Navigate / search

Alabama Outdoors: September season

Lydia Lohrer shows off a blue-winged teal she killed. Teal season in Alabama is Sept. 12-27, with a limit of six per day. Photo by John N. Felsher
Lydia Lohrer shows off a blue-winged teal she killed. Teal season in Alabama is Sept. 12-27, with a limit of six per day. Photo by John N. Felsher

September season gives sportsmen a tune-up

By John N. Felsher

Enveloped in darkness, we waited as various frogs, alligators, birds, insects and other delta creatures added their sounds to the natural cacophony heralding a new day in this warm, humid wetland.

Above us, rapidly beating wings whistled unseen overhead, followed by the sound of something splashing into the pond in front of us. In the distance, faint whistles and high-pitched squeals trumpeted the movements of other birds as small twisting black shapes rocketed over the grass before vanishing into the still dark sky.

As legal shooting hours began minutes later, distant manmade thunder rolled across the marshes and bays, punctuated by loud blasts from closer hunters. After months of waiting, another hunting season had begun with the opening of the September teal season.

During teal season, sportsmen may only shoot blue-winged and green-winged teal. A harbinger of fall, blue-winged teal migrate much earlier than most other ducks, sometimes arriving on the Gulf Coast by late August. Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows some states to hold special September teal seasons to increase the harvest of this underutilized species.

“For many people, teal season is the kick-off for a new hunting season,” says Jud Easterwood, an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources waterfowl biologist in Tanner. “Teal have very long migrations. Some of them go all the way to South America so they leave earlier than other ducks. Frequently, blue-winged teal are long gone by the time the regular duck season opens. Hunters bag mostly blue-winged teal in September, but occasionally, they bag a green-wing.”

Small, fast and tremendously agile, teal often fly in tight flocks maneuvering as one unit. These unpredictable, incredibly challenging flight characteristics endear teal to many waterfowlers. Often, teal fly extremely low and erratically zoom over decoys. They sometimes appear out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. Frequently, waterfowlers look over their decoys and see nothing. Moments later, they notice several “decoys” swimming in the pond and can’t figure out how they arrived without notice.

Of course, sportsmen must find teal before they can bag them. One day, swarming clouds of teal might buzz around a particular pond like a whistling tornado. The next day, waterfowlers might only stare at empty skies.

Duck hunting in the north and on the coast

“The prairie pothole breeding areas in the northern United States and Canada looked good this spring so we should have at least the same amount of ducks coming down this fall as we did last year,” predicts Seth Maddox, a state waterfowl biologist in Scottsboro. “The Tennessee River Valley is the major duck hunting area in Alabama. Lake Guntersville is a very good waterfowl area and holds the most wintering waterfowl in the state.”

GreenWingedTeal

The largest lake in Alabama, Lake Guntersville covers about 69,100 acres and snakes about 75 miles along the Tennessee River through northeast Alabama into Tennessee. On Lake Guntersville, the Jackson County Waterfowl Management Area includes several public hunting tracts. These include the 8,507-acre Raccoon Creek WMA, the 2,069-acre Crow Creek WMA near Stevenson, and the 8,003-acre Mud Creek WMA near Scottsboro.

“The Jackson County area has a variety of waterfowl habitats with everything from flooded agricultural fields to flooded hardwood timber,” Easterwood says. “Raccoon Creek WMA offers some of the best public waterfowling in the state.”

Along the coast, many sportsmen hunt the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, which contains the 42,451-acre Upper Delta Wildlife Management Area near Stockton and the more marshy 51,040-acre Mobile-Tensaw Delta-W. L. Holland WMA at the upper end of Mobile Bay. From north to south, the delta transitions from bottomland hardwood forests pockmarked by numerous streams and lakes to cypress swamps and finally fresh and then brackish marshes. Many open bays and sluggish streams bordered by marshes in the lower delta can hold good teal numbers. Some better waterfowl hunting places include Chacaloochee Bay, Bay Delvan, Big Bateau and Little Bateau Bays.

“People can find many places to hunt in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in different habitat types,” explains Thomas Harns, a state biologist in Spanish Fort. “Many people hunt north of the Mobile Causeway, but people can also hunt a lot of places south of the Causeway. People can hunt anywhere in Mobile Bay as long as they stay in open water and away from any houses. The waters off Grand Bay Savannah also hold some ducks.”

Hunting teal in September closely parallels waterfowling later in the fall, only warmer and frequently with more bugs. Sportsmen still need to set up blinds, toss out decoys and remain stealthy. Since teal typically fly at first light or before, hunts seldom last long. On public land, scout three or four places to hunt in case other hunters arrive at a prime pothole first. A pop-up boat blind makes scouting easy and provides a good shooting platform.

During teal season, sportsmen might also encounter some resident wood ducks in timbered tracts or mottled ducks along the coast. Hunters could also see some early migrating shovelers, which also have blue patches on their wings, or other species. Positively identify the bird before pulling the trigger.


JOHN FELSHER 2014

John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He co-hosts a weekly outdoors show that is syndicated to stations in Alabama. For more on the show, see www.gdomag.com. Contact him through his website at www.JohnNFelsher.com

Safe @ Home: Avian flu threat

Chicks_915
Photo by Michael Cornelison

Poultry farmers alerted to avian flu threat

By Allison Griffin

So far, Alabama has been spared from the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that has plagued much of the Midwest and affected 47 million birds.

But animal health officials warn that farmers, both commercial growers and those who keep small backyard flocks, should be mindful of the threat of avian flu and be aware of its potential. The state Department of Agriculture and Industries has developed a set of biosecurity guidelines to prevent HPAI in Alabama.

The effects of avian flu can be devastating, with a mortality rate of 90 percent for flocks that are infected, says Dr. Tony Frazier, Alabama’s veterinarian.

image3
Photo by Michael Cornelison

“That’s very disturbing. Within a couple of days, 90 percent of your birds are dead,” he says. “That’s an enormous impact.” Just one gram of contaminated manure can contain enough virus to infect one million birds, according to the state agriculture department.

