Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: January 2020

Better Kansas – Jan. 30, 2020

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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. 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

SOME YOUNG CHILDREN SEEM ARTICULATE BEYOND THEIR YEARS …. SURELY THAT WAS OUR CHILDREN, RIGHT?! We know it’s important to read to kiddos from the beginning, plus talking with them and playing with them as they grow helps them learn new words and important skills to interact with others. It may seem like so much extra effort, but such activities stimulate a child’s imagination and help them develop language and listening skills. For a quick reminder about how and why it’s important for all children from babies to toddlers to preschoolers, take a look at Talk, Read, Play.

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT TURNING THAT FAVORITE RECIPE into a business? Maybe the famous salsa you make that has the special secret ingredient? Or that amazing bread that your friends and family are always asking for? The Kansas Value Added Foods Lab can help walk you through the process of developing your product safely and stay in the lines when it comes to current regulations. You’ll find helpful resources and even questions everyone should ask themselves when making decisions along the way including screening, feasibility, test marketing and commercialization.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

ORDERS ARE NOW BEING TAKEN BY THE KANSAS FOREST SERVICE FOR LOW-COST TREE SEEDLINGS to be planted for conservation purposes, according to a recent Horticulture Newsletter. Orders will be taken until May 1. Shipping starts in mid-March. Though not to be used for home landscapes, these trees can be used for wind breaks, wood lots, wildlife habitat, riparian areas along streambanks and more. We know how windy it can get in Kansas! Take a look at the newsletter or order here.

WHEN WE THINK OF GROWING CROPS THAT FEED THE WORLD, MANY STILL THINK of basic tractors and tilled fields – not really inaccurate but SO much more is happening on today’s farms. Growers know that taking care of the land and being efficient mean understanding how incredible new technologies can help pinpoint where part of a corn field is receiving too little moisture for instance, or which area of a soybean field has pests happily feasting on plants. Listen to this Agriculture Today radio segment to learn how new technology can help farmers sort wheat by protein — important because the amount of protein in wheat helps determine what food or feed product it’s best suited for. The radio segment also includes commentary on the grain market and other helpful information. A separate Agriculture Today podcast delves into the economic feasibility of autonomous farming systems. Listen in.

FROM THE EARLY DAYS OF DODGE CITY TO THE STOCKYARDS IN KANSAS CITY (okay, the stockyards were just over the border in Missouri 🙂 Kansas has been known for its cattle. But there are also a surprising number of sheep and goats across our state. We’re talking about 43,000 goats raised for meat and 6,000 for dairy, plus 74,000 head of sheep.  If you raise sheep or goats or are just interested in knowing more about them, check out the Sheep and Meat Goat Research and Extension Page. I used to work for a woman who was a force of nature from Scotland. Rosemary made the very best roast leg of lamb, plus grew her own mint for mint sauce. Soo good!

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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 – Jan. 23, 2020

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. 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

LAST WEEK, I passed along information about a guide to help you know how long food ingredients will do their job in your recipes. But because of a technical glitch, not everyone got that section of Better Kansas, so I’m including the link again in hopes that it works this time. Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard is a really good guide.

IT’S EARLY IN THE YEAR, BUT ARE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS ALREADY GETTING A LITTLE LESS RESOLUTE? Mine certainly are. One tip to get back on track is starting the day with breakfast if you don’t do that already. Studies show that people who eat breakfast eat 100 fewer calories a day than people who don’t. Another suggestion is to stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. Wait, we were supposed to be HUNGRY before we started eating?! Seriously, if we stop eating just as we begin to feel full, we can save as many as 500 calories a day. Other tips in the fact sheet, Action Plan for Healthy Living, focus on physical activity, sleep and ways to develop your own action plan. This may be just what I need to get back on track. Check it out.

