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October 2016

4-H Extension Corner: Social Media and Young People

Finding the Balance Between Benefits and Risks

by Austin Northenor

Imagine a dinner table surrounded by a family of five in the 1950s, ’60s or even the ’90s. It includes every family member sharing stories, life lessons and laughter. Now imagine a dinner table in this decade. It is spread out, less interested in communicating and some, if not all members, are participating in activities through a media outlet.

Media has changed our culture in significant ways since first becoming popular in the early 1900s with the advancements in technology. One of the newest is social media. Social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter just to name a few, has made its way into the homes of people young and old.

The benefits of these programs are plentiful. For example, some people use social media for motivation to get healthy with applications such as Fitbit, Jawbone or Map My Run. Another more obvious example is how it connects people to other people worldwide and to local and global affairs.

"Great things come of it," said Dr. Adrienne Duke, a family- and child-development specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "You can see people you love in an instant, and you can contribute to the world in a way you couldn’t before."

Though beneficial, there is concern that social media can lead to negative behavior in younger children and teens. This is where most begin to wonder what age is appropriate to begin use, and how does one prevent harmful media from working its magic? Researchers believe there are things parents should be aware of and tips they should consider when their children open their own accounts.

There are ways to allow children to enjoy their social sites while also teaching them safety.

First, parents should monitor their children to ensure proper use, both for content and for time spent. Children are getting in touch with social media at a much younger age. Whether it is online gaming or social sites, most children begin to create their own accounts when they are 9 years old. This age is crucial, however, in adolescent life.

At this stage, they are learning how to balance their days and interact with others. In fact, research has shown electronic stimulation affects sleep and mood behavior for children. That being said, it is important for parents to monitor their usage.

Duke said school-aged children (fourth-graders and up) are learning about content.

"Learning can be hard, and technology distracts them," he stated.

Secondly, deleting the child’s account isn’t the solution when the content becomes invasive or negative. Instead, Duke encourages parents to talk with their children. As children become teenagers, they start to struggle with more complex social interactions such as bullies, cliques and stereotypes.

Teenagers are vulnerable at this period of their lives. Some teens can seek out these insecurities and take advantage of them, and this is where most fall victim to self-image and confidence issues that can sometimes last for years.

Bullying has been around for a long time. It is very common to see teenagers target classmates to gain popularity. Unfortunately for this generation, the thing to remember is that children who are being bullied on social media are indeed being bullied outside of the internet’s medium.

Girls tend to encounter problems at this age on a more personal level and, in recent years, social media has broadened the concept of competition.

"For girls it is more pronounced," Duke added. "Before it was about local popularity, and now it has become global."

Competition in this sense boils down to who wore it better, who has most likes and followers, and whose relationship is the cutest and more perfect. These ideas can torment young people in a way that damages their ability to see themselves in a positive manner. Social media only makes this issue more visual.

"There are multiple media campaigns that are unmasking the beauty industry in ways that were not possible before," Duke stated. "There are sites (such as YouTube) that show you images before and after (Photoshop) that can help girls realize that they are normal and beautiful."

As social media expands and the availability of it grows, our society must learn to adapt. It is expected that children and teenagers will be curious, but it’s important for their mental and physical sake that there are limits and guidelines.

Austin Northenor is a student writer for ACES.

A Step Back in Time

Peinhardt Living History Farm Day gives visitors a glimpse of farm life in the 1930s and 1940s. In those days, keeping the garden weed free was a labor-intensive process.

Peinhardt Living History Farm Day – Experience Farm Life in the 1930s and 1940s.

by Tony A. Glover

Americans are drifting farther away from the country’s agricultural roots and heritage. I often hear old timers like me complain that today’s children and even young adults think food comes from the grocery store. With fewer than two percent of the population actively involved in production agriculture, the connection many in previous generations had with farm life has been lost. It is unlikely children and younger adults know how life is on the farm today and even more unlikely they know anything about what life was like on the farm only a couple of generations ago.

The Peinhardt Living History Farm in Cullman has made it their mission to not only tell the story but show us what life was like on the farm in the 1930s through the 1940s. Every fall they bring hundreds of school children to the farm to give them a taste of what farm life at that time was all about.

One day a year they provide that experience for anyone willing to make the trip to their beautiful farm located adjacent to I65 at the Highway 278 Cullman exit No. 308. The theme is to show today’s generations what life and living was like on a typical working farm of north Alabama during and just after the Great Depression and World War II.

This year the Peinhardt Living History Farm Day will be Saturday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The farm address is 1711 Talley Ho St. and is located just past Smith Farms Smoked Meat store on the east side of I65.

The Peinhardts invite you to come spend a day on the farm with over 40 acres of hands-on activities for the entire family. You can walk around the farm visiting period demonstrations of many aspects of farm life such as an operating sawmill and syrup making. You can take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and sweet potato field. You can also visit the old Red Hills School House and the local schoolmarm. The kids can play the old schoolyard games of yesteryear in a Pokémon-free zone.

Old-timey music will be played near the farm’s museum that you will want to walk through to see the tools and farm implements our ancestors used.

Counterclockwise from left, the pumpkin patch is one of the stops on the wagon ride. A horse-drawn carriage was a standard means of transportation in the 1930s and ‘40s. Sack hop races are one of the old schoolyard games of yesteryear the kids will get to enjoy.

You will also want to visit the ladies working on their handcrafted quilts.

Stop by and visit with someone telling the story of how turpentine was made and used.

The old tractor-powered gristmill will be making fresh-ground corn meal.

All working farms needed a skilled blacksmith, either on the farm or nearby, and it is always a fascinating stop on the farm tour.

Stop by the welcome area in the Agrilex building and visit with members of our 4-H and county Extension team. We can show you around the beautiful rain garden and the water harvesting system used to water the landscape. We will be selling refreshment items and popcorn to help support our local 4-H program.

There will be all kinds of animals, craft vendors and food vendors spread throughout the farm. Come out with the kids or grandkids and plan to make a day of it because there is so much to see and do.

Admission for children 4 and under is free; ages 5-12, $5; and 13 and up, $7. You can learn more at or email them at

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

AFC Thermo-Cured Protein Tubs

by John Sims

Winter feeding season is right around the corner. There are many products available at your local Quality Co-op to supplement your hay and improve cattle performance during this period. The product spotlight this month focuses on AFC thermo-cured protein tubs.

These 200-pound tubs are made using the Scotland process, in which the product is never in a liquid state. Dry ingredients are blended together and liquid molasses is added before the final product enters the tub. This makes our thermo-cured tubs 20-30 percent lower in moisture than traditional poured tubs. Because there is less water, there is more room for feed ingredients in the formula. This increased nutrient density results in higher total digestible nutrients.

A unique feature of thermo-cured tubs is slow-release urea. Urea is a nitrogen source that feeds the microbes in the rumen. AFC tubs encapsulate the urea so it is released slowly into the rumen over an eight hour period. This leads to better protein utilization and improved animal safety. No other tub offers this benefit!

AFC thermo-cured tubs also have a lower consumption rate than traditional poured tubs (1.5-2 pounds per head per day). This makes your cost lower and increases your profitability. Provide one tub per one to 25 animals.

AFC thermo-cured tubs are offered in three different formulas:

  • 24% Beef
  • 16% Horse and Cattle
  • 24% Hi Mag Cattle

No matter which formula best fits your situation, you can be assured that AFC thermo-cured tubs will provide you with cost effective protein supplementation of your forage this winter.

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

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

USDA makes cheese purchase, extends MPP sign-up deadline

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories to assist food banks and pantries across the nation, while reducing a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years.

The purchase, valued at $20 million, will be provided to families in need across the country through USDA nutrition assistance programs, while assisting the stalled marketplace for dairy producers whose revenues have dropped 35 percent over the past two years.

USDA also announced that it will extend the deadline for dairy producers to enroll in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy to Dec. 16, 2016, from the previous deadline of Sept. 30. This voluntary dairy safety net program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

A USDA web tool, available at, allows dairy producers to calculate levels of coverage available from MPP based on price projections.

On Aug. 4, USDA announced approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance to U.S. dairy producers enrolled in MPP-Dairy, the largest payment since the program began in 2014.

While USDA projects dairy prices to increase throughout the rest of the year, many factors such as low, world-market prices, increased milk supplies and inventories, and slower demand have contributed to the sluggish marketplace for dairy producers. USDA will continue to monitor market conditions in the coming months and evaluate additional actions, if necessary, later this fall.

Ten percent of farmland expected to change hands through 2019

The relatively advanced age of the U.S. farming population has sparked interest in the manner in which land will be transferred to other landowners, including the next generation of farm operators.

A recent study showed about a third of principal farm operators were at least age 65, compared with 12 percent of self-employed workers in nonagricultural businesses. The research also showed farmland owners reported plans to transfer an estimated 93 million acres in the five-year period from 2015-19 – some 10 percent of all land in farms – through a variety of means.

Landowners anticipate selling 3.8 percent of all farmland, with just 2.3 percent to be sold to non-relatives. A larger share of land (6.5 percent) is expected to be transferred through trusts, gifts and wills.

The share of farmland available for purchase by nonrelatives will likely rise above the 2.3 percent figure as some individuals (or entities) who inherit land may choose to sell it. Also, those who inherit land but don’t sell it may decide to rent it out to farm operators.

In 2014, 39 percent of all farmland was rented and 61 percent was owned by farm operators.

Forecasts for farm exports show rally under way

USDA has announced its first forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2017 and a revised forecast for FY 2016. Both forecasts indicate U.S. agricultural exports have begun to rally and will continue the record-setting pace that began in 2009.

The projected $133 billion in total exports for FY 2017 is up $6 billion from the last forecast and would be the sixth-highest total on record. The United States’ agricultural trade surplus is also projected to rise to $19.5 billion, up 40 percent from $13.9 billion in FY 2016. The United States has posted an agricultural trade surplus since recordkeeping began in the 1960s.

The projected growth in 2017 exports is led by increased sales of oilseeds and products, horticultural goods, cotton, livestock, dairy and poultry. And with a rise in global economic growth, beef demand also is expected to strengthen.

While USDA continues working to eliminate the remaining restrictions on beef exports instituted by some trading partners after the December 2003 BSE detection, beef exports have already recovered considerably. Beef exports are expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2017, well above the $1.5 billion in FY 2004.

China is projected to return as the United States’ top export market in 2017, surpassing Canada as the No. 1 destination for U.S. agricultural goods.

USDA also revised the forecast for FY 2016 exports to $127 billion, up $2.5 billion from the previous forecast. This would bring total agricultural exports since 2009 to more than $1 trillion, smashing all previous eight-year totals.

U.S. vegetable favorites show little change

What vegetables do U.S. consumers favor most?

Data from 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, show potatoes, tomatoes and sweet corn were the three most popular vegetables, the same ranking as in 1974.

However, while per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) of potatoes and sweet corn has declined over the last four decades, per capita tomato availability grew from 73.2 pounds in 1974 to 87.8 pounds in 2014.

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service’s food availability data, an average of 385.4 pounds of fresh and processed vegetables per person was available for U.S. consumers to eat in 2014, up from 334.1 pounds in 1974, but down from peak per capita vegetable availability of 424.3 pounds in 1996.

Fresh tomato availability increased by 74 percent and canned tomatoes by 10 percent during the same period. Onion availability also grew from 12.7 to 19.7 pounds per person from 1974-2014.

In 2014, cucumbers and romaine and leaf lettuce at 11.3 and 10.8 pounds per capita, respectively, replaced cabbage and carrots in the top seven rankings. Head lettuce was the fourth most popular vegetable in 1974, but dropped to fifth in 2014, perhaps related to the growing popularity of romaine and leaf lettuce.

Few farms affected by 2014 Farm Act eligibility income cap

Although the 2014 Farm Act revised the maximum income limitations (the income cap) that determine eligibility for most commodity and conservation programs and payments, the new rules aren’t expected to affect more farm operations.

The 2014 Act replaced the separate limits on farm and nonfarm income specified in the 2008 Farm Act with a single total adjusted gross income cap of $900,000.

Based on data for 2009-14 – a period of overall increasing farm sector income – a comparison of the impact of the income caps imposed by the 2008 and 2014 Farm Acts found the number of potentially ineligible farms increased over the period under both income caps. However, the potential number of farms affected by the 2014 income cap is below the number affected by the 2008 income caps, averaging 1,500 farms per year (about 0.1 percent of all farms) for the period 2009-14.

Farm types show different energy usage levels

Farms consume energy directly in the form of gasoline, diesel, electricity and natural gas and indirectly in energy-intensive inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides. But energy usage varies considerably according to the type of farm operation.

Farm businesses with annual gross cash farm income of over $350,000, or smaller operations where farming is reported as the operator’s primary occupation, vary in mix and intensity of direct- and indirect-energy use.

Those concentrating on rice, peanut, wheat and cotton production spent 43-49 percent of their total cash expenses on direct- and indirect-energy inputs, more than any other crop and livestock producers.

Fertilizer and pesticides, indirect energy uses because they require large amounts of energy to manufacture, account for the greatest share of energy expenses among farm businesses primarily producing crops.

For livestock producers, feed is also an important indirect-energy expense, but, in this analysis, those costs are accounted for in the crop budgets.

Fertilizer expenses accounted for 18-22 percent of total cash expenses for farm businesses concentrating in wheat, corn and other cash-grain production, and 14-17 percent for farm businesses primarily producing other field crops.

Cotton and rice production was associated with relatively high shares of direct-energy inputs – fuel used to apply chemicals and electricity to power irrigation equipment.

Peanut producers, who use electricity for irrigation and on-farm drying of their harvested crop, had the highest share of electricity use at 6 percent, followed by farm businesses concentrating on poultry and cotton at 4 percent.

All Star of the Year 2016

Once a quarter, an AFC panel selects an All-Star award winner from nominations provided by Co-op store managers and personnel for that period. Once a year, the All-Star of the Year is selected from among the quarterly winners.

This year the All-Star of the Year Award was presented by AFC President Rivers Myres, left, to Wayne Taylor, Cooperative Accounting Services.

Wayne was nominated by Wayne Gilliam, manager of Tuscaloosa Farmers Co-op. Here is what he wrote:

"Wayne always has our statement on time each month. He always corrects my mistakes on P.O. He keeps our bills paid currently. Wayne is very easy to work with. He understands and knows our system. He’s a keeper!"

Be Deliberate

by Baxter Black, DVM

"If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." It always fascinated me that Charmayne James’ horse Scamper looked like he was running slower than the others, but his time was always faster! Was his stride longer? Was his body longer? Were his legs longer? Did it take less strides to go the same distance as the others? Or was each step done with such precision that it eliminated even the slightest misstep that would add microseconds to the run?

I watch with awe the rodeo calf ropers who flop the calf to the ground and tie him down with two wraps and a hooey, faster than the eye can see! They usually take the short cut on the tie and wait on pins and needles, hoping it will stay tight the required six seconds. However, he takes a risk by going for speed.

In real life, I’ve developed the attitude, "If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." I don’t care whether I’m tying my horse to a mesquite limb, a hitchin’ rail or the side of a trailer; it’s a long walk back to the corral if you’re a’foot!

So, say yer in the brush and yer pardner has a 200-pound calf roped around the neck bawlin’, his mama bellerin’ and chargin’, and all of them crashin’ back and forth! Many thoughts fly through your mind in the middle of this wreck. Should you try and get a loop around the hocks? Dismount and tie your horse to a branch? Walk down the tight rope, flop the calf and hog-tie him before the bronky cow mows you down, OR. …

Stop the picture and think, deliberately. #1: The calf is caught. Regardless of the tangle he’s in, he’s not getting away. #2: The odds of roping a hind foot in this co-mangled arroyo would be like trying to rope a javelina in a garage with bicycles hanging from the trusses. #3: You have time to dismount and secure your barn-sour horse to a solid limb. #4: You slide your hand down the line, flop the calf and hog-tie him. This releases your pardner from needing to restrain the calf with his rope and he can keep busy shooshing the ferocious mama cow that is now coming at you like a right wing hockey monster!

The key to me is to take the extra seconds that will prevent more problems. If, during your attempt to hurry, you drop the rein, spook the horse, lose your glove or knock your hat off … chalk up a demerit. Any of which causes you to mishandle the tight line, get run over by the calf, get kicked in the groin, burn your hand and drop the calf twice trying to throw him. Finally in desperation you try to imitate Alan Bach with two wraps and a hooey that comes undone as quick as you stand up.

By the third attempt you stop … and remind yourself, "If you’re in a hurry, be deliberate." Steady your hind leg to push forward his hind legs. Drop your piggin’ string, loop around the under front leg, pile the others on, take three wraps – one, two, three – pull’em tight, Umph! Then take at least two hooeys and pull them tight again, Umph! Umph!

Sounds easy, but it’s a matter of control: tie that rein, take that wrap, cut that earmark, drive that nail, tie that knot, drill that hole, wash that dish, insert that key and button your shirt. Do it with the same deliberate concentration you thread a needle, put a Q-tip in your ear or draw a straight line with a paintbrush.

Keep your mind on your business. Thanks for the lesson, Charmayne and Scamper.

