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May 2018

2018 Farm of Distinction

Shelby County’s innovative DeLoach Farms takes home the award.


by Marlee Moore

Dedication and innovation yielded great rewards for John and Kate DeLoach when their Shelby County farm was named Alabama’s 2018 Farm of Distinction at the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham April 5.

The couple received over $20,000 in cash and prizes and will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 16-18 in Moultrie, Georgia.

Their 1,325-acre DeLoach Farms has been in the family since 1820 and includes 375 acres of cotton, 250 acres of soybeans, 200 acres of wheat and 150 acres of hay. The farm boasts some of the highest yields in the area, and plants test plots with seed companies and university researchers.

But transforming the farm wasn’t easy, John said.

"I was 13 when my grandfather passed away," he said. "Grandma talked about selling the farm, but I told her I’d come every day after school to help. At 16, when I graduated high school, I pretty much took over running the farm."

Twenty-six years later, their land management plan includes 20 acres of improved wetlands where John regulates water levels to provide food and habitat for waterfowl. Future plans include adding honeybees, a vineyard and agritourism with the help of son Jess.

"We feel it is an honor to have the opportunity to take care of this land for a lifetime," John said. "And what a responsibility it is to pass that on to future generations."

John is a member of the Agricultural Leaders for Alabama class and is active in the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and Alabama Farmers Cooperative. He and Kate have been recognized at state and national levels for community service.

Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms said the DeLoach family showcases what it means to be a farmer in the 21st century.

"John and Kate are dedicated to using innovative techniques to improve the land they love and have been entrusted with," Helms said. "They represent the very best of Alabama agriculture, and we’re proud for them to represent the state over the next year."

As the Farm of Distinction, the DeLoaches receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of AgPro, TriGreen and SunSouth dealers; a 40-by-60 pole barn courtesy of Register Barns; a $1,000 gift certificate from AFC; an engraved farm sign from Alfa Insurance; and $2,500 as the state’s Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest representative.

Other Farm of Distinction finalists were Thomas and Farrah Adams of Henry County, Greg and Diane Hamner of Lauderdale County, Trey and Pam Montgomery of Greene County, Sid and Susan Nelson of Sumter County, and Tyler and Madison Sanders of Houston County.

Each received a $250 gift certificate from AFC and an engraved plaque.

For more photos from the Farm-City Awards Luncheon, visit the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Flickr and Facebook pages.


Marlee Moore is an ag communications specialist with Alabama Farmers Federation.



4-H Extension Corner: Tiger Giving Day Benefits Alabama 4-H

Contributed funds will help support a variety of learning opportunities and programs.


by Brittany Dobbs
Three Alabama 4-H’ers canoeing and learning the proper paddle methods to explore Lay Lake. 
Alabama 4-H was one of many programs people supported during a recent Tiger Giving Day at Auburn University. Contributions of $5,270 were raised for Alabama 4-H and will help supply the 4-H Science School with new equipment.

"To stay innovative with curriculum offerings and hands-on learning experiences, the 4-H Science School needed relevant program items to equip current and future students," said Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "The donations will permit young people to get outside to experience Alabama’s natural resources and gain an understanding of the web of life in Alabama ecosystems."

The 4-H Science School hosts over 22,000 students annually from across the state. Students engage in hands-on educational experiences designed to connect them to the natural world.

Whether conquering fears on the high ropes course, exploring wildlife on the Coosa River or learning about reptiles and amphibians, the 4-H Science School provides opportunities for all Alabama youth. Additionally, each program reinforces the Alabama Course of Study for grades K-12 in science, math, technology, language arts, engineering, physical activity education and social studies.
An Alabama 4-H’er searching for macroinvertebrates during the Lake Living class. 

Science School Needs

Funds raised will go toward the purchase of a variety of learning materials for 4-H Science School classrooms.

After almost 15 years, the 4-H Science School exhibits can expand and current equipment be refreshed. The money raised will help support the school’s needs in technology, outdoor learning materials and hands-on learning equipment.

"As part of Tiger Giving Day, we asked consumers to help support the 4-H Science School in its mission to grow future leaders," said Dr. Molly Gregg, assistant director of Alabama 4-H. "Thanks to your support, students from across Alabama can continue to receive hands-on learning that opens a world to endless possibilities."
An Alabama 4-H’er preparing for the 35-foot giant swing. This is one of three high-ropes elements at the Science School.  

About Alabama 4-H

Alabama 4-H has an over-100-year history of helping youth develop into resourceful citizens and responsible leaders. As part of ACES, Alabama 4-H utilizes regional Extension agents as well as community volunteers, corporate partners, alumni and parents to deliver youth-development programs in all 67 counties. This collaborative effort develops skills, talents and interests in subjects driving critical thinking, decision making, leadership and community influence.

Today, Alabama 4-H engages with over 184,000 youth. It seeks to empower them with skills to lead their communities and grow into future leaders.

4-H is a nationwide youth organization administered by the land-grant university system. In Alabama, Auburn University is home for 4-H headquarters. Alabama 4-H provides opportunities for youth to learn by doing while being led by specialists versed in the latest advances in technology, agriculture, human development and more.


Brittany Dobbs is with Alabama Extension NEP.






A Turtle on a Fence Post

by Glenn Crumpler


What is the first thing you think about when you see this picture? It surely is an uncommon sight and may require a little bit of thought, but one thing we know for certain is: This turtle didn’t get where it is on its own!

I have to say that I have often felt just like this turtle must have felt! "Where am I? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do here? How in the world do I get down?"

Sometimes we find ourselves in places and situations that are our own doing, but other times, just like this turtle, we are there only because someone placed us there!

If we are honest with ourselves as individuals, families, farmers, ranchers, businesses, ministries, churches or even as a country for that matter, the truth is we are where we are because someone else put us here. Hard work, long hours, dedication, education, endurance, perseverance and the many sacrifices we and others have made have all had an impact, but even all these things combined could not get us where we are today. Somebody had to help us – somebody put us where we are! Unlike the turtle, we were put where we are for a purpose – a global and eternal purpose!

To whom do we give credit for our position – not only in life but in our knowledge and relationship with Christ? God told the prophet Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah1:5, New International Version). "’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’" (Jeremiah 29:11).

In Luke 12:7, Jesus tells us the very hairs on our heads are numbered. Imagine that! At any given time, whenever a strand of hair falls out while washing or pulls out during brushing – it does not escape the notice of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He always knows exactly how many hairs are left!

Psalms 94:11 tells us God knows our thoughts. Luke 16:15 teaches us God knows our hearts. 1 John 3:20 assures us God knows ALL things! Hebrews 4:13 tells us, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Ephesians 1:4 says, "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.

Acts 17:26 goes even further to tell us it was He who decided the exact time in history when we should live, and He decided the exact place on this earth we would be born and live. Think about it … you and I had nothing to do with when we were born or what race and nationality we would be. God in His infinite wisdom decided these things.

Just in these few verses, we learned: God has always known us, even before birth. He has always had a plan for our lives. He has always desired, initiated and made provision to have a personal relationship with us. There is nothing about us He doesn’t know or care about. He created us for a purpose and with works for us to do.

But what and where is that work? Why were we born and/or given the opportunity to live in the greatest country on Earth where we have freedom, resources and opportunity to know God, to worship Him, to serve Him, and to pursue and reach virtually any goal we set for ourselves? Why did God choose to make Himself known to us? Why did He place us here? Why now?

The Bible says it was so we could know and have a relationship with Him and glorify Him by making His love known to all the world. Think about it. He came to us (the world) through His son Jesus, so we (and the world) could know Him, could be reconciled to Him and have an everlasting relationship with Him. He tells us He sent His son Jesus to die because He loved all people and wanted everyone to know Him and to be reconciled to Him.

He did not place us here just to live "the American dream," as some would describe it. He did not place us here just so we could know Him or have church and minister to the people around us. He placed us here and blessed us so we could do all these things, but also so we would fulfill His command to take the Gospel and the love of Christ to all the nations!

Jesus told the Father in John 17:4, "I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do." Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all of His commands. If Jesus glorified God through His obedience, how do we think (biblically) we really glorify God if we don’t do the work He commanded us to do?

Let’s look at just one area of the world where Cattle for Christ is and has been working for several years – and where the church has been absent. This area is referred to in missionary terms as the "10/40 window." This is an area approximately 10 to 40 degrees north latitude, encompassing a rectangular geographical area from West Africa through the Middle East, India and almost all of Asia.

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population live in this window. It has the highest socioeconomic challenges and the least amount of exposure to the Gospel’s message than anywhere else

Approximately 4.9 billion of Earth’s 7.1 billion people live within the 10/40 window where poverty, oppression, disease, malnutrition, childhood deaths, human trafficking and terrorism are at their highest. The majority of the people in these 74 countries are followers of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or other gods.
The 10/40 window 
Of the poorest of the world’s poor, over 85 percent live in the 10/40 window. Ninety percent of the people who live there are what we refer to as "the unreached or unevangelized" because they have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, and could not even if they wanted to without our help. Only 2 percent of the world’s unreached people live in North and South America.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, of all the money designated for missions in the United States, only 5.4 percent is used for foreign missions. Of that 5.4 percent, only 1 percent is used to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached. That is about one cent out of every hundred dollars given to missions.

This equates to approximately $450 million – the same amount Americans spend annually on Halloween costumes for their pets!

It has been said, "The poor are the lost and the lost are the poor." The majority of the unreached live in the poorest countries of the world! If we are going to minister to the needs of the "real" poor (physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically or spiritually), let us invest where the needs are the greatest and the workers are the fewest. What seems small in our culture can lead to giant, life-saving transformations in theirs.

This is why Cattle for Christ is focusing most of our international efforts to minister to the needs of people in the 10/40 window; simply because it is where the needs are the greatest and our investments can have the greatest return. That is also why we are asking for the help of individuals, churches, farmers and corporations. It is good ministry sense and good business sense!

The challenge is that most of these countries are either closed or hostile to Christianity or to the Christian witness. The only way we can work in these areas is through strategies where we can meet perceived needs. As we go, it costs us a little more financially to gradually and strategically introduce the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, while also equipping others to do the same.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance."

That proves true in our global strategies for advancing God’s kingdom. We must take the time to educate ourselves on what the world looks like and evaluate our efforts in line with God’s command to make disciples of all people.

You and I are not just turtles on a fence post. God has blessed us and placed us here – at this time – because He intends for us to have a global impact. If we individually and corporately align our will with His, our lives will glorify Him as He accomplishes His will through us.

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



AFC Shines at NCFC Information Fair

Cooperative receives several awards for Cooperative Farming News magazine and online communications.


Every year, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives has a Cooperative Information Fair. The purpose of the Information Fair is to encourage cooperatives to improve the techniques by which they promote their businesses, inform their members and disseminate information to the general public.

For an additional fee, fair judges will provide entrants with a numerical evaluation of their communication efforts.

Winning entries in each class of the 2017 Information Fair were displayed at the NCFC Annual Meeting.

The entries submitted by Alabama Farmers Cooperative placed in the following classes:

Class #1 – Membership Magazine

3rd place – AFC Cooperative Farming News

Class #10 – Feature Article

Honorable Mention – Al Benn, "Sweet Success" (Combs, Southern Ambrosia, June 2017)

Class #12 – Column


1st place – Suzy Lowry Geno, "Old Buildings & Old Wood Make Me Happy" (October 2017)

3rd place – Chuck Sykes, "Why Do We Do What We Do?" (June 2017)

Honorable Mention – Suzy Lowry Geno, "You Got WHAT?!?" (February 2017)

Class #14 – News Release


Honorable Mention – "Simply Southern Now on RFD-TV"

Class #32 – Website


Honorable Mention –
www.alafarm.com

Class #33 – Online Publications


1st place – www.alafarmnews.com

Class #34 – Social Media Page


3rd place (tie) – AFC Facebook – alafarm

Honorable Mention – AFC Instagram – alafarm


Congratulations to all the winners!

And "Thank You" to our readers for your support.


Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

Proposed Organic Rules Withdrawn by USDA


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule published Jan. 19, 2017.

The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers.

The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

USDA officials said significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule was published in January 2017. After review and two rounds of public comment, the agency determined the measure exceeds its statutory authority, and changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.

"The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach balancing consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers," said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach.

According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by 7 percent and globally by 11 percent.
Industry estimates show organic sales in the United States reached almost $47 billion in 2016, reflecting an increase of almost $3.7 billion since 2015.

United States Share of Rising Chinese Soybean Imports is Unclear


World soybean trade is projected to rise rapidly during the next 10 years, according to USDA’s projections to 2027, climbing 48 million tons (30 percent) to 205 million tons.

China, the world’s leading soybean importer, is expected to increase imports by 41 million tons during the projection period.

What share of that nation’s existing and future soybean imports the United States will supply remains unclear due to possible retaliation to the Trump administration’s threat of tariffs on certain imported Chinese products.

China’s soybean imports have risen steadily since the late 1990s. In 2017, they accounted for about 64 percent of world soybean trade. China’s imports are projected to increase from 102 million tons in 2018 to 143 million tons in 2027, accounting for 86 percent of the increase in trade. Their share of global soybean imports would reach nearly 70 percent by 2027 if the projections are realized.

The outlook assumes China will continue to meet rising demands for edible vegetable oils and protein in feed by importing soybeans, while supporting domestic production of food and feed grains.

China continues to add oilseed-crushing capacity contributing to continued growth in soybean imports. The leading international soybean suppliers are Brazil and the United States, both of which should benefit from the additional demand from China and other trade partners.

Brazil a Major Producer and Importer of Ethanol


Despite Brazil’s tariff rate quota for ethanol imports, the nation continues to be a major U.S. customer for that product.

Last year, Brazil announced imported ethanol in excess of 600 million liters is subject to a 20-percent tariff.

However, U.S. ethanol has been priced so low it is still an economical alternative in Brazil. Currently, ethanol is $1.50 per gallon at U.S. Gulf Coast ports while Brazil’s is $2.32 per gallon.

Demand for ethanol in Brazil is robust because of widespread use of flex-fuel vehicles and a mandate requiring a minimum of a 27-percent ethanol blend in gasoline. Due to price competitiveness and strong demand, Brazil, the second-largest global ethanol producer, is also the largest overseas buyer of U.S. ethanol.

