campus and the state of Alabama do not realize is that Auburn’s College of Agriculture makes up a very small amount of Auburn’s student body totaling 1,275 in the fall of 2012. The number of students has grown over the last decade and Associate Dean Paul Patterson expects that trend to continue.

"Nationally, we are seeing an increased demand for graduates with degrees in agriculture, as agribusiness firms try to both gear up for a projected growth in global demand and replace retiring baby boomers," Patterson said.





Clockwise from top left, faculty who served on the panel were Henry Fadamiro, Entomology and Plant Pathology; Christy Bratcher, Animal Sciences (Meat Product Food Safety); David Weaver, Agronomy and Soils; Leonard Bell, Food Science; Wallace Berry, Poultry Science; Lisa Kriese-Anderson, Animal Sciences; Jay Spiers, Horticulture; and Robert Nelson, Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology. Dr. Willam Moar, Corn Insect Resistant Management Lead with Monsanto, was the keynote speaker at the “Feed Me the Truth About My Food” event held on Monday of Ag Week. Auburn Poultry Science student Brendon Kirby hands out Blue Bell ice cream to lecture attendees.

Whether or not students at Auburn major in agriculture, the goal of Ag Week 2013 was to get the word about agriculture to students in all corners of the campus – not just on Ag Hill. Although students take pride in Auburn’s history in producing agriculturalists, many graduate knowing little about agriculture; therefore, the focus for this year.

Ashley Culpepper, president of the Ag Council, said, "In the past, Ag Week has been more about celebrating our own accomplishments and enjoying a week of fellowship across the college. This year it is about education."



Left, animal science student Jose Gardner stopped by to dye a shirt. Above, Auburn student Hannah Fisher stops by the Tea and Tie-dye booth and receives some Milo’s Tea from Poultry Science recruiter Codi Plaster.


The week started on March 30 bringing prospective and current students, alumni, faculty and staff to Ag Heritage Park for a program and meal before going to watch Auburn take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at Plainsman Park. Monday an interactive panel discussion was held in Langdon Hall called "Feed Me the Truth About My Food" where students learned the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to food production. The panel was comprised of several faculty from across the college: Dr. Henry Fadamiro, Entomology and Plant Pathology; Dr. Christy Bratcher, Animal Science; Dr. David Weaver, Agronomy and Soils; Dr. Leonard Bell, Food Science; Dr. Wallace Berry, Poultry Science; Dr. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, Animal Science; Dr. Jay Spiers, Horticulture; and Dr. Robert Nelson, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. William Moar, a Corn IRM Technical Lead from Monsanto. Blue Bell ice cream, a product made here in Alabama, was served to all in attendance.


David Cline, fisheries faculty, cooks up catfish for Ag in the Park.

Tuesday on the Concourse, Tea and Tie-Die was held where students could stop by and have tea and tie-dye a 100% cotton, "Peace, Love and Agriculture" t-shirt. Auburn’s beloved mascot, Aubie, made an appearance to show his support of agriculture while students sipped Milo’s tea and tie-dyed t-shirts. Tuesday night, Auburn College of Agriculture students had the opportunity to attend an etiquette dinner where they learned the tips and tricks of eating in a professional setting.

Wednesday was a day packed full of events. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Comer Lawn the annual Ag Hill Picnic took place where people came from far and wide to enjoy a plate of catfish or chicken fingers. During this time, there was also a career fair for agriculture students including over 20 companies looking for employees and interns. At noon, the candidate with the most funds raised in their name puckered up and kissed a local goat after being deemed the "winner" of the Kiss the Goat fundraiser. Auburn University celebrities agreed to be in the running, with the candidate with the most money at the end of two weeks the one who got to kiss the goat. All the funds raised went to the Cam Newton Foundation which addresses the needs of youth, whether social, physical, educational or emotional.

Thursday, College of Agriculture student organizations gathered on the Concourse to reach out to their fellow students and educate them about agriculture with "Ag Facts Day" using interactive displays and booths. That night, students gathered at Ag Heritage Park for some competitive fun with Ag Island. Teams competed in a variety of events and enjoyed dinner and music
.Friday, over 200 fourth graders from Auburn city schools came to campus for "Get Ag-tive Day." It gave students exposure to agriculture at an early age.


From left, Marlee Moore, Michelle Bufkin and Brendon Kirby, Auburn College of Agriculture students, working the kissing booth on Auburn’s Concourse. The College of Ag Kissing Booth raised money to benefit the Cam Newton Foundation. Several Auburn celebrities volunteered to kiss the goat if the most money was raised in their name.

"We are hoping it will cause them to think about agriculture and will hopefully guide them into joining 4-H or FFA when they get older," Culpepper remarked.

Later that day, the College of Agriculture Council joined organizations across campus for Relay for Life. The College of Agriculture recently lost one of its most beloved faculty members Dr. Bill Hardy to cancer and it was a way to commemorate him and others in students’ lives who have been affected by cancer.

Ag Week is an annual event, but the focus on educating across campus was a great endeavor for this year and will hopefully continue for years to come. The more people who leave Auburn understanding the importance of agriculture the easier it will be for future generations of agriculturalists to do their job. After all, Auburn is putting forth the next generation of lawmakers, medical professionals, journalists, educators, etc. as they fulfill their land-grant mission of providing a practical education.

To see more pictures from the week check out: www.ag.auburn.edu/agweek.

Anna Leigh Peek is a freelance writer from Auburn.

Homeplace & Community

Azaleas Require Special Treatment


As spider mites multiply, entire leaves become discolored and distorted and may drop off.

by Mallory Kelley

Azaleas are a true sign of spring and a staple plant for the southern landscape with many different varieties and types. The first Southern hybrid azaleas were planted in Charleston, S.C., in 1848. Today, azaleas can be found in every climatic region in the eastern half of the United States and also in most of the Pacific Coast region. In Alabama, we have deciduous and evergreen varieties of azaleas. The native deciduous azaleas lose their leaves in the winter, but have very beautiful clusters of honeysuckle-like flowers in early spring, adding great flower color and texture to the landscape. More commonly seen in the landscapes are the evergreen azaleas available in many different varieties of size and flower color.

If you are thinking of adding azaleas to your landscape both the native deciduous and evergreen types are great choices for areas with filtered shade. Very heavy shade throughout the day may reduce flower production and result in weak growth.

Azaleas do require some special treatment when it comes to soil conditions. They require an acid soil pH (around 5.5) to grow properly. Check the soil pH of your site before planting. The reason azaleas do better in slightly acid soil is because iron is more available to be taken up by the plants, which azaleas need. If the leaves of your azaleas have a yellow tint to them and the area between the veins is lighter in color than the darker green veins, the plants are not getting enough iron. Other causes of chlorosis (yellowing symptoms) in azaleas may also be attributed to poorly aerated soil, a heavy application of fertilizer or roots heavily infested with nematodes or infected with root-rot disease organisms.

A big problem in azalea culture is over-fertilizing, especially with phosphorus. Too much fertilizer injures the plants and may even cause them to die. Be particularly careful with small plants using no more than 1 teaspoon of fertilizer at a time on plants less than 12 inches tall. For larger plants, use 1 heaping tablespoon per foot of height, scattering the fertilizer under the plant. It is best to split the recommended amount into two applications making a light application after blooming and another in July than to apply the yearly recommendation all at once.


Black, raised bumps on the lower surface of the leaves are an obvious symptom of azalea lace bugs.

The best way to avoid over-fertilizing your azaleas is to have your soil tested every 2 or 3 years and follow the recommendations. If you don’t have a soil test, use an all-purpose fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 12-6-6. Some special azalea-camellia formulations are available and cater to the acid soil requirements of these plants.

In Alabama, many azaleas begin to set flower buds in July. Therefore, pruning after early July may reduce the next year’s flower production. The best time to prune is right after the flowering period in the spring before the new buds are set. Cut out the limbs that have grown out of the main body of the plant. Do not shear unless your intention is to create a formal hedge.

Serious pests of azaleas are spider mites and lace bugs. Spider mites are serious pests of many ornamentals such as roses, boxwoods and azaleas. Adult spider mites vary in size and may be green, orange, red, brown, black or a combination of these, but red is the most common. Spider mites puncture the tissue of leaves and flowers with needle-like mouthparts and suck juices from the plant. This destroys the chlorophyll around the puncture, giving the leaves and flowers a speckled appearance. As mites multiply, entire leaves become discolored and distorted and may drop off. These pests are very small and feed mainly on the underside of leaves. They often go unnoticed until plant damage is obvious.

Azalea lace bugs are very small insects with black bodies and colored or variegated lace-like wings. They also feed on the underside of leaves. The upper leaf surface opposite the feeding areas becomes speckled and the leaf looks light or bleached and eventually turns brown. Lace bugs give off large amounts of a dark, almost black, sticky substance you will find on the underside of leaves. Black, raised bumps on the lower surface of the leaves are an obvious symptom of this insect.

Chemical control gives best results when used in the spring to control the spider mites and the first and second generations of azalea lace bugs. Products such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, neem oil and most synthetic insecticides labeled for use on azaleas will provide control and oftentimes multiple applications are necessary. For optimal coverage, be sure to direct the spray to the undersides of the leaves. Using a recommended systemic insecticide drench in spring could prove to be a season-long remedy.

Starting March through August, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers a Gardening Helpline for the general public each Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. This helpline is operated by Master Gardener volunteers who use research-based information to best answer all of your gardening questions.

Mallory Kelley is a regional Extension agent specializing in home grounds, gardens and home pests.

Simple Times

Crossing the Line to Rural Life


Heather and Eric Jackson with their children Erica Belle, 9; Lucas, 6; and Savannah, 3; and family Jersey cow Beulah Belle.

by Suzy Lowry Geno

Want to know a surprising side-effect of having a predator take out a few of your chickens? It turns out that after-dinner ‘possum hunting together makes good husband and wife bonding time!"

That tongue-in-cheek recent post on Facebook by Heather Jackson exemplifies the sense of humor but determination she and her husband Eric have showcased since moving from their Hoover home to a three-acre rural homestead less than 2 years ago.

Along with children Erica Belle, 9; Lucas, 6; and Savannah, 3, the farm includes family dog Parker, an assortment of chickens, guineas, LaMancha and Saanen goats, ducks, WORMS and Beulah Belle, a placid Jersey dairy cow.

So why the move?

"There wasn’t a yard big enough for the kids to play and we just wanted a slower pace of life … and I REALLY NEEDED chickens," Heather explained.

Eric was born in Birmingham and lived several places including Demopolis and Selma. Heather is from a small town outside of Athens, Ga. Heather had goats when she was little, but had to unhappily give them up when the family moved to the suburbs to a roomier house.




Left, Lucas Jackson enjoys the tire swing in the pasture at his home at Green Eggs and Goats. Above, can you guess why this little goat was named Oreo?