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,

CHEF'S CORNER: Got Fresh Gulf Shrimp?

by Brian Taylor

Shrimp and Bacon Quesadillas


4 bacon slices, chopped
8 ounces (36-42 per pound), medium shrimp peeled and
deveined, halved lengthwise
2 ounces cooked corn
2 ounces tomato, chopped
1 ounce fresh or jarred chili pepper (jalapeno, etc.)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
¼ cup green onions, chopped and divided
Sliced avocado, salsa and sour cream

In a medium frying pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Pour off grease. To pan, add shrimp and cook until pink, about 1 minute, stirring often. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Place a tortilla in pan and sprinkle half of it with half the bacon, shrimp, cheese and vegetables. Fold tortilla over filling and press down gently. Cover and cook until browned, turning once, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Repeat to make second quesadilla.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 pieces. Serve with avocado, salsa and sour cream.


3 cups water
1 cup coarsely ground grits
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt, to taste
1 pinch, or to taste, cayenne pepper
1 lemon, juiced
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
5 slices bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a heavy saucepan with a lid, bring water, grits and salt to a boil. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until grits are thickened and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

In a bowl, sprinkle shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper; drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large skillet, place sausage over medium heat; fry until browned, 5-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Retain bacon drippings in skillet. Transfer bacon slices to paper towels. Let cool and crumble.

In the bacon drippings, cook and stir green, red and yellow bell peppers; onion and garlic until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.

Stir shrimp and cooked vegetables into sausage and mix to combine.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour to make a smooth paste. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is medium brown in color, 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully, mixture burns easily.

Into the skillet with sausage, shrimp and vegetables, pour butter-flour mixture. Place the skillet over medium heat and pour in chicken broth. Add bacon and Worcestershire sauce, cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens and the shrimp become opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.

Just before serving, mix cheese into grits until melted and grits are creamy and light yellow. Serve shrimp mixture over cheese grits.

Low Country Boil


1 Tablespoon, or to taste, seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
5 pounds new potatoes
3 (16-ounce) packages cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
4 pounds fresh shrimp, heads-off

Heat a large pot of water over an outdoor cooker, or medium-high heat indoors. Add seasoning and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and sausage. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add corn; cook for another 5 minutes. Add shrimp when everything else is almost done, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Drain water and pour contents onto a picnic table covered with newspaper or other covering.

Brian Taylor CEC, CCE is the corporate executive chef for SouthFresh Farms.

Corn Time

Couples Conference 2016

There were 25 young couples sponsored to the 2016 Alabama Co-op Couples Conference, a three-day conference where participants had an opportunity to learn how cooperatives affect their everyday life.

John and Casey Cooper, Morgan Farmers Co-op

The conference was hosted by the Alabama Council of Cooperatives. The 41st annual conference was held atthe Hampton Inn & Suites in Orange Beach. Five of these couples were sponsored by their local Quality Co-ops. Other sponsors included Alabama Ag Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, CoBank, First South Farm Credit, Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Alabama Rural Electric Cooperatives and PowerSouth.

Joe and Dana Stoner, Madison County Co-op

Nick and Amanda Byars, DeKalb Farmers Co-op

Brock and Kristi Nix, Morgan Farmers Co-op

Corey and Angela Walker, Morgan Farmers Co-op


Drones for Farm Use

Understanding the Opportunities and Legal Limitations

While drone technology has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of the agricultural industry, farmers need to understand the legal limitations of drone use. Everyone in the agriculture industry should be taking stock of drones to determine whether new technology might help increase crop yields, keep tabs on cattle or even stop thieves.

by Matthew Brown, J.D.

Earlier this year Reece Wilkinson was flying his drone above his family’s citrus farm when he spotted a suspicious vehicle in the orchard. Wilkinson repositioned his drone to get a closer look. As he suspected, the vehicle belonged to a thief who was helping himself to the family’s citrus crop. A few minutes later, local law enforcement converged on the orchard, and the perpetrator was arrested with 500 pounds of grapefruit in the trunk of his car. Since then, Wilkinson has successfully used his drone to stop numerous crop thieves and saved the family farm from the loss of thousands of pounds of fruit.

Wilkinson’s use of a drone to protect the family crop is just one way farmers are deploying drones to increase crop yields. Companies like Aerial Agriculture, DroneDeploy and senseFly are integrating cutting-edge-photo and -thermal technology with off-the-shelf consumer drones to provide farmers with a new, affordable set of aerial tools. Farmers can use drones to survey crops, pin-point disease, and apply fertilizers and pesticides with greater accuracy.

While drone technology has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of the agricultural industry, farmers need to understand the legal limitations of drone use.

Drone Law

Currently, all drone flights fall into one of six legal categories:

  1. Indoor Flights: Not regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration in any manner.
  2. Flights Under the Recreation/Hobby Drone Law: Flights must be for hobby or recreational purposes and cannot support a non-hobby or commercial purpose. Hobby or recreational drone flights must take place within the operator’s line-of-sight; must be in accordance with accepted community-safety practices, and the operator must notify any airports within five miles of the operation.
  3. Flights Under the Part 107 Rule (became effective Aug. 29, 2016): Allows drone operations including commercial drone flights that conform with limitations set forth in the new rule.
  4. Flights Under a Section 333 Exemption: Allows commercial drone flights, but operator must have a conventional pilot license. Flight restrictions can vary from applicant to applicant depending on intended use.
  5. Flights Under a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization: Drone operations by public entities.
  6. Flights Under Traditional Aircraft Rules: Drone and pilot must meet the requirements of traditional manned aircraft.

Drones operated under categories two through five weighing more than 0.55 pounds must also be registered online with the FAA. The registration process takes about five minutes and costs $5.

Before Aug. 29, 2016, farmers who wanted to use drones as part of their farming operations were required to obtain a section 333 exemption. Even with the exemption, the farmer still had to employ someone with a traditional pilot license to operate the drone. The pilot license requirement made drone use in agriculture and other industries impractical. The FAA’s new drone regulations change everything.

New Drone Rules

New drone rules (14 CFR 107) became effective on Aug. 29, 2016. Under the new regulations, a farmer can take an FAA-administered drone test (called the Aeronautical Knowledge Test) and obtain a remote pilot certificate. The test consists of 60 objective multiple-choice questions. Correctly answering 70 percent of the questions will result in a passing score. Unlike a traditional pilot license, there is no training-flight-time requirement for a drone pilot certificate. The Transportation Security Administration will vet successful test takers before authorizing issuance of the final certificate.

With a drone pilot certificate in hand, a farmer can deploy a drone as part of his or her farming operations as long as he or she follows the operating requirements of the new rule. The new requirements might appear intimidating and a little cumbersome at first glance. For farmers, the entire rule can be summarized into a single general guideline: Under the new Part 107 rule, farmers who have a Remote Pilot Certificate can, after a simple preflight inspection, operate a drone during the day over their farm property at an altitude of 400 feet or less as long as the drone remains within their line of sight during the operation.

The vast majority of drone operations over rural farm property fall within the summary guideline above. However, farmers should still take some time to familiarize themselves with some of the finer points of the new rule. Many of the major provisions of the 14 CFR 107 are summarized below:

  • Accident Reporting: Any drone related accident that causes serious injury or loss of consciousness to a person or over $500 in property damage (other than to the drone) must be reported to the FAA within 10 calendar days. (14 CFR 107.9)
  • Operating from a Moving Vehicle: Operation of a drone from a moving vehicle is permitted only over sparsely populated areas with some limitations. (14 CFR 107.25)
  • Alcohol or Drugs: A drone may not be operated while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and a drone may not be used to transport illegal drugs. (14 CFR 107.27)
  • Daylight Operations: A drone may not be operated at night. (14 CFR 107.29)
  • Visual Line of Sight: A drone must be operated within the line of sight of the pilot or a spotter who is in communication with the pilot. (14 CFR 107.31-33)
  • Hazardous Material: A drone may not be used to transport hazardous materials as defined by section 5103 of the federal hazardous materials transportation law. (14 CFR 107.36)
  • Right of Way: Drones must yield the right of way (and stay well clear of) any other aircraft. (14 CFR 107.37)
  • Operation Over People: A drone may not be operated over a person unless the person is participating in the flight or the person is under a protective structure or in a stationary vehicle. (14 CFR 107.39)
  • Airspace Requirements: A drone may be operated in Class G airspace without permission, but the pilot must obtain permission from Air Traffic Control to operate in Class B, Class C, Class D or Class E airspace. (14 CFR 107.41) Note: Almost all farm property in rural areas will be in Class G airspace that generally extends to 700 feet above ground. Free online maps such as AirMap can be used to help identify the different airspace classes. Official aeronautical maps are available on the FAA website.
  • Preflight Inspection: Before fight, the drone pilot must perform a basic preflight inspection to make sure his controller is linked with the drone and the operation can be carried out in a safe manner. (14 CFR 107.49)
  • Max Speed: A drone may not be operated at speeds over 100 mph. (14 CFR 107.51)
  • Max Altitude: A drone may not be operated at a height over 400 feet above ground level unless within 400 feet of a structure, in which case the drone may not be flown over 400 feet above the top of the structure. (14 CFR 107.51)

One unique aspect of the new drone rules is a provision allowing pilots to request waivers to some of the requirements. The sections that can be waived are listed in rule 107.205 and include the sections banning nighttime operations, operations outside visual line of sight and operations over people.

Drones will not be replacing tractors anytime soon, but, at a cost of $500 to $1,500, a properly utilized drone could quickly pay for itself on the farm. Everyone in the agriculture industry should be taking stock of drones to determine whether new technology might help increase crop yields, keep tabs on the cattle, or, in the case of Reece Wilkinson, stop grapefruit thieves.

Matthew Brown, JD, is an engineer, licensed attorney, drone enthusiast, and founder and creator of


FFA Sentinel: Washington Leadership Conference

Impacting FFA Members – One Summer at a Time

FFA members representing Alabama gaze at the Washington Monument back dropped with a gray sky.

by Hannah Black

The Washington Leadership Conference is an annual seven week, five day conference for FFA members from across the nation. Each week a different group of FFA members flood into the nation’s capital to join other FFA members in a unique leadership opportunity. These students gather together to improve themselves, their chapters and their communities. The best way to have a true grasp of what WLC is all about is to take a look through the eyes of an advisor, a facilitator and a FFA member. Hopefully the following stories of how this leadership conference had impacted these individuals will spark a curiosity in other FFA members, advisors and supporters.

Albertville High School’s FFA Advisor Gary Aycock attended WLC this year and was asked about his participation throughout the years.

"I have attended Washington Leadership Conference 13 times in my 20 years of teaching," he said. "I have taken state officers, district FFA officers, chapter officers and members from various chapters throughout Alabama. I have always looked for FFA members who have the drive and dedication to improve. Although the expense is high to attend, many FFA members have returned confirming that WLC is a more rewarding experience than a National FFA Convention trip."

The conference is built on the following four themes: self-awareness, diversity, advocacy and service. WLC is not just a conference or a tour of Washington. Participants learn what servant leadership is all about. FFA members dive into our nation’s history and explore the lives of our founding fathers. If you enjoy helping others and have a talent for leadership, WLC would be a great opportunity for any FFA member. WLC is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for FFA members to explore our nation’s capital, make friends from across the country and serve others.

FFA members from across the country take part in the annual National FFA Washington Leadership Conference.

"FFA members always come back exclaiming that WLC is a conference unlike anything they have ever experienced," Aycock added.

This conference challenges the members’ thoughts, words and actions, and entices them to grow into a better person, leader and servant. FFA members come home wanting to improve their chapter, community and themselves.

Pell City Advisor Brittney Hill was a WLC facilitator during her college years and knows more than anyone the ends and outs of the conference.

"After serving on the nominating committee that selects national officers, FFA staff mentioned the applications were available and encouraged us to apply," Hill recalled. "I had a friend from my chapter who was also interested and we agreed we would both apply. It was unusual that we were both selected since we were from the same school. I thought that working for National FFA, all expenses paid, living in our nation’s capital for a summer and getting to positively influence FFA members from across the country was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite part; there are memories of each week that stand out in my mind! In particular, on the final night of the conference each week, students in our community groups could share their personal highlights of the week, how they feel they had grown as a leader, etc. It was awesome to see students who were quiet or unexcited at the beginning of the week come out of their shells or realize their purpose. As facilitators, being able to see the difference the experience made in our students helped us to know that God had placed us at WLC for a reason.

"I didn’t really have any expectations about what I would gain from being a WLC facilitator. It wasn’t until the summer was over that I realized how impactful the experience had been. Meeting students from across the country who were united by a passion for FFA and living to serve gave me hope for the next generation of leaders. Our weekly service projects involved picking up trash along the Potomac, gleaning from fields of corn or kale for food banks or cleaning up former homeless dwellings. This experience opened my eyes to what the world was like outside of my little college town or hometown and helped me to be more compassionate to those who are truly in need. As I began teaching, I was able to use the facilitation skills I learned before and during WLC. Helping a group of 30 teenagers navigate the city and subway system, along with teaching the curriculum, prepared me for the classroom more than any education class I took in college.

"I wanted the students in my group to leave the conference more aware of their purpose in FFA, more prepared to be a leader in their home communities and more willing to serve the needs of those around them. In addition, they left with friends who they still keep in touch with over seven years later."

Arab High School senior Lauren Whisenant was able to attend this year’s conference and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"I attended week seven of the Washington Leadership Conference this past summer," she shared. "As a senior in high school and FFA member, I can confidently say WLC has been the most impactful part of the National FFA Organization."

This year’s conference was centered on citizenship. What a great theme considering the conference was held in our nation’s capital. Throughout the week, participants defined diversity, advocacy and how our purpose can better our communities.

"Diversity day was my favorite part of WLC," Whisenant explained. "On this day, we looked at how different we all are and simulated life as those who live in a third-world country. This experience was incredibly eye opening, making each participant realize how blessed we truly are and how we need to make a difference for those outside the United States."

Another amazing part of WLC was the people you have the honor to meet. Whisenant’s roommates were from Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.

"It was so cool getting the opportunity to discuss how their chapters operate and how each state’s FFA association is different," she added. "I also had the opportunity to meet FFA members from Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, California, New York and the list goes on."

WLC also allowed FFA members to explore Washington. It was this small-town girl’s first trip to our nation’s capital. While there, the participants toured Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol, a variety of national monuments and memorials, and experienced the Newseum. The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism. It is a seven-level, 250,000-square-foot museum featuring 15 theaters and 15 galleries. My advisor and the three of us from the Arab chapter got to go to the top of the Washington Monument and also the Holocaust Museum.

"WLC was life-changing," Whisenant commented. "I am so blessed and ecstatic that I had the privilege to attend this conference. I love sharing my experiences with other FFA members and motivating them to become a part of FFA in their chapter, county and state."

For any FFA member who might be thinking about attending WLC, don’t let an amazing experience like this pass you by. Your life will be forever changed.

"Through this FFA experience, I have friends and memories that will last a lifetime," Whisenant concluded.

As you can see, the Washington Leadership Conference is a truly life-altering experience that can benefit anyone involved with FFA. No matter your background, WLC is growing the future leaders of FFA and of the world. Now, who’s ready to go to WLC next summer?

For more information on Washington Leadership Conference please visit the National FFA Organizations’ website or

Hannah Black is a member of Arab FFA Chapter and the Alabama FFA State Reporter.

Finding Joy in Simple Things

Gail Gehlken’s photo used in her second book.

Country Muse Gail Haskew Gehlken

by Carolyn Drinkard

Imagine being a high school senior, sitting in class as your English teacher plays reel-to-reel recordings of authors reading their own poems and plays! Sound unbelievable? In today’s high-tech world, students have instant access to the written and spoken word, but, in 1963, hearing authors reading their written words was momentous, especially in a small, rural classroom in Thomasville.

"Hearing the works read aloud was magical to my ears," Gail Gehlken recalled. "I never forgot that experience and later wrote a poem as a thank you to my teacher, Mr. Jimmy Davidson, for the inspiration I received from those recordings."

In fact, the power of those words convinced Gail Haskew Gehlken to become a writer! She earned a degree in Secondary English Education at Livingston College (now the University of West Alabama) and taught English for eight years before staying home to raise her three children. Ten years later, she returned to the classroom. She also attended the University of South Alabama to earn her Masters in English, with postgraduate work in creative writing. One of the requirements for this degree was foreign-language proficiency, so she took German classes.

"I enjoyed them so much that I completed a German language teaching certification and taught German along with English in Mobile County," she explained.

She received two Goethe teaching grants, allowing her to study and tour in Germany for two summers. She also received another teaching grant from Alabama Humanities. During her career, she has taught in schools in Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama, retiring in 2008.

For Gehlken, teaching was indeed her mission, but writing was her passion. With a growing family and a full-time career, however, she had little time to edit and revise her writings through the years. Nevertheless, she kept her stories and poems in journals. After retirement, she was able to pursue her passion.

Her writings would earn her both success and recognition. Gehlken has won four Hackney Literary Awards and numerous other awards from the Alabama State Poetry Society. Her works have been published in "Literary Mobile," Birmingham Arts Journal, "Alabama Sampler," "Anthology of Alabama Poets" and Potpourri Literary Journal.

In 2011, she was honored to be one of 12 participants for the Marge Piercy Poetry Intensive in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

She has written two books of poetry, "Standing Stone" and "A Good Season." She has another book coming out later this year.

Gehlken’s poetry reveals her heartfelt reverence and love for country life. She never decorates her lines with pretentiousness, choosing instead to let her simple words meander through the heights and depths of human emotions. Written in a modern style, her intimate life experiences are both personal and universal.

