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Farmer of the Year Brian Oatts on his love of new technology, techniques

By Zirconia Alleyne

Brian Oatts was still under the impression one of his daughters was receiving an award for “agri-leadership” when the MC announced he was the 2016 Farmer of the Year. His wife of 22 years, Carla, knew that coming up with a fake award for one of their girls was the only way to get Brian off the farm, dressed up and at the Salute to Agriculture breakfast at 7 a.m.
“I was shocked,” Brian said, about the moment he heard his name. “My wife had me fooled. She had me thinking I was going for something else.” Continue reading

Coalition aims to expand agriculture education

By Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board

250,000. That is the number of students the Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom hopes to reach with food and farm-based lessons in the next two years.

That goal will be made possible with the support of agriculture community partners, such as the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board. The board recently provided $10,000 to KAEC for agriculture education program development, which will include teaching resources about soybeans for educators.
“The Kentucky Soybean Board has been a long-term partner in helping us provide agriculture education to Kentucky’s students,” said KAEC Executive Director Jennifer Elwell. “In addition to general agriculture education, we want to address specific goals of Kentucky’s soybean industry.”
The soybean promotion board and KAEC have begun work on resource development, making sure information about the production and use of soybeans are packaged in a way that will be easy for teachers to utilize.
“With consumers being three generations removed from the farm these days, children are no longer working and learning alongside their parents and grandparents on the farm. If today’s youth don’t learn about agriculture in the classroom, the only resource they’ll have available may be the Internet,” said Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board Chair Keith Tapp, who farms in Sebree. “There’s a lot of great information on food and farming on the Web, but there’s also a whole lot of misinformation and baseless claims being made. It all comes down to this: We want consumers to learn the truth about agriculture and the food, feed, fuel and fiber that farmers are growing for the world’s ever-increasing population,” Tapp said. “If we want them to learn the truth, it’s up to us to fund programs like this.”
Another impending project to encourage a deeper understanding of Kentucky agriculture in schools is to develop a comprehensive agriculture and food-issues website. Filled with questions from students, answers from industry experts and curriculum, this resource will challenge students to consider technologies and careers that make food and renewable resource production possible.
Elwell said careers in agriculture will be a primary focus of the website and other KAEC programs.
“Even as early as kindergarten, vocational studies and career readiness has become a major component of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, and I want to make sure that we are developing and revamping programs to assist teachers,” Elwell said. “I also hope that learning the why and how of the many agriculture careers available will spark some interest in students at an earlier age.”
KSPB has also provided funding and support for Mobile Science Activity Centers, which gives agriscience lessons at elementary and middle schools across the commonwealth. The activity centers are operated by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and reach about 24,000 students and 800 teachers each year. The department will soon put a third center into operation, thanks to the many KAEC sponsors and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.
Additional KAEC programs supported by KSPB include the school assembly show “Agriculture Adventures” and the Agriculture Literacy Network, which equips educators with the resources, materials and training to provide quality, standards-based lessons.
KAEC was recently approved to market a special agricultural literacy license plate for non-farm vehicles in Kentucky. Once the minimum number of plates are reserved and manufactured, additional income will be available for programs.

Faith invaluable in the lives of farmers, family

By Olivia Clark
Having faith in farming is not always easy. There are times when things become very trying and farmers may question if it is feasible to make it another year. Without their faith, many farmers would not have the confidence that they could make it another year. For that reason alone, faith plays an important role in the lives of farmers, their families and their future.
Gayle Outland and his son, Brad, make up the fourth generation of farmers in their family to raise row crops in Christian and Trigg counties. Outland believes that above anyone else, farmers should have faith in God. Continue reading

Rural reminiscence: Passing down the art of storytelling

By P.D. Dickinson
Storytelling was once one of the best non-physical activities to do on the farm. Some stories were funny, some were scary, some were fantasy and others were suspenseful mysteries. Any and every kind of story imaginable was told and welcomed.
Most of the stories were passed down from generation to generation. Many we’d heard before, but the narrators were so good at their craft that we loved hearing them over and over.
Once in a while, someone would come up with a new one. It would then be added to my mental list to be requested time and time again, like all the rest. Continue reading

Ham, sausage ‘meat’ the definition of tradition

By Toni W. Riley

The time-honored, handed-down process of curing hams and making sausage is a tradition in many farm families, and it was no different in mine. In the late 50s and 60s, “putting up” pork was a yearly event and still is today. I have strong recollections of killing hogs on our farm in Pendleton County, and I certainly wasn’t traumatized by the process. It was just a part of farm life, and it put meat on the table for the entire year.
Traditionally, we killed hogs over the long Thanksgiving weekend when my mother, who was a schoolteacher, was home. I would watch a little of the Thanksgiving parades, but that day was devoted to preparing the meat. Continue reading

Time, not money, hinders regular checkups for farmers

By Mayra Diaz-Ballard
One of the main topics on everyone’s minds these days is health care. Affordability, proximity and the amount of coverage play a major role in deciding what plan is right for farmers and their families. Even with insurance, many farmers don’t make regular checkups a priority.
Karen Parm, a farmer’s wife from Graves County, said, her husband, Jimmy, is paying the price for years of not seeing a dentist or doctor because “he didn’t have time.” Continue reading