The state’s recommended biosecurity measures:

  • Keep an all-in/all-out philosophy of flock management.
  • Restrict access to your property and your birds.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and the tires and undercarriages of vehicles entering or leaving the premises.
  • Don’t loan or borrow equipment or vehicles from other farms. If you visit another farm or livestock market, change footwear before working your own flocks.
  • Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for your employees.
  • Protect poultry flocks from coming in contact with wild or migratory birds.
  • Don’t bring birds onto your farm unless you know the health status of the flock of origin.
  • Quarantine any new additions for 21 days before introducing them to your flock.
  • Report any suspicious symptoms in your birds immediately.

Protecting flocks from migratory waterfowl is important, Frazier says, because those migrating birds are the hosts for the virus. The strain that’s circulating now doesn’t make the birds sick, but they’re carriers of it.

The domestic waterfowl familiar to most of us — ducks and geese that live around golf courses and nature parks — are genetically migratory, but they usually don’t migrate. The concern is that any migrating birds can fly in and share the virus with their domestic cousins.

Frazier said that some of these domestic waterfowl flocks have been tested, and so far they’ve not shown to be infected with the virus.

While the biosecurity measures were created with commercial growers in mind, Frazier said urban and backyard farmers, who may have a few chickens in the backyard to enjoy fresh eggs, should follow similar procedures:

  • Don’t go to public auctions or fairs or shows and then commingle with your chickens at home.
  • Have dedicated boots and coveralls that only get used when you go out to the chicken pen.
  • Don’t mix domestic birds with wild waterfowl. Keep their water resources separate.
  • Ask visitors to your home to not go in the chicken pen with street clothes on. Visitors should put plastic boots on before entering the pen.

“It’s unfortunate that it has to be that way, but this is the real deal,” Frazier said.

The safety staff of the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), which represents Alabama’s 22 rural electric co-ops and publishes Alabama Living magazine, has kept a close eye on the avian flu since the USDA began documenting cases in December 2014. Because co-op employees are called on to visit farms with poultry houses, AREA encourages the co-ops to employ the biosecurity measures recommended by the state veterinarian.

Alabama Gardens: Botanical sculpture

AlaGarden_915

Can something beautiful also be useful? Absolutely, especially in the garden! Take, for example, espaliers.

Espaliering (espalier is a French word derived from the Italian term spalliera, meaning “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against”) is the technique of growing a woody plant on a flat plane using the plant’s trunk and limbs to form a pattern against walls, fences or other structures or as a freestanding work of botanical art.

The practice of espaliering dates back to ancient times when it was first used to grow fruit-bearing vines and trees in small spaces, such as inside castle courtyards or along crowded medieval streets. By growing these plants against southern or western facing walls and fences and pruning them into an open pattern, early agriculturalists also harnessed more sunshine, which lengthened the plants’ growing seasons and increased fruit yields and quality.

While this cultivation practice is functional, it also affords an opportunity to create something beautiful. An espalier is a great way to enhance the looks of bare outside walls or fences, or you can build a freestanding trellis anywhere in the yard to create an espalier. All it takes is a little bit of forethought, some basic tools and a wee bit of patience.

The first step is to pick a plant to use and the options are numerous. Many fast-growing trees, shrubs and woody vines can be espaliered, including fruit-producing plants such as apple, pear and citrus trees, figs and grape vines as well as ornamental plants such as camellias, gardenias, magnolias, hollies, crape myrtles, roses, jasmine, wisteria and honeysuckle (though choose non-invasive varieties of these last two).

The next step is to pick a pattern for your espalier, and those pattern options are also numerous, ranging from simple T- U- and V-shaped designs to more intricate basket-weave, Belgian fence, step-over, palmate (fan), chevron or candelabra shapes or even less formal patterns such as serpentines or naturalized free-form designs. Once you’ve decided on a pattern, draw it on a piece of paper, then use that drawing to develop a support system that will be used to train the plant’s shape as it grows.

To create a simple support system, all you need are rust-proof eye-hooks or galvanized or masonry nails and thin galvanized steel or copper wire. Using your pattern, mount the hooks or nails to the wall in a grid then use the wire to link the nails or hooks to one another in the desired pattern. Another option is to erect a freestanding trellis or support system made from wood or pipe in front of a wall or fence. This technique can be a bit more time consuming or may require more tools, but because it allows the plant to grow a bit away from the wall, it can provide better air circulation around the plant and easier access for plant maintenance or to pick fruit if you’re planting a fruiting tree or vine.

Once you’ve set up a support system, plant your chosen shrub, tree or vine six to eight inches away from any permanent structure so the plants’ roots have plenty of room to grow. (For more intricate designs you may want to use more than one plant and you can also use a potted plant as long as the pot is big enough to support the plant’s root system for a number of years as it grows.)

Allow the plant (or plants) a couple of weeks to become established in this new location, then remove any branches that do not fit your design needs. Many experts suggest removing all but two shoots on each branch, then attaching the remaining shoots to the wires with twist ties or string.

Snip off unnecessary shoots a couple of times of year and secure new tender shoots that fit your pattern to the guide wires. (Follow pruning recommendations for your specific plant choice.) When the trunk reaches the next wire up, allow two side shoots to develop (remove the rest) and attach them to the wires and keep doing this until your espalier is complete.

This is where patience is a virtue, if not a necessity — it may take two or three years before your espaliered plant reaches its perfect form — but the botanical art you create will be well worth the wait.

 

September Tips
  • Clean dead plants and debris from garden beds and the landscape.
  • Add lawn and garden debris to the compost, along with any organic (non-meat) kitchen waste.
  • Test your soil so you’ll know what amendments to add this fall and winter.
  • Take notes or draw a map of your beds and landscape highlighting what worked and what failed in this year’s garden for use as you plan next year’s garden.
  • Plant fall and winter vegetables and root crops, such as cabbage, collards, celery, garlic and onions.
  • Continue to mow and irrigate lawn as needed.
  • Plant winter grass seeds on bare areas.
  • Plant perennials and biennials and spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Divide perennials and thin or transplant irises and daylilies.
  • Clean bird feeders and birdbaths and keep them filled throughout the fall for resident and migratory birds.

