Monthly Archives: November 2021

For the Birds


A local avian sanctuary is spreading its wings

Feathered Friends Forever Rescue and Refuge in Harlem, which provides permanent and temporary housing for tropical birds, is expanding to add new attractions to its 14-acre property.

The expansion of the refuge, which acquired 3.86 adjacent acres last year, will cover about 6 acres. New amenities will include a veterinary center, six horseshoe pits, a petting zoo, a 286-foot zipline, six tiny houses and a wildlife campground.

“For years, we had only parrots. Once people had seen the parrots, there was no reason for them to come back,” says Ronald Johnson, chief executive officer.

Work is underway on the horseshoe pits and a new house with a pond for Mr. T, the 100-pound resident tortoise. “It will look like Fort Apache and be called Fort Tortouga,” Johnson says.

The refuge also is developing blueprints for the vet center and applying for grants. In the meantime, a temporary building has been brought in to serve as a veterinary center until the permanent facility is up and running.

Plans for the tiny houses include using them to provide accommodations for volunteers from across the country and veterinary technician trainees.

Keeping a Promise

Of course, the most important residents at Feathered Friends Forever, a state-licensed animal shelter and nonprofit organization, are the birds.

The refuge currently has about 200 birds from 46 states, but it has found permanent homes for more than 1,000 birds through the years.

“We do a lot of small bird adoptions. Now, 95% are big birds,” says Johnson.

The facility has housed parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels and finches. Its big birds include Indian ringnecks, African greys, cockatoos, amazons and macaws.

Johnson has had a love of birds since he was a teenager.

“When I was in high school, I worked in a pet store. I got two birds in the 1960s, and I’ve loved them ever since,” he says. “They all have individual personalities. People don’t give them credit for being as smart as they actually are.”

When he entered the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967, Johnson had to find a new home for his green-wing macaw and Moluccan cockatoo. Although he successfully rehomed the birds, the experience left a lasting impression on him.

“I made a promise that somehow, someday, I would make it up to every bird that needed a home,” he says.

Johnson and his wife, Tammy, founded Feathered Friends Forever in 1997, and the number of birds at the small operation quickly soared from five to 85 rescues.

Services include adoption, relinquish capabilities, temporary boarding, permanent placement and wellness checks for birds. The refuge also cares for all deployed active duty/activated national guard military personnel’s parrots free of charge with proper documentation.

In addition, Feathered Friends Forever recently became affiliated with Parrots for Patriots, a nonprofit organization in Vancouver, Washington. The program connects parrots that need a forever home with veterans who need a friend for life.

The facility also has started to work with military personnel who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Animal companions like parrots can be a source of joy and wellness for people with PTSD.

Around the Refuge

In the sanctuary portion of the refuge, 12 outdoor aviaries let birds “fly and be free birds” and live as they would in the wild – in a flock. Each of newly designed aviaries features automatic feeders, an in-flight pond, a misting system and infrared heaters.

Measuring 18 feet in width, 42 feet in length and 22 feet in height, the new macaw flight contains a full rain system, including thunder, lightning and rain; clay chew walls and individual ponds for bathing and drinking.

“Each particular bird has its own little quirks,” says Johnson. “A parrot is a 3-year-old for the next 50 years. A parrot can change its mind with the bat of an eyelash.”

However, parrots and other birds are highly intelligent, and they can learn to understand and mirror basic language skills. They also display “human-like” behaviors and have specific needs that a human companion can fulfill.

Because birds can be so unpredictable, Johnson says it takes years to understand their behavior.

“You can tell if something is wrong by their body or eye movement,” he says.

Other telltale signs of a problem include feather plucking, changes in attitude or appetite, flaring their tails and screeching or screaming.

The companion birds are not the only living beings at the facility, however. They are joined by other creatures on the endangered or threatened lists.

The 8-foot-by-10-foot, climate- and humidity-controlled honeybee house has the capacity to hold 16 individual hives. Developed by the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, it was created to study the effects of climate on honeybees in a controlled environment. Honeybees are vital for stable, healthy food supplies, and Johnson says this is the only climate-controlled honeybee house in the world.

Feathered Friends Forever also features a butterfly garden and a certified monarch habitat as well as a reptile house that is home to spiders, snakes and lizards.

Nonstop Activity

Other activities at the facility include cornhole, a gold and rock mining area, birthday parties, educational classes, weekday tours for groups by appointment, adoption fairs twice a year and open house fundraising events.

The facility also has a cantina, a newly remodeled welcome center and an educational center called Birds on the Brink.

