Page 1


FEATURES

ON THE COVER: Margo Crowther is a barrel racing veteran at just 31. But it's all about hard work, sacrifice and passion. Cover photo: William R. Cox

FLORIDA COUNTRY MAGAZINE / ISSUE VOL. 1 • NO. 1

28

28

Strickland Ranch & Exports Home on the range, Florida rancher finds her niche, friends everywhere Written by : AVA ISABEL GRACE

32

Meeting Margo Crowther Barrel racing’s royalty, a mother and wife, comfortable with life at 31 Written by : JACK COLLIER

2

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

32


F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

3


DEPARTMENTS FLORIDA COUNTRY MAGAZINE / ISSUE VOL. 1 • NO. 1

FCM CIRCLE

FLORIDA MEMORIES

page 8

page 48

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER

ORANGE YOU WONDERFUL!

VET VIEW

LOCAL FLAVOR LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE

14

CALUSA EQUINE VETERINARY SERVICES

page 51

page 10

HORSIN AROUND DELI

PAWS & CLAWS

GULF COAST HUMANE SOCIETY

page 54

page 14

THE HOMESTEAD FARM LIVING

COUNTRY STYLE

SOUTHERN LIFE BRAND

page 16

24

22

RUSTIC ROOM

page 18

COUNTRY COMMODITIES

FLORIDA 4-H

CAST IRON TOUGH

AGRICULTURALLY AWESOME

page 62

page 20

STARS & GUITARS MEET GRAYSON ROGERS

FLORIDA HARVEST WALKER FARMS

page 65

page 22 page 24

51

36 16

THE BRAND

YNOT LIVE LIFE OVER THE EDGE, TOMORROW MAY NEVER COME

PICTURE PERFECT 'GATOR GALLERY

page 69

COMMUNITY CIRCLE

LITTLE BIT OF THE WEST

3,103 MILES IN 150 DAYS!

page 40

page 42

page 70

66

54

RIB RODEO

page 71

TRUCKS & TOYS

BREEDS & BLOODLINES

HOLLER AT YOU!

page 72

BLACK MOUTH CURS

page 44

MY RIDE

LEE COUNTY BLACK SMOKE

FLORIDA EXCURSIONS

FLORIDA RAILS TO TRAILS

page 74

62

page 46

69 4

page 66 page 68

HORSIN’ AROUND

CHRIS P. BACON

FLORIDA CHARM

HISTORIC LABELLE KEVIN THE TURKEY

page 36

THE BARNYARD

YOUR DREAM COUNTRY HOME

page 58

FARM FRESH

WORDEN FARM

page 56

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TRUCKS WITH ATTITUDE

page 76

76


NO UNWANTED GIFTS SPAY AND NEUTER Call the Gulf Coast Humane Society Spay and Neuter Clinic TODAY!

239.332.1573

A high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter clinic.

Top 5 Reasons to Spay and Neuter • • • • •

Avoid females going into heat Better behavior Less risk of roaming Good for the community Fight pet over-population

F LO I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M 5 2010 Arcadia Street, Fort Myers, FL 33916 • www.GulfCoastHumaneSociety.org •Rinfo@GulfCoastHumaneSociety.org


Chairman/Publisher Scarlett Redenius C.E.O. Brad Redenius President Thomas Fifield Vice President Sheila Fifield Editorial Director Jack Collier Design Director Jessica Fifield Director of Photography Marsay Johnson Proofreader Katherine Waters Sales Associates Lynn Cox Contributing Writers Susan E. Blackwell, C.V.T., Kelly Boone, Jack Collier, Keitha Daniels, Ava Isabel Grace, Kym Rouse Holzwart, Jessica Landa, D.V.M., Margaret Macy, Emma J. Morse, D.V.M., Brian Wierima, Patricia Willman, Krista Wyant Featured Photographers Tammy Bradley, William R. Cox, David Dutra, Sherrie Easterly, Liz Garcia, Ava Isabel Grace, Jamie Grainger Cambell, Kym Rouse Holzwart, Marsay Johnson, Margaret Macy, Scarlett Redenius, Jonathan West, Kaly Zielke For more information about advertising with Florida Country Magazine, please contact:

239-692-2613 sales@floridacountrymagazine.com For other inquiries contact:

Scarlett Redenius, Publisher 239-600-4783 Published by: Florida Country Publications

PO Box 50989 • Fort Myers, FL 33994 LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

facebook.com/floridacountrymagazine F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M Florida Country Magazine is published bi-monthly, copyright 2017, all rights reserved. Reproduction of contents in print or electronic transmission in whole or in part in any language or format must be by expressed written permission of the publisher. All articles, descriptions and suggestions in this magazine are merely expression of opinions from contributors and advertisers and do not constitute the opinion of the publisher, editor or staff of Florida Country Magazine, and under no circumstances constitutes assurances or guarantees concerning the quality of any service or product. Florida Country Magazine specifically disclaims any liability related to these expressions and opinions. Florida Country Magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. The advertiser agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the publishers from all liability.

6

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


Florida Watermelon Fizz

Follow the

F res h!

Ingredients: 5 cups Florida watermelon (seeded and cubed) 2 cups sparkling water Florida honey to taste 1 lemon, juiced Fresh mint sprigs for garnish Preparation: Add watermelon, honey and lemon juice to a blender and process until smooth. Strain puree through a fine sieve. Fill 4 glasses with ice. Evenly distribute the strained juice into each glass. Top each glass with sparkling water and stir once. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Florida Watermelon Slices with Balsamic Syrup, Mint Oil and Feta Cheese Ingredients: Watermelon Slices 6-12 slices of fresh Florida watermelon 4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled Mint Oil 1/2 cup olive oil 20-25 fresh mint leaves 2 tablespoons fresh parsley Sea salt to taste Balsamic Vinegar Syrup 1 ½ cups balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons natural Florida sugar Preparation: Watermelon Slices Arrange slices of watermelon on individual plates or a large platter. Drizzle small amounts of mint oil and balsamic syrup over the watermelon slices. Add the crumbled feta cheese to the top of the sliced melon. Serve cold. Mint Oil Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

#FreshFromFlorida

Balsamic Vinegar Syrup In a medium-sized sauce pan, combine vinegar and sugar. Bring ingredients to a boil and turn down heat so the vinegar won’t boil over. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes until the syrup coats the back of a spoon. You should end up with about 1/3 of a cup of syrup. Let cool to room temperature.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

7


FCM CIRCLE

F

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER

or the longest time, visitors to Florida played and fished along the coasts, then got on a train or a boat and returned north, taking our oranges with them.

Which left the rest of us to ourselves in the state’s farmlands and countryside. It worked that way for decades. Then the highways were built and things became what we see now—still mostly visitors and retired people living in coastal towns. Which is how we liked it … and still do. Over the years, there have been trade magazines, 4-H newsletters, town newspapers and the occasional big-city story about Florida’s farms and ranches. And that is fine. But no single magazine has told the stories that need telling. Until now. Welcome to the premiere issue of Florida Country Magazine, our look at the people and places in our state’s interior counties. I am a native Floridian, raised in Orlando, who moved to Southwest Florida 20 years ago with my three wonderful children, Steven, Jessika and Channing. They are now grown and making their own impressions on this world. My parents owned a ranch in Lady Lake, Florida, where we raised and showed Paso Fino horses. My fondest memories are of being with my family, the Boldens, spending summers with my cousin Billy with our secret fort in an old railroad car, Igloo coolers made every day full of sweet iced tea. Also, memories of hunting and camping, and my Uncle Jimmy putting us to work at then Bolden Bros., a pig farm in Lake Wales, Florida. And my Uncle Jack taking us hill climbing in the woods in his 1969 Series IIA Land Rover. And most of all, memories of my grandmother Neva Collier, the best woman in the world to walk this earth for 104 years, who knew more than almost anyone about the Bible and country cooking.

88

FFLO LORRIID DAACCO OU UNTRY NTRY JJuunnee || JJuullyy 220017 17

My Aunt Betty taught me to be tough, stand tall, learn from mistakes and move on. And I cannot say enough how thankful I am for my parents, who always taught my brothers and me that hard labor and honest effort pay in the end. Now I, too, am a grandmother and my husband and I have our own farm. We take in horses in need and also probably every other animal, it seems like, but it’s our passion—just like Florida Country Magazine. Our goal is to introduce the amazing people on Florida’s farms and ranches, those at the feed stores, the local barbeque, the sugar growers, the state workers teaching city kids to farm and to grow gardens, all amazing people who, in many cases, have been in Florida for seven and eight generations. Our first issue was tough—only because there is so much to share. We want you to know Cody Moran and his friends with YNOT Brand, Cody a survivor and inspirational young man; Margo Crowther, a champion barrel rider, a champion in life; Allen “Buddy” Walker and his wife, Joyce, the owners of Walker Farms; Florida’s Grayson Rogers, now in Nashville; and my favorite, Chris P. Bacon, the sweet little pig that a Florida doctor saved. Florida Country Magazine is also about you, the volunteers and workers with no thought to receiving praise, the ranch hands, the grove workers, those of us with inspirational lives that must be shared, if only to show that not all news is or needs to be bad. In fact, most of us have peaceful and hopeful lives that reflect who and what we are, country people in America’s greatest place. Remember to always stay true to your roots and never stop Farming Seeds of Family Traditions. SCARLETT REDENIUS, Publisher


F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

9


VET VIEW

CALUSA EQUINE VETERINARY SERVICES PROTECTING YOUR HORSE, ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

PROTECT YOUR HORSE’S HOOVES IN RAINY SEASON

S

tarting in late spring and lasting through the summer, we in Southwest Florida experience heavy rains, mild flooding and afternoon thunderstorms by which you can almost set your watch. When a horse’s turnout or pasture area becomes too wet due to increased rainfall or standing water, it is essential to protect hooves by minimizing exposure and using certain topical hoof products. In some cases, this can even mean keeping your horse stalled for prolonged periods of time, if necessary. Overly wet conditions can lead to a rise in thrush, foot abscesses, white line disease (separation of the hoof wall

10

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

from the sole) and cracks in the hoof wall. If your horse has any of these conditions, or you suspect your horse is developing a hoof problem, call your veterinarian and farrier out to perform a thorough physical exam. Together, these health experts can help develop a treatment plan specific to your horse’s needs, and guide you on which topical hoof products may be most beneficial. Luckily, there are many products available through your veterinarian and, in some cases, the local feed store that help harden and condition hooves. Examples of products that harden the sole and clear up thrush include Durasole, Thrush Buster and Kera Mend Thrush Paste. Kera Mend also makes a paste used for packing sand cracks in the hoof wall or lesions caused by white line disease, as well as a paint-on hoof conditioner. Other topical hoof wall dressings include Rain Maker and Horseshoer’s Secret. —Emma J. Morse, DVM, Calusa Equine Veterinary Services


LUCKILY, THERE ARE MANY PRODUCTS AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR VETERINARIAN AND, IN SOME CASES, THE LOCAL FEED STORE THAT HELP HARDEN AND CONDITION HOOVES.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

11


SCREWWORMS AND MY HORSE

T

he screwworm is a pest native to the tropical areas of North, South and Central America that can cause extensive damage to domestic livestock and other warm-blooded animals. Florida owners of horses or any other warm-blooded animal should know the symptoms of an animal infected by the larvae of the screwworm fly. Infestations can strike an otherwise healthy animal, an adult female screwworm laying eggs on an open wound or mucous membranes in a warm-blooded animal. When the eggs hatch, screwworm larvae burrow into the host animal’s flesh to feed. Screwworm eggs are creamy and white and deposited in a shingle-like manner on or near the edges of superficial wounds. The larvae are cylindrical, with one pointed end and one blunt end and have rings of dark brown spines around the body. Wounds commonly infested include those caused by feeding ticks, castration, dehorning, branding, shearing, wire cuts, sore mouth [in sheep] and shedding of the velvet in deer. Navels of newborn mammals are common for screwworm infestation. It is very difficult to see early stages of screwworm larvae feeding in a wound; only slight movement may be

observed. As the larvae feed, the wound is gradually enlarged, becoming wider and deeper. In certain cases, the openings in the skin may be small with extensive pockets of screwworm larvae beneath. Other signs are bloody discharge from infested wounds, malodor, discomfort, decreased feed intake, decreased milk production, and seclusion from the herd/flock, as the animals may seek shady/secluded areas to lie down. Infested animals may die in seven to 14 days, if left untreated. While there is no chemical, vaccine type of control for screwworms, the best prevention is to examine your horse daily, treat open wounds, keep your internal parasite (deworming) program current, plus avoid any routine practices that cause injuries to livestock during the peaks in the fly season. This includes parturition (birth), castration, dehorning, shearing, tail docking, etc., that attract egglaying flies to the resulting injuries. Preventing infestations of blood-sucking parasites (ticks, horn flies, stable flies, horse and deer flies, etc.) by the use of daily topical fly control also reduces screwworms. Many concentrates used for periodically dipping or spraying livestock or horses against ticks and flies will usually kill established screwworm infestations as well, but only those that contain synthetic pyrethroids (cypermethrin, deltamethrin, permethrin, etc.) and organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, chlorfenvinphos, coumaphos, etc.). —Susan E. Blackwell, CVT, Calusa Equine Veterinary Services

While there is no chemical, vaccine type of control for screwworms, the best prevention is to examine your horse daily.

