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November 2016

Ag Insight

USDA announces Gulf-area agricultural lands program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new three-year, $328 million restoration strategy to improve water quality and help coastal ecosystems heal after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The strategy will guide how USDA will steer conservation efforts on private lands in priority areas of the Gulf of Mexico region.

USDA will work in partnership with Alabama and four other Gulf States, federal agencies and landowners to explore opportunities for how the funding can complement funds from the settlement of the oil spill.

With most of the land in the region privately owned, working lands on the Gulf Coast are pivotal to the region’s recovery, USDA said.

Assistance is provided through a number of Farm Bill programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Through an array of voluntary conservation programs, USDA said the Gulf of Mexico strategy will provide financial and technical assistance to producers, helping them adopt a number of conservation practices to clean and conserve water such as managing for nutrients, using no-till, planting cover crops, installing grade-stabilization structures and water-control structures.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to continue these efforts, especially in priority watersheds such as Alabama’s Fish River and Indian Bayou in Louisiana.

For more information, contact your local USDA service center or visit

Beef, pork production, consumption projected to rise

USDA baseline projections show production of beef and pork will expand steadily between 2016 and 2025, driven by lower feed costs and strong meat demand domestically and abroad. As a result of this greater production, beef and pork prices are projected to drop 10.6 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, over the same period.

Cheaper prices will help reverse a multiyear decline in meat consumption in the United States. Per capita consumption of beef is also forecast to increase 2.7 percent by 2025, outpacing growth in consumption of broilers (2.3 percent) and pork (1.7 percent).

USDA expects the trend will increase the total amount of meat consumed per person in the United States from 211 pounds in 2015 to nearly 219 pounds by 2025.

Tuskegee receives 2501 Program grant

Some $8.4 million in grants will be used by organizations in 24 states to provide training, outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged, tribal and veteran farmers and ranchers.

The grants include $200,000 to Tuskegee University and will be leveraged to help bring traditionally underserved people into farming, as well as veterans who want to return home to rural areas.

The grants are provided through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program and administered by USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach.

Food insecurity a difficult measurement

Measuring food security at the individual household level isn’t easy and statistics on the number of persons residing in food-insecure households should be interpreted carefully. Among other things, within a food-insecure household, individual household members may have been affected differently.

Some members, particularly young children, may have experienced only mild effects of food insecurity or none at all, while adults were more severely affected.

Food-insecure households were, at times, unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members due to insufficient money and other resources. In 2015, 42.2 million people lived in food-insecure households. Of these individuals, 14.6 million lived in households in the severe range of food insecurity, described as very low food security.

Households with very low food security were food insecure to the extent that eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at some point during the year.

Fast food purchases – who and how often

Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service provides a snapshot of which household types are purchasing fast food and how often. The conclusion is that eating out accounts for a significant share of Americans’ food budgets and diets.

Fast food in the analysis includes prepared food from a deli, carry-out and delivery food, and food from a fast-food restaurant. Over an average week in 2014, the latest period for which complete data are available, 58.2 percent of American adults purchased fast food and those who purchased fast food did so an average of 2.7 times.

Couples with children were the most likely to purchase fast food (64.5 percent). However, single-person households had the highest average number of weekly fast food purchases. Men who purchased fast food did so an average of three times weekly, while women who purchased fast food averaged 2.5 times.

Principal farm operators older than people in non-farm businesses

A notable characteristic of principal farm operators - the person most responsible for running the farm - is their relatively advanced age.

In 2014, 33 percent of principal farm operators were at least 65 years old. This is nearly three times the U.S. average (12 percent) for older self-employed workers in nonagricultural businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most older principal farm operators run small family farms. Retirement farms had the highest percentage of older operators (67 percent), followed by low-sales farms (41 percent) and moderate sales farms (28 percent).

Older operators made up about one-fifth of each of the remaining groups.

The advanced age of farm operators is understandable. The farm is also home for most farmers and they can gradually phase out of farming. Improved health and advances in farm equipment also allow operators to farm later in life than in past generations.

U.S. ag output shows strong growth

U.S. agricultural output has more than doubled since 1948, growing on average at 1.52 percent annually.

Total input use (i.e., land, labor and materials such as seed and feed) grew at only 0.05 percent per year on average. Improvements in how efficiently inputs are transformed into outputs, known as total factor productivity, fueled almost all of the output growth.

Advancements in technology such as improvements to machinery, seeds and farm structures enabled agricultural TFP to grow an average of 1.47 percent annually. This rate exceeded the productivity growth of most U.S. industries, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In recent years (since 2007), TFP growth has kept up with its historic rate. This strong productivity growth has offset the decline in the use of agricultural inputs, allowing agricultural output to continue to grow by 0.91 percent annually.

ERS estimates climate change impact on U.S. agriculture

Climate models predict U.S. agriculture will face changes in local patterns of precipitation and temperature over the next century. These climate changes will affect crop yields, crop-water demand, water-supply availability, farmer livelihoods and consumer welfare, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Using projections of temperature and precipitation under nine different scenarios, ERS projects climate change will result in a decline in national field crop acreage in 2080 when measured relative to a scenario assuming continuation of reference climate conditions (precipitation and temperature patterns averaged over 2001-08).

Acreage trends show substantial variability across climate change scenarios and regions. When averaged over all climate scenarios, total acreage in the Mountain States, Pacific and Southern Plains is projected to expand, while acreage in other regions – most notably the Corn Belt and Northern Plains – declines.

Over half of all field crop acreage in the United States is found in the Corn Belt and Northern Plains, and projected declines in these regions represent 2.1 percent of their combined acreage. Irrigated acreage for all regions is projected to decline, but in some regions increases in dryland acreage offset irrigated acreage losses.

The acreage response reflects projected changes in regional irrigation supply as well as differential yield impacts and shifts in relative profitability across crops and production practices under the climate change scenarios.

Back Pain?

Consider a back brace.

by Nadine Johnson

"Pain: Physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury." That’s what my dictionary says. Often I hear people express pains in one form and another. Often joint pain, but most often, I believe, I hear, "My back hurts." I usually ask, "Do you wear a back brace?" Some answer simply, "No"; others say, "Yes, I have one, but it is too hard to put on." Another answer is, "I don’t know if it would do me any good."

I usually give these people advice whether they want it or not. After all, my advice is free.

I obtained my first back brace, prescribed by my doctor, when I was in my 30s. It reminded me of the corset the lovely Scarlett O’Hara wore in "Gone with the Wind." Of course, Scarlet wore it to make her tiny waist tinier. My corset did help to control back pain, but it was a pain in the neck finding clothes to fit over it.

My second back brace was prescribed after I was 60. It was very much like my first brace, which means there were many hooks and eyes, lacing and stays. Oh, oh, ouch! Those stays! While they helped correct my back pain, they created another agony. They poked into my body and felt very much like pitchfork tines jabbing me.

For some reason, I paid a visit to my orthopedic doctor. (This was 10 years ago.) I said to him, "I really need a new back brace." He answered, "Come with me." Then he took me into the office next door, gave the occupants a few directions and left me in their capable hands. I was fitted with a new kind of brace. It is a foam–like, stretchy material fastening with Velcro. This is a wonderful and very comfortable new type of back brace. This brace is the charm!

To don my brace, I fasten it loosely around my waist, then I lie down on my bed and pull the Velcro fasteners comfortably tight. If I take a nap in the daytime, I keep the brace in place and experience no discomfort whatsoever. It is now 10 years old, but as good as the day I received it. Of course, I don’t actually wear it every day.

My need for a brace stems from severe osteoporosis that was practically untreated for a good many years. Finally I found horsetail (an herb) and Bone-up (a bone builder) that turned my sick bone situation around. However, these wonderful alternatives cannot completely correct the damage the disease had done to my spine.

Of course, not everyone with back pain should be wearing a brace. If you think you might benefit by wearing one, consult with your physician. Show him this column, if you desire. I hope you gain benefits as I have.

Also consult with your doctor before taking alternatives.

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

Best Cabbage in Alabama Grown by a Third-grader

Simon Roberts’ winning entry weighs over 27 pounds!

Simon Roberts and his 27.3-pound cabbage (Credit: Bonnie Plants)

by Ivana Hrynkiw, reprint from, Oct. 12, 2016

It's official! The best cabbage in Alabama has been announced.

The state winner of the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program was Simon Roberts. His cabbage weighed in at 27.3 pounds.

Simon, a student at East Smiths Station Elementary, will receive a $1,000 saving bond toward his college education from Bonnie Plants.

Over 1.5 million children across the country participated in the program this year, with 37,423 kids participating in the state of Alabama.

Each year, the free program offers participating third-grade classrooms oversized cabbage plants to grow. The student with the best cabbage, based on size and appearance, in each state wins the scholarship prize.

"The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening but the importance of our food systems and growing our own," said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants.

The program started 13 years ago, and now 48 states participate.

The National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is free to any third-grade classroom in the United States. If you are a teacher and would like to register for the program, visit

Burkville's Okra Festival

This poster proclaims the importance of okra to Lowndes County residents.

Barbara Evans is stepping down as director after 16th annual event.

by Alvin Benn

Alabama has its share of festivals honoring everything from hot air balloons to lobsters, but, in many cases, it takes paid staffs and big budgets to draw crowds.

Such is not the case in the tiny Lowndes County community of Burkville where 16 years ago two women got together one hot, muggy day to spotlight a slimy, green vegetable.

It’s been that way from the first Let’s Have a Party celebration that doesn’t charge an admission or require $50 or more for vendor booths.

The annual Okra Festival was, as anticipated, another successful event, one that drew a huge crowd just off a narrow road honoring civil rights legend Harriet Tubman.

It also signaled an end for the original location of the festival – front and backyards of originators Barbara Evans and Alice Stewart.

Evans is 70 now and Stewart, who lived across the road from her, passed away several years ago, but festival supporters have indicated they are ready and willing to keep it going for years to come.

"In a way, our festival represents the South at its best with strong rural people," Evans said. "I love it because of how we keep it simple without frills."

She’s keeping next year’s festival close to her vest. She is telling folks it will be held again, but in another rural location because that’s where okra grows the best.

Barbara Evans takes a breather at a unique rest stop during this year’s Okra Festival.

Evans may be stepping down as director of the event, but she plans to become a vendor, no doubt coming up with a new recipe for her favorite vegetable.

As the lone white resident in a black community, it didn’t take Evans very long to be accepted even with her aggressive outlook on life in an area where her neighbors are more laid-back than she could ever have imagined.

An activist from the day she was born, she has been a union organizer and front-line protester against those with ideas on how to make a quick buck at the expense others.

What really got her dander up several years ago were efforts by some entrepreneurs to create a solid-waste landfill not far from U.S. 80 where the historic Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights Trail meanders across several Black Belt counties.

Evans became a leader in demonstrations to block "the dump" as it was called, and it worked big time. For a while, her name became known across America with national civil rights leaders coming to Lowndes County to help support the protests.

Those days are long gone, but she hasn’t lost her passion when it comes to helping those in need.

Barbara and former Lowndes County Commissioner Tom Pringle examine an okra patch in Burkville.

Former Lowndes County Commissioner Tom Pringle has known Evans since she arrived in Burkville two decades ago and said he has seen a noticeable change in her demeanor in recent years.

"No question; she’s become more mellow in the past few years," said Pringle, a farmer whose acre of okra is coming along nicely as summer turned to autumn. "We’ve been communicating a lot and she’s become more sophisticated by being mellow and can accomplish more things."

At the moment, Evans is having fun and relaxing more since okra flourishes during hot, muggy periods and cool weather isn’t what’s good for the veggie to grow.

"Okra is a staple in warm-climate countries all over the world and is prized for its thickening power in African stews," she said. "People in India love it as well."

Rock, country and blues bands had used the site to perform during the festival, but it’s about to have a new mission – growing lots of okra.

"The more you pick it, the more you get," she said. "In fact, if you stop picking it, it will stop producing. Even then, the dried stalks of large okra pods are beautiful and used in flower arrangements. There is virtually no waste."

She plans to convert her sprawling backyard into a perfect place for her okra to grow.

Okra seems to find new ways of making a name for itself, according to Evans, who said a North Carolina artist even developed a process for making paper from the vegetable.

"I’ve used that paper to send thank you notes," she said. "I believe okra is becoming the new kale, which seems to be all the rage these days."

Most grow and devour okra in its truest form from the fields, but it also has become popular with those who have come up with other ways to enjoy it; it’s now being eaten fried, stewed, mixed with sweet corn for casseroles and much more.

"Fresh Market has it dried and I think it’s better than potato chips," she said. "I knew it was gaining on kale when the prices of okra doubled over the last couple of years."

Life in rural Alabama is a far cry from her younger days when her family moved frequently and she wound up making new friends every year or so.

She believes the Okra Festival has brought her a measure of community respect because she arrived in the country and, at times, became a lightning rod for controversy.

Barbara Evans holds up a homemade satchel that sold fast at this year’s Okra Festival in Burkville.

"My work as an activist in the fields of civil and labor rights and my years in Lowndes County as an environmental activist can be off-putting to rural Alabama’s population," she said.

That’s all behind her right now, but she lets folks know, if an important social issue pops up again, she might just jump into the deep end of the pool once more.

She now has a more sedate lifestyle with a couple of dogs to keep her busy and act as four-legged, barking security systems.

As a grandmother who enjoys spoiling her youngest relatives, she finds more time these days to read and even watch a favorite program on TV.

"I’ve always been unafraid to speak my mind and my direct approach is not always appreciated, but the Okra Festival has smoothed out all my rough edges and those days always provide great memories for me," she said.

One of those memories also provided her with something quite unexpected.

"One year, a man who just did not like me or my work grabbed me and we danced up a storm," she recalled. "Everyone knew we were not buddies, but for that one day we buried the hatchet and I could not stop smiling."

