Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: August 2019

Better Kansas – August 1, 2019

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Welcome to Better Kansas. Where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. Don’t forget to hit subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE THE WORLD IS DIVIDED! I DON’T MEAN politically, although there is that, but this time I mean between pet lovers and non-pet lovers. And those of us in the first camp – almost 85 million households in the U.S. alone – know that food, vet bills, grooming and that ever-important flea protection can take a bite (yes, I said that!) into our finances. But how often do we really sit down to figure out just how much we spend on our dogs, cats, parakeets and fish? Dogs, Cats, and Birds, Oh My! Factoring Pet Costs into a Family Budget takes a look at pet-related expenses, how to keep track of them and suggestions to keep them in check. Plus there are sections on travel, end-of-life considerations, disaster preparedness for pet lovers and the benefits to sharing our lives with pets. Apparently even the CDC has statistics on this. And then there are those things that REALLY divide us – cats versus dogs! (FYI … that’s Lizzie in the photo … 14 years old and going strong. I also love dogs. Really, I do.)

HAVE YOU EVER DRIVEN INTO A COMMUNITY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND HAD AN INITIAL IMPRESSION? Maybe a nice park gave a welcoming feel. Or maybe you were running late to your daughter’s softball game and frustrated there were no signs to the high school. Or maybe you wondered why anyone would leave that abandoned building with broken out windows right on Main Street. The First Impressions program is a way to help provide Kansas communities with a glimpse into how others view their towns. It matters. Think of the first-year teacher who’s considering taking a job at the local school or the company assessing whether your community is right for their new venture. What do they see that maybe you don’t? First Impressions sheds light on a community’s strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of a first-time visitor, so community members can come together to put their best foot forward.

IT’S PRETTY HARD TO BE IN A BAD MOOD WHEN YOU HEAR A BABY LAUGHING AND PLAYING! What’s not always obvious is how important that play is to a baby’s development. Through play, they explore their environment, learn new skills, test how things work, and if you think about it, they’re making decisions constantly. What can adults do to help facilitate play and its role in a child’s development? Check out Building Baby’s Brain: The Importance of Play.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

NUTRITION IN PORK PRODUCTION REPRESENTS 60%-75% OF TOTAL COSTS, so it’s important to get it right to maintain swine health and ensure productivity and profitability. The K-State Swine Nutrition Team recently updated the Swine Nutrition Guide – go-to reading for anyone in the business. Categories (on left side of page) include general nutrition principles, with sub-categories such as nutritional value of ingredients, economics in nutrition, feed safety and more. There’s also a wealth of information about pork production in general at, including information about our swine research team.

MY FRIEND LEIGH MENTIONED LAST WEEK THAT SHE’S BEEN PICKING BAGWORMS off her trees, which got me looking for more information on those fascinating woody-looking bags that you find on trees and shrubs this time of year. Turns out they were named the Pest of the Week for several weeks by K-State’s Horticulture and Natural Resources Department this summer. They can be a problem for deciduous as well as coniferous trees (learning all kinds of new things here). Deciduous trees (those that drop their leaves in the fall) can better withstand the damage bagworms cause by feeding because they can rapidly replenish foliage. Coniferous trees are more susceptible to damage because of their slower growth. Leaving bagworms unchecked can kill large, established conifers such as those that make up most windbreaks – kind of a problem in Kansas where we can have ferocious winds. Take a look at a short fact sheet or the publication Home and Horticultural Pests – Bagworms for information about when and how to manage these interesting but pesky larvae that turn into moths.


IF YOU ARE IN THE BEEF CATTLE STOCKER BUSINESS, GET SEPT. 19 ON YOUR CALENDAR. That’s the date of the 20th Annual Beef Stocker Field Day at the KSU Beef Stocker Unit, 4330 Marlatt Ave., in Manhattan. It’s a day full of practical information from industry professionals, including veterinarians, finance experts, marketing professionals and more. Lunch is a highlight of the day, featuring Niman Ranch Certified Angus Beef Natural Prime Ribeye. Topics include a beef cattle market outlook, cattle health, business relationships with feedyards and more. As usual, the day ends with “The Cutting Bull’s Lament” when Prairie Oysters (you know what those are, right?) and Call Hall ice cream will be served. Registration is requested by Sept. 10.

For more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: