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Bears In ‘Bama

Black bear sightings on the rise

Fall in Folsom

A trip back in time


Numbers can tell a powerful story.

Service and Strength.

Like the number 1946. The year Alfa Insurance® was founded. Or the more than one million policies currently in force backed up by superior service from a local agent, right in your community. For 65 years we’ve been right there with you. We’re looking forward to the next 65. Find a local agent 1-800-964-2532 | alfainsurance.com


Fall 2011 A Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation VOLUME 87, NUMBER 3

FALL 2011

Bearly Believable A Cleburne County man known for tall tales says his encounter with a black bear is proof they’re roaming the woods in Alabama. • 16

Workers Flee New immigration laws have caused migrant workers to flee the state, leaving behind unpicked produce and Alabama farmers wondering what to do. • 5

Fall In Folsom A Perry County plantation transports visitors back

ON THE COVER Jimmy Jimmerson’s encounter with a black bear isn’t just another one of his tall tales. He’s among a growing number of Alabamians who have spotted them. Photo by Jillian Clair

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DEPARTMENTS

to a time when the farm provided all a family needed. • 8

Poultry Camp For Kids Young students flocked to Auburn University to learn about the prospects of

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President’s Message

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Alabama Gardener

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Country Kitchen

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Classifieds

.poultry science. • 18

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President’s

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or the past 75 years, most Americans have taken food security for granted. Advances in animal and plant breeding, along Alabama ardener with the development of new technologies, have allowed farmers to produce more high-quality food on fewer acres. Relatively few Americans have to Country worry about where itchen they will get their next meal. Although hunger persists even in our affluent society, there are a multitude of government lace Market programs and chariJerry Newby table organizations focused on delivering food to those in need. Contrast our situation with past generations or people in developing countries, and it’s hard to deny that our nation is blessed with abundant, affordable food. Since the Great Depression, we have not faced widespread hunger, and our country has yet to experience the type of famine that plagues other nations. America’s rich natural resources, free-market system and economic strength are the basis of our food security, but we must not overlook the contributions of modern agriculture. Without the advances farmers have made in food production, we might be dependent on other countries for our food. Unfortunately, modern food production is often criticized by the media and activists. As a result, laws and regulations restricting agriculture are being adopted that are neither based on scientific fact nor in the best interest of consumers. These regulations are coming at a time when farmers must increase food production to meet the needs of a growing world. Every minute, 12 children around the world die of hunger, and this number is growing. According to the United Nations, farmers need to double food production by 2050 to feed a projected 9 billion people, and 70 percent of this www.AlfaFarmers.org

VOLUME 87, NUMBER 3

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increase must come from efficiency-enhancing technologies. Still, many groups want to ban modern agricultural practices, claiming they are less healthy, more costly or more damaging to the environment. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the U.S. food supply is safer than it’s ever been. According to the FDA, the incidence of foodborne illness in America decreased by one-third between 1996 and 2009. Food is still affordable. On average, Americans spend about 10 percent of their disposable income on food — less than any other country. Over the past 50 years, the inflation-adjusted prices for farm commodities like corn, rice, milk and wheat have decreased 40-85 percent while the cost of crude oil — a key input in food production — has increased by 337 percent. In the past 30 years, U.S. farmers have reduced soil erosion by 47 percent, and since 1950, they have more than tripled crop yields. At the same time, they are producing more food with fewer resources. In 2008, farmers produced 262 percent more food than in 1950 with 98 percent of the inputs. These gains in production and efficiency are a testament to the research, ingenuity and resilience of American agriculture. But if we allow activists and fear mongers to shape our public policies, we could encounter food shortages like this country has never seen. Farmers simply cannot feed today’s world with 75-year-old tools and technology. Throughout the generations, American agriculture has risen to the challenge time and time again. Less than 1 percent of the population is now feeding not only America, but millions of others around the world. We need to celebrate these achievements and take a stand against those who criticize our food production system in order to promote their own agendas. n 4

Debra Davis, Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION Paul Pinyan, Executive Director Jeff Helms, Director of Communications FEDERATION OFFICERS Jerry Newby, President, Athens Hal Lee, Vice President/North, Hartselle Dean Wysner, Vice President/Central, Woodland Ricky Wiggins, Vice President/Southeast, Andalusia Jake Harper, Vice President/Southwest, Camden Steve Dunn, Secretary-Treasurer, Evergreen DIRECTORS Joe Dickerson, Lexington Ted Grantland, Somerville Donnie Garrett, Centre Darrel Haynes, Cullman John E. Walker III, Berry Marshall Prickett, Wellington Richard Edgar, Deatsville Dickie Odom, Boligee Garry Henry, Hope Hull Carl Sanders, Brundidge David Bitto, Elberta Sammy Williams, Columbia Debbie Freeland, Grand Bay Ben Haynes, Cullman Friends & Family (ISSN 1522-0648) is published quarterly by the Alabama Farmers Federation, 2108 East South Boulevard, Montgomery, Alabama 36116 or (334) 288-3900. For information about member benefits of the Alabama Farmers Federation, visit the Web site www.AlfaFarmers.org. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and additional mailing offices. Printed in the U.S.A. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001. ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Wendy McFarland, McFarland AdVantage, 133 Bridlewood Lane, Hope Hull, AL 36043. Phone: (334) 652-9080. Email: mcfarlandadvantage@gmail.com. Classified ad and editorial inquiries should be directed to the editor at (334) 613-4410. ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: Ad­vertise­­­­­­­ ments contained in Friends & Family do not represent an endorsement by the magazine or the Alabama Farmers Federation. EDITORIAL MATTER from sources outside of the Alabama Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for the information and interest of our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Alabama Farmers Federation policies. Publication of material does not necessarily imply its endorsement by the Alabama Farmers Federation. ADDRESS editorial, advertising and change of address correspondence to Friends & Family, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001. www.AlfaFarmers.org A member of American Farm Bureau Federation F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