12

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

VET VIEW


PHOTO BY SCARLETT REDENIUS

Calusa Equine Veterinary Services is a general wellness and preventive veterinary practice in North Fort Myers. Details are at 239-543-2506, or on Facebook. Health products are at calusaeqvet.vetsfirstchoice.com. Your horse health questions will be answered by Calusa Equine in the next Florida Country Magazine. Send those to vetview@floridacountrymagazine.com.

By planning ahead, you can safely keep your horses healthy, safe and grazing alongside cattle.

HORSES AND CATTLE TOGETHER

M

any ranches and farms have been cohabitating and grazing cattle and horses within the same space for many years. Whether it is a lack of available pasture, or just personal preference, there are a few things to bear in mind if you are considering placing your cattle and horses in the same area. Horses and cattle can safely graze together and drink from the same water source; however, horses should not consume the same grain and feedstuffs as cattle. As a rule of thumb, ranches typically will keep molasses out for cattle, which is used to supplement for a quick energy source, as well as offer minerals and protein. Molasses-based supplements contain the non-protein nitrogen source urea. In a ruminant, the microbes in the rumen synthesize the urea as a protein source for the animal. A horse’s GI (gastrointestinal) tract is designed differently from a ruminant (four-part

stomach), as they do not have a rumen with microbes and cannot process the urea in the same way. The process of breaking down the urea can become very toxic and fatal, especially in young horses. Another problematic ingredient in cattle feed is ionophores such as monensin, or feed additives that increase the feed efficiency in a ruminant. While this process yields a greater gain to the producer, it is toxic to horses if they consume ionophores. If horses have free range access, you can’t know how much has been consumed, and it becomes very difficult and even improbable to address the issue after the fact. Despite these concerns, the positive to having your horses and cows together is that the intestinal parasites that affect cattle do not affect horses, and vice versa. Horses, for example, can safely graze in pastures where there are cattle droppings. By planning ahead, you can safely keep your horses healthy and grazing alongside cattle. —Jessica Landa, DVM, Cracker Trail Veterinary Services, specialist to Calusa Equine Veterinary Services

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

13


PAWS & CLAWS

GULF COAST HUMANE SOCIETY SAVING THOUSANDS OF PETS BY SPAYING AND NEUTERING

T

Written by: Brian Wierima

here is a tool available to all pet owners that can be used to save thousands of animals' lives—the procedure of spaying or neutering.

The cost alone to spay or neuter your pet is much cheaper than raising a litter of puppies or kittens, while pets having the procedure are healthier and live longer. Although it’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats there are in the U.S., cats on average produce two litters each year, with four to six per litter. For dogs, a fertile female will have one litter per year with four to six per litter. Of all the animals that are taken to shelters, such as the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers at 2010 Arcadia St., only 10 percent have been spayed or neutered. “It’s in our mission statement to educate about the importance

SPAYING AND NEUTERING ARE THE BEST WAYS TO CONTROL ANIMAL POPULATION, AS WELL AS GIVING YOUR PET A HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER LIFE. —Jennifer Galloway

14

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

of spaying and neutering,” says GCHS executive director Jennifer Galloway. “Spaying and neutering are the best ways to control animal population, as well as giving your pet a healthier and happier life.” The GCHS Spay and Neuter Clinic, also at the Arcadia Street location, has performed more than 6,225 spay and neutering surgeries since it opened Aug. 25, 2015. That is literally tens of thousands of pets’ lives saved, due to controlling the pet population. The year 2017 has also been busy, with 1,505 surgeries performed. Several other top reasons to spay or neuter your pet include: Avoiding the “dreaded” heat: Female felines go into heat for up to four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. They will yowl and urinate more frequently, while


Hardworking staff at the GCHS Spay-Neuter Clinic includes Amanda Hehr (left), Cassandra Coccia and Tammy Thallas.

female dogs will discharge blood. Spaying will end these symptoms. Better behavior: Many aggression problems by male cats and dogs can be lessened if they are neutered, as well as roaming problems can be cut down.

TOP PHOTO AND LOGO COURTESY OF GULF COAST HUMANE SOCIETY

Your pet will not gain weight after being spayed/neutered: Lack of exercise and overfeeding are the causes of overweight pets, not spaying or neutering.

Gulf Coast Humane Society is a regional organization dedicated to helping companion pets find their forever homes, no matter how long it takes. GCHS provides an adoption center, spay/neuter clinic (2010 Arcadia St., Fort Myers) and a veterinary clinic (2685 Swamp Cabbage Court, Fort Myers), as well as education and awareness to the public about the welfare of homeless pets. GCHS’s mission is to care for companion pets in need by offering safe refuge, providing medical care and facilitating adoptions.

Fighting pet overpopulation: Millions of unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized annually, or suffer as strays. Gulf Coast Humane Society is dedicated to providing a non-lethal solution to the problem of shelter pet overpopulation. The GCHS Spay and Neuter Clinic also partners with Fortunate Ferals in Lee County, directing the Trap-Neuter-Release program. The program focuses on humanely trapping, spaying or neutering, and releasing feral cats of Lee County to help curb the animal population. For more information about the GCHS Spay and Neuter Clinic or to set an appointment for your pet, call 239-332-1573 or visit gulfcoasthumanesociety.org F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

15


COUNTRY STYLE

SOUTHERN LIFE BRAND CELEBRATING THE COUNTRY LIFESTYLE, THE REALITIES OF A TOUGH ENVIRONMENT

C

Southern Life brand apparel defines that connection to the outdoors and the lifestyle of rural living, the sporting culture and other traditions associated with our region. Southern Life brand apparel, a line of outerwear, caps, team colors and decals for men, women, kids—even our pets—that started in Florida, is continuing to define the common history and culture.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTHERN LIFE

ountry living and the sporting culture are defined by our people and our ideas. But it’s also a practical lifestyle, the sun and the dirt, water and the fresh air and outdoors demanding that we protect and shield ourselves from the hard realities of the elements. We do so in quality clothing and apparel that reflects our deep devotion to Southern culture and the American spirit of its men, women and children.

Visit southernlifeapparel.com for more information.

SOUTHERN LIFE BRAND APPAREL DEFINES THE COMMON HISTORY AND CULTURE OF OUR REGION.

16

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


TOP RIGHT PHOTO BY SCARLETT REDENIUS; OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTHERN LIFE

Southern Life brand apparel is about the lifestyle of the country.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

17


FARM FRESH

10 TIPS TO STYLISH SOUTHERN LIVING; VINTAGE, NEW OR FLEA MARTKET FINDS

F

arm-style or country interiors are as different as choices in your vehicle. But there are basics, especially for a more defined rustic look. Interior designer Manny Fernandez, the owner of Manny’s Odds and Ends in Arcadia, has tips that may help in picking the right colors, furniture and accessories—flea market, vintage shops or new—to assemble a classic Southern look.

PAINT COLORS

When choosing to give your home an updated look, a good paint color can always do the trick. But it gets sticky, depending on the time of day, furniture in the light and space. The contrast of light and dark will draw the eye, giving the home a more elegant feel. 

Top trend colors Alabaster, Sherwin Williams   Sea Salt, Sherwin Williams  Cabinets in Gray Owl, Benjamin Moore  Healing Aloe, Benjamin Moore 

ACCENT CHAIRS

Side chairs to an upholstered wingback can brighten spaces.

WALLPAPER  

It can speak volumes about your home’s personalities. Again, this is about choice, but careful about contrasts.

WINDOW TREATMENTS  

Instantly changes the look and feel of a room, like adding an outfit accessory. Think Roman shades, curtain rods close to the ceiling instead of just above the window [low ceilings appear higher], full length curtains that hang to the floor. With narrow windows, buy a rod that extends beyond the frame. Make sure the edges of the window don’t show or the illusion doesn’t work. Vertical stripes or patterned curtains make windows appear taller.

PILLOWS

The simplest way to improve a room on a budget. How easy it is to breathe new life into a room by simply switching out throw pillows.

Repose Gray, Sherwin Williams Mudroom

FABRICS AND RE-UPHOLSTERY

Slip covers change any room. Choose white upholstery and decorative accents in lighters hues and distinctive colors, fabrics with textures. Handmade quilts add depth and dimension. With kids and pets, choose indoor/outdoor fabrics. Refresh a dining room in new chair fabrics.  

PAINTED FURNITURE 

Chalk paint furniture, one of my absolute go-to picks for Southern home décor. With any budget, turn reclaimed, chipped, damaged or naked furniture into artwork. Applying a few coats of matte paint enlivens inexpensive wood.  

RUGS  

Lightweight synthetic or bamboo brings color and pattern to a space. Neutral colors offset vibrant walls and furniture. Careful with being overly done, but properly placed cowhide adds authenticity to any room.

18

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

BOTTOM PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HOME DEPOT

RUSTIC ROOM


Painted Furniture

PHOTO OF ROOM PAINTED IN ALABASTER COURTESY OF SHERWIN WILLIAMS.

Accent Chairs

With new decorative pillows you can change the feel of a room, for the season. Charming blue and white print to a bold eye-catching blocking print.   Keep in mind not to go overboring/overboard. Décor theme is another important consideration, determining such choices as fabrics, colors and textures. Velvet, silk, elaborate ornamentation and decorative trims work well for classic settings. Modern design schemes, on the other hand, prefer a limited palette, large geometric prints, smooth fabrics such as cotton and linen. Eclectic looks, have each pillow in a different fabric, but avoid incoherence with common color denominators.                            

Paint Colors

Interior designer Manny Fernandez owns Manny's Odds and Ends in downtown Arcadia.

ARTWORK

The right artwork and décor transform your room. And great artwork doesn’t have to break the bank. There are hidden gems out there, the find is in the hunt. Be sure to take into account color palettes, wall color, furnishings. It should be something to enjoy daily, that it’s you.

MUDROOM  

An easy fix to your dirt tracking problem, as simple as adding a long bench creates an easy spot for shoes going on and off, and a few well-placed hooks keeps coats and backpacks off the floor.  Fabrics and Pillows F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

19


FLORIDA 4-H

AGRICULTURALLY AWESOME 100-PLUS YEARS, ALWAYS ABOUT HEAD, HEART, HANDS AND HEALTH Written by: Krista Wyant

Boys met in schools with 4-H agents teaching agricultural projects, girls meeting with home economics agents to learn about projects associated with home and family, so they could be raised to someday take care of their own household. Kids in the beginning were separated by race, which was typical in Southern states.

4-H’ERS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THEIR PROJECTS AND COMPETE FOR AWARDS AT THE COUNTY AND REGIONAL FAIRS IN FLORIDA.

Three major academic institutions were home to leadership for the Florida 4-H program—the University of Florida, Florida State University (known then as Florida State College for Women) and Florida A&M (Agricultural and Mechanical) University. All 4-H club agents were housed at the universities, boys in Gainesville at the University of Florida, girls at Florida State and African-American youth at Florida A&M, both of those schools in Tallahassee. Supplementations were given to school club programs with a number of out-of-school events and activities. Weeklong summer leadership and project competitions were held at each of the three universities. Leadership programs included elections of state 4-H officers for both the male and female divisions. Three state 4-H councils leadership programs once were all run at one time. 4-H’ers have the opportunity to show their projects and compete for awards at the county and regional fairs in Florida. Agricultural judging teams, organized in many counties, participate in regional, state and national contests. Competition teams allow youth the opportunity to travel and meet others from outside their communities, to learn about the world. A huge part of 4-H is going to camp. One of the first in Florida was Camp Timpoochee near Fort Walton Beach in the state’s Panhandle. This camp was established in 1926. Through the camp experience, youth are involved in interactive outdoor activities such as kayaking, archery, fishing and much more. Camp counselors gain experience

Florida 4-H dates back more than a century, boys then introduced to agricultural projects, girls mostly assigned to tasks associated with homemaking.

20

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF FLORIDA 4-H

F

lorida youth have been participating in 4-H programs for more than 100 years, starting in 1909 when 4-H first came to the Sunshine State. Northern Florida was the first to be impacted—boys had corn projects and girls had their tomato clubs to learn the importance of recordkeeping and food safety.


and learn to give their time, encouragement and support to the younger campers. E.T. York between 1963-73 provided leadership for the establishment of the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS), major changes in the organizational structure supporting the 4-H program. Later, the school-based clubs were abandoned and 4-H volunteers were recruited. Many changes were made rapidly at this time, as state-level segregation between the three separate state 4-H councils ended. The new state 4-H council included both boys and girls, open to all children. Strategic planning for Florida 4-H occurred in 1991-92. More than 1,500 youth and adults from across the state, plus representatives from county and state faculty, the Foundation Board of Directors, and cooperating agencies and organizations, were involved.  Based on recommendations in the plan and in response to budget constraints, considerable attention was given to updating the 4-H curriculum. Florida 4-H specialists and county faculty have received national recognition for work in this area. Krista is an intern with Lee County 4-H, a Florida Gulf Coast University student and third generation 4-H’er.

Camp was a big part of early 4-H, the largest being Camp Timpoochee that still runs in the state’s Panhandle.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

21


FLORIDA HARVEST

WALKER FARMS SOUND HORN FOR HONEY, ALWAYS LIKED BEES, GOOD FOR WHAT AILS US riving through the gates of Walker Farms, things slow down—thanks to the road sign, Bee Charmer Lane, the “Sound Horn for Honey” sign, and the Honey House in North Fort Myers that can be spotted a short distance down the driveway.

