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MAy 2014

4-H Extension Corner: 4-H PROSPERS

Henry County PROSPER team

Henry County Program Making an Impact on Youth

by Jimmy Jones

The PROSPER program is making an impact on the youth of Henry County through 4-H in a big way.

PROSPER stands for Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience in our communities throughout Alabama.

PROSPER uses a parent, youth and family skills-building curriculum to: 1) prevent teen substance abuse and other risky behavior; 2) strengthen parenting skills in adults and coping skills in youth; and 3) build on family strengths and the family unit.

The Henry County PROSPER team chose two evidence-based programs – Strengthening Families and PROSPER ALL Stars – targeted toward families of middle school students (sixth and seventh grades).

Students and their families met outside of school grounds where trained professionals teach from educational modules. The first year, the program is voluntary. But when seventh grade rolls around, it becomes a part of their regular curriculum.

Headland Middle School has participated in PROSPER for 4 years and Abbeville Schools for the last 2 years. PROSPER is funded in Henry County by Auburn University Outreach.

I really believe in this program. The curriculum is grounded in 20 years of research-based information, and the training provided for both team members and facilitators is outstanding, thus enabling us to teach these programs and effectively make a difference in the lives of our youth.

There are challenges in every school and community that present tremendous obstacles for the county teams.

We have prescription drugs in our home cabinets and alcohol that can be easily obtained in the communities. PROSPER teaches our youth there are ways to abstain from using these substances, and how not to give in to peer pressure.

Headland Middle School encourages young people to stay in school and focus more on learning.

"If we can start the PROSPER program in the sixth grade, we can help stop risky behavior," Headland Middle School Guidance Counsellor Roger Mixson said.

"Better behavior and better grades make for a higher retention rate and a higher graduation rate, and that builds stronger youth and schools."

Mixson also sees the difference PROSPER makes on family members. "The program is building stronger youth and families because they learn to communicate and trust each other more," Mixson added.

Through encouragement and support, we also can make a difference. Knowing people in the community support them means a lot to young people and their families.

Donya Flowers, a Strengthening Families facilitator and Henry County Juvenile Courts officer, agrees that PROSPER has made a difference in the courtroom.

"Where PROSPER programs have been put in place, there is up to a 10 percent reduction in Juvenile Court cases," she said.

The Children’s Policy Council of Henry County agrees with Flowers. They have funded portions of the Henry County PROSPER program in Abbeville and Headland for the last 2 years.

The Henry County PROSPER team has graduated 62 families from the Strengthening Families Program and 227 seventh grade students from the PROSPER ALL Stars.

Both programs discourage drug and alcohol use, premarital sex and bullying. Abstaining from the use of tobacco products is also addressed in the seventh grade program at both Headland and Abbeville schools.

The middle schoolers are surveyed three times during the program. Ninety percent of the students surveyed in PROSPER report they choose to refrain from risky behaviors.

I feel that if the PROSPER program can keep one student from trying alcohol during their middle school years, that student is five times less likely to be an alcoholic when he or she becomes an adult.

With the continued help of the community, the school system and the county, we are truly beginning to prosper.

Jimmy Jones is a county Extension coordinator for Henry County and the PROSPER team leader.

A Bum Steer

Dr. Donald Walker, Auburn University’s associate professor of large animal surgery and veterinary medicine in 1965, who attempted without success to make Evulse fertile.

AU gained positive publicity for failed effort on prize bull.

by Alvin Benn

Evulse was a prize Aberdeen-Angus bull that became a bum steer.

After unsuccessful testicular surgery in 1965, headline writers and columnists had a ball denigrating the huge animal for his inability to emulate birds, bees and "even educated fleas" by doing "what comes naturally."

Born in Perth, Scotland, in 1962 and sold at a record price 18 months later, Evulse was shipped to Black Watch Farms in New York amid great expectations that he would eventually return a handsome profit from a record $176,000 investment.

Evulse’s purpose in life was to impregnate quality cows through artificial insemination to produce thousands of calves with similar genetic makeups.

At stake for his owners was a possible fortune, perhaps millions of dollars, if Evulse could just produce the DNA needed to rake in all that money.

Alas, it was just not to be for Evulse who shed 300 of his 1,800 pounds prior to surgery. The weight loss wasn’t helpful because he didn’t have the workable bovine plumbing needed to sire progeny of his own, let alone thousands of insemination-produced offspring.

Evulse, in effect, was a hoped-for stud that turned out to be a dud.

Auburn University played an important role in an unsuccessful effort to make Evulse whole again. Even when all efforts failed, AU still gained favorable worldwide publicity for giving what amounted to that "Old College Try."

The bull’s official name was Lindertis Evulse, but most just called him by the second half of his moniker.

His potential as a four-hoofed, money-making machine was such that venerable Lloyds of London was willing to take a chance on him and provided full insurance coverage.

Sterility proved to be Evulse’s undoing, but AU’s national reputation in successful large animal medical procedures was such that his owners opted for a "last resort" move to Alabama.

National publications had a field day over a bull that had become a laughing "stock" of the first order.

Esquire Magazine put Evulse on its cover and then into its "Dubious Achievement" awards section. The magazine, in mocking fashion, named him "Lover of the Year" based on the fact that he "flunked his fertility test."

Even the once-revered Encyclopedia Britannica got into the fun at the poor bull’s expense, putting a photo of him in its 1964 yearbook.

Evulse’s arrival from Scotland was greeted with great fanfare. His entry into New York City included a parade in his honor and he was carefully placed in a large armored car complete with police escort.

Before he arrived at AU, Evulse had already been to Cornell University, Colorado State University and the University of Virginia where efforts to correct his shortcoming failed each time.

Evulse’s problem centered around blockage in his reproductive duct system. AU surgeons led by Dr. Donald F. Walker, associate professor of large animal surgery and medicine at the time, attempted to bypass the problem.

The surgery took place in July 1965 with Boone Aiken of the Birmingham News witnessing the operating room scene where reporters and photographers from as far away as England lined up wearing surgical masks and caps in a sterile operating room for the big moment.

"Flashbulbs popped as the huge animal whose weight had been reduced to 1,500 pounds for the operation was strapped to the tilted table in the center of the room," Aiken wrote. "A hydraulic lift turned the table upright."

Walker was an expert in large animal surgery and had already performed similar duct operations on six animals the year before Evulse arrived. Two were successful.

Assisting Walker in the operation were three other surgeons, an anesthetist and two senior students. The surgery took less than two hours, an hour less than initial projections.

When he was finished, Walker used a phrase familiar to surgeries around the world, "Only time will tell."

Evulse may not have been wined and dined at the New York farm where he was brought from Scotland, but he came close to landing in his own pasture paradise with a private barn, a cooling system and lots of room to slowly roam around.

Reporters and headline writers had a field day with Evulse when the final negative news surfaced.

The Associated Press reported on July 21, 1965, that "Lindertis Evulse is a lot of bull and a big bust as a bovine lover boy.’’

Jack R. Dick, the managing partner of the Black Watch Farms which bought Evulse, said, "We never had a bull so close to being perfect as this one - extraordinary."

The problem was extraordinary only went so far and Evulse was described as a "lackluster Lothario."

Lloyds of London took it on the chin, too. The legendary London insurance company repaid Black Watch its purchase price under an insurance policy that contained a clause guaranteeing virility.

Dr. Robert Carson, a professor of veterinary medicine in the AU Department of Clinical Sciences, was just a teenager living in Tennessee when he first heard about Evulse.

His interest in the late lamented bull hasn’t diminished in the years since the surgery and he occasionally is asked about Evulse.

American scientists have put men on the moon, conquered a variety of illnesses and are working on new medical breakthroughs all the time, but can’t seem to find a way to fix a bull’s plumbing system.

"We’re talking about microscopic surgery," Carson said. "It isn’t something done easily and we may never be able to perfect a successful procedure in the future."

Carson also reminds those interested in the case that Auburn was the fourth university asked to see if it could help resolve Evulse’s medical problem.

The question of whatever happened to Evulse is somewhat of a mystery since most of those involved in the case have long since passed away.

Carson said he heard that Evulse was allowed to live out his days in a pasture near Union Springs, but no one seems to know for a certainty if that’s how he spent his last days.

Regardless of his less-than-glamorous ending and the lack of descendants, Evulse hasn’t been forgotten because he became a falling star in the world of veterinary medicine.

And, let’s not forget, there’s still that parade in New York City with a police escort all those years ago.

For one brief moment in his life, the big Scottish import weighing a sirloin or two under two tons was a star of the first magnitude.

It would have been a shame if Evulse became a lot of Big Macs.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

A Cow Hanging

by Baxter Black

John lives down the road from me. We have cattle across the fence from each other. He is good at a lot of things – carpentry, electronics, sports and hunting, but cows are not his strong suit. He runs a handful on 90 acres.

He called me one day askin’ if we had seen a cow of his. I told him we had cleared the pasture and had not seen her in with our bunch. I left town for a weekend and when I returned he had left a message to call. I did.

"I found her," he said.

"Good," I said, and then he tells me the story.

His pasture was pretty well grazed over, so John walked the fence line to see if he could see a break (yes, he did walk it in his hiker boots, backpack, baseball cap and scope). There was a handmade cattle guard on an abandoned Forest Service road. The rundown gate (WPA 1968) had been pushed over. John walked through to Federal property.

After a thorough scanning of the hillside, he saw a dark object next to a span of cross fence. He actually used his Swarovski spotting scope. He traversed an arroyo and some rough ground before he reached the dark object. It was his cow, alright. She had tried to jump or claw through the barbwire fence and got stuck!

Now, anybody who messes with cows has a story to tell about how tough cows are – how they’ve fallen out of trucks, been pulled out of the mud with horses and ropes, lifted with bucket loaders, hefted from wells by helicopter, rescued from flooded roof tops …. I’ve seen them crash into a post and wobble off, get hit by a car or fall over a ledge, then roll, jump up and keep runnin’! Of course, delivering a 120-pound calf is no "piece of cake," either!

John’s cow had straddled the wire fence. She was dehydrated and had some lesions from the barbs that were swollen and infected. Her whole weight seemed to be sagging on the wire. She’d been there at least three days.

It took John an hour to walk back to the shed to get a pair of fencing pliers and return.

"Wow!" I said. "How’s she doin’ today?"

"Up and at’um. I’ve given her penicillin. She’s in the corral. I’m feedin’ her. She’s actin’ like nothing happened."

"Them cows are sure tough," I said.

John had a habit of naming his cows, usually after something pertinent to their timing, personality or appearance. For example, he had a calf named Wednesday, a heifer named Rainy, a cow named Dolly Parton and an outlaw steer named Tiffany after his daffy sister-in-law.

"What did you name her?" I joked.

"Whataya think? Barbie!"

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,

A Job Change

by Jimmy Hughes

For over 10 years now, I have had the pleasure of writing a monthly article for AFC Cooperative Farming News. I have spoken to several of you each month to answer questions concerning the information and products discussed in the articles. I have met numerous others across the state who recognize me as the author of the monthly articles. Over the years, many of you have not only become customers of Quality Co-ops but have also became friends of mine. It was always my goal to provide articles that were timely, beneficial, precise, and in a form that was understandable with the goal of giving each of you a better understanding of nutrition and the important role it plays in the overall production and profitability of your operation.

I have recently accepted a new position with SouthFresh Aquaculture, a division of Alabama Farmers Cooperative, headquartered in Tuscaloosa. While I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead, it is with some sadness that I will not be writing articles on a monthly basis. I want to thank each of you for your encouragement, positive comments, friendships and support over the years. I would also like to thank you for your support of Alabama Farmers Cooperative and your local Co-op stores.

If I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please feel free to reach me by email at

Jimmy Hughes is the new vice president of SouthFresh Aquaculture.

Celebrating a Berry Important Crop

Claris and Eurenea Clemmons in their strawberry field.

Cullman Strawberry Festival May 9-10

by Tony Glover

The early German settlers called strawberries "erdbeeren," or literally "earth berry." Andrew Kessler may have brought the first strawberry plants to Cullman in 1880. In 1886, during a ball and picnic to commemorate the founding of Cullman, John Cullmann toasted the recent discovery of coal, the exploration for oil and the hoped-for arrival of an east-west railroad along with the success of local ventures in wine, strawberries and cotton production. The success with wine was short-lived due to a disease problem that still prevents most European wine grapes from growing in our area. However, first cotton and later strawberry production took off in a big way. Cullman County became a leader in both commodities.

Large scale strawberry production had to wait on a means of refrigeration to allow for distant shipping via rail cars. By 1936, Cullman was harvesting 2,200 acres of strawberries and had become the strawberry-producing capital of Alabama - if not the entire South. This acreage held steady until World War II which caused a labor shortage and the acreage fell to about 500. By 1947, acreage started to climb back up to near 1,000 acres and never got above that level again.

During the strawberry "heyday," Cullman held a very large annual strawberry festival that brought folks from all over north Alabama to celebrate the harvest season each spring. Eventually acreage began to fall and the strawberry festival was stopped. This time a combination of factors likely led to the industry’s decline: competition from Florida, labor and the rise of the poultry industry which provided a more secure income stream with less risk.

Several years ago, local officials decided to resurrect the Cullman Strawberry Festival. Even though we will likely never have the large acreages we once grew, we do have several local producers who grow strawberries for local sales. This winter has been very cold, but most area growers cover their plants with a blanket-like material that protects the plants fairly well. The crop potential looks good and, barring any late freezes, they should harvest a good crop of the sweet "erdbeerens."

This year’s festival will take place May 9-10 and will be held at the Festhalle Market Platz-Farmers Market in downtown Cullman near the railroad line that once shipped thousands of crates of berries annually. The festival plays host to many activities including a wonderful assortment of local artisans selling their wares at an arts and crafts event in Depot Park across from the farmers market. The first day features an antique tractor show, live music and plenty of locally grown strawberries in addition to the arts and crafts. The Cullman County Museum will be open and there will be historic tours given of old downtown Cullman. On Saturday, there will all the same activities plus a 5- and 10-K run, and a classic car show at Depot Park.

If you are close enough for a drive to Cullman, come and enjoy the festival and take home some sweet local berries. If you live a little too far away, try to find some local strawberries before the season passes you by. You may visit this website to find area farms and markets: To get more details about the Cullman Strawberry Festival, visit their Facebook page at

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

Corn Time

Corn, an Herb? I Think So

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">by Nadine Johnson

Indian corn, maize (Zea mays). This is what we North Americans are referring to when we use the word "corn." Is it an herb? I consider it so. After all, it is a plant which serves a useful purpose. In fact, corn serves many useful purposes. I can think of no other plant which serves so many useful purposes.

One source states that Columbus discovered corn on his first visit to American soil. Native Americans introduced corn to white man and white man soon introduced it to the whole wide world. It is now the largest grain crop produced on Earth - the majority of which is grown in the United States.

Modern man has improved corn production by developing what is called "hybrid" seed. However, there has been very little overall change since white man’s intervention.

Growers plant corn seed (dried kernels) in garden or field rows as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Two or more rows, side by side, are needed in order to insure proper pollination. Seeds sprout and tall, pithy stalks with long, green, blade-like leaves grow. Tassels (the male flower) form at the very top of the plant. "Ears" form along the sides of the stalk. These ears are the silks, shuck, cob and kernels (the female flower). A silk runs from each kernel to the outside of the shuck. Birds, bees and the wind cause pollen to fall from the tassels onto the silks. The pollen feeds the female kernels, fertilizing them and producing plump healthy corn.