Migrants Flee Alabama’s New Immigration Law By Jeff Helms

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he sight of unpicked produce rotting in the field was still on farmers’ minds when they gathered for a seminar on Alabama’s new immigration law Aug. 6 in Huntsville. The seminar, held in conjunction with the Alabama Farmers Federation 39th Annual Commodity Producers Conference, followed a day of tours that included a stop at Jackie Loyd’s farm in nearby Stevenson, where migrant workers fled in advance of the Sept. 1 effective date of the new law. Unfortunately, speakers at the seminar gave farmers little hope of reversing the flight of migrant workers or repealing provisions of the law that hurt agriculture. “Employers should not expect the courts to block the sections most relevant to you,” said Ted Hosp, an attorney with Maynard, Cooper and Gale, referring to multiple lawsuits challenging the new law that were recently consolidated in federal district court. “The lawsuits do not challenge the provisions that would likely be most important to you. (Therefore),

it is extremely important that as of April 1, 2012, you enroll in and use E-verify.” Although much of the new immigration law goes into effect Sept. 1, provisions requiring all Alabama employers to use the federal E-verify system do not kick in until April 1. Meanwhile, farmers across the state are reporting that workers are leaving because they fear harassment under the new law or have family members who are

undocumented. “We may not even get to the point of E-verifying,” said Brian Cash, who grows tomatoes atop Chandler Mountain in St. Clair County. “From what we’re hearing from our workforce, they’re just going to move on before we get to that point. There’s not going to be (workers) to even try to E-verify.” Many farmers like Cash have used migrant labor for years and diligently followed federal laws requiring employers to collect identification and fill out I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) forms. Now, these workers are leaving either because they aren’t in the E-verification system or because they fear other provisions of the law. Cash already has lost onefourth of his workforce, and tomatoes that should have been picked are lying on the ground. “This 38-acre field is (a loss of) about $50,000. At the time these should’ve been picked, Romas were bringing about $12 a box, but we didn’t have the help to pick them, so we had to leave them,” Cash said. “We’ve got to get them when they’re ready, and if you wait three days, then you’re out of luck.

Brian Cash, top photo, holds tomatoes that rotted in the field of his St. Clair County farm because he had no workers to help pick them. Meanwhile, migrant workers in the H-2A Guest Worker Program tend the fields of a farm in Chilton County.

F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1

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They’ll just do what they’re doing — sit here and rot.” Hosp said one of the challenges of the new law is that it doesn’t provide an option for existing workers to obtain legal work visas. “Once an employee is here illegally, it is next to impossible to make that worker a legal worker,” Hosp said, adding that there is a 10-year waiting period before an illegal worker who has been in the United States for a year or more can apply for legal status. Joining Hosp on stage at the seminar were Dan Bremer of AgWorks and Paul Schlegel of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s public policy team. Bremer helps secure agricultural labor for farmers through the federal H-2A program. He compared the program to a polluted pond that employers will only drink from when they are dying of thirst. Despite the complexity and cost of the program, however, he said it might provide an option for Ala-

bama farmers who have lost their labor force. Schlegel encouraged farmers to tell legislators how the new law is affecting their businesses in hopes state lawmakers will pressure Washington to develop an effective guest worker program. “(Tell them) when the dust settles, if I can’t get the workers I need and get the crops out of the field, you will have done me a great harm, and I’m going to remember it,” Schlegel said. In addition to making sure agriculture’s needs are addressed in any federal immigration reform bill, Hosp said talking to legislators could help change Alabama’s law during the 2012 legislative session. “The legislative leadership has made it clear they want to work with the business community, employers and agricultural interests to make sure the law does not have unintended consequences,” Hosp said. Meanwhile, farmers like Loyd

and Cash are watching their businesses wilt on the vine. “We’ve got about $750,000 invested in this crop, and 95 percent of it is already on the ground,” Cash said. “If our workforce leaves, all we can do is cut our losses. Not counting what we could’ve made, we would lose $400,000 to $500,000.” Schlegel said farmers like Cash are law-abiding citizens who want to do what’s right. They have followed all the rules; now, the rules are changing. “I have yet to meet one farmer who wants to employ illegal labor,” Schlegel said. “All they want is certainty.” An emotional Cash echoed those remarks as he contemplated the future of his family’s 130-acre farm. “This is my passion, it’s what I want to do. It’s what my boy wants to do, but I just don’t know if it’s going to work out anymore,” he said. n

Alabama Farmers Federation Members Now Save With Sam’s Club

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embers of the Alabama Farmers Federation can now enjoy a year of savings and a Sam’s Club gift card when joining or renewing membership with the nation’s eighth largest retailer. In a partnership started July 1, Federation members receive a $25 Sam’s Club gift card when joining or renewing as a Plus Member*. If joining or renewing as an Advantage or Business Member, Federation members receive a $10 gift card*. To take advantage of the offer, visit the member area of www. AlfaFarmers.org, print the Sam’s

