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FRONT PORCH Winter 2014

Watching for Smokes A history of Arkansas’ fire lookout towers

Arkansas Farm and Ranch Families Provide‌ 24% of Arkansas Jobs


Safe, affordable food


75% of Wildlife Habitat

Lacy Glover

Former Miss Arkansas and Spokesperson for the Arkansas Foundation for Agriculture

Wildlife Habitat While Protecting the Environment


Foundation for Agriculture ÂŽ


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Front Porch

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Front Porch

Farm Bureau

Winter 2014 C






Matters by Randy Veach

President, Arkansas Farm Bureau

I don’t believe I saw all 38 million people

who live in the metropolitan area of Tokyo,

was taken care of much quicker than 90 days,

but I saw a lot of them. And for someone

and that other countries had lifted similar

from Lost Cane, seeing the world’s most

bans much sooner than 90 days. We were

populated metro area was pretty amazing,

able to help them understand that Japan

even after having previously been to mega-

could have also lifted the ban sooner.

cities Seoul, Mexico City, Shanghai and

On the Cover ­— Smoke-like fog shrouds the Rich Mountain fire tower atop the tallest peak in Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains. The first wooden tower on the mountain was erected in 1923 as part of a U.S. Forest Service nationwide effort to suppress forest fires on national forests. Photo by Gregg Patterson Send comments to:


Watching for Smokes Keith Sutton

12 Rural Reflections Photo Contest Winners 3 Farm Bureau Matters

Randy Veach Thinking Out Loud Rodney Baker

Tara Johnson

18 20 22 24


to help them understand that the problem


While in Tokyo, we also visited several local supermarkets to see how U.S. beef,

I was in Japan, along with vice president

poultry and rice are promoted. Japanese

Rich Hillman of Carlisle, state board member

consumers spend a significant portion of

Tom Jones of Pottsville and staff members

their disposable income on food, and they

Matt King and Steve Eddington, in late

pay particular attention to the origin of their

October meeting with government officials,

food products. I am happy to report that the

import/export companies and agri-business

Japanese have an attraction for U.S. meat

interests to promote Arkansas agricultural

products. The export promotion efforts for

products, as well as learn about the local

beef, in fact, have been successful since last

agricultural industry.

January, when the country lifted seven-year-

Japan is the United States’ fourth-largest

old restrictions on meat from cows older

market for U.S. agricultural products, the

than 20 months. Sales for U.S. beef were

world’s third largest economy and is the

expected to top $1 billion in 2013.

largest importer of U.S. beef and corn as well

We also took advantage of one of Japan’s

as a significant importer of poultry, grain

high-speed “bullet” trains to travel west to

sorghum, wheat and pork. In many ways,

Kyoto. Outside of the former capital city, we

Japan sets the trend for trade in Asia, so

visited the Oumi Sonoda Farm, one of the

reaffirming relationships with the Japanese

country’s largest farms with 350 acres under

P. Allen Smith Land & People Ken Moore Do It Yourself Gregg Patterson Health & Safety Dina Bates In the Kitchen Tara Johnson

was important work. Our efforts were made

cultivation. The farm grossed more than $1

easier by an existing friendship with Kiichi

million (U.S.) on that acreage, growing rice,

Narita, deputy director of the international

wheat and soybeans. On his farm, Sonoda

affairs department for the country’s Ministry

Koichi grew, stored, milled and bagged his

of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF),

private brand of rice, which he sold directly

who has a strong understanding of our

to consumers, supermarkets, restaurants and

farmers and ranchers after we hosted him in

other retail outlets.

For address changes, contact:

Narita, we met with two of Japan’s principal

gave us an opportunity to further build

negotiators in the ongoing TPP (Trans-Pacific

relationships with a major trading partner.

Partnership) talks, of which the United States

It is through efforts like that that we are

is a participant.

better able to understand each country’s

14 Taste Arkansas

16 Garden Home Design

Arkansas a couple years ago. Along with Mr.

Rhonda Whitley at Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation Farm Bureau Center P.O. Box 31 • Little Rock, AR 72203-0031 Fax: (501) 228-1557 Please provide membership number. Created by Publishing Concepts, Inc. For Advertising info contact David Brown • 1-800-561-4686

The timing of our trip was advantageous.

The seven-day trip was productive and

strengths, and also meet Arkansas Farm

A 90-day ban on Arkansas poultry products

Bureau’s organizational mission to promote

– brought about due to a single case of avian

the consumption of U.S. and Arkansas

influenza in Scott County – had just been

agricultural products.

lifted. We were able to discuss with MAFF the

God bless you and your families. God

actions taken to resolve the influenza issue

bless our farmers and ranchers. God bless

and the safety protocols in place. We worked

Arkansas Farm Bureau.

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Front Porch Arkansas Farm Bureau © 2014 Official membership publication of Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. Front Porch is mailed to more than 192,000 member-families. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Included in membership dues.

