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September 2016

"Bama’s Best Catfish" Winner

The Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen won the inaugural Best Alabama Catfish Restaurant Contest. From left are judges Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan and WSFA-TV anchor Judd Davis of Montgomery, restaurant owner Amy Chandler, judge Jim Allen of Alabama Farmers Cooperative and Alabama Catfish Producers Chairman Will Pearce.

The Old Barn Restaurant

by Debra Davis

Amy Chandler, owner of The Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen, has a secret recipe for her Southern-style catfish. That special blend of seasoning and breading earned her high marks from judges who dubbed her establishment Bama’s Best Catfish Restaurant.

In the inaugural contest sponsored by Alabama Catfish Producers, judges oohed and ahhed at the broiled and blackened catfish Chandler served. But it was her fried catfish filets that nudged her into first place, said judges who visited the restaurant in early August.

"August was National Catfish Month, and there was no better way to celebrate than announcing Bama’s Best Catfish Restaurant," said Dallas County catfish farmer Will Pearce, Alabama Catfish Producers chairman, who accompanied the judges. "We appreciate Amy and all the restaurant owners across the state who select U.S. farm-raised catfish for their customers."

The Old Barn Restaurant was among four finalists chosen from nearly 150 customer nominations. Other finalists received an engraved plaque from the Alabama Catfish Producers. They were David’s Catfish House in Andalusia, owned by Bill Spurlin; The Green Leaf Grill of Mentone, owned by Jimmy Rogers; and Pat’s Country Cuisine in Centre, owned by Pat and Ron Jackson.

The other three finalists, selected from nearly 150 nominations in Bama’s Best Catfish Restaurant Contest, were, clockwise from above, David’s Catfish House in Andalusia, owned by Bill Spurlin; The Green Leaf Grill in Mentone, owned by Jimmy Rogers; and Pat’s Country Cuisine of Centre, owned by Ron and Pat Jackson.

Chandler, 38, and her husband, Scottie, opened the restaurant 11 years ago intending it to be a hunting lodge. After installing a commercial kitchen in what was once an old barn, they decided to try the restaurant business. They’ve enjoyed success in other contests, too. Last year, The Old Barn Restaurant won Alabama’s Best Steak Restaurant.

"We are so honored and excited to win," said Chandler, whose enthusiasm and attention to detail didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. "We put our heart and soul into everything we do. We won’t serve anything that isn’t the very best we can make it."

The only requirement for a restaurant’s nomination in the contest was that it serves U.S. farm-raised catfish. Judges for the event were Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan, WSFA-TV news anchor Judd Davis and Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s Jim Allen.

"Judges taste-tasted catfish at the top four restaurants, and they had a hard decision," Pearce said. "We want all of the restaurant owners in Alabama who serve what we grow to know we appreciate them."

As the winner, The Old Barn Restaurant received a championship plaque and $250. Chandler told judges that serving anything other than U.S. farm-raised catfish was not an option.

"We tried catfish from several different suppliers when we first opened, but we chose Kelley Foods of Alabama because its fish tasted the best," Chandler said. "There was never any doubt our catfish had to be grown in America. There’s a difference in how it tastes, and we know we’re serving our customers a food that’s safe."

The Alabama Catfish Producers is a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest farm organization with more than 350,000 members. Alabama farmers currently produce more than 100 million pounds of catfish per year with an annual economic impact to the state of over $158 million.

For catfish recipes and more about America’s catfish industry, visit USCatfish.com.

Debra Davis is the publications director for Alfa.




4-H RiverKids

A Fun, New Way for Youth to Learn Aquatic Ecology and Stewardship

4-H’ers beat the heat on the Elk River at the Limestone County 4-H RiverKids kick-off event.

by Emily Nichols

Alabama boasts some of the most beautiful and scenic aquatic habitats in the world. Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Scenic River Trail Association are hard at work getting young people to notice. From the towering bluffs in North Alabama to the sandy creek bottoms in East Alabama, through 4-H RiverKids hundreds of young people have learned to paddle a kayak while enjoying the great outdoors this summer. This new venture officially kicked off in May and has been developing at the grassroots level in participating counties.

4-H RiverKids is a seasonal, hands-on, natural-resource program dedicated to teaching paddling, aquatic ecology and stewardship to youth ages 9-18. While the program is a new ACES venture, the original RiverKids project was rooted in efforts by the Alabama Scenic River Trail, National Park Service, Legacy Partners in Environmental Education, Alabama RC&D Council Association and the Calhoun County Commission to teach children how to kayak.

Bear Creek’s cascades make for good picnicking along the way.

Building on past successes and gaining much momentum from outdoor recreation enthusiasts, we’ve attracted a lot of attention in these short few months. And for a good reason: 4-H RiverKids has created a positive environment for youth and adults to grow into mentors and become more engaged citizens. Our RiverKids instructors are trained and certified to work with young people over the water. They have undergone rigorous background screening and they are passionate about giving back to the communities surrounding them.

RiverKids classes vary from county to county, and might be set up as a one-day event or a series of meetings. The local waterways, topography, history and culture truly influence the programming. Being able to impart an understanding of aquatic ecosystem functioning and cultivating knowledge of the role waterways played in the colonization of our state is central to the mission. This has opened doors for involvement from volunteers, community partners and guest lecturers from Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Power Co. and city municipalities.

It’s been a neat way to combine education and outreach with outdoor recreation and get so many players involved. Counties will outline their learning objectives during the event-planning process and tailor each session accordingly. A group might spend one day in the classroom and the next day exploring the Elk River, for example.

Marion County 4-H’ers receive lakeside paddling instruction from their 4-H Agent Rebecca Danley before venturing out on nearby Bear Creek.

Before setting out on any over-water adventure, it is important that young people learn the fundamentals of kayaking such as selecting the right size boat and paddle and how to maneuver. All classes include a dry-land instruction component so that everyone has the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their small craft and get the lowdown on staying safe and having fun.

A sight you will always see at RiverKids programs is participants wearing properly fitting personal flotation devices, or PFDs. We pride ourselves on water safety and risk management practices. PFDs often get a bad rap, as they can be bulky and awkward (which is why you need one that is made for paddling), and can be viewed as uncool. By making time for the children to splash around and float through swift water on their backs, they become accustomed to that extra-protective layer.

Alabama 4-H’ers covered hundreds of miles on beautiful waters like Big Wills Creek, Elk River, Sandy Creek, Coosa River and Bear Creek, and reservoirs such as Wedowee and Wheeler, and learned about what goes into the management of their natural resources.

USFWS Biologist Daphne Moland brought awareness about threatened and endangered species and how important clean waterways are to them.

Others such as Sam Sandlin of the Natural Resource & Conservation Service have educated our youth about the impacts of different types of land uses on water quality.

Future educational programs with 4-H RiverKids include pollution prevention, river-basin geology, wetlands and kayak fishing.

With the help of donors such as the Alabama Power Co. Foundation, TVA, Alabama RC&D and Alabama 4-H Club Foundation the program is made possible in Franklin, Limestone, Marion, Walker, Marshall, Jackson, Cherokee, Etowah, Clay, Shelby, Tallapoosa, Calhoun, Coosa, Randolph, Chambers, Autauga, Elmore, Escambia, Dale, Houston, Barbour and Covington counties.

Alabama 4-H and ASRT aspire to bring paddling opportunities to young people and families spanning all 67 counties to connect them to the many miles of rivers and streams in their own backyard. Though RiverKids is currently being offered in 22 Alabama counties, its success suggests it will continue to grow into other parts of the state. Not only do participants learn about paddling and environmental awareness, they gain valuable life skills, and it’s been a real pleasure to witness all of the internal and external players come together to make it happen.

Emily Nichols is an Extension specialist with 4-H Natural Resources and Environmental Education.




A Simple Tractor

This Alabama company is looking to bring back small family farms.

The Oggun tractor made its debut at DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville in July. The management team at the Co-op is (from left) Bud Murdock, manager; Ronny Neely, general manager; and Andrea Nolen, assistant manager.

by DeWayne Patterson

On a hot, July day, as the sun beamed down, people young and old came to DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville.

They were there to see something new, an Oggun tractor.

"We are taking orders today," said Andrea Nolen, assistant manager at the Co-op.

As Nolen spoke, a youngster sat on the display tractor as his father talked to David McGriff, a farm advisor for the tractor.

"It’s an ideal fit for the small farmer," McGriff said.

He said the tractor is perfect for a young person wanting to farm.

"It’s a simple operation," he added.

The simple operation is the brainchild of two longtime friends, Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal. The two men have formed CleBer LLC based in Jackson County where Clemmons lives.

It is the first U.S. company approved by the Cuban government to do business in Cuba since the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations.

"Tractors for Cuba was an easy conclusion," Clemmons said. "The Cuban government had clearly stated that importing $2 billion of food annually was a problem that urgently needed to be solved."

David McGriff, a farm advisor for CleBer LLC, gives demonstrations of the Oggun tractor.

The Oggun tractor is similar to the first tractors built for 40-acre farms in the United States. Clemmons said it’s based on the Allis-Chalmers version built from 1948 to 1955.

All patents on the Allis-Chalmers tractor have expired, so he and Berenthal hired an engineer to model a tractor like it with some adjustments.

According to Clemmons, the Cuban government doesn’t want agribusiness but does want small, family farms.

While the Cuban deal is still in the works, CleBer will begin selling its $10,000 tractor to U.S. farms.

"This will allow us to generate revenue while we wait on the building to get underway in Cuba," Clemmons explained.

And with that, even better, more jobs are being produced in Alabama. The tractors are being manufactured at Liberty Steel Fabrication Inc. in Fyffe, in DeKalb County. The plant is estimated to create 15-30 jobs.

"We selected Liberty as much for their approach to business as their expertise in fabrication and assembly work," Clemmons said. "Liberty represents a best-in-class approach to manufacturing that will enable us to rapidly bring to market our products and implement our global strategy."

The Oggun tractor is named after a powerful warrior and spirit of metal, and has a simple design.

"That means you can fix and maintain it in the field with nothing more than a wrench," he added.

The Oggun’s zero-turn means a farmer can plant 11 percent more than the industry average.

The tractor has a 19-inch ground clearance and it can have a belly and rear attachment at the same time, meaning a farmer can lay a row out and plant it all in one pass.

"The most important thing is that the tractor includes parts that are all standard, off-the-shelf parts to help [Cubans] in the evolution of farming," Clemmons said.

Clemmons said he and Berenthal believe they can sell hundreds of tractors a year to Cuban farmers. And later, they believe they will also be able to export Oggun tractors to other Latin America countries that have low or no tariffs on Cuban products.

For the first few years, Clemmons said the company would export components from the United States for assembly in Cuba. Eventually, they plan to begin manufacturing many of the parts themselves in Cuba. In time, the company plans to grow big enough to employ 300 people.

Success in Cuba will provide proof that products can be provided to consumers on the lower end of the economic spectrum with profit for everyone who contributes.

"The roots of our creating this model clearly lie in Cuba," Clemmons said. "But its growth transcends culture and politics. The CleBer business model is designed for implementation in countries across the globe where the small farmer has been ignored."

Clemmons said agriculture in the United States is such a success story that most do not realize the small family farm has all but disappeared.

"Our goal is to reverse that problem and use our success in the United States to build the systems to lift the rest of the world to the next level of local food production," he added.

The tractor made its debut at DeKalb Farmers Co-op in July. People came by to see it, asked questions and drove it.

"We will sell the implements such as the plow, cultivator, planter, blade bucket and sled here at the store," Nolen said.

"It’s a very simple tractor," McGriff added. "So simple, you can buy parts at the tractor store."

DeWayne Patterson is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel, www.thedailysentinel.com, in Scottsboro.




Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

Record corn crop, higher exports expected

U.S. corn area in 2016-17 is estimated at 94.1 million acres, of which 86.6 million likely will be harvested for grain, up 5.9 million from last year.

With a national average yield forecast of 168 bushels, corn production this year would reach 14.5 billion bushels, 939 million bushels above last year’s harvest and 324 million more than the record 2014-15 crop.

The larger supply is expected to have a dampening effect on prices, making U.S. corn more competitive in the global market and boosting exports to 2.1 billion bushels in 2016-17, up from 1.9 million from the 2015-16 crop and the highest since 2007-08 when it reached 2.4 billion.

Use for ethanol as well as other food, seed and industrial uses is expected to increase only modestly (less than 1 percent) to 6.7 million bushels, reflecting the maturity of those markets. Feed and residual use (a category that mainly includes livestock feed as well as other uses unaccounted for) is expected to consume 5.5 billion bushels, up 300 million from the 2015-16 crop.

With projected supply expected to exceed total use of the 2016-17 crop, ending stocks are forecast to grow to 2.1 billion bushels, up from the 1.7 billion bushels expected to be on hand at the end of the 2015-16 crop year.

USDA to help fund bio-based product development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications for funding to help support the development of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and bio-based products.

"The bio-economy is a catalyst for economic development in rural America, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farmers and ranchers," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Investing in the businesses and technologies that support the production of biofuels and bio-based products is not only good for farm incomes but the whole economy benefits from a more balanced, diversified and consumer-friendly energy portfolio, less dependence on foreign oil and reduced carbon emissions."

Funding is being provided through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Bio-based Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, formerly known as the Biorefinery Assistance Program. Congress established the program in 2008 to encourage the development of biofuels using renewable feedstocks. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to include renewable chemicals and bio-based product manufacturing. The program now provides loan guarantees of up to $250 million to develop, construct and retrofit commercial-scale biorefineries and to develop renewable chemicals and bio-based product manufacturing facilities.

For this announcement, USDA will seek applications in two cycles. Applications for the first funding cycle are due Oct. 3. Applications for the second cycle are due April 3, 2017. For more information, see page 48,377 of the July 25, 2016, Federal Register. Application materials can be found on USDA’s Rural Development website.

Eligible borrowers include individuals, corporations, federally recognized tribes, units of state or local government, farm cooperatives and co-op organizations, associations of agricultural producers, national laboratories, institutions of higher education, rural electric cooperatives, public power entities – or a consortium of any of these borrower types. Entities that receive program financing must provide at least 20 percent of the funding for eligible project costs.

Changes in farm real estate values vary widely

Changes in inflation-adjusted average farm real estate values (the value of farmland and buildings) have varied widely across the nation, with some states showing an increase of 25 percent or more while other states have posted declines.

The value of farm real estate is expected to vary over time to reflect changes in expectations for income streams from future use – including both agriculture and non-agricultural uses.

From 2010-15, the largest state percentage increases in farm real estate values occurred in the Northern Plains and Midwest regions, presumably based on expectations of high farm-based earnings.

In contrast, while farmland values in the Northeast are typically among the highest in the country, this is largely due to urban proximity rather than agricultural returns, and declines in farm real estate values generally reflect regional impacts from the downturn in the residential housing market.

Consumer demand boosts organic food sales

U.S. organic food sales were an estimated $37 billion in 2015, according to the latest data from Nutrition Business Journal.

Organic food products are still gaining ground in conventional supermarkets as well as natural foods markets, and organic sales accounted for about 5 percent of total U.S. food sales in 2015, according to industry estimates. Although the annual growth rate for organic food sales fell from the double-digit range in 2009-10 as the U.S. economy slowed, growth rates since 2011 have rebounded to 10-12 percent, and are more than double the annual growth rate forecast for all food sales.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the top-selling organic category, followed by dairy products. Organic farmers often earn substantial price premiums for their products.

Higher world, U.S. cotton production predicted

The 2016 U.S. cotton crop is expected to reach 15.8 million bales (1 bale = 480 pounds), 23 percent larger than the 2015 crop, reflecting a 17-percent increase in acreage, lower abandonment and higher yields compared with last year.

Globally, cotton production is projected to reach 102.5 million bales in 2016, up 5 percent from last year. Global cotton production is concentrated among a small number of countries, with India and China accounting for nearly half the world production and the top five producers expected to supply 77 percent of the world’s cotton this year.

Production in most countries is expected to increase at least modestly this year, with the exception of China, where production is expected to fall 4.5 percent to 21.4 million bales as acreage there falls to historically low levels. Given the large increase in U.S. production, the U.S. share of global supply is expected to increase from 13.2 percent in 2015 to 15.4 percent in 2016, compared to a 27-percent share supplied by India and 21 percent by China.

Rejections of imported food products on the rise

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees the safety of most food sold in the United States. Part of this includes inspecting imported foods at the border or port of entry for evidence of adulteration or misbranding.

A recent Economic Research Service study examined patterns in FDA import refusals and compared results with an earlier study of data from 1998-2004. In both time periods, the top three products in terms of refusals were fishery/seafood products, vegetables/vegetable products and fruit/fruit products.

The countries with the most food shipments refused by FDA were Mexico, India and China.

In fishery and seafood products, the most common adulteration violations were for filth (visually apparent nonfood material), the presence of salmonella bacteria and veterinary drug residues. In spices, flavors and salts, a category in which the number of violations almost doubled from the earlier study to the recent one, the most common violation also was for salmonella.

Salmonella is a genus of bacteria that can cause typhoid fever and other digestive illnesses.

FDA uses risk-based criteria to determine which shipments are inspected because it does not have the resources to check all inbound goods.

World food insecurity likely to decline in next decade

The latest International Food Security Assessment suggests food security will improve over the next 10 years for the 76 low- and middle-income countries examined by USDA’s ERS.

The improvement is driven by expectations of falling food prices and rising incomes across most of these countries. The share of the total population within these 76 countries that is food insecure is projected to fall from 17 percent in 2016 to 6 percent in 2026.

The report estimates per capita food consumption and evaluates that against a nutritional target of 2,100 calories per person per day to determine whether population groups should be considered food secure.

