Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: June 2020

Better Kansas – June 25, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we explore insects, counting change, Alzheimer’s, garden topics, a weed survey and a swine nutrition study. 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 COUPLE OF BEES HAVE BEEN VISITING SPIREA BUSHES IN MY BACK YARD LATELY, but my granddaughter is afraid of them. I tried to explain how they were just going about their business flitting from one flower to the next gathering nectar and pollen, but she wasn’t convinced. There’s probably a reason I didn’t become a teacher! Fortunately, there are good entomology specialists and extension agents across the state who ARE good teachers. They routinely give presentations and write articles for homeowners, gardeners, farmers and ranchers about those tiny insect creatures who are patient enough to share their world with us. Plus, they give us bug jokes! Q: How do police departments control bugs? A: With their SWAT teams! Check out the latest Kansas Insect Newsletter. And for more in depth information, take a look at Household Pests of Kansas.

 

REMEMBER WHEN THE GROCERY STORE CASHIER COUNTED YOUR CHANGE BACK after a purchase? Some may be surprised to know that cash registers didn’t always tell store clerks how much change they were to give back. Instead, they counted the change back rather than hand you a wad of bills, pennies and nickels. That ensured to both buyer and seller that the amount of money coming back was accurate. I came across Counting Change the Old-Fashioned Way and thought you might want to give it a try with your kiddos or just give yourself a refresher. This brings back great memories of one of my first jobs … at a western store where I learned such valuable lessons! With debit cards and other ways to pay, it may be a moot point, but I still think it’s good to exercise that gray matter sometimes! An audio version of this information is also available.

 

MANY OF US HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE … MAYBE A FRIEND, AN UNCLE OR A NEIGHBOR. Incredibly, one in every 10 people over the age of 65, and a total of 5.5 million Americans, has this dreaded disease. Some of the signs MAY BE memory loss that disrupts your daily life, challenges in solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work or new problems with words in speaking or writing. If you have any question at all about your own health, it’s best to be checked by your medical provider. Whether the disease has touched your life or not, it’s good to know more about it. Alzheimer’s 101 provides basic information, including what you can do to stay as healthy as possible at any age.

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

SOMETIMES, OUT OF BAD THINGS COME REALLY GOOD THINGS. Because of COVID-19, we haven’t been able to attend garden tours and lectures in person this year, but a great alternative was created for us to learn from the comfort of our homes. K-State Garden Hour webinars have proven extremely popular and more topics have been added to the lineup this summer, including identifying garden insects, managing pesky weeds, nuisance wildlife, growing hydrangeas and more. For those who can’t participate live, the webinars are recorded, so you can go online any time to catch some good information, ALL FOR FREE! So much good stuff.

 

A BATTLE FARMERS FACE EVERY YEAR IS HOW TO MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF MOISTURE- AND NUTRIENT-ROBBING WEEDS IN THEIR CROPS. And compounding the problem is the fact that even as herbicides are developed to keep weeds out of farm fields, the weeds adapt to resist those herbicides. At stake are billions of dollars in economic losses in North America alone, according to a seven-year study conducted by the Weed Science Society of America. To help researchers determine which weeds pose the most serious threats to Kansas farmers and what they are doing currently to manage the problem, K-State scientists are asking producers to complete a short online survey. The information gathered will help guide research on innovative, cost effective and integrated weed management practices and to further improve outreach programs across the state. For more information on the WSSA study, take a look at a 2016 news article on the subject.

 

TEMPORARY CLOSURES AND SLOWDOWNS IN THE PORK PROCESSING INDUSTRY linked to the new coronavirus left a lot of hog farmers with market-ready animals and no place to take them for a time. But those animals still needed to be fed while producers waited for a time to take them to market. Any disruption to the marketing pipeline like that, even at a single processing plant, can cut into a producer’s bottom line and result in overweight animals. Listen in to a new Agriculture Today podcast featuring swine nutritionists as they describe a new K-State feeding trial aimed at keeping pigs healthy while slowing the rate of growth to manage backlogs of market-ready hogs. Other topics covered include nutrient management for grain sorghum, wheat harvest update, “Milk Lines” and a promising new method to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

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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 – June 11, 2020

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NOTE: I’ll be taking a short break next week so there will not be a June 18 Better Kansas. In the meantime, stay cool, stay safe and enjoy these longer hours of daylight!

In today’s Better Kansas, we highlight the benefits of dancing, summer food safety, tick research, deadheading flowers, the state’s pork industry and pinkeye in cattle. 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

LET’S LIGHTEN THINGS UP! FAMILY DANCE is a reminder how important it is for all of us, no matter the age, to move. Whether it’s silly dance or you’re seriously perfecting your salsa steps, remember how freeing it feels to move to music? The article focuses on the benefits of dancing with your children, but even if you don’t have young kiddos around, take a look. And there are links to videos with music. Hey, it’s a way to work off the COVID15 or Quarantine 15  (you know, those extra pounds). Even the Mayo Clinic addressed that this week.

 

FOR MANY OF US, THIS IS GRILLING SEASON! There’s really nothing like the aroma and taste of meat, poultry or fish cooked on the outdoor grill. Listen in to a recent Sound Living podcast for food safety tips when cooking outdoors. And whether you’re camping, hosting a gathering on the deck or tailgating before a game, check out resources on Outdoor Food Safety.

