Sign up for email updates from Cooperative Farming News

Facebook Twitter Instagram
Home > Archives > October 2017

October 2017

4-H Extension Corner: She Bleeds Green

Alabama Extension’s Betty Gottler has been named to the 2017 National 4-H Hall of Fame.

by Donna Reynolds

Betty Gottler

Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Betty Gottler has been selected as a National 4-H Hall of Fame Laureate. Gottler was selected because of her significant contribution to 4-H, the nation’s premier youth development organization. She is one of 16 individuals who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a special ceremony Oct. 6 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to recognize those who have made a significant impact in 4-H at the local, state or national level.

"Betty Gottler is the only field-based 4-H agent being inducted in the National Hall of Fame. That fact alone reflects the impact Betty has had on 4-H in Alabama and across the nation," said Dr. Gary Lemme, director of ACES. "Betty is committed to the 4-H slogan of ‘Making the best better.’ She is a true ambassador for Alabama 4-H. We are blessed to have her as a member of the Alabama Extension family."

"No one bleeds green more or loves 4-H more than Betty Gottler," said Dr. Molly Gregg, assistant director of Alabama 4-H. "She is our organization’s historian and has a real servant’s heart for youth and Alabama communities."

4-H – Her Life’s Work

Gottler knew from a young age that 4-H was her life’s work. For her, 4-H was a family affair. Her mother was an Extension agent when she met her father at a research station program. Gottler and her two brothers were members in St. Benedict’s School 4-H Club and the Elberta Community 4-H Club. Her parents were leaders of both clubs. The three children excelled in Alabama 4-H, and were involved in club projects, state projects, fairs, community parades and service projects.

"Extension was in our blood. We frequently visited the Baldwin County Extension Office with our parents," Gottler recalled. "It was a delightful place for us to explore, and we felt like we were home."

Her Start

When Gottler completed her education degree at the University of Montevallo in 1974, she began work as a 4-H educator in Morgan County. She worked almost 30 years in the county setting. Under her leadership, the county averaged 75 4-H clubs with more than 4,500 youth enrolled each year. Many of her 4-H members were state and national winners, and were active on the local, regional and state levels.

"Through the years, many wonderful volunteers, teachers and parents helped us," Gottler said.

Elberta Community 4-H club members prepare and practice for a demonstration at Baldwin County’s 4-H competition.

Mike Reeves, Morgan County Extension coordinator, said he knows of no one who has a greater love or dedication to 4-H than Gottler.

"I am blessed to have a great 4-H program in this county because of the foundation that Betty laid. In retirement, Betty continues to be involved in our county programs and even on a state level," Reeves said. "We still consider Betty a part of our county 4-H team. She simply loves 4-H and the youth that this great program impacts."

Penny Eddy was one of Gottler’s 4-H members from 1980 to 1987. Eddy said she is a better person because of the role Gottler played in her life.

"Betty Gottler played a huge part in who I am. She impacted my life in ways I could never repay in a lifetime," Eddy said. "She taught me to be responsible and give 100 percent in everything I did for my club, my community, my country and my world. Those words will always echo in my ears."

Sharon Brooks Hardy was another one of Gottler’s 4-H members.

"Betty Gottler provided me the opportunity to participate in AMP Camp and Electrical Demonstrations. This showed me I could pursue engineering and be successful in that career," Hardy said. "Betty has always been a great role model for us Morgan County girls."

When Alabama Extension restructured to a regional 4-H staff model, Gottler served five northeast Alabama counties with volunteer training, program planning and regional councils.

Praise From Former Colleagues

Gottler worked well with Extension specialists and other colleagues.

"Betty is more than deserving of this honor," said Kenneth Gamble, a 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent in Morgan County. "I am so proud and honored to have worked beside and with her for so many years. She embodies everything 4-H stands for, and has taught and encouraged me in so many ways."

"Betty and I met while working on our master’s degrees," said Peggy Prucnal, retired Shelby County 4-H Agent and County Coordinator. "Through the years, we attended several state and national meetings. Betty served on many committees and held chair positions. She encouraged many younger agents to take leadership roles in their professional organizations."

Gottler moved to the state 4-H office when Alabama celebrated the 4-H Centennial in 2009. She was in charge of the state 4-H awards program, which came with a lot of responsibilities. After the Centennial, she planned citizenship and leadership programs until her retirement May 31, 2012.

Max Runge, Extension specialist, was one of Betty’s first 4-H members.

"Betty helped me go places and achieve goals I would otherwise not have accomplished," Runge added. "Thanks to her suggestions and influence, I was selected to attend conferences in Washington and in College Station, Texas. The ultimate experience was attending National 4-H Congress as Alabama’s state winner in agriculture."

Janet McCoy, director of communications and marketing with the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, worked with Gottler in the state 4-H office in 2008 and 2009.

"Betty is the embodiment of 4-H," McCoy said. "From her time as an Alabama 4-H member to her current position on the 4-H foundation board, she is a testament to the impact 4-H has on a person’s life. I had the privilege of being mentored by Betty. I watched as she instilled 4-H values into the lives of youth. Betty brought that same enthusiasm and dedication to inspire colleagues in their professional careers."

Still Active as a Volunteer

Gottler continues to be active as a volunteer in her local community and across the state. She is involved with various community and church activities in her home county.

"This gives me the chance to say thank you to all the people who helped me when I called them," Gottler said.

She volunteers for the Hartselle Fine Arts Center as well as with the St. Vincent de Paul Society at her church, who assist those in need with utilities, rent, medicine and other needs.

"All the home visits I made with Extension nutrition and financial management programs help me with this," Gottler said.

She still says yes when Extension and 4-H need her assistance. A year after her retirement, the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation Inc. asked her to serve as a program committee chair and help administer innovation grants across Alabama through the foundation.

NAE4-HA Highlights

In 1976, Gottler learned about the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. She quickly decided she wanted to be involved. An organizational committee was formed and they approached Extension administration about forming a state association. Two years later, they had a constitution and bylaws. The Alabama Extension 4-H Association was formed in 1979 and Gottler was a charter member. She also served as the third president of the organization. She attended her first national meeting in 1978 and has not missed a national meeting since.

Gottler has held numerous offices in NAE4-HA since 1984:

  • Junior and senior regional editor
  • Two-time national editor of News and Views
  • Co-chair of two state conferences
  • 40th anniversary committee member
  • 50th anniversary committee co-chair
  • Centennial Celebration committee member

Gottler is currently working on "4-H Stories From the Heart Vol II," the Life Member committee and the 75th anniversary committee.

National Awards

Gottler has received national NAE4-HA awards including the 1964 Distinguished Service Award, the 2000 25-year Service Award, the 2004 Natural Resources Environmental Award and the 2010 Meritorious Service Award.

Donna Reynolds is the communication editor of news and public affairs with ACES in Auburn.

A Call of Tradition

David Gaston’s custom duck calls carry on a passion for craftsmanship learned from several accomplished mentors.

by Carolyn Drinkard

David Gaston sells from his shop, located in the small community of Rural, just south of Thomasville. He ships his handmade duck calls all over the United States and to numerous countries around the world.

Growing up in Wilcox County was something very special for David Gaston. Since the county has more miles of riverfront along the Alabama River than any other county in South Alabama, this area was an outdoorsman’s dream. It still is today! Sportsmen flock to this Black Belt area for ready access to all kinds of game.

Whether hunting or fishing, Gaston and his friends took full advantage of this natural paradise. After Miller’s Ferry Lock and Dam was completed in the 1960s, the area became an even better flyway for migrating waterfowl. Gaston learned to call and hunt ducks in what he proudly said was "the Wilcox County way, long before it was cool!"

"I had seven mismatched duck decoys," he laughingly recalled. "I painted a 2-liter coke bottle black and anchored it with a big nut or bolt, really whatever I could get! I called and hunted, and I loved it!"

Gaston developed a deep love for duck hunting, but he longed to learn the tradition of making his own calls. He traveled to Selma, Tennessee, where he met Jimmy Faust. Faust taught Gaston how to place his decoys and how to refine his calling. Later, a good friend invited him to Mossy Break where he met Bob Westerville, who had finished first runner-up in the World’s Duck Calling Championship.

"Bob showed me better ways to be more effective with a duck call," Gaston explained.

Wishing to learn even more, Gaston visited Gordon Hartley, owner of Southland Duck Calls in Leland, Mississippi. Hartley advised him to get some good wood, find the right tools and start making calls. He took Hartley’s advice and began in the early ’80s to craft a few duck calls that he now describes as "crude."

It was only when he traveled to Clarendon, Arkansas, in 1984, and met Alvin "Fruit Juice" Taylor that Gaston’s longing to make calls would turn from a desire to a passion. Taylor became Gaston’s mentor, slowly teaching him how to make his own duck calls with his own unique sounds. Most important, Taylor would become Gaston’s dear friend, sharing the time-honored tradition of this art form.

"He was very old-fashioned," Gaston stated. "He grew up along the White River, and he was raised by his aunt and uncle. I had to win his trust and respect before he would reveal his techniques. It wasn’t easy but finally I won his trust. I had a lot of love for this man."

After Taylor’s death in early 2000, Gaston vowed to carry on the tradition of his mentor. He began to sell his calls at his business, Gaston’s Custom Calls. At the time, he also owned the Alabama Grill, a popular restaurant in Thomasville. Between running a restaurant and making duck calls in his spare time, Gaston stayed busy. His calls soon became very popular and established him as a gifted craftsman.

Gaston believes a duck call is really a musical instrument. That’s why he has always been so particular about the kind of wood he used. Gaston orders cocobolo and African black wood on the internet. He also uses hedge or bois d’ arc (commonly called mock orange), which is abundant in the Black Belt area. The hedge Gaston uses produces the pitch and tone he prefers. Gaston refuses to use any pieces with chips or cracks. He never fills any cracks, because he believes this diminishes the integrity of the wood. He also covers the wooden calls with a glossy sealant as a protection from the elements.

The kind of wood determines the quality of the sound in duck calls. David is very selective, choosing only the best quality wood with no chips or cracks.

Gaston’s acrylic calls are also very popular. These calls are nonporous and do not absorb moisture that can change the quality of the sound. His acrylic calls come in many vivid colors.

Waterfowlers seek Gaston’s calls for the realistic sounds they produce and their ease of blowing. Gaston believes the only way to get a true tone for a call is to "hear and feel" it. The only way to hear and feel the perfect tone is through experience as a hunter. He still returns to Arkansas every year to hunt with longtime friends and family.

Gaston has now retired, and he continues to make both wood and acrylic calls in his shop, located behind his home in Rural, a small community just south of Thomasville.

When asked how many duck calls he could make in a day, he laughed and explained, "It depends on how many friends drop by and how many phone calls I get."

From August to November each year, the pace of work changes in Gaston’s shop.

"During this time, my turning goes from pleasure to an all-out sprint to get the Christmas orders out!" he laughed.

Fortunately, two friends, Jay Gunn and Tyler Stephens, come by often to help him turn.

Duck hunters seek Gaston’s calls for their versatility and dependability. He has customers from all over the world. His prices range from $80 and up for hedge calls to $125 and up for acrylic calls.

David and his wife, Dottie, are both retired, but neither has stopped working. Together, they have four children and 10 grandchildren. Dottie often accompanies David on his duck hunts in Arkansas.

Gaston’s calls are 100-percent handmade.

"I cut and file every tone board that goes out of this shop!" he added proudly.

Gaston is very proud of his work and the products he makes.

"The quality of any call reflects directly on the call maker," he explained. "The tone, appearance, everything about it reflects on me. I always think that if I wouldn’t give it to one of my grandchildren then I wouldn’t give it to my customer!"

Gaston’s Custom Calls can still be found at Cohutta Fishing World and Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville, but now he sells on the internet and directly from his shop. He also makes custom goose calls such as the Canada speckle belly and snaps goose calls. His calls have won numerous state and regional competitions, finishing several times in the top 10 in world competitions. His handiwork can also be found at Black Belt Treasures in Camden, where they are recognized both for their quality craftsmanship and their artistic beauty.

Like most artists, Gaston says that working on his duck calls takes him to a timeless zone that is sheer pleasure.

"When I am working," he said, "I have no sense of time. It is one of the most relaxing, gratifying, satisfying times to be in my shop turning duck calls."

Gaston carries on the tradition he learned from an older artist who cared enough to share his wisdom. Gaston waits, hoping a youngster somewhere will hear the rush of wings and feel the urge to call. Then, he, too, will pass on the tradition to another generation.

You can contact David’s Custom Calls at 251-769-2744. His website is

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

A Fishing Tale to Go With a Few Easy Bass Recipes

by Christy Kirk

Cason Kirk with the 1-pound Redeye bass he caught.

My son Cason had come straight to the house from fishing at the creek with his dad, and he was pretty grimy from head to toe. Cason made fishing look like a full-contact sport. Because he was so wet and dirty, I thought they might have been putting out lines instead of using poles. Cason said they used poles and he had also been playing in the creek, but he also had a fishing tale to tell.

In his story, his line got caught on a log, so he swam out to unhook it. Instead of retrieving his line, he floated away into super deep water and "drownded." Cason said he was finally saved when his dad reached out to him with a fishing pole and pulled him back to safety on the creek bank.

Cason had shared this exciting story even before he had stripped off his wet clothes and was allowed to come inside.

Then he asked, "Hey, Mom! Do you want to see the alligator?"

His fishing story was adventurous enough without talk of alligators. Cason is only 7 years old and he still has a wildly creative imagination. I figured that maybe he had found a large lizard, an unusual insect or maybe an alligator gar.

However, once they both got inside the house, the sighting of a 3-foot alligator was confirmed by Jason. Luckily, they never saw the mom or dad. I was thankful Cason didn’t try to bring the baby alligator to our house to keep as a pet. Instead of a live gator, he brought home a 1-pound Redeye bass from the creek to cook on the grill.

He was hyped up to get his fish on the grill for dinner. He wanted to go straight to the table, but I made him take a bath first. I told him, by the time he got himself cleaned up, the Redeye would probably be off the grill and ready to eat.

It so happened, on the same day Cason brought home that bass, one of our freezers lost power and everything in it began to thaw. We had to start cooking the freezer’s contents or risk losing our reserves.

By the time Cason’s bass was wrapped in foil and covered with lemon butter and Creole seasoning, I had already placed a large wild turkey breast in a dish, drenched it with Italian salad dressing and added a layer of an entire pound of bacon strips. I baked the turkey breast until it was cooked through and the bacon was crisped.

It was a good thing I had started cooking our endless freezer buffet for our next meal because, when it was time to eat, Cason wanted the bass all to himself with ketchup. Cason had survived his creek adventure of high water and alligators, and that Redeye was hard-earned. The rest of us had the turkey.

Here are a few recipes for fresh-caught bass, including Cason’s quick and easy grilled version.


1 medium bass, filleted
Creole seasoning
Butter, melted
Lemon juice

In a small bowl, stir butter and lemon juice together. Add Creole seasoning. Adjust amounts as needed to taste. In the center of a piece of aluminum foil, place fish. Fold sides of foil up. Pour mixture over fish. Sprinkle more Creole seasoning to taste. Tent foil over fish and fold so steam isn’t lost. Place on a grill with high heat. Grill fish until it is opaque and cooked through.


4 bass fillets
1 (1-pound) bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, thawed and drained
1 teaspoon dried, chopped dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chicken broth

Heat oven to 450°. Tear of pieces of aluminum foil large enough to make a packet containing a fillet and vegetables. In center of each piece of foil, place a fillet. Put ¼ of vegetables on top of each piece of fish. Sprinkle dill, salt and pepper over vegetables. Drizzle about ¼ of the chicken broth over each packet. Fold sides of foil to make a tent and seal top and sides. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes. Vegetables should be crisp, but tender, and fish should be opaque and flake with a fork.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons water
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
4 Tablespoons cornmeal
1 pound bass fillets
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
Lemon wedges

In a gallon zip-closed bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. In a dredging-sized dish, mix together bread crumbs and cornmeal. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites and water together. Shake fillets one at a time in flour mixture. Then roll fish in bread crumbs. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place oil and butter. Cook fish until it is golden brown on both sides and flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges and/or ketchup.