Arkansas Farm Bureau Officers: President Randy Veach Manila Vice President Rich Hillman Carlisle Secretary/Treasurer Joe Christian Jonesboro Executive Vice President Rodney Baker Little Rock Directors: Troy Buck, Alpine Jon Carroll, Moro Terry Dabbs, Stuttgart Sherry Felts, Joiner Mike Freeze, England Bruce Jackson, Lockesburg Tom Jones, Pottsville Johnny Loftin, El Dorado Gene Pharr, Lincoln Rusty Smith, Des Arc Allen Stewart, Mena Leo Sutterfield, Mountain View Joe Thrash, Conway

Thinking Out Loud



Executive Vice President, Arkansas Farm Bureau

As we enter a new year, optimism

and what’s going on with a particular issue.

illuminates the road ahead. However, we’re

Throughout our history, these member

often reflective about the road just traveled.

leaders are the ones who’ve provided the

I’m optimistic about our future, and I’m

guidance and the emphasis for what the

convinced that our successes of the past year

whole organization does.

spring from the same source – our strength as an organization.

We also have structural strength because of our policies, the written words that

What makes Farm Bureau strong?

guide our day-to-day work and actions.

I’ve always thought that our greatest

We’re unique because of the time invested

strength – what makes us truly strong as

by our membership at the grassroots level

an organization – is our membership. Our

to develop our policies. There are many

roots go back 79 years to a group of farm

organizations that claim to be grassroots

leaders, who decided to start a membership

driven in their decision making, however,

organization, and it has grown and been

few truly are. Our more than 450 resolutions

successful. Invariably when it comes to the

that recently came through our resolutions

big issues, the ones most difficult to deal

process are proof that Farm Bureau truly is a

with, it’s the membership that makes the

grassroots, membership-driven organization.


We’re also strong, because we have a

At times we’ve had to ask our

great staff. It’s important to have a staff

membership to take a position on an

that keeps up with the issues, knows how

issue with their legislators or members

to communicate effectively about them

of Congress. And when they do and are

and has good working relations with

knowledgeable about and are invested in the

legislators like our Governmental Affairs

issue, it makes all the difference in the world.

department does. The communication of

That was the case during the legislative

issues to a diverse membership requires a

session earlier last year when we successfully

strong Public Relations department that is

got sales tax exemptions for energy use

constantly strengthening the way we get

in animal agriculture and also sales tax

our agriculture advocacy message out to

ADVERTISING: Contact David Brown at Publishing Concepts, Inc. for advertising rates. (501) 221-9986 Fax (501) 225-3735

exemptions for hay wrap and cotton bale

the public. Our Organization and Member


Programs brings what we do to the county

by our members is a huge strength for

face to face with our member leaders.

Front Porch (USPS 019-879) is published bi-monthly by the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, 10720 Kanis Rd., Little Rock, AR 72211. Periodicals Postage paid at Little Rock, Ark. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Front Porch, P.O. Box 31, Little Rock, AR 72203. Issue #90.

our organization. This is a major reason

Our Commodity and Regulatory Affairs

why we’re successful. We’re blessed with

department is a great asset to our members

members who are leaders back in their

with the programs and the expertise it has

home communities, whether it’s on the

to help our members understand complex

boards of other agriculture organizations,

ag issues, ag markets and regulatory

elected office, school boards, churches or


Ex Officio Josh Cureton, Jonesboro Brent Lassiter, Newport Janice Marsh, McCrory Executive Editor: Steve Eddington Editor: Gregg Patterson Contributing Writers: Ken Moore, Keith Sutton, Chris Wilson Research Assistant: Brenda Gregory

Publisher assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation reserves the right to accept or reject all advertising requests.


The quality of leadership displayed

other civic groups. These are the people who

level, strengthening our success by working

So we are blessed with strong

are opinion makers in their communities.

membership, strong leadership, a strong

These are the people that folks back in the

policy-development process and a strong

counties and in their communities look up

staff to carry it out. All of this makes the road

to, to know what’s going on at the capitol,

ahead one of optimism.

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FOlK School March 17-21

earn traditional Ozark music, crafts and gardening in the beautiful and relaxed atmosphere of the Arkansas Ozarks. This week allows you to immerse yourself in the crafts, herbal studies and

Individuals or groups may design their own workshops with our herbalists, artisans and musicians during the regular season. Contact the park to plan your event.

music you enjoy. There’s a whole lot more than just great classes going on during Folk School. Evening tours of local artists studios; movie night showing videos of the original craftspeople; and a pickin’ down in the cabins recreation room are just a few of the evening activities. Sign on to for classes being offered and reserve your spot today.

M O U N T A I N V I E W, A R K A N S A S

Cabin Reservations: 800-264-3655 • Information: 870-269-3851 •

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I 6

F ro n t P or c h


a r m

Watching for Smokes A history of Arkansas’ fire lookout towers Story and photos by Keith Sutton

Eyes in the sky Mattie Robertson (left) worked 10 years in this Clark County fire tower near Alpine, earning a citation for outstanding achievement in fire prevention. Her son, Joe, (right) worked as a forest ranger and often dressed as Smoky Bear doing forest fire prevention programs.


In 1993, I climbed to the top of the Alpine lookout tower in

chilling me, but I stayed awhile, captivated by the breathtaking view

Clark County. I stumbled across the abandoned, 110-foot-tall,

of the Ouachita Mountains. Looking out the windows, I could see for

steel structure while driving to visit my fiancée, Theresa, and was

miles in every direction, including a view of my future in-laws’ home

possessed to see the view from the top.

a mile away in Chalybeate Valley.