At the regional level, the greatest improvement in food security between 2016 and 2026 is projected for Asia, where the share of population that is food insecure falls from 13.2 to 2.4 percent.

The share of population that is food insecure in the Latin America and the Caribbean region is projected to fall from 14.6 percent in 2016 to 6.4 percent in 2026.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world and, like the other regions, its food-security situation is projected to improve over the decade, but at a slower rate. The share of the region’s population that is food insecure is projected to fall from 29 to 15 percent.




Ag Roundup 2016

Annual tradition set for Oct. 1 before Auburn homecoming game.

Press Release from Auburn University

Auburn University’s Ag Heritage Park is the place to be for homecoming Saturday, Oct. 1, as the Auburn Agricultural Alumni Association and the College of Agriculture present the 2016 Fall Roundup and Taste of Alabama Agriculture. A homecoming pregame tradition, Ag Roundup will open four hours before the Auburn/Louisiana Monroe football game and wrap up an hour before kickoff.

This is the 37th year the alumni group and college have co-sponsored Ag Roundup with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of agriculture and its major impact on Alabama’s economy.

Arguably the biggest pregame tailgate party on the Auburn campus, Ag Roundup offers samples of a multitude of Alabama-grown and/or -processed food products, from bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin and fried catfish to steamed edamame and collard greens.

In addition to food, Ag Roundup features children’s activities, informative displays, and silent and live auctions to raise money for College of Agriculture scholarships. Last year’s Roundup drew over 2,600 football fans and area residents and raised a record $28,850 for scholarships.

Admission is $5 per person, payable at the gate, with children 6 and under admitted free. Activities will be set up on the South Donahue Drive side of Ag Heritage Park with the main entrance located between the Alabama Farmers Pavilion and the Ham Wilson Livestock Arena.

Corporate sponsors for 2016 include John Deere, SunSouth LLC, TriGreen Equipment and Milo’s Tea Co.

For more about Ag Roundup, to donate auction items or to reserve exhibit space, contact Amanda Martin at amanda.martin@auburn.edu.

Ag Heritage Park is on South Donahue Drive, between Lem Morrison Drive and West Samford Avenue.




Another Good Hand Hangs Up the Spurs

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I always have mixed feelings when members of my staff retire and move on to another chapter of their lives. I am always happy for them to be able to move on to do other things the 40-hour week may have kept them from doing. I am happy they are able to spend more time with family and friends. But, from a selfish perspective, if I could, I wouldn’t let any of them retire until after I retire myself. Over the past 15 years, I have seen several key players retire and move on. And, if you want to know who I mean by key players, I mean everyone from laboratory directors to poultry division directors to meat inspection directors to office staff to field personnel. I consider everyone on the team to be key players. There are some I have leaned on more than others, but everyone who works under the state veterinarian’s umbrella is important.

But, to be really honest with you, when your personal secretary hangs up the spurs and moves on, it leaves a little more of an empty spot than most of the rest who have retired and moved on. At the end of June, Crystal Kennedy, my personal secretary, retired after 25 years of service with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

There are a couple things I need to mention before I bring Crystal into the conversation. First, anybody who has a good secretary knows how hard they work. And, of course, every good secretary knows the supervisor hasn’t got a clue how hard they work. I like to compare it to seeing a duck swimming out on a pond or lake. The duck moves along and hardly makes a ripple on the water, but, if you could see below the surface, there is a lot of paddling going on. I suppose any success I may enjoy with my job as state veterinarian represents a lot of work going on below the surface.

The second point I want to make is that the term secretary is becoming considered politically incorrect. In fact, most government entities have replaced the position of secretary with administrative assistant. I was able to find out that the word secretary comes from the Latin word meaning confidential officer. No one knows why that is a bad thing, but you can ask the folks at Google and they will give you plenty of documentation that the word is not politically correct.

In some cases, I can understand the connotation of certain terms can be a little degrading. I have a friend, Eddy Leverett, in Cullman, who once corrected me when I referred to him as a horse trader. He told me the term horse trader sort of painted a negative picture. He asked me to refer to him as an equine relocation expert. I can see the logic in that, but, when I use the term secretary, I hold those I reference in the highest regard.

Crystal became my secretary back toward the end of the summer of 2003. That was about the time when a whole lot of things required from state veterinarians were changing. We were just beginning to work through all kinds of emergency-preparedness plans. Cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture were about to get much more complicated. (Cooperative agreements are between State Departments of Agriculture and the USDA. There are things mutually beneficial to both state and federal governments. We write up a work plan and budget, and the USDA provides funds to accomplish our plan.)

And we were about to open the door on animal disease traceability. Back in the old days, we called it animal identification; but that, like a lot of other terms, became politically incorrect.

Anyway, my point is that about the time Crystal came to work on the team, my life was getting a lot more complicated with a lot of new requirements and paperwork. She pretty much took all the changes in stride. Without good secretarial assistance, there are many times I would have probably just curled up in the fetal position on the floor of my office.

Crystal came in with experience in the agricultural community. She had also worked with a rodeo company, so dealing with cowboys with issues like health certificates and other regulatory issues was not a challenge. Then when animal disease traceability began to be a major priority for us, she became the premises ID coordinator and became a quick expert on that subject, as well as being responsible for sending out ear tags from our office to be used by producers.

I occasionally listen to talk radio and hear the host refer to the call screener. I realize the call screener plays an important role in the success of the radio program. One of the things Crystal did well was to answer the phone calls coming into my office and to have the wisdom to know which ones she could handle and which ones needed to come to my desk. If you ever called my office and asked to speak to Dr. Frazier and were asked what the call pertained to, it was not because I didn’t want to talk to you. It was because Crystal could often do a lot better job helping you with what you needed than I could.

Also, I want to mention that just keeping me pointed in the right direction could be considered a fulltime job in itself. I love my job. I tremendously enjoy getting to go to various agriculture meetings across the state. I am even occasionally asked to come to explain some of our issues like bird flu to non-agriculture groups. Those appointments keep me pretty busy. And, just to be perfectly honest with you, I may struggle just a little in keeping my schedule straight. If I did not have someone making sure I am where I should be when I should be there, I am likely to be in Mobile to speak to the Rotary Club when I should be in Huntsville at a cattlemen’s meeting. No one will ever know how difficult it is to have me in the right place at the right time (except Crystal’s replacement and she is about to find out).

People you work closely with over the years become kind of like family. We all go through the triumphs and tragedies, the highs and lows, and just the everyday things making up life. I was around for Crystal’s marriage to Bucky, a man who is in the agriculture arena every day. I was around as she became a mom and then became a mom again. I guess we all see one another mature and become the people we will eventually be as we travel down the road. So as Crystal lays down the title of Secretary (confidential officer) and continues with the titles Wife and Mother and whatever else she does with life after retirement, I wish her the best. She will be missed.

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




Blood Cleanses

by Glenn Crumpler

A couple of weeks ago, we were banding our bull calves using the Callicrate Bander, a product of one of our corporate sponsors. Hank Gaines, one of our Cattle for Christ board members, was helping us and we were discussing the pros and cons of banding calves versus the knife version of castration.

During our conversation, Gaines mentioned a conversation he had with another good friend of ours, Chris Sessions, a longtime cattleman and order buyer who had perfected the knife technique on 400-800-weight bulls. Without going into all the details, one statement that Sessions made regarding the importance of proper technique when using the knife was: "Blood cleanses!"

As a Christian, this is a common phrase and spiritual truth, but, as I researched the phrase as it relates to the physical cleansing, I ran across an amazing article written by Paul Brand, edited by Philip Yancey and originally published in the Feb. 18, 1983, issue of Christianity Today. Following are some excerpts from this article.

One cold, snowy night, Brand was walking along a dark street in London when he began to hear a familiar tune. As he turned a corner, he saw the source of the music was a small Salvation Army choir whose only audience was a drunken gentleman who was propping himself against a railing, and a businessman on the corner who kept glancing at a pocket watch. The words of the song were:

"There is a fountain filled with blood
"Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
"And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
"Lose all their guilty stains."

Brand wrote, "An unavoidable smile crosses my face as I hear those words. I have just come from hospital rounds, where I saw blood being drawn from some veins, transfused into others, and diligently scrubbed off surgical smocks and nurses’ uniforms. With my church background, I know the origin and meaning of that Christian hymn, but these other two bystanders, listening half-heartedly – what images fill their minds as they hear those words?"

Consider the term "washed in the blood": nothing in modern culture corresponds to the idea of blood as a cleansing agent. We use water and soap to clean. Blood is a soiling or staining agent, something we try to scrub off, not scrub with. What possible meaning could the hymn writer, and Bible writers before him, have intended?

The symbol of blood with its specific quality of cleansing appears throughout the Bible, from the earliest books to the latest. In Leviticus, priests sprinkled cleansing blood on the skin of a person with an infectious skin disease. New Testament authors often refer to Jesus’ blood "cleansing" us (e.g., I John 1:7), and Revelation describes a multitude who "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev. 7:14 KJV)

Does this frequent reference to blood indicate primitive Christianity’s distance from modern culture? To the contrary, in the case of this one symbol, blood, and its specific application of cleansing, modern medical science has shown the meaning derives precisely from the function of the actual substance. Presumably, biblical writers did not know the physiology behind their metaphor, but the Creator chose a theological symbol with an exact analog in the medical world. All we have learned about physiology in recent years confirms that blood cleanses.

To grasp the function of blood as a cleansing agent, put a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm and pump it up to about 200 mm of mercury. Initially, your arm will feel an uncomfortable tightness beneath the cuff. Try picking up a hammer and driving nails into wood with the cuffed arm. The first few movements will seem quite normal as the muscles obediently contract and relax. Then you will feel a slight weakness. Almost without warning, a hot flash of pain will strike. Your muscles will cramp. If you force yourself to continue the simple task, you will likely cry out in absolute agony. Finally, you cannot will yourself to continue; the pain overwhelms you.

When you release the tourniquet and air escapes from the cuff, blood will rush into your aching arm and a wonderful sense of relief will soothe your muscles. Your muscles move freely, the pain vanishes and life feels good again. Physiologically, you have just experienced the cleansing power of blood.

While the blood supply to your arm was shut off, you forced your muscles to keep working. As they converted oxygen into energy, they produced certain waste products (metabolites) normally flushed away instantly in the bloodstream. Due to the constricted blood flow, however, these metabolites accumulated in your cells. They were not cleansed by the swirling stream of blood and, therefore, in a few minutes you felt the agony of retained toxins.

The body performs its janitorial processes with speed and efficiency. No cell is more than a hair’s breadth from a blood capillary, lest poisonous by-products pile up and cause the same ill effects felt with the blood pressure cuff experiment. Through a basic chemical process of gas diffusion and transfer, individual red blood cells, traveling slowly inside narrow capillaries, simultaneously release their cargoes of fresh oxygen and absorb waste products (carbon dioxide, urea and uric acid). The red cells deliver these potentially hazardous chemicals to organs that can dump them outside the body.

In the lungs, carbon dioxide collects in small pockets and is exhaled with every breath. The body monitors how long this process takes and makes instantaneous adjustments. If too much carbon dioxide accumulates, as when you climb a flight of stairs, an involuntary switch increases your breathing to speed up the process. (Conversely, no one can commit suicide by not breathing – the involuntary trigger forces you to breathe.)

Complex chemicals are filtered out by a more discriminating organ, the kidney. Some observers judge them second only to the brain in complexity. The body obviously values them greatly, for one-fourth of the blood from each heartbeat courses down the renal artery to the paired kidneys.

Filtering is what the kidneys are all about, but in very little space and time – a new heartbeat pumps another gallon of blood through the floodgates each second. Each kidney manages speed by coiling the tubules into 2 million crystal loops, where cells can be picked over one by one.

Red cells are too bulky for those tiny passageways; thus, the kidneys extract all the sugars, salts and water from each cell and deal with them separately. The kidneys remove the red cell’s entire payload to distill some 30 chemicals; then its enzymes promptly reinsert 99 percent of the volume into the bloodstream. The 1 percent remaining, mostly ammonia, is hustled away to the bladder to await expulsion. One second later, the thunder of the heart resounds throughout the body and a gallon of fresh blood rushes to fill the tubules.

Thirty years ago, people with bad kidneys would have died. Now, however, three days a week for four hours each day, they lie motionless as a kidney dialysis machine crudely approximates the intricate work of the soft, bean-shaped human variety. Ours, however, weighs only 1 pound and works around the clock.

Other organs enter into the scavenging process, also. A durable red cell can only sustain this rough sequence of freight loading and unloading for a quarter-million circuits or so and then, battered and leaky as a worn-out river barge, it is nudged to the liver and spleen for one last unloading. This time, the red cell itself is picked clean, broken down into amino acids and bile pigments for recycling. The tiny heart of iron, magnet for the crucial hemoglobin molecule, limps back to the bone marrow for reincarnation in another red cell. Four million red cells a second retire to the junkyard in your body; 4 million more leap from the marshes of bone marrow to begin their circuit of fueling and cleansing.

All this inquiry into the process of cleansing leads back to the meaning of the metaphor. Blood sustains life by carrying away the chemical by-products that would interfere with it. This is the medical explanation of blood’s cleansing property. As I reflect on the body of Christ, the blood metaphor offers a fresh and enlightening perspective on a perpetual problem in that body: sin.

Metaphors age over time; sometimes they crack and the concepts inside them begin to spill out. Yet in blood we have the perfect analog to reveal the process of sin and forgiveness with startling clarity. Forgiveness cleanses the wasteful products (sins) that impede true health, just as blood cleanses harmful metabolites.

Too often we tend to think God’s laws were given for His sake, but the Old Testament shows that sin is a blockage, a paralyzing toxin restricting our realization of full humanity. God gave laws for our sake – not for His own.

Separation is at the root of sin: separation from God, other people and our true selves. Sin poisons us and it must be purged before we can be whole.

"Truly it is evil to be full of faults," Pascal said, "but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to recognize them."

The more we cling to our private desires and our own satisfactions at the expense of others – the further we will withdraw from God and others. The Old Testament Israelites had a vivid pictorial representation of this state of separation: God’s Presence rested in a Most Holy Place, approachable only once a year (the Day of Atonement) by one man, the high priest, who had purified himself through an elaborate series of blood sacrifices. Jesus Christ made that ceremony obsolete by a historical once-for-all sacrifice.

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:28, NIV) Christ became a sacrificial victim as well as priest, conquering evil by forgiving it with his own blood.

The same living blood that bathes every cell with the nutrients of life also carries away all the accumulated waste and refuse. By his blood we are forgiven, made clean.

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




Bonnie Plants for Sale at Lauderdale!

Bonnie Plants recognized Co-op store in Florence for sale promotion.

Bonnie Plants recognized Lauderdale Farmers Co-op in Florence as one of the stores with the best showing of the Bonnie Plants Sale 4 for $10 sign during their April sale. The store received a $100 check for the employees and the store manager received $100. Pictured from left are store employees Robbie Neal, Lisa Cole, Mike Terry, Carolyn McDonald, Valeria Fowlkes and Renay Putman.

Corn Time





CowPokes




Earl





Fall Armyworms Reported in 23 Alabama Counties

by Mary Johnson

Along with drought, Alabama farmers are now battling the onward march of fall armyworms. Farmers are encouraged to scout crops and hayfields for the caterpillars and report sightings to a local Alabama Cooperative Extension System office.

The crawling creatures were officially reported in 14 counties in July, and were found in nine other counties earlier this summer. Affected counties include Blount, Butler, Calhoun, Clarke, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Talladega and Tuscaloosa. Another report showed fall armyworms had crept into Lamar County.

Calhoun County farmer Adam Wilson discovered fall armyworms in his fields as he mowed this week.

"The armyworms we found were in or near the final stages of the larvae cycle, which is the timeframe they can do the most damage," Wilson said. "These caterpillars can become detrimental to many types of forages."

According to ACES, fall armyworms feed on a variety of crops, but they especially enjoy feasting on Bermuda grass, which is grown in hayfields and pastures for livestock. The caterpillars can quickly invade an area and defoliate crops or hayfields.

The drought has already hurt Alabama pastures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 24 percent of the state’s hayfields as poor or very poor as of July 17.

However, for Lamar County dairy farmer Will Gilmer, the hungry caterpillars have done more damage than the lack of rain.

"Because of the two-month drought, we’ll only have about 40 percent of our normal corn silage yield this year, but, in one night, armyworms stripped 75-80 percent of our sorghum crop," Gilmer said. "You can’t beat farming in the good times, but then there’s also awful years when prices are low, expenses are high and Mother Nature delivers blow after blow. All you can do is remember that people are depending on you for their food and there will be better days ahead."

To scout for armyworms, ACES suggests using a sweep net on fields during early morning and late afternoon. Best practices for control are frequent mowing and insecticides.

To report fall armyworms and get advice on treatment, ask for the animal science and forages regional agent at a local ACES office, or contact Dr. Kathy Flanders at 334-844-6393. For more information on fall armyworms, see www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1019/ANR-1019.pdf.

Mary Johnson is with Alabama Farmers Federation.




Fall Is a Great Time for Jerky and Sauerkraut

by Angela Treadaway

Jerky

Fall and winter are ideal times for making jerky since the cooler weather allows you to place your dehydrator in the garage without worrying about insects contaminating the meat. Bacterial growth causes the greatest safety concern when making jerky. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends meat be heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees before being dried. Heating the meat to this temperature assures any bacteria present will be destroyed. Using the dehydrator alone will inactivate microorganisms, but will not kill them.

Cook the meat by baking or simmering.

Using the oven method, place the jerky on cake racks with baking sheets underneath and bake in a 325 degree oven. Check the internal temperature of the meat using a digital thermometer.