“It’s a full science lab. We offer it for school tours during the week, and if we have the personnel, it’s open on weekends,” says Johnson.

Birds on the Brink offers an accredited science class as well as an augmented reality and virtual reality classroom, where rainforest animals and minerals come to life, and hologram technology. The educational programs, which support the Georgia Standards of Excellence and offer an immersive, multi-sensory experience, can be tailored to students in grades K through 12.

Feathered Friends Forever, which has an all-volunteer staff, is open 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Johnson says the facility has averaged 60 – 70 visitors a day since recently putting up a new billboard.

For more information, visit

Baked Parmesan Stacked Potatoes

Appetizers and Snacks
  • 8-10 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh dill, chives or parsley, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 12 muffin cups; set aside. Cut potatoes into thin slices about 1/16 inch thick (a mandoline slicer is helpful). Place slices in a large bowl. Add melted butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Layer slices in prepared muffin cups. Bake 45-55 minutes or until edges and tops are golden brown and centers are tender. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Use a spoon to help release potato stacks from muffin pan. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Serve while hot and crispy. Makes 4-6 servings.

Well-Oiled Machine


Photography by Sally Kolar

Restoring vintage Farmall tractors keeps a Lincolnton man 92 years young
It doesn’t matter if he is at sea, in the air or on land. As long as he is working with his hands, Lincolnton resident Buddy Hawes, 92, is a happy man.

He served as a diesel engine mechanic in the U.S. Navy from 1948-52. He got his pilot’s license in the mid-1950s, and he raced motorcycles for 10 years in his younger days.

Hawes and his ride even landed in Street Chopper magazine one year after a photographer spotted him with his motorcycle during Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He reaps his biggest rewards, however, by restoring vintage red Farmall tractors at the Lincolnton property where he grew up. Farmall is a model name for a brand of tractors manufactured by McCormick-Deering, which later became International Harvester. The general purpose tractors had their origins in row-crop tractors.

“I just like to take nothing and make something out of it,” Hawes says. “I’m a workaholic. I figured if somebody else can do it, I can, too.”

Steady Work
Hawes lived in Belvedere. South Carolina for 40 years and worked as a welder at Federal Paper for 32 of those years before retiring at age 62.

He and his wife, who passed away in November, moved back to Lincolnton to take care of his ailing parents in 1987. They finished their house in 1991 on the property where he was raised.

The house isn’t the only structure on the 114-acre property, though. In the mid-1980s Hawes built a 50-foot-by-40-foot shed where he restores the tractors (and motorcycles), and he has about 30 to 40 tractors in various stages of disrepair that require his attention.

Of course, he also needed some place to keep his finished tractors, so two years ago at age 90 he built a 40-foot-by-80-foot shed where he displays the fruits of his labors.

He poured the concrete floor, and a sign that reads “Buddy’s Tractors” hangs from the ceiling just inside the door. About 20 restored tractors are lined up as neatly as a row of crops on either side of the structure, and an identifying plaque accompanies each tractor.

There’s the “Daddy Ralph,” which was “the first tractor I ever saw when I was five years old,” Hawes says. He worked hard to add this one to his collection. Originally, he tried to buy it from its owner, Rob Bentley, but he wouldn’t sell. Neither would his wife after he passed away. Ultimately, Bentley’s brother, Ralph, willed it to Hawes because he knew no one else was more deserving of the tractor.

Hawes has a 1929 Farmall “Regular,” which is credited with being the first successful mass-produced row-crop tractor. For most of its product life, the tractor was marketed as the “Farmall,” but “Regular” was added to the name after production of the F-20 and F-30 models followed it.

His oldest tractor is a 1924 model, and his 1939 model is the first tractor that he ever used as a 10-year-old. “When my dad bought that tractor, we got rid of the mule,” Hawes says.

He prefers the all-purpose Farmalls, which were manufactured from the 1920s to the 1970s, to other tractors for a simple reason. Farmall was the brand that the local dealership carried, says Hawes.

He didn’t have to be as persistent to get all of his tractors as he had to be to get his hands on the Daddy Ralph, though. Some were easy to acquire; others required extra effort.

“People had them stored in their yards or sitting in the woods,” says Hawes. “I had to use a chainsaw to get to some of them.”

He uses a trailer to transport them to his property, where he also has a vegetable garden and a pond.

“When I was able, I worked on them every day for 12 to 16 hours a day,” says Hawes. “I would get started and work until midnight.”

Now, however, he works on his tractors “only” four or five hours a day. He puts about 200 manhours into the restoration of each tractor, and he has finished one in as little as three months. Hawes says the costs run about $3,000 per tractor.