Club certificate and present the certificate and your valid Federation membership card at the Member Services Desk of any Sam’s Club location. “We’re very excited to offer our members this opportunity to save with a premier partner like Sam’s Club,” said Marc Pearson, Alfa’s membership director. “Our members have said they are interested in benefits to help save money in their daily lives, and we’re listening. Sam’s Club offers superior products where members save an average of 30 percent over traditional retailers. Getting a gift card

back for being a Federation member is a great added perk of membership with our organization.” There are 13 Sam’s Club locations conveniently located across Alabama, and Federation members can take their certificate to any location nationwide. To find the nearest location visit www.SamsClub.com or call 1-800-881-9180. For a complete list of Alabama Farmers Federation benefits and to access your Sam’s Club certificate, go to www.AlfaFarmers.org/benefits. n

Scan this QR Code with a QR reader app on your smartphone and be taken directly to this website.

*A $100 Advantage Plus Membership and $40 Advantage Membership include one primary card and one spouse (or other household member over the age of 18) card. A $100 Business Plus Membership and $35 Business Membership include one primary card, one company card and one spouse (or other household member over the age of 18) card. Primary Memberships are valid for one year from the date of issue. The certificate may be redeemed for a new or renewed Membership. The Gift Card with this offer cannot be used toward Membership fees. Certificates and special promotions are not valid on SamsClub.com or by mail. Primary Membership fee ($100 for Plus, $40 for Advantage, $35 for Business – plus tax in some places) will apply at the time of renewal. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer. To view our privacy policy, visit SamsClub.com/privacy. Only original certificates accepted. One-time use only. Offer not valid in Puerto Rico. www.AlfaFarmers.org

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F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


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Agricultural History Comes To Life At Fall In Folsom By Debra Davis

vice, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Game and Fish Division, Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Soil and Water Conservation moke from the blacksmith’s shop drifts through the Districts, Alabama Wildlife Federation and the USDA air as sheep graze in a nearby pasture and a gristmill Natural Resources Conservation Service. Representatives hums in the background. The smells, sights and of those groups will talk about programs they offer and sounds of the Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation in Perry will provide hands-on projects for children at the event. County take visitors back to a time when the land proAdmission to “Fall in Folsom” is $10 for adults, and vided all the family needed. children are admitA yearning ted at a discount. to keep in touch While adults with those historiwill enjoy touring cal roots was the historic buildidea that became ings on the farm, “Fall in Folsom.” youngsters can The celebration is pick a pumpkin, the first Saturday wander through in October from 9 the woods or take a a.m. to 4 p.m. at gander at the farm the farm located animals. Visitors in the Folsom can enjoy a hamCommunity, burger lunch at seven miles west of the farm, featuring Marion on Alabama homegrown, allHighway 14. natural beef raised “The first 80 by the Holmeses. acres of the farm “It’s wonderwere established in ful to see that our 1819 through a land family is grounded grant agreement to through this farm,” William ‘The Wagsaid Cooper’s on Maker’ Moore, mother, Jenny. and the original “‘Fall in Folsom’ deed was signed by brings our family Andrew Jackson,” Members of the Holmes family are, from left, William, Lawson, Mary Quitman, together, and we said Cooper Holmes, Elizabeth, Mary Coleman, Charles, Jenny, Cooper and his fiancee O`Neal Crawford, Marietta, daughter Marietta, and Webb. love to be able to the youngest of the preserve and share sixth generation that now tends the farm. “This is our fifth annual ‘Fall in Fol- our history with visitors here. It’s very rewarding to see som’, and we look forward to having visitors who want to people enjoy our farm and to reconnect with the land.” The Holmeses also have a rich history with the Alashare in our history.” bama Farmers Federation. Cooper is active in the FederaThe farm once grew corn and cotton and raised tion’s Young Farmers program. His father, Charles, is a livestock needed by the family for food. Today, it covformer member of the State Young Farmers Committee ers thousands of acres and includes cattle, timber and and is a past president of the Perry County Farmers agritourism. The Holmeses take pride in preserving their Federation. His brother, Webb, is president of the Perry heritage that shaped the farm and influenced the family County Farmers Federation and is a former Young Farmfor generations. ers State Committee member as well. The oldest Holmes “All of the buildings are original to the site,” Holmes son, William, is an attorney in nearby Greensboro and said. “Some of the buildings include a log seed house still enjoys life on the farm. (used with the cotton gin), carriage house, smoke house, The entire family will be at “Fall in Folsom,” a fact mule barn, chicken coop, potato house and the plantathat brings a smile to Jenny’s face. tion store, complete with a pot-bellied stove.” “Our family has always found strength and unity in Visitors can see all those plus the weaving house, canthis farm,” she said. “It ties us all together no matter ning house, overseer’s house and tenant quarters. what else is going on in the world or in our lives. It’s a Other partners who help make “Fall in Folsom” a special place.” n success include the Alabama Cooperative Extension Ser-

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More Than A Helping Hand: Alfa Agent Gives Life Through Organ Donation By Miranda Mattheis

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lfa agents spend their careers helping people in times of need, but Midland City, Ala., agent Keith Martin took that calling a step further when he voluntarily donated a kidney to a family member May 25. Peggy Agee, Martin’s aunt, has polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that has affected four other members in her family. After years of waiting for the inevitable and nine long months of dialysis, doctors finally told Agee the dreaded news—she needed a transplant. “We’ve known for years she would need one,” Martin said. “I knew I was a logical match because of my blood type.” Martin was tested, and within two weeks the family knew he was a match; however, he had a few questions before he could commit to the surgery. Namely, he wanted

Alfa Agent Keith Martin and his aunt, Peggy Agee.

to be sure that he nor his children had the disease. Doctors assured him they were not affected. His decision meant his aunt would no longer be tied to a machine. “It means a lot,” Agee said. “It’s wonderful—it’s my life.” By May, Martin and Agee were ready for the surgery, and it went well for them both.