Eric enjoyed visiting with his uncle Billy Rentz, now in his late eighties, who still farms more than 1000 acres in the Sweet Water community of South Alabama.

"He’s remarkable," Eric said.

They both knew what "traditional" farming was, but wanted more for their little family.

"I was diagnosed with type II diabetes when I was 29," Eric explained. "My uncle, my grandmother, it seemed everybody in my family eventually became diabetic. I want to raise my kids where they don’t eat the way I did for the first 29 years of my life. I want them to have every chance to NOT grow up to be diabetic."





Clockwise from top left, Erica Belle and Savannah Jackson delight in one of the farm’s many goat kids. Lucas and Savannah Jackson with one of the Saanen babies. Mama goat and her twins. The big red barn was one of the features that drew the Jacksons to their farm.



Likewise, Heather has a hyperthyroid. Since the move and her healthier eating from raw milk to organic fruits and vegetables, she has been able to lower the dosage of her medications!

(Erica Belle explained so far the family only eats the "bad roosters" on the farm, and that last one was delicious, Heather laughed.)

While all the neighbors in the Village Springs-Remlap area near the Blount-Jefferson County line have welcomed them with open arms, Heather explained it’s been a long haul explaining to some folks that "we really can grow things organically here."


Savannah Jackson points out different worms she has named as Erica looks at the worm bed they created.

"It’s just like a different world once you cross that county line from Jefferson County," Heather explained. "It’s a much slower pace … a much slower lifestyle. I guess the greatest surprise was just how wonderful and welcoming all the neighbors have been."

The Jacksons have found visiting and shopping at Blount Co. Farmers Co-op an important part of their new country lifestyle.

While Eric continues to manage a tire-mounting warehouse, Heather devotes her time to the farm and to homeschooling the kids. While Lucas enjoyed a private Christian school half-day kindergarten this year, he will be re-joining the ranks of his homeschooled siblings this fall.

The decision to homeschool was many-faceted.

"It’s like everything else," Eric said. "Education is just not a one-size-fits-all endeavor."

There were so many questions from their many friends about their farm and their change in lifestyle when they moved that Heather began a blog on the farm’s website (www.greeneggsandgoats.com), but the day she started the blog she lost her favorite doe so it took her a little time to want to write again.

Heather also occasionally teaches classes on what she’s learned, including a mozzarella cheese making class she recently taught at Freshfully. She is also teaching Square Foot Gardening classes at a Hoover church and other locations.

"All we had space for in Hoover was a square foot garden," Heather explained. "But it worked out so well I still utilize a lot of that in our garden here even though we have much more space."

Eric continues to study how to grow more with less water and less space as well.

"It appears the huge farms are going to implode eventually because the practices just aren’t sustainable," Eric observed. "People are starting to realize that now and how important small family local farms can be."


A special relationship exists between “a woman and her cow ....”

"I’ve been listening to Everett Griner on radio at Southeast AgNET and he’s been stressing the need to produce more food per acre on less water … he says we need to double our food supply in the next 30 years; but I think the answer is the small farmer, farming four to five acres intensively. There just can’t be a Roundup Ready everything …"

The farm includes a large red barn. The previous owner’s daughter was into theater so one end of the barn included a stage, which has now been converted into a milking area. A heat lamp glowed recently at the other end so frolicking goat kids could bounce inside when they needed the heat.

"When we saw the barn, the pond and the pool, we fell in love with the farm," Heather recalled. "It was like, ‘Oh yea, there’s a nice house, too.’"

Eric enjoys fishing in the pond and the shady acreage seems an Eden with human kids and goat kids enjoying the fresh air and open spaces.

The couple was building beehives for bees already ordered when this article was written. The youngsters, especially the girls, have begun a worm bed for fishing and for use in the garden, with Savannah having many of the worms personally named.

They obtained their grower’s permit in the spring and hope to sell the excess from their garden and organically-created jams and jellies at locations including possibly a small stand in front of their farm this summer.

Heather continues to spread the simply living, organic food, family-oriented message through the farm’s website and her blogging to the community as a whole, but the couple’s main goal is to simply raise their family happily, eat healthily and enjoy the peace of their Green Eggs and Goats farm!

The Jacksons can be reached through their website or their Facebook page of Green Eggs and Goats.

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

Youth Matters

Do What You Love! Start Teaching Ag Now!


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

by Chris Kennedy

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

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

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


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

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

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

I realized the best way to change lives and to make a small impact on society is in the agriscience classroom! I loved sharing my passion for agriculture with young people and, above all, watching students make the same transition I made.

I know you may be thinking teaching agriscience sounds great, but "I’m not going back to school, so how can I teach ag?" Here are the answers to just a few common questions we often hear.

Did you know someone with a B.S. degree or higher in an agricultural-related field can teach agriscience?

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you can start teaching agriscience education. This is a great option for anyone who may be having difficulty finding a job in industry, someone wanting to have more time with their children or someone wanting to take advantage of the many benefits offered to agriscience teachers.

How do I get certified?

Option 1: A bachelor’s degree in Agriscience Education (Traditional Route)

Option 2: Alternative Baccalaureate Certification - If you have a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you may be eligible to begin teaching this year while meeting a few other requirements.

Option 3: Agriculture Praxis II - If you are certified as a teacher in another subject area, you may be able to get certified in Agriscience Education by successfully passing a Praxis II examination.

Is there a job opening?

This is an important question for anyone deciding which career to pursue. Please investigate potential job openings before pursuing a career. Currently there is a large national shortage of agricultural educators. It is estimated there will be hundreds of unfilled positions across the United States this year. In Alabama, a majority of agriscience teachers are eligible to retire today. We will need many agriculture teachers across Alabama. There is a great chance there will be an opening near you.

How much does it pay?

Alabama offers agriculture teachers a competitive salary with that of many agricultural industry professions. Alabama has a minimum salary matrix used by many school systems. This matrix is based on a 187-day contract. Many agriscience teachers are paid additional days of work during the summer months by their school system. We also offer a competitive grant that agriscience teachers can apply for to be paid to work extra in the summer months. A new teacher in their first year with a bachelor’s degree would earn $36,144 for a 187-day contract. Teacher salaries continue to rise for degrees, years of experience and days worked. A 12-month agriscience teacher with a master’s degree and 21 years of experience could earn $66,309 per year!

What are the benefits?
Teaching comes with a multitude of benefits. Some of those are:

Competitive salary

Affordable health and dental insurance

Following school calendar similar to your children

Alabama retirement system

Impacting lives

Never having the same day twice

Teaching what you love!

For more information:

For more information about teaching agriscience, please visit www.alabamaffa.org and http://www.naae.org/teachag/. Talking to the local agriscience teacher in your community could also provide you with some insight to the profession. You may also contact the State Agriscience Staff at 334-242-9114 or by emailing me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">ckennedy@alsde.edu with any questions.

Chris Kennedy is a Central District Specialist Alabama FFA Association and Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.

The Business of Farming

Documenting Farm and Business Losses

by Robert Page and Holt Hardin

At the end of each year, farmers and agribusiness owners routinely complete a year-end balance sheet or net worth statement for their banker and/or their tax return. There’s typically a rush to list all their assets and liabilities to calculate their farm, business or personal net worth.

Most farmers and business people have worked very hard for many years to build their farm or business, but how much time has been spent on documenting and protecting assets from possible losses? As Extension economists in the Farm Management and Agricultural Enterprise Analysis program, we have worked with farmers who have experienced losses due to tornadoes, fire, theft and flood damage. High winds and tornadoes destroy chicken houses, farm buildings, trees, fencing and farm equipment. Then the questions are (a) how much of your farm is insured and (b) how well can you document your losses?

Farmers are very busy this time of year, but let’s take a few minutes to think through a few selected items on your balance sheet and make a plan to minimize your losses in the event of a catastrophic event.

Do you have high-quality pictures or videos of all your farm buildings and documentation on the cost of construction of each building? As economists, we have had the task of trying to determine the cost of a building 5-10 years later from the farmer’s accounting records. It’s not an easy task.

Do you have high-quality pictures of all your farm equipment including serial numbers or other documentation of purchase cost and date of purchase? While most farmers have equipment listed on their farm insurance policy, when was the last time this equipment list was reviewed to see if any current equipment has been left off the policy? Alternatively, are you still paying insurance for equipment that has been sold or scrapped?

Farmers have thousands of dollars invested in small tools and supplies in their equipment sheds or repair shops. If the sheds were destroyed by high winds, could you document and value your tools and small machine inventory? While preparing this type of inventory is not an interesting task, many farmers may be surprised at their total investment. We would suggest beginning by taking a picture of each tool cabinet and then listing each tool over a certain dollar amount (example $10) for that cabinet. Repeat this process for each storage cabinet or tool box. Repeat the process for small machines by taking a high-quality picture of the machine and adding them to your inventory listing. Then consider adding a line item on the farm insurance policy for tools and small machines, and give your insurance agent a copy of your tool and small machine inventory.

In a similar way, farmers and agribusiness owners should consider a regular inventory of fertilizer, chemicals and other supplies on hand as of a particular date. With a written inventory, the farmer could document their losses much more completely than relying on memory alone.

Finally, personal dwellings and their contents should also be adequately documented for tornado or wind damage. High-quality pictures or videos can be invaluable in verifying a loss. There have already been high wind and tornadoes in Alabama this year. If your farm or business was hit, how well could you document your losses?

As a last consideration on loss prevention, farmers and agribusiness owners should remember that if your home or business is destroyed, your files may also be destroyed. It just makes good sense to have a second copy of all documentation in an off-farm location such as a safety deposit box.

Farmers and agribusiness owners work hard to build their assets. Taking time to document and inventory your assets will be much easier on a warm, rainy day than after a catastrophic loss. It’s springtime in Alabama and tornado season is coming. Don’t be unprepared.

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

Outdoor Life

Don’t Complain About Deer Meat ... Can it!


The final product of canned deer meat is good for 2 years of storage.

by John Howle

Canning season is here, and your local Co-op will have all the supplies you need to store your garden harvest when it has been picked and prepared. But what about all that deer meat in the freezer? Shouldn’t you make room for your summer garden or harvests of fish? Take that deer meat out of the freezer and can it. It’s as simple as canning vegetables, and you can have tender, healthy deer meat any time. Also, since it’s already been cooked, your prep time for meals is cut in half.

Deer meat can safely be stored 2 years on your food shelf, and the good part is no electricity is required to keep the meat fresh. Simply store the canned meat on your shelves, and you will have high-protein meat all year.