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

Add Some Flavor

Prepare your own flavored vinegars to add excitement to a variety of dishes.

by Angela Treadaway

Flavored vinegars add excitement to salads, marinades and sauces. They also make special gifts. Flavored vinegars are easy and safe to make. Because vinegar is high in acid, it does not support the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. However, some vinegars may support the growth of E. coli bacteria that may cause great harm. By following these procedures, flavored vinegars can be safely prepared and used.


Containers. Select and prepare containers first. Use only glass jars or bottles that are free of cracks or nicks and can be sealed with a screw-band lid, cap or cork. Wash containers thoroughly, then sterilize by immersing the jars in a pan of hot water and simmering for 10 minutes, remove from the pan, drain extra water out and dry. Fill while the jars are still warm.

Herbs. Commercial companies that make herbal vinegars dip the herbs in antibacterial agents not readily available to consumers. As an alternative, briefly dip the fresh herbs in a sanitizing bleach solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach per 6 cups (1.5 quarts) of water, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry. For best results, use only the best leaves and flowers. Discard any brown, discolored, trampled or nibbled parts of the herbs. Fresh herbs are best picked just after the morning dew has dried.

Fruits, vegetables and spices. Fruits often used to flavor vinegars include strawberries, raspberries, pears, peaches and the peel of oranges or lemons. For variation, try fruits in combination with herbs or spices. Vegetables such as garlic, cloves and jalapeno peppers can also be used to add zest to vinegars. Thread these on thin bamboo skewers for easy insertion and removal. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water and peel, if necessary, before use. Small fruits and vegetables may be halved or left whole; large ones may need to be sliced or cubed.

Vinegar selection. Use only high quality vinegars. Even the strongest herbs cannot diminish the sharp flavors of some vinegars. The type of vinegar to use as the base depends on what is being added. Fruits blend well with apple cider vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is best with delicate herbs. Wine vinegar works well with garlic and tarragon. Do be aware, however, that wine and rice vinegars contain protein that provides an excellent medium for bacterial growth, if not stored properly.


Place the prepared herbs, fruits or spices in the sterilized jars, being careful to avoid overpacking the bottles. Use three to four sprigs of fresh herbs, 3 tablespoons of dried herbs, the peel of one orange or lemon, or 1-2 cups of fruit or vegetables per pint of vinegar. Heat vinegar to just below boiling (190 degrees), then pour into the containers and cap tightly. Allow to stand for three to four weeks for the flavor to develop fully.

The flavoring process can be shortened by a week or so by bruising or coarsely chopping the herbs and/or fruits before placing them in the containers and adding the hot vinegar. To test for flavor development, place a few drops of the flavored vinegar on some white bread and taste.

When the flavor is appropriate, strain the vinegar through damp cheesecloth or a coffee filter one or more times until the vinegar is no longer cloudy. Discard the fruit, vegetables or herbs. Pour the strained vinegar into a clean, sterilized jar. Add a sprig or two of fresh herbs or berries that have been sanitized as previously described. Seal tightly.

Storage and Use

For the best retention of flavors, store flavored vinegars in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place. If properly prepared, flavored vinegars should retain good quality for two to three months stored in cool room and six to eight months in the refrigerator. Leftovers should be frozen, refrigerated for use within 10 days or discarded.

Some people enjoy displaying pretty bottles of herb and fruit vinegars on a kitchen window sill. If left out for more than a few weeks, these bottles are best considered as decoration and not used in food preparation.

Flavored vinegars can be used in any recipe calling for plain vinegar. They add zest to marinades for meats and fish, and interesting flavors to dressings for salads, pastas and vegetables.

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.

AFC Division Awards

Division Awards were given at the annual Co-op Managers’ Meeting. Awards were in recognition of the overall performance of a Co-op based on information collected during AFC’s last three fiscal years.


Steve Moore, AFC Vice President of Animal Health, and Eric Sanders, Blount County Farmers Co-op


Austin Delano, BioLogic, and Tim Wood, Central Alabama Farmers Co-op


Bonnie Plants Good Friday Plant Sale award was presented by Stan Cope, left, Bonnie Plants President, to Andrea Crain, DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville, for the Co-op’s promotions for the Good Friday Plant Sale.


Johnny LeCroix, AFC Products Director of Crop Protection Products, and Keith Griffin, Madison County Co-op


Chris Carter, AFC’s Crop Nutrient Department; Chris Casey and Bae Lamastus, Jay Peanut Farmers Co-op


David Riggs, AFC Manager of Feed, and Brian Monk, Central Alabama Farmers Co-op in Faunsdale


David Riggs, AFC Manager of Feed, and John Holley, Lawrence County Exchange in Moulton


Eddie Roberts, AFC Vice President of FFH, and Todd Booker, Atmore Truckers Association


Russell Lassiter, Andalusia Farmers Co-op, and Jerry Ogg, AFC Director of Hardware and TBA


Joe Sumrow, John Deere Financial, and Andrew Dempsey, Cherokee Farmers Co-op


Liz Glaze, AFC Home, Lawn and Specialties Buyer; and Cole Gilliam, Tuscaloosa Farmers Co-op


Steve Sanderson, Agri-AFC Sales Manager of Professional Products, and Reggie Shook, Lauderdale County Co-op in Florence


Andrew Dempsey, Cherokee Farmers Co-op, and Justin Franklin, Agri-AFC Seed Manager


Christine Costley, Vice President of Marketing for SouthFresh, and Todd Booker, Atmore Truckers Association

Ag Insight

Salmonella Infections Emphasize Volume of Papaya Imports

News media accounts of people getting salmonella infections after eating papaya have served to highlight the growing volume of imports of the fruit.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined the likely source of contamination is a farm in Mexico.

U.S. papaya imports from Mexico more than doubled from 154 million pounds in 2000 to 452 million pounds in 2016. This dramatic rise is likely due to the diverse American diet driven by an increase in the immigrant population, especially from Latin America and Asia where papaya is more plentiful.

Mexican production accounted for 67 percent of total imports in 2007, but that volume rose to 82 percent in 2016.

Currently, imports account for about 97 percent of domestic availability of papaya in the United States, meaning Mexican production accounts for approximately 80 percent of all domestically available papaya.

The salmonella contaminations are not likely to have a significant impact on the supply of U.S. imports because the incident appears to be isolated to one farm, but consumer demand has been shown to respond to food safety outbreaks.

USDA Unveils Ethics App

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has unveiled a new mobile application for Apple and Android devices to provide executive branch employees answers to questions about government ethics issues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Ethics App is the first of its kind in the federal government.

"As public servants, our greater understanding of these important rules will help serve USDA’s mission and our new motto to ‘Do right and feed everyone’ so that we enhance the American public’s confidence in the integrity and important work of the Department of Agriculture," Perdue said.

The Ethics App brings to users’ fingertips short, easy-to-read summaries of federal ethics rules and Hatch Act limitations on political activity. It includes a comprehensive video library so officials can quickly become familiar with these important rules at any time, whether in the office, off-site or on official travel. It also contains a resources section so USDA employees can readily contact a USDA ethics adviser.

The groundbreaking application was designed to make compliance with the federal ethics rules a one-stop shop for USDA employees, but the app is available to anyone with Android or Apple devices.

Protein Consumption Lacking Among the World’s Poor

Despite improvements in average diets, lower income households around the world continue to fall short of nutritional targets.

A closer look at consumption of protein, fat, and fruits and vegetables for the three most food-insecure regions – Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia (minus the Commonwealth of Independent States countries) – reveals insufficient food access for the lowest income groups in all regions.

However, the disparity between low-income versus high-income intake levels within each region is particularly pronounced in the case of proteins. The average daily consumption in all three regions is close to the recommended level of 10 percent of total diets, with SSA’s consumption falling slightly below the threshold. While the highest income decile has a protein share 20 percent above the target, the lowest income consumers are 20-30 percent below, with the lowest level in LAC, followed by SSA.

The numbers illustrate that food security is not only linked to a country’s average income levels, but also to how this income is distributed within the country. While average incomes in LAC are higher than in SSA and Asia, income distribution is more unequal, leaving the lowest income households more vulnerable to food insecurity.

South Korea Lifts Ban on U.S. Poultry

The government of South Korea has lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including fresh eggs.

Korea had imposed the ban in response to a recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

In August, the United States notified the World Organization for Animal Health that it is now free of HPAI. This notification removed any justification for U.S. trading partners to restrict imports of U.S. poultry due to HPAI concerns.

Currently, Korea imposes a ban on all U.S. poultry in response to any HPAI detection, but USDA continues to work with Korean officials toward limiting any future import restrictions to the affected area, consistent with OIE guidelines.

"Korea’s lifting of its most recent ban is an important move for our poultry and egg industries, but it is still just the first step," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

In 2014, the last full year without any HPAI-related trade restrictions in place, South Korea purchased $122 million in U.S. poultry products, including eggs, making it the United States’ 10th-largest market.

Korea also has announced a temporary measure allowing U.S. eggs and egg products to enter the country duty free in the face of a shortage of domestic supplies. Earlier this year, USDA worked with Korea’s agriculture ministry to reopen the market for U.S. eggs and egg products, but imports were again restricted after the HPAI detection in Tennessee.

Restaurant Services Account for Nearly Three-fourths of Eating-out Dollar

Rising prices for farm commodities generally have a larger impact on grocery store price tags than on restaurant menus.

The reason? Different cost structures, as shown by data from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

ERS apportions total annual expenditures by U.S. consumers on domestically produced food and beverages to 12 industry groups based on the value added by each industry. In 2015, farm production and agribusiness industries accounted for 13.8 cents of the food-at-home dollar (foods and beverages purchased from grocery stores and other retailers) and 3.2 cents of the food-away-from-home dollar (foods and beverages from fine dining establishments, fast casual chains and coffee shops).

As a result, grocery store prices are more closely connected to farm prices than restaurant prices. The largest share of the away-from-home food dollar – 72.3 cents in 2015 – was spent on the services provided by restaurants, including costs for employee wages and benefits.

Upland-cotton Exports, Mill Use Expected to Rise

From 2006 to 2015, upland-cotton exports decreased by 34 percent, production by 42 percent and mill use by 31 percent. Key factors driving these shifts included increased competition from foreign suppliers, prolonged droughts that lowered production, lower import demand from China and competition from synthetic fibers (such as polyester).

While many factors limited cotton-market opportunities through 2015, USDA baseline projections through 2026 nonetheless indicate that exports of U.S. upland cotton and mill use are expected to increase relative to the 2006-15 time period.

Between 2016 and 2026, U.S. upland-cotton exports and mill use are projected to rise by 3 and 7 percent, respectively, while production is expected to drop by less than 1 percent. Stocks also are projected to decrease over this period.

The major factors expected to drive this change are increased global demand from rising incomes and populations, and the cotton crop’s reputation of superior quality relative to its competitors.

Berries Lead Growth in Frozen Fruit Consumption

Americans’ love affair with frozen smoothies continues to grow and along with it consumption of its quintessential ingredient, frozen fruit.

Between the early 1980s and 2015, the annual supply of frozen fruit available for consumption, led by a doubling in demand for frozen berries, grew by 61 percent to 4.8 pounds per person, or about 5 percent of 2015’s total U.S. fruit availability.

While strawberries remain consumers’ favorite frozen fruit, accounting for 40 percent of availability in 2015, blueberries and raspberries increased their share from 8 percent in 1980-85 to 20 percent in 2010-15.

Peaches led the growth in availability of nonberry frozen fruits, followed by cherries. Frozen apples, used mainly in commercial and foodservice baking, lost market share, dropping from 17 to 8 percent of frozen fruit availability from 1980 to 2015.

Consumer demand for healthy, convenient foods and manufacturers’ use of improved freezing technologies to improve product quality, along with colorful packaging and smoothie-ready fruit combinations and add-ins, underlie the growth in frozen-fruit consumption.

All Star Performance Award

Sharon Cunningham, right, AFC’s EHS Coordinator, received the All Star Performance Award from Rivers Myres, AFC CEO. In his presentation speech, he spoke of her interest and understanding of AFC’s business, and her going beyond the call of duty to just handle problems. He said she was a great buffer between AFC and the government for safety issues.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

We’ve all heard that adage and it holds true for CWD preventative measures as well.

by Chuck Sykes and Matt Weathers

In a time when fantastic opportunities to harvest white-tailed deer exist in every county in Alabama, it is hard to imagine a time without this abundance. For our grandfathers’ generation, however, deer hunting opportunities and success were very different. In the early part of the 20th century, Alabama’s whitetail population was at an all-time low. At one point, it is believed Alabama had fewer than 5,000 deer statewide. After two centuries of market hunting, our deer population had all but disappeared from most of the state. These animals had been eradicated by those solely motivated by profit for their prized hides and by those who hunted year-round for subsistence giving little or no thought to the management practices we modern-day hunters have come to live by.

A turning point would come in 1907 with the creation of the Department of Game and Fish. Alabama’s first state law enforcement agency would employ 67 "Game and Fish Wardens," as they were called at that point, to begin the process of moving conservation efforts from the local level to the state level.The waste and abuse of our state’s natural resources would no longer go unchecked. With common sense conservation laws and restocking efforts, Alabama’s deer population along with countless other species of game and fish would rebound to what we enjoy today. This work goes on to this day, the Department of Game and Fish is now known as the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. This division performs a vital role in the management, protection and conservation of Alabama’s wildlife and aquatic resources.

One hundred and 10 years later, we face another grave threat to our state’s deer population: chronic wasting disease. This threat presents us with the possibility of a return to the reduced deer population of a century ago, but in a far more insidious manner. CWD is caused by a prion, basically a piece of genetic information an animal ingests that turns into a disease. CWD is very closely related to what is called "mad cow disease." It is 100 percent fatal, cannot be treated or cured, and is easily transmitted from deer to deer through saliva, urine or by touch. The mechanism of death for a deer with CWD is to waste away, not being able to move or eat. CWD has spread quickly in Canada and North America, and is now confirmed in 24 states. Alabama has tested for CWD since 2002 with uniformly negative results. The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division is committed to the work of keeping our deer population CWD free through a three-pronged approach.

1) Early in the fight against CWD, it was decided that the first and most effective way to keep Alabama CWD free was to prohibit the importation of members of the family cervidae (deer, moose, elk, caribou) known t

o be susceptible to the disease. The importation of these animals was prohibited by regulation and is actively investigated. Often those who seek to import deer from areas outside the state go to great lengths to conceal their activities. Since the adoption of the regulation banning import of deer, numerous cases have been made and successfully prosecuted. This has no doubt been instrumental in protecting Alabama’s deer herd from CWD.

2) Recently, regulations prohibiting the importation of certain body parts of any member of the family cervidae from a state, territory or foreign country where CWD has been confirmed were enacted. The insidious nature of CWD makes even certain parts of the animal dangerous long after it is dead. The prion causing CWD is not a living organism; it is believed to remain in an infectious state in the soil for up to 50 years. This makes those areas contaminated by infected cervidae dangerous for generations to come. Hunters who take deer in CWD-positive states may bring back deboned meat, raw capes or hides, and skull caps with all the brain tissue removed. This new regulation seeks to further protect our deer by taking into consideration the less obvious ways this disease can be spread as we learn more.

3) Currently, the Alabama WFF Division is attempting to enact a new regulation that would require the deer breeder industry in our state to record the sale and transport of deer into and out of their facilities through an online electronic database. In June 2015 in Texas, a CWD-positive deer was detected in a game breeder facility. Texas requires game breeders operating in their state to report movement and sale of deer through an electronic database. In Alabama, this same information is submitted on paperwork by mail. Due in part to the real-time traceability of deer within this industry that the electronic system gives Texas, CWD was effectively mitigated and controlled in pockets before it had the ability to spread throughout their state. If CWD were to be detected in a deer breeder facility in Alabama, currently it would take weeks to come to the same point Texas did in just hours.