For me, who has a fear of heights, the climb to the tower’s high

I imagined I was the lookout person who once worked here each

metal cab was frightening. I gripped the hand rails tightly until I

day, scanning the surrounding forest for wisps of smoke in a never-

entered the observation room. It was smaller than I expected — 7

ending vigil to detect forest fires. I could not have known it then, but

feet by 7 feet. The inside was empty except for broken glass littering

in two decades, I would sit in that person’s home and listen as she

the floor. Vandals had shot out all 72 panes — 18 per side — on the

told stories about working in the Alpine tower high above the rest of

cab’s swing-out windows. A cold wind rushed through the openings,

the world.

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Tall tower At 120 feet, Crossroads Fire Tower near Hamburg is the tallest tower ever built in Arkansas. Recently renovated, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mattie Robertson After marrying, I asked my mother-in-law, Helen, if she knew people who had worked in the tower. “Sure,” she said. “One still lives just up the road. Her name is Mattie Robertson.” Several years passed before I called upon Mrs. Mattie, a petite, energetic 88-year-old who didn’t fit my image of a fire-tower lookout. Her son Joe worked as the Clark County forest ranger from 1973 to 1985. He welcomed me into the family home just a few miles from the tower, and I listened as he and his mother described their work for the Arkansas Forestry Commission. “I got my start through Joe,” Mattie said. “He had worked as county forest ranger two years when the tower job came open and I hired on. They didn’t give me formal training. Joe taught me what I needed to know.” That was 1975, and for the next 10 years, Mrs. Mattie worked in the tower, climbing the steps to the top each morning for an eight-hour shift. “The tower was 110 feet high, and there were exactly 110 steps,” she told me. “I counted them often enough, I should know.” She carried her lunch and a radio and rarely came down until her shift ended. “I did a lot of different jobs for the Forestry Commission: tree planting, helping with controlled burns and even flying with a pilot to look for bug spots [insect damage],” she said. “Joe and I also visited schools and fairs to talk about forest-fire prevention. He was Smokey Bear to all the local kids — had a costume he wore wherever we went. But my main job was being in that tower watching for smokes.” “Watching for smokes” meant scanning the surrounding woodlands for tendrils of smoke indicating a fire, and with a view extending 20 miles in all directions, there was plenty of watching to do. When smoke was seen, Mattie would radio a fellow lookout in another tower (there were three in Clark County), and they would use special instruments to pinpoint the fire and send a crew to put it out. “Back then, fire problems were a lot worse than now,” she said. “On average, we probably reported 50 fires each year, sometimes several in one day if conditions were bad. “What I did was very important,” Mattie said. “The job of all the fire lookouts was important. It was not only for protection of the timberlands, but for protection of the people who lived in the timberlands, too.” Mattie ended her career with the Forestry Commission in 1985. Joe nearly died that year while fighting a fire in Dallas County. The burning trees had recently been sprayed with chemicals to kill hardwoods. When Joe and two fellow firefighters inhaled the noxious fumes, they became extremely ill and sustained serious neurological damage. After an extended recovery period, all three were put on permanent disability, and Mattie decided she would quit her job to take care of Joe. As it turned out, lookout towers throughout Arkansas and the nation were about to close anyway.

continued on page 10


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Putting your soybean checkoff dollars to work, improving sustainability and profitability of soybean farmers in Arkansas.

Congratulations to this year’s Race for 100 winners! Nelson Crow

Farm: Dumas (Desha County) Soybean variety: Pioneer 93Y92 Date barrier was broken: Aug. 30 Bushels per acre: 100.82

Matt & Sherrie Kay Miles

Farm: McGehee (Desha County) Soybean variety: Asgrow 4632 Date barrier was broken: Sep. 13 Bushels per acre: 107.63

Eddie Tackett

Farm: Atkins (Pope County) Soybean variety: Pioneer 94Y70 variety Date barrier was broken: Sep. 27 Bushels per acre: 104.83


Tree house lookout Before fire towers, lookout personnel often sat on platforms in tall trees to watch for fires. The “Look See� tree in Coleman is the last lookout tree still standing in Arkansas.


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The beginning and the end

To the south, in Ashley County, the Crossroads Fire Tower

The U.S. Forest Service was created in 1905 to oversee

rises high above the flat south Arkansas timberlands. No taller

management of the country’s woodlands. Five years later, a fire

lookout has ever been built in Arkansas. This one, erected by

called the Big Blowup burned 3 million acres in Washington,

the CCC in 1935, originally rose 100 feet, but 20 additional

Idaho and Montana. Eighty-seven people died in what is believed

feet were added later to increase its range of view. The addition

to be the largest forest fire in recorded U.S. history.

gave the tower a unique “bulged out” profile. The tower was

A few fire lookout towers existed before 1910, operated

closed in 1985, added to the National Register of Historic

primarily to protect towns and industrial sites. After the Big

Places in 2006 and restored by the city of Hamburg in 2008. It

Blowup, the Forest Service built more in response to a new rule:

can be seen on Highway 133 north of Crossett.