“My kidney is wonderful—it’s doing great,” Agee said a few weeks following the transplant. “The doctor said everything is doing great.” In the days immediately following the surgery, Martin said he experienced some pain but felt fine otherwise. Despite a brief bout of pneumonia, he was back at work just two-and-a-half weeks after the surgery. Martin humbly deflects any praise or attention for his life-saving gift. “Some things you just do because they are the right things to do,” he said. According to the Alabama Organ Center, more than 3,500 people in the state are waiting for an organ transplant. There is no financial cost to the donor or the donor’s family, and one donor can help more than 75 people. For information, visit the Alabama Organ Center’s website, alabamaorgancenter.org. n

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Watts Retires After 33 Years of Dedicated Service

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fter more than 33 years of loyal service to Alfa’s policyholders, Executive Vice President of Marketing Herman Watts has closed the playbook on his career at Alfa Insurance, exchanging his leadership role for a new venture – retirement. A native of Bullock County, Watts joined Alfa in 1978 as a district manager after eight years of coaching football in Shelby County. Prior to joining Alfa, Watts was often presented offers to become an insurance agent with multiple insurance companies, including then-Farm Bureau. It wasn’t until he was approached about becoming a district manager that he seriously considered leaving the field for an office. At that time, Watts’ oldest son, Chad, was 2 years old. Because coaching kept him away from home, Watts thought the opportunity to be a district manager would allow him more time with his family. After agreeing to meet with then-Executive Vice President of Marketing Boyd Christenberry to discuss the opportunity, Watts agreed to the position without even realizing what he was doing. “On the way home, I got cold feet because I wasn’t sure I was ready to get out of coaching,” said Watts. “I decided that I’d call Christenberry the next day and tell him I’d changed my mind.” Fortunately for Watts — and those who have worked for him and with him — he never made that call. The decision marked the beginning of his career with Alfa, which has spanned more than half of his life. During his time as a district manager, Watts grew his district from five agents to more than 30 and was named District Manager of the Year for 15 consecutive years. In 1996, he was inducted into the inaugural class of Alfa’s Hall of Fame. Ten years later, he received another promotion. www.AlfaFarmers.org

“In 2006, I had the privilege of asking Herman to lead our sales force as Executive Vice President of Marketing,” recalled Alfa Insurance President and CEO Jerry Newby. “During his time in that position, Alfa has set records for life insurance sales and auto units in force.

Herman is quick to point out, however, that these achievements were the result of a team effort.” It’s that commitment to the “Alfa team” that has made Watts successful. Like any good teacher or coach, Watts’ legacy lies with the agents, CSRs and other employees he’s mentored and motivated to reach their full potential. “We will all miss his enthusiasm, humor, compassion and friendship,” said Newby. “Though Herman’s leadership will certainly be missed, he is leaving Alfa in the capable hands of a marketing team that shares the enthusiasm, optimism and devotion of their ‘coach.’” Most of Watts’ plans after retirement involve catching up on things he’s missed out on over the years. He plans to reconnect with old coaching buddies, work around his house and, most importantly, spend time with wife, Emily; sons and daughters-in-law Chad and Shanda and Tyler and Jana; and his four — soon-to-be-five — grandchildren. n

The Watts family, from left, includes Tyler, Jana (holding Tanner), Emily, Herman (holding John Tyler and Blakley), Shanda and Chad. Not pictured- Chad’s daughter, Bentley. Jana and Tyler are expecting another daughter this fall. 10

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In addition to older equipment, McCrary now owns a modern pickup, a late-model tractor and a cellphone. Aside from his early childhood and a four-year stint of service in World War II, McCrary has spent nearly every day of his life on the farm his great-grandfather purchased in 1809. “When I finished high school, people asked if I was going to college, and I said, ‘I’m tired of school. I want to do something with my hands,’” McCrary said. McCrary still handles the farm’s finances — using pen and paper instead of a computer, of course. He uses a walker to move around on foot, but as soon as he climbs into the tractor seat, he glides through the fields with ease. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in it – still being able to do this,” he said. His daughter, Rosemary McCrary, 63, said her father has always been devoted to agriculture and is determined to continue working, even as his 100th birthday approaches. “I am just overwhelmed and pleased and tickled that he can still do what he loves to do,” she said. Madison County Farmers Federation President Rex Vaughn called McCrary a blessing to Madison County and all of agriculture. “He’s part of a generation that’s fading fast—a generation we don’t have enough of anymore,” Vaughn said. “He’s one of those individuals that Alabama can be proud of.” n

he cracked, rusting baby blue paint of Thomas McCrary’s 1954 Ford tells the story of a different time— long before cellphones, the Internet or precision agriculture. But McCrary, who turns 100 Sept. 27, remembers when there were no tractors or electricity, and automobiles were scarce. He bought that truck when he was 43 years old. “When I was young, everything was horsedrawn or mule-drawn,” McCrary said. “Our first tractor was on steel (wheels), and my dad bought it in 1930 after I finished school.” McCrary remembers a time when the farm provided everything the family needed. They had hogs to make sausage; wheat for flour; corn and hay to feed the animals and several other crops the family sold at the market in Huntsville. “I remember loading up a horse-drawn buggy with cotton and driving it down to Clinton Street (in downtown Huntsville),” McCrary said. “We’d leave at sunup and get back after the sun went down. It took us all day.” Much has changed in 100 years, McCrary said, and some of it he doesn’t particularly like. Urban sprawl, traffic, government regulations and high-priced farm equipment cause McCrary to reminisce. But some changes, like air-conditioned tractors and the invention of the combine, have been good, he said.