This past deer season, I harvested a doe toward the end of the season, and to save a little money, I butchered the animal myself by cutting large chunks of meat out of the hams, shoulders, neck and tenderloin. The meat was frozen in one-gallon freezer bags until I was able to get all the canning supplies together. The supplies you need are: A pressure canner, glass jars, lids, rings, canning salt and a few handy tools such as tongs for removing the hot jars from the canner, a funnel for adding the meat and salt to the jars, and about three hours of uninterrupted time (probably the hardest thing to come by).

Prepare the Meat

First, I soaked the meat overnight in distilled white vinegar in a cooler. The vinegar is a natural tenderizer, soaks excess blood out of the meat and removes any extra gamey flavor. The next morning, I cut the lean meat into one-inch chunks, removing all fat and non-meat tissue.

While I was cutting the meat, I had a pot of boiling water to sterilize the lids and the pressure canner filled with three quarts of water making sure all the jars were sterilized (run them through the dishwasher on sani-cycle) and rings and lids were accounted for. Finally, I placed a funnel in the top of the first jar and added the meat, packing it down tight to avoid any open spaces leaving one inch of head space followed by a teaspoon full of canning salt. After all seven quart jars were filled, lids put in place and rings tightened down, I placed all seven jars into the canner on the canning rack with the three quarts of water added to the inside of the pressure canner.


Above, lids, rings, glass jars, tongs, lid lifter, funnel and packer are all supplies needed when canning. Right, meat in the background made over seven quarts of canned deer meat. The funnel keeps the meat and canning salt off the jar top to ensure a tight seal.


Crank the Canner

Once the jars and three quarts of water were in the canner, I made sure all pressure release valves were not clogged and then locked the lid down. My canner is a 17-quart with a pressure gauge. Once the water inside the canner begins boiling, you will begin to see steam released from the spout. Let this steam escape for about 10 minutes, and then add the pressure regulator to the spout. (This is the part that jiggles on top.) My particular model came with a 15-pound regulator, so it did not jiggle because the canning of meat requires you can the meat with quart jars for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. Since my regulator was a 15-pound, the steam pressure would not create the movement of the regulator. Instead, I simply regulated the heat on the stovetop so the pressure gauge was giving a constant reading of 11 pounds for the 90 minutes of canning time.

Steam Safety

Once the 90 minutes of canning time was complete, I simply turned the stove eye off and allowed the unit to cool down on its own. When all steam has stopped releasing, you can remove the pressure regulator with a hot pad. When you unlock the lid to remove it, point the opening of the lid away from your face to avoid a steam burn. Use the canning grips or tongs to remove the jars of cooked meat from the canner.

You will see the contents of the jars continue to boil for some time as you let them cool. As the jars cool, you will hear the lids "pop" as they are sealing themselves. In other words, once the jars are cooled down, you should not be able to press the lids because they should be sealed. Any jars that don’t seal properly should be refrigerated and eaten quickly.


Left, add a teaspoon of canning salt to each jar before sealing. Above, my 17-quart canner holds seven quart-size jars.

Long Term Storage

The great thing about canning deer meat is you can store it on a dark shelf out of the way without electricity until you are ready to prepare a meal. This meat should be good for a couple of years. You can find many useful canning tips for raw packing meat through the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service (www.aces.edu). In addition, your canner should come with canning instructions. Your local Co-op is the best source of products for canning just about any food you want to keep long-term without the use of storage electricity.

Eat the Meat

You can prepare deer meat just as you would serve beef. Many say deer meat tastes just like roast beef when they take it out of the jar and heat it. Served over noodles, the meat can be prepared just like beef stroganoff. Here’s a sample recipe to try with the following ingredients: one pound of canned deer meat, salt and pepper, garlic powder, one chopped onion, two cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup, one 16-ounce package of egg noodles, eight ounces of sour cream.

Sautee the onions in a skillet until soft, add the remaining ingredients including the canned meat and heat on low allowing the ingredients to simmer while you boil the noodles. Pour the Deer Stroganoff over the noodles and enjoy.

Since the meat is already cooked, you’ve saved yourself about 20 minutes cooking time, and canning deer meat for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure guarantees the meat will fall apart with tenderness.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Our Outdoor Heritage

Economic Impact and Aesop’s Fables

by Corky Pugh

The recently released report, "Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation," places annual retail sales directly associated with hunting in Alabama at $1,189,125,204. The total multiplier effect rippling through the economy as a result of hunters spending amounts over $1.8 billion annually in our state. Yes, that’s billion, with a "B."

So, what drives this huge economic engine? Hunting opportunity depends upon abundant populations of game animals and access to affordable places to hunt as well as reasonable seasons and limits. Alabama has historically been very liberal with seasons and limits compared to most other states, while being more restrictive on legal methods of hunting than some states.

The fact that Alabama ranks seventh nationally in the number of resident hunters is evidence of a strong hunting-related culture as well as an essential underlying base of abundant wildlife populations. The abundant wildlife resources now enjoyed by all Alabamians did not happen by chance. The State of Alabama, through the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, has carried out hunter-funded wildlife management and protection for over 75 years. This has restored deer, turkey and many other species, hunted and non-hunted, from the brink of extinction.

The foundational principles guidingthe Alabama hunters are managing wildlife resources, established as a matter of practice many decades ago, have served the state and its hunters, landowners and citizens well. First and foremost, the well-being of the resource must be considered. Management of wildlife populations and habitats, based on sound science rather than politics, is absolutely essential to sustaining the resource base upon which hunting and other wildlife-associated recreations depend.

The other key principle is, "Doing that which is in the greatest good of the most people in the long run." This phrase, coined by the famous early wildlife conservationist Gifford Pinchot, captures the essence of the North American Model of Wildlife Management. In America, each state holds the title to all game and fish resources, and manages them for the benefit of all the people. Only through adherence to this guiding principle can Alabama or any other state sustain the base of hunters who pay for wildlife management and protection through their license purchases and related federal excise taxes on hunting arms and ammunition

Principle-centered decisions and actions stand the test of time. Aesop’s Fables, the ever-popular lessons on how to behave in the world, have endured through the centuries since 600 B.C. Most people fondly remember the childhood lessons of "The Tortoise and the Hare," "A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing," "The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg" and others. With the simple stories and the sound morals taught, the fables illustrate ethics, character and leadership.

Like most principle-centered things, the lessons are self-evident and undeniable: "Appearances are often deceiving," "honesty is the best policy," "do not count your chickens before they are hatched," "slow and steady wins the race," "one good turn deserves another," "try to please all and you end by pleasing none," and others.

"The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg" is especially applicable to natural resources management. In fact, this ancient fable is the basis for effectiveness in all matters, according to best-selling author and modern-day world-renowned effectiveness expert Stephen R. Covey. Covey characterized this natural law as "Production/Production Capacity Balance."

This fable is the story of the poor farmer made rich by his pet goose that lays a golden egg every day. The farmer becomes incredibly wealthy; it all seems too good to be true. But with his increasing wealth comes greed and impatience. Unable to wait day after day for the golden eggs, the farmer kills the goose to try to get them all at once. When he cuts the goose open, he finds it empty. There are no golden eggs, and now there is no way to get any. The farmer has destroyed the goose that produced them.

"Within this fable is a natural law, a principle - the basic definition of effectiveness. True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose). If you adopt a pattern that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the goose, you will soon be without the asset that produces golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward golden eggs, you soon won’t have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose. Effectiveness lies in the balance," according to Covey.

"To maintain the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capacity) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness. It balances short term with long term."

Is this not the true meaning of conservation? - Wise use of natural resources, with stewardship for the future. After all, the ultimate judges of our success or failure will be our grandchildren and their children after them. Will there be abundant, healthy wildlife populations and habitats for them to enjoy? Will there be inclusive opportunities for all kinds of hunters? Let’s hope so.

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

Farm & Field

Fly Control is a Must in These Economic Times


Horn fly levels in excess of 200 fly per animal threshold results in economic losses. Conveniently and safely control horn flies with SWEETLIX feed-through fly control products!

by Jackie Nix

Excessive fly populations can literally suck the profits out of your cattle. Biting flies reduce weaning weights, lower milk production and spread disease. In today’s economic environment, it is more important than ever to keep fly populations in check to maximize efficiency and profitability.

Horn flies are the most economically significant fly with which cattlemen need be concerned. The irritation and blood loss caused by biting horn flies reduces calf weaning weights by 12-14 pounds. Average daily gain in yearling steers can be reduced as much as 30 pounds during a grazing season. Horn flies also cause lowered libido in bulls, resulting in reduced reproductive efficiency.

Adult horn flies are dark gray and about half the size of the housefly. The lifecycle is completed in 8-45 days depending on temperature and humidity. Horn flies tend to rest quietly on the backs and shoulders of cattle until disturbed (photo above). Horn flies rarely leave their hosts except to lay eggs, to move to other cattle in the herd or when cattle enter buildings. Most feeding occurs along the underline of the animal and results in scabby, often bleeding, sores. Each fly may feed from 10-38 times each day! Grazing time is disrupted, resulting in significantly reduced weight gains and daily production.

The methods to control horn flies are many and varied, but most rely upon chemical control.

Pesticide-infused ear tags have been widely utilized with success. However, this method requires the labor and stress of handling cattle twice – once to apply the ear tags and another to remove these tags. Failure to remove ear tags as recommended leads to development of pesticide resistance and reduces the overall success of this method over time.

Sprays and pour-on pesticides can also be effective; however, they also require extra labor and handling of cattle. Another point is that they offer short-term control (one month or less). Therefore, in order for this method to offer optimum control, cattle must be handled and treated monthly throughout fly season. Additionally, there is the fact the applicator must handle these chemicals and the associated safety issues therein.

Some utilize backrubs laced with pesticides and oil. This method yields mixed results. It is difficult to get all cattle within the herd to properly utilize these rubs on a consistent basis. Additionally, labor is required to properly maintain these rubs to make sure they are not dislodged and maintain effective levels of pesticides.

One of the most convenient and effective methods of horn fly control involves self-fed mineral supplements and blocks. These supplements contain active ingredients interrupting the horn fly lifecycle, effectively reducing the overall population of horn flies. Self-fed fly control requires no additional labor and no cattle handling, unlike the previously mentioned methods. Just provide self-fed mineral supplementation to cattle as you normally would.

SWEETLIX branded blocks or minerals contain either Rabon oral larvicide or Altosid IGR, which conveniently and effectively control horn flies. Both active ingredients disrupt the horn fly lifecycle to prevent future generations of flies. Neither Rabon nor Altosid have slaughter withdrawal times and can be fed to all classes of cattle including nursing brood cows and calves. Additionally, Rabon is labeled for use in horses.

