Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: October 2019

Better Kansas – Oct. 31, 2019

Happy Halloween! And 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 subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I WROTE ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT and linked to a fact sheet on milestones that children typically reach in the first year. But what about the second and third years and so on? Check out Understanding Your Child’s Development for activities children often accomplish by certain ages. Remember, these are AVERAGES! For babysitters, parents, grandparents and ANYONE who’s trying to calm a crying baby, there’s even a section on that. Where is Dr. Spock when you need him?! For you Trekkers, that’s not Mr. Spock. Again, I digress!

 

AS I WRITE THIS, WE’RE STARING WINTER RIGHT IN THE FACE! Listen to a Sound Living radio interview about what forecasters are expecting in the next few months and how you can prepare your home or car to avoid problems as the temperatures (and snow and sleet) fall. This was a good reminder for me to add to my own car … things like a phone charger, blanket, snacks and other items. And while you’re at it, consider giving your spouse, teenager, grown-up kid or friend an early Christmas gift of an emergency kit for their own car. These are not the kinds of things people tend to buy for themselves! It may not be as well received as tickets to a big concert, but …. 😊 Click here for a more complete list.

WHAT BETTER WAY TO REACH MORE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY IS THERE than training others to be trainers? That’s how the Master Food Volunteers program works in several communities across the state. Extension agents and specialists provide training to volunteers who are interested in food and nutrition. Those volunteers, in turn, work with others in their communities in myriad ways, from teaching children – and sometimes adults – basic cooking skills to safe food preservation, menu planning and much more. While you’re on the site, check out the “Making a Difference” reports for examples of MFV activities.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

YEARS AGO, I LEARNED THE HARD WAY after a costly trip from the plumber, that we’re supposed to disconnect garden hoses from the spigot before it freezes. One of those Adulting 101 things I missed! Depending on your plumbing setup, not detaching them can lead to a burst pipe and interior water damage. And by the way, if you have a lawn irrigation system, they need the water blown out with an air compressor. Find further tips in the Draining Hoses and Irrigation Lines section of the Oct. 29 Horticulture 2019 Newsletter, along with other seasonal info about garden mums, fertilizing lawns in late fall and … roasting pumpkin seeds. Now there’s a left turn! Also found a YouTube video showing what can happen and why if you don’t detach those hoses.

 

WE KNOW THAT THE VAST UNDERGROUND RESERVOIR OF WATER known as the Ogallala Aquifer, a critical source of water for parts of eight states including western Kansas, is depleting faster than it can recharge. So, figuring out the best ways to maximize the benefits of rainwater and nutrients for crops on southern Plains farms is the goal of a new research effort led by Kansas State University. In addition to the K-State team, the five-year, $10 million project includes researchers, educators and extension specialists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University and the University of Maryland. Take a look at this news article for more information.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP FOR ONE OF THE 2019 KANSAS INCOME TAX INSTITUTE sessions happening in numerous locations around the state in November and December. The two-day sessions, offered by the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics, are designed for tax professionals and anyone interested in training on current tax law, regulations and updates. Check here for more information and online registration or call 785-532-1504.

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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 – Oct. 24, 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

OCCASIONALLY I WRITE ABOUT WHAT RURAL COMMUNITIES ARE DOING to stay vibrant, so a recent study of the economic impact of Brown County’s healthcare system caught my attention. The study, by the Extension Office of Local Government (OLG), is part of the Kansas Rural Health Works program initiative sponsored by the Kansas Hospital Association. It turns out that the Brown Co. study is just one that the OLG has conducted in each of Kansas’ 105 counties. Think about it … and research backs this up: local health care and education are two primary factors in economic development in any community. In the case of Brown County, the health care sector in 2018 accounted for an estimated 10.2% of Brown County’s total employment, or about 725 jobs. After accounting for economic multipliers for 13 health care sectors, the study’s authors estimated the sectors accounted for more than $46,286,000 in total county income and about $9,828,000 in county retail sales. Read an article in the Hiawatha World newspaper or contact John Leatherman at the OLG at jleather@ksu.edu or 785-532-4492 for more information.

WE SOMETIMES TAKE FOOD and what it takes to grow it, for granted. If you’re anywhere near the Kansas City area and interested in thought-provoking (and free 🙂 films, check out the Food for Thought Film Series the second Tuesday of every month, hosted by the Urban Food Systems program at K-State Olathe. Next up on Nov. 14 is “A Place at the Table” about three Americans who maintain their dignity even as they struggle to eat. On Dec. 12, “Biggest Little Farm” chronicles the eight-year quest of a family who trades city living for farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Each film is followed by a panel discussion of experts on the night’s theme, plus an opportunity for audience questions.