To simmer jerky in a marinade, prepare two to three cups of your favorite marinade and bring it to a rolling boil over medium heat. Add a few meat strips, making sure the marinade covers them. Reheat to a full boil.

After pre-cooking the meat, place the strips on a rack, place rack in the dehydrator and maintain a constant temperature of 140 degrees during the drying process. This is important because the process must be fast enough to dry food before it spoils, and it must remove enough water to prevent microorganisms from growing.

Jerky is adequately dried when a cooled strip cracks, but does not break when bent.

Sauerkraut

Each year I receive calls from people who make sauerkraut early and find it spoiling. With this summer’s extreme heat, this may be a greater problem. The ideal time for making sauerkraut is in the fall when the weather is cool. In order for the cabbage to ferment, it needs to contain natural sugars found only in fall cabbage. Cooler weather allows fermentation to take place at a rate that discourages spoilage.

Making Sauerkraut

Shred or cut the cabbage about 1/16-inch thick, about the thickness of a quarter. It needs to be broken up or pounded enough to bruise the cells to reduce the sugars.

Prepare sauerkraut in a large stone or glass crock or food-grade plastic bucket.

Do not use aluminum, copper, iron or galvanized-metal containers. Fermenting sauerkraut directly in jars is also not recommended; there are more opportunities for spoilage and undesirable microbial growth.

Use canning or pickling salt. Use 3 tablespoons salt for each 5 pounds of shredded cabbage. Don’t reduce the amount. Pack cabbage down so the liquid is drawn to cover the cabbage.

Let it sit and keep it between 60-75 degrees. It will take three to four weeks at 70-75 degrees and five to six weeks between 60-65 degrees. Higher temperatures will encourage spoilage and the cabbage will not ferment below 60 degrees. For quicker fermenting, there are starter cultures you can purchase from places like Amazon on the internet. Fermenting can be done with a starter in seven to 10 days.

When fermentation is complete, sauerkraut may be canned or frozen for long-term storage.

"Let’s Preserve Sauerkraut," a flyer, is available from your local cooperative Extension office or on the web at http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preserva....

Each year when cabbage is readily available at produce stands, I like to make freezer slaw. Freezer slaw, like freezer pickles, contains a high proportion of sugar. This helps to preserve the texture of the slaw.

Freezer Slaw

Yield: about 5 pints

Source: "Ball Blue Book"

2 pounds cabbage
1 large green pepper
3 large carrots
¾ cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup vinegar
½ cup water

Shred cabbage, green pepper and carrots. Add onion. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand 1 hour. Drain. In a saucepot, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; boil 3 minutes. Cool. Ladle sauce over cabbage mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir well. Pack slaw into freezer containers leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

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.




Family Farm-to-Fork

Stacey Hardy with locally grown items in her restaurant; behind her is Katrina Watson, the chef.

The journey from Rosa Lee's homeplace to gourmet restaurant

by John Howle

As young girls, Stacey Hardy and Michelle Lowery Combs spent a tremendous amount of time on their grandmother’s farm in Cedar Springs between Jacksonville and Alexandria. When their grandmother, Rosa Lee, passed away in November 2011, the family faced not only the loss of their beloved grandmother but also the loss of the home place.

Divorced and struggling, Rosa Lee had worked to pay off the mortgage of the place earning $1.67 an hour as a mill worker. Unfortunately, she died without a will and family infighting resulted in plans for the place to be auctioned. Ten years before Rosa Lee’s death, older sister Michelle and her children lived in a mobile home on a level spot near the house where a chicken house once stood. At the time of the auction, Michelle wasn’t in a financial position to buy the place.

Younger sister Stacey and her husband, Rick, however, had means to save the farm. At the time, Stacey and Rick were operating a successful business called Wireless Expressions, which included AT&T retail stores across Alabama. She and Rick bought 25 acres of the property that included the house.

Once the family farm was secured, they got an offer from a larger AT&T dealer to buy their chain of stores.

"We went from 15 stores and 57 employees to suddenly having plenty of free time to rethink our future," Stacey recalled. "My husband bought a tractor to work our 25 acres that had been neglected for years, and I decided I wanted a tractor, too."

It was the purchase of his-and-hers tractors and the sale of their stores that led to PondeRosie Farms, which was named after the grandmother.

"Stacey and Rick started using planters to plant 320 foot rows of produce on 8 acres with no real game plan for harvesting all the produce that would come in at the same time," Michelle said. "This is where I and my family helped out harvesting 11 rows of green beans."

Stacey Hardy, center, with her son, Caleb Kunstmann, and family friend, Allegra Champion, at The Downtown Market selling produce.

With all the produce that didn’t get eaten or canned, Stacey and Michelle decided to sell the excess from PonderRosie’s Farm at local farmers markets.

"This became a full-time job for us, including the seven children Stacey and I have between us," Michelle said. "I loved us being together as we watched the memory of our grandmother live on."

"We selected a large variety of different kinds of seeds just to see what would grow best in this area," Stacey said. "We were harvesting about 20 bushels of green beans each week from those 11 rows."

While working the farmers markets, Stacey and Michelle loved watching their kids interact with the customers about the vegetables they helped grow.

"Stacey was able to use her corporate world experience in sales, and I loved being together reliving my childhood experiences with my grandmother," Michelle said.

Through The Downtown Market located on Wilmer Street in Anniston, Stacey, Michelle and their children saw 700-800 people each Saturday as they sold their excess produce.

"Our best customer was Katrina Watson, a locally celebrated chef with an idea for a restaurant with the concept of farm-to-fork and gourmet-to-go," Stacey explained. "My husband and I were talking about the idea, and Katrina would bring by cooked food for us to eat each week. Once Rick ate Katrina’s banana pudding, he was convinced to invest in the restaurant."

This solitary bowl of banana pudding launched the brainchild of Katrina, one of the area’s most talented executive chefs, and Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go was established using produce from PondeRosie Farm and other area farmers who sell at The Downtown Market.

Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go officially opened in April 2016.

Danann Combs, Michelle’s daughter, and a family friend, Jacie Champion, picking beans.

"Rosie’s was a natural move because my family has been so heavily involved in the local farmers markets," Stacey added. "We canned 350 quarts of green beans that first year, so I was used to the hard work that would go into the restaurant."

Rosie’s now employs 20 people. That helps the local economy and provides customers with fresh food grown locally.

"Just like the farm, our restaurant is operating seven days a week," Stacey continued. "People love our chicken salad, our homemade pimento cheese made from Wright’s Dairy Cheese, and meatloaf made from Gene Miller’s Grass Fed Beef."

On Sundays, Stacey and Katrina plan the menu for the week based on what is seasonally available. During the winter months when fresh, local produce is not available, Stacey and Katrina can keep selling.

"Many of our vegetables such as peas, corn, squash and okra will freeze well, and we can continue to offer healthy food all year," Stacey said.

Stacey is in the process of working with the health department officials and food agencies to be able to offer canned foods in the restaurant, as well.

If you are passing though Calhoun County, check out Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go and sample their food choices. You can also try locally raised beef with the hamburger that won the Champion Best Burger of all local restaurants in that area.

Stacey says the local mayor and council have been extremely helpful with not only the support for the farmers market but they are also regular customers at the restaurant.

Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go is located at 333 Henry Road on the newly opened 431 Eastern Bypass in Calhoun County. Their phone number is 256-342-5292 and you can visit them on Facebook where Michelle manages all social media. On Facebook, you can visit PondeRosie Farms or Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.



FFA Sentinel: 88th Annual Alabama FFA State Convention

Bettering Communities and Growing Leaders

The 2016-2017 Alabama FFA State Officer Team members are (from left) Torran Smith, Hannah Black, Becky Hawkins, Ben Castleberry, Ethan Mobley and Sierra Goodwin.

by Ben Castleberry

The 88th Annual Alabama FFA State Convention was held in Montgomery June 8-10, 2016. FFA members from across the state met in Auburn June 7 to compete in the state contests. Different Career Development Events, or competitions, ranging from Safe Tractor Driving to Prepared Public Speaking to Livestock Evaluation were completed that Tuesday. Auburn University teamed up with the Alabama FFA Association to help with the state contests.

On Tuesday night, FFA Night at the Biscuits sponsored by Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts was held. FFA members filled Riverwalk Stadium to watch the Montgomery Biscuits take on the Biloxi Shuckers, with the Biscuits coming out on top. The 2015-2016 Alabama FFA State President Wade Gossett threw the first pitch.

This year’s Convention was called to order Wednesday, June 8, and had an outstanding attendance of 2,020 members, advisors and guests. During the first day, members and guests listened to former University of Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle as he keynoted the first session.

During the first session, State FFA Advisor Jacob Davis gave his advisors challenge. Davis highlighted the outstanding chapters across the state that go above and beyond every day to better their chapters and more importantly their communities.

The 2016-2017 Alabama FFA State Officer Candidates were introduced. The candidates went through a series of tests, interviews and on-stage actions during the week of Convention. The series of interviews were based on knowledge of Parliamentary Procedure, FFA history and even the issues agriculture faces across the state of Alabama and across the nation. There were four candidates from each district, North, Central and South, making 12 candidates. Six candidates were selected Friday to lead the Alabama FFA Association for the 2016-2017 year.

The Clay Central FFA Chapter displays the numerous banners earned at the 88th Annual FFA State Convention.

The Career and Trade Show opened Wednesday. The Show hosted many agriculture-related corporations, companies and universities from across the Southeast. The Alabama FFA Alumni Association also held a silent auction during the Show.

Starting in the second session, proficiency awards were handed out. The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through their Supervised Agricultural Experiences, have developed specialized skills they can apply towards their future careers. Students can compete for awards on a local, state and national level in 47 areas covering Agriculture Communications to Wildlife Management to Swine Production.

Throughout the week, numerous awards for CDEs and other proficiency awards were handed out.

I asked FFA member Cameron Catrett, Brantley FFA Chapter, about her experiences at State Conventions. Cameron was recently elected South District FFA President. She has also competed and won the State Livestock Evaluation CDE and the State Creed Speaking competition.

"The energy at Conventions is what I enjoy most," Catrett said. "Being with over 2,000 others who are so different, yet so much alike, is amazing! There is an obvious bond that makes everyone feel welcome and reminds me that Alabama FFA is truly one of a kind."

When asked, "Why are you a member of FFA?"

"Growing up, I always heard about FFA," Catrett explained, "but did not realize how many opportunities there were within this organization. When I was finally able to join FFA in the seventh grade, I saw firsthand how I could help promote agriculture by sharing my experiences of growing up on a family farm and being active in my FFA chapter. The excitement I felt after attending my first FFA State Convention ignited a fire in me that still burns strong today."

Outgoing Alabama FFA State Officers (without jackets) pose with incoming state officers. From left are Sierra Goodwin, Wade Gossett, Ethan Mobley, Jordan Stowe, Ben Castleberry, Cassidy Catrett, Becky Hawkins, Anna Pollard, Hannah Black, Ivy Harbin, Torran Smith and Whitney Hamby.

The last session of Convention was held Friday and was sad in some cases but exciting in others. The 2015-2016 State President Wade Gossett gave his retiring address, and the six new state officers were elected and installed.

The Alabama FFA Association works to better agriculture, our communities and, most importantly, the leaders of our future.

Ben Castleberry currently serves as the 2016-2017 Alabama FFA State Secretary.



Figs, Poison Ivy, Aluminum and Clay

by Herb T. Farmer

A few weeks ago, while researching a project, I discovered some interesting facts about one of the key products in a formula of dry minerals.

The research was to find out how to make a pulley for the shaft in my workshop that spins the polishing and buffing wheels.

You may be wondering why I don’t just go out and buy one. It is because the pulley desired isn’t a standard size and the only way to buy one is to have a foundry cast one. Uh. Nope! I visited a foundry in North Birmingham recently and got a quote. The figure was somewhere from $1,200 to $1,500.

The reason I needed an odd-sized pulley is so my medium-density-fiberboard polishing wheel could run at 375 revolutions per minute slower for some knife-sharpening applications.

One of my neighbors suggested, instead of calculating the pulley size, I should buy a motor with a variable speed potentiometer.

I was ready to do that. …

Now, back to the foundry. The folks at the foundry were very nice, helpful and took a couple of hours out of their workday to teach me a little about what they do.

For example, they took me from start to finish and showed me how they got an order for a part and made it, then shipped it out within a few days.

The parts are described by the customer and then the design department used a CAD program to create a workable 3D image. It is then sent to a 3D printer where a polymer prototype is made from a proprietary plastic resin.

Then, depending on the quantity needed, either the item is duplicated on the printer or it is sent to the rubber mold department where the prototype is coated with rubber mold material. Once unmolded, the rubber mold is reinforced with another proprietary material – a resin with some sort of fibers in it. The mold is used to cast several polymer clay duplicates of the part ordered. The dupes are then sent to the casting department.

In that department, wooden frames or flasks are made to receive what is known as greensand. The green sand is composed of 10 percent bentonite clay and 90 percent silica sand. A small amount of water is added. (Actually, they use about a dozen different formulas with assorted ingredients) The sand is not green in color, but is green because it is wet or fresh.

The flasks are divided into two parts: the bottom or drag and the top or cope. A layer of greensand is placed into the drag and rammed tight. The part to be cast is placed on the green sand with half of the part protruding from the frame. Green sand is then pounded around the part and leveled with the top of the drag. Talc is then dusted onto the part and green sand. The cope is placed in position and greensand is rammed into the frame, being careful not to disturb the part in the drag.

The flask parts are separated and the part is then removed. Pour sprues and vent holes are placed into the mold.

This company casts in aluminum and brass. They asked not to be named for obvious reasons.

I won’t go into metal smelting, but molten metal is poured into the molds. After a few minutes, the greensand is pounded out of the flasks, revealing the metal part. The sprue is cut off and the part goes to the finishing department where it is sanded and buffed, sandblasted or milled by a machinist.

The whole experience really got me going.

I began researching small furnaces and green sand formulas and got so wrapped up in the things I was learning that I forgot why I had started the whole research process – the casting of a pulley from aluminum cans smelted in a portable furnace.

… I bought an electric motor with a variable-speed controller.

But, I also bought the components for making greensand, building a small furnace and building some casting flasks. I will begin construction, and hopefully casting, this month.

OK. The interesting facts about the component not mentioned in the first paragraph are about clay. Not just any clay but bentonite and a couple of other types of clay.

Bentonite clay is sometimes mixed with diatomaceous earth that can be purchased in food-grade standards. Bentonite clay or diatomaceous earth is sometimes mixed in chicken feed or other grain-type foods. I have used that for years in my whole-grain storage containers to control insects.

Bentonite is nothing more than cheap cat litter or Oil-Dri. Of course, that depends on where it is mined. If you buy Oil-Dri from the Mississippi plant, it’s usually bentonite clay. However, if your bag states it is from Georgia, it is probably palygorskite. Although they have similar properties for soaking up contaminants, they don’t have the same makeup when it comes to making greensand.

I found a product at a Westwood Auto Parts store that has proven to be even better. Thrifty-Sorb is made up from Montmorillonite clay that makes a better greensand and has one other property that most interested me.

I usually get poison ivy somewhere on my body at least once a year. Last month, while continuing my noxious vine eradication chore, I accidentally fell into a heap of vines that was destined for the landfill. Guess what? I didn’t get it washed off in time and contracted contact dermatitis from poison ivy.

I read that Montmorillonite clay was reported to have been used for contact dermatitis, so I made a poultice out of some mixed with warm water. I applied it to my arms, where most of the redness was, and it stopped my arms from itching. I did the same when I got fig-fuzz irritation while harvesting figs. It worked for me.

Speaking of figs … how about some fig and walnut muffins for tea?

MISS OPIE'S FRESH FIG AND WALNUT LOVE MUFFINS

Miss Opie’s Fresh Fig and Walnut Love Muffins are probably the best muffins in the world.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 heaping cups fresh figs, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar thoroughly. Gradually add contents of small and medium bowls to large bowl, alternating while mixing on low speed. Increase speed to medium and stop as soon as they are all combined. Stir in walnuts. Gently stir in figs. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick test is clean.

Makes about two dozen and they are delicious!

Thursday, Sept. 22, is the Autumnal Equinox! Celebrate fall!

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 farmerherb@gmail.com. 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.




Horizon Champion’s Choice 16

by John Sims

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS:

Crude Protein (not less than) 16.00%
Lysine 0.63%
Crude Fat (not less than) 3.00%
Crude Fiber (not more than) 10.00%
Calcium (not less than) 0.85%
Calcium (not more than) 0.90%
Phosphorus (not less than) 0.55%
Sodium (not more than) 1.00%
Cobalt 0.03 ppm
Selenium 0.17 ppm
Magnesium 0.24 ppm
Copper 15.00 ppm
Zinc 77.00 ppm
Vitamin A (not less than) 6.70 KIU/lb
Vitamin D3 0.22 KIY/lb
Vitamin E (not less than) 29.30 IU/lb
Biotin 0.40 mg/lb
Thiamine 4.30 mg/lb

Horizon Champion’s Choice 16 is a fortified, pelleted horse feed formulated to obtain maximum performance from gestating and lactating mares and growing colts up to 1 year of age.

The all-natural 16-percent protein and enhanced energy level will ensure young horses meet their protein requirements for muscle and bone growth, and provide lactating mares the protein and energy to maintain maximum milk production.

It is fortified with biotin and other B vitamins as well as high levels of prenatal vitamins and essential amino acids for fetal development and total animal well-being.

It contains the optimum calcium/phosphorus ratio for skeletal growth and milk production. Key trace minerals are chelated to increase absorption and utilization. This improves hooves, health and reproduction.

It also contains yeast cultures for increased feed digestibility.