One contributing factor is the internal distribution of ethanol in Brazil. Ethanol mills are mostly located in the sugar-producing areas of southern Brazil. Because of infrastructure constraints, it is cheaper to ship ethanol by boat from the United State to the northern regions of Brazil than by overland transport through Brazil.

Some new ethanol mills located in Brazil’s northern corn-producing regions eventually could make the U.S. product less competitive.

Winter Wheat Seedings Projected at Century Low


Winter wheat seedings – those planted for the next marketing year – are projected to be the lowest in 109 years. However, the USDA estimate, based on 82,000 farmer surveys, generally exceeded industry expectations.

Winter wheat seedings for the 2018-2019 marketing year are estimated at 32.6 million acres, slightly below the 2017-18 seeding estimate of 32.7 million acres.

In Kansas, the leading winter wheat-producing state, planted area is up 200,000 acres for the 2018 marketing year. Planted area is also up slightly in Texas. However, gains in these two states are not enough to offset the winter wheat-acreage losses elsewhere.

Reduced profitability and agronomic factors such as delayed seeding due to a late corn harvest, disease challenges and below-average soil moisture levels reduced winter wheat plantings in Colorado and Oklahoma.

The current projection for 2018 is down less than 1 percent from 2017 and down 10 percent from 2016.

Hard red winter wheat planted area is projected to total 23.1 million acres, a decline of 2 percent from 2017, while soft red winter planted area is forecast up 4 percent, year to year, to nearly 6 million acres.

Agriculture’s Energy Use Increasing


The agricultural sector consumed 1,872 trillion BTUs of energy, accounting for about 1.9 percent of U.S. primary energy consumption in 2016, the most recent year available for usage figures.

Farms consume energy in many forms: mainly diesel (44 percent of direct-energy consumption), electricity (24 percent), natural gas (13 percent), gasoline (11 percent) and liquefied petroleum gas (7 percent).

Large amounts of natural gas also are required in manufacturing fertilizer and pesticides, so these amounts are categorized as indirect-energy consumption on farms.

Overall, about three-fifths of energy used in the agricultural sector was consumed directly on-farm, while two-fifths was consumed indirectly in the form of fertilizer and pesticides.

Recent increases in diesel and fertilizer consumption come in response to declining oil and natural gas prices. From 2012-15, agriculture became more energy intensive, as energy consumption grew over 10 percent compared to about 6 percent growth in agricultural output.

Broiler Production on the Rise


U.S. broiler meat production continues to grow, reaching 3.6 billion pounds in January, almost 4 percent higher than the previous year.

For 2018, USDA expects broiler production to reach 42.6 billion pounds, almost 1 billion pounds more than was produced in 2017, and nearly 2 billion more than in 2016.

One of the factors driving higher broiler-meat production is a steady increase in the average weight of the birds slaughtered. Weights in January 2018 averaged 6.26 pounds, about 1 percent above a year ago, and over 4 percent higher than January 2014.

Broiler weights tend to follow a cyclical pattern, peaking during the late fall or early winter and achieving their lowest average weights at the height of the summer, but they have shown yearly increases in most months over the past five years.

Rural Roundtables Exploring Opioid Crisis


USDA is hosting a series of monthly roundtables on opioids to address a situation believed critical to the future of rural America.

Sessions already have been held in Pennsylvania and Utah, and are scheduled for Kentucky in May. Similar meetings are to be held in Oklahoma and Maine in June and July, respectively.

Key topics will include challenges associated with substance-use disorder; strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery; and how these measures can be replicated to effectively address the epidemic in other rural communities.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, in 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. An overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involved an opioid.

At 174 people each day, this is more than the number of lives lost in car accidents or gun-related homicides.

While no corner of the country has gone untouched by this issue, the opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard, USDA said.



All Stock 15%

by John Sims

Do you have many different species of animals on your farm? Is it a hassle to buy several different feeds for them? Do you want a higher level of performance than you are getting from your current all stock feed? The solution is All Stock 15%.

All Stock 15% is formulated with higher protein and energy levels to meet the nutritional requirements animals face at many different stages of production. The increased energy level is designed to put the finish on one being fed out by maximizing frame and muscle growth. The increased protein level also helps meet the demands of lactation.

This higher level of nutrition is achieved through the use of steam-flaked corn, alfalfa meal, yeast, chelated trace minerals and a special blend of feed ingredients.

All Stock 15% is a textured feed, containing both pellets and meal. Some species may sort out different parts of the feed at first, but will consume all ingredients in just a few days.

Always provide free-choice forage, water, vitamins and minerals.

Feeding Directions


Cattle, horses, sheep and goats – Hand feed 1-3 percent of body weight per head per day, depending on weight and stage of production.

Pigs – Feed free choice 6-15 pounds per head per day, depending on weight and stage of production.

If you are looking for a one-bag solution to feeding your livestock, pick up some All Stock 15% at your local Quality Co-op store.


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



An Herbal Remedy for Nerve Pain

Lecithin supplement can do a lot for general health as well.


by Nadine Johnson

"Lecithin – any of several phosphatides (fatty compounds) found in nerve tissue, blood, milk, egg yolk, soybeans, corn, etc. Used in medicines, foods, cosmetics, etc." (When you cook with Pam, you are spraying your pan with lecithin.)

This definition was found in my dictionary. The lecithin supplement I take is derived from soybeans. I have been taking two twice daily since the mid-1990s. I had finally gotten my severe osteoporosis under control by taking horsetail and Bone-up (one twice daily and two twice daily, respectively).

Due to reduced cartilage in my lower spine, exposed and irritated nerves caused severe pain as I walked. Research revealed I might gain relief by taking lecithin. During the research, I learned lecithin coats our nerves. (I compare this to electrical wiring wrapped to prevent shock.) I soon realized lecithin was a great benefit as I gained much relief.

Research also revealed lecithin does a lot for our general health. Here are a few examples:

  • Our brain is bathed in it (by taking lecithin I am possibly avoiding Alzheimer’s disease).
  • It aids in the control of cholesterol.
  • It helps prevent hardening of the arteries.
In fact, I have found over 50 health situations for which it is beneficial.

Of course, we produce it naturally in our bodies, but sometimes we need a boost to supplement what we naturally produce. If it helps and won’t hurt, I am all for it.

Years later, an acquaintance started taking lecithin for her leg pain that was very similar to mine. She was also much relieved.

It just so happened this lady was a victim of shingles. Long after her shingles had apparently healed, she continued to suffer from the pain. After beginning to use lecithin, she realized her shingles pain had subsided. She stopped taking lecithin for a while and the shingles pain resumed. She restarted taking lecithin and her shingles pain again subsided. After years of suffering, she had accidentally found something to alleviate her shingles pain … relief without any fear of addiction.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and nerve pain.

This information from my herb library is worth quoting, "Lecithin builds the nerve sheath around the nerves."

I have written about lecithin before. However, recently there has been an outbreak of shingles. According to news reports, many people who took shingles shots developed the disease.

Perhaps some of them will gain relief by taking the very beneficial lecithin.

As usual, check with your physician before taking alternatives.


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



Are Your Vegetable Crops Protected from Aphids?

A multifaceted management approach is recommended to provide maximum protection from harmful infestations.


by Ayanava Majumdar
Aphids are small insects easily identified by their cornicles, two tail-pipes, at the end of their abdomen. There are many species of aphids in the Southeast that commonly infest vegetable crops in summers and warm winters; for example, the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae), melon aphid (Aphis gossypii), cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora), and cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae).

Here are some interesting facts about aphids:

  • Not all aphids are small and dull-looking; certain species can be brightly colored and large. For example, cowpea aphids are 2.5 mm [0.1 inch] long and shiny black, making them easily visible. All aphids form large colonies and suck plant sap, making their host very weak.
  • Same species of aphids can occur in different forms (winged and wingless) or colors (potato aphids can be green or pink). There are some other key anatomical details helping to identify aphid species, but a good hand lens or a microscope is a must to see small details. Many universities have insect diagnostic facilities – make sure to collect samples and have aphids identified correctly.
  • Aphids are excellent vectors of many plant viruses and there is no antiviral solution for plants. Control is key to the reduction of infection.
  • Some aphids can have a waxy coating on their body; it can be difficult to manage aphids with pesticides in such situations.
  • Many species of aphids have a broad host range (for example, green peach aphid) while some others are restricted to a narrow host range (for example, cabbage aphid on brassica crops).
  • Aphids can have many generations in a year, depending on weather conditions and food availability. Aphids overwinter in the egg stage while the adult aphids reproduce without mating in warm weather on appropriate host plants. This is called parthenogenesis and basically resembles cloning (mothers giving rise to mothers). Too much heat or cold weather slows aphid activity.
  • The sugary excreta produced by aphids is called honeydew. This carbohydrate-rich substance attracts ants, often the first indicators of an aphid invasion. Thereafter, many predatory insects may move in and start feeding on the rapidly growing population of aphids. Destruction of natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings and others is often the primary reason for aphid outbreaks in commercial farms.

Aphid Management


Aphid control doesn’t always include conventional or organic insecticides. There are some alternative approaches.

Cultural practices (Level 1 IPM Tactic): Trap cropping is a good tactic for distracting aphids away from a main crop, but success is dependent on careful planning. Trap crops such as early planted okra and certain brassica crops have been beneficial in some tests in Alabama; however, those trap crops can be management-intensive and ineffective in some years.

Exclusion systems (Level 2 IPM Tactic): Research in Alabama and many other states shows the benefit of insect fabric and row covers for deflecting the early establishment of aphids. Research in Alabama using a light, insect-barrier fabric such as Super Light Insect Barrier (Gardens Alive, Lawrenceburg, Indiana) or AgroFabric Pro (Seven Spings Farm, Check, Virginia) is great for deterring aphids, flea beetles and grasshoppers in the early season.

Remember to put the fabric on immediately after transplanting crops and seal carefully. Producers can use fixed metal or plastic frames over the small plants. Remove the fabric when the pest risk is over or when the plants are too big. Insect barrier fabric early in the spring can also trap extra heat that may promote plant growth.

Organic insecticides (Level 3 IPM Tactic): Any insecticidal approach should be the last option for producers. Aphid management with organic insecticide is a very common question asked at grower conferences, and it is difficult to answer.

Two years of organic products screenings have indicated that it is possible to slow down aphids in open field conditions with early insecticide applications, but constant rainfall in some years can be disruptive to persistence of those products that could result in control failure.

Overall, it appears that Beauveria bassiana-based products (Mycotrol, Botanigard Maxx), oil blends (Pyola), insectidal soap, Chromobacterium (Grandevo) and pyrethrin (Pyganic) are some of the better materials for use in an early invasion.

Protection of natural enemies is more important for aphid control and insecticide use should be justified. Always rotate insecticides to discourage insecticide resistance.

Home and Urban Garden IPM Toolkit is Now Available!


A brand new Urban Farm IPM Toolkit is now available for urban farmers and community gardeners. This wheel slide chart has both conventional and organic insecticide listings for nearly 20 different crops. This publication also has listing of common insect pests with images that may help when scouting garden vegetables. Email bugdoctor@auburn.edu or check with your local Quality Co-op to get your own copy.


Ayanava Majumdar is an Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist and state SARE Program coordinator for Auburn University.



Black Belt Resurgence

The Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission brings hope to the poor living in a 10,000-square-mile area.


by Alvin Benn
ATRC Director John Clyde Riggs, left, chats with Camden Mayor Phil Creswell. 
During the darkest days of the Depression in America, millions suffered with little hope for the future because the country was basically broke.

Bread and soup lines in big cities kept people going during the 1930s, while one of the most popular songs of the day was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

Many had to fend for themselves. Those lucky enough to live on farms could grow their own food. Others depended on help from relatives, churches or friends for support.

Those days may be long gone, but senior citizens with vivid memories haven’t forgotten what it was like to squeeze pennies in an effort to survive.
John Clyde Riggs heard tales of what it was like when many people could only dream of better days ahead.

Little did he know at the time that, one day, he would be in a position to see that guardian angels would be headed in the direction of those most in need.

Those angels arrived in the form of organizations that banded together to help those who could not help themselves.
ATRC Assistant Director Frank Dobson examines records at the organization’s headquarters in Camden. 
The Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission has been one of them and, for over 40 years, it’s helped to relieve the plights of the poor living in a 10,000-square-mile area the size of Rhode Island.

Riggs directs those organizations from a modest facility across the street from the Wilcox County Courthouse. Inside is a small, but dedicated, staff, who works hard to help see these important services are available.

An aggressive nutrition program is a good example of how important it is in the 10 counties and 47 towns comprising the ATRC.

"Some will eat half their delivered meals for lunch and then save the other half for later in the day," said Riggs, who has personally delivered meals and seen the gratitude in the eyes of recipients.

ATRC will be 50 years old next year. Special celebrations may not be held, though, because, as has been the case in the past, frills often are set aside to take care of more important daily activities.

Adding up all of the available ATRC programs might take a while because there are so many of them. Recipients don’t need a score card, however, because the programs are familiar throughout the sprawling region.
Staff members Patti Gibbs, left, and Evelyn Agee take a short breather at the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission headquarters in Camden. 
Take the free lunch program, for instance. It isn’t restricted to Alabama by any means, but those who are involved have reason to smile each time the doorbell rings and volunteers are outside with food in their hands.

"Our volunteers serve 1,500 meals a day either to homes or nutrition centers across the region," Riggs said. "Hundreds more are on waiting lists and will be added as soon as they can be included in the program."

He and his staff would love to serve more of the poor during the week, but it’s budgeted. That’s a financial fact of life across our country.

The rapid growth of programs administered through ATRC is apparent; even a cursory glance can see the importance to those being served each day.

When the food program was created in 1997, it was budgeted at about $6 million annually. Today, it’s $14 million; a clear indicator of just how popular and crucial the programs are.

Riggs said the annual economic impact in the 10 counties serviced by ATRC is estimated at about $100 million a year. It’s an amazing bottom-line achievement for the organization.

Rural residents are charged nominal fees to ride in vehicles to get to medical facilities, stores and other places of importance.

"Our vans don’t operate without riders helping to pay their share," Riggs said.

He is well aware that many can’t afford a car or are in age groups precluding that.

Riggs said the rural transportation program currently operates in four of the 10 counties: Clarke, Conecuh, Monroe and Wilcox. One of its most important roles is taking patients for dialysis.

In four of the counties, transportation for the mentally impaired or handicapped also is provided as part of the program.