For best results, start feeding SWEETLIX branded fly control products at least 30 days before the projected last frost and 30 days after the first frost. In some areas, these dates will overlap. Horn flies emerge when average daily temperatures reach 65 degrees for a period of at least two weeks. Be sure to provide at least one mineral feeder or block per 10-20 head. Locate mineral feeders or blocks where cattle congregate (near watering, loafing or shade areas, etc.). Increase or decrease the number of mineral feeders or change locations if necessary to adjust for proper consumption. Remember, neither Rabon nor Altosid will kill adult flies. Use of approved adulticides will be necessary to eliminate adult fly populations when Rabon- or Altosid-containing supplements are introduced after adult horn fly infestation is already established.

Selected SWEETLIX fly control supplements available through your local Quality Co-op include:

SWEETLIX Pest-A-Side Block

SWEETLIX Rabon Molasses Pressed Block

SWEETLIX EnProAl Rabon Supplement

SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead ROL

SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead IGR

SWEETLIX 4% CopperHead IGR

These represent just a few of the many SWEETLIX supplement products available through your local Quality Co-op. Visit www.sweetlix.com or call 1-87SWEETLIX to learn more.

For the latest information and updates, "Like" SWEETLIX Livestock Supplements on Facebook!

In summary, horn flies represent a costly drain on profitability. Fly control is a must in these trying economic times in order to maximize efficiency and profitability. Your local Quality Co-op can offer many tools for effective fly control, including the convenient, self-fed SWEETLIX fly control options previously listed.

Your Next Meal From the Wildside

From the Garden


Prepare your garden to reduce weeding by adding weed cloth or silt fence over the dirt, then cover with hay or pine straw.

by Christy Kirk

The first days of spring this year were disheartening: 30 degrees some days and strong gusty winds that chilled us to the bone. Spring and summer seemed like they were a lifetime away. I had planned to take Rolley Len and Cason to see their grandparents during spring break, but even the temperatures in Florida, in the 40s and 50s during the daytime, were well below normal. Both of the kids had been looking forward to their visit with Nana and Pawpaw, so we packed warm clothes with a "just-in-case" pair of shorts and hit the road.

Driving south on I29, I was quickly reminded it was definitely springtime in Alabama. We passed many fields where the red mud had been turned, and some rows already had green sprigs and sprouts bursting up through the dirt. Whether you are planning for acres of corn or a few bushels of okra, late March is the time for planting. Planting and cultivating a garden of your own can be rewarding in so many ways. Besides giving you and your family a chance to work on a project together, the food you grow can be a tremendous asset to your family throughout the year.


Hearty Spring Soup

Planning ahead by properly preparing the beds will keep you from having to weed your garden constantly. To do this, you can either get weed cloth or silt fence to help keep the weeds out. Silt fencing is the material used by construction crews to block off areas and to keep dirt from washing away. Using silt fence in a garden is a great way to repurpose it rather than throwing it out. First, cover your plot with good soil. Then lay silt fence or weed cloth over the dirt. Cut small holes in the material where you want to place your plants, then cover the cloth or fencing with hay or pine straw. Family friend Stanley Baker and his son Chip plant their garden in rows and add silt cloth in rows so they don’t have to weed it as often saving a lot of time and energy.

Irrigation is important, especially if we have a long season of drought. There are several options that don’t have to cost a lot of money. You can use a cheap black pipe, a soaker hose or pop holes in a hose pipe. All of these can be found in any hardware store. If your city or county water has a lot of chlorine or other chemicals in it, the water may evaporate faster than if it didn’t have those chemicals. That means the plants may not be able to absorb as much water as they need. To compensate for this, some gardeners, including Jason’s cousin Steve Kirk, collect rainwater in barrels to use in their gardens. Steve leaves them out year-round to collect water then puts a top on it to keep mosquitoes from breeding. This may not be practical for some families, but you can always use something smaller like a bucket or pitcher. Of course, you should always water at night to increase absorption.

To be able to provide your family with food you grew yourself, you don’t need to make a huge garden, just choose your plants wisely. In the Southeast, some of the easiest plants to grow are also the healthiest and heartiest. Beans, peas, Irish and sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and onions are all easy to plant and harvest. They also are extremely versatile in recipes. Jalapeño peppers, rooster peppers and red bell peppers are colorful additions to your garden that will add lots of flavor and good nutrition to your diet.

Mix and match your vegetables in soups, casseroles or keep it simple with a four-vegetable plate. One of our school librarians Amanda Massey brought a hearty soup for lunch that I could not stop looking at. It had white beans, tomatoes, sausage and greens. The colors of all the ingredients and their various scents mixed together made me want to make it. Amanda had gotten the recipe from a relative and changed it a little to suit her and her family’s taste. The recipe below is my own adaptation. This bean soup is great because everyone who makes it can adjust it to their needs and appetite. You might leave the sausage out and add celery or potatoes instead. You can also add hot sauce for extra spice.

If you work a few plants properly, you can have a tremendous harvest to feed your family. For example, if you planted tomatoes in April, then plant more in May. Spreading them out over time means you will have continual growth throughout the season. With a little planning, your garden can provide healthy meals for your family until the next planting season.

For a complete planting guide and an Alabama Gardener’s Calendar, visit www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0063/ANR-0063.pdf or www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0047/ANR-0047.pdf.

Hearty Spring Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
8-12 ounces smoked sausage (I used Conecuh Original)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can (15-ounce) white beans
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce as desired

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Put onions, carrots and sausage in pot. Sauté until the onions are tender and the sausage is heated through. Reduce heat. Add kale and garlic. Cover and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with cornbread or crackers.

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

Farm & Field

Funding for Irrigation

Alabama Agricultural Development Authority Offers Low Cost Program

Alabama Agricultural Development Authority’s Executive Director John Gamble recently announced an expanded AADA loan program to enhance row crop, vegetables, and fruit and nut tree production in the state via the adoption of irrigation technology. According to Gamble, production can nearly double or triple given proper irrigation management. AADA has committed an initial $500,000 to this program. Low cost loans up to $20,000 at a 3.5% rate with a 4-year amortization are now available. Funds from these loans can be used separately or in conjunction with other funding sources to meet individual needs.

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries and AADA Chairman John McMillan stated, "Irrigation is most likely not the answer for every producer, but it can take a lot of climate risk out of the production equation. Quality of product, volume of product and more potential farm profit are all benefits from wise irrigation usage."

Alabama only has 120,000 irrigated acres as compared to Mississippi and Georgia who each report about 1.5 million acres of crops under irrigation. Furthermore, Alabama imports $1.4 billion of corn and soybeans to support the Alabama poultry industry. With irrigation, Alabama farmers could likely capture a large percentage of this market. If this becomes a reality, local economic development would explode and local investment would dramatically increase.

For more information, contact John Gamble or Harold McLemore at 334-240-7245 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">john.gamble@agi.alabama.gov. Information packets and an application will be provided.

Farm & Field

Goat and Sheep Inventories Continue to Decrease

by Robert Spencer

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

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

Alabama Goat Numbers: Meat & Other (no dairy)

Years Inventories Change % Change

2007 53,000

2008 70,000 17,000 32.08%

2009 65,000 -5,000 - 7.14%

2010 60,000 -5,000 - 7.69%

2011 56,500 -3,500 - 5.83%

2012 42,000 -14,500 -25.66%

Total Changes -11,000 -14.26%

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

Alabama Goat Numbers: Dairy Only

Years Inventories Change % Change

2007 3,500

2008 4,000 500 32.08%

2009 4,500 500 12.50%

2010 4,200 -300 - 6.67%

2011 4,000 -200 - 4.76%

2012 3,300 -700 -17.50%

Total Changes -200 15.65%

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

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

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

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

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

References:

Alabama Agricultural Statistics 2011/Bulletin 53

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

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

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

The Magic of Gardening

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes


Heirloom tomatoes come in many colors, shapes and sizes that are grown both for flavor and some particular novelty such as unusual shapes or color.

by Tony A. Glover

I am frequently asked my opinion of heirloom tomatoes. In general, I have found this topic is confusing to gardeners and deserves some attention and explanation. Some people appear to be working under an erroneous assumption about what an "heirloom tomato" is. I will attempt to clarify as much as possible, but definitions vary from place-to-place.

First, "heirloom tomato" is not a single variety of tomato you can go to the Co-op or garden center and ask for by that name alone. Second, the term "heirloom tomatoes" is used to describe a number of varieties whose seeds have been passed down from generation to generation all over the world.

Heirloom varieties are not hybrids like many modern varieties. Typically, they are open-pollinated and have been around for at least 50 years as stable-named varieties. Open-pollinated means they come back true-from-seed and look and taste like the original. They often come back true-to-the-parent even when near other tomatoes, because they don’t cross pollinate easily. This trait allowed these tomatoes to be passed down over long periods of time relatively unchanged. There are many "new" (to America) heirloom varieties coming from Eastern European countries since the fall of the Iron Curtain. They were saved over multiple generations in their respective countries and are just now getting wider distribution.

Heirloom tomatoes have become more popular as people seek out better and unique flavors. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes that are grown both for flavor and some particular novelty such as unusual shapes or color. Oftentimes, their history or uniqueness is reflected in their name. For example, Jeff Davis is an old Alabama heirloom variety originating here in the late 1800s and Brandywine is a popular heirloom variety originating in Chester County, Penn., where it was named for Brandywine Creek. Some varieties have interesting stories behind their names such as Mortgage Lifter. The story goes that a West Virginian who fell on hard times during the Great Depression selected out this very large fruited variety and sold enough plants over a 4-year period to pay off his home mortgage. In Cullman, where I live, many people are familiar with German Johnson or German Pink due to the German heritage of the community.

Arnold Caylor, director of the North Alabama Horticulture Research station in Cullman, said they have looked at several heirloom varieties in the past few years. In general, they found most varieties were more prone to disease, fruit rots and fruit cracking than newer varieties and yields were less than most hybrids, but there were some interesting and good tasting fruit. He said he would continue to grow two varieties called Mexico and Azoychka in his personal garden. Mexico produces a large, meaty, dark-pink fruit that is good fresh and for cooking. Azoychka is a Russian variety producing early, medium-sized fruit with a yellow color and a hint of citrus flavor.

I asked Cullman County farmer Trent Boyd, who grows many heirloom varieties, for his advice.

"I like Brandywine Sudduth, Cherokee Purple and Azoychka. Heirlooms, as a rule, do not set fruit well in extremely hot weather so try to start from transplants as early as the weather allows," Boyd said.

He also told me his biggest challenges are heat and humidity since many heirlooms come from more temperate climates. The variety mentioned earlier called Mexico sets better in the heat than others for Trent. Another variety from South of the Border called Zapotec is also likely to be more heat tolerant considering its origin.

Finding plant sources of heirloom varieties is challenging, but their recent popularity is increasing their availability. Check with your local Quality Co-op or other quality plant distributor. However, don’t expect retailers to handle all of these obscure varieties because there are way too many to grow them all. If you want to try a particularly unusual or rare variety, you will need to plan ahead and possibly grow your own plants from seed.