It was through conscientious stewardship of our natural resources and common-sense laws that the generations before us, aided by the help of a few game wardens, brought our state back from a bleak point. This journey gave the Alabama WFF Division a deep understanding of what was expected of us when it comes to the conservation of our resources. The division continues to champion those positive changes that conserve and protect our abundant resources in the exact same manner they have for over 110 years.

From Chuck Sykes:

The staff of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants to ensure the public knows that we are doing everything within our power to prevent CWD from entering our great state. But, we can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all hunters becoming educated on the devastating impacts of CWD and being vigilant in the protection of one of our most treasured natural resources: the white-tailed deer.

Chuck Sykes is director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Matt Weathers is the chief of Law Enforcement for Alabama’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.

Big Buck Blend Flavored Rice Bran

by John Sims

Looking for an economical deer attractant that also adds nutritional value to corn or pellets? Try Big Buck Blend Flavored Rice Bran.

BBB Rice Bran is naturally attractive to whitetail deer. It works great by itself or top dressed on corn or BBB deer pellets. BBB Rice Bran provides balanced nutrition, high fat for energy and is abundant in phosphorous.

Protein: 12%

Fat: 12%

We offer three flavors: natural, peanut butter and persimmon.

For best results, feed in a covered feeder.

Attract and pattern more deer in your territory this season with Big Buck Blend Flavored Rice Bran.

Available at your local Quality Co-op store.

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

Bonnie Plants Recognizes Colbert Farmers Co-op

Store in Tuscumbia sees over 200 percent increase in sales.

Bonnie Plants wants to congratulate Colbert Farmers Co-op in Tuscumbia for having an over 200 percent increase in their Bonnie Plants sales. Pictured, from left, are Coleman Hines, Bonnie Plants, and Tuscumbia staff Chuck Hellums, Bobbie Hamm and Heather Richardson.

Bringing Scotland to Alabama

An Unconventional Breed at Katie Farms

by Rebecca Oliver

Jon Fleenor checks in on one of his Scottish Highland cows.

When real estate developer Jon Fleenor was looking to purchase a 640-acre farm close enough to Bryant-Denny Stadium to hear the roar of the crowd, the seller had just one request – that he continue to farm the land.

Fleenor and his wife Dr. Margaret Purcell, a professor at the University of Alabama, kept their promise to the elderly woman they purchased the farm from, naming it in her honor as Katie Farms. Today, Katie Farms sells fruits and vegetables to five local restaurants in Tuscaloosa and is home to chickens, turkeys, honeybees and Scottish Highland cattle.

In the beginning, Fleenor and Purcell planned to grow only enough food on their farm to feed themselves, but the first year they ended up giving away excess produce to friends, neighbors and anyone in need.

"It got to the point that our neighbors were telling us not to bring them anymore because we’d already given them so much," Purcell said.

The couple started attending a few local farmers markets to sell their excess produce before demand from local restaurants rose. In addition to supplying restaurants with fresh produce, Katie Farms also sells jars of jams, jellies and pickled preserves.

Fleenor coined the phrase "from our field to your table" as the slogan for Katie Farms products.

"The chefs all tell us products from the other sources don’t beat the taste of our vegetables," he said. "I tell them it’s because we picked it that morning. Most people don’t realize how far their food travels before it reaches their plate."

Purcell agreed with him and said she requires her students at Alabama to track the shipping mileage on their food for a week as a class assignment.

Jon Fleenor and Dr. Margaret Purcell in their garden at Katie Farms.

"They’re always shocked to see how many total miles their food is shipped before it reaches them," Purcell said.

University of Alabama students come out to Katie Farms for educational tours.

"We show them how the farm is a system of all the animals and plants working together," she said. "For example, the growth of vegetable and fruit crops depends on the work of our honeybees."

The couple are also working with their local Tuscaloosa Farmers Co-op to host how-to sessions on growing vegetables such as tomatoes or okra for anyone interested.

Though Fleenor and Purcell stay relatively conventional with the varieties of vegetables they produce, they chose a very unconventional breed of cattle to raise when they decided to expand their farm beyond fruits and vegetables.

Katie Farms is currently one of six farms in Alabama producing Scottish Highland cattle and licensed with the American Highland Cattle Association.

"You don’t see too many Scottish Highlands around here," Fleenor said. "But they’re a docile, hardy breed."

According to Fleenor, Scottish Highlands are foragers that can survive on small shrubs and plants that most cattle would turn their noses up at.

The breed is known for their long hair and being native to Scotland; however, Fleenor said the breed adapts well to the hot and humid Alabama climate. Katie Farms has sold Scottish Highlands as far south as Miami.

Fleenor and Purcell purchased an irrigation system for their fields to ensure the cattle always have an abundance of grass and some sprinklers to help them stay cool on hot summer days.

Fleenor said Scottish Highlands produce extremely lean meat comparable to buffalo.

According to Fleenor, producers are beginning to favor Scottish Highlands over buffalo for their gentle nature. The Scottish Highlands at Katie Farms are all named and can all be petted in their pastures.

Katie Farms sells produce to five local restaurants in Tuscaloosa.

The breed’s meat is in high demand with restaurants for its lean quality and being low in cholesterol.

Katie Farms is looking to be a pioneer in the cattle business by crossing the Scottish Highland with Red Angus. Fleenor and Purcell have trademarked the new breed.

"The Red Angus will add some marbling to the Scottish Highland’s meat," Fleenor said. "We hope it will turn out to be an ideal cross."

If the Scottish Highland and Red Angus cross is a success, Katie Farms hopes to start a new breed association for other farmers wishing to produce the cross and be able to register it.

To learn more about Katie Farms, visit their website at

Rebecca Oliver is a freelance writer from Auburn.

Controlling Coccidiosis in Cattle

An explosion in cases of parasite infection means awareness is key to protecting your herd.

by Jackie Nix

Life cycle of coccidian in cattle

The drought last fall and winter combined with a hot, wet summer has recently resulted in an explosion of coccidiosis cases for cattlemen. To properly protect your investment against coccidiosis, it is necessary to understand what coccidia are and how to control them.

Coccidia are single-celled parasites that live in the intestines. All adult cattle harbor coccidia in their gut, even healthy ones. Coccidiosis is the disease resulting from uncontrolled, rapid multiplication of coccidia. Coccidiosis symptoms can be either subclinical or clinical. Subclinical cases result in decreased feed intake and reduced weight gain, and are difficult to detect due to an absence of diarrhea. Undiagnosed-subclinical cases of coccidiosis are quite common. Many subclinical cases self-limit, but under the right circumstances subclinical cases can develop into clinical disease. Clinical coccidiosis can vary in severity. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea with little or no blood. More severely affected calves may develop a fever, become dehydrated and lose weight. These calves are highly susceptible to secondary infections; that may be what kills them rather than the coccidiosis.

Coccidiosis is most common in young cattle 1-2 months and up to 1 year old. Coccidiosis typically doesn’t occur in the first three weeks of life so isn’t considered part of the neonatal diarrhea complex in calves. Disease usually occurs during wet seasons and is especially prevalent when cattle are in heavy stocking densities and on over-grazed pastures. Cattle in feedlots are susceptible to coccidiosis year-round.

There are 12 species of coccidia found in cattle, but only three species cause disease. Continuous exposure to a particular species of coccidia stimulates an immune response resulting in limited protection against that particular species of coccidia. Therefore, adults tend to be resistant to the development of coccidiosis. Also, calves raised in open pasture conditions will often develop immunity on their own. But calves taken from one environment to another (stocker calves, for instance), can develop outbreaks due to being exposed to a different species of cocci and/or high numbers of oocytes combined with the stress of moving. Cattle that survive are typically immune, but they are often permanently unthrifty due to extensive damage to their intestines.

To manage coccidia, it is necessary to understand their life cycle. The coccidian lifecycle begins when cattle consume infective oocysts (coccidia eggs). Once inside the cow, coccidia are released from the oocyst and invade intestinal cells. Rapid multiplication occurs resulting in the destruction of intestinal cells. In roughly a month, oocysts are formed and passed in the feces. Oocysts are not immediately infective once they are shed into the environment. Proper moisture, temperature and oxygen levels are required for oocysts to become infective. In general, the warmer the weather the faster the development into infective oocysts. When conditions are right, this process can occur in as little as 24-48 hours. Once oocysts become infective, they are very hardy and can remain viable in the environment for up to a year; however, two to three months is the norm. Infective oocysts survive best in moist, shaded areas and can even survive freezing temperatures. When a calf consumes an infective oocyst, the process starts again.

Coccidiostats are drugs that inhibit the development of coccidia. Remember, these drugs do not kill coccidia. Normally, use of coccidiostats before anticipated susceptible periods is an effective management tool in preventing and controlling coccidiosis. Some coccidiostats currently available for use in cattle include monensin (Rumensin) and lasalocid (Bovatec). Use of monensin or lasalocid for coccidiosis control also includes the added benefit of growth promotion in calves. However, remember that use of coccidiostats alone may not provide adequate control under some conditions. Management changes are often necessary as well. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations for strategic use of these and other drugs in the control of coccidiosis.

Also, remember that coccidiosis is not the only cause of diarrhea in calves. Other possibilities include other parasites and bacterial or viral infections. The only way to positively confirm coccidiosis is through a fecal exam. Contact your herd veterinarian for more information.

Calves fed a properly balanced diet are better able to mount an immune response and recover from parasitic challenge than animals deficient in one or more nutrients. Proper nutrition involves providing adequate amounts of protein, energy, water, minerals and vitamins. Antibodies that fight parasitic invaders are composed of protein. Energy is needed to drive the metabolic functions involved in mounting an immune response. Several minerals and vitamins are also directly involved in the immune response.

In summary, wet conditions are ideal for the development of coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is an economically significant disease caused by an intestinal protozoan. Calves from a month old to 1 year are most susceptible to coccidiosis. Control of coccidiosis involves a combination of drugs and management practices limiting exposure of calves to infective oocytes and minimizing stress. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations for strategic use of drugs in response to coccidiosis outbreaks and to help prevent future outbreaks.

Times of high parasitic challenge can increase calves’ nutritional requirements. SWEETLIX offers a wide variety of mineral supplements, including those medicated with Rumensin or Bovatec. All SWEETLIX minerals now contain Sel-Plex as the sole source of selenium. Sel-Plex presents selenium in the same natural form found in plants and is more digestible than inorganic forms of selenium. These organic minerals are easily absorbed and readily metabolized, thereby optimizing animal performance. Selenium plays an essential role in metabolism, neutralizing free radicals and supporting the body’s normal defense mechanism against infection. Visit your local Quality Co-op, go online at or call 1-87SWEETLIX for more information.

Rumensin is a registered trade mark of Elanco Animal Health.

Bovatec is a registered trademark of Zoetis.

Sel-Plex is a registered trademark of Alltech.

SWEETLIX is a registered trade mark of Ridley USA Inc.

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.

Corn Time



Evolving to Meet the Needs of the Cattle Industry

Valley Stockyard moves to Moulton.

by Susie Sims

Billy Wallace holds a picture of his father, Johnny. Billy was a second-generation lead auctioneer at Valley Stockyard.

Without much fanfare, Valley Stockyard in Decatur closed its doors on Wednesday, Aug. 9, after 63 years of selling cattle. The next week, Valley Stockyard opened its doors at Highway 157 in Moulton and went back to the business of selling cattle.

In 1954, Ewell Russell and Johnny Wallace established Valley Stockyard at its Decatur location. In 2017, Johnny’s son, Billy, and his partner Dr. Steve Osborne moved the operation to neighboring Moulton in Lawrence County.

Billy, age 61, grew up at the barn and had various responsibilities there over the years. The most noticeable job was of lead auctioneer. Billy, like his father before him, served as lead auctioneer for 21 years. Mark Lane has filled the role since 2005.

Johnny learned his auctioning skills from his father at the age of 16. He passed on the trade to Billy, who took the gavel at Valley Stockyard in 1984. In addition to learning from his father, Billy also attended an auctioneering clinic in Oklahoma to perfect his skill.

"A livestock auctioneer needs to have a little chip on his shoulder, be a little arrogant – but not cocky," Billy said. "He has to let everyone know he’s in control. They don’t call an auctioneer a colonel for no reason at all."

Billy said, above all an auctioneer must know his audience. Sales to farmers are typically slower than the ones for professional buyers. Those can get in a rhythm and move at a pretty fast clip.

Besides having only three lead auctioneers in 63 years, Valley Stockyard has been blessed to employ only three bookkeepers in its history. Leemon Hogan served 1933-1967 and Geraldine Wiley 1967-1998. Currently, Judy Keenum fills this role she started in 1999.

Judy Keenum is Valley Stockyard’s bookkeeper.

"We’re like a family," said Billy, noting the longevity of employees reflects the stability of the stockyard. "It gets into your blood pretty bad."

While he does appreciate and prefer the permanence that comes with long-term employees, Billy and his staff have taken to the modern way of the industry. They have changed with the times.

The family feeling extends to his producers. Over the years, Billy said he has come to know most of his regular producers on a personal level. Many are not commercial cattle farmers; they have day jobs, so to speak, and have cattle as well.

"That’s just what people do," Billy said. "Folks work at a regular job and then they have cattle. They need a place to market their cattle because they can’t fill a truckload by themselves."

Billy recalled, during his father’s tenure, most of the producers were farmers by trade. He noted that many people of his generation had to go get a job in town. Those people can’t quite leave the farming life behind completely.

"It’s a passion-driven life," Billy said. "I hate to see when we get bad press in the cattle industry. Nearly everybody I know in the cattle business just loves cattle. That’s why they do it. They’re certainly not in it for the money."

To better serve their cattle producers, Valley Stockyard moved its sale from Thursday to Wednesday a few years ago. Billy explained that the buyers are looking to fill their orders each week and once those orders are filled, they quit buying for the week. This results in auctions held later in the week often not faring as well.

He noted, to his knowledge, there are no Friday sales in the state of Alabama. This is a shift in style for the cattle-buying market. Previously, cattle purchased at the end of the week were held over to begin filling the next order. Billy said that’s not the case now. Once a buyer has his orders filled, he quits buying for the week.

"We have to evolve with the industry to survive," Billy said.

In addition to the way buyers purchase their loads, he’s seen other changes in the business necessitating changes on his part. For instance, buyers aren’t always present for sales. Many sales are handled over the internet or telephone.

As open as he is to embracing technology and what it can do for the marketing of cattle, some old habits die hard.

"We are just an old auctioneering family," he said. "We are heavily involved with the marketing end of it. At most stockyards, the owners are not involved in the auctioneering. We believe in market support. We believe that’s the best way to help our customers."

"We look forward to being in Moulton," Billy stated. "It will give a better opportunity to serve more people."

Contact Information

Persons interested in more information may contact Valley Stockyard by emailing them at You may call them at 256-353-7664 or 256-974-5900, or visit their website at

Susie Sims is a freelance writer from Haleyville.

FFA Sentinel: Back to Our Roots

FFA Leadership Training

by Gracen Sims

Gracen Sims of the Marbury FFA Chapter is currently serving as the State FFA Secretary.

Alabama FFA is still a career and technical student organization offering premier leadership training and opportunities at a grassroots level. As part of the FFA’s mission, it is important to understand that FFA is not just a vocational education course but a leadership training ground as well as an avenue for student achievement beyond the classroom. Our officer teams, both at the state and district levels, experience a multitude of training in regards to how they go out and share the FFA and agriculture story.

The state officers participate in many training sessions prior to the Chapter Officer Leadership Workshop. We first attended the Alabama Career & Technical Student Organizations Leadership Summit, where we met with the state officers from other CTSOs. We learned about leadership and really began to bond as a team.

The following week, we were so excited to attend the National Leadership Conference for State Officers in Raymond, Mississippi, at the Mississippi FFA Association Camp. The Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi FFA Associations learned from awesome facilitators about building up our state officer teams, how to develop workshops and facilitation techniques. We had a great time building lasting friendships with the other state associations!

Soon after NLCSO, the team traveled to Auburn for our Blast Off conference, facilitated by former National Officer Joenelle Futrell (2012-2013 Eastern Region Vice President). We learned about our personal strengths and weaknesses, leadership levels, influences and accountability. One of the highlights from this conference was being able to go back to our roots and really reflect on our personal strengths and weaknesses. We learned how we would use them to our advantage.

Alabama FFA State Officers attend Blast Off Leadership training and visit Paramore Angus farm.

One of my favorite activities from Blast Off was the Joy Jars we made. Throughout the week we wrote encouraging notes to each other and at the end of the week we opened our jars and read all the encouraging and positive letters from our teammates to keep with us throughout our year of service.

Next, we got to try out all our newly developed skills at the District Officer Leadership Conference in Columbiana at the 4-H Center. We could not wait to meet all the 2017-2018 District Officer teams. Here we each led workshops, group activities, made new friendships with these awesome officers and prepared for the 2017 COLW!

COLW was held on July 17-18 at six locations across Alabama. Here, the district officers conducted workshops for chapter officers so they could learn how to run efficient and effective meetings. We helped create Programs of Activities and Chapter Constitutions; and demonstrated parliamentary procedure, facilitation techniques, leadership, teamwork and numerous other beneficial skills for chapter officers to possess. The state officers were very excited to play a role at COLW. We led and facilitated workshops, met amazing FFA chapters and officers, and set up many chapter visit dates!

Alabama FFA State Officers at National Leadership Conference for state offices in Raymond, Mississippi, with the Louisiana and Mississippi FFA State Officer teams.

The chapter officers were given the opportunity to break into workshop groups with members from other chapters and counties. They shared ideas for the upcoming year for their chapters and built lasting friendships. The state officers learned so many valuable tools and ideas from the prior trainings, workshops, conferences and summits we attended this summer. Through these conferences, we learned how to go back to our roots to grow and build upon our chapters! FFA membership on a national level is made up of 649,355 students in seventh grade to 12th grade. These student members all belong to one of the 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Local FFA chapters are the roots in our organization.

The state officers are so excited to be able to get back to our roots and meet each chapter this year to grow the Alabama FFA Association!

Gracen Sims is the 2017-2018 Alabama FFA State Secretary.

Fruitful Fall

by John Howle

"Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it.
When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit." ~ Bear Bryant

A mission trip to Honduras fulfilled one of Jake Howle’s lifelong dreams.

October is my favorite month. The fruits of all the summer work have been harvested and stored, the leaves are about to change colors, temperatures are beginning to cool, deer season is at hand and football season is in full swing. October is a season of change.

This October in particular is a month of major change in my household. My son has left the farm and started attending the University of Alabama, and I am trying to get used to not having my main photographer with me on the farm. For years now, while doing articles for AFC Cooperative Farming News, my son would always be available for a photo shoot and many of our outings turned into tips or features for the magazine.

Jake has been my photographer, my drummer while doing gigs and my camping partner on Boy Scout trips while he achieved his Eagle Scout. He was the kicker for his high school football team and class president. This past summer, after his high school graduation, he was able to go on a mission trip to Honduras that fulfilled a lifelong dream. My wife and I told him we would pay for the mission trip, but, if he wanted to go to Panama City Beach, he could pay for that himself. He chose the mission trip.

Jake’s changes will involve getting used to life in a bigger city where balancing studies and campus life will be the challenge. My biggest changes will be learning how to set the timer on my camera and taking more of the shots myself.

As we look at changes coming into our lives, remember, the one thing that doesn’t change is the God we serve. Regardless of the changes you face, never quit growing your faith. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

Jake gets his Eagle Scout award with Scout Representative David W. Wood II and scouting district board member Phil Webb.

Farming in general requires changing with the times to stay profitable. We are always looking for new ways to save time and money while delivering a good product. This past summer, I decided not to plow between the rows of my garden or hoe among the plants. For one thing, it was an incredible rainy summer and I knew I wouldn’t be able to plow or hoe in my low-lying garden plot. Instead, as soon as the plants germinated and emerged 2-3 inches above the soil, I put heavy mulch from the adjoining woods between the plants and between the rows. I laid down leaves and pine straw thick enough so weeds wouldn’t emerge among the growing produce. This method worked well, and I noticed later in the season there were earthworms beginning to work the soil and the plants grew much heartier. Finally, with the heavy rains of summer, I didn’t lose garden soil due to run-off during the many summer downpours.

Easy Mineral Transport

A discarded syrup tub mounted in a car tire makes an ideal mineral feeder that can be easily transported.

There are many wonderful things about the Co-op stores scattered around the state. In addition to top-quality products for the farm and the best feed supplements around, you can end up with extra bonuses such as syrup tubs when they have been licked clean by the cattle. These discarded tubs make ideal storage containers for things ranging from toys to bushels of corn.

I like to use the discarded tubs for keeping minerals available to the cattle. There is one small problem, however. If the tub is full of minerals and you have to move it long distances, it can be a hassle. I measured the diameter of the tub and realized it would fit into a discarded car tire if I cut out part of the tire.

I used a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade to remove some of one side of the tire so the tub would squeeze tightly down into it. Next, I used a large drill bit to create a hole in the middle of the tire tread to run a ring-bolt through. Once I tightened the ring-bolt through the tire with a washer and nut, I attached a short length of rope to the ring-bolt. The rope allows me to pull the mineral tub anywhere I want in the pasture with an ATV.

Bass Bonanza

For me, October means the end of bass fishing for the year. There are plenty of hardcore anglers who fish all year long, but, for me, this season closes in October. One of the easiest ways to catch bass this time of year is with plastics. I will use a rubber worm, lizard or crawfish tied on with either a Texas-rig or Carolina-rig. Texas-rigged is the easiest. You simply have a bullet weight resting on the hook running through the plastic bait. Once you have the hook through the bait so it travels weedlessly through the water, retrieve it slowly and allow it to bounce and dance across the lake floor.

Take some time this October to do some farm pond fishing because it’s a great way to close the summer with a good catch.

Finally, you don’t have to be afraid of change as long as you know God is the one unchanging constant in your life.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Herbs for Winter

Hardy perennial herbs you can plant now include rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano and sage. These will overwinter in the ground or in containers in a bright, sunny spot. They are handy to have for Thanksgiving dishes. These core herbs will form the backbone of a nice kitchen herb garden. Parsley is also winter-hardy, but will need to be pulled next spring after it blooms.

Replacement Trees

The effects of last year’s drought became fully apparent this spring and summer when big trees did not leaf out or died back gradually, and evergreens just turned more and more brown. Hard hit were pines, magnolia, Leyland cypress, cryptomeria and many deciduous trees whose roots were already compromised. Sometimes trees did not die directly from the lack of rain but by disease or insect infestation brought on through weakness caused by the drought. Fall is a good time to replace dead plants because their roots will grow, but the tops will be dormant through the cooler months. When considering replacement ideas, look around your yard and neighborhoods to see what plants fared best during the drought. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System bulletin ANR-1336, "Drought Tolerant Landscapes," for Alabama offers suggestions for all parts of the state.

Fall Flowers Play Important Role

Late-summer- and fall-flowering perennials provide food for migrating birds and butterflies.

Unless it’s brought to our attention, we may not realize how critical flowers for pollen and nectar are this time of year as birds, butterflies and other insects prepare for winter. While hummingbirds, and monarchs and sulphur butterflies all migrate south, they depend on nectar to help provide fuel for their long flights. By planting long-living, fall-blooming perennial flowers, you will provide repeated food sources for winged visitors year after year with little trouble. Now is a good time to look for plants, either at your favorite garden center or via mail order. There are several species of fall-blooming asters, sunflowers and goldenrods native or well-adapted to our area. The salvias are a big group that includes species that bloom in the fall or start earlier, but continue through fall. Other good choices include hardy ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum), helenium (Helenium autumnale) and showy sedum (Sedum spectabile). Find a permanent location for these as they will return each year. Beware that swamp sunflower (Helianthus simulans) spreads vigorously via underground stems, so sprouts need to be pulled up in the spring to contain it.

Little Pansy, Big Results

The smallest member of the pansy group, Johnny Jump Ups, might be the toughest of the group and also the easiest to grow. The small plants become loaded with blooms and continue longer in to summer than larger flowered pansies. They are also quite cold-hardy, usually surviving our winters if planted now. If using a chemical fertilizer on any pansy, read the fine print and look for ammonium nitrate as the source of nitrogen. Johnny Jump Ups and all pansies respond best to fertilizer that is at least three-fourths nitrate-based (look for "ammonium nitrate" or "nitrate nitrogen" in the fine print of the ingredients).

Garden Trophies

I don’t hunt but every fall I have trophies. At the end of each season, I gently dig some of our pepper, eggplant, tomatoes and other plants to inspect the roots looking for signs of root knot nematodes or other problems, and otherwise evaluating their size and health. Then I hang selected masses of roots on a fence to enjoy for a while. These are my garden trophies, reminding me of how important it is to continually encourage healthy soil for healthy roots and a top-notch harvest.

Get Rid of Squash Bugs

Squash bugs will seek winter shelter in plant debris. (Credit: JuliScalzi istock)

Squash bugs are quick to ruin a crop of squash or pumpkins. To help delay or prevent their appearance next spring, it is important to clean up the squash and pumpkin patches this fall. Remove all vines and rake away mulches and debris under the plants. If you can burn the debris safely and legally, do so, or gather it in plastic bags for the trash. This will help remove their overwintering sites. Squash bugs are severely damaging to squash, cucumbers and pumpkins because they inject a toxic saliva that kills the leaves where they feed. Next spring, you can delay them by covering plants with a fine insect cover until flowering begins. Take advantage of the insect’s habit of seeking shelter under cover by laying down some boards, or big cabbage or palmetto leaves, or other such cover to attract large numbers where you can easily crush them later.

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

Hurricane Relief

AFC lends a helping hand to Harvey victims.

With the desire to make a difference, Alabama Farmers Cooperative teamed up with Coca-Cola, the North Alabama cattle farmers and Colbert Farmers Cooperative in Leighton to help those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. On September 5, an 18-wheeler loaded with water (38,000 bottles) left Coca-Cola bottling in Decatur headed to Dayton, Texas. We want to specially thank Coca-Cola, Frank Troup; Alabama Farmers Cooperative CEO, Rivers Myers; Vernon Lane of City View Farms, Decatur; Delmo Payne of Grandview Farms, Hamilton; and Wayne Jacks of Diamond J Farms, Arab. All three of these cattle producers are loyal customers of the Quality Co-op store in their area. We would also like to thank Dale Spain of Colbert Farmers Cooperative for providing transportation for the water. Pictured from left are Frank Troup, Coca-Cola; Steve Amos, AFC; and Vernon Lane, City View Farms.

In Anticipation of First Frost

What You Need to Know to Protect Livestock

by Robert Spencer

A cluster of Johnson grass amid fescue and other grasses.

It is common for many farms in the northern half of Alabama to experience a first frost from the latter part of October to early November. The incidence of frost in the southern half of the state is more likely to occur mid- to late-November. That first frost can affect specific species of vegetation and result in toxicity concerns with livestock. As first frost occurs, the freezing action ruptures the plant cells of specific plants containing cyanogenic glycosides and cyanide is released. The issue is commonly known as prussic acid poisoning or cyanide poisoning, occurring immediately after a first frost and livestock consuming leaves and other vegetation with cyanogenic glycosides. This poisoning reaction is quick and, in situations with high intake, an animal can die within an hour of initial symptoms.

Freezing temperatures, mechanical chopping and storm-damaged vegetation can result in the situation known as an enzymatic reaction. Removal of the sugar component will result in the release of free hydrogen cyanide, also known as prussic acid or hydrocyanic acid, and is very toxic to livestock. Ruminants (cows, goats and sheep) are at a high risk, while horses and hogs are not likely to be affected. This process begins as the vegetation is digested and hydrocyanic acid is absorbed into the bloodstream. What happens is the prussic acid causes asphyxiation by inhibiting the absorption of oxygen into red blood cells; the animals are basically suffocating. Symptoms can become evident within minutes to less than an hour of ingesting toxic vegetation. They include panic, accelerated or deep respiration, nose and mouth filling with foam, eyes and tongue turning blue, salivating, staggering and collapse of the animal. While there are treatment options, they require a veterinarian to administer medicines intravenously; too often this occurs too late.

Forages, browse and small grains containing cyanogenic glycosides include:

  • Sudan, Johnson and Indian grasses, and birdsfoot trefoil
  • Apricot, peach, cherry, elderberry, apple, chokecherry and wild black cherry trees
  • Corn, flax and grain sorghum

Normally, these same plants are high in nutritional value and not a threat to livestock, except during drought or possibly storms resulting in downed trees or broken branches.

Some ways to prevent or minimize these situations include:

  • Do not allow animals to graze or browse specified vegetation after they have been sprayed with herbicides.
  • Allow at least four days after first frost before allowing animals to graze or browse these plants.
  • Keep animals away for any of these trees after a storm where downed trees or broken branches are present.
  • Make sure livestock has access to a variety of other vegetation or browse to maintain variety in their diet and minimize sole consumption of toxic plants.
  • If specific fields or pastures contain only these types of vegetation, consider moving animals to another area with alternative grazing or browse.
  • When in doubt, provide livestock with hay and/or grain before turning them out to graze or browse areas with toxic vegetation.

Again, all aforementioned forages and vegetation are normally preferred and safe to consume by ruminants, especially Johnson and Sudan grasses that have good protein qualities. I have seen my goats consume wild black cherry leaves from healthy trees and experience no adverse consequences. While prussic acid poisoning is generally a seasonal issue during the first fall frost, it is something to be aware of on a year-round basis. While there are recognizable symptoms, all too often it is too late by the time the symptoms are noticed. There are certain management practices that can be initiated to circumvent tragic occurrences.


Allison, C.D., Baker, R.D. November 2002. "Prussic Acid Poisoning in Livestock." Guide B-808. College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. New Mexico State University. http://aces.nmsu. edu/pubs/_b/B808/. Last retrieved 8/8/17.

Forage Facts: Publication Series –"Prussic Acid Poi - soning." Kansas Forage Task Force. Kansas State Uni- versity Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. https://www.asi.k-state. edu/doc/forage/fora14.pdf. Last retrieved 8/8/17.

Llewellyn, Don. 2014. "Prussic Acid Poisoning in Live stock." Fact Sheet. FS129E. Washington State Univer- sity Extension. sites/27/2014/01/Prussic-Acid-Poisoning-in-Livestock.pdf. Last retrieved 8/8/17.

Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. You can contact him at

Is my soil toxic?

by Tony Glover

The cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) is one of the plants being tested to determine if it has phytoremediation potential.

We occasionally get questions such as this one from someone starting a new garden.

"I have removed an old deck that was in contact with the ground in an area where I want to plant a vegetable garden. I have been told there are unsafe materials such as arsenic that could have leached into the soil from the treated wood. What suggestions do you have to remedy this situation?"

It depends on how old the deck wood is because Feb. 12, 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a voluntary decision by the wood preserving industry to phase out the use of wood preservatives containing arsenic for any wood products destined for consumer use. This affects virtually all residential uses of wood treated with chromated copper arsenate, also known as CCA, including wood used in play structures, decks, picnic tables, landscaping timbers, residential fencing, patios, and walkways. The EPA has not concluded if there is an unreasonable risk to the public from CCA lumber but believes any reduction in exposure to arsenic is desirable.

Despite this assurance, there are still some concerns among vegetable gardeners and those who have small children who might play in (or eat) the contaminated soil. It can be very expensive to have soil tested by a private lab, but Auburn University offers this service for a modest fee of $15 per sample. They can test for chromium, copper and arsenic if you request it on the soil test form. You can find the form online at The normal soil test for plant nutrients cost only $7, so make certain you request this special test and list these three items. Incidentally, October is a great time to add lime because it is generally a fairly dry month and the lime has all winter to move into and react in the soil.

