Tag Archive: Love

Friday Feature: The Dairy Heifers that Love Trombone Music

Friday Feature:  The Dairy Heifers that Love Trombone Music

Ed Henderson, Live Oak Dairy Farmer, plays his trombone for his Holstein heifers and they love it. Photo credit: Florida Dairy Farmers

Fifth-generation Florida dairy farmer, Ed Henderson owns the 6,800 head Shenandoah Dairy Farm near Live Oak, Florida.  He also loves to play jazz music with his trombone and stumbled across something very interesting;  His Holstein heifers love his music too!  This week’s featured video was produced by CNN that shows how his cows react when he serenades them with his trombone.


If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo





Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/29/friday-feature-the-dairy-heifers-that-love-trombone-music/

Love Blueberries? Thank the Blueberry Bee!

Love Blueberries? Thank the Blueberry Bee!

The Southeastern blueberry bee uses buzz pollination on a blueberry plant. Photo credit: Tyler Jones, UF IFAS.

This time of year, blueberry bushes are flowering and small fruit are coming onto the wild and cultivated bushes in north Florida. Many of us, myself included, look forward to the late-spring harvest of blueberries, taking our children out to u-pick operations and digging out family recipes for blueberry-filled desserts.

What many do not know, however, is that there’s a specialized bee that literally lives for this season. During the last few weeks, this little insect has been furiously pollinating blueberry bushes during its short, single-purpose lifetime.

The Southeastern blueberry bee, Habropoda labriosa is active only in mid-March to April when blueberry plants are in flower. They are smaller than bumblebees, and the yellow patches on their heads can differentiate males. Blueberry pollen is heavy and sticky, so it is not blown by the wind, and the flower anatomy is such that pollen from the male anther will not just fall onto the female stigma. Blueberry bees must instead attach themselves to the flower and rapidly vibrate their flight muscles, shaking the pollen out. Moving to the next flower, the bee’s vibrations will drop pollen from the first flower onto the next one. This phenomenon is called “sonicating” or ‘buzz pollination” and is the most effective method of creating a prolific blueberry crop.

Blueberry bees do not form hives, but create solitary nests in open, sunny, high ground. Females will dig a tunnel with a brood chamber large enough for one larva, filling it with nectar and pollen. After laying an egg, the female seals the chamber and the next generation is ready. The species produces only one generation of adults per year.

By the time we are picking fresh blueberries next month, you probably won’t see any blueberry bees around. However, we should all consider these insects’ short-lived but vitally important role in Florida’s $ 82 million/year blueberry industry!

For more information, check out the beautifully illustrated USDA Forest Service publication, “Bee Basics—An Introduction to our Native Bees,” or North Carolina State University’s entomology website.


Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/01/love-blueberries-thank-the-blueberry-bee/

4-H Alumnae Reconnect through Love of Horses

Russell and Julie McMillian, Gulf County 4-H Alumnae and 4-H Leaders

Russell and Julie McMillian both grew up in Gulf County and together have established a thriving business based on their love of horses.  They now own a small farm in Dalkeith, just south of Wewahitchka, and their business Rockin’ M Ranch, consists of horseback riding lessons for beginners and beach rides for tourists and locals alike along the beautiful beaches of Cape San Blas.

How did this all begin?  Russell and Julie both grew up as Gulf County 4-H members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club.  They both participated in a variety of 4-H programs; including Horse Camp, Camp Timpoochee, Congress (now known as 4-H University), District Events, North Florida Fair Ag Judging, Area A and State 4-H Horse Shows, etc.  They both learned the values of 4-H through learning how to raise and compete with their animals, agricultural commodities, leadership skills, public speaking, community service, good decision making skills, and much more…

As adults, they both went in separate directions, but still maintained their love of horses and the farm life.  Russell began his career in flooring and tile work, while Julie received her education degree and taught Kindergarten at Wewahitchka Elementary School.  After reconnecting as adults, they married on September 25, 2010 and turned their passion for horses into a full-time love by creating their own business, Rockin’ M Ranch.  Russell still does flooring, tile work on the side, and helps his grandparents with their hay business.  Julie decided to leave the teaching field, and she manages their business full time.  She began giving beach rides on the Cape at the age of 14 and still loves it as much today.

Julie and Russell McMillian pictured with daughers, Brooke (left) and Hayleigh

Russell began his time with 4-H at the age of 12 and Julie was 8 years old.  As members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club, they adored their 4-H leaders, Mr. Jesse Eubanks and Ms. Jean McMillian (Russell’s grandmother), and the Gulf County Extension Director, Roy L. Carter (now retired), whose passion for horses was contagious.  Julie explained that she was a very shy child and that participating in public speaking for District Events really helped her come out of her shell.  They both loved learning the values of the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  They feel 4-H has helped them develop into productive adults with good decision-making skills and in-stilled in them the importance of giving back to their community.  They have served as 4-H volunteers for the Big River Rider’s 4-H Club since Russell’s daughters joined 4-H years ago.  Their daughters, Brooke (17) and Hayleigh (15) also ride horses and have competed in a variety of Gulf County 4-H programs throughout the years. Russell and Julie have also taught a variety of horse riding classes at multiple Gulf County 4-H day camps.