To restore the machines, Hawes completely dismantles them, sandblasts them, reassembles them and finishes them with a coat of polyurethane paint.

Farmall tractors originally were painted blue-gray (but the wheels usually were red) until the color of the entire tractor was changed to its distinctive “Farmall” red in mid-1936. At one time there were 1,200 different tractor manufacturers in the United States, Hawes says, and companies started painting their tractors brighter colors for branding purposes.

Most of the tractors have hand cranks, but Hawes says manufacturers began adding starters to them in 1940.

Good Company
Hawes understandably takes great pride in his work, and the tractors in the display shed are in good company. They are joined by other farm machinery that he has restored as well as nostalgic artifacts that have special meaning to him.

The machines include a 1902 Mietz & Weiss hit-and-miss miss hot bulb engine and a Le Roi Tractair, a tractor and air compressor combination. Just about every piece of equipment has a history, but the story behind the Le Roi restoration might be Hawes’ favorite one.

When he was restoring it, he couldn’t find the rings he needed to fit around the pistons because he didn’t have the parts number.

“No one wants to help you if you don’t have the number,” says Hawes.

Well, almost no one. He knew the size of the rings he needed, so, undeterred, he called Hastings Manufacturing Company, a replacement piston ring manufacturer in Michigan, to try to get the parts.

“I talked to two people, and they finally switched me to someone in the engineering department,” he recalls. “She asked me to wait while she looked it up, and then she said, ‘Is that for a Le Roi compressor?’ I’ll never forget her name. It was Lisa Townsend.”

He keeps smaller mementoes in his shed as well. For instance, a toolbox that hangs on a wall in the shed is not just any toolbox. It was Hawes’ first toolbox, which he built himself at age 14, and it still has the original implements such as a saw, a hammer, a brace and bit, a hatchet and a hacksaw, carefully stored inside.

Always a stickler for details, he even painted likenesses of the tools in the box so he knows where they belong, and more importantly, so he “knows what’s missing.” On the inside of the door, he wrote “Made by Buddy Hawes 1944.”

Parked by the toolbox is a refurbished bicycle that his son, Al, used as a boy to deliver the Aiken Standard on his newspaper route. Naturally, Hawes painted the bike red and added “Farmall” to it.

Other vestiges from the past include an old cookstove that he restored, a retro wooden wall telephone, an antique cash register from his father-in-law’s store, Farmall signs and an old gas pump.

Photography by Sally Kolar

And then there’s the customized casket that rests on the back of a bright green mule-drawn cart in the back of the shed.

Hawes got the cart from his friend and local aerobatic pilot, Gary Ward, and restored it as well. He remade the seat and the framework, except for the wheels. The cart had belonged to Ward’s grandfather, George Ward, so the elder Ward’s name is painted on the side.

Of course, there’s a yarn behind that casket as well. Hawes traded 35 boiler tubes to a local undertaker for it several years ago. He spent a week transforming the casket to his liking, painting it – what else? bright Farmall red – and adding Farmall decals to it.

“My wife raised hell when I got that casket,” Hawes says. “But everybody needs one.”

At the rate he’s going, however, he isn’t going to need it any time soon. After all, he still has parts from those 30 or 40 tractors, waiting to be put back together better than ever.

By Betsy Gilliland

Roger That


Looking for a fall road trip to salute the troops? Georgia has plenty of military-related attractions in its arsenal.

Rich in history and home to Fort Gordon, this area offers any number of ways to honor veterans – this month or any time. However, if you’d rather hit the road for a military-infused daytrip or a weekend excursion, you’re in luck. The Georgia World War II Heritage Trail, which launched earlier this year, and other destinations in statewide travel regions offer insight into a soldier’s life and Georgia’s military history.

The Heritage Trail ( is one of only four World War II trails in the country. The South was crucial to the World War II effort, and 10 trail sites across the state (designated below with an *) have partnered to share the experiences of the 300,000 Georgians who served in the war along with the thousands of civilians who worked in the state’s defense industries.

The sites document all of the harsh realities that Georgians serving abroad experienced, from homesickness and combat to capture by the enemy.

For more information, hours of operation or covid-19 restrictions, please visit the attraction websites before planning a visit.

Classic South
U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum, Fort Gordon
Calling all history buffs. If you’re into rare wartime memorabilia, then dial up a visit to the U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum at Fort Gordon. Artifacts from friend and foe alike range from the doomsday red phone at the Pentagon to captured phones from Hitler’s personal library and the Japanese Imperial Army Headquarters in Tokyo.

