Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: September 2019

Better Kansas – Sept. 26, 2019

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogWelcome 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 mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

SOME TIME AGO, A FRIEND TOLD ME THAT GUILT I WAS FEELING about something stemmed from my German-Lutheran-Midwestern roots. What?! He was teasing … I think … but I’m pretty sure none of that has anything to do with feeling guilty about the food I waste. You know how it is, those blueberries that were on special just jumped into your cart and now they’re dry as dog food, or the pork chops that sounded so good when you bought them – the ones that have been buried in the freezer for years(!). And how about confusion over “use by” or “sell by” dates on labels? Whether you’re feeling guilty like me or just need to make room for a pot of fall chili, you might want to take a look at What’s in Your Refrigerator? for more on food waste.

AND WHILE WE’RE IN THE KITCHEN, a subject near and dear to my heart is sitting down together for family meals. Imagine being on an island with your family, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. You’re away from the distractions: work, school, sports, band, ballet, social media … video games! Whether a single parent with one child or a boisterous, bickering group of eight, studies show that parents can lead by example by eating nutritious foods (WITH the kids), support communication skills and boost self-esteem during discussion around the table. For more on building traditions and strengthening family ties, read Family Meals … Worth Making a Priority or listen to a short radio segment on the topic. Remember to turn off the TV.

EVERYONE IS VULNERABLE TO SCAMS in one way or another. If you watch enough daytime talk shows, you’ve seen victims of dating, home-repair, and credit-card scams. Really, can we trust anyone? Seniors (age 65+) are particularly vulnerable and targeted. Think about it … they often have more robust financial resources and grew up in a world where politeness and trust were more typical. If you are a senior or have loved ones who are, take a look at Protecting Yourself from Senior Scams.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

DON’T BE DECEIVED BY THE PRETTY WHITE FLOWERS! Those vines winding their way around your crops or garden plants could be field bindweed, a perennial and incredibly invasive weed that creeps its way through farm fields and home landscapes alike. It’s so damaging it’s on the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s top 12 list of noxious weeds. On agricultural land, it can cut crop yields and in home gardens it can smother shrubs and flowers. Now that fall has arrived, but before the first killing frost, is a good time to manage it in farm fields. Take a look at Fall Control of Bindweed for information. And for more on bindweed in home landscapes, check Bindweed: A noxious weed. This stuff has deep roots and has wound its way through the spirea shrubs in my suburban back yard more years than not. Managing it has been a constant struggle.

I’VE SAID IT BEFORE AND IT’S WORTH SAYING AGAIN, KANSAS IS THE NO. 1 SORGHUM-PRODUCING STATE BY FAR. It’s used primarily as livestock feed and in ethanol production, but increasingly as an ingredient in food products, partly because it’s gluten-free. Even this drought-tolerant, important grain can be improved, however, and that’s the goal of a big new public-private partnership using genome-to-phenome (G2P) plant breeding. The effort is supported by Kansas sorghum growers and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Learn more in Unique public-private research maps the future for dryland crops.

IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON AND ALL, but Kansas State, Nebraska, Colorado State and Oklahoma State have set all of that aside 🙂 long enough to collaborate on four upcoming 2019 Crop Insurance Workshops. Topics include preparing and responding to a natural disaster; farm policy; market outlook; trade education; using crop insurance and hedging; and hemp policy and risk management. Apparently, lots of questions on that last topic! The workshops are planned for Brush, Colorado, on Oct. 29; Grand Island, Nebraska, on Oct. 30; Salina, Kansas, on Oct. 31 and Enid, Oklahoma, on Nov. 1.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

Better Kansas – Sept. 19, 2019

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogWelcome 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. Share on social media and don’t forget to hit subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR for a variety of reasons and one of them is the abundance of all things apple at the grocery store, farmer’s markets and roadside stands. Apple pie, applesauce, or a fresh apple on its own, it’s all good. Whether you prefer the sweetness of Braeburns or the tartness of Granny Smiths, many varieties can be stored successfully for months under the right conditions. A recent Horticulture Newsletter provides a guide to how long different varieties hold up well under the proper conditions. Just don’t make my mistake and forget that they’re in that bottom drawer behind other things! If you don’t want to store them fresh and whole, you can always freeze or can them or make apple butter or jelly. Take a look at Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Apples for how-to steps and recipes. Now if only we could do something about the shortening daylight that comes this time of year ☹.

WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF FALL, it’s about this time of year that we sometimes have outbreaks of oak leaf itch mites (known to the scientists as pyemotes herfsi). Once you’ve been bitten, you won’t forget them. They aren’t a problem every year, but in years and locations when they are, the bites, which are usually found on your upper body, are itchy and sometimes painful. And they can last a surprisingly long time! A maddening thing about these tiny creatures which are nearly invisible to the naked eye, is that you typically don’t know that you’ve been bitten until hours later or the next day. Take a look at the updated Oak Leaf Itch Mite fact sheet for pictures and more information, including where they live and why it’s so difficult to avoid them. An internet search just led me to a Wall Street Journal article “The Invisible Itch Mite Will Make You Nostalgic for Mosquitoes.” Do tell!

 

EVER HAD THAT EXPERIENCE WHERE YOU’RE STARTING A NEW JOB and had to pick a health insurance plan? So many big decisions in such a short amount of time! Or maybe you realized you don’t know what your plan covers … and what it doesn’t. Life is so complicated! Check out Health Insurance Smarts – Health Insurance 102 for information about choosing a plan, what terms such as coinsurance and deductibles mean, and things to consider when thinking about insurance costs.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KANSAS EXTENSION MASTER GARDENERS DONATED NEARLY 106,000 POUNDS (53 tons) of fresh fruits and vegetables to food pantries last year to help feed their communities, and are well on their way to an equally generous season this year! That’s one of the ways extension works: university scientists conduct research, in this case on fresh produce. Those specialists share that research-based information with volunteers in the Kansas Extension Master Gardener program who in turn, educate the public by speaking to community groups, participating in garden shows, or growing and maintaining demonstration gardens. Those gardens give people like you and me a chance to see what we can grow at our own homes. From Wyandotte to Ellis and Sedgwick to Harvey counties, Kansas EMGs are busy across the state sharing their knowledge of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Interested? Check with your county or district extension office to learn about the opportunities.

IT’S TRUE, THERE’S A DIFFERENT SCENT IN THE AIR at a few K-State research centers around the state where studies of industrial hemp are in their first year. The 2018 Farm Bill cleared a path for farmers to explore the possibility of growing industrial hemp, which can be used in everything from CBD oil to paper products and rope, plus more. Though still in the beginning stages, the possibilities couldn’t come at a more welcome time with the prices of some crops traditionally grown in Kansas depressed for several years. Part of K-State’s role in industrial hemp research is to help determine which varieties grow best in different parts of the state and how irrigated versus non-irrigated plots perform. If found to be a good option for farmers, industrial hemp will likely be an alternative crop to be used in a rotation with more traditional crops such as corn or wheat. Check out a video.

IF YOU’RE IN THE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION BUSINESS and want to know about upcoming events, research results and more, take a look at the monthly News from KSU Animal Sciences newsletter. The September 2019 edition has information about educational events for beef and swine producers, meat processors and a program specifically for youth. It also includes management tips for running your business, safety tips for those harvesting silage, research results and other topics.

For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

Better Kansas – Sept. 12, 2019

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. Share on social media and don’t forget to subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

WHEN IT COMES TO PARENTING, IT CAN SEEM LIKE WE ARE FEELING OUR WAY IN THE DARK! One of the topics so difficult to know how to handle with children is the concept of money. Questions I struggled with are how to tell a child you’re not able to buy something (or seriously, do you think we can afford a swimming pool?). When is a good time to start an allowance or IS an allowance even a good idea? Should I pay a 12-year-old to help with household chores? Or clean his room? Through a Child’s Eyes: Helping Children Understand the Concepts of Time, Money, and Talent brings up questions and suggestions that pretty much all parents think about at some point. Consider the unintended consequences of paying a child to do something. When you pay her to perform a task, it changes the way she thinks of that task and she may expect compensation every time. Take a look for more things to consider. Wish I’d thought of these things a few years back!

THERE’S SOMETHING WEIGHING ON US and I mean that literally. And only we can do something about it. I mean the obesity problem in our state and country. Thirty-three percent of Kansas adults are obese, and many of us eat poorly and do not get enough exercise. Sometimes it helps to have guidance. Enter SNAP-Ed, a nutrition education program provided to Kansas families with limited resources. We partner with numerous agencies and last year, in 72 of the state’s 105 counties, reached 40,717 Kansans through SNAP-Ed programs.

ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME KNOWS I HAVE A TENDENCY TO save things. I tear out magazine articles, set aside mail to read one day and save household items and furniture just in case my grown children might want them someday. They’ve politely told me “no” more times than not, so I need to get serious about selling, donating or just pitching things. If this sounds like you, take a look at Cut the Clutter and Get Organized. I’m going to start the process one room at a time. Eventually, I’ll work my way to the basement, but that’s downright scary.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

THEY LOOK LIKE WHAT ‘E.T.’ BUILT TO PHONE HOME, but the 62 weather stations set up around the state don’t send messages to a different planet or alien spacecraft. They DO measure wind speed and direction, air temperature, precipitation and more, continuously sending the information back to K-State’s campus where it’s stored at the Weather Data Library. The system of weather stations, called Kansas Mesonet, is beneficial to science teachers, construction companies, farmers, ranchers … anyone interested in current and historical weather information for the state. And it’s used routinely by the National Weather Service. Read up on some of the latest developments.

WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF WEATHER, I happened to hear a recent KCUR “Up to Date” radio segment (Kansas City area NPR station) focusing on how devastating this year’s floods have been for many Kansas and Missouri farmers and the long-term effect on soils. The interview features a northwest Missouri farmer and a K-State soil scientist. Very informative. The segment starts about the 22:30 mark. Listen in.

GOING TO THE DOGS: THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL AGRICULTURE FIELD DAY, but on Oct. 8, K-State Research and Extension is hosting Beef Production and the Working Cow Dog in Williamsburg, Kansas. We have A LOT of educational opportunities around the state every year, but I don’t remember seeing one on this topic. Hope you check it out.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

Better Kansas – Sept. 5, 2019

Header image for the Better Kansas Blog

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. Share on social media and don’t forget to hit subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

DO YOU THINK MEDICARE IS CONFUSING? It can be! It’s nice to have choices but not so easy to know Plan A from Plan D much less which plan to sign up for. And oh, the seemingly endless changes every year! Many extension offices offer Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas, or SHICK. During open enrollment in 2017, K-State Research and Extension SHICK counselors educated almost 8,000 Kansans on Medicare plan comparisons and available benefits, saving them a total of $6.1 million. Outside open enrollment, SHICK counselors had contact with another 8,316 people through classes and plan comparisons. Remember, Medicare open enrollment is Oct. 15-Dec. 7.

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FRESH TOMATOES, PEPPERS AND ONIONS are plentiful right now, and that means one thing: It’s salsa time! Whether it’s a game-day gathering or a birthday party, salsa has become a must-have condiment for many of us, and everyone’s recipe is a little different. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced cook, check out tips to keep your salsa safe in Sassy Safe Salsa at Home. It’s also available in Spanish, Atrevida Salsa Casera Segura. Among the factoids: Salsa flavors tend to mellow during storage; and there’s an optimal way to roast peppers. There’s even information about whom to contact if you’re interested in selling your own special salsa.

THEY CHEW THROUGH WIRING AND CONTAMINATE FOOD AND FEED and as the days grow colder, house mice will be looking for warmer digs, like our homes and businesses. They’re among the most common and economically destructive rodents in the United States, but their tiny size makes them so hard to keep out. Plus, forget rabbits – house mice reproduce like crazy. One pair can make more than 100,000 babies a year. Their scientific name, Mus musculus, makes me think of the muscle-bound cartoon character Mighty Mouse, but that was all in fun. It’s no fun though to find they’ve chewed through food packages in the pantry or left not-so-delightful droppings ANYWHERE. A new fact sheet Controlling House Mice provides all kinds of information, including ways to keep your space look less inviting to the little critters.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

A NUMBER OF PINE TREES IN MY NORTHEAST KANSAS NEIGHBORHOOD ARE DYING. It’s tough because they provide an evergreen wind break and serve as a visual barrier from people driving by, so it has me wondering what kinds of trees might be good options to replace them. The publication Conifer Trees for Kansas is a comprehensive guide to conifers (you know, the cone-bearing trees like pine, spruce and fir :). It tells which do well in different parts of the state, what their primary pests and diseases are – plus it has pictures. It even gives an idea if they’re slow-, medium- or fast-growing. Questions still? Check with your local K-State Research and Extension office. By the way, we’re proud to say that conifer publication won the 2018 American Society of Horticulture Science Extension Materials Award.

Cattle

IF WEBER AND CALL HALLS WERE YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME for a few years in college or if you’re in or want to be in the livestock business in Kansas, come together with family and friends at the 5TH Annual Animal Sciences and Industry Family and Friends Reunion from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, at the Stanley Stout Center, 2200 Denison Ave. in Manhattan. The evening offers great food, entertainment and activities for the kids. This year, the Don L. Good Impact Award will be presented to the Kansas Livestock Association. More than 1,000 attended last year’s event. We hope to see you there!

APPARENTLY, ALFALFA, WHEAT SEEDLINGS AND OTHER CROPS HAVE BEEN ON GRASSHOPPERS’ MENU lately, and most are full grown by this time of year, which makes controlling them tricky, according to Grasshoppers – Eating their way through Kansas in a recent Agronomy eUpdate. The article has great photos and the nitty gritty on when and if to treat them in several crops. Plus, you’ll see that entomologist sense of humor I mentioned in a previous post.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

 

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