SOMETIMES IT SEEMS EASIER TO LET OUR FINANCES JUST TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES and not pay much attention to things like credit scores or credit reports. Until, of course, our application for that new apartment is rejected or we pay a higher interest rate for that cool SUV we’ve been eyeing … all because of what’s on our credit report. This extension column in FortScott.biz sheds light on the difference between credit reports and credit scores and how they’re linked. It also mentions the upcoming statewide K-State Research and Extension Check Your Credit email program which I’ll be writing more about in the next few weeks.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

ONE OF MY INTERESTS IN WINTER ESPECIALLY, is watching the birds at my birdfeeder. So I enjoyed an item in a recent horticulture newsletter on bird feeding. It includes a list of the grains that different species prefer; for instance, cardinals and most finch species prefer sunflower seeds, while the dark-eyed junco likes white and red proso millet, canary seed and fine cracked corn. The newsletter also provides information on a fast-approaching conference on industrial hemp, plus a section on pawpaw trees, which only recently showed up on my radar when a friend made pawpaw fruit leather. Who knew?! Still other topics include Dutch elm disease-resistant American elm trees, designing your home landscape, starting newly-planted trees off right, plus fruit trees and frost. A bonus is a link to a video on attracting birds to your back yard. True confessions: Years ago, I bought a book on birds that are native to Kansas in hopes of identifying which birds came to dine at my house. I have to say, they’re mostly still little brown birds to me. I enjoy them no matter what!

BIG DECISIONS ARE LOOMING FOR FARMERS as part of the most recent farm bill. We’ve developed a new “tradeoff” spreadsheet tool to help farmers make their program election decisions, which need to be done by March 15. The spreadsheet, which compares potential 2019/2020 Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) county level payments with Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments, includes every state, county and covered commodity for which the USDA’s Farm Service Agency has released data. Included on the Agmanager.info website is both the spreadsheet and an 8-minute video that explains how the spreadsheet works and how to interpret the results. A radio interview on this and several other topics was also part of a recent Agriculture Today broadcast. If you haven’t already signed up, you’ll want to take a look or listen.

KANSAS CATTLE RANCHERS ARE AMONG THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS and some of the reasons why are because they’re always working to improve, be more efficient and look for better ways to care for their animals. To that end, K-State is hosting the popular 2020 Winter Ranch Management Series around the state:

  • 30 – Ulysses
  • 30 – Ashland
  • 11 – Plainville
  • 11 – Mankato
  • 27 – Yates Center

Take a look at the K-State Research and Extension Beef page or check with your local extension office for more on the educational series and other beef production information.

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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 – Jan. 16, 2020

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. 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

OH, I LOVE THIS! HAVE YOU WONDERED IF THAT BAKING POWDER that’s been hiding behind the salt, molasses and chocolate chips in your kitchen cabinets will still get the job done? This is always a dilemma for me. Did I buy it in 2017? Or maybe 2007?!? 😊 There’s actually a guide to help us determine how long food ingredients keep their oomph! I realize “oomph” is not a scientific term, but you know what I mean. If you baked cookies and they turned out flatter than usual, some ingredient or other didn’t have its oomph. That can be just one of several problems with using old ingredients. One of the tips in Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard is to check dates and use the oldest products first. Hmmm … I guess that means bringing some items to the front of the shelves. I’m printing and posting this list inside my pantry.

 

A FEW MONTHS AGO, I wrote about choosing an in-home child care provider and linked to a resource focused on that. But a child care center or preschool may make more sense for your family. It’s a good idea to visit more than one and ask plenty of questions. How is discipline handled? Is lunch provided? Is there a specified place for a child’s personal belongings? What plans are in place in case of emergency? Will they put my child out by the curb if I don’t pick him up in time? (Just kidding with that last one …. if you get that impression, better scoot on out of there!) Check out Choosing Child Care for your Children: Child Care Centers and Preschools for a whole lot of things to consider.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WIND: We’ve got it! COLD WEATHER: We’ve got that, too! I don’t remember weather forecasters mentioning the “Wind Chill” Index when I was growing up. At some point, however, reporting on not only the temperature but also the wind speed (together they determine the wind chill) became part of weather forecasting during the cold winter months. It turns out the wind chill index was first developed in 1945 by Antarctic explorers. The National Weather Service started using the index in the late 1960s in its forecasts. Take a look at this Kansas Mesonet page to check wind chill details across the state.