 


JACKSON, KATIE Gardening 2013

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@gmail.com.

Alabama Recipes: TAILGATING!

Recipes_banner

Fall is on its way, and with the shift in seasons comes the kickoff of college football, the autumn activity that occupies a lot of Alabamians’ attention and energy every year. But our tailgating traditions are almost as important as the play on the field, and a focus on food is the fundamental element of any good pregame party. Use these reader-submitted recipes and our expert tips to cook up a football feast that will score big points with your family and friends.

Cook of the month:

VictoriaMotyka

Victoria Motyka, Baldwin EMC

Cook of the month Victoria Motyka is a regular contributor of recipes to Alabama Living, and has had a few published over the years. An avid cook, she looks forward to seeing the recipes section of the magazine each month. “It’s great getting recipes from the area here.”

She says that because she and her husband live in Kentucky full-time, but have a vacation townhome in Gulf Shores, where they receive the magazine as customers of Baldwin EMC.

She didn’t come up with this month’s Sriracha Honey Wings, but she made some tweaks to the recipe she found in Real Simple magazine.

Though the Motykas don’t tailgate at football games, Victoria says the recipe is perfect for any kind of celebration, especially when folks are gathered around the TV for an event. They are really spicy, she says, but she and her husband like the hot stuff – and since their children, now in college, grew up eating spicier foods, they like it, too.

Retirement for the Motykas is looming, and while they’re not sure where they’ll retire, they look forward to moving to Alabama, where they’ve vacationed for more than 30 years.

wings

Sriracha Honey Wings

  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1/3 cup sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
  • (I use garlic-infused olive oil)
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine in a large, heat-resistant bowl the sriracha, honey and molasses and set aside. Put the wings into a large plastic bag and add oil. Shake the wings until covered. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder and shake again. Pour the coated wings onto two large-rimmed baking pans, being sure not to crowd the wings. Bake, flipping them once, until crispy and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Pour the hot wings into the heat-resistant bowl containing the sauce and toss until well coated. Serve with celery slices and blue cheese dressing to help quench the heat.


 

Whether you’re tailgating in a tent, behind a truck bed outside the stadium, hosting friends in your backyard or just hanging out in your den, keep these tailgating tips in mind.

Keep it Simple

You can go all out on a main dish, but consider adding a few easy-to-eat treats to the menu too. Small, pick-up items that don’t require utensils (or even plates) work best. Think sliders, skewers with cheese and marinated veggies and small cookies, brownies or mini cupcakes in team-colored liners. Or how about some jazzed up popcorn, with servings already placed in colored paper cups?

Stay Safe!

If you’re tailgating outside, keep highly perishable foods like meats and dishes made with mayonnaise or other dairy products at the correct temperatures at all times. Also keep foods covered as much as possible to prevent contamination from flies and other pests. Have hand sanitizer and wet wipes for easy anti-bacterial clean up that doesn’t require water.


Tiger Corn Dip

  • 2 cans MexiCorn, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1 can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Dash of sugar
  • Mix all ingredients together and let sit overnight in refrigerator. Serve with Frito Dip Chips.

Maria Riego, Wiregrass EC


Jason’s Poppers

  • About 10 jalapeno peppers
  • Two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped,
  • One 12-ounce pack shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 packs applewood smoked bacon

Split jalapenos lengthwise, devein and seed them with a spoon. In a bowl, mix softened cream cheese, tomato, onion, Worcestershire sauce and Mexican cheese. Put mixture into pepper halves and wrap with bacon. Grill on indirect heat until bacon is done and peppers are soft.

Jason Hollingsworth, Tombigbee EC


Green Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • One 14 ½-ounce can of stewed tomatoes
  • Two 4-ounce cans green chilies
  • 2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt, black pepper, garlic salt (to taste)

In a large pot, cook ground beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain. Add all other ingredients and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.

Glenda Weigel, Baldwin EMC


Chinese Slaw

  • 1 package angel hair slaw
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup almonds, slivered or sliced
  • 2 packages beef Ramen noodles
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 package beef flavoring from the noodles
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

Mix together and add dressing about 30 minutes before serving. Pair with chicken fingers or barbecue for Saturday football games.

Susan McConnell, Black Warrior EMC


Beef and Bacon Chili

  • ¼ pound bacon
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef
  • Two 15-ounce cans chili beans in sauce
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ of a 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • ¼ cup beer
  • 1/8 cup chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

In a large pot, brown ground beef and bacon. Do not drain. Add chili beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, chili pepper, bouillon cubes, and beer. Stir. Add chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, Tabasco, basil, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and sugar. Stir. Cover and simmer on low heat at least 2 hours, or cook 8-10 hours in crockpot on low. Adjust salt, black pepper, and chili powder to taste.

Maryann Littlejohn, Wiregrass EC


Vidalia Onion Dip

  • 3 large vidalia onions
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Saute onions with the butter. Mix remaining ingredients in 1 ½-quart casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Fabulous with crackers!

Carla Gwin, Clarke-Washington EMC


Hot Spinach and Tomato Dip

  • Two 10-ounce boxes of frozen, creamed spinach, thawed
  • One 28-ounce can of Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1-pound round rye bread loaves (or bread of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine spinach, tomatoes, garlic, black pepper and cheese. Set aside. Hollow out both bread loaves, tearing insides to bite-sized chunks. Bake bread loaves and pieces on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Divide dip evenly into both bowls. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with pieces.

Rachel Bostic, Central Alabama EC


Mexican Black Bean

  • Pinwheels
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (your choice)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 8 medium-sized flour tortillas

In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream, onion salt, garlic powder, shredded cheese and salsa. Set aside. In a small bowl, crush black beans into a paste. Take each tortilla and spread a thin layer of the black beans. Top with the cream cheese mixture (about 1-2 tablespoons) and spread evenly almost to the sides. Roll up each tortilla and secure, individually, with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove from plastic wrap, cut the ends off tortillas and discard, and slice into 1-2” rings. Makes 35-50+ appetizers, depending on how you cut them.