Corn is gathered fresh (or green) as it reaches a mature, but not hard, stage for use as food in a good many ways. Boiled or roasted on the cob, or cut off the cob for what we Southerners call creamed or fried corn. We can or freeze this stage for later cooking purposes. Hominy, grits and cornmeal are made from the dried kernels. This of course is just the beginning of the uses of corn – the stalks, shucks, cobs silks as well as the kernels.

Every part of the corn plant makes excellent food for livestock.

I will give a partial list of products derived from corn: adhesives, antifreeze, antiseptics, ceramics, cork substitute, dyes, ether, explosives, paints, paper, paste, photographic film, safety glass, soap, solvents, synthetic fibers, varnishes and fuel. The list goes on – add cornstarch (for cooking and laundry) and glycerine.

Valuable medications are made from corn. Capsules are made from corn. Glucose or dextrose is a simple sugar, a corn product, which is often administered to critically ill patients as intravenous fluids.

Cornsilk is often used as a natural medicine. One source says this to recommend its use: "Cornsilk is nourishing to the urinary system. It is a soothing diuretic that reduces inflammation and helps kidney, bladder and prostate dysfunctions including painful urination."

Dolls are made from shucks. When I was a child my mother had a shuck mop which my father had made.

It seems that the actual origin of corn is a botanical mystery and might forever remain so. It has been classified as a grass with a vague uncertainty of any close relatives.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 866-570-7302, or by email at

Don’t Be Penny Wise, But Pound Foolish

by Jackie Nix

This winter, I spoke with a cattle producer who, due to economic circumstances, had decided to save money by going from a balanced mineral and vitamin supplement to offering plain white salt. After a few years of this, the cattle had developed abscesses requiring veterinary treatment and were extremely lame. This one decision had far-reaching consequences. Besides vet bills, this producer lost money because his cattle were too lame to properly graze or even breed. Calf production suffered. To add insult to injury, it will take at least a year for the hooves to grow out, so problems are likely to continue for months even with treatment and proper nutrition. While this is an extreme case, it points out the investment value of a solid mineral/vitamin supplement program and the train wreck that results when animals don’t get what they need. Don’t think this can’t happen to you!

Let’s do a little math exercise to illustrate potential savings and costs. As an example, take 100 head of cattle supplemented for a year on salt. The supplement cost per head per day will be roughly 1 cent; therefore, the cost to supplement 100 head for a year will be $365. Compare that with supplementing 100 head on SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead Mineral for a year. The cost per head per day of SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead is roughly 11 cents. Your annual cost for feeding 100 head will be $4,015. At first glance, that looks like a lot of money, and it is. But let’s talk about what you get for your money.

First off, research shows we can expect an extra 0.25 lb. in ADG when basic mineral needs are met. In this example, let’s assume 100 cows give birth to 100 calves. An extra 0.25 lb. ADG on 100 calves in a six-month period comes to an extra 45 lbs. per calf or 4,500 lbs. for the herd. With recent prices hovering around $1.60/lb. you can see the return of $7,200 more than pays for the cost of supplementation on its own!

But let’s not forget about the other benefits of proper mineral supplementation that are harder to quantify in dollar amounts such as improved reproductive performance, improved hoof health and improved immune response. Cows in good body condition receiving proper mineral supplementation are going to come in heat earlier, get pregnant earlier and result in a tighter calving period. Bulls in good body condition with proper mineral supplementation are not only more fertile but also are able to cover more cows because they are more structurally sound and can move more freely to get to the cows. When reproductive problems surface due to mineral deficiencies, it typically takes a full year of supplementation for full recovery.

We’ve talked about hoof health. Copper and zinc are critical for healthy, hard hooves that will be less likely to incur injury that will allow the foot rot bacterium to gain entrance in the wound. Research has also shown cattle with proper mineral supplementation respond better to vaccinations since minerals are key building blocks for immune systems in the body.

In summary, the old adage of "you can pay me now, or pay me later" is truer now than ever. Think very carefully about long-term effects before cutting out a vital component of your nutritional program. Better yet, think of mineral and vitamin supplementation as an investment rather than a cost. Cattle producers should consider one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplements if cattle show symptoms of copper deficiency - red-tinged black coats, loss of pigment around the eyes, slow to shed out winter coats, increased hoof problems or reduced reproductive performance. All CopperHead supplement products deliver enhanced levels of copper and zinc, as well as other essential minerals and vitamins. All minerals in the CopperHead line of mineral supplements contain organic forms of zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt for optimum bioavailability. SWEETLIX CopperHead minerals are highly palatable with consistent intake. SWEETLIX CopperHead supplements also have the added advantage of RainBloc for improved resistance to moisture resulting in less waste associated with "caking."

Call 1-87SWEETLIX, visit or like us on Facebook to learn more about how SWEETLIX CopperHeadMinerals can work for you.Ask for SWEETLIX CopperHeadMinerals by name at your local Quality Co-op location!

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


Flynt’s Big Son

by Lisa Hamblen Hood

Everyone has a bad day every now and then. And children find different ways to brighten up those "off" days – a double dip of ice cream, a favorite television show or just a walk down a country road. One of my junior high students, Flynt, was having a bad day a couple of years ago. As he was riding home one chilly spring afternoon, he found something unexpected that really cheered him up, a newborn baby goat. He saw it standing in the ditch as he and his mother were driving towards the ranch. They stopped; Flynt scooped it up and put it in his lap. The baby was weak and in need of some nourishment and attention.

"Can I keep it, Mama?" he implored as he caressed the brown furry head and soft hoofs.

How could she refuse? All the crummy things that had contributed to his not-so-wonderful day melted away in light of this new discovery.

Flynt examined the kid. He wondered how it had ended up in the ditch. Apparently it had slipped through the rails of a stock trailer as it zipped past their house. Although it was a little scratched up, it was not badly injured. There were no other goats in the nearby pastures, so there was no one to return it to.

His family had a few nanny goats with kids, so, rather than trying to bottle feed it, he and his grandmother tried to force one of the mama goats to adopt the orphan. After several tries, lots of dodging, side-stepping and butting, they gave up. The little kid was dehydrated and ravenous. It needed no coaxing to accept the warm milk from the rubber nipple. It slept with Flynt that night and for many other nights after that. He named it Son, and they became inseparable. The minute the boy got home from school, he fed his pet and played with it. His mother allowed the goat not only to sleep in the bed but to stay in the house much of the time. And soon it was basically housebroken.

When Son was about 2 months old, he was able to jump up into the chairs in the family’s gazebo. He would jump back and forth between the two chairs and do a little twist in the air in between. It always made Flynt’s day to watch Son perform funny tricks. When Son wasn’t jumping, they enjoyed wrestling in the grass. Flynt would get on his knees and meet the goat with his shoulder when it reared up to butt him. By that time, Son was in the process of growing horns, so the boy had to make sure and steer clear of them. When they’d go fishing in the stock pond, Son would step into the boat with Flynt and go out on the water with him as if he were a dog.

Son grew into a 200-pound billy goat. So sleeping in the house and playing around with Flynt became out of the question. A few weeks ago on a warm fall day, Flynt and his friend were swimming in the pond, when, out of nowhere, Son came galloping onto the scene. The friend was surprised and shocked because he was afraid the goat would butt him as he leaned down to lace his tennis shoes. He and Flynt dove into the waiting Ranger and Flynt’s mother hit the gas pedal. And that was a good thing for the friend. His eyes were big as saucers as they zoomed up the embankment and away from the menacing goat. But Flynt just laughed. He knew Son wouldn’t hurt a flea … at least, not on purpose.

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

Focus on Sustainability

2014 Regional Beef Cattle Conference is scheduled for June 13-14, 2014.

The 2014 Regional Beef Cattle Conference will focus on "Rebuilding for a Sustainable Future." Sponsored by the Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences and Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the conference is an opportunity for beef cattle producers to learn the latest industry trends and concepts.

The conference will be held June 13-14 at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Overton-Goodwin Center and other campus facilities. Before May 16, the registration fee is $80. Late registration is $160. Learn more about the conference including registration information at

The two-day event features speakers from across the nation.

"Financial strategies, technology, best management practices and industry leadership are the major themes of the program," according to Dr. Wayne Greene, Animal Science Department Head. "The program is geared to cattlemen in all phases of the industry, especially cow-calf producers and stocker or feeder operations within the Southeast region and beyond. It promises to deliver an excellent program that will be of interest to all facets of the beef industry."

The conference will be a unique forum of producers, educators and scientists from the nation’s leading beef cattle land-grant universities and allied industries. Beef Cattle 101, a series of interactive workshops, is planned Friday morning. There is an additional $20 charge for these interactive workshops.

Program highlights include:

Keynote Address: Troy and Stacy Hadrick, two of the nation’s top advocates for agriculture, will challenge conference participants with their message that everyone needs to be an advocate for agriculture. Troy and Stacy grew up on ranching operations in South Dakota. The couple have spoken widely helping people involved in agriculture find their voice and confidence to share their story. The Hadricks believe that connecting people with agriculture should be on producers’ and farmers’ daily chore list every day.

Beef Cattle 101: Preconference workshop series includes soil and forage management, reproductive management and artificial insemination, fabricating beef for the freezer, Beef Quality Assurance training, and a youth leadership workshop.

What’s it Going to Take to be Sustainable?: Taking the Pulse of the Beef Industry: Wes Ishmael, Contributing Editor to Beef Magazine, will offer his perspectives on the current status of the U.S. cattle industry and where it needs to go.

Blueprints for Rebuilding the Numbers: Dr. Justin Rhinehart, University of Tennessee. He will address the economics of retaining females or stockering heifers as well as the economic value of managing genetics, genetic defect detection and how sexed semen fits into the rebuilding blueprint.

How to Grow Rich in the Cattle Business: Dr. John Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Sustainability Challenge for the Cattleman – Good News Updates on Management Practices and Technologies Research: Dr. Jude Capper, Adjunct of Dairy Science in the Animal Sciences at Montana State University. She focuses her research into the environmental impact of beef production.

Future Structures for Sustainable Beef Production: Tom Brink, formerly Chief Risk Officer and Senior VP, JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, LLC. He will offer insight into what segments of cattle industry desire now and what they will want in the future.

Droughts, Floods, Storms - Climate Change/Variability and Southeastern Beef Production: Dr. Brenda Ortiz, Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor, Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences, Auburn University. Ortiz will address climate change, variability and impacts already being felt and what does it mean for the beef community?

Fielding a Winning Team in Life and Business: Joe Whitt, cattleman and former Auburn University football coach, will highlight the parallels of coaching a winning team to rebuilding the cattle industry.

Saturday morning breakout sessions will focus on animal health, reproduction, nutrition, economic decision-making and ongoing research relevant to the cattle community.

Due to limited capacity and strong demand, early registration is strongly encouraged. For more information on the conference or corporate partnership opportunities, contact Candi Vann at 334-844-1521 or visit for updates.

Friends of Ripley

Ed Black was a respected farmer in Limestone County. His legacy is still living on through the Bibles the Friends of Ripley purchase with winnings from their parade floats.

Sharing More than the Christmas Spirit

by Anna Leigh Peek

If you already have one, give it to someone who doesn’t" is printed inside the cover of a red New Century Version Bible. These words were spoken by the late Ed Black as he handed out Bibles to people around Athens before his death in April 2005.

Ed Black was a farmer in western Limestone County. Ed grew crops of corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat, and also had cows and chicken houses. He was born and raised in the community called Ripley and was fondly referred to as "Fast Eddie" by friends because of his days as a track star at Clements High School.

In 2003, Ed was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. When he was diagnosed, he made it his personal mission to hand out Bibles to people. He would buy the Bibles in bulk from the CEI store in downtown Athens. According to his wife Gayle, there is no telling how many Bibles he bought and gave to people. He would give them out anywhere there were people to give them to – the gas station, dentist office, the auto parts store, etc.

Ed’s sister Myra King tells of Cindy, a lady in the community who had moved to Alabama from Oregon. When Cindy came to buy hay from Ed, he gave her a Bible. Ed sent Myra to visit with the lady since they were both horse lovers and they became friends. In a year, Cindy had rededicated her life to Christ and she will tell you that Ed’s Bible is what caused her to reconsider her life.

The Friends of Ripley floats usually include lighting and even moving parts. Gayle Black shows a snowflake that has been reused several years.

In 2004, Ed’s condition was getting worse.

"It was the holidays, but we were not feeling too cheery," Gayle said. "Our son Shane and nephew Andy John had always said we should do a Christmas float for the Athens Christmas Parade, so I signed them up."

Although they were a little reluctant, they started planning a float.

Ed had a cotton wagon he had turned into a hay wagon for his cows by putting a roof on it which kept the hay dry. On a Sunday afternoon they hatched an idea to make the wagon into a float.

"I remember Ed was very bothered because he was afraid the tires were bad, so he put four new tires on the wagon because he was afraid we could not make it to town with the float," Gayle laughed.

Myra King, Ed Black’s sister, shows one of the Bibles they still hand out to people in the area.

The theme of the Athens parade that year was Christmas songs so they created a float that went along with the song "Up on the Housetop."

"It looked exactly like a house coming down the road," Myra explained.

They reconstructed the hay wagon into a house that had windows, window boxes, kids inside looking out the window, complete with Santa stuck in the chimney.

"When we sent in the application, it came back stating there was prize money. We had no idea that there was prize money given. I remember Myra and I driving to town to buy reindeer for the roof and talking about how there was prize money. We laughed and wondered what if we were to win the grand prize and received $1,000, but we didn’t think we would actually win," Gayle said.

The parade came and their float won grand prize. Ed was not physically able to go to the parade, but Gayle called him after the parade to let him know they had won.

After the parade, the Black family forgot about the money. Ed was getting worse and it was not a priority at the moment. The check stayed at the bank for months before they went and picked it up. Upon receiving the check, they decided to use it to purchase Bibles for Ed to hand out; it would be a good thing to do with the money.

Ed liked a certain version of the Bible, the New Century Version, because he grew up reading the King James Version which was difficult for him to understand. He found this particular version better and absolutely thought everyone should have it because they could understand it. He wanted to give this version to people, so if they did not think they could understand the Bible, they could understand this version.

Ed Black died in April 2005. In December, the family decided to do another float in his memory. They decided if they continued entering a float in the parade and won money, they could use that money to buy more Bibles just like Ed had done.

Shane, a local attorney, is artsy and the creative genius behind the floats ideas. Typically, they will get together for lunch and discuss ideas for that year’s float. Family members will chip in ideas.

It takes the talents of members of the community to make it come together. Gayle, Janice King and Angie White are responsible for the decorating and making the colors and costumes come together. Andy King serves as carpenter, mechanic and electrician. Shane’s wife Trisha excels at painting and making the float shine.

"Each year we get different people in the community involved, the first year it was just a little group of people and we didn’t know what to call it, but then we decided on the ‘Friends of Ripley’ it was so fitting," Gayle said. "You do not have to live in Ripley to participate; we have people who just want to help, so we take anyone who wants to take part."

The group makes everything by hand and it takes a lot of work and the different talents possessed by each person. Typically work starts in October or November, but one year Shane started working on some elves for that year’s float in July. The group always takes a break for the Iron Bowl and for the week of Thanksgiving.