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Co-op Pantry Correction

CFN would like apologize to Betty Stephens, our Pantry cook in the September issue, for an ingredient left out of her recipe. Here is the corrected recipe.


¼ cup pecans, finely chopped
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 box Betty Crocker butter pecan cake mix
½ cup oil
1 cup water
4 eggs
1 can Betty Crocker coconut-pecan frosting

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray Bundt pan with Baker’s Joy pan spray. (Pam spray will not keep it from sticking.) Sprinkle pecans in pan. Use a sifter and sprinkle powdered sugar over pecans.
In a bowl, mix all ingredients including the frosting. Pour into Bundt pan and cook 45 minutes or until toothpick indicates it’s done.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove onto plate.

Note: You can make a German chocolate pound cake by using the same directions and substituting German chocolate cake mix for the butter pecan cake mix.
They look so elegant, taste absolutely delicious and can be thrown together in a few minutes.

Congratulations to Quality Co-ops!

Pike Farmers Co-op, Crossville Co-op and Hartford Farmers Co-op

Pike Farmers Co-op in Troy with Wayne Ward, manager, on right, has been around over 30 years and seen a lot of change during that time. Ward admitted, although it was an audit, the process itself was not beyond handling. He is wondering what the next 30 years will bring in the ag industry and is looking forward to it. If there are any snowbirds out there, stop by and see him on the way to the beach.

Clockwise from top left, Pike Farmers Co-op, Wayne Ward, manager (right) and Joey Strother, assistant manager; Todd Smith, manager, Hartford Farmers Co-op; Crossville Co-op, from left, Jeff Simpson, David Summerford, Bradly Shankles, Tina Watkins, David Tierce, manager, David J. Summerford, and Phillip Berry.

Crossville Co-op, one of Dekalb Farmers Co-op locations, took the fun route and completed the actions during the dog-days heat. David Tierce, manager, and his group were open to the proactive approach and attacked the list. If you are in the area, stop in and share a laugh and give them a big "Attaboy" for their achievement. Tierce also wanted to make sure everyone knew they now carry rifles, ammo and accessories.

Todd Smith, manager, and his group at Hartford Farmers Co-op, located in southeast Alabama, finished their list just in time for peanut season! As they got ready to supply many locations with this staple food, the group worked through and completed the action list. If you love peanuts like many of us, make sure you head by and pick up your fresh peanut supply.

If you have any questions about the Responsible AG program or the audit portion, contact Sharon Cunningham at 256-303-4071 or If you are a manger who has received certification and has not gotten a picture taken to be placed in AFC Cooperative Farming News, please let her know. Everyone is working hard, let us share your success.

Corn Time


Creating Community

At the Peterman Station Arts and Crafts Festival

Visitors to the Peterman Festival can shop at over 80 different booths. (Credit: Marie Klepac)

by Carolyn Drinkard

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is a date most people in southwest Alabama mark in RED! That’s the date of the Peterman Station Arts and Crafts Festival in Peterman. For the past 33 years, the Peterman Historical Society has sponsored this unique event, which is unlike any other celebration in this area.

To understand the festival’s popularity and both the passion and dedication of its supporters, one must first understand the history of Peterman. It is an unincorporated 1900s Southern railroad town, located just 6 miles north of Monroeville in Monroe County. It was not always called Peterman. Earlier, the small community was called Buford, because the Buford brothers owned two of the four stores on a hill overlooking the present-day town location. On Saturdays, farm families in outlying areas would get in their wagons and go to Buford to buy the things they needed, pick up mail and just visit with friends.

In 1900, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad laid tracks from Montgomery to Mobile and Pensacola. These tracks came through the area at the bottom of the hill beneath Buford’s cluster of stores. The railroad also built a depot at the bottom of the hill and named it after a longtime L&N employee, Addison Peterman, who was then the agent at Repton.

As the trains began to come through, activity around the Peterman Depot increased. Store owners on the hill decided they needed their businesses down by the railroad tracks to take advantage of all the traffic; therefore, in October 1901, they used oxen to move all their stores down to the railroad tracks, all in one day! A favorite local story recounted that one store literally "got away from them." The building gained momentum on the steep hill, ran over a medium-sized cherry tree, and finally came to rest near its planned destination. The cherry tree survived, but it was forever bent in an easterly direction. This is how the town of Peterman came into existence.

Peterman was a thriving community from 1900-1950. The townspeople built churches, schools, additional merchandise businesses and a drugstore. Two doctors and a dentist located in the area. One unusual business, involving several local people, was the smilax business. Smilax, an evergreen vine that grew in area trees, was gathered, packed in wooden crates with layers of wet paper and shipped by train to florists in northern cities where it was used for decorating. Of course, this was before artificial flowers and greenery existed.

The Depression had a major impact on Peterman. When struggling farmers didn’t have money to buy seeds and fertilizer for their crops, several area businessmen formed an agricultural business called the Peterman Agricultural Company. Farmers could buy seeds and fertilizer on credit, until they could raise their crops. The PAC became an important part of Peterman, employing many people and, ultimately, helping farmers to survive.

In the 1950s, automobiles became the preferred mode of travel, and the railroads started to decline. As passenger trains ceased to exist, fewer trains came through Peterman. Because residents could drive their cars into nearby Monroeville to shop in the larger stores, businesses began to close.

The Peterman Historical Society is the oldest in Monroe County. Some of the volunteers include (from left, front) Marie Klepac, secretary; Dot Klepac, treasurer; Audrey Helton; Susan Webster; (back) Marcia DeSonier; Alice Chandler, president; Alice Dean and Billy Downs, vice-president. (Credit all: Susan Webster)

In 1982, the Peterman Historical Society was organized to preserve and maintain the town and to record its history and heritage for future generations. Because the town was not incorporated, the group had no revenue from taxes; therefore, the members had to find ways to raise funds. In 1983, the group started its first Peterman Station Arts and Crafts Festival, a fundraiser used for the upkeep and restoration of The Old Depot and several of the buildings still remaining today.

This year, the 33rd Peterman Station’s Arts and Crafts Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. It is one of the oldest and best-known festivals in South Alabama, with arts and crafts, down-home foods, local entertainment and historic buildings, opened for browsing all day. The sponsors have already booked 80 vendors with a waiting list in case of a cancellation. Many of the crafters return annually, some booking their favorite spaces a year in advance. Shoppers will find woodcrafts of all types, quilts, jewelry, honey products, jams, jellies, walking sticks, homemade knives, art, drawings, flower and wreath arrangements, Christmas decorations, ceramics, stained glass, homemade toys, tee-shirts, air brushing, candles, purses, birdhouses, handmade children’s clothes and much more.

One of the unique and delicious aspects of the festival is that PHS does not rent spaces to outside food vendors. PHS and its volunteers prepare and sell all the tasty, down-home foods at the festival. They make 10 wash pots of Brunswick stew, as well as old-timey collards and cornbread. Many other traditional festival choices will be offered, including funnel cakes, hot dogs, Polish sausages, hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches, and nachos and cheese. All kinds of soft drinks and fresh-brewed coffee will be available. The Country General Store will be open with hoop cheese, crackers and vintage bottled cokes and penny candy for sale. The Old Depot will house tables of homemade Southern-baked goods.

PHS will again offer tours of all the historical buildings. One of the favorite sites is the refurbished 1880 dog-trot house, staged with period furniture and accessories. This dog-trot house has two large front rooms, a schoolmarm’s room, two smaller rooms, and a separate dining room and kitchen, built off the back and down a short, covered walkway for fire safety. If the kitchen and dining room caught fire from the wood stove, a team of mules or later a tractor could be used to pull the burning kitchen away from the rest of the house. One of the highlights of this tour will be a quilt turning in which gloved quilters will turn antique quilts for visitors to enjoy. Information about every room and its use will be available for guests, as well as free brochures containing stories, historical articles, pictures, recipes, tips and other information about Peterman.

Booths will be arranged along the railroad street, among the old store buildings and parallel to the railroad tracks. Ample parking is available up the hill at the two churches, around the old bank building, at the post office and across the railroad tracks. No admission will be charged.

Left to right, the kitchen preparation area in the dogtrot house. Some of the most visited booths were the ones that sold handmade quilts and textiles. Many vendors come every year and reserve their booths for the next year. (Credit: Susan Webster)

The PHS has continued to make improvements in the town, by using the proceeds from the Peterman Station Arts and Crafts festival, as well as individual donations and earnings from their This & That rummage sales. They have revamped and added downtown street lights for additional safety, cleaned and painted all buildings, arranged for an itinerant artist to paint a vintage Coca Cola mural on the country store museum building, planted flowers and shrubs to enhance the downtown area, hosted various tours during the year, and kept the grass cut and the area tidy. They continue to preserve the heritage, the traditions and the memories of a bygone time in America’s history.

A trip to the Peterman Station Arts and Crafts festival is one visitors will not forget. The relaxed ambience welcomes visitors, young and old, and the family-friendly activities offer something for everyone.

For more information, contact Alice Chandler at 251-564-2260 or, or check out Facebook: Peterman Station Arts and Crafts Festival.

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

Dating on the Homestead

by Suzy Lowry Geno

I started dating when I was the ripe old age of 15, under the careful scrutiny of my parents.

My curfew was 10 p.m. until the week before I got married!

“More Simple Times at Old Field Farm” is Suzy Lowry Geno’s newest book. It has just been published. A collection of many of her award-winning and most popular “Simple Times” columns, the book is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions or you may contact her at to order one!

My parents had to know the life history of any boy I dated, his family tree and what church he attended! Actually, many of my first dates were to church functions under their watchful eyes!

Fast forward a lifetime away, to my being widowed at age 60. We had both been married before, but we had shared 34 years of happiness, trials, sadness and life!

He had been dead less than a week when the parade began (and remember I am a chubby, gray-haired homesteader!). Men of every type and description started showing up on the porch of my little store, seated themselves in one of the rocking chairs, and began talking about what all they "could do for" me. ...

Some wore overalls (and I’m usually a sucker for a man in overalls!); some wore neat, dress clothes; and some wore jeans and cowboy hats. They were all ages: from much younger than me to way older than me!

Remember, it had only been a week or two since I lost my husband! Other widows have told me similar stories. And a friend who had lost his wife many years ago told of another man who told him he’d be swarmed by women because "he was upright and he had a job!"

I guess this brick house, 15 acres, and a then-fairly-new car and truck made quite an impression!

I quickly learned how to stop repeat visits. As we rocked on the little store porch, I’d be talking and then simply say, "I just don’t know how I’m going to keep making these nearly $800 farm payments with Roy gone. ..." I’d turn to bat my eyes at them in the likes of Scarlett O’Hara and they’d already be gone!

It was amazing to see how quickly the parade had started, but, talking to others who had lost their spouses, I found it was quite common. One man was even approached at the cemetery while he was burying his wife, by a fellow church lady letting him know she was available for dates!

I’m not sure what gets into some folks! If there are so many lonely folks, why don’t they date one other instead of hurrying to be first in line when someone dies?!

But my story is not done!

Time moved on. One cool Saturday, a longtime acquaintance showed up and sat talking to me in the tiny store. He urged me to go out to eat with him since it was time I had a little fun and relaxation. He stressed he had nothing to do all day and we could ride around, enjoy the scenery and just enjoy the day. My youngest daughter could watch the store for me and we could have fun!

About that time, my daughter came to tell me a load of firewood had arrived and needed to be unloaded on my carport.

Suddenly my friend remembered he had somewhere to go and something to do! The thought of doing some actual WORK evidently was beyond his comprehension (even though I knew he had no health problems or other things that would have hindered him from helping with such a task).

I work really hard here on my homestead! I don’t care much for those who don’t appreciate the same values!

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

Don’t Forget About Your Daughter

by Christy Kirk

(From left) Calvin Fenn, Hadley Fields and Rolley Len Kirk after a goose hunt.

Since I have been married to Jason, I have read list after list of hunting tips for introducing your children to hunting and developing a lifelong love of the outdoors and sportsmanship. After more than eight years of us having children, I absolutely have never had to remind Jason to remember to include Rolley Len on a hunting excursion.

Rolley Len has been going with her Daddy since before she could talk. Whether it is the company or the resulting meal that comes from a successful hunt, she rarely passes up a chance to go with him – no matter how early they leave or how late they return.

Not long ago, Jason took Rolley Len on a hunting trip to Union Springs. It was a goose hunt, and I very was interested to hear what she thought of the experience because she had never gone with him to hunt geese. Of course, when she returned, Rolley Len was spilling over with stories about the hunt and the fun she had with the other children on the trip.

As they both shared details of the hunt, I was really surprised to learn that Jason had never been goose hunting himself. Although Jason has also hunted since his early childhood, when it came to waterfowl, he stuck with ducks. So this trip was a first for both of them.

They went to a friend’s hunting camp with three other families. Rolley Len had a great time with Hadley and her new friend Calvin. She said they stayed up talking way too late for the 5:30 wake-up call the next morning. They left the camp by 5:45 and headed to a nearby field. They stayed there for more than two hours, but it didn’t feel like it because it was fun. By 8:30, it was time to eat breakfast and clean up.

In Alabama, goose season is during all of September, Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 3, 2016, through Jan. 29, 2017. There are also special youth hunting days if you want to introduce your children to goose or duck hunting. The Special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are Nov. 19, 2016, and Feb. 4, 2017.

The youth hunting day could mean you and your kids can bring home a goose or duck in time for Thanksgiving. And a hunt on Thanksgiving weekend is perfect for sharing your love of hunting with your children and it’s another chance to bring home a goose or duck to roast for the holidays. Your sons and daughters will definitely be as proud as Rolley Len is to help bring home a big part of the family’s holiday meal.


8-10 pound goose, dressed, washed and dried
2 cups celery stuffing (recipe below)
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 thin strips fat salt pork
1 cup water
Onion and garlic clove, if desired

Stuff goose with celery stuffing and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie and sew securely with wings and legs close to the body. In a roasting pan, place breast up with pork strips on top. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Add water and baste. Reduce heat to 350° and cook for 20 minutes per pound, basting every 15 minutes. Remove pork strips during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve with Giblet Gravy and fried apples (recipes included).