“All fires must be extinguished by 10 a.m. the following morning.”

Rich Mountain Fire Tower in Polk County may be the only

Early fire detection and suppression suddenly became priorities,

remaining tower in Arkansas where visitors can get a view

and permanent towers sprung up nationwide to replace the tall

from the top. Volunteers give tours, weather permitting, on

trees and mountaintop tent shelters used by earlier lookouts.

weekend afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps

There’s a beautiful view of Arkansas and Oklahoma from the

built 3,100 additional towers, including many in the Ozark,

58-foot tower atop 2,681-foot-high Rich Mountain, the highest

Ouachita and St. Francis national forests in Arkansas. After the

peak in Ouachita National Forest. Constructed in 1952 and

Arkansas Forestry Commission was established in 1931, it, too,

used for fire detection until 1975, the tower is 10 miles west of

built towers and manned them to prevent and suppress wildfires.

Mena on Talimena Scenic Byway (Highway 88).

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many lookout towers

While driving through the state, you can see many other

once stood throughout Arkansas. Various sources put the number

lookout towers, as well. Some sit alongside major roadways.

somewhere between 121 and 173. What we can say with certainty

For example, on Arkansas Highway 27 in Pike County,

is fewer than half still stand today, perhaps as few as 40 or less.

between Murfreesboro and Kirby, one can see for miles a tall

The towers were closed one after another as use of the forests grew,

lookout on top of Tower Mountain. Behind the Buffalo River

road systems expanded, and citizen reports of fire began to equal

Outfitters store on U.S. 65 near St. Joe (Searcy County) is a

reports by lookouts. With increased aerial surveillance and, later,

tower with a smiley face painted on the cab. Just off Arkansas

satellite surveillance and the advent of cell phones, the use of

1 in St. Charles (Arkansas County), in the White River

lookout towers diminished.

National Wildlife Refuge compound, is a tower owned by the

Today, some lookout towers in other states remain in service.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. A tower is visible from U.S. 167

Having human eyes to detect smoke and call in a fire report still

just south of Sheridan (Grant County), another on Arkansas 25

remains, in some cases, the best way to stop fires before they

near Guy (watch for the big water tower it sits by) and another

spread. In Arkansas, however, the towers no longer are used for

on a ridge north of the Arkansas 25 bypass in Heber Springs.

their original purpose. Many have been dismantled. Most that

To see most towers, you’ll have to venture far off the

remain exist only because they provide convenient places to attach

beaten path. There’s one at University of Arkansas’ Pine

radio antennas used by government agencies. But the towers still

Tree Experimental Station in St. Francis County, another off

standing are iconic reminders of forest management’s early days.

Highway 51 east of Okolona (Clark County) and Horn Lookout Tower on Lee County 217 in the St. Francis National Forest.

Looking for lookouts

Some towers have been placed off limits to protect historical structures, including two on the National Register of Historic

In the Drew County community of Coleman, at the southwest

Places: Tall Peak Tower, an unusual stone and wood structure

corner of Arkansas Highway 83 and Pleasant Springs Road, you

built in 1938 in the Ouachita NF near Mena, and the 110-foot-

can see the Look See Tree, a huge white oak used as a forest-fire

tall Sugarloaf Fire Tower built in 1937 in the Ozark NF near

lookout during the 1930s and 1940s. The surrounding area is more

Calico Rock.

densely wooded now, restricting the view, but when the tree was

The Alpine tower cannot be climbed now, but you can

in use, lookouts could see all the way to Dumas, 20 miles distant.

drive right to the foot of it and look up at the tiny cab where

Look closely and you’ll see two rows of iron climbing pegs driven

Mattie Robertson spent 10 years of her life “watching for

into the trunk to provide access to a wooden viewing platform,

smokes.” From Highway 8 in the Clark County community of

and a white porcelain insulator from a hand-crank telephone

Alpine, turn south on Alpine Road and continue to its junction

system used for emergency communication. No other lookout

with Skyline Dr. The tower is on the left, a fragile reminder

trees still stand in Arkansas. The Look See Tree was added to the

of a bygone era when the sharp eyes of lookouts like Mattie

National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Robertson were Arkansas’ first line of defense against forest fires.

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RuralReflections Contest winners take great photos depicting rural life.

Honorable Mention: This beautiful scene was shot by Sheena Hare of Conway. She calls it “Sunset & Hay Bales.”

Kelly Peebles of McCrory is the Adult division and Grand Prize winner of Front Porch magazine’s 5th Annual Rural Reflections Photo Contest. Her photo depicts son, Pearson, resting on a palette of seed while watching his dad planting.

Honorable Mention: This classic shot called “Chickens at the fair” was taken by Ginny Hulsey of Alpena.


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Honorable Mention: Susan Pfiefler of Oark took this photo of the “second hay cutting of the season ready for the barn.� Honorable Mention: Randi McDonald of Lewisville took this photo of Hunter and a calf named Sadie Mae. Seems there might be an argument brewing over that bottle.