The Honey House is a country cottage, one building on the property that Allen “Buddy” Walker, the founder, built. Inside there’s an assortment of nectar from bees, the angels of agriculture: saw palmetto, orange blossom, wild flower and black mangrove. There are also products from local artisans, such as jams and jellies, vinegars and herbal blends. Not only are the cottage and its surroundings charming, equally amazing are Buddy Walker, his wife, Joyce, and their

daughter, Penny Lane, who has a line of her own bath products made with “my dad’s honey,” she says. Buddy Walker was first attracted to bees during a Boy Scout project. Although he later worked for a time for his father, Johnny Walker, the owner of Walker Rambler Motors, Buddy returned to bees. In 1969, he bought a plot of land in North Fort Myers, eventually built a house, a few buildings, and got started in the business of raising bees. (Johnny Walker was also active in the local fire department and helped build its first fire truck). The honey, honeycombs and beeswax are sold at Walker Farms, other locations in Southwest Florida. Each honey has a distinct flavor, mostly because of the variety of flowering

EVERY VARIETY OF HONEY HAS A DISTINCTLY DELICIOUS FLAVOR.

Flavorful and natural honey is the signature of Walker Farms in North Fort Myers. Buddy Walker’s favorite honey is saw palmetto, shaded in a rich caramel.

22

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TOP LEFT PHOTO BY AVA ISABEL GRACE

D

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace


plants the bees pollinate, but also due to the careful processing used in getting raw honey from the bees to the bottles.

TOP, MIDDLE AND BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTOS BY AVA ISABEL GRACE

Walker hives are in three counties, so the honey varieties are made from local blooms. “My personal favorite is saw palmetto,” says Buddy Walker, although he understands that favorites can vary, as some of us prefer the sweetness of orange blossom, the lightness of wild flower, the heavy molasses flavor of black mangrove. Saw palmetto-tinged honey has a rich, caramel taste. Honey bees came to North America with human-assisted migration during the 17th century. Europeans fleeing wars, poverty and religious persecution brought their beekeeping skills to the colonies, oddly the same term used for housing mass bee populations. Bees are instrumental in Florida’s agriculture and plant industries, with bee farmers transporting the creatures around the state to pollinate trees, flowering plants and crops. A decline in bees has been an issue in the last decade, although colony loss has stabilized, agencies tracking bees report. While honey is mostly used to sweeten pies, teas and a million other goodies, it also has proven health benefits. “Wild flower also helps many who suffer from allergies,” explains Joyce Walker. Walker Farms is well known for the incredible flavor of all of their honey varieties, so much so that their Sample Honey Set made Oprah Winfrey’s “O List” in 2001. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

Naturally produced is the key to flavorful and healthy honey (top right). Penny Lane Walker’s Just Bee Free products (center right) such as soaps are nice bath accessories. Joyce and Buddy Walker, married since 1966, are themselves sweet as honey.

BEE GOOD

Penny Lane Walker has created her own line, Just Bee Free, with Walker Farms honey. Products range from handmade soaps to body scrubs to detoxification, both salts and soaks. The products are at Walker Farms, select Southwest Florida stores and online. Penny Lane Walker, Facebook, 239-677-0885, justbeefree1@gmail.com

ROUNDUP

Walker Farms, North Fort Myers Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 239-543-8071, walkerfarmshoney.com

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

23


FLORIDA HARVEST

WORDEN FARM 85 ACRES, CERTIFIED ORGANIC, A GROWING MOVEMENT IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

C

Written by: Jack Collier / Photos by: Marsay Johnson

ountry life is about fresh produce and citrus, grass-fed beef, cabinets and freezers of unprocessed, home-jarred and natural foods.

And more Southwest Florida farmers are meeting the demand for these foods that are free of chemicals, essential for kids. One such place is Worden Farm, 85 acres of certified organic produce. What’s grown is not sold in a traditional truck farm or market, rather is available in outside farmers markets and a community supported agriculture, or CSA, farm membership program.

professionals in horticulture, ecosystem management and crop science. Chris has a history in veggie farming as a child, Eva’s background is in citrus near Miami. Both are University of Florida grads turning their passion for organically grown produce into a thriving business, Eva Worden says. They share that message in workshops, tours, apprenticeships, conferences and consulting. The couple are recipients of the Florida Innovative Farmer Award, and have been recognized as Organic Farmer Experts by the Organic Trade Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Worden Farm in Punta Gorda was started in 2003 by Chris Worden and Eva Worden, both academic and practicing

WORDEN FARM IN PUNTA GORDA WAS STARTED IN 2003 BY CHRIS WORDEN AND EVA WORDEN, BOTH ACADEMIC AND PRACTICING PROFESSIONALS.

24

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


What’s grown at Worden Farm is not sold at a truck farm or market, rather is available in outside farmers markets and a farm membership program for regulars that include Jamie Lufsten (below left), Skylar Steyskal and John Curtis (below).

ABOUT ORGANIC “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. “Organic is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole. “Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water. “Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.” Source: USDA National Organic Standards Board, April 1995

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

25


FLORIDA HARVEST Importantly, she says, the farm has become a serious spot for its members to purchase and understand organic produce/ farming. The farm’s produce is also available outside Worden Farm’s circle at seasonal farmers markets in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, both of which load the streets with shoppers. “We’re just very passionate about farming,” Eva Worden says. Side benefits to modern organic farming, Eva Worden says, is contributing to the American movement of consuming and growing natural foods, ironically what has long happened in Europe and other countries with less access to pesticides, forcing these farmers to better to manage the soil. “Food,” Eva Worden says, “is something we all have to reckon with, to use food to your advantage. What’s [going on] is wonderful.” Details are at worden-farm-market.myshopify.com. Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country Magazine.

Eva Worden (above center) welcomes Charlotte County Sheriff's Department Major James Kenville (left) and Col. Thomas Rodgers. Keri DeHart (above) markets organic recipes at the farm in Punta Gorda.

WORDEN FARM MEMBER BENEFITS Access to an affordable weekly harvest share of fresh, local, organic produce in peak season. Helping to protect the environment, preserve open space, support family farming, train future organic farmers and gardeners and create a strong local economy and community.

26

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

Source: Worden Farm


s t n e s Pr e

The Fort Myers

PRO RODEO FEBRUARY 23RD : 24TH, 2018 DATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE. VISIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION

LEE COUNTY POSSE ARENA

t wo per f or mances Friday Saturday STARTING AT

7:30PM

GATES OPEN AT 5:30PM

H s t e HTi ck ORMATIO

VI P$75

INF AND MORE

EATING, F (PARKING, S

N

OOD AND D

STARTING AT

6:00PM

GATES OPEN AT 4:00PM

Tickets also sold at all are Hooters Locati a at a discounteons price of $13! d

RINKS)

s d i k 0 H 1 $ s t l u $20 Ad(4 & UNDER FREE)

NLINE m O E L B A L I A AV ProRodeo.co s r e y M t r o .F www

COME HUNGRY! LOTS OF VENDORS, MECHANICAL BULL, BOUNCE HOUSE & MORE! RAIN or SHINE! F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

27


Strickland Ranch & Exports Home on the range, Florida rancher finds her niche, friends everywhere

enée Strickland at one point was running title searches. When real estate tanked, the generational rancher turned to her roots, helping to sell and/or ship livestock, in the beginning like early Florida ranchers to the Cuban market. During the process, this tough fourth-generation rancher seized on a demand in processing livestock exports, finding and shipping cattle, for instance, and in taking care of every step in the process. She has never looked back. “It was a niche that I found. It’s challenging but I love it,” says Strickland. Renée Strickland today co-owns Strickland Ranch & Exports, a 3,500-acre spread in Myakka City, southeast of Bradenton in west Florida. Her father is a legendary ranch manager, in his time overseeing nearly 100,000 acres. Strickland Ranch & Exports today ships livestock to various countries, also lending advice on the best cattle to choose for each client’s needs and his/her country’s climate. “The farthest we’ve shipped is Pakistan,” says Strickland, noting that South America and the Caribbean are more common shipment destinations. “I love that I have friends all over the world,” she adds. In addition to beef and dairy livestock, Strickland Ranch exports sheep, goats and hogs, though the animals aren’t raised at the ranch but can be tested and quarantined on the property. The ranch also ships livestock for other farmers, used heavy and farm equipment, hay and feed. As happens for nearly every rancher and farmer, Mother Nature factors into shipping livestock, Strickland says. “I recently had a shipment of Angus cattle that was supposed to go to the Caribbean. We had to postpone for about three weeks because the cattle came down with ringworm, and it had to be treated first,” explains Strickland. “My motto is: Never export an animal that you wouldn’t own yourself,” she says. Renée Strickland today keeps busy serving on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

28

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF JIMMY PETERS; OPPOSITE PAGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARJI GUYLER-ALANIZ/FARMHER, INC.

R

Written by: AVA ISABEL GRACE


Renée Strickland’s niche business is shipping livestock and horses. But the work is tough, something that’s in the DNA of this fourth-generation Florida rancher.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

29


While shifting from real estate to exporting may seem like a big leap, for Renée Strickland it came naturally. She is, after all, a fourth-generation rancher, a hardy woman raised on horseback. Her father, Bayard Toussaint, managed Babcock Ranch, a huge spread with some 16,000 head of cattle, one of Florida’s largest. Only ranches such as Deseret were bigger. “When helping out around our ranch, I had to wear a lot of hats,” she says. Laura Wolfe has been working for Strickland Ranch & Exports for the last dozen years as a bookkeeper and office assistant. Before that, she was employed on a part-time basis, where she, too, wore a lot of hats and pitched in where help was needed, she says. “I love working with cattle and being outdoors ... a lot,” says Wolfe. “She’s like family here,” Strickland says of Wolfe. Strickland’s real passion is horses, which she also exports. Her prior experience on horseback includes rodeo time and hunting. She ships polo ponies, jumpers and warmbloods. Her services will include vet-checks and shipping. “I will have a load of horses going to Belize by sea in just a few weeks,” Strickland says, adding that U.S. expats in Belize own the horses. “I am helping them move their four-legged families,” she adds, smiling.   Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

NEVER EXPORT AN ANIMAL THAT YOU WOULDN’T OWN YOURSELF.” —Renée Strickland

Strickland Ranch & Exports 24615 Oak Knoll Road Myakka City, FL 941-720-2635,

stricklandranch.com

30

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC NALPAS; BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF MARJI GUYLER-ALANIZ/FARMHER, INC.

Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee, or APAC. She is president of the Livestock Exporters Association of the USA, where she had served as secretary/treasurer. She is also chair of the Foreign Trade subcommittee for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.


MIDDLE RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF STRICKLAND RANCH & EXPORTS; OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARJI GUYLER-ALANIZ/FARMHER, INC.

Strickland’s real passion is horses, as she was raised on horseback, including rodeo time and hunting. Today she ships polo ponies, jumpers and warmbloods.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

31


PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGO CROWTHER

Barrel racing’s royalty, a mother and wife, comfortable with life at 31

T

Written by: Jack Collier

wo young kids and their mom surge through a side door of a Buckingham house. They’re returning from school. The boy is crying, telling his waiting father that the younger sister whacked him on the ride home, forcing a loose tooth to pop free. The boy is holding the tooth, dabbing a tissue at his mouth, the sister scrunching her mouth, her face and body language with the look of not being sure why her brother is causing such commotion.

won the barrel racing ribbon in March.

It’s a scene in a trillion homes, something every parent endures, kids fighting over silliness and someone getting hurt, or at least hurt feelings.

OK.

Which seems to make perfect sense. This is a conspicuous Southwest Florida couple just into their 30s, successful beyond any measure and, perhaps, why the children recover quickly and calmly from the scuffle: Their parents are comfortable with themselves, that complaining or explaining takes you only so far; settle your differences, shake hands and move forward. It’s an amazing dynamic, calm and balanced, not even the flies stirred up by landscapers seeming to bother them in the house, like troubles, a light shooing of the hand to wave them away.

On the other side of the coin, Margo Crowther has 20 years of ribbons, trophies and leather saddle awards—first as Margo Peters—in the top tier of women’s barrel racing, in short bursts as physical and dangerous as any sport in rodeo. Casey and Margo in 2012 also co-founded the Fort Myers PRCA Pro Rodeo, a growing event that in February paid out some $20,000 in prizes to the competing cowboys/ cowgirls. You imagine that someday their rodeo will match the granddaddy of such events in Arcadia—where Margo

If anything, Casey Crowther seems staggered by his wife’s absolute fearlessness, her accomplishments, by the racing world in which she has excelled from her childhood in North Fort Myers. A teenage Margo Peters then was among the country’s best barrel racers. Her mother, Anne Pritchett Peters, was also the winner of grand championships in the sport. After college in suburban Fort Worth, Margo about a decade ago was on the cusp of national fame. And then her partner, a lawless filly that

In this case, the mother is Margo Crowther, a legend in barrel racing. Her husband is Casey Crowther, the owner of a commercial construction firm who seems to glance at his phone messages more than a teenager would. Then you learn he bids million-dollar projects.

32 32 F LO RFI LO D AR C IODUANTRY J u n e |J Juunley | 2J 0u17 C O U NTRY l y 2 0 17

But at home with upset kids, the couple seems to ease the reins of their animated careers—soothe the injured parties, confirming that daddy and mommy love them—and get back to the business of running an enterprise, Casey scrolling text messages, Margo stroking her daughter’s hair and talking about barrel racing. All better.


