Extensive extension services

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 1, 2004

I have lived in Suffolk 24 years and had no idea of the support available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nor did I realize Virginia Cooperative Extension services are located downtown at 440 Market Street. So what’s does it mean to the average bloke? Let me tell you.

An ambitious daughter bought a horse some years back and believe it or not this led to her buying 157 acres of Suffolk farmland to board several more. Of course this led to endless fences, a huge barn, storage sheds, heavy equipment, pastures, and my back problems.

So what’s a pasture? That’s where Extension Services arrived in the body of Rex Cotten. He knows about this stuff and has been educating my daughter who already has a Masters in nursing and a law degree. Learning about horses and hay is more to her liking than the other occupations and Rex Cotten has been helping steer her through the trials and tribulations of farming. It wasn’t long and she had to find a willing farmer who mowed just one of her pastures and produced over 300 bales of hay. She learned, too, that she can pick up a few dollars from the government for doing things right. And friendly neighboring farmers have been helpful.

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I wrote in a column about the pain caused by moles, voles, rabbits, deer and sundry pests that raise hob with our home gardening efforts…especially squirrels that get more of our blueberries than we do. And the devils manage to find something delectable in my wife’s favorite camellia blossoms. Then suddenly the heavens opened and the mail person delivered a packet of information from Kathryn Pruden who apparently deals with distributing what the public needs and wants. I am grateful for every one of the brochures, articles, pamphlets and hope I can live long enough to read them all.

This place on Market Street is a gushing fountain of relevant info. Kathryn even invited us to meet with knowledgeable volunteers at the Morgan Library Monday or Thursday mornings from 9:30 to 11:15. And if you have any questions call them at 923 2050. Or call the Grow Line 923 2055 and talk to a Master Gardener. Just don’t tell them I suggested it. Anything you want to know about gardening or farming is there.

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Somebody better check the oil of those living downtown who dream up silliness. There has to be a handful of people down there with nothing else to do. A fountain smack in the middle of the Courthouse courtyard, auto windshield decals with cute local pictures that nobody can see unless they are about to be hit by a drunk driver and now plans to create statues to scatter around to stimulate something. We already have a very famous statue in an all but hidden park. Mr. Peanut, recently repainted, has been there for years.

He represents Amedeo Obici far better than the fountain, but he’s hard to find. If you are going to pursue this &uot;Mermaid-like&uot; project, make it replicas of Mr. Peanut. I can hardly believe the City Manger actually commented on the idea of statues.

And why did I already know the Tourist Bureau would in some way be connected?

Hey, how about just gassing up some floating pink balloons here and there? They are cheap, nobody else is doing it and pretty soon the gas will escape and we can move on. Suffolk is bigger than Rhode Island but some believe the 4 square miles downtown is our universe. I’m outside that perimeter and beginning to feel like a foreigner. Please, no statues on our street.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk. His column appears on Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.