A relatively new, but warmly welcomed, program within the ATRC family involves a Medicaid waiver designed to provide services for seniors and those who are disabled.

It is committed to helping people retain their independence by providing services that allow them to live in their own homes instead of nursing homes.
ATRC Assistant Director Frank Dobson, left, shares a laugh with K.C. Pang, director of corporate affairs for GD Cooper USA. 
"Without that particular program, it could cost up to $60,000 a year, but we’re keeping people at home for about $12,000 annually," Riggs said. "We are proud of being able to do that."

Other programs are just as vital, but latching onto them isn’t easy because so many are seeking one.

The starting point is to apply for grants and that’s not easy. It takes skilled workers to obtain one and that can be a problem. Many groups similar to ATRC work hard to prepare grants throughout the year.

Problems facing the region are slowly being resolved and those who manage the programs don’t kid themselves thinking there will be any overnight solution.

"What we have is a challenging area with high unemployment and poverty, but we’re working hard to turn it around," said Riggs, who is familiar with annual reports showing Wilcox County has the highest jobless rate in Alabama year after year.

He was born in Wilcox County in 1950 and has spent most of his life helping others in the region. To say he’s been a born leader would be quite an understatement.

In addition to his ATRC leadership, he also spent eight years as a member of the Wilcox County Commission as well as one term on the Camden City Council.

Riggs has a bachelor’s degree in Science from Auburn University and has accumulated years of experience during his lengthy ATRC leadership.

Hard work hasn’t been a stranger to Riggs because he was involved in construction as well as a local homebuilding company.

He and wife Sandra have two sons living in Auburn. Jason is a lawyer and Michael is involved in water management. They have three grandchildren.


Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Changing

One of my remaining hens. 
by Suzy Lowry Geno

In my past, I never liked change of any kind.

My mama used to tell how, when I was a little girl, I cried for a week whenever my daddy traded cars!

When I was about 8, I thought my world fell apart when my folks built a new house in town and moved me THREE WHOLE MILES from my country home and my beloved Grandpa Lowry.

Then in the spring of my eighth-grade year of high school, I can remember stomping my foot and telling my daddy he’d ruined my life! Why? Because he had built another new house out on our land in the country and we were moving back again!

Nope, it seems I never, ever liked change.

I read the same comforting books over and over. I have copies of the old Countryside magazines beginning in the 1980s and the original Mother Earth News magazines from the 70s where I can almost quote the articles verbatim, but I still reread them over and over.

I find a button-front, three-quarter-length-sleeve blouse I like and order them in every color they have, but then wind up wearing the same brown or blue one over and over, and ALWAYS with simple blue jeans.

And shoes ... just look at my feet on any given day; you will probably see the exact same kind of sneakers or boots that I wore 10, 15 and even 25 years ago.

Even though my hair is now gray (I describe it to folks as road-kill-possum-gray!), I still wear my hair exactly as I did all through high school: parted in the middle with bangs. Folks who haven’t seen me in 50 years just KNOW it’s me from my hair.

And as for my career: when I left high school, my goal was to have babies, make music and to write. My babies have all had babies, many of whom have babies of their own by now, but I’m still making music and still writing.

Nope, I seemed to have never liked change of any type.

So at this stage of my life, I planned on living out my days on this farm with all my animals as a semihermit.

Animals don’t talk back. They don’t gossip. And they give unconditional love!

But these last few months have rocked my world!

Sherry Surratt wrote in an article in Christianity Today of how she too hates change (but felt called to leave a job she loved to go into a full-time ministry with her husband), describing change in her life as almost like the constant itchiness of wearing SANDPAPER UNDERWEAR!

Readers, YOU KNOW how the story of Peter has helped me through the last few months. Even Sherry noted, "In the itchy moments, I think about the God who made me and loves me more than anyone else, standing in the middle of a stormy sea reaching out His hand to Peter as he tried to walk on the water by himself. In change, God’s hand is reaching out to me, as well."

Like Sherry, I’m kind of heading into uncharted waters – at least for me any way.

Since last June, I left my beloved church, for not only another congregation, but a different type of congregation (I don’t like to use the word "denomination").

I’ve said many times I learned more and grew more in my Christian walk in my former church than I did in many years as a religion major in two of the most prominent religious universities in the world.

The late Brother Luther Dorr, a great man of God who taught at the New Orleans Baptist Seminary, sat under the apple tree in my barnyard and taught me many truths. After my husband died and several churches tried to get me to come as pianist or other positions, Dorr counseled me that it might be the time in my life for me to be ministered to instead of me always ministering to others. The twilight of my life might be just a time to write and share in that way.

Dorr also told me when and if a time or call for service came directly from God I would KNOW it.

And sure enough, he was right. I only wish he was still alive so I could tell him all that has happened in these last few months!

I will be serving with the man I love, the man who will likely be my husband in the month you are reading this.

I will still be writing, we will still have this little homestead and we will still have my little general store, but … there have been too many changes to list here!

While I will still be supporting the local Blount County Farmers Co-op with a great deal of my money each month, even that is changing. Where I once had 450-500 laying hens, then down to 180, now I’m down to about 75.

The focus on my homestead is changing so that it can still be producing and worthwhile, but will be a little less time-consuming and there is not more money pouring out than coming in.
At our ages, the wise use of our time is important – just as is the wise use of our finances.
My grown kids are amazed that the mama who was ALWAYS at home is now just as likely to be gone away whenever they call.

I’ve lost 50 pounds. Friend Ruthie says there is a new spring in my step.

But you’ll still often find me under that apple tree … or petting a bunny … or chasing a chicken. And I’ll still have on those faded jeans with my long, gray hair flopping in my face (with bangs that likely need trimming).

I’ll see y’all next month right here with my column about the joys of turkeys or log cabins or those wonderful plants from your local Co-op.

But I’ve had to CHANGE one important thing ... all CHANGE is not bad ... like Sherry said, "In change, God’s hand is reaching out to me as well."


Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer living on a small homestead in Blount County. She can be reached through Facebook or her website at www.taitsgapstore.com.



Corn Time



Cowpokes



Earl



Farm to Fabulous

Find a little bit of everything at The Farm Company in Columbiana.


by Angela Treadaway
Robin Robinson and Shannon Hobbs are the owners of The Farm Company. 
"Hey, y’all, come on in!" is the greeting you get when you walk through the doors at The Farm Company in Columbiana. A unique and eclectic store with a little bit of everything, it has an atmosphere that is relaxed and homey with a touch of something you can’t quite put your finger on. What would you expect from a store with the motto, "We take it from farm to fabulous!"?

Shannon Hobbs and Robin Robinson had no intentions of opening a store, much less building the inventory that is in it.

"We were having lunch with our teaching director from Community Bible Study, Marsha Parsons, and Children’s Director Cindy Milner to discuss the youth and taking over that core group (that we did not do by the way!)," Robinson explained. "I started looking around the building and noticing the store fronts built inside – kinda like a quaint little street store front.

"I asked Mrs. Marsha what it was. She told me they were little stores and then proceeds to tell me I should open one. I told her I didn’t want to open a store, my baby was about to graduate high school, and I would have freedom!

"Shannon piped up and said that it would be fun.

"Let me explain why that is funny. Shannon has around 150 chickens she adores and she is a homebody!

"I told her that she didn’t like to leave home. She replied she would for this.

"So, two days later we signed a lease on a 14-by-2 space. On May 6, 2016, we opened The Farm Company, LLC."

By July, they knew they needed a larger space, It just so happened that a spot across the street opened up.

August 2016, the girls closed to move and, Nov. 10, 2016, reopened with 1,400 square feet.
The spring gardening table at The Farm Company. 
"We had $32 in the bank and remodeled the whole store because God provided it all!" Hobbs said. "You should have seen it! It looked like ‘Shawshank Redemption’ in here with us hauling buckets of plaster out to the dumpster.

"Robin kept saying, ‘I wonder what is behind this paneling?’ I would say, ‘You know what it is. It is brick!’ She loves to tear things apart to see what it is hiding!"

The Farm Company is in the old Columbiana Feed and Seed and was also once Stricklin’s Department Store. The most recognizable thing about The Farm Company is the hen logo and hen price tags … hen, not rooster! These girls are chicken crazy! Remember, Hobbs has around 150 … and Robinson has 15. They love farm life, but they get plum giddy around spring when it is baby chick time.

"We call and harass Todd [George] and Jamie [Griffin, manager] at [Mid-State Farmers] Co-op in Columbiana about what they are getting and when it will be there," Robinson laughed. "They feed our addiction!"

"Chickens are like potato chips. You can’t have just one – or one breed!" Hobbs added.
They even sell their fresh eggs at the store.

This year, Robinson added sheep on her mini farm. She has already bent Griffin’s ear about all the things she is going to need to keep them healthy and happy.

"Of course, Jamie and Todd will be there ready to assist as always," Robinson stated,
laughing at herself. "They are so patient with us."

Hobbs was a trim carpenter by trade and Robinson has done a little bit of everything from landscaping to working in paper mills.
Shannon and Robin with their Prayer Tree. To them, The Farm Company is more than a business; they consider it their ministry. 
The most noticeable thing about these two ladies is their love for Jesus. That is the main focus of their business – they prefer to call it their ministry. Hobbs is quick to let you know that God provides everything they need for the store and then some.

"We were told about a prayer tree in a store in Tennessee," Robinson recalled. "It stuck in our minds. So we made our own out of a dead corkscrew willow Shannon had by her barn. It has been such a blessing to pray for our customers and their needs.

"We know this is why we are here on Main Street in Columbiana."

Some of the items at The Farm Company have to be seen to be believed, but you will be taken back to grandma’s house and papa’s barn with your first stroll around the store. These ladies take things you would never expect and make them into items you can’t leave without buying.

"We take other people’s junk and make what we like out of it," Robinson stated. "You would be surprised at the goodies we come across looking through someone’s trip to the county landfill. They come by to see us before they go. This is recycling at its finest!"
Pickin’ in Fyffe for items to make into treasures. Of course, their motto is: “We take it from farm to fabulous!” 
Not only does The Farm Company carry items made by its owners but also other local artisans, plus things customers specifically requested. From gourmet items to handcrafted soaps and lotions, you are sure to find what you are looking for at The Farm Company.

1818 Farms soaps, lotions and bath products; Merry Cheese Crisps; Jenifer’s Kitchen Pepper Jelly; Melony Allen art; Raspberry Potpourri handmade jewelry; and Soap Commander Shaving products are just a few of the items they carry made by Alabama artisans.

Robinson is very excited about working with Black Belt Treasures in Camden to get some of the artisans from that area, including Gee’s Bend Quilters, to have their products available at The Farm Company.

"I love to see what people can pull out of their hearts and make with their hands," Robinson stated. "It just fascinates me. In our area, I want to shed a light on their gifts."

Not to be diminished in any way, Shannon Hobbs and Robin Robinson are artisans in their own rights. They see possibility in everything and it shows in their attitude. From drops of wood cut during a construction project to old chenille bedspreads that are falling apart, you never know what these two are up to or what they will come up with next!


Angela Treadaway is a freelance writer from Columbiana.


FFA Sentinel: Celebrating FFA Week With a Cause

West Morgan FFA seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.


by Charlee Freeman
Morgan County Sheriff’s deputies explain one of the possible consequences of driving impaired. 
National FFA Week is celebrated around the country by chapters from Alaska to Puerto Rico and from Maine to the Virgin Islands. All chapters take the third week in February to celebrate FFA in their communities.

FFA has the second largest convention in the United States, only behind the Democratic National Convention.

West Morgan FFA Chapter celebrates every year, but this year we decided to raise awareness of the dangers of drunken driving. Alcohol is America’s most abused substance. In fact, over 10,000 people die from drunken driving every year in the United States alone.

To kick off our FFA Week celebration, we had the Alabama FFA State Vice President John Crawford speak to us about his journey to become a state FFA officer. Crawford shared how he got involved in FFA and his FFA story. While he visited, he helped us learn about different opportunities each individual has in FFA.

We also played games that helped build teamwork and leadership as a chapter.

State and district FFA officers visit chapters throughout their year of service, sharing and spreading the news about FFA.

Our focus, as a service project for FFA Week, was raising awareness about the negatives of drunken driving. Alabama has a very high drunken driving death rate that inspired us to make it one of our focuses.

We raised awareness by having a driving course set up to simulate what it is like to drive drunk. We used a golf cart as a car and cones to mimic a road and other obstacles you encounter while driving.
Students discussed the difficulties of driving impaired. 
One of our chapter sponsors, Decatur Golf Carts, donated a golf cart so we could drive it through our road course.

Our school’s Student Resource Officer Keith Pepper spoke to us about some of his encounters while on duty and his dealings with drunken drivers.

Officers from Morgan County Sheriff’s Department presented facts, stories and live footage of drunken driving accidents and arrests that have happened in just our county. The Sheriff’s Department loaned us impaired-vision goggles that simulated the feeling of driving drunk.

Pepper shared that one in four teens will drive drunk before they are 21 and about one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunken driver. Of Alabama’s population, 1.7 percent reported driving after having too many drinks – around 18,639 of them were arrested for driving under the influence.
Students also had the opportunity to attempt field sobriety tests with the impaired-vison goggles. 
In Alabama, the number of drunken driving incidents is rising steadily. This increase in accidents is also causing more deaths, not only in Alabama but all across the nation. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of drunken-driving deaths in Alabama increased by nearly 850 people. In the United States, men are more likely to die in a drunken driving accident than women. The median age range of a drunken driver is 21-34 years, followed by people over 35.

Efforts to help raise awareness on substance abuse have had a positive impact in our school and community.

Using the driving course, students were more willing to get involved and had more fun than if they would have had to sit through a lecture in class. Teachers, administrators and others got involved as well to help raise awareness throughout the whole community.

FFA is a student organization that remains about service through agriculture education and community involvement. Our chapter promoted the responsible choice of abstaining from drinking and driving, and informed our FFA members, student body and community about the dangers of driving while under the influence.

FFA members, think about all the ways your chapter can support your community through service.


Charlee Freeman is a member of the West Morgan FFA Chapter in Morgan County.



How to Garden With Preserving in Mind



 

Feeding your family throughout the year from your own yard can be fun and rewarding.


by Angela Treadaway

Vegetable gardening can be fun, rewarding and save some food dollars, but can be expensive if you do not put some planning into it. There is a humorous book by William Alexander titled, "The $64 Tomato," that discusses one man’s quest for the perfect garden and how it ended up costing him $64 per tomato (among other things). This figure is the result of the input costs associated with gardening. The costs can add up quickly, even for a small garden. The trick is to limit the costs while maximizing the yield.