Amethyst Spear, South Alabama EC


Ask the Expert!

Chris Lilly
Chris Lilly

When it comes to good football food, Alabama restaurateur and a member of our state’s barbecue royalty, Chris Lilly, the pit master at Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, is the go-to guy for grilling and smoking advice. He shared his tips for creating a fun, friendly and stomach satisfying tailgate experience.

  • Remember, rivalries are for the games, but around the grill we’re all friends.
  • Begin with a clean grill. Scrub the grill grates with a stiff wire brush and then apply a thin coat of oil with a paper towel.
  • Start with a charcoal base and think of adding wood chips as a seasoning as opposed to a main fuel source.
  • Build a 2-zone fire by situating the hot coals on only one side of the grill and leaving the other side void creating an area for both direct and indirect cooking.
  • Keep the grill lid closed for thick cuts of meat and open for thin cuts.
  • Decide how much backyard cooking time you have and then choose the cut of meat.
  • Apply sweet sauces the last 5-10 minutes of cook time.
  • For optimum juiciness, let meat rest after grilling. The thicker the cut, the longer the rest time.
  • Barbecue is more than the meat off the grill; it is an occasion that should always involve your friends and family.

Worth the Drive: The Biscuit King

WTD_915_1

Turn around! You don’t want to miss the ‘ugly biscuit’

By Jennifer Kornegay

It’s not nice to call names, but if you order a biscuit at The Biscuit King’s Fun Barn in Fairhope and think it’s ugly, it’s okay. You can even say so out loud.

Owner Willie Foster won’t mind a bit. He was the first to call his breakfast creations “ugly,” and while the lumpy, odd-shaped, never-really-round mounds won’t win any biscuit beauty pageants, they could easily take the crown in a taste contest. They’re dense yet fluffy, buttery but not greasy, and they’ve got a surprise inside. Depending on which variety you choose, you’ll find eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, jalapenos or some combination of them all stuffed inside each hand-fashioned puffball of dough.

It all started when Foster was trying to recreate the butter biscuits of his childhood. He got in his kitchen and started experimenting. When he began, he didn’t know the difference between self-rising and all purpose flour, leading to a few notable failures. Living on a mountaintop in Franklin, North Carolina, at the time, these hard-as-hockey-puck and flavorless flops got tossed down the mountainside for the birds (if they’d even have them). It took months and countless batches of biscuits before he hit on a winner.

“I finally got it right, and they were delicious,” he says.

Then, one Thanksgiving, visiting family asked Foster to whip up some of his biscuits for breakfast, and he figured he’d make some eggs and bacon too. “And then I had an idea,” he says. “I thought ‘Why put all that stuff on the side or just between two slices of biscuit? Why not put it all inside the biscuit?’”

WTD_915_2

So he did; his guests devoured them, and the Biscuit King’s signature stuffed biscuit was born.

He and his wife Nancy opened a small walk-up biscuit counter, the original Biscuit King, in downtown Franklin, and they ran their little spot successfully for about a year. “Then Nancy’s dad got sick, and we needed to come back to Alabama,” he says.

They moved to Fairhope where Nancy could aid her ailing father and tried their Biscuit King concept on the good people of South Alabama. It worked just as well as it had in Franklin, and after a few years operating out of a convenience store on one of Fairhope’s main drags, they knew they had enough business to open a larger space. So they did, building their current place on family land off a rural road seven miles outside of Fairhope.

“A lot of folks figured we wouldn’t make it way out there,” Foster says. But if, for some reason, you find yourself on County Road 24, you can’t miss the long, red steel-siding building with a cartoonish couple dancing on its sign. And if somehow you do, a giant sign a mile or so down the road, will implore you to “Turn Around! You just missed the Biscuit King!” Do as the sign says.

Thousands of others have. One group of regulars, local farmers and retirees, shows up every morning, practically every day. Biscuit King sees a steady crowd during the week, and on weekends, hungry customers are lined up out the door. They’re there for ugly biscuits (definitely not the décor), and they’re prepared to wait, as the biscuits are made fresh every day, from 5 a.m. until closing at 2 p.m., and it takes a little time. If you order two, they’ll each be unique, since the dough is hand-formed.

“Every one is a little different depending on the set of hands that made them,” Foster says.

Despite its name, The Biscuit King serves more than biscuits, including lunch fare like salads; massive baked potatoes stuffed with cheese, bacon and barbecue; sandwiches and more.

The King does no advertising, relying on word of mouth and a few signs as well as some recent rave reviews in national publications like Garden & Gun to lure people to his realm of big, ugly biscuits.

But when the baking and serving is done each day, running the Biscuit King is about more than feeding loyal subjects. Owning the Biscuit King feeds Foster too. “I am, and always have been, a people person,” he says. “So I love doing this. It’s really just a ton of fun.”


The Biscuit King’s Fun Barn
9555 County Road 24
Fairhope, AL
251-928-2424
Mon.-Thurs. 5 a.m.-2 p.m.
Friday 5 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sat.-Sun. 5 a.m.-2 p.m.


jkornegayheadhot

Jennifer Kornegay is the author of a new children’s book, “The Alabama Adventures of Walter and Wimbly: Two Marmalade Cats on a Mission.” She travels to an out-of-the way restaurant destination in Alabama every month. She may be reached for comment at j_kornegay@charter.net.

 

Lowe Mill

A sunset over Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment. Photo by Lowe Mill
A sunset over Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment. Photo by Lowe Mill

Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment hums with visitors in search of local food, art, music and handmade goods

By Jennifer Crossley Howard

This former textile mill-turned-arts hub in the outskirts of Huntsville opens to the public four days a week, while other days are reserved for the 120 artists and business owners to fine-tune their crafts.