In a gardening situation, exposure to these elements can only occur if they move from the treated wood into soil or compost in contact with the wood, taken up by plants and then ingested by humans. This is known as an "exposure pathway." Low concentrations of arsenic, chromium and copper occur naturally in water, soil, plants and the human body. Copper and possibly chromium are essential for plant nutrition, and all three of these metals may be essential for human and animal nutrition. Although there are rare instances of dietary deficiencies of these elements, most normal diets supply adequate levels of each. Intake of excessive amounts, however, can have adverse effects on some plants and humans.

Also, on the positive side, both copper and chromium are held very tightly to soil particles of clay and organic matter when the soil pH is maintained around 6.5. This is also the best pH for vegetable growth. Unfortunately, arsenic is much more mobile within the soil and can be taken up into the plant roots and leaves. In general, most metals remain in the roots, with limited movement to edible portions above the ground. Of course, there are exceptions: leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and mustard greens tend to move arsenic from roots to leaves. In general, however, the greatest human consumption of metals results from eating root crops such as beets, turnips, carrots and potatoes. In these crops, most of the metals remain in the surface skin and can be removed by peeling.

The ability of some plants to help take bad things out of the soil is called phytoremediation and a sun-tolerant fern called Chinese brake fern has been found to have a remarkable ability to remove arsenic. The arsenic accumulates in the foliage and would require the gardener to remove the foliage and dispose of it off-site or they are just recycling the arsenic. Also, a company has patented some phytoremediating ferns called "Edenfern" you can purchase and find online with a simple web search.

You can learn more about gardening in arsenic-contaminated soil at this web site:

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

It Always Happens on a Friday

Alabama has second BSE-positive cow in 11 years.

by Dr. Tony Frazier

In case anybody wants to know, my birthday is July 14. This year it fell on a Friday. So right in the middle of cake, ice cream and having "Happy Birthday" sung to me, I got a phone call from my federal counterpart in Tennessee. He said one of our samples from Alabama was suspect and the lab would work over the weekend to confirm if it was positive. The cow was tested as part of routine surveillance of testing adult cows that die of an unknown origin.

Immediately, I had flashbacks to the Friday when I was trying to take a vacation and Dr. Hatcher from Tennessee called to give me a heads up about the highly pathogenic avian influenza in his state. It was late on a Friday when I got a call telling me we were probably going to have some avian influenza tests on a farm in North Alabama.

But, in all fairness, it was a Saturday when I got the call March 11, 2006, when I heard about our first BSE-positive cow. And, oddly enough, it was the Tennessee State Veterinarian at the time, Dr. Ron Wilson, who called to give me the news that day.

I am beginning to see some kind of pattern that I don’t like involving me, animal health officials in Tennessee and the end of the week.

Sure enough, I got the call Sunday that confirmed the cow had indeed tested positive for atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy. That is probably better than not being atypical. Atypical is generally considered to be a spontaneous mutation by a protein becoming the agent affecting the brain in such a way that, when you look at it under a microscope, it looks like a sponge.

So, as usual, it was all hands on deck. We had to trace the cow back to the farm of origin. That is a requirement our trade partners expect from us when we have a positive cow. Within two weeks, we had the case wrapped up because of the excellent records the farm of origin kept on their animals. With a lot of diligent work by our state animal health employees and our federal colleagues, we were able to finish fairly quickly.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping good records and following the animal disease traceability regulations. By the way, we were never able to trace the 2006 cow to a farm of origin because of no identification. That cow had never even had a fly tag in her ear.

BSE is caused by a prion – not a virus, bacteria or toxin but an abnormal protein known as a prion. It is part of a group of prion diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Prion diseases are bad diseases and generally cause the demise of their victims. Fortunately, they are not too common and are usually very species specific.

There are a few prion diseases that affect humans. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the most common prion disease that affects humans. It generally occurs at a rate of two to three cases per 1 million people in most of the civilized world. Once neurological symptoms begin, death occurs within a year. That is the case with most TSEs.

Kuru is a TSE affecting certain people in New Guinea. The specific tribe suffering from Kuru believes that by eating the brains of their ancestors they could absorb some of the wisdom from their elders. Kuru peaked in the 1950s and ’60s, and only a rare case surfaces now and then due to the long incubation period.

Familial fatal insomnia is another prion disease affecting humans. In 1998, there were 25 families worldwide who were known to carry the gene causing this inherited disease. Apparently, when people get this disease, they eventually die from lack of sleep.

TSEs affecting animals are scrapie in sheep and goats, transmissible mink encephalopathy in mink, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, feline spongiform encephalopathy in cats and, of course, BSE in cattle. There are speculation and evidence of certain mutations of some of the prions in one species causing another prion disease in another species. It is possible, but not proven, that CWD in deer and elk originated from scrapie. The same is possible for BSE being linked to scrapie. However, these diseases do not usually jump from one species to another.

BSE was first recognized in the United Kingdom in 1986. It is thought that offal from sheep containing the scrapie prion was used to make meat and bone meal, and put into cattle feed. The U.K. had over 180,000 cases of the disease, peaking in 1993 when they were reporting about 100 new cases per week. BSE was found on over 35,000 farms in the U.K. Depending on the source, over 4 million animals were destroyed in the eradication program. The nonagricultural community became interested in BSE when, in 1996, the British Minister of Health suggested there was a likely link between BSE and a new variant of CJD (remember the human prion disease). The most significant difference between the original CJD and its variant was the variant affected mostly people under 40 years old. The original CJD usually affects people over 65.

At that point in 1996, the United States Department of Agriculture and state veterinarians across the United States located and quarantined all cattle in the country imported from the U.K. These animals were either purchased and destroyed or they remained under quarantine until they died naturally and were tested for BSE. Additionally, as of 1997 ruminant by-products were no longer allowed to be put into cattle feed. Then very rapidly, other practices were put into effect to make sure no bovine tissue likely to contain prions were allowed into the food chain … period. That meant that no brain, spinal cord tissue or other tissues that might contain prions from cattle over 30 months of age could even be used in pet food. And nonambulatory cattle cannot go into the food chain.

There has also been a BSE surveillance program conducted for a long time. If you look at the USDA Veterinary Services information, the surveillance has been in place since 2007. And, in its current form, that would be correct. However, there has been a BSE surveillance program of some type since at least the early 2000s. That is how the first cow with BSE in the United States was found back in December 2003, the Texas cow in 2005 and the first Alabama BSE cow in 2006. Since the program evolved in 2007 to what it is today, there has been a positive cow in California in 2012 and the cow that put Alabama back in national news in July of this year.

Finally, I do want to thank all of those who helped work on tracing the positive cow. That includes our federal partners, the folks here at the Department of Agriculture and Industries and especially Commissioner McMillan, who is always very supportive and shows great leadership when we have critical events pop up. I also want to thank Nate Yeager from the Farmers’ Federation and our friends at the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association for helping educate both producers and consumers. I truly believe that education made the difference between the cattle market dropping like a lead balloon in 2003 when the United States had its first BSE-positive cow and the results from the event in July. Because of the intense education efforts over the last few years, the market just yawned.

So we will continue to take samples from target animals to show that we earn our status as minimal risk for BSE. But I am thinking I may quit answering my phone on Fridays and Saturdays.

And I am not telling you how old I turned July 14!

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

Marshmallow for kidney stones?

by Nadine Johnson

I treasure my one and only opportunity to meet and hear the legendary Tommie Bass speak. I tried to absorb every word this renowned herbalist uttered. As he held plant specimens, he told of their benefits.

When he held up a sprig of hydrangea, he said, "Now if a person will take hydrangea daily, he/she will not be bothered with kidney stones."

Recently, I have heard of seven or eight people who are presently suffering with this very painful health problem. Naturally, I thought of Bass’s remark.

"Hydrangea (Hydrangea aborescens) is a diuretic that has the reputation for dissolving kidney stones and relieving kidney related backache."

These words were written by someone who is much smarter than I am. Many people are benefiting by taking this herb. I was a grown woman before I ever saw this beautiful flowering shrub. It simply did not grow in the woods I roamed.

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) is a healing, soothing, soft-tissue-repair herb. It is in the same family as okra. It is my opinion that it provides a mucilage that can ease the passing of stones. I must tell you that the marshmallows we purchase today are simply puffed-up sugar. Once upon a time, they were made from the root of this plant. I once grew the plant in my large and treasured herb garden.

Around 20 years ago, I spent a day in agony that I firmly believe was caused by a kidney stone. I hurt and I made frequent trips to the bathroom. About every hour, I took marshmallow in capsule form. The pain continued. My husband, Richard, was ill and could not drive me to the emergency room. I hurt too badly to try to drive myself.

About mid-afternoon, a couple of cousins took me.

I wondered, "How under the sun am I going to travel 40 miles without finding a restroom?"

Shockingly, as we started down the road, I realized I was no longer hurting. It was also surprising that I traveled the 40 miles without a need to find a restroom.

Since I was now pain free, I actually felt foolish seeing the doctor, but I did so. I told her what my symptoms had been and how my symptoms had suddenly subsided.

She said, "Well, you have not passed a stone. If you had, there would have been blood in your urine."

(This old nurse knew about that.) I also told her about taking the marshmallow. She disregarded its possible benefit. However, I believe this herb eased the passing of a stone and prevented the usual irritation to the urethra – therefore, no bleeding occurred.

I have had no more symptoms of kidney stones.

When my mother-in-law developed kidney stones (before my interest in herbs), her doctor took her off all foods containing calcium. Due to her lack of calcium, her bones became weak and brittle. I now know that by taking horsetail (Equisetum arvense) along with calcium there is no danger of stones forming. Horsetail has a very high content of silica. In Europe, it has been determined we need this in order to gain the proper benefit from our calcium.

For those who would like more information about Tommie Bass, I suggest you Google "Tommie Bass" and/or "Darryl Patton."

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

October Lawn and Garden Checklist


  • Plant a cover crop in the vegetable garden. Ask the folks at your local Co-op for suggested varieties.
  • Plant trees and shrubs this month. Planting in the fall is the best time of year because it allows the trees and shrubs to grow deep roots before spring.
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends planting cool-season vegetables this month. Hopefully, your vegetable garden soil has been prepared to plant or transplant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale, peas, lettuce, mustard and spinach.
  • Fall is the time to plant garlic. It overwinters in the ground and, come springtime, is one of the early signs of life in the garden. It continues to grow into the summer and is harvested when the leaves begin to yellow. Plant garlic cloves in fertile, well-drained soil. Mulch garlic with 3-4 inches of straw or leaf mulch to help protect it through the winter temperatures.
  • October is the best month to transplant perennials. Enrich beds with organic soil amendments.
  • Set out strawberries for fruit next May. If planted in spring, plants won’t bear well until the next year.
  • Start your first pot of paperwhites. Stagger forcing every couple of weeks for a continuing winter-long indoor display.
  • There is still time to set out winter pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage, and fall mums. They will help you keep a little color in the garden for as long as possible.
  • For a beautiful display of spring flowers, spring-flowering bulbs can be planted through next month. Hyacinth, daffodils, anemone, crocus and tulips should be planted after the ground temperature drops below 60 degrees.
  • If houseplants need repotting, do it before they come inside to avoid making a mess in the house. Don’t step up more than an inch on small pots or a couple inches on large ones.


  • Get your soil analyzed. Place a trowel full of soil from six to eight different areas in the garden into a clean bucket. Mix thoroughly and get a 1 cup sample from the mixture. If parts of the garden are specialized into blueberries or have different histories such as where the burn pile was, sample these areas separately. Your local Co-op store has soil sample kits.
  • Store manure under a cover to prevent leaching of nutrients.
  • When fertilizing your fall garden, do not overuse nitrogen as it reduces cold-hardiness. Extra potassium and calcium help for a stronger plant wall.
  • 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 existing beds of bulbs as well.
  • Houseplants start to slow down as the days get shorter. Cut back on feeding until next spring. Winter feeding will result in weak, spindly growth.


  • Always be on the lookout for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs, and prune them as discovered. This is especially important before winter arrives with its harsher weather, where weaknesses left in place invite tearing and unnecessary extra damage. Remove suckers and water sprouts while you’re at it.
  • Cut back ground covers that have spread out of bounds.
  • In late October, cut back asparagus stalks to the ground. Mark the location. Mulch 3-4 inches.
  • Take cuttings from perennials to root indoors over the winter.
  • Prune berry vines by removing the vines or canes that fruited, leaving this summer’s new growth to put out berries next season.
  • Stop trimming hedges – the flush of new growth can be killed by freezing weather that can harm the entire plant.
  • Cut back long whips of roses.


  • October is historically the driest month of the year. Make sure to keep an eye on your plants and keep watering.
  • Water deeply and thoroughly to prevent drought stress. Pay special attention to new transplants.
  • Be sure to water trees now through hard frost if conditions are dry, so they enter dormancy in a well-hydrated state. Evergreens (needled ones and broadleaf types such as rhododendron) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winter burn.
  • Continue watering lawns, trees, shrubs, vines and all new plantings until the rains come. Don’t forget to water plants in sheltered areas. Well-watered plants survive freezing temperatures better than dry ones.
  • Water newly planted spring bulbs well to encourage root development and cover with plenty of mulch.
  • Reduce watering of indoor plants.
  • Drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers when not in use.


  • Check for aphids and caterpillars on fall flowers and leafy vegetables.
  • Apply a dormant spray to reduce overwintering pests and fungus diseases when the leaves fall from fruit trees.
  • Clear turf and/or weeds from the area right around the trunks of fruit trees and ornamentals to reduce winter damage by rodents. Hardware cloth collars can also be used.
  • 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.
  • Poison ivy is one of the earlier plants to start to lose its leaves, but it is still easy to spot in the fall with its vibrant colors. The best way to naturally combat it and remove it for good is to dig it out manually. Suit up to cover as much skin as possible and dig the vines out anywhere you can find them. If you miss any or a few sprigs grow back in the spring, dig again or knock them back with a broadleaf herbicide.
  • Fall is the time to control certain broadleaf weeds in the lawn.
  • One last effort at weeding will help to improve the appearance of your garden throughout the winter. Any weed eliminated from the garden this fall will possibly prevent thousands of weed seeds from sprouting in the garden next spring!
  • Get those slugs!!! The fall rains have once again gotten slugs and snails moving through the garden. One last application of slug bait will eliminate a lot of slugs and prevent them from reproducing again this fall. Result: Fewer slugs next spring. ...
  • 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.


  • Keep a detailed garden journal.
  • Cover open compost heaps with plastic when there are signs of heavy rains.
  • Gather garden stakes and ornaments, and store them to prevent winter damage.
  • If needed, fall is a great time to aerate and/or dethatch the lawn. If you decide to do one or both of these, they should be done before seeding.
  • If you have some particularly great open-pollinated plants, save those seeds. Put in a jar or plastic bag, and store in a refrigerator or freezer to maintain germination vigor.
  • Mark dormant bulbs so they won’t be destroyed when ground is prepared for spring planting.
  • Paint trellises now and they’ll look good all winter.
  • 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.
  • Stock up on firewood.
  • After a light frost, dig sweet potatoes and cure them for two weeks in a warm location. Then store in a cool, dry location for longer keeping.
  • Harvest peanuts.
  • Clean and put away empty containers and garden ornaments.
  • Continue adding leaves and other materials to the compost pile.
  • During the late fall, clean up gardening tools. Have shears, pruners and mower blades sharpened so you can beat the rush come spring. That way, your tools will be ready with the first burst of spring.
  • Harvest herbs and dry them in a cool, dry place.
  • Harvest winter squash once the vines die back, but definitely before a hard freeze.
  • Keep mowing until the grass stops growing, and make the last cut a short one. Let clippings lie on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil, unless they are long and wet, in which case, rake and compost.
  • Covering mums and asters on nights when frosts are expected will lengthen their blooming.
  • If you still have houseplants or tropical plants outside, pay close attention to the nighttime temperatures. Start transitioning those guys back inside. By the end of the month, any houseplants or tropical plants that can’t take freezing temperatures should be brought inside for the winter. If any houseplants need to be repotted, do it before they come inside.
  • Refurbish mulch to control weeds.
  • 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.
  • Turn your compost pile.
  • Start a leaves-only pile alongside your compost as a future source of soil-improving leaf mold, or when partly rotted for use as mulch. Running over dry leaves (and other dry nonwoody material) with the mower to shred will reduce the area needed for such piles.
  • To extend the season, consider using white, floating row covers supported over the plants by a wire frame and anchored by rocks so the wind doesn’t blow it over and the snow doesn’t collapse it. You can also make a mini high tunnel using cattle panels covered with 6 mil clear plastic. Another idea is to put hay bales on each side of a row with storm windows on top … when it warms up, just slide the windows to one side.
  • Use some of the fall leaves as mulch. All you need to do is use a mulching lawn mower, collect the leaves and sprinkle them around trees, shrubs and flower beds. Pull the mulch away from the base of the tree and excavate until you can see the point where the trunk flares into the roots to allow for respiration and to avoid young roots growing into the mulch.
  • Winterize your water garden.
  • Don’t forget to continue cleaning birdbaths. Make sure to rinse them well, and you might consider installing a de-icer. If you’re in an area that freezes and you don’t have a de-icer, turn your birdbath over to keep it from cracking.
  • The birds will soon begin their winter migrations. Give them a helping hand by providing them with some food for their long journey.