Gehlken grew up on a small farm in Thomasville, watching and helping her parents in their gardens. She and her two brothers, Bobby and Paul Haskew, spent hours during spring and summer, working together in the garden, harvesting and preserving vegetables.

"My brothers and I helped can tomatoes, cut off the corn, and shell beans and peas for the freezer," she laughed. "As children, we were allowed and encouraged to do everything related to gardening, cooking, sewing and taking care of animals that set positive lifechanging habits for my brothers and me. We learned not just to work with nature, but to pay attention and respect it."

For Gehlken, life on the farm defined her. Both of her parents taught her to find absolute joy in the small things in nature and to appreciate the bounties she had been given. Later, she would recall many of these childhood experiences in her poem, "For the Children."

"For mother, gardening meant not only vegetables, but also flowers," Gehlken reflected. "She could grow from seeds, grafts, division or rooting, so we all learned how to grow and care for every plant and flowering shrub in our yard including camellias, azaleas, altheas, hydrangeas, gardenias, roses and weigelas."

Gehlken’s father would pass on his intense love of trees to his children. Gehlken especially preferred trees with interesting bark such as beech, sycamore, shag bark hickory and river birch, and those with impressive foliage and flowers such as magnolias, cow cumbers (big leaf magnolias), poplars and maples. She revealed her deep-rooted kinship to the trees around her childhood home in her poem, "Poplars, Hackberries and All."

With these childhood influences, growing vegetables and flowers became a natural part of her adult life.

"As a poet, I write about what I know and love," she mused. "I have flowers blooming year-round, somewhere in the yard. I grow the same flowers mother grew; many I have rooted from her plants. I have also added many native plants and perennials, plus a collection of old garden shrub roses that bloom most of the year."

Gail and Jack Gehlken are avid gardeners. They plant, preserve and share their bounties with family and friends. Gail writes about her gardening adventures in many of her poems.

This double althea was rooted from one of Gail’s mother’s plants. Gail prefers older, heirloom flowers. She uses many of them in her poems.

Gehlken and her husband Jack are both dedicated gardeners. Bobby, an advocate for no-till farming, influenced the Gelhkens to try this method in their own garden. (See the May issue of AFC Cooperative Farming News.)

"Because we started using mulch to cover the garden, we never have to turn the soil," she added. "Though we keep a thick layer of leaves and pine straw as mulch in the garden and flower beds, there are always weeds and grass to pull. Sometimes I even enjoy that. Many ideas for poems come while pulling weeds," she chuckled.

Gehlken’s connection with the soil, composting and raising chickens can be found in her poem, "Well, Glory Be." Gehlken explained that she was constantly amazed and surprised by nature. She touches on this awe in another poem, "A Green Feast."

Gehlken feels blessed that her children and grandchildren now work in their own flower and vegetable gardens.

"It a joy to see them tending their plants and discovering all the insects that visit in the gardens," she added. "Sometimes they even find a green snake in the bean vines. I am saddened by the fact that fewer and fewer children experience gardening and walking in the woods. It’s a wonderful education for any age!"

The Gelhkens live in Irvington, in south Mobile County. It is the perfect setting for chickens and guineas and gardens, along with pecan and fruit trees such as figs, pears, peaches, satsumas, lemons, kumquats, blueberries and persimmons.

"I make preserves and relishes, like mother did, and follow her rule of canning a minimum of 40 quarts of tomatoes every summer," Gehlken laughed.

Gail Gehlken works on poetry for her next book coming out later this year.

Her poem, "Alabama Women," poignantly captures her memories of canning with her mother.

Alabama Women

Like my mother,
know how to open each hour,
fill its seconds and minutes
with sweetened juices and pulp
of memories

like packing mason jars
with hot, spiced pear relish
before capping with sealing flaps
and gold twist rings

to hold a luscious taste of August
for a cold December day.

She learned another important lesson from her mother: to never stop learning new things. When Gelhken left for college in 1963, her mother started nursing school, earning an LPN license and working at Thomasville Hospital until she retired.

"Mom’s patients called her, ‘the nurse with caring hands,’" Gehlken reflected. "Along with caring hands, she was as kind, patient and hardworking with people as she was with her plants."

Gehlken still follows her mother’s example of always learning. She is now taking drawing and watercolor classes in botanical art at the Mobile Botanical Gardens.

In addition to being a wife, mother and grandmother, she is also a quilt maker.

"I’ve always sewn, but I only started making quilts since retiring," she explained. "Sometimes I use my poems as a springboard for quilt designs. I said I’m retired, but only from teaching in the classroom!"

Whether celebrating satsumas, squash or Speckled Sussexs, Gelhken finds poetry in all of life. Her syllables are steeped in soft bayou breezes and chinaberry shade, swallowtails and star jasmine. Her poems suggest solace for the soul and invites her readers to make "room for joy in simple things."

You can contact Gail Gehlken at Enjoy some of her other poems reprinted below.

For the Children

Let the children play outdoors
making a house of rooms
in a thick privet hedge
at the edge of the woods.

Let them dig holes
with kitchen spoons
and plant seeds
rescued from the bottom
of lemonade glasses.

Allow time to find cocoons
dangling from pecan limbs
and time to study
an earthworm’s wiggles
after being forked free in the garden.

Encourage children to run
behind butterflies,
to catch bumble bees in Mason jars
and then find a greater joy
in setting them free.

Help them make collections
of leaves, rocks, sticks and acorns
to save like treasures in secret boxes
to bring out for play
on cold wet days.

Watch as they taste rain
on their tongues,
splash barefoot in puddles,
and climb chinaberry trees
for berries to string
or toss at stick bats.

Show them bluebirds
building nests in boxes,
chickadees stopping
at the feeders,
Carolina wrens
swinging in gourd houses,
and woodpeckers
shaping holes in tree trunks.

At days end
let the children
watch fireflies
glowing and darting
on the edge of night.

Though too tired to give chase,
they can still squeal
in delight at the sight
and wonder:
“What if …”
and say “Tomorrow I’m going to …”

Well, Glory Be!

To weeds, ever patience to stay
but yielding when pulled

to dirt, rich in microbes,
tangled with earthworms

and seeds, coded for pumpkins, butterbeans,
cucumbers and butternut squash

to lavender blooms on leafy green stems
hiding new red potatoes maturing underground

to the feathers of Speckled Sussex,
Welsummer and mottled Java hens

to satsuma trees and Stuart pecans,
cardinals, mockingbirds and Carolina wrens.

I’m amazed.
Well, glory be!

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

Get Saddled Up for Horse U!

Youth program to be held Nov.12

Press Release from Auburn University

An educational program for children and teens who own or have a passion for horses is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m.-3:15 p.m. in Auburn. Check-in will begin at 8 a.m. at the Stanley P. Wilson Beef Teaching Unit on the Auburn University campus.

The fifth annual HORSE U – or Horse Ownership Resources, Skills and Education for Youths – will offer youths 9 and older important information related to horse health, care and handling.

"It’s designed for all young horse enthusiasts, whether they’re involved in showing, speed events or recreational riding," said Auburn Equine Science Associate Professor and HORSE U Director Betsy Wagner

This year’s HORSE U, organized by equine science graduate students in the Department of Animal Sciences, will feature educational presentations on trailer safety and on buying or leasing a horse, a trivia game testing participants’ basic horse knowledge and hands-on sessions dealing with horse digestive tract problems, horse judging, and trail and exercise physiology.

The hands-on activities will take place at the Auburn University Horse Center. Transportation from the Beef Teaching Unit to the Horse Center and back will be provided for all participants.

Participants must wear long pants and closed-toe shoes to work with the horses and must be at least 9 years of age by Dec. 31, 2016.

The registration fee is $20 and includes lunch, a T-shirt and a grab bag. Registration is required for all who attend, including parents and chaperones who plan to accompany their children during the program. Online registration will open Aug. 1 at and close Oct. 28. Payment should be submitted along with the completed registration form.

In addition, each HORSE U registrant should print, sign and date the hold-harmless agreement and mail or fax to the Department of Animal Sciences by the Oct. 28 deadline. The address and fax number are included on the form.

For more information on HORSE U, contact Wagner at or 334-844-7503.

The Stanley P. Wilson Beef Teaching Unit is located at 500 Shug Jordan Parkway.

Hoof Health

What You Need to Know for the Coming Wet Weather

Tips for Prevention of Foot Rot in Your Sheep Flock

A complete supplement such as the SWEETLIX All-In-One Pressed Protein Block can help provide proper amounts of zinc essential for hoof health.

by Jackie Nix

Horse folks are often fond of the saying, "No hoof, no horse." Well, horses aren’t the only animals’ hooves we need to worry about. Hoof soundness in sheep is absolutely critical. Grazing sheep that are lame won’t venture out and forage well, and thus may gain less weight or even lose weight. Breeding rams that are lame will not travel to seek out ewes in heat and may their lose libido all together. Prolonged wet conditions make foot rot complaints common.

What Causes Foot Rot?

Foot rot is caused by an infection of anaerobic bacteria in the foot. The exact species of bacteria will differ slightly among species; however, it has been suggested that bacteria from one species can infect another (i.e. cattle foot rot bacteria can infect sheep or goats and vice versa). Some of these bacteria are present naturally in the environment (in manure and the soil) while others are brought in by infected animals or human-caused contamination. These bacteria can survive in the soil from one to 10 months and even longer within hoof tissues.

These organisms cannot penetrate healthy, intact skin and hoof tissue. Cuts, bruises, puncture wounds or severe abrasions permit entry. Therefore, conditions resulting in foot injury will predispose animals to contracting foot rot. Injuries are more likely to occur when the tissues of the feet are swollen and soft due to continued wetness. Also, the bacteria survive better during wet conditions.

Severe foot rot negatively affects many production parameters. (Credit: Susan S./Flickr)

Signs of Foot Rot

Foot rot is characterized first by a swelling of the tissue between the toes and eventually necrotic, foul-smelling pockets in the hoof when the hoof wall separates from the horny tissues. The initial reddening of the skin is sometimes known as foot scald. If left untreated, the infection may progress up the foot into deeper structures such as the joints, tendons and bone.


Primarily, contagious foot rot is spread by infected animals. The organism travels from the infected animal to the soil to non-infected animals. Problems are usually introduced into a clean herd by purchase of an infected animal (especially true for sheep and goats), mixing clean animals with infected animals or by using a facility (such as sale barn) after infected animals. Humans can also spread the disease on their boots.


Proper hoof trimming is essential in managing to reduce incidences of foot rot. (Credit:

The best prevention is to never bring contagious foot rot onto your farm in the first place. Do not purchase animals from herds showing signs of lameness. You should always quarantine new animals (from any source) before introducing them into your herd. You may want to run sheep through a footbath or spot treat foot rot infections with aggressive hoof trimming and topical application of zinc sulfate solutions or other acceptable treatments. In severe cases, antibiotics may be in order. Consult your local veterinarian for more information.

Also be mindful of farm-to-farm transmission by humans. This is especially important with sheep operations that host tours and field days. Insist visitors wash their boots in a footbath of diluted Clorox or zinc sulfate solution. Many larger sheep farms provide such washing stations in the parking area for visitors. Another option is to provide them with disposable boot covers or provide your own footwear.

Another consideration is to not allow visitors to drive their vehicles into your pastures or driving lanes, thus transferring manure and bacteria via the tires.

Keep sheep hooves properly trimmed. During routine maintenance, trim animals with healthy feet first so as to not spread the bacteria within the herd. Then, as you work on infected animals, disinfect your hoof shears between animals with a Clorox solution. Sheep that display chronic foot rot should be culled, as they will act as a reservoir for the entire herd.

Role of Zinc in Hoof Integrity

Zinc is a critical nutrient involved in the maintenance of epithelial tissues. Zinc is estimated to be a component of over 200 enzymes. Zinc’s role in maintaining hoof tissues includes, but not limited to, stimulating growth of epidermal cells, production of keratin (sulfur-containing protein which is the primary component of the hoof), improved wound healing and improved cellular integrity. Zinc-deficient sheep exhibit increased claw and hoof disorders as well as skin disorders and poor wound healing. Improved zinc nutrition has been shown to improve hoof integrity in deficient animals.

Marginal to deficient levels of zinc are common in many soil types across the United States. Additionally, high levels of naturally occurring antagonists such as iron, molybdenum and sulfur are common in several areas. Sheep producers who have observed lameness and/or other hoof problems should consider use of one of the Sweetlix line of sheep supplement products to receive NRC-recommended levels of zinc, in addition to other trace minerals and vitamins.

SWEETLIX offers a variety of complete mineral-vitamin supplements for sheep. All SWEETLIX supplement products help sheep attain maximum performance by providing complete vitamin and trace mineral supplementation including selenium and zinc in a very bioavailable form. These products are scientifically designed especially for the nutritional needs of sheep. Ask for SWEETLIX by name at your local dealer or visit to learn more.

In summary, incidences of foot rot increase during prolonged wet weather. There are many management practices you can employ to reduce foot rot on your farm. Included among these is proper supplementation of zinc. Many sheep show deficiency symptoms including: depressed immunity, decreased conception rates, increased days open and hoof problems. If your sheep experience any of these symptoms, you should strongly consider use of one of the SWEETLIX supplement products to deliver recommended levels of zinc to help sheep reach their maximum genetic potential.

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.

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Helping the Hummingbirds Get Home

Migrating hummingbirds appreciate fresh sugar nectar this time of year as they feed on their way south. You can make your own nectar by dissolving one cup of sugar in four cups of boiling water. Let cool before putting it into the feeder. Hummingbirds will usually empty a feeder in a day or two, but, if not, keep your feeder clean by flushing it out twice a week with hot water (no soap). If you don’t have a brush, put a small handful of uncooked rice in the feeder and shake vigorously to help loosen crud. At the end of the season, soak feeders in a little bleach water (about ¼ cup per gallon of water) to clean them thoroughly before storing.

Whiteflies are tiny, white, moth-like insects that typically rest on the undersides of leaves sucking juices from the plant. (Credit:

Knock Back Whiteflies Now

Help reduce whiteflies that love citrus and gardenia by getting them before they overwinter. The tiny, white, moth-like insects typically rest on the undersides of leaves sucking juices from the plant. An infestation can build quickly, deforming the new growth and weakening plants. The whiteflies multiply fast in warm weather and can quickly move from the evergreens in your garden to new leaves of nearby crepe myrtle and other plants in the spring. If you grow citrus in containers and move the pots indoors for the winter, the whiteflies can move to adjacent houseplants, too. Because they lay eggs on the underside of the leaves, now is a good time to spray with horticultural oil to smother eggs and nymphs to help keep down infestations in the winter and prevent problems next spring. Be sure to coat the underside of the leaves thoroughly. The oil will also help loosen sooty mold, the black fungus that often grows on top of infested leaves. The key to control is to cover the underside of the leaves thoroughly. This should delay their appearance in the garden in spring, but spray again in early spring to get any eggs and pupae that might have been missed. Be sure to use a sprayer with a wand. It is impossible to get good coverage with hand-sprayer bottle.

Crowded Perennials

If old beds of irises, hostas, daylilies and other perennials were weak looking last spring, it may be time to rejuvenate the planting by digging, dividing and replanting the healthiest divisions. This offers an opportunity to share divisions with friends and neighbors, too. Maybe even pot them up as Christmas gifts for your garden buddies and neighbors who admire your flowers.

Seed Storing Tip

If you have saved seeds from your favorite plants, look around for little packets of silica gel desiccant often included in shoe boxes and other boxed items to absorb moisture. These will help your seeds stay fresh longer by removing humidity in the air trapped inside the bag. High temperature, light and humidity reduce the storage life of seeds. If you have the space, store seeds in the fridge. Put the plastic bags in a bag or box that blocks light. A second option is a closet or drawer where it’s as cool and dry as possible.

Pineapple Sage Blooms

This time of year the pineapple sage is at its best, drawing bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and people. Did you know you can also enjoy the flowers in dishes such as a salad or atop a cake? They must be added at the last minute, though, as they must be fresh. The flowers have a slight pineapple flavor, just like the fragrance of the leaves. Just be sure you are not picking flowers from a planting that has been treated with any pesticides.

Fall Flowers

Fall is a great time to add nice color to your garden with annuals and perennials. Annual flowers include dianthus, certain pansies and petunias (sniff before you buy), sweet alyssum, sweet peas, snapdragon, calendula, sweet William, poppies and stock; the farther south you live in Alabama, the more likely these annuals are to bloom in winter and very early spring.

Encore azaleas such as this Autumn Embers add color to your garden from the spring through fall.

Reblooming Azaleas

Encore and other reblooming azaleas do well when planted in the fall, so keep an eye out for your favorite colors blooming now. Be sure to keep the new plants watered during dry weather. Although their heaviest blooming is in the spring, Encore will put on a good autumn show if the plants are properly fed and have at least four to six hours of sunshine. Dappled pine shade or morning sun is perfect to avoid the stress of hot afternoon sun in the summer. Encore azaleas are evergreen and cold hardy throughout Alabama.

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

It’s Fair Time

by Stephen Donaldson

This time of year, every year, people start to second guess whether or not they are feeding their show cattle correctly. They have exhibited in several shows this summer and the cattle haven’t performed up to their expectations. As they start evaluating their program, the first question that comes to mind is, "Am I feeding correctly?" Most people question their feeding program because it directly affects the condition of the animal and it is the most expensive part of the program, other than its purchase cost.