As 4-H and community leaders, their most important goal is to give back to the community that gave to them as 4-Hers growing up here. They really love introducing new riders to the love of horses and 4-H.  On any day, Russell and Julie can be found throughout the county at various events supporting their daughters, 4-H members and any youth for that matter.

When asked what advice she has for someone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer she said, “Do not have regrets…just do it. Do not be scared off by the fingerprinting and application process.  It is quick and easy, and maintains the safety for you and the children.  Get started! 4-H is a great opportunity for youth and adults.”

“As a 4-H extension agent, you can only hope to find 4-H volunteers as dedicated as Russell and Julie McMillian.  Their passion and love of 4-H is infectious and draws in youth looking for a place to belong.”  -Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent

For more information about Rockin’ M Ranch, please go to http://www.therockinmranch.com/.  For more information about how to become involved in 4-H, either as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.  4-H offers a variety of roles for volunteers to share their passions, skills and interests.



Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/24/4-h-alumnae-reconnect-through-love-of-horses/

A 4-H Love Story Comes Full Circle


Brad and Stacey at the 1995 National 4-H Meats Judging Contest

Brad and Stacey at the 1995 National 4-H Meats Judging Contest

Stacey (Ditty) Warden joined the Lovedale 4-H Club at the age of ten as a shy girl not knowing just how drastically 4-H would impact her life. She joined upon the recommendation of her aunt, who had just started working at the Extension Office as the new 4-H Secretary. One of Stacey’s first projects was poultry judging. A few years later, she met her future husband, Brad Warden, while attending the 4-H Ham and Hog workshop in Gainesville. Stacey and Brad showed cattle and participated on the 4-H Livestock, Poultry and Meats Judging teams at the county, state and national levels. They attribute their success to supportive parents as well as their former 4-H Agent, Shelia Andreason, who now works for Alabama 4-H.  Shelia remembers their determination and dedication, “4-H was a safe place for kids to learn how to compete in a competitive world.  Brad and Stacey easily mastered the vocabulary, points to evaluate, and steps to give a logical set of oral reasons and were able to transition from one judging topic to the next.  I am proud very proud to see them coaching judging teams for Jackson County as alumni of the program 20 years later!”

Brad and Stacey also transitioned from childhood friends to teenage sweethearts.  They married soon after high school graduation and have been married 18 years.  They have two children, Hayden and Eden. Today, their son Hayden shows steers and participates in poultry, livestock, and meats judging. Eden is not yet old enough to join 4-H, but is a ‘future 4-Her in training.”

Last year, Brad and Stacey decided to start a 4-H club so that other youth (including their own) could benefit from 4-H they same way they did. “Kids need an outlet to learn about agriculture and livestock and we wanted to continue the strong tradition of livestock judging in Jackson County.” Their passion for 4-H is contagious. Their club is one of the fastest growing clubs in the county, with nearly 50 members. “It was a real eye opener to see how many youth and parents were attracted to learning about livestock. Many of them had never owned an animal or participated in a judging contest before joining 4-H. We were amazed at the response we got,” said Stacey.

One of the reasons that this club is so popular is because Brad and Stacey are passionate advocates for 4-H. They are quick to share why learning about agriculture is still relevant today, despite a decrease in the number of “farm kids.” Stacey shares, “Jackson County is an agricultural county. Kids need to know about agriculture in order to grow up to be informed consumers, stewards, and citizens. Poultry judging is a great way for kids to get started in agriculture. It teaches them about quality control, communication, and reasoning skills. The skills they learn are very practical and relate to everyday life. 4-H is a true testament to what the programs teach the youth.  Once parents see what the kids are learning, they want their kids involved.”

“I tell parents all the time that I would not be the person I am today if I had not joined 4-H. I was a poor farm girl that had never been outside of Jackson County. 4-H helped me learn how to speak in front of others, build confidence, and gave me so many opportunities I would not have had otherwise. This is what is missing in other programs, which tend to just focus on fun activities. In 4-H, activities are fun, but they also help youth develop valuable life skills that will carry them through school and their future career. 4-H focuses on the big picture of positive youth development, and kids are hungry for that kind of learning because they can’t get it anywhere else.”

Brad and Stacey with members of their livestock judging team in 2015.

Brad and Stacey with members of their livestock judging team in 2015.