Saving money is not the only benefit of growing your own vegetables, either. There are many more such as food safety and security (knowing what soil, pesticides, fertilizer, etc. vegetables are grown in), and knowing how the vegetables are handled while they are growing and harvested because you are the only one handling them. Another thing is the great physical exercise as well as gaining more self-confidence because you were able to plant, nurture and grow some fantastic-looking tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, etc. and providing your family nutritious meals.
How could you get much fresher than your own backyard?

Garden Primer


The basic ingredients for a successful vegetable garden are adequate sun; rich, balanced soil; and sufficient water. Knowledge of suitable vegetable choices for your growing zone, orientation of the garden, drainage, proper planting and maintenance all contribute to a bountiful harvest.

Here are some tips for growing your own vegetables that can save some money on a few grocery bills:

Start with a plan – You need to do some research first and talk with your local county Extension agent who deals with home horticulture and pick up some vegetable-growing pamphlets. Decide what you want to grow and determine what will be necessary to be successful.

Plan the garden on paper first – Do you want raised beds or have enough land for an in-ground garden?

Whichever way, you will need to do a soil test first to see what is needed to supplement the soil for the best plants possible.

Soil test kits are available from your local County Extension office or your local Quality Co-op when you go to buy seeds and/or plants.

Select vegetables you like – This is simple. You are not likely to take care of or eat vegetables you do not like. Do not waste your time or money planting them in the garden. When deciding what to plant, consider the foods you regularly purchase that you can make at home. What is expensive to buy (i.e., fresh fruit), easy to grow in your area and your family favorites?

Start small – Like many things, gardening takes practice. Plants will require regular watering, maintenance and harvesting. Growing many, different vegetables in a large garden can be overwhelming for new gardeners and can ultimately lead to failure.

You will need to plan according to the full size of the vegetable plants. For instance, you need to allow more room for a squash plant to spread out than a pepper or tomato plant.

You might also want to plant your vegetables at different times, called succession planting, so not everything comes in at the same time.
Limit yourself to just a few types of vegetables the first year. When you become more confident in your abilities and resources, increase the size of the vegetable garden and grow a wider variety of crops.

Best Vegetables for Canning


Canning is the process of packing vegetables in a glass jar and sealing them with lids to ensure no bacterial growth is possible inside of the jar. This is a very popular and effective method of preserving vegetables. Although it is most often used in the average home for canning jams and pickles.

If you have any questions about whether a vegetable is suitable for canning, simply look at the canned foods on a grocery store’s shelves. Most commercially canned foods can be easily replicated at home, meaning you could can these vegetables yourself: carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, corn, winter squash, beets, pickled onions, pickled cucumbers and cabbage.

Some can be raw packed, with just boiling water poured over them, while other vegetables are better blanched before being canned. Tomatoes are an interesting choice because not only can you preserve them as whole blanched tomatoes and as pastes but can also create your own pasta sauces and can jars of delicious red bounty for enjoyment year-round.

Your local county Extension office has all kinds of information on safe canning methods. Visit any state Extension or the National Center for Home Food Preservation website to find recipes and techniques for home canning and preserving. When canning vegetables, please be careful to use safe, tested recipes from these websites because of the fear of botulism that can grow very well in improperly home-canned vegetables.

Best Vegetables for Freezing


Freezing a good portion of the harvest is also an excellent choice, especially if you have the extra freezer space. Many gardeners purchase second … and third … freezers for the sole purpose of storing their food reserves! Here are some of the best vegetables for freezing: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrots, corn, winter and summer squash, onions, asparagus, peas, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, eggplant and mushrooms.

Tomatoes are best stored in the freezer if they have already been processed. This means fresh whole tomatoes could succumb to freezer burn, but pasta sauces, purees and pastes should store just fine in the freezer for up to six months. It is often easier to freeze sauces, purees and pastes in ice trays first. Once the blocks have frozen solid, pop them out and store in dated and labeled freezer bags. This will let you simply take out the exact amount you need when cooking.

This method is also useful for freezing eggs and foods such as vegetable stock or other sauces.


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.



How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin
Lemon balm is a staple in my herb garden. 

Lemon Balm


My long-lost prescription sunglasses were nearly buried at the base of my lemon balm for over a year. Thank goodness the plant needed trimming and was in a pot instead of the ground or I may have never found them.

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, so it spreads underground almost limitlessly. However, it is taller than mint – more like basil. It gives a gardener more leafy stem to harvest. It needs space to spread in the garden or grow in a container. Winter kills the top, but it comes back from the roots each spring.

Try lemon balm for the wonderful lemon foliage indoors, chopped in fruit salad or to make tea.
You can find lemon balm where Bonnie Plants are sold this spring.

Between Stepping Stones


The spaces around stepping stones can be frustrating when weeds take over the space of planned foliage and flowers. It takes a concentrated effort to establish a planting while fighting weeds.

Smaller-leafed varieties of ajuga are a good option for filling in spaces quickly, especially when accompanied by seasonal use of Hi-Yield Treflan Weed & Grass Stopper to keep weed seeds from germinating among the plants.

Ajuga is vigorous, spreading with above-ground runners that will need to be trimmed back as needed. Check runners creeping over stepping stones where foot traffic doesn’t keep it naturally pruned.
Tomato flavor depends on many things, including sulfur available in the soil.

 

Sulfur for Tomatoes


According to research at Rutgers University (home of the famous old Rutgers tomato), sulfur is an especially important nutrient for tomatoes because it forms many of the organic compounds that give flavor to the fruit.

Not usually measured in a typical soil test, it is easy to overlook this nutrient. Sandy soil low in organic matter is the most likely to be deficient, but clay soil can also be low in it.

Gardeners can add sulfate to the soil in the form of gypsum (calcium sulfate) that doesn’t affect the soil pH. Gypsum helps improve the structure of heavy clay, too.

Apply 1 pound per 100 square feet of ground.
Hover flies help gardeners by spreading pollen, and their larvae feed on aphids. 

Hold on to the Hover Flies


Gardeners have long observed flies, beetles and other insects spreading pollen while visiting flowers.

Recently, a student at Washington State University decided to take a closer look at what percent of pollinating insects were not bees, because it is usually bees that get all the attention. It turns out that one in three of the visitors in the study area visiting cucumbers, sunflowers, tomatoes and buttercups were not bees but mostly hover flies and a few other insects.

Gardeners can encourage hover flies in the garden each year by allowing overwintered parsley, cilantro and cole crops to bloom. Hover flies love the flowers of these crops. Later in the season, they also love dill and fennel blooms.

Hover fly larvae prey on pesky aphids, young scales and thrips; so they serve double duty as pest control, too!

Why Wiegela?


Blooming after azaleas and before hydrangeas, wiegela is a fountain of showy flowers for the garden in May. Big, old-fashioned wiegela has been around for decades, although now there are many modern hybrids varying in height, bloom color and even leaf color.

Look for plants in bloom at your favorite garden center this month. Study plant tags carefully because heights range from 3 to 8 feet tall and wide, depending on the hybrid. Give wiegela the space it needs because pruning will ruin its fountainlike form.

Plant in full sun for best bloom; a little afternoon shade is OK.

It is tolerant of many soil types, but needs good drainage – avoid soggy spots.

To keep it vigorous and full of blooms over the years, remove one-third of the largest, oldest stems at their base every three or four years (right after the plants bloom). Like azaleas, late pruning removes next year’s flower buds.

Once it is established, plants are very tough, drought-tolerant and have few pest problems.

This is a great flowering shrub to add to your landscape. Plant a sweep of them for a big show.


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



I Was Only Trying to Help

by Baxter Black, DVM

It is a wonder that some vet students don’t get discouraged. I don’t mean from the grueling hours of study, the four years without sleep or the daunting specter of trying to cram 10 metric tons of knowledge into a 6-ounce brain.

No, I mean when a student first begins to realize that, despite all their skill, mental prowess and cow savvy, even the lowliest animal can reduce them to bumbling klutz.

Young Bruce was an enthusiastic vet student who spent his holidays and summers at Dr. Lionel’s clinic. He showed up one fine afternoon during spring break and asked Doc if he could go on call with him.

Bruce was dressed in his finest suit and sporting a new straw hat. He was anxious to observe … and assist, if Doc needed it.

Off they went to check on a horse with the vague complaint of bein’ touchy about the head. They arrived at the address on the outskirts of town. The owner, a lady, explained as they walked around the back of the house that they’d had the horse a month and wondered if he had an ear infection.

Standing ankle deep in the sprouting pigweed was a scruffy little stallion. He stood 13 hands and maybe weighed 800 pounds. He was tethered on a 25-foot rope and had mowed weeds in a 50-foot circle.

"He’s an Adopt-A-Horse," she said.

They’d named him Sparky.

Bruce, eager to help, untied the tether. Doc gathered his thermometer and stethoscope, and stood visiting with the owner. They watched Bruce gently work his way up the rope. The horse eyed him like a prisoner watches the hangman. Just as Bruce was reaching for the halter, the stallion took a savage bite at him! His teeth locked onto the new Resistol and jerked it off his head!

Sparky reared and pawed. Bruce fell back. Sparky wheeled and raced toward the back fence.

"It’s only an acre lot," the lady said encouragingly.

Bruce caught the rope at the 20-foot mark and was catapulted to his feet! He hung on as they coursed around, among and through the truck camper up on blocks, the boat covered with blue plastic, the tilting hay pile, aluminum storage shed, old appliances, sheep wire, pile of posts and a collection of ancient farm implements. Sparky was finally yanked to a halt when his rope tangled in the remains of an old pickup bed.

Bruce staggered from the bone yard streaked and tattered. He had lost his glasses, and his straw hat looked like a regurgitated cud.

While Doc was prescribing a treatment she could put in the feed, the owner asked, "Since you’re here, could you put my dog to sleep?"

Doc agreed and returned from his vet truck with the euthanasia solution to find Bruce, trying to regain his lost dignity, holding the dog in his arms.

The lady explained her reasons and said goodbye to the dog then remarked, "And another thing, every time I pick him up he pees on me."

As she spoke, Bruce felt the warmth soaking down the front of his shirt.

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



May Lawn and Garden Checklist

PLANT

  • Plant tomatoes, okra, eggplant, peppers, sweet potatoes, purple hull peas (crowders or whatever peas you want!), squash, corn, cucumbers, etc. Check your local Quality Co-op for Bonnie plants and garden seed!Plant successive crops of vegetables every few weeks to extend harvest.
  • Dig extra-deep planting holes for tomatoes. Fill the bottom of the hole with nutrient-rich materials. By supplying extra calcium, you’ll keep blossom-end rot at bay. A handful of bone meal and three to four crushed eggshells work beautifully.
  • Remember to rotate vegetable crops to help control pests and disease, and keep the soil in good condition.
  • Apartment dwellers with a patio that gets at least six hours of sun a day can easily grow most vegetables in containers.
  • Encourage young children to become interested in gardening by planting gourds. They grow fast once established and can produce fascinating fruit.
  • You don’t need a formal herb garden to enjoy the scents, flavors and beauty of herbs. Incorporate herbs into existing planting areas. Some are beneficial for pest control.
  • Continue to plant tender summer bulbs outdoors, including caladiums, cannas, dahlias and tuberous begonias.
  • Plant a few gladioli corms every week from now until midsummer for continuous summer cuttings.
  • Grow your own dried flowers. Raise statice, globe amaranth, straw flowers and other everlastings for this year’s arrangements.
  • Plant ground covers under shade trees that do not allow enough sunlight to grow grass. Groundcover suggestions include dwarf mondo grass, Liriope muscari (monkey grass), ajuga and Lenten rose. Try the vines vinca minor and English ivy, or some ferns that grow well in shade.
  • Add water lilies to your pond when the water temperature reaches 70 degrees.

FERTILIZE


  • If you haven’t already, fertilize warm-season turf grasses. Zoysia, St. Augustine and Bermuda prefer high-nitrogen fertilizers. Centipede grass needs little fertilizer and minimal nitrogen. Stop fertilizing cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass to prevent heat damage.
  • Feed hyacinths, tulips, narcissus, etc. while they are still in growth and making embryo flowers for next year. You can remove the faded flowers, but don’t remove foliage until it dies down naturally.
  • Lightly side dress perennials with an all-purpose 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer.
  • On landscape plants, keep an eye out for yellow or pale leaves with green ribs - a sign of iron chlorosis. Apply chelated iron according to package directions.
  • Work lime in the soil around hydrangeas to produce pink flowers or aluminum sulphate for blue blooms.
  • To encourage flowering, a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus is what you need to ask for at the Co-op. The three numbers on a fertilizer bag are N-P-K with N for nitrogen, P for phosphorus and K for potassium. A general rule of thumb to remember what the numbers mean is to start with the first one and apply from the top of the plant to the bottom. As such, N is for the green, P for the bloom and K for the root.
  • Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias after they bloom with a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants at the recommended rate. Do not overfertilize, as azalea roots are near the surface and damage can occur. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
  • Many summer-blooming tropical plants such as hibiscus and mandevilla bloom on new growth. Fertilize to encourage more growth and flowers.

PRUNE


  • 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.
  • Prune any winter damage on evergreen shrubs.
  • Remove any green shoots on variegated evergreens to prevent them reverting to a single color.
  • If you haven’t done so already, prune early flowering deciduous shrubs such as forsythias, weigela, flowering almond and spirea. Cut a third of the oldest canes to ground level, then cut one-third of the remaining branches by a third of their height.
  • Remove suckers (canes with seven instead of five leaflets) on roses close to the main stem below the soil line. Train canes of climbing roses to grow horizontally; this will force a bevy of new, vertical flowering stems to emerge.
  • Continue to deadhead flowers. This will neaten their appearance as well as encourage future blooms.
  • Remove the wilting seed heads from rhododendrons and azaleas so the plants’ energy can go to foliage growth and next year’s flowers, rather than seeds.
  • From now until the beginning of July, to make chrysanthemums bushier and more productive, pinch half an inch from each stem when it is 6-7 inches high.
  • Pinch back petunias and fuchsias to encourage more blooms on a compact plant.