"It is a loving and fun atmosphere to work in," Myra said.

"After each year, Shane and I talk about the most enjoyable part of the process … that we get to see and be with folks we are not able to be with much during the year. We have such fond memories of working on these floats; it is a time of fellowship and hard work. We all gain so much more than the money," Gayle reflected.

The group started off always having Ed’s initials on the float, but they have since lost other family members and friends in the community including Angie White, who also battled cancer and was one of the major contributors to the creation of the float.

The grand prize at the Athens Christmas Parade has been awarded to the Friends of Ripley for 9 out of the last 10 years. Their float provides a time of fellowship and memory making for those involved. Any prize money won allows Ed Black’s mission to continue by placing Bibles in the hands of people who maybe do not have one or a version they can understand better.

Anna Leigh Peek is a freelance writer from Auburn.

How's Your Garden?

Caging squash not only supports the long, hollow stems, but holds them upright so the fruit is easier to see. And it saves a little space.

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Corral Your Squash

Here is a technique that I’ve only seen a couple of times in all my years of gardening, but it sure makes sense. We don’t typically think about confining squash, but the cage offers several benefits. It supports the long, hollow leaf stems that can be broken by hard wind and rain. It helps contain the sprawling stems and holds them upright, reducing contact with the prickly leaves when you harvest. It also makes it easier to see the fruit. It saves a little space, too! The key is to make your own cage with wide mesh concrete reinforcement wire so that the openings are large enough for your hand to reach inside. You can cut the wire so the cage is only a couple of feet tall.

The ruffled flowers of Sundance gaillardia do well through the summer.

A Wildflower Gets a New Look

Plant breeders have been giving old-fashioned gaillardia a variety of looks. The original plant (Gaillardia pulchella) is a wildflower native to the central United States that goes by the common name of Indian Blanket. It is the state flower of Oklahoma, a good indicator that it tolerates hot, dry conditions. Usually grown as an annual or short-lived perennial, the original Indian Blanket has a large, flat flower that looks a lot different from new varieties like Sundance, pictured here. These later ones are hybrids of the native and other species. Gaillardia is a favorite of butterflies, but not so much of deer, so it’s a good choice anywhere deer browse flowerbeds. They need lots of sun and well-drained soil. Trim off the spent blooms to encourage new ones to appear through the summer.

Jalapenos are Easy to Grow

If you like hot peppers, try growing jalapenos. These are easy to grow and can be very productive, especially through summer when sweet peppers often take a pause. The amount of heat in jalapenos is different according to variety (the description sometimes says) and by the level of stress experienced in the garden. To encourage milder peppers, water them regularly and harvest them while young. To encourage hotter peppers, run them a little dry and leave the fruits on the plant longer. Eventually the fruit turns red. Last year, I harvested more than 70 peppers from a single plant. The key to this is to harvest often, never leaving them on the plant to mature (turn red). Look for named hybrid varieties such as Mucho Nacho that have been developed for size and productivity. Extra-long, thick-walled peppers are great for stuffing to grill, or for slicing to make pickled rings. A very versatile pepper, jalapeno also makes good green pepper jelly. If you’ve ever preserved the fruit by smoking it, you’ve made chipotle! This is the pepper used to make chipotle sauces and other dishes that carry that name. Even if you don’t have a designated vegetable garden, jalapeno pepper plants are attractive enough to plant among your flowers. The plants grow well in large containers, too.

A new bottle with a hose-end sprayer makes it even easier to feed your garden with Bonnie’s Plant Food.

For Easy Fertilizing

Check out Bonnie Plants’ new plant food bottle with a hose-end sprayer attached. This will make it easier to feed as you water your garden, whether in pots or in the ground. Bonnie’s Plant Food is made from oil seed extract, which contains beneficial organic compounds that build stronger roots and tops and help the plant weather stresses. The product is also low in salts, which helps gardeners who are trying to build a good environment for earthworms and other soil flora and fauna. For a higher yield at harvest, try this plant food for a few weeks and see if you like the difference in the performance of your plants. It works well for flowers and shrubs, too.

Plants with Spikes

Lately there have been more ornamental plants with spiked leaves used in the garden for their texture. Garden designers like these because they make exclamation points in the garden, especially when contrasted with finer textures. Look for dracenas, agaves and yuccas when shopping for plants in this shape. For containers, you can even consider houseplants in shady areas of the garden.

Looking for Impatiens?

If you don’t see as many impatiens for sale in garden centers this year, it’s because a disease called downy mildew has been killing plants for the last few years. Some growers have been hesitant to produce them. However, you may see more New Guinea impatiens, which are not as susceptible to downy mildew diseases. These are impatiens with larger flowers that also adapt well to the sun. Their leaves may be variegated or colored a deep purple. Also, consider fibrous begonias, a fast-growing annual with plenty of colorful flowers, for the shade.

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

Human Dimensions

Wildlife Management is a Messy Business.

by Corky Pugh

As contrasted to the European model where game animals are private property and only the wealthy can hunt, in America, wildlife is held in trust by the government for the benefit of all the people. The title to wild animals is vested in the states, which manage these publically held resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

This is the reason wildlife management agencies exist.

In America, emphasis on the public interest is the legal basis for wildlife management. This is reflected in the Public Trust Doctrine, a long-standing legal cornerstone of natural resources management in this country. With origins in common law, the Public Trust Doctrine has withstood the test of time and legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Wildlife management is not a discrete decision or event, nor is management a tidy, linear process that unfolds predictably over time. The process takes place in a management environment that has sociocultural, economic, political and ecological components."

This astute, perhaps understated, observation by the authors of "Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management" well describes the complex, messy business of decision-making about wildlife-related matters, including hunting regulations. This text by Daniel Decker, Shawn J. Riley and William F. Siemer is a standard in the field of wildlife science.

What an awesome responsibility to ensure that the interests of the people are cared for – not some of the people, but all the people!

Of course, all the people don’t want the same thing. And effective wildlife management decisions cannot be based on a popularity contest. By the same token, neither can effective wildlife management decisions be made in a vacuum, without concern for stakeholders or those affected by such decisions.

Indeed, wildlife management encompasses three dimensions: humans, wildlife and habitats. Effective management addresses all three as an entire system.

This is not new stuff! Over 70 years ago, Aldo Leopold, the "Father of Wildlife Management," observed that the problem of game management is not how we should handle the deer but how we should handle the people. From the very beginning, wildlife managers have struggled with how to involve the public in developing and implementing policy and programs.

The missions of state fish and wildlife agencies across the country, based in part in enabling legislation that created the agencies, consistently recognize the melding of science with public benefit. Typically the mission statements of the agencies reflect this twofold responsibility with language like, "To manage, protect, conserve and enhance the wildlife resources of [state] for the sustainable benefit of the people." (Emphasis added.)

This is the all-important "why" for the agency’s existence.

As in all things, there is a healthy balance. It’s not an "either-or" matter – it’s a "both." And both are readily doable.

For over three-quarters of a century, Alabama, like most states, has balanced science and human dimensions in order to ensure sustainable, healthy, abundant wildlife populations while providing the greatest good for the most people in the long run. Historically, those in decision-making roles have embraced this guiding philosophy.

This philosophy is central to the wildlife profession. According to the official Position Statement of The Wildlife Society, the professional organization of wildlife biologists, "The role of science in policy and decision making is to inform the decision process, rather than to prescribe a particular outcome."

The Wildlife Society Position Statement on "The Use of Science in Policy and Management Decisions" continues, "Policy and decision makers may make determinations that do not always provide maximum benefits or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats. Such determinations are appropriate if the best available science and likely consequences from a range of management options have been openly acknowledged and considered."

Integrity in the use of science is equally important, and the Wildlife Society Position Statement cautions against a whole shopping list of ills, including "ignoring science that contradicts a desired outcome."

In the peer-reviewed paper, "Human Dimensions in Wildlife," Alistair J. Bath notes, "Much of the conflict in resource management occurs when the public is brought into the process near the end after important decisions have already been made …. When the public is consulted later in the process without earlier involvement, they are not free to challenge the fundamental questions."

Adequate public notice of intended or proposed actions goes a long way toward solving this problem. Genuine opportunity for public input is just as essential.

Accountability and transparency in government demand no less.

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 You can write to us at P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or email

Hunter Trees of Talladega County Named Farm of Distinction

Hunter Trees LLC in Shelby County is the 2014 Alabama Farm of Distinction. Seated from left are Leslee and Will Hunter and Phillip and Robin Hunter. Standing from left are program sponsors Lynne Morton of TriGreen, Chris Cline and Kevin Robinson of Snead Ag, Jimmy Parnell of Alabama Farmers Federation, Jim Allen of Alabama Farmers Cooperative and Lester Killebrew of SunSouth.

by Mary Johnson

Talladega County landscape tree nursery was named Alabama’s 2014 Farm of Distinction April 3 at the Alabama Farm-City Awards in Birmingham.

Hunter Trees LLC was chosen from four finalists. As this year’s winner, brothers Phillip and Will Hunter received $10,000 in prizes. Phillip will represent the family farm and Alabama in the Swisher Sweets/ Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 14-16 in Moultrie, Ga.

Located near the town of Alpine, Hunter Trees is known throughout the country as a trusted source for high-quality landscape trees.

"Quality is very important to us," Phillip said. "Our business, our nursery, is specified a lot by landscape contractors or landscape architects, so they are getting the kind of trees on their jobs they know are going to look good and make them look good. It’s all part of making us all successful."

Ten years ago, however, the business was just a dream for the Hunter brothers. A graduate of Mississippi State University, Phillip was working as a landscape contractor in Birmingham, and Will would soon graduate from Auburn University with a degree in ornamental horticulture. Together with their father Bill, they set out to build one of the South’s leading nurseries.

Today, Hunter Trees covers 300 acres of a former sod and row crop farm. It includes 225 acres of production with 125 varieties of trees. On any given day, there are about 65,000 trees growing at the nursery, including some that are so big only two will fit on a semi-trailer.

Phillip says maintaining a clean nursery and good conservation practices are important to the farm’s success.

"God gave us this land to work with, and we try to be good stewards of it," he said. "We’ve done the majority of the work ourselves, and we take pride in that."

Like most farmers, Phillip and wife Robin say the things they like most about agriculture are being around family and nature.

"I love to see things grow," he said. "We love to be able to start with a small tree and see it grow to a big tree. It’s a great place to work with my family."

Phillip is chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Committee and serves on the Alabama Agriculture and Industries Board.

As this year’s Farm of Distinction winner, the Hunters received a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and Snead Ag dealers; a $1,250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative; $2,500 from Swisher International and an engraved farm sign from Alfa Insurance.

AFC also provided $250 gift certificates to the other finalists, which were Kyser Family Farms in Hale County, F&W Farms in Madison County and Aplin Farms in Geneva County.

Mary Johnson is with Alabama Farmers Federation.

I Am an Addict ... and It’s Great!

by Suzy Lowry Geno

I make no bones about it. I am an addict. And you might as well not even try to help me overcome my two biggest addictions.

First of all, all my family knows I am a newspaper junkie! And I don’t mean that sterile, glowing print you can read on the Internet.

I mean honest-to-goodness, I-can-smell-the-printer’s-ink, old-time newspapers on newsprint!

My grown kids have known for years if they are anywhere other than our area, they better bring mama back any small town or big city newspapers from wherever they are traveling or visiting! All that knowledge and all that good reading about others across this land sure helped me during my more than 30 years in the newspaper business!

So it was with great delight that I learned one of my cousins, Robbie McAlpine, who owns the Alpine Advertising Agency, had tracked down the Saguache Crescent, a 135-year-old newspaper that still prints in linotype.

He’d seen a feature on CBS news recently, called the owner, and subscribed since the out-of-state rate is only $18 a year.

Not only is that small Colorado newspaper printed the old-timey way, but a recent front page boasts the per-copy cost is still only 35 cents!

The front page also showed news that most any folks would like to read. While there were announcements for local candidates, there were also articles such as the "Saguache Quilters," "The Rocky Mountain Range Riders" and a "Celebration of Ranching."

The Classifieds were equally both educational and entertaining. One wanting office help listed the job classifications: "good telephone voice, good computer skills, long hours, low pay, absolutely no chance of advancement."

And nearby was an ad for a "beautiful free rooster."

I can’t afford to live in Colorado, but that newspaper sure lets me know "my" kind of folks live there!

And then there’s my other addiction and it’s equally as bad.

I can’t pass up beautiful fabric, particularly old-time cotton fabric such as that from feed sacks, old aprons and more.

My home office, which doubles as my sewing room, usually looks like a fabric store was hit by a tornado and the remains all dumped between these four walls.

I used to love to go to estate sales. I often found boxes filled with unique items such as quilt fabrics which had already been cut to sew, spools of thread often with a threaded needle stuck into its roll, and so much more.

I always tried to finish each project, aware of the loved one someone had lost who was no longer able to sew for their family.

Now I am fortunate that several people understand my addiction and they help me by providing just what I need by bringing me such goodies whenever they have lost a loved one, or are simply downsizing.

Such was the case last weekend.

A very sweet couple brought me several pieces of cotton fabric, but the neatest items were stuffed into a throwaway plastic bag from a grocery store.

There were about 60 paper-pieced quilt squares! And the best part was that the NEWSPAPER used to sew the pieces into their designs was still attached to the back of the squares!

I was in addict heaven!

I started reading all the seven-inch squares and soon found I had clippings from three newspapers from January, February and March 1956 (when I was a dainty 4-year-old)!

These newspapers show how our lives have gotten so COMPLICATED since then. Although there have been improvements, somehow I long for that more simpler time!

I know the average income was way below what it is now, but it just seems those dollars went further.

Here in the Alabama Farmer’s Bulletin from early 1956: "80 acres with a seven room house, electricity, barn, outbuildings, ‘lasting water,’ several pecan trees, school bus and mail route. $11,000. Lee County."

Or another in DeKalb County: "40 acres, 28 cultivated. Five acre pasture, balance cotton. Six room house, electricity, poultry house, barn, two wells, orchard, $7,500 or exchange for farm with two or more houses."

Or this interesting ad: "Farmall A tractor with cutting harrow & turn plow, Ford tractor with Bush & Bog, cutting harrow, turn plow, planters, cultivators, mower, $900 or exchange for 3 young Shetland mares in foal."

And these two would certainly be "illegal" now unless you complied with lots of rules and regulations, but then you could get: "vegetables, pickles, 25 cents per quart or 12 for $3" from an enterprising woman in DeKalb County or "All kinds canned green vegetables, 12 qts. $4, 48 qts. $15. Apple, pear & blackberry preserves, jams & jellies, 50 cents per pint" from another hard-working homemaker in Jackson County.

Oh, and that year the going price for most hay advertised was 50 cents per bale!

Some of the other prices in the weekly newspaper clippings from our area showed men’s tee shirts 3 for $1 in Arab and Chenille bed spreads for $2.98 to fit a double bed.

Oh - and something you don’t usually see any more: Men’s dress hats were $1.98 to $2.98!

Bath cloths were five cents each and ladies panties 5 for $1!

The grocery store ad noted "young tender pole beans, 2 lbs. for 29 cents; yellow squash two lbs. for 19 cents, and cabbage four cents a pound."