www.AlfaFarmers.org

Farmer Reflects On A Century Of Agriculture

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Deadline Is Dec. 1 For Alfa’s AU Ag And Forestry Scholarships

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tudents planning to pursue agriculture or forestry degrees at Auburn University have until Dec. 1 to apply for scholarships from Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation. The scholarships, valued up to $1,750 per student per year, will be awarded to students who plan to enroll or are currently enrolled in Auburn’s College of Agriculture or School of Forestry. Students majoring in agricultural engineering or ag education are also eligible. Ag and forestry scholarships are renewable yearly to students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and exhibit good moral character and citizenship. Students are urged to apply early for admission, as enrollment at Auburn University is limited. Three letters of reference including an evaluation of your background and character are required in addition to the application. Scholarship applications are available in all county Farmers Federation offices, local Alfa service centers, or by writing to the dean of the College of Agriculture at 107 Comer Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849. Applications are also available for download under the Programs section of AlfaFarmers.org. n

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By Jillian Clair

J

immy Jimmerson is glad his friend saw it, or everyone would think the story about the bear was just another one of his tall tales. Jimmerson, a member of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Wildlife Committee and an outdoor enthusiast who lives in Cleburne County near the Talladega National Forest, likes to tell stories about wildlife he’s seen, but the time he saw the black bear tops them all. The best part: it’s true. “We were riding along on the four wheeler, not really looking for anything, and all of a sudden, this bear runs across our path right out in the road,” Jimmerson said. “He stopped and looked for just a second, but then he kept going. I’m sitting there just hoping my buddy saw it too, or people might not believe me.” www.AlfaFarmers.org

Although black bears are common in the Appalachian Mountains of north Georgia, they are not typically associated with the rolling foothills in north Alabama. A sighting like Jimmerson’s is rare. But this year, sightings in Holly Pond, Double Springs, Boaz, Cullman, Birmingham, Roebuck, Lake Harding, Auburn, Atmore and Mobile and Macon counties confirm Jimmerson’s three-year-old story; black bears are becoming more common in Alabama. “As I began to tell people about what happened, I realized other people had seen them, too,” Jimmerson said. Paul Williams, a Cleburne County forester, said he has a camera set up on his property to capture photographs of deer, but came home from vacation to find a picture of a black bear instead. 16

“My kids wanted to see a bear, so we went to the Smokies and drove through Cades Cove,” Williams said. “When we came home and checked the camera, it turned out we had a bigger bear in our backyard than the one we saw at Cades Cove.” Southeast Alabama has long been known for occasional sightings of the Florida subspecies of the American black bear, but the black bears seen recently in north Alabama are of the Eastern subspecies and were previously thought to cross into Alabama only on rare occasions. It is estimated that a total of only 50 black bears live in the state, but this number may be growing, said wildlife biologist Keith Gauldin of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “It seems to be an increasing amount of sightings, so we could have an increase in population—it’s F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


Cleburne County farmer Jimmy Jimmerson is among a growing number of Alabamians who have encountered a black bear.

hard to tell,” Gauldin said. The cause of the more frequent sightings is unknown at this time, but Gauldin has a few theories. “A lot of times, bears will spread out because juveniles are being dispersed out of adult bear territories,” Gauldin said. “Basically, the mother is kicking them out of the house, and they’re establishing their own territories. They’re usually the ones who get in a lot of trouble.” Another reason for bears to enter Alabama may be males searching for receptive females, Gauldin said. Food shortages because of drought could also be a factor in the bears’ changing migratory patterns. “With it being so dry this year, they are probably having to travel a lot farther to find suitable food sources,” Gauldin said. Regardless of the cause of the increase in the Alabama black bear population, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is striving to inform the public about the importance of protecting them. People should not hunt or feed bears. A bear’s acute sense of smell may draw it to unnatural sources of food, such as household garbage and outdoor pet food, Gauldin said.

The feeding of birds and other wildlife increases the possibility of attracting bears as well. A bear that associates a piece of property with food will likely lose its natural fear of humans, which is the bear’s most important survival mechanism, Gauldin said. While classified as a carnivore, black bears are actually poor predators and are more omnivorous, mainly concentrating on vegetative matter for the bulk of their diet. Common food sources include fruits, berries and acorns, but bears will sometimes take advantage of agricultural crops such as corn, wheat and sugarcane. Occasionally, they will also damage bee hives in

their quest for honey. Although not normally aggressive, black bears are wild animals, and their behavior is unpredictable, Gauldin said. The purposeful act of feeding them is discouraged by all wildlife professionals and can lead to dangerous consequences. “Folks watch the nature channel and stuff like that, and they see articles about grizzly bears, but our bears are not nearly as aggressive,” Gauldin said. “They are wild animals, though, and people should never pursue them, corner them or feed them.” However, black bears are shy in nature and will flee at the sight of humans in most situations, so landowners and outdoorsmen should not be alarmed if they see a bear, Gauldin said. “If you do see a bear, you should consider yourself lucky because not many people do,” Gauldin said. “I’ve never even seen one in the wild.” n ______________________________ If you see a black bear anywhere in the state, visit the Alabama Black Bear Alliance website, www. alabamablackbearalliance.org, to complete an online report form or contact ADCNR Wildlife Biologist Keith Gauldin at the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries District V office at (251) 6265474.

