Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: February 2020

Better Kansas – Feb. 27, 2020

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In this week’s Better Kansas, we take a look at child care considerations, pets and your budget, the spring weather outlook, Cattlemen’s Day, and the most recent issue of the AgReport – my way of shedding light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. It’s 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

MORE THAN HALF OF MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE work outside the home, and that means many of those kiddos (12.5 million as of 2011) are being cared for by grandparents, child care centers, or others. It’s incredibly hard for moms and dads to go off to work every day if they’re not confident their child is in a supportive, nurturing and safe environment. A short article on the topic goes over some of the factors most important to young children’s development and may help provide food for thought when determining what the best child care situation is for your young child or grandchild.

 

TURTLES AND GERBILS AND BIRDS, OH MY! A few months ago, I posted information about pets and our budgets and decided to revisit the topic in view of a recent article about pet ownership. According to the underlying survey, 69% of Americans have a pet of some sort in their home. Not surprisingly, dogs came in No. 1 at 45%, cats No. 2 at 35% and fish No. 3 at 9%. Having pets can bring so many benefits, but does come at a cost. This fact sheet takes a helpful look at various considerations when it comes to pet ownership and our money. I’m right where pet owners find themselves sometimes, figuring out the right decision financially and quality of life-wise with my pet after getting a diagnosis from the vet that’s hard to hear.

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IT LOOKS LIKE WE MAY STAY A LITTLE CHILLIER THAN NORMAL INTO MARCH, according to the Kansas Climate Office, but the outlook for precipitation is somewhat less clear. The potential for spring flooding is greatest in eastern Kansas, while counties on the western side of the state could use some moisture. We have a big state! Take a look at the latest article on March weather and the spring outlook, complete with information and precipitation maps showing where we are compared with average years.

 

K-STATE’S ANNUAL CATTLEMEN’S DAY 2020 IS COMING UP MARCH 6 in Weber Hall on the Manhattan campus, where attendees will find presentations and information about research results on everything from forage sampling and analysis to calving to genetic and reproductive trends in the global beef industry and more. Plus, the camaraderie of fellow producers! Vendors will have displays available throughout the day, and smoked brisket and Cajun-spiced catfish are on the lunchtime menu, compliments of U.S. Premium Beef and vendors. Check out the Cattlemen’s Day website for much more information.

 

K-STATE’S LATEST ‘AG REPORT’ MAGAZINE HAS A NEW LOOK and includes profiles on several prominent College of Agriculture faculty members who are making a difference in Kansas and internationally through their research, teaching and outreach. The Winter 2020 AgReport also includes a student profile, update on a new building for the Department of Grain Science and Industry, a recent international livestock sustainability conference hosted by K-State and a brief look at education programs, research and extension across the state and ways that K-State Research and Extension is supporting five grand challenges the state is facing, including: water, health, global food systems, community vitality and developing tomorrow’s leaders.

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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 – Feb. 20, 2020

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogIn today’s Better Kansas, we bring you eight weeks to better health, soup sense, birds disappearing – Part 2, an online tool for farmers, and prescribed burning – all 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

THE DAYS ARE GETTING LONGER AND THE WEATHER A BIT WARMER, so walk your way to better health by signing up for Walk Kansas! The eight-week, team-based program that promotes physical activity and healthy eating starts March 15 and runs through May 9. This year, in addition to support to help get us moving, we’ll learn about the shared lifestyle traits of people in the Blue Zones, those areas of the world where people tend to live longer and healthier, plus the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. For a $10 per person fee, you and your team (usually six people) can report and track your progress online, receive weekly emailed newsletters with tips and recipes and information about local activities. Your team can be made up of neighbors, friends, co-workers or family members… or people you barely know. They can even be on the other side of the state … or in different states. To learn more, take a look at the Walk Kansas website or check with your local K-State Research and Extension office. Trust me, you can be the most rookie walker in the world and still benefit from this. LET’S GET OUT THERE!

 

WHETHER YOU’RE A TOMATO SOUP KIND OF GUY OR A CORN CHOWDER KIND OF GIRL, we’re still in what I consider soup season. (We’ll get into cold summer soups another time :).  Anyway, I came across this Soup … Versatile Comfort Food that offers good tips and reminders about making healthy, yet satisfying soups and stews. Yum! I can almost taste that vegetable soup right now! And if you’d rather listen, here’s an audio version. There’s even a Mexican soup recipe you can make in your slow cooker, compliments of Iowa State University! That’s the way the cooperative extension service across the U.S. works – we share! Still smarting from that last basketball loss to ISU though 🙁

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

LAST WEEK I LINKED TO ‘DID WE ACTUALLY LOSE 3 BILLION BIRDS’ Part 1 that centered on why we have fewer bird populations in North America than we did in the 1970s. Today, in Part 2, a longtime K-State Research and Extension birder goes over what we as humans can do to help reduce bird fatalities. Hint: It looks like keeping cats indoors is a really good idea. Plus, I learned that cats are not native to the North American ecosystem! Who knew?!