Feed at a rate of ½ to 1 pound per 100 pounds of body weight per day. You should always split this amount and feed twice per day to maintain a healthy digestive cycle.

All Horizon Premium Equine Feeds are made with premium quality ingredients and have set formulas to ensure consistent performance.

Ask your local Quality Co-op store for Champion’s Choice 16 and see the difference it can make on your mares and foals.

Be sure to look at all of our quality feeds at www.alafarm.com.

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




How's Your Garden?

Dahlias can be the highlight of a garden at this time of year.

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Love Dahlias?

Would being in the midst of every imaginable color and type of dahlia and with gardeners who love to grow them sound like a good way to spend a weekend? If so, you might enjoy the American Dahlia Society Annual Meeting in Asheville, North Carolina, Sept. 15-18. The show and flower judging are Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Golf and Tennis Resort. Registration fee includes access to the exhibit and seminars. Optional tours are available at an extra charge for all day to Biltmore Estate or the Haywood College Dahlia Garden and the N.C. State Arboretum, the Bullington Gardens dahlia display in Hendersonville, and private garden. Make plans ASAP before Asheville gets booked out in the fall. For complete information and registration, visit http://www.nationaldahliashow.org/.

Grow Your Own Garlic

My email has been peppered with promotions from mail-order seed companies for all kinds of interesting garlic varieties. Descriptions vary from mild to strong, heirlooms from Italy and Spain, types with purple skins and some that are extra-long keeping in storage. There are two types of garlic – softneck, ones with flexible stems generally seen braided together, and hardneck, with a stiff stem. Softneck types are recommended for warmer climates. Tempted by their extra-large bulbs, I tried elephant garlic in the past, but I found it a little bitter for my taste. If you are a garlic lover, the only way to try these different varieties is to grow your own. September and early October are the times to plant them. The bulbs will form next spring for harvest in early summer.

Peeling Bark

By this time of year, you will have seen the sloughed-off bark of crape myrtle trees caught in the crotches of the trees or on the ground around their trunks. Don’t be alarmed. This is part of the normal shedding of barks these trees do in the summer. You can pick up the bark pieces and throw them in the compost pile or leave them in place like leaves. River birch and Chinese elm are two other trees commonly grown in Alabama that also shed their bark.

Feed and water pineapple sage to encourage more fall blooms.

Fall-blooming Perennials

Mums, pineapple sage and other late-blooming salvias will respond to a little fertilizer early this month with more healthy growth, branching and blooms in the fall. Make room for these plants if they are crowded by tired summer-bloomers like rudbeckia, herbaceous peonies (not woody tree peonies), Shasta daisies, daylilies and others whose blooms are faded and leaves browned. Trim back the old growth and make room for the fall bloomers.

Easy New Shrubs

One easy way to expand a planting of azalea, hydrangea or forsythia is to let them layer on the ground. This is nature’s way of propagation whereby long-reaching branches take root where they rest on the ground. You can assist this by making sure the bending branch is well-anchored to the ground. U-shaped pins fashioned from heavy-gauge coat hanger wire will do, or you can simply lay a brick or stone on the branch to keep it in contact with the ground. Rough the ground a little to be sure it is bare and cover the stem lightly with soil. In a year, it will have grown enough new roots that you can cut it from the mother plant and transplant where it is needed. You may speed rooting by gently scraping the surface of the bark from the underside of the stem and dusting with a rooting hormone, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you’ve ever seen thickets of these plants on an old homestead, you know they are pretty good about doing this on their own.

Pruning Tropical Plants

Do you have any potted hibiscus you plan to overwinter in the garage or indoors? If so, now is a good time to prune it to a manageable size that will be easy to put on a hand truck and roll into a warmer location. These will drop leaves indoors in the winter, but they will respond to sunshine, water and fertilizer when you put them back out after the weather is reliably frost free and warm next spring.

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




Iridology

by Nadine Johnson

Iridology is the study of the eye’s iris. Every nerve in the body is attached to the brain and the nerves are reflected in the eye. It is a true science. A person (an iridologist) who is properly trained can use a special instrument to read the eye and detect problems in a person’s body … health problems, but not necessarily a diagnosis.

Dr. Bernard Jensen (3/25/1908-2/22/2001) was a renowned, modern-day leader of this profession in the United States.

The first iridologist I met was A.D. Hale. He trained under Jensen. He was the founder of The Health Hut in Mobile. He and I were both charter members of The Gulf Coast Herb Society that was formed in the early 1980s. I heard him explain iridology a good many times. I never used his services, but I absorbed the knowledge he shared.

Time marched on. I left Mobile and moved back to my native Pike County. Just recently, I have learned he is doing well and still does eye readings on occasion.

By now, my readers know that Richard, my husband, was my patient for a good many years and through a good many health issues. One of these problems caused me to say to his doctor, "If I don’t get help in a hurry, I’m going to be a widow."

Richard was obviously very ill. The doctor heard my words, but he did not get my message. He did the usual – chest X-ray, lab work and electrocardiogram. Then he looked at Richard and said, "All is well. You are just like a 29-year old man. Just go on and enjoy life." (Later he apologized for this statement,)

I was in a state of shock. How was I to get help? In the middle of the night, I put my hand on Richard to be sure he was still breathing. I said a little prayer, "Please, God, if it is time for him to go, take him as quietly and easily as possible."

As an afterthought I added, "But while he’s still on Earth, please show me what to do for him."

As I opened my eyes the next morning, I knew, without a doubt, I should take him to an iridologist. I had learned Gloria Jennings, then owner of The Herb Shop in Montgomery, offered this service. She saw him and saw that his circulation was severely impaired. I will always feel that she saved his life. (Later tests showed his carotid arteries were 85 percent and 95 percent occluded.)

On that day, we learned about the alternative product called Mega-Chel. He took that and improved rapidly. He gained weight and energy. His eyes that had been so vague and cloudy were bright again. This wasn’t the end of his health problems, but we welcomed the reprieve.

Later, an outstanding surgeon performed both left and right carotid surgery. (If it were possible to go back in time, the second carotid surgery would be omitted.) He continued to take certain alternatives for the rest of his life.

More recently, I have heard of a young man who is very ill. He has been unable to work for some time. However, his doctors have been unable to determine the cause of this illness. I remembered that an iridologist probably would be a great benefit for him. Online I found Dr. Jimmy Steger in Mobile. Steger is a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and iridologist. After a personal interview with him, I added humanitarian to this list.

Steger’s impressive educational journey (both self-taught and formal) in holistic health care began at the age of 5. His degrees are from several of America’s outstanding schools. These schools include studies under Jensen.

The very ill young man has been informed of Steger’s availability.

Dr. Jimmy Steger’s telephone number is 251-660-1240. For more information, go to www.drsteger.net.

A. D. Hale can be contacted at 251-867-5900.

"The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body also is full of darkness." (Luke11:34 NKJV)

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



Mandatory Game Check

For the first time in history, all hunters will be participating in valuable harvest data collection.

Until the regulation became effective July 19, 2016, Alabama was only one of three states that did not have a hunter harvest reporting system that gathers valuable data for state wildlife agencies.

by Chuck Sykes

I would like to pass along our thanks to those of you who attended one of the educational Game Check seminars this summer. The mandatory Game Check program should prove to be one of the most progressive management tools implemented by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division in decades. For the first time in the history of the WFF, all hunters will be a part of the data collection process. Near real-time harvest data will be gathered on deer and turkey throughout the state. This data will be accessible to all hunters as well as our biologists. We are confident, over the next few years, trends observed in the harvest data will allow us to better set seasons and bag limits for hunters in Alabama. The success of this program is dependent on hunter participation. That is why we scheduled over 30 seminars throughout the state in an attempt to inform as many hunters as possible. These seminars consisted of a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation describing in great detail the Game Check program and the most efficient way to enter data into the Game Check system followed by a question/answer session. The question and answer portions typically lasted an hour to 1.5 hours. The participants took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions on myriad conservation topics on predator control, antlerless harvest goals, waterfowl management, the latest on ongoing research and many others. The one common thread that was prevalent throughout the seminars was the abundant misconceptions about the Game Check program. Therefore, I would like to clarify some of these misconceptions.

All deer, both bucks and does, and turkeys must be entered into the Game Check System this hunting season.

Misconception 1: WFF is placing an undue burden on the hunters of this state by requiring them to report game harvest.

Fact: Game Check is not a novel idea created by the ADCNR. Many states throughout the country have similar systems. In fact, some states still require hunters to physically carry harvested game to a centralized check station where a biologist gathers valuable biological information. As of the penning of this article, Alabama is one of only three states that does not have a mandatory data-recording system (physical tag, physical check station or online reporting).

In Alabama, a limit of three buck deer was implemented through the regulatory process beginning in the 2007-2008 hunting season to help provide improved age structure and a better sex ratio of Alabama’s white-tailed deer populations. This regulation has been an overwhelming success in improving the quality of animals harvested and has improved hunters’ satisfaction. Hunters were required to maintain a harvest record that indicated when they killed each of their allotted three bucks and also their five turkeys. The paper record of the harvest did not provide WFF with any information regarding the temporal and spatial (when and where) distribution of the deer or turkey harvested in Alabama. Since that time, a large segment of the hunting public has continued to request a more rigid tagging system due to their desires to ensure all hunters were abiding by the deer- or turkey-harvest limits.

After carefully investigating the options available to WFF, a decision was made to implement a telephone/internet-based reporting system (Game Check) very similar in design to systems used in many other states throughout the United States. Requiring hunters to place a physical tag on a deer or turkey would significantly increase expenditures by WFF and it would not provide data regarding the health and harvest distribution of our deer and turkey populations. The Game Check rules are easy to comply with and will provide a simple and efficient way to gather biological information. They also will help our conservation officers greatly in enforcing deer and turkey limits.

Misconception 2: Game Check was instituted to increase revenue for WFF. Hunters will be fined $500 for failure to report their harvest.

Fact: Revenue from fines imposed by district judges as a result of game and fish violations accounted for less than 2.2 percent of the WFF budget, including all conservation officers, wildlife and fisheries biologists, and support staff, over the past three years. We do not expect to increase revenue to our agency as a result of implementing the Game Check system. Again, the primary reason for implementing this system is to collect harvest information for deer and turkey to better manage these resources of our state for the sustainable benefit of all Alabamians. Furthermore, it is important to note that WFF has historically operated well within its budget without cost overruns or any General Funds revenues.

Regarding the costs of fines, the vast majority of WFF violations are classified as a Class C Misdemeanors that carry fines from zero dollars to $500. The Administrative Office of Courts maintains a recommended fine list for most WFF offenses. According to the AOC fine list, the recommended fine for harvest-record violations is $50. Although most judges follow this list, the final assessment of the fine is determined by the district judge, not WFF or the conservation officer.

Misconception 3: I don’t have internet or cell service at my camp. It’s not practical for me to leave and ruin my hunt to check in a deer.

Fact: WFF realizes that some rural areas of Alabama have limited internet or cellphone service; however, we maintain that most hunters are willing to assist the WFF with the data-collecting process if it will improve compliance with daily- and seasonal-bag limits as well as provide valuable information regarding harvest distribution of deer and turkey. The new regulation allows the hunter 48 hours to report each deer and turkey harvest. Remember, conservation officers live and work in the same areas where the hunting takes place. They understand the areas of the counties with limited service. Therefore, officer discretion will be utilized to a great extent. Again, the reason for Game Check is to gather biological information, not issue fines.

In addition, the Outdoor Alabama app available to smartphone users will allow hunters to import harvest data even if no cell service is available. Utilization of the Outdoor Alabama app is by far the most efficient way to enter data into the Game Check system.

Misconception 4: Game Check is going to cost more for the Alabama hunters.

Fact: The funding for the entire project comes from the budget of WFF. Game Check has not caused any increase in license costs for Alabama hunters. In fact, other than consumer price index increases that were approved by the state Legislature, hunting license fees have only been increased five times for Alabama residents over the 106-year history of the division.

There are three ways to report your harvest: smartphone app, online at www.outdooralabama.com and 1-800-888-7690. But, the easiest and most reliable way is through your smartphone.

Misconception 5: The information gathered through the Game Check system is only accessible to WFF staff.

Fact: The data derived from Game Check will be available to anyone through the Outdoor Alabama website. Hunters will be able to access this information in almost real time to see the deer or turkey harvest on a county-by-county basis throughout the state.

Misconception 6: A voluntary reporting system would work just as well.

Fact: A voluntary Game Check reporting system has been in use for the past three seasons with dismal participation. Less than 20,000 deer were reported for the 2013-2014 season. Approximately, 16,000 deer were reported the next season. As of Feb. 11, 2016, only 15,138 deer were reported. This proves that a voluntary system will not work.

The ADCNR, through its WFF Division, is charged with managing, protecting, conserving and enhancing the wildlife resources of Alabama for the sustainable benefit of the people of Alabama. White-tailed deer and wild turkey are by far the most utilized wildlife resources in Alabama and drive the $2.6 billion economic engine that hunting provides to our state’s annual economy. Because these resources are so important to all Alabamians, managing them in a sound manner with the best biological data available within the means of our Department and the state’s hunters is crucial.

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




Movin’ Cows

by Baxter Black, DVM

"Truly a beautiful day to be movin’ cows to summer pasture," Steve’s boss observed.

Satisfaction wafted off him in gently rising curls. Steve wiped a streak of green off his pant leg with a flat stick.

They’d loaded the cows in a hired semi and the calves into a converted hay wagon. This wagon had rubber tires, a long tongue and 12-foot hand-crafted (homemade) side boards. There was enough wire at the corners to run transatlantic cable from New York to the Canary Islands!

"I’ll take the calves and lead the way. You ride with the driver," the boss instructed.

The road picked up incline as the procession wound its way into the hills above Ellensburg. The trailer tracked as well as a camel draggin’ a unicycle through a fresh-plowed field against the rows! The driver grumbled, but Steve kept an eye on the swaying trailer ahead. He noticed the right rear tire go from low to flat.

The semi pulled alongside the boss’s pickup to alert him.

"Just keep goin’," the boss shouted, "We’re almost there!"

Smoke began to roll out of the tortured tire. Soon sparks were flyin’! Steve was the first to spot flames!

They pulled over as the pickup and trailer ground to a halt. The rear of the trailer was burning like an old apple crate! They cut through the wire and pried the backboards off!

The calves were smashin’ themselves to the front! Steve fought his way through the smoke and fire, and began pushing and throwing the 200-pound calves out onto the highway!

"They’ll find ‘em," Steve thought, "That’s what cowboys are for!"

Once the calves were all safe and scattered from Pasco to Seattle, they unhooked the pickup and watched the trailer burn.

"Might as well go unload the cows," the boss instructed.

Steve directed the driver inside the pasture beside an old, once-portable unloading ramp. Steve got out as the driver jack-knifed into position. He managed to drag the chute square to the semi’s end gate.

"Just a foot to go," he thought as he looked toward the mirror on the side of the cab.

At the moment he raised his arm to signal the driver, one of the bovine passengers cocked her tail. In full view of the driver, she cascaded a colon load of secondhand grass and water over Steve’s blackened, sooty frame!

"Yup, a good day," he thought as he unloaded the cows by himself, because the driver was still incapacitated, rolling on the ground in paroxysms of uncontrolled laughter!

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




Now Accepting Applications for USDA Organic Cost Share Programs

Press Release from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

Growers and handlers of organic agricultural products now can recover part of the cost of their U.S. Department Agriculture certification. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will be allocated $23,072 to reimburse producers and handlers who either obtain or renew their organic certification in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016. The reimbursement covers 75 percent of certification costs, up to a maximum of $750.

The Organic Certification Cost Share Programs reimburse eligible organic crop and livestock producers for a portion of their organic certification costs. The OCCSP consists of two programs authorized by separate pieces of legislation: the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program authorized by the Agriculture Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act of 2001.

"Organic producers are encouraged to participate and we hope the program will help them recoup some of the expenses associated with becoming a USDA certified organic operation," said John McMillan, commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

The ADAI will administer this noncompetitive grant program by processing applications for cost share funds, and USDA will reimburse them. USDA distributes funds on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Organic operators typically submit a one-page application form, a W-9 Tax Form, proof of certification, an itemized invoice of certification expenses and proof of E-Verify to ADAI. The ADAI reviews the application and then may reimburse the operator for 75 percent of the cost of certification, up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification per year.

All farmers, ranchers and handlers who have received organic certification or a renewal of certification from an accredited certifying agent between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, are eligible to participate. Farms transitioning to organic production are not eligible. Most certification-related costs are eligible for reimbursement. Organic producers and handlers may be reimbursed for expenses paid for first-time organic certifications.

Eligible costs include: application fees, inspection costs, travel or per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage. Ineligible costs include: equipment, materials, supplies, late fees and inspections for transitional certifications or due to violations of NOP regulations. The OCCSP reduces the cost of organic certification in accordance with the Agricultural Marketing Service’s aim to strengthen market support for U.S. agriculture.

Applications will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2016. Application forms and additional details can be obtained by calling Johnny Blackmon with ADAI at 334-240-7257 or by email at Johnny.Blackmon@agi.alabama.gov. If you are seeking organic certification, you can find information on the process for certification at www.ams.usda.gov/.



PALS: Taylor White Elementary

Experience Shows and a Clean Campus Glows!


by Jamie Mitchell

Taylor White Elementary in Mobile County is not new to the Clean Campus Program, and it shows! Angel Phelps, the STEM teacher at Taylor White, recently had me speak to one of her classes. This group is doing a top-notch job with their program!