Old Buildings and Old Wood Make Me Happy

by Suzy Lowry Geno

This corncrib on the Stewart farm in the Murphree Valley area of Blount County is over 100 years old.

Every now and then I have to go to a local, big home building supply store to buy a couple of pieces of wood, if there’s not a suitable piece in the stash stuck under my store.

I know I drive the men there crazy because I make them dig down into the stacks to find just the right pieces, whether it’s a simple two-by-four or a supposedly durable piece of three-quarter-inch plywood.

Somehow it seems (like so many things in this world) that wood just isn’t the same any more.

And I’m not alone in my feelings!

Someone very dear to me got really excited this week because he had the chance to get some heart pine 2-by-12s from an old building about to be torn down.

Old barn wood can set some women friends of mine into a complete old-time tizzy!

And my old kitchen cabinets may not look like much (even though I’ve stripped them down to the bare wood) but they ARE wood-- nice solid wood, not just for the doors but the entire cabinets! You don’t find that much any more!

And what better place to find old wood than in old buildings?

When I’m around an old building, you will find me sniffing, touching and even caressing those pieces of knotty pine or sturdy white oak!

Blount County is blessed to have three covered bridges still in use! When my kids were growing up, we lived just a rock’s throw from Horton Mill Covered Bridge. It was the focus of frequent walks and other good country times.

All I have to do right now is walk into that old bridge and SMELL ... the wood has a unique aroma ... maybe from the dampness ... I’m not sure ... but it’s a smell I smell no where else. And it takes me back to when my grown kids (some of whom are grandparents themselves) were racing across that old bridge 75 feet above the flowing river below, laughing, screaming and simply enjoying being young!

Then there’s the old cotton pen featured each month as the photo with my column’s header.

Close to 100 years old, that little building, not much bigger than a child’s playhouse, was where the cotton from these fields was stored until there was enough to take to the gin.

There is a HUGE oak tree hanging over its tin roof and that little building is what memories are made of. My Daddy, Paul Lowry, and his first cousin, Lucille Lowry Phillips, met underneath that sprawling tree every afternoon after high school to discuss their various even-then-teenage problems and the current loves in their lives.

Both Daddy and Lucille have been gone several years now ... but that little building and its sprawling oak tree remain.

There’s an even tinier old building on my farm, but it’s not in good repair. In reality, it is just about two logs high all the way around with the roof almost sitting on the ground.

But that little log cabin was built by my grandfather, Harly Lowry, and my brother, Bobby, about 65 years ago. In my younger years, I can remember finding my brother’s stash of comic books and even a vintage cap pistol well-hidden inside. Who knows what adventures that tiny cabin saw?

Steve and Karen Stewart are pictured with their grandchildren.

Karen (Moody) Stewart has some of the same feelings about an old corncrib resting in a pasture on the family farm she and her husband, Dr. Steve Stewart, are revamping to form their retirement home.

The old corncrib was built well over 100 years ago by Steve’s grandfather, Newt Stephen Stewart (1885-1946).

Newt was well-known in the Murphree Valley area of Blount County as a farmer and horse and mule trader.

Newt and his wife, Clara Jones Stewart, were the parents of Trenton (Steve’s dad), as well as Amos and Lois.

Amos and Trenton went into the cattle business after their father’s death and began a dairy on the farm around 1952. Trenton bought out Amos about 7-8 years later and operated the dairy for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Marjorie, had children: Steve, Tim, Cindy and Jan, now well-known in their own fields, and their young family received many honors from numerous state and local farm groups through the years.

"Our boys have mentioned moving the corncrib and fixing it up, but Steve thinks it might fall apart if it’s moved," Karen said. "I love to see it when I drive up there because it means I’m nearly home."

Karen has other old buildings that share her love.

"My Granny Moody’s house (now just inside the Oneonta city limits and along Highway 132 where airplanes used to land in a nearby pasture in flying’s early years!) is over 100 years old," Karen explained.

"The barn is not as old as the house but I am sure it’s at least 70 years old. I love that old barn because my cousins and I used to climb the ladder to play in the hay loft. I still remember getting stung by a red wasp as I was climbing up.

"My brother Lynn refurbished it a couple of years ago. David, his son, and Rachel were married in front of it. So many happy memories."

Memories ARE what the smell of old wood and the beauty of these old buildings bring forth.

This is a painting of the old cotton pen done by a young Jannea and framed by boards from the back of the actual little building.

Hanging in my home’s living room is a painting bringing forth multiple memories.

My youngest daughter, Jannea Geno Campbell, once painted a large photo of the old cotton pen. My dad took some of the boards from the back of the cotton pen and made a rustic frame to encircle that masterpiece. It’s now one of my most prized possessions!

So look around your farms, your homesteads, even your houses in town. If there’s an older building, take the time to remember what it was used for and what memories it evokes. And SHARE those memories with the younger folks in your family or community.

And if you need me, I’ll be that gray-haired homesteader down by the barn, happily smelling some freshly cut sawdust as I embark on yet another project that will hopefully be somebody’s memory of our history.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a Blount County freelance writer who can be reached through Facebook, Old Field Farm General Store, or her website,

PALS: Starting off on the Right Track

Marbury High School rallies to take on litter.

by Jamie Mitchell

Marbury High School

Alabama PALS would like to welcome Marbury High School to the Clean Campus Program! MHS Principal Mrs. Donna Finch has been instrumental in rallying her students in the antilitter movement. She recently invited me to speak to the student body of nearly 600 students to share some littering information and encouragement as they kicked off the new school year.

The students were told that half of all litter is accidental and much of that in Alabama comes from truck beds. Because many of the students are driving, we really discussed the importance of containing the litter in their vehicles.

I also stressed the fact that there is power in numbers … both in a positive and negative way. With so many students, they have a real opportunity to be litter-free leaders in their community!

Autauga County’s Solid Waste Officer John-Paul O’Driscoll has been working diligently to bring all schools onboard with the Clean Campus Program this year; he also spoke at the assembly. O’Driscoll shared with the students their recycling numbers from the past few years and additionally left a no-littering pledge at the school for all of the students to sign.

County Commissioner Jay Thompson was also given time to speak and encouraged the students to keep their campus clean.

These students should be ready to start the school year on the right track!

Is there a school near you that could benefit from hearing the Clean Campus message? Please visit our website at to learn more! The Clean Campus Program is FREE to all Alabama public, private and county schools. Schools may sign up for the Clean Campus Program online or by calling 334-263-7737.

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.

Pledging Heads, Hearts, Hands and Health

2017-2018 Alabama 4-H State Ambassadors

by Doug Summerford

Taylor Keel and Gabriel Hamm were recently inducted as 2017-2018 Alabama 4-H State Ambassadors at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana. Nineteen remarkable teenagers from across Alabama pledged their Heads, Hearts, Hands and Health to positive youth development and leadership throughout the course of the upcoming year.

Taylor Keel

Gabriel Hamm

Keel (representing Houston County) is a high school junior and active in the Houston County 4-H Council. She has been a member of the 4-H Debate Team and was also a Regional 4-H Ambassador this past year. She started the Special Needs 4-H Club in 2015 to serve youth with medically diagnosed special needs in Houston County. This led to a regional outreach where she and her club currently serve youth and adults at the Vivian B. Adams School in Dale County. She is active with numerous community service projects and has been a Buddy with the Dothan Miracle League for the past three years. She volunteers at special events at Landmark Park, Tractor Supply and the National Peanut Festival, and is a past member of the Wiregrass Kings Volleyball Team.

Hamm (representing Henry County) is a junior at Houston County High School and active in the Henry County 4-H Council, Cluck-A-Lot 4-H Poultry Club, 4-H Debate Team and a returning Alabama 4-H State Ambassador. He’s participated in many leadership and community service projects and met earlier this year with Alabama Congressional Representatives in Washington to discuss the value and importance of agricultural education. He volunteers with the Columbia Fire and Rescue and at special events at Landmark Park, Tractor Supply and the National Peanut Festival. He is also a member of his high school’s FFA chapter, marching band and the Alabama Young & Adult Farmer’s Education Association.

The Alabama 4-H State Ambassadors represent a prestigious youth leadership body, responsible for supporting the vision and mission of Alabama 4-H in promoting county, regional and statewide programs and activities. 4-H State Ambassadors assist with innovative community service projects, and also plan and implement the state’s premiere leadership program (Mid-Winter Teen Retreat) for youth 14 to 18 years old.

For more information on 4-H teen leadership programs, contact me at 334-794-4108.

Doug Summerford is an 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent.

Responsible Ag

by Sharon Cunningham

The city of Headland is located in the southwest corner of Henry County and it is the county’s largest town. It is bordered to the south by Dothan and Kinsey in Houston County, and to the west by Dale County. It is located just off U.S. Hwy 431. If you are heading to the beach, take the scenic way and drop by to say hello to the staff at Headland Peanut Warehouse. Manager Jay Jones (pictured) can also fill you in on the vast history of the area and everything about peanuts. Once known as Headland Milling Co., the Co-op has been involved in the community almost since the start of the town in the late 1800s. Located on Railroad St., this allows the farmers and town to have access to the entire southeast. With a perfect climate and soil for growing, the Wiregrass Area flourishes in the agriculture market. With help from people such as Jones, it will only continue to grow.

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

Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "Come on, Vern! Don’t be a stick in the mud! Have a raw oyster; you might end up lovin’ ‘em!"

Why would someone be like a stick pushed in the mud?

A stick in the mud is a narrow-minded person; one who lacks initiative.

The figurative phrase "stick in the mud" derives from the imagery of someone whose feet are stuck in wet clay and is unable to progress. It was preceded in the language by earlier versions, for example stick in the briers, clay, mire, etc. These were usually applied to people who remained in a difficult situation, either by choice or because they were stuck.

Thomas Cooper’s Thesaurus, 1565, included an example:

"They beyng accused of extortion and pillage were in muche trouble, or stacke in the bryars."

Only stick in the mud has lasted. The first citations I can find are from the 18th century. The London newspaper, The General Evening Post, printed two examples in 1733. First, on Nov. 15-17:

"George Sutton was Yesterday before Justice De Veil, on suspicion of robbing Col. Des Romain’s House at Paddington. The Colonel was in the Boom with the Justice, and no sooner had Sutton entered the Boom, but the Colonel said, ‘That is the Man that first came and seized me with his drawn Sword in his Hand.’ The Justice committed him to Newgate. At the same time James Baker was before Justice De Veil for the same Fact. The Colonel could not swear to him, but the Justice committed him to the same Place with Sutton. George Fluster, alias Stick in the Mud, has made himself an Evidence, and impeached the above two Persons."

And again, Dec. 8, 1733:

"John Anderson, Francis Ogleby and James Baker, alias Stick in the Mud, for breaking open the House of Mr. Thomas Bayner, a Silversmith, and stealing thence Plate to a great value."

It is clear from those extracts that stick in the mud was used as a nickname and we can reasonably assume it indicated a particular character trait of the person.

The term "an old stick" or "odd stick" is, or rather was as it is falling out of use now, used to described elderly and mildly eccentric characters. That isn’t the source of stick in the mud but may well have derived from it.

Talking Supplements

by Jimmy Parker

Supplements are a topic often discussed in both human digestive health and in the livestock feed world. There are more things today we can use to add pounds and improve health in our herds and flocks than ever before. Many of them make sense and are very cost effective with the added weight and decreased sickness seen in available research. I have seen remarkable research on one or two electrolyte packages that fight heat stress and help animals to grow and to breed during challenging times for Southeastern producers. I am also beginning to see research showing a very significant reduction in sickness among stocker cattle when fed certain pro- and prebiotics.

For years, we have been able to add things such as killed yeast products and see a clear advantage in production. The advantage more than paid for the cost of the added yeast. We have also seen good results from adding a live yeast culture to the higher-end feeds. Not only do the animals grow faster and more efficiently but we see a good deal less sickness. Recent research has shown finishing cattle will have a much lower incidence of E. coli in their digestive tract when supplemented with certain strains of live yeast culture, essentially making an already-safe product even safer for the end consumer.

We have had the ability to use products to help bind aflatoxins in feed products and make the end product safer for animals. We have been using these for several years and, even when toxins have been an issue in surrounding states, we have been fortunate to have found and used a product that worked.

We will continue to search for better ways to add value to our feed and help add dollars to your bottom line with the addition of safe, effective supplements that are so convenient that you, as producers, will see the benefits, but likely never know the supplements are there.

As we listened to the needs of our customers and searched for additional ways to help, we added a really effective product this fall. ShowBloom is a supplement that can be added to your current feed to get better health and growth advantage. By adding the ShowBloom line, we also added one of their yeast products that will likely find its way into several of our other feeds to give our customers a clear advantage in growth and health, without significant additions in cost of production.

The ShowBloom product is obviously aimed at the show livestock industry. It has been around for many years and has a long and proven track record for adding pounds and bloom to show animals. Fortunately, now it will be available through your local Quality Co-op. You can see the added results without the hassle and expense of having it shipped. It is one of the supplemental products that truly works well.

As the county fair season slows down, I thought we should take a quick look at some of the other supplements used for a variety of reasons. The smaller county fairs are mostly done. Now, the larger state and regional-type shows get wound up and the youth who show livestock a bit more seriously will begin to look for advantages wherever they can. There are supplements available for almost anything that ails your critter. You can add more gut, slim down the deep-gutted ones, add hair here and slim them up there, make them walk more easily, pump them up like little Arnold Schwarzeneggers, make them gain weight, hold them back so that they don’t gain weight but still look fresh, and on and on and on. All of these things have a place I guess, but I would urge you to be cautious with what you use and how you use it. Some of the supplements come with a cost far greater than what you paid for the pail. I have seen plenty of animals that would have likely gone on to be productive females rendered sterile by certain supplements when fed off-label. I have also seen some top-notch animals that have gone home and died, most likely from side effects of some of these magic powders. Use caution, follow the directions and don’t go off-label. It is illegal to use many of these products in ways not on the label; so read the label and follow the instructions.

Now, off my soapbox and on to good show feeds. I have been asked to look through and revamp the show feed formulas. As I look through the ones we have offered at the Co-ops, I see some changes that should be made. By the time this article prints, we should have a line that will help you be more competitive. In making these changes, we will be using a variety of supplements and, in doing so, we will have some of them available for adding to the current feeds we already make. Hopefully, we will continue to find ways to make the show line and the supplements benefit many of the producers who use Co-op feeds.

Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.

The Co-op Pantry

by Robin Moore and Jena Klein

I guess I should start by telling you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Decatur and have lived here my whole life, except for two years when my husband was in the Army and stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. After he was discharged, we couldn’t get back to Alabama quick enough!

We came back to Decatur and, by that time, we had our son Jake. About three years later, our daughter Sarah joined us. Six years ago, we were blessed with our daughter-in-law Grace. And our granddaughter Lucy joined us in April of this year. Needless to say, we are over the moon in love with her. Now I know what everyone kept telling me about being a grandparent. It’s the best thing ever!