Why ag professionals love the industry and tips on how to land a job in the field

By Rhonda Werner
Passion. It’s the one word that people  in agriculture use again and again. They have a passion for the industry, a passion for the people and just love what they do.
My article in the last edition of “Ag Families” discussed the steady rise in demand for people with degrees in agriculture and highlighted the various directions those degrees can take a career in the industry. In this edition, two Kentucky professionals share some of their experiences in the agriculture field and what makes it so special to them. Continue reading

Hopkinsville Milling stays true to family ties, baking products

The sun glows on the Sunflour plant, also known as Hopkinsville Milling, at the end of Fort Campbell Boulevard. In the early 1900s, the company was called Crescent Mills.

The sun glows on the Sunflour plant, also known as Hopkinsville Milling, at the end of Fort Campbell Boulevard. In the early 1900s, the company was called Crescent Mills.

By Toni W. Riley

When 5-year-old Robert Harper was paid 25 cents to organize a desk drawer at Hopkinsville Milling for his grandfather Frank A. Yost, the youngster didn’t know he was the fifth generation of the Yost family to work at “The Mill.” Now president of Hopkinsville Milling, Harper easily
recounts the history and development of the company from its beginning in 1874.
At Seventh Street and the railroad crossing, the precursor of Hopkinsville Milling was Crescent Mills, owned by F.J. Brownell and John T. Rabbeth. Brownell was the uncle of Frank K. Yost, Harper’s great-grandfather who joined the firm in 1903.
Harper remembers the evolution of Hopkinsville Milling as it followed history and the changing United States lifestyle. He explains that milling is an industry of pennies.
“Pennies have to be watched at work as well as at home,” he said. “A person can make a good living as a miller, but they won’t get rich.”

Continue reading

Todd’s tips for protecting animal health in winter

Photo by Tony Hurt

Photo by Tony Hurt

By Susan Hurt
With the mercury dropping as quickly as the Waterford Crystal Ball in Times Square, people are bundling up and staying indoors as much as possible. But some of our four-legged friends are not as fortunate and must endure months of cold, wind, ice and snow.
When it comes to protecting animal health and ensuring their productivity, it is important to know a few facts. Dr. Todd Freeman, veterinarian of Little River Veterinary Clinic, shares a few tips to help ensure our animals can bear the winter months comfortably. Continue reading

Black Sheep Bistro owner plans for future with goal that ‘patrons don’t leave hungry’

Black sheep Cath

The Black Sheep Bistro sits at the corner of South Main Street in downtown Trenton. Photo by Catherine Riley

By Toni W. Riley
If someone is looking for a restaurant where the menu is unique, changes regularly and tastes wonderful, then look no further than The Black Sheep Bistro, which offers an international menu with Southern attitude.
This one-of-a-kind restaurant at 100 S. Main St., Trenton, is in a restored Standard Oil gas station at the caution light downtown. Once a filling station, the building has become a “filling” station of another kind.
Continue reading

2 recipes that are sure to warm your body, fill your belly

By Diane Turner
The visions of sugar plums have danced out of sight, the turkey and ham is all gone, and picnics and barbecues are still months away. We are now left with the short days and cold nights of winter, and I’m sure that, like me, you are looking for easy recipes to fill your family’s stomachs, so you don’t have to spend time away from them in the kitchen.
Diane’s Lasagna and Crock-Pot Pork Chops are crowd favorites among my family and friends. Both recipes are inexpensive, don’t take long to prep and are sure to please the pickiest of eaters. Hopefully your families will enjoy these recipes at dinnertime. They are also great meals to take to others who may be too busy to cook while tending to the farm. Continue reading

Meet Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles

Photo provided

Photo provided

Compiled by Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board
You can tell a lot about a man by the way he introduces himself. On the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) Web page, Ryan Quarles could identify himself first as a graduate of Harvard, as a Truman Scholar or as the holder of not one but three undergraduate degrees in addition to his two master’s degrees. All of those means of identification would be true, yet when Quarles turned in his biography, the first thing he listed, after his date of birth, was the title “farmer.” Continue reading

Canning makes family come together

By P.D. Dickinson

Fall was always  busy for my family because it was the time when we canned, froze and stored fruits and vegetables from the garden. We also stockpiled  meats in the freezer to feed us during the winter to come.
Everyone had their parts to play in the canning and freezing work. We kids were always given the job of washing the canning jars. Our hands were small enough to fit inside and rinse out any dust or residue that accumulated from the previous year. We’d all be seated in a circle around a large tin washtub with washcloths and bottle brushes. The tub was filled with warm soapy water and placed outside the kitchen door in the yard to avoid us wetting down the house as we cleaned. Continue reading