A game camera recorded a black bear near a deer feeder in north Alabama. F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1

17

www.AlfaFarmers.org


By Jillian Clair

T

Little “PEEPS” Flock To Poultry Science Camp

wenty-five hands shot in the air as a unified “MEEE!” boomed from a classroom in the poultry science building at Auburn University after Dr. Don Connor asked a room full of thirdand fourth-graders, “Who likes to eat?” The question was the start of a day of discovery for a group of kids who traveled to Auburn from all over the state to learn about chickens on a hot day in June. Connor, director of Auburn’s Poultry Science Department, created the Poultry and Egg Experiences for Prospective Students (PEEPS) camp last year with the help of his faculty and staff as a recruiting tool, but as the program has evolved, Connor said he thinks the PEEPS camp serves an even bigger purpose than simply sparking an interest in studying poultry science at Auburn. “I think if you talk to kids in junior high and high school, you’ll get to the reality pretty quick that they don’t know a lot about agriculture,” Connor said. “Specifically, they don’t know a lot about poultry, and yet we’re trying to recruit those students—we just felt like there was a need to plant some seeds with younger ages and give them a little background in agriculture.” There were three sessions of PEEPS camps: first- and secondgraders, third- and fourth-graders and fifth- through seventh-graders. College students helped the camp’s coordinator, Ashley Pangle, teach the attendees about different aspects of poultry science. The children were able to hold week-old chicks, tour the Southeastern Raptor Center, watch ice cream being made with liquid nitrogen, dissect a chicken heart, take a tour of the poultry farm,

Top: Skila Thompson, a third-grader from Tallassee, said her favorite part of the day was holding the chicks. She said she is interested in learning more about poultry science after attending PEEPS camp. www.AlfaFarmers.org

18

F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


visit Jordan-Hare Stadium and participate in several other hands-on activities. “I love chickens, so I like seeing them love chickens,” said Clara Fisher, an A.U. sophomore in poultry science. “I think it’s important because it shows them where their food comes from. They really got a lot of hands-on experience, and they also got to see some fun things like the Raptor Center and the stadium, so that makes them want to come back and learn more about Auburn.” Robert Bruce, a rising fourthgrader from Montgomery, didn’t have any problems with dissecting a chicken heart, an activity that some of the campers weren’t sure about at first. “I had fun today,” Bruce said. “I hope I can come back next year. I love the chickens.” Connor said he thinks the camp will make a difference in the way the children who attended view agriculture and the food they eat. “I hope they’ve gained some appreciation that you don’t just run to a fast food restaurant or a grocery store to get your food,” Connor said. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. In particular, there’s some farmer somewhere producing that food.” Connor said he believes the College of Agriculture has a responsibility to teach the public, as well as its own students, about the importance of agriculture, and PEEPS camp plays a role in fulfilling that responsibility. “I want the generation coming up to understand that’s an important part of our state and our country—people farming and producing food for us,” Connor said. “We have an obligation here at the university to not only teach college students, but also to get it out into the society as a whole to let them know how important agriculture is to everyday life.” Visit www.ag.auburn.edu/poul for information about future PEEPS camps and other activities for prospective students. n F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1

Top: Pruett Allen (right), a senior in poultry science at Auburn University, plays a game with the campers that shows them the strength of the egg’s inner membrane when dropped from different heights. Right: John Allen, a fourth-grader from White Plains, tries to break an egg’s shell by squeezing it inside a plastic bag. The campers learned that the egg’s shell is strong enough to withhold this type of pressure without breaking. Bottom: Roy Crowe (right), raptor education specialist at the Southeastern Raptor Center, shows the campers a black vulture living at the raptor center. The students were also able to meet a barn owl, a falcon and one of Auburn’s famous golden eagles, Spirit.

19

www.AlfaFarmers.org


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Alfa, Federation Honor Three Alabama Educators

E

ach month, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation choose an outstanding Alabama educator to name as teacher or principal of the month. For their outstanding achievements, the July, August and September winners each received $1,000 from Alfa Insurance, and the Alabama Farmers Federation made a matching donation to each of their schools. July’s principal of the month is passionate about encouraging children to read in their spare time. Michael Wilson, Glen Iris Elementary School principal, uses carnival-like methods to captivate his students’ interest in books. “To motivate the students, I have allowed them to throw pies at me and attempt to dunk me in a tank of water. This year, they have decided to slime me,” Wilson said. “It is all a lot of fun, and the students are reading a record number of books. Last year, we logged over 50,000 books school-wide.” Wilson is also involved with grant writing and community advocacy programs. August’s teacher of the month, Lee Ann Fuller, a math and economics teacher at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, believes positivity and encouragement are the keys to helping students learn. Making every student feel valuable is her goal. “I want the student who has never felt a positive moment related to math walk out of my class with a smile and a better understanding of the material that has challenged him or her for so long,” Fuller said. Amanda Cody, an eighth-grade language arts, social studies and religion teacher at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Birmingham is September’s teacher of the month. Cody strives to teach her students logical decision-making skills

www.AlfaFarmers.org

instead of just theoretical concepts. “Students help me create behavioral expectations and logical consequences each year,” Cody said. “By working to ensure that they understand what they are trying to learn and why they are trying to master it, I have been able to create a smooth and efficient classroom

atmosphere in which students can build the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.” Throughout 2011, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation are honoring one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama’s eight state board districts, two principals and two private school teachers. n