PHOTO BY WILLIAM R. COX

Margo Crowther co-founded the Fort Myers PRCA Pro Rodeo, an event that in February paid out some $20,000 in prizes.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

33


Casey Crowther will roll his eyes in describing the subworld of rodeo, barrel racing, in particular. Until meeting Margo, in fact, he had no clue of country living. He was stunned at the costs to feed, house and purchase a quality horse, the long days and months to train a barrel pony, the dangers of watching his wife race around a dirt dragway. He winces at the idea of Margo on horseback shooting out of the turns like a driver stepping on the gas, he says, her strong legs gripping and encouraging the horse, her boots held in the stirrups with rubberbands, strong hands directing the reins. His fears are real; Margo Crowther in her long racing career has been dragged and banged around on horseback, receiving “cowgirl tattoos,” her powerful calves from the knee down a patchwork of scars and healing wounds. Of course, other riders endure far worse, she says, sharing the story of a Texas girl killed while barrel racing in March. “Sometimes,” Casey Crowther says of his wife’s races, “it’s just hard to watch. [Barrel racing] is the hardest sport I’ve ever been involved in.”

Anne Pritchett Peters (above left) and Margo succeeded early at barrel racing. Margo's kids and husband, Casey (below), are at the center of her country lifestyle.

Like anyone immersed in a successful career, Margo Crowther loves to explain her trade. She’s not showing off or lecturing, rather pointing to the tools that help make a champion, down to the five or six pairs of muddy Lucchese and Justin boots stashed in the horse trailer that includes nice living quarters for her road trips. She also enjoys working at home with girls, teaching in her rare free time; Margo Crowther will spend weeks on the road in preliminaries, hauling her horses to Texas, for instance, often with her mother. Racing, she says, “is a big huge adrenaline rush. Nothing better than working in tandem with [your] horse.” For his wife, Casey built a backyard paddock. He is into purchasing, selling and dealing barrel horses, he says, a sport itself, the rush of which is akin to championship spearfishing, another achievement crammed into his short life. Casey will lament that the rich tend to own horse sports, only because they purchase and train the very best animals. Yet he smiles thinking about what those others face when his wife and one of her quarter horses saunter into the arena. “We figure the risks we take now, at our age,” Casey says, “we will only better ourselves.” Further details are at crowtherhorses.com. Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country Magazine.

34

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TOP LEFT AND AND MIDDLE LEFT PHOTOS COURTESTY OF MARGO CROWTHER; BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO BY WILLIAM R. COX

seemed to race as her rider urged, suddenly and randomly took ill, dying with a gasp in Margo’s arms. She shelved her stuff and her hopes until Casey ignited those dreams in 2010, buying his wife a barrel horse. “That,” Margo says of the horse that was more like a sister, “broke my heart.”


TOP LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGO CROWTHER; ALL OHTER PHOTOS BY WILLIAM R. COX

LIKE ANYONE IMMERSED IN A SUCCESSFUL CAREER, MARGO CROWTHER LOVES TO EXPLAIN HER TRADE TO VISITORS.

Margo Crowther has 20 years of ribbons, trophies and leather saddle awards—first as Margo Peters—in the top tier of women’s barrel racing. F LO RFILO D ARCIO A G A ZAIGNAEZ. C 35 DU A NTRYM C O U NTRYM I NOEM. C O M

35


THE BRAND

YNOT LIVE LIFE OVER THE EDGE, TOMORROW MAY NEVER COME WHEN LIFE COMES KNOCKING, CODY’S AMAZING STORY, AMERICA’S HOT APPAREL

Y

NOT Lifestyle Brand’s purpose is to inspire people to overcome life’s obstacles. Life isn’t always beautiful—we all face challenges, defeat, pain, and suffering. Don’t use those things as excuses to not live your life to the fullest. Get back up, brush off your shoulder and try again. On November 9, 2011, Cody Moran and Shane Luster were in a devastating automobile accident when a car pulled out in front of their vehicle, causing their truck to flip end over end multiple times. The accident left Cody paralyzed and in a wheelchair at the age of 18. He spent many months in trauma centers throughout the Southeast, yet through intensive therapy, Cody learned to use his upper body again and is now able to drive himself and live a nearly normal lifestyle in a wheelchair. Then, two years after the accident,

Cody was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent six months confined to a cancer treatment center. Through prayer and faith, Cody battled leukemia and is now in remission and cancer-free. Instead of letting these traumatic experiences bring him down, Cody smiles at life and takes every opportunity to overcome any challenges that come his way. His determination has captured the admiration of friends, family and those around Florida whose daily lives are inspired and enhanced by his story. Realizing the inspiration potential of their story, Cody, brothers Zebb and Shane Luster and friend EJ Smith were motivated to create a company that shares this powerful message of living life over the edge of the world. So, merely 18 months ago, YNOT Lifestyle Brand, LLC was born in the livingroom of Cody’s apartment.

YNOT Lifestyle Brand was created to share a powerful message by EJ Smith (left), Shane Luster, Cody Moran and Zebb Luster.

36

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF YNOT LIFESTYLE BRAND, LLC

When life comes knocking, you answer. Cody Moran didn’t wake up one day expecting to be in a car accident that paralyzed him. He wasn’t expecting to be diagnosed with leukemia. With the help of his friends and family, he faced those tests of life head on—all in. And that is what YNOT Lifestyle Brand is all about. This is an apparel brand based on delivering a message to the masses: “Live life over the edge – tomorrow is never promised.” It’s a brand you can wear that has an incredible meaning and backstory. Because Cody’s story is so powerful and inspirational, it has really begun to spread rapidly. The brand on the apparel was created to serve as an emblem which reminds people that tomorrow is never promised. All four of the owners grew up in the country-western lifestyle, raised around rodeo and farming, so the team knew the exact market with which to share the story. They directed their message to those sharing their same lifestyle. “We know the challenges agricultural families and rodeo families face, we wanted our message to hit home for those who need uplifting,” YNOT co-founder Zebb Luster says. The message has reached rodeo athletes and families all over the United States who have since adopted the YNOT motto and brand. And it means a lot. They are proudly representing YNOT on their vests, trailers and everyday wear at some of the biggest rodeos in the country. Jess Lockwood, 19-year-old PBR rookie of the year, has been a supporter of YNOT from the beginning. “So many companies in today’s world,” he says, “don’t have meaning behind their brand. YNOT has one of the coolest stories and

YNOT Lifestyle Brand has been adopted by such cowboys as Dakota Felton (top right), a YNOT Elite Rodeo team member.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

37


THE BRAND

PEOPLE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE WEARING THIS APPAREL, SPREADING THEIR MESSAGE AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO OVERCOME LIFE'S OBSTACLES—WITHOUT EVEN MEETING CODY MORAN.

38

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

YNOT founders are (clockwise from left) Shane Luster, Zebb Luster, EJ Smith and Cody Moran.


PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF YNOT LIFESTYLE BRAND, LLC

Cody Moran’s ambition is that we fight life’s many obstacles. That mission is supported by YNOT Elite Rodeo cowboys such as Leighton Berry (middle) and the staff and family at YNOT Lifestyle Brand (below).

greatest reasoning behind their company, that it’s more than just clothing, it’s a lifestyle!” The company has created a national rodeo team made up of 33 rodeo athletes from all over the United States and Canada. The team is called YNOT Elite. The company requires interested athletes to apply online at the end of every year and prove themselves to be a good person in and out of the arena. The 2018 team applications will be available on the company website at the end of 2017. “Being a part of something like YNOT encourages me to continuously improve. The story motivates me, I couldn’t be more proud to be on The YNOT Elite team,” says Leighton Berry, Texas native and national high school rodeo qualifier. YNOT started this business without the mindset of becoming the next cool brand. They were focused on sharing their message and connecting with those relating to their way of life. YNOT has grown faster than originally planned. People all over the country are wearing this apparel, spreading their message and encouraging others to overcome life's obstacles—without even meeting Cody Moran. This brand grabs people’s attention with its attractive apparel and because it’s something worth being a part of. The followers and supporters of this brand and company are as passionate about it as they are about life. Neal Felton, former NFR qualifier and father to Dakota Felton, YNOT Elite athlete, couldn’t agree more. “I enjoy telling people who have never heard of YNOT Cody’s testimony and how the company got started," he says. "To me, that is what makes it so special. Then you meet the guys behind the story and see that the products are second to none and it makes it that much more inspiring.” YNOT has future plans for branching out in multiple ways. The main focus of the company is to motivate others and to continuously remind us to persevere in all life’s obstacles. One major goal for this year is to begin selling products in western stores across the country to help grow the company story. YNOT wants to partner and to cross promote with other companies targeting the country-western lifestyle. “The mission,” Cody Moran says, “is to share my story with as many people as possible. Cross promoting with other companies will allow us to reach people who have never heard my story before. Who knows, maybe one day we will have a YNOT edition horse trailer or dually truck!” The YNOT backstory and current products can be found at ynotlifestyle.com. You can also keep up with everything the company is doing on major social media outlets. F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

39


LITTLE BIT OF THE WEST MULES IN FLORIDA’S SCENIC WITHLACOOCHEE, TY AND SKYE EVANS BACK IN MARCH Written by: Kym Rouse Holzwart

B

ringing their expertise all the way from Utah, TS Mules held a mulemanship/horsemanship clinic at Spotted Dance Ranch, located outside Brooksville, Florida, from February 23-25.

Back by popular demand—a first Florida clinic held at the ranch in March 2016 was filled to capacity and was a huge success—there was something for everyone. Classes were held in the morning for beginner and intermediate riders, which included groundwork, followed by work in the saddle; these classes were all about helping you and your mule/horse become respectful partners using a soft touch. Afternoon classes were for intermediate to advanced riders and focused on riding with a soft feel. Obstacles set up on the oak-shaded ranch grounds were a great way for all the riders to practice their new skills. In addition to the scheduled classes, one-on-one private lessons were available each evening. The last class for all clinic participants was a three-hour trail ride, led by the owners of Spotted Dance Ranch, John and Kym Rouse Holzwart, through the scenic Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. The more than 20,000-acre Croom Tract is located adjacent to the ranch and contains miles and miles of hilly, shady horse trails. Since clinic participants came from all over Florida and camped at the ranch, stayed in the ranch’s cottage, or stayed in nearby hotels, evenings during the clinic consisted of lively potluck dinners and storytelling around the campfire on the ranch’s beautiful grounds. All participants learned a great deal from Ty and Skye Evans and had smiles on their faces the entire three days. People from all over central Florida came to audit/watch the clinic every day.

Ty was raised in Utah on the back of horses and mules. He took over his father’s training operation at the age of 13 and has been at it ever since. He credits his patient training ability and knowledge to his father, many fellow professional clinicians and trainers, as well as to the thousands of horses, mules and donkeys that he has trained throughout the U.S. and Canada. Ty won both the 2015 and 2016 American Mule Trainers Challenge, which took place in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and consisted of four of the best mule trainers in the U.S. working with untrained mule colts for three days. The 2017 clinic was so successful that the Evans family will be back in Florida the first weekend in March 2018 for another clinic at Spotted Dance Ranch, TS Mules’ only Florida appearance. Those interested in participating next year, sign up at tsmules.com, since the clinic will fill fast! Come stay at Spotted Dance Ranch any time and ride the awesome Croom horse trails! The ranch is a small, peaceful facility that offers full accommodations for living quarters horse trailers or RVs; the cozy Cowboy Cottage can also be rented. Stalls and paddocks are available for your horse. The ranch can accommodate groups, horse clubs and special events, as well as overnight, short-term and long-term travelers with horses. For more information or to make reservations at Spotted Dance Ranch, visit spotteddanceranch.com Formally trained as an ecologist, Kym Rouse Holzwart is a multi-generational native Floridian and co-proprietor of Spotted Dance Ranch. She has been riding horses for more than 50 years.

TS Mules is a family affair. Traveling the country from coast to coast, Ty and Skye Evans, along with their young daughters, Ellie and Swayzee, teach mulemanship/horsemanship clinics, helping those people with mule/horse problems and mules/ horses with people problems. Ty and Skye are very passionate about mules and love to help mules and people get along a little better. In addition to teaching clinics, Ty and Skye enjoy buying, training and selling top-quality mules for trail riding.

TS Mules is a family affair that includes Ty Evans, Swayzee, Skye and Ellie, already an accomplished rider.

40

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTO BY KYM ROUSE HOLZWART

HORSIN’ AROUND


MIDDLE RIGHT PHOTO BY KYM ROUSE HOLZWART; OTHER PHOTOS BY TAMMY BRADLEY

THE MORE THAN 20,000ACRE CROOM TRACT IS LOCATED ADJACENT TO THE RANCH AND CONTAINS MILES AND MILES OF HILLY, SHADY HORSE TRAILS.

February’s clinic was so successful that the Evans family returns to Florida in March 2018 for a second clinic at Spotted Dance Ranch, TS Mules’ only Florida appearance. The ranch is located in Chester, Utah.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

41


THE BARNYARD

CHRIS P. BACON

PIG ON WHEELS, SOCIAL MEDIA SENSATION, HIS GOOD-HEARTED 'DAD' Written by: Patricia Willman

—Dr. Len Lucero

One day fate came knocking. At the doorstep of a smalltown Florida veterinarian was a tiny piglet with little hope of surviving the next few hours. The day-old creature was brought to Dr. Len Lucero to be euthanized because of a birth deformity—normally formed front legs and misshaped back legs that would never allow him to motor around as pigs will do. Not wishing that her pig suffer, the owner thought it best to euthanize the pintsized animal, afraid he would have a terrible life if left with just the two front legs. Lucero, however, thought why lose an otherwise healthy animal and instead offered to adopt him. It was truly a lucky day for the little fellow when the goodhearted vet decided to take home a lonely pig that would face a tough life. But first a name. Fate also had a sense of humor, as Lucero decided on Chris P. Bacon, a character in a video game that the vet enjoyed playing with his son. Because of his tiny size, Chris P. Bacon was kept in an incubator until such time he was well enough to regulate his own body temperature.