Green Pea Press - Studio # 111 & 122
Rachel Lackey of Green Pea Press talks about her 1914 letterpress. Photo by Lowe Mill

While many of America’s forgotten textile mills become loft apartments or sit empty until they fall down, Lowe Mill has been transformed. Three floors of studio and business space house artists as diverse as sculptors, printmakers, photographers and yogis. The public can watch artists work at pursuits as detailed as painted glass and cartography.

Catherine Shearer, owner of Happy Tummy Gastronomic Delights, has been here since the mill reopened seven years ago. Then, there was no air conditioning, paved parking or outside lighting.

“It’s come a long way since then,” she says, sitting in one of her booths. “It’s hard work of anyone who’s been a part of it for more than a decade.”

She started in a trailer outside the mill and now she serves a lengthy menu of sandwiches, wraps, vegetarian fare, and sweets from her first-floor restaurant. Diner-style booths and tables and chairs lend a modern touch to an otherwise industrial landscape of exposed beams and concrete floors. Poles throughout the mill bear initials, love for Alabama football and some multiplication.

Though known for rockets and engineering, Huntsville is investing in the arts by supporting Lowe Mill, says Shearer, a Huntsville native.

“This is a facility unlike any other,” she says. “It’s a major thing for Huntsville.”

She attributes its success to Lowe Mill developer and owner Jim Hudson and his son, Jimmy Hudson, who oversaw much of its transition. They modeled the mill after another mill turned arts center, The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Va. Lowe Mill calls itself the country’s largest independent center for the arts.

Marcia Freeman, executive director of Lowe Mill, said she thinks every city should have such centers for artists of all backgrounds.

“There’s not a lot of space for visual artists to come together,” she says. “People are coming to me and asking me how they can do this.”

A model for other communities

She said the city of Fayette, Ala. — population 4,619 — adapted Lowe Mill’s arts community by renting studios to local artists. Downtown Athens, Ala., 20 minutes from Huntsville, began High Cotton Arts in April after touring Lowe Mill. Two city officials from Florence, Ala., a longtime cultural haven in the state, recently approached Freeman about how to begin such an endeavor.

Most artists at Lowe Mill work seven days a week and are required to keep a certain number of studio hours. Shearer uses her closed time to prep food and take care of business.

Rachel Lackey and Martin Blanco spend much of their closed time filling orders for screen prints, letterpress, T-shirts, posters and invitations.

While print struggles in some forms of media, it’s alive and well at Green Pea Press, also on the first floor of the mill. The business, begun by Lackey, started as merely a place for artists to have access to presses. Instead, the press attracted clients eager for handmade products and images in place of slick, digital copies. Going back to scratch is a major theme at Lowe Mill.

Green Pea Press intern Andrea Parham prints T-shirts. Photo by Jennifer Crossley Howard
Green Pea Press intern Andrea Parham prints T-shirts. Photo by Jennifer Crossley Howard

During a summer afternoon, many people peeked through large windows to watch intern Andrea Parham screen print.

“We have a target audience walking in every day so we don’t even have to advertise,” Lackey says.

A recent visitor described watching printers work the presses as being “invited back to the kitchen,” Blanco says.

He joined Lackey in 2012 to handle ever increasing retail sales. T-shirt, poster, coaster prints are the bread and butter of the business, and the press began on-site event printing this year.

“We’re kind of a backlash to the digital age,” Lackey says. “You see that in all aspects of artisinal food and music and handmade instruments.”

She brushed her fingers across an indented letterpress business card.

“It’s more real,” she says.

More information: lowemill.net

Alabama Made

State’s entrepreneurs bring big ideas to life

Creators, thinkers, dreamers – they develop products and nurture ideas, often born out of a need unfilled. Alabama is home to a number of successful businessmen and women who have brought ideas to life – and made money in the process.

In this issue, Alabama Living highlights four businesses that got their starts in our state and that have continued to operate here, creating jobs and helping to fuel the economy. If you know of an Alabama innovator worthy of an Alabama Living story, email us at agriffin@areapower.com.


 

Frogg Toggs

Keeping people warm and dry when nature won’t cooperate

By John N. Felsher

MadeInAla_Frog

Living in one of the wettest, hottest parts of the country, some Alabama outdoorsmen wanted products that would beat the elements without forcing people to hide from nature. So in 1996, they gathered near Lake Guntersville, the largest lake in the state, to found Frogg Toggs.

“Our goal was to keep common folks comfortable outdoors,” says Will Fowler, Frogg Toggs marketing director. “The Frogg Toggs brand started with an idea to provide an affordable, breathable rainsuit to a market that was not being served by available products. We didn’t want to compete with an existing market presence, but go after dollars that had never been spent in the rainwear category before.”

In the past two decades, the company grew into one of the most recognizable all-weather apparel brands in the world today, producing lines of lightweight, breathable protective gear for working people. Now employing about 70 people, Frogg Toggs manufactures and distributes a full line of rainwear, waders and other footwear, personal cooling products and accessories made from various materials at prices most outdoorsmen can afford.

“We serve several industries including fresh and saltwater fishing, motorcycle riding, agriculture, hunting, outdoor sports, team sports, running and cycling and general fitness to name a few,” Fowler says. “To outdoorsmen and women, the name Frogg Toggs means trust, affordability and protection. Designed by outdoorsmen and made to take on Mother Nature, the company was founded on the promise of total customer satisfaction. To this day, we don’t introduce a product, make a change or commit a resource unless we know it will result in giving our customers even more reason to seek out and purchase the Frogg Toggs brand.”

As the business grew, the company relocated from Guntersville, Ala., to a facility atop Georgia Mountain between Guntersville and Arab. After a few years at this location, the company moved to a 225,000-square-foot warehouse and office facility just outside Arab.

“Being able to locate the Frogg Toggs headquarters in the town that we call home is a blessing to us,” Fowler explains. “Frogg Toggs owes a great deal of its success to its location. Arab, Ala., provides a great labor pool, easy access to major interstates, no traffic congestion, ample recreation opportunities and one of the best school systems in the state with a true small-town atmosphere.”

For more information, call 800-349-1835 or visit www.froggtoggs.com.


