Home » “Birds, Bees, & Bolls” has great turnout

“Birds, Bees, & Bolls” has great turnout

by Amber McDown

On Saturday, the Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardeners celebrated their 18th Annual Buds and Blooms event, titled “Birds, Bees, & Bolls,” at the First United Methodist Church with three presenters speaking to a large and interested crowd. 

The first presenters were Tony and Carol Mullins of Sarepta Brown Cotton. Mullins spoke about the different types of cottons including the Acadian brown cotton that he specializes in. Tony Mullins told the story about how he got started after retiring from teaching. Their business has grown from a small growing plot to shipping seeds, yarn, fabric, and finished products all over the world. 

“This was in the fifth year,” Mullins said. “We’ve grown from 307 plants to making things and selling them all over the place. We’ve sold things to Bulgaria, Sweden, Holland. People are growing our brown cotton in Chile. LSU is now using it in their art department to make paper, using our brown cotton to make paper. And they’re going to start selling it next year.” 

Mullins even designed a line of boxer shorts, Pa Clem’s, that he named after his grandfather.

Most recently, the Mullins have had the bulk of their cotton grown for them, keeping a small plot on their property for fun and educational purposes. For more information, check out their Facebook page titled Sarepta Brown Cotton.

The next presenter was Billy Hummer of Hummer & Son. Hummer got his start in honey production during a 4-H project when he was in the fifth grade. He got his first set of bees through Sears and Roebuck. Unfortunately, they died after the postal carrier left them in the mailbox. His second batch survived, but deserted the hive the next day. Hummer and his dad didn’t let this stop them. 

“My father was retiring about that time,” said Hummer, “and my mother didn’t want him sitting on the couch anymore, so he took over my project while I was in school. We grew it to a commercial operation.”

Hummer spoke about types of honey, bees in general, and raising bees from both a hobbyist and professional standpoint. For more information about Hummer & Son, see their website HummerAndSonHoney.com.

The final presenter was Terri Jacobson, a biologist and ranger for Red River National Wildlife Refuge. She talked about ways to attract birds and other wildlife to your property, no matter how small a space you have. The key is to remember that all creatures need food, water, shelter, and living space in all four seasons. 

“You want to plant for the four seasons,” said Jacobson. “That’s really important. Focus on native plants. They do well naturally, and the animals are familiar with them as food sources. Just keep adding through the years. This is not something that you have to have done overnight. Every year reevaluate to see what the birds might still need that you can provide.”

To see more about what the Red River National Wildlife Refuge is doing, check out their website https://www.fws.gov/refuge/red-river.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program educates and recruits volunteers to help spread the joy of gardening. This program is provided through the LSU AgCenter. Their next class is scheduled to begin in June. For more information, contact John Monzingo at (318)371-1371 or (318)927-3110.

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