Naturally since the little pig had no mother to care for him, the family had to see that he was bottle fed every couple of hours until he was old enough to tolerate other foods. If you think this story is a sad one, you would be absolutely wrong. This is a story of inspiration and encouragement for all disabled animals … and their owners. As the young pig began to thrive, Lucero was already thinking of ways to help him better get around. So when Chris P. Bacon was a wee 2 weeks old, Lucero took parts from his son’s K'NEX toy set, along with some padding and medical wrap, to fashion a first wheelchair for the little animal. It was quite an adjustment, but Chris P. Bacon was soon motoring around the Lucero home like a harness racer. You can watch that first day and many of his other videos on YouTube, clearly seeing that Chris P. Bacon is absolutely endearing to watch, and in the beginning warmed the hearts of those lucky enough to share his story. Lucero’s first social media posting had a few viewer “hits,” but once word spread, those numbers quickly surpassed over a million hits, and Chris P. Bacon became an internet sensation. Adults and children alike flocked to see his YouTube videos, his website and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter postings. Calls came in from all over the nation for him to appear on television talk shows that included Good Morning America. He made appearances at Shriners Hospitals for Children, and Lucero has regularly brought his megastar to weekend shows for the disabled. Chris P. Bacon has even “authored” several children’s books that are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Check

Len Lucero used toy parts to fashion a wheeled harness for his small friend. The pair today are social media/television sensations, writers and regulars at hospitals cheering up ill kids.

42

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF DR. LEN LUCERO

C

hris P. Bacon ​was born with malformed hind legs. Not able to use these legs, he has had to compensate by lifting his behind off of the ground and balancing on his forelimbs. At one pound, he accomplishes this with minimal effort. In the near future, this task will become more difficult as his body weight will increase and his center of balance will shift to the back part of his body. For most animals, this would lead to their ultimate demise. For Chris P. Bacon, this is only the beginning of the rest of his life.”


out (chrispbacon.org) to order books and toys, to hear the song created in his honor. Imagine that, one little piglet has inspired and brought joy and smiles to millions of his adoring fans, friends and family. Chris P. Bacon is today a chunky 4 year old, weighing in at about 100 pounds. But he is cute as ever, sized into a larger wheelchair made by a company that makes such devices for disabled animals. His Facebook page is always entertaining, with Lucero writing and posting photos every couple of days. The captions are funny, and always in Chris P. Bacon’s voice, what he says and feels, ending in his trademark “Oink, Oink.” Grapes are a favorite snack, and Chris has special friends such as Aspen the Border collie. Doink is a toy friend he has carried around since he was a tiny baby, and loves him to this day. People respond to every social media posting by the hundreds, and share those with others. The world loves you, Chris P. Bacon—Oink, Oink. Patricia Willman is a writer in Leesburg, Florida, and a lover of animals. She met Dr. Lucero when he treated a pet that had been injured.

Chris P. Bacon is an inspirational character whose books are remarkably popular. What’s more striking is the heartwarming relationship between Chris and his friend Len Lucero.

IF YOU THINK THIS STORY IS A SAD ONE, YOU WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

43


BLACK MOUTH CURS HER IDEAL DOG, TRAVELS TO MISSISSIPPI, A FLORIDA LADNER Written by: Margaret Macy

B

eing a native Floridian, I wanted to breed dogs that could stand up to the Florida heat, hunt hogs, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes, as well as pen cows and track wounded game. I also wanted a breed with little, if any, health issues.

had such extensive written documentation of his family’s breeding curs that the National Kennel Club recognized the dogs as a breed in April 1964. The two registries are the Ladner Black Mouth Cur (colors) and Ladner Yellow Black Mouth Cur (yellow).

I decided on Black Mouth Curs, or BMCs. But not just any BMC. After doing my research, I wanted Ladner Black Mouth Curs. L.H. Ladner was from southern Mississippi and he had raised these dogs all of his life. Ladner family, in fact, have bred these dogs for more than 200 years. Ladner

I traveled twice to Mississippi and purchased pups directly from Curt Ladner, son of L.H. Ladner. Curt has continued his father’s legacy in breeding these wonderful curs. Hog hunting is a big pastime in Florida and can be conducted year-round on private property, with the landowner’s

Curs in earlier times helped ranchers as cattle dogs, guard dogs to keep predators/intruders away and hunting dogs to put food on the table.

AFTER DOING MY RESEARCH, I WANTED LADNER BLACK MOUTH CURS. 44

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO BY DAVID DUTRA; ALL OTHER PHOTOS BY MARGARET MACY

BREEDS & BLOODLINES


permission. These curs are used a lot for hog hunting. Good tracking dogs for wounded game are not always easily accessible and the Ladner curs have a cold nose and can easily follow an hours-old track. In other parts of the country, these dogs are used for larger game such as big cats and bear. Curs in earlier times were instrumental to the survival of many families, to homesteaders and ranchers as cattle dogs, guard dogs to keep predators/intruders away and hunting dogs to put food on the table. They are extremely versatile and excel at hunting, tracking, penning cattle, guard dogs or just fine family dogs. These are specialized working and hunting dogs bred for ability. They are born with an instinct to hunt game. They are strong, fast, fearless, proud, loyal and bold, are born with stamina to run all day, always eager to please their master. The Ladner BMCs will fight predators of any size to protect what they feel is their property, never backing down. They will protect their family with their life, if necessary. They often have a distrust of strangers; however, these dogs are not too shy or too aggressive. With research and patience, I found the perfect dog for my Florida lifestyle. Margaret Macy is a native Floridian who enjoys training her Black Mouth Cur dogs as well as camping and trail riding with her husband on their two mules. Details about pups are at macy169@bellsouth.net.

The author found the perfect Florida dog in Mississippi.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

45


FLORIDA RAILS TO TRAILS PROVIDING THE PERFECT PLACE TO HIKE, BIKE AND ENJOY THE SCENERY

F

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

lorida trains in the 1860s began running down the tracks with a small line that stretched from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key. After the Civil War, Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway and Henry Plant’s Plant System rail lines were running. Later on, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Seaboard Air Line Railroad (the Route of Courteous Service) and the Southern Railway all added rail tracks to carry passengers and cargo. But after the development of the federal interstate highway system in 1956 and the continued use of trucks to transport goods, there became less need for these trains, and many of these historic rail tracks were left to the elements. In the last generation, railway track rights of way have found new life as rail-trails, trails that became sections of state parks, or state parks in themselves. These memorable trails around Florida offer beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife, great places to get out and enjoy the pristine beauty and isolation of the outdoors. They also generate spending. Nearly 5 million of us used Florida trails in 2015, placing some $2.1 billion into the economies of surrounding communities, according to state tourism figures. Abandoned rails are acquired or vetted through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Office of Greenways and Trails. The department receives applications for land acquisition from local governments, private landowners and large corporations. “The rail-trails connect cities and communities, creating the perfect opportunity for a leisurely hike, a scenic bike ride or a transportation alternative,” explains Jason Mahon, spokesman for the FDEP, adding that the rail-trails have proven to be very successful and are highly used throughout the year. Most state parks are open 365 days a year, sunrise to sunset. In addition to hikers and bikers, horseback riders can also enjoy a few trails on the rail-trails or at the parks where they are located. Blackwater Heritage State Trail, Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, General James A. Van Fleet State Trail, Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail and Withlacoochee State Trail, for example, all offer horseback riding opportunities. The Blackwater Heritage State Trail in Milton, the western-most state rail-trail in the Panhandle, is a 12-foot-wide asphalt trail that runs just over 8 miles. “Visitors are welcome to enjoy their favorite activity, whether it’s walking, running, biking, skating or horseback riding,” says Gerard J. Greco, a Park Services specialist with Blackwater Heritage State Trail.

46

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

The trail passes from historic downtown Milton in the extreme western Panhandle through Bagdad, and north into the rural surroundings of Roeville, ending at the convergence of the Military Heritage Trail, a 1.5-mile, 8-foot-wide stretch of paved asphalt that ends at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton. “Most of the Blackwater Heritage trail is shaded, and there are also rest benches provided,” says Greco. Trail visitors also pass several small creeks and streams on their journey. Bird lovers can enjoy a variety of feathered creatures found on the trail, such as blue jays, red-tailed hawks and mockingbirds. Other wildlife includes turtles, opossums, fox and white-tailed deer. Colorful wildflowers such as iris, verbena and passion vine are also blooming during certain parts of the year, October in particular. Those who enjoy camping might try the Blackwater River State Park; it’s only 14 miles away. So while the mournful call of a train whistle in the night has mostly vanished, straining hard enough in its place is the lovely sound of … quiet. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

IN ADDITION TO HIKERS AND BIKERS, HORSEBACK RIDERS CAN ALSO ENJOY A FEW TRAILS ON THE RAIL-TRAILS OR AT THE PARKS WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED.

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

FLORIDA EXCURSIONS


Florida's awesome rail-trail system includes (clockwise from bottom left) Blackwater Heritage, Gainesville-Hawthorne, Florida Keys Overseas Heritage, General James A. Van Fleet and the Palatka-to-St. Augustine trails.

ROUNDUP

Blackwater Heritage State Trail, Milton 850-983-5338, floridastateparks.org Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, Key Largo 305-853-3571, floridastateparks.org Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, Gainesville 352-466-3397, floridastateparks.org General James A. Van Fleet State Trail, Polk City 352-394-3969, floridastateparks.org Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail, East Palatka 386-329-3721, floridastateparks.org F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

47


ORANGE YOU WONDERFUL! FLORIDA LOVES ITS CITRUS, GOOD AS GOLD, PONCE DE LEÓN'S SEEDY LEGACY

J

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

uan Ponce de León is best known as the Spanish explorer setting out to find the Fountain of Youth, a magical and mythical spring that would gush an early energy drink. He reported finding such a place in Charlotte Harbor in west Florida.

Like his dreams, that plan fizzled. But more importantly, it’s probable that Ponce de León brought citrus to Florida, a state that he named Pascua Florida in honor of Easter in 1513. First citrus seeds were planted somewhere between 1513 and 1565 near St. Augustine, coinciding with Ponce de León's early exploration in the Sunshine State. He later died in Cuba,

reportedly with a Calusa arrow in his leg. By the 19th century, citrus trees were growing in the wild and in groves around Tampa, and in east Florida near the St. Johns River, the only state waterway heading south to north. Although there have been setbacks over the centuries—freezes, blight, drought, invasive disease and insects and, mostly recently, lost acreage—Florida’s citrus industry remains healthy. “Florida citrus is the state’s largest agricultural crop, making it a major contributor to the state,” says Shelley Rossetter, public relations manager for the Florida Department of Citrus. Florida rail in the mid-19th century really put citrus on the

Citrus has always been labor intensive. Workers (left) crating oranges in the 1930s likely counted them in their sleep.

FIRST CITRUS WAS PLANTED SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1513 AND 1565 NEAR ST. AUGUSTINE.

48

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA STATE ARCHIVES

FLORIDA MEMORIES


TOP PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA STATE ARCHIVES; OTHER PHOTO COURTESY OF UF/IFAS

map. With clever marketing, catchy advertising, slogans and labeling, Florida citrus over those early years sold by the trainload in cold northern climes. A cluster of growers/ producers grew immensely rich in orange gold. Modern citrus accounts for some $11 billion in sales to Florida farmers, or 156 million boxes of mostly oranges sold in 2016. Producers in 2016 also sold 1 billion gallons of citrus juice, the equivalent of 1,500 Olympic pools. While citrus is and will play a major role in Florida, tourism, on the other hand, accounted for $109 billion pumped into the state economy in 2016. What’s troubling is that Florida’s productive grove acreage continued to decline in the last 15 years, from 750,000 acres to some 475,000, which has meant a sharp drop in production. State agriculture scientists and growers are again fighting a greening disease, and other factors such as population growth are impacting citrus. But such immense success, as in any industry, brings festivals and holidays to recognize those accomplishments. The Miss Florida Citrus pageant, for example, celebrates Florida’s beloved fruits. It dates to the 1920s. Florida also celebrates strawberries, blueberries and other treats associated with our agricultural heritage. Paige Todd of Orange Park continued that tradition of

Oranges in the 1950s were hand picked (above) and delivered to citrus processing plants (below). Most oranges today are squeezed for juice.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

49


THE INTRODUCTION OF RAIL IN FLORIDA IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY REALLY PUT CITRUS ON THE MAP.

ROUNDUP 1513 and 1565: The first citrus

brought to Florida, most likely by Ponce De León, was planted in St. Augustine Early 1800s: Florida’s citrus business began in Northern Florida 1894-95: The Great Freeze ruined many Florida groves 1915: Citrus production reached 10 million boxes 1950: Florida’s citrus industry picked its first total citrus crop of 100 million boxes 1971: Florida’s citrus growers harvested the first crop to exceed 200 million boxes

Modern citrus accounts for some $11 billion in sales to Florida farmers, or 156 million boxes of mostly oranges sold in 2016.

celebrating agricultural production, named the 2017 Miss Florida Citrus/Miss Imperial Polk County Scholarship Pageant, while runner-up Rachel Smith of Clearwater was named Miss Imperial Polk County. Both women are entered in the Miss Florida Pageant in Lakeland June 27-July 1, a sort of preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, says Brenda Eubanks Burnette, executive director for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. While rail changed citrus, so too has our view of health. While older Americans likely peeled a seeded Duncan grapefruit in the 1960s, most citrus today is turned to liquid, juiced at home or sold in containers. About 90 percent of oranges are turned to juice, in fact, says Rossetter. About half of the orange juice consumed at American breakfast tables (and in adult beverages) is produced in Florida. State farmers mostly grow oranges, tangerines and grapefruit for both the domestic and international markets, Rossetter says, because the climate, rain and soil are perfect. “These factors combine to create the world’s best tasting and juiciest citrus,” Rossetter says. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

50

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

TOP LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CITRUS; OTHER PHOTO COURTESY OF UF/IFAS

FLORIDA MEMORIES


PHOTOS COURTESY OF LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE

LOCAL FLAVOR

LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE RANCH-STYLE MENU, LOTS OF COUNTRY CHARACTER, BRING THE FAMILY Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

W

hen it comes to good, nothing’s better than ranch-style grilling, slow roasting and fresh sides.