Note: Goose may be rubbed with the cut side of an onion or clove of garlic before cooking if desired.


Goose fat (from roasting pan), divided
3 Tablespoons flour
Liver, gizzard and heart, chopped fine (any or all, optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large (at least 3-cup) glass measuring cup, pour liquid from the pan in which the goose has been roasted. In a saucepan, place 4 tablespoons of liquid from measuring cup. Add flour and stir until it browns. Take remaining liquid and add additional water to make 3 cups. Add to browned flour and stir until smooth and thickened. If desired, add liver, gizzard and heart. Season with salt and pepper.


Tart apples
Butter, melted

Wash apples. Remove cores and slice ½-inch thick or quarter. In pan, sauté in butter until soft, turning occasionally to brown evenly.


1 cup celery, diced
1 small onion, minced
4 Tablespoons fat, melted
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon sage
2 cups toasted bread crumbs

In saucepan, fry celery and onion in fat for a few minutes. Add seasoning and crumbs. Add a little water and mix thoroughly.


Goose breasts, flattened
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cream cheese
Jalapeños, sliced or diced, if desired
Bacon slices

Salt and pepper both sides of each breast. Spread a layer of cream cheese on one side. Add jalapeños. Roll the breast and wrap with bacon strips. Secure with cooking twine or toothpicks. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes, turn the breasts and cook for 8 more minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Let them rest for 10 minutes before removing twine before serving. Serve with currant jelly or giblet gravy.

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


Extension Corner: Alabama Extension Expands Digital Library

Farmer, gardener or consumer, ACES has an online resource for you!

by Maggie Lawrence

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has a growing catalog of award-winning iBooks and apps designed for consumers and farmers. More than 10 iBooks and apps are currently available, and more are in development.

"We are one of very few states serving our citizens in new and innovative ways with robust digital products," said Emery Tschetter, Extension director of communications and marketing.

ACES Director Gary Lemme said the shift to digital products is a key to keeping Extension relevant to new and younger audiences.

"We have moved away from traditional publications to creative teams of scientists and communicators who build cutting-edge communications products," Lemme said.

More than 10 iBooks and apps are currently available from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

The "Gardening in the South" iBook series is based on ACES’s Master Gardener curriculum and proven university research. Available for free, the series has the information, tips and tricks a Southern gardener needs to succeed. Both beginning and veteran gardeners will find these now-available books useful.

"Gardening in the South"

  • Volume 1: Getting Started
  • Volume 2: Pest Management
  • Volume 3: Landscaping
  • Volume 4: Plant Selections

The books are user-friendly and filled with easy to understand information, color photos and video features. Additionally, readers can test what they have learned with the interactive quizzes to review key concepts.

Tschetter added that gardeners should also try SOW, Extension’s gardening app available for both iPhone and Android.

"The SOW app puts the most crucial information on food gardening right in gardeners’ hands when they need it," Tschetter explained.

SOW features:

  • Days to harvest
  • Recommended varieties
  • Spacing
  • Yield
  • Video tutorials
  • Customizable to your location
  • "My Garden" planting diary
  • "Today’s Crops" option for Alabama gardeners

According to Jonathan Davis, Extension’s director of information technology, the app, designed specifically for mobile devices, is easy and intuitive.

"Simply choose your location and start planting," Davis said. "Click on a crop’s photo to see more information including days to harvest, spacing and other crop details.

The SOW app features several ways for the user to access additional information. A More Information button is featured with every vegetable and fruit in the app’s database. Clicking on that button takes the user to relevant publications and other information on the Extension website.

If that does not provide the answer a gardener needs, the "Ask an Expert Option" allows the user to send a question to a horticulture expert in his county or state.

One of SOW’s unique features is the "Today’s Crops" option. Currently only available for gardeners living in Alabama, the option tells the gardener what can be planted on any day of the year.

Consumers will also find Extension’s "Emergency Handbook" to be a valuable addition to their digital libraries. The "Emergency Handbook" is a comprehensive and free resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available from iBooks.

"The ‘Emergency Handbook’ is filled with resources and information connecting every family, business and community in Alabama," Lemme explained. "Built on research-based knowledge from Auburn University and other land-grant institutions, it also draws on resources like the Extension Disaster Education Network and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Quite simply, it is the best of our information, intended for you to use during the worst of situations."

The "Emergency Handbook" was recognized by FEMA recently for its excellence. It received honorable mentions in FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards in both the Technological Innovation and Awareness to Action categories.

Both "Gardening in the South: Pest Management" and the "Emergency Handbook" won awards from the Association for Communication Excellence for the quality of information and overall design provided.

Alabama Extension has created iBooks, online courses and apps for farmers and producers as well.

"Beef Basics" is both an online course and an iBook. An overview of beef cattle management concepts for new and beginning farmers, "Beef Basics" puts the keys to profitable beef production in producers’ pockets.

Fruit and vegetable growers will find the "High Tunnel Crop Production Handbook" useful, while the Alabama Crops app is a one-stop shop for timely information about Alabama crop production. Alabama Crops offers current crop production news, in-season alerts, and the ability to send a photo and note directly to Alabama Extension crops professionals.

Maggie Lawrence is the news unit manager for Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

FFA Sentinel: A Walk in the Woods

Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day

Lanark Park in Millbrook hosted the Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day.

by Andy Chamness

In a world as fast-paced as the modern age, how many of us stop to smell the proverbial roses? Do we take the time to stop and think about nature and our natural resources or to contemplate how it all came into existence and the important relationship we have with the land, water, forests, air and every creature on Earth? Over 400 FFA members from across Alabama had the opportunity to attend the Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day hosted at the beautiful Lanark Park in Millbrook. The event was hosted over two beautiful, late summer days: Sept. 7-8, 2016.

Through great partnerships with First South Farm Credit, Alabama Farmers Cooperative and the Alabama Wildlife Federation, this event has grown annually from being only accessible to FFA members from the Central District to an event with chapters from all corners of our state and all three of our Alabama FFA Districts.

Lanark Park is conveniently located off Interstate 85 and is home to the Alabama Nature Center and new NaturePlex. The 350 acres of forests, streams, ponds, overlooks and walking trails wind through diverse regions of the property. The facilities include a 4,000-square foot Lanark Pavilion and the 23,000-square foot NaturePlex in addition to the two homes on the property. This preserved tract of property is the product of a dream shared by the Alabama Wildlife Federation and the Wiley and Isabel Hill family.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, or AWF, is the oldest nonprofit conservation organization in Alabama. The organization was founded by sportsmen and outdoorsmen who had a dream to preserve and share the natural resources of Alabama and to educate future generations on the importance of natural resource management and stewardship.

FFA members attending Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day had the opportunity to experience the beauty of this property and to share in the stewardship and love that makes a property great. From the gardens surrounding the antebellum-style home to the diversity of the trails, FFA members were exposed to the various natural resources in Alabama. Of course, education is a key component to this program and, thanks to the very knowledgeable staff and volunteers with the AWF, FFA members were exposed to a few of our key resources and the relationships they have in our world.

FFA members discuss the importance of our soil and the importance of its wise use.

After an initial registration, introduction and greetings from our partners, the FFA members were whisked away to explore the diversity of Lanark Park and the Alabama Nature Center. Students were divided into four groups and led by AWF staff to stations around the property. As I have heard often times "Everything has its roots in the soil," and so it would be with the journey our FFA members would take.

Thanks to the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, students were exposed to the day-to-day duties of a soil scientist. Members also had the opportunity to learn how soil originates from a parent material to its current state and why that is important to the agricultural, construction and other industries. Students were shown how soil is classified and named based on its makeup and location. Hopefully, this site will interest FFA members and be an encouragement to take the knowledge back to their FFA chapters and join or start a Land Evaluation Career Development team.

FFA members also had the opportunity to visit the NaturePlex and have a conversation with one of our state’s conservation officers or game wardens. For our members who were curious about the science behind Alabama’s game laws and enforcement, this was a great experience. The members had the opportunity to interact and ask questions and to see that enforcement is only one portion of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The application of science to make good management decisions on behalf of the citizens of the state, in order that everyone may choose to enjoy Alabama’s abundant wildlife the way he or she sees fit, is a central concept FFA members walked away with. Of course, there were great questions in this section, too. Those included everything from game law changes to qualifications for being a conservation enforcement officer.

FFA members then had the opportunity to explore the Hands-on Discovery Hall as part of the NaturePlex. The Discovery Hall includes exhibits on wildlife and our natural history of Alabama.

Conservation enforcement officers had the opportunity to discuss Alabama’s wildlife with FFA members.

After exploring the NaturePlex, the FFA members were off to the woods to discuss tree identification and how different types of forest stands are managed differently for different management goals. Members were quizzed on their tree identification skills and given tips on how to remember certain species.

For those members interested, the Alabama FFA has a Forestry Judging Career Development Event in which FFA members compete to identify trees, make correct management decisions on forest stands, navigate a compass and pacing course, and measure timber for its merchantability.

As the day at the Alabama Nature Center began to wind down, students had seen the woods and the wildlife. The last stop on this adventure was the pond where members discussed Alabama’s water resources. We truly live in a state that is blessed by the abundance of our waterways.

Through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University, students were exposed to the aquaculture industry and how our water resources can produce agricultural crops for human use. This includes fish and shrimp production as well as irrigation for farmers and recreation for all of Alabama’s citizens. Perhaps, more than that, our water resources and the good stewardship of those resources help to keep us healthy. FFA members explored careers in the aquaculture industry and had the opportunity to ask questions about the types of jobs and education needed to work in the aquaculture industry.

Over the course of the two days at Lanark Park, FFA members had the opportunity to live up to the "learning to do and doing to learn" portion of the FFA motto.

As they returned to their schools and chapters and shared their experiences of Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day, they will be able to fulfill the second half the FFA motto by "earning to live and living to serve."

By teaching and exposing FFA members to the outdoors and Alabama’s natural resources, FFA can provide the links to careers such as soil scientist, forester, conservation officer, wildlife biologist, ichthyologist, engineer or farmer. We each play a role in the preservation of our natural resources and, through partnerships such as those that make Woods, Water, and Wildlife FFA Day possible, young people can be exposed to the wonders of the natural world and enjoy being a crucial part in passing that stewardship along to others. Remember to just stop and smell the roses.

A very special thank you to First South Farm Credit, Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Alabama Wildlife Federation, USDA NRCS, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, volunteers, staff and agriculture education teachers who expose the FFA members to great events like this. Thank you.

For more information or to learn more on the history, facilities and opportunities available at Lanark Park and the NaturePlex, please visit

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

First Bale of 2016 at Currie Gin

Larry (far left) and Justin House, son and father, brought in the first bale of cotton this year at Frank Currie Gin in McCullough. Gin Manager Ron Bailey continued his tradition of presenting a check for $100 to the farmer who brings in the first bale. This was done Friday, Sept. 23, for the bale brought in Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Houses farm about 1,800 acres and raise cotton, corn and peanuts. (Credit: Sherry Digmon/Atmore News)

Food Allergy Awareness

Know the signs and tips for avoidance.

by Angela Treadaway

We are hearing more and more these days of people, especially young children, being diagnosed with food allergies and some are so bad the child cannot even be in the room with someone else eating the allergen they have problems with. Many folks don’t understand that there are many ways to create a cross contact when cooking or preparing foods with and without allergens. For instance, you should never bake chocolate chip cookies on the same baking sheet you baked peanut butter cookies on without washing, rinsing and sanitizing the baking sheet or maybe even using another sheet altogether. Think before you bake or give someone you love with a food allergy any type of home-prepared product.

Food allergies are a serious medical condition affecting up to 15 million people in the United States, including one in 13 children. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or brushing up on the facts because you have a friend or loved one recently diagnosed, learning all you can about the disease is the key to staying safe and living well with food allergies. At the present time, there is no cure for a food allergy. Avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an abnormal reaction to food, even a very small amount. The body’s disease-fighting (immune) system mistakenly thinks the food is harmful and produces antibodies for protection. This triggers the release of a body chemical such as histamine. Within minutes (or up to two hours) the person may begin to feel sick due to unpleasant reactions on the skin, in the digestive tract, the respiratory system or the cardiovascular system. Food protein causing the allergic reaction is not broken down during digestion or by cooking.

What are the major food allergens?

Although nearly any food is capable of causing an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that cause the majority of reactions. These foods are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

Anyone can develop new allergies at any time. Almost all food allergy reactions in adults are caused by these four foods peanuts; tree nuts; fish and shellfish, especially shrimp.

Body’s reaction to a food allergy

If a person is allergic to a certain food, typical symptoms may include nausea, hives, skin rash, nasal congestion and wheezing. The body also may respond in several of the following ways:

  • Skin: Swelling of the lips, tongue and face; red or itchy skin; itchy, teary eyes; hives or rash (eczema).
  • Respiratory tract: Itching and/or tightness in the throat; dry or raspy cough; runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and wheezing (asthma); shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
  • Digestive tract: Abdominal pain or cramps; gas; nausea; vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Cardiovascular system: Rapid or irregular heart beat and a drop in blood pressure.
  • Some of these symptoms also may occur after drinking alcoholic beverages such as wine or beer. The culprit is not the alcohol. It is the other ingredients (e.g., yeast, sulfur dioxide and additives).
  • Life-threatening reactions: Most allergic reactions to food are just uncomfortable. However, a small percentage of people have severe reactions that can be life-threatening. For example, anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis), a severe reaction, occurs quickly and may cause death. Food is the leading cause of anaphylaxis in children. For a severe reaction, self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen or Twinject) will ease the reaction while the person is taken to the hospital or doctor.Symptoms of anaphylaxis begin within several minutes to two hours after exposure to the allergen. The reaction may get worse and become life-threatening over the next several hours. It may begin with a tingling sensation in the hands, feet, lips or scalp, itching, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Other possible symptoms may include: Hives; a sensation of warmth; hoarseness; difficulty talking; throat tightness, or the feeling of a lump in the throat; drooling; wheezing, chest tightness or other difficulty breathing; coughing; swelling of the lips, palate, tongue or throat; gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., vomiting, diarrhea and cramping); a drop in blood pressure; changes in level of awareness and loss of consciousness.