Since so many people are "getting in" to chickens these days, you might be surprised at some of the live chick prices from 1956: "Hatcheries reported prices paid for hatching eggs during the week at an average of 84 cents per dozen. Average price charged by hatcheries for chicks was reported at $15 per hundred. These prices compare with 84 cents and $15.25 for the previous week and with $14.50 a year ago."

You could get a "gentle mule that will work anywhere" in Blount County, and an equally able mule in Cullman County for $150.

During those months Alabama’s "dairy men" set a new "high mark" in efficient milk production. Milk production was 338 pounds per cow above that of 1954 and "butterfat was 10 pounds higher than the previous year."

While it may be hard for our tech-savvy youth to realize, many of the rural farms in Alabama had only received electrical service and phone service in the previous decade, and many churches’ and rural schools’ bathrooms were still little "houses out back."

I know my own family, just three miles outside Oneonta, installed their first indoor restroom shortly before I was born in 1952 and a party line telephone was the chief means of communication. I can remember when my family bought their first TV around 1956 when these newspapers were written.

No - I wouldn’t want to go back to using an outhouse (but I COULD if I had to) and there’s many other modern conveniences that help me in my life, BUT I wonder many times if it really was a good trade off.

I enjoy typing an article and having it instantly in the hands of my editors miles and miles away. I’m glad I don’t have to hitch the mule or horse to the wagon each time I want to run to the store as my Granny did. BUT ... from the writings of my grandmother Maud Smith Lowry in the early 1900s to these 1956 newspapers from more modern times, I wonder quite often if we’ve really improved our lives with many of these changes or would we be much more satisfied and CONTENT to live these more simple lifestyles .... Just something to think about from this simple woman struggling to live her simple life.

Suzy Lowry Geno lives a simple life at Old Field Farm in Blount County. She can be reached through her website at

I Don’t Know You!

by Glenn Crumpler

Hey, Daddy. It’s me. It’s Gregory, your son. How you doing, Daddy?"

With a very confused but firm look and with a very weak but serious voice, the 94-year-old gentleman lying in his nursing home bed drew his head back, looked up and said, "I don’t know you."

"Yeah, Daddy, you do know me! I’m your youngest child, your only son Gregory."

The response was similar, "I don’t remember you. I don’t know you."

"Oh, Daddy. You know me! I’m your son! I’m the one who used to follow you around everywhere you went when I was a boy. I rode in the saddle with you when I was just 2 or 3 years old, too young to ride by myself. You would set me down under a tree so I wouldn’t get hurt while you gathered up the cattle. I remember when the cows came running up I would begin to cry because I thought they were going to get me and you would come back on your horse and pick me up so I wouldn’t be scared."

"I don’t remember. I don’t know you."

"Yeah, Daddy, you know me! I’m your son Gregory. Remember? When I got a little older, probably 4 or 5 years old, you found that old mesquite tree near our house that had a limb that curved and grew out horizontally at just the right height that I could climb up on it and get on my horse by myself. You even built me a little chute for my horse beside that limb to keep him still while I climbed in the saddle. You know me Daddy. I’m your son Gregory."

"Who are you? I don’t know you."

"But, Daddy, you do know me. Remember all those days when I used to help you burn thorns off the cactus on the ranch so the cattle could eat them? Remember all those days we worked so hard?"

"No. I don’t know you," was again the response.

This story unfolded while I was in Texas with a dear friend back in March of this year where my friend Gregory’s dad is in a nursing home. I was excited to have the opportunity to finally meet this Cowboy of Cowboys I had heard so much about. A man who had fought as a Marine in Iwo Jima in World War II; had spent much of his life serving the Lord in a children’s home for Mexican children in south Texas; who had been inducted into the South Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame; who had been a husband, daddy, granddaddy and great-granddaddy; and who had obviously touched the lives of so many people.

I know what a solid, respected and Godly man Gregory is, and I know from what Gregory has shared with me that his dad had played a major role in shaping him into the man he is today. From meeting much of the family from multiple generations, I could tell their character and love for God was one that had been intentionally and thoroughly taught and passed down to each generation.

As Gregory and I stepped out into the hallway so he could gather his emotions, he shared with me how those words had pierced his heart. His dad’s mind and body were failing fast. He knew all the memories he and his dad had shared for the last 60 years, but it hurt that his dad could not remember him.

However, what touched me most was when Gregory said, "What pierces my heart the most is the fact that so many people will one day hear God say the same thing – not because of memory loss, but because they never really had a relationship with their Heavenly Father."

My mind went immediately to Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV) when Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"

The Bible tells us that most people will not make it into Heaven! "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many will enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."(MT 7:13-14)

These people who Jesus said He will turn away on the Day of Judgment because He never knew them, did all this work in Jesus’ name: prophesying, driving out demons, performing miracles, etc., yet they were not known by Jesus. What is missing?

My guess is there will be those who will not even be able to boast of this level of accomplishment or works. Many will only be able to say, "Lord, Lord, wasn’t I baptized?" "Wasn’t I a member of _________ church?" "Wasn’t I confirmed?" "Was I not an altar boy?" "Wasn’t I a deacon, Sunday school teacher or preacher?" "Didn’t I read the Bible?" "Didn’t I live better than most people?" "Didn’t I give my money for this or that building to be built?" "Didn’t I try to always do what I thought was right?" "Didn’t I live a moral life?" "Don’t my good deeds outweigh my bad ones?"

The list can go on and on, but the result will be the same if we expect our good works, our religion, or even our having lived a good life to earn our salvation, make us acceptable to God and get us into Heaven! Jesus said He will only know those who do the will of His Father.

Doing the will of the Father will involve service and living a good life, but these must be the result of a daily, intimate, loving relationship with the Lord Jesus which transforms our lives and motivates us to serve Him out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us - not out of obligation or legalism. Doing the Father’s will will always result in loving and serving others. Doing the Father’s will will always glorify His Son. Doing the Father’s will will always be to be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Doing the Father’s will will always lead us to obedience to God’s Word. Doing the Father’s will is not what we do for Him, but is allowing His Son to live and work in us and through us.

You can know Him and be known by Him, but only through your relationship with His Son Jesus and what He has done for you and wills to do through you. Instead of hearing, "I don’t know you," we can hear Him say, "Welcome home my child!" Accept His forgiveness. Allow Jesus to be Lord of your life. Follow, obey and glorify Jesus in all you do and you will do His Father’s will.

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

Make that Garden Grow

Emma Howle is keeping the middles of the rows and areas between the plants weed free by hoeing. Weeds rob your plants of essential water and nutrients.

The Co-op is the one-stop shop for your gardening needs.

by John Howle

Now is the time to get started on your summer garden. By the end of this month, the kids will be out of school and ready to help with the hoeing, weeding and care of the vegetables to help offset your grocery bill. Your local Quality Co-op is your one-stop shop for all your gardening needs.

Unless all your crops are legumes such as beans and peas, you will need nitrogen. Plants like corn use large amounts of nitrogen for growing and fruit bearing. The only way to determine how much fertilizer or lime you need is through a soil test. Simply take a few collections of soil from different areas of the garden and send the soil to a university such as Auburn for analysis.

You will also be asked what crops you will be growing, and this allows the lab technicians to give you the exact amounts of lime and fertilizer you need for the garden. Remember, it take a few weeks for lime to neutralize the acid in the soil, so this should be the first soil addition. Don’t worry about applying too much lime. The problem comes in when there is too little, which leaves the soil too acidic.

The garden plot should be plowed to a depth of four to six inches. Four inches is the average depth at which the roots of vegetables obtain their nutrients. The garden should be plowed to the point where all clods are dissolved and the soil has a moist tilth to it.

Be sure to leave plenty of room between rows. Once the plants such as corn and okra are mature, wider rows makes access between the rows much easier. If you are planting green beans that are runners, there are many methods. Some folks will stick cane poles in the ground leaning up against a wire in an A-frame fashion. I usually mount a 16-foot section of bull wire against three metal fence posts with wire. This gives plenty of avenues for the vines to run.

What’s in the Bag?

When it’s time to pick out your fertilizer from the Co-op, you will see three hyphenated numbers on the bag. The three numbers correspond in order to nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. For instance, a bag of 13-13-13 means there is 13 pounds of nitrogen per 100 pounds of fertilizer, 13 of phosphorous and 13 of potassium. Most bags come in a 50-pound size. This means when you buy a 50 pound bag of 10-10-10, there will be five pounds of N, five of P and 5 of K. Fifteen pounds in that bag is actually fertilizer and the remaining weight is inert ingredients which help disperse the fertilizer.

Select and Sow Your Seeds

Your Co-op can provide you with the highest-quality seeds for your garden. Check with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website for the ideal planting dates and depths for each seed and the plants that will grow best in your area. Go to, and search the publications for gardening planting guides. An informative publication is "Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama."

Water Early

When you are setting out plants such as peppers and tomatoes, water them as soon as you get them in the ground, and water them each day for at least a week. This will help the plant develop early root systems in the soil and better enables the roots to draw their own water when they begin to mature.

Weed Often

This is my least favorite part. It’s fun to plant the garden, pick the garden and eat the harvest, but, if you let weeds get a toe hold in your garden, all your hard work is wasted. While the plants are young, keep the middles plowed, and use a hoe to clean out around the plants. Another option is to mulch heavily around the plants with pine straw or bark to eliminate weed competition. The Amish have weed free gardens, and the few families that let me take a peek at their vegetables used newspapers spread out flat to eliminate weed growth. They would wet the papers so they would seal to the ground.

Harvest Time

Harvest is when your work pays off. Most harvesting can be staggered across a few days, but if your corn is coming in all at one time, you may need help. When my children were younger and more gullible, I told them we were gonna have a corn party. I ran an extension cord under a shade tree and plugged in an electric fan and had music playing through a radio. After two hours of shucking corn, my daughter Emma said, "This is the worst party I’ve ever been to in my life." Nonetheless, we got the harvest put up and enjoyed corn all winter.

Prevent Predators

Anything you can hang in the garden that flaps in the wind, jingles or makes movement helps deter animals and crows. If deer are a constant problem, you may have to invest in a fence around the garden. It may not be politically correct these days, but a dead crow suspended for others to see definitely deters other crows from entering the garden. Of course, we always try to find a crow that died of natural causes to hang up in the garden.

This May, get a head start on your gardening so you will offset your grocery bill over the winter. Plant your warm-season garden now, and when the last corn has been picked, plant peas in the middles of the rows to be harvested late summer/early fall. Finally, plant your greens in early autumn for winter food.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

May Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Divide and plant waterlilies and other aquatic plants if not done last month.
  • Chinese wisteria escaped in the wild, no matter how pretty, is NOT a good thing! Think twice about planting one. Instead, consider the American wisteria Amethyst Falls. It has rich purple flowers and blooms a little later than the Chinese species.
  • Continue planting daisies, asters, coreopsis, marigolds and sunflowers - they nourish the beneficial insects, which will help keep pests in check.
  • Divide or transplant hardy perennials such as chrysanthemum, aster and hosta.
  • For instant color, purchase started annual plants. Select short, compact plants. Any flowers or flower buds should be pinched to give plants an opportunity to become established.
  • If you haven’t already, it’s time to plant tender summer bulbs such as callas, dahlias, caladium and gladioli.
  • May is a good time to divide herbaceous perennials that you want to propagate or that are getting too big. Dividing will also help the plant to produce new growth.
  • Plant a Bonnie herb garden in containers or in a bed near your kitchen. Keep mint in its own pot to control its rampant spread.
  • Plant caladiums in shaded sites.
  • Plant containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Besides adding new annual flowers, consider digging up and using divisions of dianthus, creeping jenny, trailing rosemary, coral bells, hosta and other perennials with good-looking foliage.
  • Plant moonflower (Ipomoea alba), caladium, coleus, zinnia and other heat-tolerant flowers.
  • Plant okra, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, sweet potatoes, Southern peas and other heat-loving veggies.
  • Seeds of amaranthus, celosia, cosmos, marigold, portulaca, zinnia and other warm-season annuals can be sown directly in the beds where they are to grow. Keep seeded areas moist until seeds germinate.
  • Sow seeds of beans, beets, carrots, corn (early varieties), cucumbers, lettuce, melons, pumpkins and summer squash.
  • Transplant Bonnie eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Transplant trees and shrubs well before hot weather hits, and keep them well watered.
  • For best results, transplant perennials before they are 6 inches tall, and don’t disturb spring bloomers until fall.


  • Apply a high-nitrogen summer lawn fertilizer to encourage a healthy-looking yard.
  • As soon as azaleas have finished flowering, apply an acid-type fertilizer at the rate recommended. Don’t over fertilize as azalea roots are near the surface and damage can occur. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
  • Roses have high fertilizer requirements. For most soils, use a complete fertilizer for the first application just as new growth starts, then use ammonium sulfate, or other high nitrogen source, every 4 to 6 weeks, usually just as the new growth cycle starts following a flowering cycle. For organic sources use cottonseed, rotted manures or alfalfa meal.
  • Work lime in the soil around your hydrangeas to produce pink flowers or aluminum sulphate for blue.
  • To encourage flowering, a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus is best. The fertilizer’s three main ingredients are N-P-K with N for nitrogen, P for phosphorus and K for potassium. 10-10-10 means there is an equal proportion of each N-P-K. Hydrangeas like a low N and a high P, thus a combination of 10-40-10 would be ideal.
  • My general rule of thumb to remember what the numbers mean is to start with the first number and apply from the top of the plant to the bottom. As such, N is for the green; P is for the bloom; and K is for the root or up and down and all around.
  • To refresh your understanding of pH, pH refers to the acidity of the soil and is measured by the number of hydrogen ions present in the soil. pH is a logarithmic scale based on the power of 10. As such, pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7! Thus, even a little change in pH can make a big difference. A pH of 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acid, greater than 7 is alkaline. Most plants like a pH between 6.5 and 7. Hydrangeas like it more acidic than most plants.
  • Watch your shrubs for yellow or pale leaves with green ribs – a sign of iron chlorosis. Apply chelated iron according to package directions.
  • Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias after they bloom with a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants.
  • Annuals planted recently should be fed on a monthly basis throughout the spring and summer.
  • Fertilize warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, zoysia, Bermuda and centipede. Stop fertilizing cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass to prevent heat damage.
  • Many summer-blooming tropical plants such as hibiscus and mandevilla bloom on new growth. Fertilize to encourage more growth and flowers.


  • Climbing hybrid tea roses may be pruned as soon as they complete flowering.
  • Cut spring bulb foliage after it browns or at least begins to yellow - never before. Also don’t tie or braid foliage. Green leaves are needed to manufacture sugars the bulb needs to store and use for next year’s flowering. It’s OK, however, to remove spent flower stalks as soon as the blooms are done.
  • If needed, prune early spring-flowering trees and shrubs such as azalea, forsythia and dogwood within about 4 weeks after flowers fade. If you delay this task much longer, you run the risk of pruning off next year’s flowers.
  • Pinch chrysanthemums and certain annuals such as impatiens and petunias to keep them compact and well branched.
  • Prune roses to open the plant to good air circulation. Pick up diseased leaves.
  • Remove any reverted green shoots on variegated (leaves with two colors) evergreens to prevent them reverting to a single color.
  • Take cuttings from houseplants to increase collection or share. Root cuttings in media such as vermiculite, perlite or potting soil.
  • Thin peaches, plums, pears and apples to about 6 inches apart.
  • Prune back any damage from winter, but check for nesting birds first.
  • Lightly prune evergreens, making sure not to cut back to bare branches.
  • Remove any sucker growths from fruit trees as soon as they appear.
  • Pines and other conifers can be kept to a compact size by pinching off the new growth "candles."