At LongHorn Steakhouse, the prime rib is cooked for a full 11 hours, the baby-back ribs are slow roasted four hours. You want to let those flavor juices work their magic. But that’s just the tip of the deep menu, the attention to detail that pushes growth of this family-friendly national chain. There are several restaurants in Southwest Florida. Steaks, chicken and fish are fresh, salad vegetables are prepped daily. And the honey-wheat bread and Idaho potatoes are freshly baked. It’s this kind of cooking that keeps patrons such as Paul Jones of Fort Myers coming back to LongHorn Steakhouse, again and again. “I’m partial to the Flo’s Filet®,” says Jones, describing the buttery texture of the signature steak, adding that he’ll share Chocolate Stampede for dessert. “It’s big enough for two!” adds Jones.

ITS SIGNATURE FROM THE START WAS GRILLED STEAKS.

There are seven LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants from Sarasota to Naples, two in Fort Myers. F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

51


LOCAL FLAVOR LongHorn started in Atlanta but is based in Orlando with some 500 outlets, part of the Darden Restaurants enterprise. Its signature from the start was grilled steaks. Steak lovers still find a variety of such items on the menu, the famous 18-ounce bone-in Outlaw Ribeye® and the 16-ounce Fire-Grilled T-Bone, for instance. “Our restaurants feature certified grill masters that go through extensive training to deliver perfectly grilled steak every time,” explains Brittany Baron, LongHorn’s public relations and communications manager. LongHorn also applies a signature seasoning for bolder flavor, she says. In addition to the beef and pork, there’s also grilled chicken, Atlantic salmon glazed in a nice bourbon sauce, big burgers and a surprisingly hefty and tasty dessert list. There's a children's menu, too. Drinks range from nonalcoholic lemonades to fresh teas to cold beer to Masterfully Mixed Mule cocktails. With its western-style interior and tons of country character, it’s no wonder LongHorn leaves others in its trail dust. Details and locations are at longhornsteakhouse.com. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

IT’S NO WONDER LONGHORN LEAVES OTHERS IN ITS TRAIL DUST.

52

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

LongHorn is always about an experience shared with friends and family.


FLORIDA AG NUMBERS FARMS AND RANCHES

Florida has 47,300 commercial farms and ranches, 9.45 million acres, ranking the state 18th nationwide in farms and 29th in land used to farm. The average Florida farm is about 200 acres. Chocolate Stampede desserts (above) and marinated salmon are yummy options on LongHorn’s deep menu.

CATTLE

Nationally, Florida ranks 10th in beef cows and 18th in total cattle production. The three top-ranking counties for cattle production are Okeechobee, Highlands and Osceola.

SEAFOOD

Florida is a top fresh seafood producer. State fishermen catch more than 84 percent of the nation’s supply of grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters and Spanish mackerel.

POULTRY

Commercial broiler hatcheries in Florida produced 52.6 million chicks in 2015, ranking it 17th in U.S. production.

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE

Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

53


LOCAL FLAVOR

HORSIN AROUND DELI COUNTRY FRESH, GREAT VALUE, COMING BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN … AND AGAIN

W

Written by: Ava Isabel Grace / Photos by: Marsay Johnson

hen you’re hungering for a country meal, the kind that’s made fresh and filling and smells like Sunday morning, hitch up and get over to the Horsin Around Deli in North Fort Myers.

This quaint little gem has a welcome sign on the painted red door—friendliness is part of what makes good country cooking even better, and they serve that up with a smile. Look for a loaded menu and great value for this kind of quality. Tiffany Ogden, the owner, says with a smile, “Everything’s made fresh daily.” There’s seating in and outside, as well as picnic tables on the back patio. The décor is casual and western—with a little bit of spunk and plain fun. But it’s the food that makes this place extra special. One insider favorite is the Cowboy Sandwich ($4.99), a choice of bread, fried eggs, choices of ham, sausage or bacon, served with seasoned potatoes and sliced tomatoes. Country Bis-

cuits and Gravy ($3.99) are an old-time favorite, homemade gravy that’s poured over two buttermilk biscuits and seasoned potatoes. Omelets, oatmeal and French toast and much more are also on the breakfast menu. Lunch lovers are equally pleased. The deli offers an array of Signature Sandwiches, such as the Redneck Reuben ($6.99), thin slices of corned beef covered with homemade and out-of-thisworld coleslaw and topped with Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese. Another Signature Sandwich is the Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich featuring sliced, roasted chicken breast, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. Yummy. Other meal favorites include subs, wraps, soups, salads, Angus burgers and quesadillas. Those looking for lighter fare will find tuna melts, seafood salad, chicken-stuffed tomatoes and a salad bar, and some of the delicious Signatures can be ordered as half sandwiches. The littles aren’t left out either, thanks to the deli’s children’s menu that offers a variety of can’t-go-wrong-favorites such as

Tiffany Ogden has loaded the Horsin Around Deli menu with yummy selections and family friendly prices.

LOOK FOR A LOADED MENU AND GREAT VALUE FOR THIS KIND OF QUALITY.

U NTRY F LO RA I DCAOCUONTRY 1054F LO RID

J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


hot dogs, grilled cheese and PB&J ($2.99-$4.99). When it comes to desserts, the fresh treats change daily, so it’s always a pleasant surprise. A few favorites are the famous cheesecake, banana cream pie and coconut cream pie. Uh-oh. The deli receives high reviews from patrons, regularly receiving five-star marks on such travel sites as TripAdvisor. Some say this place has the “best sandwiches anywhere,” and others love the “small town feel with a friendly staff.” Along with all the tasty country food fixings, Horsin Around Deli also has one of the best Cuban sandwiches in Florida. USA Today's Readers' Choice awards named the restaurant as having the third best Cuban sandwich in the state. It’s assembled with roast pork, ham, cooked salami, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles all piled high for around eight bucks.

Horsin Around Deli is famous for its Cuban sandwiches, heavenly breakfast and lunch meals. But leave room for dessert.

Kevin Ellis of Lehigh Acres is a deli regular and huge fan of the Cuban sandwich. “The roast pork is really, really good,” says Ellis, also a major fan of the deli’s cheesecake. Horsin Around Deli is a great little spot on Bayshore Road where Ellis and a legion of others go for county-style breakfasts and lunches. And while the place is always jumping, there’s plenty of parking. Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.

"IT'S ALL GOOD ! " Horsin Around Deli 10440 Bayshore Road North Fort Myers 239-567-4663 horsinarounddeli.net Facebook.com

Hours Monday-Saturday. 8 a.m.-3.p.m Closed Sundays F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

55


THE HOMESTEAD

FARM LIVING AS COASTAL CITIES GROW, MORE FLORIDIANS TURN TO COUNTRY QUIET

M

Written by: Jack Collier

ichael Collins says it’s more a feeling than hard numbers. More Floridians and others moving to the Sunshine State are choosing to locate inland, away from crowded coastal towns, he says. Collins, an agent with Florida's Realty LLC in areas such as North Fort Myers, eastern Lee County and into Hendry County, says sales of farm and ranch-style homes on lot sizes larger than two acres have a waiting list, such homes on the market scooped up in days. As Floridians continue stuffing 20 million of ourselves into some 54,000 square miles, coastal towns are booming, with mostly retirees "living the dream." Yet more generational Floridians, many in their 20s, want inland property of two or more acres, some because it’s the way they were raised, Collins says, but it’s also coastal people seeking farm living, he adds. Even fixer-uppers on five-acre parcels fetch bidders. “And even if [buyers] are working in

56

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

places like Fort Myers,” Collins says, “they’re not minding the commute. All I know is if there’s a featured home coming on the market, they go quickly. People move to the country to have space, to spread out.” Parents in particular want property in east Lee County and into Hendry. 4-H families, for example, want homes in Buckingham and other rural districts, the kids loading up county fairs with their livestock and agricultural projects. Another interest driving country life, Collins says, is the generational move home, native Floridians born on land and farms wishing to raise their children on the same, he says, throw up a pole barn, many taking on horses and cattle to complete the farm dream. And there’s also room for farm toys such as ATVs, RVs, big trucks and dirt bikes. “Drawbacks?” he says when asked. “Not really, no. This is more about choosing a lifestyle.” Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country Magazine.


THIS IS MORE ABOUT CHOOSING A LIFESTYLE.

WHY GO COUNTRY —Country kids have fewer allergies. It’s called the farm effect, a phenomenon where kids raised on farms have remarkably low rates of allergies and asthma; early exposure to farms pollen and other potential allergens trains the immune system to not overreact. —They’re less stressed. Growing up surrounded by trees, flowers and fields isn’t just about pretty scenery. One study found that kids with high levels of nearby nature had lower stress levels.

SIGNS YOU’RE RAISING A COUNTRY KID

—They’re more creative. In one study done in Chicago, researchers watched kids play in the great outdoors. They found that kids in green spaces played more creatively than those in areas without vegetation. Scientists have also found that kids with backyards engage in more varied and elaborate play patterns, including complex make-believe stories. —They’re more self-disciplined. Another study found that teenage girls with green views outside their windows were better at controlling their impulses and delaying gratification than girls with more barren views. Source: The Stir

—They’re more coordinated. Turns out climbing on trees and rocks trumps a jungle gym any day! —Nature reduces attention deficit issues. In one study, kids exhibited fewer symptoms of ADD or ADHD after they walked through a park; the more green surrounding them, the fewer symptoms they displayed.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

57


THE HOMESTEAD

YOUR DREAM COUNTRY HOME ALL ABOUT LIFESTYLE, SECLUSION, COMFORT AND ROOM TO ROAM Photos courtesy of Premier Sotheby's International Realty

C

ountry living is about elbow room. It has been this way since pioneers settled the Old West, tended Florida cracker cattle on wide ranges in warm summer sun. This featured home in North Fort Myers is all about space. It’s also about lifestyle, mixing the conveniences and comforts of modern living with your passions for light agriculture, a generous paddock, large garage space to fix and store your equipment, and a fenced property for running your horses, freedom for your dogs and the kids to roam. Natural stone, hardwood floors and a home floorplan just for families are what define the character of a country style of living. If interested in having your property featured in "The Homestead," contact Michael Collins with Florida's Realty LLC, 239-834-3664, hotm@floridacountrymagazine.com.

58

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


The home in North Fort Myers is family friendly, has three bedrooms, a chefstyle kitchen, nooks and a pool, everything for the perfect country lifestyle.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

59


THE HOMESTEAD

Plenty of room to raise and train horses at this nearly 10-acre ranch that includes a five-car garage. It's listed at $679,900.

60

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

61


CAST IRON TOUGH GETTING BETTER WITH AGE, COOKWARE FOR THE GENERATIONS Written by: Ava Isabel Grace

C

hef Neil Dundas learned about cast iron back when he was with Boy Scouts. He tried a cherry cobbler that was cooked in a Dutch oven over the coals. “It was out of this world,” explains Dundas, who grew up in Massachusetts and New York, and now lives in Bokeelia on Florida's Gulf Coast. From that day forward, he started to make his own creations— pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon—in his own vintage Griswold cast iron pan. Dundas still uses cast iron when cooking at home, while at his job as a chef for the Bonita Bay Lifestyle Center, and during his work as a private chef and caterer for his own business, Chef Neil’s Endless Possibilities. “The more you use cast iron pans, the better they get,” says Dundas, who adds that the pans cook evenly and don’t get hot spots. Eventually, Dundas plans to hand down his favorite cookware— including his treasured cast iron collection—to his 9-year-old son, Alexander, who is working on his own cooking skills. Aged cast-iron cookware can be found in garage sales and flea markets, where Dundas has picked up a pan or two. Sur La

Skillets can get pricey but shop garage sales, second-hand, online and flea markets for that special find.

62

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

INSET PHOTO ON OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF SUR LA TABLE; OTHER PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF LODGE CAST IRON

COUNTRY COMMODITIES


Table and Lodge Cast Iron are two places that offer a collection of new cast iron favorites such as skillets, Dutch ovens, griddles and bakeware, along with pan scrapers, aprons, oven mitts and splatter screens. “Cast iron is versatile,” says Mark Kelly, public relations and advertising manager for Lodge Cast Iron, a quality product preferred in many kitchens. Kelly explains that a wide variety of cooking techniques—searing, frying, sautéing, stir

Cast iron produces outstanding flavor, cooks evenly over wood or gas flames.