Call 9-1-1 if any of these reactions occur after you eat something, since an anaphylactic reaction moves quickly. In about 20 percent of anaphylactic reactions, symptoms go away and return more severely in two to three hours, primarily in the respiratory tract. Although very rare, anaphylaxis can be triggered by eating certain foods and exercising within hours after eating.

Anyone with a previous history of anaphylactic reactions can have another severe reaction, but teens with food allergy and asthma appear to be at the highest risk. Teens dine away from home more, don’t carry their medications as often and may ignore or not recognize the symptoms.

For more information

Reliable information about food allergies can be found on the internet at these sites:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,, Click on "Food Allergies"

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, sources/fact_sheets/food_al lergies.pdf

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,

The Food Allergy & Anaphy- laxis Network,

Kids with Food Allergies, (This is a nation- wide nonprofit food al- lergy support group that provides in formation, recipes, cooking help and peer support.)

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.

Get a Grip

by John Howle

"I don’t own a cellphone. I’ve never turned on a computer in my life."
~ Phil Robertson, "Duck Dynasty"

Every year, when November rolls around, that primal urge to gather meat from the woods comes on strong. I think about how much time has been spent on computers and smartphones, and the best antidote for breaking free from the technological chains is a day spent hunting deer. If you are fortunate enough to harvest a buck or doe, the work begins after you squeeze the trigger or release the arrow.

Whether you are hunting or farming, being physically fit and strong is a bonus when there’s hard work to be done, and today’s technology has, according to research, weakened men. I recently read an article stating that, even though today’s men think playing video games are strengthening their hands, they are wrong.

Technologically Tender

In the article by Elizabeth Moore, the researchers reported in the Journal of Hand Therapy, "Among 237 healthy Millennials studied between the ages of 20 and 34, men today are significantly weaker than their counterparts of the 1980s. Specifically, men could squeeze with 120 pounds of force in 1985 and only 95 pounds today." The reason given for the weaker hand strength, the research stated, is that today’s men are less handy, and there are fewer manual labor jobs. In addition, much of today’s hand use is spent on tapping computer keys, swiping screens and sending rapid thumb texts. Hand strength was the measurement because, as the article stated, "Hand strength is indicative of overall body strength, and weaker hands have been linked to anything from heart disease and stroke to arthritis."

Get a Grip

So what’s a person to do if they want to increase their grip strength? First, put down the phones and computers. If you are one of those in the current fad of capturing Pokémon and collecting their droppings (or whatever it is they do?), let that go for a while. Second, when your phone is put away, you will see all kinds of people who you didn’t know existed before. Look them in the eye and shake their hand. That increases grip strength. Don’t worry about political correctness. It is perfectly acceptable to give a firm handshake to any gender whether it be man, woman or (?).

Abigail Howle works on her grip by removing T-posts from an old fence line.

If you truly want to strengthen your grip, move to a farm. Once you get to the farm, follow this simple 10-step regimen for a strong hand grip: 1) Milk a cow, 2) Frame out a barn with a hammer, 3) Dig a drain ditch with a mattock, 4) Hoe through all the rows in your garden, 5) Build a barbed wire fence, 6) Load square bales of hay, 7) Replace a radiator on your tractor, 8) Pull a calf out of a cow, 9) Replace the starter on your farm truck with the Chinese-made tools you bought at Wal-Mart, and 10) Before you go to bed at night, play for an hour on a 12-string guitar.

Pull the Post

One of the handiest tools you can use around the farm is a T-post puller. This simple, leverage device makes it easy to remove metal T-posts you would use for rotational grazing cross-fencing, perimeter fencing around your garden or any time you need to quickly remove T-posts. I’ve used T-posts for the posts on a volleyball net frame where the volleyball posts will slide easily over the T-posts. Also, my son is the kicker on his football team. Two metal T-posts were used to support a homemade, PVC H-style field goal. With the post puller, it’s easy to remove the T-posts, allowing you to move the field goal.

Woods Wisdom

This November, deer season will be in full swing. If you are going to check your fence lines, hike through the woods or just enjoy being in the outdoors, stay safe by wearing a blaze-orange hat or cap. Deer hunters are taught early on to identify the target and what’s beyond before squeezing the trigger, but this gives you extra security. For your part, take that extra precaution by making yourself more visible in the woods. Aside from the visibility factor during hunting season, if you are wearing blaze orange and get injured or pass out in the woods, having that bright-orange color on your person helps you stand out so people can see you.

By the way, don’t worry about the color orange making you stand out with deer. Deer search for patterns and movement. Based on research by Dr. Karl Miller at the University of Georgia, deer are colorblind with the exception of blue. Supposedly, deer can see the color blue better than we can. I once dropped my blaze-orange cap from a treestand on the ground below. Two deer walked right over the cap without giving it second notice.

Left to right, blaze orange makes you safe when hunting, but, if people have to hunt for you, it could help them find you more quickly. Turnip greens, kale and all other cool-season leafy vegetables allow you to eat fresh greenery all winter.

Greens for a Good Grip

As winter comes along, it’s important to keep greenery in your diet. An available source of greenery in the wintertime is turnip greens, kale, mustard greens and collard greens. This is also a great way to eat fresh when nothing else is actively growing.

Turnip greens and other greens are an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C. In addition, just like keeping your cattle healthy with minerals, greens provide the trace minerals we need such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and B2 vitamins.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Get the Rundown on Roly Polies!

by Tony Glover

Roly polies were a great source of entertainment for kids before video games and Pokémon came along. They have a much more impressive scientific name that does not sound nearly as interesting – Armadillidium vulgare. They are a familiar inhabitant of mulched areas and flower beds. Usually I get a few calls every fall, depending on the weather, from gardeners freshening up their mulched areas in their landscape. I have always called them "roly polies" because of their habit of rolling up into a tight ball when disturbed. Another common name is pillbugs because when they roll into a tight ball they look like a little gray pill.

Pillbugs are small, brownish to gray-black in color, and armored in appearance much like an armadillo. (Credit: Joseph Berger,

Pillbugs are small, brownish to gray-black in color, and armored in appearance much like an armadillo (hence, the scientific name Armadillidium … which reminds me of a joke. Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To show the armadillo it could be done.)

But I digress.

In most years, pillbugs are content feeding harmlessly on decaying organic matter in and on the soil. They love the excess moisture we sometimes get in the fall that provides a perfect environment for their reproduction. Wet weather provides a good environment for pillbugs to become a pest on some landscape plants. Most feeding takes place in the evening or at night – the sneaky devils. Feeding pillbugs readily chew on small garden plants, and new transplants can be eaten to the ground overnight. Some of the plants attacked include hosta, pansies, blue lobelia, cardinal flower, English primrose, alyssum, zinnia, verbena and daisy. Garden vegetables and strawberries are also susceptible. During the day, pillbugs can be found in moist areas under mulch or leaves and vegetable debris of all kinds. Cooler portions of compost piles can also harbor large numbers of pillbugs. They are very prolific, giving birth to 30-80 young per brood. In Alabama, pillbugs may produce two to three generations per year. Adult pillbugs are relatively long-lived, with some surviving several years.

The best way to eliminate pillbugs is to destroy their breeding and hiding sites. Do not apply mulch too thickly around plants. A 2- to 3-inch layer is adequate.

This is a very important practice even if you don’t have a pillbug problem. Excessively thick mulch leads to plants producing roots in the decaying mulch rather than in the native soil. If you have excessive root growth in the mulch to the detriment of roots growing in the soil, your landscape plants will have a hard time surviving a drought because the mulch dries much faster than the soil.

Another simple way to reduce pillbug habitat is to get containers off the ground. Flower pots, planters, dog houses, firewood, bricks or other objects sitting directly on the ground should be elevated to allow air-flow and drying underneath. If you irrigate your lawn, you can likely turn the system off for the winter unless you grow a cool-season grass or just sodded a new lawn. However, during the growing season when you are irrigating, adjust the system so the soil around your home has a chance to dry between watering or, better yet, don’t allow the sprinkler system to water the shrub beds. Shrub beds should be irrigated with drip irrigation or micro sprinklers on a much less frequent schedule than turf grass once they are well-established.

When abundant, pillbugs may enter homes and become a nuisance. This can be prevented by careful sealing of doors and cracks in foundations. Pillbugs are harmless and can be removed by hand or by vacuuming. They rarely survive more than one or two days indoors, due to lack of moisture. Kittens like to play with them, but I doubt they offer much control.

Pesticide sprays are not normally needed, but can be used if the problem becomes severe. For more information and a list of chemical control options, visit and search by the keyword "pillbugs."

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

Got a Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License?

You may have a duplicate license number, but solutions are available.

by David Rainer

Since the lifetime hunting and fishing licenses became available in Alabama several decades ago, over 80,000 people have taken advantage of this opportunity.

It wasn’t until the Game Check harvest reporting system was implemented three years ago that a problem with the lifetime licenses surfaced. It seems a large number of duplicate numbers are among those 80,000 lifetime licenses. This causes a major problem when the holders try to use Game Check that will be mandatory for the upcoming hunting seasons.

The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has been hard at work trying to find the duplicate numbers and notify the license holders when possible.

"Of the 80,000 some-odd lifetime licenses, about 48,000 had duplicate license numbers," WFF Director Chuck Sykes said. "The reason we discovered the duplicates was that we had people who called us and told us they had tried to use the voluntary Game Check to report a harvest and it wouldn’t let them do it. It turned out to be a twofold problem. A lot of the lifetime licenses didn’t have the number of characters needed to access the system. If it was bought 20 years ago, it may have only six digits where it needs 10 to enter the system. The second issue was the database couldn’t identify it to a specific hunter because more than one person might have that license number.

"So we had to figure out a way to solve that problem. The first step was to let people know about the issue with the old licenses and give them an opportunity to have a new license issued. We’ve always allowed people who have lost their lifetime license to get a new license for $5, or, if it was damaged, they could send it in and we would issue a new one at no charge."

The new system also affects those lifetime license holders whose licenses are in perfectly good shape and in their possession, but they don’t have the number of digits required to enter the Game Check system.

"We have been going back through the license sales and cross-referencing," Sykes said. "I’ll use myself as an example. I bought my lifetime license in 1992. I tried to utilize Game Check and it wouldn’t let me. So I got a new license with a unique number. There were a lot of people like me. I still get a Harvest Information Program license for doves and waterfowl. I buy a Wildlife Management Area license. I buy a trapping license and a state duck stamp. I asked our information technology department to cross-reference those licenses with my old lifetime license number. This cross-referencing allowed us to identify those lifetime license holders who we previously had no contact information for."

After several months of work, Sykes said the IT staff has been able to reduce the number of duplicate licenses in half, but almost 25,000 are still out there.

"Another way we decided to attack this issue – other states already have this – is to issue hunters an individual number that follows them throughout their lives," he said. "It’s called a Conservation ID number."

A nice buck photographed at Cheaha State Park.

With Game Check mandatory this year, anyone who harvests a deer or turkey must report it through Game Check, including those who are exempt from buying a license – hunters under the age of 16 or over 64 and those who hunt on their own property. To access the Game Check system, those exempt from buying a license must acquire a Hunter Exempt License Privilege number each year or get a new Conservation ID.

"For example, if you have a 10-year-old child who hunts, they’ll need a way to access the mandatory Game Check system if they harvest a deer or turkey," Sykes said. "They have to get an H.E.L.P. number each year until they can buy a license. The Conservation ID is a six-digit number versus a 16-digit number. So it’s a lot easier to enter and remember. So for that child’s lifetime, all they will have to remember is their date of birth and that six-digit Conservation ID number. It’s going to simplify the process greatly. Once they get the Conservation ID number, they never have to do it again."

For those with the lifetime licenses without the required number of digits, WFF is offering two ways to remedy that situation. First, they can get a new lifetime license, or they can go online, create a Conservation ID and use that number to access the Game Check system.

"There is a lot less room for error with a six-digit number versus a 16-digit number," Sykes said. "Our most common error comes in entering the 16-digit number. And it’s the most time-consuming as well. You’ve got to pull your license out and enter that long number. So, right now, you enter a six-digit number and you’re in the system."

Sykes encourages people to take advantage of the Conservation ID because there is no guarantee that the number will remain at six digits.

"I hope so many people take advantage of the Conservation ID that we may have to go to seven digits," he said. "But, right now, we’re starting with a simple, six-digit number. If you use the Outdoor Alabama app on your smartphone to use Game Check, it will cut your reporting time down from about two minutes to 45 seconds."

Purchasing a hunting license online or through the Outdoor Alabama app has another benefit as well.

"What we learned going around the state doing the Game Check seminars is that 75 to 80 percent of the people who attended have smartphones," Sykes said. "If you buy your license online or through the app, you do not have to carry a paper license. When I go to the woods, I might forget my bow release or binoculars or ammo, but I’m going to have my smartphone in my pocket. Now you can have everything on your phone. That includes your license information and your harvest record on your phone. I can prove I have a hunting license. I can prove I have a harvest record. I can prove I have Game Check."

Some critics of the Game Check system insisted the reason for Game Check was to increase the number of tickets issued by the WFF Enforcement Section. Sykes said nothing could be further from the truth.

"People don’t realize that almost our entire budget comes from license sales," he said. "Only about 2.2 percent of our budget comes from fines. We hope we don’t have to write tickets for Game Check violations. We’re just trying to make it as simple as possible for you to be in compliance and for us to have access to data we need to make sound wildlife management decisions."