  • Collect rainwater for irrigation.
  • Make sure lawns and gardens receive an inch of water per week. Hand water new transplants until they become established.
  • Water your lawn in the morning to discourage fungus diseases.
  • Keep pots and hanging baskets well watered. On very warm days, you may need to water daily.


  • Always follow label instructions on approved pesticides.
  • Check new tender growth on your plants for aphids. A few can be tolerated, but large numbers should be controlled. Washing them off with a strong spray of water may be all that is necessary for adequate control. If more is needed, use appropriate pesticide.
  • Monitor and control snails, slugs and aphids.
  • Watch out for the "10 most wanted culprits": Mexican bean beetle, Colorado potato beetle, bean leaf beetle, Harlequin cabbage bug, blister beetle, cabbage worm, tomato hornworm, tomato fruit worm (and corn earworm), cucumber beetle and squash bug. Early discovery makes possible early control.
  • When caterpillars attack live oak trees en masse, it is very alarming, but usually nothing can be done. A healthy live oak will usually regrow its leaves and resume normal activities.
  • Hoe regularly between rows on hot days to make sure the weeds dry up and die.
  • The first flowers you’ll see will be your weeds. Work to eliminate the weeds (roots and all), before they have a chance to go to seed, or you will be fighting them for years to come!
  • Continue to spray rose varieties susceptible to black spot, using a spray recommended for fungus control every 7 to 10 days. Many of the old garden roses and some of the newer ones, especially the Knock Out series, have considerable resistance to black spot.
  • If moss is a problem in your lawn, choose a combined fertilizer and moss killer when feeding.
  • Soil purchased for use in beds, low areas and containers should be examined closely. Often, nutgrass and other weeds, nematodes and soil-borne disease are brought into the yard through contaminated soil sources.
  • Start weeding early in the flower garden. Early competition with small plants can delay flowering. Mulch will discourage weed growth and make those present easier to pull.
  • Before you pull your hair out, there are herbicides available that help control nutgrass (nutsedge) in lawns. Check with your local Co-op store for more details.
  • Carefully examine your houseplants for pests and problems. It is much easier to fight an insect infestation or disease in its early stages than to wait.
  • Use a pressure washer or algaecide to remove algae from paths.


  • Take photos of blooming plants you enjoy and put them in your garden journal so you’ll know what to buy for your own garden!
  • Visit a specialty plant nursery and explore the many varieties of plants available.
  • Soon, those tomato plants will start to sprawl all over your garden. Stake or cage them now while they are still a manageable size.
  • Give your clay and plastic pots a boost on sunny patios. Elevate pots onto boards to lessen the damaging effects on plants from heat radiated off the hot concrete.
  • For maximum flavor, don’t let zucchini get more than 8-10 inches long.
  • Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant unless your intent is to harvest the seeds. It consumes the plant’s energy to produce the seeds, and in many species of plants (especially annuals), removing the dead flowers will promote further blooms.
  • The compost pile should be getting a lot of use these days, both in utilizing this prime garden resource, and adding fresh garden refuse to it. The compost pile should be kept damp. Frequent turning will make your garden waste into plant food much faster.
  • Check houseplants for signs of being root bound.
  • Don’t be too quick to give up on tender perennials and tubers such as datura, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), cannas and dahlias. You still may see new leaves by the end of the month.
  • Mow lawns weekly.
  • Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days.
  • Clean out pond filters.
  • Harvest spring-planted crops such as lettuces, spinach and peas.
  • If the weather is dry, you can treat fences, sheds, etc. with wood preservative and stain.
  • Many flower or vegetable seeds left over after planting the garden can be saved for the next season by closing the packets with tape or paper clips and storing in a sealed glass jar in your refrigerator.
  • Move houseplants to a shady location outdoors. The soil in the pots will dry out faster outdoors, so check it frequently.
  • Pole beans cling to the trellis or sticks more readily if attached by the time they start running.
  • Pond fish will need feeding … a little and often is best.
  • Put supports in place now for tall herbaceous plants or those with heavy blooms before they are too tall.
  • Repair pergolas, arbors and arches as necessary.
  • The soil has warmed and dried enough now that adding a layer of wood or bark mulch won’t encourage lingering cold wetness.
  • Remember, birds are still nesting. Keep the feeder full!

May Maintenance

This photo shows the wear bars on this truck tire. In a few more thousand miles, it will be time to invest in new tires on this one.

Time for Tires

by John Howle

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
– 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV)

Many good things come from work. A man gets his worth from his work. The quickest way to strip a man of his dignity is to take his job or his work away from him. This is not the message we have been getting from Washington, however.

Job Lock?

After the Congressional Budget Office gave their figures showing how many Americans would lose their jobs as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act, the spinning began. Suddenly, we hear of all these former workers being freed from "Job Lock." They would now be able to follow their passions, whether it be painting or windsurfing.

Now we are being told that these new job loss figures are a good thing. The only other time I’ve heard of something this ridiculous was when IBM "emancipated" 8,000 "wage slaves" which really meant they laid off 8,000 workers. This amounted to 8,000 workers being freed from "Job Lock."

I personally don’t want to be liberated from "Job Lock." I’ve gotten used to being able to buy groceries and pay the power bill. Also, I like to work, as weird as that sounds in today’s economic climate. My favorite work is the kind that makes you sweat profusely, eat heartily and sleep soundly.

This May, I hope my fellow Alabamians stay "Job Locked" as we all try to pay our bills, for groceries, kids and ever increasing taxes.

Air Pressure Points

Now that warm weather is here, don’t forget to check the air pressure in your tires. According to Firestone, a tire will typically lose one or two pounds of air per month during cold weather. In warmer weather, tires lose even more air. This lost air results in more money being spent on fuel. It’s like pushing a wheelbarrow with a slack tire versus a full, tight tire.

The only time I would suggest lowering air pressure is to get more traction coming out of mud or snow. Be sure, however, to re-inflate the tires once you are out of a fix. Firestone suggests checking your air pressure every time you fill up, and remember to check the spare tire. You can find the recommended air pressure psi amounts on the side of the tire and on the tire placard attached to the vehicle door edge.

Time for Tires?

For years, the test for knowing when to replace your truck or car tires involved using a penny. You hold the penny heads-up, upside-down and stick it into the deepest part of the tire tread. If the tread comes up to the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, it means the tire still has 2/32" of useable tread, which is the legal minimum in most states.

Fortunately, there’s an easier test today on most tires. Most new tires have tread wear indicators. We also know them as wear bars. These wear bars are between 1/32 and 2/32 of an inch in height and are located in the deepest part of the tread. When the tread is worn down even with the wear bars, it’s time to buy new tires.

White Vinegar

White distilled vinegar has hundreds of uses. Here are a few. If you add a couple of tablespoons of white distilled vinegar to your boiling water, it will prevent cracked eggs. White vinegar can also be run through your coffee maker to remove mineral deposits and remove stains from coffee cups and pots.

White distilled vinegar can also be used to polish vehicle chrome and clean the film from the insides of the windows. Finally, white distilled vinegar is a natural germ killer and can be used to clean stove and countertops. You can also wash your fresh vegetables with a mixture of one tablespoon white vinegar and a quart of water.

May Maintenance

This is the time of year when you want to make sure all your tractors and equipment have been serviced properly. If you have a grease fitting that won’t take grease, chances are, that’s the fitting that needs it the most. With a small wrench, you can remove the entire fitting and replace it with a new one.

Make sure you have a free flow of air on your tractor. Clean out the radiator protector screen and replace any air filters if they are clogged. The quickest way to ruin a diesel engine is overheating due to constricted air flow. Also, make sure the fuel filter has been replaced.

While you’re at it, use this time to service your garden tiller and lawn mower for the season. Clean air filters, change oil and oil filters, grease fittings, and remove any debris that may have wrapped around lawn mower blades or tiller tines.

Well, this May I’ve given a lot of reminders about jobs that need to be completed around the farm. I hope I haven’t made you feel "Job Locked" this May. All I can say is just keep working, stay "Job Locked" and keep voting.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Peanut People

Projection Down

After reaching record annual levels, net farm income expected to drop.

by Jim Erickson

Net farm income reached a record level in 2013 in nominal dollars and was at the highest level since the 1970s in inflation-corrected real dollars. However, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute anticipates a sharp downturn in farm income this year, a decline expected to continue over the next number of years.

And while the overall outlook for the farm economy isn’t rosy, there are some bright spots, according to the University of Missouri-based organization. FAPRI provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress with analyses of the agriculture industry’s health, factors affecting it and the impact of policy changes.

At a recent workshop, FAPRI experts reported on their industry projections for the coming years, an outlook incorporating key provisions of the Agricultural Act of 2014, aka the new Farm Bill. In a number of situations, their analysis includes important assumptions about how the new farm legislation will be implemented and how farmers and ranchers will respond to the various options the measure offers.

The FAPRI figures reviewed at the workshop represent the average of some 500 alternative outcomes based on different assumptions about the weather, energy prices and other factors. As a result, some of those 500 results include prices, quantities and values much higher or lower than the reported averages.

With those qualifiers in mind, here’s a review of FAPRI’s key projections:

Net farm income in 2014 is expected to drop by more than $30 billion, or 24 percent, from the 2013 record of $130.5 billion as sharply lower crop prices and reduced government payments more than offset the impact of strong cattle and milk prices, and a slight reduction in production costs. Larger global crop harvests in 2013 have contributed to the changes in the agricultural marketplace and projected farm income should continue to decline through 2018, but remain above 2006-2011 levels due in part to moderating production expenses.

Prices for most crops are likely to remain below recent peaks. Assuming average market conditions, projected corn prices over the next 10 years should be about $4/bushel while soybeans will be in the $10/bushel range.

If growing conditions improve, more acres of upland cotton may be planted and fewer abandoned in 2014-15. A major question mark is China, where policy choices have led to a large increase in cotton stocks, now greater than annual production or use of cotton there. Policy changes in China could have large impacts on world cotton trade and prices.

Projected acreage of corn plantings should decline about 4 million acres in 2014. However, the area devoted to soybeans and several other crops is likely to increase. Lower prices will discourage production on marginal land, but more normal weather conditions this spring may allow some land not planted last year to return to crop production.

The rate of increase in farm production expenses slowed in 2013 and declines are projected for 2014 and 2015. Feed costs, which more than doubled between 2005 and 2012, are expected to drop $13 billion between 2013 and 2015. Similarly, fertilizer and chemical costs that nearly doubled from 2005 to 2012 are likely to decline $13 billion between 2013 and 2015.

Projected growth in ethanol production over the next several years is limited, based on the assumption the Environmental Protection Agency proposal to modify the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard will be adopted and that a similar approach will be used to set biofuel use mandates in subsequent years.

Caused in part by multiple years of drought, reduced cattle numbers will limit beef production in 2014 and lead to record cattle prices. Cattle prices and returns to cow-calf operators are likely to remain high until herds have a chance to rebuild.

Total U.S. beef, pork, chicken and turkey production will increase at a rate slower than the nation’s population growth in 2014. As all livestock sectors adjust to reduced input costs that now have been in effect for a few months, production growth will resume in 2015, but it will be several years before the 2008 level of meat output per person is again achieved.

Lower projected feed costs will help improve livestock production profitability. One uncertainty, however, is the effect of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus on the pork sector.

Provisions in the new farm bill include programs paying farmers only when crop prices or per-acre revenues are below trigger levels. Accordingly, the legislation could mean no payments to producers in some years and large payments in other years.

On average, the projected cost of majority commodity programs under the 2014 Farm Bill is about $5 billion per year. Crop insurance costs average just over $8 billion annually.

Saturday Night in Georgia

by Jimmy Jones

At a rodeo in Georgia one Saturday night,
I had myself a pretty good fright.

The draw was posted and I wanted to see
Which of these buckers was selected for me.

When seeing the horse, I can tell you quick,
The one that I drew was not the best pick.

Black Widow’s the name of the big black mare,
She was mean, you could tell, just look at her stare.

She was tall and long, and raw bone to boot,
With a terrible reputation for fighting the chute.

I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good hand,
But of getting on this bronc I am not a great fan.

She ducks and dives and is awfully stout,
Most rides she finishes a rider without!

The horses are loaded, they are ready to start,
I’m preparing my gear to do my part.

I eased up to chute number three,
Where the Black Widow was waiting for me.

Onto the chute, my rigging in hand,
Hoping the Widow was willing to stand.

To think she’d cooperate, I had lost my mind,
No way was this outlaw gonna be kind.

On to her back, I dropped to my knees,
Every move slow, trying to ease.

I was dropping my feet down on her side,
When her head and mine happened to collide.

It was a tossup on whose head was the hardest,
And also some question about who was the smartest?

A knot on my head had started to grow,
And a headache developed because of the blow.

But a cowboy is what I came here to be,
Not gonna turn out just because I can’t see

Everything around me was starting to spin,
But I came here to ride, I came here to win.

We started to pull my rigging up tight,
Her response to that was another fight.

Of fighting the chute, she was an expert,
Hoping that maybe I would get hurt.

She was bucking and kicking and pawing
the ground,
Rearing and lunging, knocking me around.

Then she sulled and squalled and leaned
on my leg,
"Help me square her up," I was having to beg.

We were pulling the rigging, trying to get it tight,
But progress was slow because of the fight.

Finally the rigging felt pretty snug,
But I told my friend, "Give it one more tug!"

My hand in the handle, locking the bind,
Looking out of the chute, the judges to find.

Sliding up on the rigging and bending my knee,
Every eye at the rodeo was trained on me.

I was taking a chance, but didn’t want to wait,
I nodded my head, they opened the gate.

She exploded and left the chute with a rear,
But the mark out was good, my feet were there!

She was jerking me hard to the end of my arm,
Causing my body considerable harm.

Because she was ducking from side to side,
It was making her extremely hard to ride.

Bucking hard and circling left,
I imagine she was pretty proud of herself.

What happened next was my greatest fear,
A miscalculation of my riding gear.

At the fence, she did an about face,
Causing my rigging to be displaced.

Not having the rigging in the middle of her back
Caused me to be the point of her attack.

Now I was placed down under the mare,
Of grave danger I was well aware.

After taking a kick to the side of my head,
I was very lucky I was not dead.

Receiving this blow, I was out like a light.
It was turning into an interesting night.

Because after this I was out cold,
What happened next I had to be told.

The Widow was kicking me with every stride,
Underneath her there was no place to hide.

When the wreck was over and finally through,
My wife was the first person who came into view.

I could tell by the concerned look in her eye,
She didn’t like what she saw, but I didn’t know why.

I was laying there on the arena ground,
A place not hurting could not be found.

The rescue squad finally arrived.
Telling me I was lucky to have survived.

Off to the hospital, they thought it was a race,
Just to get two dozen stitches put in my face.

Those who know me, and there are a few,
Will remember the scars when they come into view.

To a restaurant we went, there we got thrilled,
Listening to a fan tell how I got killed.

For those of you reading this, if you only knew,
This is not fiction, it is actually true.

Jimmy Jones raises Longhorns near Greenville. He had the world record steer at one time.