The most important consideration before the determination of your feeding program is the actual evaluation of the animal. First, did the animal have adequate size at the time of purchase? Second, did it have the genetics to grow into a superior show animal? Third, was it properly conditioned at the time of purchase and did its body condition change significantly after the purchase? These questions speak to the proper development of your show cattle and do not address physical traits that could be affecting performance in the show ring. You must be honest with yourself and understand that no feed program in the world can change or correct any physical deficits in your show cattle.

Now let’s address feeding programs for show cattle. The easiest and most effective way to feed show cattle is to select a high-quality base feed to start to form your ration. Good examples of these would be either Formax Developer or Formax Grower. These complete feeds are fortified with vitamins and minerals and provide a good base of protein, energy and fiber to develop your show ration.

Other ingredients to keep in mind to develop complete show rations are cracked corn, oats, cottonseed hulls, shredded beet pulp, soybean hull pellets, Formax Preconditioning Pellets and Fitters Choice 32% Pellet. Each ingredient or combination, along with our base feed, can be used to make the perfect ration for each animal.

To determine how to enhance the base feed, you must honestly evaluate each animal. You must determine if it is over conditioned, under conditioned, properly conditioned and growing at an adequate rate. Another consideration when evaluating your animal is the amount of fill it is achieving. After honestly evaluating each animal’s condition, growth and fill, you can then determine the direction you need to take for its feeding program.

Animals that are over conditioned need part of their base ration substituted with oats, CSH, SHP, SBP, preconditioner, 32% Fitters Choice or a combination of some or all. The goal here is to decrease the amount of energy consumed by the animal while keeping protein and fiber high. This should promote lean growth by the animal so that weight gain will be added in the form of skeletal growth and muscle.

Under-conditioned animals, on the other hand, need increases in energy to help them add more body condition. We most readily observe this situation in market steers and growing bulls. Sometimes newly purchased calves can be under conditioned if they were weaned from a poor-milking dam. In this case, part of the base ration needs to be replaced with CC. As a general rule of thumb, try replacing 25 percent of the base feed with CC and half a pound of 32% Fitters Choice. This should increase the energy level enough to start adding fat to the animal while maintaining protein for muscle development.

To help increase fill products such as CSG, SHP and SBP can be used. Lately, however, more show people are having great success increasing fill by using preconditioner at about 10 percent of their diet. Any of these ingredients can help you increase fill, so try some of them to determine which works best for your animal.

Even though we have these guidelines to follow, it is nearly impossible to feed your show cattle correctly if you don’t have access to scales. First, it is imperative to know what your cattle weight is to feed them properly. Cattle that need to simply maintain growth and body condition need to be fed 2-2.5 percent of their body weight. Thus the importance of knowing what your cattle weigh. Cattle that need to add body condition need to be fed at 3-3.5 percent of their body weight. So access to scales couldn’t be more important. You also need a set of scales to properly weigh the feed so you can hit the correct baseline amount to feed.

It is important to remember these are only general guidelines and realize each animal is an individual that has specific feed needs to help them reach their full potential. Always ask those with experience feeding show cattle for advice and take these ingredients you can buy at the Co-op and work on crafting your perfect animal. If we can help, please give us a call.

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

Just Call Him Bubba

Remembering a Local Legend

Bubba Spivey and a buck he killed (1981).

by Alvin Benn

His given name was Allen Wood Spivey, but everybody just called him Bubba or Bubber, depending on pronunciation preferences.

If ever there was a living legend in Alabama where Dallas and Lowndes counties meet, it has to be Bubba Spivey because he seemed to roam the region as a Jack of all trades when it came to farming and agriculture.

Many who knew him referred to Bubba as an Alabama version of John Wayne, a giant of a man who, in real life, resembled the mythical Paul Bunyan in the eyes of those who knew him.

Cancer got the Duke at 72, the same age as Bubba whose life ended working on his farm as he graded a road next to his house in the little community of Tyler not far from Selma.

He had planted hundreds of watermelons and was digging a trench to hold water for the melons to grow. That’s where and how he lost his life.

His road grader didn’t have any brakes, but Bubba could maneuver it the way he wanted by using clutch action. He had done it time and again without a problem, except for one disastrous moment.

Sgt. Mark Green of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said Bubba’s grader was on soft ground atop a hill and it apparently gave way over the cliff area.

"He tried to dismount and, when he did, it apparently got stuck and he ended up underneath the grader," Green explained.

Fatal farm accidents often occur across America, but it was hard for Bubba’s friends to believe his could have died the way he did – a country boy who knew his way around forests, fields and all kinds of complicated equipment.

The accident that claimed his life happened in June 2015. Now, more than a year later, his memory is as strong as ever, evidenced by continued admiration for a man who let his deeds do the talking.

The Rev. Lee Tate delivered one of three sermons during the funeral service for Bubba. It took that many to adequately honor his memory.

Tate, as big and strong as the man he eulogized, said Bubba lived life on his own terms and died doing exactly what he wanted to do.

"To call him ‘stubborn’ would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ‘ditch,’" Tate said.

The pastor compares the end of Bubba’s seven decade journey through life with one of California’s imposing redwood trees – toppled when it didn’t seem possible it could happen.

"He was such a big personality, a force of nature," the preacher said. "When the big oaks fall, they aren’t replaced quickly."

Beth and Wood Spivey on top of the dozer with their father Bubba driving (1974).

Those who grew up with Bubba or got to know and respect him still find it difficult to accept the fact that he’s gone. They aren’t alone.

Johnny Traylor of Selma said Bubba was a gentle giant with a heart as big as the outdoors where he loved to work.

Staying inside was, for Bubba, a waste of valuable time because he could be working in the fields or building something.

Van Carter and Bubba bonded from the time they first met in school. They spent much of their time riding horses when they had the opportunity.

Carter recalled the time Judy Spivey wanted her husband to build a place for her to park her car. By the time Bubba finished it, Carter said, "You could have parked four buses under it and still had room for more."

"He was a perfectionist from start to finish," Carter recalled. "His father was a gentleman farmer, but not Bubba. All he cared about was his land and his cattle. He wasn’t really into politics or sports. His way of relaxing was working."

Bubba and daughter Beth always had a special link between them, a silent communication that needed no explanation.

It was rare, indeed, when father had a problem with daughter, but he had a special way of letting her know when he wasn’t pleased. It was all in the eyes.

"He didn’t have to say anything," she said. "All he had to do was give me that look and I knew how he felt."

Bubba went to the Selma Country Club once and wasn’t particularly taken by it. He told friends that he didn’t like the atmosphere and would rather be home working in the fields.

When it came to friendships and relationships, Bubba expected some give and take, but he wasn’t going to forget it if anybody disappointed him or let him down when it counted.

Cousin Steve Spivey said Bubba may have been viewed by some as a bit of an eccentric, but he could keep a grudge for a long time.

"He could be your best friend in the world or not," he said. "One thing he wouldn’t do, though, was take revenge against anyone who might have upset him."

Bubba was cremated. Friends said he let it be known that in the event of his death, he didn’t want to be buried. They said he didn’t want a big fuss made over him.

That’s already happened, beginning with the accident that claimed his life last year. For some, the mourning period may continue for a long time and Tate believes Bubba’s demise isn’t something that will be easily forgotten.

"It has left a big gap for a lot of people and will for a long time to come," said Bubba’s buddy and pastor.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

Making Soap in Myanmar

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer program teaches marketable skills to women in southeast Asia.

by Robert Spencer

Marie Laurent and Robert Spencer at the first training site.

As Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers, Marie Laurent, a colleague, and I spent more than two weeks in Myanmar providing training on soap making to about 58 members of the Shwe Inn Thu Women’s Self Help Group. This self-help group is an organization based out of the cities of Nyaung Shwe and Pauk Par Tung located within the Shan State. Our activities on soap making included demonstrations and safety training, use of agro-products in the soaps, multiple hands-on trainings, enterprise budgeting and marketing for disadvantaged women. Both volunteers and trainees identified and utilized locally available agro-products (vegetables, produce, etc.) as value-added ingredients in the soap production.

Cold-process soap making is a fairly common artisan skill practiced around the world. Ingredients included food-grade oils, sodium hydroxide (as an emulsifier) and the artisan’s choice of ingredients from fragrances, exfoliates, skin enhancers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Laurent provided the first demonstration on soap making and, over the next few days, the group did three hands-on practicums utilizing such additives as Thanaka powder, aloe vera gel, mint, cucumber, tomato, rose petals, dragon fruit, moringa leaf, avocado, and on and on. The group became very enthusiastic as they realized there were all kinds of potential additives and how easy soap making can be.

We spent our second week providing training on soap making and skin-care products to about 24 members of the Shwe Inn Thu Women’s Self Help Group in the village of Pauk Par Taung and included four surrounding villages on the southern end of Inlay Lake. The second week’s training activities were a replication of the previous week’s training and hands-on practicum for disadvantaged women.

Training in the village of Pauk Par Taung was very unique as the entire village lives and works in structures (houses, businesses and restaurants) built above the water of Inlay Lake. It is more than just a sleepy fishing village as many of the people raise vegetables on floating gardens and farm plots, and export the vegetables to nearby cities. Textile production (silk and cotton) is also prevalent in Pauk Par Taung. And year-round tourism is very beneficial for this area, making for an ideal situation for production and sale of hand-crafted soaps and other skin care products.

The first training section of the Shwe Inn Thu Women’s Self Help Group in Nyaung Shwe.

This group was exceptionally enthusiastic when it came to identifying and utilizing locally available agro-products (seaweed, coconut, lotus silk, tomato, cucumber, water hyacinth and other aquatic flowers, herbs, etc.) as value-added ingredients in the soap production. They quickly caught on to identifying potential marketing situations applicable to their area.

Day seven, the final day, of training, we returned to Nyaung Shwe where both groups merged to learn about packaging and displays to enhance product marketability. Each of the 28 people was given the opportunity to wrap and showcase their soaps and their creativity showed.

I learned a whole lot about using botanicals in soap making. This was my third volunteer trip to Myanmar and each one has been a great learning and cultural experience. What made this one special is the fact that Laurent is originally from Haiti and we had never met before.

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

National Recognition for Alabama Conservationists

Southeast National Association of Conservation District Hall of Fame Recipients

Release from Alabama Soil & Water Conservation Committee

Two distinguished Alabama conservation leaders receive national recognition. Dr. Richard Guthrie from Bullock County and Barnett King from Crenshaw County were officially inducted into the Southeast Region National Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Alabama’s delegate to NACD and board member, Dr. Carol Knight, presented the honors at a luncheon and ceremony that coincided with the SE NACD annual meeting at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, July 31-Aug. 2.

From top, Dr. Richard Guthrie, Bullock County Supervisor, and Barnett King, with plaque, Crenshaw County Supervisor, were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 1, 2016.

"The Alabama Association of Conservation Districts is fortunate to have many distinguished members, but these two stood out to be deserving of this honor this year. Both have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the wise use of natural resources, conservation education and promoting agriculture in our state," Knight said.

From his childhood raised on a cattle farm, through his pursuit of education and a career, to today, Guthrie has devoted his life to conservation. With a doctorate in Soil Science, he retired from a 20-year career as a Natural Resources Conservation Service soil scientist and later led Auburn University’s College of Agriculture as Dean. He sat for five years on the Soil & Water Conservation Committee and currently chairs the Bullock County Conservation District.

At age 90, King continues 31 years of active service as a Crenshaw County Conservation District Supervisor, and a lifelong commitment, professionally and personally, to conservation. King served as president of the AACD and the SWCC, and was a charter member of TREASURE Forest. In 2002, he was named National Tree Farmer of the Year. Today, King and his wife manage their farm and an 87-acre nature trail and outdoor classroom for conservation education activities.

Guthrie and King were joined by their families to accept the honor.

AACD is the unified voice of all 67 conservation districts across the state. Organized as a 501(c)(3), AACD is dedicated to cooperating with the Alabama Soil & Water Conservation Committee; supporting programs and services that conserve, enhance, and protect Alabama’s vast natural resources; and informing policy makers at the state and federal level about natural resources issues.

Conservation districts work hand in hand with NRCS to secure funding and technical assistance for landowners and farmers.


by Herb T. Farmer

Monarch butterfly on mums. I think it’s getting ready for a Mexican vacation. (Credit: Kylee Baumle)

Last month I read where there was a massive bee kill in South Carolina due to the County of Dorchester deciding to spray the chemical Naled from the air in order to control mosquitoes for fear that one might have the Zika virus.

One beekeeper has lost 46 hives and that means 2.5 million bees that provide his main source of income is totally lost.

After studying the chemical, it didn’t take long to figure out that this episode was purely wrong.

This whole nonsense really got me going! That spray, according to researchers at several universities, is not safe for insects or animals! I read the Environmental Protection Agency’s report and it seems obvious somebody was slacking in his/her duties!

You can read their report for yourself at

That could be one of the culprits behind the dwindling numbers of monarchs and other migrating butterflies. Why, I haven’t seen a monarch or viceroy butterfly around here in over five years.

We’ll talk more about the poisoning of America in the coming months, because I’ve got my pressure up just reading all about it.

Butterflies are pollinators and beautiful creatures. I always welcome the first ones to arrive on the farm and wonder if the last one I see in late November will truly be the last one until next season.

Left to right, this little Monarch egg is about to produce one of the prettiest butterflies in all the land. Monarch larvae hatchling enjoying its first meal next to the egg casing from which it came. Here’s a grown-up Monarch larvae! (Credits: Kylee Baumle)

A good friend of mine up in Ohio has been studying the monarch butterfly for several years. Her name is Kylee Baumle and she is an avid butterfly rancher.

I recently spoke with Kylee about how she began her interest on the monarch. She said she and her mom visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania, and as they went back to their car she noticed a perfect monarch specimen dead in their path. Kylee examined it and saw it had a tag used for tracking migration.

When she returned home she looked up the information about the tagging process sponsored by Kansas University. Kylee told me, after researching their program and all the good it does to track these important creatures, she was hooked.

Kylee’s latest title. Get the book. Don’t wait for the movie. (Credit: Kylee Baumle)

Kylee isn’t just a butterfly rancher and tagger but also an avid gardener, photographer and author. In fact, she has just finished writing her second of what I believe will be many titles. The new book is called "The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly." It’s available for pre-order right now. Read the teaser on

I asked her how she feels about her passion for the monarch.

"Few things in the world make us feel like we can make a difference as individuals, but helping to bolster the monarch population is one in which we can," she said. "It’s a multifaceted problem, some of which is out of our control. However, we hold the reins of several efforts that will not only help monarchs but help pollinators in general. This is important in so many ways, not the least of which is to preserve the miraculous migration for generations to come."

Thanks to my butterfly friend, I was able to calm down and get out to my zinnia fields and focus on the beauty of the little flutter-bys working on my fading crop of flowers.

I’m hungry! Are you?

The other day a friend brought me a nice treat. It was a pan of kale quiche muffins. Want the recipe?


1/3 yellow onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds and veins to reduce heat)
Olive oil
½ large bag kale, chopped
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
7-9 eggs
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

In a pan, sauté onion, garlic and jalapeño in olive oil.

In a large 12-count muffin tin, place about a half-handful of kale in each cup.

Whisk those eggs like crazy! The more air you whisk into them, the fluffier they’ll be.

Fill each cup of the muffin tin to within about ½ inch from the top with the eggs. Place equal amounts of the veggies on top of the eggs. Sprinkle equal amounts of Parmesan on each muffin. Dust with nutmeg. Bake at 350° for about 7-10 minutes, or until the tops begin to get toasty brown.

The recipe is a little different from my friend’s. I like cheese and nutmeg.

Enjoy! Remember to vote next month!

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.

Not the Usual Bull

Want the best stock for improving your herd? R&K Farms focuses on exceptional results.

The bulls at R&K Farms, as of September, are showing a gain of 3-6.5 pounds per day on a ration of 1-2.9 pounds per 100 pounds bodyweight daily.

by Pam Caraway

The goal is simple: produce exceptional bulls.

Reaching that goal, as any cattleman knows, demands meticulous attention to detail at every stage of herd management. That commitment is the line R&K Farms walks as they prepare for a yearling bull sale in December. They started walking that line when they brought the bulls into Elba to put them on a 110-day test.

"We are very strict and tough on structure, phenotype, good feet and legs, and performance," said Michael McCart, who manages the new bull test for R&K owners Ronny and Jane Nicholson. "Our goal is to have the best set of beef bulls anybody can buy in the Southeast."

The Nicholsons raise Simmental and SimAngus.

"Our goal is to produce high-quality SimAngus and Simmental cattle that will add value to their replacement heifers and performance to their steer calves," the Nicholsons explained.

They decided to start a bull test when the area’s only existing sale closed in 2014.

"We’ve got a really good market in this area for bulls and there’s nobody else who sells bulls on test," McCart sayid.

The first sale from this test is anticipated to include 69 bulls from 21 consignors.

"This will be a true yearling bull sale," McCart said.

The sale will be Dec. 10 at the Coffee County Stockyard located at 73 County Road 248 in New Brockton.

"Nobody who comes should expect to see average bulls," McCart added. "These are going to be exceptional bulls. Any cattleman can benefit from having these real beef bulls."

The bulls were born in 2015 from July 15 to Oct. 31. They were put on a 110-day test starting Aug. 1 of this year.