Go to and look at the top of the page in the far right corner for Conservation ID. Click on that link and enter the information allowing you to create a Conservation ID. If you just purchased the license online, you will need to wait about 30 minutes for that information to be updated in the system to be able to create the Conservation ID.

David Rainer is an outdoor writer for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

How's Your Garden?

Prune vines such as trumpet creeper in fall or winter when they are easier to manage.

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Pruning Vines

Pruning vines is often easier in fall and winter when the vines are dormant and the tangle is thinner or even leafless. Cut out rambling or tangled growth and shoots that have reached places where they are not welcome. It is okay to selectively prune overgrown wisteria, yellow jessamine, Lady Banks rose or other spring-blooming vines, but remember you’ll also be cutting off their blooms. Also, keep in mind that Chinese and Japanese wisterias are invasive plants. Consider replacing them with Amethyst Falls (Wisteria frutescens Amethyst Falls), an American native wisteria that blooms a little later and isn’t as aggressive as the common Chinese and Japanese species.

Did Your Fall Lettuce Bolt?

Early fall can be tricky for lettuce because hot weather will cause the plants to bolt, or go into their flowering stage, growing tall and producing somewhat bitter leaves. If this happened to your lettuce, you can try planting again and covering the plants with a cold frame or row cover to keep them growing as the weather gets cooler. Starting with plants would be faster, but it’s not too late to start seed under cover. You may also cut the existing tall plants off a couple of nodes above the ground and see if they sprout a few decent-quality leaves in the cooler weather.

Small Alpine strawberries make up for their size with flavor.

Little Berries, Big Flavor

The lesser-known Alpine strawberry is prized by gardeners and chefs for its intense, perfumed flavor. Although very small, the berries make up for their size with a unique taste that might be described as a cross between strawberry and pineapple. Unlike typical larger strawberry plants, these prefer some afternoon shade or only dappled sunlight. They do not produce runners; therefore, they are easier to cultivate at the edge of a garden bed or in containers. Just be sure to keep them moist and out of hot, afternoon sun. Plants will bear continuously though the early summer and then sometimes again in the fall, taking a break in the heat of summer. The best and biggest crop is the spring crop with fruit getting a little smaller and sparser as the weather heats up. You may have heard of "pine berry"; that is a white form of the Alpine strawberry.

Fall Leaves = Better Garden

One of the simplest and 100-percent free ways to improve the soil in flower beds and the vegetable garden is to simply mulch the garden with chopped leaves. The fine pieces of leaves that break down quickly will add organic matter to the soil and encourage earthworms, ground beetles and other beneficial critters that break the leaves down into rich organic matter. Running over the leaves with a mower combines clean up and chopping into one easy step.

Japanese Maples for Fall Color

Fall is a good time to shop for Japanese maples so you can see their autumn leaf color firsthand. Moonfire and Bloodgood emerge red in the spring, gradually fade to green through summer (especially in the shade) and turn brilliant red again in the fall. The cut-leaf types generally need more shade and are more susceptible to drought because their leaves are so fine. Japanese maples are well-suited for urban landscapes as their mature sizes range from over 30 feet tall to weeping dwarfs of 2-3 feet tall. Because there are multiple forms and colors to choose from, look around for varieties that grow in the Deep South and have shown to be heat tolerant. Many Japanese maples are grafted and slow-growing, so they may seem pricey. The faster-growing selections are closer in price to other trees.

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

November Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Cover crops will help suppress weeds, prevent erosion and become rich soil conditioners when they die back in freezing weather. If they don’t die back, a few weeks before planting season you can simply cut down the crop and till it under the ground before planting your new spring garden. Cover crops are also recommended for attracting beneficial insects into your garden to help control unwanted pests.
  • Dig up and divide gingers, irises and daylilies. Use a garden fork. Gently pull apart lifted plants with your hands. Set divisions back at the original growing depth, firm soil around plants and water.
  • November isn’t too late to plant hardy spring bulbs, particularly early-blooming varieties. Daffodils, alliums, crocuses, hyacinths and other spring favorites can all be planted in fall, and they will be ready for beautiful blooms as soon as spring arrives.
  • Plant a few bulbs in pots for forcing. Paperwhites, hyacinths, and early-blooming tulips and daffodils are good choices.
  • Now that summer and summer flowers are over, it’s time to replace them with winter-hardy flowers for color. Pansies are the No. 1 choice for blooming-bedding plants. They’re hardy, will bloom over a long season and come in a wide array of colors. Others to plant now include snapdragons, calendula, ornamental kale/cabbage and pinks or dianthus.
  • Don’t forget the interest plants with berries can add to the landscape. Pyracantha, all kinds of hollies, nandina and beautyberry are just a few of the choices available for bright, winter interest.
  • This month and throughout the next several months will be good times to transplant trees and shrubs. At this time of the year, most ornamentals have entered into dormancy and can be safely dug and replanted. The key to transplanting is to dig a large root ball (get as much of the root system as is possible). Equally important is getting the plant back into the prepared soil as quickly as possible to keep the roots from drying out.


  • If your soil is hard and compacted or you just need to supplement your existing top soil, cover your garden with a layer of compost and turn the earth over. This will add nutrients back into the ground and improve the soil structure.
  • If your soil is too acidic, it is best to add lime to the soil in fall to help balance the pH. Lime acts very slowly, but will permeate the soil over the winter to be ready for spring planting. Avoid other fertilizing treatments in late fall, however, because they will leach away before spring.
  • If you have procrastinated the application of the most important lawn fertilization – the application of a winterizer fertilizer to condition the grass for winter survival – of the year, do it before December. The fertilizers to use are the ones with winterizer on the bags and are complete (contains all three elements – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) analysis with 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratios.
  • New idea for broadleaf evergreens: It has been recently determined that applying a water-soluble nitrogen fertilizer this time of year will improve the plant’s vigor without promoting vulnerable new growth during the winter.


  • After all the leaves have fallen and trees have gone dormant, they can be gently pruned. Any dangerous branches – injured, broken or diseased areas – should be pruned away so they are not a bigger hazard in winter.
  • Don’t get in a hurry; don’t do any serious tree and shrub pruning. Late December through February is usually the best time to prune them – even later into March for crape myrtles.
  • Cut chrysanthemum stems to 2-3 inches from the soil once they have begun to die back.
  • Prune your evergreens to shape.
  • Cut the tops off your asparagus plants, and add a winter dressing of aged manure to the bed.


  • Any newly planted trees and shrubs should continue to be watered throughout November. Extra water will bolster delicate roots and stems to help them withstand the harsh winter, assuring they are healthier in spring.
  • Automatic sprinkler systems, including garden soaker or drip systems, should be winterized in November before pipes can be damaged by cold temperatures. Drain the system completely and store any external pipes, hoses or fixtures in a shed or garage. Cover external spouts with insulated covers to protect them for winter.
  • Drain garden hoses and sprinklers and store indoors for increased life. If you decide to leave them outside, unscrew them from the faucets.
  • Prepare for winter rainstorms. Dig trenches to divert heavy runoff and add heavy rocks to the base of a raised garden bed to help stabilize it.


  • A lot of growth might be finished for the year, but weeds are hardy and will continue to grow and spread into late fall. Keep weeding to remove as many as possible, and there will be fewer to contend with when spring begins.
  • Continue to watch for insect, slug and snail, or disease damage throughout the garden, and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
  • Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules. Remove and destroy them to reduce next year’s pest population.
  • For fruit trees, it is a good time to apply the first application of dormant spray (the first of three applications needed from now to about Valentine’s Day), to get the job done while trees are dormant. Most trees want a lime/sulfur spray. Use copper for preventing peach leaf curl. Also, scale and other hard-to-kill insect pests may be overwintering on your trees or shrubs. Pecan and fruit trees, euonymus, camellias and holly are favorite hosts. Follow label directions on the container to avoid plant damage. Protect any winter annuals from the oil spray.
  • Protect trunks of fruit trees from rabbit damage with tree wraps.
  • Empty and sterilize, with a mixture of 1:9 parts bleach and water, terra cotta and ceramic pots and store in a protected area such as garage, shed or basement to prevent cracking.
  • Clean up rose beds. Be sure all diseased leaves are raked up and disposed of.


  • Add an extra layer of mulch around plants at the end of November, when the soil is becoming chilled. This will help insulate delicate roots and foster better growth in early spring. Keep mulch away from trunks and thick stems, however, to minimize insect infestations and diseases that can harm plants.
  • If you decorated with pumpkins for Halloween, they’re ripe for composting in November. Smash pumpkins into smaller pieces to help them decay more quickly and remove any painted bits or accumulated candle wax before adding them to the pile.
  • A big job this time of year is rounding up all of your neighbor’s leaves. Try dumping the leaves onto the grass and running your mower over them. This shreds them into small pieces that get raked into your beds. They break down rather quickly and are a very good way to add organic amendments to the beds. They also pull double-duty, serving as that important layer of mulch over the winter.
  • Protect any vulnerable perennials from severe winter weather by applying a layer of straw over them. You can also wrap them with burlap and paper or build cold frames to protect them. Mulching with wood chips or pine straw is also a good defense.
  • Rake up all dead plant material, cuttings, twigs, weeds and leaves, and compost them. Any diseased or infested plant matter should be separated from the rest and disposed of as trash.
  • Retain the seeds of all the open-pollinated vegetables and flowers you want to keep in your garden for the next growing season. Avoid exposing them to moisture and keep them in a dry, airtight container (stored in a dark, cool place) until you are ready to plant them.
  • The last mowing of fall should trim grass down to no more than 1.5-2 inches tall so it is set for winter. Longer grass will get matted down under winter rains and snow, and will be more difficult to groom in spring.
  • When it is growing too cold to work outdoors comfortably, it is the perfect time to clean out the garden shed, greenhouse or other storage areas. Eliminate broken pots and useless equipment, tidy shelves, organize tools and, otherwise, straighten the area to be ready for a productive spring.
  • Clean and fix all hand tools. Repaint handles or identification marks that have faded.
  • Sharpen all blades and remove any rust. Apply a thin coat of oil on steel implements to protect them from rust.
  • Clean power tools of all plant material and dirt. Replace worn spark plugs, oil all necessary parts and sharpen blades. Store all tools in their proper place indoors.
  • Run gas-powered equipment such as lawnmowers, weed-eater and edgers until they are out of fuel before storage ... old gas can turn to varnish and severely damage the engine. If fuel is to remain in power equipment, add fuel stabilizer.
  • Winter heating dries the air in your home considerably. Help your houseplants survive by misting them or placing the pots on a pebble-filled tray of water to ensure adequate humidity and moisture.
  • Clean out any remaining leaves from your pond.
  • Make sure the canes of your climbing roses and other vining plants are securely fastened to their supports. Winter winds can severely damage unprotected plants. Also, newly planted trees or shrubs should be staked to protect them. Keep them staked until the roots have a chance to develop and anchor them.
  • Use small markers where you’ve planted bulbs or late-starting spring plants in the perennial garden to avoid disturbing them when you begin spring soil preparation.
  • Camellias will soon be coming into bloom. First the sasanqua and later the popular camellia japonica. Select new varieties for a winter planting while in flower.
  • As caladiums fade, dig up the tubers while you can still find them. Store them in a dry, cool place. Use dry sawdust or peat moss to help keep the tubers from rotting.
  • Collect dried seedpods, grass stalks, seedheads and other dried plant materials for use in making flower or plant arrangements.
  • The success of any garden is the soil! If your other chores are done, devote your time to your soil. Add fresh manure so it can age over winter and early spring before it has contact with the plants. Work it into the soil a little. If you don’t have access to manures, then add composted organic material. Adding 4-6 inches of either is best. Come spring, your soil will be good to go.
  • Winter sun can scald newly planted trees. Protect them by wrapping the trunks with special tree wrapping tape that you can buy at most Co-op stores. Add 4-6 inches of shredded bark, wood chips or leaves around the base of the tree. After applying, gently pull mulch away from the base. Wrapping also provides some protection against hungry mice.
  • In the garden, there’s still time to finish fall cleanup, removing stakes, strings and plastic as well as fibrous vines and stems and rotting vegetables. Straw, leaves and other mulch should be put on empty vegetable beds.
  • Consider the Co-op when buying holiday gifts for your favorite gardeners!
  • If you’ve purchased gourds this year as decorations, plan to grow them yourself next year. They make great garden projects for kids.
  • Be sure not to store apples or pears with vegetables. The fruits release ethylene gas that speeds up the breakdown of vegetables and will cause them to develop off flavors.
  • Clean up the bird feeders and stock them with bird seed for the birds. Remember to provide fresh water for them, too. Their natural food sources have pretty much dried up by this time of the year. For only a few dollars, you can feed an enormous number of birds. You don’t have to be a birdwatcher to enjoy the feeling you get when you’ve helped out one of God’s creatures.
  • Start planning for next year.

On-farm Feed Mixing and VFDs

Understanding Medicated Feed Compliance

by Jackie Nix

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat with feed regulators from across the country earlier this summer at a conference. One of the topics of conversation was the enforcement of VFD rules and on-farm inspection. The few inspectors I spoke with expressed that they foresaw choosing random VFDs and following them from the feed manufacturer back to the farm. Now this shouldn’t concern you as long as you are complying with VFD instructed use and complying with Current Good Manufacturing Practices. CGMP may not be a term you are familiar with, but are probably complying with by good, old-fashioned common sense management.

What are CGMPs?

All manufacturers of medicated feed must follow CGMPs as per the Federal Feed, Drug and Cosmetic Act Section 501 (a)(2)(B). This applies to anyone making animal feed containing an animal drug, including producers doing on-farm mixing. After CGMPs helps assure the feed performs as it should and will not harm the animals or humans consuming products from those animals.