This year, I will be working with Caylor on a grafted tomato project. We have grafted some of the available strains of the variety Brandywine onto a disease-resistant rootstock called Maxifort. The idea behind this effort is to take advantage of the vigorous and disease-resistant rootstock, and increase the production of the great tasting Brandywines that have poorer vigor and less disease resistance.

I will let you know how that project turns out in a later article.

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

Youth Matters

Harlan Elementary’s K Kids Partner with PALS to Promote a Clean Campus

The K Kids of W. S. Harlan Elementary School are great role models for the rest of the school and their community. They initiate school and community projects, and motivate others to get involved. That is why they wanted to become members of the PALS Clean Campus Program.

The K Kids and I discussed how we could promote a cleaner and healthier school environment.

We started with litter education and recycling. The students were shown how their carbon footprint affects the earth’s environment.

We started with litter education and recycling. The students were shown how their carbon footprint affects the earth’s environment.

PALS Clean Campus Program gave them a collection of materials including bags, recycling boxes and litter related activities. The students are going to enter the PALS Poster and Essay Contest, which brings a $250 prize for the first place winner. Students were also encouraged to keep a scrapbook of all clean campus events. PALS presents a $1,000 scholarship for first place, $750 scholarship for second place and $500 scholarship for third place. All of these activities present an opportunity for students and faculty members to be part of having their school recognized for their efforts.

All winners are invited to the Governor’s Awards in November. The Kiwanis Club and Deborah Stokes have been inspirational in promoting PALS.

The Pals Clean Campus Program is looking forward to hearing about all the ongoing projects of W. S. Harlan Elementary School.

If you are interested in becoming a PALS Clean Campus member, contact Mary Stanford, PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator, at mary@alpals.org or 334-224-7594.

How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?


Use sunflowers to attract pollinators to the garden this year. You can report what you see at greatsunflower.org

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Sunflower Project Backyard Bee Count

A new, citizen science project aims to learn more about bees and other pollinators in urban, suburban and rural areas by collecting data from gardeners in their yards, gardens, schools and parks. The online community counts the number and types of pollinators visiting plants, especially sunflowers. They recommend you plant Lemon Queen, a variety especially liked by bees. They have been gathering information on pollinators since 2008 and, thanks to thousands of observers, can determine where pollinator service is strong or weak compared to averages. Anyone can participate by recording how many pollinators visit flowers in their garden. If you need a suggestion on what to plant to attract bees, they offer this list: sunflowers (preferably Lemon Gem; beware of pollenless types), bee balm, cosmos, tickseed, phacelia and purple coneflower. For more information, visit greatsunflower.org.

Summer Cover Crops

Did you know black-eyed peas are considered a cover crop, too? Because they pull nitrogen from the air and move it into the soil, a crop of "cowpeas," as agronomists might call them, give your garden a double yield. You get peas in the summer and nitrogen for the ground when the plants are finished. Compost them or work them into the ground. They are known to contain three to four percent nitrogen! That’s free fertilizer. Big Red Ripper is an heirloom recommended by N.C. State for its vigor and drought resistance, but just about any variety will be good for your garden.

So Many Gardenias

If you’re one of those folks who just can’t get enough of a gardenia, take note of all the different types that exist. Although the differences are subtle, you will find varieties with single and double blooms, and types differing in height and leaf size. Some are even useful as ground covers and in containers because they are low and spreading. White Gem and Kleims Hardy grow only one- to two-foot tall and have atypical single flowers. You may see more of these used like a ground cover in a foundation planting. If it weren’t for their fragrance, you might not immediately recognize them as gardenias.


Black-eyed peas are a great summer crop because they provide nutrients if tilled back into the soil, and you get peas!


Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia boasts very fragrant, single white flowers on a low-growing plant.

Then there is dwarf gardenia, Gardenia radicans, a low-spreading type that only gets about a foot tall, but two- to three-foot wide. To enjoy gardenias again in the fall, look for a variety named Chuck Hayes, which blooms in the summer, too. Mystery is the most common one that blooms heavily in spring and may send out a few blooms in summer. If you inherited a gardenia in an older landscape, this may be what you have. It can grow eight feet tall.

After gardenias bloom, fertilize them with an azalea fertilizer for the extra iron they need to help keep the foliage green. A sprinkle of Epsom salts helps, too.

Hiding Strawberries from the Birds

I saw an interesting tip on Pinterest that is supposed to help thwart birds in the strawberry patch. I haven’t tried it, but thought it was worth sharing with folks who like to try new tricks in the garden. The idea is to paint oval-shaped rocks to look like strawberries and lay them among the strawberry plants as the plants grow. Birds find that they don’t taste good, which conditions them; when the real berries appear, pecking is not a problem. If you try it, let us know how it works.

Moving Lenten Roses

Every year, hundreds of little seedlings appear under Lenten rose plants. Now is a good time to dig up those babies and give them to friends. Dig gently and keep the roots moist in their new home. We’ve found Lenten roses to be one of the few flowering evergreen perennials that truly thrive in the dry shade under trees. Because they are an evergreen, the planting is never bare. We cut away the old foliage each spring if we get around to it, but, if not, the new growth usually hides most of it anyway. This is a truly low-maintenance plant if you have a natural way (such as mowing) to avoid problems with seedlings appearing nearby.


Mulch in landscape beds keeps the bed looking uniform while helping the ground stay moist and weed free.

Mulch Updates

The Soil and Mulch Council, an industry group that sets quality standards, has some good tips for gardeners trying to figure out the differences between the many mulches sold. At first glance, mulches can seem the same, but they are not. Here are some helpful tips to distinguish among the different products. Know the source of colored mulches and bulk mulches containing a lot of raw wood. They can contain recycled wood products such as old pallets or even deck teardowns. When buying bulk mulches, ask the sources and look for pieces with sharp edges, a likely sign of old pallets or decks. For bagged products, look for certification by the Soil & Mulch Council. In our area, bark is a popular mulching material. In flower beds, I like to use very fine bark, often sold as "soil conditioner" because it is easy to sprinkle by the handful around the little plants. I also count on it as a way to continually add organic matter to the beds because it breaks down within the season. Around shrubs and permanent plantings, choose bark nuggets based on your aesthetic preference. The biggest bark nuggets last the longest in the landscape, but they don’t suppress weeds as well as smaller pieces do. Pine straw is another great option around landscape plants. It knits together to resist washing and, because of the waxy coating on the needles, fresh pine straw should last from spring through fall.

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

Outdoor Life

John Denney Wins Alabama Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest


This painting of a pair of pintail ducks done by John Denney of Alexander City is the winner of the 2014-2015 Alabama Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest.

Press Release from Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

John Denney of Alexander City is the winner of the 2014-2015 Alabama Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest with his painting of a pair of pintail ducks. Denney is a second-time winner of the Alabama Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest, having previously received the honor in 2008, and was first runner-up last year.

Denney said his matte acrylic painting took approximately two months to complete.

"To me, the pintail is one of the most handsome ducks, so that’s why I chose to paint it. My prior entries were both wood ducks," Denney remarked.

A pair of pintails was also the subject chosen by first runner-up Eddie LeRoy of Eufaula, who is a previous two-time contest winner as well. A pair of Canada geese painted by Darrell C. Warr of Montgomery was selected as second runner-up, followed by a northern shoveler by Bill Stem of Madison as third runner-up. Fourth runner-up was a blue-winged teal painted by John Romine of Owens Cross Roads.

Entries were judged on suitability for reproduction as a stamp, originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and general rendering. The designs were limited to living species of North American migratory ducks or geese, and winning species from the past three years – American widgeon, ringneck and Ross’s goose – were not eligible subjects for the contest this year.

The artwork was judged by a panel of experts in the fields of art, ornithology and conservation. Representing the field of art was Mary Barwick, an author and book illustrator. Representing the field of ornithology was John Earl, a graduate of the University of Georgia in Forest Resource Management and currently the manager of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eufaula Wildlife Refuge. Representing the field of conservation was Chad Hughey, a long-time member and current chairman of the Alabama Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

Hughey said the judges had a difficult time selecting the winning painting.

"There were some outstanding entries. I am very fortunate to have been a part of the selection process," he said. "Ducks Unlimited strongly supports the federal and state duck stamp programs."

The annual contest is sponsored by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division and is open to resident Alabama artists only. Assistant Wildlife Chief David Hayden encourages all Alabama artists to participate in the contest.

"We’d love to have more people submit their artwork," he said. "Past contest entries have included works in oil, watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, all of which are eligible."

There is plenty of time for artists to select their subject and paint it before the next competition. Artwork will be accepted from January 1 to February 18, 2014. Potential artists should visit www.outdooralabama.com/programs/waterfowl for complete information on the contest.

Youth Matters

Judson Senior Will Intern at Matt McLaughlin Dressage


Judson College senior Jessica Douthat of Ft. Payne will intern this summer at Matt McLaughlin Dressage in St. Cloud, Fla. She will give riding lessons and receive dressage training (competitive equine competition). Douthat is a double major in business administration and equine studies and will graduate from Judson in June. She begins her internship May 15.

Through the Fence

Kristi’s Bullet

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

No one ever accused cattle of being the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom. They mostly just graze, ruminate, poop and sleep. Unlike goats, they are content wherever they are and don’t have a burning desire to get to some proverbial "greener pastures." They don’t seem to have much of a personality either. But when kids spend lots of time with show animals and really get to know them, an animal’s distinct personality emerges. That happened with my friend Kristi’s show steer. And the temperament that came out wasn’t too pleasant.

Her family raised registered Simmentals, so her father didn’t see any need to go buy an animal to show. They picked out a promising bull calf her daddy named Bullet because he used to be a "bull." Usually castration has a calming effect on livestock – well, after the shock wears off. But not Bullet. He was always ornery and found ways to aggravate his young owner. He seemed to delight in lying down in the mud and muck, especially after Kristi had just washed him or was about to walk him. He learned to open the feed room latch and would tear up several feed sacks before littering the room with manure.

Her ag teacher was afraid the steer would grow tall and slender, which is typical for that breed. That was not the kind of steer that placed well in stock shows back in the 1980s. So he encouraged her to pour on the feed. And it didn’t take long for him to start packing on the pounds. By the time he entered the show ring in Wichita County, Texas, he tipped the scales at a whopping 1,300 pounds. A far cry from the lean, muscular build her ag teacher had predicted.

When show day arrived, Kristi was powdered and primped and dressed in a crisp starched shirt. Bullet had been washed, blow dried, combed and fluffed. She had never showed a steer before, instead opting for cheaper and easier to handle sheep. At that time, she was a five-foot tall, 90-pound, high school freshman. It would take a lot of effort to maneuver her big calf, even armed with a long show stick. She was also anxious about how Bullet would perform in the ring. She just prayed he was in a pleasant mood and wouldn’t be ruffled by all the other animals and the noise of the crowd. Her prayers were unanswered.