I was a stay-at-home wife and mother until May 2003 when I came to work at Alabama Farmers Cooperative as the receptionist. After a couple of years, I was able to join the Purchasing & Property department, where I still work.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year (although, I do love going to the beach!). I especially love the month of October. To quote a line from the book "Anne of Green Gables" written by L.M. Montgomery, "I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." It just so happens to be my birthday month as well.

Along with the beautiful colors that are part of it, I love the food associated with this season - soups and stews or just good, old comfort food on a chilly day. I always look forward to making my first pot of chili. We’ve always said it’s not fall until we have a pot of chili.

When my dad was alive, October was always the month he made his famous chicken stew. We all would gather at their house on the chosen Saturday to eat. He had his own recipe he wanted us to think was a big secret he couldn’t share. We recently found his recipe written in his own handwriting on the back of an old scrap piece of paper. That is a treasure to us all now that he is no longer with us. Nothing made him happier than to have all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at their house to share a meal. And he loved to eat. He always said if it started with an alphabet he would eat it.

Fall is also when one of our favorite foods is made, and that is molasses. Whether we are eating it on a hot buttered biscuit or something made with it, we look forward to getting some freshly made molasses each year.

We usually take a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in October and love going to Cades Cove. During the month of October at the Cades Cove visitors center, they have a demonstration of molasses making using a horse-powered cane mill and wood-fired cooker to produce sorghum molasses. It is interesting to watch and get a taste of some. I have included a couple of our favorite recipes using molasses.

Fall brings in another of our family favorites … football. In the past, some have played the game while others have watched and supported the players. Nowadays, we love watching games together. Along with that comes having plenty of food to snack and eat on during the game.

I love appetizer-type foods. They are usually easy to fix and you can have a variety of things to choose from to please everyone.

Some of my fondest memories revolve around food. From holiday meals at my grandparents’ houses, Fourth of July celebrations where we could have all the "cokes" we wanted and making homemade ice cream during the summer. A favorite childhood memory is coming home from school to a pan of warm gingerbread and a glass of milk.

Daily, my parents, my three siblings and I ate breakfast and supper meals around our kitchen table together. There is something special about sharing a meal with the people you love. People don’t do that as much now. As a child, you don’t realize and appreciate how special those times are. As adults, we find ourselves wishing we could go back and have one more meal with those we’ve loved and lost.

My mother is a great cook, so I learned from the best. Now that I have grown children and a granddaughter, I can say nothing makes my heart any happier than to have all my chicks around my table sharing a meal together. I love cooking and baking for my family. I look forward to the day my granddaughter Lucy is old enough to join me in the kitchen.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!



Makes: about 3 dozen cookies
¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
Sugar, for coating

Heat oven to 350°. In a bowl, beat shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; beat well. In a different bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Add dry mixture to molasses mixture; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until dough is chilled. Pour some sugar into a bowl. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar. On greased baking sheet, place balls 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; transfer to wire rack.

Note: It would not be Christmas if I didn’t make these. They are one of our traditions. I usually have to make 2 or 3 batches.


½ cup shortening
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2½ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine first 7 ingredients and cream until fluffy. Add egg and cream. Mix. Add molasses. Mix. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Add to creamed mixture and blend. Add boiling water and beat until smooth. Pour into a 9x13 greased pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Note: This is my Mother’s recipe. We loved coming home from school to find the house smelling of gingerbread.


½ cup butter, melted
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

1/3 cup butter
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup dark Karo syrup or molasses
1 cup chopped pecans

For crust, in a 9x13 casserole dish, pour butter. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and milk. Pour over butter. For filling, in a bowl, mix all filling ingredients together. Pour over crust mixture. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until done. (I cooked it only about 25 minutes.)

Note: This recipe has all the goodness of a pecan pie in a casserole dish.


Butter, softened
½ loaf white bread (I usually use 10 slices)
1 cup raisins
4 eggs
2 cans evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger

Heat oven to 350°. Butter both sides of each bread slice. Cut slices in ½-inch cubes. In a sprayed 9x13 baking dish, place cubes. Sprinkle raisins over cubes. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla. In another bowl, sift together sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Add dry mixture to egg mixture. Mix. Pour over bread cubes and raisins. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sweetened condensed milk

In a saucepan, mix all ingredients. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour over warm pudding.

Note: I love bread pudding and this is a really easy recipe that is delicious


1 pound bulk pork sausage
16 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
4 ounces Muenster cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried ground sage

Heat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausage, crumbling as it cooks, until browned and cooked through. Remove sausage from skillet with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, place sausage and remaining ingredients. Stir until well-blended. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish, spreading it even. Bake for 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with tortilla chips, crackers, veggies or your favorite dipping vehicle.

Note #1: This dip can be assembled in advance, up to 1 day, covered and refrigerated before baking. You may need to add 5 more minutes to the baking time - just keep an eye on it and bake until browned and bubbling.

Note #2: This can also be made in a slow cooker, although it will obviously not get browned. Place cooked sausage along with all other ingredients in slow cooker. Stir. Cook on high for 1-2 hours, until cheeses are melted, stirring occasionally.


1 pound hamburger meat, cooked and drained
2 cans ranch-style beans
2 (15-ounce) cans minestrone soup*
2 (15-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes

In a crockpot, combine all ingredients. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

* I couldn’t find 15-ounce cans. I used 3 cans condensed soup with 3 cans water instead.

Note: Quick and easy recipe for a great pot of soup.


1 cup macaroni
5 cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon salt
½ stick butter
½ teaspoon pepper
1¾ cups milk
½ cup evaporated milk
3 eggs, beaten
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, cubed
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed

In a pot, boil macaroni in water and salt until tender. Drain and put in medium bowl. Add butter and pepper. Mix until butter is melted. Add milks, eggs and cheeses. Mix well. Grease a 2½-quart casserole dish. Pour in macaroni and cheese. Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes.

Note: I usually double the ingredients and put it into a 9x13 dish. When we have family meals, this is always a requested side. It has so much cheesy goodness.


1 pound sweet/mild Italian sausage (or can use
1 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tablespoons minced
garlic in oil)
8 cups beef stock
2 cups (2 cans) petite diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) tomato sauce
1 large zucchini, sliced thinly (I cut in slices then
slivered those)
1 large carrot, sliced thinly (same as zucchini)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup Worchester sauce, mixed with ¼ cup water
2 Tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
8-10 ounces fresh cheese tortellini (I used 2 8-ounce
Parmesan cheese, grated

In pot on heat, brown sausage. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until clear. Add stock and rest of ingredients (except pasta and cheese). Simmer until veggies are tender. Add tortellini about 20-30 minutes before serving. Top with cheese.

Note: This is a delicious Italian soup that is a crowd pleaser.

October Healthy Recipe


1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (5-ounce) box sugar-free instant vanilla pudding
(powder only)*
1 (16-ounce) container sugar-free or light whipped topping
½ Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
½ Tablespoon cinnamon
Small pumpkin

In a large bowl, put pumpkin, pudding mix, whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice. Mix by hand.
Chill dip mixture for several hours before serving. Meanwhile, scoop insides out of small pumpkin.
Fill pumpkin with dip mixture. Sprinkle top of dip with cinnamon and serve with apple slices, pear slices and ginger snaps! (Or any other fruits or cookies you prefer – I serve mine with cinnamon graham crackers.)

* I couldn’t find a 5-ounce box, so I used a large box and a small box!

Note: This was a fun dish to make and really, really tasty!! I didn’t hollow out my pumpkin. I used a fall-colored bowl for the dip and my pumpkin as part of my table decoration!!

This recipe was sent to Jenna Cooper-Dow’s FB page by Charlene Morrow Rodriguez who shared it from FB’s Homestead & Survival page. It always amazes me how recipes are shared and passed from person to person and become personal favorites!

Robin Moore works in AFC’s Purchasing and Property department. Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator.

We are looking for cooks of all ages, cooking traditions and skill levels to feature in this column. We 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 2017 will receive a free copy of our new cookbook. -- Mary & Jena

The Four R’s of Supply Chain Management

Each step of your farm business process, from raw material inputs through finished product, represents an opportunity to save you and your customers time and money.

by Kevin Burkett

A big component of any product’s success is what’s referred to as the "supply chain." Simply put, the supply chain is the process of getting raw materials and inputs made into a finished product and into the end-users’ hands. Generally, this will involve several processes and businesses handling the product. Depending on the industry and product, it can become quite complex.

Supply-chain management can be thought of as having a plan in place for how the business can efficiently keep the product moving (or growing). The better you can manage your supply chain, the more efficient you will be at producing products and that in turn saves you, your business and your customers time and money. Businesses that successfully manage their supply chain generally enjoy advantages that help them stay ahead of their competition. Wal-Mart, Amazon and Apple are all companies that we think of as being very successful and it’s no coincidence that they are very good with their supply chain.

Think about what it takes to get fresh fruit or vegetables, perishable products with relatively short shelf lives, in the hands of consumers. The process starts with a seed of some kind, combined with a number of processes and other inputs (supplies, labor, equipment, transportation, etc.), until it’s ready for a consumer. Sometimes a farm will handle a process themselves, i.e. they have the transportation to take the goods to market, the labor is their family, etc. But, for each of those items, it could be that they need to out-source each and every one of them (buy inputs from several suppliers, go through H2A to source labor, rent or buy equipment, etc.).

Even if it’s handled on the farm, coordination and logistics of all production practices can be a challenge. Sometimes, a farm is subject to forces completely out of its control. If the supply store does not have the seeds yet, there’s not much a farm can do to speed up the process. Weather is always the obvious choice when discussing something not able to be understood or planned for in agriculture. However, for each aspect a business can control, successful companies are analyzing if they have a good process in place for handling that task.

In regard to agriculture, we’ve seen a number of changes relating to the supply chain. Farmers markets continue to be popular and these effectively simplify the supply chain by directly selling to their end-user. If a farmer sells directly to a grocery store, wholesaler or restaurant, there is at least one more step the product will go through before it reaches whoever is going to consume it. Additionally, services such as Shipt, Blue Apron and on-demand grocery pickup are making the agriculture supply chain even a little bit more robust. No particular avenue is right or wrong, they are just different.

Increasingly, consumers are also aware and interested in all the other parts of the supply chain. For instance, what’s the source of the inputs or what were the processes that made the vegetable seed into the finished produce at the market? Supply chain visibility is when you can track the inputs all the way to the finished output. If a farm tells the story of how their product is produced and relays all steps of their production, the consumer appreciates it all the more.

There is no hard and fast rule about what it takes to have a successful supply chain but good management skills and an understanding of concepts utilized by other companies can be helpful in developing an overall plan. With that in mind, here are what’s referred to as the four R’s of good supply chain management.

Responsiveness – The ability to respond to customers’ requirements in shorter time frames. Customers are expecting less and less waiting time, and more flexibility and customization in what they’re able to obtain. This is sometimes referred to as agility and the ability to move quickly to changes. Crops only grow so quickly, but responding to consumers on a season-to-season basis may be more and more important.

Reliability – There is great uncertainty in the marketplace. Reliability is key for both being able to gather the inputs a farm needs and then customers of the farm being able to rely on the farm having the right products, at the right time, in the right place.

Resilience – No one working in agriculture needs any kind of lessons on resilience. But the thought here is that somewhere along your supply chain there will be disruptions and you should be prepared for them and able to respond.

Relationships – Each piece of the supply chain entails a relationship where the farm is either a buyer or a seller. Strong relationships on both ends of this spectrum go a long way towards smoothing out challenges and even developing additional and more meaningful relationships along the way.

The Wal-Marts and Amazons are so good at this because they’ve taken a hard look at how they move products into their business and then how they are handled and end up in the consumers’ hands. They have lots of data to help guide their decisions and use that data continually. For instance, UPS, another company adept at using supply chain information, determined that having their drivers not make left turns on their delivery routes saved them several million gallons in fuel, more emissions-friendly routes and delivery of an estimated 350,000 more packages a year. I’m not advocating a farm should detail every route the farmer takes to market but the point is that analysis can lead to discovering efficient methods for running a business. In challenging economic times a lean and efficient business is important; logistics and supply chain can play a big role.

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

The Old Grind

Kenan’s Mill in Selma is a one-of-a-kind living museum.

by Alvin Benn

Kenan Mill’s century old grind stone.

Grist mills may be a thing of the past in long-gone rural America, but Selma has been trying its best to keep one alive that was built on the eve of the Civil War.

People don’t have to worry about where their daily bread will come from today because they know it’s only a hop, skip and short drive to the nearest supermarket.

Such was not the case in country communities in the 19th century where grist mills provided a staple of existence for millions of Americans.

Unlike grist mills that often changed hands in Alabama, the Kenan family owned and operated one for over 100 years until the last relative neared the end of her productive life.

Her name was Elizabeth Kenan Buchanan and one of her final gifts to the community was the 1997 donation of the family’s grist mill to the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society.

With the gift came something in return – restoration of the dam, turbine and mill stones – a challenge that included the commissioning of an expert to make the mill operational again.

Part of that included a near-Herculean task of removing the turbine and sending it to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for repairs; something easier said than done. Part of the effort was taking the turbine down the steep banks of Valley Creek.

Sylvia Smith, a Selma businesswoman who played an integral role in the restoration project, said a crane had to be brought from Montgomery to handle that task.

Smith said Dr. John Lovett of Belvidere, Tennessee, sharpened the mill stones with a chisel and hammer in a procedure known as "dressing" the stones.

The process culminated in the reopening of the mill in 2002, just in time for Selma’s Pilgrimage tours where corn-grinding demonstrations proved to be quite a hit.

Unfortunately, the festival had to be canceled this year due, in part, to lack of volunteers. The hope is that it can be revived one day, but, in the meantime, the mill is available for school groups and group tours.

In addition, the facility is a popular location for weddings, receptions, school reunions and other events to help defray some of the operation and maintenance expenses.

"It remains to be seen whether there will be enough interest to revive it for future years," Smith said.

Sylvia Smith and Robert Gordon enjoy spending time at Kenan’s Mill where the Swinging Bridge crosses Valley Creek.

One thing is certain: the mill will never again be a commercial enterprise grinding corn, grits and wheat for farmers or for sale to stores and the public.

"It is an important educational site for school children and the general public to see a part of our history that no longer exists in our day-to-day life, but is part of the heritage of this area and its people," Smith added.

The mill had previously been fully restored, including meeting rooms and a kitchen. There’s even a swinging bridge spanning Valley Creek along with a bandstand, pavilion and a red barn with restrooms.

The mill’s calling card, however, was production of water-ground meal, grits and corn for over 100 years. That feature was discontinued last year.

The most recent memorable day at Kenan’s Mill occurred in 2002 when it was officially reopened and made available for weddings, anniversaries and other important family functions.

Thanks to a grant from the Alabama Historic Commission, a gate was erected at the entrance in 2013 to increase security.

Two events kept the mill before the public so it wouldn’t be forgotten. One was Selma’s annual pilgrimage celebration. The other was a festival named for the site.

Volunteers at first jumped at the opportunity to help at the Mill Festival, but it, too, fell victim to that old saying of "too little, too late."

Lack of helping hands and rising costs led to an announcement in August that the annual Kenan’s Mill Festival would be canceled.

Candi Duncan, treasurer of the preservation society and one of the main supporters of the mill and its historic tradition, was devastated, as were others who felt the same way she did.

"I hate that it’s another event we’ve lost in Selma," Duncan said, in a statement to the Selma Times Journal. "We feel so sad about it because we lost the Riverfront Market and now we’re losing this, too."

The Riverfront Market attracted shoppers across the Black Belt region of Alabama and helped to keep alive the importance of Selma’s historic downtown mercantile district.

That event was more than an autumn shopping extravaganza on the white soapstone bluff overlooking the Alabama River. Funds from the market were used to help restore decaying structures in Selma’s historic district – the largest of its kind in Alabama.

The same thing happened several years ago when lack of volunteers and rising costs led to the cancellation of the annual Old Cahawba Festival at the site of Alabama’s first capital city.