 

World Without Wheat is a short, but thought-provoking, educational article by one of our extension agents, about the crop that Kansas is well-known for around the world. It touches on why the number of acres being planted to wheat across the state has been declining, who our customers for Kansas and U.S. wheat are, and who is our wheat-growing competition on the world market. There’s also a section on what farmers might do with the land on which they’ve typically grown wheat. Check out World Without Wheat.

 

IF YOU’RE A SERIOUS FRUIT GROWER and especially if you grow fruit to sell, take a look at the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide 2019-2020. The publication was put together by a team of expert entomologists, horticulturists and plant pathologists who understand Midwest production challenges best because it’s where they live and work. It covers the nitty gritty on pesticide safety and regulations, from apples to grapes to berries and more. It even has a section on vole control. Unfortunately, voles, insects and other pests like fruit as much as we do.

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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 – Jan. 9, 2020

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. 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

FROM BASEHOR TO BAXTER SPRINGS AND LARNED TO NORTON, communities across the state are working to figure out how they can stay vibrant, determine what’s important to their residents, and how they can attract and retain businesses and visitors, not to mention residents. This year, the Kansas PRIDE program is celebrating 50 years of assisting local governments and volunteers through grants, recognition and other means of support as they make their communities better places to live and work. Kansas PRIDE is a partnership between K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Masons and Kansas PRIDE, Inc. It fits right in with extension’s increasing focus on community vitality. Check out the most recent Kansas PRIDE newsletter. Look for more on the PRIDE program as the year unfolds.

 

FOR THOSE OF US WHO AREN’T SO GOOD AT WHIPPING UP TASTY MEALS ON SHORT NOTICE, or even if you are, this is the kind of resource that speaks to us: Making a Meal from What’s on Hand is a simple guide to putting together ingredients you likely have in your pantry or refrigerator. As a writer, I sometimes have writer’s block. This resource helps what I’ll call cook’s block. It provides ideas for your starch (pasta, rice, etc.), protein (beef, chicken, egg, seafood or beans), vegetable, sauce, flavor and toppings in a handy list. Or listen to an audio report on the topic.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WHETHER YOU LIVE IN THE COUNTRY, SUBURBS OR CITY, you likely encounter wildlife from time to time. I’m not talking about the birds from the kitchen window …. I’m talking more up close and personal, like a squirrel in the attic or a snake in the basement. My most memorable was a raccoon IN the birdfeeder (see pic). And then there’s that deer that literally ran into the side of my moving car last spring. I love animals and you probably do too, but not in the attic or taking in my garden like they are at the local buffet! Sometimes it’s helpful to have information about coexisting with animals, and in some cases managing the situation. Check out the K-State Extension Wildlife Management page for videos, fact sheets and links to even more resources on everything from bats to possums to voles. Note to self: Never again put a patio chair directly under the bird feeder.

 

IF YOU HAVE CATTLE ON PASTURE YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF THE ‘TAKE HALF AND LEAVE HALF’ RULE. That involves that point when about 50% of the growing season’s top growth of grass is removed. It’s one of many considerations when you’re managing grazing cattle. Others include rotational versus continuous grazing and overgrazing. Take a look at Evaluating Rules of Thumb for Grazing Management in the Jan. 2 Beef Tips. Plus, there’s good information on genomics considerations when buying bulls, calving management, preparing for winter and nutrition information for feedlot operators.

WINTER ISN’T JUST A TIME TO THINK ABOUT PLANTING SEASON IF YOU’RE A FARMER … it’s time to grow yourself by taking in some professional development. Whether you grow corn, sorghum or other crops, the next few weeks offer opportunities to learn about the latest research, plus challenges and potential solutions for all kinds of crops grown in Kansas. Many of these are happening this month, so take a look now at:

Corn Management SchoolsWichita, Oakley, Salina and Olathe.

Sorghum Production SchoolsScott City, Great Bend and Hutchinson.

Soybean Production SchoolsSmith Center, Salina, Mulvane, Emporia, Atchison, and Marysville.

Cover Your Acres Winter Conference – Oberlin

Kansas Agricultural Technologies Conference – Junction City

Midwest Cover Crops Council Annual Conference – Kansas City

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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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