WATER


  • Run the irrigation system before summer heat arrives. Replace any damaged sprinkler heads and inspect water delivery to ensure it’s being delivered to planting areas or lawn - and not pavement.
  • If you don’t know how much water the sprinkler system is putting out, use an empty tuna or cat food can to measure. Landscapes need 1-1.5 inches of water a week, either from rain or from a hose.
  • Collect rainwater for irrigation.
  • To more efficiently use water in the garden you should mulch, water deeply and less frequently, instead of often and shallowly; water early in the day wherever you can; use soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system; and, if you use sprinklers, don’t set them so high they create a mist that will just uselessly evaporate away.
  • Watering roses with soaker hoses or drip irrigation will reduce the spread of black spot disease.

PEST CONTROL


  • Stay out of the garden when the vegetable plant leaves are wet. Walking through a wet garden spreads disease from one plant to another.
  • Remember to rotate vegetable crops to help control pests, disease and keep the soil in good condition.
  • Newly transplanted vegetable plants should be protected from cutworms with collars. Cut 2-by-8 strips of cardboard, staple them into circles and place them around the plants. Press the collar about 1 inch into the soil. These collars will fence out the cutworms and protect the stems of the vegetable plants.
  • Control weeds to reduce competition for water and nutrients, plus they encourage pests and diseases. Hoe or hand pull regularly between rows on hot days to make sure the weeds dry up and die.
  • If you wish to use weed killers, do so now while the grass is growing rapidly. Do not use a weed killer if the soil is too wet, too dry or if you have a young lawn. Do not mow the lawn for at least a week after an application. Never add cuttings to compost after a treatment.
  • Is nutgrass driving you nuts? There are herbicides available to help control nutgrass (nutsedge) in lawns. Check with your local Co-op for more details.
  • St. Augustine lawns will likely begin to show chinch bug damage during late May. Chinch bugs prefer hot, dry locations so symptoms will appear in water-stressed areas such as along a walk or driveway.
  • Examine conifers for the egg sacs of bagworms and remove before the eggs hatch.
  • Keep roses sprayed for aphids and other pests and diseases such as black spot.
  • Inspect the underside of camellia leaves for red spider mites and scale. If you spot either, apply horticultural oil.
  • Remove every weed from the flower beds then spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch.
  • Attack poison ivy early in the season. Apply products containing the active ingredients glyphosate or triclopyr. Wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants to avoid a skin reaction. Carefully cut through thick vines and apply herbicide to the freshly cut base to ward against resprouting. This same technique may be used for small saplings in ornamental beds and for removing invasive Chinese privet.
  • Molehills are often a problem in spring and traps are the most effective way to deal with this problem.
  • Use a pressure washer to remove algae from paths. An algae killer may help, but read the label precautions to prevent damaging nearby plants.
  • Carefully examine houseplants for pests and problems. It is much easier to fight an insect infestation or disease in its early stages than to wait.

ODD JOBS


  • Vegetable garden rows or beds should normally run north to south to make full use of the sun’s rays. If this orientation is not doable in your landscape, be sure to plant taller vegetables north of shorter ones to reduce shade problems.
  • Using a hoe, continue piling earth around Irish potato plants.
  • Soon, those tomato plants will start to sprawl all over the garden. Stake or cage them now while they are still of a manageable size.
  • Harvest vegetables when they’re young and tender, and to encourage plants to continue producing.
  • If you haven’t already, move houseplants outdoors to a shady spot. It’s a good time to repot and fertilize them to ready them for a summer growth spurt.
  • Give plants in clay and plastic pots a boost on sunny patios. Elevate them onto boards to lessen the damaging effects of heat radiating from hot concrete or bricks.
  • Consider burying potted houseplants up to the rim in planting beds to add texture.
  • Setting the mower for a higher cut during the spring months will help the grass to grow in fuller and choke out the weeds.
  • If there are pine trees on or near your lawn, make sure to rake the needles regularly. Pine needles will kill anything underneath them. They pack so tightly light is unable to get through. Use it elsewhere for mulch.
  • Remember, mulch is our greatest ally for conserving moisture, inhibiting weeds and improving soil quality.
  • Setting stakes next to taller flowers early in the season will help support the plant against winds as well as making it easier to train them.
  • Work rain-compacted soil around plants and flower beds to provide aeration. Use shallow cultivation to prevent root damage.
  • 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!
  • Plan a landscaping project on paper first. Do not overplant. Be sure you know the mature size of each plant and allow for growth.
  • For maximum landscape interest in a small, vertical space, try annual vines. They can disguise ugly walls and fences. When trellised, they can create shade and privacy while hiding undesirable views. Try moon flower, nasturtium vine and scarlet runner bean.
  • If the weather is dry, you can treat decks, fences, sheds, etc. with wood preservative and/or stain.
  • Repair gates, pergolas, arbors and arches as necessary.
  • Put tools away at the end of the day. Clean them and hang them up so they are ready to use and easy to find.
  • Clean the pond and pond filters if you haven’t already. Use mosquito dunks throughout the season to keep mosquitos under control.
  • Pond fish feeding schedules need to get started in earnest – a little and often is best.
  • Remember, birds are still nesting. Keep the feeder full!


May Motivation

“You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Ben Franklin

by John Howle

May is a month to stay motivated or get motivated if you’re not already. Staying on a schedule is essential this time of year. There are fences to be mended, gardens to be tended, hay to be baled and bills to be mailed.

Ben Franklin was a prolific writer, inventor, political leader and hard worker, but the thing I think made him so successful was his daily schedule. He would rise at 5, wash, have his quiet time with God, and "take resolution of the day" by asking the question, "What good shall I do this day?" Taking resolution of the day was an active not passive action where he would use positive thinking to have the day work for him, instead of passively allowing the day to have its way with him.

He worked four hours without distraction before lunch, took a one-hour lunch and worked four more hours. This gave him eight uninterrupted hours of work each day. During the last few minutes of his workday, he would put his tools and other things back in their place, so the next day he could start fresh.

Finally, in the evening, Franklin would take time to relax and ask himself the question, "What good have I done today?" He would often spend the last three hours of the day dining with friends, listening to music and having some type of diversion to unwind. After getting eight hours of sleep, he would do it all again the next day.
Have separate strands crossing the creek and don’t attach them to each other in case lower strands need to break away with debris. 

Up the Creek


The recent rains can wreak havoc on fences that cross the creeks on your property. You can build elaborate, lightweight structures to keep cattle fenced in, but, whenever that huge downpour results in an overflowing creek, nothing’s going to spare your fence. Whether you are using barbed wire, slick wire or cable, when the creek is up and overflowing, you might as well be trying to stop a bulldozer with a strand of barbed wire because the force of an overflowing creek has the same power.

Instead, take the approach that, from time to time, fences crossing creeks just have to be replaced. With this in mind, you can simply extend three or four strands of barbed wire across the creek. Hopefully, you can find a tree on one side of the creek, or, if you are truly fortunate, you might have trees on both sides. I do not attach the wires to each other. In addition, I only put in a staple or two to hold the wire in place. This way, if debris begins collecting on a lower strand, it’s the only strand that breaks away, preserving the strands above (hopefully). In the photo, I attached a sign that had washed down the creek to weigh that lower strand closer to the water.

I’m hoping that by placing a STOP sign across the creek the more polite cattle will read it and avoid getting out through the creek.
Your local Quality Co-op can help you determine the right mix for young calves trying to make it on their own. 

Kick-Start for Calves


You might be an expert when it comes to taking care of livestock, but, every now and then, you may have a mama cow die after giving birth to a calf. If the calf is old enough to graze on its own, its chances of survival are much greater. First, give the calf additional feed in the form of a mixture from your local Quality Co-op. The qualified and experienced personnel at the Co-op can give you the right mix for the calf to supplement the missing milk.

Once the calf shows enough vitality to make it on its own, you can turn the calf loose with the rest of the herd. Cattle are herd animals, and they thrive much better in the presence of other cattle. In addition, a young calf may often rob other lactating cows in the herd. With the feed boost and help from the herd, the calf should be able to make it to maturity even though its growth may be slightly stunted.

Cattle Tub for Road Repair


During the April rains, it is quite likely potholes and washouts have developed in your access roads. When you just need a few spots fixed, a 140-gallon cattle tub makes an ideal gravel carrier.

If you have a front-end loader on your tractor, simply scoop some creek gravel out of the creek. Creek gravel packs well. If you don’t have access to a front-end loader, you can throw the tub in the back of your truck and have a local cement yard fill the tub with gravel such as crush and run.

If you will tell the bucket operator to only load the corner of the bucket, this makes filling the tub easier and prevents spilling over into your truck bed.
Keep the stump table near your fire pit or campfire for holding drinks or snacks. 

Chain Saw Furniture


With nothing more than a chain saw, you can make a sturdy, decorative table to go near your fire pit or outdoor gathering area. A stump will obviously have a natural look, and the best part is it’s free. We had a large maple topple over during last winter’s snow with snow depths of 10 inches at my house.

When the weather warmed up a bit, I cut out the larger diameter stump section. If you make a careful sighting, you can cut the stump square with the ground, and the top will also be level when standing upright.

Before setting the stump in place near your fire pit, cut a 1.5-inch slice off the top of the stump. This slice can be sanded, stained and used as a serving tray.

This May, get yourself motivated to think positive and be productive because time will not delay.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.







Never a Bad Time to Give Good Advice

by Dr. Tony Frazier

This article may have been a bit timelier if I had written it for the March issue. But it’s kind of like what they say about planting a tree. The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The second-best time is today. It would have been good to have put this information in front of you before Easter when people often buy baby chicks, ducks and rabbits.

However, there are times this information could come in handy all year. And next Easter, you can just pull out your old AFC Cooperative Farming News from May 2018 and be completely up-to-date on what I have to say about salmonella and public health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths per year in the United States. About a million of those cases are traced back to food sources. That leaves about 200,000 coming from somewhere else.

You don’t have to take my word for it. It’s right there on their website.

If you are reading this at the supper table, you may want to put it down and finish it after you get through eating.

If you are not familiar with salmonella, it is bacteria that generally live in the intestinal tract of mammals, birds and reptiles. I’m not sure about fish.
Anyway, even when a person contracts a salmonella infection from a pulled pork barbecue, it originated in some gut somewhere. It is a fecal-oral infection, even if it does make a quick stop in grandma’s chicken salad before giving you a horrible case of diarrhea, fever, chills and let me mention diarrhea again.

I felt like it would be a good idea to put out information on salmonella after talking to Dr. Dee Jones, our Alabama State Public Health Veterinarian, about salmonella outbreaks associated with backyard poultry. According the Alabama Department of Public Health, there were 10 multistate outbreaks of salmonellosis linked to backyard poultry flocks. This represented the largest number of illnesses linked to contact with backyard poultry ever recorded. There were 1,120 cases reported from 48 states. Over a quarter of those affected were children under 5. Of those cases, 29 percent were hospitalized, and one died.

I do want to address those who raise backyard poultry. I would think that would be the majority of you reading this article. I know I have had backyard poultry, and I assume most everyone else does at one time or another.

While it is unlikely you can be completely free of any threat of salmonella, let me suggest that you take advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Poultry Improvement Plan program. There is no charge to the backyard poultry producer and the flock is tested for Salmonella pullorum, as well as monitored for avian influenza. The NPIP program is administered by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries with the help of our USDA, Veterinary Service colleagues. The program requires an on-farm blood test of a portion of the flock, or the entire flock if it is very small.

Over the past few years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of backyard poultry producers. I think that is great and, as I said, I have had my own backyard birds. However, I do want to make it clear: I believe commercial poultry and store-bought table eggs are as safe as they can possibly be. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service are constantly working to reduce the risk of salmonella, campylobacter and other organisms causing food-borne illnesses. Those in the backyard poultry industry are not under those regulations so need to try to minimize salmonella and other harmful organisms in our flocks.

One important step in keeping our flocks healthy is to buy from hatcheries that are part of the NPIP program. Feed stores, mail-order outlets and other places where baby chicks can be purchased should be able to provide information about their baby chicks such as if they are part of the NPIP program and have been vaccinated for Marek’s disease, and about mycoplasma monitoring. If you are purchasing from a source that cannot provide that information, my suggestion is to look for another source.

Now let me get back to the subjects of children, Easter, baby chicks and ducks, and a bunch of other sort-of-related areas. An article in the April 2015 National Geographic magazine quoted a CDC epidemiologist as saying that salmonella outbreaks are seasonal and begin to increase in the spring, and they are on high alert beginning right after Easter.

When looking at baby ducks and chicks, it is difficult to believe they could be potentially dangerous. We tend to not have a problem thinking of alligators as dangerous but we have less than four deaths per year from alligator attacks. Some years we don’t have any. With 450 deaths per year from salmonella and most of those being children, I wonder if that makes baby chicks theoretically more dangerous than alligators. I am just saying we need to know the potential risks when we mix young children and baby chicks or ducks. And while the statistics are probably in your favor, use caution when allowing children to pet or hold these young animals. I suspect statistics are not relevant to the parent whose kid ends up in the hospital.

The ADPH has published some steps to protect against getting sick from contact with poultry. I hope I am not going to get in trouble for borrowing the information from them. Here it is:

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or products, or cleaning equipment used for live poultry care.

Do not snuggle or kiss baby chicks, ducklings or other live poultry.

Do not let live poultry live inside the residence or stay where foods are prepared, served or stored.

Do not let children under 5 years handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision.

Leave shoes and clothes outside after dealing with backyard flocks, especially if they come in contact with droppings.

Purchase poultry from hatcheries participating in the USDA-NPIP, a program committed to reducing salmonella infection in baby poultry while in hatcheries.

One last interesting fact: In 2009, the Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog" was released. Fifty young children were hospitalized and one died from salmonellosis, caught by kissing frogs.

I just want us to be cautious, aware and use common sense to keep our kids healthy … including us kids in our 50s.


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



No Hoof - No Bull

Lameness in bulls increases during prolonged wet weather, but good management practices can avoid this costly ailment.


by Jackie Nix
Regardless of his bloodlines, exceptional musculature or superior EPDs, if he is lame he isn’t going to breed cows to pass on those magnificent genes – so he’s useless to you. 
We’ve all heard the saying "no hoof – no horse." This saying is popular because a lame horse is of little use to its owner. The same applies to our bull. Regardless of his bloodlines, exceptional musculature or superior EPDs, if he is lame he isn’t going to breed cows to pass on those magnificent genes – so he’s useless to you.