Shaver Post Drivers

by John Sims

Shaver is a leading manufacturer of professional grade post drivers. Shaver’s post drivers are engineered for the most demanding jobs, from tough soil conditions to tricky side hills and have the ability to drive a wide variety of post types. Shaver gives you a choice of drivers to fit your operation. Choose between skid steer-mounted drivers, trailer-mounted drivers or tractor-mounted drivers.

On tractor-mounted drivers, you have a choice between front- and rear-mounted models. You can choose from three driver models based on the power you need and the types of posts you plan to install. The HD-8 model has 30,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a10-foot post up to 7 1/8 inches in diameter. The HD-10 model has 71,500-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 8 ¾ inches in diameter. The HD-12 model has 100,000-pound impact at full stroke and can handle a 10-foot post up to 10 7/8 inches in diameter (even railroad ties). These drivers can be adjusted for any angle you need to drive posts on slopes. You can choose between hydraulic- or manual-angle adjustments.

Regardless of which model you choose, you can be assured you’ll get the quality that professionals have come to rely on from a Shaver post driver. These products provide you with the power, simplicity and speed needed to make fence building easy.

Contact your local Quality Co-op store for pricing and delivery of your new Shaver post driver. While you are there, pick up all of your posts, wire and fencing supplies.

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact me

John Sims is an AFC products specialist.

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "I tell you one thang, that boy Jimmy finding that little foo foo lap dawg and brangin’ it back to ol’ lady Simpson sure got him a feather in his cap, plus a bit o’ spendin’ money to boot!"

Why did the young man get a feather in his cap for doing a good deed? Figuratively getting a feather in one’s cap is a symbol of honor and achievement.

The placing of a feather in a hat has been a symbol of achievement that has arisen in several cultures, apparently independently. The English writer and traveler Richard Hansard recorded it in his "Description of Hungary," 1599:

"It hath been an antient custom among them [Hungarians] that none should wear a fether but he who had killed a Turk, to whom onlie yt was lawful to shew the number of his slaine enemys by the number of fethers in his cappe."

The Native American tradition of adding a feather to the headdress of any warrior who performed a brave act is well known.

The figurative use of the phrase "a feather in his hat" was in use in the United Kingdom by the 18th century; for example, in a letter from the Duchess of Portland to a Miss Collingwood in 1734:

"My Lord ... esteems it a feather in his hat, that ..."

The children’s rhyme Yankee Doodle is the best known use of the phrase.

"Yankee Doodle went to town,

"Riding on a pony;

"He stuck a feather in his cap,

"And called it macaroni."

There are many versions of the lyric. It has been suggested that this version originated with the British forces in the American War of Independence, in an attempt to mock the revolutionary militia. "Doodle" was 18th century British slang for simpleton (aka noodle) and "macaroni" was slang for a dandy or fop. The latter originated with the Macaroni Club, a group of London aesthetes who were anxious to establish their sophistication by demonstrating a preference for foreign cuisine. The thinking behind the theory is that the Yankees were so stupid as to believe that putting a feather in one’s cap would make them appear fashionable.

Summer’s Bounty

Growing and preserving food from the garden is no longer just for your grandmother.

by Angela Treadaway

Growing up with both sets of grandparents was a real blessing. I learned to can tomatoes, green beans, turnip greens, whole kernel corn, sauerkraut, potatoes, etc. from both grandmothers. I was very fortunate to spend a great deal of time with my grandparents as a child. In the early spring and summer months, I remember them working hours in the garden as well as in the kitchen preparing and preserving foods from the garden that were awesome. I was always right in the middle helping.

During the winter months, it was very rewarding to go to the pantry where rows of canned vegetables were stored and be able to pick out something for Mama Jewell or Mama Gravitt to cook for lunch or dinner. I think this is a big part of the reason why I became an Extension agent. I loved the farm and the many things I did with my grandparents and mother like canning, sewing, gardening, etc. I have worked for 28 years with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and have loved every minute of it. However, I think I have enjoyed the last 4-6 years the most because of the growing numbers of families who are getting into gardening and preserving their own foods at home. It really brings back memories. I can see the excitement when the children, in these families or in a 4-H club meeting where I am teaching, begin preparing the vegetables or fruits and then actually fill a jar to be put into the canner. They have told me before that it makes them feel so good because they are doing something they or their family could either eat later or give away as a gift. They especially enjoy the jam and jelly class when it comes time to sample some on biscuits or crackers when we finish class.

I think what many young families are wanting is to get back to the basics of growing and preparing their own food because they know where and how it was raised. The United States has the safest food supply in the world but there have been recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks over the last several years with produce that has raised more awareness and has more people concerned. Many families are learning how to raise their own vegetables in raised beds or container gardens, buying from local farmers, or even buying into a Community Supported Agriculture or COOP.

Last year, our Food Safety, Preservation and Preparation Team, which is made up of nine regional Extension agents throughout the state, taught a total of 120 classes in food preservation. Through the regional agents, classes were taught in 51 of the 67 counties throughout Alabama. A total of 2,434 individuals participated in various food preservation classes.

In my region (Blount, Cullman, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties), I taught around 16 classes. Of the 16 classes, 12 of them were hands on where we prepared jams, jellies, vegetables, meats, etc. I taught classes in local churches with groups who were interested and they opened the classes to the community. I even did some classes at the local library.

Many of the participants said, because they enjoyed the classes and working together so much, that we should think about developing canning clubs. That way they could work together and get so much more done if they had a central location and big kitchen to work in. In some states, like California, Idaho, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and I am sure many more, they are doing this kind of thing such as canning clubs or homesteading meet ups to get back to the basics.

This year, I plan on doing as many classes as last year, or more if there is an interest. If you are interested in attending a Food Preservation Class in your county or in attending one of mine, contact your local county Extension office or you can go to our Alabama Cooperative Extension state webpage at and look under the Family Programs tab at the top or County Office tab and search for the county to see what programs are being offered.

You can email me, too, at if you have questions for me or want to attend one of my programs.

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.

Tapping into PALS

Hayden Elementary pledges to work for a better environment.

by Mary Mitchell Stanford

Hayden Elementary School in Blount County expressed an interest in incorporating education and awareness about litter into their regular classroom program, but there is a lack of available resources to tap into. That is where Alabama People Against A Littered State came into the picture. Principal Shelley Vail-Smith requested that Hayden Elementary School would like to partner with Alabama PALS.

PALS Clean Campus Program promotes a cleaner and healthier environment for all Alabama schools. It presents an opportunity for students and faculty members to be part of having their school recognized for their efforts. The third and fourth grades learned about littering, recycling, their carbon footprint, and keeping their school and community more sustainable for future generations. Students were shown how littering affects creatures in their environment. They learned how litter finds its way into lakes, streams, oceans and groundwater. Creatures ingest the litter and this causes injury or death to thousands of animals. Students received a wrist band while pledging to take care of their environment.

MYTH: None of my friends litter.

FACT: Half of litter is deliberate and half is caused by materials being "accidentally" lost from vehicles.

Alabama PALS is looking forward to their annual Poster and Essay Contest. The first place winner receives $250 and is invited to the Governor’s Annual Awards Luncheon. If you are interested in partnering with PALS and having an educational program at your school, please contact me at

Mary Mitchell Stanford is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

The Co-op Pantry

Recently, I ran into some orange rolls and other foods that were absolutely delicious and being sold for a wonderful cause. I found out the cook’s name was Loretta Gilstrap and I begged and pleaded with her to let me feature her story and her wonderful recipes in one of the Co-op Pantry columns.

Loretta tells us, "I was born the third in a long line of eight children (one sister died very young), in Pineview Hospital in Hartselle. We moved around quite a bit growing up, but I have lived in the Hartselle/Falkville area the last 25 years."

Loretta related that she grew up knowing that food was an integral part of how her family dealt with life. When someone died, was sick or gave birth, you took food. If they came to visit, you asked if they were hungry. If you had a family reunion, you ate! Everything it seemed required a large meal.

Loretta stated, "Sometimes on Sundays, we would count 30 or more people at the meals. I grew up in some rough houses – some without electricity, so I grew up knowing how to cook on a wood stove and over an open fire. I watched my mother bake biscuits in an old lard can, tipped on its side, with a homemade rack inside to hold the pan level.

"My Dad was the first ‘MacGyver’ I ever met. It is true that necessity is the mother of all inventions. My father was self-employed after being hurt in an accident, so things were sometimes very lean. It did not matter. We never went hungry, or did without the necessities!

"I feel very blessed from having grown up that way! I learned to appreciate what I was given and never take anything for granted – to take what you had and stretch it to make it last."

"I learned to cook watching my mother, my grandmother and lots of family. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are being so excited on the bus, since I knew my mom would be in the kitchen cooking something good! I remember so many days of getting off the bus and running in the house to find her cooking homemade donuts, fried pies, cakes, cookies or muffins! I also took Home Economics classes with Mrs. Morris at Falkville High School and learned so much about cooking and sewing! Some of my cooking was learned the old-fashioned way – practice, practice, practice!"

"I am the mother of two wonderful sons, Aaron and Colton, and have a daughter named Dallas, who ‘adopted’ me. (I was a band booster with the high school my sons attended and Dallas was a member of the marching band also. She started calling me her second mom after we became friends. Her dad and I were friends for 6 years before falling in love and marrying.)

"I married Patrick after being a single mom for 10 years. I became a grandmother and mother-in-law by default on my wedding day! I am so very proud of my blended family! God really knows what He is doing, no matter that we tend to think we are in charge.

"I work as a housekeeper, cleaning about 10 houses a week. I work part time as an assistant to a district manager for Avon. Both my jobs were chosen since they allowed me to have a flexible schedule, suiting my needs with my kids. I am anxiously awaiting the graduation of my youngest son, and thrilled to be looking into getting him ready for college next fall."

This is the point at which Loretta and I crossed paths over the orange rolls, since she is currently "Baking her way to Honduras." Through her friend Alyson, Loretta heard about a mission called Heart of Christ, Honduras, a mission working to rescue women and children from violence in Honduras. They work with authorities to assist them in rescue, care and prosecution of child abuse, family and domestic violence, rape, kidnapping, child prostitution, sex trafficking and more. They have a temporary refuge for victims, and a children’s home for girls, pregnant by incest and rape, and also a home for disabled children. They have food and school programs, a program to assist families with disabled children and provide Christmas presents to almost 4,000 children. Loretta can especially relate to this wonderful cause, and these girls, since she was very nearly the victim of molestation as young girl. She was fortunate that she was able to escape and says that God protected her and family members believed her. It was a long road to recovery, but she made it.

Loretta wanted to help.

"I volunteered to send some little yarn octopi that I have been making since I was a teenager. With the help of my friends, Michelle, Jena and Roxie, we sent over 160 octopi to Honduras."

Loretta (and her husband) has been asked to come this July and teach crafts and sewing to the girls there so they can earn a little money for themselves.

"I have always baked and cooked and given food away. Recently, one of the women I always bake for begged me to accept money since she felt guilty for never even getting to pay for the ingredients. So, I let her pay me what she felt was fair. Immediately, the idea popped in my head that maybe this would be a way to pay for our expenses for the trip. Two weeks into it – still going strong! Lots of baking to do!

"They say charity begins at home, and I do agree. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is just a simple ear to listen, a smile, a hug or even sharing a tear. I pray daily that God allows me to be a blessing to someone. He sure has blessed me."

Loretta, thanks for sharing your courageous story and recipes, and most especially for speaking out on the behalf of children who suffer through no fault of their own. If you would like to learn more about the mission, here is their website:

(Ruth Williams)

3 crushed bananas (fairly ripe ones work best)
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup nuts
1¾ cups flour

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.


1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
4 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 (10-ounce) box of frozen broccoli, thawed.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased casserole dish and cook at 400° for 30 minutes.


5 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
½ pound mushrooms, chopped
2-3 (24-ounce) cans pasta sauce
1 (1-pound) box lasagna noodles
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
2 eggs
2-4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2-4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) container grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Brown ground beef and drain well. Mix in pasta sauce and let simmer. Sauté onions and mushrooms. Add to beef mixture. Cook lasagna noodles as directed on the package - cool just enough to handle. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and sour cream. Mix in eggs and stir well.

Spray a large pan with cooking spray. Place a layer of one third of the beef mixture in the bottom. Top with a layer of cooked noodles. Spread half the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Sprinkle about a third of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with the last of the beef mixture.

Cover with foil and place in oven and cook for 1 hour or until all the cheeses are melted throughout. Top with the last of the shredded and grated cheeses. Place under broiler just long enough to melt and brown top.


4-5 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
½ stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken soup)
2 cups sour cream
Unseasoned bread crumbs, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased, 9”x13” baking dish. You may top with the bread crumbs if you wish. Bake at 350° for 1½ hours or until potatoes are tender.

Note: This is a recipe I made by combining two recipes from “The Authorized Texas Ranger Cookbook.”

(Ruth Williams)

¼ cup butter
¼ cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup coconut

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix for one minute. Pour into greased 10-inch pie plate and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.


½ cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
½ cup peanut butter
3 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cocoa and sugar in a bowl until well blended. In a large sauce pan, mix milk, butter and cocoa sugar mixture. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until it is melted. Add oats and vanilla. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper. Cool and enjoy.


2 cups shortbread cookies, crushed
1¼ cups powdered sugar, shifted
1 cup nuts, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon instant coffee crystals or instant espresso powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-5 Tablespoons brewed espresso, strong coffee or water
½ cup powdered sugar (for rolling)

In a large mixing bowl, combine cookies, powdered sugar, nuts, cocoa powder, coffee crystals and cinnamon. Add brewed espresso, coffee or water, just enough to moisten.

Form into 1¼-inch balls. Roll generously in powdered sugar. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and let stand until dry (about 1 hour). Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Before serving, roll again in powdered sugar if desired. Makes about 30 cookies.

Note: This recipe came from the “Simply Homemade” cookbook. My family just loves them.


1 cup butter, or margarine, softened
2 2/3 cups sugar (set aside 2/3 for glazing)
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup lemon juice (for glazing)
Lemon slices, for garnish.

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl and gradually add in 2 cups of sugar; beating well. Add eggs; beating well. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Begin and end with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into a well-greased pan (suggested: 10-cup Bundt pan). Bake at 325° for 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto the wise rack and cool completely. Transfer cooled cake to a plate. Prick the cake several times with a wooden skewer. Combine the remaining sugar and lemon juice. Pour over the cake. Garnish with lemon slices.

Note: This recipe is from “The Southern Heritage Collection.”


1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup quick oats
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup pecans

In a food processor, place coconut, dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots and pecans. Chop all for just a minute or two until all the pieces are small and uniform.

In a large bowl, mix all other ingredients. Add fruit and nuts mixture. Drop by teaspoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool for just a few minutes on the pan before transferring to wire racks. The cookies will be soft until they cool.


2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yoke
1 (11.55-ounce) package chocolate chunks, semi-sweet*
1 cup walnut halves, toasted*

Combine the first three ingredients and stir well. Combine butter and coffee granules in a small sauce pan or skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until butter melts and coffee granules dissolve, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Don’t let the butter re-solidify. Mix dry mixture, butter mixture and remaining ingredients. Drop by heaping tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12-14 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: In a pinch you can substitute chocolate chips and pecans. I found this recipe in Southern Living.