Honorable Mention: Annette Rowe took this photo while on a drive with her husband on a back road near Gentry. Front Porch


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Taste Arkansas From farm to table


compiled by Tara Johnson

Reasons I love to cook I cook at least one meal almost

every day. Sometimes I’m cooking recipes for the Taste Arkansas blog. Sometimes I make recipes just for me. Other times I’m cooking for friends and family. I recently realized I’ve made more than 250 recipes for the Tara Johnson

Taste Arkansas blog. Even though I’ve made all of these recipes, it’s hard to wrap my mind around it. But I love to cook, so these thoughts made me reflect on why I love it so much. The primary reason I love cooking

is I grew up cooking. Ever since I can remember, I’ve helped my mom stir cookie dough, mash potatoes, flip

Look online Check out the recipe for these Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies on page 24. And for more than 250 recipes, including Tara’s cheese ball recipe, go to

pancakes and taste test whatever was cooked. I watched my mom and dad

to kick it up a notch and make the

cook every night, constantly asking

most flavorful scrambled eggs ever. I

questions about why they did this or

love using my kitchen skills to make

that. At 10, I entered a 4-H chicken-

someone smile.

cooking contest and was first runner-up

Finally, I love cooking, because

by half a point. I was hooked. Now, I

I like to control what I’m eating.

create recipes myself and attribute that

Nutrition is important and, although

skill to spending those great times in

I do indulge in decadent recipes,

the kitchen with my parents.

I like knowing – most of the time

An obvious reason I love cooking is

– I’m eating a well-balanced meal

I love food. I think about it constantly.

without a ton of salt, preservatives or

I’ve always had a good appetite, and I

hidden extra calories.

enjoy trying new things. There’s only

It’s important to remember why

one food I don’t like – coleslaw. We

we began doing something in the

don’t get along. It’s a texture thing.

first place. I started cooking because

Other than that, I’ll try anything and

my parents cooked. I continue

probably like it.

cooking, because I love food and

Another reason I love cooking is I

happy. The kitchen is always a place

my recipes. If attending a tailgate or

of enjoyment, great conversation,

potluck, my friends insist I bring my

family, friends and good food.

cheese ball. And I’m almost always in charge of the kitchen if it’s having

Tara Johnson is a contributor to

dinner for friends. Cooking is an art

Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Taste Arkansas

form even if I’m making scrambled

blog. For recipes, videos and farmer

eggs for a quick breakfast. I’m going

profiles visit today.


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2. When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board. It keeps the herbs from flying around. 3. Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients you like.

making my friends and family

love wowing friends and family with

1. Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions, and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.





MOSS MOUNTAIN FARM ticket price $90 per person

TH 2014

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Garden Home Design Me and my farm: Early signs of spring


Taste and see the early signs of spring by P. Allen Smith

There’s something truly special

about this time of year. The hustle,

of promise is about to take to shape. When it comes to blooms,

While I might be partial to

bustle and cheer of the holiday

daffodils are one of my first thoughts

daffodils, they aren’t the only signs

season have passed. We’ve enjoyed

when I think of spring. This is

that spring is in air. The branches

the chill of winter and time spent

especially true at my farm where

of forsythia, witch hazel and quince

around the fire, and — if you’re like

we’ve planted 300,000 (yes, I truly

all bloom as winter is drawing to a

me — you’re ready to get outdoors

love daffodils) bulbs to create a

close. If you’re looking for a bloom

and into the garden. As winter

blanket of yellow to cover the land

that is not only attractive but also

wanes, I keep a close eye out for the

around my home in the spring.

enlivens your sense of smell, seek out

signs of spring approaching in my

Daffodils are one of the first plants

winter honeysuckle. These fragrant

garden retreat at Moss Mountain

to bloom, and I love how their

blooms can transport you to a sunny

Farm. Both blooms and garden

cheerful shape and color seem to

day in no time.

delicacies remind me a new year full

remind us to perk up and welcome

Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Signs of spring Daffodils are one of the first signs of the hope of spring’s arrival. If weather conditions warm enough, these flowers can bloom as early as late January in Arkansas.


warmer days.

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You also may have noticed these

blooms aren’t newcomers to our farm’s landscape. I think the nostalgia of seeing a specific bloom year after year also plays a key role in alerting us to the start of a new season. Perhaps we saw winter honeysuckle while riding our bikes at our family’s homestead, or we may recall sunny daffodils popping up in our mother’s garden. Whatever the reason, if these blooms signal spring in your mind, I encourage you to plant a few of your own to enjoy next year. At my farm, flowering plants aren’t the only ones indicating the arrival of spring. What’s growing in the vegetable garden is equally important. I love to enjoy spring delicacies such

Living salad bowl Get an early start on enjoying garden produce by planting lettuce in easy-tomove pots.

as fiddlehead greens, mushrooms, asparagus and leeks. Just as the blooms of spring hold a bit of nostalgia, so do these vegetables. You’ll begin to see them appearing in your garden (and hopefully on your menu) around the Jane Colclasure

same time you take note of spring blooms. Filling your plate with these vegetables while at their peak can take you back to a spring family gathering in no time. Just like the blooms, I encourage you to plant these seasonal delicacies and enjoy the goodness of spring!