 

 

THE ANSWER PEOPLE: In my communications role I often see questions emailed from an extension agent to their colleagues across the state. It might be that someone in their county is looking for help identifying a certain weed in their lawn or farm fields. Or looking for resources as they prepare to do a program for teens on financial literacy. Honestly, a lot of interesting topics come up. Before I know it, responses with offers of help and resources are popping up. It’s a cool thing about cooperative extension. K-State Research and Extension educators in every county specialize in finding answers to questions for Kansans. If they don’t have an answer, they’ll do their best to track down the best information. If you’re not familiar with your extension office, now’s a good time to take a look.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

TURN SOME OF THOSE PLENTIFUL LEAVES COMING OFF THE TREES plus lawn clippings, dead tomato vines and other organic waste into a valuable top dressing or addition to your vegetable and flower garden soil by composting it. If the thought seems daunting, the short four-page Making Compost: A Beginner’s Guide takes you step by step through the how’s and why’s of getting started, with illustrations, benefits and cautions, plus additional resources. It’s a win-win … and win some more. It keeps the material out of landfills and once that material is composted and added to your garden or planting beds, can make the soil looser and easier to work with (especially helpful in some of our heavy clay soils); provides nutrients and even can be used as a top dressing for seeded vegetables and flowers. If you don’t want to do it on your own, start a neighborhood compost pile where several contribute and reap the benefits.

NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS YOU HAVE, IF YOU HAVE EMPLOYEES (and yes, adult children who work for you count 🙂 check out ‘MANAGEMENT MINUTE’ in the KSU Animal Sciences newsletter. This month it reminds that good help is hard to find, so good employees are worth hanging onto. It may be a good idea to sit down with Bill, you know, that guy who was invaluable in helping you get through this challenging growing season, for a talk about job satisfaction or Megan who found new software to simplify and improve your accounting. These monthly messages transcend the cattle industry. They’re relevant to anyone who has employees.

IT’S OFTEN HELPFUL WHEN PEOPLE AGREE and it appears that projections by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service for how much corn will come out of Kansas fields this year syncs pretty well with the yields K-State’s agronomists are expecting. That is, an average of about 136 bushels per acre, which would be up from 129 bushels last year. K-State uses a new yield forecast tool, sponsored by Kansas Corn, primarily based on satellite data, historical county-level yields and prediction of current geo-location of cornfields across the state. Read more about it in Forecasting Kansas Corn Yields for 2019. By the way, overall across the U.S., corn production is expected to be 13.8 billion bushels, down 4% from last year with yields averaging 168.4 bushels per harvested acre, down 8 bushels from 2018.

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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 – Oct. 17, 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 subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

WE OFTEN HEAR HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, but why? People who spend their lives studying these things say we should be taking in 10 to 15 cups of water a day to support our healthy selves: Our blood is 92% water, our muscles 75% water, even our bones are 25% water. I saw this helpful factsheet via the Geary County Extension office. It was put together by Iowa State Extension, but fortunately, like land grant universities across the country, they share. It even has a section on the pros and cons of bottled water. I still want my coffee in the morning, but I’ve learned if I have a tall cup of water sitting on my desk all day, I drink it! Give it a try.

A FEW YEARS AGO, A FRIEND GAVE ME HER MUFFIN RECIPE THAT CALLED FOR SPROUTED WHEAT FLOUR. Say what? I was a little late coming to the party about such things, but I’m told that sprouted grain flours are a great way to enhance nutrients in your diet. They’re a bit different to bake with, however. An entry in the You Asked It! newsletter provides more information on how to handle baking with sprouted wheat flours.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF WHEAT FLOUR, Kansas is known as ‘The Wheat State’ for a reason,  like the new variety, KS Dallas, developed by the wheat breeding program at K-State’s Western Kansas Agricultural Research Center in Hays. KS Dallas is a hard red winter wheat, the type typically used in yeast breads and rolls. It’s adapted to grow on semi-arid farmland like we have in western Kansas, but Oklahoma and Colorado growers will want to take note! Between this and the entry about sprouted wheat flour, I can almost smell the bread baking. KS Dallas is named for retired plant pathologist Dallas Seifers, who made huge contributions to our understanding of wheat disease resistance.

A DISEASE THAT SPREADS QUICKLY FROM ONE STEER TO ANOTHER, ONE HERD TO ANOTHER would be every cattle producer’s worst nightmare. With that in mind, the CattleTrace pilot project was launched last year in Kansas to develop a cattle disease traceability infrastructure. It’s now expanded to several states. To provide an update on the project and discuss next steps, the first-ever CattleTrace Industry Symposium is planned for Nov. 22, 2019 at the Kansas State University Student Union. The symposium is free. The registration deadline in Nov. 7. Check out Keeping Kansas beef on track: CattleTrace project aims to safeguard state’s $17b industry in the Seek Research Magazine for background and a video.

IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE THIS WEEKEND AND THINKING ABOUT PRUNING YOUR TREES AND SHRUBS, think again. The Oct. 8 Horticulture 2019 Newsletter says that woody plants’ ability to withstand wintry cold can be compromised by fall pruning.  Even light pruning of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilac and forsythia will reduce flowers next year. Apparently, the best time to prune shrubs that flower in the spring is right after blooming …. you know … back when some of us didn’t do it. There’s always next spring! The newsletter has other cool information on cleaning up iris beds (to avoid those nasty fungus and insect problems), how to tell the difference between a maple and an oak and more.

K-STATE’S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS has just published its 2019 Exchange newsletter to keep students, parents, prospective students, alumni and others up to date with opportunities for students, faculty activities and more. I’m the proud great aunt of a current ag econ major. He would be shy about me sharing his name, so I’d better not 😊.

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 – Oct. 10, 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 subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOUR ONE-YEAR-OLD, you see a future Supreme Court Justice or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, right? Surely, he’s more verbal than most. And she started walking earlier than your friend’s child! Truthfully, we mostly want to know our children are developing at a rate typical for their age (or maybe a bit faster 😊). It’s hard not to compare our kids to our cousin’s or neighbor’s … or even to their own siblings. For an objective look at typical milestones, check Developmental Milestones: The First Year. And please take what that friend of a friend of a friend says about your kiddo with a big grain of salt! True confessions, I was so concerned with how late one of my children started walking, we asked our pediatrician for a referral to the medical center at, you know, that other university … just to double check. That kiddo turned out to be an athlete. You never know!

I WAS IN WALMART LAST WEEK AND THE GARDEN CENTER ALREADY HAD CHRISTMAS TREES FOR SALE …. not real ones, but still! That means the end of the year is fast approaching, making this a good time to do a comprehensive financial checkup. You know, before you start holiday shopping and such. A great way to start is with How Are You Doing? A Financial Checkup. It’s like an interview with yourself, raising topics like “I keep financial records organized and can find important documents easily” and “I avoid impulse purchases and don’t use shopping as a form of recreation.” WHAT?! There’s something wrong with that?! Take a look. Very good info.

AS TIME GOES ON, I INCREASINGLY KNOW PEOPLE AFFECTED BY DEMENTIA. I’ll bet you do, too – a friend, relative, colleague or maybe a caregiver. Whether you’re a concerned neighbor, friend or just curious about dementia and therapies using music, art and humor, attend the free Personhood and Dementia Workshop 2019 in Manhattan on Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Bluemont Hotel. The day features Linda Zimmer, who developed therapeutic strategies when her own mother developed dementia. Zimmer has a background in creative arts and as a puppeteer on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. The morning session runs 9-11 a.m.; the afternoon 1-3 p.m. There is no registration and you’re welcome to come to either or both!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IT’S COOLER AND DAYLIGHT IS GETTING SHORTER, so it’s hard to think ahead about next year’s garden, but fall is a very good time to test your soil. Testing labs are generally less busy and soils don’t tend to be waterlogged like they are in the spring. Soil testing can reveal fertility, pest problems and more, and you’ll have more time to correct them before the planting bug (yes, I did say that!) hits in the spring. That and several other topics are covered in the Oct. 8 Horticulture Newsletter. There’s even a how-to video for those of us who learn better by watching than reading :).

COMMUNICATION IS NOT EVERYONE’S STRONG SUIT, BUT IT’S KEY IN RELATIONSHIPS OF ALL KINDS and no more so than when transitioning the family farm … or really any business … from one generation to the next. A parent may not be quite ready to let go of the decision-making. A son may have a different vision of where the business should go. And then there’s the niece who has the skills and interest to build on what you’ve been growing for years. If you’re even close to going down this path, Transition Planning: 12 Steps to Keep the Family Farming provides tips to consider. Your local K-State Research and Extension office can also guide you to even more resources.

AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, COW-CALF PRODUCERS ARE VIGILANT about doing what they can to make sure their herds go into the harsher winter months as healthy as possible. A recent Beef Cattle Institute podcast on Agriculture Today delves into providing proper trace mineral supplementation and vaccinations this fall to give animals the best chance of getting through the winter healthy. Other podcast topics are a livestock market update, information on National 4-H Week and more. Listen in.

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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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