In a nutshell, the CGMPs for on-farm mixing can be distilled down to:

  • Maintain facilities. Buildings and grounds should be suitable for intended use, have adequate space for the job and have suitable housekeeping, including rodent and pest control.
  • Use the proper equipment. Equipment must be suitable for its intended purpose and be capable of mixing the feed consistently to obtain the correct drug dosage in the final mixed feed.
  • Prevent contamination. Potential contaminants such as motor oil, cleaning solvents, fertilizer, herbicides, rodenticides, etc. should be in separate areas than those used to mix feed, store finished feed or store feed ingredient components.
  • Follow label directions. Store medicated items in their original packaging and keep the label so it can be referenced for product mixing, storage, use, etc. (For bulk deliveries, keep the label in a prominent location where it can be referenced.) A further step is to keep records of how much of each constituent you mixed in each feed mixture, so you can trace it back if problems occur.
  • Prevent unsafe drug carry-over. Be mindful of drug sequence such as mixing a medicated feed for growing steers which should not be fed to preruminating calves; don’t mix a calf starter feed next. Either mix a nonmedicated feed for a group of animals not sensitive to the previous medication before mixing the starter ration or wash out your mixer to remove any drug residues before making a new batch.

If you follow the above guidelines, in addition to obtaining VFDs as required, storing paper or electronic copies for two years and properly following the use directions on the VFD paperwork as well as on the label of the VFD feed, you should have no problems.

Buying a VFD Feed

When your veterinarian gives you a VFD and you walk into the feed store to purchase the desired drug, you will have two options: Type B medicated item (has to be further mixed on-farm before use) or a Type C medicated item (can be fed directly as is). When you purchase a medicated item, the label will identify if it is Type B or if it is Type C (see Figures 1 and 2 for examples).

Top to bottom, examples of: Figure 1. Type B medicated feed. This type of product is a premix designed to be mixed with other feedstuffs to make a finished feed; Figure 2. Type C medicated VFD feed that can be fed directly to target animals;

If a product requires VFD paperwork, the label will prominently display a VFD Caution statement on the label to let you know (See Fig. 3). This caution also cues your local feed dealer that this product can only be sold upon receipt of a written VFD issued by a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian, the producer and the feed dealer will all retain copies of this written VFD for a period of two years.

Figure 3. Required VFD precautionary statement prominently displayed on a VFD product.

The next thing to look for on the medicated feed label is the drug claim (see Fig. 4). This will state exactly what the active drug in the product will accomplish and for what species. If there are any weight specifications, it will be noted as well. Feed-through medicated items may only be utilized for the legal drug claim or claims listed on the label. Off-label use is not permitted in drugs administered via feed or water, even with veterinary oversight. So, for instance, you cannot obtain a VFD from your veterinarian to feed chlortetracycline to your cattle to control foot rot because it is not a legal claim for that drug.

Finally, the next point of interest on the label is the mixing directions (or in the case of a Type C medicated item, the directions for feeding). The label should include detailed instructions on how to properly mix the Type B medicated premix with nonmedicated feed to arrive at a Type C medicated feed to be fed to your animals. These directions may be in the form of a table set up for multiple feeding rates or it may simply state the amounts needed to mix 1 ton of feed for one feeding rate (see Fig. 5). These directions not only cover mixing, but also the feeding of the resulting medicated feed. Be sure to carefully read and follow these directions, especially for a VFD drug.

Left to right, examples of: Figure 4. Where to look for the drug claim for a Type B medicated mineral; Figure 5. Mixing and feeding directions for a Type B medicated mineral.

In summary, the new VFD rules may result in a visit by a feed inspector if your veterinary feed directive is randomly chosen for follow-up or there are discrepancies prompting further investigation. These new rules may sound scary, but as long as you are following good management practices and using VFD items as indicated on the VFD paperwork as well as the product label, you won’t have any issues. If you have any questions about how the VFD regulations will affect your operation, contact your local feed dealer and veterinarian.

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

PALS: Spreading the Word on Litter Prevention

Brewer High School Recyling Club

by Jamie Mitchell

In front of a crowd of over 900 students, I kicked off 2016’s Clean Campus presentations at Brewer High School in Morgan County. This is Brewer’s first year to be a part of the Clean Campus Program, and we are so happy to have them! The Recycling Club, led by science teacher Kara Slaten, is going to be the go-to group for the Clean Campus Program at BHS.

The Recycling Club is already doing a great job recycling at the school, and they wanted the entire school to get on board with why their mission is so important. My 30-minute program helped the students understand where their trash ends up when they are done with it. When trash gets thrown away, it doesn’t just go away." The students learned it will most likely end up in a landfill or could even end up as litter. By recycling, they can ensure what otherwise would end up in a landfill can take on a new life as a recycled product.

I also took the opportunity to ask them for help in spreading the message. If each of them told just a couple of people what we discussed, the message could be spread far and wide! I especially asked them to help spread the word about accidental litter. Over 50 percent of trash is accidental, and much of that in Alabama is debris flying from truck beds. The students were asked to help spread the word about tarping large loads and avoiding lightweight trash in truck beds.

We are thrilled Brewer High School has heard the Clean Campus message and will be working toward making a difference in their community.

If a school near you could benefit from hearing my antilitter message, I can be reached by phone at 334-263-7737 or by email at The Clean Campus Program is FREE to all Alabama public, private and county schools. Schools may sign up for the Clean Campus Program online at

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Preparing for Winter After a Dry Summer

by Stephen Donaldson

Hopefully, as we dive further into fall and leave what is traditionally the driest month of the year, cooler temperatures and moisture will find its way into our area. I recently spoke to a producer in Marshall County and he informed me that, as of the end of September, it was the driest year on record in his county. Not all areas in our state have experienced this drought but most in North Alabama have.

I know over the last few months I have devoted a lot of time to strategies to deal with the drought, but it is so severe in some areas I think I need to write about it again. There are options, and all must be explored to keep from suffering devastating economic loss.

The first reaction to help cattle through this is to simply buy feed and feed them. This seems simple, but, as we have discussed, cattle are ruminants and require fiber in their diet to function. Feed on a limited basis can stretch existing hay supplies, but can’t totally replace it. Cattle require long-stem fiber for their digestive system to function properly.

With this in mind, the first strategy would be to buy hay. There is hay for sale around the state. If you can purchase hay, it will help you get through the deficit we are experiencing. While you may not be able to find enough hay to totally replace your deficit, some along with supplemental feed might get you through until spring.

Another strategy to incorporate is planting winter annuals to provide forage in late winter or early spring. These highly digestible small grains and grasses can be your salvation. If possible, plant them in pasture where you can limit grazing and get the most out of them. Of course, they require abundant moisture and higher levels of fertilization, but they typically provide an abundant amount of high-quality forage.

During harvest, we can find many high-fiber options around that might help with the fiber shortage. There is stubble from harvested crops that can provide fiber for cattle. These crop residues are typically loaded with fiber and little else; they must be supplemented. Residues that can be considered are corn or soybean stubble, gin trash and peanut hulls (unground).

It is a common practice in the Midwest to allow cattle to glean harvested fields and to pick up the spillage and crop stubble. If there are fenced fields around you, try to rent them or bale the stubble to get you by. If you are fortunate enough to find these locations to graze, consider feeding a low-moisture tub to increase the digestibility of these feed stuffs.

It will be important to monitor the quality of the forage replacement you find and supplement accordingly. Most of these poorer-quality forages and fiber sources will require extra protein and energy to meet cattle’s requirements. A small amount of urea in these supplements will also help digest the poor-quality fiber consumed by cattle.

Ingredients such as gin trash and unground peanut hulls will be best utilized in mixed feed and fed in troughs. Ground peanut hulls will provide filler, but not act as a fiber because the particle size is too small. They will need to be blended with a protein and energy source to meet the nutrient requirement of your cattle and they will still require some long-stem fiber such as hay or grass.

Strategies utilizing low-moisture tubs and liquid feed must be analyzed carefully because, as you use these to supplement diets, they also increase intake. So, realize the supplements are valuable tools, but, unless you have adequate forage, you can compound your forage problem by increasing the intake of feed consumed by your cattle.

To survive a forage shortage, it is imperative to sort through your herd and cull all unproductive animals. I know the market is in a down trend, but, in the long run, it will be more economical to sell the unproductive animals and use your feed resources for productive animals. Older cattle and non-efficient cattle should also be considered for sale. Thinning the herd reduces demand for feed resources and allows productive animals to help pay the bills.

It gets tough because we are making decisions that are not in our normal production practices. We tend to get set in our ways and it is hard to change. But, in this case, as they say, "Desperate times call for desperate measures." To get through this time of low-forage availability, don’t panic, analyze your options, cull your herd and let your local Co-op store help you through these adverse conditions.

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

Safe Pasture

by Glenn Crumpler

Fall is and has always been my favorite season of the year. I suppose there are several reasons why I love the fall so much. The weather has usually cooled to the degree that a lightweight, blue jean jacket or sweatshirt feels just right. The leaves of the trees have turned beautiful red, yellow, green, brown and orange to color the landscape. Fall festivals, hayrides or just sitting by a warm fire on a cool night with family and friends always builds good memories. Just the smell of a campfire or fireplace brings about a feeling all its own, especially when in the woods or when I am driving through the hills of the Appalachian area going to cattle sales.

Even memories of things I used to do that I do not get to do much anymore such as going to high school football games and seeing friends I have not seen for a while or enjoying nature while sitting in the woods, in the dove field or chasing bird dogs during hunting seasons make fall special for me. The memories of low crawling through the pasture with my sons playing cowboys sneaking up on Indians and then retreating back to our hideout to cook cowboy beans over a small fire are memories I will never forget and that make fall special.

Of course, the fall holiday seasons are my personal favorites. We enjoy all the holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and, especially, Christmas. Trick or treating is something I grew up doing; we did it with our children and we now get to do with our grandchildren. Somehow, we usually always end up hosting a family or church hayride accompanied with a big bonfire during Halloween. Thanksgiving is when we get together as family and remember all the ways God has blessed us as we share all the good seasonal foods, enjoy the kids and grandkids, and start getting ready for Christmas – our favorite holiday of them all.

I remember as a small child, Daddy and all six of us young’uns walking through the woods on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving searching for that one special Christmas tree that would always seem to be much bigger once we got it home than it looked when we cut it down. I remember we did that a few times with our children, too, before vendors started bringing in those pretty blue spruce trees from up north – and before that pesky privet hedge took over our woods. Christmas lights, Christmas caroling, Christmas cantatas, Christmas shopping and all the excitement of gift giving all pointed, and still point, to the greatest gift of all time: the gift of Jesus Christ who came to show us God’s love and to save us from our sin, giving us eternal life! The events throughout the fall leading up to the time when we celebrate His coming is alone enough to make fall my favorite season of the year.

However, there is still another reason why it is my favorite season, and that is because it is and has always been our calving season! I have to admit that most of my sentiments toward calving seasons are just memories because now Jack does most of the calving since I am gone so much with the other work of the ministry. I do not get to be out in the pasture as much as I would like to be during calving season, but I usually cherish the opportunities when I do.

There is just something special about seeing how your long-awaited and highly anticipated breeding plans worked out! Though they are the most anxious and risky calving experiences, I especially enjoy watching the first calf heifers calving out. There have been many fall nights when I would set my clock to get up every two hours to put on my jacket and boots, pick up my flashlight and go walking through the heifers to see if there were any problems. Probably only those who have experienced what I am talking about can picture and appreciate this scenario; but it is indeed special.

The night air is cool and damp. The stars are as bright and beautiful as they can be and, occasionally, I see one streaking through the sky for just a moment before it disappears. In the distance, I hear an occasional lowing of one of the mature cows across the road that has already calved and is looking for her new baby. The heifers know my voice and they are used to me being around them. So as I slowly walk through them, softly speaking my "whut, whut, hey girls" cow talk to them, they rarely even bother to get up when I pass by. I hear the occasional moaning and belching as they shift their body position and chew their cud. I look for any signs of labor, but I especially look for those I noticed earlier that had a full udder and/or a swollen vulva. If one is off by herself, I make a special effort to check her, especially if she is up and smelling around.

I guess what makes this so special for me is that I know my cows and they know me. They trust me, even in the dark, even when I am flashing a bright light on them. They know my voice. They know my presence and can distinguish it from a predator. I know each one of them and, if there is enough moonlight, I can usually distinguish them even without reading their ear tags. This relationship is one built by spending time together – both during the day and during the night when all they can rely on is the sound of my voice and their previous experiences with me. If I tried this with someone else’s cattle, either they would run away or one of us would probably end up getting hurt – but these heifers know me and I know them so the nighttime strolls are relaxing and not stressful because they are the cattle of my pasture!

I found it interesting that in Scriptures, the Lord describes His relationship with us, or at least His desires for a relationship with us, by using the same analogy! Psalm 23 begins with "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. ..." Psalm 37:3 says, "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pastures." Psalm 79:13 says, "So we, Your people and sheep of your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations." Psalm 95:7 says, "For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." Psalm 100:1-3 says, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture." Ezekiel 34:31 says, "You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord." John 10:9 says, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture." Verse 11: "I am the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd gives His life for the sheep." Verse 14: "I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." Verse 27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one."

Maybe the reason why fall is my favorite season, and calving season is one of the greatest reasons, is because it reminds me of how much God loves and cares for me and for all people. It helps me to relate to the kind of loving and caring relationship He desires to have with me. It reminds me that He knows me, He is watching over me, He will provide for me, and all He desires to do with me, in me and for me is for my own good and His glory. You and I are the cattle and the sheep of His pasture. All we have to do is trust in and follow Him. He will do the rest!

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

Safe-Guard Cattle Wormer Cubes

by John Sims

Internal parasites in cattle decrease nutrient intake and also reduce absorption of the nutrition they do consume. Low forage height from overgrazing or adverse weather conditions cause cattle to graze much closer to the soil surface and to consume more worm larvae. Cattle need to be wormed in the fall to clean them out so they can take full advantage of hay, feed and supplements in the winter.

