Alabama Adventures in Progress

Over the last year, I have had many different adventures dealing with the Alabama Farmers Federation and their monthly publication, Neighbors. Since then, I have become very good friends with Debra Davis, the Publications Director of the Federation. In my next few blog posts, I will be describing a few of the adventures I have had.

My first trip with Mrs. Davis consisted of shooting photographs of former Young Farmers Chairman, Allie Corcoran and also former Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman, Sharon Byrd. Our day started bright and early as we traveled to Eufaula, Alabama, to Backyard Orchards. Backyard Orchards is a fruit and vegetable farm run by Allie and her sister, Cassie Young. They were in the process of building a barn to house their new store/restaurant and office. It was a cold day in December. There were strawberries growing for the summer and the peach tree orchard was being tended to. Allie gave us a tour of the farm as we were looking for the best place to take a photo. We finally decided that her leaning on an old tractor was perfect!

After her photo was taken, we met with her sister and her two children, Gardner and Sterling, to get a group photo of all four of them in one of the families’ cotton fields. I also shot several photos around the farm of a few plants and animals. We then found our way to a local barbecue restaurant, which had some of the best I have ever eaten. Our goodbyes were shared and we then left for Ariton, Alabama, which is located just south of Troy, to meet Mrs. Byrd.

When we arrived to the Byrd residence, we were greeted with warm welcomes by, not only Mrs. Byrd, but also her extremely friendly dogs. We eventually proceeded to the porch swing, where I shot a photo of her. Now, we only needed one more photo to finish out our day. We needed a photo of the Byrds and their two sons. Mrs. Davis got a great shot of Mrs. Byrd, her husband, Jerry, and their sons, Brian and Steven.

The day was absolutely fantastic, and needless to say that I really did enjoy it. More adventures to come!

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“Look at All Those Chickens”

Several of the thousands of baby chickens at the farm.

Several of the thousands of baby chickens at the farm.

There are many animal industries across Alabama, but the poultry industry brings more revenue than any other in the state. Alabama poultry provides more than 85,000 jobs and is responsible for over sixty-five percent of farming revenues for the state. That is more than fifteen billion dollars. Alabama is also one of the top poultry producers in the country. An average adult can eat around seventy-five pounds of poultry each year, and the consumption of chickens continues to grow,

Being a farmer is not just a “nine to five” job. Being a farmer is your life. Owning a farm requires a person that is dedicated to the business and to put one-hundred percent effort into it. My family owns and operates a poultry farm and there is constant work to be done. There are six chicken houses on the farm, with each holding around 40,000 birds.

Family owned farms are great in many aspects. One reason is that the entire family can participate and help with the farm. Another is children can learn the responsibilities of how important it is to care for living animals and also watch them grow and mature. Baby chickens, otherwise known as bitties, arrive to farms sometimes just hours old. They stay in the houses for six to seven weeks and then are ready to collect, so there are plenty of educational experiences to be had.

At the farm, several days ago, my little cousin Lydia Grace, found a black baby chick. A new shipment of chickens had just arrived. Black bitties are considered “good luck” in the chicken farming business, and we were able to find a total of five of them in one house! The newly hatched chicks will sometimes follow a person that is walking around inside the house, because they think that the person is their mother. Lydia Grace probably had at least a hundred bitties following her around at any given moment, which she thought very unamusing and replied by saying, “I’m not your mother!,” to the chickens. At one time, she started singing the famed song “Let it Go,” from the Disney movie Frozen.

Lydia Grace, four, giving one of the five black baby chickens a good look.

Lydia Grace, three, giving one of the five black baby chickens a good look.

Being able to spend time with the family and also playing with the baby chicks is always a good time. But, eventually you must put your boots on and get to work.

Feeding the World

Commissioner John McMillan taking his oath of office at the 2015 Inauguration ceremony.

Commissioner John McMillan taking his oath of office at the 2015 Inauguration ceremony.

The practice of agriculture has been around for thousands of years. Even on American soil, the Indians used to farm the land just as we do today; only we have modern technology to help support our crops and animals. Agriculture can be anything from growing crops, to raising various breeds of animals. It is Alabama’s number one industry, and it provides millions of jobs across the world. So, needless to say that we need agriculture in order to survive.

There are many possible crops that can be grown throughout the country. Some crops that grow well in our area are, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, and an extremely large amount of peanuts. The rearing of animals is also a huge portion in the agriculture industry. Alabama’s number one animal industry is the poultry industry. This industry provides more than $15 billion to the state each year. There are also beef, catfish and also a few dairy farms throughout the state.

I have grown up with animals always around my house. There have been cows, dogs, chickens, rabbits, turtles and even a few fish, freshwater and saltwater, just to name a few. Many of my childhood memories, especially from the summers, are of me getting into the truck with my grandfather to go feed his cows. There have been countless trips through the pasture.

Agricultural leaders are just as important as agriculture itself. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the inauguration ceremony, of not only Governor Robert Bentley and Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, but also of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries of Alabama, John McMillan. This is the second term McMillan has been elected Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

In his speech, Commissioner McMillan discussed the importance of youth and the future, and I agree with him. I believe the future of America is in the hands of its youth and we must educate them to be better leaders for tomorrow.

The inauguration ceremony was followed by a parade with college and high school bands from around the state. Troy’s own Sound of the South marching band was featured in the parade. This was my first time attending a State inauguration ceremony, and it certainly was a memorable one.

Remember Farming Feeds Alabama!

Planting the Seed in Society

Hello world! My name is Caleb Hicks. I’m from the tiny town of Dublin, Alabama, and am truly blessed that I was raised in such a great place. God and family are two very important aspects in my life. I am fortunate enough to live close to most of my family, and that has impacted me in unimaginable ways.

I am currently studying at Troy University and majoring in multimedia journalism. When I first arrived at Troy, I was completely lost as far as a decision on my major. I chose to take a beginning journalism course, during my first semester, and I was hooked.

Journalism is just one of the things that I am truly passionate about. Another is having an agriculture background, from both sides of my family. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in the world. Without it, we would have immense food shortages. As I said before, agriculture runs deep on both sides of my family. Both of my grandfathers were, and still are, heavily involved within the industry. I am also involved with the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) in the Young Farmers program.

In this blog I will discuss agriculture in my life and also how it affects the rest of the world, but I will be doing this from a journalistic aspect. I will be posting to this blog at least once a week, so watch out!

I would like for everyone to see that agriculture is an important piece of our society, and how it affects us as a civilization. I hope you enjoy these posts and possibly even learn a thing or two. If you would like to discuss or comment on any of these subjects, please feel free to do so. I look forward to many postings and even some discussions.

Until next time.