Common causes of lameness in pastured cattle are cuts, punctures and foot rot. Cattle that have developed fescue toxicity from grazing endophyte-infected fescue pastures experience a loss of blood circulation to the feet, causing lameness as well.

How Does Wet Weather Increase Lameness?


While parts of the West and Southwest are experiencing severe drought, the East and Upper Mid-West are having another wet spring. All of that water is conducive to the development of lameness.

Cattle that continually stand in water and mud experience softened hooves – just like your fingernails after a long bath. Softened hooves are less impervious to punctures and abrasions and thus injuries are more likely to occur. Open wounds provide an avenue to infection by foot rot bacterium.

Wet weather also promotes rapid pasture growth and can inhibit haying and clipping activities. For cattle grazing infected-fescue pastures, this can be detrimental. The ergot fungus responsible for fescue toxicity is more concentrated in seed heads than in other parts of the plant. When cattle are forced to consume more seed heads (either on pasture or in overmature hay), they will intake more of the ergot toxins and are more likely to show symptoms of fescue toxicity.

Prevention


  • Luckily, most lameness can be prevented, or at least made less severe, with good management. Here are some tips:
  • Maintain good drainage in and around watering and feeding areas.
  • Do not utilize sharp gravel in areas where cattle walk.
  • Do not purchase animals from herds showing signs of lameness.
  • Treat animals at the first sign of lameness.
  • Cull cattle displaying chronic lameness.
  • Keep fescue pastures clipped to reduce the number of seed heads and to maintain pasture nutritional quality.
  • Have fescue pastures tested to determine the extent of endophyte infection. This allows you to make better choices regarding nutrition and management.
  • Dilute fescue pastures by interseeding with legumes.
  • Provide year-round, free-choice access to a high-quality mineral supplement containing adequate zinc and copper.

The Role of Mineral Nutrition


Proper mineral nutrition, especially zinc and copper, can help to improve hoof health, as well as counteract the negative effects of the ergot toxin.

Zinc is a critical nutrient involved in maintaining hoof tissues, including, but not limited to, production of keratin (the part making the hoof hard), improved wound healing and improved cellular integrity. Zinc-deficient cattle exhibit increased claw and hoof disorders, as well as skin disorders and poor wound healing. Improved zinc nutrition has been shown to improve hoof health in deficient animals.

Copper is required for strong keratin bonds (hoof hardness), as well as antioxidant activity. Copper deficiency decreases the structural strength of hoof tissue. Copper deficiency also results in decreased immunity, infertility and decreased growth.

Research has shown the fescue endophyte not only decreases the total amount of copper present in the plant but also negatively affects bioavailability of the copper present for the animal. This makes sense when you consider typical symptoms for fescue toxicosis closely resemble those for copper deficiency. These symptoms include hoof problems; rough, discolored hair coats; slow-to-shed winter coats; decreased conception rates; increased days open; and depressed immunity. For all of these reasons, lowered copper status plays a large part in the fescue toxicosis syndrome. Proper supplementation with a high-copper supplement can help alleviate some of the fescue toxicity symptoms.

Supplementation


Natural deficiencies and antagonists in soils make proper supplementation of zinc and copper extremely important for all cattle, but especially to those grazing fescue pastures. Cattle producers who have observed lameness in their cattle or wish to improve overall hoof health should consider use of one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplement products.

All CopperHead supplement products deliver enhanced levels of copper, as well as balanced levels of zinc and other essential minerals and vitamins. The CopperHead line of mineral supplements contains organic forms of zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt for optimum bioavailability.

SWEETLIX CopperHead supplements also have the added advantage of RainBloc for improved resistance to moisture resulting in less waste. RainBloc-protected minerals form a thin, pliable crust on top during a rain event. This crust is readily eaten by cattle and doesn’t need to be broken apart.

In summary, lameness increases during prolonged wet weather. There are many management practices you can employ to reduce the incidences of lameness in bulls, as well as the rest of the herd. Included among these is proper supplementation of zinc and copper. Many cattle show deficiency symptoms including hoof problems, discolored hair coats, slow-to-shed winter coats, depressed immunity, decreased conception rates and increased days open. If your cattle experience any of these symptoms, you should use one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplements to help enhance copper and zinc nutrition.

Ask for CopperHead by name at your local Quality Co-op, call 1-87SWEETLIX, visit www.sweetlix.com or like us on Facebook to learn more about these and other SWEETLIX supplement products for cattle.


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


PALS: Meek Elementary gets bold about fighting litter!

by Jamie Mitchell

Meek Elementary School in Winston County is now a member of the Alabama PALS Clean Campus Program. This K-6 school has decided now is the time to partner with PALS to ensure their students become life-long stewards of our environment. We are so excited to have them join us!

I recently visited Meek Elementary and presented my 30-minute program on the "Life Cycle of Trash."

Every month, I speak to several schools throughout the state to raise awareness of how litter can affect our beautiful landscape and how it can be harmful to our animals and other natural resources. It is important for school-age children to form good habits to ensure a more clean and pristine Alabama for generations to come. Litter prevention really is the key!

The goal of the Clean Campus Program is to get students involved. Whether they can do a lot or just a little, with everyone pitching in, we can eradicate the litter problems in our state. When students become aware, they begin to care. Once they understand the problem, they get excited about becoming a part of the solution.

If a school near you would like to participate in our antilitter movement, please have them contact me at jamie@alpals.org or 334-224-7594. One of the most wonderful things about the Clean Campus Program is that it is FREE to all Alabama public and private schools, thanks to ALFA and Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

Let’s work together to get more schools involved in keeping Alabama litter free by their participation in the Clean Campus Program!


Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.



Reeling in Some Redfish

Jason and Cason with a nice redfish they caught. 
by Christy Kirk

A six-hour drive does not sound like an ideal way to start a vacation, unless they are the beginning of a father-and-son fishing getaway to Florida. When Jason asked Cason if he wanted to go, it didn’t take long for him to decide. Once his daddy said it was time to go, Cason had his Spiderman suitcase loaded on the truck in minutes and they were off on their next adventure.

This was their second year to make a boys’ trip to Florida, but this time they went to visit Jason’s friend Troy Wilson in Williston, Florida. Troy has a metal fabrication business there, but spends much of his free time fishing in Florida and hunting in Alabama. He specializes in making navigation towers and fishing towers for small and large boats.

Jason and Cason stayed in Williston. The next morning, they drove with Troy to meet Captain Tony Bowling at his house 45 minutes away in Ozello. Bowling takes people fishing, scalloping, bow fishing or just sightseeing on his charter boat.

The four of them stayed out on the water within a two- to three-mile circle until late evening. Cason did pretty well for the long hours they spent fishing. Being on the boat did make him hungrier than usual. He occupied much of his time enjoying snacks from the cooler, but his favorite thing to do was reeling in fish for everyone else. By the end of the day, they had brought in the limit of redfish and speckled trout.

On the second day, Cason got a special treat. Troy took him and Jason for a ride on his airboat. They went to Orange Lake about thirty minutes from Williston and rode for several hours.

Jason said the scenery in that part of Florida is completely different from what you typically see in Alabama.

Hundreds of lily pads were bunched up together in clusters. The flora they saw was striking with countless blooms of many colors. Floating islands with birds and other wildlife were prevalent throughout the lake. Alligators were lying on their nests up on the banks in the marshes.

Cason said baby alligators were clustered together, swimming in the little canals and skittering over the lily pads.

Luckily, alligators don’t like airboats because they make so much noise. None of the gators they saw were interested in getting a closer look at what was on the boat and would quietly dip down under the water if Troy steered the boat near where they lounged.

After two days of fishing and exploring, they made the six-hour drive back home.

Jason cooked the redfish the night after their return. The fish were drizzled with butter, sprinkled with Creole seasoning and placed on the grill. Dinner was ready just a few minutes later.

Sometimes children like the fishing experience more than the cooking and eating part afterward, but Rolley Len and Cason have an appreciation for both. Of course, we believe the more involved they are in bringing home and preparing the family’s next meal, the more likely they are to try a new food or recipe.

GREEK REDFISH IN FOIL

  • 2 pounds fresh redfish fillets, cut into approximately 1½-inch pieces (or other fillet of choice)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, juices drained
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Kalamata, pitted and halved
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1½ Tablespoons small capers, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½-¾ cup olive oil
Heat oven to 375°. In a metal baking pan, place fillets. Season with salt. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except wine and olive oil. Distribute on top of fish. Pour wine and olive oil over. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until fish flakes.

REDFISH ON THE HALF SHELL

  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil, and a little more for brushing
  • 2 redfish fillets, scales still on and pin bones removed
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup minced flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat oven to 475°. Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet. Place redfish fillets on baking sheet skin side down. Brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper and season with salt and pepper.

On bottom rack of oven, roast for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

While fish cooks, in a small bowl, mix parsley, garlic and remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Salt and pepper, to taste.

When fish is cooked through, remove from baking sheet and put on a platter. Drizzle olive oil mixture over fish. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

REDFISH TACOS

For Sauce
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro, or to taste
Using food processor or blender, purée ingredients
together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For Fish
  • 2 pounds redfish fillets (or other white fish), cut into 1-inch thick fillets
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup seafood blackening seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Corn tortillas, heated
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Limes, quartered for serving
Heat oven to 350°. Heat grill to medium-hot, about 400°.

Coat a cast-iron skillet with olive oil. Place skillet in oven for 10 minutes to heat up. Move to grill. In a flat dish, toss the fish in butter. Use half of blackening seasoning to cover one side. Place seasoning side down in cast-iron skillet and cook for 2 minutes.

While it cooks, coat side of fish facing up with remaining blackening seasoning. Flip fish and cook another 2 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Fill tortillas with fish and cabbage. Squeeze fresh lime juice on fish and drizzle with fish taco sauce.

REDFISH BITES

  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 pound redfish (red snapper, trout or tilapia can also be used), cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ pound bacon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ cup of favorite barbecue sauce (Cason likes Sweet Baby Ray’s)
In a shallow pan or plastic bag, pour dressing. Add fish. Marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Heat grill to low-medium heat, or oven on low-medium broil.

Remove fish from marinade. Salt and pepper fish evenly. Slice bacon into halves or thirds. Wrap bacon around fish. Smooth ends of bacon to make it stick and stay together.

If using oven, line a cookie sheet with foil. Place fish on cookie sheet. Place on rack at least 4-5 inches below the broiler. If using grill, secure wrapped bacon with toothpicks that have been soaked in water for 10 minutes. Place fish bites directly on grill.

Cook in oven or on grill for 5 minutes, flipping once. Brush with the barbecue sauce and cook for additional 3-5 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and bacon is browned.

CANDY TROUT

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 trout fillets (salmon can also be used)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
Heat oven to 350°. In food processor or blender, combine honey, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper until well mixed, to consistency of whipped butter. Lightly coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Place fillets in dish. Brush all of honey sauce on fillets. Sprinkle brown sugar to cover the fish fillets. Bake until fillets are golden brown and sugar has caramelized, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.


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



Responsible Ag

Central Alabama Farmers Co-op in Faunsdale and Elmore County Co-op in Wetumpka achieve certification.


by Sharon Cunningham
Central Alabama Farmers Co-op in Faunsdale joins the group of completed Responsible AG participants. Located in Marengo County, Faunsdale is a little town, with a census of less than 100, located around Highway 25, and it delivers a big punch for travelers. Between Selma and Demopolis, the area is surrounded by lush fields and catfish ponds.

This Co-op supplies everything from hardware items, boots and garden supplies to U-Haul rentals.

Down the road, you will find the historic post office and, across the road, the Café is open for lunch and supports the local catfish industry as can be seen on their menu.

If you are traveling north from Mobile, be sure to stop in and say hello to Bryan Monk, manager, and the staff.
Welcome to Wetumpka, the county seat of Elmore County. Located near Montgomery, it is one of the fastest growing areas in Alabama. Rich in tradition, the area proudly supports the local rodeo industry and 4-H clubs in the county schools.

You will find the newly redesigned Elmore County Co-op off Queen Ann Road.

Timothy Richardson, manager, came to the Co-op in the past few years with a history of working with livestock and is using this knowledge and experience to help the community with everything from pasture care to nursing cattle.

If you have a question about a strange vine or how to get the best potted strawberries, just start quizzing the staff. With the new crop from Bonnie Plants and the best soil and plant nutrients available, your garden will be blooming in no time.

And hunters, don’t forget to start early on your plots. Look for what you need at your local Quality Co-op.


Sharon Cunningham is EHS coordinator for AFC. If you have any questions about the Responsible AG program or would like to learn how to join, you can contact her at sharon.cunningham@alafarm.com.




Soil Fertility + Pasture Weed Control

Pasture managers can now get weed control as a part of their dry fertilizer application.

Agri-AFC is excited to share the initial results of their first applications of GrazonNext HL-impregnated fertilizer. As of the end of March 2018, approximately 1,000 acres of pasture land in Mississippi have been treated with this new process.

The original registrations were in Oklahoma and Texas. Mississippi and Alabama received the registration in 2015-2016.

We have been excited for some time to start this project as our relationship with Dow AgroSciences continues to grow.

For this process, we used at least 200 pounds per acre of dry fertilizer and 2 pints (1 quart) of GrazonNext HL. We applied it in early spring as weeds were actively growing, but still small.
The best thing about this method is that a producer can take care of a great portion of pasture weeds while also taking care of soil fertility. The best result of an herbicide is a thick, healthy stand of forage.

With this process, you can use fertilizer on perennial forages to give them the boost they need to be healthy while eliminating many of those profit-robbing weeds.

Not just any retail location can immediately setup to do this. We recommend that, if you want to fertilize any row-crop acres, you go to a designated blender for the GrazonNext HL treatment to make sure there is no cross contamination in sensitive crops such as cotton, corn and soybeans. The Agri-AFC locations in Magnolia and Hattiesburg (both in south Mississippi) have designated blenders for this treatment, only available in Mississippi for now.

Please note this application saves the producer time and money because you do not have to make two separate passes to fertilize then control weeds. You are getting it done in one application.

Dow AgroSciences recently released this information on GrazonNext HL.

Get Pasture Weed Control Via Dry Fertilizer


Pasture managers in 20 states now can get pasture weed control as part of their dry fertilizer application.