Safe-Guard cattle wormer cubes offer the flexibility to deworm cattle whenever and wherever you want, without the added stress, time required or personnel needed to gather and run them through a chute. Safe-Guard cubes can be fed directly on the ground, eliminating the need for feed troughs. It goes straight to the gut to kill internal parasites where they live. It even eliminates the most prevalent internal parasite in U.S. cattle herds … Cooperia.

Feed cubes at a rate of 1 pound of cubes per 250 pounds of body weight. In other words, 4 pounds of cubes will treat a 1,000-pound cow, or 2 pounds of cubes will treat a 500-pound calf.

Choose Safe-Guard cattle wormer cubes for treating your herd this fall, and also use them next summer to get maximum weight gain on grazing calves without having to handle them.

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Yeah, my oldest boy got sent home from school again for fightin’. This ole rich boy was makin’ fun of what my wife sent for him to eat for lunch. Junior decided to shove the silver spoon that joker was born with in his mouth down his throat."

What does this mean?

To be born with a "silver spoon in one’s mouth" means to be born into a wealthy family.

The phrase is commonly thought to be English and to refer to the British aristocracy. That may well be the case, but the earliest citation in print is from the United States.

U.S. Congress, 1801: "It was a common proverb that few lawyers were born with silver spoons in their mouths."

Mediaeval spoons were usually made of wood. Spoon was also the name of a chip or splinter of wood and it is likely that is how the table utensils derived their name.

It has been a tradition in many countries for wealthy godparents to give a silver spoon to their godchildren at christening ceremonies.

That may be the source of the phrase, or it may simply be derived from the fact that wealthy people ate from silver while others didn’t.

Supporting Poultry Medicine For the Private Practitioner

by Dr. Tony Frazier

There is a joke I have heard in veterinary circles over the years that begins, "A man walks into a veterinary clinic with his sick chicken …" I told a couple of my non-veterinarian friends the joke and, while it always cracks me up, they just looked at me like I was losing my sanity. So I will spare you the joke and just summarize it for you. The joke plays on the fact that most of the poultry medicine that has existed out there for years has largely been slanted toward commercial poultry production. And, while most practitioners who have not taken a special interest in poultry have learned the basics of poultry medicine, they have kept the phone number of some poultry veterinarian to call when things get above the basics.

But, with the increased interest in backyard poultry, Dr. David Pugh, the director of our diagnostic lab system, felt a need to reach out to our private-practice veterinarians and offer some continuing education that dealt with noncommercial poultry. That was accomplished Sept. 9. About 50 veterinarians were involved in the meeting held in the conference at the Thompson-Bishop-Sparks Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Auburn. And there was a fairly formidable waiting list of those who would have attended, but we just didn’t have room.

Before I get into discussing the poultry medicine continuing education meeting, I want to mention a few things about the poultry industry in Alabama. Our 18 poultry-processing establishments process over 21 million broilers a week. That makes us No. 2 in the nation, just behind Georgia that processes 23 million broilers a week. We have nearly 3,000 poultry producers that provide homes for the 28 million chicks hatched each week. Many of those birds are processed outside Alabama. We have five table-egg producers with about 1.7 million birds. The poultry industry has an impressive $15.1 billion impact on the state’s economy, generating over 65 percent of the agricultural sales and employing over 86,000 workers. Those facts are provided by the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association.

I wanted to provide all those statistics to let you know why we have always tended to look at poultry medicine from our commercial-poultry perspective. We even looked at backyard poultry in the direction of, "How would a disease in backyard birds affect our commercial industry?" But with more and more people owning noncommercial poultry, we realize it is worth looking at backyard poultry medicine as an entity deserving some stand-alone attention.

I remember when I was in veterinary school and we were getting the basics in poultry anatomy and medicine. I thought to myself that if there were ever any wasted hours in my education those spent on poultry fit that bill for me. In my mind, my only involvement in poultry would be to answer the questions, "Grilled or fried?" or "Light or dark meat?" I could be the only person who felt that way, but, in this case, I was wrong. The health of poultry in Alabama requires a great deal, maybe the majority, of my time as State Veterinarian. I have also had discussions with some of my friends in private practice who never had any intention of practicing poultry medicine, but now have several clients seeking veterinary medical services for their backyard, and sometimes pet, chickens.

Now we can get back to the continuing-education meeting. The meeting agenda provided information on several areas. Topics included: Common Diseases of Poultry and Prevention versus Treatment, How to Perform a Poultry Necropsy, How to Properly Take Samples for Disease Surveillance, Avian Influenza and the National Poultry Improvement Plan, Egg Laying and Reproduction, Backyard Poultry Management and Health, Parasitic Diseases of Backyard Poultry, and Backyard Poultry Diseases (that are referred to the Auburn Lab). As I look back at the topics covered in the meeting, I suppose we could have expanded any one of those into a whole day of continuing education for itself. For those veterinarians who attended the meeting, I suppose it could seem like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant. However, they were provided with a huge volume of reference material and access to specialists in the fields mentioned.

Pugh plans to have more of these meetings in the future preparing our veterinarians in private practice to treat backyard poultry and advise the producers on all aspects of poultry health. The emphasis on noncommercial poultry is very important because, while a chicken is a chicken, the diseases seen in commercial versus noncommercial poultry are often quite different. If a veterinarian attends a meeting primarily provided by commercial poultry veterinarians, they will get some benefit out of it: but a lot of the information is aimed at the commercial flocks and issues associated with birds geared for maximum feed efficiency and production. The programs provided through our diagnostic lab will prepare the veterinarian, whose practice mostly deals with other species, to provide excellent care and consultation to the backyard poultry grower.

The Food and Drug Administration has required, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, that most antibiotics used in poultry feed will have to be prescribed using a Veterinary Feed Directive. The VFD is a document somewhat like a prescription allowing a producer to use antibiotics in feed or water to treat food animals, including poultry. One of the requirements for the veterinarian to write a VFD is that there is a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship. The significance of this is that many antibiotics producers have previously been able to purchase at a feed store will no longer be available over the counter, but will require a VFD. These antibiotics include any considered to be medically important in human medicine such as tetracycline, penicillin and lincomycin. The ability of the private-practice veterinarian to work with the non-commercial poultry community will take on another layer of importance starting Jan. 1.

We are pretty excited about how the September meeting went and look forward to future ones. If you are a backyard poultry producer, ask your veterinarian if they attended the continuing-education meeting at the lab at Auburn on Sept. 9. If not, tell them to keep an eye out for dates in the future.

A big thank you goes out to Pugh, our diagnostic lab co-workers and all the folks involved in our work to promote poultry medicine among our veterinary community.

By the way, the punchline from the joke I spared you from in paragraph one goes like this: "… so the veterinarian asks the fellow how many chickens he has that he will need medication for. The puzzled owner answers, ‘Well, I did have two.’" That still cracks me up.\

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

The Co-op Pantry

I sometimes have to beg and plead to get someone to be my cook of the month, so imagine my delight when Cindy Overcast of Huntsville volunteered! Cindy has had to learn to cook gluten (proteins found in wheat and some grains) free. She wants to spread the word that you can cook healthy foods that are still delicious without the gluten. There are many symptoms and different forms of gluten intolerance. If you are unfamiliar with the condition, please read up on it. Losing the gluten could make you feel, oh, so much better! So, settle back and read Cindy’s story, and try out these phenomenal recipes.

Cindy is a native of Huntsville. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Bryan, for 34 years. They have two grown daughters, Maggie (23) and Rebekah (18). After spending 20 years as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, she decided to return to the workforce. She divides her working hours between her part-time job at the Gurley Public Library and her projects as a freelance writer. In addition to writing for magazines, she is currently working on her first picture-book manuscript. (Cindy, please let us know when it is published!)

"Over the years, I’ve been compiling favorite recipes to pass along to my daughters when they start their own families. After learning last year that Rebekah has an intolerance to gluten, I began working on gluten-free alternatives to some of our favorite meals. The experience has been both challenging and rewarding," Cindy said.

"The best advice I can give to those who are trying to provide safe and healthy menus to family members who can’t eat gluten is to become a label reader. Many packaged foods are designated as gluten-free somewhere on the label and many other foods are naturally gluten-free. Most grocery stores are now highlighting their gluten-free products. Some restaurants are also offering gluten-free dishes as a part of their menus, but nothing beats a home-cooked meal when it comes to the food safety of your loved ones.

"Using ready-made mixes and seasonings whenever possible, I’ve been able to put together several gluten-free recipes my whole family can enjoy together. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too!"

Cindy has graciously given us her email ( for anyone who wants to consult with her about making the transition to gluten-free.

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


1 head cabbage
Boiling water
1 pound ground chuck
½ cup instant white rice, cooked
½ cup fresh onion, chopped
½ cup fresh mushrooms, chop
1/3 cup (from 15-ounce can) petite diced tomatoes, drained (keep remainder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Cut 12-15 whole cabbage leaves from the head. In a saucepan, place leaves and cover with boiling water for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling. In a large bowl, mix next 7 ingredients with ½ cup of tomato sauce. Remove a leaf from pot and place on clean surface. At stem end of leaf, put about 1/3 cup of filling and roll leaf around mixture with sides tucked in. In a crockpot, place cabbage roll seam side down. Repeat with each leaf. In small bowl, mix remaining tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with lemon juice and brown sugar. Pour over rolls. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low setting until tender and delicious. Enjoy!

Note: Cooking time varies with crock-pot brand and size.


1 packet McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix
1 cup warm water
1 pound ground chuck, browned and drained
¼ cup fresh onion, diced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, undrained
Optional add-ins
¼ cup canned corn, drained
¼ cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
Optional toppings
Sour cream
Cheese, shredded

In small bowl, combine seasoning mix with water. Put in crockpot with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low setting.


1 (7-ounce) packet Martha White Gluten-Free Yellow Cornbread Mix
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
½ cup canned cream corn
1 Tablespoon jalapeños (jar variety, drained and diced)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

Preheat oven as directed on cornbread mix. In large bowl, pour cornbread mix. Add ground cumin. In small bowl, combine milk and egg. Add to cornbread mix. Stir in corn, jalapeños and ½ cup of cheese. Bake as directed on cornbread mix packet. Then top with remaining cheese and brown for additional 3-5 minutes. Stick butter knife into center of bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Note: Gluten-free mixes have a tendency not to rise like regular mixes so I bake in a smaller (1-quart) glass dish.

Note from Mary: This is delicious and I did not miss the gluten at all!


1 package gluten-free pizza crust (ready-made)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup gluten-free barbeque sauce
1 boneless chicken breast, cooked and cut
¼ cup fresh onion, diced
1 package sliced provolone cheese

Preheat oven as directed on pizza crust. Lightly brush the crust with olive oil. Spread sauce on top. Cover evenly with chicken and onions. Top with provolone slices until covered. Cook as directed or until golden brown if you prefer a crispier crust.

Note: This recipe is a great use for leftover chicken or pulled pork.


1 pound ground beef (round or chuck)
1 packet McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix
¾ cup warm water
1 box Old El Paso Gluten-Free Crunchy Taco Shells
1 large tomato, diced
1 package shredded Mexican cheese
1 package sour cream

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare meat as directed on seasoning packet. (My only exception is to mix the warm water with the seasoning before adding it to the browned and drained meat.) While meat simmers, warm shells on a baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes. Spoon meat into shells and top with cheese, tomato and sour cream just before serving.


2 (7-ounce) packets Martha White Gluten-Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix
1 cup milk
¾ cup peanut butter chips
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly spray an 8x8 inch glass baking dish with no-stick spray. In a mixing bowl, combine muffin mix with milk. Stir until moistened. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Sprinkle peanut butter chips on top and let the dish cool for a few minutes before cutting. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Note: There are many possibilities for this rich little cake … omitting peanut butter but adding chocolate syrup on top is also a good one.


½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped/shredded
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 package Toufayan gluten-free wraps

In a large bowl, mix first 5 ingredients. Add chicken, grapes and pecans, stirring gently until coated. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, spoon into wraps and fold.

For the January issue, instead of having a single cook, we will be featuring recipes dedicated to better health. The recipes can be gluten-free (like the ones this month), sugar-free or low sugar, fresh fruit/vegetable, new or modified classics … any considered healthy. We will need these recipes by Dec. 5. So, get your recipes together and email or mail (typed or printed please) them to us! Thank you.

We at Cooperative Farming News
wish you and your family a very

The New Era of Data Collection Begins Now!

The Outdoor Alabama app, after being downloaded into your mobile device, will take you step by step through the required Game Check process when a deer or turkey has been harvested. It will let you know the information has been recorded and, when it has established connection, will provide a Harvest Confirmation code.

The time has come for all hunters in Alabama to participate in online harvest reporting.

by Chuck Sykes

Alabama is finally out of the contest as the last state standing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Game Check is mandatory for this hunting season. Now it’s up to Mississippi and Florida to decide which state will be the last to institute a harvest data collection system for deer and turkey.

I have traveled all over the state conducting over 30 educational seminars on the Game Check system. The seminars have averaged over 60 attendees and I’ve been pleased to find the overwhelming majority has been extremely supportive of the new regulation.

The two most common reasons given by opponents to using Game Check were that "It places undue burden on the hunters and it’s just government overreach"; and "I don’t have phone service at my hunting property." So, during the seminars I asked the crowd two questions that typically deflated the would-be opponents pretty quickly.

The first was, "How many of you have ever hunted outside of the state of Alabama?" Not surprising to me, over 75 percent of the group at each meeting has hunted outside of Alabama. As of this past season, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida were the only states without a similar data collection system. In fact, many of those states commonly hunted by Alabama residents have much more rigorous systems in place than our Game Check system. Therefore, it is almost impossible for them to be taken seriously with their protest of participating in Game Check when they have utilized a similar system in other states. Why should it be good enough for Illinois, Missouri or Iowa and not for Alabama? I think that pretty much answers itself.