"These will be the kind of bulls that will add value to your calves," McCart said. "They will add value to your replacement heifers and add pounds to your steers."

Data Tells the Story

The right bull will add value to your replacement heifers and add pounds to your steers.

None of those involved in the new bull test program expect buyers to simply take their word on the exceptional attributes of these animals. The proof will be in the sale catalog that will include performance, gain and ultrasound data on each bull. The bulls were scanned Sept. 7.

"Any data somebody might need will be available in the catalog," McCart explained.

To get a copy of the catalog, interested buyers can contact McCart at 334-806-5757 or; or R&K Farms at 334-403-0383 or write to them at 529 Davis St., Elba, AL 36323. Catalogs will be mailed in late November.

R&K Farms and McCart plan to grow the sale to include 2-year-olds in 2017.

"We intentionally limited our numbers this year," McCart said.

In 2017, they’d like to expand the bulls on test to include 30 or so 2-year-old bulls. The bulls on test this year are Simmental, Simm-Angus, Angus, Charolais and Brangus.

Start with the Right Feed

Brandon Bledsoe, manager of Opp’s Co-op, is looking forward to the final results of the bulls raised on CPC Grower purchased from his store.

On this first run, they already are establishing foundational practices for managing the test. One of those is feeding CPC Grower 13% R feed manufactured by Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc. The recommended feeding rate on the CPC Grower label is 1-2.9 pounds per 100 pounds of bodyweight daily. The feed includes not less than 13 percent crude protein, 3.5 percent crude fat and 24 percent crude fiber, as well as calcium, salt, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A. The active ingredient is monensin, as monensin sodium activity, to prevent and control coccidiosis.

The feed was recommended by Brandon Bledsoe, manager of Opp’s Co-op, and Ben Courson, salesman for Andalusia Farmers Co-op.

"The service from the Co-op has just been phenomenal," McCart said.

R&K and McCart, who also has a beef herd, have been feeding CPC Grower for two years, both as creep and at post-weaning. In the bull test, CPC Grower is offered free choice.

"I’ve fed a lot of different feeds over the years," McCart said. "With CPC, I don’t have any bloat problems, feet problems or kidney problems, and the weight gains are exceptional."

While acknowledging that genetic potential also impacts gain, McCart said this feed outperforms competitive products.

"This feed improved performance like no other feed I’ve used," McCart said.

As of early September, McCart was seeing gains of 3-6.5 pounds per day. Again, however, McCart doesn’t expect anybody to simply take his word on that. Feed and gain data will be available when the test finishes.

"We will have the pound of feed per pound of gain ratio at the end of the test," McCart said. "The proof for this feed will be there on the paper."

Bledsoe also is looking forward to seeing the numbers.

"We have a lot of cattle producers who are showing good gains with the CPC Grower feed," Bledsoe added. "Having the statistical data, we believe, will scientifically confirm what we’ve been seeing."

Pam Caraway is a freelance writer from Florala and can be contacted at or 850-758-8700. Her journalism career started in newspapers, but she found her home and her passion chronicling Southern farm life when she started writing for agricultural magazines in 1991.

October Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Dig, divide and replant overcrowded perennials that have finished flowering.
  • Spring-flowering bulbs such as hyacinth, daffodils, alliums, anemone, crocus and tulips should be planted after the ground temperature drops below 60 degrees.
  • Plant container-grown or balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs (hold off on bare-root trees and shrubs until late winter).
  • Plant cool-season annuals. Covering mums and asters on nights when a frost is expected will lengthen their blooming.
  • Plant cool-season cover crops. Plant clovers, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas or annual rye instead of mulching, and till them in next spring before they flower. Cereal rye is a cover crop that can assist in controlling root-knot nematode in the soil.
  • Plant garlic, overwintering onions and shallots.
  • Plant some greens – it’s not too late to plant spinach and lettuce outdoors in Zone 7 or higher.
  • Pot up amaryllis bulbs now for indoor blooms during the holidays.
  • Start a family tradition by planting a tree or shrub in honor of a holiday, birthday or anniversary.
  • Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen.


  • Apply 2-3 inches of compost to vegetable gardens to help replenish spent nutrients.
  • Feed cool-season lawns to support their growth in the fall.
  • Houseplants start to slow down as the days get shorter. Cut back on watering and feeding until next spring. Winter feeding will result in weak growth.
  • You should test your garden’s soil every two or three years. The best time to test your soil is September to December or February to April, so if you want to test your soil this fall for next spring’s garden, you can do it this month. Ask your local Co-op store or county Extension office for details.
  • Scatter a slow-release fertilizer (formulated especially for bulbs) on top of the soil after planting or transplanting bulbs. Remember to scatter this fertilizer over other beds of bulbs as well.


  • Don’t deadhead all of your perennials, biennials and annuals if you want to collect seed, wish to let them be self-sown for next year’s show or want to feed the birds.
  • Prune berry vines by removing the vines or canes that fruited, leaving this summer’s new growth to produce berries next season.
  • Stop trimming hedges – the flush of new growth can be killed by freezing weather, which can harm the entire plant.
  • Take cuttings from perennials to root indoors during the winter.
  • Tidy up woody perennials by pruning back and mulching. If there is green at the base, leave about 4-5 inches of leaves – you may want to leave some for winter interest.
  • Cut back long whips of roses.
  • Trim dead and broken branches from trees and shrubs.
  • Prune fall-flowering shrubs just after bloom.
  • Wait on other pruning jobs until the plants go dormant. Ideally, make more thinning cuts and fewer heading cuts to reduce new growth.


  • Reduce watering of indoor plants.
  • Be sure to keep your new plants watered. The drying winds of the cooler weather can quickly dehydrate plants. Check the soil moisture often, and water when needed. For new plantings, provide water once a week in the absence of rain.
  • Have sprinkler systems drained and serviced. Drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers when not in use.
  • Winterize water garden.


  • It’s time to clean up the summer garden. Many pests and diseases overwinter in old plant debris. Get it out of your garden and into the compost pile, as long as it is not diseased. Otherwise, have it removed from your property.
  • Late-fall tilling can help control insects such as corn borer, corn earworm, cucumber beetle, squash bug and vine borer because it exposes overwintering insects to winter conditions. It also makes spring soil preparation easier.
  • Pay special attention to areas to clean up around peonies, roses and other flowers prone to fungal diseases; don’t leave any debris in place.
  • Use hardware cloth to wrap around the base of small fruit trees and roses. This will protect them from rodents.
  • Scale insects on broad-leafed evergreens such as camellia, gardenia, holly and euonymus can be effectively controlled by spraying with dormant oil. Do not use oil spray if temperature goes above 80 degrees.
  • Slugs are really on the move during the fall. Not only the adult slugs, but baby slugs and even slug eggs are possible problems during the fall season. So whether you use slug baits, beer, salt or some other means of eliminating them, it is important to get after them before they reproduce again this fall.
  • Check for aphids and caterpillars on fall flowers and leafy vegetables.
  • Pick bagworms from evergreen shrubs. This will eliminate the spring hatch from overwintered eggs.
  • Weeds in the garden should be cultivated or eliminated before the plants have a chance to flower and go to seed again this fall. Some weeds are capable of producing thousands of seeds.


  • In terms of gardening tasks, October is a month of deadlines before freezing weather arrives. Most of the chores from our September lawn and garden to-do list still apply, although with more urgency.
  • 2000 was a freakish weather year, but the first frost (in north Alabama) was Oct. 9 at my house. Be vigilant … it could happen again!
  • In your garden journal, make notes of successes and failures in the garden for next year.
  • After you have cleared all plants and weeded your beds, throw a top layer of compost or layer of mulch to sit over the winter.
  • Before you put away your mower, drain gasoline and take it to the shop for any repairs needed. It’s also a good time to have the blade sharpened and balanced.
  • Bring all your gardening tools inside. Clean, sharpen and oil them. With proper care, quality tools can last you a lifetime.
  • Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use.
  • Bring houseplants inside – the colder it gets, the greater the shock they will experience. The best time to move them is when outside temperatures are similar to those indoors. Wash the leaves with an insecticidal soap to make sure they aren’t harboring any pests before moving them inside.
  • Clean and disinfect planters before storing them. Soak pots in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, and then scrub with a stiff brush or scouring pad. Dry thoroughly before storing.
  • Clean and put away empty containers and garden ornaments.
  • Continue feeding your bees until they no longer take the sugar water you offer. Put a reducer in their entrance to keep out drafts and any mice that might try to make a nest in a nice warm bee box during winter.
  • Don’t add walnut leaves to your compost pile; they contain a growth inhibitor that affects some plants.
  • Don’t waste those fallen leaves … or your neighbor’s! A very important job this time of year is rounding up leaves for mulch and for the compost bin. As they say, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.
  • Gingers, bananas, elephant ears and any tender bulblike plants need to be dug carefully for indoor storage. Once frost blackens the foliage, cut back the tops to 6 inches and dig carefully, then brush or wash off soil and let dry for two weeks or so to cure. Stash in a dry spot such as an unheated basement or crawl space around 40-50 degrees, in boxes or pots filled with bark chips or peat moss.
  • Harvest pumpkins, gourds, multicolored corn and other fall veggies to use as decorations.
  • Harvest sweet potatoes before frost.
  • Harvest winter squash once the vines die back, but definitely before a hard freeze.
  • If you didn’t get around to cleaning up garden debris in September, October offers another chance. Compost healthy plants, but separately discard plants (get them off your property) that have been affected by diseases and pests.
  • Last call for bulb orders! Don’t put it off; you will kick yourself in the spring, wishing you hadn’t.
  • Make a note of plants displaying outstanding fall colors as you drive along city streets and the surrounding countryside. You may wish to incorporate some of them into your own landscape.
  • Mark dormant bulbs and perennials so they won’t be destroyed when the ground is prepared for spring planting.
  • Plan for Christmas blooms on your poinsettia and Christmas cacti. Move both plants so they are in temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees. Make sure the Christmas cacti get at least 13 hours of complete darkness at night. Poinsettia will need about 15 hours in the dark. This may mean covering the plants themselves. When uncovered, place in bright light. Provide them with water and a general purpose fertilizer.
  • If you want to continue getting fresh eggs, give your yard birds extra protection. Predators are at their hungriest during the winter months. Many will regard traditional chicken wire merely as a hindrance and more of an opportunity to work up an appetite than anything else. So check that your chicken run is free from rot, areas of weakness and even the tiniest of gaps.
  • Rake up and remove any leaves on your lawn. It is important to remove dead leaves because they will form a dense mat that smothers your grass.
  • Remove green tomatoes from the plants. Either ripen in a brown paper bag or lift the entire plant and hang upside-down in a warm spot, to ripen … or fried green tomatoes are great.
  • Stock up on firewood.
  • Think about a deicer for the birdbath. If you’re in an area that freezes and you don’t have a deicer, turn your birdbath over to keep it from cracking.
  • When using dried flowers with fuzzy seed heads, spray them with hair spray to keep them from shattering.
  • Harvest peanuts.
  • Clean up and discard dead iris and peony foliage to decrease the spread of disease.
  • Core aerate turf to reduce soil compaction, improve drainage, break up thatch and help nutrients move into the soil.
  • Natural feeds will be getting even scarcer soon. Keep the bird feeders full!

On Target!

Grand American AIM/ATA Sub-Jr Class D National Champions

The 2016 Grand American AIM/ATA Sub-Jr Class D National Champions from A.P. Brewer High School are (from left) John Coker, Avery Abercrombie, Micah Corder, Sage Davis and Nathan Coker.

"We are very proud of how they have represented our schools, communities, county and their families," said Gary Linderman, ISS/math teacher and coach for shooting sports and archery. "Their success and character are a tribute to the values of their families, teachers, administrators, communities and sponsors. As one of their coaches, thank you for instilling such great characteristics in the young people of our team."

PALS: Taking it to the Next Level

Sidney Lanier High School Environmental Club

by Jamie Mitchell

PALS is thrilled to announce that Sidney Lanier High School has decided to join the Clean Campus Program! At the direction of science teacher Candice Petty, the Environmental Club is taking their commitment to the next level by implementing schoolwide recycling and campus cleanups, as well as meeting regularly to discuss new ideas and events.

Petty recently had me speak to the Environmental Club to introduce them to the Clean Campus Program and brainstorm various ways they can make a difference in the community. We discussed that high school participants have so many opportunities to be a leader of change at their school and in their neighborhoods. We talked about working with local elementary schools to do service projects together such as making bookmarks from repurposed cereal boxes or wallets from juice pouches. I challenged the students to get creative and find fun ways to keep their campus clean and beautiful.

The students were very enthusiastic about the information received, and I can’t wait to see how they become agents for change over the next year. Their next step is to adopt their campus through the Adopt-An-Area program! Great job, Sidney Lanier High School!

If a school near you could benefit from hearing my anti-litter message, they can reach me 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.

Primary Impetus

While you may see bucks and does feeding side by side in a food plot, for the most part they are social within their own sex groups during early season. Bucks are social with other bucks and doe/fawn family groups are acclimating their offspring to the other doe/fawn family groups in the area. (Credit: Tony Campbell)

The Perfect Enticement for Early Season Bucks

by Todd Amenrud

In the whitetails’ world, the time during early season (let’s say late August through October) is all about being communal with other deer. Knowing the social structure of the herd is a key to getting scent, calls, decoys or other stimulus meant for drawing a positive response to work for you. They may not be social with the specific deer you might think during this period. Many feel they shouldn’t use certain tactics until just before the rut. Actually, early season can be the easiest time to draw a comeback; you just need to know which carrot to dangle in front of their nose.

Can you smell it?

During late summer and early fall, whitetails can be very social; however, they are primarily social within their own sex groups. You may see them feeding side by side in a food plot, but for the most part the bucks are sociable with other bucks, possibly in a bachelor group, and the doe/fawn family groups are beginning to be social with other doe/fawn family groups at this time. Testosterone will change things very soon, but for a short while during early season this is the case.

Knowing this to be true, it makes sense to use buck smells, buck vocalizations or buck decoys to draw a response from other bucks and doe or fawn stimuli to attract does or fawns. When it comes to mature bucks, they may, or may not, be social with the other bucks. Sometimes older bucks can become very isolated animals; they really don’t need this communal contact like younger bucks do.

During September, dramatically increased amounts of testosterone start flowing through a buck’s body and, from this point on, he is ready to breed. The farther south you go, the later this seems to happen and it will be spread out over a longer period, so in the South there is more of a margin for error.

Contrary to what some may say, it’s the does that dictate when breeding will actually take place and bucks will remain social with the other bucks until the does exhibit the first signs of coming into estrus.

When it comes to choosing a scent, although I’ve had a positive reaction to an estrus lure during early season, it’s probably not a good idea to begin with an estrus lure. Typically, when it comes to deer smells, you want to use the smells when they would naturally occur in the wild. This obviously is applicable only to deer smells (scents that actually come from deer such as urine, glandular lures or musk type smells). This is not the case for curiosity smells or food lures.

Early season is a great time to use scent to attract a buck. Rather than the estrus-based lures you might be using in a month or two, you will typically be served best with a curiosity lure, food smell or a lure like Trail’s End #307 that appeals to a wide range of requirements. (Credit: Wildlife Research Center)

As I said, I’ve had estrus lures work well on mature bucks early in the season. And, if you are specifically after a mature buck, it may be a tactic you wish to try, but for most early season instances you are probably better off with plain urine or a curiosity scent like Trail’s End #307.

There are many ways you can dispense scent during this period, but two of my favorite tools are: a Pro-Drag and Magnum Scrape Dripper. The Pro-Drag is the best I have found to create a scent trail with because it holds a lot of scent and it’s easy to control. You can use any type of liquid scent when making a trail, it doesn’t have to be a deer smell; you are alright to use food lures or curiosity scents, too.

During early season, I’ve had very good luck with scents like: Trail’s End #307, Select Doe Urine, Golden Buck and Mega Tarsal Plus. There’s no doubt that if I had to only pick one it would be Trail’s End #307; however, I’ve also had many positive encounters with the others.

Since testosterone has reared its head, mock scrapes can be a very effective tactic. Where sometimes using mock scrapes too early in the year can be intimidating to young bucks, it may be just the ticket for those breeding class bucks. Mature bucks will feel an urge to claim, mark and defend breeding territory earlier in the season than younger bucks.

The Magnum Scrape Drippers associated with making mock scrapes are great for dispensing any type of liquid scent, not just those associated with mock scrapes. This device is heat-activated and will drip only during daytime hours, conditioning deer to showing up during legal hunting hours. It doesn’t have to be used just at mock scrapes; it works great at dispensing all kinds of scent like food lures or curiosity scent, too.

Around opener, and for the next couple weeks, a scent trail of Trail’s End #307 can be killer. One reason why this lure is so effective is because it appeals not only to a whitetail’s curiosity but also to their sense of hunger and desire to repopulate – you really can’t go wrong.

Can you hear it?

Calling bucks during early season can be easy, but you don’t want to throw a rut-time repertoire at them. Soft, social buck sounds will work best in most situations. When it comes to mature bucks, as I said, their urge to claim, mark and defend territory occurs earlier in the year than with younger bucks; so sometimes lower-toned, social grunts or even rattling works well. During this time, bucks are testing their boundaries and where they will rank in the social hierarchy when breeding gets underway.

When I say rattling, I’m not talking about imitating a knock-down, drag-out fight like you might hear during late October or November. I mean just tickle the antlers together to imitate sparring. You’re not fighting; you’re two brothers in a friendly arm-wrestling contest. They will respond to be social with other bucks and to test their communal structure, not to confront the intruder.