Slightly off topic (my way of saying this is not a completely smooth segue), but since I’ve had birds on my mind over the last few weeks, I’ve thought about the 1960s movie The Birds, one of those unforgettable films. A classic in my book….95% on Rotten Tomatoes.

IT’S AN AWESOME SIGHT TO SEE – PLANNED BURNING OF THE KANSAS PRAIRIE.  There’s still time to attend a prescribed burning workshop with three coming up soon: Feb. 26 in Hamilton, March 4 in Phillipsburg, and March 5 in Fredonia. Each workshop is about five hours long and includes materials and lunch. Topics include planning and conducting a burn, safety, liability, fire weather and more. In addition, numerous publications and fact sheets about prescribed burning are available from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore. Type in “prescribed burning” in the search function.

Other workshops in cooperation with other agencies are also in the works.

IT’S STILL BASKETBALL SEASON AND ALL, BUT K-STATE AND OKLAHOMA STATE set aside rivalries long enough to come together and produce the OSU-KSU Decision Tool for crop producers. The online tool can help growers look at different options when it comes to crop insurance election decisions that must be made by March 15 under the 2018 Farm Bill. The tool helps farmers compare Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), and the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). It’s a lot of alphabet soup, I know, but worth the effort. The information is on the AgManager.info website which also has more information about the most recent Farm Bill and other educational resources for farmers and ranchers.

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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 – Feb. 13, 2020

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This week in Better Kansas we touch on building your personal savings, the loss of birds in North America, how soybean varieties performed last year and more 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

A RECENT BANKRATE ARTICLE SAYS NEARLY 3 IN 10 (28%) of U.S. ADULTS have no emergency savings. For many of us it’s a struggle to put that money aside and not spend it. But if the refrigerator dies, the car’s transmission goes on strike or the roof needs repair, we’re out of luck. There’s no better time to commit to building or adding to an emergency savings account than during Kansas Saves Week, Feb. 24-29. Check out the website for tips and encouragement. Plus listen to a Sound Living radio interview on the topic. Kansas Saves is part of the national America Saves campaign. I can attest that some of these tips are effective. After years of reading about such things and knowing that I should, I opened a savings account at a different bank than where most of my salary was deposited, and arranged for a small amount of my salary to be diverted to that savings account every payday. It CAN add up if you truly save it for emergencies! HINT: That cute pair of shoes does not qualify as an emergency — even if they’re on sale.

IF YOU GOT ENGAGED RECENTLY OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO DID … OR IS ABOUT TO, YOU’LL DEFINITELY WANT TO READ THIS (or pass it along to the happy couple). Financial problems are among the top stressors for couples, and that can start even before the marriage. While you’re planning the wedding is a good time to learn whether you and your significant other are on the same page in regard to money, plus how you differ, and what you can do to meet in the middle. Then, recognize that the wedding is just the beginning of working through a lifetime of financial decision-making. The article, With This Ring … We Plan, walks us through things to think about and discuss when planning a wedding, as well as considerations for married life, including outstanding debt, aligning goals, who is responsible for paying the bills and so on. And trust me, you don’t have to be 20-something or 30-something for this to be relevant. Parts of it can also serve as a conversation starter for longtime married couples.

FOR THE MEAT EATERS AMONG US, THIS WILL SOUND FAMILIAR: You open the refrigerator and realize that you left a package of ground beef in there to thaw a couple of days ago …. or was it three days ago? If the surface of the meat is brown, is it still safe to eat? Maybe. In addition to how long it’s been sitting in the fridge, other factors such as oxygen and packaging affect the color of meat. Take a look at Fresh Ground Beef: A Consumer Guide for helpful information before you turn on the stove and start that chili.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

SOON WE’LL BE OUTDOORS MORE AND WELCOMING THE SOUND OF HAPPY BIRDS that are going about their business mating, nesting and raising their young, but are there a lot fewer of them? Survey results published in Science magazine last September indicate that since the 1970s in North America alone, we’ve lost 3 billion birds, nearly 30% of the total. Read what one of our agriculture and natural resources extension agents, who also happens to be a longtime birder, wrote about the topic in Did We Actually Lose 3 Billion Birds? Part 1. Two species that have shown significant declines are the House Sparrow and European Starling. Others, such as ducks and geese appear to be doing well and may be increasing. Thinking about this brought something to mind. You may have heard the expression, “the canary in the coal mine?” For years, miners took canaries into coal mines to detect toxic gases, thinking that deadly gases would affect the canaries before they would people. With modern technology, that practice has gone by the wayside, but I found an interesting article about it.