Smith and Robert Gordon, two dedicated volunteers who have spent countless hours at Kenan’s Mill, are doing all they can to keep it alive in some form.

Some might say what they’re doing is a thankless undertaking, but, for them, it’s a labor of love.

Memories abound for those who have grown up around the mill and Gordon can still remember how he and his buddies hopped on their bikes and rode to Kenan’s Mill.

"We hoped that once word got out about the festival being canceled some younger volunteers would step forward to keep it going, but it didn’t happen," Smith said.

Volunteerism had kept the mill alive as a vibrant part of Dallas County’s history, but it just wasn’t enough to sustain it, according to Smith and Gordon.

Grist mills in America have gradually disappeared, but Kenan’s Mill is a living museum: one surrounded by all sorts of wildlife, flora, fauna, magnolia, sweet gum and maple trees, Pennsylvania moss, hummingbirds and butterflies galore.

A nice touch at the site is little signs attached to the trees, listing their names for inquisitive unfamiliar visitors.

The Swinging Bridge had been a tourist attraction in the area, especially for children old enough to cross it, but it’s been pretty much shelved in view of recent developments.

"We have been given a great responsibility by the historic society to take care of this site," Smith said. "That’s the reason why Robert and I work so hard to try and keep it alive."

Gordon, who owns and operates an antique business across the street from historic Sturdivant Hall in Selma, spends much of his free time mowing the grass, tidying up or whatever else might be needed at the mill.

An exterior view of the mill.

The two consider Kenan’s Mill, built in early 1861, one of a kind, not only in Alabama but across the country.

There isn’t a lot of money to help sustain the mill today and that’s why Smith, Gordon, Duncan and other Kenan Mill supporters are doing all they can to at least keep the facility before the public in the coming years.

As Buchanan aged, she retained her love for the mill and often showed up with picnic lunches for workers during the restoration process.

There wasn’t any running water during that time, so she also brought warm water and soap for handwashing.

She was on hand in 2002 when the mill ground corn for the first time in many years and she couldn’t resist sticking a finger into the freshly ground meal and taking a taste.

"Now, that’s cornmeal," Buchanan was heard to say, earning even more praise from those who helped to restore the site.

A cottage at the mill has a horticultural library containing over 400 volumes and serves as headquarters of the Dallas County Master Gardeners.

Gardens kept Buchanan young, especially daffodils producing bright colors throughout the area. She was in her late 80s, but made it a point to attend the festival and if anybody asked about the flowers she could tell them their names in Latin.

Smith loves Kenan’s Mill, too, and enjoys becoming a history teacher when groups tour. One of her favorite stories involves Union troops who marched through the area on their way to Selma, most of which was burned April 2, 1865.

She said the story goes that one Yankee soldier learned about the grist mill and traded a pitcher for some cornmeal to turn into something to eat.

The security gate at the mill is near a historic marker detailing the route taken by Union troops during their raid through Dallas County.

For details about Kenan’s Mill or volunteerism, call 334-412-8550.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.

The Yellow Ribbon

by Baxter Black, DVM

The woman stood in line. Her eyes stared vacantly. Her face was gaunt. A thin film of dust covered her clothing. The weight of the world laid on her shoulders. She was muttering under her breath. A fly touched her cheek. She brushed it off, unthinking.

"So, how’s it going?" I asked, interrupting her quietude.

"Clint just showed his pig, Tanya can’t find the sheep clippers and Justin’s rabbit was disqualified ‘cause it had a black toenail."

"How much longer you think the hog judgin’ will go on?"

"Ten or eleven. Who knows? It doesn’t matter because we’ve got to be here to close the petting zoo for the night."

"Look out!" I shouted as a loose pig shot by her blind side followed by a sweaty boy with sawdust on his pants and a number flapping on his back.

She didn’t pay it any mind. She looked past me.

"Tanya. Where have you been? I told you to check with me at 8:30. You need to work on your lamb. I don’t know who has the clippers. Borrow somebody’s. Where are you going? You check with me at 9:30!"

The last two sentences were spoken to her daughter’s disappearing back.

She turned and spoke to the two kids manning the Purple Circle 4-H Club food booth.

"How’s the ice holding up? Set out more cups."

I drifted back to the bleachers to watch the hog judging. It looked more like kids and pigs at the Ice Capades! Only a parent would be able to match the careening swine with their pursuing herdsman.

I saw the judge pick his way through the melee and award a purple ribbon to a beaming teenager. The man next to me applauded.

"Your daughter?" I asked.

"No," he replied. "That’s mine in the red shirt with the Hamp. She really tried. Practiced showing him at home for weeks. He needed a little more weight, I guess. I know she’s disappointed, but I’m proud of her."

I spotted his daughter. She stood with great dignity near the fence, pig at her side and watched the ribbons being passed out. She looked to be about 10. In time, the judge approached her and handed her a yellow ribbon. She broke into a wide grin, reached down and patted the pig.

Dad nearly knocked me off the seat with his clapping!

"Congratulations," I said after he settled down.

"Yeah," he said with a silly smile on his face, "That’s what county fairs are all about ... kids."

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,

Triple A Award

For the first time, the Triple A Award was presented. It was to recognize someone who always showed up to work with a smile on their face, excited to help and be there. The award was presented to Eli Moore and future awards will be known as the Eli Moore Triple A Award.

What if no one showed up?

by Glenn Crumpler

In August, devastating hurricanes ripped through Texas and parts of Louisiana flooding thousands of homes. Florida and the Caribbean islands are being hit hard as I write this and, right now, we are still in its path. In March 2017, horrendous wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing lands in the panhandle areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas destroying barns, hay supplies, several homes and thousands of miles of fences. Tens of thousands of cattle were either killed or had to be euthanized due to injuries sustained in the fires. More importantly, four people lost their lives in these ravaging wildfires that consumed everything in their path as they roared across the plains at an amazing 70 mph!

The next time you drive down the road at 70 mph, just look out the window and visualize a wildfire with flames over 20 feet moving that fast. By the time you see it coming, it is almost too late to leave. Every rancher we met had their own amazing stories to tell of how they experienced God’s miraculous protection firsthand in the midst of the fires, and the outpouring of His love and provision since the fires, expressed through the love of others.

The wildfire event, tragic as it was, provided a great opportunity for the ranching community, agricultural industries and others to rally together as family helping family – and rally they did! Fencing supplies, hay, drinking water, food, clothing, money, sanitation supplies, fencing, trucking, cleanup crews, construction supplies, veterinary supplies, heavy equipment, laborers … you name it, it came and it came in abundance and came quickly!

Full physical recovery will take a while, but, eventually, the facilities, fences and cattle herds will be rebuilt. In the long run, many of the ranchers will be better off as old facilities and fencing are replaced with new, and as pastures benefit from the burn-off. However, this is not a path that any of them would have ever chosen, nor would ever want to go through again – but the blessings they experienced, they will never forget!

By August, five months after the fires, enough fencing and facilities have been rebuilt and enough grazing had begun to be re-established that Cattle for Christ was able to donate and deliver nine top-quality bulls to help some of our fellow ranchers rebuild their herds. Government disaster relief funds were available for cows that were lost, but these funds were not enough to cover the cost of replacement bulls. Since top-quality bulls will affect the entire herd because they influence the genetics and performance of every calf they sire, this is where we thought Cattle for Christ could provide the most strategic physical assistance.

Helping meet the physical needs of these ranchers opened the doors for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to pray with them about their individual needs. Sharing the love and the Good News of Jesus Christ did not cost us anything more than we were already donating but it will surely have a more lasting impact! Everyone we visited with was just as open and appreciative of the prayers and spiritual help as they were the physical – in fact, it made the physical assistance even more appreciated because it put everything else in the right perspective.

In addition to the bulls, each of the ranchers and their staff received our solar-powered CFC TRAILBLAZER Players, allowing them to listen to the Word of God, devotional-level Bible studies and hundreds of hours of other encouraging Christian messages while they work with the cattle and rebuild their fences and facilities. The bulls, the hugs, the prayers and the messages on these players provide a great opportunity for them to see the Love of God in action and to hear the Word of God while they work and heal. Our prayers are that they will continue to grow in their knowledge of, and relationship with, the God they have seen in action during and after this disaster! He is still in control and He still has a plan for their lives; plans to bless them and not to harm them, plans to give them hope and a future. Not only hope to make it through this life but the hope of eternal life through what Jesus did for them as individuals when He gave His life on the cross as a ransom for theirs!

The ranchers affected by the wildfires and the tens of thousands more recently affected by the powerful hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida are recovering and will continue to do so. But, where would they be if nobody gave and if help never came? What if no one showed up to encourage them, to give them the tools and supplies to rebuild, and the time and labor to actually help them rebuild? What if there was no government assistance? What if they had no hope for a future where their situation would soon get better? What if no one came to tell them how they can personally know the God they have seen working in their lives and, as a result, inherit eternal lives? Only in America would this type of physical and spiritual support and resources be available on this scale!

In most of the countries where Cattle for Christ is and has been working for the last 16 years, people are still either living in the midst of their own wildfires and hurricanes (wars or whatever tragedies they are facing) or are still in Day 2 or 3 post-event! Though it may have been years since the tragedy happened – few, if any, have shown up to help! No one is there to encourage or to offer hope! Instead of digging holes with bulldozers burying dead cattle, they are still continuing to dig holes by hand to bury their own children, spouses, family members, close friends and neighbors who are still dying as a result of the tragedy.

Their livelihood is lost; their homes are destroyed; their children are being killed or taken as sex slaves; many have even lost their citizenship. Yet they suffer alone, wondering why no one cares and why no one has come to their rescue. They have no hope for a future in this life and, because they have not had the opportunity to hear about the true God who sent His only son Jesus to give them hope and eternal life, they see no hope for a future. Most of these people will die in their suffering, just to endure eternal suffering because they do not know Jesus (John 3:16-18).

We are so grateful Cattle for Christ and so many others were and are able to help our American families and neighbors in these recent times of trauma and crisis. Though we did not know one another before the crisis, we are in sense a family now! Our prayers are that those helped and those helping have not only seen God’s love for them as individuals but they will also see God’s love for everyone; not just here at home but around the world where there is no help and no one to offer hope.

We pray you will be moved to action to help – even though you may never meet the ones you are helping this side of Heaven. Think about this: There are roughly 915,215 beef cattle producers and 53,200 dairy farmers in America alone. Imagine the lives that could be touched and forever changed if just the ranchers, cattlemen and dairymen in America rallied together like we did in these wildfires and hurricanes and gave back to help reach and minister to the needs of others around the world like we all ministered to our own! If every producer donated just one animal (or the proceeds from one animal a year, valued at $1,000), that would generate over $1,000,000,000 each year that would enable Cattle for Christ to minister to the physical AND the spiritual needs of so many others both here at home AND around the world! By working together, we cattle producers could literally change the world!

If row crop farmers joined in and donated the proceeds of just 1 acre of their crops each year, BILLIONS more dollars could be raised annually. There would be no limit as to how many lives could be forever (eternally) changed with the Gospel’s message – while we helped them get back on their feet by helping meet their physical needs. Humanitarian work is invaluable and everyone who helps should be greatly appreciated and applauded. But humanitarian work alone without sharing the love AND the Good News of Jesus Christ is like just giving treatment for the symptoms of cancer when we have a cure in hand!

Cattle for Christ International provides you with an opportunity in ways that are strategic, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective. Everyone can give or do something to help. If we would just think outside the box and ask God to show us what He would have us do and then do it, nothing is impossible – especially if we work together!

Please contact me today at 334-333-4400 or to see how you can help Cattle for Christ International take the Gospel and the love of Christ to our neighbors and to all the world. We also invite you to visit our website at and follow us on social media.


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

“Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo. Hoo-hoo, hoo-hooooo!”

by Herb T. Farmer

The barred owl said, "Hoo-hoo, Hoo-hoo. Hoo-hoo, Hoo-hooooo!"

It sent a chill up my spine and froze me in my stance on the back porch. A neighboring owl answered him back with the same call. Then there was yet a third owl in the vicinity screaming his call. All of a sudden, all three owls sounded as if they were competing! Whoo was going to make a meal of me tonight?

It was a foggy night and the air was damp, cold and as still as a headstone. No moon tonight and the only light I could see was the faint glow from my nearest neighbor’s security light on his big barn.

It’s nights like these that really get me going this time of year. They set the mood for the season and get me to looking forward to the holidays. Halloween, Samhain (pronounced: Saah-ween), All Saints Day and, of course, Día de los Muertos.

My friends, Carol Jean, Lady Muriel and LaWanda always celebrate the holidays with a big gathering of friends. Their soirées are the best; beginning on the afternoon of Oct. 31, Halloween, and lasting until after midnight on Nov. 2, the Day of the Dead. I am always enlightened and learn something new each year.

This year the Women’s Weekend Witches Society ladies are going all out, and the three who live on their little acreage are hosting this year’s event. It’s pot luck, and that is my favorite food; especially when these ladies all get together! I guarantee you will not see a green bean casserole, nor certainly any sign of divinity. Well, except for the High Priestess.

I decided to create a little twist to Lady Muriel’s Boo Stew by adding some chicken andouille sausage and giving it a name after a famous chicken. "Chicken Boo" is the famous giant chicken from the Animaniacs cartoon and I have always been a fan.


When you make the Boo Stew, make enough to freeze some for later. Man, that’s a bowl of good!

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 or 3 large chicken breasts
1 (12-ounce) package chicken andouille sausage, sliced about ½-inch thick
2 (14.5-ounce) cans low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 large yellow onion, small diced
1 large green bell pepper, small diced
6 ribs of celery, small diced (destring celery before dicing)
1½ cups carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups okra, sliced
½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14-15-ounce) can corn, with liquid
1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans
6 zucchinis, small to medium size, sliced ½-inch thick then quartered
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

In a large iron skillet, put 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat. Lightly salt and pepper chicken. Place in hot skillet and partially cover. Brown chicken on all sides and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat. When cooled, cut into bite-size chunks (about ½-inch cubes).

In quart stock pot, heat remaining olive oil. Brown chicken andouille sausage on both sides. Remove from stock pot and place in skillet with cooked chicken breast. Soak up oil in bottom of the stock pot with a paper towel or two.

Return stock pot to heat. Pour in ½ can of chicken broth to deglaze the stock pot. (Use a spatula to scrape yummy brown bits from bottom of pot.) Add onions, bell pepper, celery, carrots, garlic, okra and mushrooms. Add remaining chicken broth. Cover and simmer until vegetables are clear and tender, stirring frequently.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn and all beans, reserving liquid from one can of beans. Bring to a simmer. Add zucchini. Bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with reserved bean liquid. Drizzle cornstarch mixture into simmering stew and stir for a few minutes. Add cooked chicken chunks and chicken andouille sausage. Heat through. Serve and enjoy!

But wait! There’s more! We also created a cool-looking festive cheese ball shaped like a stylized human skull using Miss Opie’s recipe.


Playing with Photoshop is fun. This cheese ball tastes better than it looks. BOO!

Makes: 2 medium or one large skull
½ pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
5 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 Tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
Whole black olives, for skull eyes, nose and teeth

Use a large serving fork or a food processor, thoroughly mix first 6 ingredients.

Lay out parchment/waxed paper. Place ½ cup pecans near corner of each sheet. Spread about ¼ cup pecans in center of each paper. Divide cheese mixture in half. Place each half on top ¼ cup pecans. Make each into a skull shape. Place remaining pecans on top and sides of each skull. Press a teaspoon into cheese to make eye sockets and use a large serving fork to define teeth. Cut black olives to fill and garnish the eyes, nose and teeth.

And, for something to drink, here is my recipe for mulled apple cider.


4 bottles (750 ml) matured crabapple wine
2 Valencia oranges, juice 1 and slice other
1 star anise
10 cloves
4 cinnamon sticks

Put all ingredients in a cauldron and simmer for one hour before serving.

Be safe this holiday season.

Send me some of your pictures from your Halloween party and recipes, too!

I eat my yard! You should eat yours, too!

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.

Back to
Tickets & Deals