Can you see it?

Using decoys during early season is a tactic many people don’t understand. For the most part, I feel a buck decoy with small antlers will give you the most positive outcomes with real bucks. To present certain scenarios to specific bucks, I may want large antlers or a specific posture with my decoy. However, for most situations, a small buck decoy in an unintimidating posture will work a larger percentage of the time.

With decoys, movement is significant. Whitetails communicate through smells, sounds, tail wags and body postures. When is it natural for a standing deer to be totally motionless? That’s right … when something is wrong. Movement is a big deal. Attaching a chicken feather, white hanky or even a real whitetail tail to the decoy are all tactics I’ve had success with. You don’t need much movement – when the buck looks at your decoy just a twitch seems to sell the con. My favorite method is to tie a small 8-inch square section of a white hanky or other white cloth to a short string. Then tape the other end of the string to the decoy’s hind-end. The smallest breeze will give your fake tail movement, and this seems to be enough.

Sensory Profusion

What makes a situation seem real to you? If you can smell it, hear it, see it and/or touch it. The more senses we satisfy the more the situation seems real. It’s no different with whitetails. Using these motivations in conjunction with one another is when I’ve had my best success. The buck sees your buck decoy so he drops downwind to scent-check the subject, but you placed out some Golden Buck so you appease another one of his senses. He sees another buck and he smells another buck; so now you throw a social buck grunt at him … see where I’m going with this?

To sum up, early season is about bucks being social with other bucks and testing their societal formation. You must give them a reason to close the distance to you, so use buck stimulus to bring other bucks closer, and doe or fawn motivations to bring does and fawns closer.

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

Saw Palmetto

by Nadine Johnson

Palmetto is the name of several kinds of fan-shaped palm trees. They grow in low regions along the U.S. coast (particularly in the southeastern corner from Texas to the Carolinas).

Saw palmetto grows here in Alabama. I am told it is the only palm native to our state. I’ve seen it growing on the Huntington College campus in Montgomery. I’ve also seen it growing through cracks in a sidewalk in Mobile.

Some palmettos grow up to 50 feet high. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) grows to a height of 1-6 feet with leaves 1-3 feet wide. Its fan-shaped leaves are slit more than halfway to the base. The lead stalks are slit with curved spines. The trunk or rootstock remains underground. Creamy-white flowers bloom among the fans and produce deep purple-to-black olive-like berries.

This is the plant from which our grandmothers’ palmetto fans were made. Back before air conditioning, these fans were very fashionable, as well as serviceable. I own and treasure one that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

Saw palmetto is also used in other craft products. At Bates House of Turkey, I saw a turkey gobbler, complete with fanned tail feathers, fashioned entirely from saw palmetto. The person who created this was very talented. Often I see dried saw palmetto fronds gathered in various stages of maturity. These are used as ornamental objects for interior decorating.

The berries of the plant are the part used as alternative-health remedies. They have been used through the ages for a number of ailments including colds, asthma and bronchitis. Catarrhal problems and mucous congestion are said to respond to a tea made from these dried berries.

One modern source states it is recommended in all wasting diseases because it has an affect on all glandular tissues. It also states that it is used in the health of all reproductive glands, of both males and females. For instance, it has been a successful corrective remedy for underdeveloped breasts.

In recent years, saw palmetto has gained more popularity as a natural remedy for prostate health. Many men are gaining relief from benign prostatic hypertrophy by taking this herb. My husband’s doctor suggested he take saw palmetto along with 800 IU of vitamin E daily for continued prostate health. Of course, the doctor advised he have routine checks for prostate cancer, too.

Long before Columbus set foot on this continent, Native Americans were using saw palmetto as a medication. White men adopted the practice. For many years, this and other herbs were commonly recommended by our physicians. Then this type of practice was more or less abandoned in America, in favor of the medicines we call chemicals. For a good many years, most of our saw palmetto berries were exported to Europe where doctors continued to recommend herbs as well as modern prescription drugs. Today more and more of our doctors are once again accepting a combination of the two types of treatment.

Saw palmetto berries can be found in capsules or tea form wherever herbal products are sold.

I advise you to consult with your physician before taking any herbal remedy.

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

Setting the Pace

2016 Pacesetter Awards

Pacesetter Awards are given every year at the annual Co-op Manager’s Meeting. Awards are presented for total dollar purchases, for total percentage increase and some presentations were based on other information collected during AFC’s fiscal year 2015-2016.

Accu-Field Precision Ag, (from left) the award was presented by Amy Winstead, director of Ag Technologies, for Top Growth was presented to John Appleton, Lawrence County Exchange, and for Top Volume to Brit Christopher, Limestone Farmers Co-op, and Bae Lamastus, Jay Peanut Farmers Co-op.

BioLogic Sales award was presented (from left) to Landon Mehan, Central Alabama Farmers Co-op/Selma, by Bobby Cole, president of BioLogic, and to Wayne Ward, Pike Farmers Co-op. Percent Increase award was presented to (not pictured) Altha Farmers Co-op.

Bonnie Plants awards were presented (from left) for Percentage Increase to Kellie Trull, Fayette Farmers Co-op, and for Sales to Andrew Dempsey, Cherokee Farmers Co-op, and Amy Milliron, St. Clair Farmers Co-op, by Stan Cope, president.

Crop Nutrients awards were presented (from left) for Sales to Keith Griffin, Madison County Co-op, by Chris Carter, AFC’s Crop Nutrient Department, and Colin Morris, Coffee County Farmers Co-op/Elba, and for Percent Increase to Bryan Monk, Central Alabama Farmers Co-op/Faunsdale.

Crop Protection Products Sales awards were presented (from left) for Sales to Ricky Wilks, Coffee County Farmers Co-op/Elba, by Johnny LeCroix, products director of Crop Protection Products, and for Percent Increase to Lloyd Nelms, Madison County Co-op/Scottsboro and for Sales to Brit Christopher, Limestone Farmers Co-op.

Feed Ingredients award were presented (from left) for Percent Increase to Kenneth Water, Farmers Cooperative Market/Frisco City, by David Riggs, AFC manager of Feed, and for Sales to Pete Blackwell, Florala Farmers and Builders Co-op; and (not pictured) Farmers Co-op of Ashford.

Feed Sales awards was presented (from left) to Landon Mehan, Central Alabama Farmers Co-op/Selma, and Jamie Griffin, Mid-State Farmers Co-op, by David Riggs, AFC manager of Feed, and for Percent Increase to Chris Crutchfield, Farmers Cooperative Market/Frisco City.

Hardware Sales awards were presented (from left) to Eric Sanders, Blount County Farmers Co-op, and, Amy Milliron, St. Clair Farmers Co-op/Pell City, and for Percent Increase to Kenneth Water, Farmers Cooperative Market/Frisco City, by Jerry Ogg, director of Hardware and TBA.

Lawn and Garden Sales awards were presented to (from left) Robbie Neal, Lauderdale County Co-op/Florence, and Wendell Walker, Lauderdale County Co-op/Elgin; and for Percent Increase to Jeremy Williams, Limestone Farmers Co-op, by Susan Parker, director of Lawn and Garden.

Professional Products Sales awards were presented (from left) by Drew Rochelle, sales manager of Professional Products, to Coty Galloway, Cherokee Farmers Co-op/Jacksonville, and Matt Dunbar, Madison County Co-op, and award for Percent Increase to Jeremy Williams, Limestone Farmers Co-op/Pulaski.

Seed Percent Increase award was presented to (from left) Todd Lawrence, Farmers Cooperative, Inc./Live Oak, by Justin Franklin, Agri-AFC Seed manager, and for Sales to Jamie Vann, Madison County Co-op and (not pictured) Atmore Truckers Association.

SouthFresh, (from left) the Percent Increase award was presented to Jeremy Williams, Limestone Farmers Co-op/Pulaski, and Sales awards were presented Russell Lassiter, Andalusia Farmers Co-op, and (not pictured) Atmore Truckers Association by Mark Lamb, president.

TBA Sales awards were presented (from left) to Brit Christopher, Limestone Farmers Co-op; and (not pictured) Marion County Co-op, Derrick Reyer, director of Hardware, and for Percent Increase to Jeremy Williams, Limestone Farmers Co-op/Pulaski.

WinField Solutions, Sales awards were present (from left) to Keith Griffin, Madison County Co-op, by Johnny LeCroix, Products Director of Crop Protection Products, and to Colin Morris, Coffee County Farmers Co-op/Elba, and for Percent Increase to Robbie Neal, Lauderdale County Co-op/Florence.

Animal Health Percent Increase award was presented to (from left) Amy Milliron, St. Clair Farmers Co-op, by Steve Moore, director of Animal Health, and (not pictured) for Sales to Colbert Farmers Co-op/Leighton and Atmore Truckers Association.

John Deere Credit award for Largest Dollar Volume was presented to Austin Crocker, Madison County Co-op, by Sena Hollingsworth, vice president and manager of CFS, and (not pictured) for Largest Dollar Increase to Colbert Farmers Co-op.

NOT PICTURED: Excellence in Safety & Risk Management Awards were presented to Altha Farmers Co-op, Blountstown and Marianna, FL; Andalusia Farmers Co-op, Andalusia; Atmore Truckers Association; Calhoun Farmers Co-op, Jacksonville and Piedmont; Central Alabama Farmers Co-op, Selma, Demopolis and Faunsdale; Cherokee Farmers Co-op, Centre; Coffee County Farmers Co-op, Enterprise and Elba; Colbert Farmers Co-op, Tuscumbia; Cullman Farmers Co-op, Holly Pond; DeKalb Farmers Co-op, Albertville, Crossville and Rainsville; Elberta Farmers Co-op; Farmers Co-op of Ashford; Farmers Co-op Market, Frisco City and Leroy; Fayette Branch of AFC; Giles County Co-op, Lynnville; Goshen Farmers Co-op; Hartford Farmers Co-op; Jackson Farmers Co-op, Scottsboro; Jay Peanut Farmers Co-op; Lauderdale County Co-op, Elgin; Lawrence County Exchange, Moulton and Courtland; Luverne Co-op Services; Marion County Co-op; Marshall Farmers Co-op, Arab; Mid-State Farmers Co-op; Morgan Farmers Co-op, Decatur; Opp’s Co-op; Pike Farmers Co-op; Quality Co-op; Randolph Farmers Co-op; St. Clair Farmers Co-op, Pell City; Taleecon Farmers Co-op; Tuscaloosa Farmers Co-op; Walker Farmers Co-op; West Geneva Farmers Co-op; and Winston Farmers Co-op.

Sharpening the Axe

by John Howle

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

This October is a great time to sharpen the ax. Time spent in preparation is never wasted time. Whether you are taking time to grease all the fittings on a baler before baling or cleaning your tractor grill and radiator of summer debris before planting winter pasture crops or food plots, preparation time saves repair time.

Coil cleaner for home air conditioning units is great for foaming dust and debris from your tractor and truck radiators.

Coil Cleaner for Radiators

When you clean all summer’s debris from your tractor grill and radiator, don’t forget about your truck. On some models, you will have a smaller air conditioner radiator placed just in front of your engine radiator. The narrow gap between these two radiators is a perfect place for dirt, dust and debris to collect.

My truck began to overheat while backing a small trailer. My initial thought was that it was a bad thermostat. I replaced the thermostat, and the next time hauling a trailer at the farm, the engine overheated again. It turned out that the overheating was caused by the debris between these two radiators. I first blew the debris out with an air compressor and long stem nozzle. Next, I sprayed coil cleaner into the fins to foam out and clean the rest of the radiator. Finally, I sprayed the radiators with a water hose. After achieving the correct antifreeze and water levels in my tank, the truck hasn’t overheated since.

The coil cleaner can be purchased from many stores in the air conditioner department. You simply spray the chemical foam into the fins, let it sit, and you will see dirt and dust being pushed out through the fins. My air conditioner actually ran cooler once the fins were cleaned on the A/C radiator.

Why Did the Chicken Snake Cross the Road?

This October while you are traveling the back roads in your community or around your farm, you might see what is commonly referred to as a chicken snake crossing the road. Avoid the temptation to swerve and run over this helpful farm creature. First, they are nonpoisonous (round pupils instead of vertical catlike eyes.) Second, their true name reveals why they are important around the farm.

The commonly referred to chicken snake is actually one of two species known as the gray rat snake or the black rat snake. Both gray and black rat snakes have white bellies with dark gray to brownish blotches and dark spots that become stripes under the tail. The black rat snakes typically grow larger than the gray. These are the ones you might see wrapped around a floor joist or rafter in the barn because they are such skilled climbers. It’s commonly called a chicken snake because, in addition to eating rats and mice, they will eat eggs and baby chicks if given a chance. If you are not raising chickens or eggs, you might want to consider letting any passing rat snakes stay on your farm or around your barn for rodent pest control. In captivity, the life span is often over 20 years.

Scorpion Sting

This October, be careful cleaning up around the farm. Scorpions like to hide in dark places and, if they are suddenly spooked, they can quickly strike some poison into your hand with the stinger on their last tail segment. They can also sting more than once, but there is no stinger left behind.

I was moving a tarp that had been sitting undisturbed for quite a while to cover a canoe. Once my hand reached underneath, I felt the sharp pain of a sting. I thought it was a wasp sting, but upon closer inspection it was a scorpion. You will have intense pain lasting a short while. There might also be numbness and tingling in the sting area, and there could be some slight swelling in the area. If you have severe reactions such as sweating, vomiting, accelerated heart rate, drooling or muscle twitching, seek medical help immediately. For most cases, the pain stops after a short while.

Watch for Wells

Hand-dug wells can be found in many areas in rural Alabama. Sometimes an unlucky hunter might find one while scouting for deer. People would often lay a few planks over the well, but, over time, the planks rot revealing a dangerous open hole in the ground. You can tell many of these wells were hand dug because there will be steps dug into the earth of the sidewalls of the hole to get in and out. If you have an abandoned well on your property, have it filled in to guard against liabilities. If you are hunting and find one, let the landowner or timber company know so it can be filled to avoid a potential fatality.

Left to right, an abandoned hand-dug well that needs to be filled. A kitchen trashcan shows relative diameter. Stack square bales of hay parallel to the trailer or truck bed on the first run and perpendicular on the next run. Alternating the direction of the bales on each stacked level better stabilized the load of hay.

Secure Square Bales

Whether you are hauling square bales to the barn or hauling them into the pasture to feed, keeping the bales stacked securely will save time and reduce liabilities. The best way to keep the load of hay secure is to crisscross each layer of hay. In other words, if you stack the first row of hay parallel to the pickup bed or trailer, stack the next layer perpendicular to the truck bed or trailer. This layering of hay in alternate directions helps hold the load together. If you are traveling longer distances down a highway or traveling at higher speeds, secure the load with rope, tarps or tie-down straps.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Sin: Just Like Fall Armyworms

by Glenn Crumpler

About the end of July, before the much needed daily thunderstorms starting rolling in from the Gulf, we had been extremely dry. What few showers there had been were scattered, but somehow they all missed us.

I noticed one day when I was leaving the house, a few spots in our 45 acres of crabgrass that looked a little different from the rest of the dry pasture. None of it looked good, but these spots looked especially bad. Had it not been so dry, I would have thought, because these spots were right behind terraces, that the grass had been drowned out by too much rain. I knew this was not the case but it sure looked like it. I hoped, perhaps, since the crabgrass was just getting established behind the winter grazing, some areas were just struggling more than others from the drought, but I feared something much worse was going on.

When I got home later the next day, I noticed there were more and larger spots in the grass that looked this way. I also noticed a lot of cowbirds and crows in the pasture, even though all the cows had gone to the shade. Well, in a drought, that is never a good sign! I said something to Jack about it when I saw him and he said he had noticed it too and thought we might have an infestation of fall armyworms.

Before dark, I hopped on the four wheeler to check for myself and, sure enough, when I got to the suspicious spots, there they were. Most of the armyworms I saw were already large caterpillars and they were doing what armyworms do – marching across our pastures eating everything in their path.

Being that this was not our first experience with armyworms, Jack went first thing the next morning and got the pesticide we needed to stop this invasion. We agreed that the first thing we needed to spray were the outside borders of that 45-acre field so we could hopefully contain the worms before they could migrate into the much larger Bermuda and Bahia pastures.

I was gone when Jack finished spraying Saturday, but I went back to check the success or failure of our efforts; there were dead armyworms everywhere. Not only were they everywhere, they were of every size.

Not knowing too much about the lifecycle of fall armyworms, I decided to do a little research when I got back to the office. The following is what I learned.

The adult fall armyworm is a brownish, grayish moth with a wingspan of about 1.5 inches. These moths fly to South America in the cold months and then come back, especially to the southeastern United States, in the summer months of June-August. The moths do not damage crops or pastures – in fact, they appear to be harmless! All they do is fly around and lay eggs. The adult moth will live about two to five weeks and will lay anywhere from 200-1,000 eggs at one time in what is called a dome (a white or gray cluster of eggs on the leaf of a plant or on top of the soil). They can lay 5,000 eggs or more in the first four to five days of their lives.

The eggs hatch out within two to three days from being laid and, as soon as they hatch, the small caterpillars begin devouring their food source, whether it is row crops or pasture grasses. At first, since they are so small, the damage is hard to detect, but it is happening. There are six identifiable larva or caterpillar stages and in each stage the appearance and colors of body parts change. The larger they grow, the more damage they do.