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Seafood Waste Creates A Budding New Industry By Melissa Martin

A

new recycling plant in Bayou La Batre has turned a smelly business into a budding industry for the area. The Gulf Coast Agriculture and Seafood Cooperative, Inc. recycles shrimp and crab wastes into commercial fertilizer and other products that once were sent to a landfill. Owned and operated by the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, the plant was funded primarily through grants, including a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prior to the plant’s construction, landfill costs for the 23 shrimp and crab companies in Bayou La Batre who belong to the co-op totaled nearly $250,000 annually. With help from Don Wambles, director

of the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, the co-op found a way to solve the problem. Recycling the waste keeps it out of the landfill, and the plant is able to use the methane gas created by the seafood hulls to reduce its energy costs, said Wambles. The co-op opened earlier this year and employs eight people, with plans to expand. When fully staffed, it is expected to employ up to 20 people. According to Wambles, additional jobs could be created through the co-op members over the next three years. “We also anticipate saving 391 jobs in the community because of the construction of this facility,” he added, referring to the struggling seafood industry. At the plant, the waste is sorted, drained and dried, and most of the

odor evaporates. The finished product, which resembles a fluffy, lessdense version of cedar shavings, is bagged, weighed and ready for sale. The plant can process up to 5,000 tons of waste annually. The shrimp shells are used for chitin, a compound used in a number of applications by the pharmaceutical and paper industries, while the crab waste is used as fertilizer. Mighty Grow Organics in Fruitdale, Ala., is among the growing list of customers for the fertilizer. Owners Michael and Anne LaBelle are testing the inclusion of crab meal to their primary raw material, poultry litter. “Crab meal is a great soil amendment and has been used as such for a number of years,” explained Michael. “What I am looking to accomplish is to take my base fertilizer and increase the calcium level to create a premium tomato fertilizer.” n

A worker at the Gulf Coast Agriculture and Seafood Cooperative separates the seafood waste at the processing plant.

F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1

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www.AlfaFarmers.org


By Lois Chaplin

The Confederate Rose has big blooms that change color as they age.

T

his is the month when gardeners start feeling the change from summer to fall. If March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, September lumbers in like an elephant and moves out like a butterfly. The month goes from hot to almost pleasant, at least at night. The record-high temperature for September is 106 F, achieved on Sept. 6, 1925. The record low is 36 F, reached on Sept. 30, 1967. That’s quite a spread. Of course, those are the most extreme, but they give you an idea of what the month is capable of doing. So what does that mean for gardeners? It means that many of our plants are tired, tired, tired when the month begins. A few of the bulletproof ones, like lantana, probably look good, but the idea of something fresh for the garden is

nothing but a memory. But behold, the garden can offer some surprises as the heat breaks. There are some great big garden flowers that bloom late in the season that are fun and sure to be a conversation piece. Here are two old-fashioned ones that you may struggle to find for sale in garden centers but can often find online, at a plant swap, or from a friend who will share with you. Brugmansia is a huge perennial woody plant that grows all summer until it reaches eight feet or taller. Late in the summer, it covers itself with giant, pendulous, trumpetshaped blooms that dangle from its branches. Each bloom is at least a foot long and flares at the bottom like a trumpet, which also earns it the common name, Angel’s Trumpet. Depending on the type, the flowers are white, pink, coral, yel-

GET GROWING AT THE CO-OP. www.AlfaFarmers.org

M G K P

Alabama

ardener

low, pink or nearly red. They have a nice fragrance that is most promiCountry itchen nent in the evenings, when they are pollinated by giant sphinx, or hawk moth. These can be found here and there in gardens, but beware that the name Angel’s Trumpet is MarketAll parts of lace a misnomer. this plant are very poisonous to humans and animals, so use it with caution. A safer choice might be Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis), which has big blooms that change color as they age. At first, the buds and flowers are white, but turn progressively deeper shades of pink as they age so that you will see various colors of flowers on the plant at the same time. Single- and doubleflowered types are available. The single flowered type is also called cotton rose because the bloom looks like the blossom of a cotton plant. Confederate Rose is a deciduous woody plant along the coast, but freezes back like a perennial elsewhere. When it doesn’t freeze, the plant will get 12 feet tall or more. Where it does freeze, plants make an amazing growth through the summer to get eight feet or taller and equally wide before the bloom. This plant grows up and out like a fig tree or other multitrunked shrubs, so give it room. These plants will continue into November. The Brugmansia usually starts before the Confederate Rose. Enjoy their unusual beauty at an awkward time of the garden year. n _______________________________________ Lois Chaplin is an accomplished gardener and author. Her work appears here courtesy of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

WWW.ALAFARM.COM 26

F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


G K P

Country

itchen By Kellie Henderson

Old-Fashioned

Market

Pecan Pie 4 tablespoon s melted mar garine ½ cup firmly packed brow n sugar 3 eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla 2/3 cup ligh t corn syrup 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup choppe d pecans

lace

Mix all ing redients in and pour in order to a deep-d ish pie she Bake at 350 ll. F for 45 min utes or until firm.