Dow AgroSciences has issued a bulletin containing instructions for applications of dry fertilizer impregnated with GrazonNext HL herbicide and Chaparral herbicide. It’s a Section 2 (ee) Product Bulletin under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

"For producers who use dry fertilizer, this innovation can save a trip across a pasture, save on application costs and save the trouble of calibrating a sprayer," said Jillian Schmiedt, Dow AgroSciences Range and Pasture product manager. "Because the herbicide is part of the fertilizer granule or prill, drift is nearly eliminated."

Many ranchers and custom applicators blend herbicide with liquid fertilizer to be applied on pastures and grass hayfields. But, until recently, only Texas and Oklahoma were included in the bulletin allowing herbicide impregnation onto dry fertilizer.

Now, Dow AgroSciences has issued the bulletin for 18 other states. GrazonNext HL and Chaparral can be impregnated onto dry fertilizer in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

How It Works


Impregnating fertilizer with GrazonNext HL or Chaparral herbicide is a simple process for the herbicide retailer. Herbicide in a concentrated solution is sprayed on the dry fertilizer granules or prills during the blending process.

To get an adequate dose of herbicide properly distributed, the herbicide should be applied with at least 200 pounds of dry fertilizer per acre.

Operators of spreader trucks or fertilizer buggies then apply the treated fertilizer as they would normally.

From there, rainfall puts the herbicide-fertilizer mixture into the soil. Weed control is almost entirely dependent on the soil-residual activity of the herbicide and root uptake by the weeds. For that reason, weed control from impregnated fertilizer may be less than it would be from liquid foliar applications that work through both leaves and soil activity, said Dow AgroSciences Range and Pasture experts. Control also may be slower.

In practice, however, many users report weed control comparable to liquid applications.

Precautions and Restrictions


Chaparral is not recommended for use in pastures of Bahia grass or seeded with ryegrass. Chaparral in a liquid foliar treatment can be used to control Pensacola Bahia grass and ryegrass; injury to these species is possible from dry fertilizer impregnated with Chaparral.

Dow AgroSciences requires dedicated equipment for herbicide-impregnated fertilizer – to be used on pasture and nothing else – to avoid potential for the herbicide to be spread on sensitive crops. Adding a dye alerts users to the presence of the herbicide. The dye also makes it easier for the retailer and customer to tell how well it’s blended.

More information can be found at www.dow-dupont.com.



Something "Egg-stra" Special

Casey and Lil Yeager’s farm-to-market egg business in Orrville helps meet the demand for locally sourced food.


by Carolyn Drinkard
Casey, 10, and Lil, 8, Yeager work as a team in their enterprise, Yeager Girls’ Eggs. Both girls run a thriving business from their farm in Orrville. (All photos credit: Wendy Yeager) 
In Orrville, something quite incredible is happening! Here, two young ladies are running a thriving farm-to-market business supplying fresh, farm-raised eggs to customers. Casey and Lil Yeager, the hardworking "CEOs" of Yeager Girls’ Eggs, are only 10 and 8 years old, but they are supplying the demand for local food, while strengthening the economy of this small, rural community.

Yeager Girls’ Eggs started when Casey asked for some baby chicks. Even though she was only 4, her parents, Wendy and Jamie, ordered a dozen baby chicks. Jamie built a pen, designed a coop and got some carpentry friends to build it. When Casey’s hens started laying, her grandmother, Jean Sealy, bought some of the eggs. Her Granny was so pleased that she told some of her friends, who then told other friends. Soon, Casey had more orders than she could fill!

Casey’s solution was to expand her operation. She added 24 more chicks and brought her younger sister on board. An even bigger boost came when Judy McKinney, the owner of Orrville Farmers Market, called to ask the girls about becoming a vendor. The two young entrepreneurs now had the foundation for what would become a successful, local business.

Casey and Lil work as a team to bring their farm products to customers. They usually sell 15-18 dozen eggs per week at $3 per dozen. Each Saturday, they make their egg run to deliver around eight dozen cartons to loyal customers. The remaining eggs go to their teachers and Orrville Farmers Market, where McKinney sells them in a baker’s dozen
Judy McKinney, left, Orrville Farmers Market, buys eggs from Casey and Lil. 
Casey and Lil are completely responsible for the care of the hens and their eggs. They gather, wash and sort, and then pack the eggs in cartons. With help from their parents, the girls mix their feed from crops grown on their farm. They use a mixture of cracked corn, milo and wheat.

The girls now have 60 laying hens. They start their baby chicks in a brooder with an open-air run space. Then, as the pullets grow, the Yeagers move them up a step to another brooder. At laying age, the hens are placed in a long, fenced run, covered by wire to prevent predators from getting inside. Here, the hens have ample space to free range, perch, scratch and wallow in the dust.

The girls raise different breeds of hens for their large brown or beige eggs: Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and some Sex Links. The nesting areas are spacious, accessible and covered to keep the hens dry. The gentle, happy hens sing contently as they walk around their large run. The girls give their flock names such as Eggle, Snuggles, Bad Direction and Angel. Keeping all these ladies on their toes is their rooster, Bow Tie.

Recently, a friend gave Casey and Lil two mallard ducks. The ducks now waddle around the run with the chickens. Once the ducks start to lay, the girls hope to raise ducklings.

Sometimes, a chicken business can be troublesome! When Casey and Lil were 6 and 4, Sadie, their dog, got into the pen and killed 30 of their laying hens. Only one hen survived! The girls were devastated and so were their parents, who had to explain not only what had happened but also why their beloved Sadie had done this. Even more pressing was the fact that the girls still had to fill their customers’ egg orders.

Wendy called Earl Washburn and traveled to his home to pick out some new hens. On the return trip, Wendy’s truck broke down and she had to be towed home. The 14 hens finally arrived on the Yeager farm, moments before a bad thunderstorm hit. Even with all the upheaval, the hens were unfazed and started laying immediately.

The Yeagers forgave Sadie, a bulldog mix, and kept her on the farm.

"She’s such a good watchdog, and she adores my girls," Wendy stated. "I have seen her several times herding the girls to the house when they were toddlers and keeping them from running off. She has been my eyes when I wasn’t looking."

Sadie is now 11 years old.

Yeager Girls’ Eggs is thriving. Their customers like knowing where their eggs come from and how they are produced. Customers heap praise on the quality of the farm-fresh eggs and the pride the youngsters have in their products.
The Yeager family grows row crops on their 940-acre farm in Orrville. From left are Wendy, Lil, Jamie and Casey in one of their cotton fields. 
Casey and Lil live with their parents on Bell Place Farm, a 940-acre farm. Both of their parents are Auburn graduates. Wendy graduated with a B.S. in Animal and Dairy Science and a M.S. in Ruminant Nutrition. She is a fourth-generation farmer, who runs Bell Place Farm and plants cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and sorghum. Jamie earned his B.S. in Animal and Dairy Science and his M.S. in Agricultural Economics. He serves as the director of the Auburn University Blackbelt Experiment Station in Marion Junction. He also grew up on a farm, where he helped his father with both hogs and cattle.

The Yeagers have no full-time employees on the farm. They do have seasonal help during plantings and harvests. Jamie uses vacation time during these busy times, and he also helps in the afternoons. On most days, the Yeagers work from dawn to dusk. Both girls also help with farm work. If there is something the girls can do, their parents let them try it. The Yeagers believe farm work teaches responsibility.

"If we don’t instill a work ethic while they are young, we are setting our future generation up for failure," Wendy explained. "I was always taught that if you can learn to work and when you set your mind to do something, there is nothing you can’t accomplish."

Growing up on a farm is giving Casey and Lil life lessons they could not get anywhere else. In addition, their small egg business has already taught them some valuable business skills. For example, the girls oversee their sales and finances with help from their parents. They practice time management, juggling school and fun activities with the demands of caring for their chickens. Most important, they are learning to make decisions and solve problems. All of these experiences develop leadership skills and self-confidence, invaluable assets for the future.

"I am so proud of Casey and Lil!" said Mc-Kinney. "It is so special that they get to learn the process of budgeting and handling money wisely while so young. Most kids have to wait until their teens or college years to learn the value of a dollar and make it work for them."
Casey holds Wrong Direction, one of their hens who always seemed to have trouble following the others into the pen, with Lil in the chicken run. 
McKinney pointed out that the Yeagers’s egg business is a part of the agricultural interdependence in this small community. The girls sell their eggs to farmers, who, in turn, sell their vegetables to the Yeager family. The girls then feed their chickens the veggie stems and wastes that help the hens lay more eggs to be used by the farmers.

Casey and Lil may own their own business, but they are also kids who revel in farm life. Both enjoy riding tractors with their parents; grooming their horses, Red and Bee; and taking care of Sadie, their dog. Casey feeds these pets every morning, but Lil steps up in Casey’s absence. Lil also waters Mom’s flowers.

The girls attend Morgan Academy in Selma. Casey’s favorite subject is science, while Lil favors math. Both girls are avid readers. Casey plans to become a veterinarian, while Lil hopes to be a farmer.

The girls are also involved in many other activities. Casey plays softball, and both girls have been in dance for many years. They often ride their bikes through the farm fields or on the dirt roads. Both enjoy playing with their American Girl dolls. Lil collects Barbies, while Casey has a collection of horses.

Casey and Lil may only be 10 and 8 years old, but they are part of an important food chain feeding America. They are rooted in the agricultural way of life, passed down for generations. Regardless of what these young ladies may decide to do in the future, their egg business has already given them valuable skills that will ensure a lifetime of success.


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



Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "If y’all are plannin’ on gettin’ groceries today, you best git inta town ‘fore dark; they roll up the sidewalks ‘roud 7."

How can a sidewalk be rolled up?

Traditionally, many small shops in towns in the United States have had canvas awnings over their front doors and/or windows. The shopkeepers would unroll the awnings with a hand crank every morning before they opened for business and then roll them back up when they closed for the night. During the day, these awnings added a decorative touch to the storefront, as well as providing shade from the sun and shelter from the rain or snow; thus giving passersby a practical reason to linger at the store’s windows.

Although the most common technical name for the design of these awnings is "retractable," they are also sometimes called "rollup awnings." The rolling down and rolling up of shop awnings is familiar to anyone who has spent time in towns and small cities.

Because not much else is going on in a town or small city at 7 a.m. – no hordes of office workers crowding the sidewalks as they head to work – the rolling of the awnings becomes a conspicuous activity. Just as the rolling up of the awnings signals the end of the town’s commercial life for the day.

Suggesting that, at a certain time of the evening or night, the town rolls up not merely the awnings on its storefronts but even the sidewalks is a humorous way of saying there is no commercial nightlife at all after a certain time.

Another possible influence on roll up the sidewalks is the expression "roll out the red carpet," meaning to greet someone important with appropriate fanfare and respect. What’s rolled out may presumably be rolled up afterward, and that notion might be extended humorously from a carpet to a sidewalk.

Jonathon Green, Chambers Slang Dictionary (2008), pushes the probable origin date back to the middle 1800s, in its brief coverage of the expression under a longer entry for sidewalk:

"… roll up the sidewalk, v., {mid-19C} (United States) of shops and entertainments in towns or cities, to close down at nightfall."
But actual instances in print from the 1800s seem hard to come by. Popik’s discussion of the phrase lists instances from 1922 (Oregonian newspaper article), 1924 (item in The Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators) and 1926 (a Charlie Chan novel by Earl Biggers, serialized in the New York Post, 1925). A directed Google Books search for these instances finds matches only for the Biggers novel (in reprint form). Green doesn’t cite any examples.

As I said at the outset of this answer, I think the likeliest source of the expression is as a humorous exaggeration of the idea that at a certain time of night, visitors and (especially) potential customers are no longer welcome in a town, neighborhood or business district. The image of rolling up a sidewalk also indirectly implies the town is very small because any large-size municipality is likely to have a lot of sidewalks laid.

Removable boardwalks are a phenomenon in some beach towns and may have been known in the 19th century, but whether anyone would have characterized them as sidewalks is unclear. Still, they may contribute yet another influence to an imaginary phenomenon invoked for startling effect.

I can’t find any 19th-century instances of the expression "roll up the sidewalks." But I couldn’t find any as early as the 1917 example JEL cited, either. In fact, the best I could do was to confirm a 1925 instance from a Charlie Chan mystery novel.

On the evidence turned up so far, early 20th century is a more likely origin period than mid-19th century.



The Co-op Pantry

by Joyce Brannon and Jena Klein

Mary Delph was on vacation and I had someone in mind for a featured cook for this issue, but circumstances interfered. So … I searched through the recipes that didn’t make it into our first cookbook, "Southern and Then Some," because we got soooo many and didn’t have room for them all.

I did notice my sweet tooth was being very active as I was making my selections. I hope you will like them.

June’s recipes will feature cucumber, dairy, lettuce and seafood; and making donuts.

For July, we want recipes containing blueberries and pickles, and for making baked beans, ice creams and pickles. Of course, your favorite dishes for Independence Day and Memorial Day cookouts would be great.

We are always interested in anyone who would be willing to be interviewed and share some of her … or his … favorite recipes with us. Contact us if you are interested.

We would love to hear from you … for recipes or to be our feature cook.


Joyce Brannon is the editor of AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at joyceb@alafarm.com. Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator. You may email her at jenak@alafarm.com.

ALMOND POUND CAKE

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup Crisco shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ teaspoons almond flavoring
  • 5 eggs
  • 3½ cups sifted plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
In a bowl, cream butter, Crisco and sugar till light and fluffy. Add flavorings. Add eggs one at a time. In separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. Add alternately with milk. Bake for 1½ hours on 325°.
Bill Sanders
Goshen, AL

BEST BARBECUE COLESLAW


Yield: 8-10 servings
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages finely shredded cabbage
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2½ Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1½ Tablespoons white vinegar
In large bowl, combine carrot and cabbage.

In separate bowl, whisk remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour over vegetables. Toss. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours.

Reba Dalrymple
Tuscumbia, AL
Lauderdale Farmers Co-op

STRAWBERRY JUNKETT DESSERT


  • Angel Food Cake, pulled into pieces
  • 2 packages Strawberry Junkett Danish Dessert
  • 2 packages strawberries, drained (save juice for Z
  • pudding)
  • 1 carton whipped topping
In bottom of cake pan, place cake pieces. Cook Junkett according to package (use juice as part of water). Mix with strawberries. Let cool. Pour over cake. Refrigerate 3-4 jours before serving. Top with whipped topping.