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

I am looking for cooks of all ages, cooking traditions and skill levels to feature in this column. I want to hear from those in Alabama as well as our out-of-state readers. The simple requirements for being a featured cook are to love to cook (and eat) and to share your story with us. Get those recipes coming! Any featured cooks during 2014 will receive a free copy of our new cookbook when it is published.

The FFA Sentinel: The Future of Alabama Agriculture Begins Here …

William Norris, State FFA President, repots some of his 250 Japanese maples that he raises for one of his SAE projects.

by William Norris

In the agriculture industry, the future of the American farmer is a common discussion. With 50 percent of farmers 55 years of age or older and the current age of the American farmer averaging slightly under 56, we must take a hard look at how to encourage young people to choose agriculture as a career. This hard but apparent fact has become one of the main goals of the National FFA Organization and the Alabama FFA Association.

With the National FFA Organization being the largest youth-led organization in the United States and boasting a membership of over half a million members nationally, we find ourselves in a unique position to influence young people to choose agriculture as their career. Our organization promotes this concept in a variety of ways, but one method in particular stands out among the rest. This concept is rooted in project-based learning, also known as hands-on learning. This sentiment is echoed through the National FFA Organizations Motto: "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve." An FFA member’s Supervised Agricultural Experience creates a vast array of opportunities for that member to gain experience in the agriculture industry. An SAE is anything that an FFA member does in the agriculture industry outside of class time. This allows students to take the knowledge they have acquired through their high school agriculture classes and FFA experiences and apply that knowledge to a real world environment. With employers searching for individuals who have the combination of soft skills (e.g. leadership and communication) and a strong work ethic, FFA and SAE are two keys providing the perfect combination our country’s employers need to be able to fill a variety of positions.

Shelby Windham, State FFA Treasurer, receives Grand Champion at the Alabama National Fair Show.

Just as the agricultural industry has a broad range of interests, FFA members have an equally broad range of options for SAE projects. They can span from a more traditional project such as Beef Production or Poultry Production, or to a more unusual project such as Honey Bee Production or Agricultural Communications. The current Alabama FFA State Officer Team has an excellent set of SAEs. As examples, Alyssa Hutcheson, State Sentinel from the Red Bay Chapter, raises daylilies. She cross pollinates them to gain different colors and variations. Kelsey Faulkner, State Reporter from the Ardmore Chapter, has a cow-calf operation with approximately 25 head. She also shows cattle in Tennessee. Shelby Windham, State Treasurer from the Ariton Chapter, has a cattle operation of approximately 150 head of Charolais cattle. Shelby has sold cattle to producers in Alabama as well as other states and has shown cattle since she was 9 years old. Hayden Whittle, State Secretary from the Geneva Chapter, helped his FFA Chapter acquire grants to build a new greenhouse at their local school. This greenhouse is currently full of plants that will be sold later this spring as a fundraiser. Bailey Sims, State Vice-President from the Marbury FFA Chapter, works with her grandfather in his USDA Organic Certified greenhouse and vegetable garden where she sells vegetables to their community. She also owns and raises horses. I own a Japanese maple nursery where I raise approximately 250 maples that I sell to people across Central Alabama. This list of FFA members with active SAE projects expands statewide and varies by county and commodity.

Zachary Tidwell, Winston County FFA member, receives a state FFA banner in the Forest Management and Products Proficiency award. Pictured with Zachary is his FFA advisor Byron Tuggle.

Young people with Supervised Agricultural Experience programs such as the ones mentioned are spread throughout the entire state. These amazing projects will allow FFA members to learn about agriculture and gain experience in the industry. Considering the extensive hard work that goes into an SAE project, students have the opportunity to compete in numerous areas through FFA. Each award is based on the quality of the member’s SAE. These awards are referred to as Proficiency Awards. Webster defines proficient as "well advanced in an art or occupation, adept." Students who pursue Proficiency Awards are just that well advanced and adept, oftentimes having devoted many years to their SAE.

In the early spring of each year, FFA members from all across Alabama will vie for honors in the 49 categories of the National FFA Organization’s Proficiency Award program. The Proficiency Award program is an application process that evaluates an FFA member’s Supervised Agricultural Experience.

Kaitlin Green, Lawrence County FFA member, receives a state FFA banner in the Agricultural Communications Proficiency Award. Pictured with Kaitlin is her FFA Advisor Robby Vinzant.

In February’s FFA Sentinel article, we discussed the National FFA Convention. In that article, we took a look at the National Delegate process that takes place at the convention. One committee that convened at the national convention was the SAE Enhancement Committee. I had the opportunity to serve as a leadership delegate in this committee, which opened my eyes even further to the amazing opportunities of SAEs and Proficiency Awards. Following our work with this committee, the Alabama FFA State Officer Team started a campaign to increase SAE projects and Proficiency Awards in Alabama FFA.

We began by educating ourselves on proficiency applications and their execution. I visited two nationally ranked FFA chapters in Georgia – Colquitt County FFA and Lowndes County FFA – to discuss proficiencies and the process of achieving success on the national level. These two chapters have experienced a plethora of nationally ranked awards. We gained an extensive amount of knowledge about Proficiency Awards from these two chapters. Upon our arrival back in Alabama, we began to spread the knowledge collected in Georgia to Alabama teachers. We sent out emails, trained district officers, visited teachers and students, and worked with State Department of Education staff to make this campaign work more effectively. We will also hold a Proficiency Application Workshop this summer for Alabama agriscience educators.

Our State Officer Team’s hard work has paid off. In 2013, 25 FFA chapters submitted approximately 137 proficiency applications. This year, 35 chapters submitted over 200 applications that will be judged on the state level. Out of the 49 Proficiency Award categories offered on the national level, Alabama FFA had applicants in 47 of those categories. This increase in participation was one of our team’s major goals. With a successful and award-winning SAE, a member of the FFA is much more likely to choose agriculture as their career.

On behalf of the Alabama FFA Association and Alabama FFA State Officer Team, we would like to thank all of our supporters and sponsors of this wonderful organization. Your dedication and support to the FFA has not only changed my life, but the lives of thousands of young people all across Alabama and across the nation.

William Norris is the Alabama State FFA President 2013-2014. He is from the Wetumpka FFA Chapter.

The Fishin’ Hole

Coach Barron with a flounder he caught in Lake Powell.

by Christy Kirk

I am a huge fan of Andy Griffith, even in black and white. Because I love mysteries, "Matlock" is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but "The Andy Griffith Show" resonates with so many people of all ages and backgrounds. There is no doubt the classic episodes with their themes of responsibility for and connecting with family, neighbors and community are still extremely relevant and important today.

One night last month I was sitting on the couch with Cason a little past his bedtime. I was reading a book to him at 9 o’clock when the news usually comes on one of our local channels. There had been some sort of disruption with their scheduling or broadcasting, so instead of the news "The Andy Griffith Show" would be airing.

As soon as the show’s theme "The Fishin’ Hole" started, Cason perked up. The lively whistle was like a call directly to him. Cason saw Opie and his daddy with their fishing poles headed to the pond to fish. He sat up straight and tall like when a country dog spots a squirrel. His eyes were glued to the screen.

"They are going fishing, Mama?!"

"Yes, baby," I said. "That’s Opie and his daddy Andy, and they are headed to the fishing pond."

"I want to watch this show. Can we watch the fishing show, Mama?"

"Yes, but they may not actually go fishing in this episode."

"Why would they not go fishing?"

I watched my 4-year-old deflate somewhat at the idea that Opie and his daddy might not go to the pond together in this episode. At that moment, I realized the power of fishing. The power of fishing is feeding your family, bonding with others or just focusing on an objective. Whether you are alone or in a crowd, fishing can be meditative or it can be competitive. Spending time with your line in the water can create new memories or bring back old ones.

For Jason, fishing is both relaxing and purposeful. An old friend of Jason’s Coach David Barron lives near my parents’ house in Panama City Beach. Barron was one of Jason’s baseball coaches in high school and usually, when they get together, they go fishing. On our last trip to Florida, they went floundering in Lake Powell one night.

To go floundering, you need a flat-bottom boat because you have to get around the shallow edges of the water. This is where flounder feed at night. They are flat like pancakes and can be hard to spot because of their ability to camouflage. As they settle on the bottom, the sand covers them and they blend in easily. You have to look for their shape or their eyes peeping from the bottom. Usually it is too dark to spot a flounder without a significant light source.

Even with the help of stars or a full moon, lights are typically necessary. Underwater lights can be on the boat itself or you can mount lights to the boat above the water. The lights need to be powered by a generator and the brighter they are, the better. Because floundering is actually done by gigging, you will not want to rely on a handheld light.

To spot flounder, look for tracks in the sand. If you see four or five tracks in an area, flounder are probably feeding there. Once you spot a flounder, quickly try to determine its size. Being able to see what you are gigging is especially important because of size limits for flounder. The legal size limit is 12 inches. If you can’t see what you are aiming for, you may not be legal.

For floundering, you use a 4-pronged fish gig. To get the most meat from the fish, gig it just behind the eyes in the gill plate. If your fish is between 12 and 15 inches, you can leave the bones in for cooking. Just scrape the scales by hand or use a higher pressure hose to remove them. Use larger fish, bigger than 15 or 16 inches, for fillets.

A smaller flounder is good for stuffing. For smaller fish, leave the bone in and put the stuffing beneath the thicker top layer of fish. For larger fish, use a fillet and fold the fish over like in the included recipe.

During this visit to Lake Powell, Jason only brought home two flounder.

When I seemed surprised that he only had two, he said, "It was dark water. And, that’s why it’s called fishing. You never know."

Back home from the beach, Cason and Rolley Len’s Pop-pop got them a new fishing rod. The next day they spotted our neighbor Emma fishing at the pond and within seconds the kids ran to get their own rods. Pop-pop got to help them bait their hooks with what Cason called "toy worms," and they got to practice their casting. As I watched my children at their own fishin’ hole, I wondered if they would get lucky and bring home our next meal. It’s fishing, so you never know.

Easy Flounder Fillet

1 egg

1½ pounds flounder fillets

Salt and pepper, to taste

¾ cup fine bread crumbs

Slightly beat the egg in a dish or bowl and dilute with water. Wipe fillets with a cold damp cloth. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Dip fillets in bread crumbs, and then dip in the egg mixture, and again in the crumbs. Cook fillets in a small amount of cooking oil in a skillet for 8-10 minutes or until browned on both sides. Serve with lemon, tartar sauce or ketchup.

Stuffed Flounder Fillet

2 pounds boiled spinach (boil in a pot just until tender, drain, then chop)

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ cup cooking wine (white), divided

¼ cup bread crumbs

2 pounds flounder fillets

½ cup onion, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered

2 Tablespoons flour

¼ cup whipping cream

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Grease a baking pan. Preheat oven to 500°.

Add salt, pepper, 1/3 cup cooking wine and bread crumbs to the spinach. Put a scoop of this mixture on one end of each fillet and fold the other end over it. Place the fillets in the prepared dish. Spread onions in dish and pour in remaining wine. Place mushrooms and tomatoes over the top of the fish.

Cover with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes. Remove fillets from the dish. Add flour to the remaining sauce in baking pan and stir to thicken. Add cool water if needed. Simmer on stovetop for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly (pour gravy into a saucepan on stovetop if needed). Remove from heat. Add whipping cream and lemon juice. Pour over fillets. Brown the fish in the broiler.

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

Vegetation, the Original Solar Panel

by Robert Spencer

So many times people become enamored with the latest technological advances such as solar panels, which do an amazing job of converting sunlight into electrical energy. However, people tend to forget about the amazing conversion capabilities of plants, a longtime wonder that also coverts sunlight into energy which results in food sources. We all know mankind started out as a hunter-gatherer society, whereby they relied on gathering their food from whatever grew wild and was edible. Eventually humans progressed into the agriculture era whereby they began producing and harvesting vegetation for their own consumption, and became efficient managers of forages to meet the nutrient needs of livestock. As time went on, scientifically minded people became aware of a process involving sunlight, water, gasses (oxygen & carbon dioxide), nutrients (minerals) and vegetation (plants); and gave it a name - photosynthesis. tells how solar panels work:

"Most solar panels are constructed by combining modules of solar cells. Sunlight is converted into electricity through a type of solar cell called a photovoltaic, or PV cell. Most PV cells are functional because they use semiconductors made of a silicon material. Silicon is the most frequently used material for these semiconductors because it forms a relatively weak bond with the electrons, thus the electrical energy is easily transferred through the material.

"When these solar cells are exposed to sunlight, the silicon semiconductor absorbs the light’s photons. These absorbed photons transfer energy into the silicon semiconductor and knock electrons loose so that they are floating freely in the cell. Metal contacts are placed on the bottom and the top of the PV cells in order to create a current for these loose electrons to flow in. This entire process of absorbing energy from the light and moving loose electrons in an organized current creates solar energy."

Wikipedia tells us how photosynthesis works:

"Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light into energy, normally from the sun, into chemical energy that can be later released to fuel the organisms’ activities. This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules such as sugars, which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water …. Photosynthesis maintains atmospheric oxygen levels and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.

"Although photosynthesis is performed differently by different species, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins called reaction centers that contain green chlorophyll pigments. In plants, these proteins are held inside organelles called chloroplasts, which are most abundant in leaf cells. In these light-dependent reactions, some energy is used to strip electrons from suitable substances such as water, producing oxygen gas."

Here in the Southeast United States, we generally receive an annual average of 54.33 inches of rainfall, 100 days of sunny weather, 101 days of partly sunny weather and a total of 210 days with some amount of sun. These moderate climatic and environmental conditions make this a suitable region for year-round forage production that generally meets most needs of grazing animals (goats, sheep, cattle). The process of photosynthesis facilitates production of forages, which enables farmers to efficiently raise livestock, thereby producing a high protein food source for consumers.

It is intriguing to understand that photosynthesis (an energy conversion process) is a way to produce forages for livestock, vegetables and fruits for human consumption, and vegetation for producing biofuels. Without the proper combination of sunlight, water, soil nutrients and photosynthesis, this multifaceted food production system would be impossible. In my mind, that makes farmers long-term managers of solar production; they know how to properly utilize vegetation as the original solar panel. n

Resources: work?ad=semD&an=msn_s&am=broad&o=102382 united-states/usal0826 of-sunshine.php

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

What’s That Got to Do With … The Price of Eggs in China

by Dr. Tony Frazier

The quote may actually be more accurate referring to the price of tea in China rather than eggs, but that doesn’t work well with what I want to write about. I am way too busy to sit and watch 24-hour-a-day news channels on TV, so I am not sure how much, if any, airtime is given to subjects like avian influenza in China and other parts of the world. I do recall, back about 2004 and 2005, the old H5N1 avian influenza (that is kind of like giving a specific flu virus a first and last name) really got a lot of media coverage. Referred to by the media as bird flu, we were told regularly that it would be the apocalypse. I would figure that whole deal increased the number of "doomsday preppers" by quite a few. I suppose that after 5 or 6 more years passed and a third of the world population didn’t die of a flu pandemic brought on by the H5N1 virus, the media decided "bird flu" didn’t deserve so much of their time.