The second question was, "How many of you have a smartphone?" Again, not surprising to me, it doesn’t matter if they were 8 or 80 years of age, over 75 percent of the group has a smartphone.

Out of the three ways a hunter can report a harvest (smartphone app, online and toll-free number), the smartphone app is by far the easiest and quickest, and it delivers the most reliable data to our department. During the three years of voluntary Game Check, we have been able to troubleshoot the Outdoor Alabama app and have consequently made it almost foolproof. Keep in mind, every time something is made foolproof, a better fool is made. So, we are not under the assumption that everything is going to be perfect, but we have made great strides in making the process as simple and easy as possible for the hunter.

If hunters utilize the Outdoor Alabama app on a smartphone, they can record their harvest and report their harvest without cell service. Yep, I said it. If the app is loaded on their phones, hunters do not have to carry a paper Harvest Record to the field. Also, the app does not require cell service to import data.

Let me explain this in a little more detail. Two regulations will come into play this year when a hunter harvests a deer or turkey: The recording regulation (Harvest Record) and the reporting regulation (Game Check).

The Harvest Record regulation has been on the books since 2007. This regulation requires a hunter to carry a paper Harvest Record at all times while hunting. Upon harvesting an antlered buck AND before it is moved, the hunter MUST record the date and number of antler points on each side on a paper Harvest Record. This season, a successful hunter must record antlered bucks and does on the paper Harvest Record. In addition, that hunter must obtain a confirmation number within 48 hours of harvest indicating that animal has been reported into the Game Check system. This is a two-step process successful hunters must complete.

If a hunter has the Outdoor Alabama app loaded into a smartphone, the recording regulation is covered and no paper record has to be carried. BEFORE moving a harvested animal, the hunter must import the Game Check data into the app to fulfill the reporting regulation. The app is designed to store the data even if there is no cell service. The app will automatically upload the harvest information into the online database once cell service is acquired. A confirmation number will be assigned at that point and the hunter will be in full compliance with both regulations. Successful hunters using the Outdoor Alabama app can comply with both regulations with one simple process.

A few people are still adamantly opposed to Game Check. Their reasoning is, "I am not complying with Game Check because the legislature didn’t vote on it and more importantly the state can’t tell me what to do on my own property!" It is apparent they are not fully versed in the regulatory process followed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the statutory authority the DCNR has to set seasons and bag limits and enforce regulations promulgated by the commissioner.

Here is an oversimplified version of that process. Once a regulation is voted on by the Conservation Advisory Board, it goes to the Commissioner of Conservation for approval. Next, it undergoes a 35-day period of public review and comment. At the end of the public comment period, the commissioner signs the regulation and it is filed with the Legislative Review Council. If no action is taken within 45 days by the Legislative Review Council, the regulation becomes law.

That answers the first part of their opposition. The following addresses the second.

Alabama Statute 9-11-230 states: "The title and ownership to all wild birds and wild animals in the State of Alabama or within the territorial jurisdiction of the state are vested in the state for the purpose of regulating the use and disposition of the same in accordance with the laws of the state."

The authority of the state to regulate the hunting of its game animals derives from the long-established and well-recognized principle of law that ownership of wild animals is vested in the state. Rogers v. State, 491 So2d 987 (Ala.Crim.App.1985)

By virtue of its police power, the state has plenary authority to regulate the taking and hunting of wild animals within its borders. Rogers v. State, 491 So2d 987 (Ala.Crim.App.1985)

State regulation of taking of game is necessary and it extends, and always has extended, to privately owned land. Rogers v. State, 491 So2d 987 (Ala.Crim.App.1985)

These principles do not just lie in Alabama. All states own the wildlife within their borders except that owned by the federal government such as waterfowl and doves. In the case of migratory birds, all hunters are bound by federal seasons and bag limits.

Alabama Statute 9-2-2 states: "The general functions and duties of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources shall be as follows: To protect, conserve and increase the wildlife of the state and to administer all laws relating to wildlife and the protection, conservation and increase thereof."

In layman’s terms, for those whom feel the state shouldn’t tell them what they can do on their own property, that’s our job. We are charged with trying our best to ensure these resources remain available for everyone now and for future generations of Alabamians as well. So remember, while it’s true that property owners have title to their land, the state of Alabama has title to the wildlife.

Game Check is a harvest data collection system implemented to provide better information to our biologists. Better data yields better season and bag limit recommendations. It’s just that simple.

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

Thinking Outside the Box

by Robert Spencer

Those who have raised goats or sheep know the challenges with Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm) and keeping animals healthy and productive.

We know the consequences of infestation include production losses due to weight loss, decreased vigor and delays in breeding; and economic losses from decreased production, cost of treatment and mortality.

And we know the signs of infestation include anemia, edema or bottle jaw, weight loss and weakness. A lot of us have been to workshops and know about the lifecycle of the barber pole worm, susceptible animals (a small percentage of animals harbor the majority of worms), fecal-egg counts, packed cell volume and FAMACHA.

Most of us know about the benefits of rotational grazing and forage management, forages high in tannins and condensed tannins, mixed species grazing and the need to cull problematic animals.

We also know about the use of chemical wormers and parasite tolerance, rotating and not rotating wormers, refugia, and natural or organic wormers.

Most recently, dosage recommendations for chemical wormers have increased, and product recommendations vary. Yet, with all this understanding, all the readily available information and the various expertise, the gastrointestinal parasite problem continues to exasperate the small ruminant industry.

Knowing this troubling history, the Extension system held a workshop was held this summer in Hillsboro. It addressed an alternative form of parasite control. It was designed to educate goat and sheep producers on a highly controversial practice with a proven history of controlling Haemonchus contortus infestation in sheep. The information shared came from a 10-year study (begun in 2007) at University of Kentucky and was previously conducted at another land-grant university in the Midwest; the product is approved by USDA.

These two studies over 16 years used a 1-percent drench of copper sulfate (CuSO4) on sheep. It involved using copper sulfate at a regular dosing of 1% solution with 97 percent effectiveness.

The study at UK involved using over 150 drenched and nondrenched sheep, primarily Hampshire ewes and lambs. The results were that FAMACHA scores improved, PCV increased and FEC decreased significantly, with no negative consequences.

While I recognize there are toxicity concerns associated with copper as an anthelmintic for sheep, the information shared during this event was quite insightful and gave many of the attendees hope for an effective, all-natural, long-lasting and food-safe method of dealing with this vexing problem.

Is this for everyone? Maybe not. It is a personal choice and management decision. However, it is refreshing to hear of some out-of-the-box options.

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

This Is Dirt

Tribute to the FFA Advisor

by Baxter Black, DVM

This is dirt. We call it soil
This is work. Some call it toil
We make food from dirt and rain
We’re the first link in the chain
I teach’em how
Here by the owl

I take kids and turn them into people
I know each one in my class
And I want them all to pass
Each one is good at something and we’ll find it
That’s just our way

Some like showing livestock at the fairgrounds
Others like the tractor sound
And the tilling of the ground
They use their brain and their hands to get the job done
They’re on their way

They might learn to weld or be a speaker
Be a nerdy scientist
Or an ag economist
But most of all a person of good character
So we can say
They’re FFA

This is dirt. We call it soil
This is work. Some call it toil
We make food from dirt and rain
We’re the first link in the chain
I teach’em how
Here by the owl

Musical version available at

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,

Turkey Cooking Month

by Herb T. Farmer

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, so get out and cast your vote. Remember to vote for the good of the order and vote your conscience. There will be many angry and many happy citizens this month. If your candidate doesn’t win, don’t get angry. If your candidate wins, don’t gloat. There’s lots of work to be done and a new commander in chief to learn the basic ropes to pull on to make the bells ring. Vote, then chill.

I know some of you are entertained by the nonsense TV and radio stations broadcast these days. Keep this in mind … every product mentioned is a sponsor and they want you to buy their whatever-it-is they’re hawking. It’s bonus time in the media. Sales are up and some small broadcasting entities that have been hanging on by a thread will survive until next year. Some of them won’t. The same thing goes for newspapers and direct mail companies. One thing is for sure. On Nov. 9, we will have voted in a new president.

Adult Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

Respect the office of the presidency, whether you like the elected person or not. There have been a few presidents in my lifetime I didn’t like, but I always respected the office.

Ironically, this is turkey cooking month. Which one will be cooked and which one will be served?

Think about this on Thanksgiving Day … whichever candidate is elected as president of our United States … let’s be thankful we live in a country that stands for all of us. And if you don’t agree with some of the things the elected officials do, vote them out next time. There are plenty of fresh Butterballs to choose from in the cooler!

Okay! That really got me going. I took a short 2-mile walk and I calmed down.

I usually end up losing my lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) to the first frost of the season. However, this year I remembered to dig up a large clump and put it in a 15-gallon nursery pot. It was saved in the greenhouse for a special purpose.

This Thanksgiving, one of the turkeys I traditionally roast will be brined with lemongrass and garden sage, and then loosely stuffed with some of the lemongrass before it goes into the oven. Since I haven’t tried that recipe yet, I’ll have to report it to you in a future column. Remember, though, I often use lemons when roasting turkeys.

The drought has been rough on the soil here at the farm. Finally, there is some relief and today is planting Day One.

First round of planting is garlic cloves and onion sets. I sat out on the porch last night and busted up some really pretty, medium-sized garlic bulbs. Looks like I’ll have about 300 or more cloves to plant. The onions are the bunching type and I start them in 288-cell plug trays. Guardsman and Red Robin are my favorites. The Guardsman produces a small bulb at maturity, though they can be harvested at varying stages of growth. Red Robin is actually a scallion that is red and sweet. Both are great salad or snacking onions.

Note: Plug tray choices for my cool-season crops are mostly deep-well 72-cell or 84-cell hexagonal trays. The reason I use larger cells is because the plants are started earlier in the season and then transplanted straight into the ground.

Quite colorful and festive, the Gulf Fritillary is very happy with munching down on a Passiflora.

I started some lettuce seed in plug flats a few weeks ago and they are ready to go into the ground.

One of my favorites is Patty’s Choice, a Bibb-type lettuce. It’s green with red tips on the leaves and crisps up nicely in the fridge. Another sweet lettuce that looks nice in the garden is a red-leaved rosette called Redina. I also grow this one in the spring. Red Sails and Green Saladbowl oak leaf lettuces top off the greens going into the ground this week.

All this talk about lettuce and onions has made me hungry!

It’s too early for lunch and I’m still enjoying my morning Royal Cup of coffee. So, let’s talk breakfast! This omelet-type one will be quick and tasty.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté chopped onions, jalapeño chilis and mushrooms in a small iron skillet with a little olive oil. Add some chopped, cooked ham if you have it. If you don’t have that, cook some Dean’s country sausage or Conecuh smoked sausage in a separate skillet. Whisk vigorously three or four eggs in a medium mixing bowl. (And I mean vigorously! Whisking makes them fluffy.)

Preheat your favorite iron skillet for cooking eggs. Pour in the whisked eggs and let them begin to cook. Gently move the eggs around to keep them from overcooking. Drain any fat from your sausage pan and add the vegetables. Pour the partially cooked eggs onto the sausage and veg mix, and gently give it a folding push around the pan.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Watch it carefully, though. How much you cooked it on the stovetop will determine the actual time spent in the oven. Remove it from the oven and turn out onto a plate. Let your … hmm … I guess it’s technically a frittata, rest for about five minutes.

Some folks only see little gray butterflies when these are flitting around. But if you look carefully, you can see all of their beautifully colorful details. This is the Red-Banded Hairstreak (Calyopsis cecrops).

Slice it like a pie and serve it with a topping or two or three – grated cheddar cheese, cream cheese, salsa, basil, etc. Use your imagination. I’m going for cream cheese and basil this morning. It only takes about 45 minutes to prep and prepare if you’re adroit in your kitchen.

Gotta go for now. Enjoy some butterfly photos I made last month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

Would YOU rather be in the woods?

Support Alabama Treasure Forest Association with a new affinity license plate.

by Debra Davis

For those who love the forest, showing that special appreciation just got easier thanks to the Alabama Treasure Forest Association.

"The ATFA’s state board of directors is offering ATFA members an opportunity to get this great new license plate – a $50 value – for free," said ATFA Executive Director Rick Oates. "There are many choices for vanity license plates in Alabama, and we think this new tag will be very popular."

ATFA’s newly redesigned affinity tag boasts the slogan "I’d Rather Be in the Woods." Proceeds from tag sales help fund programs supported by ATFA such as Classroom in the Forest, landowner field days and educational seminars.

State law requires 1,000 of the new ATFA tags be sold before production of the license plates begins. That’s why ATFA is offering the tags free to its members, Oates said. Normal issuance fees and taxes are the responsibility of the tag owner, but the usual $50-fee for a vanity tag is free to members for the first year, he added.

Getting a free tag is easy. Go to, and click the picture of the tag to download the tag reservation form. License plates can be customized with any six characters at a later date. When 1,000 tag commitments have been made, those who reserved a tag will be notified how to get their tag from their local probate office.

"After the first year, tag owners will be required to pay the annual renewal cost for the ATFA tag," Oates said, "but that $50-fee is tax deductible."

Forestry and its related industries bring $21.4 billion annually into Alabama, and timber is a recognized commodity in every county in the state.

"These tags are a great way to show support for one of our state’s largest industries, share your love of the forest with others and support ATFA programs," Oates said.

The Alabama TREASURE Forest Association was established in 1974 to promote the multiple-use philosophy of land management to support timber, recreation, the environment, aesthetics, and sustainable, usable resources.

Since 2013, the ATFA has partnered with the Alabama Farmers Federation to reach more people with TREASURE Forest philosophies and programs.

In addition to its education efforts, ATFA holds a group certificate through which members can obtain Forest Stewardship Council designation for their timberland.

Debra Davis is the publications director for Alfa.

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