Farm-City tour

Grant Crider, founder of Hired Hand Manufacturing, conducts a tour of the Bremen-based company as a part of the annual Cullman County Farm-City Tour Day held Thursday. Tour participants also visited a poultry and cattle farm where Hired Hand products are used.

The full spectrum of the area’s farming economy was put on display Thursday for several dozen citizens who participated in this year’s annual Cullman County Farm-City Tour Day.

Tour participants went from Gilley Farms, an area poultry and cattle producer, to Hired-Hand Manufacturing, a multi-million dollar company that produces machines used by poultry producers around the world, including Gilley.

“We wanted to highlight what we have in the county,” said Donald Reid, chairman of the Farm City Committee. “We’ve got a really good farm economy.”

Former committee Chairperson Doris Patterson, who gained some personal chicken house experience during her youth, said she was impressed by innovations to the industry.

“She carried us into the computer room and she could press a button and tell how much water her chickens had drank and how much feed they’d had,” she said about the visit to Gilley Farms.

Also wowed was Steve Stanford, the executive VP for commercial loans at People’s Bank. “It was extremely enlightening and enjoyable to see all that we have in Cullman County,” he said.

Stanford said he was especially impressed with Hired Hand, a corporation that grew in 29 years from a company that built a single product — the patented curtain drop machine, the Curt-O-Matic — to an international conglomerate that has 373 “hired hands” at its Bremen location.

“It’s amazing where they started to where they are today,” Stanford said. “To think you have a company based in Cullman (County) with that far-reaching effect is pretty neat.”

Stanford’s co-worker, Steve Freeman, had equally good things to say about Gilley Farm. “I think it’s one of the nicer farms we have in Cullman County,” he said.

Patterson said she found it fascinating that chickens are grown in low-light environments. She learned during the tour that this is serves to keep the animals calm so they eat more and don’t exert as much energy.

The tour was part of Farm City Month, an annual event that celebrates the area’s role in agriculture.

Currently, works from a Farm City poster contest are on display in the Cullman County Courthouse where they will remain until Nov. 17. Also, a Sweet Potato Cook Off for FCCLA members will be held Tuesday.

The Farm City Celebration ends Nov. 15 with the Farm City Banquet at the Civic Center where organizers will name the area Farm Family for the coming year. This event will also include the naming of winners of from the poster contest and an essay competition.

Also competing in a contest is the area farm-city committee itself that will be judged against similar Alabama organizations. Patterson, the committee advisor, said the Cullman committee has been runner-up for this contest during “the last three years in a row.”

Reid said the committee has done some “new things” this year that he hopes brings the county a contest victory.

Patterson, who also puts together a scrapbook that will be part of the competition judging said The national Farm-City Council, a non-profit agency dedicated to preserving the link between farm families and urban residents, started in the 1950s.

“It was a way for urban and rural people to work together and understand how they need each other,” she said.

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