The fact that we are not being bombarded by news about the possibility of an avian influenza virus resulting in a significant decrease of the world’s human population does not mean that we are no longer concerned about what highly pathogenic avian influenza could do to our poultry industry. The battles fought against avian influenza are, without question, better fought on foreign soil. Much of the highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses’ impact has been around the continent of Asia. However, the H7N3 avian influenza virus was found in Mexico in 2012. Outbreaks of that virus continued to devastate the poultry industry there through late 2013 and the rebuilding process will likely take a long time.

While the old H5N1 avian influenza virus continues to smolder across Asia, with heavy concentration in the Vietnam area, there is a new highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that is affecting China and neighboring countries. This is the H7N9 virus. Back in mid-January, South Korea reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic virus, H5N8. (If the virus has a first name of H5 or H7 it is not good news for poultry.) Anyway, I just read that as the virus began to affect South Korea, the country destroyed about 6 percent of the country’s poultry population. In Asia, live bird markets are very common. At a live bird market, you go by on the way home from work, pick out a live bird and take it home or you pick out the live bird and have it prepared at the market and you just take it home, and drop it in the pot. These live bird markets have possibly perpetuated the presence of the influenza viruses in the poultry population.

Migratory birds are the reservoirs for these viruses. In several cases, the outbreaks have been traced back to migratory birds. Many migratory birds cover hundreds or thousands of miles in some cases. The unfortunate thing about that is husbandry practices in many of the affected countries make the separation of domestic poultry from migratory birds impossible.

And speaking of husbandry practices, the way chickens are kept and tended in the very poor areas of these countries contributes to the number of cases of humans who have contracted the disease from the chickens. Often these people keep their chickens in the house with them. When a bird becomes sick, instead of wasting the meat, they will go ahead and slaughter and eat the chicken. That is the public health aspect of these avian influenza viruses. Since 2003, there have been somewhere around 700 cases of the H5N1 virus in humans. Of these cases in humans, about 50 percent have died. The H7N9 virus that was new in China back in March 2013 has infected around 300 humans, with about one third of those who became ill eventually dying.

The Centers for Disease Control tells us that looking back to the flu season of 1976-1977 through flu season 2006-2006, the estimated deaths caused by seasonal influenza have ranged from a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000. The numbers associated with the avian influenza just mentioned seem relatively insignificant when compared to the number of people who die here in the United States each year from the flu. That is true; however, public health folks keep an eye on those viruses and watch for any sign of the virus not only being transmitted chicken to person but for it to gain the ability to become contagious from one person to the other. That could cause a very serious problem.

As I said earlier, we are very interested in these viruses staying outside our borders and being vigorously fought where they are located now. There is a group of poultry researchers who work at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga. This group is led by Dr. David Suarez. (Suarez is a classmate of mine from veterinary school.) This group works to develop and make tools to test for highly pathogenic avian influenza and testing vaccines to assist foreign countries to deal with the outbreaks I have mentioned earlier. It is tremendously important that foreign countries are able to identify and respond to infected animals. USDA also often works closely in "boots on the ground" advisory capacity to foreign countries dealing with highly pathogenic influenza outbreaks. Here in Alabama, as well as across the United States, all meat chicken and turkey flocks are tested for avian influenza before going to slaughter.

It is important that we have a strong surveillance system as well as a response plan in place. We, along with our USDA and poultry industry partners, continually go over what we are doing to protect our borders from these diseases that continue to spread in other countries.

The world is not nearly as big as it was when I was a kid. I used to think the woods near our house went on for miles and miles. In reality, it was only a few hundred yards wide. We live in a world where I can be in China today and back in Montgomery tomorrow. We just need to make sure viruses that could cause us problems do not hitch a ride on somebody coming this way.

Now, to answer the question, "What’s that got to do with the price of eggs in China?" To be honest, I am having a hard time finding the answer to that myself. So if anyone reading this has information on the poultry industry in China (I’m sure somebody sells eggs to McDonalds in Beijing), I would be interested to find out. Give me a call if you happen to know how the ongoing avian influenza outbreak affects egg prices over there.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama.

Wildflowers, Weeds, Herbs and Trees

“What am I?” Last month’s answer was “Salad Burnet.”

by Herb T. Farmer

Looking out my kitchen window this morning, I noticed the spring-green shades that were present on the trees and shrubs last week had turned into fully leaved summer-green wonders. During the six or seven weeks of explosive growth and day-glow colors, everything comes to life and that really gets me going! It rejuvenates my soul when the tiny green buds on the trees tease me each day with just a little more color than the day before.

They start out small and faint and pink then, "BAM!" They are fully blossomed redbud trees.

Wildflowers, native and otherwise, are the same way. I was driving around in southern-middle Tennessee the other day and spotted two different shades of blue on the grassy shoulder of the highway.

Red buckeye is one of the first plants blooming in the spring that welcomes hummingbirds.

One of the blue shades turned out to be henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), an edible green that tastes sort of like spinach. The leaves, stems and flowers are edible and look appetizing as a garnish or part of a salad mix. (Cook’s tip: Never garnish a plate with anything that is inedible. I used to eat kale before it was cool.)

The other shade of blue was grape hyacinth (Muscariarmeniacum), a cobalt-blue cluster of small bell-shaped flowers on single stems about five to six inches tall.

Shades of blue, violet, pale pink and white dangle from trees all over Alabama right now. The wisteria have been blooming for a couple of weeks now (Wisteriafrutescens, Wisteriafloribunda, Wisteria sinensis). These species and crosses of these are abundant all over the Southeast. Once incredibly invasive here at the farm, I began trying to control their existence by walking around the property every spring and pulling up the seeds and seedlings before their long taproots took hold.

Another source of eye candy in the springtime is the native shrub/tree red buckeye (Aesculuspavia). Blooming right now, the red buckeye has tall spikes of dark-red bloom clusters. These tubular-shaped blooms attract hummingbirds and bees, and are quite showy.

Mayapple is also known as hogapple, umbrella plant and wild lemon. (The fruit or apple has a lemony flavor.)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) or American mandrake is a spring bloomer found in deciduous woodlands in the southern and eastern parts of North America. The plants emerge from beneath the leaf litter before the canopy of tree leaves shades the ground. The mayapple fruit resembles a lemon and ripens in late summer. The ripened apple is edible in small amounts, but it is poisonous if consumed in large amounts. The roots or rhizomes are also poisonous. However, Native Americans used this plant for medicinal purposes by using it to induce vomiting, accelerate defecation, and/or to kill and expel parasitic worms. Derivatives of the plants have been used to treat stomachaches, genital warts and viral warts. Certain properties of the mayapple are known to inhibit cell growth.

Wakerobin (Trillium sp.) or birthwort is the common name for trillium, a three-leaved plant with flowers made up of three petals. There are over 40 species of trillium found across most of the continental United States and Canada.

I haven’t actually documented the number of species of trillium here on the farm. Perhaps I should take some time to do that next spring. In fact, perhaps I’ll invite some of my professor friends over with some of their students and conduct a "BioBlitz."

A BioBlitz is an event designed to take inventory and catalog as many species of flora and fauna in a short amount of time and during a specific season in a specific area. Originating (the term, not the act) in 1996, these events give people a chance to work with the scientists in a field environment rather than a classroom. It gives folks the opportunity to ask the scientists questions and observe how identifications are made through "keying" in the field. Sometimes microscopes and observation vessels are part of the equipment used on the site being surveyed.

You may think you know what is on your property, but to know more than just grass, weeds, pine trees and sweet gums will amaze you! It gives us an enjoyable opportunity to learn more about biodiversity. How many species of grasses and sedges are out there? How many species of butterflies? How many species of tiny fishes and mollusks? How many species of ferns and spikemosses are on a particular tract of land? A day spent with some scientists and a bunch of folks collecting and identifying won’t provide a complete census, but it will certainly be way more information than what was previously known.

Speaking of identifying plants and animals - if you live on several acres of land and you regularly walk your property (or ride a 4-wheeler or horse), always take a pencil and piece of paper with you. When you spot an interesting plant, animal or mineral, take a note. Draw a rough sketch. Even if your drawing is primitive, it is your own representation of the find and will help you in your search for a positive identification later. I am certain Charles Darwin didn’t start off with an artist’s talent when he began exploring and sketching his finds.

Remember, I promised I would begin journaling this year. Well, I have been doing just that and, as I write, I draw sketches, too. Most of the writing happens in the evenings. I photograph things outdoors every day. Those photos are then downloaded onto the computer and saved in a couple of different locations. As I review the images of the day and make notes (handwritten, of course), I will then find the best photo of what I shot and make a sketch. It’s exciting for me to do. I have always admired people who can draw and now I believe I can become better at it. If George W. can do it at his age, then I am certain I can learn (not that our ages are all that close). Maybe when I get a little better at it, I’ll post a sketch or two here for you to judge.

Dr. Larry Davenport wrote the book "Nature Journal" and it is a good book. I wrote about it in an article earlier this year. Recently, a friend told me that title is a part of a growing series from University of Alabama Press. The series is called "Gosse Nature Guides" and named after Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888). Gosse was an English naturalist and illustrator who spent eight months on the Alabama frontier during 1838 (Alabama, as a state, was only about 18 years old then) studying the flora and fauna. He noted the incredible diversity of the land and documented his findings. Some of his illustrations were recently found and that sparked a newfound interest in Gosse’s work.

Appropriately named, the Gosse Field guides, so far, include "Nature Journal," "Butterflies of Alabama" (which I just ordered recently from Amazon), "Mammals of Alabama" (released last month) and "Ferns of Alabama."

"Ferns of Alabama" by John W. Short and Daniel D. Spaulding is a wonderful guide to identifying ferns and spikemosses. In fact, it is the best reference book and field guide I have seen on the subject of Alabama ferns. The photograph plates and sketches show great detail and the text makes keying very easy to understand. Maps of the Alabama counties where each species occurs are on every page.

Note: Author Dan Spaulding is the curator of collections at the Anniston Museum of Natural History.

I strongly recommend this book for everybody’s nature library.

No recipe this month, unless you include throwing henbit on your salad a recipe. I’ll give you two recipes in June.

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

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at

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

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

Willing to Go the Extra Mile

Ned Sanders, left, and Jack Norton retired from Goshen Farmers Co-op Board of Directors after 15 and 10 years respectively, but they remain interested in and supportive of the Co-op.

Retiring Goshen board members did what was needed to grow business at the Co-op.

by Jaine Treadwell

When Goshen Farmers Co-op Board of Directors needs a few good men, they don’t have to look very far to find those who are committed to the farmer, to the agriculture industry and to the Pike County community.

Two of those "good men," Ned Sanders and Jack Norton, recently retired from the board of directors after having served 15 years and 10 years, respectively.

Colin Morris, Goshen Farmers Co-op manager, said Sanders and Norton were dedicated board members and always willing to go the extra mile to assist the area farmers and to do what was needed to grow business at the Co-op.

From left, Steve Stroud, chairman of Goshen Farmers Co-op’s Board of Directors; Jack Norton and Ned Sanders, recently retired members of the Board of Directors; and Colin Morris, manager of Goshen Farmers Co-op, at AFC’s Annual Meeting last December when Norton and Sanders were recognized for their years of service to the board.

"The board of directors oversees the management of the Co-op, and Jack and Ned were always there with good, sound advice about the operation of the Co-op and to make sure we had a full product line to offer our customers," Morris said. "They provided guidance that certainly helped me do my job and I appreciate all they did for the farming community and business sector of agriculture."

"It was an honor for me to be asked to serve on the board and I hope I did some good while I was there," Sanders said. "But, the farm keeps me busy and I decided it was time to let somebody young and with new ideas take my place."

Sanders has deep roots in the Goshen community and said he’ll gladly do anything he can to support the Co-op as a retired board member.

"I want to see business at the Co-op continue to grow," he added. "We’ve had our struggles because where we used to have a hundred big farms now we’ve got about five. But business at the Co-op is up and I’ll do what I can to make sure the Co-op continues to be successful because it meets a big need in our community."

From left, Collin Morris, manager of Goshen Farmers Co-op, with Jack Norton and Ned Sanders, recently retired members of Goshen Farmers Co-op’s Board of Directors. Morris appreciates the opportunity to keep them informed on the operation of the Co-op. Both Norton and Sanders are impressed with the Vector 300, which is in great demand during the spring planting season.

Sanders, laughingly, said he lives in the same house he was born in and roots don’t grow much deeper than that. He grew up on the farm and knows what it’s like to turn the earth for a living.

"When I was growing up, we farmed corn, peanuts and cotton, and raised hogs and cows," he said. "I went off with the Alabama Army Reserve for six months, but that’s the only time I haven’t been on the farm."

Hard work and love of the land is what kept Sanders on the "traditional" farm from 1967-1997.

Sanders realized early on he couldn’t make money with hogs and taking his hand off the plow wasn’t a difficult decision.

"When you’re losing money, it’s not a hard decision to quit the row crops," he explained. "In 1997, we went into the poultry business. We couldn’t get broilers, so we decided to go with layers. We built four 100-foot houses and the layer business has been good to us."

But hens don’t take a day off, so neither can Sanders.

"I get up every morning at 5 o’clock and I work until lunch and go back," he said. "And, that’s seven days a week. Some days, we’ll have 28,000 eggs come along the belt. We stay busy.

"We’re off two months, but I’m busier then than ever - cleaning the houses and getting ready for the next 10 months."

Norton’s tenure on the board of directors brought insight and expertise from a different perspective than one behind the mule, so to speak.

Norton is originally from Georgia, but moved to Pike County, his wife’s home, in 1978.

He started working for Troy Bank and Trust in 1980.

Norton came "on board" as Troy Bank and Trust’s senior lending officer for agriculture.

He said, too, he was honored to be asked to serve and willingly agreed.

"I had dealt with most of the farmers and agriculture-related businesses in Goshen and Pike County and wanted to do all I could to support the farmers and agriculture," Norton said. "At that time, the economy had turned south and the Auburn Extension System was cutting back on their services. I knew how badly farmers needed information and support from the local farmers’ cooperatives to keep going."

Norton said the farmers’ cooperatives provided services and products the farmers needed, and he realized the importance of a co-op in the Goshen area.

"Over the 10 years that I served on the board of directors, we made a lot of changes," he said. "We’ve seen the product line change. So many farmers have diversified to include poultry and that offers opportunities for a different line of products. And, although the Co-op continues to serve the row crop farmer and the big cattle farmer, the Co-op has become more consumer friendly."

Norton said Goshen Farmers Co-op also stocks products for the weekend gardener.

"There’s this big new segment of home gardeners," he said. "A lot of people are growing vegetables and they need products and good advice."

Lawn care products and bulbs and wildflower seeds are needs the Co-op can fill.

"And there are small cattle farmers and the Co-op meets their needs. A lot of people have horses and the Co-op has grown in that product line," Norton continued. "Today’s co-ops are meeting the needs of more people and that transition is a positive change for Goshen Farmers Co-op. I was proud to be a part of that growth."

Norton pledged his continued support of Goshen Farmers Co-op as a private citizen and also to the agricultural community as a whole.

Goshen Farmers Cooperative, Inc. was born from a meeting on February 24, 1972. During the meeting, it was agreed there was a strong need for a farmer-owned farm supply cooperative with the farmers participating in the profits of the operation.

The Goshen community showed its support through the purchase of $120,000 in debentures. The Co-op operated at its original location until 1999 when a new facility was constructed at 301 Greenville Avenue.

The new Co-op location opened in April 1999. The new convenience store and fuel station opened in July 2000.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.

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