Sandy Carroll Ward now lives in the city of Ozark, but having spent half her life on the farm has definitely put a love of the countryside in her heart.
“It is a wonderful thing to raise children in the country,” she said, adding that watching her grandchildren, Brittany and Blake Carroll, growing up on the farm makes her very happy. “I grew up helping on the farm. When I was in high school, the boys used to tease me about my muscular arms.”
In addition to strengthening her arms by carrying buckets of water for the animals, Sandy said she helped pick cotton and other row crops on her parents’ farm in Samson.
“I’m the third of four daughters, and I did more outdoor work than helping with the cooking when I was young,” she said. “That’s how I made money for my school clothes. One summer, one of my sisters and I had an acre patch of cucumbers. Nearly all we did that summer was pick cucumbers, but I had plenty of money for new school clothes that year.”
Growing fresh vegetables was a tradition Sandy carried on when she had a family of her own. “Planting a garden was a family thing, and (son) Chris couldn’t stand it. He used to say if he ever got grown, he’d never plant a garden,” Sandy said with a laugh. “And now a major part of Chris and (his wife)Monica’s farming operation is the fresh produce they grow.”
Sandy and her husband, Doug, have a small farming property and pond just outside of Ozark where they grow some of their own vegetables, but their backyard is covered in fruits, vegetables and herbs as well.
“You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of her,” said Monica Carroll. “Everything she cooks is so wonderful. She puts a lot in the freezer for us, and her cooking is especially a blessing when we’re in the middle of growing season.”
A retired teacher, Sandy now enjoys taking her grandchildren to summer reading programs at their local library, as well as workshops at Landmark Park in Dothan each summer.
“And we’re looking forward to fishing from our pond this summer. We built the pond in ’08 and hopefully the fish will be big enough to keep by July,” Sandy said. “My Aunt Myrtie and Uncle Andy had a fishing camp in Pascagoula, Miss., and for years we spent every Fourth of July with them at the fish camp. Aunt Myrtie was a wonderful cook, and she and Uncle Andy always made everyone feel so welcome there.”
The Fish Sauce recipe Sandy shares with the Country Kitchen was her Aunt Myrtie’s. “This sauce is wonderful with boiled shrimp. Aunt Myrtie prepared it for our family’s Fourth of July fishing trip for many years,” she said.