Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: November 2019

Better Kansas – Nov. 21, 2019

Better Kansas – Nov. 21, 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. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! My next post will be Thursday, Dec. 5. In the meantime, I’ll be planning upcoming posts and celebrating turkey day. Happy Thanksgiving! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING, AND THAT MEANS THOSE KIDDOS ARE GOING TO BE HOME with a lot of unstructured time on their hands. You know what that means. Children will often gravitate toward screen time on their phone, tablet or television. Figuring out ways to limit that time can be challenging – there are only so many trips you can make to the park or zoo or board games you can play, but studies show that excessive media consumption can lead to attention difficulties, school problems, sleeping and eating disorders and depression. How many of us adults think we’re going to check social media for a couple of minutes and an hour later … you know what I’m saying! For more information, including American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, take a look at The New Screen Time: Beyond Television and into the Future.

 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: In many cases, aging in one’s own home makes sense, but sometimes a few modifications are helpful. Home features that once were navigated as part of everyday life – stairs, bathtubs and kitchens – can sometimes be altered to make them safer and easier to use while supporting independence. Changing out door knobs to more easily opened lever-type handles or adding better lighting may seem costly, but that cost will be minimal compared with a hospital stay or a move to a nursing home. Check out the four-page Simple Home Modification for Aging in Place factsheet for more tips. I’m reminded of when my 80-plus-year-old dad was visiting and a friend suggested I remove items from the stairs to decrease the chance of him (or ANY of us!) tripping. My friend was so right! Sometimes we adult children don’t recognize the hazards right in plain view.

WE KNOW ABOUT AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PROGRAMS at universities like K-State and their important role in helping feed the nation and the world (if you have questions about that, send me an email and I’ll connect you with the right people :), but a lesser-known aspect of extension is engineering extension. These folks assist and provide education to home and business owners, plus government agencies on topics such as energy efficiency, pollution prevention, radon prevention and mitigation, and more – even grant writing. Watch for more posts about these topics in upcoming weeks.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

LOW COMMODITY PRICES AND HIGH INPUT COSTS, plus this year’s challenging weather and trade disputes make farm financial management more important than ever. Kansas women involved in farming of any kind, whether it’s growing sweet potatoes or soybeans, have an opportunity to sharpen their skills by signing up for Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture. The program series, planned for four consecutive Wednesday evenings from mid-January to early February, are offered in 31 communities across the state. Each evening begins with a meal, followed by training on specific topics, including recordkeeping, balance sheets, income statements, farm family expense management, cash flow and more. Don’t miss out on this first-of-a-kind Kansas program. In doing a little background reading, I learned that Wamego, Kansas, was once the sweet potato capital of the United States. Interesting!

OK, MAYBE IT’S JUST ME, BUT SOME OF US HAVE A TENDENCY TO PUT THAT HARDWORKING LAWNMOWER AWAY right after the last fall mowing. You know who you are :). A little maintenance now will improve your day come spring when you’re ready to fire it up because dang, that grass is growing again! Apparently, gas left in the mower for months becomes thick and gummy and what about those blades that were getting dull toward the end of the season? Take a look at the horticulture newsletter for more on this plus other topics.

ARE THOSE PUMPKINS ON YOUR PORCH OR AT THE FARM GATE GETTING BEYOND RIPE? Mine certainly are. It turns out, you can feed them to poultry or livestock as a tasty treat and a good source of vitamins A and E. Just make sure they’ve not been painted or treated with anything toxic. Take a look at Recyling Pumpkins for more tips. One of my pumpkins disappeared from the porch a few days ago. I thought momentarily it might have been stolen and it turned out it was! By a hungry raccoon looking for a snack, I suspect. I found it under a bush by the porch.

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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 – Nov. 14, 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. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

IN CASE YOU CAN’T TELL BY ALL THE ADVERTISING, THANKSGIVING IS IN JUST TWO WEEKS! Whether you’re hosting a crowd or having a party of one, take a look at Food Safety for Holiday Meals for all manner of tips and information to keep the good times on track. It’s really relevant information for any time of year. Maybe it’s just me, but I especially enjoyed: “Hotline Answers ‘Panic Button’ Food Safety Questions.” I wonder what percentage of first-time turkey cooks have accidentally left the bag of giblets in the turkey while cooking it? MANY of us, I think! It’s amazing how many things are hidden in the nooks and crannies of those birds!

 

WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF FOOD, we should recognize that even in a state like Kansas where we grow so much food, there are plenty of people who don’t have enough to eat. About 11% of U.S. households are food insecure, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. It might be those children walking by on their way to the school bus. Or the elderly man in front of you at the store. Listen in to a Sound Living podcast on improving food security.

 

THE YOUNGEST BABY BOOMERS ARE ABOUT 55 YEARS OLD; THE OLDEST IN THEIR 70s. That means a whole lot of people are retiring every day in this country. I know a few of those folks. Some say that after a few months, they didn’t know what to do with themselves, so they went back to work. Others say their blood pressure dropped and health improved. If you’re considering taking this big step, it sounds like a good idea to have a plan. A good conversation starter (even if that conversation is with yourself) is the factsheet So Now What? Tips for Managing Life after Retirement. It goes through typical stages, starting with the “honeymoon” stage. You know … that’s where you catch up on sleep!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IF LIKE ME, YOU HAD GORGEOUS ROSES THAT PUT ON A SHOW ALL SEASON LONG, consider protecting them from the winter cold by mounding soil or compost around them. Check out more information, plus a link to a video on winterizing roses. Other topics include the lowdown on an annual turfgrass conference, getting amaryllis to bloom for the holiday season, watering your landscape NOW (may have to get that hose out one more time), the nitty gritty on what you can do to improve garden soil now and more.

 

ALMOST ALL LIVING THINGS NEED IT – WATER, THAT IS. A recent Dig Deep podcast delves into basic facts about water in Kansas – where it comes from, where it goes, and conservation. The segment features Dan Devlin, a K-State professor who’s also the director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE). He sheds light on a new effort called the Irrigation Innovation Consortium that brings researchers from several universities together with private industry to come up with better ways to use this precious resource more efficiently. Listen in.

THE USDA REVISED ITS LATEST ESTIMATE ON HOW MUCH CORN U.S. GROWERS WILL PRODUCE THIS YEAR downward to 13.661 billion bushels – 118 million bushels less than what it predicted a month ago, largely owing to harvest delays. And that’s just a small portion of what’s in the U.S. Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released Nov. 8. For a closer look at the numbers and what they mean, take a look at an analysis of the data. Ending stocks, stocks-to-use, supply-and-demand balances … it’s all in there. And it’s not just about corn. The nitty gritty on soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum is also put into perspective.

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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 – Nov. 7, 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 subscribe and get acquainted with your local extension office! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

FOR MANY OF US, THE HOLIDAYS MEAN TRAVEL … DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT DOING THIS ONE THING! Whether you’re driving to your in-laws, home from college, or just a quick jaunt down the road for groceries, download the winter survival kit app, compliments of the enterprising folks at North Dakota State University Extension. It’s available free for Android or iPhone and does cool things in case of an emergency, such as determine your geographic location, call 911, contact friends or family, store insurance policy and auto club information, and more. NDSU, like land-grant universities across the country, is one of our partners in the cooperative extension system. Thanks for sharing, NDSU! We all benefit.

I’VE HEARD THAT BLUEBERRIES ARE A ROCK STAR when it comes to healthy eating, but what other foods help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes?

  • Strawberries
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Raisins
  • Apricots
  • Sweet potatoes

They’re all on the list. So are a lot more. Take a look at Choose Foods that Lower Your Risk of Cancer for a more complete list and health benefits they provide. It turns out that making a colorful plate isn’t just about being visually pleasing!

IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO OUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH, but sometimes good, sound sleep is elusive. I know, when I don’t get enough zzz’s, every little ache is magnified, it’s harder to focus and more difficult to make decisions. The fact sheet Sleep: Want It, Need It, Get It sheds light on numerous sleep-related topics, including suggestions for dealing with sleeplessness. I was not familiar with the term “parasomnias” but now I am!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

REMEMBER THE PHRASE, “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” made famous by actress Clara Peller in a Wendy’s commercial. Yes, it was a long time ago 😊, but this went viral before social media even existed! For those who are curious about meat demand through the years, including demand in this country, as well as exports of beef, pork and chicken, it’s all on the Meat Demand page on AgManager.info. I still enjoy watching Clara and the commercial.

LATE OCTOBER BROUGHT A SHARP DROP IN TEMPERATURES and we’re not the only ones shivering. The newly planted winter wheat crop in some areas may have been affected, depending on soil temperatures, moisture and other factors. Read about it and take a look at some interesting photos and graphics in this Agronomy eUpdate article. As of Nov. 3, 94% of the Kansas crop had been planted, ahead of 81% last year and 91% (five-year) average, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

KANSAS HAS LONG BEEN A LEADER IN BEEF PRODUCTION, with cattle and calves generating $8.27 billion in cash receipts in 2017 alone. That accounted for more than 50% of overall agricultural receipts that year, which included some of our other well-known agricultural claims to fame such as wheat and grain sorghum. To support beef cattle producers and provide the latest research and management information, seven Calving Schools are planned around the state from November-January.

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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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