Farmer rocks on two years after life-altering accident

Dairy farmer Gary Rock’s truck has been fitted with a wheelchair lift and hand controls so he’s self-sufficient. Rock severed both of his legs during a farming accident in 2013. He has been regaining his independence since then. He can transfer from his track chair to his Bobcat with no assistance. Photo by Rae Wagoner

Dairy farmer Gary Rock’s truck has been fitted with a wheelchair lift and hand controls so he’s self-sufficient. Rock severed both of his legs during a farming accident in 2013. He has been regaining his independence since then. He can transfer from his track chair to his Bobcat with no assistance. Photo by Rae Wagoner

By Rae Wagoner
Just about every life has its ups and downs. Luckily, few, if any, of us will experience the downs that 2013 dealt Hodgenville dairy farmer Gary Rock. In May, Rock lost his father, and June brought a tornado that wiped out much of his farm. Proving “bad things come in threes,” Rock suffered a life-changing injury in August 2013 while chopping silage to feed his dairy cows. Continue reading

Father, son get into backgrounding on family farm

Dr. Todd Freeman and his father, Ewing Freeman, run a backgrounding operation at the family farm in Cadiz. Dr. Freeman is a veterinarian.

Dr. Todd Freeman and his father, Ewing Freeman, run a backgrounding operation at the family farm in Cadiz. Dr. Freeman is a veterinarian. Photo by Tony Hurt

By Susan Hurt
Photos By Tony hurt
Author Thomas Wolfe said it best in his 1940 novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” when he wrote, one “can never fully go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to places in the country.” Wolfe was not trying to say one can never physically go home, but, rather, things will never be the same as when you left. The theme was “time passes, things change and people change,” but for Todd Freeman, memories of home were not just reflections from the past. They were the familiar images guiding his future. In fact, it was Freeman’s past that shaped his future. Continue reading

Farmers’ wives talk about “The Other Side of Ag”

By Krin Mims

Donna & Richard

Donna and Richard Leavell

When I caught up with Donna Leavell, she was just leaving “cow day” at her family farm. She was checking her boots and pants as she walked in the door and apologizing because “you just never know what you’ll bring back from the farm.”
I explained to Donna the concept of this column — for people to see the other side of agriculture because farming doesn’t just happen in a field. There are many hands involved, which often go unnoticed.
Most readers wouldn’t have guessed that just an hour before our interview, Donna was working with her husband and son holding down calves, helping give shots and a few other less-desirable tasks. A farmer’s wife has many roles — sometimes it’s helping with the books, and other seasons, it’s in a field on a combine. The ladies in this article were genuine and candid about their love for their family and the farms that span generations and interests.
Continue reading

4-H agents introducing new programs this fall

By Diane Turner
Our world is ever changing with advancements in technology and other up-and-coming trends. That’s why it’s important to make sure our children are involved in programs that cultivate skills and develop feelings of self-worth by efforts of hard work.
The 4-H Youth Development Program through the University of Kentucky Extension Service has been a part of our community for years and is currently going through a transition period. A few years ago, Christian County went from having a single agent with assistants to hiring three full-time agents last year. Many faces have come and gone to the program, but each one has helped it to grow in a different way. Continue reading

Naturalist ignites new passion cultivating monarch butterflies

A monarch butterfly suckles on a flower. Photo by Catherine Riley

A monarch butterfly suckles on a flower. Photo by Catherine Riley

By Toni W. Riley

Each spring, Susan Chiles gently examines the leaf of a tropical milkweed plant and, with her experienced eye, detects a tiny white speck that is a monarch caterpillar — or a “cat” as she calls them. Susan collects the caterpillars all summer at her Trigg County home and raises them through each stage of development until they become the regal monarch butterfly.
Her efforts with the monarchs don’t stop at raising them but continue through the end of summer when she and her granddaughter, Lauralynn, tag the butterflies as part of the Monarch Watch program, an initiative through the University of Kansas that tracks monarch migration.
Susan and her husband, David Chiles, are both well-known, retired Christian County Public School teachers and naturalists, known for their concern for the environment. Susan became interested in developing a habitat for monarchs after meeting other naturalists who grew milkweed and enjoyed watching the butterflies. Continue reading

Todd’s Tips: 10 ways to keep pets safe this fall

By Susan Hurt
Fall is my favorite season, the one I look forward to all year as we make the transition from summer to winter.
I love everything about it: the golden hues, the wonderful smells, the decorations, and the cool evenings, perfect for a bonfire with family or hayride with friends. With the days getting shorter and the temperatures getting colder, it reminds us that winter is right around the corner. Dr. Todd Freeman, a local veterinarian, shares the following tips for keeping your pets snug, safe and warm this fall and winter. Continue reading

How Thanksgiving dinner gets from the farm to the table

By Olivia Clark
As you sit down to enjoy a feast at Thanksgiving, have you thought about where the turkey and all the fixin’s come from? Not only are there many people who don’t know where all the delicious details of Thanksgiving dinner are grown but many don’t know how it arrived on their plate. Take a look at the turkey and a few of America’s favorite sides to keep things a little more in perspective this holiday season. Continue reading