Judi Wittkoph
Mossinee, W

GRAPE SALAD


  • 1 cup red seedless grapes
  • 1 cup sliced red unpeeled apple
  • 1 cup bananas, sliced
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks, reserve juice
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese and juice. Toss with cheese and 3 tablespoons pineapple juice. Mix well and chill.

Marjorie H. Stroud
Double Springs, AL
Winston Farmers Co-op

CARAMEL PEANUT CAKE

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. In second bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. In third bowl, pour vanilla and milk. Mix. Add alternately with flour mixture to batter. Fold in peanuts.

Into 3 8-inch cake pans, pour batter. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes or until tested done. When layers cool, ice cake with Caramel Peanut Icing.

CARAMEL PEANUT ICING


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped, divided
In a heavy saucepan, add sugar, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil. Boil 4 minutes and cool. Add vanilla, peanut butter and 2/3 of peanuts. After icing cake, sprinkle remaining peanuts on top.

Vonnie Strickland
Clayton, AL
Barbour Farmers Cooperative

FRESH SALSA PICANTE


Makes: about 4 cups
  • 3 medium fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped onion or green onions
  • 1 Anaheim chili, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Realime lime juice from concentrate or
  • realemon lemon juice from concentrate
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
In medium bowl, combine ingredients; mix well. Cover. Chill. Serve with tortilla chips. Refrigerate leftovers.

Mary Delph
AFC Main Office

PINTO BEAN CASSEROLE


  • 3 Tablespoons salsa dip
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 large can pinto beans
  • 1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes with Peppers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cornbread mixture, by your favorite recipe
In a skillet, brown ground beef and onions. Drain. In casserole dish, mix other ingredients except cornbread with meat mixture. Pour cornbread mixture over top to make a thin layer. Bake at 350°, until cornbread is brown.

Janice Moran
Athens, AL
AFC Main Office

BEEFY NACHOS


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • Water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chili without beans
  • 1 package chili mix
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 pound Velveeta cheese
In a skillet, brown meat; add a little water. Add other ingredients. Stir occasionally. Ready when cheese melts. Serve over tortilla chips.
Note: Can be transferred to a crockpot to keep warm. Serves a crowd.

Liz Jones
Newville, AL

GERMAN MEATLOAF


Servings: 4
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tomatoes, halved
In a large bowl, mix beef, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, onion and seasoning. Shape into a ring. Parboil cauliflower 5 minutes. Place in center of ring. In a bowl, mix cheese and milk. Pour over cauliflower. Place in a 2-quart round baking dish. Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes, or until done. During last 15 minutes of baking, place tomato halves on meat.
Note: This is a complete dinner!

Bud Eber
Manitowoc, WI

CRÈME DE MENTHE SALAD


  • 1 cup pear juice
  • 1 (3-ounce) package lime Jell-o
  • ¼ cup crème de menthe
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup pears, diced
  • 1 package whipped topping
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Chopped nuts, optional
In a saucepan, heat pear juice. In a bowl, pour juice. Add Jell-O. Mix. Add crème de menthe, pears and pineapple. Mix. Place in refrigerator till thickened. Fold in whipped topping and mayonnaise. If desired, add a few chopped nuts. Let chill until set.
Note: This is a very tasty salad and a nice green color.

Mrs. Helen Paulk
Union Springs, AL
Bonnie Plant Farm

STRAWBERRY TRIFLE


  • 1 large Angel Food Cake
  • 1 large French Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix, with
  • package requirements
  • 1 quart strawberries sliced (keep some whole for topping)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 jar strawberry glaze
  • 1 (12-ounce) whipped topping
Cut up cake. In a bowl, mix pudding by directions, In another bowl, mix strawberries with glaze. In trifle bowl, make as many layers as you can, starting with cake and ending with cool whip. Put a few whole strawberries on top.

Marjorie H. Stroud
Double Springs, AL
Winston Farmers Co-op

QUICK MACARONI SALAD


  • 1 box macaroni and cheese dinner
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 4 boiled eggs, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pickles or pickle relish
  • 5 or less Tablespoons mayonnaise, to suit your family
Cook macaroni dinner as directed on package. Drain and pour into bowl. Add other ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate.

Marjorie H. Stroud
Double Springs, AL
Winston Farmers Co-op


The Four P's of Marketing

by Kevin Burkett

Recently, we held marketing workshops across the state to help fruit and vegetable growers gain information on selling their products. Hopefully, we’ve already met at one of them, but, if not, I will highlight some of the information from these workshops.

There is a lot of thought, time and effort put into growing our products; that is great, and we do a great job with production. Sometimes, but not always, there is the same amount of time and effort put into marketing our products.

At the workshops, there was a lot of discussion about marketing. By no means could it all be covered in one article; we’ll highlight some of the information and, maybe in future articles, cover other aspects and spotlight real-world producers and examples.

For this article, we are going to look at two concepts frequently mentioned about marketing: The four P’s of marketing, and the differences between sales marketing and relationship marketing. Even if you are familiar with these concepts, maybe we’ll discuss them in a way that brings new ideas to you.

The 4 P’s state: All marketing activities fall into a "P" category – product, price, placement and promotion – and everything in these categories comprises marketing.

Product asks, "What have I developed or what am I trying to sell?"

There’s potentially a lot of time and energy spent on this category alone. Everyone wants to determine the perfect offering everyone is going to love and that will sell consistently and quickly.

The truth is … it doesn’t just happen. If someone has developed a great product, you can bet they’ve done some research to determine their customers, what they like, why it’s going to sell, etc. etc.; determining our product is a big component.

Price asks, "How much am I going to charge?"

There are a number of ways to reference prices. You can look at comparable businesses, comparable products, customer surveys of how much they’re willing to pay, and, last but maybe most importantly, the amount of money invested in the product.

If it takes $10 to develop something and it is sold for $5, it’s hard to make that equation work in your favor.

Placement asks, "Where can I place my product for potential customers to see and sell it to them?"

When we’re talking about farms, it somewhat depends on the commodity. In this article, we’ll highlight fruits and vegetables.

In this case, generally there are a number of options. You can sell to grocery stores or restaurants, be a wholesaler or be your own storefront at farmers markets or roadside stands. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The determination may be where you can get the best and most consistent returns for your products. It’s likely there will be several placements for your product, i.e., several farmers markets, several restaurants, etc.

The last category, promotion, asks, "How am I going to get the word out and let people know about XX Farms and my product?"

You can create advertisements, rely on word-of-mouth, show up at farmers markets and hope people will notice. If no one knows you have this product, you can’t expect to sell very many.

There is no magic in the 4 P’s, but the idea is that you are thinking through a marketing plan and end up with the right product, right place, right time and right price.

The second component compares sales marketing and relationship marketing.

A lot of times when we think about marketing, it’s of big advertisements and billboards letting us know about a sale. This is sales marketing. The whole objective is to sell a particular item or in a particular time frame. Think "ONE DAY SALE: EVERYTHING 25% OFF"-type of billboards. These types of promotions can be effective in the right scenarios. If a business just wants to sell something quickly and is willing to offer a discount, it probably will make additional sales of those items for that day.

On the opposite end, and something frequently found in agriculture, is what’s referred to as relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is a lot like it sounds; you have some kind of connection to your customers and to marketing efforts. Relationship implies a longer-term focus and you are somehow invested in the transaction.

Instead of focusing on making a one-time sale or on one particular weekend, you are focused on customers – getting to know and making a connection with them.

There are several benefits to this. You get to know their likes and dislikes (i.e., what makes them buy from you), they can tell people about you and your product, and it doesn’t cost anything to say, "Hey, how’s it going?" to someone at the market instead of putting up numerous billboards or advertisements.

There are situations for both types of marketing, but relationships can help greatly in developing your business.

In future articles, we’ll talk to producers or highlight other pieces on marketing. In the meantime, thinking through the 4 P’s is a continual process you can use to focus on strategic sales – and developing relationships can go a long way in helping your marketing efforts.


Kevin Burkett is a Regional Farm and Agribusiness Management Agent with ACES.


The Unseen Value of a Freshwater Fishing License

Where does the money go when you buy a freshwater fishing license?


by Chuck Sykes
WFF operates three warm-water fish hatcheries that produce and stock 3-4 million fish into Alabama’s public waters each year. 
In Alabama, having a valid freshwater fishing license means you are good to go for fishing in the inland public waters of the state for bass, crappie, catfish, bream or any other sport fish or nonsport fish species not otherwise protected by regulation. But, in reality, it means so much more.

When you purchase a fishing license, these fees are deposited into Alabama’s Game and Fish Fund and are soon put to work to help conserve, protect and manage our wildlife and fisheries resources. I’m confident you know by now that Alabama’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries does not receive any funding from the Alabama General Fund. I’ve tried over the past several years to stress the fact that hunters and fishermen pay for the services we provide. Therefore, it is critical for the success of our programs for us to sell as many hunting and fishing licenses as we can.

In addition, when you purchase fishing rods, reels, lures, hooks and line, you support manufacturers that pay federal excise taxes on those goods. Those federal excise taxes, through what is known as Sport Fish Restoration grants, are passed on to game and fish agencies such as WFF to fund projects for the management and enhancement of sport fish populations and to improve the public’s ability to enjoy them. And guess what? Alabama’s annual share of that Sport Fish Restoration funding is in part calculated by the number of fishing licenses sold in the state.

More Alabama fishing licenses sold equals a larger share of Sport Fish Restoration funds available for Alabama. For every state dollar (license dollar) spent on one of these projects, three Sport Fish Restoration dollars are added to cover the costs. That is a terrific return on anglers’ investments.

So, you might ask, what do these funds pay for anyway?

Fish Hatcheries: WFF operates three warm-water fish hatcheries that produce and stock 3-4 million fish into Alabama’s public waters each year. These fish stockings are intended to establish or enhance sport fishing opportunities.

Reservoir Management: WFF biologists annually sample fish populations in Alabama lakes and reservoirs to determine their condition. Based on this data and angler creel survey interviews, biologists can recommend specific management regulations such as creel limits or length limits that are beneficial to fisheries.

Fisheries Research: Scientific studies are contracted through various universities to answer specific fisheries’ management-related questions. The results of these studies are utilized by WFF biologists to formulate fisheries’ management strategies for public water bodies.
Canoe Creek on Neely Henry Reservoir in St. Clair County was constructed in 2017 and serves 80 boaters. 
Boating Access: Approximately 115 freshwater public boat ramps are maintained annually by WFF on public water bodies throughout the state. New boat ramps are constructed in desirable areas based on land acquisitions, primarily through extended leases. Existing facilities are also expanded at high-use locations.

Technical Assistance to Pond and Lake Owners: WFF biologists provide technical assistance to private pond and lake owners and reservoir operators regarding sport fish management. Those requesting assistance are provided with the necessary information to remedy their problems. In certain cases, onsite visits are scheduled, free of charge, for biologists to better understand the owners’ specific concerns. Typically, over 300 on-site pond checks are conducted annually by WFF biologists.

Public Fishing Lakes: WFF operates and manages 23 public fishing lakes located in 20 counties. These lakes are 13-184 acres. The purpose of this program is to provide quality fishing at an affordable price in areas lacking sufficient natural waters to meet the needs of the public.

Fish Habitat Enhancement: This program utilizes both natural and artificial material to enhance and restore fish habitat in public water bodies. These habitats serve as fish attractors and are utilized by anglers to increase their chances of fishing success.
WFF biologists annually sample fish populations in Alabama lakes and reservoirs to determine their condition 
Aquatic Education: This program focuses on educating Alabama’s youth on the importance of our valuable aquatic ecosystems. Other aspects include teaching novice anglers how to fish, through fishing and casting classes.

Environmental Affairs: This program provides technical guidance to government and nongovernment entities regarding the protection and preservation of Alabama’s valuable aquatic resources.

Rivers and Streams Fisheries: This program focuses on the special needs of the many fish species that require flowing water systems for survival. These species cannot persist in the static waters of lakes and reservoirs, and many populations are now at risk.

As you can see, a fishing-license purchase is not just a pass to allow you to go fishing. It represents your contribution to the conservation and management of Alabama’s fisheries resources and aquatic habitats. It means you are a participant in the conservation ethic that has been a tradition of North American hunters and anglers for over a century and you care about Alabama’s wildlife and fisheries resources.

Chuck Sykes is director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries



Time to Celebrate Strawberry Season

The strawberry, or erdbeeren, as the German settlers called it, has a long and illustrious history in Alabama.


by Tony Glover
In Cullman’s strawberry heyday, they were harvesting 2,200 acres and had become known as the “Strawberry-Producing Capital of Alabama.” Many factors had a part in the decline of strawberry acreage over the years, dropping to 500 and currently revived to about 1,000. 
The early German settlers in my hometown of Cullman called strawberries "erdbeeren," or literally "earth berry." One of the first of the German settlers in Cullman, Andrew Kessler, may have brought the first strawberry plants 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, strawberry 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. However, 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 caused a labor shortage and the acreage fell to about 500. By 1947, acreage started to climb back 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. When acreage began to fall, the 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 that provided a more secure income with less risk.
Morgan Brannon loves strawberries. When they are ripe, you can find her in a strawberry patch. Morgan is the niece of Mike Reeves, Morgan County Extension coordinator. 
Several years ago, local officials decided to resurrect the Cullman Strawberry Festival. Even though we will likely never have the large acreages we had in my grandfather’s day, we do have several local producers who grow strawberries to sell.

This winter has been very cold, but most area growers covered their plants with a blanketlike material that fairly well protected them. The crop potential looks good and, barring any really late freezes, they should harvest a good crop of the sweet erdbeerens.

This year’s festival will take place May 5 at 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 vintage car show, live music and plenty of local-grown strawberries.

There will also be a wonderful assortment of local artisans and crafters selling their wares at an arts and crafts event in Depot Park, across from the farmers market.

Cullman County Museum will be open, just walk across the parking lot to the historic reproduction of the Colonel Johann Cullmann Home.

Strawberry season in Alabama is literally short and sweet, so be sure to get out and support the hard-working strawberry growers in your communities. Many communities across Alabama have strawberry festivals; look for one of them and support your local farmers.
Those communities farther south had their festivals in April when strawberries were at their peak in their respective areas.

Moulton has a strawberry festival May 4-5 on their downtown square.

However, if you are close enough to Cullman, please come, 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:
http://www.fma.alabama.gov.

To get more details about the Cullman Strawberry Festival, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CullmanStrawberryfest.


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



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