We spent the class period discussing what they are already doing as well as new ways they can make a difference. The students are currently heading up the recycling efforts at their school. They were actually going on their recycling bin rounds when I arrived. The guidelines for the Clean Campus Program fit in nicely with STEM instruction for the environment by giving the students a chance to participate in hands-on recycling and cleanup efforts. Also, my 30-minute program highlights recycling facilities, so the students were able to see pictures of actual recycling plants and the sorting process.

Additionally, I showed the students many ways they can reuse and repurpose items rather than throwing them in the trash. This is just one more way to keep items from ever making it to the landfill!

Considering their proximity to the beach, I encouraged the students to participate in our annual Coastal Cleanup taking place Sept. 17. There are 30 zones across the shoreline of Alabama with thousands of volunteers getting the Trash Out of the Splash. I hope to see some Taylor White Elementary students at one of our zones this year! For more information on the Coastal Cleanup, visit the website www.alabamacoastalcleanup.com.

If you would like to introduce a school near you to the Clean Campus Program or if you would like to participate in our Coastal Cleanup yourself, check us out online at www.alpals.org. I may also be reached anytime at 334-263-7737 or Jamie@alpals.org.

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.




Preserving the Farm Homemaking Way of Life

Marie Slade, known as an accomplished seamstress, has an eye for color and design. Each month, she presents a different quilt block to the Kozy Quilters Club. The block may be an original design or she may get her ideas from another source.

Marie Slade shows how doing the small things with great love can touch the whole fabric of a community.

by Carolyn Drinkard

Writer Laura Ingalls Wilder once said, "Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is just like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens the whole fabric of civilization."

Marie Slade could not agree more! Marie lives in the small, rural community of Opine that lies between Tallahatta Springs and Campbell, near the Tombigbee River. She is a farm homemaker who is working hard to preserve her way of life, doing the little things in her home and community that make life better for everyone.

Country living is very special to Marie. She and her husband, Willis, enjoy gardening, but have recently downsized since their daughter, Alissa Lotane, moved to Tallahassee, Florida. Like her mother, Marie enjoys preserving homegrown vegetables and fruits and sharing them with her neighbors and friends. She uses time-honored secrets her mother taught her years ago to can tomato relish or make scuppernong jelly. Keeping alive the traditions of gardening and preserving fresh foods is a mission for Marie, one that seems to be gaining popularity elsewhere as more people seek healthy food grown by local farmers.

Marie plants large sunflowers to harvest for year-round bird feeding. During the summer months, Marie places netting on the blooms to keep birds from eating all the kernels.

The Slades love nature and being outside. They grow large sunflowers so they can harvest the seeds for the birds they invite into their yard and feed year-round. Marie also plants flowers that attract pollinators to their vegetables and fruit. She welcomes hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Like so many southwest Alabama gardeners, she enjoys working in her flowers and exchanging cuttings with family and neighbors.

Protecting their small community is another priority for the Slades. Both are active in the Opine-Tallahatta Springs Volunteer Fire Department. Founded in 2005, the volunteer group provides service for a large unincorporated area of northern Clarke County. Willis serves as both a board member and a fireman, while Marie works with other wives raising funds for the group. These ladies solicit donations for door prizes and drawings held at the group’s fundraisers. Marie also oversees the food committee, which plans their spring event.

"I enjoy doing anything that involves my community," Marie explained. "I like to help with things that make life better for all of us."

Preserving and passing on the art of quilting is a passion for Marie. An accomplished seamstress and quilter, she currently serves as vice president of the Kozy Quilters Club, a group known for promoting the joy of quilting. The group is also actively involved in charitable outreach throughout five counties, with programs such as Project Linus that gives small quilts to children who have cancer and other major illnesses. Marie helps to make pillows for the local dialysis center, feeding bibs for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and baby items for the Alpha Pregnancy Center. Recently, Marie and others were instrumental in getting the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center to add the Kozy Quilters to its Black Belt Quilting Trail. Now, visitors following the Trail can come to the Kozy Quilters’ Building, interact with members, buy from their local gift shop and view the extraordinary quilts on display.

Marie has quilted all her life, learning the art from her mother. She has made hundreds of quilts and finished even more for other people. One of her prized possessions is a quilt made from her mother’s hand-embroidered dresser scarves and doilies. Marie took the heirloom pieces and put them on blocks to make a breathtaking design for her quilt. This preserved her mother’s priceless works for generations to come.

Left to right, Marie Slade has a passion for preserving old things. She gathered her mother’s embroidered dresser scarves and doilies and made them into a quilt. This preserved her mother’s work for generations to come. Using Jack Hankins’s coaching and spirit shirts, Marie designed a special quilt to commemorate the 2010 season when Thomasville won the 4-A state title. From the left, Carter Hankins, Coach Jack Hankins and Cooper Hankins hold the family treasure.

Marie also makes the popular memory quilts. Some call these t-shirt quilts because they are made from t-shirts or other shirts worn on special occasions. One of her favorites was a quilt made for Jack Hankins, head football coach at Thomasville High School. After THS won the 2010 State 4-A Football Championship, Hankins’s wife, Denita, wanted to use her husband’s coaching and spirit shirts to create a lasting memory of a special time in his life. She asked Marie to design and make the quilt. Using Thomasville’s traditional maroon and gray colors, Marie created a masterpiece that tells a story of a remarkable season.

Hankins said he treasures the quilt.

"It was one of the most special gifts I had ever received," he stated. "I’ll keep it forever!"

For a while, Hankins hung the quilt in the Thomasville Tiger Field House for his team to enjoy. Many loyal fans visited and viewed the Tiger quilt. Now, the Hankins family keeps it preserved at home.

"I love to preserve old things," Marie laughed, "and I seem to have passed this on to my daughter Alissa, who works in historical preservation in Tallahassee."

Perhaps that’s why vintage quilts capture her imagination! Many people bring their older quilt tops for Marie to put together in what she called "keepsake" quilts. With her artistic eye for color, design and symmetry, she adds appropriate borders and backings to complement the original colors. She then takes the tops to her friend, Ramona Kelley, who does the actual quilting.

Recently, she completed a butterfly quilt for a friend, who had found the top in a box she had inherited. She explained that the butterflies had been embroidered on old feed sacks. Some of the butterflies were missing tentacles, so Marie had to add the finishing touches on many of the pieces. For the backing, she chose a muslin material that matched the color of the feed sacks. The end result was a prized family heirloom.

Often when family members bring in their tops, there are not enough pieces to make a quilt. When this happens, Marie usually makes more squares or she designs the tops in a way to add solid blocks with matching designs. She stated that having a hand in preserving the past was very rewarding to her.

Marie and Willis Slade are both active volunteers in their community. They are members of the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Clarke County Cattlemen’s Association.

Dedicated to preserving their farm way of life, the Slades are active members of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Both started working with the organization in the late 1980s when Marie got involved through a sewing contest. Throughout the years, she has worked in various capacities, but now serves as the Clarke County Women’s Leadership Chairperson, coordinating the sewing, quilting and cooking contests at the local level. Marie has also served on the State Women’s Committee, which plans and sponsors the Alabama Women’s Conference each year. Both Slades are also active members of the Clarke County Cattlemen’s Association.

Community involvement is a way of life for the Slades. They attend Elam Baptist Church, where Marie serves as church clerk. Both are actively involved in the church’s many outreach and ministry projects.

In the Thomasville community, Marie works with the Thomasville Worthwhile Club, a local service organization. She prepares the club’s scrapbook, preserving the history of the club and its many charitable contributions.

She also helps with the community calendar sales, a project that raises money for local scholarships to Alabama Southern Community College.

In addition, the Slades volunteer yearly in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, raising funds for those in need.

Marie Slade is committed to preserving her way of life as a farm homemaker. Each day, she does small things with great love. Each day, her work touches the whole fabric of civilization.

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



Reflecting on 65 Years of Bush Hog


Bush Hog officials Anna Elizabeth Howell and Tony Marchese stand at a large billboard promoting the company’s 65th anniversary.

by Alvin Benn

American ingenuity has produced the likes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers – four geniuses on a short list of honorees listed by a grateful nation.

Alabama brothers Forby and Orby Lawrence are unlikely to be mentioned in the same breath as those high achievers, but their amazing little rotary cutter has helped to revolutionize agriculture in America.

Neither brother changed history as did Ford, Edison and the Wrights, but American farmers owe the pair a debt of gratitude for developing a device that was unique at the time and still has a worldwide audience.

From a humble beginning came a company with a unique name and an aggressive sales force that’s established itself from coast to coast since business began in 1951.

It’s known as Bush Hog, an organization considered by many to be the gold standard of farm implements. Best of all, it’s still going strong as it prepares to celebrate its 65th birthday this year.

Bush Hog has become so well-known, in fact, it’s as much an expression as a product – a noun as well as a verb. Just think of it as a generic salute to the ingenuity that created it.

Farmers and homeowners alike have been known to say, "I’m going to bush hog the lower 40 because it’s gotten out of hand." It might not be the lower 40, but knee-high grass and weeds at times can be an eyesore and much in need of being cut.

The Bush Hog’s moniker is magic and unforgettable. Need a tissue to wipe your runny nose? Most people will just say, "I need a Kleenex," and let it go at that.

Kleenex is, of course, a brand name, but it is also symbolic of creative Madison Avenue executives who came up with a tag dating back to the 1920s, one that has stuck with the American public for nearly a century

No one knows the name(s) of those who created Kleenex so long ago, and it’s likely the same will apply to the Lawrence brothers and the Selma investors.

Bush Hog began when the pair conceived a device that helped farmers dispose of pasture and crop residue. Up until that time, it was a giant headache for those who had to get rid of it.

Those old enough to remember what it was like when they were boys have never forgotten men trying to clear a pasture with axes and hoes.

Hay-cutting equipment often was used and tractor drivers were careful to work around big bushes and tree stumps.

Clearing a cornfield and other pastures required dozens of field hands working dusk to dawn until the job was done. That meant days and sometimes weeks of labor-intensive work, depending on the size of a pasture or field.

The Lawrence brothers were no strangers to agriculture and knew something special would be needed to end the backbreaking work needed to clear land and make it even more profitable.

They already owned a farm-equipment business and were aware that mechanical breakdowns were common at the time, especially when tractors and trailers were hauled out of barns for a day’s work.

What they came up with was a pilot model of a rotary cutter built to reduce breakdown of the gear box and drive line. Tree stumps had a way of creating major problems with devices that couldn’t take care of them. Not so with the new Bush Hog cutter.

Left to right, two men observe how well the Bush Hog Model 12 Rotary Cutter cleared the lanes in a cotton field during a field demonstration in the early 1950s. Bush Hog Model 512 pulled by an Allis-Chalmers Model WC Tractor.

"A lot of farm implements in those days had fixed blades that were solid and did the job until it hit something like a tree stump and then they tended to break," said Bush Hog President Jerry Worthington.

The Lawrence brothers’ patent included a swing arm blade so, if the cutter hit something almost immovable, the rotary blade would be deflected through centrifugal force and straightened out. Worthington said the same concept is used today.

The Lawrence patent for the first device of its kind in 1953 has been improved through the years, but remains basically a mirror of what the brothers came up with so long ago.

Employment at the Selma plant once neared 900 and is slowly growing again since its acquisition by the Alamo Group. It’s up to about 350.

Bush Hog’s Research and Development Department often consisted of one man who would take new equipment home where it would be put through punishing tests to see how much it could take.

Bush Hog President Jerry Worthington enjoys looking at an antique sign promoting his company. The sign is on a wall at Bush Hog’s corporate board meeting room in Selma.

The idea was to identify weak spots that needed to be improved or reinforced. Back to the shop it would go until the problems were worked out by engineers who would go through the same procedure if the same problems persisted.

No one is quite sure who should be credited with the name, but one story has it that a man who watched the cutter in action is alleged to have said, "That thing eats bushes like a hog."

Fact? Fiction? Who knows? One thing is certain, though, it fits nicely into the legend that is Bush Hog.

Those who do deserve credit for helping to make the company one of America’s premier agricultural organizations were: Leon and Ray Jones, Bill Sweeny and Earl Goodwin, a World War II glider pilot who heroically took American troops into Normandy during The Longest Day.

The four split duties during those formative years while the Bush Hog factory took shape in a small, dirt-floor factory in Selma.

Goodwin, who would become one of Alabama’s leading political figures as a member of the state senate, used his sales ability to introduce his product to farmers around the country.

He knew that demonstrations were the best way to show the cutter to potential customers and keep them for years to come.

Goodwin, Bush Hog’s first salesman, put a Model 12 Rotary Cutter on a trailer, towed it behind his car and began making stops all over the Black Belt and neighboring counties.

It wasn’t long before sales boomed and Bush Hog became the envy of companies that were just getting started on similar equipment.

Today, Bush Hog’s modern automated facilities boast robotic welders that produce more than a dozen different product lines. The company’s cutters mow over 30 million acres a year.

Bush Hog’s originators are no longer with us, but they would be happy to see today’s modern version.

As has happened with other companies through the years, Bush Hog’s sterling success attracted attention throughout the industry. No doubt, new organizations are hoping they can last as long as Selma’s famous homegrown business.

"Not a lot of companies are still around after 65 years," Worthington said. "Much of it relates to quality. Cutters made decades ago are still handed down from generation to generation of users."

Company officials are busy planning a 65th birthday celebration by year’s end. A special part of the event will be planting a time capsule to be opened 10 years later to celebrate its 75th or diamond anniversary.

Keeping up with the competition isn’t easy in any business and Bush Hog is no exception. That’s why the company is always looking ahead to new products.

Tony Marchese, vice president of sales and marketing, said one of the newest Bush Hog creations has been a rotary tiller that is a gear-driven tool with shielded drive lines.

Marchese said 1,000 of the company’s 1,400 Bush Hog dealers are selling the new RTG tillers.

"We’ve sold more than we thought we were going to," Marchese said. "We’ve captured over 20 percent of the market with that series of tiller; so it’s been pretty successful for us."

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Responsible Ag

West Geneva County Exchange and Morgan Farmers Co-op receive recognition.

by Sharon Cunningham

CONGRATULATIONS to the latest Responsible AG plaque recipients! Robert Pittman, West Geneva County Exchange, and Lance Ezelle, Morgan Farmers Co-op in Hartselle. Both of these gentlemen made Roger Waller work hard in the heat for his findings.

Robert Pittman, West Geneva County Exchange Lance Ezell, Morgan Farmers Co-op in Hartselle

Lance had a couple of unforeseeable hiccups just before the audit. But like a champ this Alabama fan and his team pulled ahead and conquered this audit.

I must apologize now to Pittman. … Thanks to the safety personnel, yep that’s me, he got an extra audit finding because I was trying to show something to Waller. But at least it was a quick and easy fix, I hope. Pittman and his team received the RA plaque in record time.

If you are a manager who has received your plaque and I have not gotten a picture of you to be placed in our magazine, please let me know. Everyone is working hard. Let us share your success.

If you have any questions about the Responsible AG Program or the audit portion, contact Sharon Cunningham, EH&S coordinator for AFC and Agri-AFC, at 256-303-4071 or sharon.cunningham@alafarm.com.




September Lawn and Garden Checklist

PLANT

  • Transplant trees and shrubs after the leaves begin to turn.
  • The end of this month is the perfect time to start planting onion and garlic bulbs for cropping next year.
  • Set out pansies, stock, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, Johnny-jump-ups, pinks and ornamental kale/cabbage in a spot that will receive full sun all winter.
  • September is the month to plant or transplant peonies.
  • Pot up some mint and parsley for the kitchen windowsill to use through the winter.
  • Plant transplants of Bonnie broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale; surround them with a thick mulch to cool the soil.
  • If you intend to force early blooming for the holidays, put your bulbs in the refrigerator now.
  • Order your strawberry, raspberry and blackberry plants for cropping next year as these plants are best planted during their dormant season.
  • Once your vegetable garden is finished, plant a cover crop. These green manures can be plowed under in the spring for a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner.
  • Most garden books will tell you to plant new fruit trees or perennial fruit, vegetable and herb plants in the spring so they can be well-established before their first cold winter. In the Deep South, we have a bigger threat to new plants – the summer heat! Install these plants in the fall so they have all winter to establish before the blistering summer comes.
  • If you overseed your lawn for the winter with ryegrass or other cool-season grasses, get it done early enough for the seed to sprout, grow deep roots and get established before cold weather sets in.
  • If you haven’t already ordered your fall bulbs, do so now! Hold off on planting them until after the first frost.
  • Early this month, sow seeds of mixed greens for fall and winter salads.
  • Plant perennials from seed by scattering them in an open bed or in individual rows. In the spring, the seedlings can be moved to more permanent locations.
  • Early fall is the best time to sow many types of wildflower seeds. The key to success is to make sure your plants have enough time to germinate and establish themselves before the first hard frost. That’s usually about eight weeks.
  • Plant some chrysanthemums for instant color!
  • Choose and plant trees and shrubs with edible berries to provide meals for wildlife, or select for bright splashes of fall foliage.

FERTILIZE

  • Start the autumn cleanup. Remove any old crops that have finished and clear away weeds to leave your plot clean and tidy for the winter.
  • If you don’t know whether your soil is acidic or alkaline, or to find out if your garden has any nutrient deficiencies – or if you are overdoing it already – go by your local Co-op store or county Extension office and pick up a soil testing kit.
  • Hold off on fertilizing trees and shrubs to allow them to harden before winter.
  • Feed transplanted perennials with a good source of phosphorus.
  • When beans and peas finish cropping, simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen that is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.
  • Add well-rotted manure and organic humus to your flowerbeds. Your plants will thank you for it next spring.
  • Roses need to prepare themselves for winter dormancy – not new growth. Stop fertilizing. Also allow hips to form … this tells the plant to harden off for winter.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs with bone meal or a good bulb fertilizer.
  • Begin fall fertilization of cool-season lawns now. Three light feedings made on a holiday schedule – approximately Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving – work better than one heavy application.