It wasn’t easy to show him since he was so huge. She had to stand on her tiptoes just to get his head up. When the judge was at the far end of the ring looking at other contestants, Bullet behaved perfectly. But when he came over to them, the nervous steer balked and wouldn’t let Kristi lead him. Then, without warning, he plopped down unceremoniously into the sandy arena. She pulled and yanked on his halter, but he refused to budge. Desperate to get him up, she started poking and prodding him with the fiberglass stick which wouldn’t help her chances of winning a showmanship buckle. Ignoring the disapproving taunts of the onlookers, she whacked him squarely on the rump. He scrambled back to his feet about the time the judge was moving on to look at another contender.

The exhibitors paraded around the ring a few more times. When they lined up at the end, Kristi managed to set the steer up and lift his head to show off his beautiful confirmation. She was smiling confidently at the judge, holding perfectly still when she felt something warm wrap around her tiny wrist. She glanced over and was horrified to find that Bullet had lolled his long tongue out and laced it around her arm. She dropped her show stick and tried to unwind it from her wrist.

By that time, the audience was stifling back their laughter, or trying to. She had lost her composure and was so angry she was ready to butcher him herself. But when the judging was over, despite everything, Bullet had placed high enough to make the sale. She got enough money to pay down on her show animal for the next year. She wasn’t sure what it would be, just anything but a steer.

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

Homeplace & Community

Low Sugar Alternatives for Jams and Jellies

by Angela Treadaway

Trees have budded and buttercups are popping up everywhere, which means fruit- and berry-growing season are here. Strawberries are usually first, then blueberries, blackberries and so on. This year when you consider making jams and jellies think about using a low sugar alternative. Don’t you want to taste the fruit more than the sugar? Jams and jellies are one of the simplest and most rewarding ways to preserve summer fruits and berries. Even though most jams and jellies are very sweet, there are some excellent low- and no-sugar alternatives. "Regular" pectin recipes require the amount of sugar listed with them in order to obtain a satisfactory gel, but there are four methods to produce low- and no-sugar jams and jellies:

The first method is to use specially modified pectins. These pectins are labeled as "light," "less sugar needed" or "no sugar needed." The box of packaged pectins will come with recipes giving options for using no sugar, less sugar or sugar substitutes. Using these pectin-added methods allows you to store your reduced-sugar product at room temperature.

The second method is using regular pectin with special recipes. Some tested recipes are formulated so the gel forms with regular pectin without needing to add the usual amount of sugar. Keep in mind there is some sugar in the regular pectin. These recipes often use sugar substitutes for additional sweetening. Splenda doesn’t need to be used as a sweetener for jams and jellies because it does not have a good shelf life. To use it you would have to keep it in the refrigerator and usually it will only last about a month even under refrigeration.

The third method is a long-boil method. The fruit pulp is boiled until it thickens and resembles a jam, but these spreads will not be true jams with pectin gels. Sugar substitutes can be added to taste for sweetening these products.

The fourth method is to use gelatin as the thickening agent. This method allows you to control the amount of sugar added to the product. These spreads usually have the sugars from fruit juices used for the flavoring and sugar substitutes for sweetness. Jellied products thickened with gelatin will require refrigeration.

Jams and jellies made with traditional recipes using lots of sugar or by the first three methods listed for reduced sugar options will require a short process in a boiling water canner to be kept at room temperature in a sealed jar. Once opened, they all require refrigerated storage.

Additional recipes and canning information can be found at the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation hosted by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia (www.home foodpreservation.com.)

While there is an abundance of ways to make jams and jellies, keep in mind that following well-tested recipes is your best bet for getting a successful gel. Try making jams and jellies using various methods to determine which you like best.

For more information and recipes for jams and jellies, contact Angela Treadaway at 205-410-3696.

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.

Homeplace & Community

Photo Exhibit at Landmark Park

Landmark Park’s Photography Contest had over 80 photos entered in five categories: Wildlife/Farm Animals, Floral, People, Scenic/Architecture and Juvenile (ages 15 and younger). All photos entered in the contest were taken at Landmark Park and were scored on creativity, emotional impact, simplicity, originality and composition. Make sure to bring your camera every time you visit Landmark Park so you can enter next year’s contest.


Floral
First: Daybreak Roses (above) by Virginia E. Merino of Ozark
Second: Looking for the Sun by Virginia E. Merino Third: Purple Flower by Tammy Benton of Dothan


Wildlife/Farm Animals
First: Lunchtime Ladybug (above) by Thomas A. Merino of Ozark
Second: Dragonfly by Patricia Lyday of Slocomb
Third: Ram by Patricia Lyday of Slocom


People
First: Curiosity by Mandy Ludlam of Headland
Second: When We Were Innocent by Jordan Martin of Hartford
Third: Girl at Fence by Tammy Love



Scenic/Architecture
First: Garden (right) by Jonah Enfinger of Troy
Second: Fence by Savannah J. Messer
Third: Church by Jonah Enfinger of Troy


Juvenile
First: Leaves on the Walkway with Boots by Savannah J. Messer of Bonifay, Fla.
Second: Daybreak on the Fence by Thomas A. Merino Third: Bird by Selina Malone of Enterprise


Congratulations to our winners and special thanks to everyone who entered the contest! To view all the photos, visit Landmark Park’s website, www.landmarkpark.com.

Landmark Park is a 135-acre historical and natural science park located on U.S. Highway 431 North in Dothan. For more information, contact the Park at 334-794-3452.

Feeding Facts

Preconditioning Calves

by Jimmy Hughes

Producers are enjoying a very strong cattle market and the outlook through the fall continues to look strong with near-record prices expected for fall calves. With a strong cattle market, cattle producers are trying to decide on what to do with these calves. Should they now sell off the calves in the current market or should they wean and precondition them with the possibility of cattle prices being even stronger in the fall?

While I cannot predict what the future holds for cattle prices, I have read several articles and heard several comments from economists who believe the cattle market will continue to gain strength into the fall. Cattle inventory numbers continue to remain at low levels due to a strong cull cow market and the recent droughts in the Midwest and Texas. We are just beginning to see increased heifer retention that will start the slow process of herd buildups over the coming years. We are also expecting a large amount of grain to be planted this year and with average yields we hope to see feed prices remain constant or even back down some.

With all this being said, the hardest part of the cattle business is being at the mercy of others when it comes to feed prices and what we are able to receive for our cattle. While selling a 300-pound calf for close to $2 a pound sounds enticing, I have always encouraged producers to hold calves until a heavier weight to realize even greater profits.

If you are considering weaning and feeding your calves, you will need to develop a complete preconditioning program to produce a calf meeting certain standards feedyards look for when purchasing such cattle. Properly preconditioned calves usually have a lower death rate, less sickness, fewer days on feed and better performance in the feedyard over non-preconditioned calves.

A proper preconditioning program will include a complete health and vaccination program, management practices such as castration and dehorning, 45-day weaning program, and training to eat from a bunk and drink from a water tank. To meet these standards, a producer must carefully plan to eliminate as many potential problems as possible.

At the end of the day, your decision on selling calves at a light weight or holding them and selling preconditioned calves will come down to money. Is it profitable for you to wean your calves and hold them for a 45-day weaning program? Let’s look at the economics of a 45-day program based on today’s pricing of calves and see what the possibility is as far as profits are concerned.

According to Alabama Stockyard Reports in March, a 300-pounds steer is worth $1.80 per pounds for a sale value of $540. According to today’s market, a 625-pound preconditioned steer in August will be worth $1.60 a pound for a sale value of $960. All that’s left to do now is figure the cost of preconditioning your calves. The complete vaccination program including booster shots and parasite control will be around $10 a head. The feed cost will be your biggest expense and using the CPC Grower feed, based on a 6-to-1 feed conversion, you would feed 900 pounds per calf to get the 150 pounds of weight gain you should look for during a 45- to 60-day program. (This is assuming you leave the calf on the cow and wean it at 475 pounds in May.) At today’s prices, this would cost you approximately $126 per head. If you add the vaccination program and feed cost you will have a total of $136 per calf – assuming no death loss and no additional medicine cost due to sickness. At this point, you can see that $960 from the calf minus $136 for feed and vaccines leaves you with a calf at $824. In this example, a calf you take up to 650 pounds and precondition will bring in an additional $284 over a calf sold off the cow at 300 pounds.

The only consideration left is if it is worth the time and effort, as well as the facility upgrades, for an additional $284 per head profit. I would say yes; realizing the more calves you precondition, the more evenly you can spread facility cost. The take home message is that while calves are bringing good money, a lot of producers leave additional profits on the table by not taking the extra steps to produce a calf that will be more desirable by the order buyer at purchase time.

Another take-home point is, while it is awfully attractive to sell a 300-pound calf for $500, the producer is still leaving a lot of money on the table if they would just go ahead and leave the calf on the cow to a heavier weight. A cow needs to be able to wean a 500-pound calf before you sell the calf to maximize returns on that cow.

While a preconditioning program takes a lot of planning and additional work on the part of the producer, it can be financially rewarding. On average, preconditioning calves is profitable 9 out of 10 years. To do this, you must control sickness and death loss along with selecting a feeding program to put weight on your calves at the lowest cost per pound of gain.

While I believe there will always be a place for stockyards, I also realize the cattle industry is evolving and your greatest potential for profit is to provide what the market wants. The market wants healthy cattle ready to eat and source verified, and they are willing to pay additional money for these calves.

Your local Quality Co-op is ready with products and knowledge in developing a successful preconditioning program. Each store can provide you with fencing supplies, feeders, vaccines, parasite control products, mineral supplements and high-quality feeds to put you on the right track. If I can help you to develop a program or make recommendations on your feed and health program, please contact me at 256-947-7886 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">jimmyh@alafarm.com.

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

In the News

Robert Parker Honored for 30 Years on Board of Directors


At Atmore Truckers Association’s 72nd Annual Meeting Todd Booker, manager, left, presented Mr. Robert L. Parker with a plaque in recognition of his 30 years of service on the Board of Directors.

Homeplace & Community

Senior Mechanic Keeps His Motor Running


James T. Jayroe has been the owner and operator of Jayroe’s Garage in Luverne for nearly 60 years.

by Jaine Treadwell

Give James T. Jayroe a pair of pliers, a screwdriver and a piece of haywire, and he could get any vehicle running.

That was then. Not now.

At age 92, Jayroe’s not much into the mechanics required to get today’s vehicles up and running.

"Back when I got started as a mechanic, I could listen to the rattles and know just about what the problem with a car was," said Jayroe, owner and operator of Jayroe’s Garage in Luverne for nearly 60 years. "Why, engines back then were so simple anybody with a little know-how could fix whatever was wrong. It just took a little common sense."