The larger caterpillars are nocturnal; they like to move at night when it is cool, dark and damp – to invade and attack new feeding grounds. A cool, wet spring followed by warm, droughty weather is the most conducive to their survival and reproduction, which are the conditions we experienced this year.

Once the caterpillars reach their sixth and most mature stage (about two to three weeks after hatching), they go into the ground and form pupae; an immobile and nonfeeding stage between the larva and the adult moth – sort of a cocoon stage. During this stage, the larva undergoes a complete transformation from a caterpillar to the adult, seemingly harmless moth. The adult moth will emerge within 10-14 days and the cycle repeats itself over and over, thousands of times, all in just one field.

Smaller armyworms are easier to kill than the larger ones, so timing is critically important in eliminating them before the damage is severe and before they have the opportunity to mature, reproduce and spread to bordering pastures and crops that will become their new feeding grounds.

Once a field has been attacked by fall armyworms, even though you sprayed to kill them, it is critically important to monitor or scout the field or pasture thoroughly every day for the rest of the growing season to that you not only killed the worms that were present but also the ones still unhatched when you sprayed. Also, if you catch them in time, a second spraying may also kill the egg-laying moths that will emerge from the underground pupae during the first spraying.

At the first sign of a reoccurring attack, you need to hit them again. This is why you must scout the previously infected acreage daily, before they can grow, mature, multiply and cause more damage.

As it turned out, I was asked to preach the next morning after Jack finished spraying. As I prayed about what to preach on, I thought about how similar fall armyworms are to sin in our lives.

I have learned from personal and professional experience that sin or temptation to sin often presents itself just like the mature moth. It’s just there, flying around in the field of my heart, not doing any harm that I can see. I may not even notice it is there. However, if it is not dealt with and is allowed to stay in the field of my heart, it soon takes root in my life and begins to reproduce. When I first yield to the temptation, the little sins, just like the thousands of tiny caterpillars that hatch out from one dome, they do not seem to produce any significant damage I can see, so it is easy for me to either overlook the sin or decide not to acknowledge the significance of its presence. Overtime, however, it grows and grows, doing more and more damage. One sin leads to the temptation of another, so now the reproduction cycle has begun. Before I know it, I am consumed by the depth and the strong grasp of the sin that has taken over my thoughts and my actions, and I find myself totally consumed and unable to deal with it in my own strength.

I have also noticed, just like the fall armyworm, temptations to sin often come right after a spiritual high (a wet spring) when everything is going well spiritually and I think I have it all together and am able to resist whatever comes my way. But when I get sick, tired or just so busy doing the Lord’s work I neglect spending personal time with God and in His Word (a lull or spiritual drought), this is the time I am most vulnerable to an attack.

Just like the worms, any sin not dealt with, will not only consume my life but will steal my joy and destroy the fruit of my witness. If it remains in my life, it will also soon spread and make its way into the lives of others around me, putting them at risk due to my own negligence and disobedience.

With the armyworms, pesticides do the trick. With my sin and yours, the only cure is confession, repentance and faith in the completed work of Christ, allowing His blood to cleanse us from all our sin and unrighteousness and allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives (our thoughts, actions, time and possessions).

Once our sins are forgiven and forsaken, we must allow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to scout our hearts every day, searching for and showing us any signs of re-infestation. A good daily prayer is Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV): "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "I had to go down to da courthouse and get my license renewed. They took a turable mugshot of me!"

Please explain what a mugshot is.

A mugshot is also called a headshot, an identifying photograph of a suspect or criminal, often one of a set showing a frontal view, a profile view and, occasionally, a view of the back of the head. The background is usually stark and simple, to avoid distraction from the facial image. The arrested person is sometimes required to hold a placard with name, date of birth, booking ID, weight and other relevant information on it. With digital photography, the digital photograph is linked to a database record concerning the arrest. Mugshots may be compiled into a mug book in order to determine the identity of a criminal. In high-profile cases, mugshots may also be published in mass media. Today it is often used to describe any close-up photograph of someone’s face.

The earliest photos of prisoners taken for use by law enforcement may have been taken in Belgium in 1843 and 1844. In the United Kingdom, police in Liverpool and Birmingham were photographing criminals by 1848. By 1857, the New York City Police Department had a gallery where daguerreotypes of criminals were displayed.

The Pinkerton National Detective Agency began using mugshots on wanted posters in the United States. By the 1870s, the agency had amassed the largest collection of these photos in the United States.

But where did the term originate?

European beer mugs of the early 18th century were often shaped like human heads and a not especially attractive person often bore a resemblance to a face on a mug. As a result, a face came to be called a mug.

Another source suggests the term came about much later and comes from mug, as in grimace, because early subjects would try to reduce their mugshot’s value for later identification by grimacing or otherwise twisting their facial muscles (mugging).

The Co-op Pantry

by Julie Thompson

Julie Thompson and her father Elliott Montgomery, a retired game warden, enjoy spending time together hunting.

As a child of working parents, in a career-driven era, I was privileged to learn the essence of cooking from my mother and three grandmothers. This isn’t just about a recipe; it’s a story, a passion and true source of enjoyment for me now.

My mother was working nonstop building the business Judy’s Place.

My great-grandmother, Elva Huskey, started making birthday cakes for the neighborhood that eventually turned into a business known as Huskey’s Cake Shop. She baked almost everything for over 60 years.

Ruby Montgomery, one of my grandmothers, was a 1941 Nutrition graduate of the then aptly titled Alabama Polytechnic Institute, known today as Auburn University. Having been raised on a large farm in Athens, she grew up living off the land. Between her heritage and education, I was taught to cook from the pantry and by balancing foods. Some of my best memories were made in her kitchen where she challenged me to conceptualize and produce a meal with whatever we had in the pantry and growing in the garden – a home-grown version of Chopped minus the gross ingredients.

My other grandmother, Ludie Mae Brown, was the epitome of a working mom who still valued the traditional housewife role. She would spend her days working at the electric department, but always managed to make it home and produce home-cooked meals from the garden every night. She had a knack for making meals stretch throughout the week by adding a little variety to a basic meat. She held Sunday dinners every week at her house after church that NO ONE was allowed to miss.

The best way to sum up my culinary style is to first give credit where credit is due. I had the privilege of observing, learning and partaking in each of these special ladies cooking routines. Without them, I never would have developed my own cooking style. The best way to describe that style is: a texture or taste, a pinch of this or that, need to thicken it with this or sweeten it with that. In short, if it tastes good, you probably don’t want to know what all is in it. It is my hope to teach my own family the same traditions I have had.

With the upcoming opening day of deer season, I would love to share some recipes my father, Elliott Montgomery, a retired Game Warden and I have perfected over the years.

On Sunday, I typically thaw 8 or more pounds of venison for the week. Like many who prep their meals for the week, I prep to cook fresh each night. Once your meat is thawed you want to cook and apply a simple seasoning to counteract the game flavor. I typically use one of two options depending on what I will be incorporating it in. The first is a basic, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, dried minced onion flakes, and salt and pepper. The heaviest is the Greek Seasoning continually being added while browning the meat. The second takes on a spicier twist. Use Lawry’s, onion powder, garlic salt and a little Tony’s Creole Seasoning.

Any casseroles I make ahead so they are ready to go on a busy night with all the activities our kids are involved in. It may sound crazy, but I fix those in aluminum pans. If you don’t get a chance to cook and eat it in a few days, just label and put up it in the freezer for later, or for families in need on short notice.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have enjoyed telling the stories. Cooking is truly a passion for me. I love studying old dishes using techniques that are lost today in tailored recipes. It’s so much fun to go antiquing and find that old tool you remember your grandparents used. It may not be today’s latest and greatest version, but it sure does hold a lot of fond memories. Don’t be afraid to make a change to a classic recipe with your own twist or even add to a boxed meal to give a little variety. Prep on the weekends and freeze so you can cut down cooking time each night. In my house, the kitchen is the center. This is where we study, dance, sing and talk. This truly is my favorite part of the day. I couldn’t think of a better way to end our day than to be surrounded by family and or friends and sharing about all of our days or ideas.

Julie Thompson works in AFC’s Human Resources department.


Couple pounds venison
Dale’s Steak Seasoning
Worcestershire Sauce
2 family-size cans low sodium Cream of Mushroom soup
Green beans
Salt and pepper (or desired seasonings), to taste
Homemade mashed potatoes*
Cheddar cheese, shredded

In pan, brown venison and set aside. Sauté mushrooms in a little Dale’s and Worcestershire. Add soup. Mix with venison. In microwave, heat green bean with salt and pepper (desired seasonings). In casserole dish, layer starting with venison mixture on bottom. (You want this to be pretty creamy, if too thick just add a little milk.) Next, add green beans. Top with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. Finish with cheese. Bake at 350° for about 30-45 minutes.

Tip: Put dish on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil for the drippings. It is ready when the mushroom sauce has boiled up and the cheese is crusted.

Gourmet tip: Add some bread to the meat with a beaten egg. Form in muffin tins, put green beans in the center of the meat then cover with mushrooms (pour some sauce over the meat to moisten). Cook for about 20 minutes. Bag mashed potatoes and pipe like frosting on the top, garnish with the cheese and bake just long enough to melt the cheese some.

* Everyone has their own taste for these that makes your recipe unique. I prefer to hand mash and cream with butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste.


2 (8-ounce) packs cream cheese
Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch dip mix
Creole seasoning
Mushrooms, roughly chopped and sautéd
Venison tenderloin
Italian dressing
Bacon, thick cut

Double butterfly tenderloin. Place in a covered pan or Ziploc bag with Italian dressing and let marinate overnight in refrigerator. Next day, they are ready to grill.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese with ranch dip mix and creole seasoning. Add mushrooms. Set aside in fridge.

In skillet, cook bacon just enough that it will still be able to wrap without crumbling. Stuff both sides with mushroom mixture and close with bacon Wrap using toothpicks to hold. Place on grill. (Make sure to keep check of the temperature of meat. Optimal temperature is about 140°. Do not cook venison as long as you would other meats. It will dry out quickly and be very tough. Baste while cooking to keep moist if you like.) Lightly salt when it comes off the grill. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Note: I just have to brag on my husband, J.T., for a minute. He truly is the best and he cooks on the grill the way I do in the kitchen – a match made in Heaven. The tenderloin is the best selection of meat. We usually cook it immediately.


2-3 pounds venison
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
Onion flakes
1 large can cream of mushroom Soup
4-6 cups milk
1 bag extra wide egg noodles
2 large handfuls pepper jack cheese, shredded
White pepper

In an electric skillet, brown venison with Greek seasoning and onion flakes. In a large bowl, place soup and whisk in milk (you want it to look watery). Pour soup mixture on venison. Stir to combine. Add noodles and cover. Heat on medium, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. Just before finishing, add cheese. Lightly salt and pepper. Stir well and serve.

Note: Have you ever had one of those times where you promise your kids you would cook their favorite? Well this had been one of those weeks. I had promised to make the Stroganoff Hamburger Helper only to get home and not have any. So my roots kicked in searching the pantry for what I could make that would be similar. My kids told me later it was the best mistake I have made. This is now a frequently made meal in our house. We serve with Old Glory brand Green Beans because you just can’t beat their seasoning. Plus, I love any microwave short cut.


Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
Spice (your preference) |
Southern Flavor for Wildgame (optional)
Cubed steak venison
1 packet Instant Peppered Country Gravy

In bowl, mix flour with Greek seasoning and other desired spices/seasonings. In skillet, heat grease on medium high. Dredge venison in flour. Immediately drop in grease. Flip each 30 seconds. (You want the meat to still be a little squishy or tender when you pull it out.) Immediately season heavily with Greek seasoning. Put venison in large electric skillet. (Prepare as much as you like. We like to make about 40 or so 3-inch squared pieces. It is even better left over!) Dump grease leaving some in the bottom of the pan. Add flour to soak all of it up. Add just a little milk till you can work out the clumps and it starts to bubble. Continue adding milk gradually and stirring until gravy consistency. Prepare Peppered Country Gravy by packaged instructions. Combine gravies. (This will help cut out the game flavor.) Salt and pepper generously. Pour gravy over venison. Stir and let simmer on low to medium heat for about 45 minutes covered. Stir frequently so that it doesn’t stick.

Note: Personally this is one of my favorite recipes. My dad and brother would come home from deer camp and make this. Over the years, I have adapted to my family’s taste. I like using Southern Flavor for Wildgame. It packs a punch so be careful. We like to call it “Gun Powder Seasoning” in our house. It looks like pure black powder. Remember not to overdo it unless you like it really spicy.

This is best if served with a green vegetable and over white rice. In my house, the boys fight over who gets to lick the pan!!!


Onion, diced
Red and green bell peppers, diced
Fresh mushrooms, sliced
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
Oregano, to taste**
Basil, to taste**
Garlic, to taste**
Garlic butter
2 pounds venison, browned
2 large mason jars canned tomato sauce (unseasoned)*
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 small can tomato paste
1 packet McCormick’s Spaghetti Mix

In a deep pan, place onion and bell peppers. In a bowl, season a hefty amount of mushrooms with Cavender’s, basil and oregano. Mix in garlic butter. Add to vegetables. Sauté. About half way through, add venison As the flavors start to come together and the vegetables cook down, add in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Mix thoroughly. Add tomato paste (Don’t overdo the paste or the sauce will stick to the top of your mouth. If this happens thin out with water.) Stir thoroughly. Add oregano, basil and garlic. Add spaghetti mix (this adds a good balance of spices). Let simmer about a half hour. Stir frequently or it is so heavy it will stick and burn.

Once done serve over your choice of pasta: spaghetti, thin spaghetti, vermicelli or angel hair. It just depends on the thickness of the pasta that you like. Cook the entire box. Afterwards mix the noodles in with the sauce. It is even better left over the next day. Best if served with garlic bread.

Note: I tell you the combination of venison and fresh garden vegetables just makes my mouth water.

* It’s up to you if you can or just buy from the store. If store bought, use 2 large cans of tomato sauce and two medium cans of petite diced tomatoes.

** I typically measure by the pinch or palm of my hand.

I am looking for cooks of all ages, cooking traditions and skill levels to feature in this column. I want to hear from those in Alabama as well as our out-of-state readers. The simple requirements for being a featured cook are to love to cook (and eat) and to share your story with us. Get those recipes coming! Any featured cooks during 2016 will receive a free copy of our new cookbook.

-- Mary Delph,

The Precautionary Principle

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I suppose most of us are not too familiar with the precautionary principle. I guess that is because I was not familiar with it until about 2.5 years ago. That year the National Institute for Animal Agriculture used "The Precautionary Principle" for the theme of its annual meeting. The Precautionary Principle simply stated is: "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."

This statement came out of a conference held in 1998 to deal with world environmental issues. The practical basis for the precautionary principle could be found in some of our wise sayings such as "look before you leap," "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and, even in medicine, "first, do no harm." These are all good advice to follow.

I am pretty sure I would have been a lot better off on a lot of occasions if I had followed the precautionary principle. But, if I peel back the layers of the onion a bit, the use of this principle could have some negative results.

To paraphrase part of the definition, it says, if there is a possibility an activity or product could cause harm to humans or the environment, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on whomever is performing the activity or producing the product. (This may be getting a little deep in the weeds, but stay with me and I will eventually make sense out of all this.) The precautionary principle is used as part of how some countries in Europe make regulations. It is also used very actively in positions taken by the United Nations.

So, why do we care about any of that? We care because it plays a role in forming regulations that could hamper our ability to feed the world. If you are a regular reader of this column, you may remember I have often referred to the prediction that the world population will be over 9 billion people by 2050. If you really look at it, the range is somewhere in the high 7 billion to the mid 10 billion. If that is a little difficult to get your mind around, then let me put it this way. Between now and 2050, we will need to produce as much food as the world has produced since Cain and Able were growing vegetables and sheep.

We often use the term "sustainable agriculture". That just means we practice agriculture in such a way that we do not deplete our resources to a point we are not able to produce our crops, herds and flocks. That makes good sense. In fact, if we don’t sustain agriculture, we will struggle to sustain life on our planet. The problem comes when our new technologies in agriculture are shunned, restricted or even prohibited because there are those who question the safety of some of our practices.

The use of genetically modified organisms and clones are a couple of biotechnologies that are going to be extremely important as we move forward in trying to feed the world. In Europe, some parliaments have banned cloned animals based on the precautionary principle. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Who are these people!! Well, they are not agriculture scientists.

I am always a little amazed (but not surprised) when I talk to highly educated people who indicate that modern agriculture practices are going to be the key factor driving us back to the prehistoric era. I always picture these people who cringe at the term "GMO." Then, in their attempt to eat healthy, they pop a seedless grape into their mouth. I can’t remember the exact conversation I was having with someone recently, but their remark, "Well, it’s not surprising with all the GMOs out there people are consuming." I asked which particular GMO he found most offensive. He just stared at me with kind of a goofy, blank look. He didn’t have a clue how to answer that. He had just heard the garbage about GMOs not being good for you.

Here is an example of the danger of the precautionary principle when carried out. Bovine somatotropin hormone is given to cows to help them produce more milk. Cows given synthetic BST average producing about 10 percent more milk than they normally would. That means we are able to use 10 percent less cows, 10 percent less land, 10 percent less feed to produce that milk and 10 percent less manure. Is the milk from those cows safe? The Food and Drug Administration thinks so. The American Cancer Society thinks so. I think so. Yet 27 countries have banned the use of BST use in dairy cows and products from countries using the hormone.