PRUNE

  • Keep deadheading annuals and perennials to extend their performance.
  • Help your pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween by removing any leaves shadowing the fruits. Place them on a piece of slate or wood to raise them off the wet soil and prevent rotting.
  • Prune climbing roses and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering (unless they are repeat-flowering, in which case leave them).
  • Prune any late-summer flowering trees and shrubs such as crape myrtle, peegee hydrangea, dinner-plate hibiscus, butterfly bush and rose of Sharon.
  • Stop pruning shrubs. This will encourage new growth, which should be avoided. Any new stuff will be nipped by frost next month. This is NOT good for the plant!
  • At the end of the month, pinch off any tomato blooms and young tomatoes too small to ripen. This will channel energy into ripening remaining mature, full-sized fruits before frost.
  • Stop deadheading coneflower seedheads now to allow goldfinches and other seed-eating birds to enjoy the harvest.

WATER

  • Some vegetables such as cucumbers or eggplants become bitter if under-watered during peak growing times.
  • Keep your azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons well-watered at this time of year to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.
  • Begin holding water back on Christmas cactus until buds appear.
  • Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions.
  • Reduce watering for established shrubs and trees so they can harden off in preparation for winter.

PEST CONTROL

  • Use pesticides wisely. Apply the proper product just when and where needed and use dosages according to the package directions.
  • Slugs are particularly active in September – apply slug bait, diatomaceous earth or other slug-control products during this time. In the fall, slugs lay clusters of eggs about the size of a small BB. Look under stones, boards and around the edge of your lawn for these colorless eggs and destroy any you find.
  • Attack those weeds! Herbicides are particularly effective this time of year, as perennial weeds are storing up nutrients in their roots and quickly absorb the herbicide where it counts.
  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to kill cool-season weed seeds as they sprout, rather than wait until the spring when they’re harder to control. Apply a second round of pre-emergent in about a month.
  • Apply a half-inch layer of compost to areas of the lawn susceptible to brown patch.
  • Continue a disease spray schedule on roses as blackspot and mildew can be extremely damaging in September and October.
  • Treat your lawn with milky spore disease in September. The best time to infect large numbers is in early fall when the grubs are in nice warm dirt, chewing grass roots madly to put on fat for the wintertime.
  • If you have a St. Augustine lawn, be on the lookout for chinch bugs and apply control, the sooner the better.

ODD JOBS

  • Use your garden journal! You’ll be amazed at what this tool will be worth in years to come.
  • Strange, but you may find yourself working harder in the garden in September than in April in Zone 7. The big jobs are staying ahead of the weeds (and bugs), and getting that fall garden vegetable garden going.
  • To test when apples are ripe, gently lift them in the palm of your hand or give them a gentle pull - they should come away easily.
  • Stake tall-growing autumn blooms such as salvia, dahlias and chrysanthemums.
  • Snip off long stems of parsley and freeze them in a bag or jar for winter use.
  • Put out extra bird feeders to support migrating birds.
  • Prepare for Christmas color … place poinsettias and Christmas cactus indoors where they will receive 10 hours of bright light (and 14 hours of total darkness) each day. Christmas cactus will need a cool spot (50-60 degrees) while poinsettias are OK at 65-72 degrees.
  • Plan now to mow rather than rake the first fall leaves, as long as you can, as a healthy way to feed the worms that take the leaf matter down deep into the lawn and tree roots. When leaves get too thick to mow into oblivion, rake, blow or bag them for the compost or leaf pile later.
  • Label your perennials and bulbs before they die back to the ground.
  • Keep harvesting crops. If you have a glut, try freezing, drying, pickling and storing so you can benefit from them later on.
  • In the greenhouse, sweep the benches, floors, ceilings and walls before using a shop vac. Remember, disease-causing organisms can be lodged on rafters, window ledges, tops of overhead piping and folds in plastic. Extra care is needed to clean these areas and also textured surfaces such as concrete and wood that can hide many kinds of organisms.
  • If your garden/tool shed has become untidy with gear and supplies pulled out and hastily stuffed back in over the summer, reorganize and neaten it before winter.
  • If you have clay soil, now is the best time to improve it before it becomes too wet. Incorporate organic matter like compost or peat.
  • If you didn’t get all your seeds sown this summer, save some for next year. Store leftover seeds in a labeled, airtight baggie or glass jar in a cool, dry location or in the refrigerator. Don’t store them in a garage or tool shed.
  • Harvest peanuts as soon as shells become hard.
  • Don’t disturb asters, chrysanthemums, Russian sage, ornamental grasses or other plants of interest in the fall and winter.
  • Create compost bins in preparation for all the fallen leaves and dead plant material which you’ll be collecting over the coming months. Autumn leaves make a great addition to compost bins and are ideal for making leaf mold. Dispose of diseased plant material by burning it or putting it in with your household waste. Don’t compost it as the spores may remain in the compost and re-infect your plants.
  • Clear pond weeds and net your pond in anticipation of autumn leaf fall.
  • Check gutters to make sure they aren’t clogged with old gunk that can cause them to overflow when new leaves start to fall. Watch out for wasp nests that may have been built in the eaves over the summer!
  • Build a cold frame to extend the growing season.
  • Enjoy asters as they come into their full fall glory! Although these perennials look and perform best when dug and divided every two years, that job is best done in spring.
  • Keep filling the hummingbird feeder. Migrating birds will make use of the food supply into October.
  • Lawns could use preparing now for next spring. Aerate and thatch if the soil is compacted. This will allow the soil to drain better and give the roots much-needed oxygen. Seeding can be done as well as fertilizing. Seeding early in fall will give the new roots plenty of time to become established before winter.
  • Research proves that mums overwinter best when plants are left alone with tops uncut until spring.
  • Strawberries are forming next spring’s flower buds now. Fertilize, weed and water as needed.
  • Watch for migrating monarch butterflies that are beginning to head south to spend the winter in Mexico.
  • The cooler days of autumn are perfect for refreshing perennial beds with a layer of compost topped with new mulch.
  • Clean your bird feeders and bird bath. Keeping them cleaned on a regular basis is important for birds’ health.


Small Ruminant Trends

Numbers can lead to speculation.

by Robert Spencer

recently came across a few publications of interest to those keeping up with goat trends in Alabama and the Southeast. The numbers may reveal what I have suspected for some time. The data for both originates from U.S. Department of Agriculture, one from National Agriculture Statistics Service and the other from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. These numbers can cause some speculation from those observing trends within the small ruminant industry.

The first document, "Southern Region News Release Goat Inventory," released Feb. 1, 2016, shows goat (meat and other) inventories for Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Of the four states, Georgia and Florida were the only ones to increase, and both were 7 percent increases. Alabama and South Carolina remained stagnant at 47,000 and 34,000 (respectively). Then again, the U.S. meat goat population remained virtually unchanged for those same two years. Dairy goat numbers in Alabama and South Carolina also remained unchanged at 3,800 and 3,400 (respectively), while they decreased in Georgia and Florida. Looking back at NASS data from 2013 and 2014, meat goat inventories in Alabama were 42,000 and 49,000. So we actually had a 4 percent decrease from 2014. This 47,000 to 49,000 range has been very consistent since the economy fell apart in 2007-2009, back when Alabama had an inventory of around 60,000 meat goats and was one of the top 10 producing states for meat goats.

Table 1

Meat & Other Goat Inventory 2015 & 2016

2015 2016

Alabama 47,000 47,000

Florida 41,000 45,000

Georgia 67,000 72,000

South Carolina 34,000 34,000

The second document, "2016 Alabama Goat Brochure: Goat Review January-May 2016," shows total receipts for meat goat numbers and price trends. In 2014, there were approximately 8,007 goats sold through reporting livestock markets within Alabama (located in Florence, Russellville, Cullman, Moulton, Ashville, Uniontown, Opp, New Brocton and Brewton). In 2015, there were approximately 8,411 goats sold through these same locations, a 5 percent increase. In January-May 2016, there were approx. 2,408 goats sold from reporting locations; that averages out to 482 goats per month. If you multiply that by 12, a simple projection, it only comes to 5,784; a huge drop from previous years. Ask me in January 2017 how that projection worked out.

I know from talking with many of my clientele that they have made the change from meat goats to hair sheep. Due to the low sheep inventory in Alabama, the NASS does not track sheep numbers. Therefore, we cannot compare the two groups in terms of numbers. However, I can express some speculations based on observing the aforementioned numbers.

  • Meat goat inventories and production in Alabama has stagnated for quite a few years.
  • I also speculate those numbers have been replaced with hair sheep inventories and production.
  • My questions are:
  • Is this ongoing situation due to an economy that was slow to recover?
  • Is it due to lack of profitability in meat goat production?
  • How much of this can be attributed to sporadic years of drought?
  • What other factors have come into play?

The numbers I discovered and shared with you do not give us well-defined answers, yet they do provide some speculative theories.

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




Southern Translation

SENTENCE USAGE: "I’ve listened to both sides of the argument and it all sounds like rigmarole to me!"

What does rigmarole mean and where does the word come from?

It means a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure or confused/meaningless talk.

In medieval times, there was a game called ragman that seems to have been like consequences, but with predefined statements. It used a rolled-up scroll containing descriptions of characters, each with a string attached. Players selected a string at random, the scroll was then unrolled and the associated passage read out, to the hilarity of all present (these were simpler times). There are also some suspicions that the same system was used for a gambling game.

The origin of the name for the game is obscure: the oldest form was rageman, said as three syllables, and this suggests it may have been French in origin – a character called Rageman the Good appeared in some French verses of about 1290. Others think it might have come from rag in the sense of tatters, used as a name for a devil (as in ragamuffin, originally a demon).

The name was transferred to various English statutes at the end of the 13th century that were written on scrolls. With the seals and ribbons of their signers sticking out, these reminded people of the scroll used in the game. The most famous such document was the one in 1291 in which the Scottish nobility and gentry subscribed allegiance to Edward I before John Balliol took the Scots throne.

It seems the terms ragman and ragman roll passed into the language as a description of a long and rambling discourse, no doubt from the disconnected nature of documents like the rolls of allegiance. It later seems to have fallen out of use; it reappeared in the 18th century in various spellings such as riggmon-rowle, but it eventually settled down as rigmarole – in the process losing any clear connection with the older term.

worldwidewords.org




Staying Safe

AFC Grain Division is recognized for another year without a lost time accident.

Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s Grain Division was recognized by Grain Elevator and Processing Society for completing the 2015 calendar year without a Lost Time Accident working 120,770 man-hours. This is the sixth consecutive year with a total of 586,168 man-hours worked that the Grain Division has received this recognition. The announcement was made at the GEAPS Exchange in Austin, Texas, March 1, 2016. The plaque was presented to Bo Rouse and the grain elevator staff by Al Cheatham, AFC’s COO (not pictured); Walt Black; John Gamble, AFC’s VP of Grain Department; Frank Wetzel and Marie Cook.

Summer Harvest

The University of Montevallo Community Garden is a small plot with a huge impact.

Holly Wadleigh, far left, with Meredith Tetloft, Hollie Cost and Jill Wicknick.

by Cindy Boyd

Holly Wadleigh is the garden manager of the University of Montevallo Community Garden. As garden manager, Wadleigh oversees all aspects of farming on the approximately one-acre piece of land located just past the UM baseball field on County Road 10 in Montevallo. Wadleigh, along with students, UM faculty and local citizen volunteers cultivate the land, plant, maintain and harvest the crops. The garden consists of vegetables, fruits and a variety of flowering plants with a bee and butterfly garden.

When Wadleigh is not working at the UM Community Garden, you can find her at Petals from the Past in Jemison where she does a little bit of everything from selling plants to packing fruit. She also works for Petals from the Past at Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham.

Wadleigh doesn’t sit still for long, and her passion for gardening is obvious when you watch her work. She and the students have a relationship built on hard work, respect for the garden and the desire to accomplish great things in the small amount of time they are together. The experiences the students receive from the outdoor classroom environment are not only enriching to them but also to the community and the environment.

University of Montevallo students and faculty and local citizen volunteers cultivate the land, plant, maintain and harvest the crops.

The University of Montevallo, with the help of Wadleigh, is offering team-taught courses in which environmental issues are exposed using the lens of the home discipline. Team-taught courses like Summer Harvest combine biology and social work. Dr. Meredith Tetloff and Dr. Jill Wicknick work closely with Wadleigh in the implementation of the course.

The goal of the UM community is not only to provide a hands-on classroom but to utilize the goods they are producing and teach environmental issues involving food shortage. This is the area where sociology comes into play.

Classroom curriculum is taught at the first of the class period, then students report to Wadleigh at the garden for the physical side to the course. Here, the students learn about the biology that goes into farming. They learn about composting, pollination, plant nutrients and ecosystem cycling, soil and soil erosion, and basic plant biology. They also learn about getting a little dirty, digging holes, tilling soil, planting, watering, setting out hay, weeding, harvesting and how to up keep the garden. The students and Wadleigh are building relationships outside the classroom environment and working together to maintain a healthy and nutritious source of produce for the community. The garden produces a variety of okra, peas, beans, corn, eggplant, squash, peppers, tomatoes, figs, blueberries, peaches and more. Wadleigh has pride in the garden being 100 percent organic.

Summer Harvest class of 2016.

As a part of the sociology aspect, the garden allows several u-pick opportunities during the harvesting season. It also has a small dedicated area for personal plots for a nominal fee. However, the bulk of the produce grown at the garden is harvested and donated to Shelby Emergency Assistance. SEA distributes the food to families in need in the surrounding communities. To date this year, the garden has provided 1,044 pounds of produce to SEA, and Wadleigh is hoping to surpass last year’s total of 1,595 pounds. Some of the sociology lectures involve food and health, basic nutrition, food justice and other social movements, assessing communities for food insecurity, environment and disease, focusing on diseases of poverty.

A one-of-a-kind piece of art was created for one of the sheds by the children in Mural Camp, a camp for the young residents of Montevallo.

Each year the garden continues to grow in size and variety. Wadleigh’s dedication to managing this garden has turned it into a learning environment that not only educates the students at UM but provides for the entire community. The City of Montevallo, under the leadership of Mayor Dr. Hollie Cost, supports the garden just as the garden supports the city. The city and the university work together hosting a Mural Camp each summer for the young residents of Montevallo. These children have created a one-of-a-kind piece of art on a shed on the property that adds a unique personality to the landscape.

The City of Montevallo is a small town with a huge impact. This team-taught course is not only a valuable course for the students of the University of Montevallo, it is a team building course that extends to the City of Montevallo. That’s what makes the City of Montevallo a small town with a huge impact on its community.

For more information on the University of Montevallo Community Garden, contact Harmon Hall at 205-665-6480.

Cindy Boyd is a freelance writer from Montevallo.



The Co-op Pantry

I am so excited to have Betty Stephens for our cook this month. While she lives in Monroe, Georgia, on Ho Hum Hollow Road (I kid you not) her son lives in Daphne and he began taking her AFC Cooperative Farming News. Because she loves recipes and cooking, she has agreed to share with us this month. You absolutely have to go check out her blog spot and her videos. She can walk you through so many situations such as canning which I found very helpful. I have exploded many jars of various substances through the years.

"I’m nearly 76 and love cooking. My family comes most every Sunday for dinner (that’s the middle of the day meal to us country folks, not the evening) and I always cook a big spread. And on many holidays the entire extended family comes and we have a big crowd. I’ll ask them to bring a dish for the meal.

"For our Christmas gathering, I start cooking in November and put it in the freezer. I even make Japanese Fruitcake and most women under 50 have never even heard of it much less tasted it.

"My husband and I have truck farmed in the past in a big way, picking seven bushels of okra in one picking. It would take us four hours just to pick the okra, which is an eight-hour day for one person. Along with every other vegetable you can imagine. We never hired any help, just us two doing all the work.

"When our three children were growing up, they worked in the garden picking butterbeans, green beans, squash, corn, pumpkins and butternut squash. We now have figs, muscadines, blackberries and blueberries the family and I use. And I grow a few tomatoes, rattlesnake beans (grown in a tomato cage for easy picking), peppers, squash and eggplant.

"I’ve frozen and canned many bushels of fruits and vegetables over the years and still make fig preserves, freeze blueberries, muscadine jelly and blackberry jelly.

"I feel a need to pass on to the younger generation what I’ve learned so I’d email my family with recipes and helpful hints I’ve learned. After a while, my daughter suggested I start a blog and help many others learn the old ways of cooking. That blog address is: grannystips.blogspot.com. There are videos of me making biscuits, cornbread, jelly and other recipes, as well as pictures of life on the farm."

Betty was also sweet enough to share a cooking disaster that is truly hilarious and makes me feel much better about my many boo-boos.

"I wanted to tell you about a cooking mistake. You can make chocolate bowls that you can put fresh fruit or pudding in to serve and then you eat the bowl, too. You brush melted chocolate on a blown-up balloon. I’d made several and was painting another and the balloon exploded. There was chocolate ALL over me, all over my stove and range hood, the floor … everywhere! And it’s oily so I’m still wiping it down in places."

Here is Ms. Betty’s closing note for us!

"Today’s Sunday and I’m cooking the Beef ‘n Mac. I’ve made a veggie tray – celery, carrots, yellow and orange sweet peppers. I had earlier made a strawberry pretzel pie and Watergate salad. I always make a pan of biscuits and, as my blog says in the biscuit video, ‘if you don’t have buttermilk and White Lily flour, don’t bother making biscuits.’ And tea, of course. I can’t stand the ones in our area saying sweet tea. You don’t have to say that – if it’s tea, then it’s sweet. I’d rather have a glass of water than unsweetened tea. Now I’ve talked your head off, but I do love to cook and I do love to talk about cooking."

