Friday, September 21, 2007

The Catfish Diaries

Catfish Country has gone big-time COUNTRY!

A diary about life at Newbern’s Prairie View Farm is featured in the October/November issue of Country Magazine. Some of you farm girls or country girls-at-heart might subscribe to it…or perhaps to its sister publications: Country Woman, Reminisce, Birds & Blooms and Taste of Home.

Jean Watson, the catfish farm girl whose photos are featured in Where Eagles Fly, shares events for the week beginning July 22. She writes about life in Newbern and the ups and downs of farming 200 acres of catfish ponds. She did the photographs as well, and they are wonderful depictions of typical farm tasks such as harvesting fish and working on paddlewheels.

She just happened to be writing the diary during the middle of this year’s extreme drought, so she describes how paddlewheels must keep turning to stir extra oxygen into the water. If oxygen gets too low, fish can get sick, and sometimes whole ponds of them can be lost. Then, there’s the day that the well for their house and shop ran dry!

She also mentions food safety, an issue that has been in the news concerning some imported foreign products, including catfish. She assures readers that domestic catfish production is closely monitored by our government, meaning we don‘t have to worry about banned medications, carcinogens or other pollutants in U.S. fish. Whatever goes into the pond is USDA, EPA or FDA approved. Prior to harvest, samples of the fish are tested by the processor, and that prevents us from having to swig a quart of sweet tea to drown out off flavor!

While the Watsons have a farm manager and two other employees these days, they started their farm without any extra help…just themselves and their two sons. If the fish needed oxygen during the night, the whole family pitched in to save the crop.

Jean and her husband, Byron, say that producing catfish is a “dream come true.” Their boys are grown now, but Jean told me that coming home to the farm “is like heaven to them. They can come home and all their cares go away.”

Photo: The low water level on the drain pipe in this Prairie View Farm pond shows the severity of this year's drought.


2 LMZ FARMS said...

I get Country Woman and my mom gets the other magazine. Gonna call her and tell her to save it for me. Hope you and yours have a blessed evening.

Nunnie's Attic said...

I get Taste of Home and I used to get Reminisce. I look at Country Magazine online though. Does that count? Thanks for sharing. Waiting for a taste of your catfish...


JANET said...

Hi Laura and Julie, hope you get to see the article in the magazine.
Have a great week!

Jeena said...

Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too :)

Jeena xx

Click Here For Food Recipes

JANET said...

Hi Jeena, So glad to have you visit. I checked your food blog, and it is so inspiring with all those original recipes!

Belinda said...

Janet...those are all wonderful magazines...I get Taste of Home and I love it. They also publish (or at least they did at one time) a magazine called Farm and Ranch Living, I believe. There is no better life than life on a farm, I wholeheartedly believe that. Its all horses and cattle here, but its a blessing to live wth wide open spaces surrounding you, and pastures with horses grazing...a good life for sure. :-)

JANET said...

Hi Belinda, Thanks for your comment. We used to get Farm and Ranch Living, too, and now subscribe to Country and Taste of Home. My husband grew up on a farm and works in agriculture, but I was a town girl. My dad also was a farm boy and worked in agriculture. Come to think of it, all of my closest friends when I was growing up lived on farms! I loved visiting them in the country.
We have never farmed catfish, though, just like to eat it, visit with friends in the industry, and we enjoy the countryside scenery with ponds all along the highways.
My husband wouldn't trade anything for his years on the farm. He says farming trains young people toward a good work ethic.