Kitty Curington is an ardent conservationist who loves the country lifestyle. Curington grew up in Fort Payne, but her ventures carried her far away to Turkey; even to Saudi Arabia. In all, she worked 22 years in faraway places for the U. S. Corps of Engineers.
Despite her exposure to the exotic and foreign life, Curington returned to Lookout Mountain some years ago. There she settled down in rural Lickskillet amidst her animals, her memories and her new projects.
One of Curington’s new projects involves planning and installing conservation practices on the 59-acre plot of land she purchased 22 years ago. She refers to the land as a private haven for her and her cattle, goats, horses, chickens, Bob White quail and catfish. She also rents 165 more acres of farmland.
Some of Curington’s on-going conservation work includes building a farm pond, improving her pastures and practicing rotational and strip grazing.
Curington has almost completed the installation of three concrete troughs cost-shared through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that provide her livestock with fresh, clean water. She installed a reinforced fence in a pasture to allow two-way use of a trough by cattle in rotational grazing. She also hauled in 16 tons of crusher-run gravel to place over geo-textile filter cloth to create a reinforced standing pad beneath the troughs to give the livestock better footing and improve soil and water quality in the heavy-use area.
She drilled a well to give her a water source for her cattle troughs. On tap for future installation is establishing six acres of Bermuda grass to provide hay for her cherished herd of 10 Arabian horses and provide some feed for her 70 beef cows.
The multi-faceted Curington extols the technical assistance she received from the DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Technician James Huber and board member Billy Twilley during the installation of her conservation projects. Twilley is also a neighbor.
Curington credits a Master Cattlemen’s short course she attended for teaching her a lot of what she knows about raising livestock and managing pastures.
"Curington’s work demonstrates her great stewardship of the land," commented Huber. "Not only has she made her fields more productive, she has made them more durable as well. Her passion for taking care of the land speaks of her concern for those who will follow her. She’s a really compassionate lady."
Visiting with Curington is more educational than a trip to the zoo. You will see her 24 dogs that trace her every move, the Dominecker and feather-legged chickens that are as unique as they are colorful, the 33-year-old horse to which she has attachments equal to those of a family member and the baby goat which she bottle feeds and has potty-trained. You’ll hear about the calf to which she gave mouth-to-mouth respiration and the cow she coached into taking the calf of a mother that rejected it. And you will also see the garden and orchard that rival ones found in Better Homes and Gardens. Curington feasts on their bounty in the summertime and cans what she needs for the winter.
When she was asked, "What would you do if you couldn’t live in the country?"
Curington’s answer combined seriousness and humor.
"I’d starve because I couldn’t afford to buy the fruits and vegetables I now grow in my orchard and garden. I prefer home-grown beef, pork, chicken and eggs to the store-bought kind," she added. "More than that, I would not want to live without the love and companionship of my animals."
Curington is a member of the DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville, where she purchases her farm supplies.
Conservation is important to Curington. She feels it extends the life of the natural resources which give her the country lifestyle she treasures so highly. She said her farm experiences keep her busy, but not necessarily trouble-free.
"When I make it to the bed, I have no problem going to sleep!" she laughed.
Cecil Gant is Coordinator for the Sand Mountain/Lake Guntersville Watershed Conservation District.