 

Chord Buddy’s national sales strike high note

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a story previously published in Alabama Living by Wiregrass Electric Cooperative.

MadeInAla_Chord

Travis Perry came up with the name for his Chord Buddy guitar-teaching system when he was just 18 years old.

But it wasn’t until the Dothan entrepreneur and musician was trying to teach his daughter to play guitar decades later that he actually set the idea into motion.

Now, Perry has turned Chord Buddy into a multimillion-dollar company with a growing range of products and eight employees. Chord Buddy has appeared in sales spots on QVC, on the reality TV show “Shark Tank” and in another appearance on its companion show, “Beyond the Tank.”

Like training wheels, Chord Buddy uses a device with tabs, allowing students to play chords with just the touch of a tab button. But as the student gets more comfortable, the tabs can be removed, allowing them to learn the chords and strum at the same time.

The product went on the market in 2010, but didn’t become popular until Perry appeared on an episode “Shark Tank,” when he pitched the idea to a group of investors.

“Eighteen months prior to ‘Shark Tank,’ we had done $232,000 in sales, which I actually thought was pretty dang good,” he says. “Within 10 months of it airing, we had done $3 million in sales. Now we’re up to about $7 million. That’s what a difference being in front of 10 million people for about 15 minutes can make.”

The product does well in the fourth quarter each year, when people buy it as a gift. To buoy the business in the other three quarters, Perry has branched out into education.

“Ninety-two percent of music educators don’t know how to play guitar,” he says. So he designed a system that would allow music teachers to teach guitar through the Chord Buddy system.

Perry continues to invent products and create ideas. Sometime this year, two new products will come out: a guitar cable with a built-in volume control for an acoustic guitar, and the Beat Buddy, a Bluetooth device that allows the guitar to become a speaker and acts as a rhythm-training aid for learning the guitar.

Information: www.chordbuddy.com


 

Cablz Eyewear Retainers

Keeping eyeglasses in place with style

By John N. Felsher

MadeInAla_Cablz

In 2007, Ron Williams, a medical equipment supplier, began to exit a hospital parking deck when the strap on his sunglasses snagged something, flinging the glasses into his face. This nearly caused Williams to wreck. In frustration, he hurled his glasses away from him. They landed on a spool of surgical steel cable that doctors use to anchor bones in place when operating on complex fractures.

At that moment, the proverbial light bulb turned on in his head. “That was the ‘aha moment,’ when I held up the steel cable and thought, ‘I wonder how this would do,’” he recalled. He envisioned making a device that could hold glasses in place, but avoid snagging because the stiffness of the cable would keep it suspended off the back of a person’s head.

A year later, Ron and his wife Holly began marketing their patented coated stainless steel off-the-neck Cablz retainers to active sports enthusiasts such as anglers, cyclists, paddlers and others who spend considerable time outdoors. In 2009, the company won a best new product award at the ICAST show, the largest fishing industry trade show in the world. Now, the Birmingham-based business sells its products all over the world.

“We started in our garage in 2008 and moved to a 5,000-square-foot office/warehouse in Birmingham in September 2011,” Holly says. “This year, we’re moving to a 9,200-square-foot facility nine blocks from our current warehouse! Alabama is home for me. I grew up in Guntersville. Alabama is a great location to start a business because it’s centrally located in the Southeast.”

At first, all Cablz retainers came in one size and one color — silver steel cable with black rubber grommets. Introduced just this year, the company now also makes retainers out of fly fishing line and other products. Like the others, this product also comes equipped with patented ball bearing technology and universal ends that fit most eyeglass frames, but they come in adjustable lengths and varied colors.

“The main thing people like about Cablz is that it stays off the neck,” Holly explained. “It’s so light weight, low profile and just cool looking. With traditional cloth eyewear straps, anglers get fish juice, bait or sweat on the straps and they start to stink. With Cablz, people finally have an eyewear retainer that doesn’t get hot, sweaty or nasty.”

For more information, call 205-868-3662 or visit www.cablz.com.


 

Humminbird Electronics

Finding fish in the depths for more than four decades

By John N. Felsher

MadeInAla_Humm

In 1971, several entrepreneurs met in Eufaula, Ala., on Lake Eufaula to develop a way to see what secrets the lake held in its depths. Calling themselves Fulton Electronics, they invented the first electronic fish-finding devices, marketed as Humminbird Depth Sounders.

Over the years, Fulton Electronics became Techsonic Industries. The Humminbird brand now falls under Johnson Outdoors, but the company continued to develop many innovative technologies to help anglers catch more fish over the years. Today, people can scarcely find a boat not equipped with some type of electronic depth sounding device. Current side-scanning technology displays almost look like a movie of the lake bottom.

“For more than 45 years, Humminbird has been blessed to be the leader in fish-finding technologies like patented Side Imaging, 360 Imaging and LakeMaster maps,” explains Jeff Kolodzinski, the Humminbird brand manager. “We have broken grounds in technology not thought possible and the angling community has approved. The vast majority of our input comes from people using our products. Nobody knows better than they do about what they want.”

Still based in Eufaula, the company expanded into making communication, navigation and other electronic devices. Today, the company sells more than $100 million worth of electronics annually in more than 100 nations.

“We stay in Alabama because we have a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Eufaula,” Kolodzinski says. “Over the years, we have put millions of dollars in technological upgrades into the facility. We have trained staff to perform very technical functions in a highly competitive field. Our roots run deep in the community and in the anglers we serve.”

Most recently, Humminbird won its fifth consecutive “Best of Electronics” award during the 2015 ICAST show, the largest fishing industry trade show in the world. Dealers and outdoors media attending the show voted its HELIX 7 depth sounder as the best new electronics product displayed at the show.

“Our goal was to combine our leading-edge technologies with solutions to the real-world problems anglers and boaters face each day on the water,” Kolodzinski says. “The result is a bigger, brighter, nearly glare-free screen with numerous proven, fish-catching features and innovations. For more than 40 years, anglers have relied on Humminbird technologies to enjoy their sport. We will remain focused on serving the angling community from our home community of Eufaula.”