IF PROPERLY MAINTAINED, CAST IRON WILL LAST VIRTUALLY FOREVER.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

63


COUNTRY COMMODITIES frying, baking, braising and roasting—can be used in cast iron pans. What’s also great about cast iron is that it has excellent heat retention, and can be used on a stovetop, in the oven, atop grills and over campfires. Cast iron can be used with convection and induction surfaces and ovens. “It’s not only great for hot food, some people serve cold desserts in cast iron vessels,” adds Kelly. If properly maintained, cast iron will last virtually forever, which is why many chefs, including Dundas, own vintage pieces, many of which have been passed down to them through the generations. Contrary to what some may think, caring for cast iron is relatively easy. “All of our cast iron cookware comes preseasoned, so [those] fears are no longer a factor,” explains Kelly. With new cast iron, Lodge recommends first rinsing with warm water and allowing to completely dry. Secondly, it’s important to rub a light amount of vegetable oil or Crisco over the cookware. After cooking, just let the cookware cool down, then rinse and dry. Lastly, apply a light amount of oil over the cookware, and place it on the stove top or in the oven at medium-low temperature for 15 to 20 minutes for all of the oils to seep.  One tip by a flea-market vendor with a collection of vintage cast iron pans was using avocado oil. “He said the oil would add a long-lasting shine, inside and outside,” says Dundas.

Chili (left) is perfect for slow simmering. Cast iron is also ideal on the grill, as the cookware stands up to the extreme heat and abuse of a backyard chef.

ROUNDUP

Does your cast iron pan needs to be re-seasoned? Follow the steps in the video, Use & Care: Reburbish Your Finish, courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron. 423-837-7181, lodgemfg.com Bonita Bay Club’s Lifestyle Center 26660 Country Club Drive Bonita Springs, Florida 239-495-0200, bonitabayclub.net Chef Neil’s Endless Possibilities 305-619-0149, ChefNeilsEndlessPossiblities@gmail.com Sur La Table 800-243-0852, surlatable.com

64

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

BOTTOM PHOTO COURTESY OF LODGE CAST IRON; OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF AVA ISABEL GRACE

DUNDAS PLANS TO HAND DOWN HIS FAVORITE COOKWARE TO HIS 9-YEAR-OLD SON.

Ava Isabel Grace is a Florida resident who loves the country.


STARS & GUITARS

MEET GRAYSON ROGERS

PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAYSON ROGERS

FLORIDA’S HOT COUNTRY PERFORMER, FRESH, FUN AND [LOTS OF] FLAIR!

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE’S NO SPECIAL ‘HOW TO’ GUIDE ON THIS JOURNEY, SO ME AND MY TEAM JUST KEEP ADJUSTING AS WE GO. Life is made up of a combination of three vital elements: work, play and love. Grayson Rogers wholeheartedly seeks to experience all three through every moment of his life and share them on stage through his fiery country soul.

I

t’s hard to imagine a country singer starting in karaoke. But it’s how Grayson Rogers started, eventually performing in Southwest Florida at such venues as the Dixie Roadhouse. Florida Country Magazine talked with Grayson Rogers about Nashville, performing and the band’s quick rise in the music industry. FCM Was music a family thing? GR Well, kinda! Roy Rogers is a distant relative of mine, so I guess you could say yes? It’s always pretty cool to see the Roy Rogers exhibits in the Country Music Hall of Fame here in town [Nashville] and know that that’s my blood and I hope to carry on his legacy. FCM Share a bit about your time in Cape Coral? GR Cape Coral is where I started this musical journey! I cut my teeth and learned my craft in the many different bars and restaurants in the Southwest Florida area. I had some tough times and some good times, but all in all I wouldn’t change it! Southwest Florida has been really supportive in my journey and I’m definitely grateful for the many people and venues that gave me a shot! FCM Is music a gift or is it more about hard work? GR A little of both! I’m blessed to have the talent, but it’s definitely a grind! Moving to Nashville definitely helps you realize that. There’s so much talent in this city and so many gifted people, but it boils down to who’s going to work harder … who’s going to tough out the deepest lows … the countless rejections … and push through to the finish line.

FCM What does it feel like performing, how do you block out the distractions? GR Performing is my biggest passion. There’s no feeling like it! There’s nothing like hearing the crowd cheer you on, sing your songs and see people having a good time, enjoying your music. When I’m on stage, I’m in the zone. It’s like game time on the football field. When I step onto that stage, no matter what happened that day, that week or that month, my job is to put on the best show of my life for those fans. And I try my best to do that each and every show! FCM Is song for you more about storytelling or giving out beautiful sounds? GR I love both! I love the storytelling aspect because that’s really what touches people. I want my music to make a different in people’s lives. You know, whether they’re going through a tough time, or they just need to smile and dance, I want my music to do that. BUT, I love to be able to craft a unique sound too—something that’s fresh to the ear! FCM Now that you’re in Nashville, what’s the goal, what do you picture in the next couple of years? GR My goals are always changing! Last year when I got to Nashville, my goal was to get acquainted with Music City and to double my fan base in a year. We more than accomplished that by tripling my fan base!! This year, one of my main goals was to release new music, and that’ll be accomplished in June when I release my new single! Unfortunately, there’s no special “how to” guide on this journey, so me and my team just keep adjusting as we go. The ultimate goal of course is to land a record deal someday (God willing) and be able to use my music to touch even more people’s lives, near and far! Details and tour schedules are at graysonrogers.com. F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

65


FLORIDA CHARM

HISTORIC LABELLE MEANS BEAUTIFUL, WHERE CHARACTER COUNTS, BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD

T

Downtown LaBelle (above) retains it historic charm. Festivals and music (below) are ingrained in the city’s character.

he story of LaBelle is a great adventure hugging the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Like the Caloosahatchee, much has changed, but the essence of this unique and historic town remains.

LaBelle was first inhabited by the Calusa and eventually the Seminole tribes. In the latter part of the 1800s, it became a community to hunt, fish and trap. First part of Monroe County, then Lee County, LaBelle was originally platted in the 1890s by Capt. Francis Asbury Hendry, a well-known cattleman, political figure and a statesman. It is reported that Hendry named LaBelle for his two daughters, Laura and Belle. But because LaBelle also means beautiful in French, it is thought that Pierre Denaud, a French-Indian trader who had a trading post in the area, may have been responsible for the name. Hendry County is named in honor of LaBelle’s founding father. The Hendry cattle ranch was located in the Fort Thompson area, which is now no more than a memory. By the end of the 19th century, the Hendrys had sold their holdings to Edgar Everett Goodno. While Hendry is given the distinction of founding LaBelle, it is Goodno who is credited with the development of LaBelle into an actual city. The community of LaBelle had become largely cattle ranching by this time, and was incorporated into a town in 1911 in order to keep livestock off the streets. Once LaBelle was established as a city in 1925, the area began to grow. Businesses began to fill the downtown area along Bridge and Main streets, as well as the cross streets. Since travel to other cities was time consuming and tedious because of the conditions of early roads, the city relied upon itself to supply citizen needs. Downtown LaBelle remained a thriving commerce area until the end of the 1960s. As the central Florida town grew and matured, road improvements allowed for better travel times between LaBelle and the surrounding cities. Eventually the ability to go elsewhere for goods caused downtown LaBelle to wane, and businesses began to close. The widening of Florida State Road 80 and the commercial intensification along that route further contributed to the loss of businesses in the downtown area. But even with this decline, downtown LaBelle has always kept its character and heart. With physical and economic decline occurring in this area, civic leaders saw the need to preserve, enhance and rebuild the downtown area to the thriving business center it had once been. The LaBelle Downtown Revitalization

66

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE COURTESY OF LABELLE DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION CORPORATION

Written by: Keitha Daniels


Corporation, or LDRC, was formed in 2014 with the goal of preserving the historic nature of the downtown area and to encourage the integration of a mix of uses, including office, commercial and residential, that will incentivize the redevelopment of the area. The district has again come alive. Two art galleries have opened in the past two years, for instance, and the LDRC hosts a free street concert on first Fridays, which brings hundreds into the area for dining, shopping and entertainment. Once a month, 10 food trucks converge in the park and residents attend by the thousands to treat their taste buds to food usually unavailable in this small town.

ONCE LABELLE WAS ESTABLISHED AS A CITY IN 1925, THE AREA BEGAN TO GROW.

The LDRC will shift its focus toward growth of the district within the next year. With a new boat wharf offering three days of free amenities to boaters and a remodeled hotel on the river, downtown LaBelle has many natural attractions and areas for growth not found in coastal communities. In addition, one roadway in the district, Lee Street, is an open canvas for development. Over the years buildings and houses found along the street have been torn down, leaving beautiful lots filled with old live oak trees. Housing developers have taken notice and have begun building apartments along its borders for residents to easily access the walkable district. LaBelle has many opportunities for visitors, residents and potential businesses, and its potential is unlimited. Keitha Daniels is the president for the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp., downtownlabelle.com.

Central Florida towns are about Southern charm, long traditions and pride, things sometimes lost in transient coastal cities.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

67


FLORIDA CHARM

KEVIN THE TURKEY GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, WHAT A CHARACTER, BIRDS OF A FEATHER Written by: Kelly Boone

M

— "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

usic soothes the sorrow of the loss of our town turkey, Kevin. She—yes, she—was not something that most people see on a regular basis. She was a free-spirited turkey that roamed all over the city of LaBelle and stole our hearts.

Kevin sightings started popping up on our community Facebook page—What’s Happening in LaBelle Today— around the holidays about a wild turkey walking across Elm Street and then lounging in the parking lot at Taco Bell and then strolling around Country Oaks Elementary School. If you know anything about LaBelle, you will know that the places that Kevin roamed were not next door to each other. That girl got her steps in every day! She was a wanderer and the community took pride in the fact that a turkey can walk freely in our small town and not be harmed (well, for a few months, anyway).

Liz Garcia on Facebook wrote: “The first time I met her, I knew her name would be Kevin.” Then one tragic afternoon, Doug Morgan, LaBelle’s Animal Control manager, broke the news. It was March 30 at 1:05 p.m.: “Sad news to report, I believe LaBelle’s famous turkey, Kevin, was run over this morning—I picked him up dead on Bridge Street in front of the Catholic church.” The tributes started pouring in about our beloved Kevin. Linda Corbitt wrote: “What can you say about Kevin? Easy going, soft spoken and never hurt a soul. Kevin roamed the town making people look twice and smile. And in the hustle of work, school and getting from point A to point B faster, we sometimes forget to slow down and watch for the little things in life. Kevin was a female we found out later but when he first showed up no one was going to turn him upside down to check his gender. He/she will be missed.” Lis Sands wrote: Kevin stopped by the LaBelle United Way House early one morning. We were getting ready to set up for Toys for Tots distribution to help kids have a wonderful Christmas. That was the second time I had seen Kevin. She stood out front by the sidewalk for a long time watching the cars go by. She eventually braved the traffic on Bridge Street. I was ready to go stop traffic to help her cross but she was a smart bird and figured it out. I watched her walk across the street to Joey’s Girls and then on towards Main Street. That was the last time I had a Kevin sighting. I will miss her! Anthony Narewood wrote: “He hung out in our front yard on Thanksgiving Day … haha for real.” Kevin brought us together and made us realize we all do have something in common … a hen named Kevin and a small town that we love to call home. Kelly Boone is executive director for the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp., downtownlabelle.com.

Kevin roamed town, a free-spirited turkey dodging traffic, making people look twice ... and smile.

68

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

THE TRIBUTES STARTED POURING IN ABOUT OUR BELOVED KEVIN.

BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO BY JAMIE GRAINGER CAMBELL; BOTTOM MIDDLE PHOTO BY SHERRIE EASTERLY; BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO BY LIZ GARCIA

“If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now ’cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see … ’Cause I’m free as a bird now and this bird you cannot change!”


PICTURE PERFECT

‘GATOR GALLERY Kaly Zielke

F

MEET PHOTO WINNER KALY ZIELKE Photo by: Kaly Zielke

lorida Country Magazine photo contest winner Kaly Zielke is 23, an Orlando native introduced to photography her freshman year in high school. Her passion is photographing Florida’s horse culture and

our state’s amazing and diverse wildlife. “I often frequent local horse shows and stables, as well as places such as the Orlando Wetlands Park, Snow Hill [northeast of Orlando] and the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area [Mims] to take my photos,” she says.

Kaly shot her winning photo with a Nikon D7000 body, a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 vr II lens. Every issue of Florida Country Magazine features a winning photo. Check our Facebook page FloridaCountryMagazine for information about the August/September contest.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

69


PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROBIN KLARMANN

COMMUNITY CIRCLE

3,103 MILES IN 150 DAYS! THE VERNADA WALK FOR CAREGIVERS, DAUGHTER’S TRIBUTE TO MOM

T

Written by: Jack Collier

he daughter wanted to honor her mother. So one day she set out on a walk. The Vernada Walk for Caregivers should end in late August, Robin Klarmann’s tribute to her mother, Vernada, who had died from breast cancer.

But Robin, who lives in Southwest Florida, isn’t taking a stroll, rather a looooong walk covering some 3,100 miles, from Tampa to a small town on the far western edge of Oregon. Robin figures she’ll have worn out seven or eight pairs of sneakers by the end of her journey, chugged many hundreds of water bottles. But she’ll also see the country as few others have, one step at a time, trekking back-country roads through Florida and into Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and finally in late August into Oregon. Figuring there are about 2,000 steps for the average adult in a mile walk, it’s going to add up by the time she arrives in Seaside, Oregon, a town Robin and Vernada Walk co-founder Vikki Cates were stationed in with the U.S. Coast Guard. Both women are retired, Robin a chief petty officer and Vikki a master chief petty officer. “This,” Robin says, “was something I had to do, to raise awareness and honor my mother.” Vernada Klarmann’s run at cancer claimed her life. But the process also took its toll on Robin, the darkness of watching her mother succumb to the disease that this year will claim 41,000 or so American women. “Physical and mental issues that creep up without any warning,” Robin wrote on vernadawalk.org, the daily tracking and donor website honoring Vernada, “I realized that there are all types of caregivers!” Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country Magazine.