Other displays feature the stuffed carcass of Liles Boy, the hero carrier pigeon endurance champion of World War II, and an exhibit devoted to the Signal Corps space program. (In 1958 a satellite with a tape recorder was sent into orbit so that President Eisenhower could beam Christmas greetings from space.) Another display case even contains Academy Awards, which the Signal Corps won in the 1940s for several of its documentaries.

Self-guided tours take visitors from the American Civil War to the present-day Global War on Terror. Free.

Northeast Georgia Mountains
*Currahee Military Museum, Toccoa
Located in historic downtown Toccoa’s restored train depot, this museum focuses on the Paratrooper Infantry Regiment that trained at Camp Toccoa in the early 1940s. In July 1942, 5,000 men arrived at the remote camp for training as a new type of soldier – the paratrooper.

Over the next few years, 17,000 “Toccoa Men” from the 501st, 506th, 511th and 517th Parachute Infantry Divisions; the 295th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company and the 38th Signal Construction Battalion trained at the camp.

The men of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division – aka the “Screaming Eagles” – were immortalized in the 2001 HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” based on a book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambros. This experimental airborne regiment, activated at Camp Toccoa in 1942, was created to jump from C-47 transport airplanes into hostile territory. Exploits of these paratroopers included parachuting into France on D-Day, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and liberating a Nazi concentration camp. Free – $10.

Metro Atlanta
*Commemorative Air Force Museum, Peachtree City
The CAF preserves and flies historic World War II aircraft to tell the story of America’s World War II veteran experience, the Arsenal of Democracy and Rosie the Riveter. The CAF has seven flying World War II planes. Currently, however, the museum is closed due to covid.

Walk of Memories, Alpharetta
Through a walkway of almost 8,000 bricks, Walk of Memories, located at American Legion Post 201, pays tribute to all Georgians who died while serving in the military. The only attraction of its kind in Georgia, this memorial represents conflicts from the Indian War to World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan. Monuments spotlight various conflicts, including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The exhibit features various military vehicles and aircraft as well. Free.

Heritage Park Veterans Museum, McDonough
This museum describes the life of a soldier through military artifacts and vehicles from World War I to the present. Displays inside the red barn structure include uniforms, rations, equipment and supplies. A diorama depicts a realistic scene, and the museum is staffed by combat veteran volunteers. The nearby, 80-foot-long granite Veterans Wall of Honor depicts battle scenes and famous quotations that honor the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. veterans. Free; donations accepted.

Historic High Country
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Oglethorpe
This park was the first major Civil War battlefield set aside as a memorial to the soldiers who fought there. Congress authorized the purchase of 5,200 acres of land in northwest Georgia in 1892, and the park was dedicated in 1895 by veterans from the North and South.

The Visitors Center offers interpretive exhibits and a multi-media program that gives detailed information about the battle. A display illustrates the types of light field artillery used during the Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaign. The battlefield also contains hundreds of monuments, interpretative tablets, wayside exhibits, and hiking and biking trails.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the battlefield during daylight hours and hear an audio tape recount the three-day conflict that claimed 34,000 Union and Confederate casualties. Free – $10.

6th Cavalry Museum, Fort Oglethorpe
The museum preserves the military history of the Fighting 6th Cavalry, stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe 1919 – 1942. The cavalry’s illustrious story begins in 1861 as a U.S. Cavalry Regiment, and the area, surrounded by officer’s homes and other Post buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Exhibits include uniforms, weapons, accouterments, maps, photos, an authentic M-47 Patton tank, a World War II Jeep, a World War II troop transport truck and memorabilia of the 6th Cavalry. Free – $5.

Presidential Pathways
*Andersonville National Historic Site
Paying tribute to all American prisoners of war, this park features the National Prisoner of War Museum, the Andersonville prison site and Andersonville National Cemetery.

The museum commemorates the sacrifices of all American POWs through artifacts, visuals, text and oral history interviews with former prisoners of war. Two 30-minute introductory films alternate throughout the day. A self-guided driving tour is available on a road around the prison site. The cemetery, which is active and has more than 20,000 interments, contains the graves of nearly 13,000 Union prisoners of war. Free.

The Drummer Boy Civil War Museum, Andersonville
Exhibits include mannequins wearing 15 authentic Union and Confederate uniforms, 1850s and 1860s weapons, original flags, artifacts, documents and photographs. Free – $5.

*National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center, Columbus
This 190,000-square-foot museum is the only one in the country dedicated to the American Infantryman, and USA Today readers voted it the Best Free Museum in America. Featuring state-of-the-art exhibits and interactive galleries, the museum traces infantry history from Colonial times to the present.