For more information, call 1-800-633-1468 or visit www.humminbird.com.

Dancing with the Stars

‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant an inspiration

Noah Galloway and dance partner Sharna Burgess dazzled audiences on the most recent season of “Dancing with the Stars.” Courtesy ABC/Adam Taylor
Noah Galloway and dance partner Sharna Burgess dazzled audiences on the most recent season of “Dancing with the Stars.” Courtesy ABC/Adam Taylor

From surviving a roadside bomb in Iraq to making it to the finals on “Dancing with the Stars,” this double amputee Army veteran is an inspiration to all.

By Ben Norman

Several Sundays ago, I was eating lunch at the Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen, Alabama, when I noticed a real “cutie” smiling and waving at me across the dining room. Assuming she had mistaken me for someone else, I ignored her and continued eating.

From left, Noah Galloway, Old Barn restaurant owner Amy Chandler, writer Ben Norman and Galloway’s fiancé, Jamie Boyd, outside the Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen. Photo by Pattie King
From left, Noah Galloway, Old Barn restaurant owner Amy Chandler, writer Ben Norman and Galloway’s fiancé, Jamie Boyd, outside the Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen. Photo by Pattie King

A few minutes later, we made eye contact again and she was still waving and smiling. I finally recognized her as Jamie Boyd. My wife and I knew when her she was a young girl growing up in Highland Home, and now she is the fiancée of Noah Galloway, who was a finalist on last season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

I walked over to give Jamie a hug and to meet Noah. After being introduced and chatting a few minutes, we finished our meal and adjourned to an old church pew on the front porch. “What in the world brings a pair of TV stars like you two to Goshen, Alabama?” was my first question.

“Jamie’s stepdad, W.L. Massey, had been telling us on the phone about this restaurant in Goshen, The Old Barn, that grows their own vegetables and serves them for Sunday lunch,” Noah said. “We drove down from Birmingham to give it a try. Man, this is some of the best food I’ve eaten. We’ll definitely be back.”

Like millions of other TV viewers, I had watched Noah and his partner dance on “Dancing With the Stars” and had heard about some of the adversities he had overcome. I told him I would like to interview him and do a story for Alabama Living. “Sure, ask me anything you want,” he replied.

Noah says he grew up and went to school in Midfield, near Birmingham. “I was going to school at UAB when (the events of) 9/11 occurred and I just felt I had to do my part. I was 20 years old, in good physical shape and just felt my country calling,” he says. “I joined the Army, finished basic (training), went to jump school and was in the 101st Airborne Division. I was on my second deployment to Iraq in an area near Baghdad when my Humvee hit a trip wire and an IED blew the Humvee I was in off the road. I lost my arm in the explosion, and my leg later. The medics gave me first aid and medevaced me to a hospital in Baghdad. I was then transferred to Germany and later to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. That’s where I regained consciousness, on Christmas Day.”

Noah says the doctors told him he would be in the hospital about two years. “I said no way, and after numerous surgeries I started traveling on weekend leave back to Birmingham. In September 2006, less than a year from being hit, I was out of the hospital.

“I was discharged in November 2006, after five years in the Army. Being discharged was one of the hardest things I had to deal with. The first thing was losing an arm and leg, the second was losing a career that I had found a home in. I went through some bad times after discharge. I drank too much, got out of shape and just deteriorated physically and mentally. One day, I just decided I’m not being a good daddy to my three children and I’ve got to change.

“I joined the gym, started eating right, and started doing foot racing, running obstacle courses and other things to get in shape,” he continues. “People were great. They told me I was motivating them. They were bragging on me and this made me work harder.

“I did this for a couple of years and was invited to do a radio motivation show on Jan. 4, 2013. This is where I met the girl of my life. Jamie Boyd had a talk show on the same station. I had just never met such a lovely country girl that was so pretty and bubbly. I got her to go to lunch with me and finally on a date. We went to a friend’s house to watch television on our first date, and then out for dinner.

“She has just been a great inspiration to me. Always telling me what great expectations she has for me. Believe me, when someone has great expectations of you, and you try to live up to them, you will become what you are trying to be.”

Noah was selected as the winner out of more than 1,200 entries in the first Ultimate Men’s Health Guy contest to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

NOAH GALLOWAY - Courtesy ABC
NOAH GALLOWAY – Courtesy ABC

“After I appeared in Men’s Health I started getting calls from TV shows. ‘Dancing with the Stars’ asked me to come to Los Angeles. I told them I couldn’t leave my kids that long. They said, ‘Fine, we’ll send a dancer to Birmingham to teach you how to dance.’

“Sharna Burgess came to Birmingham and taught me how to dance. She did all the choreographing, selected music, and Sharna remained my dance partner all through the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contest. Sharna and Jamie kept encouraging me; both were great motivators. I thought we would be out after the first show but we made it all the way to the finals. This is when I asked Jamie to marry me on the show. It was a complete surprise to Jamie and even to some of the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ staff.

“Being on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has opened a lot of doors, for which I’m greatly honored,” he adds. “Because of my appearance on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I have been asked to be on several television shows, award presentations, and invited to speak to many groups.”

Noah Galloway is a humble man, not spoiled by newfound fame. “I have found that working hard will get you farther than you ever expected to go,” he says. “Just dig down deep and give it everything you’ve got. You can overcome physical and emotional obstacles that you didn’t think you could.”

Noah Galloway should know. He went from lying unconscious in a water-filled ditch in Iraq to dancing on a national television show. As he says, “You just got to dig down deep.”

Ben Norman is a writer from Highland Home, Ala.

Noah Galloway is available for speaking engagements. Contact him at noahgalloway.com

Watch Noah propose to Jamie |HERE|.

For directions to the Old Barn Restaurant contact Amy Chandler at 334-484-3200 or oldbarnrestaurant@gmail.com

Horses that heal

Photo by Mark Stephenson
Photo by Mark Stephenson

|View video of Savannah’s ride here|

Therapeutic horseback riding helps many with disabilities

By Alethia Russell

Four-year-old Savannah Dennard has a simple command for her equine friend, Spirit: “Walk on!” she chirps, and off they go as Spirit carries his tiny passenger around the covered arena at Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians, or MANE. Savannah, with the help of her instructors, uses the command to maneuver the horse before being dismounted.