So at this point, I feel compelled to give you the very simple reason why this milk is safe to drink. First, if you noticed the name of the hormone is BOVINE somatotropin. The last time I checked, we are not bovines. We are humans. So our human cells cannot even utilize this hormone … even if they wanted to.

Secondly, cattle naturally produce the hormone. There is only one amino acid difference between the synthetic hormone and the one the cows produce in their own body. So there is an infinitely small amount of the hormone that ends up in the milk of cows. That includes cows that are not given the synthetic hormone. But, in either case, the amount in the milk is negligible.

And finally, BST is a peptide. That is really not important to remember unless you are on a game show sometime and they ask a question about BST. Anyway, most of us can relate to another peptide. That is insulin. Most of us know someone who is diabetic and have to take insulin injections. Maybe you have to take insulin injections. Well, the reason insulin has to be injected is because it is a peptide and, if taken orally, it would be completely worthless because it would be broken down in our digestive tract.

That is just one example of countries banning a product because they are not satisfied with the scientific proof that it is safe. No wonder we don’t think of Europe when we think of feeding the world. Scientific research today not only can but must find ways to feed an ever-increasing population even as the footprint of agriculture decreases. Drought-resistant corn, a genetically modified plant, has increased the production of corn multiple times. Cloning allows us to multiply the best, most productive genetics available. These are tools that must be in our tool kit.

Dr. Norman Borlaug was an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel Laureate who has been called the Father of Crop Revolution and The Man Who Saved Billions of Lives. He lived to be 95 years old. He is credited with saying, "Not one person has suffered negative effects from innovations like GMOs. Yet 25,000 people in the world die every day due to malnutrition."

I am greatly concerned when things like the precautionary principle limit our ability to use new technologies and innovations based on some imagined negative effect.

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

Turn Around Award

Danny Dewrell, right, Goshen Farmers Co-op, was the recipient of the special Turn Around Award presented by Rivers Myres, AFC's CEO.

Waterfowl Hunting … A Hidden Gem in Alabama

With the increase in popularity over the past few years, Alabama waterfowlers have plenty to celebrate.

by Chuck Sykes

Waterfowl hunting has increased almost every year in Alabama for the past 10 years.

With the early goose season (opened Sept. 1) and teal season (opened Sept. 10), I wanted to give Seth Maddox, technical assistance biologist and waterfowl coordinator, a chance to inform hunters of the abundant waterfowl hunting opportunities Alabama has to offer over the next couple of months.

If you are an avid waterfowl hunter, you have likely noticed an increase in the number of hunters at boat ramps or in your favorite sloughs. Based on state duck stamp sales, waterfowl hunting has increased almost every year in Alabama for the past 10 years. Specifically, duck stamp sales numbers have increased from 18,324 in 2005 to 30,343 in 2015, a 65 percent increase. If you look at the lowest number of sales by year in the decade (16,989 in 2007) compared to the number of stamps sold in 2015, the difference is a 78 percent increase. Alabama is one of only two states (Louisiana) with increasing waterfowl hunter numbers out of 14 states in the Mississippi Flyway.

So, why are we seeing such an increase in waterfowl hunters? Many people attribute it to the popularity of the TV show "Duck Dynasty," which first aired in 2012. This show has certainly fueled the fire in the popularity of waterfowl hunting, but it does not explain the totality of the increase in popularity. Other factors such as social media, internet videos, hunting TV shows, increased waterfowl populations, increased waterfowl hunting accessories and an increase in advertisements for waterfowl hunting have all promoted the growth and attractiveness of waterfowl hunting.

Hunting in general has been declining in the United States for a few decades. Many wildlife agencies, organizations and researchers have been trying to determine why we are seeing this decline and how we can recruit new hunters. When hunters buy hunting licenses, this money goes straight back into the conservation and management of wildlife for current and future generations. This is why human dimensions (the social attitudes, processes and behaviors related to how we maintain, protect, enhance and use our natural resources) in the wildlife field have received so much attention in the past few decades. We are trying to determine how to retain current hunters and recruit new hunters to the sport. Having more hunters in the sport directly affects the amount of money available for wildlife conservation and management.

If you are looking for a place to hunt waterfowl in Alabama, you do not have to look very far. Numerous lakes, rivers and streams are open to the public for hunting. The best opportunities for public hunting are available on the waterfowl management areas operated by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

In north Alabama along the Tennessee River, the Jackson County WMAs (Mud Creek, Crow Creek and Raccoon Creek) offer some of the best waterfowl hunting in the state. These areas are located between the towns of Scottsboro and Stevenson and comprise 18,579 acres of hardwood bottoms covered with oaks, backwater sloughs filled with aquatic vegetation and dewatering units managed for wintering waterfowl. Along with the WMAs, Jackson County also has two state waterfowl refuges (North Sauty and Crow Creek refuges) totaling 8,355 acres closed to waterfowl hunting, but offer a great place for waterfowl to rest and feed undisturbed. These two refuges generally attract large numbers of wintering waterfowl migrating between the refuges and WMAs.

Another great place to hunt waterfowl in North Alabama along the Tennessee River is Swan Creek and Mallard-Fox Creek WMAs. These WMAs are located near Decatur in Limestone, Morgan and Lawrence counties and are comprised of 10,612 acres of hardwood bottoms containing mast-producing trees such as oak, beech and hickory, backwater sloughs with aquatic vegetation and dewatering units managed for wintering waterfowl.

In central Alabama, David K. Nelson WMA offers great opportunities for waterfowl hunting. Located near Demopolis in Hale, Greene and Sumter counties, it comprises 8,308 acres on the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers providing many bottomland hardwood and wetland areas for wintering waterfowl.

Lowndes WMA is another great area for waterfowl hunting in central Alabama. Located near White Hall in Lowndes County, it comprises 15,920 acres along the Alabama River and consists of hardwood bottoms, swamp drainages and wetlands offering great habitat for wintering waterfowl.

(From left) Deputy Commissioner Curtis Jones, Chuck Sykes and Commissioner Gunter Guy after a successful hunt.

In south Alabama, W.L. Holland and Mobile-Tensaw Delta WMA and Upper Delta WMA offer the best opportunities for waterfowl hunters. These WMAs are located on the borders of Mobile and Baldwin counties and comprise marsh, wetlands, and cypress and gum swamp bottoms totaling 93,491 acres. These WMAs provide diverse habitats for wintering waterfowl ranging from flooded hardwood bottoms in the upper reaches of the Upper Delta WMA to open waters of the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta Marsh of Mobile Bay. The Apalachee refuge, located in a section between I-10 and the Mobile Causeway, was established this year in an effort to hold more wintering waterfowl in the area.

The WFF section has been busy planning and implementing positive changes to our waterfowl management areas and waterfowl management statewide over the past few years. Changes include revamping our dewatering units to provide better water management; implementing moist soil management, focusing on natural vegetation and invertebrate management to provide high sources of protein for wintering waterfowl; implementing a wood duck nest box program to provide more nesting potential for hens and collecting reproductive data; continued and increased wood duck banding efforts to provide survival and movement data; and increased efforts to provide technical assistance to private landowners for waterfowl habitat enhancement. With these implementations, we hope to have a positive impact on waterfowl habitats and populations across the state.

If you are new to waterfowl hunting or interested in waterfowl hunting, by far the best thing you can do is learn the nuances and ethics of waterfowl hunting from an experienced hunter. Many rules and regulations come with waterfowl hunting, and becoming knowledgeable before stepping afield is a must. Many experienced waterfowl hunters would be willing to take a kid or first-timer and share their expertise. Waterfowl population numbers are at an all-time high, and it is a great time to be a waterfowl hunter.

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the waterfowl hunting regulations. Several significant regulation changes have taken place this year in an attempt to provide a better hunting experience. If you have questions, call the district office in your area or visit for a complete list.

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

What’s in a Name?

by Suzy Lowry Geno

I don’t usually ship things from the tiny general store I run on the farm because the post office is only open the hours I am open so it just becomes too much of a hassle. ...

But, of course, there’re exceptions to every rule.

A decades-long internet friend’s daughter needed four of the goofy-looking Barn Buddy Bears I make, reminiscent of the stuffed animals my Granny Vennie Inmon used to make out of fabric scraps for her children when there was no money for toys.

The friend sent me her address and I was off to the races! Why? Because she lives in Vinegar Bend!

Road signs can have some strange names. Have you noticed any?

What a name! And why was it named that?

The community was originally called Lumbertown because a sawmill opened there in 1900. Then a railroad was built to service the growing community 15 miles southwest of Chatom in Washington County.

In 1910, you guessed it, a container holding vinegar burst at the freight station near the river’s bend. The commotion and the lingering smell birthed the community’s new name, according to "A Place Called Peculiar" by Frank Gallant.

That was so neat I started looking around at the communities near me, and some of the odd street names we have in our state. Hundreds of my Facebook friends helped by suggesting names and how they got them after I put out a query about writing this article!

Many mentioned Chepultepec (she-pul-she-peck) in Blount County.

Chepultepec was a battle in the Mexican War and evidently at least one early resident fought in that skirmish. But in the early 1900s, the Cheney family bought land and organized Cheney Lime Company and built a spur for the L&N Railroad.

But Chaney soon found the customers couldn’t remember the name, couldn’t pronounce it or couldn’t spell it! So Dec. 3, 1915, the community and, now the town, was renamed Allgood in honor of Dr. W.B. Allgood, who carried out his medical practice on horseback and later also served as post master.

Hoods Crossroads is now a road name beginning about a mile from my farm. But in the early days, Hoods Crossroads referred to a community at the intersection of what is now Hoods Cross Roads and County 39.

Capt. William Thompson Hood, a Confederate veteran, moved from Cherokee County to Blount about 1870 and opened a large general store at that crossroads. Dr. J.G. Donehoo came in 1880 and married Hood’s sister-in-law, developed a thriving medical practice and opened a pharmacy at the crossroads. James Hood, the Captain’s brother, then opened a gin nearby on the creek/river. Stephen Buckner also opened a barber shop. It became a thriving residential community. But many of the area’s residents are descendants from those early settlers.

The town of Susan Moore, also in Blount, was originally named Clarence. But when Dr. David S. Moore Jr. and Dr. Joe Moore (who owned South Highland Infirmary in Birmingham and whose father had a thriving medical practice around Clarence) donated money to build the first school building in the community, they asked it be named after their mother, Susan Moore. When the town was legally incorporated in the 1980s, Susan Moore became its legal and permanent name.

Then there’s the little community of Rosa, where Easley Covered Bridge is situated, named after Rosa Honey by her suitor Ellis Bynum in the early 1900s. "The History of Blount County" notes that Rosa Honey was 86 years old when that history was originally written in 1972!

There’s also Summit, the setting for the story "The Ransom of Red Chief," making the little community known worldwide. It was part of the original Cherokee Indian Reservation, with the people being forced to march in the Trail of Tears from 1835 to 1838.

The area was named Martin’s Stand in 1841, but was officially changed to Summit March 6, 1945, because it was on the top of the crest of the mountain, according to the Blount History.

Five Points, a little community about 4 miles from Cleveland, received its name from the roads extending in five directions!

Then there are all the unusual road names!

I’ve always loved Wet Cat Road and figured a wet cat had something to do with it, but, no, WET and CAT are the INITIALS of the people who owned the land adjacent to the road when the road was officially named by 911 in the early 1990s.

Then there’s Wehapa Lake Drive outside of Leeds near Jefferson and St. Clair counties. Must be an Indian name, right? Nope. According to a nearby resident, Wehapa is a manmade lake and the three men who invested and built it had the last names of Weaver, Harper and Parker, so the first two letters of each of their names formed Wehapa.

Even outside our state there are some dillies! Outside Pennsboror, West Virginia, there’s Soap Grease Road.

Nearby resident David Lahue explains, "They used to have to burp the older gas wells and they put soap down the bore, and when the well ‘burped’ oil and gas came out ... in a big mess. ..."

Northeast of my location there’s Plum Nelly, near Chattanooga on the Alabama and Georgia line. Barbara Parker notes when she asked, they said, "It’s because you’re plum nelly (nearly) out of Georgia and plum nelly out of Alabama."

These may not all be official road names, but in Marshall County there’s a Tickle Berry Hill, Pole Cat Hollow and Butter Bean Hollow. And near Cleveland in Blount there’s a Toad Frog Alley!

In and around Blount we also have Back Bone Road, Bird Twilley Drive, Chigger Ridge Road, Coal Washer Road, Coyote Road, Dundee Drive, Dusty Springs Road, Fat Adams Drive, Fat Dunn Road, Fox Trot Circle, Graves Cemetery Road, Back Bone Road, Horsepower Lane (a man lives there who sells generators!), Margaritaville Lane, Polly Wog Lane, Possum Trot, Scarum Creek Road, Rooster Road, Tiny Kingdom Road, Spunky Hollow Road, Spoon Handle and the list continues!

For years, behind my house there are just acres of what my Granny called broom sage. Now we’re trying to convert it to pasture. But that old field is where the road beside my farm got its name and why I now live at Old Field Farm.

I love all these old stories! If you have somewhere around you with an unusual name AND story email me at and we might do a follow-up article in a few months!

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

Wild Hog

A Versatile and Delicious Treat

by Christy Kirk

At about 6:30 a.m. Rolley Len, Cason and I were in my car riding down Highway 80 headed for school.

Cason asked, "Do you smell ribs?"

"Do we what?"

"Do you smell ribs? I smell ribs. Smell. Oh, Mom, ribs are delicious!"

Rolley Len and I inhaled a huge whiff of the air. I didn’t smell ribs, but I did smell a fire somewhere. He insisted there were ribs being grilled nearby. Cason’s face showed his disappointment that there wasn’t a pop-up rib shack open roadside for breakfast.

Rolley Len and Cason Kirk help set up the trap to capture feral pigs.

A few days later we stopped at a local gas and grocery store on our way to school. The scent hit us as we opened the car doors: barbecue grilling at breakfast time.

Cason was quick to spot the large grill sitting in the parking lot. Smoke was slipping out of the cracks and the smell was deliciously amazing.

"Is that ribs?" asked Cason excitedly.

We were in a hurry and I was sure that whatever meat was cooking probably wouldn’t be ready to eat yet, so I steered Cason away from the grill and hustled the kids in and out of the store before they demanded we wait for barbecue. I did not think that waiting for BBQ would be accepted as an excuse for being tardy.

It is safe to say that ribs are one of Rolley Len and Cason’s favorite foods. When they were babies they gnawed on saucy rib bones and now they still devour them every chance they get. The kids know that year-round, ribs will be on the menu whether we are at the lake or at their maw-maw’s house for Sunday dinner. Since wild hogs can be hunted all year, there are always plenty of opportunities to bring home one of the kids’ favorites.

Weighing as much as 200 pounds, wild boars can provide a lot of meat, but of course the smaller, younger ones will be more tender than the biggest you can find. Not only can wild hogs give you a lot of meat that you can use for ribs, sausage and roasts, there is an abundance of them in our area. If you hunt or trap and like wild hog, you will likely never go hungry.

Rolley Len and Cason love traditional barbecue sauce on pork ribs, but they also love to try new things like spicy sauces and sweet but sour marinades. Pork from wild hogs is just as versatile and adaptable as nonferal hogs; so, if you are an adventurous eater, you can even try using almost the entire animal in recipes like the Hog Stew below. The recipes here offer a variety of options with completely different flavors that will fill your own home with the delicious scents of your next meal.

Slow-cooked Wild Boar Ribs

Slow-cooked Wild Boar Ribs

2 full racks of ribs (about 4-5 pounds)
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Liquid smoke
Sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, divided

Preheat the oven to 300°.

Make a dry rub by mixing the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

Place ribs on a cutting board and remove the membrane from the bone side. You can leave them as a whole rack or cut them to fit your baking dish. Line the dish with foil and place the ribs on the foil. Coat both sides of the ribs with about ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke. Then coat each side with about 1 tablespoon of the dry rub.

Cover with multiple layers of foil and seal by folding the edges together. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 2 hours.

Remove the ribs and cut if desired. Return the ribs to the baking dish, coat with plenty of barbecue sauce. Turn the oven on broil and put the ribs back in the oven on the highest rack. Let them broil for about 7 minutes, or until sauce caramelizes.

Sweet Sour Pork

About 5 pounds pork butt
Flour, for coating
½ cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon aji or crushed red peppers
Ginger and garlic, to taste
2 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
1½ cups water
¼ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon aji, if desired

In container large enough for the pork butt to fit in, mix marinade ingredients. Marinate pork overnight. Cut into 1½ inch pieces. Flour soaked pieces and brown. In a large pot, mix sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add pork. Simmer for 1 hour or longer until tender.

What to Do with the Rest of the Hog Stew

½ pork backbones
1 side of ribs
2 feet
1 tongue
1 heart
½ liver
Salt, red pepper, black pepper and sage, to taste

Cook backbone, ribs and feet until tender enough to remove the bones. Boil the tongue, then scrape and cut into small pieces. Add liver and heart cut into small pieces. Mix all ingredients together and add seasoning. Cook slowly until done. Allow stew to get cold, dip fat off the top and reheat until ready to eat. Serve with cornbread.

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

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