 

LAST WEEK WE CONNECTED WITH INFORMATION ABOUT TICKS AND WAYS TO AVOID THEM, and this week we learn that a K-State researcher has received further funding from the National Institutes of Health for further research into ticks and to develop vaccines for tick-borne illnesses. Check out the article for details on how the $3.125 million grant will be used. Even as we’ve been so focused on the new coronavirus, there are still these ever-present other challenges to consider.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

OVER THE WEEKEND I FOUND MYSELF PULLING FADED PETALS FROM THE FIRST FLUSH OF ROSES IN MY YARD. I’ve heard that removing dead flowers encourages the growth of new ones and a recent Horticulture Newsletter confirmed it. Roses, hardy geraniums, petunias, coreopsis and other flowers benefit from the practice commonly referred to as deadheading. It’s about the only encounters I have with roses where the thorns don’t jump out and grab me! But deadheading isn’t helpful for other flowers, such as impatiens and sedum. Check out the Horticulture Newsletter for information on this and other topics, including fruit disease, mums, fertilizing annual flowers and other topics. I confess, it’s difficult for me to write about deadheading without thinking of Dead Heads (a little nostalgia for some of us if you can skip through the ads).

 

MANY THINK OF KANSAS AS CATTLE COUNTRY, BUT THERE ARE 1,000 HOG FARMS in the state that last year sold almost $495 million worth of animals, according to the Kansas Pork Association. Take a look at what a team of researchers and extension specialists and agents are doing to support this important component of our agricultural industry. That includes nutrition, animal health, marketing, environmental management of facilities and more.

 

INFECTIOUS BOVINE KERATOCONJUNCTIVITIS (IBK), KNOWN TO MOST OF US AS PINKEYE, is a bacterial disease common in cattle. The painful, highly contagious disease can swiftly affect a herd and reduce feed intake. A recent Agriculture Today podcast covered the topic. Listen in and hear about how and why to manage pinkeye in cattle herds, along with separate segments on breeding bulls, wheat variety selection and bagworm control.

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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 – June 4, 2020

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Better Kansas is one year old this week! Thank you for your feedback. Please keep it coming and let me know what’s been helpful and how we can improve. This week we touch on kitchen measuring equivalents, stress management, embracing aging, ticks, livestock comfort and mental health. 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

Several of this week’s topics are also subjects of Extension Ed talks.  Take a look!

Better Living, Better Communities

OCCASIONALLY I FIND MYSELF FOLLOWING A RECIPE AND CAN’T FIND SOMETHING I NEED … like for heaven’s sake, where is that measuring cup? Sometimes we have to figure out a different way to measure out an ingredient. If you’ve ever found yourself stumped by how many tablespoons are in a cup, or how many quarts are in a gallon, a new resource is available to help us. Cooking Basics: Measuring Tools and How to Use Them hits these areas and more. It’s a good resource to print out and have in the kitchen. I tend to tape such things to the inside of cabinet doors.

 

AS I WRITE THIS, WE’RE DEALING WITH EVEN MORE SOURCES OF STRESS THAN USUAL – Trade disputes and the effect they’re having on agriculture and other industries, businesses struggling and job loss linked to COVID-19, and now distress sparked by tragic events in Minneapolis. And that doesn’t even count our own day-to-day challenges. Maybe you, like me, are avid consumers of news. But sometimes especially now, it’s helpful to step back, at least for a time. I wrote about Everyday Mindfulness a while back but wanted to remind you about this resource. It’s where I first learned about Do-In (dough-een), described as exercises for health. Another thing that works for me (and apparently many of my neighbors) is walking or other activity outdoors. Even once around the block can be beneficial.

 

WE ALL KNOW PEOPLE WHO ARE FIGHTING THEIR AGE IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. When we’re 25 we miss being a kid, when we’re 50 we’d like to be 25, and when we’re … well, we won’t go there! I guess my not talking about it means I’m fighting it, too. But there are advantages to getting past those early stages. The kids are raised, the bank account (hopefully) is in better shape, you’ve proven yourself in your career and with any luck, you’re still healthy and have more time for friends, family and activities you are passionate about. Take a look at Embracing Aging for resources to help guide you, a family member or friend through this chapter of life.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

 

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO GETS WAY TOO ATTACHED? Kind of a trick question … I’m not talking about a friend or colleague, although somewhere along the way, we may know some of them, too. I’m talking about ticks, which get annoyingly attached when we spend time outdoors. In Kansas, we have such species as the Lone Star tick, the American dog tick, the brown dog tick and the black-legged tick. They’re mostly a nuisance but can also be a vector for diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. This article has some basics and for a more comprehensive look, check out Ticks in Kansas. For years, I thought ticks drop from trees, but it turns out they don’t. Rather they typically hang out on blades of grass or low bushes until the perfect host comes along. That would be us! But don’t let this keep you from getting outside.

 

JUNE USHERED IN SUMMER-LIKE WEATHER AND IT’S NOT JUST US THAT ARE AFFECTED BY THE HEAT AND HUMIDITY. Livestock is affected by extreme heat and cold.  Just like us, heat stress can reduce an animal’s appetite, increase respiration and in severe cases, result in death. Livestock producers across the state can now access the Animal Comfort Index to help monitor heat or cold stress in their own part of our very large state. It takes into account temperature, humidity, wind speed and solar radiation.

 

I USUALLY WRITE ABOUT FARM CROPS AND LIVESTOCK IN THIS SPACE, but even more basic and absolutely more important than crop yields and livestock balance sheets is a farmer’s or rancher’s mental health. With lackluster commodity prices, trade disputes, always-challenging weather and now a global pandemic, mental health for so many is being tested like never before. To help anyone involved in agriculture manage the challenges, several agencies and organizations have come together with Kansas Ag Health Resources to help you and someone you know chart a path toward good mental health.

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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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