Watch for Part 2 next week, which addresses what we can do about the declines.

GEOGRAPHICALLY, WE HAVE A PRETTY BIG STATE and differences in precipitation, soil type and other factors mean that plants, including crops and crop varieties that grow well in northeast Kansas, say, may not grow particularly well in southwest Kansas. Last year was a challenging year for soybean growers, what with delayed planting in many areas because of wet conditions and slow early growth, and because of wet soils. Growers will want to take a look at the results of the 2019 Kansas Performance Tests with Soybean Varieties report that’s now available to see how different varieties fared across the state.

SPRING IS DRAWING NEAR and so is the state’s primary calving season on Kansas farms and ranches. It’s a beautiful sight to see, but not the easiest for producers and their cattle. Last spring was a particularly difficult calving season at least partially linked to cold, wet weather. Listen in to an Agriculture Today radio segment on successful calving strategies, plus a grain market update and other topics. A recent article on calving is also available and for a look at factors that influenced last year’s calving season, the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab put together a fact sheet.

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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 – Feb. 6, 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

WHEN A BAND OF ENTERPRISING PEOPLE GET TOGETHER TO LOOK OUT FOR OTHERS, good things happen and that’s how the Check Your Credit program was launched this month. Signup is free for the educational program designed to remind us how, when and why checking our credit reports for accuracy is so important. Really, who has time to contact the three credit reporting agencies to ask them for a copy of what they have on us? It’s easy to let this slide, but when we least expect it, we’ll be reminded why we should. Errors on a report can result in a lender charging a higher interest rate or denying credit altogether. Read more about the new program. Oh, and that band of people? They’re members of the Family Resource Management Program Focus Team (or PFT in extension lingo), a group of extension agents and specialists across the state who provide financial education to individuals and families through presentations, written articles, fact sheets, webinars and more. Wish I’d known about such people and their good work a long time ago!

 

KIDS, BUGS AND ART: A GREAT COMBINATION! PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER and you get a cool Youth Art Insect Contest! Winning entries will be featured in a deck of cards (think “Old Maid”-type card game) and distributed to Kansas schools. I love this idea! What a great way to teach kids about our natural world. It reminds me of a visit to a friend in Massachusetts long ago, when my friend’s young son gave me a carefully crafted bug picture as a going-away gift. That sweet little guy had taken dead bugs from his collection and taped them to a piece of paper. I guarded that “picture” all the way back to the Midwest. Hey, dead bugs are fragile! Crispy bugs may not work well for this contest but we have some very creative kids in Kansas who will come up with some great insect artwork. Enter now! The deadline is April 3, 2020.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR PRUNING! If you’re lucky enough to have apple or pear trees on your property, the best time to prune them is almost upon us. That would be late winter (especially in southern Kansas) or early spring. That gives you a little time to make sure you have your pruning shears and saws, loppers and pole pruners clean, sharpened and ready to go. It will be nice to get outdoors and do something! Check out a Pruning Apple and Pear Trees factsheet for more specifics plus pictures.

 

HAVE YOU EVER PUZZLED OVER A BROWN SPOT IN YOUR LAWN? LEAVES DROPPING FROM TREES? TROUBLING SYMPTOMS IN YOUR CROP? Help is just a phone call or visit to your local extension office away. Extension agents can help you through the process of taking samples and sending them off to K-State’s Extension Plant Pathology Lab, which processes more than 1,000 samples a year as they work to determine the source of the problem – the first step in getting your lawn or farm back to health.

 

KANSAS AGRICULTURAL MEDIATION SERVICES HAS A NEW LEADER! The organization dedicated to helping ag producers work through financial challenges they may have with lenders has named Erin Strathe as its new staff attorney. Strathe succeeds Forrest Buhler, who led KAMS for 32 years. Buhler retired Jan. 31. KAMS was born of the 1980s farm crisis and since then has worked along with the Farm Analyst Program and others to help thousands of farmers, ranchers and creditors confidentially work through challenging circumstances. More information about KAMS and the transition is available in a news article and on the KAMS website. Or call 1-800-321-3276.

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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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