Ms. Betty’s email is stephensbett@windstream.net if you have questions or just need some cooking advice.

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

APPLE-RAISIN BRAN MUFFINS

1½ cups raisin bran cereal
1¼ cups milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups apples, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin pans with Baker’s Joy.

In bowl, combine cereal, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir to break up cereal; stir in apples and nuts. In a separate bowl (or on wax paper to cut down on dishwashing), combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to cereal mixture; stir ONLY till moistened.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Note: I got the recipe many years ago from a Winn-Dixie-brand raisin bran box.

OLD-TIMEY COOKED
CHOCOLATE ICING

2 cups sugar
½ cup canned cream, or fresh cream
¼ cup white Karo syrup
¾ cup butter
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla. Cook and stir till it begins to boil. Cook without stirring, except to keep from sticking, to 240° using a candy thermometer (gets the consistency right every time). Let cool without stirring except to check consistency. Add vanilla and stir well, until ready to spread.

Helpful hint: Check your candy thermometer for accuracy by placing thermometer bulb in boiling water. It should read 212°. If it doesn’t, you will need to make adjustments to temperature needed and temperature shown.

Note: I got this recipe from a friend, a preacher’s wife. We had a Sunday night covered-dish meal, that we Baptists are known for, and she brought a chocolate cake with that icing, the best I’ve ever had. The preacher and his wife have now passed away, but I have her original hand-written recipe for the icing, with her notes.

BUTTER PECAN POUND CAKE

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

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray Bundt pan with Baker’s Joy pan spray. (Pam spray will not keep it from sticking.) Sprinkle pecans in pan. Use a sifter and sprinkle powdered sugar over pecans.

In a bowl, mix all ingredients including the frosting. Pour into Bundt pan and cook 45 minutes or until toothpick indicates it’s done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove onto plate.

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

JAPANESE FRUITCAKE

Cake layer 1
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda

In a bowl, preheat oven to 350°. Mix all except 1 tablespoon of flour as regular cake mixture. Divide dough into TWO PORTIONS. Pour first half (will be plain layer) into two prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until passes toothpick test. Layers will be thin; don’t overcook. Remove from pans and let cool.

Cake layer 2
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, chopped

Into second portion, add cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. In small bowl, coat raisins and pecans with remaining flour. (This keeps the raisins and pecans from dropping to bottom of cake pan during cooking.) Add to mixture. Pour into two prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until passes toothpick test. Layers will be thin; don’t overcook. Remove from pans and let cool.

Filling
3 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 package frozen coconut
3 oranges, peeled, sectioned and chopped into small pieces, with small amount of zested peel (You’ll want to purchase a kitchen gadget, Micro-Plane is perfect for fruit zest.)
1 lemon, peeled, sectioned and chopped, with small amount finely grated peel
¼ stick butter

In a saucepan, mix all. Cook until it begins to thicken. (You don’t want it to get too thick because you want it to soak into the layers.) Place one of first layer onto plate. Cover with filling. Place first of second layer on top. Cover with filling. Repeat with second of both layers with filling between and on top.

Note: This recipe is from the era before frozen coconut. If you want to use fresh coconut, crack the coconut, peel the brown off and shred it.

Note: If you want enough icing to put on the outside of layers, double the recipe and thicken enough to stick to outside of layers.

CATALINA CHICKEN

2 teaspoons oil
6 small boneless chicken breast halves
½ cup Catalina dressing
½ cup apricot jam
3 Tablespoons (½ 1-ounce packet) onion soup mix
Preheat oven to 350°.

In large skillet on med.-high heat, heat oil. Add chicken. Cook 4 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a 3-quart casserole dish.

In bowl, mix Catalina, jam and soup mix. Pour over chicken.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is done (internal temperature of 165°).

Serve over hot cooked rice. Delicious and easy to make.

Note: Chicken is one of the healthiest and least expensive meats. This recipe makes a delicious main course.

CHICKEN DRESSING

Chicken, amount desired, up to 1½ cups
3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
6 cups cornbread, crumbled
2 cups biscuits, crumbled
1 Tablespoon fresh dried sage, crumbled
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 eggs
Chicken broth, amount needed to make a thin dressing mixture

Preheat oven to 400°. Pressure cook chicken (don’t use all breasts, not enough flavor). Remove chicken from broth (reserve broth) and chop into small pieces.

Melt butter is CorningWare dish. Cook onions and celery in dish on stovetop till tender. In a large bowl, combine onions, celery, cornbread, biscuits, sage, poultry seasoning, pepper and salt. In small bowl, whisk soup in eggs to mix well. Add to large bowl. Add broth and chicken. Mix well.

Pour into CorningWare dish (will already be buttered from cooking celery and onions). Cook for 20 minutes and slide under broiler for final browning of top. Delicious!

CHICKEN 'N DUMPLINGS

2 Tablespoons butter
2¼ cups White Lily self-rising flour, divided
3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth, divided
¼ cup Crisco, chilled
½ cup milk
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
Black pepper

In Dutch oven, melt butter. Whisk in ¼ cup flour. Reserve ½ cup broth to make dumplings, add rest into Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

In large bowl, place remaining flour. Cut in Crisco using pastry blender until mixture is the size of peas. Blend in just enough broth till dough leaves sides of bowl. Pour any remaining broth in Dutch oven.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead 2 or 3 times. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into strips, about 2x1. Return broth to boiling. Add dumpling strips to boiling broth.

Cover; reduce heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes or till dumplings are cooked through. Stir in milk, chicken and pepper. Cook till heated through.

Note: Don’t even think about using canned chicken broth. Buy chicken, pressure cooker it and you have fabulous broth and tender chicken.

GRANNY’S SOUTHERN
CORNBREAD RECIPE

3 cups White Lily cornmeal mix
1 egg
½ cup shortening (can use bacon grease as part of measurement)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 500°. Spray iron frying pan with pan spray. Place small amount of bacon grease or shortening in pan. Put pan on stove eye and turn on high while mixing ingredients. (Pan should be hot, nearly to smoking, when cornbread is poured in. If it starts to smoke before batter is ready for pouring, turn stove eye off.)

Mix ingredients, adding extra buttermilk if necessary to make a thin batter. Pour into very hot pan (will sear and make a crisp bottom crust). Place in oven. Cook 15-20 minutes till brown on top. Pour out onto cake cooling rack to keep it crisp. Place rack over a bowl or pan for air circulation till cool. Place on plate, slice into 6-8 generous portions.

Note: Here is the entire thing on YouTube if you need to actually see how to make it: youtube/watch?v=rR_vwbNjE24. Cornbread is a staple of any Southern dinner table and I know you’ll soon be making it a regular addition to your family’s meals as well. Enjoy!

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


-- Mary



The Veterinary Feed Directive Rules:

Are you ready?

by Jackie Nix

Yes, this is yet another article about the upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive rules. By now, some of you are probably tired of hearing about them while others are hearing this for the first time. As a refresher, here’s a quick rundown on the history of these rules:

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlined changes in use of antibiotic product in production animals in 2013.
  • Seeks to promote judicious use of antibiotics in animal feed and water
  • Helps limit development of antimicrobial resistance
  • The final rule was published in June 2015.
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2017, medically important antibiotics (shared by animals and humans) can only be fed under the direction of a veterinarian with a valid, written VFD.

As a quick recap, below is a helpful table listing the drugs that WILL be affected by VFD regulations and those that WILL NOT be affected. There are a lot of rumors floating around. This is the accurate list.

Please understand that VFD ONLY applies to medically important antibiotics administered via feed or water. These rules will NOT apply to injectable forms, drenches, etc. Also, please note that VFD antibiotics can only be written for a valid feed drug claim. Extralabel usage is strictly prohibited. For instance, your vet cannot write a VFD utilizing chlortetracycline for pinkeye or foot rot prevention.

Starting in late summer or early fall, you will start seeing the affected medicated product labels with the new VFD text. In short, the new labels will indicate the product requires a VFD in order to be purchased or used. Don’t panic. You can still use the product even if you don’t have a VFD right now. However, this changes on Jan. 1, 2017, when enforcement begins. The feed industry needs this extra time to get new labels printed and into the distribution chain in time for Jan. 1 - this is why you will be seeing them early.

As a producer, now is the time to develop a plan on how you will handle the VFD regulations. Don’t wait until December and then get caught with your pants down. Below is a checklist of questions for you, your veterinarian and feed representative to start discussing and begin forming plans on how to handle:

  • Do you have a herd veterinarian? If not, now is the time to choose a veterinarian and develop a client/patient relationship prior to needing him or her in January.
  • Do you know which feed and water medications currently used in your system will require a VFD? If not, discuss this now with your veterinarian and feed representative and plan accordingly.
  • Have you identified potential feed stores or feed mills that will handle VFD feeds? If you are unsure if your local dealer will handle them, ask now. Have you communicated the names and locations of these businesses to your veterinarian?
  • Do you have a plan in place to notify your feed dealer/manufacturer of the correct quantity of feed needed to fulfill the VFD?
  • Do you have a system in place to store written or electronic copies of VFDs? Producers are legally required to store them for two years and will have to produce them upon inspection.
  • Do you have a plan in place to handle expiration dates on VFDs?
  • Do you have a plan in place to handle remaining VFD feeds after the VFD expires?
  • Do you manufacture your own feed or sell feed or supplements to your neighbors? If yes, have you submitted an Intent to Distribute VFD Feeds form to FDA?

So in summary, use the questions above to start a dialogue with your feed store representatives and your veterinarian about the new VFD rules. Educate yourself on which drugs you already use that will be affected by these regulations. Get a plan in place now so you will be prepared for January. Other sources of information include Kansas State’s free educational module at www.beefcattleinstitute.org/vfd-mod/ and FDA’s site at www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalPr.... If you have additional questions, feel free to contact your local Quality Co-op or SWEETLIX representative and we will help guide you as best as we can.

Sources:
Elanco. "Full Value Beef Veterinary Feed Direc- tive Prepared ness Checklist for Producers."
Elanco. USBBUNON01097: "How is antibiotic use going to change under proposals put forth by FDA?"

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



Thinking Like Cows

THinking Like Cows

Dr. Temple Grandin, a lifelong patient and advocate of Asperger’s syndrome, is able to think and reason on the level of the animals, enabling her to better understand their needs. Right, the curved chutes designed by Grandin allow cattle to remain calm during the handling process.

Dr. Temple Grandin's unique perspective has revolutionized the cattle industry.

by Logan Strock

She has been called stupid and brilliant, foolish and groundbreaking, and crazy and revolutionary. This woman has aided in the transformation of the modern beef industry – from one focused less on animal comfort and more on productivity to a market balancing efficiency, production and animal comfort. Whether you know it or not, chances are, you have used numerous of Dr. Temple Grandin’s results in your own operation – from the way you drive cattle to understanding cattle behavior and even through the designs of your cattle-handling facilities.

In my family’s beef operation, I have seen the numerous benefits of Grandin’s studies in her research behind the cattle squeeze chute. When the cattle enter the chute, they immediately calm down and are much easier to handle. When a cow is calm, the risk of injury is drastically decreased, in turn increasing efficiency in the modern beef operation.

Grandin’s studies have proven not only to be easier and more relaxing to the cattle but more economical to the beef cattle producer of today.

According to Colorado State University, "Her curved chute systems are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many producers to reduce stress during handling."

Grandin, a lifelong patient and advocate of Asperger’s syndrome, studied and found that incorporating slow, graceful curves into her designs would help calm the cattle and make them easier to handle in the chute – again directly decreasing the risk of injury.

In many cow/calf operations, if a brood cow is lost during the working process not only has the producer lost the investment in the cow but raising a calf to be sold at market now relies upon the producer.

A curving gait is natural to cattle, as exhibited by the fashion in which they travel distances across the pasture. The next time you are checking your cattle, notice the pattern of the trails left across the pasture. As a rule, they are curving and very organic in nature. Grandin noticed this trend and designed her facilities to mimic this natural motion.

Left to right, the curved chutes designed by Grandin allow cattle to remain calm during the handling process. The squeeze chute gently holds the animal, making it feel more at ease while being worked.

The Center Track Restrainer is a conveyer-belt-like piece of equipment that gently holds the animal under its belly. This restrainer holds the cattle steady as they move toward slaughter.

National Geographic described this device: "It works and looks like a bowling ball return system. Cattle straddle a track that lifts them up by the belly and propels them forward."

This device also helps to keep the cattle calm, maximizing effectiveness when the animal is harvested. Rushing cattle through a chute can often cause them to harm themselves and others around them by spinning around in the chute and falling down, a potential for breaking an extremity or even their neck. This device also helps to eliminate the fear of a botched harvest. If the animal can be harvested effectively the first time, not only is the animal in less pain but the harvest can move faster, increasing efficiency.

Grandin studied the Center Track Restrainer extensively and learned of its benefit not only to the cattle but to modern beef operations across the world.

Through her disability, Grandin is able to think and reason on the level of the animals, enabling her to understand and develop systems best suited to their needs. In much of her research, Grandin behaved like the animal she was studying in their respective handling facilities. The triggers Grandin noticed such as moving objects and bright lights also caused fear in the animals. Eliminating this fear leads to a much faster, safer and productive handling process.

Grandin has revolutionized the beef industry through her studies of animal behavior, allowing the producer to become even more efficient in producing healthy, nutritious beef for Americans to consume.

Logan Strock is a freelance writer from Autauga County.



Time to Prepare

by Stephen Donaldson

As I sit to write, it’s late July, rain has been spotty and those that have been lucky enough to get showers are seeing light at the end of the tunnel as far as forage for grazing and hay. Many have weaned calves and currently have them on feed preparing them to be shipped this fall. The last thought most of us have right now concerns winter feeding. However, time is ticking away and preparation now can prevent many problems later.

First, make sure your cow herd is at the proper body condition. This simple evaluation can affect many decisions. Cows bred for fall calving should be fleshy, or fatter if you will, because of the extreme energy demand that will be placed on them post calving. Lactating cows require high amounts of energy and, if they are thin before calving, it is nearly impossible to maintain enough body condition for rebreeding.

That brings us to two scenarios requiring two different solutions. If your cows are too thin, then a minimal amount of supplementation while the weather is warm could boost their body condition score to an acceptable level and keep you from feeding higher amounts of supplement in the colder months. If your cows are already in acceptable body condition, then continue your grazing program and prepare to supplement as calving begins.

The same solution can work for cows nursing calves right now. Realize that supplements go further toward increasing body condition if they are fed during warmer weather. More of the energy fed during warmer weather can be used for production and less for body maintenance.

Another strategy to improve body condition score in cattle nursing calves is to creep feed. Creep feeding calves decreases their dependence on the cows for their nutrition. Creep-fed calves tend to nurse less, thus decreasing the energy demand placed on the cows.

Also realize, as we reach the end of summer, summer grasses are becoming very mature and low in available protein and energy. This would be an appropriate time to consider using a molasses tub for supplemental protein and energy. These tubs can save on feed supplementation and help the cattle get the most out of the mature forage.

This is an appropriate time to analyze both the quality and quantity of your stored forage. If you’re short on quantity, there may still be time to get just one more cutting of hay. If you want to try, plan your fertilization and get to it. Another option is to buy a field of hay from a neighbor with excess amounts of forage or simply buy some hay. It is nearly impossible to winter beef cows without adequate forage.

It’s also the appropriate time to analyze the quality of forage. If your forage quality is low, you need to plan for supplementation now.

This is also a time to decide if and/or how much supplemental winter grazing you will plant. It is a viable option if forage stores are low and can be a salvation in late winter when hay is in short supply. Winter annuals are loaded with protein and energy, and can save your operation when forage is low. The biggest consideration here is that these grasses are expensive to grow, but may be the ticket for your operation.

Supplementation options are many and range from tubs to liquid supplements and from commodities to complete feeds. There are advantages to each and you need to choose the one that most appropriately fits your operation.

Tubs can add a small amount of supplemental protein and energy and also increase forage digestion, but can’t compete with feeds and grains for the total amount of protein and energy added to the daily ration. Complete feed supplements also contain minerals and vitamins along with multiple sources of feedstuffs to more appropriately meet the nutritional requirements of your cow herd. Commodities are economical in price, but many times result in overfeeding some nutrients and thus become a waste of money.

As always, mineral supplementation is imperative. Minerals help improve the efficiency of operation of your brood cow. They improve reproductive performance and growth, and help with the general health of your herd.

Also, consider the magnesium levels in your mineral supplement. If magnesium levels are adequate in the fall, it could solve some grass tetany problems later. This doesn’t mean to switch to a high magnesium mineral – just feed one with abundant levels.

Even though the winter feeding season isn’t here yet, it’s still not too early to plan. The great thing about all of these options I have laid out is they can all be supplied by your local Quality Co-op store. Stop in and let one of the employees help with your cattle-feeding strategy.

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




When there’s not enough time in the day ... A little preparation goes a long way!

by Christy Kirk

The night of Meet-the-Teacher for the 2016-17 school year was fast approaching. Brown paper grocery sacks had been filled with Rolley Len and Cason’s required school supplies. New tennis shoes were purchased and kept in a box on the shelf until the first day of school. My own classroom was slowly, but steadily, coming back together in preparation for the new set of students coming soon.

Rolley Len has helped grind deer or turkey meat since she was 6 years old. Making sure the quantity of meat is weighed helps ensure the right amount is known when the meat is used later.