The Last 100 Yards ramp – the museum’s signature attraction – recreates the Rangers’ scaling of Pointe du Hoc on Omaha Beach and the parachute drop on Corregidor during World War II. Outside, an authentically recreated World War II Company Street takes visitors back to the 1940s.

Meeting the infantryman face-to-face on his journey, visitors come to understand why a soldier puts himself in harm’s way. Free; $5 suggested donation.

Magnolia Midlands
*World War II Flight Training Museum, Douglas
Once home of the 63rd Flight Training Detachment, this flight training center, one of only 50 built across the nation, was the first step to becoming a World War II pilot. The base at Douglas is the most intact, and many of the buildings and hangars look much as they did in 1942. One of the 13 original buildings still standing houses the museum, which features World War II barracks, aviation radios and equipment, aircrew combat weapons, flight suits and gear, and local artifacts such as ration books and newspapers. Outside, visitors can see the plane all pilots used for training. Take a self-guided tour to see where victory in the air war began. $3.

Historic Heartland
*Museum of Aviation and *Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, Warner Robins
Situated on 51 acres next to Robins Air Force Base, the award-winning Museum of Aviation is the second largest museum in the U.S. Air Force and the fourth most-visited museum in the Department of Defense. The “Scott Hangar,” named after Gen. Robert Scott who wrote God is My Co-Pilot, contains numerous World War II aircraft and displays. This hangar also includes exhibits about the Tuskegee Airmen and the 507th Airborne Division. In addition, visitors can see the restoration of a B-17 onsite.

The Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, located on the second floor of the Century of Flight Hangar, honors leading aviators, living and dead, whose extraordinary achievements or services have made outstanding and lasting contributions to aviation. Free.

The Coast
Third Infantry Division Museum, Hinesville
As the largest military post east of the Mississippi River, the museum showcases Liberty County’s military heritage through an interactive gallery and ever-changing exhibits featuring artifacts from World War II, Desert Storm and present-day military activities. Free.

*National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Pooler
This museum is dedicated to preserving the history and stories of the 8th Air Force. Visitors can experience a bomber mission and briefing, and see the ongoing restoration of the World War II B-17 Flying Fortress, “City of Savannah,” inside the Museum’s Combat Gallery. Self-guided or two-hour group tours led by docents are available. Free – $12.

Webb Military Museum, Savannah
Located in the downtown Historic Landmark District, Webb Military Museum features military artifacts and personal stories from the American Civil War to Desert Storm. Original uniforms, headgear and equipment are displayed in a walk-through setting, and diaries and notes beside the uniforms give visitors a glimpse into the soldiers’ lives. The museum also contains a Russian-made MiG (jet fighter aircraft) from East Germany, napkins from Hitler’s Berghof mountain retreat and a uniform belonging to Saddam Hussein. Free – $10.

*World War II Home Front Museum, St. Simons Island
Housed in the Historic St. Simons Coast Guard Station, built in 1936, this interactive museum tells the story of Coastal Georgia’s contributions to World War II. Visitors can test their skills as a plane spotter watching the skies for enemy aircraft, train to direct fighter pilots like the officers at Naval Air Station St. Simons and build a Liberty ship to transport critical supplies to troops overseas. On select Tuesday mornings, volunteer storytellers share memories of their wartime service at home and abroad. Free – $12.

*St. Marys Submarine Museum, St. Marys
The St. Marys Submarine Museum has the largest collection of original World War II War Patrol Reports outside the National Archives. The museum is the largest of its kind in the South and the fifth-largest in the country. With a vast collection of World War II submarine-related artifacts, models, photographs and other items, the facility is dedicated to educating, preserving and sharing the rich history and legacy of the submarine force. Free – $5.

By Morgan Davis

Living Right


Outdoor recreation, job growth, affordable housing and quality of life — according to Money magazine, Martinez means all of these things. The magazine has ranked Martinez as one of its 50 Best Places to Live in 2021-22.

Ranked 21st on the list, Martinez is in the top five for economic growth opportunity among the 1,200-plus places the magazine considered for its list this year.

Of the 50 places that made the cut, it’s number six for job growth over the last five years. Martinez also tied for the third-lowest unemployment rate of any city on the list at just 3% in June, far below the 5.9% the country saw as a whole.

In addition, the magazine recognized the community’s abundance of outdoor amenities such as Savannah Rapids Park, hiking and biking trails and Reed Creek Nature Park & Interpretive Center.