K

aren Newman of Blount County says her kitchen is carrying on the same traditions she cherished as a child. “I learned to cook standing on a chair in my mother’s kitchen, and both my children learned the same way. Now my grandson, Cameron, wants to do the same thing when I’m cooking,” Karen said. Born in Guntersville, Karen said her parents moved to Blount County when she was still a toddler. She and her husband, Charles, met at a young age at the Blountsville Fall Festival. They’ve been married 47 years and raise Charolais cattle and quarter horses. Charles also cuts and bales hay for the farm. “He does a little custom baling for some people, too, and he recently retired as the foreman of a welding and construction shop,” Karen explains, adding that his work on the farm lately has been a full-time job. In addition to their farming and work responsibilities, the Newmans are active in the Blount County Farmers Federation, both serving on the Equine Committee

Karen Newman www.AlfaFarmers.org

28

F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1


in their county. And because they have a passion for farming, Karen says she and Charles have always made vegetable gardening a priority for their family, too. “We thought it was important for our children to understand that even the food that comes from a grocery store is only there because someone planted and worked to bring that food to our table,” she said. And while Karen says her mother’s kitchen was home to her first cooking inspirations, she says her mother-in-law has also shared wonderful recipes with her over the years, including her recipe for pecan pie. Like her mother-in-law’s pecan pie, Karen shares several other recipes that reflect her family’s favorites. “The squash fritters are my grandson Justin’s favorite thing, and my daughters love frogmore stew,” she said. “And we all love the cabbage and sausage supper. It cooks so quickly that we sometimes have it twice a week when cabbages are in season.” Cabbage & Sausage Supper 1 large head cabbage, cut into strips 2 cups water 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound Polish sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large saucepot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Serve with cornbread. Squash Dressing 4 cups crumbled cornbread 2 cups stewed squash, drained 3 large eggs 1 (10-ounce) can cream of chicken soup 1 chopped onion 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1/2 teaspoon sage Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and pour into a 9- X 13-inch casserole dish. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until dressing reaches desired firmness. F R I E N D S & FA M I LY • FA L L 2 0 1 1

7-Layer Salad

Lazy Boy Peach Pie

1 large head lettuce, torn into small pieces 1 large head cauliflower, sliced into thin pieces 1 purple onion, sliced into thin pieces 1 (15-ounce) can English peas, drained 1 (2-cup) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 (4-ounce) jar bacon bits 1 quart mayonnaise 1 envelope Seven Seas Italian Dressing Mix

1 quart jar (or 28-ounce can) peaches 1 cup self-rising flour 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter or margarine 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, layer the first six ingredients in the order given. Cover completely with mayonnaise spreading completely to edges to seal. Sprinkle on dressing mix and refrigerate overnight. Toss just before serving. Frogmore Stew 8 to 10 ears sweet corn, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces 4 pounds small potatoes 1 package crab and shrimp boil 6 medium onions, quartered 3 pounds shrimp 2 to 3 pounds Polish sausage, cut into chunks

Pour peaches and juice into a 9- X 13-inch baking dish. Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over peaches. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cowboy Beans 3 (15-ounce) cans pork and beans 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained 1 bell pepper, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 (15-ounce) bottle ketchup 1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces

Add first six ingredients to a 9- X 13-inch baking dish and gently combine. Top with bacon, and bake at 350 F for 1 hour. n

Place corn and potatoes into a large stock pot. Cover with water and add crab and shrimp boil. Boil just until potatoes begin to get tender. Add onions, shrimp and sausage. Boil 5 more minutes, then drain off water and transfer to platters to serve. Squash Fritters 2 cups stewed squash, drained 1 medium onion, chopped 1 large egg, beaten 1/2 cup self-rising flour 1/2 cup self-rising corn meal Salt and pepper to taste Oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, mash squash with a fork. Add onion and egg and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour and corn meal and add to squash mixture. Add salt and pepper. Drop by tablespoon into hot oil. Pan fry fritters, turning over in oil, until brown on both sides. Editor’s Note: Recipes published in the “Country Kitchen” are not kitchentested prior to publication. Look for more “Country Kitchen” recipes online at AlfaFarmers.org. 29

www.AlfaFarmers.org


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For just $2 per word your classified ad in Friends & Family reaches 340,000+ subscribers each quarter. So if it’s a recipe, service or an item for sale, let Friends & Family help. CLOSING DATE: Ads must be received by the 10th day of the month prior to publication (Ex: Fall issue closes Aug. 10). Dates for publication are Spring (March), Summer (June), Fall (September) and Winter (December). Ads received after closing will automatically run in the next available issue unless notified. No changes may be made after closing. Minimum 10 words per ad. PRE-PAYMENT REQUIRED FOR ALL ADS. No fax or phone orders. Cash or credit cards accepted. Phone 1-800392-5705, ext. 4410 for more details. Send your ad with payment, payable to Alabama Farmers Federation, to: Friends & Family Classified P.O. Box 11000 Montgomery, AL 36191-0001 www.AlfaFarmers.org

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Fall 2011 Friends & Family  

The Fall, 2011, issue of Friends & Family magazine. The official magazine of Alabama Farmers Federation.

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