Grow your own “living salad bowls”

Planting Instructions

If you’re ready to welcome spring with your own green thumb but want to start with a small project, I suggest a

1. Fill your container with soil to about six inches below the top.

lettuce container garden. Follow these three quick steps and

2. Plant the lettuce in the container, and then fill the

you’ll have the base for a delicious spring salad in no time. In

pot with additional soil, leaving about one inch of space

fact, I like to refer to these containers as “living salad bowls.”

between the soil and the top of the container to allow

Here’s what you’ll need:

you to water easily.

• 18-inch container with saucer (I love using traditional

3. Place the container in a spot that receives full sun

round terra cotta planters with pre-drilled drainage

to partial shade, and keep the soil consistently moist.


When it’s time to harvest, cut the leaves above the crown.

• two six packs of lettuce plants (I suggest trying arugula, oakleaf or my favorite, buttercrunch.)

If you continue to care for your lettuce, you should have a new crop to harvest every few weeks.

• potting soil (with a slow-release fertilizer)

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Land&People Farm Family of the Year


Desha County family honored

by Ken Moore

The Gill family of McGehee is the

2013 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year. Andy and Shannon Gill, along with their son Andrew and daughter Madeline, farm 3,200 acres of corn and soybeans.

After growing cotton for 30 years,

Andy sold his cotton picker in 2012 and made the decision to concentrate strictly on corn and soybeans. He has built a new on-farm storage facility to Keith Sutton

handle their growing corn production. Both Andrew and Madeline are graduates of the University of Arkansas. Andrew earned an ag business degree and now works with his father on the farm. Andy grew up working on the farm

Top family The Gills of McGehee, Andy, Shannon, Madeline and Andrew, are the state’s 2013 Farm Family of the Year.

for his father and uncle, Doyle Sims, who helped him rent 265 cotton acres

son team is a prime model of a hard-

Southeastern Farmer of the Year

to get started on his own. Over time

working, successful farm family.”

program. A winner will be named from

he added acres and equipment to

Andy and Shannon also serve their

among 10 southeastern state winners

his operation. He has improved the

community. Andy is president of the

efficiency of his farm by placing drop

McGehee Men’s Club and has been

pipes for drainage and installing three

a member of the organization for 20

Year program is the longest-running

tailwater recovery systems to capture

years. As president, he has overseen

farm family recognition program of

and use surface water for irrigation.

the remodeling of a facility which

its type in the United States,” said

Where he can, Andy has converted

serves as the community center in

Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy

his power units to electricity and

McGehee. He also coordinates the

Veach. “We congratulate each of the

participates in the USDA Conservation

annual oyster dinner with the proceeds

county and district winners for this

Reserve Program.

funding community activities. Shannon

well-deserved recognition.”

“The Gills are an example of

is a board member of the McGehee

next October in Moultrie, Ga. “The Arkansas Farm Family of the

The Farm Family of the Year

the many successful and efficient

Community Food Pantry, while Andrew

program, now in its 68th year, begins

family farming operations that exist

is a member of the Arkansas Young and

with selection of the top farm family in

in Arkansas,” said Andy Guffey,

Beginning Farmers Advisory board. The

each county. Then, eight district Farm

coordinator of the Arkansas Farm

family is active with the First United

Families of the Year are selected. The

Family of the Year program. “They

Methodist Church.

competition is judged on production,

understand what it means to protect the

As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the

efficiency and management of farm

environment and the natural resources

Year, the Gills will compete in the

operations, family life and rural/

used in growing their crops. This father-

2014 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo

community leadership and values.


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TASTE from farm to table

Our Taste Arkansas food blog connects those interested in food production with the farmers & ranchers who provide an abundance of Arkansas agricultural products.

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DoItYourself Learn knife making Be part of Arkansas’ rich history


Gregg Patterson

by Gregg Patterson There are place markers in

history where a moment or event in time, the iconic nature of an object and a personality larger than life all come together to create something special. The Bowie knife – so named after legendary frontiersman and knife fighter Jim Bowie – is that iconic object. Who made the first Bowie knife isn’t a completely settled question. However, the belief of

Functional art A little more than a decade ago, Lin Rhea decided he wanted to be a part of Arkansas’ rich knife-making history. Rhea, a blacksmith at the Historic Arkansas Museum, attended a knife-making class at Old Washington State Park, and it fired his creativity. His knife-making skill is well respected.

some prominent knife historians the maker as James Black, a renowned

craft more than 175 years ago. “’Introduction to Bladesmithing’ is

knife maker of the time who lived in

where someone who has never done it

Washington, Ark. Black’s signature coffin-

before can come in and learn the basics of

handled, long-bladed knives were popular

forging a blade. That includes the forging,

at the time along with other quality large

the grinding and heat treating of the blade,”

knives (blades at least 8.25 inches). The

Rhea said.

big knives also were nicknamed “Arkansas

Gregg Patterson

suggests the best evidence supports

everyday use. His finished knives have won

The first two-week class in 2014 will

awards in ABS cutting competitions designed

toothpicks” by riverboat men, hunters,

be April 21-25 and April 28-May 2. Other

trappers, woodcutters and others who

classes throughout the year include classes

valued their utilitarian uses for frontier

on making knife handles and guards,

reputation as a knife maker grows based on

living, like skinning, chopping and self-

making Damascus blades, and forging and

doing well in competitions and testimonies

defense. The wild, rough-and-tumble

hammering techniques. Rhea will teach a

from people who use your knife,” Rhea said.