Brad and Stacey attribute the success of their club not only because of the content they teach, but also to a dedicated group of 4-H parents who are willing to pitch in and help out whenever needed. 4-H parents Stephen and Casey Roach shared, “We are so thankful that we have the opportunity to be a part of a 4-H club where the leaders get more excited about the kids’ accomplishments than the kids do! Brad and Stacey cheer on all the 4-H members and encourage them to do their best. They’ve done such a tremendous job that the kids are placing in competitions, gaining confidence, and learning valuable information about livestock. We couldn’t be happier or more appreciative of all that Brad and Stacey do for the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club.”

There are no guarantees that you will meet your future spouse in 4-H, but you will reap benefits by sharing your passion and expertise as a 4-H volunteer!  4-H alumni like Brad and Stacey make ideal volunteers.  Stacey advises “Jump right in- don’t hesitate! We were not sure about it at first, but with support from our 4-H Agent, other parents and the community, things have fallen into place. It is not nearly as intimidating as we thought it would be.” To find out how you can leverage your skills and experience as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.

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Author: amgranger – amgranger@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/14/a-4-h-love-story-comes-full-circle/

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You were likely showered with gifts from loved ones; gifts covered in chocolate, gifts of the stuffed variety, and more than likely the kind covered in petals. And as you languish in the afterglow of affection it would be wise to remember that your bouquets will need to be shown some affection if you intend for them to remain beautiful.

White Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Duchesse de Brabant, Tea Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Fresh cut flowers are a popular gift for Valentine’s Day and a simple, yet elegant way to relay your affections. Flowers have the capacity to brighten up a room and bring a smile to your face. The myriad of colors and scents are admittedly irresistible. However, after a few days your once overflowing vase may seem wilted and despondent. Follow these easy steps to increase the lifespan of your flowers and extend their potent powers!

Pink Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Carefree Beauty, Shrub Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

  • Re-cut the flower stems using a sharp knife or shears. Remove at least one-half inch of stem to expose a fresh surface. Stems, especially rose stems, should be re-cut under water. A freshly cut stem absorbs water freely, so it is important to cut at a slant to avoid crushing the stem and to prevent a flat-cut end from resting on the bottom of the vase.
  • Put flowers in water as soon as possible. Maximum water uptake occurs in the first 36 to 48 hours after cutting flowers. Place stems in 100-110°F (38-40°C) water, because warm water moves into the stem more quickly and easily than cold water.
  • Make sure to remove any leaves from the stem that may be submerged. Because transpiration through leaves drives water flow up the stems of cut flowers, don’t strip all the leaves from the stem.
  • Use a commercial flower food, they work best at controlling microbial populations, hydrating stems, and feeding flowers. Make sure you follow the directions on the floral preservative packet. 
  • Removing thorns from your roses may shorten their vase life. If damaged during the removal process flowers may be opened up to microbes that could slow down water conducting cells.
  • If your vase solution begins to become cloudy, re-cut the stems and place into a new vase solution.
  • Do not place flowers in direct sunlight, over a radiator, or on a television set. Heat reduces flower life since flower aging occurs more rapidly in high temperature conditions. It is important to avoid all drafty locations because warm or moving air removes water from flowers faster than it can be absorbed through the stems.
  • Keep flowers away from cigarette smoke and ripening fruit, because they contain ethylene gas, which is harmful to flowers.
Red Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Louis Philippe, China Rose. Also known as the “old Florida rose” since it is found at many old historic Florida home sites and pioneer settlements. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.


Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/17/keep-your-love-alive-preserving-cut-flowers/

Lubbers Love to Munch

Adult, light color phase

Older Nymph

The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, also known colloquially as the “Georgia Thumper”, can be highly destructive to a variety of vegetable crops. This May many growers and vegetable gardeners have reported unusually high numbers of nymphs, the juvenile form of the grasshopper.

This observation is consistent with the usual increase of nymphs in vegetable plantings during the spring months. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound or cure” applies here. Now is the time to exert control over the nymphs before they mature. Adults do the greatest crop damage in July and August.

Additionally, adult females lay their eggs in the summer, with hatching the following April. Reducing the numbers this year will reduce the numbers in the following years.

The first step to control of the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper is prevention. They like to feed on weedy vegetation, so reducing weed cover in and around crops will reduce the incidence of Eastern Lubber damage. Short vegetation does not usually provide enough forage for grasshoppers, so mowing vegetation around field is an excellent preventative strategy.

Although most home gardeners can control Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers by mechanical means (hand picking) this is usually not a feasible option for multi-acre operations. Fortunately, there are several products on the market for commercial producers to use.

Keep in mind, grasshoppers are much easier to control during the nymph stages of life so early action is paramount when nymphs are observed. Several effective insecticides include carbaryl, bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, permethrin, and esfenvalerate. Look at the label to find these active ingredients, since they are sold under various brand names.

For more information about the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper or for specific crop recommendations, please visit this EDIS document on Grasshoppers and The Vegetable Gardeners Guide


More photos:


Young nymph




Adult intermediate color phase



Adult eastern lubber grasshopper, dark color phase


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/05/07/lubbers-love-to-munch/