James T. Jayroe and his son Keith with the 1951 pickup truck Keith is restoring with his dad’s guidance.

Jayroe, laughingly, said he still has common sense, but he leaves working on cars "that can talk back to you" to his son Keith.

Every morning during the week, Jayroe walks across the street to his garage at precisely 6:30 a.m. His workday, which now consists mainly of "supervising," ends at 4 p.m.

Around noontime, collards and cornbread call him home. But the rest of the time, the senior mechanic is on duty.

Jayroe’s experience working on vehicles goes all the way back to his boyhood.

His dad was a mechanic who could make an ailing Model T Ford purr like a kitten. As a youngster, Jayroe tinkered with engines and picked up tips from his dad. So, armed with the "inheritance" from his dad and the inherent desire to eat, Jayroe went to work at Luverne Motor Company when he returned home from "the war" in 1946.

"I was proud of the work and real proud of the paycheck," Jayroe said, laughing. "I learned a lot working for the Chevrolet dealership and decided I was ready to go out on my own. I put in the shop over across the street in 1953 and then moved over on this side of the street in 1957; been here ever since."



James T. Jayroe “tinkering” at his garage and with his “tool box” collected over 50 years.

Jayroe knew the value of an automobile and the importance of keeping one running.

He had purchased his first car with money he earned driving oxen and snaking logs out of the woods.

"Of anything I’ve done, I loved that the most – driving cows," he said. "It was mighty hard work, but I loved hooking up that ol’ ox and going in the woods. I’ve hewn crossties with a cross saw and sold them for 50 cents apiece.

"I bought my first car for $375 with money I earned logging. It was used, but I had a car and I was on top of the world."But then Uncle Sam called Jayroe and he was "obliged" to answer the call. When he came back home to Luverne, he was thankful for the opportunity to work for the Chevrolet dealership. The job put a little jingle in his pocket, provided on the job training and the opportunity to buy a brand new automobile.


James T. Jayroe’s workday now consists mainly of “supervising.”

"That was 1948," Jayroe said. "Back then, to buy an automobile, you had to put down a $100 deposit and get on the list. When your name came up, you could buy a car."

Jayroe was proud of his new automobile and of the opportunity to work and make a living. But, when he had the opportunity to open his own garage, he didn’t hesitate.

"I like working with the public," he said. "Some people are easy to work with. Some are not. But it’s all been interesting and I’ve a lot of mighty good times. That’s what keeps me coming back every day for all these years."

Jayroe chuckled as he talked about those early days that some "old timers" refer to as the "good ol’ days."

"Like I said, engines were a lot simpler to work on back in the early days, but the cars today are so much better made," he said. "Back then, if you got 15,000 miles on a car, it was worn out because most of the roads were dirt and they were rough. A car would shake all to pieces and rattle like a tin can.

"Anything extra, like a heater, had to be added. We didn’t know anything about air conditioners. And, tires had inner tubes to hold the air."

During the summer, a lot of "customers" at the garage were children in search of patched inner tubes to float on in the rivers.

"The old-model cars did look good with those shiny, chrome bumpers and white-walled tires," Jayroe said, with a smile. "But, they were nothing like the cars today with everything you could want and more."

But, no matter how simple or how complex a vehicle, Jayroe said making the repairs is all in a day’s work. It’s the unexpected turn of events that keeps things hopping at the garage.


James T. Jayroe’s formula for a long, happy life is simple: “Treat everybody like you’d like to be treated and you’ll be happy. Don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco, don’t eat too much, keep your motor running and it’s a good chance you’ll be around for a long time.”

"All kinds of things pop up," Jayroe said. "Like one day, we opened a hood and a fox was under there, Keith grabbed him by the tail and threw him out. A fox under the hood was what was causing the engine trouble. And, we’ve had cats, cats, cats. They get under the hood and knock the belts off.

"One time, we had a car up on the rack and out dropped a huge rat snake. He cleared the place."

Jayroe’s Garage has provided a service for the people of Luverne and the surrounding area for many years. Jayroe has found great pleasure working with the people, but nothing had brought him as much happiness as working with his son.

"They say don’t go in business with family, but, for us, it’s been perfect," Jayroe said. "I wouldn’t have it any other way."

As for his formula for a long, happy life, Jayroe said, it’s as simple as the engine of a 1946 Chevrolet: "Treat everybody like you’d like to be treated and you’ll be happy. Don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco, don’t eat too much, keep your motor running and it’s a good chance you’ll be around for a long time."

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

From the State Vet's Office

Setting Priorities

by Dr. Tony Frazier

It is unlikely that any of you reading this article have escaped the effects of the recent economic down turn. I occasionally hear that the country is climbing out of the hole we have been in economically for the past few years. I hope that is true. I would be happy if someone could tell me for sure that we have found the bottom of the hole. It seems whatever black ink we enter on one side of the page is cancelled out, and then some, by the red ink on the other side. I know for farmers input costs are at all-time highs. Fuel and fertilizer just keep going up. Throw in a kid or two in college and it makes for some interesting times economically. I am sure most of you have had to look at your available resources and try to set priorities. I have had to do the same thing. I have had to ask myself what activities fall under the State Veterinarian and where do those activities fall in order of importance. And as the old song says, "Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away and know when to run."

First, I looked at foreign animal disease surveillance. I was once at a meeting where someone asked why we spend money on things like foot-and-mouth disease surveillance. We haven’t had that disease in the United States since 1927. The answer seemed obvious to me anyway. We spend time and resources looking for FMD and other diseases because of the potential devastation they would certainly cause animal agriculture. The repercussions of us contracting FAD are far-reaching. Export markets would close down. Animal movement here at home would halt. Markets would plummet and the economy would take a huge hit. We continue FAD surveillance because diseases such as FMD and highly pathogenic avian influenza are alive and well outside our borders. The official website for the U. S. Customs and Border Patrol states, on a typical day, 1.1 million people enter the United States. And while that number seems awfully high to me, I will speculate that many of them are coming from countries where FMD or highly pathogenic avian influenza are common occurrences. So, FAD surveillance gets a "Priority One."

Then I decided to look at collecting samples for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, incorrectly referred to as Mad Cow Disease. (The cows aren’t actually mad - maybe unhappy, but definitely not mad.) Our field personnel and our laboratory folks spend a great deal of time collecting, submitting and recording results of BSE samples. So I asked myself why we are continuing this activity when we have only had three cases of BSE found in the United States - ever. And only two of those were from native cattle. The first case actually was imported from Canada. Then I remind myself that we, the United States, must test at least 40,000 samples for BSE annually to be able to export cattle and beef to many countries. Therefore, when I realize how important the export market is to the beef industry in Alabama, BSE testing gets a "Priority One."

Next, I looked at our National Poultry Improvement Plan Program’s mycoplasma testing and avian influenza testing of non-commercial flocks. That takes another large chunk of our time and resources. Those activities monitor non-commercial poultry flocks for Salmonella pullorum and other devastating poultry diseases. Those programs do two important things. First, they help protect the health of the non-commercial producer’s birds and open lines of communication between them and my office to pass important information. Second, it protects our commercial poultry industry. When I consider the commercial poultry industry in Alabama adds $10 billion to our economy and employs over 80,000 workers, I do not believe we can afford to let those programs go. So, they are also priority one.

Then I looked at our state meat inspection program. We typically mirror the federal meat and poultry inspection program. However, many of the meat establishments we work with are small, "mom and pop"-type plants. We work very closely with those meat facilities to assure all of the continual changes and new federal regulations are understood and adhered to. Also, I have been involved with food safety since I first started working for the state. Nobody has to tell me how important this program is - priority one.

Our diagnostic laboratory system certainly consumes a considerable amount of resources. I realize there are private laboratory systems existing out there. But as a state whose number one industry is agriculture, which includes the $10 billion poultry industry and the over $2 billion cattle industry, I believe it is vitally important we actively support animal agriculture as well as the veterinary community, whether they are in large animal, companion animal or small animal practice. Our laboratory system gives information that collectively is important to our industries to know what diseases are out there and the prevalence of those diseases. I cannot give the laboratory system less than priority one.

Finally, I decided there is one area we could assign a lower priority and maybe even get rid of all together. I realize we are government employees, but I thought we could either cut way down in the area of paperwork, or maybe even forget about it all together. Then I reminded myself that a lot of the paperwork we do is required by USDA to justify and track the money they provide us for entering cooperative agreement programs. Even though USDA Veterinary Services is closer to where the money is printed, they too are spread pretty thin. Therefore, to accomplish the work they have determined to be important to animal agriculture, they provide states with some money to accomplish, interestingly enough, their priorities. So again I have a priority one.

When I finally finished looking at everything we do, I realized our priorities have not changed. In fact, over the past few years, we have pared away everything we could and remain functional and effective. So while our resources have been dramatically reduced, our priorities remain the same.

I will mention one final "priority one" item as I close. One of the most important things I ever do is to be available to answer questions you may have. In my articles when I say, "If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call me," I truly mean that. If you are a taxpayer, you pay my salary and I work for you. Not only do I feel a responsibility to be available to you, I really enjoy hearing from you. So if you have questions, please do not hesitate to call me. My number is 334-240-7253. It may take a little while since we are all having to do more and wear more hats, but I will do my best to get back with you.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Amos says he’s made up his mind to have a career running a fireworks stand, but if push comes to shove he’d settle for working at the mill for a while longer."

What does pushing and shoving have to do with a person’s employment?

The term "when push comes to shove" means "as a last resort" or "if absolutely necessary."

One source indicates this term comes from rugby, where, after an infraction of rules, forwards from each team face off and push against one another.

Another says it’s about cleaning the house - pushing and shoving a broom.

The earliest known use of the phrase is from North America in 1958; Murtagh and Harris; Cast the First Stone; vii. 105: "Some … judges … talk nice and polite .... Then, when push comes to shove, they say ‘Six months in the workhouse.’"

The original source of the idiom is truly unknown.

Homeplace & Community

Tempting to Touch


John Sheffey holds a large mallard that took considerable time to complete in his Dallas County workshop.

Feathery Carvings Amazing to Behold

by Alvin Benn

John Sheffey’s silent owls, eagles, ducks, hawks and cardinals look so real you just want to reach out and stroke their feathers.

Sheffey sees that kind of reaction all the time and just smiles. He knows, in a way, the urge to touch is a reward for the countless hours he puts in to create his realistic-looking feathery works of art.

"The man is absolutely amazing," said Black Belt Treasures Director Sulynn Creswell. "There’s no other way to describe him. His attention to detail is phenomenal."

What makes it even more amazing is the fact Sheffey - a 70-year-old Tennessee native and retired Army colonel who saw his share of combat in Vietnam - taught himself to do what he does so well.