Arkansas territory was a hotbed for quality

“Handles and Guards” class Sept. 29-Oct. 3.

knife makers in the early 1800s.

Class registration and payment is handled

a strong tip, its ability to hold an edge or

by Texarkana College. Rhea suggests

resist pitting – is based on how the maker

getting more information by going to the

heat treats, or forges, it. “If he does a really

American Bladesmith Society (ABS) website

good job on his heat-treat, the people who


purchase and use his knives will testify to his

It still is today. And you can be a part of it. Lin Rhea of Prattsville (rheaknives. com) is one of those carrying on Arkansas’ prestigious knife making tradition. Rhea,

Rhea believes in “doing it properly”

specifically to test for blade quality. “I always like to test my knives. Your

Rhea says the quality of a knife blade –

superior skill,” Rhea said.

56, is a Master Bladesmith who took up

when it comes to knife making. That means

knife-making at the urging of his wife,

making every part of the knife himself. He

use of each knife he crafts, he understands

Kay, in 2002. He signed up for the Bill

also makes all of his knives for use. This

the artistic nature of knife making. “It’s

Moran School of Bladesmithing held at

means during the knife-making process,

functional art. I make and am involved

Old Washington State Park, the same

he “runs each knife through its paces,”

in every part of my knives,” Rhea said. “It

Washington where James Black plied his

testing each to make sure it will withstand

brings complete enjoyment.”


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Though Rhea demands the functional


R K AN SA S A The 19th Annual

Canadian Rockies Tour


Feb. 22 & 23, 2014

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Departs 6/13 and 7/25, 2014 Start your tour in Seattle and drive through the beautiful Pacific Northwest to Spokane. Enjoy the scenery as you travel through Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks. Stay in Banff for two nights. Travel the Icefields Parkway through the Canadian Rockies. See Lake Louise and Jasper National Park before you cross the Continental Divide. Visit the Lake Okanagan region and Whistler. Upgrade to the “Sea to Sky Climb” Rocky Mountaineer train along the the Pacific coast down the mountains to Vancouver. Spend two nights in Vancouver and enjoy a city tour of Seattle. *Price per person, double occupancy. Includes taxes & services, hotels, sightseeing and baggage handling. Add $200pp for 7/25 departure. Call for low-cost airfare from your closest major airport. Other departure dates available.

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Health&Safety Farm Bureau Insurance launches app


New MOBILE agent an easy use

by Dina Bates

Farm Bureau Insurance has launched the

MOBILE agent app for Apple and Android devices, which provides policyholders with on-the-go convenience. Looking to send a quick email to your local agent? Need to pay your bill or submit a claim? These are just some of the many features available through the new MOBILE agent app.

My Policies

My Agent


ID Card

Nearest Office

Pay Bill

Report Claim

Send Help

Gregg Patterson

MOBILE agent offers these features:

Easy app Farm Bureau Insurance’s new MOBILE Agent app makes conducting insurance business as simple as a finger tap.

The “My Policies” feature provides an overview of all active policies, including

And while customers wanting to pay

agent allows customers to request roadside

vehicle specific information for policyholders

premiums and/or membership dues with

assistance, receive confirmation help is

who have auto policies. “My Agent”

a credit or debit card will need to use the

on the way and track the service provider

allows customers to contact their agent by

online website (, this feature will

all without ever having to talk with

phone or email with a simple tap of the

be added to the mobile app in the near

someone on the phone. MOBILE agent

screen. Policyholders can view their Farm


relies on Global Positioning Service (GPS)

Bureau membership card by selecting the “Membership” feature. Policyholders can use the “ID Card” feature to view vehicle insurance

The app also makes it easy to report

coordinates but only uses GPS location

an automobile claim in the case of a loss.

services when needed or selected by the

Just select “Report Claim” and follow the

customer, saving battery life and data plan



identification cards on any active auto policy

If roadside assistance is needed,

and view boat insurance identification cards

the “Send Help” option immediately

on any active boat policy. The “Nearest

dispatches a service provider or connects

Office” feature allows policyholders to locate

callers to a customer service representative.

an office or claims service center using an

The roadside feature lists vehicles with

address or current location.

roadside assistance coverage but also offers


roadside help for non-covered vehicles. If a


The MOBILE agent “Pay Bill” feature

The app is free and can be downloaded in both GooglePlay and iTunes. Google Play: apps/details? iTunes:

offers an electronic funds transfer

vehicle doesn’t have coverage for roadside

In order to use the app, you must first

transaction option to pay policy premiums

assistance, help will be dispatched, but the

be a registered user. Register within the app

and/or Farm Bureau membership dues

policyholder will be responsible for full

once you download it or go to www.afbic.

from either a savings or checking account.

payment to the service provider. MOBILE

com to register.


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yourself to the Conversation

• • • •


Life is priceless. Insuring it should be affordable. There’s no limit to what you would do for your children. But there is a limit to your budget. We know how to help you with both. Call now for a Get Real Review from your local Farm Bureau Insurance Agent.


Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co., Jackson, MS

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IntheKitchen Cookie craziness


Gregg Patterson

Easy, portable dessert

by Tara Johnson I always like making batches of

cookies. Cookies are so portable, easy to give as a gift for almost any occasion and bring a smile to the person receiving them. Crackle Sugar Cookies are one of my favorites. These cookies are slightly chewy, soft, sweet and perfect for an on-the-go dessert. I also love the oatmeal cookie recipe. Cinnamon has always been one of my favorite spices and makes these Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies something special. They’re chewy and full of Tara Johnson

texture with the warm cinnamon flavor.

Crackle Sugar Cookies Ingredients • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened • 1¼ cups granulated sugar • 3 large egg yolks • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract • ¼ teaspoon salt • 2½ cups all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon baking soda • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar • ¼ cup sugar for rolling cookie dough in

Directions 1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom. 2. Add yolks, vanilla and salt, and mix on medium speed until smooth; about 30 seconds.


Cookie monster Easy to make, cookies are the universally loved takeanywhere treat. 3. Add flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix on low speed until dough comes together. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons and roll between your hands until smooth. 4. Roll dough in granulated sugar to coat and place on aluminum foillined baking sheets. 5. Bake cookies on middle rack until

• • • • • • •

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt

3 cups quick-cooking oats

Instructions 1. In a large bowl, cream butter and

they are golden brown on the

sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in

edges, but soft in the center. About

eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour,

15 minutes. Cool on a rack and

baking soda, cinnamon, baking


powder and salt; gradually add to

Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies

in oats. 2. Shape into 1½ inch balls. Place

Ingredients • • • •

creamed mixture and mix well. Stir

2 in. apart on ungreased baking

1 cup butter, softened

sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12

1 cup sugar

minutes or until golden brown.

1 cup packed brown sugar

Cool for 1 minute before removing

2 large eggs

to wire racks.

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hunter: another word for conservationist Hunters do more to conserve habitat than any other group. And they have achieved great things for wildlife and wild places by supporting conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited. With their support, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres of habitat across the continent. Come share our vision of skies filled with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.

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Since 1983

800.633.8969 Front Porch


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*Building package prices are approximate and may vary due to daily changes in commodity market conditions. Free estimates on complete or partia l building packages are available. Customers should check local building codes before starting building projects. The building packages illustrated are suggested designs and plans are available at Sutherlands store * locations. We reserve the right to limit quantities to the amount (479) 646-7858 reasonable for homeowners (800) 494-3551 and our regular contractor customers. Some items may vary slightly from illustrations. We cannot be held responsible for printing errors, however, we will make every effort to clarify any confusion they may cause. All warranty information is available at the service counter. See store for details.

for FEATURES, options, photos & videos of other building packages!


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*Farm Bureau® Mutual Insurance Co. of Arkansas, Inc. *Southern Farm Bureau® Casualty Insurance Co. *Southern Farm Bureau® Life Insurance Co., Jackson, MS

NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW ADVENTURE Are you ready for your adventure? Let us help you spend more by saving money on your next purchase or refinance of a new or used vehicle with Farm Bureau Bank. Members receive special rates, vehicle protection plans*, and dedicated Farm Bureau member service. We make financing easy. Apply today and save!

Contact your local Arkansas Farm Bureau agent or visit Existing Farm Bureau Bank vehicle loans are excluded from this offer. * Rates disclosed as Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and are based on acquiring one of the following collateral protection products: Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) or Major Mechanical Protection (MMP). Additional discounts do apply for purchasing more than one collateral protection product. The advertised APR of 2.99% is effective as of September 13, 2013. Final APR may differ from the loan interest rate due to additional fees (such as a loan documentation fee, which may be applicable). For a $25,050 vehicle loan with a term of 36 months, a 45 day first payment date and a 2.99% APR, the monthly payment will be $727.72. To qualify for the disclosed rate, customer must be a Farm Bureau member. Rates may vary based on the amount financed, term and first payment date. Non-member rates may vary. Finance charges accrue from origination date of the loan. Some restrictions apply based on the make and model of vehicle offered as collateral. All loans are subject to credit approval, verification, and collateral evaluation. Other rates and financing options are available. Non-member rates may be 1-3% higher than posted rates. Loans for RVs, motorcycles, trailers, ATVs, watercraft and commercial vehicles may be 1.00% higher. This offer is not available in all states and rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Rates and financing are limited to vehicle models 2005 and newer and subject to change. Farm Bureau Bank does not finance totaled, rebuilt or salvaged vehicles. Banking services provided by Farm Bureau Bank, FSB. Farm Bureau, FB, and the FB National Logo are registered service marks owned by, and used by Farm Bureau Bank FSB under license from, the American Farm Bureau Federation. EQUAL HOUSING


Front Porch - Winter 2014  

Farm Bureau Matters; Thinking Out Loud; Watching for Smokes - A history of Arkansas’ fire lookout towers; Garden Home Design - Me and my far...

Front Porch - Winter 2014  

Farm Bureau Matters; Thinking Out Loud; Watching for Smokes - A history of Arkansas’ fire lookout towers; Garden Home Design - Me and my far...