Day 1/The team: Vikki Cates (left) and Robin Klarmann

Day 14

ABOUT BREAST CANCER

About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer. Source: breastcancer.org

70

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

Day 25

Day 29


RIB RODEO

B

BARBEQUE AND TRUCKS, SUPPORTING POP WARNER KIDS

arbeque, trucks and kids, perfect for a Saturday and to help little football players, cheer teams and their families.

The second Rib Rodeo is Saturday, July 15, at the Victory Lane Cafe in North Fort Myers. The event starting at 11 a.m. is part rib tasting, truck show and music to benefit the North Fort Myers Junior Football Association, a program for kids ages 5-15. Rib Rodeo last year brought some 2,000 visitors; ticket, raffle and donation proceeds helped with football/cheer expenses, other costs of running the program, says Todd Fitzgerald, an event co-coordinator. “We sold a thousand raffle tickets in an hour last year,” says Fitzgerald, who’s also a coach. “It was amazing. This is for kids and families needing our help.” Rib Rodeo is about amateur barbeque teams jockeying for best in show, winners chosen by ticket-holders sampling each team’s entry. Prizes for best truck are also awarded. Lee County Sheriff’s Department color guard, sponsors, performers, music and other fun stuff are planned. Check the NFMJFA Facebook link for entry details. Victory Lane Cafe is at 4120 Hancock Bridge Parkway, North Fort Myers.

THE EVENT IS PART RIB TASTING, TRUCK SHOW AND MUSIC TO BENEFIT THE NORTH FORT MYERS JUNIOR FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, A PROGRAM FOR KIDS AGES 5-15.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

71


TRUCKS & TOYS

HOLLER AT YOU! WELCOME TO BROOKE’S WORLD, TRUCK PULLING HER THING, LOVES THE ADRENALINE

B

Written by: Jack Collier

rooke Holler is your proper nine-to-five nurse/ administrator. But behind the wheel of her 2007 Chevrolet on a truck pull or cheering on a friend or her husband, an entirely different person shows up to the party. Holler is one of the first women competing and winning in the Southwest Florida truck pull confederation. Urged to climb behind the wheel at a truck pull by her husband, Cliff Garlick, Holler was immediately hooked, she says, placing well in her first few truck-pull events. “It feels great,” she says of sitting high and dragging the other driver, “especially when it’s all guys. It definitely gets the adrenaline going.” This isn’t the story of a cotton puff floating in a hard breeze. Brooke Holler is a natural fire-breather, sweet, but a woman you probably shouldn’t cross, which plays well behind the wheel of a tall truck. It’s in the driver’s seat that a switch clicks, perhaps the competition, the thunder of a

tweaked big-block, the rush of great power, the feel of your opponent sliding with you, whether he/she likes it. In her first truck pull about a year ago, Ashley Andrews in her Blue Smurf Dodge Ram pulled the other guy backward. “I kicked his butt,” she says, acknowledging that women in the sport, like Brooke Holler, serve to inspire others such as herself to jump behind the wheel, play rather than watch. Brooke Holler and Cliff Garlick take their game on the road, circling the state in a pair of trucks, her Chevy and his hopped-up Ford that competes in the heavier class. There can be money in winning—the payout at a Kissimmee pull was about $3,000, she says—but few pull drivers plan much more than prizes covering travel, $7 fuel and replacing tires that new run four thousand bucks per set. With Luke Bryan music as a roaring backdrop, pull drivers have rallied up on a Saturday at the Lee County Posse Arena

Brooke Holler is competing and winning in the Southwest Florida truck pull confederation.

72

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTO COURTESY OF BROOKE HOLLER

IT’S VERY AMERICAN, THE DEEP THRUM OF A CHARGED MOTOR, THE CAB HEIGHT AND POWER, GOOD VERSUS EVIL.


BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO BY SCARLETT REDENIUS; OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF BROOKE HOLLER

in North Fort Myers. You have every make of light truck in two weight classes, all hobby drivers. Tractor weights slung to the truck fronts keep things in balance, literally, keeping more powerful vehicles from pulling an opponent backward on his rear wheels. While the competition is easygoing, no driver is here to lose. It has a very personal feel, as if watching your child in a foot race. And then a Brooke Holler happens along. Tonight, however, she chooses to not drive. But she’s on fire, rubbing surface debris from the tires of her Chevy that Cliff Garlick is driving. She’s possessed, whipping her terrible towel in the exhaust and stinging sand, tires yelping as the white truck surges forward, inching the opponent in reverse. Never having sat behind the wheel of these monsters, you still feel for the driver slowly moving backward, the thrill of the driver working his truck to make that happen. It’s very American, the deep thrum of a charged motor, the cab height and power, good versus evil, rust bucket kids versus the polished adults and their big-ticket trucks. “She,” Cliff Garlick says of Brooke, “knows her truck, knows how it reacts. She gets a good hook and, buddy, you’re going backwards.”

Brooke Holler is a natural pull driver, competing regularly in Florida Tugs' events in Southwest Florida. She drives a 2007 Chevy.

Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

73


MY RIDE

LEE COUNTY BLACK SMOKE PROMOTIONAL COMPANY, NOT A TRUCK CLUB Written by: Jack Collier

But what those who started Lee County Black Smoke want more is that the Southwest Florida company succeeds in event promotions, hosting, for example, the Dirt Drags at the Farm event in May in Punta Gorda.

While tractor pulls remain huge, the average person doesn’t own one. They, instead, use their trucks to pull, mud and drag. And the bigger and more powerful, the better. Diesel is the choice for most truck owners in Southwest Florida.

Or the Catch22 Truck Pulls event in Fort Myers, other pulls and racing events at the Florida Tracks & Trails venue in Punta Gorda, a drag event at the Immokalee Regional Raceway.

What Lee County Black Smoke had figured was that organizing state and national events with these trucks and other modified vehicles would make a perfect business model. So far, Liberty says, this decision appears to have been beyond the dreams of the original founders, each in their 20s. “That we’ve turned into an actual promotional company is amazing,” he says. “Our goal in five years is to have our own park.”

The big news is Lee County Black Smoke will begin running pulls, ATV, Mega Truck Series races and other dirt events at a farm on State Road 31 in Punta Gorda. What started as mostly diesel dirt drags has “blown up,” says T.J. Liberty, cofounder of Lee County Black Smoke. Pull events in Florida started with tractors, according to historical accounts. The National Tractor Pullers Association is the Lee County Black Smoke owners plan to own an events park within five years.

74

sport’s oldest truck and tractor pulling sanctioning organization. The organization included Florida in its events starting in the 1970s. It’s reported that trucks hooked to tractors at a venue in Kissimmee introduced modern truck pulls to the country.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

Details about Lee County Black Smoke can be found on the company’s social media platforms. Jack Collier is the editorial director for Florida Country Magazine.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY BLACK SMOKE

O

wners T.J. Liberty, Tara Liberty and Dante Hailing first want us to know that Lee County Black Smoke is a not a truck club, it’s a “community.”


F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

75


MY RIDE

TRUCKS WITH ATTITUDE WINNERS OF FLORIDA COUNTRY MAGAZINE’S FIRST MY RIDE POLL

Y

ou picked them. Based on your feedback from the Lee County Black Smoke Facebook page, you selected your favorite truck from hundreds posted by the owners of those vehicles in Southwest Florida. Florida Country Magazine is thrilled to share these four winners with you in our premiere issue.

Our staff fully agreed with your top choice, Philip Daniels and his F-250 Ford Batman truck. This vehicle gets amazing feedback wherever Phil goes, cell cameras flashing at traffic lights, stores, on the road, he says. You also chose Donnie Bogard’s The Gator, a 1979 F-150 Lariat, a perfect restoration in two-tone greens. Ryan "Bubba" Lindenmayer's 2017 Nissan Titan/Cummins grabbed Facebook followers. Yeah, it’s new, but Bubba’s Nissan sits nicely and hits you just right. Finally, Kevin Hutchinson’s Dodge 3500 is cool because it’s a working man’s diesel, but so plainly has the heart of a country vehicle from bumper to bumper.

PHOTOS BY MARSAY JOHNSON

We encourage you to post photos of your modified truck for our August/September My Ride section on facebook.com/floridacountrymagazine or email myride@floridacountrymagazine.com.

76

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17


TOP LEFT PHOTO BY JONATHAN WEST; TOP RIGHT PHOTO BY MARSAY JOHNSON; BOTTOM PHOTO BY SCARLETT REDENIUS

1 ST PLACE

BATMAN TRUCK DARK KNIGHT FORD AN INSTANT HIT, KIDS LOVE IT Truck owner: Philip Daniels

I

n order to raise awareness for good causes to support, Philip Daniels needed a vehicle to catch the eye of kids. An excited child will motivate mom and dad to attend amateur truck shows in Southwest Florida, he knew. Connecting his passion for comic-book characters and tall trucks on big wheels, Daniels wrapped his 2008 Ford F-250 in a Batman graphic—and BOOM! It was an instant hit. “It’s fun,” says the Iona McGregor Fire District/fire inspector. “Kids really enjoy it. I mean we go out at night, and we get [camera] flashes going down the road.”

Daniels first imagined a Darth Vader themed ride but, nah, always for him about Marvel/DC characters, he says. His son, in fact, plans to wrap his Ford F-150 in a Superman graphic. Philip Daniels is often the centerpiece at truck shows, using any donations to benefit nonprofits. “I hand out rubber Batman bracelets,” he says, “and fathers will ask if I have an extra black one.”

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

77


THE GATOR

2 ND PLACE

MEAN AND GREEN, A CHERRY 1979 FORD LARIAT Truck owner: Donnie Deen Bogard Jr.

D

onnie Bogard’s wife once asked if he planned to be buried in his wonderful truck, the 1979 Ford Ranger Lariat that he’s owned, built and rebuilt, since Riverdale High. He half-kiddingly thought about it, he says. “I told her I’d pass it down to the kids,” he says, pausing long enough to make you wonder.

The Gator, Bogard’s legendary tall Ford, was bought used in 1985, a plain F-150 pickup with the classic mix of work vehicle and that lean-forward design, the Lariat with a bump in extras such as 4-wheel drive that sold new in 1979 for about $5,400. In his amusing way, Bogard tells stories about him and that green truck, almost like Smokey and the Bandit, tearing up the streets—and the nights of SWFL. But as things will, Donnie Bogard settled, disassembled his Lariat to the frame starting in 1997. What surfaced is a restored classic, two-tone green, lifted and detailed to precision, a big-block Ford, The Gator. His single philosophy throughout the process: “Anything I get, it’s got to get big tires on it.”

Not only is there a Gator I, but a Gator II (pictured left).

78

F CO OU U NTRY NTRY JJ u un n ee || JJ u F LO LO R R II D DA AC u ll yy 2 20 0 17 17

PHOTOS ON THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGE BY MARSAY JOHNSON

MY RIDE


NISSAN TITAN XD PLATINUM RESERVE

3 RD PLACE

SOUTHERN TRUCK NATION FOUNDER, REFINED DRIVING

R

Truck owner: Ryan "Bubba" Lindenmayer yan "Bubba" Lindenmayer wasn’t going to spend months or years with a project truck. The founder of Southern Truck Nation went for the heart, purchasing a 2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve, a limited release vehicle producing more than 300 horsepower/stock with the 5.0 Cummins turbo.

Southern Truck Nation is a group in Southwest Florida that welcomes all makes and models, including Jeeps. “This is a family group of friends with weekly meets and scheduled events. Join the family and have some fun,” Lindenmayer posted on the group’s Facebook page, which, by the way, lists 2,675 members. Its Instagram page lists more than 6,500 followers. The Platinum Reserve Titan is regarded by insiders as a sort of mobile office with tons of power, towing and grace, more of a rancher’s truck than a puller. But a collector's truck you’ll watch as it disappears down the road.

F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

79


4 TH PLACE

WHITE DODGE 3500 OWNER’S LONG UPGRADE LIST, 2004 CUMMINS CLASSIC

S

Truck owner: Kevin Hutchinson

ome of us go that extra mile for things we want. For Kevin Hutchinson, that has meant plenty. On a trip to New York in his 2004 Dodge 3500, he smoked the straight-six diesel. Rather than complain, the Southwest Florida teen had the white dually hauled back to Florida, where he dropped a replacement Cummins diesel, got the big truck back in working order. It cost Hutchinson nearly $10,000 to get his big truck back in working order. But it seems to be worth every dime, the big Dodge nicely detailed in white and chrome. He explains: “From having an old Ford farm truck, it wasn’t reliable enough for me, so I bought the [Dodge]. Everything on it was changed by me. From color matching to semi wheels … it will be a never-ending project for me. Eventually it will have a 4-inch lift powder-coated blue, along with some other upgrades. The list can go on and on with what I want to do with the truck.”

80

F LO R I D A C O U NTRY J u n e | J u l y 2 0 17

PHOTOS BY MARSAY JOHNSON

MY RIDE


F LO R I D A C O U NTRYM A G A Z I N E . C O M

81


Profile for Florida Country Magazine

Florida Country Magazine - June/July 2017  

Florida, a state that is known for its sunshine and beaches, when there is so much more to this magnificent land. Florida Country Magazine c...

Florida Country Magazine - June/July 2017  

Florida, a state that is known for its sunshine and beaches, when there is so much more to this magnificent land. Florida Country Magazine c...