And although she had to be carried into the arena just 30 minutes earlier, Savannah, as volunteers hold her hands, now can use her legs to walk away from the horse.

Therapeutic horseback riding, like that provided at MANE, provides relief for people like Savannah who have cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. Therapeutic riding centers serve people of all ages and disabilities, including those with attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post traumatic stress disorders, cerebral palsy, obsessive compulsive disorder, and those on the autism spectrum.

Savannah is the youngest student on the roster at MANE, one of six therapeutic horseback riding centers in Alabama. After having open-heart surgery at five weeks old, Savannah was severely developmentally delayed, but her family remains confident that therapeutic horseback riding will improve her development.

Abby Houchin helps Savannah Dennard walk after her horseback riding session. Photos by Mark Stephenson
Abby Houchin helps Savannah Dennard walk after her horseback riding session.
Photos by. Mark Stephenson

“She’s four and she’s not walking and things like that,” says Rebecca Dennard, Savannah’s mother. “We just do everything we can to help her catch up. MANE is great for that because it’s great for her core strength, and it also gives her some independence. When you have to be carried around, that’s something you don’t always get. It’s hard when you have a child that’s so far developmentally behind, to have her play with other kids because they’re so far ahead. So this has been really great for her to hang out with people other than family.”

Dennard says Savannah has just finished her first session with MANE and is already showing physical and social progress.

Participants sometimes arrive at the center in a wheelchair, says Abby Houchin, volunteer coordinator at MANE, but after riding on the horses, they are able to walk out because the motion of the horse gives them more flexibility.

“There are physical benefits,” Houchin says. “The motion of a horse mimics the walking motion. So often, for people who have lower limb issues, we walk with them after they ride.”

The physical benefits range from quickening of reflexes, better motor planning, muscle strengthening, and reduction of abnormal movements and spasticity. Gerry Rodgers PT, PCS, a physical therapist at Children’s Rehab Services, says one of the reasons he refers patients to therapeutic riding is because it is beneficial and fun.

“When something is fun, it makes it more therapeutic,” Rodgers says. “You’re more likely to do it and be more engaged. From a therapeutic point of view, if something is more engaging, people are more likely to do it and benefit in the long run. As therapists, we can come up with exercises that may be good for them. You may be doing the same stretching activities and moving activities as in a therapy session, but you’re doing it for a purpose and not just to do it. You do it to stay on the horse, because it’s fun, or because you’re outside and that makes it so much more effective.“

The healing touch of horses

Not only does therapeutic horseback riding benefit the body, but it also benefits the mind. Patricia Thorn owns SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center at the Mercy Seat in Prattville, and she began her work in therapeutic horseback riding after experiencing a death in her family. She says her love of horses helped her through it.

“Horses have such a healing touch,” Thorn says. “I believe people are starting to see the prosperity and possibilities for children to have an outlet in this that they may not have had before. It gives them a sense of pride. It gives them the ability to call something their own that’s a sport, and something to brag about because many of them can’t play a sport or join a team. It gives them a recreation beyond the therapy itself. It’s very unique because you’re developing a bond between the horse with yourself, the volunteers, and staff in multiple ways.”

Each center has unique programs staffed with trained instructors certified by SpiritHorse or Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH). The therapeutic horseback riding centers in Alabama are all non-profit organizations, and rely heavily on volunteers, sponsors, grants and donations to operate. Monetary donations, grants and donations of equipment keep the many programs offered at MANE functioning during their three sessions year-round.

“Most of our income does not come from tuition,” Houchin says. “A lot of our riders are on scholarship, so I would say about 88 percent of our funds are from grants or private donations. With 44 acres and two full-time employees, there are not enough of us to do everything that needs to be done every day. We rely heavily on the volunteers that we have. We have almost 60 active volunteers now. That doesn’t even count the special volunteer workdays that a church or big group wants to help with and we’ll have a big project for them to do in one day.”

Beautiful stalls at MANE are home to the horses awaiting their turn to provide a therapeutic ride.
Beautiful stalls at MANE are home to the horses awaiting their turn to provide a therapeutic ride.

Volunteers always needed

Chandalyn Chrzanowski, equine director at MANE, and Thorn say they always need volunteers and can never have too many. Thorn says her center needs more adult volunteers, especially after school when the fall session starts. She hopes her center can serve more people as a year-round facility, with the addition of a new parking lot and a covered arena on her wish list.

The goals of participants like Savannah could become more reachable. For Savannah, “walk on” will one day not just be a command in her riding lesson; it will be something she can do on her own.

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is that she’s asking for what she wants. She’s communicating better,” Dennard said. “Her physical therapist has commented that through the legs and the trunk and torso that she’s really developing those muscles and making them stronger. It’s been really great for her confidence too, that she’s been able to ask for things and she tries to walk more and she doesn’t fight so much when you try to take her up the stairs.”

For more information on therapeutic horseback riding centers in Alabama, visit their websites:

  • Special Equestrians 
    specialequest.org
    1215 Woodward Drive
    Indian Springs, Alabama 35124
    205-987-9462
  • Equines Assisting Special Individuals
    easitrc.org
    242 Summerville Road, Jasper, AL 35504
    205-387-7486
  • Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrians Program
    mgharena.com
    29401 AL Hwy. 21 South
    Talladega, AL 35160
    256-761-3364
  • Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians (MANE)
    maneweb.org
    3699 Wallahatchie Road
    Pike Road AL 36064
    334-213-0909
  • SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center at the Mercy Seat
    spirithorsetrc.org
    1962 Suncrest Drive
    Prattville, Alabama 36067
    334-531-7019
  • Horses Offering People Encouragement (HOPE)
    hopehorses.org
    1301 Convent Road NE
    Cullman, Alabama 35055
    256-841-6290