With about a week left, I found myself walking through a grocery store with a list for children’s lunchboxes and quick dinners. By the time school is back in session, our long-term food supply from hunting and fishing through the year tends to get low. The meat, fish and poultry in the freezer needs to last as long as possible. To make our proteins go further and to keep the meals interesting, I try to make sure I have all the ingredients I might need to mix and match for old favorites and lots of new variations.

When you are in the kitchen and you run low on staples, you have to decide whether to ditch a meal altogether or get creative with substitutes. I know that if I don’t already have healthy and easy choices on hand when we come home from school, boxed macaroni and cheese and frozen chicken nuggets will win over less-processed food choices. Realizing you don’t have that one little can of something you need as you are cooking can be frustrating.

We don’t buy large bulk quantities, but we do buy cans and dry goods in multiples. I also try to plan ahead by prepping what we have and saving it for later. I do things like chop and freeze onions and herbs, mash and freeze overripe bananas for banana bread, and make sauces ahead and freeze in smaller quantities. A little bit of prep helps get me through those first few weeks of school when there doesn’t seem to be any extra time left at the end of the day.

Because we are only a family of four and the kids are still small, we don’t always need a full recipe to feed us. Sometimes I cut the recipe in half so there will be no leftovers or I make the full recipe and either freeze the ingredient mixtures or the complete entrée. I can already tell from Rolley Len’s growing appetite that, as she and Cason get older, we will end up doubling the fixings instead.

Another way we plan for our next meals long term is to grind our own deer meat. A few years ago we started doing it ourselves and at first it seemed a little overwhelming. It isn’t hard to do, but it is hands on, with lots of mixing, weighing and bagging using your bare hands. It is definitely sticky and squishy, and that may help your own children to become interested in playing in the kitchen.

The process of grinding your own deer or turkey is a good way to show your children how food is made. Rolley Len first helped with this when she was 6 years old. She was excited to help and a very conscientious worker. I grew up patting out hamburger patties or molding a meatloaf for my mother, but some children may find handling raw meat yucky. They may want to use gloves, but gloves don’t always stay on little hands, so be sure to address food-safety issues before they start.

Our goal is to make the game or fish brought home last as long as possible. Besides taking time to prepare the food brought home, careful consideration of how to use it in recipes is very important. I want to keep my recipes varied enough so I can use the same proteins repeatedly without being too predictable. Here are two recipes I just tried this summer that I plan to use often through the school year. They are easily adaptable and can be kept to eat for several days or frozen for a later meal.

SLOPPY JOE MEATLOAF

½ cup onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground deer meat
1 egg, beaten
½ cup saltines, crushed (or dry bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cheddar, shredded (reserve 2-3 Tablespoons)
1 packet of sloppy joe sauce mix
1 can sloppy joe sauce, or use the recipe below to make your own to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325°. In a skillet, sauté onion in olive oil. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, egg, crackers, garlic, cheese, onion, sloppy joe seasoning, salt and pepper. Place mixture in a greased casserole dish and mold into a loaf. Cook for 45 minutes.

While meatloaf bakes, mix the sauce.

Note: This recipe can be adjusted easily for consistency and taste. It also freezes well for future use.

SLOPPY JOE SAUCE

8 ounces tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic (jarred minced can also be used)
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard (I used yellow instead of dry)

In a medium bowl, mix ingredients together.

Remove meatloaf from oven and pour sauce over the top. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the sauce and return to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes more or until meat is cooked through.

SANTA FE SOUP

2 cups ground deer meat, browned and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup onion, chopped
1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning
½ package ranch dip mix
2 cups water

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or longer.

Note: This recipe is great because I usually already have all the ingredients in the pantry, and it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare. The addition of the ranch mix is a variation I had not used in making Santa Fe Soup prior to finding this recipe.




Wild Mammal Care of Alabama

Providing a second chance for animals in need

by Amy George

Wild Mammal Care of Alabama was founded January 2010 after a local wildlife rehabilitation organization refocused their mission to specialize only in avian species. At this time, our state’s wild mammals and the people who find them were left with few resources for rehabilitative care or advice. Permitted by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries, WMCoA is one of only five wildlife rehabilitation organizations across 67 counties allowed to possess and provide care for rabies-vector species such as bats, foxes, raccoons, skunks and coyotes with the sole intent of releasing all of our native species back into their natural habitat.

This fawn was found by a caring passerby two days after it had been hit by a car and rolled down a steep hill into a ravine.

We’re always amused when asked, "Where do you find your animals?" as if we set out on a quest every day to search for injured and orphaned wildlife. All kidding aside, we realize what the public is trying to ask is, "Why do you have these wild animals?" There are many circumstances that cause wildlife to need rehabilitative care such as swimming pools, fencing, lawn equipment, cutting trees, automobiles, relocation, guns, poison, traps, and the one that keeps us busy year-round – dogs and cats.

In regards to injured and orphaned wildlife, we also often hear people say, "Just let nature takes its course." As you might imagine, we’re not a big fan of that adage simply because it is human interaction, whether directly or indirectly, that causes the majority of predicaments wildlife are found in.

So to help right the wrongs, WMCoA was founded to not only help with the needs of our wild mammals, but also to educate our callers when they reach out to us for advice on our hotline (205-871-7803) that is manned 365 days a year. Historically, we answer nearly 2,500 calls every year where we spend countless hours educating the public by offering suggestions on managing the effects of inevitable human interaction with wildlife. We’re able to help with the myriad issues from reuniting babies with their mom and explaining why it’s unlawful to keep native wildlife to providing dozens of free, humane-exclusion techniques for uninvited wild guests. Because we begin educating as soon as the call is answered, as many or more wildlife stay in the wild with their families as are admitted for care making this a win/win scenario for all involved. Determining if an animal needs our help can be tricky, so included are some guidelines.

A devoted mother opossum and her four babies were rescued after being trapped in a basement for a week.

Only intervene if the following occurs:

  • A baby’s parents are known to be dead.
  • Ants, flies or maggots are present on the animal.
  • The animal is cold to the touch or unresponsive.
  • The animal is visibly hurt, bleeding or struggling.
  • The nest site or den has been destroyed.
  • The baby has been away from its mother for 24 hours.

How to handle wildlife if necessary:

  • Cover the animal’s eyes using a towel or blanket.
  • Use gloves to confine the animal safely in a cardboard box, keeping the top closed, or in a pet carrier. Use soft, ravel-free material like t-shirts or pillow cases to line the bottom.
  • Keep the animal warm and quiet by placing its enclosure halfway on a heating pad set on low in a location away from human and pet traffic.
  • Refrain from petting, talking or unnecessarily peeking at the animal as eye contact and handling is extremely stressful to wildlife.
  • NEVER feed a wild animal – 90 percent of well-intended finders feed an incorrect diet, often causing irreparable damage and sometimes death.
  • Wash your hands or any contact area thoroughly after handling wildlife.
  • Call Wild Mammal Care of Alabama at 205-871-7803 for advice on how to proceed and/or transport the animal.

When it is determined an animal needs our care, it’s admitted, examined, assigned a case number, and immediately warmed and hydrated. This is where the second chance begins for nearly 1,000 wild mammals WMCoA sees each year in order to ensure their safe return to a natural habitat. To read case histories, reunites, releases and much more, please visit WMCoA’s Facebook page.

It’s a huge misconception that, because we provide care for all of Alabama’s indigenous wild mammals, we must receive government funding – but that is NOT the case. WMCoA is a non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3) and is solely funded by donations made by our finders and friends. Donations pay for food, medicine, vet care, supplies and housing, allowing our patients the highest standard of care. WMCoA also needs funding for a facility to care for wildlife emergencies. Once a clinic is obtained, more lives can be saved faster by offering specialized treatment.

If you’d like to help WMCoA continue to provide care for Alabama’s wildlife, you can make a tax-deductible donation by visiting www.facebook.com/wmcoa/. No amount is too small and all donations are most appreciated!

Amy George is Founder of Wild Mammal Care of Alabama.




Woodland Ecology and Management Basics

for Women Landowners (and smart men, too!)

by Tony Glover

Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. Becky Barlow has a sad but true story she tells forest owners about her grandmother.

"My grandmother was not your typical, Southern, sweet little old lady," she said. "She came of age in the early 1900s and witnessed the Second World War. She embraced the changing roles of women in the 1940s, working in an airplane engine factory. As she aged, she was known for what our family called the ‘4 Cs’: coffee, cigarettes, Cadillacs and cursing – not necessarily in that order. She was no shrinking violet. But unfortunately, I also remember my grandma for another C-word – conned.

"As my grandparents aged, it was not uncommon for folks in the small Mississippi community where they lived to come and check on them from time to time. One day a man who was the friend of a friend stopped by. He started visiting regularly. He would stop by to check on my ailing grandfather. He would bring them food from the local café. Then after several months it came up that he bought timber trees, and he asked my grandmother about the forestland she owned – land that had been in her family since the early 1800s. He told her he could cut it for her, and it would make her some money. She thought he would be harvesting only the little trees, but in the end her land was clear-cut and she was paid very little for it. Afterwards, the timber buyer would not return her calls and he never again came by to visit."

What could her grandmother have done differently? First, she needed to be informed about land management basics. Many women today have husbands, or other family members, who make most of the land management decisions. These women are not familiar with many aspects of their own property or how it is managed. They need basic knowledge to help them make wise land management choices. Some of those basics include: 1) Knowing your forest and the trees, 2) Establishing goals and objectives, 3) Developing a team of professionals to help, 4) Learning about markets, 5) Asking questions during any on-the-ground activities and 6) Keeping good records.

Knowing your forest and the trees includes understanding where your land is, what timber is there and how much you own. Things you can do to limit your risk include knowing where your property lines are and being able to locate it on a map. You should also have a professional forester inventory your property every five to 10 years depending on your objectives – or at a minimum before a timber harvest of any kind. Ask questions about the inventory so you understand the information being presented.

Establishing goals and objectives helps you think about long- and short-term outcomes you would like to see on your property. This is one of the most important parts of forest management planning. It is also important to talk with your family about your plans to make sure everyone understands them.

Developing a team of professionals to help with the writing of a management plan is critical. These plans are written by the landowner and land management professionals who may have the following areas of expertise: forestry, ecology, soil conservation, water quality or recreation. They are often employed by state agencies, forest industry or work as private consulting foresters. Most professionals in forestry and land management are honest, ethical and are in this profession because they love the land and want to do the right thing. But it is always good to make some forestry friends, other landowners like you who can help you find reputable service providers.

Learning about markets is important because it helps you understand what the timber (and other markets) are like in your area. Remember, if you do not have a market, there may be little need to cultivate it! This will also give you some idea of what activities cost so you know if you are paying too much, or receiving too little!

Asking questions during any on-the-ground activities can also help you limit your risk. It is critical to have a good contract for any activities completed on your property. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your forester or contractor while activities are ongoing. And be sure to be seen on-site checking the work – but keep a safe distance from active logging sites.

Keeping good records is critical to good land management. It is best to keep records from the start, but if you did not it is never too late – start today! Also, always have a lawyer and/or accountant review your documents and any contracts you may enter into.

Understanding your forest can help you make wise management choices, and women landowners need to be involved in all aspects of the decision making process.

If you would like to learn more about managing your forests and forest resources in a relaxed, fun setting, you should consider participating in Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s hands-on workshop for women landowners – ForestHER. This two-day event will be held at Riverwood Farms, 7851 County Road 35, Bremen, AL 35033 from 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, 2016, and 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.

Anyone who loves nature and learning about the natural world can attend. Cost for both days is $65 per person and each participant will get a workbook to take home with them. Breaks, lunch and dinner are provided Thursday. Breaks and lunch are provided Friday. Seating is limited, so preregistration is required.

Online registration is available at www.aces.edu/go/651. For more information contact Norm Haley, regional Extension agent for Northeast Alabama, at 256-630-4248 or nvh0001@aces.edu.

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




Work With Your Hands

by Suzy Lowry Geno

Mama (Inez Inmon Lowry Wine) shows off her well-used hands back in the early 1980s.

"You have Granny’s hands." With that simple statement my niece Jeanne recently started me on a whole new way of thinking.

I don’t think there was anything really unusual about my mama’s hands. My first memory of mama’s hands was the extremely wide, shiny, gold wedding ring she wore on her left hand. No dainty little diamond for her, but a substantial heavy, but pretty, band that represented her solid marriage to my daddy.

I can’t really recall her ever polishing her fingernails, although she probably did that as a teen growing up with a houseful of brothers and sisters.

In my mind, my mama’s hands were always busy. They were often red and chapped when I was little from washing and bleaching clothes and running them through the old wringer washer and then hanging them to flop on the clothesline until dry.

I was a sickly little kid and some of my sweetest memories are of mama rubbing salve on my chest or in the hollow hole of my throat to help me breathe, and often her bare work-rough hands almost felt scratchy against my tender skin. But, oh, what a comforting feeling!!!

She wasn’t one to do a lot of busy work like my Great-Aunt Cora Lowry who was always crocheting or even tatting with her fingers flying!

But mama did teach me how to thread a needle and how to make the basic embroider stitches. Then her hands guided mine as I turned the wheel on the old sewing machine when my feet would barely reach the treadle, until I eventually made almost all my own growing-up-years clothes.

I can remember mama helping my Aunt Lucille Evans in her florist shop, busily twisting green florist tape around the stems of flowers as they fashioned wreaths and sprays during busy decoration days.

Later, as daddy eventually owned his own construction company, mama’s hands were able to rest a little more, although she never ever owned a dishwasher!

She spent many enjoyable years learning to paint china from the late Wileana Bynum Buckner and also painted all sorts of beautiful or funny scenes on the woodworking crafts my daddy built during his retirement.

A flick of her wrist and a dappled pony pranced across a child’s chair. A careful movement of her fingers and the brush filled in a flowered swag drifting across a breadbox for somebody’s country kitchen.

And, lastly, I think of her hands, holding a stubby pencil as she filled in find-a-word or crossword puzzles in little books to fill up her long widowed days ... writing simple grocery lists for me to fill for her – every now and then I still find one although she’s been gone nearly a decade!

So my hands are my mama’s hands – nothing fancy … kind of short, stubby fingers.

I even kept the nasty habit of biting my fingernails until I was in my mid-30s so I surely had nothing to paint or polish! (I tried everything to quit biting them – bitter stuff that you painted on your nails and even taping each of my nails! I only quit biting them when I was confined to the hospital for 10 long days with three IV bottles in each arm! I don’t recommend that as a nail-biting remedy, but it worked!)

So my hands have just always been there when I needed them.

Daddy’s hands were different. At least two of his fingers were considerably shorter than the others from accidents with saws through his years of carpentry. The late Dr. J.L. Wittmeier literally put daddy’s right hand back together with 543 stitches during several hours after a terrible accident with a table saw! There was no fancy physical therapy then. The doctor sewed, they prayed and daddy squeezed a small red ball for therapy until he regained most of the use of his always-stiffened hand.

Then I think of the hands of my piano instructor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Patricia Trice’s long elegant fingers were so born to play (the exact opposite of my shorter, stubby ones!) that the college brochure featured a wide circle just showing her hands gracefully playing a keyboard.

My late cousin Jack Lowry told about lying in front of a fireplace while his Grandma Lowry (my great-grandma) spun yard on a spinning wheel, her fingers seeming to dance in the shadows of the firelight as he was not yet 3 years old.

Just in the last month, I’ve been privileged to find a photo of my other great-granny, Sally Roach Smith, and, oh my goodness, I look so much like her it is amazing. I’ve strained and strained trying to see her fingers holding her little daughter, my great aunt.

So I’ve carried these two hands and 10 fingers around for over 64 years now, just expecting them to react and behave like I want them to. Giving them little thought unless I’ve stuck a splinter into one, mashed one putting wood into the heater or jabbed the needle too far as I was quilting!

I didn’t realize until this morning that NAILS Magazine was showing their industry record-breaking growth of $7.47 billion for 2012-2013 (and I didn’t even realize they had a magazine!).

And while lots of kids are really getting into robotics now, I’ve just discovered that our FINGERS are REMOTE CONTROLLED!

Your local Quality Co-op has gloves for all sorts of jobs to protect the miracles of our hands!

According to E-Hand.com: "Of course, in one sense, we work all our moving parts by remote control ... the control center is your brain." But it goes on to say that our fingers are special because "there are no muscles inside the finger! … The muscles that bend the finger joints are located in the palm and up in the mid forearm, and are connected to the finger bones by tendons, which pull on and move the fingers like strings on a marionette."

So these stubby little fingers with which I type, quilt, sew and do all manner of things are not only just like my mama’s (and possibly two sets of Grannys, as well), they are attached to two hands that are just a part of God’s miracles.

In Proverbs 31:19, a Godly woman is described and part of her work is that she puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

But I think my very favorite verse and one that I’m struggling to live by (complete with hands that look just like my mama’s) is 1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

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



Young Forest Landowner of the Year


Monroe County’s J. Hudson Hines

J. Hudson Hines of Beatrice in Monroe County was recently chosen by the Forest Landowners Association as the organization’s Young Forest Landowner of the Year. To receive this honor, the person must be: a member of FLA, under 50 years of age, be active in the land and timber business, and conduct ownership in a sustainable manner. This is an annual award and was presented at the FLA Convention at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida. In addition to announcing the award recipient, seminars were held on taxes, estate planning, timber harvesting, site preparation and many other education classes to enhance landowners’ knowledge and understand of forestry. Hines is vice president of Hines, Steele & Steele Inc., owner of Hudson Hines Brangus, J. Hudson Hines Cattle and Timberland, and part owner of Monroe Sausage. He is a member of the Monroe County Cattlemen’s Association and a lifetime member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. He and his wife, LaSha Averett Hines, have three sons, Jonathan Hudson Hines Jr., John Harvel Hines II and Averett Newton Hines.




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