The training he received came from his eyes as he examined books and blueprints. The birds helped too, circling overhead or coming to rest on tree branches at his 230-acre spread in south Dallas County.

"I don’t just watch ’em," he said. "I also study ’em. I look at the color transition, how they fly, how they move and how they rest."


Sheffey applies paint to his mallard creation at his farm in Minter.

Sheffey and his wife Peggy arrived two decades ago to enjoy country living, wait for future grandchildren to arrive one day and, most of all, breathe in the fresh air at one of Alabama’s most isolated areas.

"Any tree you see here I own," said a man whose business card has one word below his name - woodcarver. "We love it here. No need to really go anywhere else."

A chemical engineer by trade with an inquisitive mind eager to learn something new, Sheffey became captivated by what he saw overhead and plunged into a hobby that quickly became something much more.

His carvings have earned him thousands of dollars since he started, but, when costly equipment is figured into the equation along with untold hours creating his wood masterpieces, it’s easy to see he’s not in it to get rich.

"I just enjoy what I’m doing," he explained. "It’s never been for the money anyway. It’s something that has become a part of me and that’s why I do it."


John Sheffey requires magnifying glasses to make sure every cut is perfect on his work such as this cardinal.

His farm is filled with Asian pear trees, water oaks and other varieties, especially pine trees slowly growing as a future farm investment. What he’s settled on, however, is wood from Tupelo gum trees recovered from swampy areas near his house after loggers have departed.

Tupelo gums can grow as tall as 90 feet, but it’s the base Sheffey wants for his bird carvings. It’s relatively soft when compared with the rock-hard wood of other trees - ideal for the kind of work he does.

Once the logging crews leave and the stumps are available, Sheffey, with permission, literally digs in to get what he needs. He says he has enough wood now to last longer than he will.

"I don’t sleep good because I can’t wait for morning so I can get up and do it again," he said, as he flashed an ear-to-ear grin. "This has become more than I thought it would, but I don’t have any regrets."

His hobby may not compare with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, but those who marvel at his carvings gain their own appreciation of fine art. That’s just what it is.

Visitors to Camden’s Black Belt Treasures, a business catering to area artisans who display their creations there, take one look at Sheffey’s birds and stop in their tracks.

Soon they are asking questions about how he did it, how much they cost and often ask how they can meet him.

As far as cost is concerned, eyebrows might tend to rise a bit when they learn how much is being asked. A close inspection of the birds won’t take long to realize they are worth every penny.


Peggy Sheffey holds three baby bluebirds created by her talented husband.

The average cost of one of his beautiful creations is around $450 to $500. For some of the larger bird carvings, the price can be as much as $1,000 or more.

When art lovers lean close to his carved ducks, it’s hard to believe the detail in front of them. The lines are painstakingly placed in the right spots by Sheffey who uses large wraparound magnifying glasses to get a closer-than-normal look.

"Most people automatically think he just takes one of his duck decoys and attaches duck feathers to it," she said. "Then, they get real close and realize how many intricate cuts in the wood he had to make to get it where he’s satisfied."

The head and body are done separately. When finished, they are joined together by Sheffey who uses a strong epoxy adhesive to make sure they don’t come apart.

Creswell, whose office in Camden is about 12 miles from the Sheffey farm, said she heard about him several years ago and drove out for a chat. It didn’t take long for her to size up his artistic talents and arrange to display his birds at Black Belt Treasures.

"John wants his birds to be anatomically correct and that’s why it takes so long to complete each one," she said. "He doesn’t want to just carve something. Each has got to be perfect."


This red-tailed hawk is prominently displayed on a table in the Sheffey house in Dallas County.

Peggy has had a close-up view of her husband’s work since he started and marvels at what he’s accomplished in such a short time.

"I cannot visualize the birds he carves," she said. "Creating something so beautiful out of a block of wood still amazes me. It once took him three months to finish one bird."

Sheffey makes his birds in a shop a few feet from the family house and not far from a huge pond stocked with bass and brim. The shop is where he uses tiny metal carvers along with wood burning and buffing tools.

The process wouldn’t be complete without proper paint and he applies several coats to each creation.

The equipment isn’t cheap, but he’s not complaining. It’s become almost as important to him as good health - something that has been giving him problems of late.

He’s had a heart condition and passed out several times while at work, sending him to a hospital for help. The result has been a pacemaker to keep his heart ticking and him on the go from sunup to sundown.

His companion in the shop and around the Hickory Stick Farm is "Dixie," a 13-year-old short-haired German pointer whose heavy breathing and painful gait indicate her days may be numbered.

Near the shop is a "barn" where wood is stacked high for future carving projects. Usually parked inside is a New Holland tractor to help clear away heavy brush.


When he’s not carving birds in his workshop, John Sheffey hops onto his New Holland tractor to clear brush at his Hickory Stick Farm in Dallas County.

Sheffey usually kills a few rattlers and copperheads every summer. In addition to his bird carvings, he also finds a way to "wrap" a snake creation around one or more of his walking sticks.

He doesn’t have an expensive, hard-charging marketing firm to help him sell his spectacular carvings. He does a lot of that himself, but doesn’t plan to give himself any ulcers worrying about how to sell them.

Sheffey has become popular at arts and crafts shows, especially those featuring special artistic talents. He’s been to several of them and usually comes home with awards.

For more information about John Sheffey and his bird carvings, call Black Belt Treasures at 334-682-9878, e-mail: info@blackbelt treasures.com or write: Black Belt Treasures, 209 Claiborne St., Camden, AL 36726.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

From Pastor to Pasture

The Co-op Pantry


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAKE BATTER BLONDIES OR CUPCAKES

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

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

EASY BERRY COBBLER

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

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

FRENCH TOAST BREAKFAST

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

Garnish: powdered sugar, maple syrup

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

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

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

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

PILLSBURY CRESCENT ROLL TACO BAKE

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Life

What is This?

We have a puzzle for you. Tim Wood, general manager of Central Alabama Farmers Co-op, took pictures of some kind of nest or den in a cedar tree in the Browns area.

"I have never seen anything like it in all of my years in the woods. No one else can explain it either. Only three people have said it is a wood rat nest. If that is the case, why haven’t I seen one before?" Wood asked.

The nest is in a cedar tree. It is 6-7 feet off of the ground, about 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It is made of sticks, branches and cedar greenery. He found one more about 100 yards from the first one.

He now has a game camera on the first one and that has made the saga even more interesting.

"Photos have not shown me anything yet. I have a photo of a raccoon, opossum, bird and one rat in the tree. But none of them seem to be living in it. I still don’t know what is making the nest," Wood remarked.

He would like get feedback from our readers. If you know what made this nest, contact Tim Wood at 334-874-9083 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">timwood@bellsouth.net.

We appreciate your assistance.









Howle's Hints

Work Hard, Save a Few Gallons and Keep the Kindling


Hauling hay is a great way to instill a work ethic in any generation.

by John Howle

"It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man."

-- Ben Franklin

Work is one of those things that can bring both pain and pleasure. The pain is that short-term feeling of heat and exhaustion, but the pleasure is that fulfilling sense of getting all the hay in the barn or picking the last row of peas. There’s nothing like physical work on the farm that makes you sweat profusely, eat heartily and sleep soundly.

There are many references in the Bible about the virtues of hard work. For instance, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’" (NIV) And then there is 1 Corinthians 15:58 saying, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Also, don’t forget this one from Proverbs 12:11 states, "Those who work their land will have abundant food but those who chase fantasies have no sense."

I could talk about this subject all day because I feel like hard work is a subject that hasn’t received much attention in the mainstream media, and certainly I haven’t heard any politicians giving credence to the simple principle of hard work as the best way to achieve success in this country. I close these Bible quotes with this one from Ecclesiastes 4:9 saying, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor."


Keep the pressure up to the max in your tires for better gas mileage.

That last quote is the one I remember as a farm boy hauling hay on our Cleburne County spread. My cousins and I made our summer money by hauling square bales of hay. If we hustled and worked together with efficiency, we could get our Grandfather’s hay, our Uncle’s hay and my Dad’s hay in the barn in time to hire out to other farmers in our county to get their hay up. The only catch was: we couldn’t hire out until our family’s hay was in the barn.

Once that goal was met, we could load and haul for whoever we wanted and get good pay for those easy times. Minimum wage was $3.35 an hour at a town job such as sacking groceries, and hauling hay sure beat a town job because you could "be your own boss." From those summers of hard work, I began to appreciate the American Dream of "being your own boss" and, if you wanted more money, you just worked harder and put in more hours.

It’s not too late. There’s a younger generation out there watching to see what it takes to get ahead in this country. I’m partial to the idea of hard work and being your own boss when possible. It’s an idea that may not be as popular on the national level as it once was, but it’s still a great idea in Alabama.

Fight the Fuel Prices

Whether your vehicle burns gas or diesel, there are a few tips you can use to save a few gallons each week. Number one: the recommended tire pressure on your tires can be different than the recommended pressure listed inside the door of your vehicle. On the vehicle; the pressure rating is designed to give you the smoothest ride. Instead, go by the tire pressure rating on the tires to get the best fuel economy. Typically, the pressure rating on the tires will be higher, therefore resulting in higher pressure rolling down the highway, which in turn results in less energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. This can dramatically improve your fuel economy.

Many of you, like me, live in rural areas, and there’s nothing more frustrating than to get home and realize you forgot to pick up a roll of barbed wire or box of canning jars from the Co-op. If you think it takes too much time to write a list, ask yourself, "How much time and gas will it take to drive back into town?" Keep a running list of items you need around the farm or from the grocery store, and keep this list in your vehicle or on your phone. This will save you a few dollars in an extra trip to town. Speaking of the phone, many modern data phones such as iPhones can allow you to download apps such as Gas Buddy that will give the cheapest gas prices around.


Resin-rich pine kindling is good to have on hand for fire starting.



Move the lure slowly around structure to get a strike from a big one.

Keep the Kindling

May is a great time to scout the woods for pieces of kindling from resin-rich pine stumps. I use nothing but split hickory to grill meat, but I still need a way to get the fire going quickly. In addition, the kindling is great for starting warm-weather campfires. Once you have found a few pieces of lightered pine, you can cut them in even lengths with a handsaw or chainsaw and split small pieces with a hatchet.

Finding Fish

Whether you are fishing in a farm pond or on a river in search of bass, a key to catching big ones is finding cover. If you find tall grass or limbs of a fallen tree, you can retrieve the lure slowly around the structure to get a strike. Sometimes, all you need to get a strike around these structures is a slow-moving plastic worm or shallow-running jointed minnow.

Another tip is to clean and cook the fish just after catching them. This is the freshest, best-tasting fish you can prepare.

This May remember to work hard and do it for God’s glory if you want to get ahead. Ben Franklin swore by this rule to keep you happy.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

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